I pull every bready thing I can find out of the cabinet—crackers, cookies, pretzels—and trade them for the bottles on the table, stashing them away before threatening to murder anyone who dares wake me up. When I finally crawl under sheets that still carry the faint scent of Shawn’s cologne, I’m exhausted—from the long day, from the concert, from having to deal with Victoria Hess . . .
From having to say no to Shawn Scarlett.
SHAWN’S GREEN EYES are the last thing I think of before I fall asleep, and the first thing I see when I wake. The dark is just beginning to give way to light, a hazy glow begging entry through the closed blinds of the bus, while Shawn’s soft fingers brush my elbow. He’s crouched next to my bed—his shirt, clean; his eyes, clear; and his breath, minty fresh when he orders, “Come with me.”
Without waiting for me to argue, he disappears behind the heavy gray curtain leading to the kitchen, and I lie in bed until I’m sure I’m not dreaming. Joel is snoring, traffic outside is moving, and my heart is waking up without me, forcing my feet to free themselves from my covers and swing over the side of my bunk. The chill beneath the pads of my toes confirms that I’m awake as I slip silently between the bunks, careful not to wake anyone as I prepare myself for Shawn’s apology. He’ll say he’s sorry for kissing me, explain that he was drunk, and I’ll accept all the promises he’ll make that it will never happen again. It’ll be awkward, and we’ll agree to keep things professional, and that will be that. Simple and impossible.
When I push back the curtain and slip inside the kitchen, he turns to face me, the glassy sheen from the night before gone from his eyes. “You said to talk to you when I was sober.”
My heart sinks when he confirms that he remembers—the way he touched me, the way I let him. He was drunk enough to come on to me, but not drunk enough to forget it.
I kissed him back. I wasn’t the one who was drunk, but I kissed him back.
Shawn steps closer, my breath catching in my lungs when both of his hands tunnel into my hair—still damp from my shower last night. Without my boots, I’m tilting my chin high to stare up at him.
“I’m sober,” he says.
“You said to talk to you when I’m sober,” he explains.
And then, he kisses me.
My eyes are already closed by the time his lips press against mine, and that furious addiction in my veins boils until I’m kissing him back, until I’m breathing him in. I fist my hands in the slack of his T-shirt, and he spins us around and begins walking me backward.
He’s sober. The way he looked at me, the way he’s touching me—strong, deliberate, steady.
The kitchen counter gets in my way, and then Shawn’s hands are gripping my ass and lifting me onto it. The stubble on his jaw prickles my palms, my cheek, my neck, my chin—until every part of me, seen and unseen, is marked as his.
I want him, but not just for a moment. I want him, but not just this once.
I break my lips away and hold his shoulders at a distance when he tries to reclaim them. The smoldering look in his eyes is shaking my resolve when I warn, “You can’t regret this, Shawn.”
Whether he’s sober or not, I can’t lose another piece of myself. I can’t just throw it away.
He pulls me to the edge of the counter so that my thighs are snug around his hips and the firm press of him is hard between my legs. His eyes are full of promises when he says, “I won’t.”
His lips crush mine again, and the squeeze of my knees draws him even closer. Shawn’s hands slide down to my ass, and when he rocks me against him, my moan mingles with his, a low, quiet, breathy sound that makes my insides coil tight.
I’m ready to give him whatever he wants when his lips suddenly part from mine, brushing across my skin until they’re pressing hard against my temple. His words are at my ear and his shoulders are trembling under my hands when he says, “You can’t regret this either.”
“Mean it.” His voice is uneven, his hands unsteady—like it’s taking everything he has to keep them from taking me.
“I promise,” I say, and he pulls away to see the truth in my eyes a moment before he kisses me.
He kisses me like he plays the guitar—a mix of passion and technique that makes me feel like a sundae he’s determined to savor, like my tongue is the ripened cherry on top. And I kiss him back until I’m melting under his lips, his tongue, his touch. My skin ignites when his lips drop lower, and lower. They explore my neck and the exposed parts of my chest, finding my hot spots and exploiting them until I’m biting my lip between my teeth to keep from waking the entire bus. My tiny whimpers only encourage him as he pushes a hand under my shirt and palms the swell of my breast, greedy and massaging and . . . fuck, I’m throbbing between my legs, and the way he’s moving against me isn’t helping—not with my pajama shorts as silky as they are, and my panties getting as wet as they are.
With his hips between my thighs and his hand under my shirt, my fingers detach themselves from the shoulders of his T-shirt in a rush, diving to the button of his jeans instead. I’m fumbling with the denim, desperate to feel him inside me, when Joel groans from his bunk behind the curtain, “Shaaawn, make me a coffee.”
Shawn and I freeze—me with my hands ready to tear apart his jeans, and him with one hand on my breast and the other under my ass. He slowly straightens back up, my fingers not moving from his button and his eyes not straying from my mouth. We wait and wait and nothing. In the silence, he nips softly at my lips, and in the silence, I kiss him back.