Home > Easy (Contours of the Heart #1)(9)

Easy (Contours of the Heart #1)(9)
Tammara Webber

Mom: Don’t be snippy. Your dad and I planned and paid for a trip to Breckenridge that weekend, because we thought you could stay at the Moore’s. I guess we’ll have to cancel.

Me: Go ahead and go. I’ll go home with Erin or something.

Mom: Ok. If you’re sure.

Me: I’m sure.

Wow. My boyfriend dumps me, and the first chance Mom has to be tangibly supportive, she and Dad are taking off alone to go skiing. Way to make me feel wanted and included, Mom. As if Kennedy’s rejection wasn’t enough to deal with. Jesus.

I tossed my phone in an empty cup-holder and drove back to campus, prepared to watch reality TV and work on economics all weekend.

When I got to my room, I saw that Lucas had texted while I was driving back.

Lucas: Sorry I didn’t say goodbye

Me: It was awkward with Dr. Heller there I guess.

Lucas: Yeah.

Lucas: So, I’d like to sketch you.

Me: Oh?

Lucas: Yeah

Me: Okay. Not, like, sans clothes or anything right?

Lucas: Haha no. Unless you’re up for that.

Lucas: J/k. Is tonight ok? Or tomorrow night?

Me: Tonight is good.

Lucas: Cool. I can be there in a couple of hours.

Me: Ok.

Lucas: What’s your room number?

Me: 362. I’ll need to let you into the building.

Lucas: I can probably get in. I’ll text you if I can’t.

Chapter 8

Lucas’s knock was light. I was so nervous that I was trembling when I got up to answer the door.

He’d said he wanted to sketch me, but I wasn’t sure if that’s all he wanted to do, or if it was code for more. Erin would never let me hear the end of it if I had him in our room and didn’t at least get him to kiss me, though Lucas didn’t strike me as the sort of guy who usually had to stop at kissing. Plenty of girls saw college as some sort of exploratory period, and many would be more than happy to explore Lucas. But it had taken me over a year to work up to sex with Kennedy, and he was the only guy I’d ever slept with. I wasn’t ready to go there with Lucas, not yet anyway—rebound or not.

I took a breath.

He knocked again, a little harder, and I stopped thinking and opened the door.

Fringes of dark hair stuck out from his dark gray beanie. In the diffuse hallway lighting, his eyes took on the nearly colorless quality they’d had that first night, when he peered into my truck after he’d fought with Buck. He hunched his shoulders, hands in his front pockets, sketchpad under one arm. “Hey,” he said.

I stepped back into the room, holding the door wide. Olivia and Rona lounged in their own doorway across the hall, eyeballing Lucas, gaping at me, watching him enter my room while Erin was gone. Olivia arched a brow and glanced at her roommate.

The whole floor would know I had a hot guy in my room within five minutes.

I let the door swing shut as Lucas tossed his sketchpad on my bed and stood in the center of the room, which seemed to shrink with him in it. Without moving, he examined Erin’s side of the room, the walls above her bed covered in photos, the Greek letters of her sorority above the glittery letters of her name. Taking advantage of his distraction, I studied him: cowboy boots, scuffed to hell, worn jeans, heather gray hoodie. He turned his head to scan my side of the room, and I stared at his profile—recently-shaved jaw, parted lips, dark eyelashes.

Facing me, his eyes flicked over me and then to the laptop on my desk, which I’d hooked to a small set of speakers. I’d set up a playlist of tracks from my collection and set it to play quietly. Another of Erin’s suggestions. She’d titled the playlist OBBP, and I belatedly hoped he didn’t inspect the list and ask what that meant. I wouldn’t tell him, of course, but my blush-prone parts would probably incinerate.

“I like this band. Did you see them last month?” he asked.

Kennedy and I had seen them, in fact—the night before we broke up. They were one of our favorite local groups. He’d been weird that night. Distant. At concerts, he’d usually tuck my back to his chest, legs spread just enough to accommodate my feet between his, his arms locked around my middle. Instead, he’d stood next to me, like we were friends. After we broke up, I realized that he’d made up his mind before that night—that his reserve was evidence of the wall between us; I just hadn’t seen it yet.

I nodded, vanquishing Kennedy from my thoughts. “Did you?”

“Yeah. I don’t remember seeing you there—but it was dark, and I maybe had a beer or two.” He smiled—white teeth, just imperfect enough to indicate that he’d not suffered through the orthodontics I had. Pulling off the cap and dropping it on my bed, he placed the pencil on his sketchbook and slid both hands through his flattened hair, and then shook it out, resulting in a bed-head look. Good God. When he drew the hoodie over his head, his white t-shirt pulled up a bit with it, and I got my answer on how far the tattoos extended. Four lines of script, too small to read, snaked around his left side. Some sort of Celtic-looking design balanced it on the right. Bonus: I now knew what Erin meant by lickable abs.

The hoodie joined the cap, and his t-shirt fell back into place. Picking up the sketchbook and pencil, he turned to me, and I noted that the ink on his forearms continued over his biceps and under the short sleeves of his shirt.

“Where do you want me?” More breathless than I’d intended, my question seemed a brazen proposition. Wow. Could I be any more obvious? Maybe I should just come out and ask him if he wanted to be my Kennedy-rebound, no strings attached.

My insides went liquid from his ghost of a smile—the one that was becoming more and more familiar. “On the bed?” he said, his voice gruff.

Oh, God. “Okay.” I moved to perch on the edge of the mattress as he swept the hoodie and the cap to the floor. My heart was pounding, waiting.

He peered at me, head angling to the side. “Um. You look really uneasy. We don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.”

We don’t have to do what? I thought, wishing I could ask him if using me as a model was a pretense, and telling him that if so, it was a pretense he didn’t need to maintain. I looked him in the eye. “I want to.”

He stuck the pencil over his ear, looking unconvinced. “Mmm. What position would be the most comfortable for you?”

I couldn’t say aloud the answers that popped into my head at that question, but the flush that spread across my face like wildfire gave me away. He caught his lower lip in his teeth, and I was sure it was to contain a laugh. Most comfortable position? What about with my head stuck under a pillow?

He glanced around my room and went to sit on the floor, against the wall, facing the foot of my bed. Knees up, pad on his thighs, he was just as I imagined him in class the other day. Except he was in my room, not his own.

“Lie down on your stomach and rest your head on your arms, facing me.”

I did as he told me. “Like this?”

He nodded, eyeing me as if absorbing details or searching for flaws. Coming onto his knees, he moved close enough to fan his fingers through my hair and let it fall over my shoulder. “Perfect,” he murmured, scooting back to his position against the wall, a few feet away.

I stared at him as he sketched, his eyes moving back and forth from my face to the pad. At some point, his gaze began to move over the rest of me. As if his fingertips skimmed over my shoulders and down my back, my breath caught in my throat and I shut my eyes.

“Falling asleep?” His voice was soft. Near.

I opened my eyes to find him on his knees next to me, sitting back on his heels. My heart picked up the pace again at his nearness. “No.” He’d left the pad and pencil on the floor behind him. “Are you… done?”

He shook his head slightly. “No. I’d like to do another, if you don’t mind.” At my nod, he said, “Turn onto your back.”

I rolled over slowly, afraid he’d be able to see my heart hammering through my thin sweater. He grabbed the pad and pencil from the floor and stood. Staring down, he let his eyes roam over me, and I felt vulnerable, but not in danger. I knew so little about him, but there was one thing I felt unequivocally: safe.

“I’m going to arrange you, if that’s okay?”

I swallowed. “Uh… sure.” My hands were clutched to my ribcage, my shoulders hunched almost to my ears. What, this isn’t how you want me positioned? I barely contained the nervous twitter that bubbled up at the thought.

His fingers encircled the wrist nearest him, and he brought my arm over my head, bent it as though it had been thrown back. Taking the opposite hand, he splayed my fingers over my abdomen, sat back, stared at me a moment, and then moved it, too, over my head, crossing my wrists, as though I was bound. I struggled to breathe normally. Impossible. “I’m going to move your leg,” he said, his eyes on mine, waiting for my nod. His hands on my knee, he angled it out, leaving it flush against the mattress.

He picked up the pad and turned the page. “Now tilt your face toward me a bit—chin down—that’s good. And shut your eyes.” I fought to remain relaxed, knowing that as long as I heard the scratch of his pencil across the page, he wasn’t going to touch me. I lay unmoving, eyes closed, listening to the rasp of lead on paper, broken by the soft brush of his finger, smearing a line or a shadow.

From the laptop on my desk, my inbox dinged, and my eyes flashed open. Without thinking, I rose to my elbows. Landon? But there was no way I could check.

Lucas was watching me closely. “Do you need to check that?”

Landon had ignored my email all afternoon, when in the past he’d answered so promptly that I was probably spoiled. But Lucas was sitting in my room. On my bed. I lay back, returned my arms to their prior position, and I shook my head. I didn’t close my eyes this time, and he didn’t ask me to.

He returned to sketching, concentrating on my hands a long while, and then my face. He stared into my eyes, back and forth between that intense examination and his drawing. When he stared at my mouth for long moments—drawing, staring, drawing, staring—I wanted to reach up, grab his t-shirt, and pull him down to me. My hands clenched involuntarily and his gaze flicked there and back.

Eyes blazing, he looked down at me. “Jacqueline?”

I blinked. “Yes?”

“The night we met—I’m not like that guy.” His jaw was rigid.

“I know tha—” He placed a finger over my lips, his expression softening.

“So I don’t want you to feel pressured. Or overpowered. But I do, absolutely, want to kiss you right now. Badly.” He trailed his finger over my jaw and down my throat, and then into his lap.

I stared at him. Finally comprehending that he was waiting for a response, I said, “Okay.”

He dropped the pad onto the floor and the pencil followed, his stare never unlocking from mine. As he leaned over me, I felt a heightened awareness of every part of my body that touched a part of his—the edge of his hip pressed to mine, his chest sliding against mine, his fingers tracing from wrists to forearms and then framing my face. He held me in place, lips near my ear. When he kissed the sensitive spot, my breath shuddered. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered, moving his mouth to mine.

His lips were warm and firm, pressing against mine, and when his tongue began a gentle onslaught against the line of my lips, I opened them. Tongue delving into my mouth, his hands traveled in opposite directions—one to my still-crossed wrists, pressing them into the mattress above my head, one skimming down my side, digging into my waist. He kissed me harder, claiming the responses he coaxed from me. My head swam, and I was drawing in short bursts of air as if I was surfacing every few seconds before diving deeper. Just when I thought I couldn’t take the intensity, he lessened the pressure and sucked my lower lip softly, brushed his tongue over it, and then he repeated the movement. I fidgeted beneath him and his tongue slipped between my lips again and repeated its closer examination—caressing my tongue, my teeth, the roof of my mouth.

If someone had asked, How does this compare to kissing Kennedy? I would have answered, “Who?”

Lucas’s hands each grasped a wrist and placed my arms around his neck. Responding by doing something I’d dreamed of doing more than once, I pushed my hands into his hair, mussing it further. He drew me up, scooping me onto his lap as he scooted his back against my pile of pillows at the head of the narrow bed, one booted foot still on the floor, the other drawn up under me. Leaning me back, his hand cradling my head, he kissed a path down my neck and into the V of my t-shirt. My head fell back as I panted and tried to form a rational thought.

His hand drifted under my shirt to slide along my ribs, roaming over the satin cups of my bra, his fingertips skimming the skin above, the curves of flesh, the cl**vage augmented by my folded-up position. Pushing the hem of the shirt above my breasts, he moved his lips to the places his fingers had been and ran his tongue along the line of skin just above the edge of my bra.

My hands tightened in his hair as his fingers skimmed the front clasp. Hadn’t I worn this easy-access bra for this very reason? My body wanted him, but my mind protested—a first kiss, to feeling me up, to—what?

Erin’s voice in my head said, Rebound the hell out of him! and I choked an untimely laugh.

Lucas raised his head and cocked an eyebrow at me. “Ticklish?” he asked, incredulous.

I was entirely horrified, and couldn’t imagine a bigger tragedy in that moment than having ticklish breasts—unless it was having the stupidest sense of humor on the planet. I bit my lip, trying not to laugh again, thinking, Oh my God. I shook my head.

His gaze flicked to my teeth, clamped on my bottom lip. “You sure? Because it’s either that… or you find my seduction techniques… humorous.”

I barked another laugh, unable to contain it, and he shook his head as I sat on his lap, my chest half-bare, mortified. I jerked my hand from his hair and slammed it over my imprudent mouth.

Then, he smiled. Behind my palm, I smiled back, begging him silently not to make me laugh again—because just under the surface, the repressed hysterics were preparing to mutiny.

“Maybe I should just tickle you and get it over with.” He appeared to mull over the idea.

“Please don’t,” I said, alarmed. Like most people, I wasn’t an attractive sight when tickled. I knew this, because my aunt had filmed my jackass older cousin tickling me into a writhing, pleading mess on my eleventh birthday. My face had turned a blotchy scarlet, spit trailing from the corner of my mouth, and the sounds of protestation I uttered were almost inhuman.

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