Page 21

Author: Tracy Wolff

Quinn was still above her, still inside her, and though she was suddenly aware of the unyielding wood of the piano digging into the center of her back, she was in no hurry to move. Not when it felt this good to just hold him. To be held by him.

It was strange. When she’d been seventeen, and he’d kissed her for the first time, it had felt an awful lot like this. Oh, not like this, obviously, with her aching back and sensitive skin and her legs—her sex—still wrapped around Quinn’s hard body. But the feelings—the euphoria, the anticipation, the fear—those were the same.

For a second, just a second, she thought of pushing Quinn off. Of pulling into herself, wrapping herself up in her clothes—her mind—so that this aching vulnerability wouldn’t shine through. But then Quinn lowered his head and kissed her, his lips soft and warm and still tasting of her, and she felt herself melt into him all over again.

It was a problem, but one she would deal with later, when she couldn’t still feel him inside of her.

“I’m crushing you,” he said, starting to push away.

“No!” Even knowing it probably made her look pathetic, she clutched at his shoulders, wrapped her arms and legs around him and held him close. Aching back or not, she wasn’t ready to let him go. Not when these were probably the only moments she would ever have with him. “It’s fine. I’m fine.”

Quinn lifted his head, looked at her with those dark eyes that seemed to see so much more than she wanted to show. And then he was sliding his hands under her hips, lifting her into him as he stood up.

He shifted inside her and she whimpered a little at the movement, at the knowledge that what they’d shared was truly over. Which was fine, she told herself. She didn’t need anything from Quinn, sure as hell didn’t need this. Yes, it would have been nice to be held after sex, but it’s not like he hadn’t walked away from her before. Why should this time be any different?

“Hey,” he said as he slipped out of her. “What’s going on in that head of yours?”

She sighed at the loss. He’d been so hot, so solid, inside of her that she’d forgotten to be cold. But no one liked a clingy lover, especially not a guy like Quinn, so she forced a smile as she unwound her legs from his waist and slid slowly down his lean, rocker body.

“I was just thinking you got better with age,” she told him with a flip of her hair.

He laughed as he disposed of the condom. “Yeah, well, seventeen-year-old boys aren’t known for their staying power.”

She couldn’t help it; the smile slid right off her face as she stared at him with wide eyes. He seemed to register what he said then, and he cursed, long and low. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.” But it was true, nonetheless. They’d barely finished making love—having sex, she reminded herself viciously—before he’d been out of bed and getting dressed. A few minutes and a fistfight later and he’d been out the door without a backward glance. She needed to remember that.

With that thought in mind, she bent down, started to pick up her clothes. It felt awkward standing here naked having this conversation. The clothes didn’t provide much protection, much armor, but they gave her some and she could use that right about now.

But Quinn was having none of it. As she reached up for her pants—which had somehow managed to land on the harp halfway across the room—he scooped her into his arms and pressed hot kisses into her neck as he carried her through the doorway and down the hall.

She was so surprised she could do nothing but hang on for the ride.

“Are you hungry?” he asked as they made their way to the kitchen. He snagged a blanket off the couch as they walked by, somehow managed to wrap her up in it even while he continued to support her weight.

Elise started to say “no,” her default answer, but realized with some surprise that she was hungry. “Starving, actually.”

Her stomach chose that moment to grumble and back her up.

Quinn laughed as he settled her down in one of the kitchen chairs before walking to the sink—stark naked—and washing his hands. Though she told herself to look away, Elise couldn’t help staring at his naked ass.

“What do you want to eat?” he asked, tossing a look over his shoulder at her. He grinned when he realized what her gaze was locked on. “Are you checking me out?”

She shook her head, forced her eyes up to his. She had been, totally, but it wasn’t like she was going to admit that to him. “I was trying to figure out why you had a tattoo on your ass.”

“What?” He pretended to be scandalized. “There’s a tattoo on my ass? How did that happen?”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s a good thing you can play the keyboards passably, because you’d never make it as an actor.”

He just grinned at her, wiggled his eyebrows.

“So are you going to tell me?”

“Tell you what?”

“Why you have a tattoo of stars on your ass?”

“Not just any stars, love. That’s the big dipper.”

“Ugh. Seriously?”

“No, not seriously. What kind of a loser do you take me for?” He shook his head, laughed, as he crossed to the fridge and pulled out eggs, cheese, peppers and onions. “It’s Lyra. The harp. For obvious reasons, I suppose. But you can blame Wyatt for the tattoo. We were all really drunk one night—this was back before we hit it big—and he convinced us that we should all get a different constellation tattoo. For luck.”

“Why constellations?” she asked curiously, her post-coital awkwardness forgotten with this small glimpse into his life.

He shrugged. “It’s where we wanted to end up. All the way to the stars, you know. It’s stupid, but like I said, we were really drunk and he always has been really persuasive.”

“I don’t think it’s stupid. It’s paid off, hasn’t it?”

“Yeah, I suppose it has.” He laughed again, but there was something else there. Something sad. She didn’t like it.

“So,” she said, crossing the kitchen and wrapping her arms around his waist, “if I promise not to go running to Rolling Stone, will you tell me?”

“Tell you what?” he asked, his body sinking into hers.

“Which one of you actually got the Big Dipper tattoo?”

This time his laugh was anything but amused. “Micah, of course. He’s just that kind of douchebag.”

“I haven’t met him yet. Or Wyatt.”

“No.” His answer was abrupt and he didn’t say anything else as he pulled out a bowl and started cracking eggs into it.

She wanted to ask about them—of course she did—but Quinn had shut down completely. It was weird when she thought about how relaxed, how happy, he seemed around Ryder and Jared, but she wasn’t going to press it. Not when he currently looked like he wanted to punch something. Or cry. Besides, Google existed for a reason. Shaken Dirty were famous enough that she figured the Internet would tell her anything she wanted to know.

Determined to change the subject to something that would make him smile again, she pressed soft kisses across his upper back and shoulders. “So, are you going to tell me what all the other ones mean?”

He didn’t pause in chopping the red peppers as he glanced over his shoulder at her. “What’s this sudden interest you have in my ink?”

“I don’t know. I like your tattoos.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah.” She wet her lips, glanced away because it was easier to say things like this when she wasn’t looking into his eyes. “I think they’re sexy.”

Quinn turned then, pulled her into his arms, and kissed her, so slowly and thoroughly that she was afraid her brain had actually melted. And that was before she realized he’d grown hard again, just from kissing her.

“You know what I think is sexy?” he asked, his eyes gleaming wickedly at her.

Elise nearly swallowed her tongue. No wonder women all over the world were crazy for Shaken Dirty. When Quinn looked at her like that, she wanted to beg him to f**k her, to take her over and over again and to hell with the consequences.

“That little dimple you have right here.” He brought his hand up to her cheek, toyed with the dimple in question. “I’ve had fantasies about it since I was fourteen years old.”

“Fantasies?” she choked out, barely able to breathe now that all his sensual attention was once again focused on her. “Really?”

“Oh, yeah.” He leaned down then, pressed a warm, open-mouthed kiss against the very spot in question.

She gasped, her hands clutching at him in a desperate attempt to stay upright as her knees once again turned to jelly. It was crazy, the reaction he caused in her. She’d never been the swooning type, always considered herself too practical to fall for lines like these. But when Quinn looked at her, touched her, kissed her, it didn’t feel like a line. It felt like truth.

Which was crazy. She knew that. But as his tongue darted out to lap hotly at her dimple, she couldn’t seem to remember why this was a bad idea. Why she couldn’t trust him.

But just as his hands came up to cup her face so that he could kiss her—really kiss her—her stomach growled, loudly.

Quinn burst out laughing, then pulled away after dropping a sweet, chaste kiss on her forehead. “Food now. Sex later.”

“We could reverse that order,” she told him, so turned on that she was willing to let her stomach growl forever if it meant having him inside her again. “Sex now, food later.”

“Don’t tempt me.” He turned back to the vegetables he’d been chopping. “You need to eat or you’ll never get your strength back.”

She raised a brow. “You didn’t seem to have any complaints about my strength when we were on that piano bench a little while ago.”

“You’re right. I didn’t.” He grinned at her. “Which is why I need to feed you. I’d hate for you to be too weak for an encore performance.”

So would she, now that she thought about it. Which was why she reached for the bread to make toast instead of pushing things between them. This wasn’t like last time, she told herself. Quinn wasn’t going to walk away the second she turned her back. And even if it did, she wouldn’t let it matter as much. Not this time. No, better to just have fun with him and walk away at the end of the week. No harm, no foul. For either of them.

After dinner—which consisted of a surprisingly delicious vegetarian omelet and sourdough toast—Quinn insisted on carrying Elise up the stairs to her bedroom. Once there, he ran a bath for her and then proceeded to climb in behind her and wash every inch of her thoroughly. He even washed her hair, his strong fingers massaging her scalp and neck until her muscles were putty and her body was on fire. She didn’t know how he did it—how he could so thoroughly turn her on and relax her at the same time, but somehow Quinn managed it. Which was why when his hand slid down her stomach to play with her clit, it only took a minute or two for her to come yet again.

She was limp afterward, completely spent, so Quinn lifted her out of the bathtub, dried her body and her hair, then—for the second night in a row—tried to slip her pajamas on her.

But Elise was having none of it. Never in her life had she felt anything as good as Quinn’s hot, smooth skin pressed against her own. No way was she going to let a pair of pajamas get in the way of that.

He didn’t argue, obviously, and soon they were tucked into bed, his hands playing gently with her hair while she rested her head on his chest. She’d had that long nap earlier, so though her body was tired, her mind was wide-awake. Of course, that could also have to do with the fact that Quinn Bradford was beside her and she had about a million questions to ask him. Maybe two million.