Carnival Lights: Chapter Twenty-Seven
With unseeing eyes, Christina watched the lacrosse teams enter the field. Jason was wrong. She wasn’t backing away. She was just…nervous. Scared of what it meant, scared of Jason’s feelings for her.
It felt altogether too real.
And she wanted that. Desperately. Because she was in love with him. But on the other hand… she was also suddenly altogether too aware of how much she could get hurt.
“It was only partly because of you, so get out of your own head space,” Jason muttered then. He wasn’t looking at her, but the grim set of his lips told her he wasn’t really watching the game either.
At the challenge, she felt her own lips pull down in a contrary sort of disappointment. “Oh no?”
“No,” he assured her, and this time his head did turn in her direction. The slightest smile tugged up at the corners of his mouth. “We went on a couple of dates but that was it. There was no chemistry. I would have ended it regardless.”
Christina nodded silently, chewing on that thought.
Jason nudged her with his shoulder. “What can I say, I like women who glare at me.”
She felt her lips twitch a little at that. “So she was too nice?”
He nodded with mock seriousness. “Way too nice. Hell, she even laughed at all my jokes.”
“You tell terrible jokes.”
He winked. “Now that’s what a man likes to hear.”
“Oh shut it.”
He only laughed—but just then his hand reached out, taking hold of hers again. For the second time in as many minutes, Christina felt her stomach react to the contact. Her breath skittered up her throat, and a sort of electric buzz set off inside her body, a crazy sort of unraveling with anticipation.
Without thinking, she pressed her palm more closely to his.
“If that’s all it takes, I’ll never smile at you again.”
Almost as soon as the words left her mouth, Christina regretted them. She’d sort of given the show away there, hadn’t she?
“Well now, hey there,” Jason said, and those green eyes were staring down at hers. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
Christina was still recovering from her foolish error to respond.
“Making you laugh when you absolutely do not want to,” he added just a little too mischievously: “well, that’s what I live for when you’re around.”
She laughed in a watery kind of way. “Yeah? Well, you do it well.”
“I know. I’ve had years of practice.”
She considered that for moment. “Even when you thought I hated you?”
“Didn’t matter,” he said, his eyes darting back periodically to watch the game. “Because I knew I liked you.”
“So you were determined to win me over.”
“And now that you know you have?” She hated herself for fishing, but she couldn’t seem to help herself.
He didn’t answer right away. “And now, nothing’s changed. Now I’m determined to keep you impressed.”
Biting back a smile, Christina had no quick comeback to that. And really, she wasn’t sure she wanted to say anything, anyway. Turning her attention back to the game, she was content to let those last words settle in the very air between them.
And so, for the next hour they watched the game—and the better part of any sort of conversation was directed entirely to the lacrosse teams: yell and whoops of support and cheer, grumbles and moans and missed plays. Christina felt the minutes spinning by too fast, and soon enough, the game was over.
Jason’s team had won. The spectators exploded with glory, the bleachers a stomp of excitement and friendly good spirits. But when Christina would have gotten to her feet, following the throng of audience members heading out to the parking lot, Jason’s hand pulled her back to her seat.
With questioning eyes, she turned toward him.
“It’ll be a mad rush out there,” he informed her. “Might as well wait here as in the line-up of cars.”
So Christina sat back down promptly. Perhaps too promptly. “Good point.”
“Give it ten minutes and it’ll clear out.”
“You know,” Christina said, searching for something to say. Now that the game was done, she wasn’t sure where to start. “I’ve never actually been to a lacrosse game before.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Her brows wrinkled. “You do?”
“You have an expressive face sometimes.”
“When you’re not on guard.”
She rolled her eyes. “Okay.”
“You know what it’s telling me right now?” He asked, his voice lowering. By now, they were alone on the stands, with only the game lights casting a shadowing glow down on them.
“What’s that?” She asked drolly.
“This,” he whispered, and bending forward, brushed his lips against hers. At the contact, a mere touch of lips, he growled under his throat. “And this,” he added, his teeth pulling at her lower lip.
Left in a sort of shocked silence, Christina didn’t offer up a single protest. Her body leaned bonelessly against his as she opened her mouth to him. She moaned when his tongue swept inside, tangling with her own. Her stomach muscles tightened reflexively and then relaxed in a shiver of need.
Without thought, her hands moved up his shoulders under they were locked behind his neck. “God,” he whispered, leaning back just far enough to breath. “I’ve been wanting to do this all night.”
“I know,” she murmured breathlessly, her lips unconsciously following after his. “I thought those people would never leave.”
Feeling some of the tension slide out of his body, Christina found her body relaxing in kind. “So I’ve been told. Of course, the adjective changes from time to time, depending on the situation, but…”
With a wink, he slowly pulled his body away from hers, returning back to his seat. He shuddered a little. “Dangerous. That’s the adjective I’m talking about. You’re dangerous. A heady cocktail.”
“Thank you,” she said pertly.
He laughed, throwing his head back with the sound. “Brat.”
She smiled vaguely, her eyes roaming over the abandoned playing field, the stale smell of popcorn already permeating the air; the parking lot was less than half-full by now. In minutes, she and Jason would have the place to themselves. Caught up in the fantasy of it all, she admitted softly: “I’ve always wondered what this would be like?”
“A lacrosse game?”
She elbowed him playfully. “No,” she said. “Being on a date with you.”
He looks shocked.
“What?” She asked defensively.
He shrugged. “Nothing. It’s just—you’re such a conundrum.” He scratched the underside of his chin. “One minute you’re the most confident woman I’ve ever met. Stunningly so. And then in the next, you say something like that…” He shrugged.
She shrugged, her eyes averted. “Yeah, well. I don’t date much.”
“I got that.”
“I’m not making fun of you,” He insisted, reaching forward to guide her face toward his.
She bit the insides of her cheeks. “Okay.”
He let her chin go and she dropped her eyes. For a moment, silence swarmed around them.
“So how was it?”
She blushed. “Nice.”
“Nice, huh?” He didn’t sound convinced.
She nudged him with her shoulder. “Yeah.”
“Nice enough to do it again?”
She lifted her eyes, letting them peek up at him through her dark fringe of lashes. She felt her top teeth pull at her bottom lip. “Yes.”