Home > Freeks(8)

Author: Amanda Hocking

I laughed. “I’m not, really.”

“Prove it,” he challenged me. “Tell me a secret. Any secret.”

“Okay.” I bit my lip, thinking. “What constitutes a secret?”

“Something you’ve never told anyone before.”

“Not anyone ever?” I asked.

He shook his head resolutely. “Nope.”

I leaned back and crossed my leg over my knee as I thought. Truthfully, I had plenty of secrets. But it was hard to think of something that I would want this guy to know.

“You tell me something first, then I’ll tell you something.”

“Okay.” He nodded. “Now I’m getting a read on who you are, sneaking around the rules like that.”

“It’s your game, so it only seems fair that I get to name my own terms. Now, it’s your turn. What’s your secret?”

He absently pulled at a string on his comforter, or at least he tried to do it absently. But his hand was right next to mine, so when he tugged at the string, his long fingers brushed against my hand.

When I didn’t say anything or move away, he lifted his eyes to meet mine. His smile had fallen away, and though his expression was serious, I could still see the hint of something wicked. Even now, when he was dropping his pretenses and preparing for a confession, he couldn’t completely get rid of the darkness that drew me to him.

“I really want to kiss you,” Gabe said finally.

“You’ve never told anyone that before?” I asked with a smile. “You’ve never wanted to kiss anyone?”

“Well, I’ve never told anyone that I wanted to kiss you, the mysterious Mara Beznik, before,” he clarified.

I laughed lightly. “Why do I feel like you’ve played this game before?”

“I haven’t. I swear,” he insisted, but I wasn’t sure that I believed him.

“So why haven’t you?”

“I don’t know.” He shook his head, still smiling up at me. “It doesn’t seem to be working, so maybe it’s not such a great game.”

“No, I meant, if you want to kiss me, why haven’t you yet?” I asked.

“I guess because I didn’t realize it was an option. I thought you might slap me or…”

His words died on his lips because I leaned down and kissed him. He was already so close, but to avoid an awkward angle, I had to lay down next to him.

When my lips pressed against his, there was a hesitation. Gabe was tentative at first, as if he thought this might be some kind of trick, but when he realized it wasn’t, he kissed me fully. His tongue parted my lips, bold and hungry. He put his hand on my side, to pull me closer to him.

My shirt had ridden up, so his hand was pressed to the bare skin of my side, and the instant I felt his skin against mine, a cold pain jolted through me. A blast of arctic air suddenly surged over me—through me, really, piercing my heart like a jagged icicle.

I pulled away in surprise, and for a split second, I couldn’t breathe.

But then it was gone. The chill, the pain, everything had disappeared almost the instant it had started.

“Are you okay?” Gabe sat up, and when I braved looking up at him, I saw the concern in his eyes, warming the burnt caramel color.

“It’s nothing.” I smiled, but it didn’t come as easily as I liked.

“You sure?” he asked.

“Yeah. I just got a chill. That’s all.” I tried to play it down, not just for him but for myself. “Now. Where were we?”

Gabe looked down at me for a few moments longer, as if to decide whether he believed me or not. I must’ve been convincing because an easy grin returned to his face.

“Let me think. I believe you were right about here.” He put his hand on my waist, and when I didn’t recoil, he pulled me back down so I was lying on the bed. “And I was right about here.”

His lips hovered right above mine, as close as they could be without touching, and he searched my eyes, almost daring me to kiss him again. But I’d kissed him the first time, and now I was waiting for him to make the move.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity of anticipation, he closed his eyes and his lips found mine. His hand was still on my waist from when he pulled me back down, and the instant our mouths met, his hand tightened, gripping me, and I wrapped my arms around him.

4. judgment

The bed felt luscious underneath me. I hated sleeping in the Winnebago when it wasn’t moving, but being on a real mattress and wrapped in the downy comforters, I couldn’t help but sleep well. It was how I imagined napping in a cloud would feel.

Morning sunlight streamed in through the curtains when I opened my eyes, and I stretched. The house was completely silent, so I’d guessed that the party had finally come to an end. When I’d fallen asleep late last night, the sound of the bass had still been thumping through the walls.

I sat up and peered over the edge of the bed to see Gabe lying on the floor. A pillow was smashed under his head, and his hair that had been so carefully smoothed out last night stuck out at all angles. The blanket draped over him had slipped off, revealing the bare bronze skin of his chest.

When I’d fallen asleep, he’d had his shirt on, so I’m not sure exactly when he’d ditched it. Not that I minded getting a view of it this morning. He was more toned than I’d initially thought, and now I wished that I’d taken things a bit further last night. At least to the shirtless stage, anyway.

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