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“What—what happened?” I gasp, bending down to pick up a few books that are directly in my path.

Jaxon takes them from me with a shake of his head, tosses them onto the bottom of the couch, which is now facing up. “I promised you the earthquake thing isn’t going to happen anymore,” he answers. “But it’s going to take a little time for me to figure out how to control all the things you make me feel.”

“This is learning how to control it?” I step over a pile of rubble that I’m pretty sure used to be a bookcase and try to pretend his words aren’t making me melt deep inside.

He turns me inside out with a look, destroys me with a kiss. But this? This makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, he feels as much for me as I feel for him.

He shrugs. “The earth barely shook this time, and no window broke. That’s definite progress.”

“I guess.” I swallow down the softness he makes bloom inside me and make a show of looking at the scattered wood chips instead. “I really liked that coffee table.”

“I’ll find you one you like more.” He tugs on my hand. “Come on.”

We make our way to his room, which thankfully seems to have been spared the destruction suffered by the reading alcove. It looks exactly the same as last time, complete with gorgeous paintings on the walls and musical instruments in the corner.

“I love your room,” I tell him, trailing a hand over his dresser as I make my way to the drum kit. I resisted it last time, know I should resist it this time, since what has happened so far today has left us with a lot to talk about.

But it’s been weeks since I’ve sat behind a kit, weeks since I’ve held a set of drumsticks in my hands, and I just need to touch it. Just need to run my hands over the skins.

“You play?” Jaxon asks as I rest my hand on the top of one of the toms.

“I used to, before…” I trail off. I don’t want to talk about my parents right now, don’t want to bring that sadness into my first conversation with Jaxon post…whatever that was.

He seems to get it, because he doesn’t push. Instead, he smiles, really smiles, and it lights up his whole face. Lights up the whole room. Definitely lights up all the dark and sad places I’ve been holding on to for too long.

It isn’t until I see his smile that I realize how much he’s been holding back, how much he’s been holding in for who knows how long.

“Want to play something now?” he asks.

“No.” It’s my turn to hold a hand out to him. I pull him toward the bed, waiting until he chooses a side to sit on before I plop down on the other side. “I want to talk.”

“About?” he deadpans even as a wariness creeps into his gaze that hasn’t been there since he bit me.

“Oh, I don’t know. The weather?” I tease because I’m trying to be nonchalant about this whole thing. Trying to tell myself that finding out the boy I’m falling for is a vampire who can literally shake the earth really isn’t that big of a deal.

He rolls his eyes, but I’m watching closely and see the corners of his mouth turning up in the smile he’s trying so hard to hide.

It makes the nonchalance totally worth it, even as I scramble with trying to wrap my head around everything that’s happened today. And everything that’s happened in the last six days. Because there is still a tiny part of me freaking out about the fact that I let a vampire bite me—even if that vampire is Jaxon. And even if I enjoyed it way more than I ever imagined I would.

But now is not the time for me to freak out, not when Jaxon is already so on edge. So I settle for giving him a playful don’t mess with me look even as I lay down on one side of his bed.

Jaxon lifts a brow as he watches me make myself comfortable, then stretches out next to me. I don’t miss the fact that he makes sure not to touch me at all as he does.

Which is completely unacceptable. I’m trying to close the distance between us, not make it bigger. But I appreciate the fact that he’s working so hard not to freak me out. I just wish he realized that I’m not the one who’s freaked out here.

But since I want to get the guarded look out of his eyes, I decide to tackle that subject later. For now, I’m going with, “Did you hear the joke about the roof?”

“Excuse me?” He lifts a single disdainful brow—which means I have to work really hard to hide how googly-eyed it makes me when he does it.

“Never mind.” I give him a cheesy grin. “It’s over your head.”

He stares at me, bemused, for several seconds. Then he shakes his head and says, “Somehow, they always get worse.”

“You have no idea.” I roll over until I’m on my stomach—and then scoot so the right side of my body is pressed to the left side of his. “What’s the difference between a guitar and a fish?”

Both brows go up this time, even as he answers, “I don’t think I want to know.”

I ignore him. “You can tune a guitar but you can’t tuna fish.”

He lets out a bark of laughter that startles both of us. Then he shakes his head and tells me, “It’s an actual sickness with you, isn’t it?”

“It’s fun, Jaxon.” I give him the most obnoxious smirk I can manage. “You know what fun is, don’t you?”

He rolls his eyes. “I think I have a vague recollection of that emotion, yeah.”

“Good. What do you call a dinosaur that—?”

He cuts me off with a kiss and a yank. The kiss curls my toes, but the yank…the yank curls everything else. Especially when he pulls me over so that I’m on top of him, my knees straddling his hips and my curls forming a curtain around us.

Jaxon takes hold of a lock of my hair, then watches as the curl twines around his finger. “I love your hair,” he says, pulling on the curl just to release it and watch it boing back into place.

“Yeah, well, I’m pretty fond of yours, too,” I tell him, sliding my fingers through his black strands.

As I do, my palm brushes against his scar, and he stiffens before turning his head away so that I’m no longer touching it.

“Why do you do that?” I ask.

“Do what?”

I give him a look that says he knows exactly what I’m talking about. “I already told you that you’re the sexiest guy I’ve ever seen—and that includes a lot of pretty impressive San Diego surf gods. So I don’t understand why it bothers you so much if I see your scar.”

He shrugs. “It doesn’t bother me if you see my scar.”

I don’t think that’s true, but I’m willing to go with it—up to a point. “Fine, it doesn’t bother you if I see it, but it definitely bothers you if I touch it.”

“No.” He shakes his head. “That doesn’t bother me, either.”

“Okay, I’m sorry, but I call bullshit.” To prove it, I lean down and press a series of hot, openmouthed kisses against his jaw. I don’t deliberately touch his scar, but I don’t shy away from it, either. And sure enough, he lasts only a few seconds before threading his fingers through my hair and gently pressing my face into the bend where his shoulder meets his neck.

Before I can say anything, though, he takes a deep breath. Then says, “It’s not that I think you’ll be disgusted by my scar or anything—you’re not that shallow.”

“Then why does it bother you so much if I go near it?”

He doesn’t answer right away, and as silence stretches between us, I think maybe he won’t answer at all. But then, just when I’ve given up, he says, “Because it reminds me of how I got it, and I don’t want you anywhere near that world. And I sure as hell don’t want that world anywhere near you.”



the World Breaks


The pain in his voice has my heart thudding slow and hard in my chest.

Sure, there’s a part of me that can’t imagine what world he’s talking about, considering I’m currently living in the middle of a fantasy novel—one complete with fantastical creatures and secrets galore. But there’s a larger part of me that just wants him to know that whatever world he’s talking about, and whatever happened to him in that world, I’m on his side.

I take my time running my palms over his chest and pressing kisses along the powerful column of his throat. He smells like oranges again, and deep water, and I sink into the scent of him, into the glorious taste and feel and sound of him.

His hands go to my hips, and he groans low in his throat as he arches against me. It feels amazing—he feels amazing. I’ve never been this intimate with a guy before, have never wanted to be, but with Jaxon, I want it all. I want to feel everything, experience everything. Maybe not now, when we’re on borrowed time, but soon.

But I also want to know what’s hurting him. Not so I can take it away—I know way better than that—but so I can share it with him. So I can understand. Which is why I roll off him just as things are getting really interesting.

He rolls with me, of course, so that now we’re stretched on our sides, facing each other. His arm is around my waist, his hand resting on my hip, and there’s a part of me that wants nothing more than to sink back into him. To just let whatever’s going to happen happen.

But Jaxon deserves better than that. And so do I.

Which is why I reach up and cup his unscarred cheek, then lean forward until our mouths are so close that we’re breathing the same air. “Believe me, I understand better than most if you don’t want to talk about what happened to you,” I whisper. “But I need you to know that if you ever want to share what happened with me, I’m more than happy to listen.”

My words aren’t sexy and they definitely aren’t slick, but they are sincere and they are heartfelt. Jaxon must sense it, too, because instead of dismissing me out of turn, as I half expected him to, he stares at me through eyes that show more than I ever imagined.