“Where have you been hiding these beauties?” His fingertip glides along the tops of my br**sts, brushing along the edge of the lace.
Apparently Jase has discovered my boobs. “Boobs are icky,” I blurt. Kill me now.
His mouth twitches at my comment. “I disagree. There’s nothing icky about you, babe.” His voice is thick and I’m wondering where the hell cool, confident Jase has gone because the guy in front of me is all nerves and intensity.
His hand slides down my spine, pulling me closer. My body responds as if saying, yes I’m yours. My chin turns up, my tongue dampens my lips, and my pelvis tilts toward his all in a heartbeat’s time. Jase’s head drops so our lips are aligned, but he doesn’t go any farther. His breathing is shallow, too fast, much like mine.
I need get my control back before I do something stupid and try to kiss her. If I do that, I won’t be able to stop. Turning away, I adjust myself in the suit pants. “I got you something today.”
“You did?” I hear the smile in her voice, and I’m at least grateful that things aren’t weird between us now. She follows me across the room to my dresser. I pull open the top drawer, then point to the bed. “Sit.”
“And close your eyes.”
Her lips curl into a smile and her eyes drop closed. She makes a grabby motion with her hands. “Gimme.”
I chuckle and place the small object in her palm and with her eyes still closed, her fingers explore. “A whistle.”
She smiles up at me and the urge to kiss her is so strong, I take a step back. “If you need anything, you just blow that, and I’ll come find you.”
Her expression gets soft and she grips the whistle in her hand. “Where were you when I was in high school?” she asks, her voice just above a whisper. She looks down at the silver whistle in her hands and I can tell her thoughts are far away.
What happened to turn her into this sad, broken girl? Not kissing her was the right move. “Trust me, you wouldn’t have liked me then.”
The air hangs heavily around us, the music faintly audible from the party below, and Avery remains sitting in the center of my bed. But since I know I can’t kiss her, I need to get my thoughts back on track.
I loop the red string over her head so the whistle rests between her br**sts. “Should we go back downstairs?”
She gives me a tight nod.
“What’s with the whistle?” Madison asks once I re-join her and Noah in the living room.
“Don’t ask.” It makes no sense, even to me, and I know it would make even less sense to someone else. It’s Jase’s way of showing me he’s looking out for me. Even if it is ridiculous.
When I finally spot him again, he’s standing across the living room with Stacia. Ugh. She’s in a figure-hugging red cocktail dress and they’re in what appears to be in an intense conversation. Their faces are just inches apart; her hand rests on his forearm and he’s bent down speaking near her ear, his voice low and controlled.
She looks up at him, bites her lip and nods. Are they making a plan to meet up later? I want to blow the damn whistle and call interference so bad my entire body is shaking. I want to see if Jase will really come running to me. But I do no such thing. I just stand there, numb, watching their way too comfortable interaction. Her body angles toward his, and his hand brushes her lower back. They look very familiar together.
When she sees me, a practiced smile graces her features. When Jase notices what caught her attention – me gaping at them – he quickly pulls her by the arm around the corner.
What the hell was that and why do I feel the need to punch something? We’re just friends, I remind myself. He can talk to whomever he wants.
Noah is dancing with a group of sorority girls, and deciding he won’t miss us, I drag Madison into the kitchen. “I need something to drink.” I lift my cup so she understands over the music.
She nods happily and follows me. I need something stronger than beer tonight. I don’t know if it’s this stupid outfit that soo isn’t me, or the fact that I just saw Jase go off with Stacia, but my hands are shaking.
It’s not like he’s mine. Who he goes off with should be none of my concern.
Jase ventures into the kitchen, alone this time, and watches me and Madison wait at the counter while one of his frat brothers pours us each a shot. I lift the glass to my lips and drop my head back, letting the liquor burn a path down my throat. Why isn’t he with Stacia?
“Another,” I tell the guy.
He grins and dutifully refills my glass while Madison shoots me a surprised look. Jase is watching me and I want him to feel the same confusion and helplessness I just felt watching him with Stacia. I down the second shot and slam the glass down on the counter. My eyes tear up and I’m not sure if it’s from the liquor or the strange emotions flooding my system. It’s been so long since I let myself be interested in a guy, and he’s the absolute worst choice I could have made. I should walk away from him right now. That would be the smart thing to do.
“Enough,” Jase growls beside me, his fingers clutching the exposed skin of my hip, pulling me back from the counter.
I glance around, making a show of it. “Where’s Stacia?”
His eyebrows pull together. “She left. Wasn’t feeling well.”
He’s smooth, I’ll give him that. He stands over me; his presence alone sending chills of awareness through my body. I wave him off. “Give me another,” I say to the cute blond guy holding the bottle.
Jase steps closer, intensity rolling off him in waves. “What are you doing?”
Madison glares at him. She doesn’t trust him any farther than she could throw him. His good deed of getting Noah inside earlier is obviously forgotten.
“I’m doing what we talked about…little challenges to get outside my comfort zone. What’s the problem?” I tap the shot glass against the counter, waiting for my next pour.
Jase’s gaze dares the poor guy to pour me one and see what kind of crazy is unleashed. If I was him, I wouldn’t pour me one either. “Fuck, Avery.” He grips my hand, towing me from the kitchen.
I stumble along behind him through the crowded dining room, the two shots already hitting me. Jase pulls open the sliding door and the cool night air is a welcome reprieve. It cools my flushed skin and clears my head the tiniest bit.
He slides the door shut behind us, the music causing the glass to vibrate softly. Without any pretenses, Jase stalks forward. He cups the nape of my neck and angles my mouth to his, before leaning in to kiss me. His mouth is soft at first, but when I kiss him back, he groans low in his throat and coaxes my lips apart to deepen the kiss. His tongue touches mine and all sense of right and wrong is lost. This is heaven. His other hand finds my butt cheek, and gives it a none-too-gentle squeeze. I can feel everything in this one kiss…how much Jase wants me, how badly I wish I could do this… My brain is screaming at me to stop, but my body begs me to continue.