Unraveled, p.24
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       Unraveled, p.24

         Part #3 of Woodlands series by Jen Frederick
Page 25


  “I’ve got plans. ” He slapped the side of my butt, but the comforter buffeted the hit. I stretched my arms above my head. The action made my breasts lift and the covers drop, which drew Gray’s attention. I kicked the covers down a little lower, thinking to tempt him into removing his clothes.

  This time the noise he made was clearly a moan. Reaching over, he lightly tongued one erect nipple and then the other but instead of reaching for his waistband, he pulled the sheet up over my breasts. “Can’t think very well with those beauties staring at me. ”

  “We don’t have to do any thinking today. ” I patted the bed.

  “You don’t. ” He grinned. “But you’ll be sore for a little bit and I thought you might enjoy this activity I had planned.

  “What could be better than last night?” I said unthinkingly.

  Gray’s grin grew even wider. “Best ever, huh?”

  “If you aren’t going to do anything, then no, it was terrible. ” I pushed off the bed and flounced off to the bathroom.

  Snickering, he called after me, “Oh, I’m totally rising to the challenge. ”

  “WHAT ARE WE GOING TO do?” I asked after we’d climbed into the Rover.

  “What do you think?”

  "Sky diving?” I still wanted to do that, and I figured Gray was the perfect person to take me up and push me out of a plane.

  "Thats not really very dangerous," he scoffed.

  "It looks dangerous. Will liked it. "

  "Everything Will liked was dangerous?"

  "It seemed that way. "

  "Like you?"

  I rolled my eyes. "Yes, Im very dangerous. "

  Gray reached over and tucked a piece of hair behind my neck. "The fact that you dont know makes you all the more lethal. ”

  Embarrassed, I looked out the windshield. "I once got sick on a Ferris wheel. "

  Gray leaned against the corner of the car door and seat, settling in. "I cant wait to hear this. "

  "Our senior year, Will and a bunch of us went to Six Flags for senior skip day. We rode the Ferris wheel at the end of the day and the park looked beautiful at night. " I swiped some stray hairs out of my eyes. "Will was anxious to leave for Basic. The closer it got to graduation and his leaving, the more frustrated he was. He and his friend, Trevor, started throwing a ball at each other. Trevor and his girlfriend were in the car in front of us. When our car was resting on the top, Will started crawling out of the car. He said he wanted to stand up on the rail. The operator saw him and started screaming at us. I begged Will to get inside and he did. When we got off the Ferris wheel, I threw up. I think it was from fear. ”

  A sweatshirt landed on my lap. I hadn’t even realized I was shivering. I could have just turned down the air conditioning but at the next stop light, I slipped it on and was immediately surrounded by the soft cotton and the smell—the spicy, ocean smell I’d come to associate with Gray. He directed me east of town toward the large expanse of land that was a farm back in the day but now held a small but functional airfield. Off in the distance I could see the major city airport. I swung into the small parking lot but made no move to get out of the Rover.

  “Um, really?” I’d talked a big game about wanting to do this but now faced with the prospects I was frightened.

  "If you dont want to go up, we wont," Gray said.

  “But I did want to do something adventurous…” I leaned forward and looked at the small plane with the large side doors. Could I really jump out of it?

  "Not all daring things occur up in the air. We could go whitewater rafting. Maybe play paintball. We could take a motorcycle out on the track. " Gray shook my arm to get my attention. "You tell me what you want to do. "

  "I want to go up," I said truthfully.

  "Okay, but if you feel uneasy at any time, let me know. I dont want to do things that scare you. " I glanced at his fingers, which circled my wrist. I loved his hands. There were callouses on the palm and white scar marks on the backs. When I looked at them I felt safe, and when he put them on me, I felt excited. Those were good hands.

  "Ill tell you if Im scared,” I said quietly.

  He gave me a sideways smile, the one where only the left corner of his mouth rose. I was beginning to recognize that it meant he was not quite ready to tell me something but if I waited long enough it’d come out. We were getting to know each other in a lot of ways and that was about as scary and exciting as jumping out of a plane. When we were walking from the parking lot to the office, Gray’s hand caught mine and he didn’t let it go even after we’d signed our releases. We sat in the waiting room for the pilot and other jumpers to arrive. The plane could hold eight parachuters and there would be five today. Gray and me, an instructor named Jerry and two experienced jumpers.

  Gray’s finger rubbed over the empty spot where my ring used to sit. The skin was still paler than the rest of my finger, but he’d never said a word. Just like he never said anything the first time I took him to my condo other than to ask me where the bedroom was. I pointed up the steps, and he carried me up to the loft and made love to me, tender and sweet.

  “Tell me the truth. Is this the scariest thing I’ll ever do?”

  He shook his head. "Nah, I wouldn’t bring you if I thought you would hate it. But you’ve mentioned it a few times. The jump is about the descent. The free fall and the wind and the ground rushing up to meet you. "

  "Sounds terrifying. "

  "Its not really. Or if it is, the adrenaline is the product of a mind fake. Youve got the parachute. If you were free falling without the parachute then I think the main feeling would be terror instead of exhilaration. "

  "But you like the rush, right? The excitement. "

  His response was slow, reluctant. "Yeah, but Im not an adrenaline junkie. "

  "You like to do things that are dangerous," I pointed out.

  "Within limits. "

  "Like Will. ” I sighed. "I must be an adrenaline junkie. "

  This admission caused Gray to laugh. "Why would you say that?"

  "Because I keep falling for guys who are dangerous. "

  The words hung heavy between us and a part of me wanted to reach out and pull them back inside me. Gray pulled me around so I was facing him. His left hand was on my shoulder and his right hand pushed the hair out of my eyes. When his fingers drifted down to my chin, I raised my chin so he could read all the sincerity and emotion that had been building since the first time I met him. "Youre falling for me?”

  "Isnt it obvious?" I whispered. I didnt know how to play games or conceal my feelings. Living, even with its hurts, was so much better than hiding away.

  "Its only temporary," Gray reminded me, his eyes searching.

  "I know. " And I didn’t even care, not at that moment.

  The descent of his mouth toward me was slow. My lips opened slightly in anticipation and my eyes fluttered closed.

  "Samantha," Gray said, his breath tiny puffs of air against my lips. I slid infinitesimally closer to him. "Open your eyes. " His voice was insistent.

  I opened them. "Why?"

  "I want you to know whos kissing you. " His lips pressed against mine, firm and warm. He was always so warm. At first, he just pressed his lips against mine and then he began to move them. He softly nibbled against my lips, pulling my lower lip between his. I opened to him and his tongue slid inside my mouth, rubbing against my tongue and inviting me to play. He seemed to be saying that he could sit there and kiss me for hours as if nothing were more exciting than the feel of our lips against each other.

  He might have said it was temporary, but we both knew it wasn’t.



  EM>THIS WAS ONLY TEMPORARY,EM I reminded myself, as Samantha so sweetly kissed me back. Im only here for a short time. But as I felt her tongue stroke the side of my tongue, as she nipped her teeth against my lip, I wanted to just drown in the sensation. Her scent filled my head and the air
around us shrank until all I knew was her small body sitting so close to mine. I moved my hand from her shoulder to cup her neck and angled her face for deeper penetration. I licked every inch inside of her mouth until the taste of her was all that I knew on my tongue.

  And all that time I stared in to her green eyes and not once did she look like she was anywhere but right here with me. I saw my reflection there. Her heartbeat was made wild by my kisses. The ring on her finger was gone, and her condo was empty of most everything but yarn. It was a place I felt like I could be comfortable in.

  And temporary was the farthest thing from my mind.

  When we broke apart, our breath mingled together as we rested our foreheads together. Then I moved her to my side, tucked her under my arm. As we sat there waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, I asked her about safe things because I was feeling more on edge sitting next to her than I ever did right before leaping out of a plane or a helicopter. "Can you make me a hat?”

  "Sure, thats not really challenging. "

  "What else do you make? I admit, despite what I told you the other night, I kind of do associate knitting with old ladies. "

  "Dont knock the old ladies. Theyve got skills. " She elbowed me in the side. “I make sweaters although those are pretty challenging. My favorite thing is to knit baby stuff. It’s quick and adorable. ”

  When she tucked her hair behind her ear, I couldnt take my eyes off of it. Id felt lust before. And desire. But this was something different. I felt hyper aware of every little thing she did. I noticed her fingers sometimes had nicks in them, as if shed been inattentive too many times while slicing limes at the bar. And that her hair was always falling around her face.

  The other night when we went out to eat, she told me she wanted Thai food and then took me to her favorite restaurant. With Carrie I’d run through a list of every restaurant in five-mile diameter and after she’d said she didn’t care where we ate, she’d complain about whatever place we’d ended up at. She couldn’t make a decision whereas Sam was pretty self-sufficient. She bought her own groceries, paid her bills, always had gas in her Rover. It was evident she’d lived on her own for a while. All that was incredibly attractive.

  I ran my hand over my growing hair. By the end of my leave I should have a mop. And a beard. And my uniforms would still be pressed and perfect. Like I told Bo and Noah, I didnt have a good set of skills outside of the military. Would I even be good enough for someone like Sam? She came from a pretty nice life. Had her own condo, a nice truck, her mom was a lawyer. I wondered if my ability to iron would render me a good husband.

  "Do you think ironing is an essential life skill?"

  "Um, I have no idea. I dont think Ive ironed one thing in my life. " She snorted and held her hand over her mouth to cover the smile. "Thats such a random question. "

  "Will never had you iron his Alphas?"

  "His class A uniforms? No way. He said I didnt know how to do it. He was very particular and I wasn’t going to protest. Who likes ironing?"

  "It can be a very soothing task,” I declared but smiled at her arched eyebrow. "So I guess the answer is no?"

  "I think its one of the very first things you should put on your boyfriend resume. ‘I iron. ’ Right after, ‘I am shit hot in the kitchen. ’ You make a mean omelet. "

  "What about shit hot in the bedroom?" I asked quietly. Her smile died away, replaced by a long stare. So long and so heated I felt like shed run her tongue all over me. Good thing I was already sitting down, because otherwise I would’ve dropped on my ass.

  "You dont need to put that on your resume. Everything about you telegraphs that. "

  Talk about dangerous activities. "What exactly?"

  A wisp of humor skipped across her face, and I reached out and brushed two fingers there. Maybe to catch the smile. Maybe just to feel her soft lips again.

  "You want words?" she said low.

  “You know I do. ” Her voice was still throaty with the early morning. Or it could have been something more that was making the words thick. I could listen to her all day. She glanced over at the counter attendant, who was busy with her phone. I leaned down so my mouth was close to her ear. "Whisper them to me. "

  For a moment I thought shed comply but a noisy crowd entered the small waiting room. It must’ve been the other jumpers. Tension simmered between us.

  As we sat through the instructional movie and then the live safety instruction, our legs brushed against each other, taking every chance to touch each other. I took the gear from the instructor and helped strap Sam in it, testing every buckle twice. We were both worked up, although some of it could have been anticipation for the jump. Her color was high, and I knew if I looked in the mirror Id have that same heated look of lust in my eyes. I might only have a few weeks of leave left, but I wanted to spend a good portion of it with Sam.

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