Lick, p.13
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       Lick, p.13
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         Part #1 of Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott
Page 13

  Author: Kylie Scott “What’s with all the boxes?” I asked. “Did they only get one bed?”

  “Sometimes I buy stuff on my travels. Sometimes people give me stuff. I’ve just been sending it all here for the last few years. Take a look if you want. And yes, there’s only one bed. ” He took another swig of beer. “You think I’m made of money?”

  I huffed out a laugh. “Says the guy who got Cartier to open so I could pick out a ring. ”

  “You remember that?” He smiled around the bottle of beer.

  “No, I just assumed given what time of night it must have been. ” I wandered over to the wall of windows. Such an amazing view.

  “You tried to pick some shitty little thing. I couldn’t believe it. ” He stared at me, but his gaze was distant.

  “I threw the ring at the lawyers. ”

  He flinched and studied his shoes. “Yeah, I know. ”

  “I’m sorry. They just made me so mad. ”

  “Lawyers do that. ” He took another swig of the beer. “Mal said you took a swing at him. ”

  “I missed. ”

  “Probably for the best. He’s an idiot but he means well. ”

  “Yeah, he was really kind to me. ” Crossing my arms I checked out the rest of his big bedroom, wandering into the bathroom. The Jacuzzi would have made Mal’s curl up in shame. The place was sumptuous. Yet again the feeling of not belonging, of not fitting in with the décor, hit me hard.

  “That’s some heavy frown, friend,” he said.

  I attempted a smile. “I’m just still trying to figure things out. I mean, is that why you took the plunge in Vegas? Because you’re unhappy? And apart from Mal you’re surrounded by jerks?”

  “Fuck. ” His let his head fall back. “Do we have to keep talking about that night?”

  “I’m just trying to understand. ”

  “No,” he said. “It wasn’t that, okay?”

  “Then what?”

  “We were in Vegas, Ev. Shit happens. ”

  I shut my mouth.

  “I don’t mean …” He wiped a hand across his face. “Fuck. Look, don’t think it was just all drinking and partying and that’s the only reason anything happened. Why we happened. I wouldn’t want you to think that. ”

  I flailed. It seemed the only proper response. “But that’s what I do think. That’s exactly what I think. That’s the only way this fits together in my head. When a girl like me wakes up married to a guy like you, what else can she possibly think? God, David, look at you. You’re beautiful, rich, and successful. Your brother was right, this makes no sense. ”

  He turned on me, face tight. “Don’t do that. Don’t run yourself down like that. ”

  I just sighed.

  “I’m serious. Don’t you ever give what that asshole said another thought, understood? You are not nothing. ”

  “Then give me something. Tell me what it was like between us that night. ”

  He opened his mouth, then snapped it closed. “Nah. I don’t want to dredge it all up, you know, water under the bridge or whatever. I just don’t want you thinking that the whole night was some alcohol-fueled frenzy or something, that’s all. Honestly, you didn’t even seem that drunk most of it. ”

  “David, you’re hedging. Come on. It’s not fair that you remember and I don’t. ”

  “No,” he said, his voice hard, cold, in a way I hadn’t heard it. He loomed over me, jaw set. “It’s not fair that I remember and you don’t, Evelyn. ”

  I didn’t know what to say.

  “I’m going out. ” True to his word, he stormed out the door. Heavy footsteps thumped along the hallway and back down the stairs. I stood staring after him.

  *

  I gave him a while to cool off then followed him out onto the beach. The morning light was blinding, clear blue skies all the way. It was beautiful. Salty sea air cleared my head a little. David’s words raised more questions than they answered. Puzzling that night out consumed my thoughts. I’d reached two conclusions. Both worried me. The first was that the night in Vegas was special to him. My prying or trivializing the experience upset him. The second was, I suspected, he hadn’t been all that drunk. It sounded like he knew exactly what he was doing. In which case, how the hell must he have felt the next morning? I’d rejected him and our marriage out of hand. He must have been heart-sore, humiliated.

  There’d been good reasons for my behavior. I'd still, however, been incredibly thoughtless. I didn’t know David then. But I was beginning to now. And the more we talked, the more I liked him.

  David sat on the rocks with a beer in hand, staring out to sea. A cool ocean wind tossed his long hair about. The fabric of his T-shirt was drawn tight across his broad back. He had his knees drawn up with an arm wrapped around them. It made him seem younger than he was, more vulnerable.

  “Hi,” I said, squatting beside him.

  “Hey. ” Eyes squinted against the sun, he looked up at me, face guarded.

  “I’m sorry for pushing. ”

  He nodded, stared back out at the water. “S’okay. ”

  “I didn’t mean to upset you. ”

  “Don’t worry about it. ”

  “Are we still friends?”

  He huffed out a laugh. “Sure. ”

  I sat down next to him, trying to figure out what to say next, what would set things right between us. Nothing I could think of saying was going to make up for Vegas. I needed more time with him. The ticking clock of the annulment papers grew louder by the minute. It unnerved me, thinking our time would be cut short. That it would soon all be over and I wouldn’t see or talk to him again. That I wouldn’t get to figure out the puzzle that was us. My skin grew goose pimples from more than the wind.

  “Shit. You’re cold,” he said, wrapping an arm around my shoulders, pulling me in closer against him.

  And I got closer, happily. “Thanks. ”

  He put down the beer bottle, wrapping both arms around me. “Should probably get you inside. ”

  “In a bit. ” My thumbs rubbed over my fingers, fidgeting. “Thank you for bringing me here. It’s a lovely place. ”

  “Mm. ”

  “David, really, I’m so sorry. ”

  “Hey. ” He put a finger beneath my chin, raising it. The anger and hurt was gone, replaced by kindness. He gave me one of his little shrugs. “Let’s just let it go. ”

  The idea actually sent me into a panic. I didn’t want to let go of him. The knowledge was startling. I stared up at him, letting it sink in. “I don’t want to. ”

  He blinked. “Alright. You want to make it up to me?”

  I doubted we were talking about the same thing, but I nodded anyway.

  “I’ve got an idea. ”

  “Shoot. ”

  “Different things can jog your memory, right?”

  “I guess so,” I said.

  “So if I kiss you, you might remember what we were like together. ”

  I stopped breathing. “You want to kiss me?”

  “You don’t want me to kiss you?”

  “No,” I said quickly. “I’m okay with you kissing me. ”

  He bit back a smile. “That’s very kind of you. ”

  “And this kiss is for the purposes of scientific research?”

  “Yep. You want to know what happened that night and I don’t really want to talk about it. So, I figure, easier all round if you can maybe remember some of it yourself. ”

  “That makes sense. ”

  “Excellent. ”

  “How far did we go that night?”

  His gaze dropped to the neck of my tank top and the curves of my breasts. “Second base. ”

  “Shirt on?”

  “Off. We were both topless. Topless cuddles are best. ” He watched as I absorbed the information, his face close to mine.

  “Bra?”

  “Absolutely not. ”

 
Oh. ” I licked my lips, breathing hard. “So, you really think we should do this?”

  “You’re overthinking it. ”

  “Sorry. ”

  “And stop apologizing. ”

  My mouth opened to repeat the sentiment but I snapped it shut.

  “S’okay. You’ll get the hang of it. ”

  My brain stuttered and I stared at his mouth. He had the most beautiful mouth, with full lips that pulled up slightly at the edges. Stunning.

  “Tell me what you’re thinking,” he said.

  “You said not to think. And honestly, I’m not. ”

  “Good,” he said, leaning even closer. “That’s good. ”

  His lips brushed against mine, easing me into it. Soft but firm, with no hesitation. His teeth toyed with my bottom lip. Then he sucked on it. He didn’t kiss like the boys I knew, though I couldn’t exactly define the difference. It was just better and … more. Infinitely more. His mouth pressed against mine and his tongue slipped into my mouth, rubbing against mine. God, he tasted good. My fingers slid into his hair as if they’d always wanted to. He kissed me until I couldn’t remember anything that had come before. None of it mattered.

  His hand slid around the nape of my neck, holding me in place. The kiss went on and on. He lit me up from top to toe. I never wanted it to end.

  He kissed me ’til my head spun and I hung on for dear life. Then he pulled back, panting, and set his forehead against mine once again.

  “Why did you stop?” I asked when I could form a coherent sentence. My hands pulled at him, trying to bring him back to my mouth.

  “Shh. Relax. ” He took a deep breath. “Did you remember something? Anything about that familiar to you?”

  My kiss-addled mind came up blank. Damn it. “No. I don’t think so. ”

  “That’s a pity. ” A ridge appeared between his brows. The dark smudges beneath his beautiful blue eyes seemed to have darkened. I’d disappointed him again. My heart sunk.
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