Focus (Page 43)

He smiled. “Yes, for when I make dinner for you.”

“You’re making me dinner?”

“Yes, and since you can’t possibly have any other plans, you’re not getting out of it.”

“Okay…”

“Find your sneakers and do whatever you need to do, and then let’s head out.”

I dug out my sneakers from my bag and used the bathroom. I brushed my hair, pulling it back into a ponytail.

Levi was waiting for me in the kitchen. “You ready?”

“Sure, let’s explore.”

He grabbed my hand, towing me out the door.

We walked silently into the woods. I let him lead the way as we moved so far in that it got dark. “Are you sure you know where we’re going?”

“Of course. This isn’t my first time here.”

“This might sound like a weird question, but where did you sleep when you came, since there was only one bedroom?”

He laughed. “I slept where we’re sleeping.”

“Then, where did your parents sleep?”

“The main house.”

“So we’re in…”

“The guest house. I just like it better.”

“Oh…”

“When I was a kid I stayed with my parents, but I started staying in the guest house at sixteen or so. I’d drive out here to get away.”

Every time I learned anything about Levi’s childhood, it surprised me. He always seemed so polished. It was hard to imagine him as a teenager trying to escape his parents.

“I get that. I’m sure there was a lot of pressure.”

“That’s putting it mildly.”

“This is a big deal, right?” I didn’t take my eyes off the path in front of me. I was usually well coordinated, but coordination did nothing when it came to tree stumps.

“Presiding?”

“Yeah.”

“Very. Dad letting me take over a session means he’s testing me, seeing if I’m ready for more. If this one goes well, he’ll hopefully let us do some in cooler places.”

“You say that, but you like it here.”

He smiled. “Yeah, but I wouldn’t mind seeing other places with you…”

He stopped walking and put his hands on my waist. “There are so many places I want to take you.”

“What places?”

“All over the world…but most of our travel will be in North and South America—our territory.”

“So someone else runs the other continents?”

“Yeah. My dad’s second or third cousins or something run Europe, and I’ve met the family in Africa, but I don’t know much about the others. It’s hard enough to deal with all of the families in our territory.”

“Like the Blackwells…”

He leaned in closer. “You don’t need to worry about them, Al. You know I’m going to keep you safe.”

“I know.” I tried not to think about how close I’d come to getting held hostage by them or worse just a few weeks before. I knew it wasn’t Levi’s fault, but it definitely made me doubt my safety—at least when I wasn’t with him. Somehow, being tucked in Levi’s arms made me feel like nothing could ever hurt me. I might have gotten annoyed at Levi a lot, but I didn’t doubt his strength or devotion to protecting me.

He leaned down and kissed me gently on the lips. “Do you want to keep going?”

“Sure, I’m not usually a woodsy person, but this is pretty cool.”

“Want to fly a little? There’s somewhere I want to show you.”

“Do you even have to ask?” I doubted I’d ever get tired of flying. It was a high like no other.

“I guess not.”

Seconds later, we were airborne. The trees moved under us in a blur. I quickly stopped looking at them. It was easier to just look straight ahead. Levi landed on the rocky shore of a river.

I understood why Levi liked the spot. It was straight out of a postcard. The river rushed by quickly, the running water the only sound other than the occasional bird chirping.

“This is beautiful.”

“It’s one of my favorite spots.” He sat down on a rock, making room for me next to him.

“You have favorite spots that don’t serve alcohol?”

“Low blow.”

“Just saying.”

“I happen to like ‘woodsy’ stuff.” He made air quotes as he said woodsy.

“You can’t blame me for my lack of exposure to the outdoors. My dad didn’t exactly take me camping growing up.”

“Is it something you’d want to do?”

“Go camping?”

“Yeah. I promise, I’d go easy on you. We wouldn’t have to rough it too much.”

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this side of Levi—it was so different. Where was the teasing guy who always dressed impeccably, and picked out the fancy wine? It’s like being out in the woods had changed him.

“Maybe.”

“I’ll take a maybe.”

We sat watching the river for a while. After a half hour, he actually managed to teach me to skip rocks. Granted, I could only get one or two skips, where as he could get twice as many.

My stomach rumbled.

He turned to me. “All right, let’s get back.”

“Do we have to?” I smiled at him. Maybe he wasn’t the only one who loved being in the middle of nowhere. It was nice to escape from everything else. I realized I hadn’t even brought my phone on the hike. It was the farthest from the device I’d willingly been in years.

“We can come back tomorrow, if you want.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.” He stood up, giving me a hand to help me up.

“Thanks for this.”

“My pleasure. It’s nice to share it with you.” He leaned down and kissed me gently. I kissed him back, wanting more. His arms wrapped around me, and I got so lost in the kiss it took me a moment to realize we were flying. I pulled away. “Levi!”

He laughed. “Unlike you, I can do two things at the same time.”

We got back to the house in no time.

“Do you want to shower first, or should I?” Levi asked as soon as we took off our muddy shoes and had some water.

“What, no third option for taking them at the same time?” It wasn’t like Levi to pass up the opportunity for sexual innuendo.

“I didn’t want to push my luck.”