Nocte (Page 39)

Nocte (The Nocte Trilogy #1)(39)
Author: Courtney Cole

Because he’s playing the piano as it should be played.

With reverence.

Here in this chapel, it’s only right to revere our surroundings, the quiet peacefulness of a room used to honor the dead.

I close my eyes for a minute, unable to stop myself from imagining what it would be like if his hands worshipped my body in the same way as they worship the keys. My dreams have been like foreplay, because every night, he touches me.  He claims my body as his own, and every night, I enjoy it.  Right now, I recall those dreams, and my cheeks flush as I picture his fingers trailing over my hip, up my abdomen, pausing at my br**sts.  My lips tingle from wanting his kiss.  My breath hitches, my tongue darts out, licking at my lips, my face slightly feverish.

It’s only now that I realize the music has stopped.

I open my eyes and find Dare turned toward me, watching me. There is amusement in his eyes, like he knows exactly what I’d been daydreaming.

If ever there was a time to wish the floor would open up and swallow me, it is now.

“Hi,” he offers.  “I hope I didn’t wake you.  Your dad said I could come in and grab some orange juice. I saw the piano and…well, I intruded.  I’m sorry.”

His accent makes everything ok. And the fact that he plays the piano.  More than ok, in fact, it might make him the sexiest man alive.

“You’re not an intrusion,” I tell him.  Or if he is, he’s a welcome one.  “You play beautifully.”

He shrugs.  “It was one of my step-father’s rules.  Everyone in his family had to learn to play because that’s what refined people do.”  He looks bored with the sentiment and closes the lid to the keys.

I raise an eyebrow.  “Are you?  Refined, I mean.”

Because his LIVE FREE tattoo begs to differ.

He smiles.  “I’m a bit of a rogue, I’m afraid.”

I’m not.  Afraid, that is.

“Your dad said to tell you that he had to run into town,” he offers as he gets up and lithely moves toward me.  I can’t help but draw a parallel… between Dare and a graceful jungle cat.  Long, lithe, slender, strong.  He and I are connected by an invisible band, and he flexes that band as he strides down the aisle of the chapel before he stops in front of me like a panther.

Am I his prey?

God, I hope so.

In the light, his eyes are golden, and I find I can’t look away.

“Thanks,” I tell him.  “I bet my brother went with him.”  I don’t mention that my brother slept in my bed last night, because that would seem weird.  Like always, I have to hide certain things for appearances sake.

“I don’t know about that,” Dare answers.  “I haven’t seen Finn today.”

“He must’ve,” I murmur.  In fact, my father probably took Finn in to his group.  I’m free to focus on what is standing in front of me.

Dare DuBray.

His smile gleams.

“I have another question to ask you,” he tells me, with a certain smug look settling on his lips. I raise an eyebrow.

“What, already?  You just asked one days ago.”

He chuckles.  “Yep.  But not here.  I want to ask it somewhere else.”

I wait.

And wait.

“And that is…where?” I finally ask.

He smiles.  “Out on the water.”

I pause.  “On the water?  Like, on our boat?”

He nods.  “Is that ok?”

Of course it is.

“It’s just a little boat,” I warn him.  “Nothing fancy.”

“That’s perfect,” he answers.  “Because I’m nothing fancy, either.”

Au contraire.  But of course I don’t say that.  And it’s a good thing I slept in my clothes because this way, we can go straight there without pause.  But of course I don’t say that either.

Instead, I simply lead the way outdoors and to the beach, not hesitating in the rain.

“We can still go,” I tell him. “It’s just a little rain, the waves aren’t bad.”

“I’m not worried,” he grins.  “I’m used to rain.”

“That’s right,” I answer as I motion for him to climb aboard. “I forgot.”

He steps across and I untie the boat from the dock, before I toss the rope to him.  I leap before the boat can float away, and land unceremoniously beside him.

He lounges against the hull as I steer through the bay, and suddenly, the rain stops as suddenly as it started. The clouds part, the sun shines down upon us and I lift my face to the warmth.

I live for times like these, when my grief pauses long enough for me to enjoy something.

And I have to admit, I’ve been enjoying more and more moments since Dare came to my mountain.

“You make me feel guilty,” I tell him quietly, opening my eyes.  He’s sprawled out, his legs propped up on a seat.  He glances at me, his forehead furrowed.

“Why in the world is that, Calla-lily?”

The name makes me smile.

“Because you make me forget that I’m sad,” I say simply.

Softness wavers in Dare’s eyes for a minute before they turn back into obsidian.  “That shouldn’t make you feel guilty,” he tells me. “In fact, that makes me happy. I don’t like the idea of you being sad. Come sit by me.”

He opens his arms and I sit on the seat next to him, leaning against his hard chest and into his beating heart. His arms close around me and for the first time in my life, I’m lounging in a guy’s embrace.  And not just any guy.  Dare DuBray, who I’m guessing could have any girl he wants.

And right now, in this moment, he wants me.

It’s unfathomable.

It’s the perfect temperature as we drift in the sun, as the warmth saturates my shirt and soaks into my skin.  I drag one hand over the side, letting it float on the surface of the water as I listen to Dare’s heart.

It’s strong and loud against my ear.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

The rhythmic sound reminds me of the day he was punching the shed.

I look up at him, reluctant to bring it up, but wanting to know the answer.

“That day outside,” I begin. “When you were punching the shed.  What exactly was making you so upset?”

He almost flinches, but he doesn’t move. He keeps his arms wrapped tightly around my shoulders and his dark eyes closed.