Have you ever heard a crack of thunder when you’re six beers in? I wouldn’t recommend it. You might think a semi truck just crashed into a water tower.
Apparently I wasn’t alone, because the entire party hit the floor like the victims of a suicide bombing. When we all came to our senses and realized that nothing had exploded, we discovered that we had been too drunk to notice the storm rolling in.
I stood up, each arm immediately accosted by Beth and Maribel.
“Come on, Chica!” cried Maribel. “Time for Denny’s! It’s in walking distance – if we hurry, we might beat the storm!”
I glanced over at the girl who had assigned herself as my ‘bestie’ over the past hour or so. She was cute, perky, the type of girl that every guy adores. I couldn’t help but adore her too – not that I let it deter me from my mission…
I pulled away from their grasp. “I’ve got to grab my purse! I don’t know where I left it!” I wasn’t lying – I had left my purse. But I knew exactly where it was. It was sitting just feet away from me beside one of the coolers.
I dove into the crowd in the opposite direction.
“OK, well grab your contraband and meet us at the bottom of the hill!” called Beth and my wake.
Contraband? What did they think I had in there?
I wandered through the crowd, completely and utterly clueless. I couldn’t see the Kiss of Death anywhere much less concoct an impromptu plan for luring him to me with my head in such a fog.
Men were rushing in all directions as drops from the storm began to fall and another crack of thunder hit, followed by a flash of very helpful lightning. A couple of guys grabbed the cooler and started hauling it down the hill followed by several more guys with several more coolers. If I didn’t hurry, I was going to be the only one left.
Another bolt of lightning lit my staging area, but as the rain began to pour, I still couldn’t find my mark.
“Fuck it.” I ran to where I had left my purse, my hair already soaked and my clothing not far off.
But I couldn’t find it. My purse wasn’t where I had left it. I dropped to my hands and knees and clawed across the grass, searching desperately in the darkness to find some unnatural lump that might resemble my purse.
I finally found it crumpled by the water tower. I snatched it up like the last stickers at a 7-Eleven, turned to run down the hill, and smacked into a wet dark blue T-shirt and a pair of dark wash jeans.
It was almost too perfect the way the lightning flashed right as I looked up into the eyes of the Kiss of Death. Tim Burton would have shit his knickers.
The Kiss of Death – er, Jax – said nothing, but glanced up into the looming storm, then back at me, and shook his head with a wave of his index finger.
I scowled, but before I could bite into him for his childish mockery, he slipped his arm around my waist and ushered me quickly away from the water tower to the soundtrack of another terrifying boom of thunder.
About halfway down the hill, he grabbed me by the hand and pulled me off the trail. The noisy storm deafened my protests, and I was forced to trip and fall behind him until we reached a rock outcropping. He lead me around to the other side where three large boulders met to create a small but deep cove.
I stepped gratefully inside and huddled in the corner. He crouched next to me, dipped his head, and raised his eyebrows.
Apparently this one wasn’t one for words.
I nodded. “I’m fine.”
He sat down next to me and raised one arm, hesitating as he reached around my shoulders.
I chuckled. “It’s OK.” Oh yes, it’s OK. In fact, it’s quite perfect.
I snuggled into his arm, the storm howling and the rain pounding around us. Our clothing was soaked through, our skin cold as ice, but I felt warm. His body heat was like a furnace. I eyed him from under his arm, wondering if his lips would mind warming me too.
He stared straight ahead, focused on something outside the cave. His eyes really were very piercing. I half expected the cluster of trees outside the cave to explode under his gaze. It was beautiful, in a way. Except I wanted him to be looking at me like that.
“Is this where you bring all the girls?” I teased.
His gaze flitted down to mine, then he turned away and shook his head in frustration. He pulled his arm from around me, leaning it on his knee.
What the hell? What was this guy’s deal? “Sorry I asked,” I muttered. The storm outside began to slow and I moved to get up and get away from this freak.
He reached his arm out and grabbed mine, pulling me back to the dirt. He watched me momentarily with his hardened gaze before turning away again and running his hand through his hair.
I heaved a labored sigh. Okay, so he doesn’t want me to leave. He doesn’t want me to talk. And he’s definitely not making any moves.
So why the hell are we even here?
He drew his knees back up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. His toe started tapping impatiently against the rock. I folded my arms over my chest, anxious for the storm to subside completely.
He dropped his head into his arms momentarily, and when it came back up, he planted those eyes on mine once more. This time they looked softer.
This guy was a fucking magnet. I couldn’t look away. My heart skipped a beat as he scooted closer and planted one hand on the stone floor just behind me. His eyes still locked on mine and his face just inches away, he raised his other hand to my chin and ran his thumb carefully along it.
He leaned into my ear. “I…” A dagger of pleasure shot through me at the sound of his deep voice. He sighed and leaned his forehead against my ear before raising his lips again to try once more. “I like you,” he finally croaked out. He ran his nose along the spot just above my ear, down my cheek to my jaw. He hovered centimeters from my face, the microscopic hairs in my skin reaching for him, aching for him to come just one stitch closer.
Fuck. I placed my hand on his rough cheek and traced a line down his neck, shoulder, all the way down to his fingers. I didn’t want to wait any longer for his special brand of poison. I turned to line my lips up with his. I leaned forward.
He leaned away.
What the fuck?!
I glared at the floor.
He placed his hand on my knee, his head shaking back-and-forth within such a small radius that it was almost unnoticeable. “No…I…no…”
This guy was driving me nuts. He just rejected me and yet now he was acting like he regretted it. “No?” I seethed. “No what?”
He pursed his lips and sat back.
“Whatever.” I stood and stomped out of the cave.