Home > Stripped (Stripped, #1)(12)

Stripped (Stripped, #1)(12)
Author: H.M. Ward

"Or two steps ahead. It depends on how you count."

She laughs and looks into my eyes. "And, what are you counting? How many times you can eat dirt?"

I shake my head, loving every second of this. "No, not at all."

"Then what—?" Her voice cuts off suddenly and the smug smile slips off her face. She catches my meaning and a full blush spreads across her cheeks. Even though it's dark, I know the look. The way she tries to hide her eyes and bury her face is fine by me. Cassie laughs and leans forward, pressing into my shoulder.

My heart pounds violently and I try to sit up and get her off of me, but Cassie laughs and looks down at me. "Oh, no, you're not going anywhere." She pins my shoulders to the ground with her hands.

Leaning over me she looks like heaven with those big dark eyes and full pink lips. Swallowing hard, I look up at her. Cassie's chest rises and falls too quickly, like she's nervous. Her grin flickers and fades until the only thing I see are those eyes. It feels like she's tied a line to my chest, and at this closeness it tightens, demanding that we close the space. I want her body pressed to mine so badly. I'm afraid she's going to realize what's happening and pull away, but she stays where she is.

Gazes locked, I loosen my grip on her wrists and slide my hands up her arms, feeling her soft skin. Cassie stiffens, but she doesn't tell me to stop, so I don't. My palms slip over her arms and shoulders before traveling down her back to her waist. For a moment it feels like I'm falling. The sensation of having her in my arms is unreal. But, when my hands reach her waist, it's over. I can't cup her ass or slide my hands anywhere else, so I linger there, feeling her ribs expand as she breathes. Those big eyes remain locked on mine and her pink lips part like she's going to speak, but Cassie remains silent.

I feel her thighs tense through her denim shorts as I start to feel my jeans tighten through the crotch. I can't hide how much I want her, and I know she has to feel it, but she doesn't comment on my aroused state. Instead, she takes hold of my wrists, and slips them under the hem of her shirt. I don't know what she's doing, and I'm too afraid to ask. I'm lost in the moment and right then, I'd do anything for her. So I place my hands against her hot, slick skin and rub my thumb against her back slowly, waiting for her to pull away.

Although it's night, the weather has been relentless. It's been close to a hundred degrees during the day and nights haven't cooled off much. The plan had been to go swimming tonight, but we never made it to the pool. Somehow we ended up stargazing, laying in each other's arms on the lawn.

My voice catches at the back of my throat, "Cassie..." I try to warn her how close I am to breaking, how much I want to throw her to the ground and make love to her.

"Please, Jon." Her voice is barely there, a whisper at most.

I don't know what she wants, because it can't be what I think she wants. This is a bad idea. I try to get up, but she's sitting on me. That perfect ass is so close to my hands. Hell, my hands are on her skin, under her shirt. That's the go-ahead to feel-up any other woman, but for some reason my hands are anchored to her waist. I'm paralyzed. I want to move, but I can't. Okay, I don't want to move, but I know I should, and for Cassie I would... But, the way she's looking at me combined with the weight of her body against mine is commandeering my thoughts. My fingers tense, and I try not to hold onto her even though her skin feels like heaven in my hands.

She sucks in a small breath, leans down and presses a kiss to my cheek. The moment her lips touch my skin I suck in air like there'll never be enough. Cassie lingers with her face next to mine, and her hand plays in my hair, curling it around her finger. She seems to be lost in thought. Several minutes pass before she says, "Sometimes things don't happen the way I thought they would. I want things, Jon, and I want them with you. I don't know what to do."

Stroking her hair, I answer, "I'm not thee guy, Cass. I wish to God I was, but—"

She doesn't let me finish. Her hand finds my face and she starts trailing the pad of her finger over my cheek and down to my mouth. She sits up slightly so she can see what she's doing. When Cassie's finger touches the corner of my mouth, my lips part, and a small gasp passes my lips. Her soft touch slips over my upper lip, tracing the bow so gently. It's taking a massive amount of willpower to stay still and let her do what she wants, and I wish to God that I could know what she's thinking, because it seems like she's changing her mind. Cassie's not talking and there's a pensive look on her face. It's not blind lust that I see.

Cassie's touch drifts to my lower lip, and as she slips it across my mouth she leans in and presses her lips just to the side of mine. I feel her heart pounding hard and fast as she lays on my chest again. Cassie cradles my face in her hands and I want to die because I can't have her. At the same time, I can't deny her this, even though it's making me crazy. I've never wanted someone so much in my entire life. My hands fist at my sides and I tear holes into the lawn, so that I won't touch her the way I want to. Everything within me wants to cup her face and kiss her back.

This is new for me, so I let my thoughts drift as my eyes close and I enjoy the way she touches me. Every time her hands sweep over me, the tension thickens. I wonder if the bomb threw her the way it did me. Since the museum, I keep wondering if I've wasted my life. If everything ended there, what regrets would I have? Time after time the question surfaces in my mind, and I don't want to think about it because I can't change the one thing I regret most. I'll never have a shot with Cassie, no matter how much I change, because it's not the future that matters to her, it's the past and I can't change that.

So I keep my mouth shut and my eyes closed, and get lost in the moment. Things like this don't happen between us. Cassie is always so careful to keep her distance. Chance landed us in this position and I'm not ending it. I'd wrap my arms around her and hold on tight if I knew that it wouldn't spook her, because that's what frightens me most—that Cassie will realize what she's doing and stop. Or even worse, she'll regret it.

Cassie's hands sweep over me like she's memorizing the planes of my face. Her warm breath becomes shallower as her breathing quickens. The small kisses started off as a quick peck, but now her lips linger and they inch closer and closer to my mouth. Then something changes. I'm not sure who started it, but her h*ps are moving slowly, rubbing against mine as her thighs tighten around me. It breaks me. I can't keep my hands off of her.

I take her waist in my hands and pull her down against me, trying to still her. I'm already hard, and the way she's gyrating against me is going to make me lose it. I don't know what I expect, but when she looks down at me, every rational thought flies out of my brain. Those eyes—the way they look at me in this moment – say everything.

My pulse surges when I realize what I see in her eyes. Cassie changed her mind.

Cassie's voice is softer this time, more timid. She reaches for my hands, and puts them back under the hem of her shirt and draws them higher. My fingers slip over her skin as I fight every urge building inside of me. Cassie sucks in a sharp breath, as she guides my hands to her bra. I feel the sheer fabric and her warm skin beneath. Her n**ples are taut, pushing against the material, demanding to be freed. Her eyes are locked with mine while she does it. "Touch me, Jon. Please."

I don't pull my hands away when she drops my wrists. Cassie watches me for a moment, but when I smooth my thumb over her nipple her back goes straight and her thighs tighten against mine. Her head tips back and she holds her breath until I do it again. I'm drowning in lust, unable to think. My hands are filled with her br**sts and I'm more turned on than I've ever been, because it's her. I tease, working her nipple through the thin fabric, pinching and pulling gently, which makes her gasp again and again. Her back arches and it begins again—Cassie's h*ps start to sway. They move slowly at first, probably because of what I'm doing to her br**sts, and the more she moves, the more I touch her. The heat between us is scorching. I want to bury my dick inside of her and push in deeper and harder until she comes and screams my name.

Fuck, I can't think. We need to stop. She's going to regret this. I can't let her do it. The thought is lost as Cassie's slow grinding goes wild. She rides me, rubbing against me like she can't stop. Her tits bounce in my hands as she slams into me. Little sounds come from the back of her throat. She tries to hide them at first and then gives up. I know I should stop her, but I can't. I can't do anything except this.

Breathless, Cassie raises her hands and rests her arms on top of her head. She rocks her h*ps over and over against me, with only a few layers of clothing between us. Her pace becomes frantic and she suddenly throws herself down onto my chest. Her nails bite through my shirt and into my shoulders as I grab her ass and pull her down harder. I moan incoherently as she rides me. Each thrust is harder and faster and I don't want her to stop. I want to see her face when she comes.

Reality slams into me. She can't come. Not like this. Not with me. She'll never forgive herself. My body is so f**king hot and I need her so much, but I don't want her to hate me in the morning. I force myself to wrap my arms around her and crush her against my chest so that she can't move.

Cassie gasps. She's laying on top of me and I can feel her heart racing inside her chest. I manage to say, "We need to stop." At first she struggles, but after a moment she stops. Her body loses some of the tension and she trembles. "You'll regret this, baby. I know you will." My hand strokes her back as we lay there together. I wonder if it was stupid to stop her. Maybe she changed her mind a while ago and never said anything, but I can't chance her hating me. I couldn't bear that.

I hold her tight, not wanting to let go, when she rolls off of me. She speaks into my shoulder, avoiding my eyes. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to—"

Reaching for her, I play with the long curls hanging down her back. "You don't have to apologize. You can use my body whenever you want. I could have made you come, and fuck, I wanted that more than anything, but I lov—" I catch myself just as the word is about to leave my lips. A cold sensation trickles through my heart when I realize what I was going to say. I love you, Cass. I couldn't do that to you. I love her. The seeds of fear scatter and make me shiver.

Cassie glances down at me, her face unreadable, before she lowers herself and lays at my side. She buries her face in my chest as I hold onto her. "But what?"

I consider saying it, but I can't. The words are lodged somewhere in the back of my throat. I hedge, "What made you do that?"

She shrugs. "I shouldn't have."

"Did you change your mind, Cass?"

"Maybe." She presses her lips together and is quiet for a few minutes. "I don't know what I think about things anymore. I was so sure before I met you, but now—I just don't know. You probably think I'm silly giving this much thought to being with one guy. Meanwhile, you've been banging a different girl every night of the week since summer started." She rolls onto her side and looks up at me. For a second I think she's joking, but the soft smile on her face says otherwise. She doesn't realize what she's done to me.

Our eyes lock and the urge to pour my heart out overtakes me. I could laugh and agree with her, but I don't want to. I want my shot with Cassie Hale and this is it. Lifting my hand to her face, I trail it over her soft skin and say, "You might think that, but the truth is, I haven't slept with anyone since I got here."

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