“Because that’s life, cailín tine. We aren’t just one thing. Life isn’t one story. It’s a mix of many and they cross paths sometimes.”
I swallow thickly, understanding what he’s saying and hating it. Some parts of life are simply awful. When I close my eyes and focus on one more deep breath, Jase’s strong hand cups my chin and my eyes lift to his.
I nearly apologize for being the way I am. But it’s not some stranger I’ve lost it in front of. Or my boss. Or my fucking family from New York. It’s Jase.
I expect him to say something, but he only pulls me closer to him, letting time pass and the wretched feelings that have welled up, slowly go away.
Mourning is like the tide of the ocean. It comes and it goes. It’s gentle and it’s harsh.
Slowly, the tide always subsides. But it always comes back too. It never goes away for long.
“The world stops when you see me, huh?” he questions softly after a moment, teasing me and letting the sad bits wash away like they’re meant to. I love the teasing tone he takes. I love this side of him. I love many sides of him.
“I didn’t say that,” I’m quick to protest.
“You practically did,” he teases, although the smile on his handsome face tugs down slightly as his eyes search mine.
“I don’t love you,” I murmur the words, feeling the hot tension thicken between the two of us. He leans closer to me, nearly brushing his lips against mine. All the while, I keep my eyes open, waiting for what he has to say.
“I don’t love you too,” he says and I can practically feel the last bit of armor fall as I lean into his lips. His hand brushes my shoulder, my collarbone and then lower, barely touching me and feeling like fire as he caresses my skin.
The covers swish around us as I lean back, giving him more room and urging him closer. I’ve never wanted a man like I want him. I’ve never memorized the rough groan a man gives as he kisses me like Jase does, with reverence and hunger.
I let him take me as he wants. What he wants is exactly what I want.
Time doesn’t pause for us though. It doesn’t go by slowly either.
It’s all over far too soon. Maybe because I never want this one moment to end.
“I have to go,” he tells me after glancing at the clock on his nightstand. He makes no effort to move though, other than to run his thumb along my bottom lip.
“Okay,” I whisper, not wanting to chance that he’ll stop touching me. All I want is for him to keep touching me and for my world to stay still and in pace with me, not wanting to take the next step forward.
“Don’t follow me, Bethany,” he warns, his voice sterner, but the lust still there.
“Okay,” I repeat and my eyes finally close as he leans down, pressing his lips against mine once again. He tries to move away before I’m ready for him to go, but I reach up, pulling him back to me with my hands on the back of his neck. I hold him there, deepening the kiss and listening to his groan of satisfaction as I do. Kissing this man changes everything. I can’t think about anything other than wanting him with me. I’m highly aware of it and I know it’s dangerous, but still… I want it.
It’s wild and dangerous, and I love it just as much as I love the fire.
When he finally leaves me, I hold on to the warmth he left in the covers, and I bury my head in the pillow he slept on, rather than the one he gave me. I stare at the clock, watching the hands move slowly. Trying to keep it moving slowly with me.
I don’t follow him. Not because of a debt or an agreement. But because he asked me not to. Because it means something to him.
I would have stayed like that longer than I’d care to admit, really I would have, but that’s when my phone chimed with a message from Laura.
I know he’s here but he hasn’t shown himself yet. I say aloud to no one, “When I was a kid, I hated the dark.”
The playground is quiet tonight. With its broken swing that creaks as a gust of wind blows, and the full moon’s faint blue light that shines down and covers every inch of the fallen snow, it’s the perfect setting for Marcus. The kind of setting that’s eerily familiar. The place where you don’t go and you walk as quick as you can to get far away.
The backyard playground of the abandoned school is where no one goes unless they’re up to no good. Like I am tonight.