Page 73 of Don't Look Back

“Samantha.” He said my name over and over again like it was a prayer or a curse. I wasn’t sure which it was, but every time he spoke, my heart turned over in a heady way.

A shudder rocked his body as I pressed a kiss to his forehead. In that moment, I knew he’d been waiting, wanting this for far longer than I could have ever imagined. A giddy rush followed, and I felt heavy and light in his arms, safe and cherished. I wanted to laugh, to slow down, to speed up, and to never, ever stop. My head was spinning when his fingers slid down my arms, bringing the straps along with them. His fingers found the tiny zipper on the back of my dress, slowing inching it down to my hips.

Carson eased me onto my back, raining kisses over my cheek, lips, throat, and shoulders. His hand drifted down my stomach and lower, lingering until I thought I’d come out of my skin. He curved a hand around my thigh, hooking my leg around his waist, and we moved against each other until we were breathless, covered in each other, drowning together.

Perfect—we were perfect together. There wasn’t a moment of hesitation or doubt. No nagging voice in the back of my head, and Carson had given me plenty of chances to pull the brakes, even before he stopped to grab protection.

“Are you sure?” he whispered against my lips.

“Yes.” The next words sort of just came right out of me in a breathless rush. “I love you.”

Carson stilled. I wasn’t sure he breathed in those following seconds, and maybe tomorrow I would kick myself in the face for saying those three words, but right now, I didn’t want to take them back, even if they were too much, too soon.

He closed his eyes and let out a long breath. “Say it again.”

“I love you.” My voice was louder, stronger. “I love you.”

Another second passed and then he brushed his lips across mine. “I didn’t think I’d ever hear you say those words.”

I pressed my palm to his cheek. “I did.”

He opened his eyes, and they locked on to mine. “I’ve loved you as long as I’ve known you, Sam. Just as much as I love you right now.”

The infinite tenderness in his bright eyes brought tears to my own. I held them back, fearing he wouldn’t understand they weren’t sad tears. His body shook, and I wasn’t sure if it was out of relief or anticipation, and then I wasn’t really thinking anymore…or maybe I was thinking so much I couldn’t pinpoint one thought or one sensation. Part of me worried that the meds that had built up in my system would somehow dull everything, but they didn’t. It was so much, and it was all new to me, fresh and thrilling.

When things did slow down, my heart was still racing, my breath sawing in and out in a pleasant daze. Muscles weak, thoughts like big bowls of jelly, I smiled up at him.

He gave me a lopsided grin. His dark hair was damp against his forehead, curling slightly. “You okay?”

“Perfect,” I breathed.

Carson kissed me and then rolled onto his back, wiggling an arm around me and pulling me against his side so that my head rested on his chest. Each breath he took was ragged against my flushed cheek. “What do I have to do to persuade you to stay here?”

I giggled. “Not sure my parents would appreciate that come morning, but I can stay...” I paused, for the first time feeling uncertainty creep over me. “I mean, if you do really want me to stay for a little while longer.”

He turned his head toward me. “Sam, I don’t want you to leave. Ever. And I know you don’t want to leave.”

The stupid but wonderful swelling was back in my chest, and I could’ve floated right off that bed. “Okay.”

His throat worked as he watched me. “I wasn’t just saying shit before, Sam. I do love you—I have loved you. I hope you—”

“I meant it,” I said, tangling my fingers in his. “And I think…I think I felt this way before but never admitted it.”

Carson’s lips tipped up at the corners. We stayed in each other’s arms, talking about nothing important, laughing quietly, stopping to kiss and pausing to touch, losing ourselves for a little while longer and letting time slip by. I must’ve dozed off, because I knew I was dreaming. It had that hazy quality to it, almost real but not quite.

I was waiting outside the library at school, my head tipped back. Satisfaction poured off me, dampening the jealousy that simmered in my belly whenever I saw him even looking at Cassie after that party.

I had him and I was going to ruin him.

Footsteps sounded, and I opened my eyes, already smiling with anticipation. Carson stepped out, saying something to Dianna.

I bolted off the wall, stepping directly in front of him. “We need to talk.”

His bright blue eyes sharpened with wariness. He glanced at Dianna. “I’ll see you later.”

The girl nodded and quickly darted off. I smirked, cocking my head to the side. “How are you, Carson?”

“What do you want, Sam?” He started walking. “I’ve got things to do, and even though I’m sure this is going to be interesting, I don’t have time.”

My eyes narrowed at him. Jealousy was there, but so was anger. How could he always be so dismissive of me? Every guy in this damn school wanted me. Everyone but him.

“I know something,” I said.

He stopped just before the doors and rolled his eyes. “And…?”

“I know you’re paying Dianna.”

“Yep, for sex. You got me.”

I pressed my lips together, pissed that he wasn’t at all intimidated by me. Probably had to do with the fact that I’d spent the better part of my life running around shirtless with him and my brother. “I doubt you need to pay anyone for sex. Although I’m surprised you actually got with Cassie without her paying you.”

His eyes settled on me, steady and consuming. I loved and hated his eyes. “Is this what you wanted to talk about? The fact that I hooked up with Cassie months ago?”

“No.” My hands balled into fists. Jealousy was a bitch, but so was I. And I knew what I was about to do was so wrong, but I didn’t care. I just didn’t care. “But it has to do with the fact that you’re paying the daughter of your history teacher. Hmm...” I tapped my chin. “I wonder what for. Wait. Don’t you share that class with Cassie?”

Carson folded his arms. “Yeah, I do.”

“And she said that you’re failing that class. So I wonder what you could possibly be paying Dianna for.”