Page 42 of Don't Look Back

He smiled again, revealing that chipped tooth, and my breath caught. “It’s no problem. I’m surprised you haven’t kicked me out yet.”

“Really? You shouldn’t be. I like you,” I said, flushing. “I probably shouldn’t admit that, but I do. I like you, and I can’t figure out why I didn’t see it before.”

There wasn’t surprise in his expression, just curiosity as he watched me. He rolled back onto his side. His knee pressed against my thigh, separated only by the quilt. His proximity made the bed seem much, much smaller.

“It’s weird,” he finally said. “There’re parts of you I recognize. Your…boldness is familiar. The way you just say whatever you’re thinking.”

Right now I was thinking about how crazy it was that my entire leg was tingling and how nothing in this world could make me look away. Our faces were only inches apart. The space was sweet and torturous. None of these sensations occurred when I was with Del. That had to mean something.

“And then there’s this whole different side that’s new.” His lips tipped up on one side. “The funny thing is, this new version of Sam reminds me of how you were when we were kids.”

My gaze dipped to his lips. They were so full, so soft-looking. “Is that a good thing?”

Carson’s smile faded. “It’s different.”

“Oh.” I met his eyes again, wondering if I could just will him to kiss me and if I should even want that, all things considered. “That doesn’t sound good.”

“Different is good.” He drew in a stuttered breath and looked away.

When I realized I was still staring at his profile, I forced my eyes to the little stars on the ceiling.

“You were my first kiss,” he said quietly.

I nearly jumped from the shock, and from the fact that I oh-so-liked the sound of that. “I was? Was it good? Were you my first kiss?” Please say yes, please say yes.

Carson tipped his head back, shoulders shaking in a silent laugh. “We were ten, so I’m hoping I was your first kiss.”

Ten? My shoulders deflated. Way too young to mean anything.

“We were playing spin the bottle or something lame like that,” he added, tipping his chin down so he was looking at me. “Your parents caught us. Your mom flipped out, but your dad laughed.”

I frowned. “I can imagine.”

We sat there for a while in silence, and once again it wasn’t silence filled with pity and discomfort. Just two people who were able to sit—or lie—side by side in peace. It was perfect.

“Should I leave?” Carson asked, his breath dancing over my forehead.

I shook my head. “I don’t want you to…yet.”

He seemed to understand and didn’t push it. A few minutes later, he shifted, and before I could feel the cold bite of disappointment, he lifted his arm and waited. My heart pounded off my ribs as I realized what he was offering. Dizzy and breathless, I scooted toward him and slowly placed my cheek on his chest. There was a heavy, tense pause, and then he wrapped his arm around me, curving his fingers over my shoulder.

I didn’t know what to do with my hands, but he smelled like citrus and soap—a scent unique to him. Eventually, I folded my hands against his side, and he jerked a little. Worried that I’d done something wrong, I lifted my chin and my breath stalled again.

Carson was looking at me, and our mouths were only an inch or two apart. Sooty lashes hid his eyes, but I felt them, their power. And the need in them, as if it were my own—it was my own.

And suddenly it didn’t matter that everyone believed I didn’t know who I was anymore, because with him—with Carson—I knew who I wanted to be, and that was all that mattered.

He made a low sound in the back of his throat and moved toward me, pressing his forehead against mine. My hand seemed to know what to do. I placed it on his cheek, my thumb smoothing over the skin below his lip, and he shuddered at the slight touch. It felt as if I’d never done this before, even if Del claimed we’d done everything before.

This was my first—that I remembered—with Carson, and that felt right.

My thumb found his lower lip, and the sharp edge of his teeth grazed my skin. The act was strangely intimate, rough and sensual. My eyes fluttered close, and I waited for my second first kiss….

Carson wrapped his hand around mine, gently pulling it back.

Not what I was waiting for. Damn it. I opened my eyes, confused. “Why?”

“Why? Why is your favorite word now, isn’t it?” Humor laced his words, not annoyance or frustration. “You’re still such a freaking terror.”

When Scott had said that before, it hadn’t sounded like a good thing, but Carson made it sound endearing, fun. I smiled. “I want you to kiss me.”

Heat flared in his eyes, and something inside me knew how to respond to that. The edge of the quilt slipped a little, and I pressed forward, our chests touching. Everywhere our bodies met, my skin warmed in a way that felt completely new.

A sudden deepening of his eyes occurred, and his jaw tensed. “Sam…”


Carson closed his eyes briefly. And then he rolled over me, supporting his weight with one arm so quickly that the air left my lungs in a harsh rush. He stared down at me, eyes a mosaic of every blue possible. “You shouldn’t be asking me that.”

There was barely an inch separating us, and I had trouble focusing my thoughts. “I know.”

He reached down, brushing the thick strands of hair off my cheek. His fingers lingered against my skin, sliding down to my jaw. Staring at his lips, I needed to know how they felt. How they tasted. I inhaled sharply, bringing my chest against his once more. A dizzy rush of sensations cascaded through me, and again, I was struck by the sense of how right this was.

Carson lowered his head, and my heart stuttered. He pressed his lips against my forehead, then my temple, a sweeping brush along my cheek, and then he placed a wickedly chaste kiss on the corner of my lips. He spoke into the warm space between our lips. “You’re not mine to kiss, Sam.”

I felt the extreme urge to pout, and Carson must’ve sensed it, because he laughed softly and cupped my cheek. His body lowered onto mine in a way that said it was completely at odds with what was coming out of his mouth. Wishing the quilt wasn’t between us, I shifted under him. His eyes closed, and the hand beside my head pushed into the mattress as his jaw worked. I moved my hips again, and then gasped at the raw shiver that whipped through me.