Carnival Lights: Chapter Twenty-Three
Gaping in the sudden silence swarming around them, Christina couldn’t find any words to say.
Jason seemed to be processing too, his eyes narrowing steadily as he stared down at her upturned face. “You think I, what, did it to manipulate you in some way?” He clicked his tongue perceptively. “Or was it because I was bored and I knew you’d be an easy target?”
She felt her face twitch at the words, at their meanness.
He whistled. “Ah. I see.”
“I’d thrown myself at you once,” she muttered, but her cheeks betrayed her discomfort. She felt the toe of her foot twisting itself against the polished floor.
Jason nodded again knowingly. “And someone’s clearly done it to you in the past.”
She didn’t answer him.
“I’m surprised at you,” Jason confessed then, his voice soft.
“At me?” She notched her chin up a little defensively. There was no way whatever he had to say next would be a good thing.
“A cool, confident woman such as you are—”
“A defense mechanism surely,” she parried.
Jason laughed at her ready response.
“As you said yourself, you’d always thought I hated you,” Christina reminded him. He’d spoken those words to her that fated Easter evening when he’d first kissed her.
“Yeah. That’s true…” Jason tilted his head a little to one side. “But you don’t hate me.”
His forehead crinkled, but damn the man, he still looked mildly amused. “I’m confused.”
Feeling flustered, because she wasn’t accustomed to talking about her feelings, especially to the one man she kept making a fool of herself in front of, Christina made an impatient gesture. “I wanted you to think I hated you.”
“So I couldn’t use you.”
She reared her head back. “I didn’t say that…”
“But that’s why,” Jason confirmed, taking another, almost victorious, step towards her. In response, she stumbled backward, keeping the space carefully between them. “Because you think your only attraction is being, what was that word you used the other night?” Jason asked, but it was obvious he wasn’t actually expecting an answer. “Convenient?”
Christina felt her shoulders pull back, her ears raw with the ugliness of his accusations. “Stop it.” She held up a hand. “Just. I’ve had enough. You don’t know me so don’t stand—”
“And whose fault is that?” he taunted her and, perhaps in spite of that raised hand warning him off, Jason took another step toward her.
Christina’s eyes flickered quickly toward the door, but it was firmly shut and the lights in the hallway, just visible through the thin panel of glass on one side, cast a darkening shadow upon the lockers. No one would be coming in—no distraction would save her. Not this time.
“You want to know why I kissed you?” Jason asked, his question bringing him steadily nearer. At the words, Christina’s eyes jerked nervously back to his face. His hazel eyes were watchful, his lips pulling up into a smug sort of smile.
It was at that moment that she felt the whiteboard meet up against her back. In reaction, her hands moved out to the sides of the wall—the grass tray holding the markers bit against her lower back. Still, he didn’t stop walking, not until he was almost touching her.
“What?” she managed.
“You weren’t the only one, you know,” he whispered coming up to her now, his body leaning down just enough to promise contact, his lips hovering just above the pulse of her own. In an instant, his hands moved, grabbing both of hers around the wrist and bringing them up against the whiteboard, until they were splayed out at her sides. “You were the only one mesmerized that first afternoon, on my parent’s doorstep, when you brought my dad those documents.”
“What?” she whispered again, her body humming so loudly she could hardly take in his words. His cologne filled her nostrils.
“I thought you might have been the most gorgeous woman I’d ever seen,” he told her his head dropping forward. “I still do.”
Her intake of breath was drowned by the impact of his lips against her own. Christina’s fingers wrapped themselves tightly against his hold, her body responding almost instantly to the weight of him as Jason’s body slowly lowered over her own. His lips were cool as they pressed against hers, the slight stubble of his chin whispering over her skin as he tilted his head, his tongue already seeking entrance into her mouth.
Christina opened her lips under his quiet coaxing, her sigh of welcome whispering into his mouth. The zip of sensation that flooded through her body when his tongue slid against hers, left her buckling recklessly under the weight of his hold.
“Oh God,” Jason groaned into her mouth, his lips twisting almost frantically against hers. Christina’s back arched against the wall behind her, her hips colliding with his, her legs brushing his inner thighs.
Dazedly, Christina stared up at him through the thin slits of her eyelids. His eyes were closed—she almost wished he’d open them. She wondered what color those hazel orbs would turn when he kissed her like that.
The thought alone made her lips tremble. Then his hands were at her jaw line, his thumbs rubbing against the sensitive skin as he slowly angled her head a little farther to the right, deepening the kiss—
The grass marker tray was bruising against Christina’s back. She hardly felt it. Jason’s hands, against her wrists, tightened with the force of his desire. She didn’t fight it. Instinctively, her legs widened a little bit, taking more of his weight. At the slight movement, she heard his anguished groan and then, almost before she heard him, Jason was moving backward, breaking off the kiss.
His hand was instantly running through his hair, his head turned toward the side window, his eyes seemingly focused on the empty parking lot some one hundred yards away.
“Jesus,” he finally muttered, glancing back at her.
Christina was still half-sprawled against the wall. But as his look, she felt her body snap straight, her legs shaky as she forced them off the whiteboard. Her hands immediately went to smooth out the wrinkles of her shirt.
Jason had one hand in his pants pocket. Judging from the sound coming from within the fabric, he was jiggling a pair of car keys. “Hell,” he muttered, his eyes narrowed dangerously as they watched her. “Come on,” he said finally. He held out his hand, and with nothing more than that, she took it in her grasp.
“But—” Christina wasn’t sure what she meant to ask, her mind sluggish after that…hell…it was only as she felt herself being drug toward the classroom door that she found an appropriate sentence. “Where are we going?”
“We can’t stay here,” Jason informed her with a sideways smirk. “Not unless…no. No,” he decided. “Five more minutes in here with you—” he whistled for point, “—and I’d never have been able to teach in this room again.”
Christina felt her face flame with equal parts embarrassment and excitement. “Oh.”
He looked back at her as he led her out into the dim hallway. “But I don’t want you to leave either.”
She wasn’t quite sure what to say to that, but she was oddly terrified to say nothing at all. “Oh.”
He shrugged. “So that only leaves one other option.”
Christina felt her feet pick up their pace as she attempted to keep up with his long-legged stride, her shoes skipping down the hallway and out into the main lobby before being led unceremoniously through the front doors to the outside. The cool evening air smacked Christina in the face.
“And that is?” She asked curiously.
“A what?” Christina could hardly keep the amusement out of her voice as he led her toward the faculty lot. It all felt rather juvenile.
“A drive,” Jason repeated, his eyes pinned forward toward to where his vehicle could just be seen, alone on the pavement. Then he shot her a grin. “It’s a manual. I’ll have no choice but to keep my hands occupied.”
Christina felt the first glimmer of a smile flash across her lips. “You want to talk?”
Jason only shook his head. “Leave it to you…”
“Leave it to me to what?” Christina challenged him, but there was no real heat in her voice. She was oddly—or maybe not that oddly at all—complimented by his words.
“Leave it to you to try and distract me from my purpose.”
“And what’s that?”
“To get to know you. Finally.”