Out of breath, p.60
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       Out of Breath, p.60

         Part #3 of Breathing series by Rebecca Donovan
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Page 61

 

  I reached over my shoulder and pulled my shirt off, dropping it on the wood slats. She pushed up on her toes as I bent to kiss her, my hands gripping her waist. Her skin was hot against my stomach as she pressed against me. I carefully backed up, leading her to the shower – hoping the temperature wasn’t going to disrupt our connection.

  The water was warm on my back, so I guided her in with me. The water cascaded over us as our lips parted, exchanging the air between us. Dragging my mouth along her neck, I tasted the saltiness of her skin. She tipped her head back with a gasping moan. My back tightened as my body reacted to her.

  Emma ran her mouth along my chest, and I dug my fingers in her hair, tilting her head and kissing her wet lips with such want that I was having difficulty remaining in control. I felt the edge of the stone bench against my calf and pulled her right leg up, setting her foot on the ledge.

  I inhaled at his touch as his hand eased up my thigh, under my shorts. A flush of heat rushed through my chest. I closed my eyes, overtaken by the sensation. My breath broke into uneven bursts as I buried my face in his neck, teasing his skin with my tongue and brushing my lips along his jaw until I found his mouth, moaning into his parted lips as his touch pushed me over. I gripped his back and tightened around him, lost in the rippling current coursing through my body. I collapsed against him with a drawn breath.

  ‘I can still run faster,’ I murmured, my lips pressed against his smooth skin.

  Evan laughed softly in my ear and whispered, ‘But you’ll never lose me. ’

  A pillow plopped against my head. I grumbled, not wanting to open my eyes.

  ‘Get up, Evan,’ Emma insisted.

  My lids cracked open slightly. It was still dark. ‘What time is it?’

  ‘It’s technically morning,’ she said, sounding way too awake for that to be true.

  ‘Why aren’t you sleeping?’ I mumbled, pulling the covers up around my chin.

  ‘Because I couldn’t, so I decided we’re going surfing. ’

  I blinked my eyes open. ‘What?’

  ‘I thought we could be the first ones on the water. Just you and me,’ she explained, already dressed in a sweatshirt and shorts.

  It took me a moment to register what she was saying. Then when it hit me I pushed the blankets off. ‘I’m up. Give me five minutes. ’

  ‘I thought so. ’ She beamed.

  I shut the door to the bathroom, groggy but elated by her enthusiasm, realizing that this was a bigger deal than even she knew, especially today.

  I was fidgety, wanting to get out of the house. When Evan finally came out of the bedroom, I tossed him a granola bar that he barely caught and left him trailing after me.

  ‘Wow, you really have a schizophrenic relationship with mornings,’ Evan noted, shutting the door behind him. ‘You already loaded everything?’

  ‘I couldn’t sleep,’ I explained again. But sleep was never possible on this day.

  ‘Do you want to tell me why?’ he asked as I knew he would.

  ‘I’m anxious about today,’ I replied. ‘I need it to be a good day. ’

  He nodded, not asking for more, and said, ‘It will be. ’ Evan spread his arms, and I stepped closer, squeezing him tight. He tipped my chin and kissed me gently, ‘Good morning, Emma. ’

  ‘Good morning. ’ I smiled because it truly was.

  I handed Evan the keys and he drove us to the remote surf spot the guys had found. We carried our boards and wetsuits over our heads along a path lined with vegetation until it opened up at a rocky beach. The jetties were what made this place an excellent surf break.

  The sky was still grey as the morning haze settled on the dark water. It was still too foggy to surf, so I leaned my board against a boulder, along with my wetsuit. I ran my fingertips over the captivating design of the female figure breaking through the surf in an arching motion. As soon as I’d seen it, my heart leapt. There wasn’t another board I wanted, despite Evan’s efforts to convince me otherwise.

  Unzipping my sweatshirt, I stripped it off to reveal my swimsuit underneath. ‘What are you doing?’ Evan asked.

  ‘Going swimming,’ she said simply, like it was the most obvious answer.

  ‘The water’s freezing, remember?’ I argued as she dropped her shorts to the ground. Then I couldn’t say anything at all.

  ‘Stop staring and come in the water with me,’ she said, slapping me in the stomach. ‘It’ll wake you up. ’

  She jogged in without hesitation and plunged under the waves.

  ‘Shit,’ I groaned, knowing this was going to be painful – and it was. I let the water rush up to my shins, not committed to going in further. My toes were already numb.

  I searched for her. The darkness and haze made it difficult to see anything. But I found her floating on her back, riding the rippling ocean.

  I took a breath and rushed in, diving under the water. Fighting for breath as I resurfaced in the frigid water, I swam out to where Emma lay and admired her peaceful posture. She glided along the surface with her arms splayed. Her eyes were closed, and she was breathing calmly through parted lips, like she was lost in a dream. She must have sensed my presence because she popped her head up, her body sinking.

  ‘Hi,’ she said, her face glowing despite the lack of sun. ‘Was wondering if you were going to come in. ’

  ‘This water is freezing, Em,’ I said. ‘Warm me up. ’ I pulled her close, the bare skin of her stomach sliding against mine. ‘Your lips are already turning purple. ’

  ‘Really?’ she asked, searching my eyes. ‘So, should we get out of the water?’ She wrapped her arms around my neck, running her fingers into my wet hair.

  ‘I think I’m starting to warm up,’ I told her, my chest thumping as she crushed her body against mine to reach my lips.

  I pressed my shivering lips to his, and he inhaled in shock. ‘Your lips are frozen. ’

  ‘Warm them up,’ I requested, brushing them along his jaw. Evan turned his head to intercept me, but before he could kiss me, he uttered, ‘Hold your breath. ’ I could feel a wall of water hovering over us. Inhaling quickly, I sank under the water. The powerful current separated us, and I was carried away with the wave. When I popped up again, I spotted Evan further from shore. My muscles ached from the icy water, so I rode the next wave to the beach.

  When I emerged, I heard, ‘How’s the water?’ A few other surfers had decided to be the first ones in the water too, interfering with any plans I’d had of warming up on the beach with Evan.

  ‘It’s freezing,’ I told them as Evan walked out of the surf. He greeted them and eyed me. The disappointed look on his face told me we’d been thinking the same thing. ‘Guess it’s wetsuit time. ’

  ‘Guess so. ’

  The skies remained grey for a couple of hours, but the waves were ideal. I couldn’t get up on my board at first, too distracted by the sight of Emma sitting on hers, waiting for a wave. And then when she dropped in on her first one, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She looked incredible in her stance, weaving along the wave like she’d been doing it for years.

  ‘Are you going to sit there all day?’ she teased when she paddled back out.

  ‘Just admiring your skills,’ I told her. ‘I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get to teach you. ’

  ‘This is better,’ she assured me with an awkward smile, since we were inadvertently talking about Cole. ‘This way we just surf. It took me a while to be able to stand, forget about ride. So I prefer this. ’

  I nodded, appreciating her answer. This was perfect, just her and me – and, well, a few other guys we didn’t know. This was an experience I couldn’t have planned if I tried. And for that I had to be a little grateful to Cole for teaching her. But not for dating her.

  Emma must have realized what I was thinking about because she paddled over and grabbed my leg. ‘I’m sorry about him – that you had to see us together. It hur
t just hearing about you and … Well, I can’t imagine seeing it. ’

  ‘I won’t lie. It wasn’t easy to be around him, even though I like the guy. Except I knew it wouldn’t last,’ I told her with a grin, dismissing the ill feeling brought on by the thought of him kissing her.

  ‘What?’ she asked in surprise. ‘We weren’t dating, Evan. ’

  ‘Whatever, you were together. It doesn’t matter what you call it,’ I said dismissively. ‘But you’re supposed to be with me, so any other guy is doomed to failure. ’

  I leaned over carefully and kissed her. When I pulled back, she said, ‘I love you. ’ Those three words coming out of her mouth made me feel like I could conquer anything. I smiled back and said, ‘You and me, Em – no matter what. ’ I got caught in the light reflected in her eyes – the eyes that had been so vacant I was afraid I’d lost her. She sat up on her board with a gorgeous smile on her face and repositioned herself in preparation for the next wave.

  We continued to ride until my arms felt like they were going to fall off and my legs were shaky. The guys, along with Jared and Sara, met us mid-morning as the sun was breaking through the grey. They’d packed a cooler for lunch, allowing us to spend the day on the beach. Nothing else mattered today. I lived within the minutes I was in – not dwelling on the past, or fearing the future. I just let the day present itself as it would, and it couldn’t have been better.

  Sara took hold of my hand and rested her head on my shoulder as we left the quaint restaurant hidden in a grove of lit trees. We’d had dinner, just the four of us, as she’d wanted. We’d sent Evan and Jared ahead of us so we could use the restroom, basically to talk about them.

  ‘I’m happy for you,’ she said, pulling her head back and smiling. ‘That you finally have him. ’ She looked affectionately at the two of them in conversation by the car. ‘This is the way it should’ve always been … Wow, we were stupid girls. ’

  ‘I know,’ I said, smiling softly.

  She squeezed my hand and added, ‘More than anything, I like seeing you like this. He’s the only one that can make you glow. I’ve missed that ridiculous look on your face. ’

  I blinked back the emotion with a laugh. ‘Thanks, Sara. And thanks for putting up with me. I know the last two years weren’t great for you either. ’

  ‘That’s what sisters do,’ she chimed, bumping my shoulder with hers.

  Her laughter turned me around. Emma caught me looking at her. I walked towards her. She released Sara’s hand and took the one I offered. I kissed the top of her head.

  ‘So how was your birthday, Emma?’ I asked, taking a chance mentioning it.

  She stopped. I turned to face her, fearing her reaction. Emma leaned up on her toes and kissed my cheek, allowing me to smile. She wrapped her arms around my neck and said softly in my ear, ‘It’s the best birthday I’ve had in thirteen years. Thank you. ’

  38

  The Promise

  A SHIVER DANCED DOWN MY BACK WITH HIS tickling touch along my neck.

 
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