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Authors: Rebecca Yarros

Ignite (Legacy) (6 page)

BOOK: Ignite (Legacy)
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I couldn’t let my dad’s crew die before it even had the chance to be resurrected, but I also knew I’d be a shell of who I was if Avery stayed in Alaska.

I had to make these next few days as perfect as possible.

6
Avery


W
hat do
you mean you’ve lost our bags?” River asked the airline attendant as we leaned against the counter the next day. After a delayed flight from Fairbanks, to running through the Seattle airport and barely making our connection to Denver, and then taking the smallest plane I’d ever been willing to get on to Gunnison…well, this trip was definitely off to a rocky start.

We’d been traveling for ten hours, and as happy as I was to be here and to see River’s hometown, I was also about to go full-on zombie apocalypse raid on that vending machine in the lobby if we didn’t find some food soon.

“I’ve tracked them as currently in route from Seattle to Denver, sir,” the small girl said as she pushed her glasses up her nose with a look that pretty much said,
please don’t eat me
.

Not that River was intimidating.
Liar.
River was huge and rather cranky at the moment. “It’s okay.” I put my hand on his bicep.

“It’s not okay,” he told me. “All your stuff—”

“I can buy what I need until it gets here.” I looked over to the girl who was furiously typing. “Can you have it delivered to Legacy when it gets here?”

She nodded. “Absolutely. The next flight comes in from Denver…” She typed, her eyes never going higher than River’s chest. “Tomorrow morning at seven thirty.”

“You have got to be kidding—”

I squeezed his arm lightly, then looped mine through it and hugged myself to his side. “That will be just fine.”

Her fingers flew over the keyboard as she took down our contact information. With each moment, River grew more tense, until I thought his muscles might snap under my fingers.

The attendant’s eyes widened to impossible dimensions when she looked behind us, and I turned my head. Bishop walked toward us, a scowl deepening with every step he took. Maybe I wasn’t the only one getting hangry over here.

“What’s wrong?” River asked.

“All the rental cars are gone. They overbooked or something.”

“How is that even possible?” River snapped.

“It’s pretty much just par for the course today,” I responded, laughter bubbling up.

They both looked at me like I was nuts.

“I called Knox, and he’s on his way here. We’ve probably got about another forty-five minutes before he shows up.”

“Perfect, just in time to grab food!” I said.

“Actually, the airport café closed about a half hour ago. I’m so sorry,” the attendant said, cringing as all of our gazes swung to her. “They close after the last flight of the day…which was yours.”

River’s jaw locked. “It’s only eight.”

“Small airport.”

“Let’s go wait outside,” I said. “I’ve never seen the sunset in Colorado.”
Or anywhere outside of Alaska.
I plastered a smile on my face and prayed it was enough to convince River to leave the poor girl alone. It wasn’t her fault that we’d had rotten luck today.

A slight tug on River’s arm and he followed me out, Bishop on his heels.

A Snickers bar later I felt somewhat human. River slipped my forefinger into his mouth, licking away the last of the chocolate on my skin, and my thighs clenched. He ran his teeth over the digit and released it, smirking at the way my mouth hung open.

“I’m so sorry today has been a disaster,” he said, running his fingers through the strands of my travel-abused ponytail. The evening breeze wrapped a few strands around my neck, and he chased them as we sat on a bench outside.

“This isn’t a disaster,” I told him. “It’s just a kaleidoscope of inconveniences.”

“Kaleidoscopes are beautiful.”

“And so is this. Think of it this way. We just finished a delicious bit of chocolate as we’re watching the sun set behind the Rocky Mountains. The weather is gorgeous, and this just might be the best first date I’ve ever had.”

A corner of his mouth tilted upward. “First date, huh?”

“What would you call it?”

“A sneak peek.”

“At what?”

“Everything we could have,” he whispered and then brushed his lips over mine, his tongue tracing my bottom lip. Was I ever going to get tired of kissing him? I only craved more and more. For that matter, what was the appropriate amount of time I had to wait before I could kiss other places on his body? Where was the rule book that governed
hey, I know we just got into a relationship, but I’ve wanted to lick your abs for years?

I sucked in a breath as he pulled away, my chest burning. “Wow, even just kissing you makes me breathless.”

He laughed. “That, my dear Avery, is the altitude. But I’ll absolutely take credit. We’re almost at eight thousand feet here, and almost nine where we’re headed.”

“Easier to get you drunk at,” Bishop said as he came around the corner.

My cheeks flamed, wondering how much he’d seen.

“No worries,” he said as if he’d read my mind. “I’ve been waiting on you two to get your shit together for years. And there’s Knox,” he said as a black SUV pulled up to the curb.

“How can you tell?” River asked.

“We’re the only ones here, and they locked the airport doors twenty minutes ago.”

“Good point,” River answered as we stood. When an incredibly hot guy got out and headed toward us, River pulled me under his arm.

Subtle.

“Knox,” Bishop said as the two shook hands and then hugged in that tight guy way with lots of back-slapping.

“Good to see you, Bishop.” Knox turned his eyes on River and grinned before pulling him into a hug. “River. Damn, you’re huge. What the hell are they feeding you up in Alaska?” he asked.

“Moose, mostly,” he joked.

Knox held his hand out to me, and I shook it as he made an obvious appraisal. “And who might you be?”

“Avery,” I said with a smile. The guy was gorgeous in a Scott Eastwood kind of way, with eyes that held laughter and the promise of a really good time.

“She’s with me,” River said, pulling me to his side.

“Obviously.” Knox grinned and nodded toward the car. “We’re about forty-five minutes from home. Let’s get you guys settled in and then figure everything out.”

We loaded into the back of the SUV, and as we pulled onto the highway out of town, the gentle hum of the car on the pavement sent my exhaustion into sleepville. When my head bobbed for the third time, River unbuckled my seat belt and slid me over to his side, buckling me in the middle.

“Get some rest,” he ordered softly.

My head hit the perfect place just under his shoulder. With his warmth and steady heartbeat, I was asleep before a second song could play on the radio.

I vaguely felt River’s strong arms lifting me and the crisp mountain air brushing over my skin as he carried me somewhere. “It’s okay, you can sleep. I’ve got you,” he said, kissing my forehead.

A few blinks later we were in a hotel room. I brought the room into focus as he lowered me onto the bed. “Food or sleep?” he asked, setting my backpack down on the floor.

I weighed my options, but the three hours of sleep I’d had coupled with the long travel and altitude won out. “Sleep. What about you?”

“It’s already ten. I’m game for sleep if you are.” He leaned over me, brushing a kiss against my hairline. “I’ll be next door with Bishop, just let me know if you need anything, okay?”

A sharp flash of panic hit me when he pulled away. We were in Colorado, where he would be moving, and while I had him now, nothing was guaranteed past this weekend. “Stay with me?” I asked.

“Avery,” he whispered, his dark brown eyes soft in the lamplight. He stroked my cheek with his thumb.

“It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve slept together.”

A smirk played across his face. “Yeah, well…”

“That’s not what I meant.” But now that the words were out there…well, would it be a bad idea?

River was undeniably sexy. Hell, my heart rate picked up just thinking about what his hands would feel like on my body. His lips were sinful, and the look in his eyes told me he wanted me just as much as I wanted him. I knew, without so much as removing a single item of clothing, that we would be incredible together.

Explosive.

“River?” I whispered.

His eyes narrowed slightly as he decided. “You know how badly I want you?”

“I think so.”

“I can control myself, Avery. I’m not going to pounce on you, but there’s every chance that we could cross a line you’re not ready for.”

I ran my hands through his hair, the black strands stopping just above his chin. “I know. But if I only have this little bit of time with you, I don’t want to give any of it up. Even if we’re both sleeping.”

He nodded slowly. “Agreed.”

I cracked the unsexiest yawn in the history of yawns, and he chuckled.

There was a knock at the door and he answered it, taking a plastic bag from Bishop. “That’s all they had downstairs, sorry, man. The bags should be here in the morning.”

“I just wanted it to be…”

“Perfect?” Bishop asked, his voice low.

“Yeah, and it’s anything but. Could one more thing get fucked up?”

“Let’s not chance fate,” Bishop said before saying a quiet good night and shutting the door.

River disappeared into the bathroom momentarily. “Avery, there’s toothpaste and stuff in the bathroom if you want it, okay?” He said as he came back out.

Shirtless.

Holy shit. I’d always appreciated his body. How could I not? But seeing those yards of muscle and soft, inked skin, and knowing that I could touch them were two different things.

“Teeth. Right.” I nodded, forcing myself from the bed. My feet felt like they weight a bajillion pounds, but I brushed my teeth with the new toothbrush and got ready for bed.

What the hell was I going to sleep in? Capris and a blouse weren’t really conducive to the whole REM thing. River’s T-shirt lay folded on the counter, and my fingers caressed the soft cotton.
Perfect.

A few minutes later I walked out of the bathroom to see River sitting up in bed reading the book he’d brought along. He did a double take as I came into his line of sight, and warmth rushed through me.

He really wasn’t faking it, trying to keep me as his best friend by feigning some kind of interest. He honestly wanted me.

I pulled back the covers, and his eyes followed every motion, heating more with every second. “I hope it’s okay that I borrowed your shirt.”

“Yeah. More than okay.”

He turned off the light as I slid into bed, pulling the covers up as my head hit the pillow.

“I’m so sorry today was a disaster.”

“It wasn’t.” I remembered what he’d said to Bishop and scooted my back toward him until I was against his chest. His arm found its way around my waist, and I sighed in contentment as he pulled me closer.

His nose ran along the line of my neck, and I arched to give him better access. “It was.”

“Maybe,” I said, intertwining our fingers. “But this is worth it. This is pretty perfect.”

“Yeah, you are.”

His arms flexed around me and I melted. River relaxed me in a way no other man had. In so many ways this could still be just my best friend holding me, but it wasn’t. Sure, it was still River, still the guy who had changed my flat tire freshman year, the guy who’d punched Troy Williams when he’d kissed me during sophomore year after I’d said no. He was the guy who had helped me with Addy, Dad, and my life in general.

He was my best friend.

But this desire to roll him over, climb on top of him, and explore every line of his body until I’d wiped away the thought of every one of those bar-bunnies he’d taken home over the years…well, that wasn’t so friendly.

Was our friendship—and this blatant craving I had for him—enough to uproot my entire life?

“Avery?”

“Yeah?”

“Stop thinking about it.”

“How did you—?”

“Because I know you. Stop thinking there’s any expectation for this weekend and just be with me, okay? Try to forget anything else. Can you try?”

If this was really my only chance to be with him, then I had to try. I had to throw myself into this headfirst and see what was really there, because if his leaving didn’t kill me, then the never knowing would.

“Yeah.”

7
River

T
here was
something to be said for waking up with Avery in my arms. She was soft, warm, and fit my body like she’d been made to do exactly that.

I’d already been up this morning, untangled her hair from the stubble of my beard and snuck off for a shower. Once I’d finished brushing my teeth, it was already eight thirty and she still wasn’t awake.

I should have gone downstairs and found us food—I was fucking starving, but instead I crawled back into bed with her. As soon as I slid between the sheets, she rolled at me like a heat-seeking missile, using my chest as a pillow and tossing one of her thighs right across my dick.

Her best friend—I was.

A saint—I was not.

I wrapped my arm around her back, tangling it in the thick blonde strands of her hair. She felt perfect wrapped around me, and it was far too easy to envision this as our life.

My free hand rested on her knee, then lightly stroked the soft skin up her thigh. I kept myself to a six-inch limit, savoring the silk of her skin under my fingers but going no higher because I knew my shirt was bunched around her waist and there was nothing between my hand and her softness besides her panties.

When she’d walked out in my shirt last night I’d had a moment of primal possession, and it had taken everything in me not to send my hands beneath the fabric.

Even thinking about it had my dick hardening, or maybe it was the way her thigh moved against me. Either way, my body had zero issue reminding me that she was nearly naked, and so was I.

“Mmmmm,” she moaned, moving even closer.

Her head shifted until her lips were pressed against my neck, and my pulse pounded beneath her innocent caress. If she honestly knew how badly I wanted her—the effort it took to keep my damn hands to myself—she never would have wanted me in bed with her.

Avery usually liked time to think things through. To examine every consequence of a possible action and then take the course she thought safest. I was damn lucky to have even stolen her away for five whole days, let alone be thinking of how easy it would be to slip my fingers inside her and bring her to orgasm before breakfast.

Not helping the hard-on situation.

She shifted again, lightly kissing my throat, and my hand tensed on her thigh, gripping the toned limb.

“Good morning.” Her voice was husky from sleep and sexy as hell.

“Hey there,” I said, waiting for her to understand the situation we were in.

Instead of moving away, she slid over until she rested on top of me, still pressing kisses to my neck.

“Avery.” I groaned, my hands filling with the barely covered globes of her ass. Fuck me, her panties were lace.

“Hmmm?” she hummed, the vibration streaking through my nervous system and lodging in my dick. She rocked gently until I was settled directly against the heat between her thighs.

She was trying to kill me. That was the only logical explanation I could come up with. “Are you awake?”

“Yep,” she said, her lips trailing down to my collarbone.

“Do you—?” I hissed when her teeth lightly grazed my skin. Damn, that felt good. “Do you know what you’re doing?”

She slid farther down my body, the friction so good that my hips moved against her. Her fingers traced the lines of my abs. “Do you mean am I aware that I’m on top of you? Kissing you?”

“Yes, that.” One of my hands cupped the back of her head while the other fisted the sheet next to me.

“Do I realize that you’re hard for me?” she whispered, looking up at me under her lashes with eyes so blue they rivaled the Colorado sky.

“That, too.” My dick twitched in agreement.

“Yes,” she said, before kissing her way down my stomach.

Holy shit.
Her lips on my skin were the most exquisite torture.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” she said, just before tracing the lines of my abs with her tongue.

I sucked in my breath as every muscle in my body tensed. She was every fantasy I’d ever had come to life.

“Your body is incredible. I’m sure you’ve been told that a million times—”

Oh hell no.

I flipped her so fast that she landed with an
oomph
underneath me. Then I stretched both her arms above her head and settled in between her thighs. “Nothing mattered before you.
No one
mattered before you. Do you understand?”

She nodded, tugging her lip between her teeth.

I leaned down and sucked it free. “Speaking of incredible bodies…” My hands followed her curves, her gently tucked waist and the flare of her hips. “God, what you do to me, Avery.”

Her hips rolled in my hands, and I set my mouth to her neck, loving her gasp, the way she softly said my name. Every tiny motion or sound she made drove me higher, wound me tighter.

My shirt was bunched a little higher than her waist, leaving her stomach bare to my lips. I kissed my way down her belly, letting my tongue and teeth linger where she whimpered. The skin just along her hipbone was the most sensitive, and I had her squirming under me in a matter of minutes.

“River.” She moaned, her fingers in my hair, urging me on.

“I want to touch you so badly,” I admitted, breathing against the band of her blue lace panties.

“So touch me.”

Her words sent me into a level of need I’d never known before. I wanted to roar, to mark her as mine, to let the world know that this woman deemed me good enough to put my hands on her.

I ran my hand up the inside of her thigh, my eyes locked on hers to watch for the first sign that she didn’t want this. My fingers grazed the line of her underwear and then slipped under until—

Knock. Knock. Knock.

“No fucking way,” I muttered. “What?” I called out as Avery giggled beneath me.

“Mr. Maldonado? I’m from the airline.”

I left the warm haven of Avery’s body and strode across the room, flinging the door open. “Bags?”

“Here,” he said, his eyes wide. I took the bags from his hands and put them inside the door, well aware that my boxers weren’t doing a damn thing to disguise my erection.

“Can you sign?” he asked.

I scrawled my signature across the paper. “Thanks for bringing them out,” I said, and promptly shut the door.

Avery had sat up in bed, her hair a tousled, glorious mess, and my T-shirt pulled down to meet her thighs. I couldn’t wait to strip it off her. She grinned at me and crooked her finger.

Hell yes.

Another knock at the door sounded and I cursed. “What now?” I asked as I opened the door.

Bishop was already fully dressed as he stood there with his arms crossed. He glanced down and then back up, sighing. “Play around later, little brother. We have shit to do today. We’re meeting with Knox in half an hour.”

“Half an hour?” Avery squealed and ran for the bathroom, dragging her small suitcase in with her.

“You seriously couldn’t give me another hour?” I asked him as she shut the door.

“Consider this payback for cock-blocking me with Sarah Ganston.”

“I was fourteen!” I yelled as he walked away.

“Nothing personal,” he said, repeating my exact words when I’d been sent to find him for breaking curfew.

I dressed in clean clothes and then waited for Avery. We might have a full day planned, but the only thing on my agenda tonight was her.

* * *


T
his is amazing
,” Avery whispered as we looked around the Legacy crew’s clubhouse as they affectionately called it.

“Bash pulled out all the stops,” Knox said as he gestured to the main room of the complex that boasted floor-to-ceiling windows and a kick-ass view of the mountains. “He wanted to make sure the Legacy crew had everything it needed.”

“What about people?” Bishop asked, his eyes taking in the row of glassed-in offices on one side and the huge dining tables along the other.

The complex was massive. Double kitchens, eating areas, offices, a great room, gym, and enough rooms in the downstairs walkout level to sleep every member of the proposed twenty-two member team.

“Not going to lie, we’re short,” Knox admitted. “But both Emerson and Bash are working on it, and we’ve called every firefighting Legacy kid. So far they’ve all said that they’re coming home, but we’ll find out tomorrow.”

“What’s tomorrow?” Avery asked, lacing her fingers with mine.

“The council meeting,” Knox answered. “We have to present them with the crew. If we have the numbers, we’ll take the Legacy name.”

“If we don’t?” I asked.

“Ever known Bash to fail?” Knox replied.

“Ever known any of us to?” I countered.

“Exactly.”

I could almost feel Avery rolling her eyes. “Okay, well let’s say hell freezes over and your unfailing masculinity isn’t quite enough. What then?”

Knox grinned at her. “I like you.”

“Don’t,” I said.

Avery looked between him and me. “Are all your friends this good looking here? Because if so, then maybe Colorado really is a good idea…”

My mouth hung agape for a second while she smiled up at me. “Maybe commuting from Alaska is a good idea.”

Knox laughed. “If we don’t have the numbers then we’ll still establish the team, it just won’t be under the same banner.”

“Your dad’s,” Avery said.

“Right.”

“Either way, we’re in,” Bishop answered. “Even if we don’t have the Legacy name, this is still their crew. Their mountain.”

“Good to know,” Knox said. “Now let’s get to the fun part. Follow me.”

He walked ahead, leading us to one of the offices with a map of Legacy on the wall. “You okay?” Avery asked quietly as we followed.

“Yeah.”

“You’re all tense.”

I tried to relax—and failed. “The only reason I’m willing to leave Alaska and risk losing you is that it’s Dad’s team. It’s the one they wouldn’t let us restart years ago, and if we have that chance now…”

“You have to take it,” she finished, looking up at me with understanding and a soft smile. “I get it. I respect you even more for it.”

“But if it’s not the real Legacy team, then what am I doing?”

She squeezed my hand. “Wait and see how it goes tomorrow, and then answer that question. For now…” She trailed off, looking where Bishop stood next to Knox at the map.

“What?” I asked.

“Can we just pretend for a couple of days?”

“Pretend what?” My free hand cupped her face, tilting it so she wouldn’t look away.

“Pretend that this is a given? That I’ll come here with you for sure?” A slight hint of panic crept into her eyes.

“Is it just pretend?” I asked softly.

“I don’t want it to be, but you and I know it’s so much more complicated than we’re willing to admit.”

I kissed her, letting my lips promise what terrified my heart. “Yeah. We can pretend. Maybe it will give you a better idea of what it would really be like if you opened yourself up to the possibility that life exists beyond the limits you’ve accepted.”

She swallowed, then nodded. “Okay. Shall we?” She nodded toward the office.

I squeezed her hand in answer and then walked in with her at my side.

“You two good?” Bishop asked, his eyes narrowing in my direction.

“We’re fantastic,” I said, leading Avery over to the map.

“Right. So here’s the fun part. Bash is beyond loaded now. He knew what it would take to relocate an entire Hotshot crew here, and once he realized it would be Legacy kids last week, well…he made a few calls to realtors.”

Bishop and I locked eyes. He shrugged.

“That means you can either take the signing bonus that will cover the house you’d like to buy, or he’ll sign you over one of the eleven he’s already bought.”

“No shit?” I asked, stunned.

“No shit,” Knox answered. “He wasn’t letting anything get in the way. Of course there are barracks here, but if you’re bringing your family”—he looked at Avery—“then he wants to make sure it’s a smooth transition. Trust me, this money is nothing for him.”

“Tech,” I answered Avery’s unspoken question. “He’s sold a few apps and invested really well.”

“Obscenely well,” Knox added.

“Apparently,” Avery said, her eyes huge.

“What do you say? Want to house hunt with me?”
Come on, Avery. Pretend.

“I do,” she said with a smile that rivaled the sun.

BOOK: Ignite (Legacy)
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