Her eyes settled on me. “I swear. Every time you eat something, you sound like you’re about to have an orgasm.” She flushed as she said that. “Or whatever.”

“Well, now you know what I sound like when I come.”

She wrinkled her nose as she picked a section of the crust off. “That is something I’ve been dying to know.”

“Knew it.”

Shortcake laughed and then popped the crust in her mouth. “You are terrible.”

“I’m perfect.” I fixed my gaze out the windshield. We were sitting in the parking lot behind the science building. The dark blue of the sky was quickly turning to night, but the thick clouds rolling in looked ominous. “We should’ve probably picked a different night to do this.”

She picked up the bag and scraped off all the sliced apples into it, leaving the bottom crust cleared.

“That’s such a waste.”

Her eyes were warm as she cast me a side look. “You want to dig them out of the bag and eat them? You sound like you have a couple more good groans left in you.”

“Sweetheart, you haven’t heard anything . . .” I paused, winking at her. “Yet.”

She rolled her eyes. “More like never.”

“Does the lady protest too much, methinks?”

“You dork.” Shortcake laughed, and the sound was light. “It’s ‘the lady doth protest too much, methinks.’ ”

I reached over, brushing the thick strands of hair back from her shoulder. She didn’t flinch away, which was huge progress. “The fact that you can correct that is further proof.”

Another laugh bubbled up from her as she wiped her fingers cleaned. “Whatever. You ready?”

“Been ready, but you had to stop and get an apple pie.”

“What?” She flipped in the seat toward me. “That was your idea.”

I blinked innocently. “That is not how I recollect the past twenty minutes.”

She pinned me with a dry look.

“You were all like ‘I need an apple pie’ and what could I do? I live to serve you.”

Rolling up the bag, she tossed it at me, but I caught it. “Actually, it was you saying something like ‘I need food in my belly.’ ”

I laughed. “That is not how I recall this little adventure.”

She smacked my arm and as she pulled back, I caught her hand. Her lips parted as I lifted her hand, pressing a quick, completely 100-percent chaste kiss on the center of her palm. “Ready?”

Eyes wide, she pulled her hand back to her chest and nodded. As we climbed out of the truck and headed into the building, she was flushed. The pretty pink made me want to chase it with my lips, but then she slipped in front of me.

Not that I was complaining.

I watched the sweet sway of Avery’s ass as she climbed the stairwell in front of me and by the time we reached the rooftop and were standing in front of the Philips telescope, I was throbbing between my legs.

This was getting ridiculous.

It had been months since I’d gotten off with anything except my hand, and I knew Jase would tell me to go screw someone else to just get off, but I couldn’t even think of anyone else besides Avery.

Jase had been right yesterday.

I was so fucked when it came to her, and not in the way I wanted to be.

“Are you sure you know how to use this thing?” she asked, head tilted to the side.

Moving in front of her, I shot her a look. “What? You don’t?”


“Weren’t you paying attention in class when Drage went over this and the imaging cameras?”

She popped a hip out as she folded her arms. “You were drawing the cast of Duck Dynasty when he was going over that.”

I laughed, pleased because that was exactly what I had been doing when Drage went over how to operate the telescope. Which meant Shortcake was paying a hell of a lot of attention to me. I adjusted the controls. “I was listening.”

“Uh-huh.” She shifted closer as the wind picked up, whirling across the roof, picking up strands of her hair and whipping it back from her face. Christ, she looked beautiful standing there. I shook my head, focusing on the telescope again, but it was hard—I was hard.

“You’re actually a pretty good artist,” she said.

“I know.”

She made a sound that wasn’t exactly friendly.

I shifted the lever. “I’ve used a telescope a time or two in my life.”

“That’s random.”

“Okay. I used it when I had the class previously.” I flashed her a quick grin, then checked the positioning of the scope. “Man, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to get anything before those clouds roll in.”

“Well, you better hurry then.”


Shortcake grinned.

“Come over here and I’ll show you how to use this.” Giving her just enough space to get in, I bit the inside of my cheek as her hip brushed mine, coming fucking close to where I literally ached. “Are you going to pay attention?”

“Not really.” She was still smiling.

“At least you’re honest.” I was into self-torture. That was the only excuse to why I leaned in, caging her with my arms. Her scent, that heavenly mixture of berries and musk, caused a lot of my body parts to twitch. I vaguely realized that she hadn’t stiffened. That was good.

“This is a Philips ToUcam Pro II.” I cleared my throat. “It hooks to the telescope. At these settings, you should be able to get a clear image of Saturn. Press this and it will capture an image.”

“Okay.” She tucked the sides of her hair back behind her ears. “I don’t think we’re supposed to be getting an image of Saturn.”

“Huh.” What the fuck was Saturn? All I could think about was how close we were, how I could feel the warmth rolling off her body. I didn’t even know why were on the roof. “Hey.”

She tipped her head back, causing the edges of her hair to glide over my cheek. My pulse pounded as I imagined that hair sliding over other parts of my body. “Hey what?”

“Go out with me.”

“Shut up.” A grin appeared as she leaned forward, peering into the telescope. Her body brushed mine again, and I bit back a groan. “I don’t see anything.”

My laugh sounded strangled. “That’s because I haven’t taken the lens cap off.”

She elbowed me in the stomach, which made me laugh again. “Asshole.”

I was pushing the boundaries tonight. Didn’t even know why, but I couldn’t stop myself as I reached for the lens, pressing against her back. She stilled then, and her soft inhale rattled through me. I waited for her to move away, because she could if she wanted to, but she didn’t.

I glanced down at her and saw that her thick lashes fanned her cheeks. “What?”

“It would’ve been easier for you to just go to the side and do that,” she said, her voice different, heavier.

“True.” I bent so that my mouth was beside her ear. “But what fun would that be?”

Avery shivered, and my entire body tensed. “Go have fun by yourself.”

She had no idea how often that was the case. “Well, that’s really no fun.” I paused, not moving. “Try it again.”

Hesitating for a moment, she then leaned forward, pressing her eye to the telescope. A couple of seconds passed. “Wow.”

“You see it?”

She straightened. “Yeah, that’s pretty cool. I’ve never really seen a planet in real life. I mean, like taken the time to do so. It’s pretty cool.”

“I think so, too.” I snatched a few strands of her hair, stopping them from hitting me in the eye. “What are we supposed to be looking at?”

“Sagittarius and then the Teapot asterism and its steam, whatever—”A nasty, cold raindrop splattered off her forehead and she jerked back against my chest. “Oh crap.”

Shortcake squeaked as another drop came down and she whirled, her eyes meeting mine. We were about to get soaked to the bone. Swearing under my breath, I grabbed her hand, pulling her across the roof. We were almost to dry land when the sky ripped open and freezing rain drenched us.

“Oh my God,” she shrieked. “It’s so freaking cold!”

Laughing, I stopped and spun around, hauling her against my chest. There was a brief second when her wide eyes met mine as rain poured down on us. My smile was my only warning.

I wrapped an arm around her slim waist as I dipped, lifting her off her feet and tossing her over my shoulder. Her surprised squeal caused me to laugh, and this balloon-like pressure—it was the only way I could explain it—expanded in my chest and it felt good, like scoring a goal.

“You were running too slow!”

Her fingers dug into the back of my sweater. “Put me down, you son of a—”

“Hold on!” I clamped my arm over her hips and took off.

Slipping in the deep puddles, we almost ate cement as I slid across the roof. The words that were coming out of her mouth, directed at me, would’ve burned the ears off of soldiers.

I skidded to a stop and yanked open the door, bending down as we escaped the rain. Turning so she wasn’t facing the wall, I grabbed her hips and lowered her down.

Sharp need punched right through me as her body slid down my front. My hands tightened on her hips and she tipped her head back. Her eyes darkened to a deep chocolate brown, and my brain clicked off as I somehow tugged her closer. I knew she had to feel my arousal, and considering we hadn’t even kissed, something about that seemed wrong, but I couldn’t let her go.

Her hands pressed against my chest, and I thought she was going to push me away, and swore to God right then and there, no matter how hard it would be, I would let her go if she did.

But she didn’t.

Avery’s hands flattened against my chest, above my pounding heart, and she had to have felt it.

My hand moved on its own accord, curving up her waist and then over her arm, to her throat and then her cheek. She gasped when my fingertips grazed her cheeks, catching the hair stuck to her temples. I tucked the strands back behind her ears, my hand lingering.

“You’re soaked.”

“So are you.”

I smoothed my thumb over the slant of her cheek. “I guess we’re going to have to try this another night.”

“Yeah,” she whispered as her eyes flickered shut and then swept back open.

“Maybe we should’ve checked the weather first.” When she smiled, I shifted my hips in response. Her body shuddered in such a mind-blowing way and her lashes lowered. Her lips parted even further, and I didn’t want to let her go. She felt too good this close.

Her chest rose in short, deep breaths as I lowered my head, wanting and needing to kiss her. Just once. That’s all I wanted. My eyes started to drift closed.

Avery suddenly jerked back, pressing a hand between her breasts. “I think we . . . we should call it a night.”

For a moment I couldn’t move and then leaned back, tipping my head against the wall. It took a couple of moments before I could speak. “Yeah, we should.”

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