I still couldn’t figure out why I was here. Sure, I’d been to Kayla’s birthday parties every year since seventh grade but that had been because Ash wanted to come. This year, what Ash wanted no longer mattered, so why the hell was I here?
Spill Canvas blared through the speakers outside. The pool had several different colored strobe lights pointed at it from an upstairs balcony making the blue water appear pink, purple, green and yellow. Teak loungers surrounded the pool along with tiki torches. Last year, Jake had bumped into one of those and caught an umbrella on fire. Before it could get too out of hand, Beau had picked it up and chunked it into the pool. We’d laughed about it for weeks afterward.
I made my way over to the self-serve makeshift bar right outside the pool house, which basically consisted of large metal tubs filled with ice and drinks. If I was going to endure tonight, I needed alcohol. Lots of it.
“Sawyer! The man has arrived,” Ryan Mason slurred. He was already drunk. This was no surprise. The Mason boys were the owners of the land that we had our field parties on. Ryan’s older brother had started the field parties years back.
I nodded his way and reached for a bottle of Corona that was hidden under ice cubes.
“That’s it buddy, drink up. Ain’t got to impress the preacher’s daughter anymore, do ya?” Ryan called out from the middle of the pool. He was laying on a float with some girl I was pretty sure had gone to our school snuggled up beside him.
I didn’t respond to his asinine comment. Like Ash cared about that. Hell, she’d left me for Beau. Twisting off the top and throwing it into the recycle bin beside the drinks, I took a long swig. The cold liquid didn’t make me feel better but at least it tasted good.
Turning to walk back to the house and maybe find a television so I could turn on ESPN Sports Center, I took only a few steps before the glass doors opened and out stepped Ashton, Beau, and Lana.
Ah hell, I should’ve stayed home. Ashton waved at Kayla and pulled Lana over to where Kayla was lounging with some of the other girls we’d graduated with. Beau’s eyes met mine and he sauntered over to stand beside me. Both his hands were tucked into the front pockets of his jeans.
“Didn’t think you’d come to this,” Beau said in way of greeting.
Shrugging, I held up the Corona in my hand, “Free beer.”
Beau grinned and nodded. Free beer was definitely something he understood. His eyes didn’t leave Ash as she chatted happily with the other girls. The tiny cover-up she was wearing over her bikini left little to the imagination. She’d never dressed like that when we’d dated. Probably another one of her attempts at being perfect for me. What bullshit.
“Better be Lana you’re checking out,” Beau warned.
I shifted my eyes to Lana and was surprised to see her in a pair of really tiny shorts. Her legs weren’t tanned like Ash’s but they were long and shaped exactly like Ashton’s. The pale creamy color was delicate looking. I ran my gaze up her body and took in the way her h*ps flared just below a very small waist completely visible in the halter-top she wore over her bikini. It was odd that she had so many freckles on her face. The rest of her body looked so perfectly smooth she appeared almost airbrushed.
“I think she likes you,” Beau’s words broke into my thoughts and I tore my gaze off Lana’s head of dark copper curls and looked at my brother.
“Lana, she asked about you this evening. Wondered if you’d be here,” Beau smirked. “I think she might have a crush on the quarterback.”
I shifted my attention back to Lana at the same time she peered over her shoulder and our eyes met. She froze, as if in shock I’d been looking her way. Ashton’s cousin wasn’t hard on the eyes and she was really sweet. I took another drink of my Corona while playing around with the idea of getting my mind off Ash with Lana.
“Told ya,” Beau said in an amused tone.
Maybe he was right. Lana’s mouth lifted in a small smile and I remembered how soft her lips had felt under mine. It’d been one helluva kiss.
“Come on, let’s go get you something a little stronger than a beer. It’s time you moved on from Ash before we end up beating the shit out of each other again.”
Beau headed for the pool house and I reluctantly broke the lingering gaze we’d held longer than I expected, to follow my brother.
Beau pressed his hand on the lower part of Ashton’s back in a territorial way as he led her toward the stairs. I watched as she fought between the desire to go with her boyfriend and her duty to stay with me.
“I can’t leave Lana,” Ashton whispered.
Beau grabbed her waist and tugged her up against his chest. His eyes never once left Ashton’s face. “Lana is a big girl and won’t mind if I steal you away for a few minutes… or more,” he lifted his hazel eyes and grinned at me. “You don’t mind, do you Lana?”
Like I was going to piss off Beau Vincent by admitting that I really didn’t want to be left alone. Shaking my head, I forced a smile, “Um, no that’s fine. Y’all, uh, go do whatever.”
Beau turned his gaze back to Ashton, “Please come with me.” His voice had dropped and his eyes went all dark and pleading. No way Ashton was going to turn him down now.
“Okay,” she whispered without giving me a second glance. I watched as Beau led her up the stairs. Surely, she wasn’t going to have sex with him in Kayla’s house. Shaking my head, I turned to head back outside. Maybe Sawyer would be alone and I could work up the nerve to go talk to him.
Before I reached the door, Sawyer walked inside. His eyes seemed a little glassy and his normally perfectly styled hair was messy. I stopped and watched him as he scanned the room until his eyes found me and stopped. A slow grin spread across his lips and he sauntered toward me. Or was he staggering a little?
“Hey Lana, what you doin’ all alone?”
I swallowed the nervous knot in my throat, as he stood so close my arm was touching his. “Uh, well, Ash and Beau went,” I pointed toward the stairs unable to tell him what they’d gone to do.
His amused smile became an angry snarl as he shifted his focus to the steps leading upstairs like they were repugnant. Great, I’d got him all worked up over Beau and Ashton again.
A warm hand closed around mine and I squeaked in surprise. Sawyer chuckled and slipped his fingers between mine, “Come on, sweet little Lana. You can come entertain me since you’ve been left stranded. Besides, I’ve been looking at those long sexy legs all night. You make them shorts look real good.”
I gaped at him as he pulled me over to an empty couch. Had Sawyer just said my legs were sexy? I didn’t have time to think about his statement before he was pulling me down to sit in his lap.
He buried his face in my hair and inhaled loudly, “Damn, you smell good,” he murmured. One of his hands slipped around my waist and his hand spread out across the front of my bare stomach while his other hand wrapped a strand of my hair around his finger.
“Feels like silk,” he whispered and ran my hair across his lips. After my initial shock, my heart started racing. This was the closest I’d ever gotten to a boy and the fact it was Sawyer— terrified and excited me all at once.
His nose trailed up my shoulder and then he began nuzzling my neck. I couldn’t help the shiver that ran through me when his warm breath tickled my ear. The hand on my stomach inched up a tiny bit and he turned me so that I was facing him.
“You feel real good, Lana. Makes me forget everything else,” he murmured as his hand cupped the back of my head and gently guided my mouth to his.
The same intense hunger I’d felt the last time we’d done this overtook me. His tongue darted out and licked at my bottom lip and he groaned. Sawyer Vincent groaned as he licked and tasted my mouth. I pressed closer to him and ran my hands into his dark locks hoping this kiss didn’t end as abruptly as the last one had.
When his tongue swept into my mouth, I was the one to groan. He tasted like something dark and dangerous. Cautiously, I touched my tongue to his. Both his hands gripped my waist and picked me up to straddle him before he ran his hands up my back pulling me tighter against his chest. His mouth left mine and I started to protest until he began trailing kisses across my jawline and softly nipped my earlobe before kissing a trail down my neck. I wiggled anxiously as heat pooled in my belly and a strange tingling began between my legs.
“Yo Saw, get a room, man,” a loud voice called out breaking through my foggy brain and I stiffened, jerking back out of the warmth of Sawyer’s embrace. I’d completely forgotten that we were in the living room! Other people were around us. My face was on fire. I chanced a peek at Sawyer who was watching me with an amused grin.
“Don’t go getting all shy on me now, Lana,” he drawled, squeezing my sides with his hands.
“Sawyer! What are you doing?” Ashton demanded from behind me and I scrambled out of his lap like I’d been doing something wrong.
“Well, Ash, I’m doin’ exactly what it looks like I’m doin’,” Sawyer replied.
“You were all over Lana!”
“Yeah, baby, I was. Your cousin is a sweet little thing. And she wasn’t fighting me. I’m pretty damn sure she was enjoying herself too.”
Hoots and whistles came from somewhere around us. I couldn’t seem to do anything but stare at Sawyer in shock.
“She’s off limits. Do you hear me? Don’t you dare use her–”
“Use her? Really, Ash? You think that’s what this was about? Because baby, it ain’t. I can be attracted to other girls. It is possible,” the pleased tone in his voice was unmistakable. Why was he so pleased?
“That’s not what I meant,” Ashton all but yelled.
Sawyer raised his eyebrows in disbelief, “Really? Cause that’s sure what it sounds and looks like from here, sweetheart.”
“That’s enough, Sawyer,” Beau’s voice startled me and I turned to see him walking into the room. Oh, good Lord, he was mad.
“It ain’t me this time bro. She started it,” Sawyer didn’t sound worried at all about the fact Beau looked ready to hurt someone.
“And if you don’t shut your drunk ass mouth I’m going to end it,” Beau’s voice was cold and even.
Sawyer wasn’t drunk, was he? I stared at him and he just looked relaxed. When my dad had come home drunk he’d been loud and mean. Sawyer was sweet and gentle or he had been before we’d been interrupted.
“Lana just come on, we need to go,” Ashton demanded from her spot beside Beau.
Sawyer’s hand reached over and grabbed mine, “Don’t leave,” he said in a pleading whisper. That was all I needed. I’d come here for one reason, to get Sawyer Vincent to notice me. I wasn’t about to leave now that I had his attention.
“I want to stay here awhile longer, if that’s okay,” I replied, hoping Ashton didn’t get angry. Not that she really had a reason to be.
“Not your business,” Sawyer said, interrupting Ashton.
Anger flared in Ashton’s green eyes and Beau pulled her up tight against his side and whispered something to her. She seemed to relax a little then nodded.
“Okay, fine. Stay. But do not let Sawyer drive you home. Beau and I’ll come back and get you when you’re ready. Just call.”
I nodded. Sawyer hadn’t promised to take me home anyway. That sounded like a good plan.
“Glad you two are leaving. Lana and I needed a room,” Sawyer announced, standing up rather unsteadily then tugging me up beside him. Laughter from the audience we’d gathered was the wake-up call I needed.
Jerking my hand out of his grasp, I mentally cursed my fair skin and the blush I knew was covering my face and neck. Maybe Sawyer was drunk. I hoped he was because insinuating to everyone around us that we were going to go do something in a bedroom was not something the Sawyer I knew would do.
“You know, I think I will leave with Ash and Beau,” I replied, hoping I’d masked the humiliation in my voice.
“Wait. No. What’d I do?” Sawyer’s hurt little boy voice almost stopped me. But his words insinuating we were going to go up to a bedroom and do -God knows what- while a room full of people listened kept me moving toward Ashton.
“Come on,” Ashton whispered, pulling me to her side and leading me out the door.
“Someone sober drive him home or call me to come get him,” Beau said in parting before he turned and followed us outside.
“I’m not drunk!” Sawyer declared loudly.
Then the door closed and I had to fight back the tears.