Chapter Twenty-Four

After We Fell

chapter twenty-four




I am thinking they will never leave, but as soon as they do, I pull her over to the couch with me.

    “You didn’t want to go?” she asks.

    “Fuck, no—why the hell would I want to go? I’d much rather stay here with you. Alone,” I say and brush the hair back from her neck. She squirms a little from the light shiver my touch spreads across her skin. “Did you want to go sit and listen to a roomful of boring-ass people talk about boring-ass shit?” I ask her, my lips barely grazing her jaw.

    “No.” Her breathing has already changed.

    “You’re sure?” I tease and run my nose along her neck, nudging her to tilt her head.

    “I don’t know, it may have been more fun than this,” she says.

    I chuckle into her neck, kissing her where the goose bumps on her skin appear from my breath. “Not fucking likely. We do have a hot tub in our room, remember?”

    “Yeah, but it’s no good, because I don’t have a swimsuit . . .” she starts.

    I suck lightly at her neck and imagine what she’d look like in a bathing suit.


    “You don’t need one,” I whisper.

    She moves her head back and looks at me like I’m crazy. “Yes, I do! I’m not getting in a hot tub with no clothes on.”

    “Why not?” It sounds like a pretty fun time to me.

    “Because your family is here.”

    “I don’t know why you always use that as an excuse . . .” My hand travels down to her lap, and I press against the seam of her jeans. “Sometimes I think you may like that.”

    “Like what?” she asks, practically fucking panting.

    “The possibility of being caught.”

    “Why would anyone like that?”

    “A lot of people do—the thrill of being caught, you know?” I apply more pressure between her legs, and she tries to clamp them shut, struggling against what she wants and what she thinks she shouldn’t want.

    “No, that’s . . . I don’t know, but I don’t like it,” she lies. I’m pretty damn sure she does.

    “Mm-hmm . . .”

    “I don’t!” she cries, defending herself, her cheeks flushed and eyes wide in embarrassment.

    “Tess, it’s okay that you do. It’s pretty fucking hot, really,” I assure her.

    “I don’t.”

    Sure, Tessa. “Okay, you don’t.” I raise my hands in defeat, and she whimpers a little from the loss of contact. I knew there was no way in hell she’d admit it, but hey, it was worth a try.

    “Are you going to come into the Jacuzzi with me?” I ask and remove my hand from her.

    “I’ll come up there . . . but I’m not getting in.”

    “Suit yourself.” I smile and stand up. I know she’ll end up in there; she’ll just need more persuading than most girls. Come to think of it, I’ve never actually been in a Jacuzzi with a female before, naked or not.

    Wrapping her small hand around my wrist, she follows me upstairs to the room that is considered ours for the next few days. The balcony connected to it is what made me claim it in the first place. The moment I saw that Jacuzzi sitting there, I had to get her into it.

    The bed isn’t bad either; it’s small, but we don’t need a big bed with the way we sleep any damn way.

    “I really do love it here; it’s so peaceful,” she says and sits on the bed to take her shoes off.

    I open the double doors to the balcony. “It’s okay.” If my father, his wife, and Landon weren’t here, it would sure as hell be better.

    “I don’t have anything to wear tomorrow to that restaurant your father was talking about.”

    I shrug and lean down to turn the faucet on the Jacuzzi. “We won’t go, then.”

    “I want to go. I just didn’t know we were going out somewhere before I packed.”

    “It’s poor planning on their fault, then,” I say and study the gauges to make sure they look like they’re working. “We’ll just wear jeans. Seems like a casual area.”

    “I don’t know.”

    “Well, if you don’t want to wear jeans, we can find a store in this dump to get you something else,” I offer, and she smiles.

    “Why are you in such a good mood?” Tessa raises an eyebrow at me.

    I dip a finger into the water. Almost there; this thing heats up “I don’t know . . . I just am.”

    “Okay . . . should I be worried?” she asks, stepping out to join me on the balcony.

    “No.” Yes. I gesture to the wicker chair next to the hot tub. “Will you at least sit out here with me while I enjoy the relaxation that is sitting in scalding-hot water?”

    She laughs and nods, taking a seat. I watch her innocent eyes as she stares at me while I pull my shirt over my head and take my pants off. I leave my boxers on; I want her to take them off.

    “You sure you don’t want to come in?” I ask her, and lift my leg over the edge and climb in. Fuck, it’s hot as hell. A few seconds later the burn disappears, and I lean back against the hard plastic.

    “I’m sure,” she says and looks out at the woods surrounding us.

    “No one can see us. You really think I’d ask you to come in here naked if someone could?” I ask. “I mean, me with my ‘jealousy’ issues and whatnot.”

    “What if they come back?” she asks quietly, as if someone can hear her.

    “They said an hour or two.”

    “Yeah, but . . .”

    “I thought you were learning to live a little?” I tease my beautiful girl.

    “I am.”

    “You’re sitting there pouting in a chair while I’m enjoying the view,” I point out.

    “I’m not pouting,” she says, and pouts more.

    I smirk at her, knowing it will irritate her further. “Okay,” I say, closing my eyes as she purses her lips. “I sure am lonely in here. I may have to take care of myself.”

    “I don’t have anything to wear.”

    “Déjà vu,” I remark, thinking about our experience at the stream for the second time today.


    “Just get in the damn water,” I say, without opening my eyes or changing my tone. I speak to her like it’s inevitable, because we both know it is.

    “Fine, I am!” she says, trying to convince herself she’s exasperated and doesn’t really want this as much as she does.

    That wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. When I open my eyes, I nearly choke. She’s lifting her shirt over her head, and of course she’s wearing that damn red bra.

    “Take the bra off,” I say.

    She looks around again, and I shake my head. The only thing she can see from this balcony is the water and trees.

    “Take it off, baby,” I coax, and she nods, sliding the straps down her arms.

    I’ll never get enough of her. No matter how many times I touch her, fuck her, kiss her, hold her . . . it will never be enough, I’ll always want more. It’s not even about the sex, which we have often; it’s that I’m the only one who’s ever been with her, and she trusts me enough to get naked on a fucking balcony.

    So why then am I such a fuckup? I don’t want to fuck this up with this girl.

    Her jeans join her T-shirt and bra on the chair—folded perfectly, of course.

    “Panties, too,” I remind her.

    “No, yours are on,” she fires back and steps into the water. “Ouch!” she squeaks, pulling her foot back before easing in. Once she’s all the way in, she sighs, her body having gotten used to the water.

    “Come here.” I reach for her and pull her onto my lap.

    I suppose the uncomfortable plastic seats can be useful after all. The way her body feels against me, in combination with the pulsing jets, makes me want to rip those panties right off.

    “It could be like this in Seattle, all the time,” she says, and her arms wrap around my neck.

    “Like what?” The last thing I want to do is talk about fucking Seattle. If I could find a way to wipe that damn city off the map, I would.

    “Like this.” She gestures between us. “Just us, no problems with your friends, like Molly, no bad history. Just you and me in a new city. We could start all over, Hardin, together.”

    “It’s not that simple,” I tell her.

    “Yes, it is; no more Zed.”

    “I thought you were going to come in here and fuck me, not talk about Zed,” I tease, and she tenses.

    “Sorry, I . . .”

    “Calm down, I’m joking. Well, about the Zed thing.” I shift her body on mine so she’s straddling my lap, her bare chest flush against mine. “You’re everything to me; you know that, don’t you?” I repeat the question I’ve had to ask her so many times.

    She doesn’t answer this time. Instead she rests her elbows on my shoulders, threads her fingers through my hair, and kisses me.

    She’s hungry. Just like I knew she’d be.