Ember x, p.23
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       Ember X, p.23

         Part #1 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 23


  He captures the hem of my shirt and his knuckles brush the side of my stomach as he draws me back into the car. “Then, why does it have to end?”

  Is he asking what I think he is? My eyes travel to Raven’s second-floor bedroom window. The light is on and I can almost hear her voice: Do it, do it, do it!

  “You want to come in?” I involuntarily glance at his lustrous lips and then lick my own.

  He nods, his compelling gaze withering my to a thousand incoherent pieces. “At least until someone comes home; you shouldn’t be here alone. ”

  “I am nineteen,” I say. “I should be living alone. ”

  “You shouldn’t ever be anything other than what you are,” he replies softly.

  I glance back at my house. “Let me just run in and check to make sure the power is on first. ” Actually, I want to check that none of my family is around.

  He smiles and releases my shirt, and I climb out of the car. I run inside and flick on the light. “Well, the power’s back on. ” I check in the living room, half expecting to find the Grim Reaper waiting for me, but it’s empty and the house is as silent as the cemetery.

  I step back outside and wave for Asher to come in. He climbs out of the car and strolls up the sidewalk, taking slow even strides with his long legs. He watches me with every step and I realize how happy I am that he’s staying with me. If he wasn’t, then I’d probably wake up in a few hours, haunted by thoughts of death and reapers. I’d grab my notebook and go to the cemetery, where I’d jot notes about loneliness and pain. Asher has the ability to distract me from death, though, and the silence he puts inside my head allows my body to feel everything that death masks; the high of being touched, kissed, comfortably close to someone.

  I shut the door behind him and he scales up my house, turning in a circle in the foyer. There are photos of me as a baby hanging on the wall. Some I’m with Raven, some I’m with Ian. There are even a few I’m with my mom and dad, back when life was all rainbows and sunshine, or at least when I believed it was. But life was just waiting for me to pass it.

  “You look like your dad. ” He squints at a photo of me as a two-year-old sitting on my dad’s lap. My mom is leaning over his shoulder whispering something in his ear. Ian is in the back, swinging plastic nunchucks at an inflatable Santa Claus. There is a Christmas tree in the background, flashing with red twinkling lights. The picture’s candid, and we look happy. I want the moment back.

  I head for the stairs and Asher follows behind me. I’m aware of everything as we ascend the staircase; the movement of his body, the slightest elevation in temperature, the rhythm of his heart.

  When I reach my room, I open the door and he immediately glances at the drawings on the wall, the poems, and the pictures of the dead poets. He gives a lengthy gaze at the Reaper and then at the Angel on the wall across from it, before he focuses on a picture of Edgar Allan Poe tacked to the closet doorframe.

  “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you have a crush on him,” he says with a drop of amusement in his voice. “But then again, I really don’t know you. ” He faces me and cocks his pierced eyebrow. “So is this my competition?”

  “I’m not in love with him,” I reply, picking up the raven feather off my dresser. Weird. I thought I put this away. “I’m in love with his work. ”

  “I remember from the party… You practically fell into my arms when I quoted the only line I know of his poetry. ” He teases me with a smug smile.

  I narrow my eyes and try not to smile. “So you were playing me? Is that why you took off and left me on the dance floor. ”

  He looks remorseful. “I’m sorry about that… I just… there was somewhere I had to be. ”

  “It’s okay,” I say. “I’d had enough of dancing anyway. ”

  He gives me a small smile, then snatches the feather from my hands, and spins it in-between his fingers. “Is this a raven’s feather?”

  “Yeah, why?”

  He shakes his head and hands the feather back to me. “Where’d you get it?”

  “From the ceme—the park. ” I set the feather on my dresser, wondering what an Angel feather would look like. “They’re a pretty common bird. ”

  The seriousness in his face fades into mischievousness and he grabs my hip. “I was just wondering how hard you went looking for it—how deep your obsession is with Edgar Allan Poe. ”

  “Ha, ha,” I say sarcastically, giving him a playful shove, but he traps my hand against his chest. He swallows hard as we both freeze and then his gaze lands on my mouth “Am I allowed to kiss you?”

  “You can do whatever you want,” I say in an unsteady voice.

  “Can I?” Pulling on my arm, he steers me to him and our lips and bodies collide and liquefy with lust as soon as we connect.

  The kiss heats quickly and we’re practically all over each other, falling onto my bed, our bodies entangled. My heart races inside my chest, pounding my blood through my body as I massage his tongue with mine. His hands slide to my hips and he flips us over, so he’s on top of me, one arm on each side of my head, holding his weight up. His tongue ring inspects every single inch inside my mouth, running along the roof, the inside of my lip. My legs wrap around his waist and he lets out a low growl as I writhe my hips against him.

  “Fuck…” He moves his body with mine as he traces kisses down my neck, rolling his tongue out along my skin. When he approaches the hollow of my neck, my breath hitches and I slant my head back.

  “Your heart is racing,” he whispers against my skin.

  I nod with my eyes shut, unable to speak through the combusting warmth spinning throughout my body.

  He presses a kiss to hollow of my neck and then pauses. “Maybe we should… Maybe we should slow down. ”

  My eyes open and I tip my head down to look at his expression. “Are you being serious?”

  He looks up at me through hooded eyes. “It’s just that… Things have been moving really fast. ” He rolls over to his side, his forehead furrowing, like he doesn’t understand why.

  I don’t understand why he’s suddenly saying no. “Okay. ” Flustered, I climb off the bed, ignoring the thunder of my heart as I grab some pajamas out of the dresser and duck into the closet.

  “You know that curtain is pretty thin… it’s almost like getting a peep show,” he says, humor hinting his tone and then my iPod flips on and the sound of “Hands Down,” by Dashboard Confessional drums through the room.

  I’m so confused. Why did he stop? Does he not want me? It sure as hell felt like he wanted me. I quickly slip on a tank top and a short pair of boxer shorts. I unclasp my studded bracelets and drop them in the corner of the closet floor, right by the insane drawing of X’s. I barely remember drawing it, like how I barely remember being rescued from drowning. Feathers all over his crime scene. I shut my eyes and try to summon more details. Dark water. My necklace floating away. The black mass—the Grim Reaper.

  I open my eyes. Am I losing my mind just like my dad? Or is everything real, just confusing?

  I return to the room in a miserable mood, shoving through the curtain. Asher is lying on my bed reading a book with his boots kicked off and his jacket thrown on the floor.

  “Wait a minute… is that…” I reach for the book in his hands, but he rolls to his side, laughing as he reads a line from Raven’s romance novel. “‘And then he takes his hand and slides it up my thigh, pressing it deep inside my wet—”

  I hop on him and snatch the book away from my hand. “This is not mine. It’s Raven’s. ” I chuck the book across the room and it lands in the garbage.

  He laughs and situates his hands on my hips as I straddle him. “So you don’t want me to slide my hand up your thigh and put it in your wet…” he trails off at the sight of my face. “What’s wrong?”

  I shake my head. “Nothing. ” I start to climb off him, but his fingers delve into my waist, holding me in place.

ng is,” he says. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t be frowning like that. ”

  “It’s nothing. I promise… I just… Why did you stop?”

  “Stop what?” He looks perplexed.

  “Touching me… kissing me…”

  His throat muscles move up and down as he swallows hard. “Because I don’t want to do anything without your permission. ”

  I have no idea what’s going on and why he’s so worried about politeness. “But I want you to. ” I want the silence. I want him. So bad. I run my fingers through his hair. “I already said you could do whatever you want. ”

  A breath eases from his lips. “Are you sure about that… I need you to be sure. ”

  My mind screams at me to proceed with caution, but my lips have other ideas. “Yes. ”

  Seconds later, his lips collide with mine, almost violently and a gasp falters from my mouth as his fingers slide up the inside of my leg and enter me without any warning. He starts moving them as his other hand grabs the back of my shirt and he leans away jerking it over my head and discards it onto the floor. He instantly reaches around my back and unhooks my bra. I can barely catch my breath as my breasts are exposed to the cool air and his relentless gaze.

  He takes me in as his fingers drive me to the edge and I have to close my eyes. His mouth comes down on my nipple and he sucks it hard as his fingers spread over my waist. When his mouth leaves my breast, my lips part in protest, but snap shut as he licks a path with his tongue ring up my neck to my mouth and then he bites my bottom lip. With his fingertips stabbing into my hips, he flips us over, so I’m on my back and then his fingers are leaving me as he leans away.

  I prop up on my elbows as his head moves downward, his body hovering over me. I watch him as he guides my shorts down to my knees, along with my panties, nervous, yet needy, waiting for whatever comes next.

  As I lie naked before him, he grabs my ankle, forcing my knee to bend, and then with his eyes on me, he kisses a path up my inner leg all the way to the top of my thigh. Putting a hand on the inside of each thigh, he spreads my legs open and I clutch onto the blanket at the first flick of his tongue ring.

  “Holy shit…” I swear I’m melting on the inside, burning up. I can’t breathe. I let go of the blanket and thread my fingers through his hair as my back curves up against the feel of his tongue, and seconds later, I cry out his name.

  My skin is damp as he moves his mouth away and kneels up between my legs, watching me come back down. I blink my eyes, stunned at what just happened. All my life I thought it’d be impossible to get this close to someone—be with someone—and now here I am. And it’s way better than I ever imagined. With a lazy grin on his face, he grabs my arms and pulls me up. He slips my shirt on over my head and then I put my shorts on. Neither one of us says a word, but it’s a comfortable silence.

  We situate on the bed and I rest my head on his chest with one arm draped around him.