Read an Excerpt
With nightfall coming, we drove down the old river road outside of town. Before the highway, everybody took this road to get to the beachy cottages that lined the water. It was just far enough away that you could say you went somewhere with the summer, but not so far that you had to refill your gas tank until it was time to go home.
With the top down, my hair was a wild mane. It swept around my face, twisting and tangling as we sped into the dark. There were no streetlights this way. No bright, illuminated signs. In fact, a few miles out of town, it turned into forest. Flashes of moonlight on water danced between the trees and the sweet scent of pine filled the air.
About an hour later, Will pulled off the main road. At first, I thought he was just going to park on the shoulder so we could walk to the water. But the bounce and jolt of tires on gravel told me otherwise. We took the hidden drive slowly. The lighter stone pathway looked almost liquid in the dark, like we were cruising along a river of our own.
Finally, Will pulled to a stop. Cutting the engine, he came around to open my door. Taking my hand, he led me carefully along the rough path to a cabin nestled in a stand of weeping willows. The headlights dark, the car silent now, everything took on an otherworldly shape. Summer frogs chirped all around us, the whisper of crickets filling the spaces between.
Wood smoke lingered in the air. Pungent and rich, it seemed to swirl with a cooler, cleaner scent. It took me a moment to realize it was the smell of fresh running water. Though the path hadn’t been sure in the dark, I could tell we were close to the river here. Closing my eyes to shut out all the dim light, I heard it. The swift, smooth rush of water carried with it a chorus of night sounds.
Producing a single key, Will unlocked the cabin and stepped aside to let me walk in first. As soon as I did, I realized he’d already been out here today. There was a fire banked low in the stone hearth. Glass bottles shimmered in a pail of half-melted ice. I laughed when I picked one up and realized it was root beer.
Will tossed me a church key, then leaned back against the door. “I still owed you.”
“Yes, you did,” I said with a smile. “Are we breaking and entering?”
“Nah,” he said, his gaze trailing my face. “My family owns it.”
“It’s nice,” I said. I opened a root beer and started to toss the cap into the fire. Instead, I slipped it into my pocket. The glass was cool on my lips as I took a sip, the soda lush and spicy. Moving through the cabin, I took in all the little details. The living room was just big enough for a couch. A tiny table with two chairs sat behind it.
French doors opened onto the river. From here, I saw starlight on the current. It danced like fireflies, chasing and chasing, never stopping. If I took half a step, the light shifted and I saw Will reflected in the glass behind me. His gaze followed me, burning even in the dim light.
“It’s not as nice as the cottage I had at Marblehead. But maybe we can do that next year. Winter break, maybe?”
Turning, I leaned against cool glass. The cabin was so small, it would only take a few steps for us to meet in the middle.
He looked so pristine. So absolutely perfect. His thin white button-down clung to his chest, the collar open to reveal a beaded chakra necklace encircling his throat. It was a flash of color against his skin. It matched his jeans and brought out the blue of his eyes. Shadows played up and down his body, and he knew I was drinking in his details. He leaned his head back against the door. Raised one foot to press against it. Thumbs hooked in his jeans, Will was utterly comfortable being contemplated.
A dark thrill came over me. If everything went right, I’d get to see all of him. Summer and swim class meant I’d seen nearly every inch of his body.
Cut and perfectly angled, his back was as tempting as his chest; his strong arms matched the muscled length of his thighs. And with or without jeans, it was obvious he had a world-class, quarter-bounceworthy ass. But now I’d find out where that dark streak of hair beneath his navel ended. If that heavy curve in his jeans was backed up by an impressive erection.
Six-months-ago Sarah would have been too squeamish to even think about something like that. Now, I wanted to know—even if it made me squirm to admit it, even to myself.
With a sip of root beer to fortify me, I tried to stand there as comfortably in my own skin as he did. I think I managed it. I felt good in my black eyelet lace. Its halter-top showed a little skin, but the color left some mystery. I loved the way it moved. Will’s gaze traveled down the flared lines and lingered on my bare thighs.
A blush rose on my chest, slipping up my throat and touching the tips of my ears. No one had ever looked at me the way Will was looking at me now. Most of the time, I was the girl that people’s eyes slid past.
My sisters got the refined beauty in the family. I was rougher, my hair untamed. My hands were too big to be elegant. I wasn’t tall enough to be willowy, but I was too tall to be petite.