She stops in her tracks, causing me to double back. “I don’t need you to do things for me, Ben. I don’t need you bringing me towels and carrying my bags.” She reaches for her bag but I step back. Fuck that. I’m carrying her bag. “Fine. Whatever. But just know that this nice act doesn’t wipe out all the shitty things you’ve done to me.” She steps closer, brushing her body against mine. I freeze, completely unprepared for this type of contact from her. She tilts her head up and looks into my eyes while I use every ounce of strength in me to keep myself from getting hard. “That shit is still very raw. And no amount of bag carrying is going to make me forget it.” I watch her ass as she walks away, realizing now that I’m going to need to step up my game to knock down the walls she’s building up around her. Which is fine. I’m all for a challenge. Especially one where getting close to Mia is the reward.
By the time I reach the rest of the group, Mia is talking to Reed while Luke and Tessa dive into the dam. I place her bag on the bench, bunching up the beach towel I brought for her and stuffing it into her duffle. I walk up to the two of them, drifting in on their conversation and not giving a shit if I’m interrupting anything.
“You wanna get in the water with me, Mia?” I ask, pulling off my T-shirt and tossing it onto the bench. I don’t miss the way her eyes run down my body, and mine do the same to hers once she pulls off her top and slides down her shorts. Christ, she is breathtaking. Her long dark hair and the way it frames the delicate features of her face. That face that I can’t get out of my head. Deep brown eyes and full lips that’ll form a knock you on your ass smile if you’re lucky to see it. The curve of her breasts. Her tiny waist that leads to those hips that sway with each step she takes. Her perky ass and those never ending toned legs that I want wrapped around me at all times. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful before.
She glances from Reed to me, not taking nearly as long to look at Reed as he shrugs off his shirt. “I want to get in the water,” she replies curtly. She leaves off the ‘with me’ part, but that’s fine. I watch as she dives into the dam and I don’t take long to jump in after her.
The water is warm as it always is, but too cloudy for me to see her swimming ahead of me. Luke and Tessa have climbed up onto one of the floating piers and are talking closely, but Mia doesn’t seem to be headed for the pier. She’s headed for the cliffs. I know for a fact that she was always too scared to jump off of them when she was younger. I did it a lot, and it scared the shit out of me every time. It was high, really high, and I wasn’t about to let her do it alone.
I swim faster, pushing myself to get up next to her, and within a few strokes I succeed. We both reach the rock ledge at the same time, and she looks at me once she wipes her eyes. I smile at her and I swear I see the slightest twitch in those perfect lips of hers, but I can’t be sure. She struggles to pull herself up onto the rock, slipping every time and falling back into the water. My girl needs my help and I’m going to give it to her.
I quickly climb up onto the rock, staring down at her and offering my hands. “Come on, pretty girl. Let me help you up.”
“I don’t need your help.” She continues struggling, each attempt making her more exhausted. “There should be a freaking ladder here or something,” she scoffs under her breath and I have to resist the smile that’s tugging at my mouth.
“Do you want to jump off the cliffs or not?” She looks up at me and shrugs once. “Give me your hands. I promise I won’t bite.” I smirk at her and she catches it, rolling her eyes. “Unless you want me to.”
“Funny.” She grabs my one hand and I motion for her to grab my other. She does, but not before giving me an annoyed look, and I easily lift her out of the water and stand her up next to me. “Thank you.” Her hands leave mine instantly and she looks up into my eyes. And fuck, I want to kiss her, right here. And I would if I didn’t think she’d cut my nuts off if I tried.
“You’re welcome.” I place my hand on her lower back, moving her toward the rocks ahead. We have a ways to climb to get to the top and she will definitely be making that trek in front of me. “Go on. I’ll be right behind you.”
“Try not to stare at my ass too much.”
Damn. Is she flirting with me? I catch the smile she is trying to hide from me and I decide to give her one better. “Oh, I don’t need to stare, baby. I memorized every inch of your body the other night.”
She flicks her head back and spots my grin, her hands braced on the rocks above her. “Where’s my birthmark?” she asks, challenging me. There’s zero playfulness to her tone. She’s testing my knowledge of her body and by the look on her face right now, she thinks she’s got me beat. But I fucking own that body and know it better than she does.
“On the inside of your right thigh. It sort of looks like a peanut.”
She opens her mouth to speak but closes it before turning back around. “Lucky guess.”
I laugh and nudge her with a hand on her calf. She begins to move faster. “Luck has nothing to do with it. Fate, maybe. Putting us both in that bar the other night was more than some coincidence. But knowing that you like to watch me eat your pussy or that you have to be digging your nails into something when you’re coming has absolutely nothing to do with luck.” She glances over her shoulder at me with a staggered look. “I pay attention to every little thing about you.”
She doesn’t linger on my face, nor does she give me a response. But I think I may have impressed her. Maybe. Mia’s difficult to read lately. She’s definitely not sending me clear signals like she did the other night at the bar. She turns her attention back to the rocks above her and makes her way up the side of the cliff. I’m close behind her, keeping an eye on her footing in case she slips and I have to catch her.
We make it to the top and she moves to the edge, apprehensively glancing down. “Holy shit.” Her wide eyes blink rapidly and she turns them on me. “This is really high. It didn’t look that high from down there.”
I stand beside her, brushing my hand against hers. “It is high. I do this all the time and I still get nervous up here.” I run my finger down her arm, feeling her skin tingle against mine. She seems completely unaffected by it and keeps her focus on the water. How can she ignore that? How can she pretend her body doesn’t respond to my touch? “Want me to jump with you? It isn’t so scary if you do it with someone.” I try to grab her hand but she pulls it away from me.
“Jump, you pussies!” Tessa yells, standing on the pier and waving at us. Reed and Luke are watching in amusement and Mia laughs next to me. And it is fucking beautiful. I’d give anything to hear that laugh every day for the rest of my life.
“I love that sound,” I say, completely unashamed of my infatuation.
She looks at me with confusion. “What sound?”
“Your laugh. Your voice. Hell, all your sounds.” Her lips part slightly, and a shaky hand comes up and tucks some hair behind her ear. “I can’t get them out of my head.”
She purses her lips, dropping her gaze to the water. “Stop it, Ben.” Her voice is an intense plea, like she can’t possibly handle another word coming out of my mouth. Which is too fucking bad because I have a lot to say right now.