Falling into you, p.18
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       Falling into You, p.18

         Part #1 of Falling series by Jasinda Wilder
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The next song is all Colton. I’ve heard him practice it, so I’m looking forward to hearing him perform it live. Our guitars go quiet and Colton adjusts the tuning on his while he does the next intro.

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  “Okay, so this one I’m doing solo. You’ve probably heard the song before, but not like this. It’s ’99 Problems’, originally by the one and only Jay-Z. This arrangement that I’m doing, though, was put together by an artist named Hugo. I wish I could take the credit for the arrangement, honestly, because it’s f**king genius. So yeah. Hope you like it. ”

  There’s some applause, which fades when he starts a choppy, drum-like sequence of chords. I’m giddy with excitement and pride when he brings in the verse. The first time I heard him play the song, I wasn’t sure what I was hearing, because it was so unique, but then I recognized it and was totally wowed. He’s right about the arrangement being brilliant, because it is, completely.

  All too soon it’s my turn.

  “You guys are awesome. The rest of Hugo’s stuff is pretty killer too, but that’s my favorite piece by him. So anyway, Nell’s gonna do a solo for you next. ”

  He insisted I intro my own piece, so I adjust the mic closer and strum the opening chords as warm up. “Hey guys. I’ve never sung solo like this before, so be nice, huh? I’m doing ‘It’s Time’ by Imagine Dragons. ” I turn to look at Colton. “I’m dedicating this to you, because it reminds me so much of you. ”

  When I was jogging and listening to my playlist trying to figure out what song I wanted to cover for tonight’s solo, I came across this song. It’s an awesome song that seems almost eighties pop-inspired to me, which I knew would make for an interesting indie-folk cover. But it was the lyrics that struck me, the emphasis on never changing, on being who you are. Colton had been through so much, and had stayed true to who he was, refusing to change or give in simply because of the expectations of others.

  I struggled with that for a long time. I had chosen schools and career paths based on what others wanted for me, what my parents wanted for me. After Kyle’s death, I couldn’t choose, couldn’t think, couldn’t feel any desire for anything. I worked for my dad and went to community college simply because it was the path of least resistance. My dad had always sort of expected I would major in business and work for him. I’d never considered anything else. I’d never thought of my talents or desires, I just went along with their plan without question.

  Then Kyle died, and after a few months, I realized I needed an outlet. I needed something to distract me from my guilt and pain. The guitar came along almost as a fluke. I saw a flier stapled to a wooden power line pole advertising guitar lessons. The teacher was an older guy, gray haired and potbellied and genial. He was a talented teacher, patient and understanding. Best of all, he seemed to understand that I wanted a couple hours a week away from everything. He never asked any questions, just drilled me hard, pushed me, kept me busy, leaving me no time for anything but the chord progression. He gave me an aggressive practice schedule and rode my ass if I didn’t keep up with it.

  The singing seemed to be a natural extension of playing the guitar. I’d learn a song and of course, I’d sing along with it. Eventually I realized I enjoyed the singing more than the guitar playing, and then the music itself became the outlet. I’d spend hours and hours playing, singing, sitting on the dock watching the sun set and the stars come out and playing, refusing to think of Kyle, refusing to miss him, refusing to cry for him. I’d play until my fingers bled, sing until my throat hurt.

  Now the music is a thread binding me to Colton. The songs we sing to each other are statements. An ongoing discussion in music notes.

  So I sing, and I let everything out. I feel the eyes on me, feel Colton’s gaze devouring me. I finish the song, and the last note quavers in the air, and my hands tremble, my heart thuds in my chest. There’s a moment of silence, all eyes on me, faces shocked. I’m about to freak, since no one’s clapping, but then they explode, shrieking, whistling, applauding, and I realize they were stunned silent.

  Guess that’s a good thing.

  When the noise fades a bit, Colton draw his mic down to his lips and speaks facing me but looking at the audience. “Goddamn, Nell. That was incredible. Seriously. ” I hear the tension in his voice, see the emotion in his eyes. He’s hiding it well, but I know him by now and I can feel it radiating off him.

  We both let a tense moment pass in silence, then. We both know what song is next, and we’re both nervous.

  “I’ve never played this song for anyone before,” Colton says, clipping a capo to his strings. “It’s…a deeply personal song that I wrote a long, long time ago. Nell’s been badgering me—I mean, encouraging me—to play this song live for weeks now, and I finally gave in. So…yeah. Here it is. I never gave this a title, but I guess we can call it… ‘One More Hour’. I hope you like it. ”

  I can see how hard this is for him. The melody he plays on the guitar is slow and heavy and rolling, melancholy. Then he sings the lullaby, and god, the bar goes so silent you could hear a pin drop in between chords and sung notes. No one is moving, no one is even breathing. We practiced this together. He would only play it if I’d do backup and harmony, so that’s what I’m doing. I sing some backup vocals for him and play a basic rhythm, but I keep it low and quiet so he’s the focus. And he is. Totally. I see eyes shifting, throats constricting. There are tears. You can hear how intensely personal this song is to Colton, it’s clear in the passion of his voice. He’s singing to himself, again. He’s the lost boy again, alone on the streets of New York. I ache for him all over again. I want to hold him, kiss him, tell him he’s not alone.

  Again, the bar is absolutely silent and still when the last note hangs in the air, and then it goes wild.

  A few more popular songs Colton taught me, and then we do “Barton Hollow” together, our last number for the set. I’m exhilarated, shaking with excitement. I applied to the college of performing arts on a whim, as an act of rebellion, communicating to my parents that I was going to do things my own way. I’d never actually performed before.

  Now…I’m hooked.

  Colton gets our payment and hurries us out. I can’t read the look on his face, but I can see tension in his body language. I’m nervous as we stand side by side on the subway, guitars in soft cases slung on our backs, hands holding the rail by our heads. He’s silent, and I’m not sure if he’s upset, angry about something, jazzed from the show. I just can’t read him, and it’s making me nervous.

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  I reach out and take his hand in mine, threading our fingers together. He glances at me, at our joined hands, and then back at me. His face softens.

  “Sorry, I’m just…playing that song was rough. I’m distracted I guess. Not very good company. ”

  I sidle closer to him, pressing myself into his side. “I know it was, Colton. I’m proud of you. You were seriously incredible. People were crying. ”

  He lets go of my hand and wraps his arm around my waist, tugging me even closer. His palm rests on the swell of my hip, and suddenly the subway car falls away, replaced by lightning awareness of him, of his heat, his muscle. His touch is fire, singeing away the layers of clothes between us until I can almost feel his skin on mine. I need that. I need flesh to flesh, heat to heat. We’ve been dancing around it for too long now, and the slight taste I had of him wasn’t enough. I need more. I don’t know why he’s been keeping distance between us, but I’m done with it. I’ve been playing along, slowing down in our kiss when he does, not pushing it. The kisses have all been nearly platonic recently, quick touches of our lips only occasionally pushing into more, into the realm of heat and need.

  Now, my body singing from his nearness, my mind and heart buzzing from the post-show high, all I can think of, all I can feel is him, and my desire for him. His fingers dig into the flesh of my hip, and his eyes burn into mine, cobalt flames locked on
me. I know he feels it too.

  I bite my lip, knowing what it does to him. His eyes go half-lidded and his chest swells, his finger tightens on me even more until it’s almost painful, thrillingly so.

  “You’re coming over,” he says.

  It’s an order, not a question. I nod, never taking my eyes from him. “I’m coming over,” I affirm. I lean in close, pressing my lips to the shell of his ear. “No holding back, tonight. ”

  I hear him hiss, a sucked in breath. “You’re sure?” His voice is a rumble felt in my chest.

  “God, yes. ” I need him to understand. “Please. ”

  He laughs, but it’s not a humorous laugh. It’s a predatory sound, full of erotic promise. “Nelly-baby…you don’t need to beg. ”

  I flush with something like shame. “I am begging, though. You’ve been making me wait for so long, now. And I need this. ”

  His eyes are so fiery, so piercingly blue it takes my breath away. “I was giving you space and time. I didn’t think you were ready. I wasn’t myself, not entirely. ”

  “I get that, and I appreciate it. But now I’m saying…no more space. No more time. ”

  His hand descends, slides around just slightly, and now he’s almost-but-not-quite cupping my ass. “I just want you to be sure. No questions, no hesitations. I want it to be right. ”

  I rest my forehead against his shoulder, then lift my face to look up at him. “I’m ready. So ready. Scared, yes. But ready. ”

  He laughs again. “You think you’re ready. You’re not. ” His voice goes husky. “But you will be, baby. I’ll make sure of that. ”

  And oh god, ohmigod, the threat, the promise in his voice is enough to have me clenching my thighs together to keep the dampness in. I know my eyes are wide, my breath coming in deep gasps.

  “Quit biting your goddamn lip before I f**king lose it right here on the train,” Colton growls. I slowly slide my lip out from between my teeth, teasing him with my compliance. “Why the f**k is that so hot?” He seems genuinely confused by his own reaction.

  I arch my back and take a deep breath, crushing my br**sts against him. We’re on a subway surrounded by people, but they’re oblivious and I just don’t care. I’m caught up in my own need, burning with the fires of desire. My sense is gone, my restraint burnt away.

  “Knock it off, Nell. ” Colton jerks me against him, and now I’m crashed front-to-front with him. I can feel his desire against my belly, hard and huge. “Quit f**king with me. You’re sexy and I want you. Point made. ”

  I make innocent eyes at him. “I’m not making a point, Colton. ” I lean in close, whisper it into his ear, my breath soft. “I’m horny. ” I feel cheesy and ridiculous saying that, but it’s what came out, and it’s true.

  Colton doesn’t laugh like I thought he would have. “Fuck, Nell. You’re seriously tempting my control. I’m about to shove my tongue down your throat right here on the train. ”

  Wide, innocent eyes again. “You wouldn’t hear me complaining. ” And I bite my lip, just to hammer it home.

  His jaw clenches and both hands come around my waist to clutch my ass. Oh god, I like that. I love his hands on my ass. My ankle-length black pencil skirt is thin cotton, and I can feel the rough calluses on his hands scratching the fabric, I can feel the raw power in his grip as he grasps me, holds me against his hard body.

  His mouth descends on mine, hard and rough, and his teeth take my lower lip, biting, ravenous, devouring. His tongue slides between my teeth, his lips move on mine. I whimper softly, and then I’m alight with lust. I kiss him back, but ‘kiss’ isn’t really the right word. A kiss is lips touching, tongues playing. This…

  This is f**king, but with our mouths. It’s raw and primal and hungry.

  “Get a room, goddamnit,” an exasperated female voice says from behind us, and it’s a testament to the eroticism of the moment that a New Yorker is willing to say something in protest. Not much phases New Yorkers, I’ve discovered.

  The train stops and Colton’s hand is on the small of my back, propelling me forward. We climb the stairs to street level, and his arm clutches me close to his body. He hustles me down the street and into his darkened shop. On the way through the garage, I’m briefly assaulted by the smell of grease and cigarettes and sweat and all things Colton. It’s a wonderful smell, a scent that somehow is beginning to mean home to me. The thought is frightening but exhilarating at the same time.

  Up the narrow stairwell, his hand on the no-man’s-land of the swell of my hip, not quite on my ass, not quite on my waist. His hard heat is close behind me, and my blood is pounding loud in my ear. The stairs seem endless. I’m a heartbeat away from spinning in place and tackling him here on the stairs.

  This lust is overwhelming.

  It’s a starvation, a need thrumming in every pore of my being. I need his body, his hands, his mouth, his lips. I need my fingers in his hair, tracing the contours of his huge, solid body, luxuriating in the contrasts that make him up, hard muscles, silky skin, rough calluses, downsoft hair, wet lips and jutting manhood and roaming hands.

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  I need all of him, and I need it now.

  I’m wet and trembling between my thighs, aching, throbbing.

  Thank god finally we’re through the door and the latch is catching with a definitive snick and I’m caught in his arms, spun, pressed back against the door, crushed between the rough, hard wood of the door and the harder muscle of Colton.

  Exactly where I want to be.

  I wrap my legs around his waist, take his stubble-rough face in my hands and marry my mouth to his, delve into a feverish kiss.

  I still feel Kyle’s ghost banging against my soul, the spirit of my guilt and pain. I ignore it, let it haunt me. Let it rage.

  Colton’s hands smooth over my back, under my ass, threading through my hair, and the ghost is quieted. He pulls back and searches my eyes with his glittering sapphire eyes, and I see his own ghosts trying to push through.

  We’re both haunted by the specters of our pasts, but we have to move on sometime and force the voice of our guilt to be silent.

  Now is that time.

  Chapter 11: Falling Into You

  Colton sets me down slowly, and I feel his arousal as my front slides against his. We spin again, and I walk backward toward his room, my breath coming in shallow gasps. His hand curls around my waist, but I pull out of his touch. His brow wrinkles in confusion, then clears as I dance a few steps farther back, then wrap my fingers around the hem of my shirt. I peel it off quickly, drop it to the floor between us. Colton bends and scoops it up without breaking stride or eye contact, lifts the fabric to his face and sniffs.

  I laugh, then reach behind me and slide down the zipper of my skirt, stopping in the doorway to his room. He halts in the hallway, just out of reach, my shirt balled in one fist, his other hand pressed flat against one wall. His broad chest and lean hips are silhouetted by the soft white fluorescent glow from the kitchen, and my mouth goes dry at the sight of him, rugged and masculine and delicious.

  I shimmy my hips, biting my lip, and let the skirt fall to pool at my feet, and now I’m clad in only my bra and underwear. I watch as his jeans bulge noticeably at the zipper, strained by his arousal.

  His eyes are hooded, half-lidded, primal, hungry.

  I unhook my bra, one eyelet at a time, then slide one strap off, letting the bra fall to dangle from one finger in front of me. Colton rumbles deep in his chest, a sound of pure approval.

  My skin tightens, my ni**les pebble hard under his sweeping gaze. I stand and let him look. He takes a step forward, and I want to back up to the bed, lay down for him, retreat from the raw intensity in his eyes, but I don’t. I stay in place and tilt my head up to meet his gaze until he’s standing over me. Our lips are centimeters apart, but we don’t kiss. I can feel his breath hot on my lips, and I want to feel them on me, but I don’t mov
e. I wait.

  And then I can’t take it anymore. I tug his shirt off, mimicking his action of smelling it, and ohmigod, it does smell incredible, like him, familiar and comforting and exotic. Then I trail my fingers down his chest, stopping on the trail of dark hair on his belly, leading under his jeans. I unsnap the button, lower the zipper, letting my knuckles brush his arousal through the cotton of his underwear. I look down, now, and my belly shivers at the sight of the gray cotton boxer-briefs stretched by his shaft, a dot of wetness spreading where his tip presses against the fabric.

  He kicks off the jeans, and now we’re both in just our underwear. Almost there, almost bare to each other.

  I slip my fingers under the string of my bright pink thong, lower them slightly.

  “Stop. Leave them. ” Colton’s voice is low and growling, halting me.

  I comply immediately, letting my hands fall loose at my sides. I’m not sure why, but it’s hot when he orders me around like this. I feel a tingle in my belly, a shiver in my thighs. I press my legs together, trying to soothe the ache between them, but it’s futile. He closes the gap so my br**sts brush his chest, his arousal pressing into my belly. I reach up to touch his shoulders, slide my palms down his spine, pulling him closer. He leans down and kisses me, softly at first, tenderly. It melts me, softens me, leaves me limp and gasping from the delicacy of his kiss. I have to clutch his waist to keep from falling.

  My hands are exploring the border of his waist where skin meets cotton; I lift up on my toes to deepen the kiss and push under the elastic to cup his cool hard ass, roaming the globes of muscle with both hands. He growls into the kiss, and one of his hands spanning my spine just above my hips, the other touching my waist and drifting up, up, over my ribs…onto my breast. His rough palm covers my nipple, sending thrills spasming through me. I arch into his palm, grip his ass with my fingernails, roaming his mouth with my tongue.

  I’m left off-balance and dizzy and gasping when Colton abruptly pulls away. “Hold on to the doorframe,” he orders. I obey, and he smiles at me, a predatory baring of teeth. “Now, spread your feet apart…shoulder-width…yeah, just like that. Now, don’t move. And hold on. ”

  I think I know what he’s planning, and I suddenly can’t breathe past my heart hammering in my throat. My hands on the doorframe are all that’s holding me up, and I have to grip tight when he sinks to his knees in front of me. His huge hands curl around the backs of my thighs. I bite my lip and gaze down at him, breathless.

  Oh god, oh god, ohmigod.

  He presses his nose against my core, nudging the triangle of pink silk. I can’t help a moan, and he hasn’t even done anything yet. I cry out when he very suddenly reaches up and yanks my panties down. He lifts one of my feet by the ankle, a silent command to step out. I do, and now I’m completely naked, with Colton’s face between my thighs.

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