Out of breath, p.53
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       Out of Breath, p.53

         Part #3 of Breathing series by Rebecca Donovan
 
Page 54

 

  ‘Hi. ’ He smiled, causing my heart to stutter as the water dripped from his dishevelled brown hair down his chiselled face.

  ‘Hi,’ I said, with a blushing grin.

  ‘I heard you did this,’ he said, nodding towards the havoc in the pool.

  ‘This one was Meg!’ I defended myself. I was nudged towards Evan by two guys who were struggling to dunk each other. He slid back to the corner to avoid them. I floated after him.

  ‘Meg doesn’t seem the type to start trouble. ’ He moved over to allow room for me along the wall.

  ‘Oh, and I am?’ I said, trying to sound offended.

  Evan smirked. ‘Yeah, you have a reputation. And this isn’t the first time I’ve ended up in the pool with my clothes on because of you. ’

  ‘True,’ I replied, a flush rising to my cheeks. I couldn’t look away from his steel-blue eyes as he drifted closer. He lingered in front of me, scanning my face like he was looking for an answer … or permission. My pulse raced when he set his hand on my hip. I gripped the side of the pool to keep afloat. I couldn’t breathe as he moved closer – and then he was gone. I whipped around in search of him.

  ‘Hey, Emma. ’ Brent smiled from where Evan used to be. And then he was dragged under himself. This was my cue to get out of the pool, needing some distance after yet another moment with Evan.

  ‘How did you not get thrown in?’ I asked Serena and Sara, who sat in chairs around a table, observing the bedlam.

  Sara’s eyes glinted. ‘They know better. ’

  ‘But you look ridiculous,’ Serena laughed, pointing to the jeans that hung from my hips, the weight of the water stretching them over my shoes. I attempted to pull them up, but it was useless.

  ‘Time to go?’ Meg confirmed from behind me.

  ‘I think you’ve made your contribution to the party,’ Serena stated, handing her keys to Meg. ‘But I’m going to stay a while longer. ’

  ‘Me too,’ Sara added.

  ‘Well … have fun,’ I said. Meg and I left the girls and walked along the edge of the house.

  ‘Are you leaving?’ Evan called after us, running to catch up.

  I indicated my uncooperative jeans with a slight tug and said, ‘I can’t stay like this. We’re heading back to the house. We’ll see you there. ’

  ‘I’ll come back with you. Actually, I’ll meet you out front. I’m going to give my key to Sara so she and Serena can get back later with the guys. ’

  ‘Okay,’ Emma replied, continuing towards the front of the house.

  I found Sara and Serena seated by the posts of the deck, laughing at the spectacle.

  ‘Sara, use my truck whenever you want to drive back,’ I told her, handing her the key.

  ‘How are you getting there?’ she questioned curiously.

  ‘I’m leaving now with Meg and Emma. ’

  Serena grinned. I could only imagine what she was thinking.

  ‘Okay. I guess we’ll see you in a bit,’ Sara replied. I took off to find Meg and Emma, but stopped short when I reached the sidewalk. The girls were removing their jeans and placing them in a black trash bag.

  ‘Hey, Evan. ’ Meg noticed me. ‘No wet shorts in the car – it’s our rule. ’

  ‘Huh?’ I responded, having a hard time taking my eyes off Emma’s exposed legs. I blinked and focused on Meg’s face.

  ‘You need to take off your jeans if you’re getting in the car,’ she explained.

  I raised my eyebrows.

  ‘Or you don’t have to drive back with us,’ Emma stated. She had to know exactly what seeing her standing in just a tank top and her underwear was doing to me. This ride might kill me.

  ‘No, it’s … okay,’ I conceded reluctantly. I took a quick breath and peeled off my jeans, dropping them in the bag Meg held open, and placing my shoes in the trunk among the cleats and soccer balls. With my eyes on Emma, I said, ‘You know what, you might as well as have this wet shirt too. ’

  Emma stared at me with her mouth open. Meg looked between us, shaking her head. ‘Whatever. ’

  ‘You’re evil,’ Emma grumbled.

  ‘Hey, you broke the truce,’ I grinned, stripping my shirt off. I laughed when Emma turned her back to me, concealing her flushed cheeks.

  ‘You can drive,’ Meg said, handing me the key before throwing the trash bag in the trunk.

  Emma sat on the passenger side, waiting. I caught a glimpse of her lean, muscular legs leading up to the black fabric of her underwear. Meg climbed into the back while I held the seat forward. I was oblivious to her revealed skin as she scooted by me, too distracted by the half-naked body in the front seat.

  ‘Why are you driving?’ Emma demanded in a panic when I got in the car.

  I shrugged. ‘Meg asked me to. ’

  ‘Meg!’ Emma groaned.

  ‘What did I do?’ Meg asked, completely confused. ‘What is wrong with you guys? It’s not like you’re naked. Stop acting weird and just drive, Evan. ’

  Emma turned her attention away from me.

  The radio blared when I started the car. Emma whipped around and shouted at the same time as Meg, ‘David Bowie!’ but then Emma finished with, ‘ “Young Americans”. ’

  ‘You suck,’ Meg shot back. ‘I couldn’t get the song out fast enough. ’

  I had no idea what just happened. All I knew was that Emma’s thigh was suddenly inches from my hand on the stick shift – and I couldn’t breathe. I forced my eyes to remain on the road. Any diversion in my current attire would not be good. ‘What was that about?’

  ‘It’s what we do when the car starts or someone changes the station; we see who can name the artist and song the fastest,’ Meg explained. ‘It’s just something between Emma and me. ’

  ‘Like the pool thing?’

  ‘Exactly. ’ Emma laughed. ‘Like the pool thing. ’

  Her laugh made me glance over at her – bad idea. All I could see was skin. I tightened my grip on the steering wheel, fighting for control. What the hell was I going to do when I saw her in a bathing suit?

  When we pulled into the driveway, I released the air in my lungs. I let Meg and Emma go in ahead of me, offering to get the bag of clothes from the trunk to give myself time to recover. The girls were in the living room by the time I’d changed into dry clothes.

  ‘Evan, do you want to watch a movie when everyone gets back?’ Meg asked.

  ‘Sure,’ I responded. ‘Are you guys hungry?’

  ‘What are you cooking?’ Emma asked excitedly.

  ‘Nothing,’ I answered with a chuckle. ‘Thought we’d order pizza. Or maybe you could cook. ’

  ‘Pizza!’ Meg declared. ‘Emma will burn the house down. ’

  ‘Hey!’ Emma shot back. ‘I’ve mastered grilled cheese. ’

  ‘That’s a feat,’ I teased. Emma picked up a pillow and threw it at me. I easily caught it, laughing.

  My mind wandered to the pillow fight Emma and I’d had years ago. I was tempted to retaliate to make it happen again.

  ‘So, Evan, I heard you’re a Stanford boy now,’ Meg said, redirecting my attention.

  Evan turned towards Meg, taking his taunting grin with him. I had a feeling I knew what he was thinking about, clutching that pillow in his hand. ‘Yeah, I guess I am. ’

  Everyone else arrived right after the pizza did. And thankfully we’d ordered a lot. Jared and James practically ate an entire pizza each.

  I sat on the plush rug in front of the couch after we’d finished eating, while Evan stood in front of the TV, flipping through the movie titles on the screen.

  ‘Come on, Meg,’ Serena called to her, plopping down on James’s lap on the love seat, hanging her long legs over the other side of the arm.

  Sara giggled at something Jared whispered in her ear – which was exactly why I’d chosen the floor. Meg plopped down next to them with a huge bowl of popcorn as Evan selected the movie.

  ‘You can sit on the chair
,’ he encouraged when he turned to find me on the rug.

  ‘I’m comfortable,’ I assured him, clutching a pillow to my chest. Evan hesitated, then sat down in the chair himself and clicked off the light.

  The images from the television filled the room with moving light. There was another low giggle behind me, and I scooted closer to Evan’s chair, leaning against the space next to his legs.

  As the movie progressed, exhaustion settled in. I dozed off with my face leaning against Evan’s leg.

  When I woke, the room was dark, and I was lying on the bed. I felt Evan’s breath on my neck, and with my lips turned up ever so faintly, I settled back to sleep within his embrace.

  34

  Just Don’t Think About It

  ‘I DON’T THINK I SHOULD SLEEP IN HERE any more,’ Evan announced as soon as I stepped out of the bathroom.

  I stared at him in confusion. ‘You don’t want to sleep with me any more?’

  Evan let out an awkward laugh. ‘That’s the problem. ’

  ‘What do you mean?’

  Evan smoothed the covers over his lap, leaning his head back against the headboard to scan the ceiling, struggling with how to explain it to me.

  ‘Just tell me. ’ I sat on the edge of the bed next to his feet.

  ‘It’s … difficult,’ he muttered. ‘We’re still figuring everything out … this thing between us. But when the only time I get to touch you is in this bed, listening to you breathe, smelling your hair, feeling your … it’s … not easy. ’

  ‘Oh,’ I uttered, hit in the face with his meaning. My heart thrust to life at just the thought of his warm body pressed against my back. ‘Yeah, I know. ’

  ‘So, it would probably be best if I slept upstairs from now on,’ he repeated.

  ‘Um, okay,’ I said hesitantly. ‘If that’s what you think. ’

  ‘You don’t?’ he questioned in surprise. ‘Am I the only one being tortured here?’

  Heat spread across my face as I shook my head.

  ‘It’s hard enough not to kiss you –’ Evan began.

  ‘Okay, I understand,’ I said in a rush, not wanting him to continue, not wanting the thought of kissing him in my head. I clenched my eyes closed – too late.

  ‘So, I’ll take my stuff upstairs. ’ He said it as a statement, but there was this hint of questioning in his tone that made me look up at him.

  ‘Yup,’ I answered awkwardly. Evan grabbed his bag from the chaise and his camera from the dresser.

  He hesitated at the door, gave me a tight smile, and shut it behind him.

  I collapsed on the bed, relieving my lungs with the air they were deprived of during that exchange. What had just happened? We basically admitted to wanting each other, without saying we wanted each other. That was the most awkward moment … ever.

  Sara entered without knocking and closed the door behind her. She sat down next to my sprawled body.

  ‘So, I just saw Evan walk by with his bag,’ she said. ‘Did you get in a fight or something?’

 
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