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After the lemonade is finished and greedily drunk down, Ken says to us all, “Karen and I are going to head down to our friend’s cabin a few doors down for an hour or two, if you all want to come.”

Hardin looks over at me from across the room, and I wait for him to answer. “I’ll pass,” he finally says, still looking at me.

Landon looks back and forth between Hardin and me. “I’ll come,” he says plainly, but I swear I catch him smirk at Hardin before he stands up to join Ken and his mom.

Chapter twenty-four


I am thinking they will never leave, but as soon as they do, I pull her over to the couch with me.

“You didn’t want to go?” she asks.

“Fuck, no—why the hell would I want to go? I’d much rather stay here with you. Alone,” I say and brush the hair back from her neck. She squirms a little from the light shiver my touch spreads across her skin. “Did you want to go sit and listen to a roomful of boring-ass people talk about boring-ass shit?” I ask her, my lips barely grazing her jaw.

“No.” Her breathing has already changed.

“You’re sure?” I tease and run my nose along her neck, nudging her to tilt her head.

“I don’t know, it may have been more fun than this,” she says.

I chuckle into her neck, kissing her where the goose bumps on her skin appear from my breath. “Not fucking likely. We do have a hot tub in our room, remember?”

“Yeah, but it’s no good, because I don’t have a swimsuit . . .” she starts.

I suck lightly at her neck and imagine what she’d look like in a bathing suit.


“You don’t need one,” I whisper.

She moves her head back and looks at me like I’m crazy. “Yes, I do! I’m not getting in a hot tub with no clothes on.”

“Why not?” It sounds like a pretty fun time to me.

“Because your family is here.”

“I don’t know why you always use that as an excuse . . .” My hand travels down to her lap, and I press against the seam of her jeans. “Sometimes I think you may like that.”

“Like what?” she asks, practically fucking panting.

“The possibility of being caught.”

“Why would anyone like that?”

“A lot of people do—the thrill of being caught, you know?” I apply more pressure between her legs, and she tries to clamp them shut, struggling against what she wants and what she thinks she shouldn’t want.

“No, that’s . . . I don’t know, but I don’t like it,” she lies. I’m pretty damn sure she does.

“Mm-hmm . . .”

“I don’t!” she cries, defending herself, her cheeks flushed and eyes wide in embarrassment.

“Tess, it’s okay that you do. It’s pretty fucking hot, really,” I assure her.

“I don’t.”

Sure, Tessa. “Okay, you don’t.” I raise my hands in defeat, and she whimpers a little from the loss of contact. I knew there was no way in hell she’d admit it, but hey, it was worth a try.

“Are you going to come into the Jacuzzi with me?” I ask and remove my hand from her.

“I’ll come up there . . . but I’m not getting in.”

“Suit yourself.” I smile and stand up. I know she’ll end up in there; she’ll just need more persuading than most girls. Come to think of it, I’ve never actually been in a Jacuzzi with a female before, naked or not.

Wrapping her small hand around my wrist, she follows me upstairs to the room that is considered ours for the next few days. The balcony connected to it is what made me claim it in the first place. The moment I saw that Jacuzzi sitting there, I had to get her into it.

The bed isn’t bad either; it’s small, but we don’t need a big bed with the way we sleep any damn way.

“I really do love it here; it’s so peaceful,” she says and sits on the bed to take her shoes off.

I open the double doors to the balcony. “It’s okay.” If my father, his wife, and Landon weren’t here, it would sure as hell be better.

“I don’t have anything to wear tomorrow to that restaurant your father was talking about.”

I shrug and lean down to turn the faucet on the Jacuzzi. “We won’t go, then.”

“I want to go. I just didn’t know we were going out somewhere before I packed.”

“It’s poor planning on their fault, then,” I say and study the gauges to make sure they look like they’re working. “We’ll just wear jeans. Seems like a casual area.”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, if you don’t want to wear jeans, we can find a store in this dump to get you something else,” I offer, and she smiles.

“Why are you in such a good mood?” Tessa raises an eyebrow at me.

I dip a finger into the water. Almost there; this thing heats up quickly. “I don’t know . . . I just am.”

“Okay . . . should I be worried?” she asks, stepping out to join me on the balcony.

“No.” Yes. I gesture to the wicker chair next to the hot tub. “Will you at least sit out here with me while I enjoy the relaxation that is sitting in scalding-hot water?”

She laughs and nods, taking a seat. I watch her innocent eyes as she stares at me while I pull my shirt over my head and take my pants off. I leave my boxers on; I want her to take them off.

“You sure you don’t want to come in?” I ask her, and lift my leg over the edge and climb in. Fuck, it’s hot as hell. A few seconds later the burn disappears, and I lean back against the hard plastic.

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