Elegy / Page 37

Page 37


But as sexy as Harper found Daniel shirtless, that’s not what left her standing nervously in his bedroom doorway. It was the amount of flesh she saw and the very nearness of him. When they were in bed together, she’d be able to feel nothing but him, and the intimacy of it was overwhelming.

“Are you okay?” Daniel asked.

“Yeah.” She forced a smile and nodded but didn’t step into his room. “Is that how you sleep?”

“Usually.” He glanced down at his boxers. “Do you want me to put my shirt back on?”

“No,” she said quickly. “Not if that’s how you sleep.”

“It is,” Daniel said, then motioned to her. “Is that how you sleep?”

She looked down at her tank top, which suddenly seemed too thin, and her shorts, which had sleeping penguins on them, felt much too juvenile for the moment. She wished she had brought more adult pajamas. Not necessarily sexier, but something a woman would wear, like satin or silk or lace … but that all sounded too sexy.

But maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. She looked back up at the shirtless foxiness that was Daniel and thought that if things got a little hot, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. He was gorgeous, and he loved her. There were far worse ways that she could spend an evening.

“Yeah,” Harper said finally, and pulled at her shorts. “These are my pajamas.”

“They’re nice.”

“Thanks.”

“So…” He looked at where Harper stood frozen in his doorway, then back at his bed. “Do you want me to take the couch, and you have the bed?”

“No. Part of the reason I wanted to spend the night was so I can spend time with you.” She walked into his room and over to his bed.

“Okay. So let’s spend time together.” He smiled.

Harper climbed into bed and got under the covers. Her natural instinct was to stay at the edge of the bed, but she decided she was being ridiculous. Once Daniel got in bed, she slid over to the middle to be closer to him.

He turned out the light, and the darkness actually comforted her. Something about being hidden relaxed her.

Still, she lay on her back, practically motionless, and she felt Daniel move closer to her. His arm touched hers, and his skin felt too hot. She had no idea how he could even be that warm, especially without a shirt on.

“Is it okay if I give you a good-night kiss?” Daniel asked.

“Yeah. Of course,” she said, in a voice that she hoped sounded normal.

Then his hand was on her arm, strong and reassuring. She felt his stubble first, brushing against her chin and lips. And then his mouth found hers, and when he kissed her, she realized she’d been overthinking everything.

She’d been worried about how far to go and when to go and what he’d think and all of this paranoia. But when he kissed her, all that went away, and she realized it was Daniel. She knew him, she trusted him, she loved him. Things would happen when they were right and not a moment sooner.

When she wrapped her arms around him, she felt her body melting against him. He kissed her more deeply, and his arm went around her waist, pressing her firmly to him. She dug her fingers into his back, pressing into his tattoo and scars.

He’d been lying beside her, but she slid her leg over his hip, pulling him between her legs. His lips pulled away from her mouth as he shifted on top of her, his kisses trailing along her jaw down to the soft flesh of her neck. One of his hands slid underneath her shirt, cupping her breast, and a small moan escaped her lips.

That sound seemed to snap something awake inside Daniel because he abruptly stopped kissing her and pulled away from her. He moved his arms to either side of her, so he was holding himself up, hovering above her.

“Sorry,” Daniel said between gasps of air. “I don’t want to do something in the heat of the moment that we’ll regret later.”

“No, don’t be sorry.” She laughed a little, but he didn’t. Instead, he rolled away from her and lay on his back on the bed next to her. “I was having fun. We … we didn’t need to stop. At least not yet.”

“No, we do,” Daniel said, his voice low and husky. “It’s taking all my discipline to hold back now, and I’m not sure how much longer it will last.”

She rolled up on one elbow, looking down at him in the darkness. “Then maybe we shouldn’t hold back. I think that no matter when I’m with you, as long as I’m with you, it will be amazing.”

“Harper,” Daniel said at length. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

She leaned down toward him, and just before her lips pressed against his, she softly asked, “What?”

What began as a soft kiss grew deeper and more heated, silencing any of his protests, and that’s precisely why she’d kissed him. Harper didn’t want to hear arguments about regret, not when all she really wanted to do was be with him.

His hand cradled the back of her head, and the other gripped her hip possessively, adding more flame to the fire he’d started inside her. Then, abruptly, he tensed and pulled away again.

“What?” Harper asked, and she didn’t keep the hurt from her voice. “Am I doing something wrong?”

“Just the opposite,” he assured her quickly. “But…” He looked up at her, and even in the dark, she could feel his eyes searching her.

“I think we should wait until things are … better. Until we get this stuff with Gemma and Thea and Penn”—he said the last name with disgust—“straightened out. Okay?”

“Yeah,” Harper said. “Absolutely.”

He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close to him. She rested her head on his chest, and it wasn’t long before she fell asleep. And though she couldn’t explain, she was certain that Daniel stayed awake for a long time after she had.

SEVENTEEN

Festivities

The glass front window of the Capri Public Library was plastered with flyers. Most of them were for the various summer reading programs, and there were a few newer ones, on bright orange paper, advertising the upcoming fall programs.

Gemma had just been glancing at them as she walked up to the door, but between the papers, she saw her own eye staring back at her. She quickly peeled back the pages in front of it so she could get to her flyer, buried at the bottom and attached to the window with duct tape.

It was from when she’d run off with the sirens back in June, and Alex had made flyers and hung them up all over town. The large black-and-white picture of her face had begun to fade, but the “HAVE YOU SEEN ME?” typed in block letters across the top was clear.


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