He stewed on that. “I say we go, get hammered, wreck the school gym—maybe jump on stage and play a song—call it a regular day. I promise to not get arrested this time. Scout’s honor.”

Movement came from next door, and I put the lenses back on my face. “Shhh, she’s out,” I said as she walked outside to her patio, carrying her violin. She flicked on her porch lights, and a low whistle came out of me at the sexy red-as-sin robe she wore, its silky material flashing around her long legs as she moved about. Her hair was down, too.

This was new. Where were the usual yoga pants? The ponytail?

She looked like she knew someone watched, but that was impossible since our outside lights were off. Even the light from the moon hit our house at such an angle that she shouldn’t be able to see us just by glancing over. She’d need a high-powered lens to know I was here.

Spider mumbled something and went back inside, probably to watch The CW—or go clubbing. I barely noticed.

Usually she played facing her rose garden, but this time she walked to the right side of her patio, which faced us. Weird. But she didn’t play. She just stood there without moving. Staring toward our house. Uneasiness went over me.

What was she doing?

Could she see me?

As if it were a fragile bird, she positioned the violin under her chin and began playing, arms bent and wrist poised, making the most exquisite sounds. And I don’t mean classical like Beethoven or Mozart; I mean body-thrashing, blood-thumping, hard-as-hell music that had me rooted to the ground, like she’d slapped iron chains on me.

Dark and seductive notes rose up in the air, and I got jacked up, recognizing a Led Zeppelin song, only she’d ripped its guts out and twisted it into something electric. She pushed the bow hard, upping the tempo abruptly, her movements controlled yet wild. My pulse kicked up and my eyes lingered, taking in the slightly parted toned legs and the way her breasts bounced as she jerked her arms to manipulate the strings.

Her body arched forward in a curve, seeming as if she might break into a million pieces before she finished the piece or climaxed first. Then, her robe slipped off her right shoulder, exposing part of her breast. Creamy and full, it quivered, vibrating as she moved her arms. Her rosy nipple teased me, slipping in and out of the folds of the material, erect from the cool mountain air and deliciously bitable. I pictured my mouth there, sucking, my fingers plucking, strumming her like my guitar until she begged me to—

Stop, I told myself just as an appreciative groan came out. Whoever Violin Girl was, she didn’t deserve me lusting after her while she was pouring her heart out with music.

I zoomed in as far as the binoculars would go, watching her surrender to the music as she bent and swayed from side to side with her eyes closed, black lashes like fans on her cheeks. Every molecule in my body focused on her, hanging on to each note she pulled from her instrument.

She finished and kept her head bowed for the longest time, perhaps letting the emotion wash over her like it had me. Then, she bowed to the banana trees and gnomes in her garden, waving her hands in a flourish as she rose.

The entire event was surreal, yet poignant as fucking poetry.

I let out a deep breath I didn’t even realize I’d been holding.

Who the hell plays Stairway to Heaven with a violin? She did.

Violin Girl was music with skin. She was real and dark and twisted and I wanted to eat her up. I wanted to consume her and every single note she ripped from her violin.

Bam! She snapped her head up, her eyes lasering in on mine, making every hair on my body stand at attention.

And then …

Standing there in the moonlight, she untied her robe and spread apart the sides ever so slightly, her movements seeming almost hesitant, as if she’d had to work herself up. Unfamiliar jealousy hit me and I panned out and checked the rest of the patio, expecting to see a lover. Whoever it was, I wanted to rip him apart piece by piece.

And didn’t that thought surprise me.

My gaze searched her patio, the backyard, her upstairs balcony. Nothing. No one.

She flicked her dark hair back and stroked the lapels of the robe, her fingers lingering over the lacy material. Suddenly the evening smacked of something more than just music. Her arms moved back and forth across the front, opening the robe halfway and then closing it as if she couldn’t make up her mind.

My eyes went up, trying to read her face. Still as a statue, the only movement was her mouth as it trembled, her full upper lip resting against the pouty lower one. Tears ran down her face, but they seemed more of a defiant act, her jaw tightly set, her shoulders hunched inward as if she’d held it in too long and was giving in, but not without a fight.

Violin Girl was trapped in a cage of darkness.

It still didn’t stop me from holding my breath, silently begging her to bare herself to me. She’d already laid bare her music. Part of me needed the rest of her.

She jerked the robe closed, making me groan in disappointment.

And then she did something completely crazy.

The lonely girl next door flipped me the bird.

“Sixteen minutes. That’s how long it took for the emergency helicopters to reach the crash site where Flight 215’s right wing had been bombed by terrorists. Reports said they found me floating on top of a seat cushion, my legs dangling in the water, although I have no memory of getting there. Covered in cuts and bruises, I had a broken leg and wasn’t breathing when they pulled me up in a harness. The truth was, the real Violet died that day in the Atlantic.”

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