I giggle, and Noah grows serious as he grazes his thumb against my cheek. “Are you sure about the shower?”
No. “Yes.” I blink three times.
Noah chuckles. “Right.”
“What if I want to be sure?”
Echo captures my hand in a death grip. “I mean it. I want to do this.”
And I want her to, but fuck me, I’ll only do it if she’s a hundred percent positive. I’ve coaxed too many girls into situations they regretted. As much as I liked the high of making out, I hated the fallout when they realized they gave me too much. I loathed the hollow expression as the reality hit that what was lost could never be returned, and they wasted it on me.
I love Echo, and I will never hurt her because she’s not ready for more. “We can wait.”
“I’m tired of waiting,” she rushes out, and I freeze. She’s never said anything like that before. Echo claws at the neck of the wet shirt clinging to her body. “I’m tired of being me. This trip was supposed to change that. I was supposed to become more, and two months later I’m still stammering like a stupid child, and we’re going home next week and it’s all going to be the same. Me. You. Mom. Dad. Everything.”
Okay. This conversation has detoured far from showers, and her body convulses with another fit of shakes. If we continue to hang out in the bathroom, my dick’s going to break off from frostbite, and Echo’s going to resemble a sheet of ice.
“Echo…” I don’t know what the hell to do. I’m screwed any way I go.
“I want to do this,” she repeats.
“Okay,” she says again.
Yet nothing speeds up. “I’ll get in the shower first, then you go in and if you change your mind at any time, I’ll get out.”
“Okay,” she mumbles under her breath.
I stare at her. She stares at the ceiling.
“Clothes need to come off.” Then I reassess the situation. “Or not. You can shower fully dressed, and I’d be okay with that.” Not exactly every man’s dream, but if it helps Echo…
Echo’s lips slant up. “Do you hate me?”
“No.” I slip my fingers underneath the hem of her shirt. “I can help you if you’d like.”
She finally meets my gaze, and I love the spark in her eyes. “I’m sure that would be such an imposition.”
“We all have our crosses to bear.”
Echo raises her arms, and parts of me jerk to life as I lift the material from her skin and slide it over her head. I briefly close my eyes to stop the groan: black lace bra. The one that’s see-through. Echo could wear this bra every day for the rest of my life, and I’d fall to my knees in praise.
“Let me guess,” she says. “You look.”
“Not look. Memorize.” I grab hold of her hips and drag her off the vanity and into me. “You’ve got a beautiful body. A guy would have to be dead not to look. Matching underwear?”
“What is it with guys and matching underwear?”
“I’m a simple man. Too many things going on at one time can be distracting.”
She laughs, and the sound warms my heart.
“You seem insanely focused.”
“Didn’t answer about the underwear,” I say, because she’s deciding on clothes going forward. I won’t seduce her into this, though I’m fighting the instinct.
Echo lowers her hands, and I’m hypnotized by the way she undoes the button to her jeans and the crackling of the zipper. Damn, the girl never lets me down. “You match.”
“Because I know you like it,” she says quietly.
“We’re doing this one step at a time.” I knot my fingers into her hair and take her bottom lip between both of mine. Her sweet scent overwhelms me and when Echo brushes her tongue across my lips, every single cell sizzles.
If I don’t start reciting baseball stats, we won’t reach the tub. I step away and open the shower curtain. “Just a shower. If you want me to stay on the opposite side, I will. I won’t kiss. I won’t touch.”
Echo flashes that siren smile. “What if I want to kiss you?”
“You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you?”
She giggles. I step in then close the curtain as she eases her jeans past her underwear. If Echo kisses me, touches me, shit, looks at me the right way, I’ll lose my fucking mind.
I raise the knob, the water stops cascading from the faucet, whines in the pipes then sprays out of the showerhead. With a fast switch to the right, I turn off the hot water and lower my head, permitting the freezing water to pummel my urges. When the rings of the curtain jingle against the rod, I glance over my shoulder and turn the warm water back on. Damn, she’s beautiful.
Noah devours me with his eyes as he peers over his shoulder. There’s a wildness in them that creates a jolt of hysteria and excitement.
My arms twitch with the need to cover myself, but I keep them straight to my sides. According to Noah, he’s seen all of me before, but what if it hasn’t been all of me, but parts of me at different times and maybe I was sort of shadowed?
I rub at the scars on my left arm as Noah wipes the droplets from his face. Noah’s a sight with the water darkening the bangs hanging over his eyes. His skin glistens, and the beads highlight each curve and cut of his muscles.
“You’re beautiful.” He offers me his hand. With a deep breath I accept and step in.
I link my fingers with Noah’s and cling to him as if I’d fall apart if he let go. He draws me closer to him and turns so that hot water hits me instead of him. Very intimate areas of me press against him, and I blow out a long stream of air to prevent myself from hyperventilating again.
Warm water rolls down my shoulders, over my breasts and sneaks into the impossibly minuscule crevices between me and Noah. As it flows between us, I swear the water becomes hotter. Noah shifts, and his body glides easily with mine. The lack of friction births a strange sensation—a sensitivity, an awareness…a hunger.
I lick my lips and taste clean water. Noah watches the movement, his eyes growing darker by the second. My thumb swipes across his wrist, and his pulse pushes past his veins and skin. Standing so near, can Noah feel my heart beating?
Noah holds my gaze, and I silently thank him for giving me a good excuse to not look down. Because I want to look down, but I don’t want to look down, and if I look down I want to look down without Noah knowing I’m looking down.