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Authors: Stephanie Weiford

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BOOK: Runaway
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Chapter Ten

I followed him across the circus’s encampment. No one seemed to be out, or I should note no one seemed to be
awake
. There was a died down bon fire that had several indistinguishable bodies slumbering beside it that we passed. Luke wasn’t much more than that as I crept close behind. He was just a silhouette in front of me. He was tall, dark, and mysterious in the moon light. I wanted to reach out and touch him, forget myself for a while in the shadows he offered. Instead I was trying to not trip over my own feet and avoid the sticky landmines of soda and cotton candy left behind on the ground.

“In here,” he whispered and ducked inside a tent. I pulled back the flap and followed him.

It was the darkest place I had ever been. The moonlight wasn’t enough to penetrate the heavy canvas of the tent. I held my hand out in front of my face but couldn’t even make out the lines of my fingers. The air was crispy and chilly, and I filled my lungs to bursting with it. I don’t know why the switch was flipped, but it had. Maybe I’m going insane and this was my first descent into madness.

At that thought I actually burst out laughing. It sounded like crackling static and I loved the way it filled the space around me. Riding the wave of the sudden good feelings I threw my head back and spun slowly, laughing in the dark. A spot light flared to life and trapped me inside. I stopped my crazed spin and blinked into the blinding light beam. I glanced down to clear the spots in my eyes and realized where Luke had taken me.

I was standing center stage in the same spot light he had used the night we met. I felt movement above my head and jumped to the side. Luke had silently lowered himself in the large metal hoop used during the finale. His legs were folded over the top so that he hung upside down. His shirt was falling forward, reminding me just how powerful and hard his body was. I didn’t feel like laughing manically anymore. 

“Show off,” I teased lightly. He grinned and let go of his hold on the hoop and dropped straight down. It wasn’t a long drop; he landed on both of his outstretched arms and then walked over to me on his hands. His grin was infectious, even upside down. He bent his elbows and with what seemed like no effort, launched himself upright again.

“Encore! Encore!” I clapped and he took a deep bow in my direction.

“I can do a lot more,” he winked and I felt my face flush. “Sorry. My performer alter ego is a cocky bastard,” he rubbed one hand though his hair bashfully.

“I’d be a cocky bastard too if I could do that,” I smiled and walked over to the hoop. I could see it was attached to a chain that was hidden behind a thick ribbon like material. The hoop itself felt cold to the touch. I pushed it like a swing but it didn’t budge much.

“You could,” he came up behind me, so close I could feel him without actually touching.

“You’re crazy, I bet it took you years to learn this stuff,” I said without turning around.

“I had a lifetime to prefect it, but it’s more about the passion then it is the polish. Anyone can learn, but only a passionate person can develop talent.” He reached out an arm over my shoulder and stopped the swing of the hoop. He was just as hard as the steel in his grasp.

“Are you a passionate person Luke?” I snapped my mouth shut.
What is wrong with me?!

“Let me show you,” he put his other hand on my shoulder and turned me slowly to face him. My chest was falling and rising heavily, and my head was buzzing. He traced down the outside of my arms slowly, leaving a trail of goosebumps behind. His gaze was unnerving in that they never waived from my face, his lips quirked on one side in the smallest slip of a grin.  He reached the ends of my finger tips and slipped his hands off mine, landing them to rest low on my hips. It was an automatic reaction, I leaned forward wanting to touch his mouth to mine.

However, he had other ideas. I was expecting a repeat of the kiss that had played out a million times in my head; instead he swept me off my feet. Literally. 

“Hey!” I gasped as he sat me down on the hoop. It was large enough that I didn’t need to duck to fit. I grasped the sides and held on tightly. He placed his hands over mine and walked me backwards like a child on a playground swing. I was nearly level above his head but he just held me still there and we grinned at each other.

“Ready?” he asked, but before I could respond he let go and I swung out wildly. The cold air rushed around me, lifting my spirits higher than they had been in years. A childish squeal escaped past my lips and the hoop started its backward swing towards him.

After another moment or two the hoop lost its momentum and I kicked out a leg to turn around to face Luke.

“I like the way you look right now,” he was grinning widely.

“Like what?” I asked breathless.             

“Smiling, face flushed, your beautiful Daphne,” he stepped forward and stopped the swing with both of his arms and leaned his face towards mine.

“Luke,” I said softly. I don’t know what I want from him. On one hand I really,
really
wanted to see where all that kissing from before would have went, and I was enjoying not hating him for being a perverted, cheater, but should I?

“Do you remember when we last kissed?” his breath was so warm against my ear where he whispered to me.

“Yes,” I barely managed to push the word out.

“It was like lightening, kissing you. Like every nerve in me was set ablaze and the only anchor I had in the storm was you.” I knew exactly what he meant. I had felt it to, like what we had shared was something so much more than a kiss. It was like when you first let someone new see you totally naked, it felt special and vulnerable.  It was the kind of moment that once it happened there was no taking it back, just like seeing someone naked; you can’t ever un-see it.

That first kiss with Luke had scared me shitless. It was also the reason I had spent the rest of my weekend in dirty clothes, eating take out and left overs, and watching sappy television. That one kiss had been enough to send me over the edge when I thought he had taken advantage of me and was really together with Priscilla.

“You alright?” he asked, snapping me out of my thoughts.

“Yeah, sorry. It’s all just… moving so fast,” I replied sadly. He paused for a moment and pulled away just enough to stare towards the ceiling.

“I’m not a normal guy Daphne,” I tore my eyes away from my feet and looked up into his face. He was still smiling, but he looked, sad. “I grew up in the circus. Other than a few years for college, I’ve never stayed long in one place. I haven’t lived my life in terms of months or years. My life has been measured by much smaller increments, show time… It means… I’m sorry. I don’t mean to rush you. I’m just vividly aware of what little time I have with you, until the show goes on.”

“Luke… I. I don’t know what to say,” it felt like my heart was breaking, because I knew he was right. His show would move on at the end of the week, and he would be gone from my life. One week, that was all the time we would have to know each other.

“It’s alright. Let’s see what I can do to put that smile back on your face,” his voice brightened, but his eyes were still troubled. I felt the feeling mirrored in my own. He ran off and I was left to kick my feet in the swing.

One week
… that wasn’t enough time for anything.

“Ladies and Gentleman!” Luke’s voice boomed all around me in the dark. I laughed shakily; I hadn’t been expecting the sudden noise and nearly slipped from my seat on the swing.

“Be prepared to witness the amazing contortions, of the fly high princess, the dazzling Daphne Tyler!” As soon as his voice ended, the hoop started to rise and the spot light followed me. I didn’t have a fear of heights, but it was starting to get uncomfortable. I gripped the hoop tightly and willed my butt not to slip.

The hoop came to a slow stop, I wasn’t nearly as high up as the finale performance had been, but I was still acutely aware that there was no net and a rather hard floor beneath me. All around me ribbons started to unravel themselves and fall, about a half dozen or so in all white. Up close I could see the slight shimmer in the fabric, the way it moved in the spot light. Luke might live on show time, but at least his world was magical.

The ribbon directly in front of me swayed more than the others as Luke seemed to effortlessly glide down. He had on leg wrapped up in the fabric and chain and the other gripped tightly above his head. He had removed his shirt and I was treated to a close range view of just how tight and strong his muscles were.

Forgetting my nerves at the height, I reached out one hand to touch him. I could feel the power of him thundering though his body. The strength it took for him to appear so at ease hanging in the air was there just below the surface. I slowly slid my hand around the expanse of his chest, and across the ridges of his abs. He just hung there, letting me touch whatever I wanted. I looked up into his face, his eyes had changed; they weren’t playful or sad anymore. It was like trying to look at a reflection in a smoke engulfed mirror.

“Do you trust me?” his voice was the same smoke as his eyes.
Did I trust him?
No. But I wanted too. I wanted to put my blind trust in him like I wanted oxygen to breath.
One week…
that was just enough time to give myself to him, and hurt like hell when it was over. I would probably need a lot more than Chinese food to make it through next time he hurt me, but the need to just
feel
something for someone again, for Luke…

“Yes.”

Chapter Eleven

“Come here,” Luke reached out to me with his free hand.

“Look, I know I said I would trust you, but I’m not a monkey man like you. I don’t go swinging around in the air like all that,” I laughed, but part of my mind was liking the idea of letting him take hold of me.

“Trust me, I’m a professional,” he smiled back.

“Do you use that line on all the small town girls you meet?” This time he laughed with me.

“I
am
a professional after all,” he winked and beckoned me forward again.
Oh what the hell
, I thought. I reached out and he swung slightly forward and wrapped his free arm around me. My butt lifted from the hoop and I felt panic rush through my blood. I clutched at Luke and wrapped my arms around his neck and tried to do the same with my legs. He chuckled in my ear.

“I’ve got you,” he said quietly. I could feel all of my weight hanging there with him, dependent on him to keep me from falling to my certain death.

“You better be as good as you look,” I scoffed, gaining me another chuckle that brushed through my hair.

He tighten his hold on me and, against my protesting, adjusted me so that I was more at his side then clutched to his front. I shut my eyes, if I was going to die; I didn’t want to see it coming. He started to move and I could feel the cold air over my skin, making it feel clammy.

Luke didn’t feel chilled at all, I couldn’t feel any goosebumps where we touched, but I could still feel the power of him. It was like his willpower was kicked up into overdrive and was acting like a heater, he felt firm, and it gave my stomach a small leap of confidence. Trusting him to have control, I opened my eyes again. 

“Wow,” I breathed. He had moved so that all the other ribbons and the hoop were behind us. It was like they had disappeared and we were hanging there, together, in the middle of nothing. The space lit by the spot light was our entire world. There was only us. It was the most peaceful and magically freeing experience I had ever had.

“It’s something isn’t it? It’s just an illusion, there is so much more that occupies this place, but it’s all in shadows.” His voice was soft, like the hushed tones one uses inside a church. This circus tent, this place hanging in the void, it must be like his church.

“Luke,” his name was past my lips before my mind knew what it was doing. He squeezed me just a little tighter and then started the descent downwards. It was slow and I could feel my heart hammering away. It wasn’t a straight line down, the ribbon moved and so we rocked slightly back and forth.

It took an eternity but finally I felt the ground beneath my feet again. A wave of dizziness washed over me, like seasickness. I stumbled away from him but he was there and had a hand on my arm to keep me from tumbling over. Another step or two and I would have slipped off the end of the stage. I curled myself into him and waited for the swishing in my head to stop.

“I’m alright now,” I offered and looked up into his face.

“It takes some getting used to,” he wasn’t smiling. He looked strained like he was trying to contain himself. I shifted my weight and felt the reason why brush against my thigh. The sensation of feeling Luke wanting me, even if was just a brief glance, was enough to cause my stomach to go hollow.

I let this man haul me into the sky, trusted him enough to take a leap of faith into his arms, but the idea of allowing myself to go down
that
path with him set my skin on fire. I felt the nervous energy branch out like a spider web across my body with the epicenter being much lower. I wanted it but the hell if I wasn’t a little afraid of it!

“Daphne, don’t rush into anything. I don’t want you to regret me in the morning,” he said softly. He tried to smile innocently, but his eyes just made it look sad. It melted me on the inside. I had led him on to this point, and I did want Luke. I wanted him more than I had wanted most things. What was still holding me back?
One week…
echoed in my head like a warning bell.

“Damn it,” I cursed and it was louder than I had meant for it sound.

“Really, don’t,” he started to take a polite step away from me and I snapped. I reached out and took a hold of his neck with both of my hands and pressed my lips to his down turned face.

It was like lightening, kissing you.
He was right. My skin flushed with a more powerful sensation then scared nerves and a hollow stomach had. It was magnetism, like the moment we had touched our lips together, a natural force had taken charge and demanded we connect. I was blindly tracing the slops and curves of his back. His hands landed on my waist and drew me into him, forcing me to feel the shape of him there.

“Daphne,” he breathed heavily in my ear. We stood a moment panting but not parting, not letting go. “I won’t stop again,” his forehead rested on mine and our eyes connected.

When I was hopeless teenager, I had played truth or dare. It was like a rite of passage during a young naïve period in life. I was no braver at that age than I was as an adult. I always choose truth because it was easier to admit I had a stupid crush or other embarrassing factoid, then run the risk of what could happen if I chose dare. Besides, you could always lie with truth, and for the most part no one would be the wiser. But with dare, either you stood up and did the task or retreat and risk being ridiculed as a coward by your friends, peers, and probably the guy you just admitted a crush for.

There was no hiding with dare, you can’t lie or hide. That’s what Luke was saying to me now, he was daring me, last chance to back out gracefully, before he saw what a coward I really was… or maybe not.

I very slowly, and very firmly, pressed my lips to his. I wanted to force my will into him though our lips. I wanted him to know this was intentional, that I would meet his dare and serve him one of my own. I wanted to feel brave and Luke made me want to be bold for him. However, he wasn’t going to be so easy to bend to me.

He was ferrous and unforgiving in the way he took over control. My fingers were sprayed across his bare chest, his heat was mixing with mine and I started to feel like my clothes were suffocating me. He hooked his hands just below the curve of my ass and lifted me from my feet easily. My legs knew what he wanted and responded, I wrapped them around his waist.

He lowed us both to the stage floor. I had a sudden tingling across my backside as my heated body came in contact with the chilly floor. His hands started their travel back upwards as they slipped under the edge of my shirt.

“Oh!” The exclamation came out in a wispy breath. Lightening; it continued to take me by surprise every time he did something new. He moved his mouth down my neck, just above the hem of my shirt and I wanted desperately to rip it away.

His fingers were just at the verge of slipping under the wire of my bra, when he slowed. He pulled his mouth away from my skin and watched me as I squirmed beneath him. He ran the tip of one finger just barely between the wire and my breast. First the right, and then the left, and back again, making my nipples peak hard.

“Calling my dare?” I managed to rasp. He cocked an eyebrow at me.

“Huh?” The sound came from the back of his throat, like only the most basic of animal sounds was available to him now.

“Luke…” His name was the key and his playing stopped he took hold of my right breast and slid his left behind me. I arched my back to give him the space he needed to deftly unhook my bra. It popped free beneath my top, which he wasted no time in slipping over my head.

He paused for a long moment, looking over me, and I felt my heart freeze.
What if he doesn’t like this as much as I am?
What if this ends up just like my ex?

Fear was making me pause…

my heart hammered wildly…

I was going to make Luke stop…

this had to stop!

He bent his face down and placed both of his hands on either side of my face. His eyes locked onto mine, captivating me. The weight of him pressed against me. Only our jeans kept us from truly coming together. I felt the glue between my lips loosen; I was going to tell him that I couldn’t do this with him…

But his eyes were open to me; I could see him; see what it was he was trying to tell me silently. This wasn’t just another fling with a random girl, from a random town for him. His eyes sparkled and if I prodded I knew I could find all his secrets. My reservations were not just my own. He was showing me he felt it too; that this wasn’t going to be something we could walk away from afterwards. We were in trouble, and there was no stopping it now.

I kissed him softly on his mouth, I let it linger there. I wanted him to know I saw what he was offering me, and that I accepted our fate here. I would take what he was offering me now, and I would pick up the pieces of whatever remained of myself at the end…

“One week,” I whispered.

“One week,” he replied. I slid my hands down his sides and repeated the teasing gesture he had just performed on me. His lips quirked in that half smile I was starting to fall for. Continuing the path I was tracing, I came to the front, and flipped the button on his jeans.

It was a blur of motion after that. I let the lightening consume me and before I knew it we were fully exposed, waiting for the other to make the finial move that would end this foreplay and make this real. I was still pinned below him, head back as his traced lazy patterns across my chest with his tongue. I was ready for him, and I was starting to feel desperate with need, which both drove me crazy and continued to rev me up even more.

Time slowed. I felt my heart rise and fall with a deep emotion I hadn’t felt before. It was like when we had hung from the ribbon together, it was peaceful. What was in the spot light was our entire world. There was only us, surrounded by the darkness. My eyes drifted shut and for a moment I imagined the audience was full of people. All watching us, naked and contorted on the stage before them.

The moment snapped and my eyes fluttered opened in surprise as he took me. I had felt him there, just at the opening, and then a second later Luke was a part of me. I had already accepted him, accepted this, even though I had doubted. There was no doubt now. Luke filled me and I felt stretched. I must have winched because he slowed himself, and paused nearly outside of me again.

Questioning me? Teasing me? It didn’t matter; I arched my back and wrapped one leg behind him, coxing him forward. I closed my eyes and let him take me again.

BOOK: Runaway
13.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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