Breaking the Rules (Page 21)

Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits #1.5)(21)
Author: Katie McGarry

She groans and drops her forehead into my chest. “I threw your clothes in the pool and hot tub. You have got to be angry.”

Hot tub. Hadn’t caught that one yet. Sure enough, my button-down shirt drifts at the top. “Damn.”

“I’m so sorry,” she mumbles again into the fabric of my lone dry shirt. “Are you mad?”

Am I mad? I step back from Echo and pop my neck to the right. I’m not happy, but am I mad? The filter ejects a pair of my socks. Son of a bitch.

I bend my knees, and in a swift motion sweep Echo off her feet and toss her into the pool. Water splashes up and soaks part of my shirt and jeans, but at this point, I don’t care.

I crouch by the edge and watch as Echo kicks up from the bottom. Her red hair wildly fans out in the water, and as she breaks through to the surface, it slicks back against her head. She coughs, then drags in her first gulp of air. Damn if my siren doesn’t look sexy all wet and disheveled.

“Feel better?” she half chokes out.

“I’m not mad,” I respond.

“You forgot to add anymore.”

“My bad. Anymore.”

Echo laughs, and I smile along with her before releasing a long breath. The past couple of days have been like dragging Echo through glass in the middle of a firefight. If I’d known throwing her in a pool would erase the tension, I would have done it earlier. Guess there’s something to be said for baptism.

With some effort, Echo slides off her shoes and throws them onto the concrete. Then she peels off the sweater, also lobbing that to the side. I make a mental note to steal it when she’s not looking.

“I really am sorry.” She treads water in the middle of the pool, and I hate the shadow that crosses her face. “I didn’t stop to think that my mom would contact Mrs. Collins. I’m so used to Mom being gone, you know? It’s just…I don’t know.” She slaps the water with her hand. “Crap, Noah. I don’t know about any of this.”

“I get it.”

“Do you?” It’s there in her expression, the same desperation that mirrors the craziness clawing at my insides.

“Yeah, I do.”

“I’m sorry,” she says again. There’s a white silence in the closed-in room, and it makes her apology seem solemn. “For this. For all of it.”

“Me, too.” The water ripples around Echo as she stays afloat, and it eventually reaches the wall next to me. “Time to start bobbing for jeans.”

Her mouth squishes to the side and the contents of my stomach bottom out. “What?”

“I can’t open my eyes under water.”

“You’re kidding.”

Tiny voice. “No.”

Fuck me. I straighten, pull the shirt over my head and kick off my shoes and socks.

“What about your jeans?” Echo asks. “It’s just us and I’m cool with you swimming around in your boxers. You need at least one dry outfit.”

I glance at my jeans and they hang right at my hips. “It wasn’t a boxer type of day.”

Echo sinks and when she resurfaces, it’s only with her eyes then slowly up to her chin. “One of these days you are going to get us into a ton of trouble.”

“Baby, so far the trouble’s been on you. Breaking into guidance counselors’ offices—”

“That was you!”

“—tossing clothes into the pool.”

She splashes me as she kicks back.

I shake my head to get the water out of my hair. “You’re paying for that one, princess.”

“You have to catch me first,” she taunts as she grabs at a floating blob. My favorite black T-shirt smacks onto the concrete with a wet flop.

“Little full of yourself tonight, aren’t you?”

I love the light in her eyes. “I was the three-year-straight swimming champ.”

That I didn’t know. “So was I. Mine in the Y from third to fifth grade. What’s your story?”

Echo’s grin widens. “Backyard baby pool against Lila. Reigning preschool champ.”

“You’ve got me quaking in my boots.”

She goes under for the balled socks in the three foot section, and I eye the deep end. A pile of blue jeans covers the drain. Wonder how many quarters it will take to dry all of this. Doesn’t matter. The answer doesn’t get my clothes onto land. Like my dad taught me, I raise my hands over my head and dive in.

Echo

Dripping from head to toe and shivering so much that my brain rattles, Noah and I scurry down the hallway, each of us carrying a hundred-pound load of completely soaked clothes. Okay, only I scurry. Noah more or less struts, and I tote fifty pounds while Noah shoulders the rest.

My hands shake so badly that I miss the slot for the key card twice and breathe a sigh of relief when the door clicks open. The air conditioner I had turned down earlier in the day has officially become my worst enemy as goose bumps creep up my arm to my neck.

“Damn, Echo. Freezing meat?”

“I was hot.”

Noah dumps his clothes into a lump on the floor and readjusts the thermostat from arctic winter to what will eventually be tropical heat.

“Really?” I ask. “We’ve got to sleep in here.”

“Win the lottery?”

Good point. Even if our clothes weren’t drenched with pool water, hotel dryers cost a fortune to get clothes to somewhat damp. “So what’s the plan?”

“Lay them out flat and bring on the room heat. That is, after a shower.”

I drop my own bundle of clothes at the mere mention of a shower. Heat against my skin, soaking past my muscles to my bones. I’ve never yearned for anything more in my life. A cold bead of water escapes from my scalp, glides down my face and onto my chest. My teeth rattle, and Noah assesses me at the sound. “Let’s go before you turn hypothermic.”

“You’re letting me go first?”

“Do you think I’d make you wait?” Noah walks into the bathroom and I follow, rubbing my hands against my arms. He opens the shower curtain and leans over to turn on the water.

Good God, he’s gorgeous. Noah’s jeans ride low, low enough that if he hadn’t told me, I’d still know he wasn’t wearing boxers. Every single one of his glorious abs are exposed, and I even spot some of the smooth skin beneath the ripped-out muscles that lead to very private areas.

Warmth curls in my belly. A warmth I wish would spread through the rest of me. Water splashes against the tub, and my eyes widen when Noah flicks the button of his jeans through the hole.