Exclusive Excerpt from In Case You Missed It
by S.M. James
Darien tugs me into the shade of an awning and we fall back onto a lawn chair by the pool, barely fitting side by side. He reaches over and takes my drink, raising his eyebrows a little as if to check I’m done. It’s still half full, but I stopped drinking it a while ago. I watch as he lifts the cup to his lips, greedily eyeing his throat as he takes a gulp.
“So why don’t you want to sing?” he asks.
I shrug, shoulder bumping his. “I just don’t like singing in front of people.”
“You’re fantastic at it though.”
“Maybe, but … I’ve never had formal lessons so my voice is kind of flat, plus the CF makes it harder to breathe right.”
“Oh.” He turns toward me, gaze sweeping my face. “Sorry I asked.”
“Don’t be.” And I laugh a little because I was so determined to keep everything from him, now all I want is to share it all. “How else would you get to know me better?”
He frowns a little. “You seem … lighter?”
“I feel lighter. I’m glad you know. And … even though I asked you to back off all week, you haven’t stopped being there for me.” The corners of my lips tug into a smile as I look back up at the sky.
“Your parents told you?”
I snort. “Maybe living with your loud parents has made you deaf, but you’re not exactly quiet. It was nice. This feels nice.”
Darien catches my hand in his and presses a kiss to my knuckles. “I know exactly what you mean.”
We sit there grinning at each other, and if anyone else were in my position, I’d never let them live down being such a lovesick fool. But fuck it feels good. To be the sole focus of his attention, to feel his sun-warmed body stretched out next to me, this sudden, dependable presence in my life.
“I love looking at your face … but we have a problem.” His eyebrows tilt up as his mouth purses in seriousness.
He presses his mouth to my ear. “You’re still wearing too many clothes.”
I laugh, relief washing over me that it wasn’t anything serious. And when his hands find the bottom of my t-shirt and push it up, I don’t try to stop him, self-consciousness be damned.
He hums his approval then locks an arm around my waist, hauling me to my feet.
“What are you—”
He drags me toward the pool.
With one solid tug, my feet leave the ground, and I’m suspended against him for a full second before the cold water explodes around us. He releases me to swim back to the surface, but as soon as my head breaks the surface, he drifts toward me again.
His grin is a full burst of dimples and twinkling eyes. “Your hair looks pretty,” he teases as I push the sopping curls back from my forehead.
“You are such a pain in my ass.”
“Are you propositioning me?”
My eyes bug, and I slap a wave of water at his face. “Mind out of the gutter, thanks.”
“The gutter definitely isn’t where I’m imagining our first time.”
I laugh, treading water, the heat in my face receding. “So?”
“So what?” he asks.
“Where are you imagining it?”
“Ah …” Darien pulls me to the side of the pool, one arm propped over the tile, the other hand finding my waist. “I can’t give away all my secrets, can I?”
I cuddle in closer to him, trying to deter the goose bumps creeping over my skin. “That’s okay. You can show me. One day. Maybe soon.”
He smiles softly as Cameron’s band starts playing what I place as a Bruno Mars song.
Darien’s lips ghost over my cheek and up to the freckles over my temple. “To one day, maybe soon,” he whispers.
I lean into his kisses. “To one day, maybe soon.”