Breathless Page 11

Nick jumped like he’d been stung.

Then he half-wished he’d left his hand there, just to experience the feeling for one millisecond longer. The touch had been light, brief, but long enough that Nick could imagine the softness of Adam’s skin, the gentle strength of his fingers.

He had to lock his hands on the steering wheel.

Adam managed to turn the heat down, but he was studying Nick now.

Talk. Say something. Anything.

“How did you and Quinn meet?” Nick said quickly.

“We met when we were kids. In dance class.”

“You’re really talented.”

The words were out before he could stop them. Nick winced. What was he, some teen groupie?

“Thank you.” Nick could swear Adam was hiding a smile now. “My parents tried to put me in martial arts, but I hated it. Apparently, I was a hyperactive pain in the ass, so dance seemed like the next best thing.”

“Quinn said you’re trying to get a scholarship. You think you have a shot?”

Adam shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. If I miss this time, I’ll try again. A little failure never hurt anybody. I know what I want to do with my life.”

Nick thought of that envelope smashed between textbooks on his desk. The one he was too afraid to open.

“What about you?” said Adam.

“I’m a senior. I’m throwing some college apps out there, seeing what happens.”

“What do your parents think?”

Nick was used to the question, but it still hit him like a punch, every time. He hated having to rehash it for strangers—but at least they were driving and he could keep his eyes on the road. “My parents died when I was twelve,” he said. “I live with my three brothers.”

Adam was silent for a moment. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. Really.”

Another moment of silence, until Nick was sure Adam was going to press for more information.

But then he didn’t. “So—what do your brothers think?”

Nick snorted. “Mixed bag.” He glanced over when they came to a traffic light, and it was a mistake. Because the windows were dark and the cab was warming up, and he wanted to keep on looking.

He quickly jerked his eyes back to the road ahead and focused on talking. “My older brother says he’s all for it—but I don’t know if that’s true or not. He runs my parents’ landscaping company . . . well, you saw the side of the truck. We all help him, but even still, he barely has time to eat. Losing one of us . . .” Nick just shrugged and didn’t complete the thought.

“What about your other brothers?”

“What’s with the twenty questions?”

Adam looked out the window. “I thought we were having a conversation.”

Yeah—if a conversation was like stumbling along a dark hallway, wondering what your hands would find if you reached out.

Then again, they weren’t talking about anything serious. He’d had more personal discussions with the cafeteria ladies.

Nick flexed his fingers on the steering wheel again and wished he’d brought Gabriel along instead.

No. He didn’t.

“I’m not going to jump you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” Adam said, a shred of humor in his voice—but a shred of sadness hid there, too. “I promise, I have some self-control.”

“I’m not worried about it.”

“You look like a strong guy. You could probably fight me off.”

Nick cut him a withering glance, but his brain was all too willing to suggest images of what Adam was suggesting.

Stop it, stop it, stop it.

If the thought of college was enough to drive a wedge between him and his brothers, thoughts like these would hammer it home. He’d been fighting with this for years, and here one drive in the truck was about to undo him.

Nick drew a ragged breath. He wished for some traffic or something to steal his attention, but the highway was mostly deserted this late at night. He wished for different thoughts. Silence swelled in the cab of the truck again, taunting Nick to look at his passenger.

He didn’t. But he had to talk or he was going to make himself crazy. So he picked up the earlier conversations. “I think my younger brother—Chris—is waiting to see what happens if I leave. He might be thinking about college, too, but he won’t say anything until he’s sure about it.”

“The cautious type.”

Nick smiled. “Gabriel and I call him the brooding type.”

“Gabriel. Number three?”

That killed the smile. “Yeah. My twin brother. He says he doesn’t care if I go away to school, but I know he does.”

“Identical twin?”



Nick cut him another look, and Adam smiled. “Sorry.”

A street sign announced the park entrance, and Nick hit the turn signal. The gates were closed and padlocked, so he parked on the side of the road. He’d been here before with his brothers, dozens of times. He could find the path to the beach blindfolded. Good thing, too, since there were no lights overhead.

Wind was coming in from the water, just this side of too cold. Nick didn’t mind the sharpness against his cheeks, knowing his element would steal the warmth left over from his conversation with Adam. He asked the air for information, trying to determine if there was any sense of danger here.

But the wind only seemed willing to carry the scents of the night: the richness of the pine trees lining the road, the heavy scent of the distant sea, and whatever cologne Adam was wearing, something musky and warm, like oranges and cloves. Somehow it was stronger out here than it had been in the truck, and once his brain identified it, Nick wanted to get closer, to bask in the scent and bury his face in it.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies