Authors: Riley Edgewood
Rock & Release
Copyright © 2014 Riley Edgewood
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance it bears to reality is entirely coincidental.
Cover designed by Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations
ISBN (ebook) 9780986213007
There's a couple kissing around the corner from where I sit.
His hands cup her face; his thumb gently traces her chin. A moment later his fingers slide up into her hair, which is almost as blonde as my own, and he pulls hard enough to arch her neck while deepening the kiss. It's rough and sensual all at once, and my breath hitches in my throat.
She clutches the chest of his button-down shirt, yanking him back with her until they're against the wall, pulling him closer until the front line of his body shapes seamlessly to hers. Dark hair curls behind his ears and across his forehead, and the side of his face shows deep, sculpted cheekbones. She curves her lower back, pressing harder against him, and he pulls the barest of inches away, capturing her lower lip with his teeth. They stare at each other for the briefest, hottest moment, and then he's all in again, his mouth taking control of hers completely.
, I shouldn't be watching this, but I don't look away. Instead, my imagination sweeps me straight to that spot around the corner, and suddenly it's me he's pushing into the wall. It's my body—so much curvier than hers—reacting to the weight of his, and to the roughness of the white brick at my back. It's my lower lip tingling still from the nip of his teeth.
Warmth fills behind my ribs and spirals down through my belly in hundreds of silky little rivulets, flowing lower, faster, growing in force until my toes are curling, and I'm struggling not to squirm in my seat and—
. Cassidy?" Teagan—dinner companion, friend of my youth, and, apparently, fantasy-ruiner extraordinaire—snaps her fingers in front of my face. My surroundings slam back into focus, as though I'd been watching (living) the kiss through a tunnel that shatters into pieces around me with the click of Teagan's fingers. My other senses reawaken with the aroma of grilled meat and fried food. The riff of a guitar floats in the air behind me, followed by sweet and raspy male vocals—an acoustic cover of a song popular a few years back. The sticky heat of Virginia's early summer sun beats down against my arms and through the cotton of my maxi skirt.
Still, I can't look away from the couple. I don't want to. A huge part of me wishes I could be so bold, even if the guy's far too…
purposefully put together
to be my type. What he looks like, though, isn't the point. The scene is. The sexy, sexy scene playing out like it's my own private show.
The wall they're pressed against, so hot, so heavy, is around the edge of a corner hiding them from almost the entire outdoor patio. We're surrounded by people sitting at black metal cocktail tables, but
table sits at the outskirts of the area, and my seat gives the perfect view of the side of the building.
His mouth is sliding along the base of her throat now, and her eyes are closed, her head tilted back. Her knee is bent, riding up his leg. He's grabbing her thigh, pulling her leg up higher and—
"Are you going to make me beg?" Teagan snaps again.
I force my head in her direction, and reluctantly the rest of my attention, too. She's pointing now toward the uneaten fries in front of me. I clear my throat to dislodge the breath tangled in my windpipe.
"No, you can't have them." I pop a fry in my mouth as nonchalantly as I can, keeping my eyes locked with hers.
Don't look back behind the corner, Cassidy
. I don't even know why I let myself intrude on that moment for as long as I did. I've got bigger things to focus on. Things even more exciting than secret, stolen kisses.
Well. Things that should be more exciting, anyway.
"All I got was a salad." Teagan pouts, pushing long, auburn waves away from her face.
I flick her hand away when she reaches toward the basket. "You should've ordered fries."
"I told you I'm making a healthy lifestyle change." Just like she told me last week. And the week before that.
"Then you especially can't have any fries." I grin at her, and then shove a few more in my mouth. "I'm being a good friend, looking out for your new lifestyle."
"Blah, blah." Not the wittiest return, but I'm looking over her shoulder again, unable to help myself. The kiss has ended, though, and the guy's nowhere to be seen. The blonde's still standing there, half a smile cocked across her lips and a rosy blush in her cheeks. She touches her mouth, remembering, I'm sure, the way he tasted, and a bit of the lingering warmth in my belly begins to simmer.
Then she catches me staring and that warmth snaps straight up into my face.
I look away. "Oh shit."
"Nothing." I laugh like Teagan's said something funny, like I can convince the blonde that I really wasn't watching her because
I've been having such a funny conversation with my friend here. I can't tell Teagan what I've been watching—there's no way she wouldn't turn around and make it even more obvious. "I mean, oh shit, these fries are so good."
"Seriously. You suck."
"Here." I slide the basket toward her and switch chairs so that instead of sitting across the table from Teagan, I'm next to her. So that the corner I was able to spy on easily a second ago is now completely out of view. My cheeks are still burning. I definitely won't be glancing back there again. "We'll share."
From my new seat, I can more clearly see the guitarist on the small deck stage serenading the pre-concert crowd. And this guy? If he'd been the one getting it on around the corner, I might've exploded. Because
. Brown hair hangs across his forehead in a windswept, disheveled sort of way, broad shoulders vee into a narrow waist, and toned arms are evident in his short-sleeve employee polo shirt. He looks about my age, maybe a year or two older. His voice glides through his lips and out to me in a mixture of whiskey and melted honey.
My parents would enjoy listening to him. So would my brother, Jason…
Great. Made it almost fifteen minutes without thinking about him.
I can't tell if this makes me a horrible person or if it shows I'm making progress.
Probably more the former, as the flashbacks that come with the thought of his name pierce me with anxiety and I wish I could just turn them off. The deep timbre of his laugh. The unabashed pride across his face when his acceptance letter arrived for Georgetown.
The sheen of the mahogany casket we buried him in.
"You're not listening to me at
I shake my head to clear the silent movie reel of memories playing in my mind.
Live in the present, in the now
, I remind myself, the words winding through my consciousness in my mother's voice. "Sorry. What?"
he's nice on the eyes
the ears." She tilts her head toward the guy on stage.
I shrug, still trying to untangle myself from the past. "He's talented, for sure."
"Yeah, he sings great—but
at him." Her words come out cluttered because her mouth's halfway full of fries. She chews and swallows before continuing. "He's yummy. Like, super yummy. Like, don't let me leave here without making sure he knows how yummy I think he is."
"You got it." I laugh, but she's right. Just looking at him is a nice distraction from the thoughts I'm trying to keep in check. I'm a little bummed Teagan's claimed him for herself, because the longer I study him, the more something about him tugs at me, right in the belly.
"We should do this more often," she says, smiling slyly like she knows what I'm thinking.
"You mean you should call in to a podcast to win VIP passes to a Demi Jade concert more often?"
"Exactly." She spreads her arms out, gesturing to the space around us, a bouquet of fries in one hand. "I mean, look at this place. I never even knew it existed."
I hadn't either. I've been here, to BackBar Amphitheater, for a handful of concerts in my life, but Teagan's passes give us access to an outdoor pre-concert VIP pavilion. It comes complete with free food and free beer. Well, Teagan's drinking free hard cider, but still. It's a spacious area with a huge rectangular bar, serving customers from all sides, and two concession counters, plus air-conditioned,
bathrooms (housed in the white brick building belonging to the make-out wall). When the concert starts, we'll only have to cross a wide general-access walkway to enter the actual venue—a huge amphitheater—and our seats. And until then, there's live music here on a small wooden stage.
I close my eyes, letting the voice of the singer drift over me. It's warm and smooth and full of emotion. I actually prefer his style to that of the original singer. "The music's the best part."
Teagan disagrees. "The fries are."
"Clearly, you have a misconceived view of what's important in life," I joke.
A moment later something hits my chest. I open my eyes and grab the fry she's thrown at me out of my lap, tossing it into my mouth with a grin. "Yeah, okay. These are pretty good. So tell me about—"
But my words disappear into a loud clatter—the sound of plates crashing to the ground—and another girl's even louder exclamation. "
I turn to see a waitress—not the one who's been serving us—down on the ground, a few feet away from our table, scrambling for upturned baskets of food.
The singer breaks off from his song. I glance toward the stage, and he's poised to jump down to help the waitress, but I beat him to it. His eyes, warm and wide and brown, meet mine—pausing just long enough for that tug in my belly to slide a little lower—and he hesitantly sits back on his stool, resuming his performance.
"Here." I take a few of the baskets from the waitress and place them in a pile on a chair beside us. Back on the stage, the singer restarts his song.
"Thank you." She smiles at me—with dimples for miles—and shakes her head, a striking jumble of black curls swinging back and forth behind her. She has beautiful golden brown skin and soft, pretty eyes. "I don't even know what I tripped over."
Teagan bends down, grabbing the waitress's tray and holding it out to her. "You were probably distracted by Mr. McHottie Performer-pants up there. Just like everyone else."
"Maybe." A pretty flush settles into the waitress's cheeks and her gaze darts toward the stage before she takes her tray. I help her load the platters of now uneatable food, and she thanks us again before heading away.
The singer slips into a cover of John Jackson's "It's Ours," and Teagan and I watch him in silence for a while. He's graceful, almost, in the way he perches on his stool, with the obvious care in how he handles his guitar, with smooth strokes and a gentle grip. I wonder what it'd feel like if he was handling me the same way.
Okay. My fantasies are a little out of control today. I shake my head and change the subject of my thoughts. "I can't believe this is my only week of freedom."
"Oh. Right. When does your fancy little internship start?"
I ignore the snark cutting through her tone. "A week from Monday."