Ryan’s Bed by Tijan
I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.
I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…
I didn’t. I didn’t jump out. I didn’t get embarrassed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.
I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.
The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.
He became my sanctuary.
Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.
** Standalone full-length novel, Mature YA themes
Excerpt Ryan’s Bed by Tijan
It was close to midnight when I texted Ryan. “I’m outside your house.” The driver’s taillights were disappearing when he came out the front door.
“Hey.” Dressed in lounge pants and a soft shirt, he folded his arms over his chest, tucking his hands under his arms. He eyed my small suitcase. “You really came straight from the airport?”
“Was this stupid?” A normal girl might’ve had that thought in her head, my head. There wasn’t enough room for second thoughts in there. I gestured to his house. “Should I go home?”
“No.” He’d hunched over a little, but straightened and shook his head. “No. It’s fine. Seriously.” He went back to eyeing my luggage. “I thought you were joking about the airport. I could’ve picked you up.”
“Oh.” That meant a lot. “No, this is fine. Simple. No fuss. That’s how I roll these days.”
He fought back a grin. “Except when we break into my buddy’s house to spend the night, right?”
I laughed. “Except for that.”
“Come on.” He jerked his head toward the house before reaching for my suitcase. “My mom’s got book club tonight, which is aka wine night, and Peach is at Erin’s house.”
“Your dad?” I had to admit it felt nice as I stepped inside, warm and cozy. I hadn’t known how cold I was until then.
Ryan closed the door behind me, locking it. “He’s downstairs watching the baseball game. He DVR-ed it, and trust me, by the time it’s done, he’ll be a full case in. He’ll either sleep down there or head straight to bed. I’ve had friends over before when it’s a baseball night for him, and he had no clue.” He stepped around me, moving quietly. “You want something before heading up?”
I fought back the smile this time. “Going right to it, huh?”
He glanced back, and his eyes darkened. “You know what I mean.”
“I do.” I shook my head. “And I’m good.” My stomach rumbled.
Ryan’s eyebrows rose. “You sure? Your stomach says otherwise.”
Thinking about it, I didn’t know when I’d last eaten.
I ate breakfast Thursday morning. My mom drove me to the airport two hours later. There was a meal offered on the plane, but I didn’t eat it. Gianna’s mom picked me up, and we went to a pizza place. I picked at a slice, but I couldn’t bring myself to chew it and digest it.
Zoe and Gianna had eaten popcorn that night while we watched movies. They’d laughed. I’d curled in a blanket and tried to sleep.
Then this morning, I had orange juice and coffee. That’s right. Zoe and Gianna went to the coffee shop and brought back bagels and lattes. I had one of the lattes. Lunch was licorice for them, which Gianna’s mom didn’t approve of. She made a big salad, and the other two nibbled on it, but they were too full from licorice.
And this afternoon they’d left me.
I hadn’t eaten on the plane again, so it had been almost two days.
I shrugged. “Maybe a drink?”
He clipped his head in a nod. “Got it.” We went upstairs first, and he stowed my luggage in his room before returning to the kitchen. I went into his bathroom, grateful it was attached to his room, and by the time I’d cleaned up and felt a little refreshed, he was back. Carrying two glasses, he had a bag of chips in his mouth.
“Here.” I started to take the bag, but he shook his head and held up one of the glasses. I took that instead, and as soon as I did, he opened his mouth.
The bag of chips fell to the bed and he took a sip from his own glass. “Mmmm…” He winked. “Rum and Coke. Good stuff, right?” He clinked his glass to mine, then settled on his bed, moving back to rest against the wall. The chips went on the stand next to him, along with his drink after a second good sip.
He had a loveseat against the other wall in his room, and I perched there. Crap. This drink was good. I craned my head back, staring at it. “I could down this whole thing in two seconds.”
“So do it.” He opened the chips and popped a couple in his mouth. Grinning at me, he added, “Not to tread where you might not want me, but…I’d think you’d want to pass this year in a drunken haze. I would.”
Yeah. I drank a third of it before leaning back against the couch. “It’s not my style.”
It would’ve been Willow’s though. She would’ve drunk, partied, and become a nympho if I’d been the one…
My throat burned, and I took another long drink. This really was good. Two more sips, and I’d need a refill.
I eyed Ryan over the top. “You’re not the type to take advantage of me?”
He chuckled. “Nah.” He winked. “But I might graze the side of your boob when we’re sleeping later.”
I laughed, and stopped immediately.
The last time I’d laughed, the last time I’d smiled, had been with him—not my old friends, or now ex friends, and not anyone else. Just Ryan.
“Does it get better?” The question was out before I could take it back.
Ryan was quiet, holding my gaze across the room, and then he sighed. “I think it has to, at some point.”
I hoped so.
Pain I didn’t want to feel or acknowledge rose up in my throat. It threatened to choke me, but I sat there. I waited, and it passed. I could breathe again a second later.
I finished my drink.
Ryan scooted forward, handing his glass over. “Here, take mine.”
He shrugged, eating more chips. “I’ll down a beer later, maybe. Trust me. It’s fine.”
I took the glass, feeling his fingers on mine for a moment, and a warm and cozy sensation settled over me. It was the same tingle I’d felt when I stepped into his home. Everything else was flat, black and white, gray, dull, cold, and then I came here. I went to him, and it felt like color was turned on.
I could feel hunger again, thirst again. I remembered it was normal to feel warmth.
Feeling the choking come back up my throat, I turned off my thoughts. Life was easier that way.
“You’re staying here tonight, right?” Ryan asked.
“Hmmm?” My shoulders sagged in relief. Thank you, Distraction.
He gazed around his room. “You’re sleeping here. That’s why you came, right?”
I nodded. “If that’s okay with you?”
A slow and wicked grin spread over his face. His eyes darkened, falling to my lips. “I’m a nice guy and all, but I’m not that nice, and especially lately, so trust me when I say this. You can sleep here any time you want.” His head leaned forward, his eyes almost digging into me. “That offer doesn’t go to anyone except you.”
The back of my neck warmed. I almost felt tongue-tied.
That was the plan.