Blaise: It’s cool. As long as you’re okay.
I hadn’t known how to respond to that, so I didn’t.
Then twenty minutes later:
Blaise: Download this app.
Me: Okay. Done. Why did I do that?
Blaise: So I can find you if you stop texting me because a bear has eaten you.
Ooooh. A whole wash of warm emotions had come over me, and I’d choked back tears as I replied.
Blaise: Talk later. Have fun camping, now I won’t worry so much.
Damn. That was nice of him.
I’d flicked away a tear.
Me: Okay. You too.
I hadn’t asked what he was doing that night, and I hadn’t asked all day long today. He’d sent a couple texts checking in, asking how my night was, if I was cold, what did I actually do when I camped… And because I didn’t want to go deep and potentially depressing, I’d told him the surface stuff.
I read. I relaxed. I enjoyed the water.
But mostly, I felt close to my brother out here. Except on this trip. For some reason, on this trip, Owen wasn’t being all Owen-y, and I wasn’t feeling him with me. Instead, I was thinking about Blaise, remembering Blaise.
Blaise distracted me.
What was Blaise doing?
Was he partying?
Was he drunk?
Had he kissed Mara Daniels?
Had he done more than that with Mara?
I shouldn’t have been thinking like that. We’d kissed. Once. We’d hooked up. Once. One time. There’d be no repeats, not for wallflower girls like me. We didn’t get guys like that interested in us. But every time I thought that, I’d pull up our text messages.
If he didn’t care, why was he texting me?
Blaise DeVroe was not a good guy. I mean, he was being a good guy to me, but he wasn’t normally known to be nice, caring, or sweet. He was known to be blunt and a dick, and I’d seen enough to know that was accurate.
My head swam, all confused. What did this mean?
As if he knew I was thinking about him, my phone buzzed.
Blaise: I’m coming to hang out with you.
I jerked upright.
Me: What? No.
Blaise: Then you come back. Shit. Did you have to go camping so far away? That’s over an hour drive.
My heart beat fast. My palms were sweaty.
Me: Don’t come here. I camp alone. It’s what I do. Alone.
Blaise: I’m tired of my friends and I want to hang out with you. Either you pack up and come here or I’m coming there.
I was going to have a heart attack. I felt my chest tightening.
Blaise: I don’t have to stay the whole time, just for the night.
Okay. Heart-melting moment here. I smiled before I realized I was smiling.
Me: That app really leads you to me?
Blaise: Yep. I’m only thirty minutes away. Buckle up, be there soon. I’m bringing booze.
Oh great. I didn’t drink, like ever. He was violating my camping-alone policy, and if he brought alcohol, I’d probably succumb and have one, so there went my no-drinking policy too.
Me: You’re a bad influence already.
Blaise: Tough shit.
Of course. Typical badass response. This shouldn’t have sent me even deeper into my crush, but it did because I was just another stupid girl.
I couldn’t wait for him to get here.
I was armed with food and booze. That’s all you really needed when you went camping, right? Made sense to me.
I had gifts, and I wanted to get away from my life, at least for a night. I guess that was my theme, huh? Maybe Aspen and I were the same. I’d not seen another car in the last thirty minutes—this girl could define a new meaning of running away. Well, maybe not running because I knew where she was, but hiding? That was better.
Whatever the case, I wanted to make sure she was safe. That shit would eat me alive if it turned out she wasn’t, not to mention that my brother’s girlfriend would stab me. Literally. So besides the fact that I thought Aspen was chill in an odd way, I was coming out to make sure she was alive.
See? Good guy. Me.
I laughed to myself as I pulled up—my headlights finally hitting a tent and a campfire right before I turned the Wagon off—because no one could call me a good guy. No. One. Like, ever.
And that was enough thinking for me.
Time to get wasted. I hoped she was okay with that.
She moved toward me, and I could see her silhouette from the fire. Fuck.
She looked good.
She’d been hot before, but she was hotter, if that was possible.
And my dick was hard. Like, instant hard-on. That was going to be annoying.
“Yo.” I groaned, stuffing that shit way way down. “I brought presents.”
She was hesitant, but then came closer. “What presents?”
“You like sandwiches?” I tossed her the bag I’d gotten from a shop in Roussou, and she caught it, with a little surprised sound. “That needs to last tonight, and I can make a run for breakfast in the morning.”
She weighed the bag, a small frown on her face, and I could see the shadow of it from the lights in my Wagon. It was cute.
I was such a pansy.
I didn’t like cute girls. I fucked hot girls. I banged model-types, though Aspen could be taken for a model. She had the height… I needed to stop checking this girl out. One kiss in a men’s room, and I needed my head fixed. What was I doing?
Was it because of Mara? People had started to put us together like we were a couple, and I didn’t do couples. I didn’t fucking date girls. I screwed them, and that was it.
I’m honest about it. I’m not a total asshole. Girls know the deal with me upfront or I won’t touch them. I’ve never needed to have a girlfriend, in New York or here.
I’d never wanted a relationship, but a flash of my brother and his woman came to my mind, and I paused.
My chest was tight. I didn’t want what he had. It was just because my life was unsettled. Everything had been tipped upside down, and I wasn’t the kind of guy that handled not knowing shit very well.
Aspen had drifted closer, her voice soft and concerned.
“Yeah,” I barked, then flinched. “Sorry.” I softened my tone. “Just stupid thoughts.”
And because she was right there, and her green eyes looked all nice and gentle, and I remembered how she’d tasted in the bathroom, I cupped the back of her head. Her eyes went wide, but her lips parted, and that was good enough for me.
I bent down, my lips finding hers, but I paused there.
I didn’t apply pressure.
I felt how stiff she’d gone, but then she melted into me. Her arms lifted. The bag dropped. I caught it and tossed it back into my Wagon, and her lips opened underneath mine. It was game on.
I’d only meant to have a quick taste, but this kiss was something else.
It was delicious and exciting. It was a promise of something more. My cock bulged, needing to be in her, but I just held her face, my tongue demanding entrance. She gave it, and I was in heaven. My tongue slid in, and this would be all I allowed myself—just this touch from her. When a chick opens herself up for you, it’s like she’s lifting a window for you to come in and escape the hardship of life, the cold out there. And you can’t deny yourself the warmth. That’s what Aspen was giving me. Her warmth. Her taste. And I wanted more.
I groaned, lifting my head. “I’m trying to be a good guy here, so I need you to walk away from me.” When she didn’t, I gritted out, “Right fucking now, Aspen.”
She tore herself away.
I saw tears, and dammit—I hadn’t wanted to hurt her, but I couldn’t say anything. Not yet. I needed to get myself under control. I’d been two seconds away from slipping my hand between her legs and pushing her inside my Wagon.
She took off, back to her tent and fire, and I was the asshole visiting.
I should’ve left. Right now.
I shouldn’t have brought my stuff to her front door. That’s what I’d done. I wanted to get away from my life, from the non-bio dad who’d decided to make a surprise visit to town. Seems he was going to be gone all summer, and instead of just calling to let me know, he’d flown to California to deliver the news. He was at the house right now, sitting, talking with my mom and my bio dad, who was still sticking around. Who knew how long that would last, but the adults could have a night. Not me.
I could still go to New York to see my guys, if I wanted. I wasn’t out here because of that. I was out here because I hadn’t asked for a surprise visit from him.
Aspen was on to something. Just hide here.
Grabbing everything, I approached her campsite.
She had the tent up. There was a kitchen area, a picnic table. She had a hammock up. There were blankets inside the tent.
“Is that a chair?”
She sat, poking at the fire, and looked over where I was indicating.
“Yeah. It’s a fold-out lounge chair.” She glanced back at me, all shy-like, before averting her eyes. “There’s a ton of cool camping gear out there.”
I was noticing.
She motioned to one of the chairs, because now I could see there were two of them. “You can sit on that.”