Tease (Page 32)

Tease (Take It Off #2)(32)
Author: Cambria Hebert

“I’d love to.”

“Tonight.”

“I thought you had to work?”

“I did. I switched with one of the other bartenders. Now I’m off tonight and I work tomorrow with you.”

“You switched your schedule?”

He nodded and took a sip of his soda. “It’s obvious that you miss me terribly when I’m not around. And you abuse your poor cell phone.”

I laughed. “I do not abuse my cell phone.”

“But you miss me horribly.”

“I admit, you’re not bad to have around.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” he said.

“So where are we going on our date?”

“What do you like to do?”

I shrugged and caught myself before I blurted out something like “anything so long as I’m with you.” If I wasn’t careful, I would be batting my eyes at him and offering to feed him grapes.

“My favorite place to hang out here is the aquarium.”

“The one on the other side of Broadway?”

I nodded. “You’ve been there, right?”

“Not since I was a kid.”

“I think it’s peaceful. All the water and the fish. The colors…” He was watching me so I picked up my soda and took a drink.

“Where’s the last place you went on a date?” he asked.

I swirled a fry around in my ketchup. “I haven’t dated much since high school.”

“You can’t tell me that a girl like you doesn’t get offers.”

“I wasted a lot of time and energy on a guy all through high school. He was a jerk. After that, I decided to spend more time on me and not guys.”

“I’m a guy,” he pointed out.

“I noticed,” I said as memories of this morning practically took me hostage.

“So you’re spending time with me.”

Yeah, I was. He was like a giant Harlow magnet that freaking pulled me in with a single touch. “Just don’t turn out to be a jerk, okay?” I said playfully.

But really, I meant it. It scared me how much and how fast I grew to like him. I mean I literally gave him my virginity within days of meeting him. It was very possible I was growing attached to him. I was very vulnerable to him in ways I’d never been to anyone before. Yes, it was thrilling, but it also made me wary.

Cam had the ability to hurt me. A lot.

He abandoned his half-eaten burger and fries to slide out of the booth and stand up. I thought he was going to leave. That I somehow crossed the line with my joke that really wasn’t a joke at all.

I told myself it was better this way. That finding out he was a jerk now was better than later after he stole my heart.

The fry I was eating suddenly felt like a rock, scraping down my throat.

But he didn’t leave; he didn’t scowl at me for offending him. He slid into my side of the booth, his hip and leg pressed right up alongside mine. Then he draped an arm across the back of the bench and used his free hand to tip up my chin so he could look into my eyes.

“You didn’t give it to the wrong guy,” he murmured.

“What?” I said, falling a little further into the chocolate pools that were his eyes.

“Your virginity. You didn’t give it to the wrong guy. I know we moved fast. I know you probably think I’m going to disappear like the sun on a cloudy day. But I’m not going anywhere. I’d still be here if you hadn’t given yourself to me. But you did. And you know that part is just one of the many pieces of you that I plan on claiming. Pieces that I never plan to let go of.”

I would never have to eat again. Those words would keep me full until the day I died.

I didn’t know if he was feeding me a line, but in that moment, I didn’t care. I guess in life, the possibilities of getting hurt were endless. But I wanted to be the kind of person who looked fear in the face, who listened to her gut, and right now my gut was telling me that he was sincere.

I rested my head on the back of his arm and smiled. “Are you gonna kiss me or what?”

His lips crushed against mine. Like we weren’t sitting in a public place with people all around. He kissed me with a heavy passion that stole my breath and stilled my heart. It was the kind of kiss that would keep him in the front of my mind for the rest of the day, even when he was out of sight.

His lips demanded nothing but gave everything, and he leaned over so he was practically wrapped around me. He tasted faintly like Cherry Coke, my favorite, and I licked into his mouth for another taste.

He pulled back, tucking a lock of hair behind my ear. “I think we better knock it off before we get kicked out.”

“I have to go back to work,” I said, feeling very unenthused.

“I’ll help you with the cart,” he said, gathering both of our trays and depositing them in the trash.

I noticed how some people eyed us as we made our way to the door. Strangely, I didn’t care. I certainly wasn’t embarrassed to be seen with him. I don’t think any woman would be.

Outside, the heat smacked me in the face like a wet blanket. It was suffocating and heavy. My hair began to stick to my neck immediately, and I thought longingly of my sea glass barrette.

I couldn’t help but wonder why someone would steal it.

*    *    *

He was standing on the other end of the wooden bridge when my replacement showed up at the cart and I was able to leave.

Both his forearms were leaning on the railings, and he looked over the side of the bridge down into the water, where he was dropping little round pellets of fish food. He wasn’t watching me, but I knew he was aware of my presence because of the way his body was slightly angled, not quite entirely toward the water. Instead, the side of his hip turned out slightly and the arm closest to me didn’t lean as far or as heavily on the railing as his other.

When I got within a few feet of him, he looked over. His coffee-colored gaze speared me and my belly did a summersault. Then it did another. The corner of his mouth kicked up and he reached out, pulling me in so my back was against his front and we were both staring down at the dark water.

Only when I was settled oh so close did he lean his free arm back against the railing, effectively caging me between him and the bridge.

“Hey,” he murmured, his breath tickling the side of my ear.

“Hey, yourself.”

He pulled his left fist in and opened it up in front of me, revealing a palm full of the fish food. “Wanna help?”