Easy (Contours of the Heart #1)(17)


by Tammara Webber

And then his hands started moving.

Chapter 12

Cradling my head against his shoulder, both hands skimmed down to my hips, urging me closer until there was no space between us. His lips continued to move against mine, unrelenting and sweet, and my head swam as he swept his tongue through my mouth, his hand gripping my thigh, drawing it between his so that our legs were scissored together. I leaned into him and he moaned, one hand kneading my hip and the other stroking up beneath my sweater, warm fingers splayed across my lower back.

One of my arms crushed between us, I lay the other against his chest, fingering the front placket of his flannel shirt, covertly sliding buttons from buttonholes, feeling the variation between the smooth surface of the flannel and the bumpy texture of the thermal knit shirt beneath it. Shirt unbuttoned, I peeled it aside and slid my hand beneath the thermal to his hard stomach. His breath caught and I pulled away to lean on my elbow and look down on him.

“I want to see your tattoos.”

“You do, huh?” His eyes burned into mine. When I nodded, he withdrew his hand from beneath my sweater and sat up, crooking an eyebrow at me when he looked down on his unbuttoned shirt. My face warmed at his smirk and he chuckled, removing the shirt and tossing it aside.

Reaching behind his neck, he removed the white thermal the way boys do—pulled forward over the back of his head—unworried about ruined mascara, or blusher smeared on the fabric. He dropped this shirt, inside out, on top of the flannel one, and lay back on the floor, offering himself up for my inspection.

His skin was smooth and beautiful, his torso segmented with definitions of muscle and ornamented with the two tattoos I’d seen in my dorm room—an intricate octagonal design on his left side, and four scripted lines on his right. There was one other—a rose over his heart, the petals dark red, the dark green stem slightly curved. On his arms were mostly designs and patterns, thin and black like wrought iron.

I ran my fingers over each one, but he didn’t turn and I couldn’t read the poem-like lines snaking around his left side. It looked like a love poem, and I was jealous of whoever inspired the sort of devotion he must have felt to make those words so permanent. I wondered if the rose represented her as well, but I couldn’t ask.

When my fingers trailed down his abdomen to the line of hair below his navel, he sat up. “Your turn, I think.”

Confused, I said, “I don’t have any tattoos.”

“I figured as much.” He stood and reached a hand down to me. “Would you like to see the drawing now?”

He was asking me to go to his bedroom. I felt like I should come back with something smart, like Should I call you Lucas or Landon in bed? but I couldn’t manage it. I reached up and took his hand, and he pulled me up effortlessly. Without releasing my hand, he turned toward the bedroom, and I followed.

Dim light from the outer room illuminated the furniture and the wall adjacent to his bed, where at least twenty or thirty drawings were tacked up. He switched on a lamp and I saw that the entire surface of the wall was covered in cork. I wondered if he’d installed it, or if it was here, and when he went looking for a place to live, he knew immediately that this was meant to be his.

The two uncorked walls were painted an earthy taupe, and his furniture was dark and not at all typical college-boy—from the queen-sized platform bed to the solid desk and hutch.

I moved into the narrow space between his bed and the wall of drawings, searching for myself, but distracted by the others—renditions of familiar scenes like the downtown skyline, unfamiliar faces of children and old men, and a couple of Francis in repose.

“These are amazing.”

He came to stand next to me just as my eyes found my own face amongst the others. He’d chosen to charcoal the one of me on my back, looking up at him. Its placement was low on the right side of the wall. Seemingly, this display spot would indicate lower importance, but I was acutely aware of where it was located in relation to his bed—directly across from his pillow.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this? he’d said.

I sat on his bed, staring at it, and he sat, too. I was abruptly aware of his bare chest, and his statement in the other room: Your turn, I think. Turning to him, I saw that he was watching me.

I’d been so sure that this sort of moment would summon debilitating memories of Kennedy—of his kiss, of our years together. But the truth was, I didn’t miss him. I couldn’t dredge up a single twinge of sorrow. I wondered if I was either anesthetized to the grief of losing him—which would be worrisome—or if I had cried so much and grieved so deeply in the past several weeks that I was over it. Over him.

Lucas leaned to me and the Kennedy bubble burst entirely. His breath in my ear, he ran his tongue along the curved edge, sucking the fleshy lobe and my small diamond stud into his mouth, and my eyes drifted closed while I babbled a weak sound of longing. Nuzzling my neck, he lapped gentle kisses down the side, his hand coming up to cradle the weight of my head, which had fallen to the side. His weight left the bed as he knelt on the floor and pulled my boots from my feet before resuming his seat and removing his own.

His lips played over mine, and he pulled me to the center of the bed and laid me flat. I opened my eyes when he drew back and stared down at me. “Say stop, whenever you want to stop. Understand?”

I nodded.

“Do you want to stop now?”

My head moved back and forth on the pillow.

“Thank God,” he said, his mouth returning to mine, his tongue plunging inside as I dug my fingers into his solid arms. I stroked his tongue with mine, sucking it deep into my mouth, and he groaned, wrenching away long enough to lift me slightly and remove my sweater. Teasing one fingertip over the swell of my breast, he followed the arc with his lips.

When I pushed against his shoulder he stopped, his eyes unfocused. I pushed him onto his back and straddled him, feeling him hard and ready through our two pairs of jeans. His hands smoothed up my waist and pulled me down, and we kissed deeply as I rocked against him. Minutes later, he flicked the hooks free at the back of my bra and tugged the straps down my arms. It wasn’t off completely before he slid me higher and took a nipple in his mouth.

“Oh,” I gasped, going limp in his arms.

We rolled again and I was under him, his hands tracing and circling, followed by his mouth. Then he unbuttoned my jeans and touched the zipper and everything crashed around me.

I tore my mouth from his. “Wait.”

“Stop?” he panted, watching me.

I bit my lip and nodded.

“Stop everything, or just go no further?”

“Just… just no further,” I whispered.

“Done.” He gathered me into his arms and kissed me, one hand tangled in my hair and the other caressing down my back, our hearts pulsing out a cadence that the musician in me translated into a concert of lust.

***

I kept my eyes open on the ride home. Peeking over Lucas’s shoulder, I watched the scenery fly by—and it was exhilarating, not frightening. I trusted him. I had since that first night, when I let him drive me home.

Kennedy would have never stopped like that. Not that he had ever forced me or come close to doing so. If I asked him to stop, he’d stop and lay back, a hand over his face, calming himself and saying, “God, Jackie, you’re going to kill me.” After that, there was no further physical activity—no kissing, no touching. And I always felt guilty.

I thought the guilt would go away once we were actually sleeping together, because it was rare when I’d ask for a reprieve from sex, but if anything, my self-reproach was worse. He’d stop, abruptly, like it pained him. It was all or nothing. He’d take a few deep breaths, click on a game, or channel surf, or we’d go get something to eat. And I would feel like the world’s worst girlfriend.

Lucas had continued the make-out for another hour. Before it was over, he’d slid his hand between my legs, over my jeans. “This okay?” he asked, and at my breathless affirmative answer he stroked his fingers there while kissing me deeply, and somehow made me come through a layer of denim. I was shocked, and a little embarrassed, but one glance at his face told me he savored my body’s response, and his ability to trigger it. He would not let me return the favor.

“Leave me something to anticipate,” he’d whispered.

Now he was leaving me at the front of my building, wide awake from the cold drive, though he’d placed my hands under his jacket during the ride, so they wouldn’t be frozen. He put the helmets and his gloves aside and pulled me closer, his hands under my jacket, over my sweater. “Did you like the charcoal?”

I nodded. “Yes. Thank you for showing me your drawings… and the defense move.”

Resting his forehead to mine, he closed his eyes. “Mmm-hmm.” He kissed the tip of my nose, and then moved his lips to mine.

It almost hurt to kiss him—almost. I sighed into his mouth.

“You’d better get inside before…” He kissed me again, more hungrily, and I curled my hands between us against his hard chest.

“Before…?”

He inhaled and exhaled through his nose, his mouth a tight line, his hands gripping my waist. “Just. Before.”

I kissed the edge of his jaw and pulled away. “Goodnight, Lucas.”

He remained leaning against the Harley and watched me. “Goodnight, Jacqueline.”

I walked up the steps to my building, and not until I got to the door did I look up and see Kennedy standing there on the top step, his narrowed, curious eyes flicking between Lucas and me. “Jackie.” He stared down at me as I stepped up next to him. “I came by, thought we could talk. But Erin said you were out, and she wasn’t sure if you’d be back at all?” I’d left Erin a scribbled note telling her where I was. She must have enjoyed rubbing my night out in Kennedy’s face. He looked back toward the curb, but I didn’t turn to see if Lucas was there or gone.

“Why didn’t you text first? Or call?”

He shrugged, combing his hair back from his forehead with one hand, the other stuffed into the front pocket of his jeans. “I was in the building.”

I angled my head. “You were in the building, and thought you’d just stop by and I’d be in my room?” I had planned to just be in my room, but that was beside the point.

“No, of course I didn’t assume you’d be there,” he backpedaled. “I hoped you’d be there.” He looked toward the curb again. “Is… that guy waiting for you, or something?”

I turned then and saw Lucas, arms crossed over his chest, still leaning against his motorcycle. I couldn’t make out his facial features from this distance, even with the flood lights surrounding the dorm. But his body language spoke volumes. I lifted a hand and waved, to let him know I wasn’t being threatened. “No. He was just dropping me off.”

After a smirk of disdain in Lucas’s direction, Kennedy turned his sharp green eyes to me. “He doesn’t look as though he understands the concept of ‘dropping off,’ if you ask me.”

“Well, I didn’t ask you. What do you want, Kennedy?”

Some guy going inside called out, “K-Moore!” and Kennedy acknowledged him with a lifted chin before answering me. “I told you, I want to talk.”

I crossed my arms, starting to feel the chill in the air I hadn’t felt pressed to Lucas. “About what? Haven’t you said everything that needs to be said? Do you want to devalue me some more? Because I have to tell you, I’m not real super amenable to that.”

He sighed as though tolerating some sort of distraught outburst, a familiar consequence of me being inflexible—his word—that I’d seen many times in the past three years. I’d forgotten about that until seeing it again. “There’s no need to be inflexible,” he said then, as though reading my mind.