“And dry. I’m soaking wet.”
I forced myself to ignore the alternate meaning to the comment, took her hand, and headed for the car, determined to break all her rules.
MAYA. We drove the short ride back in silence, Cameron’s hand clasped around mine. The contact wasn’t casual, but rather firm, our fingers laced tightly together and resting on his thigh as he steered us back to my apartment. His gaze was intent on the road, the look of determination plain on his beautifully shadowed features.
He squeezed my hand gently as I continued to stare in a tangle of wonder and worry. That simple touch was our only connection, but it was a meaningful one, like a thread between our hearts that had always existed, even through distance. Now with our reunion, that thread was tugging at my heart—hard and painful tugs that were increasingly difficult to ignore and pass off as the result of latent memories. They were the stirrings of new feelings mixed with the old.
I’d banished those kinds of feelings from my life for too long to face them calmly now. I’d had plenty of lovers. They’d been good guys, most of them, not the sex-driven devils I made them out to be. In truth, relationships might have flourished without too much effort, but as soon as deeper feelings had begun to take root, I found myself withdrawing. At first, I’d done it subconsciously, blaming it on a lack of interest or some imagined fault or innuendo. Eventually I isolated the recurring moment of fear, the moment when their rejection had the power to hurt me. And I couldn’t go back there. Cameron had devastated me at the end. I’d toss back every fish in the sea to avoid feeling any of that again.
Yet here I was, dancing with the devil who’d broken me beyond repair. The threat of rejection muddled with this undeniable attraction, a pulsing energy between us that had always pulled me under, deep into the throes of our love. Is that what he wanted again? After what I’d told him tonight, maybe he really was out to prove that he wasn’t like the rest. The reality was that he couldn’t be anything at all if I had any hope of saving myself.
The silence between us stretched as we walked up to the apartment. No exchange was needed. I’d offered the unspoken invitation back at the park, and the dark look in his eyes had accepted. One step across the threshold and he had me pinned again. We tugged our coats off, and he roamed his hands freely across my skin where my sweater met my jeans, up along my ribs, daring to go higher. The sharp rise into my desire hit me, his own hard against me.
I wrapped my arms around his neck. He circled my waist, lifting me high and tight against him. The friction between us was enough to drive me out of my mind. Lust burned through me, threatening my resolve, my better judgment, and all the carefully constructed rules I’d learned to trust to keep my heart safe.
His mouth and hands moved over me, passionately claiming my body, the same one he’d once known so intimately. Nothing about this was tentative. Every movement held the promise of pleasure. F**k, did I want him. In that moment, I let myself feel it all. I road it out until I was wet with need and ready to scream with the frustration.
Our lips broke contact. I swallowed hard and caught my breath. I couldn’t surrender to this. Not tonight. Rational thought was breaking through. I caught his arm, pressuring it down.
“I’m going to go change,” I said, my voice breathy, weighted with my doubt.
He stared, confusion plain on his face. I pushed him gently back so I could make my escape. I couldn’t think straight with him so close, and I desperately needed to think instead of act on my raging impulses right now.
“Make some coffee or help yourself to whatever. I’ll be right back.”
CAMERON. Reluctantly, I let her go and she disappeared into the bedroom, shutting the door behind her. Clothes between us, and now a door. I scowled, irritated by the small things that separated us that had never used to. I shoved my hands in my pockets, not wanting to dwell on the fact that I’d personally created all the obstacles between us now.
I wasn’t sure why she’d pushed me away. In an effort to distract myself, I walked around the small room, taking in its small details, wishing my frustration would ebb.
She and Eli seemed to live simply, which surprised me. Everything about Maya since I’d seen her in New York had been about keeping up with some sort of unspoken standard. The way she dressed and put herself together most of the time ran in contrast to the simple girl I used to know, but her home seemed incredibly normal and moderate. Mismatched well-worn furniture adorned the room, and the only decorations were photos of her, Eli, and their group of friends. I studied the photos, unable to keep from smiling at the ones where she was laughing and posing. She looked like she was on the other side of fun in most of them, but she was happy. A dull pain burned in my chest. I wanted to make her that happy.