Another thing I couldn’t stop thinking about was his visit last night—the way he had looked at me when I’d opened the door, like he’d really liked what he’d seen. And what he’d said to me before he’d gone into the bathroom, and I’d embarrassingly fallen asleep in that short burst of time. He’d carried me to my bed—carried me. Good lord, I was not a small girl. So that was impressive…and hot.
Watching a Mack truck loaded up with logs zoom past our SUV, I tried not to think about one of those Final Destination movies. But that would probably be better than what was consuming my thoughts. I was unnerved by how much I was thinking about this. I shouldn’t care. It was Tanner, and he and I could barely call each other friends. He’d also had his chance with me before and had blown it.
Not that he seemed to remember any of that, or that I’d really given him a chance back then. Wasn’t like I’d talked to him or expressed any inclination that I wanted to practice making babies with him, so…
Tanner tapped my knee, drawing my attention. My eyes met his. “What?”
Lifting his hand, he curled a long finger. “Come here.”
My stomach dropped at the sound of his low, husky voice. Having no idea what he was up to, I leaned across the space between us, turning my head to the side.
“I haven’t been sleeping for a while,” he said, his breath dancing along my cheek, sending shivers down my spine. “So…”
“So what?” I had no idea why he felt the need to share that with me.
“You’ve been staring at me,” he whispered, and I started to draw back, denials forming on my tongue, but his arm suddenly moved. His hand curled around the back of my neck, holding me in place. “I don’t mind it.”
My heart stuttered and then skipped a beat. What the…? I swallowed hard, my normal, what-I-liked-to-consider witty rapport was nowhere to be found. The only thing that came out of my mouth was a whispered, “You don’t?”
“Yeah.” His fingers tangled in my hair, tugging the curls in a delicious way that sent fiery awareness across my skin. “I just decided that I don’t.”
“Right now?” I breathed.
Tanner shifted his head slightly and when he spoke again, his breath caressed my lips. Muscles low in my belly tightened. “Yep. About two minutes ago, actually.”
A soft, surprised laugh came out of me. “Really. Two whole minutes ago.”
“Maybe five,” he teased, and my stomach twisted pleasantly. “Ten minutes might be pushing it, though.”
I almost laughed again, but his mouth was so close to mine that if I shifted a fraction of an inch, our lips would meet, and I really wanted to remember my drunken kiss. His fingers found their way through the tangle of curls. I had no idea what was happening. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t speak.
“No sex in the backseat,” Kyler announced. “I just cleaned this thing out.”
Snapping out of our own little world, I jerked free, wincing when my hair caught in his hand. Cheeks burning, I glanced forward as he eased his fingers out of my curls.
In the rearview mirror, Kyler grinned at me.
I flipped him off.
Heart thumping unsteadily, I glanced at Tanner. Our gazes met again, and a slow smile pulled at his lips. Leaning back against the door, he tossed his arm over the back of our seat. The stare was intense, piercing, like he wasn’t seeing me, but was seeing inside me, scoping out all my secrets. Flushed, I was the first to look away.
Syd had twisted around, peering into the back seat. Her gaze flitted from me to Tanner and then back. Her lips pursed. “Alrighty then.”
I had absolutely nothing to say as she flipped back around, tapping the screen on her eReader. Nope. I wasn’t even thinking anything. I stared at the back of Kyler’s head, totally bewildered by—by everything. As my heart started to pound even harder, I did know one thing. This week was going to be really interesting.
After what felt like forever, the Durango’s tires crunched over gravel and as soon as it rolled to a stop, I all but threw open the door and hopped out. Okay. All ignorant jokes about West Virginia aside, this little piece of the world was stunning and breathtaking.
Tall pine and elm scented the air, and although the August sun was oppressively strong, the trees blocked the harsh rays, providing much welcome shade. Above the leafy branches and green needles, I could see a giant sandstone structure bursting into the blue, cloudless sky. The mountain glimmered faintly, and each jagged point reminded me of a massive hand trying to grasp at the clouds.
Syd joined me, smiling as she followed my gaze. “Those are the Seneca Rocks. I think Kyler wants to check them out either Wednesday or Thursday. You’re more than welcome to join us.”
I laughed as I shook my head. “I don’t know. I’m more of a lie-by-the-pool kind of girl versus getting all up into wildlife.”
Syd nudged me with her hip as she glanced over her shoulder, to where the guys were grabbing the suitcases out of the back of the SUV. “Or maybe a check-out-what’sgoing-on-with-Tanner kind of girl?”
I smacked her arm. “I’m not that either, and you know that.”
“Uh-huh.” She bit down on her lower lip as she turned her gaze to mine. “You know, I’ve always thought he liked you.”
“Stop,” I sighed. Syd was forever playing the matchmaker since she’d settled down with Kyler. The night I’d left her place feeling all kinds of butt sore over what Tanner had said to me, she’d started in on how she truly believed we were secretly in love with one another.