Crushed Page 31

Because even though it’s stupid, even though I’m pretty sure anyone in the hallway outside would actually be able to smell the pity seeping under the door, there’s a part of me that just doesn’t care.

I want to take what he’s offering, not because I actually want to kiss this gorgeous, conceited guy with secrets that make him irritable, but because I wasn’t lying when I said I don’t get kissing.

And instinct tells me that Michael St. Claire definitely does.

“Okay,” I say on a sigh.

The right side of his mouth lifts at my gloomy expression. “It won’t be that bad.”

“Objection,” I say. “Considering you don’t think that movie kisses exist, I’m highly skeptical of your skill—”

Michael’s lips stamp out the rest of my sentence.

And the heat of his mouth stamps out any possible reservations I might have about his kissing skills.

The second his mouth finds mine, it’s warm and firm and perfect, and I forget all about movie kisses, and Scott, and Kristin….

I even forget about Devon.

A good kiss will do that to a girl, and this kiss is beyond good.

Michael’s hands are still on my elbows, preventing me from moving away, but not pulling me all the way close, either. He doesn’t have to pull. The sheer skill of his mouth is making me want to move closer.

When I open my mouth to sigh just the tiniest bit, he tilts his head to the right, his tongue sliding forward, lightly swiping the inside of my lower lip.

I moan.

And then I’m no longer standing there, perfectly still like a terrified statue. I’m on him, my arms winding around his neck, my nails finding his scalp as I return the kiss with every unskilled, unpracticed bit of pent-up passion in my body.

Michael stiffens just slightly, as though stunned by my response, but instead of pulling me back and telling me to get ahold of myself, he slides his hands up my arms over my shoulders so his hands are on either side of my neck, his thumbs hooked under my chin as he holds my face up to his, taking the kiss even deeper.

It’s not a practice kiss. Or at least it doesn’t feel like a practice kiss, not with the way his fingers tangle in my hair, not with the way our mouths meld together over and over.

And there’s nothing shy or coy about the way our tongues meet.

I finally get it. I get what people yammer about when they talk about passion.

It figures that when I finally find it, it’s not even real.

It’s that not-real thing that has me pulling back.

Because I know if Michael wanted to take this further, I’d let him. In a heartbeat.

And that scares me.

Both of us are breathing too hard when our mouths part, and for a second his eyes are so dark and intense that I don’t recognize him. The shadows are in place before I can read whatever emotion crossed his face, but I don’t think it even matters. My hormone-addled brain can barely sort through what I’m feeling, much less what he’s feeling.

Unable to help myself, I raise my fingers to my swollen lips, and the gesture has him swearing softly before moving toward the door.


He pauses, but doesn’t turn around.

Was it good for you?

What was that?

Do it again.

“That’s how I should kiss Scott?” I say.

His shoulders tense just for a second before his hand reaches for the doorknob. “Yeah. Just like that.”

And then he’s gone.

Chapter 13


The kissing lesson was a mistake.

For starters, because it was way fucking hotter than it was supposed to be.

We’re talking about Chloe, who’s all but worn a treat me like your sister! banner since the second she laid eyes on me.

The kiss was supposed to be a mechanical, this is how it’s done demonstration, and instead I’d been about thirty seconds away from peeling off her ugly cover-up thingy.

A cover-up that she’s still wearing. Guess I probably should have mentioned that when I made the deal about her wearing the bikini: wearing something on top didn’t count.

I curse softly as I realize that my reasons for wanting Chloe to be in that little bikini and nothing else aren’t nearly as noble as they were yesterday.

I want to see her. All of her.

Worse, I’m afraid I want to get my hands on her.

Like I said. The kiss was a fucking mistake.

From my corner of the deck, I watch as she puts a hand down too roughly on Scott’s knee, and then laughs much too loudly.

Now, Chloe’s natural laugh is a gusty, noisy affair. So add the extra energy of a fake laugh behind that? The noise she makes rivals the fireworks show we’re due for later.

I take a sip from my beer and watch.

Clearly it’s not the kissing part that Chloe needs help with. It’s the lead-up to the kissing.

I’m so busy watching Chloe and the crazy bed-head curls that she keeps flipping around that it takes me a moment to register that someone’s trying to get into the cooler that I’m resting one of my feet on.

“Sorry,” I mutter, moving farther along the railing. I’m on one of the lower levels of the deck. The party’s just now getting into full swing, so most everyone else is on the upper level, greeting the Bellamys and not-so-subtly checking out what everyone else is wearing.

“No prob,” the guy says, opening the lid to the cooler and pulling out a Corona. “You want another?”

I glance down. It’s Devon fucking Patterson, holding out a Coors.

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