Capture, p.33
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       Capture, p.33

         Part #1 of Seaside Pictures series by Rachel Van Dyken
 
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

  Lincoln

  I slid her down my body, feeling good for the first time in two days. Hell, I felt more than good.

  "So now that you're caught, no more running," I whispered, my mouth meeting hers in a tender kiss.

  "You hurt me." Dani pulled back.

  I leaned forward wanting more. "I know." Our foreheads touched. "But it's not because I don't want you. At least let me explain my madness."

  She chewed her lower lip and gave one solid nod.

  I grabbed her hand and started walking with her along the shore. "It's been two weeks. That's how long I've known you, and though my playboy status isn't exactly… working in my favor when it comes to you, I want to do things right. I want to take you out on a date before I have sex with you."

  Dani stopped walking and looked up, lifting one sexy-as-sin eyebrow. "Just one date?"

  "Are you asking because you're eager or because you think I'm going to do one date to make myself feel less guilty then find the closest dark area I can seduce you in?"

  "Uhhh." Her cheeks blushed bright pink.

  "More than one date," I answered before she could embarrass herself further. "Maybe three, four, ten— Who knows? I may even like dates."

  "Whoa! You don't know if you like dates?" Dani dropped my hand and peered up at me. She gasped. "You've never been on a date?"

  "Where I was in control of it?" I shook my head. "Nope, you'd be a first."

  "What is with you celebrities?" Dani muttered under her breath.

  "What was that?" I asked, totally confused.

  "Nothing." She grabbed my hand again. "I thought it was because of my age… the whole not wanting to sleep with me, or even because…" She sighed and stopped walking again. "… if I stopped talking again for some freak reason, it would embarrass you."

  I pulled her into my arms. "Seriously? How could you even think that? If you never talked another day in your life, you'd still be you, just less vocal." I kissed her cheek. "You could never embarrass me."

  Dani beamed.

  And I couldn't help it; I had to kiss her again. It had been forty-eight hours, and I was already thirsting for another taste of her.

  Our mouths met softly, and then with a laugh, I lifted her into the air and laid her down on the sand, falling with her, balancing my weight on my elbows as I hovered over her. Sand went everywhere, but it was the last thing on my mind as she responded to my kiss.

  I breathed her in, tasted every part of her, and selfishly just wanted more, even though I knew it was smart to go slow, to at least wait until her birthday before I changed her life forever by claiming her in front of the world.

  She broke the kiss. "I missed you, too."

  Smiling against her mouth, I kissed her again, and when the breeze started turning chilly, I covered her with my body and continued heating her up with more kisses until my mouth was swollen from making love to hers.

  My phone buzzed in my back pocket for the millionth time.

  Finally, I lay back on my elbows and pulled it out. A few missed texts from Demetri and Jay.

  "Your family." I showed her the screen. "I should bring you home before they send out a search party."

  "Or…" Dani shrugged. "… you could take me to yours."

  I froze, my body instantly latching on to that idea like it was the best thing I'd heard since discovering self-serve frozen yogurt.

  "Jay would kill me." Yet, I was still arguing with myself about why it was a good idea. It would keep her away from Zane.

  "Probably." Dani laughed as she got up and dusted sand from her jeans. "Okay, fine. Take me home before Jaymeson calls the police."

  "I'm sure Zane told him where you were."

  Dani gave me a look. "Kinda my point. Besides, if our picture somehow ends up getting everywhere again…"

  "Shit." I rubbed my eyes, as I realized what my publicist would do. "Dani, you need to know something, and before you freak out, let me explain."

  Her eyes narrowed into tiny slits.

  "My publicist wanted me to pretend to be in a relationship with you because she thinks it's good for my image. I told her to kiss my ass, which I'm sure she's still pissed about, but the last thing I want is for her to think I'm using you or for that to somehow spread. You think we can…" I tried to think of a careful way to word things. "… not necessarily hide, but keep this a secret until your birthday?"

  Dani's eyebrows shot up. "So, like secret friends who kiss?"

  I exhaled in relief. "Exactly."

  She nodded. "So close, Linc, you were so, very, very close."

  "Close?"

  "You can't kiss me then ask me to keep it a secret. Either we're together or we're not. My age shouldn't have anything to do with it. Plenty of people date with an age gap. You get me now or not at all."

  "Okay, first…" I jumped to my feet. "… you're overreacting."

  She glared.

  "Second, I understand why. It's not because I'm ashamed of you. It's because I'm protecting you. There's a difference."

  Shoulders slumping, she nodded her head. "Fine, but if we're doing this whole friends-thing, we do it all the way. No kissing, no holding hands, nothing. Once we're actually dating, you can kiss me all you want. You can even chase after me in the sand all over again, but until then…" She held out her hand. I think she wanted me to shake it. "… friends."

  I gripped her hand in mine. It was so small, frail. "You know the last thing I want to do is shake your hand."

  She nodded.

  "Stripping you naked seems like a better option."

  Dani's eyes widened.

  "And that—" I tugged her against me. "—is why I'm trying to protect you. Because you're young, inexperienced, beautiful and pure. And trying to keep my thoughts on the straight and narrow may damn well kill me."

  "Are you saying… I tempt you?" A slow, salacious grin spread over her face.

  "You have no idea." I said in a gruff voice. "But sure, yeah. Friends for two weeks. How hard can it be? I mean, you and Zane are friends."

  "True."

  "Why…" I swallowed. "… are you friends?"

  "He's easy to talk to, and he doesn't ask me to keep him a secret."

  "Low blow."

  "I'm just saying." Dani swiped her sandals and started walking back toward the boardwalk. "Plus, it's easy to be friends with someone when you aren't waiting for them to kiss you, though—" Her face turned bright red.

  "Dani." I stopped walking, my blood pumping furiously through my body. "Did he?" I couldn't even get the words out. "Did he kiss you? All I saw was a really close hug. Tell me it was a hug, Dani. Tell me."

  "Look." Dani pointed up. "The moon."

  "Son of a bitch!" I yelled, kicking the sand with my bare foot. The desired effect of having the kick cool down my anger hadn't worked. Not by a long shot. So I kicked the sand again then started pacing back and forth.

  "He didn't mean it," Dani said in a bored voice. "I think in his own twisted way he was trying to help me."

  I stopped pacing and faced her. "By kissing you? How the hell is that helpful?"

  Dani's face broke out into a bright grin. "It got your attention, right?"

  "Dani, listen to me very carefully." I braced her shoulders with my hands. "You could wear camouflage and hide out in the bushes, and you'd still have all my attention. It doesn't take much, believe me."

  "Were you trying to be romantic?"

  I sighed. "Sorry that the fact that Zane freaking mauled you with his mouth has me off my game, but yeah, I think romance was the goal."

  "Didn't reach it, Linc," she teased.

  Sighing, I released her and then reached for her hand, but she pulled back.

  "Nope." Dani sighed. "Friends, remember?"

  Irritated, I kicked the sand again as we made our way back to the boardwalk. "I may come to hate that word before the time's up."

  "Is that my birthday present then?" Dani asked. Once we reached the cement, she dropped her
sandals and kicked the sand off them.

  "A date?" I asked confused.

  "Or you popping out of my cake… singing…" She shrugged. "… shirtless."

  I laughed. "I may as well ride in on a whale… me singing in public? You don't want that. The world isn't ready for that."

  "Are you that bad?"

  I leaned in like I was going to kiss her, stopping right before her lips. "Actually, I'm that good."

  "I'll believe it when I hear it." She crossed her arms.

  "Guess you'll have to trust me, friend."

  Her eyes narrowed. "We'll see how long you last."

  "Older," I added falling into step beside her, "also more mature. I can totally handle it."

  "Right."

  "Do me a favor?" I walked her to my truck slowly, trying to ease her into the fact that I was going to drive her home in it and hope for the best. "Leave the door unlocked tonight so I can sneak in and smother Zane with a pillow."

  "No!" She burst out laughing. "He's my friend!"

  "And when you say friend you mean it different than when you say I'm your friend… right?"

  "Well…" Dani hesitated, chewing her lower lip while my heart plummeted to my knees. "I guess you'll find out."

  Damn stupid idea.

 

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