Here is an excerpt to tie you over until its release. Much love.
He smiles faintly. “Want to watch the rain together?” I blink, surprised by the invitation. When I don't immediately respond, he adds, “We can do it for your mom's benefit.”
“Is that the only reason we'd be doing it?” My gaze lifts to his and holds, my breath catching as I wait.
“Of course not.” He sips from a cup of coffee with eyes as mysterious and dark as the sea trained on me. “We'll do it to find shapes in the clouds and to count the moments between lightning and thunder.” We'll do it for a childhood friendship, are the unspoken words.
As we sit on the porch sipping our coffee, the sky cries. I watch the rain fall, listening to it contact with the roof and the street, wondering if they are happy tears, or ones of sorrow. I decide they are ones of relief, if anything. They are for regrets and hope; they are for loss and redemption. They are for second chances. They are for us.
Grayson quietly sits beside me, his gaze forward, his hand dangling off the armrest of the chair. Inches separate us, and I close my eyes, letting the nearness of him calm me, as I do the scent and sound of raindrops. In this moment, it really does only feel like finite space is all that separates us. I hear him shift and open my eyes.
“See that one?” He leans toward me, pointing upward.
I incline my head and follow the direction of his finger. “What one?”
“That one.” He sets his mug down on the stand and his cool fingers graze my neck as he gently tips my head, causing all kinds of chaos inside me. “It's the shape of an 'L',” he murmurs next to my ear.
Finding the wispy tendril of cloud he means, I smile. “That is a very sad-looking 'L'.”
I wonder if I imagine his touch against the back of my neck as he says, “I agree. It is.” When I turn my face to meet his gaze, the seriousness of his expression freezes me in place. “Don't be sad anymore, Lily.”
I need to look away from the midnight blue of his eyes, but I cannot. I see too many things in his features. I look at my old friend and I ache for him. I see everything I ever wanted and had; I see it all gone, and I see something I shouldn't see in the eyes of a man who does not belong to me. And then I think, Doesn't he? Doesn't he still belong to me? It feels like he does.
“I don't want to be sad,” I whisper.
The need to confess all my secrets—all my wants, all my regrets—is heavy and I bite my lip to keep them inside. I break the precarious connection we have, tearing my gaze from his and instead watching his house across the street. The tension is thick, full of our past, and something needs to lighten it. I decide I can do that.
Inhaling deeply, I ask, “Do you know what makes me sad?”
Shadows dissipate from his features as he watches me. He realizes we were heading for dicey territory. “Not having chocolate?”
“There is that, yes, but...” Impulsively I jump to my feet, daring him with my eyes. “You know what really makes me sad?”
Weariness creeps into his face and posture. “Not having chocolate for two days?”
Grinning, I hop from the porch and run for the nearest water puddle, charging into it. Rainwater splashes up my legs and shorts. I drop my head back and raise my arms, laughing as rain pelts me. It is refreshing, exhilarating. Thunder rumbles in the distance, adding a dangerous element to the fun.
“Come on, Grayson!” I taunt.
“You're crazy!” he calls from the porch, but he is laughing. “It's lightning!”
“And you're chicken!” I run for another puddle, losing a flip-flop in the process. I leap into it, not caring that I am completely soaked and a little chilled. I watch my sandal float down the side of the road, having no desire to chase after it. I take the other shoe off and whip it into the yard, staring challengingly at him.
Indecision flickers over his features and then Grayson bounds over the railing, kicking off his shoes and striding for me. My pulse speeds up in response. He looks determined, sexy, and uncompromising; his mouth pulled down in a grim slant. The look fits him.
When he is but an inch from me; water dripping down his face, he states, “You know you're insane, right?”
“I don't care,” I tell him with feeling, and I don't. I fist the front of his sweatshirt in my hands, ignoring his furrowed brows and the need to pull him to me, and instead shove him back as hard as I can.
Grayson stumbles back in surprise, catching himself just before he lands in a particularly massive body of water. “What was that for?”
I shrug and do it again. This time he lands in the water, though he does remain on his feet. He might as well sit in it with as wet as he is. I could say frustration and a feeling of helplessness in an impossible situation urged me to act in such a way, and I think that is partly true, but I also want him to have fun, to forget for a while. I want him unbound.
“Stop doing that,” he snaps. His shirt clings to the defined muscles of his chest and torso. My stomach clenches in longing.
“Why are you letting me do it?” I stomp through water to get closer to him and kick some at him.
Annoyance narrows his eyes. “Lily, I'm serious. Stop it.”
“Why? You're already wet. What does it matter if I get you wetter?”
He closes the distance between us, staring down at me under a film of wetness. His eyes seem brighter with the darkened world around us. “Why are you acting so immature?”
“Why are you acting like an old man?”
Pressing his lips into a thin line, he growls, “I'm not a kid anymore.”
My heart hurts. “I know. And that's what makes me saddest of all. At least then you could have fun. Now you're just a pompous ass.”
He blinks and then his mouth curves up on one side. “You think I'm a pompous ass?”
“The most pompous of asses.”
A flicker of something in his eyes is all the warning I get before he hooks his leg around mine and the ground comes rushing up—only it doesn't. Strong and steady arms hold me as I dip back. The boy who always saw so much of me; the boy I always saw, stares back at me.
“Would a pompous ass do that?”
“Really not impressed, Grayson.” I let my arms fall back and close my eyes, schooling my expression into one of utmost boredom, though on the inside, I am jittery and out of control—a complete mess.
I feel the coldness of his hair against my skin as he lowers his head to the crook of my neck. My breathing quickens and I hold myself perfectly still. His arms tighten around me until he is no longer holding me up, but holding me to him. I slowly lift my arms and hug him back, keeping my eyes closed to make this moment all I know for the little time I am allowed. I have missed this so much. Sensations wrap around me—the coolness of the air, the dampness of raindrops, the warmth of his face against my collarbone, the scent of thunderstorms, and the perfectness of being so close to Grayson.
He carefully rights us. I open my eyes, not wanting the moment to end, but knowing it has to. A barrage of emotions filter across his face. I swallow, my fingers folding in to keep from tracing the frown from his mouth. As I watch, a devilish grin takes over his mouth and then I am somehow sitting in a large mass of water and he is looking down at me, laughing. It happened so fast I am not even entirely sure what happened.
“How's that for a pompous ass?”