I formed a fist and bit the side of my hand. My eyes closed tight. “No! No…it’s just… Well, in the past, Randy used to try to make me feel better by…”


“By having naked music parties.”

Silence. I didn’t want to open my eyes to see her reaction. A loud giggle was heard. I peeked my eyes opened to find Ashlyn cracking up in laughter. “Naked music parties? Oh my gosh! You’re a freak!” She was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down her cheek.

“What?! No! Randy’s the freak! I was just a guy…in a room…with naked girls.” I put the car in reverse and turned to back away from the house. Ashlyn’s hand rested on my arm.

“Don’t you dare!” she hissed. “We are going to a naked music party!”

“We are not!” I argued. She set the paper bag on the ground in front of her. Her fingers slowly started unbuttoning her coat. “Ashlyn…” I muttered, watching her movements.

“Put the car in park,” she instructed.

“No,” I said, but I did the opposite. The car went into park.

Of course the car went into park. Because when a beautiful girl started undressing in your vehicle, you put the damn car in park. I shut up as I watched her remove her coat. Her hands wrapped under the hem of her sweater and she started to pull it over her head.

“‘Are you sure that we are awake? It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream.’” She was quoting A Midsummer Night’s Dream as her sweater found its placement in my back seat.

Her fingers started at the top of her neck and she caressed her body as she moved her fingers down her neck, across her cle**age and to her bra. Her eyes closed and I watched as she touched herself in front of me, her mouth parting in excitement.

“You’re killing me, Ashlyn,” I muttered, watching, feeling myself harden as I watched.

She leaned her seat back, lying backwards. Her hands were still running against her body. I watched her deep inhales and heavy exhales. “‘Up and down, up and down. I will lead them up and down…’” she quoted. Her fingers moved down her chest, traveling toward her belly button. She turned her head in my direction and she smiled easily with closed eyes. Her fingers started unbuttoning her jeans. “‘I am feared in field in town—’”

A growl rolled through me and my hands landed on top of hers. Her green eyes shot open and her mouth parted at seeing my eyes filled with need. My hands unzipped her jeans and I pulled them down a bit. Slightly teasing the skin above her panties, I listened to her moan.

“‘Goblin, lead them up,’” I started to finish her quote. My fingers traced up to her bra, grazing over her hardened ni**les. Her hands flew over her head and she gripped the headrest behind her. With quickening breaths, her excitement deepened. Sliding my fingers down her skin, my hand slid into her panties and I listened to her burst with pleasure as I whispered against her ear, “‘And down.’”

I had no need to enter my house. If I never saw another woman’s naked body again, I would be fine as long as this one was mine.

So we didn’t enter the house at all that night.

But there was indeed a naked music party for two.

We moved to the boat shed for our drunken activities, not wanting to walk into the house to see Randy with his naked girls. “We’ll head inside after a while. They won’t stay the night,” I said. “Randy never keeps girls overnight.” I pulled out blankets for us and we lay on top of the boat.

The whiskey was opened, and after Ashlyn took her first shot of it, I thought she was going to vomit. But she refused to stop trying it. Each time we took a shot together, she made the cutest ugly face I’d ever seen. And she giggled a lot as a drunken girl.

I loved the sounds of her laugh. I arched an eyebrow and moved the bottles of alcohol far away from her. “You’re drunk.”

She sat up straight. The backs of her hands touched her cheeks. “Ohh! Am I?!” She laughed some more. “Okay,” she snickered, reaching into her paper bag and digging around. “I have two letters we can open! Number twenty-seven.” There was a moment she stared down at the letters and sighed. “Sometimes I feel like my life is being driven by these letters”—her voice lowered—“and sometimes I think they are leading me the wrong way.”

Her eyes blinked, and she shook away her thought, but I held on to it. She opened the letter and began to read it, stumbling through the words. “‘Dear Ash, if you are reading this letter on your twenty-first birthday, then you are very much a loser. Who waits until their twenty-first birthday to drink? If you are reading this before you’re twenty-one, then take another shot for me, you lush! I love you like crazy. I miss you even more. You’re doing great, kid. Gabby.’”

She pulled the note to her chest and frowned, but at the same time, her eyes smiled. “I miss her like crazy.”

“She misses you, too.”

“Do you think she’s with Ryan?” She paused. “Do you even believe in heaven? Heck, I don’t know if I do.”

I cleared my throat and rested my elbows on my knees. “I believe in the possibility of something greater than this world. And I believe that the two of them are together, safe, and no longer in pain.”

She released an easy breath. “I bet they’re hanging with Shakes.”

“Well clearly. Why would you hang out with anyone other than Shakes in the land of the dead?”