“So what did you think about the meet and greet?” he said, and it was like a thick cloud had passed. We were officially back in safe territory. “Wasn’t bad?”
“No.” I smiled up at him. “It wasn’t bad at all.”
“Then next time, maybe you’ll ride one of them? Lightning?”
My stomach tumbled a bit. “Ah . . .”
“I’ll be with you,” he added, dipping his chin. “The whole time.”
I pictured me practically sitting in his lap, his arm around my waist, holding me close, and . . . I felt hot. I needed to throw the brakes on the p**n train before my mind veered into triple X land.
He chuckled, the sound deep and sexy, as he moved closer. His sneakers brushed mine, and I had to crane my neck to meet his eyes. “I can tell you like that idea.”
“What?” I scowled, hopefully fiercely and not stupidly. “No. I was thinking about music class tomorrow. Aren’t we covering the baroque period? Stimulating stuff right there. I’m all kinds of excited.”
A smirk formed on his lips. “I don’t think that’s what you are all excited about or what gets you excited.”
“It’s not you.”
“Whatever.” The teasing glint grew in his gaze. “You were thinking about me.”
I snorted. Like a pig. “Yeah, I don’t think so. I don’t think about you at all.”
“You’re a terrible liar.”
“And you have a terrible ego. Worse than my brother and that’s saying something.”
“You can say whatever you want. I know better.” He dipped his head and his lips grazed my cheek, blazing a small fire across my cheeks. “See? You’re flushing and I haven’t even done anything.”
“It’s the sun,” I replied, straining back before I did something stupid. Like grabbing his face in a death grip and molesting him. “I’m getting a heatstroke.”
He choked out a laugh. “The sun isn’t even out.”
I huffed. “Like that makes a difference.”
“You know what?”
Cocking my head to the side, I waited.
That infuriating grin seemed permanently etched into his face. “It’s cute.”
“What is?” I hoped he wasn’t thinking that about me because I’d like to be seen as more than “cute” when it came to him.
“You.” He caught a piece of my hair in his other hand and tickled the edges along my neck while I fought the urge to stick my tongue out. “This whole act—you pretending that you don’t sit and think about me all the time. You probably sit in your dorm and write my name all over your dry-erase board.”
“Oh my God.” I laughed.
“And then you dream about me, right? You stay awake and—”
My laugh cut him off as I swung at him with my free hand, aiming for his chest. What he was saying was beyond ridiculous. Okay—maybe not the dreaming part. He did star in quite a few of them. My hand never landed though. He snatched it out of the air with his other hand with startling reflexes and hauled me against his chest in one quick, smooth move.
“Hitting is not nice,” he said, grinning. “And neither is deluding yourself.”
My chest flush with his made this conversation all the more difficult. The tips of my br**sts tingled sharply. “You should listen to what you’re saying. You said you regretted kissing me, so why would I sit around and think about you? I moved on, bud.”
The moment those words left my mouth and my gaze locked with his, I realized that I’d made a mistake. I don’t know what he was thinking, but the intensity in his silvery eyes consumed me. Somehow we’d gone from harmless teasing and talking smack—because the stuff I’d been spouting off at him were some pretty bad lies—to this . . . and I didn’t even know what this was.
The humor vanished from his striking face. “I never said I regretted kissing you.”
“I’m pretty sure you did.”
His eyes burned like quicksilver. “I’m pretty sure I didn’t.”
Slowly, I shook my head. Confusion poured in and I didn’t know what to say.
“And I don’t regret kissing you.”
In my chest, my heart tripled its beats at those words. “You don’t?”
“No.” He looked away for a brief moment, jaw working, before his gaze latched onto mine again. “I should. I wish I did.”
“I don’t,” I whispered before I could stop myself. “I don’t regret it at all.”
He stared at me a moment as his hands on my wrists spasmed. His arms extended out, putting a few inches in between our bodies, and I should’ve kept my damn mouth shut.
“Fuck,” he said, voice hoarse, and dragged me back against him.
Jase lowered his head and his mouth was on mine before I even realized what was happening. My brain was way behind what was going on, but he kissed me—he was kissing me. His lips were on mine, and there was nothing soft and sweet about this kiss.
I was branded in seconds.
His mouth moved along as his hands moved to cup my cheeks, tilting my head back. I rose up onto the toes of my sneakers, placing my hands against his chest. Under my palm, his heart pounded as fast as mine. He shuddered as his fingers spread, and I think I stopped breathing.
Over three years of crushing on him, a year since the last time our lips met, and Jase . . . oh God, he was finally kissing me.
Mind reeling and senses spinning, I trembled as he nipped at my lower lip the same way he had at my neck before and then flicked the edge of his tongue over the seam of my lips, coaxing them open. He deepened the kiss, tasting me—owning me, and in the same instance, setting me free. This kiss was nothing like the one stolen a year ago. It blew it out of the water as a deep, nearly primitive rumble rose up from his chest.
He drank me in.
There was a brief second where I worried about his father finding us like this, and, well, that would just be awkward. The threat vanished as his hands slid down my throat, over my shoulders, to my hips. Being caught? Total nonissue.
My heart swelled until I thought it couldn’t take any more as his hold on my h*ps tightened. He lifted me up without breaking the kiss. Instinct took over. I wrapped my legs around his waist as I looped my arms around his neck, thrusting my fingers through the soft edges of his hair.
He started walking, and I had no idea where he was heading, but I was in awe of his multitasking skills, the way his tongue tangled with mine, how his hands curved to the cheeks of my ass and never once stumbling.
A maddening rush of sensations shot through me as he went down on his knees and my back hit the hay. His powerful body hovered over mine, caging me in. The thin, itchy straws poked at my arms, but his lips seared mine and he stole my breath as he lowered his body onto mine. The hay drew in our combined weight, cradling us as one of Jase’s hands drifted to my thigh, hooking my leg over his. This was nothing like the night he was drunk. We both knew he was fully aware of what he was doing. We both were here.
The pressure—the positioning of where he was the hardest and I was the softest—left little room for thought. I could feel him, and when his lower body rolled against mine, I whimpered at the sharp pleasure pounding through me. I tilted my h*ps up, following his lead, and his answering groan was like thunder in my blood.
“Damn,” he growled against my swollen lips. “Oh, f**king damn, Tess, I . . .”
His mouth melded to mine once more, but there was something deeper and slower about the kiss. Almost tender. I thought I felt his hand tremble against the curve of my waist as it slipped under my shirt. I knew for a fact that my hands shook as my fingers intertwined in his hair. The rough skin of his palm skimmed over my belly and I jerked against him, needing and wanting so very much more.
In that moment, where nothing seemed to exist outside of his kisses, of the way he tasted and how he felt, I would go all the way.
On a farm.
Near a barn.
In the hay.
His lips left mine, and I whimpered, immediately missing them. His smug chuckle sent darts of desire zinging through my veins and then his lips scorched a path to my neck. I threw my head back, giving him all the access he wanted.
And he took.
He kissed the sensitive spot under my jaw, nuzzling my neck. His lips soothed the burn of the fine stubble around his mouth. My entire body ached for him, for more—for everything that went beyond this.
As if in a tunnel, I heard the loud rumbling of a car. At first I thought it was my imagination—I prayed that it was. But as the seconds passed, the sound grew louder.
Jase sprang off me, onto his feet, and backed up. The rush of air felt cool in spite of the muggy day. In a daze, my gaze crawled down the length of him. Straw clung to his shirt and the fine hairs along his arms. My attention got snagged up below the h*ps before I looked down at myself.
My shirt was bunched up under my bra.
The car passed the bend in the road, and a flash of red appeared beyond the tall yellow and green cornstalks.
Processing skills had yet to catch up with the events. So when Jase came forward and towed me onto my feet, I was unprepared. I swayed to the right and tried to correct myself before I put my weight onto my bad leg. He caught me before I did, steadying me as I panted for breath like I’d just done a series of tricks on the stage.
“Shit, Tess,” he said, dragging his fingers along the hem of my tank top. He straightened my shirt while I stood there like an imbecile. “That . . .”
The car had stopped beside Jase’s Jeep and the passenger door creaked open and a tiny form stumbled out. A woman shouted.
“Jase!” shrieked a small voice. His little brother spun toward the pen. “Jase!”
I was frozen in place, knowing that I was covered in hay and my skin was way too flushed, like a heatstroke was now a true possibility. My wild gaze swung toward Jase.
“I’m sorry. That shouldn’t have happened,” Jase said, and then he turned and walked away.
Jack threw himself into Jase’s prepared arms. Lifting the little guy up, Jase spun him in a wide circle. Anyone standing nearby would’ve lost an eye if they’d been close. Jack shrieked happily, eyes screwed shut and mouth open.
My chest lurched at the sight of them together. Jase . . . he’d make a great father one day. Not that I’d obviously get firsthand experience with him as a dad, since I was one permanent, giant walking mistake according to him. Knowing that stung like I’d walked into a hornet’s nest and started kicking it. I didn’t know why it hurt so badly. The idea of having babies was so far off from what I planned on doing in the near future, but it didn’t make the squeezing in my chest ease off.
Jack wiggled down and the moment his feet touched the ground, he sprinted toward me. Wrapping his little arms around my legs, he peered up at me, grinning in a way that melted my heart. The kid was adorable.
“Did you learn to ride the horsies?” he asked, surprising me with his memory.
I forced a smile. “I fed them, but I didn’t learn to ride them.” And, apparently, I never would at the rate Jase and I were going.
“Why you not teached her?” Jack demanded as he craned his neck toward his brother.
“Teach,” Jase corrected absently. Walking up, he wrapped his fingers around Jack’s upper arms. “You’re like a little amoeba.”
Jack’s brows puckered as he held on to my legs. “What’s an ah-meeb-a?”
Jase chuckled as he tugged on him again. “Something that has a tendency to attach itself to other things. You should let go.”
For a second, it didn’t look like he would, but then he relinquished his surprisingly strong hold. Jase glanced up as he spun his brother away from me. Our gazes collided and then he hastily looked away.
Oh, joy. The trip back to the dorm was going to be fun.
But not as awkward as addressing his mother for the first time looking like I’d just gotten it on in the hay. Which I sort of just did.
Mrs. Winstead smiled warmly enough as I followed the two brothers over to the Jeep, but surprise was etched into her features. She was a pretty woman with fine lines around her mouth and eyes. Dressed in jeans and a worn shirt, she looked like she knew her way around the farm and hadn’t been scared of getting hands-on.
Taking a deep breath, I held out my hand as Jase picked up his brother, draping him over his shoulders like a sack of potatoes. There weren’t going to be any introductions. Not like with his father. Not after what happened, and I felt awkward, totally out of place, as if I didn’t belong here. And I didn’t. A burn crawled up my throat, deepening an ache in my chest.
My cheeks flushed. “Hi. I’m Teresa.”
Jase glanced over sharply at the hoarse quality to my voice, and I cleared my throat, focusing on his mom. “I’m Cam’s sister.”