“Stop what?” I bridge the gap between us and grab her hips with such blunt force my fingertips ache. I know she likes it like that so I don’t let her stunned look slow me down. She gasps softly as I turn her toward me. Her body is tense, fearful even, but she doesn’t try and get out of my grasp. I hold her gaze, daring her to look away from me as I continue. “Stop telling you that I want you? Stop telling you that I’ve been going mad since you walked out of my bedroom?” I reach up and brush my thumb across her bottom lip, wanting more than anything for her to pull me into her mouth like she did the other night. I need some part of me inside her. She allows me to touch her without giving me an inch. I move closer, pulling our bodies together so that they’re perfectly aligned. “Stop telling you that you’re so incredibly beautiful, I’m having trouble remembering my own name when you’re around me?”
She shoves against my chest, hard, causing me to stumble back a bit. “Stop it! You can’t say things like that, Ben. Do you know what that does to me?”
“I know what being around you does to me.” I grab her hand and place it against my chest, my other hand reclaiming its spot on her hip. Her eyes dart from my face to where her hand is and I see her eyes react to the effect she has on me. “Do you feel that? That’s what you do to me. Every fucking time I’m near you.” I can hear her heavy breathing while her eyes stay glued to her hand. I don’t say anything else. I just let her feel it. You own this part of me. Take it. The magnitude behind that admission doesn’t faze me. I don’t care how crazy it seems to be this obsessed with someone after one night together. I’ve never felt like this.
She seems hesitant but she stays right there with me, her breathing filling my ears and her fingers moving against my skin. Tentatively. Just the lightest brush of her fingertips but I swear to Christ she leaves burn marks on my chest. Scorching me. Branding me with her imprint. And then I see it, the very moment a memory of our past washes over her. Breaking our connection. She blinks several times, her face falling before yanking her hand away from me as if I’m the one burning her. She looks quickly from my worried face to the water and without a second glance at me, she jumps.
“Mia!” I move to the edge and see her disappear and I don’t waste any time before I jump in after her. My body hits the water hard, my back stinging at the awkward angle I land in. But I wasn’t concerned about form when I jumped. As I come up to the surface, I see Mia wincing in pain as she treads water. I swim over to her and hear her gentle whines.
“Where are you hurt? Let me see.” I wrap my arm around her waist to help keep her head above water. We are chest to chest and I expect her to push me away but she doesn’t. She keeps her eyes down, looking at the way our bodies come together. Her hands are gripping my arms and she slides them higher, grazing my shoulders until settling around my neck. She closes her eyes as I hold her to me, the pain stricken expression vanishing and replaced with a look of contentment. She moans as I tighten my grip on her waist, bringing us closer. Fuck me. Yes, angel. Let your body feel it. A minute ago she jumped off a cliff to get the hell away from me and now she’s making those fucking noises that drive me insane. She whimpers, raking her teeth along her bottom lip. I press my lips to her ear and feel her shudder in my arms. “You’re killing me, baby. Do you have any idea how badly I want to take you right here?”
I shouldn’t have spoken. I should’ve just enjoyed the moment she was giving me and let her direct what was happening. Her eyes shoot open, tears filling them instantly but she doesn’t look sad. She looks enraged. And I don’t know if it’s because of how blunt I was with her just now or if she is remembering some asshole thing I did to her years ago. Hell, she could be angry at herself for letting her body take over and actually enjoying being in my company. But I don’t have time to ask before she pushes against me with the same hands that were just holding on to me like she needed my contact. I’m frozen in place as she begins frantically swimming toward the pier.
“Mia! Hold up a second.” I start swimming faster than I ever have, wanting, no needing to get to her before she gets to that pier. I want her alone, especially if she is upset. But she beats me to it and I get to the ladder as she places her feet on the wooden planks.
“Nice choke, Benjamin,” Luke jokes as I get up on the pier. “Were you trying to break your back?”
“Fuck off.” I move closer to Mia but Tessa once again puts her tiny body in between me and what I want. “Move or I’ll toss you into the water.”
She pokes my chest with her finger aggressively. “Once again, you’re upsetting my best friend.” She leans closer to me. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” she sharply whispers her question and I know it’s because she’s secretly pulling for me. My eyes register that no one’s heard her but me.
“I didn’t mean to.” I look down at her and then over her head. “Mia, come on. How long are you going to be pissed at me for shit I did when I was a kid? That’s not fair.”
Her head snaps in my direction and I want to jump right in the water myself with the look she is melting me with. “Not fair? You wanna know what’s not fair, Ben?” She steps behind Tessa, bringing us face to face. Mia towers over my sister as well so it’s as if Tessa isn’t even between us. “It wasn’t fair the last time I came here when you told me that I couldn’t try the rope swing because I would probably snap the branch it was tied to. It wasn’t fair the time before that when you begged me to keep my shirt on because I would blind you if you saw me in my bathing suit.” Her eyes well up and I want more than anything to shove Tessa off the pier and wrap my arms around Mia. “It wasn’t fair when you…” she bites her lip to stop the tremors and turns, her shoulders beginning to shake with her cries. Reed comes up and wraps his arm around her shoulder, doing the consoling that I should be doing.
“Baby, please don’t cry. I was the biggest asshole back then.” I step sideways to bypass Tessa, but she moves with me like a shadow. I meet Mia’s eyes as she finally turns to look at me. “I hate that I said those things to you. I fucking hate how much I’ve hurt you. I’m so sorry, baby.” I grab Tessa and shove her into Luke and she goes willingly with a slight grunt. “Please, just hear me out.”
Mia shakes her head as she moves behind Reed, allowing him to put himself between us. He blocks Mia entirely and the protective vibe he’s giving off blinds me with an overwhelming urge to knock his ass out. “I think you’ve said enough, Ben. Why don’t you just leave her alone.”
I step closer to him and he surprisingly doesn’t step back. “Back the fuck off before I beat the shit out of you.” I mean every word of my threat. He is out of his fucking mind if he thinks I’ll let him move in on my girl.
Luke grabs my shoulders and pulls me back. “Easy, bro. You need to calm the fuck down. Nobody needs to threaten anybody.”
“Jesus, Ben,” Tessa shrieks, wrapping her hand around my elbow. “Don’t threaten Reed. He didn’t do anything.”
“She’s mine, Reed,” I declare, loud enough so that there’s no disputing what I’ve just said. Loud enough so that everyone at Rocky Point is now aware who Mia belongs to. Everyone on the pier reacts to my words with the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen.