“That’s cool,” I murmured.
He quirked a brow at me.
“Most guys don’t want to admit stuff like that to their dude friends,” I reasoned.
“And you’d know this because you’re a guy?”
“Yes. I’m secretly a guy.”
Sebastian ignored me. “I think when most guys are really into a girl, they don’t care who knows. They’re not ashamed of it.”
I was going to have to take his word on it.
The lake was about twenty minutes outside town, near Keith’s family farm, after a series of gravel and dirt roads. From what I knew, it was actually on the outskirts of Keith’s family property, and his family owned it. But they didn’t really police it, so people could use it however they saw fit.
Sebastian turned onto the private access road. The wheels bumped over the uneven terrain and dust plumed into the air, coating the Jeep within moments. “Keith is going to be so ticked at you.” I laughed as I peered out the window. “But he’d totally do the same thing.”
“Hell, he would’ve taken his car mud-bogging and then brought it to me. I don’t feel bad at all.”
After hitting every barely accessible road for about an hour, my butt hurt and the Jeep was completely unrecognizable. I figured we’d start heading back, but then I caught a glimpse of the lake through the trees.
Yearning sparked in my chest. I thought about going home to the empty, quiet house that sometimes reminded me of a set of bones that had no skin or muscle. It was just an outline of a home. No filler.
Guilt churned my stomach. The house did have filler. It had my mom, and my sister when she was home, and my mom did everything and more to make it a home...but sometimes there was no denying what was missing.
Mom lived a... She lived a half life.
She worked all the time, came home, worked some more, ate dinner and went to sleep. Rinse and repeat the next day. That was her half life.
“Can we stay for a little while?” I asked, shoving my hands between my knees. “Or do you have somewhere to be?”
“Nope. Got nothing else to do. Let me hit these roads a couple of more times, and we’ll head down to the dock.”
“Awesome,” I murmured.
I stayed quiet as Sebastian drove down a few more roads before he pulled off on the shoulder, by some bushes. I unbuckled my seat belt.
“Stay put for a second,” he said before I could open the door.
I watched him with raised brows as he hopped out and jogged around the front of the Jeep. He opened my door and bowed with flourish. “Milady.”
I snort-laughed. “Seriously?”
He extended a hand toward me. “I’m a gentleman.”
I took his hand and let him help me out of the Jeep. I started to hop down when his other hand landed on my hip. Surprised by the contact, I jerked forward and my foot slipped on the wet grass.
Sebastian caught me, his hand sliding off my hip and wrapping around my waist. He drew me to him, against his chest. Air punched out of my lungs at the unexpected move. Our bodies were sealed together.
My throat dried instantly as I slowly lifted my head. I couldn’t see his eyes, since they were hidden behind the bill of the cap. My heart was pounding so fast I wondered if he could feel it.
We were that close.
“Having trouble?” He laughed, but something sounded off about it. It was deeper than normal, and his laugh sent a series of tight shivers down my spine. “I don’t know if I can trust you to walk to the docks.”
“Oh, come on.” I started to step back, needing the space before I did something incredibly stupid, like, say, stretching up, grabbing his cheeks and bringing his mouth to mine.
Then Sebastian smiled. It was his only warning.
He dipped slightly, hooked his arm behind my knees, and a second later I was up in the air, my stomach folding over his shoulders. His arm clamped down over my hips, holding me in place.
Shrieking, I grabbed the back of his shirt. “What are you doing?”
“Helping you get to the docks.”
“Oh my God!” I yelled, clasping the back of his shirt. My hair fell forward like a thick curtain. “I can walk on my own!”
He pivoted around and started walking. “I don’t know about that.”
“If you were to fall and get hurt, I would never forgive myself.” He stepped over a fallen tree limb. “And then your mom would be upset with me. Your sister would have to come home, and she actually scares me.”
“What?” I shrieked, smacking his back with my fist. “Why does Lori scare you?”
He picked up his pace, taking long, unnecessary steps that caused me to bounce. “She’s intense. Her glare alone can shrivel up parts of me I prefer not to be shriveled.”
I lifted my head. I could barely see the Jeep anymore. I slammed my fist into his kidney, causing him to grunt, and he returned the gesture by putting an extra little hop in his step.
“That wasn’t nice.”
“I’m going to physically hurt you.”
“You’d do no such thing.”
Shade gave way to sunlight and the rocky dirt and broken twigs turned to grass. The scent of wet soil grew stronger. “You can put me down now.”
“Just one more second.”
Suddenly he threw his other arm out and spun around as he belted out, “I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky—”
“Oh my God!” A laugh burst out of me even though there was a good chance I was going to puke all over his back.
“I think about it night and day!”
“You’re so stupid!” I choked out another laugh. “What is wrong with you?”
“Spread my wings and something, something away!” He stopped suddenly, and I slid off his shoulder. With impressive ease, he caught me, pulling me down the front—the entire front—of his body.
I wobbled backward and plopped down in the plush grass, planting my hands in the warm blades. “You...you are not right.”
“I think I’m pretty amazing.” He dropped down beside me. “Not everyone gets to hear my hidden talent.”
“Talent?” I gasped, looking over at him. “You sounded like a polar bear getting murdered.”
He threw his head back and laughed so hard his baseball cap fell off. “You’re just jealous you don’t have the voice of an angel.”
“You’re delusional!” I swung my arm out.
He was wicked fast, catching my wrist effortlessly. “No hitting. Jesus. You’re like a five-year-old.”
“I’ll show you a five-year-old!” I tried to yank my arm free, but he pulled forward at the same time, and I was off balance. Somehow, and I don’t know and would never understand how, I ended up half on top of him, half on the grass. My legs tangled with his, I was nearly in his lap, and we were eye to eye.
Except he wasn’t staring at my eyes.
At least it didn’t seem that way. It felt like his gaze was focused on my mouth, and my stomach hollowed. Time seemed to stop and I became aware of every part of him that was touching me. His arm still circled around my waist, and his hard thigh pressed against mine. His thin shirt was under my palm, and I felt his hard chest under that.
“I’m delusional?” he asked, voice raspy.
I shivered. “Yes.”
He lifted his hand, and I held my breath as he caught the hair in my face and carefully, so gently, brushed it back from my face. He left his hand curled around the nape of my neck.
Seconds passed, only a few heartbeats, and he made a sound I’d never heard before. It was raspy and low and seemed to come from deep within him. And I was moving without thinking, lowering my head, my mouth...
And I kissed Sebastian.
The kiss was so light, like a whisper against the lips, I almost didn’t believe it had happened, but it had, and his arm was still around me, his hand still on the nape of my neck, tugging on the strands of my hair.
His mouth was still close to mine, so close I could feel every breath he took against my lips, and I wasn’t sure I was breathing, but my pulse was thrumming wildly. I wanted to kiss him again. I wanted him to kiss me back. That was all I ever wanted. But surprise held me immobile.