“God, you taste perfect,” I groan quietly, breaking the kiss. “I know where you taste just as delicious, though, don’t I?”
Pink paints her cheeks. “You have to stop. I c-can’t conduct pageant practice with these things staring back at everybody.”
She waves a hand around to indicate her hard nipples. Laughter cracks out of me, not just because of her predicament, but because I love that she’s comfortable saying these things to me now. A month ago, she would have denied the existence of her nipples if I’d asked. “Think of something that turns you off.”
“They’re not like…penises.” I almost propose marriage to her when her blush deepens even more, her full lips tipping up at either side. “If our two body parts were exactly alike, you’d get an erection every time you walked into an air-conditioned room.”
“That would get pretty interesting in Florida.” She laughs and my smile grows. “I can’t believe you said erection and penises to me in the space of a minute.”
She looks down at her still-hard nipples and sighs, crossing her arms over the offenders. I already miss them. “It’s safe to say you’ve corrupted me, Mr. Bristow.”
“Not nearly enough,” I growl, leaning in and bringing our mouths together, making contact with just the tips of our tongues. “And you’ll be calling me Mr. Bristow tonight when I get you alone. Just sealed your fate.”
“If you’re trying to render me useless for the rest of the afternoon…” Her hips cinch forward, her belly pressing lightly against the snap of my jeans. Too lightly. “Two can play at that game, you know.”
“Oh yeah?” I say, hoarsely, knowing I shouldn’t. Naomi making the most basic attempt to seduce me would bring me to my knees. Does she even realize that?
“Mmmhmm.” She slips on that sweet, Southern belle expression. Delicate but composed. Anticipation hums in my veins as I try to figure out what’s coming. “I have some repairs that need seeing to in my apartment. Could you be a dear and come by with your toolbox later, Mr. Bristow?” Cool eyes run from the notch of my throat down to the snap of my jeans, her accent even more of a drawl than usual. “I’d be very grateful.”
Heat rushes to my groin like water through a busted dam. “Ohh, beauty queen. You’re in deep trouble with me now.”
“Why, I don’t know what you mean.”
We’re in public, so I can’t do what I need to do to Naomi. I tickle her instead, digging my fingers into her ribs. With a yelp, she twists and I pick her up off the ground, blowing a raspberry into the side of her neck.
I’m laughing when I set her down, her look of outrage setting me off even more. Naomi joins in, springing forward to tickle me back. I’ve never been tickled in my life, so I’m not prepared when it gets to me, a weird, goosey sensation making me yelp. Me. I yelp. Loudly. Naomi stares back stunned and dissolves into stiches. I can only watch as she doubles over, laughing louder than I’ve ever seen her, tears glazing her eyes. Across the room, Birdie falls to the floor, holding her sides and rolling around. Even Mister Toes—Turner, I’ve learned is his actual name—is battling a smile.
“Oh my goodness,” Naomi says, pausing for another giggle snort. “I’ve completely lost control of this rehearsal and we only have one more day.” She shoos me back to my corner of the room with an exhilarated smile, giving me a nice view of her ass when she faces the stereo. “From the top?”
The instructor sends her a nod, prompting Birdie to get off the floor and into position. They create a frame with their arms and take deep breaths as the familiar melody fills the room. He pushes forward and Birdie retreats, signaling the start. I lean back against the wall and count off the steps, noting the determined set to my sister’s chin this time. Tension builds in my shoulders the closer they come to the end. That damn turn into a dip, it’s—
Birdie nails it.
The notes of the song jangle to a stop and the song cuts off. All of us stand frozen in the stillness of the church basement, the couple still posed in that final position. Pride rips up my throat and erupts in a shout, colliding with Naomi’s victorious cry of hallelujah. We both move toward Birdie—who basically just looks stunned—and smash her between us in a hug.
“You did it,” Naomi squeals. “It was beautiful. You did it.”
“I’m proud of you, kid,” I say, smacking a kiss down on top of her head. “Congratulations, you made me give a shit about waltzing.”
She lets out a watery laugh into my chest. “I had to get it right. I got sick of watching you guys moon over each other across the room.” A beat passes. “I didn’t mean that. It’s actually pretty cute.”