But I released it and stopped breathing when I heard a door open from the hallway.
I stuffed the box of papers back under the bed and leapt to a small hiding space between the closet and Jared’s bed. I couldn’t hear anything now with the way my heartbeat blasted through my ears, but I got out of sight in just enough time. Jared walked into the room wearing one towel around his waist and drying his hair with another.
Why is he home?! I saw his car leave, and I hadn’t heard it return. So what was going on?
He switched on a table lamp, which created a soft glow in the room, and continued drying his hair. His long body moved to the window, where he placed a hand against the frame and gazed out. I watched him, wondering what the hell I was going to do. Any minute he’d turn around, and I’d be discovered.
His towel was wrapped around his waist and covered him down to his knees. My stomach felt like it was on a roller coaster, and my mouth went as dry as the Mojave Desert. The gentle light washing over his skin seemed to make the sporadic droplets of water on his chest glow. I had to blink away the desire to just sit here and wait for him to drop the towel.
There was no way I was getting out of here without him noticing. It was either let him catch me and be cornered or come up with some story. Before he turned around, I stood up from the corner and took a deep, painful breath.
“Jared.” My voice was low.
His head whipped around, and his gaze narrowed on me. “Tate?” He paused for a moment. “What the hell are you doing in my room?”
My hands were shaking, so I locked them behind my back as I inched towards him. “Well, I thought about what you said about trying to be friends, and I wanted to start by wishing you a happy birthday.”
Smooth, Tate. Really smooth.
His eyes shifted to the right as he turned over what I said, and I knew he didn’t believe me. I wouldn’t believe me either. It was a lame excuse.
“So you broke into my room to tell me “Happy Birthday” a week after my birthday?” His sarcasm couldn’t be missed. I was drowning in it and fighting for air.
“I climbed through the tree, just like we used to do,” I pointed out, but my face was on fire. I could only imagine how red it was.
“And your birthday’s tomorrow. Can I climb over to your bedroom?” he asked condescendingly. “What are you really doing in here?” I held my ground as he approached, his stern eyes boring a hole into me.
Shit, shit, shit.
“I…um…,” I fought for words but held his stare. What would get him to shut up?
His freshly washed hair stood up all over the place, and the challenge in his eyes made him look incredibly sexy. I was in his room. He was half-naked. And he was asking questions I couldn’t answer. I needed to use the two things I had that would throw him off: the element of surprise and…my body.
“I have something for you, actually. Consider it your present to me as well.”
He watched me with wariness as I leaned in and kissed him. Tingling began with the touch of his soft lips and spread across my cheeks. I pressed into him, and when I felt his mouth move with mine, I wrapped my arms around his neck. My lips parted, and I teased him with my tongue, sending it out to lick across his top lip. When I caught his bottom lip between my teeth, he took me in his arms, too.
For once, we were going slowly. The other times we’d kissed, it’d been more like an attack. But now, every touch was like kindling to a fire.
He held me to him, his strong arms wrapped around my back, and our lips consumed in hungry kisses. The need to get out of his room without him finding out why I was really here was forgotten. All that I saw and felt was Jared now. He smelled like overwhelmingly good, and I craved to see if he smelled this good everywhere. I clutched him to me as I buried my head in his neck, kissing and biting.
“Jesus, Tate,” Jared gasped out.
The campfire in my belly had turned into a bonfire in my core. My hands glided down his back, registering the dips in his skin from his scars, and I slid my hand inside the towel. My fingers prickled at the feel of his smooth skin, and my stomach ached with hunger. I trailed kisses from his ear to his collarbone, my tongue darting out every so often to taste him.
He sucked in a breath through his teeth and tightened his hold on me, while I gently rubbed my h*ps against his.
His arms still encircled me, but my hands ran down his back and up his rigid stomach. I couldn’t get enough of him, and I no longer cared why I was here. I needed him beyond reason.
“I’m not stopping,” I whispered in his ear and then claimed his mouth again.
He took that as his cue and lifted me off the ground. I wrapped my legs around his waist as he carried me to the bed. Lowering us down, I pulled him with me.
I should stop. In just one more minute I would stop.
He lifted my tank top to just under my bra, and his fingers grazed my skin while he stared down at me.
“You’re so beautiful.” One corner of his mouth turned up with a small, thoughtful smile. My heart beat faster when his lips dipped to my stomach.
I let out a moan and arched up to him. “Jared,” I choked out.
His mouth scorched my skin from my rib cage down to my hip bone, and I felt a throbbing at my center. He kept kissing me while unbuttoning my jeans. I could feel through his towel that he was ready.
Was I? I wanted Jared so much. I just wanted to give in and let it happen.
I gasped at the touch of his mouth right above my panties. His tongue skimmed over my skin as I felt my underwear come off. I barely registered it, because he mouth was all over my stomach and thighs. The pulsing between my legs started to hurt, and I needed relief.