With: Pintip Dunn
Congratulations to "Bn100", the winner in Pintip's giveaway. Please contact JUST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE to claim your prize!
Ah, I love first kisses – both reading about them and writing about them. Winnie and Mat used to be best friends. And then, they were enemies. And then, their parents make them fake date, in order to practice their relationship skills. Here, after a long, slow, and sizzling build-up, Winnie and Mat finally admit their feelings for one another. Enjoy!
“I’m not afraid to shine.” I stop. My thoughts take another lap around the twisty track that is my mind. “I just don’t know how.”
“Be yourself.” He shrugs. “That’s it. That’s all.”
“How?” I look at him, my heart in my throat, and on my sleeve, and in the butter stain on my shirt.
He considers me for a long time. And then he gets to his feet. “Good luck figuring it out. I have to get to class.”
“Wait.” I rush around the table and put my hand on his wrist. He goes perfectly still. And I get an inkling of what it means to be myself. “Could you help me?"
His eyes flash. “Why in the eighth level of hell would I want to do that?”
The words should hurt. They should send me running to a quiet corner, as so many of his cutting comments have done over the years.
But his voice shakes on the last syllable, and that’s when I know. I can see right through the walls he erected to protect himself. I can read the feelings that he’s not voicing.
Most of all, I’ve figured out how to be myself.
I just pray to the pra Buddha cho that I’m right.
“Because you like me,” I say softly.
The wood of the picnic bench bites into my thighs. The grass tickles my ankles, and the sun slants over the courtyard in long, lazy rays. I lift my hand from his wrist and place the pads of my fingers on his bare forearm. Slowly, I skim my fingers up his arm, over the bunched sleeve at his elbow, and onto his shirt-covered biceps. Here, I pause, feeling the solid rock through the waffle-patterned cotton. Holy hotness, this boy has muscles.
My neck is all of a sudden too warm, and I’m light-headed from the sensation underneath my fingers.
Mat clears his throat. “Well, yeah. I mean, we used to be friends a long time ago.”
“You like me more than just a friend, Mat," I say.
"I do?" His voice is gruff, approaching strangled.
I run my hand over his shoulder, up his neck, and onto his face. He stands there, completely rigid, a bronze statue under the glow of the sun. I can almost believe he’s stopped breathing.
I continue my exploration, tracing his jaw, chasing his warmth. The moment I touch his mouth, however, my world narrows to the single tip of my finger. I rub my index finger gently over his lips. Full, fascinating. I could stay here all day. The entire week.
“Winnie?” My finger moves with his mouth, his hot breath moistening my skin. I stare at his lips, entranced. He could read aloud the entirety of Paradise Lost—what we’re currently studying in English lit—and I wouldn’t get bored. “Why do you think I’m interested in you?”
I swallow hard. This is it. The biggest leap I’ve ever taken. Let’s just hope that if I fall, the pra Buddha cho has conjured up a net to catch me.
I take away my hand. My fingers ache where they’ve been touching him, but I know that this separation is necessary. Hopefully temporary.
“The reason I know,” I whisper, “is because of this.”
1 signed paperback of DATING MAKES PERFECT (domestic only)
International winner allowed so long as Book Depository will ship there, with a signed bookplate.
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