Falling into Us Read online

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I frowned at him. “You’re my brother. I love you. Of course I’m gonna worry about you. I can’t help it. ”

  He shook his head at me. “You don’t need the weight of your messed-up brother on your shoulders, Beck. ” He put his hand on my shoulder and wiggled it. “I’m fine, okay? I’m in a good place. I’m working, I’m sober, I’ve even got a girlfriend. She’s good for me, like Jason is for you. Kate doesn’t let me smoke anything but cigarettes, so that’s good motivation. She holds out on me if she finds out I’ve gotten high. ”

  “Holds out on you?” I wrinkled my nose in confusion.

  Ben quirked an eyebrow at me. “You know—she won’t put out. ”

  I squealed in mortification and buried my face in my quilt. “Eeew, Ben! I didn’t need to know that. ”

  He laughed at me and smacked my shoulder before standing up. “Hey, it works, doesn’t it?”

  “I guess so. I just didn’t need need to know. ”

  Ben left then, and I turned my attention to my AP bio homework. Jason was picking me up at seven-thirty, so I had to be done by then, which only left me three hours to finish four hours’ worth of homework.

  EIGHT: The First Night of Forever

  Jason

  Two days later

  I fingered the keycard in my pocket as I sat in my truck, waiting for Becca. We’d planned this out, and now we were going through with it. My nerves were jangling, and I wondered if Becca felt the same way. I was sure she did. I had a CD player plugged into the lighter outlet and the tape deck, an old-school arrangement that I only used when I was in the mood for something specific. Today it was Johnny Cash, and currently playing was “God Is Gonna Cut You Down,” which seemed unfortunately ironic given the circumstances, but it was still a kick-ass song.

  Becca came out just as the song was ending, and I clicked the radio off. She hopped into the cab and closed the door behind her, letting in a cold blast of frozen air. It was a bitterly cold day, the sky clear blue, the sun distant and watery, the air so still and so cold each breath hurt. She smiled at me, and I was struck by how beautiful she was. Her hair was loose, a white knit cap pulled low on her head, a stark contrast to her tan skin and blue-black hair. She had on a black pea coat that came to mid-thigh, and a pair of tight gray yoga pants.

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  “Ready?” I asked.

  She gave me a small nod and reached for my hand. I twined our fingers together, hers icy from the walk from house to vehicle. “Yeah, let’s go. ”

  “Where’d you tell your dad we were going?”

  “Great Lakes Crossing. ”

  “So should we go there first?”

  She nodded. “Yeah. I do actually have a few things I want to get. ” She gave me a cryptic smile.

  When we got the mall, we strolled around for a while, chatting and browsing, but then we passed a store and Becca split away from me, telling me to meet her at the food court in half an hour. I knew she was up to something, but I went along with it, spending most of the time in the athletics store. I ended up with a new pair of cross trainers for the spring, and was waiting by Aunt Annie’s with five minutes to spare. She showed up with a wide grin on her face but no shopping bag.

  “Didn’t get anything?” I asked.

  She shrugged. “No, I did. ”

  I frowned. “What was it, then?”

  She wrapped her arm around my waist, fitting herself against me. “You’ll see. You’ll like it…I hope. ” When my confused look didn’t go away, she just smirked at me. “Here’s a hint: I’m wearing it. ”

  I started to get an inkling then. I gulped a little, wondering how I could ever have mistaken Becca for shy.

  “What are you grinning about?” she asked as we drove to the hotel where I’d rented a room.

  “Just that I used to think you were shy. ”

  She laughed. “I am shy, just not with you. ”

  “So…what color?”

  She ducked her head, and her cheeks darkened a little. “Not telling. You’ll have to find out. ”

  We reached the hotel after a short drive, but we sat in the car in tense silence before getting out.

  Becca wasn’t looking at me, scratching at her knee intently.

  “I don’t want you to think…” I sighed and started over. “I mean, we don’t have to do this now. We can go back to the mall, or a movie. Or just home. ”

  She shook her head but still didn’t meet my eyes. “No, I want to. I’m just…nervous. ”

  I expelled a breath of relief. “Me, too, Beck. Me, too. ”

  “Do you think that means we’re not ready?” she asked, finally lifting her dark eyes to mine.

  I shook my head. “I think we’d be nervous no matter how long we waited. I think it’d be weird if we weren’t nervous. ”

  She nodded. “Let’s go in. We’ll just…take it one step at a time. ”

  I got out and circled around to open her door while she was still unbuckling. She took my hand, cold fingers slipping neatly into my palm. Her teeth were white as she smiled at me, a private, brilliant, beautiful smile just for me. The concierge, a dour older man, gave us a hard, disapproving stare as we strolled past him to the elevators. We stood outside room 425, the keycard held in my suddenly sweating and slightly shaking hand, my eyes on hers, asking her silently if she still wanted this. She leaned into me, her arm going around my waist, low, her hand on my hipbone.

  I slid the card into the lock and pulled it out, shoving the door open when the green light flashed. The room was dark, shadowed by the drawn curtains, a gleaming crack of light showing. I fumbled in the darkness, finding a switch and illuminating the room. A single bed, king-sized and enormous, took up most of the room; I’d splurged on a fairly nice hotel and an upgraded room.

  I turned around from switching on the light to find Becca peeling her coat off, revealing a tight white V-neck T-shirt that clung to her curves, the “V” dipping low enough to show me a mouthwatering glimpse of her cle**age. Yoga pants, tight T-shirt? Oh, god. She noticed my gaze raking over her body and gave me a surprisingly shy smile, then turned around, posing for me. She clenched her gluteus muscles, the yoga pants clinging like a second skin to her generous hips and ass, and all I wanted to do was run my hands over her. I stifled the urge for about six seconds before remembering why we were there, alone in a hotel room on a Saturday evening.

  I crossed the space between us to stand a few inches away from Becca. She started to turn around, but I stopped her with gentle hands on her shoulders. She turned her head to watch me, her chin on her shoulder. I slid my palms down her sides, feeling her breath catch as I carved my hands along the bell-curve of her hips, then slid them around to cup her backside. She released her breath, her eyes sliding shut briefly.

  “I love your ass. Especially in yoga pants,” I murmured.

  Her brown-black eyes flicked up to mine. “I know. That’s why I wore these. I had to kind of sneak past my father before he saw how tight they are. ”

  My hands explored the taut, supple curves of her ass, down her thighs, up her hips. I grew a little daring and slid my middle finger up the crease where the stretchy fabric clung between her cheeks. She gasped when I did that, so I did it again, letting my finger drive a little deeper, until she pulled away with a breathy laugh.

  She stepped away from me and turned around, sliding her knit cap off her head and shaking her curls. “Sit down on the bed, Jason. ” Her voice held an odd note of command, and I couldn’t help but obey.

  “Don’t interrupt, and don’t laugh,” she said. “I want to do this for you, but I know I’m going to feel silly. ”

  “Do what?” I kicked off my ADIDAS cross trainers, and then peeled away my socks.

  She tilted her head back, eyes closing, hands pushing up through her springy mass of hair. “This. ” She let her hair fall and slid her hands down her waist, much as I’d done, and then crossed her hands i