“It’s a half mile,” I said. “You’ll be just fine. Just, you know, try to stay on the board.”
“Hah!” Blake shoved me hard and grabbed her paddle. “I’ve never done this before, so if I drown, it’s on you.”
“Mouth-to-mouth. Thank God for CPR.” I gave her a serious nod. “Do what you have to do, just don’t get pissed if I have to save your life.”
“Enjoy!” The man handed me my paddle.
I pulled off my shoes, put them in the bag that the attendant had, which I’d made Lex swear to pick up later, and then hurried over to Blake. “Give me your heels.” I held open my hands.
“Yup.” I pulled them from her feet. “Lex is picking up our stuff later. Going barefoot will be easier. Besides, you’ll be too busy staying upright with your puffy life jacket.”
“Alright.” She wiggled her toes, crouched down on the dock and slid to the board on her knees.
“Balance is key,” I called.
“Oh man.” Blake huffed out a curse. “I’m going to ruin Gabi’s dress.”
“Hmm, Blake in a wet dress, me giving mouth-to-mouth—you sure this isn’t a dream?”
“Not funny, Ian!”
The attendant chuckled while I handed him the rest of my stuff and quickly got on my board. “Follow me, sweet cheeks.”
It was a struggle for her at first, but within a few minutes, because of the athlete she was . . . it was a race.
It was one of those unspoken races. The type that happens without anyone having to say anything.
I pulled ahead, and then Blake, and then me again.
“What do I get if I win?” I teased.
Blake barked out a laugh. “Please, when have you ever beaten me?”
“Sure, talk down to the hero, sweet cheeks. It won’t work! I’m still kicking your ass.”
Blake’s laughter was like a caress as she nearly rammed me with her board and then flew by.
“Shit,” I yelled, putting my back into it.
“Neck and neck,” Blake said when we were a few feet from shore.
“Winner takes all!” I shouted.
Blake was ahead by one inch.
So I did what any sane man would do.
I pushed her into the water.
It only came up to her waist, but it was enough to completely soak the dress.
“I can’t believe you did that!” She slapped the water.
“Rule number seven,” I called back once I reached the shore. “Never trust a man during competition.”
“Noted!” She flipped me off, then used the ladder on the dock, climbing up it. “You win.”
“That’s right . . . I win.” I turned, my mouth dropped open, and some foreign-sounding moan emerged from between my lips.
“What are you staring at?”
“Damn, you’re even more beautiful wet.”
“You’re such a guy.” She rolled her eyes and made her way toward me, her legs and feet dripping with water.
“Yes.” I couldn’t help it anymore; I tugged her against me and kissed her hard. “I am.”
She shivered in my arms; whether it was from the cold or the kiss I wasn’t sure, and I really didn’t care.
I didn’t stop.
“Rule number eight,” I whispered against her mouth. “If he goes in for the kiss, let him.”
“Mm’kay.” She kissed me back, wrapping her arms around me, her cold body rocking against my heat. She may have thought she was going to suck at sex, but I knew, right then, her body was very much aware of what needed to happen.
Her tongue flicked mine lightly as she rubbed herself against me.
It wasn’t that it had been too long without a girl.
It was that it’d been a lifetime without the right one.
We kissed for mere seconds, minutes, before she withdrew, not just physically but emotionally. And I knew I only had myself to blame, for blurring the lines so freaking well.
For making her believe it was all just a game, when it was so much more.
“So, almost done.” Blake nodded, then wiped her mouth with her hand. “How am I doing so far?”
My heart cracked a bit. “You’re doing fantastic.”
“Good.” She gave me a light shove. “Not only do you owe Gabs a dress, but I’m going to kick your ass for pushing me into the water. Who does that?”
“Conceited bastards who like to win?”
“Oh, so only Ians. Gotcha.”
I smirked and pulled out my keys. Once the SUV was unlocked, I grabbed a blanket from the backseat and handed it to her.
She stared at it. “Do I even want to know why you have a blanket in your car?”
I rolled my eyes. “Not for the reasons you’re assuming.”
“Oh, so you don’t screw girls in the backseat?”
“Can’t say that I have.” I wrapped her tightly in the blanket. “Then again, there’s always a first time for anything.”
“No,” she said quickly.
“Ah.” I stepped back. “Good, you’re listening to the rules.”
“Yeah,” she whispered. “Thanks for the help . . .”
“Anytime.” The date was ending. Why the hell was I allowing it? We drove in silence back to her house.
I turned off the car and stared at the porch light, willing the electricity to go out, or for her house to suddenly get burglarized so I’d have an excuse to go with her inside.