However, I think he thought because I’d turned eighteen that tonight was going to be the night. Hence why he was trying to stay as sober as possible.
I felt a little nervous about how I was going to disabuse him of that notion.
Smiling up at him, I gave him a shy nod. “You may have mentioned it once or twice.”
Liam grinned, his hands sliding down to rest on my hips. “It’s worth mentioning more than once. Every guy in here thinks I’m a lucky bugger and they’d be right.”
His lips touched mine and it was nice. Really nice. But since my first kiss with Pete Robertson at a Friday bowling night with friends a few months after my disastrous date with Sam, I’d never felt what all the romance books talked about. I’d kissed five guys since then and not one of those kisses made my skin hot and my body vibrate and my stomach flutter. I was beginning to think romance novels might be leading me astray… “Don’t mean to interrupt but I’d like a dance with the birthday girl.”
I immediately broke away from Liam at the sound of Adam’s voice and turned fully to find him standing in front of me, giving Liam a “you have five seconds to get your hands off her before I break your face” look. It had been two and a half years since I started dating and Adam and Braden still rejoiced in scaring the crap out of my boyfriends. Thankfully, Liam didn’t scare easy.
He squeezed my hips. “I’ll go get you another drink. I’ll be over with Allie and the guys.”
I nodded at him, watching him saunter away through the crowds.
A warm hand on my wrist drew my gaze back and Adam was grinning at me as he pulled me into him. As soon as my body brushed his I felt that familiar tingling again, the feeling descending between my legs as Adam’s arm caught me around the waist while his other hand caught my hand and laid it against his chest. I rested my other hand on his shoulder and swayed with him. Being this close kind of hampered my breathing and I tried very hard not to let him see that. His fingertips brushed the bottom of my back and since I was wearing a backless dress it was a skin to skin touch. My body reacted to it in a way I recognized and I ducked my head, unable to look at him.
I’d been in Liam’s dorm room two weeks ago and we’d been making out and touching.
The touching got a little more involved than I was used to but I was curious so when he slid his hand under my skirt and pushed his fingers under my underwear to touch me there I’d almost come off the bed. I felt it between my legs and I felt it in my breasts. He’d settled a thumb on my clit and played me as my body slowly started to fracture until it eventually broke into this amazingly pleasurable explosion.
Adam didn’t even need to put a hand between my legs. All he needed to do was touch me and those familiar tingles were vibrating throughout me.
“Enjoying your birthday?”
I turned to gaze at him now, my face close to his. I was five foot nine so usually only a couple inches shorter than Adam, but tonight I was wearing four inch heels so I was actually just little bit taller than him. That thought seemed to occur to him too because he gave me a quick once over and grinned, shaking his head as I replied, “Yeah, it’s been good.”
“Have you opened any presents yet?”
“No. I was going to later but I think everyone is a bit too drunk to care. Including you.”
“Pfft, I’m not drunk. I’ve got a buzz going that’s all.” His eyes narrowed. “You’re not drunk are you?”
I rolled my eyes. “Adam, I’m legally allowed to drink now.”
“Is that a yes or a no?”
“I’ve had a couple of shots, that’s it.”
We were quiet a moment and I actually allowed myself to relax against him. That was until he flexed his fingers against my back and an involuntary shiver rippled over me. Adam tensed, as if he’d felt my reaction, and I quickly looked at his face for confirmation. His dark eyes glittered in a way I’d never seen before.
He studied me a moment and I found myself pressed even tighter against him. My fingers curled into his shoulder. His next words almost blew me off my feet. “You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, Els,” he said, his voice thick with emotion.
My eyes grew round with shock at his announcement, my heart beginning to thud against my chest. Adam thought I was beautiful? No, not just beautiful… “the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen”.
My chest began to rise and fall a little rapidly. “Adam…” I replied softly, unsure whether he meant that in a strictly platonic sense or if he was finally opening his eyes up to see I wasn’t a little girl anymore. For a start I had boobs now.
“I worry about you all the time,” he confessed. “You’re so sweet and kind, too kind sometimes. I worry someone will hurt you and I won’t be there to stop it.”
It was true I had a tendency to look for the best in everyone, and I had a bit of a hero- complex (I wonder where I’d picked that up from), but I wasn’t incompetent. And I was a woman now. I could take care of myself, and I told him so.
Adam frowned. “That’s not what I mean. You get a lot of male attention, Ellie, and sometimes it’s difficult to weed out the wankers. For instance the kid you came with tonight.
He flirts a lot… with everything that has tits and a pair of long legs.”
Glowering at the insult to Liam, I tried to press back. “Liam is a nice guy.”
“Liam is after one thing. I should know—”
“Right, you’ve been hogging her enough.” Braden was suddenly standing beside us, grinning. “I want a dance with the birthday girl.”
Adam tightened his hold on me and then as if it occurred to him what he was doing, he threw Braden a grin and let me go. We shared one last look and then he was gone and I was in Braden’s arms.
What the hell had just happened? Had Adam Sutherland… was he… was that more than friendly advice? The way he touched me, the things he’d said, the way he’d looked at me. It had felt different. My heart was racing, a bubble of giddy hope starting to float up inside of me. Poor Liam was forgotten as I got lost in my longing and fantasies.
“I’m proud of you,” Braden told me gruffly, bringing me out of my head where I was already picking wedding dresses and deciding who would be my maid of honor. I guessed it would have to be Allie since I’d known her the longest.
I smiled at my big brother, feeling my chest expand at his declaration. “What for?”
“For many reasons. For getting into Edinburgh Uni. For taking care of Elodie and Clark, and for being a good sister to Hannah and Dec. And for being a great wee sister to me. It’s been a tough year, Els, and I’m grateful for all your help.”
I hugged him close for a second, my heart hurting all over again for him. After falling for and marrying his Australian wife, Analise, Braden had filed for divorce when he walked in on her and his old school friend having sex in one of Braden’s empty developments in New Town. The bitch had put him through the ringer for the last nine months of his marriage and then she’d cheated on him with his friend. It was the ultimate betrayal. Worse, our dad had been the one who’d cottoned onto it and he’d set Braden up to find the traitorous couple. That was dad’s way. Rather than pulling his son aside and letting him down easy, he’d let Braden walk into that. Braden didn’t seem to mind. In fact he was grateful to our father. I, on the other hand, thought he was an insensitive arsehole. Then again, I didn’t exactly have fluffy feelings toward Douglas Carmichael at the moment (or ever).
As if he’d read my mind, Braden sighed. “Dad’s sorry he couldn’t be here, Ellie. I’m sorry too.”
“Don’t apologize for him.” I turned my face away, screwing it up to stop the tears. You would think after eighteen years of complete neglect I’d be over the hurt by now.
Unfortunately, the hurt never went away. I just couldn’t understand what Douglas found so unloveable about me that he’d deliberately shun me time and time again. It was my eighteenth birthday for God’s sake and he couldn’t get up off his rich arse for half an hour to pop into offer me birthday wishes.
Braden sighed again and I heard him curse under his breath. He had a fairly good relationship with our dad now and I didn’t want to be the cause of any problems between them so I gave him a squeeze and smiled at him. “I’m fine. I’m more than fine. I’m surrounded by friends and family who care about me, Braden. And that’s all I care about.”
We shared a smile and another hug seconds before the music changed to up tempo again, and mum and Clark descended on us. I had a dance with the two of them, giggling as they pulled out moves that hadn’t been seen in at least two decades.
As the night continued on, I mingled with friends and family but my eyes kept wandering through the crowds in an attempt to find Adam again. My stomach was a riot of butterflies, and I couldn’t get his voice out of my head.
“You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, Els,”
I smiled at something Allie said to Liam and watched it crack him up but I had no idea what the conversation was about. My head was stuck in rewind.
When the room began to feel too hot, I ordered a bottle of water from the bar and slipped out of the back of the room and found directions to the exit. It was the fire exit and it led out to the back of the hotel where all the rubbish bins were stored. I crept outside quietly, sucking in a huge gulp of air and enjoying the peace. It could give me a moment to wrap my head around what had happened and if what I thought had happened had actually happened.
I felt a giddy smile start to stretch my lips when a grunt followed by a moan made me freeze. The large wheeled bins were situated between me and an alcove of the building, and the sounds were coming from there. My heart picked up a little bit as I guessed what the sounds meant and what I’d stumbled upon. When another grunt sounded I covered my mouth with my hand to keep in the giggle that was threatening to erupt.