Capture, p.40
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       Capture, p.40

         Part #1 of Seaside Pictures series by Rachel Van Dyken
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  "One," I grumbled softly to myself. "Two."

  Things were bad; you knew they were bad when you were actually counting pigs in order to fall asleep. I saw Wilburs float over my head one after another. I named them, I numbered them, and when that didn't work, I put them in funny clothes, all for my own bored amusement.

  I'd be lying if I said it was easy being next to Dani while she slept. My eyes were wide open, staring up at the ceiling that, honest to God, made me want to puke.

  Zane had put a poster of himself above her bed.

  His way of guarding her from bad dreams, apparently. According to Dani, he said his poster was like an Indian dreamcatcher.

  It only bothered me because it was Zane, every female's dream. Something about the way he walked, even his voice, drove women insane, my sister included. I just didn't want Dani to be another.

  I'd never suffered from jealousy.

  Because I'd never had to fight for what I wanted.

  Until now.

  Even though fighting sucked, it was a hell of a lot better fighting for something than getting it without earning it in the first place.

  I turned on my side. I wanted to earn her in the worst way possible. I wanted it to be hard, because I knew if it was easy, it wasn't real.

  And it felt real.

  Too real.

  I'd never let anyone in before. I was a loner by heart. Acting day and night, making money, pouring my soul into my roles and living a detached life of meaningless sex.

  In retrospect, I had no idea how the hell I got through life without going on antidepressants. Money only lasted for so long; and sex, well, it was great in the moment, but when I looked back on the last few years, I couldn't even count the real friends I'd had.

  Now I had Dani.

  And by association, AD2, the wives, Jaymeson, and Zane since he was apparently now adopted into our weird little family.

  It felt so damn good, but my only fear was ruining it. Pushing Dani too hard, not being able to control myself and just selfishly taking her before she was ready.

  It wasn't the number anymore that bothered me.

  It was the fact that, at my age, I was in an entirely different place and the last thing I wanted was to project that onto her. Damn it, she needed to go to college, do stupid shit, make mistakes, all without the watchful eyes of me and the guys.

  Offering her freedom would come at the cost of my own heart, I felt like a complete nut job for even contemplating things like that while she lay next to me, her soft breathing all but making me want to whimper and punch something.

  My body screamed for her.

  And my heart, well… it kept reminding me that I needed to keep hers intact, and if I had any hope of doing that, I needed to go slow.

  Like a snail.

  Be the snail. Ha, my new motto. Shit.

  Dani turned on her side, then yawned and opened her eyes. I froze, hoping she wouldn't slap me, or worse yet, scream and wake up Jaymeson because I was staring at her like a wide-eyed, horny teenager.

  "Can't sleep?" she asked, voice husky. The moonlight spilled onto the bed, casting a silver shadow across her hair, making her look like some immortal being.

  My body responded immediately, so I scooted away, giving us space between our bodies. "Not really. I tried counting pigs, but you know how that goes. Maybe if you were texting me, I could get to sleep. I miss my texts. Promise me that just because you can talk now, you won't stop texting me."

  Rolling her eyes, she reached for my face. "Promise. Now sleep."

  "I can't just… sleep," I grumbled. "I feel… every little noise you make, and I may actually die staring at you." Groaning, I turned on my back. "Pretty sure things just got creepier. Didn't think that was possible after being caught staring at you while you slept, but I've slumped to new lows."

  With a sigh, Dani threw off the covers, moved to straddle me, and lifted her shirt off her body.

  "Uhhh." My hands went to her sides as if beckoned by her skin. I didn't let go, but I also didn't move. "What are you doing?"

  Dani didn't answer.

  And I really, really needed her to say something before I did the unthinkable.

  She moved against me, taking the lead by pinning my hands above my head. What. The. Hell. I was trapped, and I wasn't sure if I should fight back or just kiss her, or die on the spot from pleasure as she leaned down, giving me the most amazing view of the valley between her breasts.

  "Linc." Her tongue snuck out, licking the outside of my ear before her hot mouth trailed kisses down my neck. "Sometimes, thinking is overrated."

  "No." Why the hell was I still fighting?

  She nibbled a bit harder and then pulled my shirt off.

  I let her. I was too weak to fight anything, probably too weak to even have sex with her, but maybe that was a good thing. I'd been spending so much energy trying to keep my hands off that I was officially defenseless. "You don't know what you're doing. You'll regret it in the morning." Words. I needed more convincing words. "Dani, Jaymeson will kill me."

  "He won't know," she whispered against my mouth. "Give me one good reason we should stop."

  "Prison," I moaned against her mouth. "Not that I think you'd turn me in, but I wouldn't put it past Demetri, Alec, or Jaymeson. Hell, they'd probably frame me."

  "You're not going to prison." She laughed, her breath hot on my chest. "Stop being weird."

  "The first time," I blurted, "is really… difficult." Holy shit, I was pretty sure I just quoted the video from my middle school health class. Damn you, Mr. Resik!

  A man can only take so much. It's true. I never planned on being seduced; I should have thought of it, but instead I'd spent all my energy on practicing self-control, even making sure my kisses were brief.

  Ha, the joke was on me.

  Dani paused over me, then slowly unzipped the jeans I'd been uncomfortably sleeping in.

  "Dani…" I grabbed her hands. "… I uh—"

  Her eyebrows shot up. "You what?"

  "I'm a virgin?"

  "Nice." She actually laughed in my face.

  "I'm scared of being nude?"

  "A never nude?"

  "Damn, I think I may love you for referencing Arrested Development right now."

  "Ever wonder how they had kids if he always wears the short jean-shorts?"


  Dani smirked then continued to unzip. I'd never really paid attention to the sights or sounds of being intimate. I was more of a get in, get it on, get out, send them home. But the sound of a zipper? Damn near impossible not to hear that. I was afraid Jaymeson could even hear it.

  And then getting jeans pulled off? They scratched against my legs, against the bed.

  It was loud.

  Not at all quiet.

  I gulped once my jeans were tossed onto the floor and nearly had a seizure when Dani dropped her white shorts to join them. I was suddenly thankful she was only joking about the sweats; the white against her tan skin was… jaw dropping.

  Closing my eyes didn't work, because the minute I laid back against the pillows, she climbed back onto me, grabbed my hands, and basically forced me to touch her.

  The thread had snapped.

  The control was officially gone.

  I waved goodbye as it floated away from my consciousness. I embraced Dani, swearing to never let her go.

  "We do this, you leave me, I will chase you," I growled against her mouth. "And I mean that in the most threatening way possible. I'm not letting you go."

  "Good." Her eyes watered with tears.

  "Doing this with you can't be about scratching an itch. I was that guy once, but with you? I want to savor." I brushed a kiss across her mouth. "Do you understand that?"

  "Just… don't hurt me," she whispered, all traces of seduction gone.

  I tried not to read into it too much but was too damn curious for my own good. "Has someone hurt you before?"

  "Elliot." She
pushed me back down, laying her body across mine as I cupped her at the waist and pulled her close across my skin. "After my parents died, I thought it would make me feel better."

  "Killing him," I said in a serious tone, "would probably help me sleep better at night. The bastard probably didn't even know what to do with you, did he?"

  She scrunched up her face. "It hurt and was over in like three minutes."

  "What an idiot." I swore violently. "Tell me he at least held you afterward or told you it was going to be okay."

  "He put on his clothes and left."

  My fingers dug into her arms. "No offense, but you slept with a boy."

  "I know," she said, her voice sounding confused.

  I kissed her mouth hard then pulled back. "I'm a man."

  She nodded and then very shyly murmured, "Care to prove it?"

  "Thought you'd never ask." I captured her mouth again and again, each kiss going deeper and deeper as our bodies slid against one another. Minutes went by, maybe an hour while we kissed; while I made sure she understood the very meaning of the word savor.

  Lips bruised, she came up for air then tugged me by the hair back down. With a low growl, I did the best I could at keeping things slow; at making sure she felt every caress of my mouth. Every time my body came into contact with hers, I paid special attention to the moment, adding as much pleasure as I could with my tongue and hands.

  "Nightstand," she whispered against my mouth. Our bodies were sticky with sweat as the air in the room turned erotic with our tangled breaths.


  She blushed and averted her eyes, mumbling, "Protection."

  "I'm torn between yelling at you for having condoms and embracing you for being smart. But calling it smart means it's okay for you to engage in sexual activities, and at this point, I'm pissed you even know the definition of the word."

  "What?" She shook her head in confusion. "Why are you suddenly turning into Jaymeson?" Oh good, mentioning her brother in bed was already bad enough.

  "Protective," I growled nipping at her lips. "And you're mine, so… any other guy touching you really pisses me off. Hell, he just went through puberty!"

  "Killing the moment."

  "Good, because I'm going to kill him," I snarled, slamming my fist into the pillow then kissing her hard on the lips. "You know, we don't have to do this."

  "Yeah, we do."

  "No…" I pulled back. "… we really don't."

  "For once—" She locked eyes with me. "—I want to do something on my terms. Not because my therapist tells me to, not because people are worried about me or feel sorry for me. I want this. I want you. Don't tell me I can't have you. Don't tell me I can't have the one I love."

  Stunned, I could only stare at her and pray I'd really heard what I thought I'd heard.

  "Did you say love?" I barely managed in a choked whisper.

  Dani nodded slowly, her eyes never leaving mine. "That sounded selfish."

  "Kind of," I agreed softly. "But since I'm part of the selfishness, I'm really in no position to complain."

  "Make love to me."

  I stared. Hard. And in one kiss, sealed both our fates. "Okay."

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