“Stay here,” I murmur. “Don’t leave this spot, okay?”
She nods silently, her gaze dropping from mine to stare at my…chest.
Right. Because I’m not wearing a shirt. And I’m all sweaty and I probably smell and whoa, is that interest flaring in her eyes because that’s the first time I’ve ever seen Jade look at me like that.
“Five minutes,” I tell her, leaning in so I can press a quick kiss to her surprised lips. Who knew lips could be surprised? And they would taste so damn good? “Give me five minutes.”
“Okay,” she whispers.
I walk away from her backwards, like I can’t stop looking at her and truth be told, I can’t. Her lips curl into this mysterious little smile and she shakes her head. “You’re going to hurt yourself,” she calls right as I fucking stumble.
I right myself, quickly glancing over my shoulder before I look at her once again. “It would be worth it.”
Her cheeks go pink again and I swear to God, I’m going to make it my life’s mission to make her blush as much as possible.
I turn and head back to the field, snatching my T-shirt from where I flung it on the ground, then grab my phone and car keys. We’re so casual out here, I know none of these guys are going to take my shit. Gabe’s standing nearby, polishing off a bottle of Gatorade and I approach him.
“I’m out,” I tell him. He’s never been part of the summer soccer league. He just comes out here to practice when he has nothing else to do. I think he likes feeling like he belongs to something. “Tell the rest of the guys, okay?”
Gabe frowns. “Where you going?”
I slip my shirt on and shove my phone in my pocket. “Home.” The less I tell him the better. Tristan’s not home tonight. It’s his turn to manage the tables. I’ll be working Saturday night. Gabe’s on for tomorrow. We’ve decided to close on Sundays for the rest of the semester. Business is down and school’s almost over.
This means I have Jade all to myself tonight. No interruptions, no nothing.
Gabe scans the bleachers, his gaze snagging on Jade, no doubt. “You found the redhead.” He sends me a look. “Did she come here to tempt you or what?”
“She didn’t know I’d be here.” And I believe her. She’d looked too surprised, too mad at her roommate, for this to be a planned visit.
“Right. What a coincidence.” Gabe rolls his eyes and I clench my hands into fists. “You’re confusing me, bro. I don’t understand what’s going on here with you and the redhead.”
“Her name is Jade,” I bite out.
“Okay. Then I don’t know what’s going on with you and Jade.” He shakes his head. “Are you actually trying to pursue a relationship with her?”
Am I? I don’t know. “What does it matter?”
“I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s just weird to see you so twisted over a girl. A girl you don’t even know,” Gabe explains.
“Yeah well, that’s the thing. I want to get to know her. And fuck all that one and done crap, and it’s the rules and I’m breaking the rules or whatever. I don’t care about any of that. I just…” The words die in my throat and I glance over my shoulder, my gaze going unerringly to Jade. She hasn’t moved, just like I asked, and she’s watching me. I feel her eyes on me and I smile, my stomach tumbling when she smiles back.
Fuck. I’ve got it bad.
“I just like her,” I say to Gabe when I turn back to face him. “I can’t explain why and I can’t explain what exactly I’m doing, but I like her and I want to spend time with her.”
“No one and done?” Gabe asks, sounding genuinely—confused? Sincere? Perplexed? All of the above?
I shake my head. “I think I’m sick of that shit.”
“Yeah.” I start to laugh. “I think. We’ll see. I’m testing this out. One day at a time.”
“And that’s all you can do, man.” Gabe takes a step closer and slaps me on the back. “That’s all you can do.”
She’s waiting for me when I return to the bleachers and she stands without a word, approaching me with hurried steps, her gaze filled with unspoken…urgency. An urgency I’ve never seen before, but I’m not about to question it.
Instead, I settle my hand at the small of her back and guide her away from the bleachers, the field, the campus. We’re headed to the parking lot, toward my car and it’s so fucking deep in, practically at the end of the row in the middle of the lot. It’s like what you see on TV or movies, when the path stretches out for an eternity, and it seems endless, like you’ll never be able to find what you’re looking for.
That’s what it feels like. We keep walking, the silence between us stretches on and holy hell, I hope I don’t screw this up.
As discreetly as possible I try and sniff my pits to make sure I don’t smell and she catches me, sending me a small smile. “You don’t stink.”
I frown. “I don’t?”
She slowly shakes her head, all those wayward strands of hair tickling her cheeks. Her hair is like fire. Vibrant and bright, wild and free—I sound like a fucking poet in my head. Jesus. “You smell…nice,” she says.
“Nice?” My frown deepens and I scan the lot, spotting my car waaaay down there. I press my fingers into her waist, steering her toward the row where I’m parked.
“You smell good.” She pauses and I glance at her, see that her cheeks are yep, rosy. “Like sunshine and the outdoors. Like…grass.”
“As in weed?” I’m joking and she knows it.
“No. God, you’re awful.” She bumps her shoulder into my chest and it’s the most casual thing in the world but it feels like a victory. They’re so few and far between, those victorious little moments I earn when I melt Jade’s resolve. Slowly but surely I’m tearing down her walls and she’s actually letting me. I can’t forget what happened Monday night. The kissing. Her hands all over me. Her hips subtly thrusting against mine as I rolled her beneath me.
“You don’t really think I’m awful,” I tell her, sending her a heated look. One that says, I know the taste of your lips. The sounds you make when I kiss your soft, soft skin.
She looks away, a faint smile still curling her mouth. “I think you’re awful for parking your car so far away.”
I laugh. “Couldn’t be helped.” I slip my arm more firmly around her waist and pull her in close, pressing my nose to her hair. It smells like wildflowers. “You don’t mind going back to my place, do you,” I murmur.
“No, as long as you don’t mind that nothing’s going to happen tonight.”
“What do you mean?” I stop walking, as does she and we both stare at each other. Why is she throwing up a roadblock so soon? “Did I do something to uh, make you mad?”
She shakes her head. Doesn’t say a word.
“I don’t ever want to push you into doing something you—don’t want.” I need to be careful. I’m treading on unfamiliar ground. I’ve never really been with a girl who doesn’t want to do, ahem, anything with me. And when I say anything, I mean sex. Or activities of a sexual nature. Since I prefer to spend time with girls who want the same thing I do, you know? A casual hookup. A quick blowjob. A few hours involving consensual sex with a hot girl who has zero expectations.