Into the Deep Page 74

Shoving the ridiculous notion aside, I shrugged. “I don’t like you holding my nape like that.” I smirked at him, attempting to turn it into a joke. “It’s so alpha male.”

However, Jake didn’t smile. He studied me, growing somewhat grim. “Char—”

The kitchen door swung open, cutting him off. Claudia walked in, chattering to Beck over her shoulder. Beck’s gaze moved to us, drawing Claudia’s attention.

For a moment she just blinked at us and then a sly grin spread across her mouth. “Thanks for the lack of sleep, guys.”

I blushed, groaning into my hand as Jake laughed softly and wrapped an arm around my waist. He gently moved my body where he wanted it to be so I was tucked with my back against his chest, his chin resting on my shoulder.

Claudia shook her head, still smiling. “Look at them, sickeningly cute already.”

I curled a hand around the thigh of Jake’s bent leg, getting comfortable. “For someone who didn’t get much sleep last night, you seem awful cheery.”

She gave Beck a long look and he nodded at her. With a deep breath she turned to me, leaning against the kitchen counter. “I told Beck everything my mom told me about my real dad.”

After the incident with the groupie girl at Milk that first night back, Claudia had cooled off toward Beck, not confiding in him, hanging out with him less. It drove him nuts and he wore her down until she started letting him in again. I didn’t know which one of them I wanted to shake the sense into. All I did know was that I didn’t like the idea of my friend letting a guy—no matter how kind he could be—continually walk all over her feelings. Claudia was a little defensive on the whole subject, so I’d decided to leave her to it and just be there for her when their relationship finally cracked.

Jake stiffened behind me and it suddenly occurred to me he didn’t know anything about Claudia’s family situation. It must’ve struck Claudia too because she informed him far more carelessly than she felt. “Oh, at Christmas my dad dropped the bombshell that he’s not my real dad. Turns out my real dad is this retired artist, Dustin Tweedie. He lives in Barcelona.”

“Shit,” Jake muttered. “Merry f**king Christmas.”

“Exactly,” Claudia replied dryly. “Anyway, I told Beck and he helped me come to a decision. So I called my mom.”

I raised an eyebrow, not knowing where she might be going with this. “Okay?”

She smiled but the smile was shaky, nervous, but excited too. “She’s going to pay for me, you, Beck, and Jake to stay in Barcelona for spring break … so I can meet my real father.”

My mouth dropped open at the news. Jake gave me a reassuring squeeze when he felt my body grow tense against him. “Are you sure that’s what you want?”

Claudia nodded jerkily. “I need to do it. Otherwise it’s just going to eat at me. And I’d invite everyone, but I don’t want everyone there. It’s too personal. I just need you guys with me. If you’re willing to come along with me, that is.”

“Of course.” I nodded

“I’m happy to come too,” Jake answered softly as my eyes sought out Beck’s. Not sure this was a good idea at all, I kind of blamed him for encouraging it.

I won’t let anything happen to her, he promised me silently.

I narrowed my eyes. That makes two of us.

“Well,” Claudia heaved a sigh, “that’s good news. And it’ll be fun too. I mean, Barcelona,” she smiled, trying to cut the tension. “It’s still a few months away. Something to look forward to. Your parents will be fine with it, right?”

At the mention of my parents, I tensed again. “Uh … yeah.”

Understanding my sudden discomfort, Claudia’s eyes widened. “Oh, you haven’t told your mom and dad about Jake. That should be fun,” she grimaced.

Jake stilled behind me.

“Fuck,” I murmured.

Jake had asked me a few times in the last month about my family and their reaction to us being back together. I’d been deliberately vague about the whole thing because … well … I hadn’t told them. They knew something was up because I’d been somewhat cagey in our conversations, but I just hadn’t been able to bring myself to discuss Jake with them.

The truth was I didn’t know how to discuss it with them, to make them understand, when I was still trying to work out the whole thing for myself.

By the tightening of Jake’s body against mine, I could tell he wasn’t happy about the news. He’d told his family. Apparently they were delighted for him, for us.


“Anyway,” Claudia gave me an apologetic smile before continuing on, “Beck and I were just dropping by to grab my purse before we head to the movies.”

“Movies?” I jumped on the idea, suddenly not wanting to be alone with Jake because I knew he was like a dog with a bone and would interrogate me about my family and then ask me about the whole “nape” thing again until I told him the truth.

Claud frowned. “You want to come?”

“Sure.” I twisted around to smile at Jake. “Movies?”

He studied me carefully, and I knew he didn’t like whatever he saw behind my eyes. But he let it go and nodded slowly.

I crawled out of his lap, ignoring the strain between us. Pulling playfully on his hand, I tugged him up off the seat. We filed out of the kitchen after Beck and Claudia, grabbing our coats as we went. Claudia and Beck stepped out into the building hallway and I was just about to follow when Jake’s hand appeared above my head on the door and he slammed it closed.

Whirling around in surprise, I stared up at him as he pressed his body into mine. “What are you doing?”

There was a wary aspect in his eyes as he replied, “I don’t really feel like a movie right now.”


“I have something far more active in mind.”

Relieved that he didn’t want to talk and also already turned on, I gave him a cocky once-over. “Do you think I’ll find it satisfactorily entertaining?”

“I’m thinking mind-blowing.”

“Mind-blowing?” I arched an eyebrow. “You’ll have to work really hard for mind-blowing.”

He smirked at me, his eyes lidded with desire. “I think I’m up for the challenge.”

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