Beach Read

Page 50

“Okay, in that case, I’m coming down with something. You’ll have to go alone.”

“Relax.” I grabbed his arm. “I won’t engage in rock talk. Much.”

He smirked and stepped in closer to me, shaking his head. “I’m not going. Too sick.”

“You’ll survive.” My hand was still in the crook of his arm, his skin burning hot under my fingers. When my hand tensed on him, he edged closer, shaking his head again. My back met the cold edges of the tool rack, and his eyes swept down me and back up, leaving goose bumps in their wake. I pulled him closer, and our stomachs met, heavy want gathering behind my ribs and belly button and all the places we were touching.

He lightly held my hips and eased them up to his, and heat raced down me like flames on a streak of gasoline. My breath hitched. My blood felt like it was slowing, thickening in my veins, but my heart was racing as I watched his expression change, his smile seeming to singe off at the corners of his mouth, his eyes darkening with focus.

If he could see into me right then, I didn’t care. I even wanted him to.

One time one time one time rushed through my brain on repeat, like tumbleweeds through a desert.

And then Gus slowly bent, his nose grazing down mine until his breath hit my lips, somehow parting them without so much as a touch, and my fingers burrowed into his skin as his lips caught mine roughly, so fierce and hot and slow I felt like I would melt against him before that first kiss had ended.

He tasted like coffee and the tail end of a cigarette and I couldn’t get enough. My hands knotted into his hair as his tongue slipped into my mouth. He flattened me into the tool rack as his hands rose to my jaw, angling my mouth up to his as he kissed me again, even deeper, like we were desperate to plumb the depths of each other.

Every kiss, every touch was rough and warm, like him. His hands slid down my chest and then they were under my shirt, his fingers light as falling snow against my waist, against my bra, making my skin tingle as we rocked into each other. The rack whined as he slowly pushed me back against it, and Gus laughed into my mouth, which somehow made me feel even more desperate for him.

I twisted my hands into his shirt and his mouth drifted down my throat, slow and hungry. One of his hands grasped at my waist while the other slipped beneath the lace of my balconette, turning heavy circles on me. He was gentle at first, every movement languid and purposeful, but as I arched under his touch, his grip tightened, making me gasp.

He pulled back, breathing hard. “Did I hurt you?”

I shook my head, and Gus touched the side of my face again, gingerly turned it to kiss each of my temples. I caught the hem of his shirt and lifted it over him, chest fluttering at the sight of his lean, hard lines. As soon as I’d dropped his shirt on the ground he grabbed me, his calloused palms brushing up my sides, gathering fabric as they went. He tossed my shirt aside, then studied me intensely. “God,” he said, voice deep, raspy.

I fought a smile. “Are you praying to me, Gus?”

His inky gaze scraped up my body to my eyes. The muscles in his jaw leapt and I arched against him as his hands skimmed around my back to unhook my bra. “Something like that.”

He moved one of my bra straps down my arm, his eyes tracing the slow path of his fingers as they skated down the side of my breast, following the curve of it. When they skated back up, his rough palm cupped me, sending chills out through me. Again his touch was infuriatingly light, but his gaze was so furiously dark it seemed to dig into me, and I rocked with his motion, responding to his touch.

The corner of his mouth twitched as his eyes moved back to mine. He freed my other bra strap and the fabric fell away. The intensity of his dark eyes on my chest, drinking me in and taking his time doing it, made me shift and squirm as if I could grind against it. The muscle in his jaw pulsed and he tugged me hard against him.

There would be consequences. This had to be a bad idea.

He stepped in closer, pinning me to the shelf. I reached for his hips.


The Cookout

GUS’S HANDS TRACED down the sides of my body, feeling every exposed line and curve.

“You’re so beautiful, January,” he whispered, kissing me more tenderly. “You’re so fucking beautiful, you’re like the sun.”

His mouth moved down my body, tasting all the places he’d touched. It wasn’t enough. My fingernails dug into his back and he jerked me away from the rack and guided me onto the freezer beside it, fumbling with the button on my shorts. I lifted myself so he could slide them down my thighs, and as he straightened, his hands crawled back up my legs, slipped under the sides of my underwear to burrow into my skin. I arched against him and he pulled my thighs up against his hips, his mouth moving hard against mine. “God, January,” he said.

My want throttled my voice into a breathy gasp when I tried to reply. I ground myself against him and his touch sharpened.

We stopped being gentle with each other. I couldn’t slow myself down enough to be careful with him, and I didn’t want him to be careful with me. I undid his pants and jerked them down. One of his hands slid between my legs and he groaned. The other dug into my hip as his mouth trailed down my stomach. His hands squeezed my thighs, and I gripped the sides of the freezer as he lowered himself between my legs. My breaths came faster, his fingers sank into the creases of my hips and his name slipped between my lips. He cupped my hips harder. It wasn’t enough. I wanted him. I only realized I said it aloud when he said it back to me—“I want you, January.”

He straightened and yanked me to the edge of the freezer, lifting my hips against him as I tightened my thighs against the sides of his body.

“Gus,” I gasped and his gaze rolled up me, heat pulsing under my skin. “Do you have a condom?”

It took him a minute to answer, like his brain was translating from a second language. His eyes were still dark and hungry, his hands wrapped tight around my thighs. “Here?” he said. “In your father’s spare house’s basement?”

“I was thinking more along the lines of in your pocket,” I said, still out of breath.

He laughed, a throaty rattle. “How would you feel if I’d brought condoms with me to tell you about the potato salad?”

“Thankful,” I said.

“I didn’t know this was going to happen.” Gus ran a hand through his hair in distress as the other maintained its nearly painful grip on me. “Next door. I have some.”

We stared at each other for a moment, then started grabbing our clothes off the floor and pulling them on. As we ran up the stairs, Gus grabbed my ass. “God,” he said again. “Thank you for this day, Lord. Also Jack Reacher.”

We didn’t bother with shoes, just ran out the door and across the yard. I reached his front door first and turned back just as Gus was coming up the steps. He let out a gruff laugh at the sight of me and shook his head as he seized me by the hips and kissed me again, flattening me against the door.

I threaded my fingers through his hair, forgetting where we were, forgetting everything but his hands sliding over me, dipping into my clothes, his tongue coaxing my lips apart as I touched as much of him as I could get to. A small, dissatisfied noise slipped out of me, and he reached around my hip to twist the doorknob, leading me backward into the house.

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