Crush, p.12
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       Crush, p.12

           Lacey Weatherford
 

  Chapter Nine

  Cami-

  Hunter annihilated me at Frisbee. It didn’t matter how badly I threw it—trying to make him miss it—he always seemed able to catch it somehow. It was quite impressive, actually.

  “Are you like some kind of super secret athlete?” I asked, bending over, my hands on my knees as I gasped for breath.

  “Hardly.” He laughed.

  “Seriously, you’ve had to play sports at some time.”

  “I used to play varsity football and basketball,” he confessed.

  “I believe you. You’re amazing.” I went to the blanket and collapsed. “You said you used to. Does that mean you don’t do any sports now?”

  “I weight lift still, but not so much of the other stuff. It just isn’t my thing anymore.” He dropped down next to me.

  “Well, I’ve already figured out you weight lift.”

  He chuckled. “You did? How? Are you spying on my class schedule?”

  “No, I’m paying attention to how your t-shirts fit.” I laughed, hoping I wasn’t crossing any weird lines.

  “Oh! Nice.” He grinned, looking very pleased. “Glad I could give you something to look at.” He gently tossed the Frisbee in between his hands.

  I tried to snag it, but he was too quick, snapping it out of my reach with a chuckle. “You thought you were being sneaky. I can see how you are.”

  “Whatever,” I replied, shoving his arm slightly. “You’re just trying to rub in all your physical prowess.”

  He laughed loud, turning to look at me. “I like you, Goody. I think you like me too. Come on, admit it.”

  “Never.” I smiled.

  “It’s not that difficult, really—all you have to say is, Hunter, I like you. Now you try it.”

  “Nope. Not gonna say it.”

  “I bet I could make you say it.” He quirked his eyebrow, and I saw it as a clear challenge.

  “You could try,” I countered.

  “What do I get when I win?” he asked grinning.

  “It doesn’t matter. You won’t win.”

  “I should warn you—I don’t often lose.”

  “Me either.” I laughed. “Give it up.”

  He rolled over, tossing the Frisbee aside. He moved as quickly as lightning, grabbing me and tickling.

  “No!” I screeched, clawing at the blanket as I tried to scoot from his reach. “Stop, that’s not playing fair at all.” I gasped for breath at his assault.

  “Say it,” he ordered.

  “Noooo . . . ”

  He was killing me—I was so incredibly ticklish. He rapidly managed to flip me over, and I flailed, trying to push him away by placing my hands against his rock hard chest. Grabbing me by the wrists he stilled, holding them down against the ground.

  He smiled widely, barely winded, knowing he had me effectively imprisoned. “Say the words and I’ll let you up.”

  I shook my head as I huffed, refusing to give in as I lay underneath his muscular frame.

  His look changed into something different—something smoldering, and I all of a sudden wondered if he was going to kiss me. His head dipped closer, until his full lips were a mere fraction from mine, and I could feel his breath against my skin. Goose bumps flared over me as he caressed my face with his gaze, and I stopped squirming in anticipation. I wanted him to kiss me.

  “Tell me you like me,” he whispered. He was so close I could almost imagine the feel of his lips as they moved, but not quite.

  I pursed mine together, trying to stop my mischievous smile. “No,” I replied.

  He shook his head. “That’s not an acceptable answer.”

  “Well, it’s the one you’re getting.” I laughed and he did as well, releasing me and flopping onto his back. The spell was broken.

  I placed my hand on my stomach, trying to calm the butterflies that were beating in there more like a bunch of bats gone wild.

  “This is not over by any means. I will get you to say it.”

  “It’s on.”

  He stared at me. “You think I’m kidding, don’t you?”

  “Not at all. I just think I happen to be a really good person at resisting peer pressure.”

  He laughed again. “We’ll see about that.” He propped up on his elbow. “So what else do you want to do today? I’m having too much fun to take you home yet—unless you’re sick of me. I don’t want to keep you prisoner.”

  “I’m having a great time, actually. Thank you.”

  “You’re having a great time because you like me, don’t you?”

  I was silent, and he chuckled again, shaking his head. He climbed to his feet and held his hand out. “What shall we do?”

  “I have a place I want to show you if you don’t mind driving out of town a little ways.”

  “Just tell me where to go. I don’t mind at all.”

  “Are you taking me into the woods somewhere to execute me?” he joked as I directed him where to turn.

  “No, but on second thought, it might not have been the best idea to bring your nice car here. I didn’t remember the roads being so bumpy.”

  “That’s okay. I’m not in any kind of rush.” He cast a glance at me and winked. “I don’t mind going slow.”

  “You’re an incredible tease,” I replied, unable to help my smile. I was not unaffected by his flirting. He knew exactly what he was doing.

  “True . . . , but you like it. Don’t you?”

  I couldn’t help the giggle that bubbled up from within me uncontrollably. He was so much fun.

  “I’m not going to say.” I bit my lip as I smiled, and he shook his head. “You may want to slow down or you will drive your car into the river right around this bend.”

  He stepped on the brake, and we came to a stop before a sandy stretch of dirt that led down to the edge of the water. It was only about knee deep and around twenty feet wide but had a decent amount of swiftness to it.

  “That’s what I wanted you to see.” I pointed to the far cliff face. The afternoon sun was angled just right, highlighting the ancient Indian ruin, which had been built into a cave in the side.

  “This is incredible!” Hunter exclaimed, getting out so he could take a better look.

  I followed suit, and we met in the middle, leaning back against the hood.

  “There’s a visitor center and a hiking trail you can take up into them. It’s down the main highway a bit. The last part of the trail is pretty rough, though. I like coming here to sit by the river and enjoy the view instead. It’s so peaceful.”

  Hunter cast a grin in my direction before turning back to the amazing sight. “We should come and hike into it someday. Can you imagine what it must’ve been like to live in a place like that?”

  I shook my head. “Well, I wouldn’t have wanted to be the kid constantly being sent after water, that’s for sure. I’m thinking they must’ve been pretty strong to keep on making that climb over and over again.”

  “I’m sure you’re right. I can’t fathom the kind of work it would take to make a place like that run properly. I wonder if defense was really that important to survival. Just imagine carrying all that rock up in there to build it. That’s some serious dedication.” He surprised me when he wrapped his arm around my shoulders, giving me a friendly squeeze. “Thanks for bringing me here. This is awesome.”

  I felt the heat creeping into my cheeks. I was happy he was pleased with it. It was one of my favorite places to come sit and unwind. “I’m glad you like it. I didn’t know if you would. You seemed kind of horrified when I told you about things there are to do.”

  He chuckled keeping his arm around me loosely. “I guess it’s more enjoyable when the person you’re with is a great part of the view too.”

  I snorted and shoved him away. I started walking backward toward the water, keeping him in my sight. “Now you’re just laying it on thick.”

  “And you like it. I can tell by that pretty blush spreading so nicely over your skin. I think it’s
gonna paint you all the way down to those tiny, cute ankles of yours.” His gaze traveled over my entire length and back up. “You really should just admit it.”

  He was going to do some serious damage to my heart I was afraid. I’d never felt so easily comfortable with someone in my life, not even Clay. There was definitely something about Hunter Wilder that drew me. He made my heart race every time he looked at me. It was exhilarating and scary at the same time.

  “I can’t admit it. You keep reminding me you don’t have room for girls in your life right now.”

  The smile slid from his face, and he grew serious, his eyes watching me like a hawk from where he leaned. He pushed away and stalked in my direction, catching me by the arms and pulling me against him. My hands slid up his chest of their own accord, and my breath caught in my throat as I tipped my head to look at him towering over me.

  “A girl like you tempts me to change my mind.”

  He literally took my breath away. I wanted him to kiss me, but he held me rigidly, not moving any closer. I wanted to know what his lips would feel like against mine. He made all other guys I’d known pale in comparison. Deciding to take the initiative, I slid my arms farther up, wrapping them around his neck and pulling him down closer.

  He resisted at first, but then released a sigh and moved toward me.

  I held my breath, waiting for his mouth to touch mine.

  The sound of laughter broke us apart and we turned, seeing a man and a woman with a couple of small children walking down the side of the stream.

  “Good afternoon!” the woman called to us in friendly fashion. “Beautiful view, isn’t it?”

  Hunter looked at me. “It sure is.” He pulled me into the circle of his arms, and I thought I might swoon on the spot it was so romantic. “Enjoying a day of hiking?”

  “Yeah, we went up into the ruins earlier. It’s a tough little hike, especially with kids. We promised them they could play in the water when we came back down,” the man spoke.

  “Sounds like fun. I hope you enjoy it. We’re just about to do the same thing,” I replied, waving at them as they continued on their way.

  “We are?” Hunter asked grinning softly. “Funny, but I thought things were headed in an entirely different direction.”

  “That’s what you get for thinking, I guess.” I pushed away and left him, enjoying the sound of his laughter following after me. I sat down in the sand and removed my shoes, leaving them there when I got up and moved toward the water.

  I wisely dipped a toe in first and gasped. “Oh my gosh! That is so incredibly cold!” I grimaced and waded in farther.

  “Then why are you going in deeper?” Hunter chuckled.

  “Because it’s fun! Come on! Take your shoes off and join me.” I carefully stepped on the slippery rocks, trying to feel each one as I went further in until the water reached my knees and the current splashed up around them. I turned and looked over my shoulder to see if he was coming, but the motion caused me to lose my footing. I wobbled, furiously trying to maintain my balance before splashing down hard.

  The cold liquid rushed over me, making me gasp, and my mouth filled with water as the current picked up my body and bumped me roughly against several of the stones on the bottom. I tried putting my hands down so I could push my head out of the water, but I couldn’t get enough force underneath me. I flailed, clawing at the slippery rocks as I tried to gain a hold, panicking as my body screamed for air.

  Resisting the urge to suck in a breath, I floundered. My vision started going black at the edges and I had the horrifying thought that I was going to drown in two feet of water. My limbs felt heavy, like I couldn’t move them properly. I didn’t think I could fight it much longer. I opened my mouth, trying to scream, but more water rushed inside.

  Strong arms grasped me, picking me up and I coughed, spraying liquid everywhere before dragging a giant breath of air into my lungs. Hunter scooped me up into his arms, and I laid my head against his chest as I clung to him, shaking with both cold and shock.

  “Just keep breathing, Cami,” he ordered.

  I couldn’t reply, shivering as he carried me out of the water and up the sand toward his car. He set me down, leaning me against it, pinning my traumatized body there with his hips. He reached down and pealed my shirt off, revealing my lacy bra beneath. He tossed the top on the hood and reached for the button on my shorts.

  “What are you doing?” My voice was trembling as I wrapped my arms around myself.

  “Trying to keep you from getting hypothermia in this breeze. Can you stand on your own?”

  I nodded and he stepped away, pushing my shorts down and instructing me to lift each leg. They joined my shirt on the hood. He reached into his pocket for his keys and popped the trunk, pulling out the thick blanket we’d used for our picnic earlier, wrapping me up in it tightly before hugging me.

  “Girl, I swear you just took ten years off my life. Are you okay?” He released a giant sigh as he leaned his head on top of mine, rubbing my back through the blanket.

  I started laughing, and then crying. “I couldn’t get up. It was so dumb and then I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was just flopping around like a rag doll.” I buried my head against his chest. “It was so stupid. The water is so shallow.”

  “That current was much stronger under the surface than it looked. It felt like it took me a year to reach you.”

  My knees wobbled, and he grabbed me tighter, holding me up.

  “Come on, let’s get you seated.” He opened the passenger door and lifted my burrito-wrapped body into the car, settling me into the seat before crouching down beside me. “Cami, are you sure you’re all right?”

  I nodded. “I’ll be fine. I’m more embarrassed than anything.”

  “Don’t be embarrassed. Accidents happen. How many fingers am I holding up?”

  His question diffused my hysteria, and I started laughing again. “I can still see, Hunter.”

  “How many?” he demanded.

  “Three,” I answered dutifully.

  “What’s your full name?”

  I rolled my eyes. “Camilla Noelle Wimberley.”

  “Who’s the president of the United States?”

  “Abraham Lincoln,” I replied in a snarky tone. “Quit asking me dumb questions.”

  He sighed but grinned. “I’m just trying to make sure you’re okay. You got bumped around pretty good. If you hit your head I should probably take you to the emergency room.”

  “I don’t think I hit my head, just every part of the rest of my body.” I slumped back against the seat.

  “Let’s get you home.” He tucked the bottom of the blanket into the car and shut the door.

  I watched him as he retrieved my shoes, then took my clothes off the hood and wrung the water out of them before tossing them in the trunk and closing it.

  “Somehow I don’t think bringing you home mostly naked is going to score me many points with your parents,” he said as he slid into the driver’s seat.

  “Hunter, you just saved me from drowning. I’m thinking they’ll probably be pretty grateful.” That was when I noticed how wet he was also.

  He sighed heavily. “Guess we’ll find out.” He turned the heater on and slowly made his way over the bumps and ruts in the road. As soon as we reached the highway he gassed the engine and raced the last the forty miles back into Copper City.

 
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