Into the Deep Page 29

Jake chuckled and turned me in his arms so he wasn’t blocking me from everyone. I said hi to Lukas and Mr. Caplin, and waited for Jake to introduce me to the older woman who I knew was his nana—he’d told me she was visiting. She was sitting on the arm of Mr. C.’s chair, her long, gray hair pulled back on each side with glittery slides. She wore a long gypsy skirt and a warm, knitted pink sweater.

“Charley, this is Nana. Nana, this is Charley.”

She raised her eyebrows at him. “How many girls you got, boy?”

I tensed against his side and Jake squeezed my arm. “Cut it, Nana.”

“No,” I pulled out from under his arm, crossing mine over my chest. “How many girls you got, Jake?” I tilted my head in question, half teasing, half concerned.

Mrs. C. rubbed my shoulder. “Jake’s nana is just teasing. Amanda Reyes dropped by this morning with a pumpkin pie and was a bit obvious about her crush on Jake. It was sweet. She blushed a lot. Poor thing. She must be the only one in town who doesn’t know my boy is head over heels for you.”

Although her comment made me melt into goo inside, I knew Jake’s mischievous nana was waiting for a reaction. She instantly reminded me of Lukas. Now I knew where he got his cheeky devilishness from. Projecting nonchalance, I nodded and turned back to the room. “Her pie any good?”

Jake’s nana chuckled, her eyes bright on me. “Good answer.”

“If you’re done causing trouble, Charley and I are going to hang out upstairs.”

“You’re not watching the game?” I didn’t want to interrupt him when it was obvious that’s what he’d been doing before my arrival.

“Not my team.” He shook his head, gently pushing me out of the sitting room.

“Keep your door open!” Mrs. C. shouted after us.

I climbed their wide staircase, feeling my remaining energy begin to dissipate under the weight of my food intake. “Are you saying if it had been your team, you wouldn’t have left to have alone time with me?”

“That’s not what I’m saying. There is such a thing as a record button, you know.”

“You’re not like other boys,” I mumbled and then face-planted on his bed. “I ate too much,” I said, my mouth pressed against his pillow. It sounded more like, “M mm mm mmuh.”

I heard his deep chuckle behind me and then the bed depressed as he sat on it. “Let’s get your coat off before you pass out.”

Reluctantly, I sat up and let Jake unwind my scarf and slip off my coat. The whole time I stared at his mouth, my eyes lidded and heavy with food exhaustion. He brushed his mouth over mine and settled us back on the bed so I was lying on my side, my back to his chest, his legs intertwined with mine. Snuggling me closer, Jake wrapped his arm around my waist and clutched my hand. “I missed you today,” he whispered against my shoulder.

I smiled sleepily. “I love you.”

I was out before I even realized I’d said it out loud.

My eyes opened to the dark. Where was I? What had happened? I shot up into a sitting position, willing my eyes to adjust to the light, and then swallowed a shriek at the feel of a warm hand on my lower back.

“Baby, it’s me,” Jake whispered. “You fell asleep.”

It came to me that I was in Jake’s bedroom. I relaxed back against the pillow as his face formed in the dark from the crack of light streaming in from the window above his bed. He put his arm around me and drew me into him.

“What happened?” I whispered against his mouth.

“Mom called your mom to let your parents know you fell asleep here.”

“And they just let you stay with me?” I asked incredulously, keeping my voice low.

Jake laughed softly. “Yeah, right. I’m supposed to be on the couch. I came back up after everyone went to bed.”

I dropped my head, nuzzling my face against his throat. A few weeks ago, I’d gone on a shopping trip with Mom to Chicago and on impulse bought Jake cologne that made my mouth water. He’d worn it every day since and every day since, I found an excuse to bury my head against his neck and inhale him.

Jake held me tighter and I felt him grow hard against my upper thigh. My breath caught and I moved my leg over his hip. He rocked gently against me, shooting delicious tingles through me. I lifted my head and met his eyes two seconds before I kissed him. The kiss turned deep and hot fast, and Jake rolled me beneath him, my inner thighs clutching his hips as he tortured me by rubbing his denim-clad erection against the denim seam between my legs.

Breathing shallow, Jake broke the kiss and cradled my head in his hands as if I was a piece of something incredibly fragile. The light moved over his face and I caught my breath at the way he was looking at me. “What my mom said earlier … about me being head over heels for you …”


“I love you too, Charley. I’ve been in love with you since our first date, and every day since I’ve fallen deeper and deeper for you.”

For a moment I was so busy floating on a cloud of pure euphoria that it took me a minute to realize he’d said “I love you too.” I gasped, remembering my mumble before I fell asleep. “I said it out loud, didn’t I?”

He nodded. “It would be nice if you said it again, though.”

Even though I was lying down, I felt a little dizzy with adrenaline as I gazed up into Jake’s soft, warm eyes. His confession that he loved me like I loved him made me feel right in a way I didn’t know how to describe. I was only sixteen, so I hadn’t been looking for it, but now that I had it, I realized it was something I guessed we all looked for our whole lives. We all are looking for a place in life, somewhere we fit. It’s not a place that changes who we are or what we do—perhaps it shapes us, makes us better, makes us more—but mostly it shelters us with a sense of peace, a sense that whatever we do, whoever we are, we’re not alone in it.

I was lucky enough to find that place when I was sixteen years old. It was carved deep in Jake. And that scared the hell out of me.

“I’m scared, Jake,” I whispered honestly. “We’re so young. There are a lot of years ahead of us to lose this.”

“Don’t think like that,” he replied, his tone hard and implacable. “We’re never going to lose this, Charley. I promise. Now tell me you love me.”

Prev Next