Out of This World

Hi my name is Rachel and I’m officially freaked out, thank you very much. I purposely drew a deep breath and didn’t focus on anything but the intangible. Axel, still missing. Kel and I, still standing here all alone. And, at least in my case, both of us frightened half to death.

Kel squeezed my fingers. “No worries, Rach. We’ll be okay.”

I was trying not to panic but not having much luck. “No worries,” I repeated like a mantra. “No worries…”

“This way,” Kellan said, pointing. Then he pulled off his t-shirt, and even though I’d already peeked, the sight of him left me utterly speechless.

“Um,” I said ever-so-intelligently, my tongue hanging out at the sight of all his well-toned flesh and hard sinew. “What are you doing?”

“Just as you suggested.” He ripped the hemline off with shocking ease, the muscles in his arms rippling, causing more drool. I swallowed hard and tried not to stare at his bared chest or abs, but as has already been established, I have no will power at all.

He tied a strip around a branch, then touched my jaw, oblivious to my lusting. “No worries, right?”

Let’s face it. The men in my life – both the bad boys I tended to collect, and also my brothers – had spent little time coddling me, much less soothing or reassuring me.

Having Kellan do all three felt both foreign, and utterly, shockingly…lovely…

Kel took a moment to look all around us, carefully, as if memorizing landmarks.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t tear my gaze off him. “Kel?”

“Yeah?”

“Why don’t you need your glasses?”

He went still, then lifted his head, those piercing baby blues meeting hers. “I don’t know.”

There was a moment of silence, which I characteristically broke first. “That’s a little freaky, don’t you think?”

He actually went to push his glasses further up his nose, and remembered they weren’t there. They sat in his pocket, unneeded. “A little, yeah.”

“Just so you know, the Twilight Zone theme song is running through my head.”

As long as it’s not the theme song from Psycho.” Taking charge and my hand at the same time, he pulled me onward.

I stared at his sleek, smooth back, damp from either the rain or sweat, it didn’t matter because both appealed. I was dizzy, wet, and confused.

And desperately hungry for cookies.

Kel stopped to tear off a second strip of his shirt and tie it around yet a different branch. “Come on.”

“Right.” This take charge Kellan was new. And incredibly appealing. “You think this is the right way?”

“Yep.”

Confident, too. Double whammy. We made more stops, tying a handful of strips to branches. Kel did the tying, muscles tight, brow furrowed. His jaw was scruffy, his hair its usual rioted mess. His eyes were fierce with concentration, and just looking into them gave me a shiver. The good kind of shiver, the kind that started at the toes, made pit-stops at every erogenous zone, and ended at the roots.

At one of the stops, he lifted his gaze to mine, caught me staring, and some of his intensity cleared but none of the heat.

And just like that, I knew.

I wanted to kiss him.

Shocked by the unexpected need, I shifted closer. Since he was so damn tall I had to tip my head back to see into face, which I did in time just to catch him taking a hard swallow.

“Rach,” he said, suddenly, endearingly, looking uncertain and off-balance again. “What are you-”

“Shh.” I wanted to just look at him forever, but that was weird. In any case, I’d definitely been staring for a beat too long now, and we were verging on awkward.

He swallowed again, and I slid my hands up his bare chest, giving myself another shiver because his skin was warm and tough, and I could feel his heart leap.

I could see it, too, but I didn’t want to accept that, not right now. Right now I wanted oblivion, I wanted comfort, and I wanted his kiss more than I wanted my next breath. “Kellan?”

He gave one unsure shake of his head and touched mine. “You’re hurt.”

“Not so much.” I lifted my hand to cover his on my jaw.

He pulled free and took a step back. “You’re off your axis then.”

But I’d seen it, the hint of something restless and hungry behind the mellowness.

He wanted me, too.

I closed the gap again, just one step, bringing us back within each other’s breathing space. His was such a nice space, I thought.

How was it I’d never seen that?

He had that stubborn lock of wet hair falling into his eyes, dripping onto his nose, and unable to help myself, I pushed it over his forehead, and then there I was, my fingers in his hair, wanting more, so much more.

And given the way his hands went to my hips and squeezed, he felt the same way.

Unbelievably, everything around us seemed to sort of fade away, and I found myself lost in something new his heated eyes.

“Rach. You’re sending off a weird vibe here, and-”

I nudged my body up against his, and in response he let out a rough, ragged breath.

Not so Zen-like now, was he?