Don’t forget all the prices of my Woodlands books will be going up to $4.99 on February 16 except for SnowKissed which will be priced at $2.99. In the future, all books will be priced at an introductory $3.99 with the price going up to $4.99 after the first month of release. This is designed to reward the early purchasers.
When Nick and I were ten and Nate was twelve, we went to the Shedd Aquarium for all school field trip. I had a crush on a boy named Lancelot. Everyone did but I think it was because his name looked like it belonged on a Valentine’s Day card. In the basement of the big aquarium there is a dark room devoted just to showing off jellyfish. Attached along one carpeted wall was a grouping of fake squishy jellyfish made of some kind of weird translucent polymer. You could stick your finger against the pliable rubber and bisect the jellyfish in half and when you released it, the half moon body would spring right back. Lancelot was standing next to me and I was transfixed as he stuck his finger inside the jellyfish repeatedly.
He whispered to me that this is what sticking his finger up a girl felt like. If Nate hadn’t been there hovering behind me, maybe all I would have done was blush or maybe I would have hit him. But before I had a chance to react, Nate had pulled Lancelot around and stuck a fist in Valentine’s Day’s face. Lancelot tried to punch back and the entire class was sent back to the bus for causing a ruckus.
Later that night Nate relayed the whole story to our families, much to my embarrassment. Dad ruffled Nate’s hair and Noah patted him on the back. But the rumor got out that Nate and Nick would beat up any guy who even looked cross eyed at me. It was Lancelot’s revenge and an effective one because until right now, I hadn’t ever been kissed. Not once. Not even a not-so-accidental bus of my lips against a Y chromosome during a birthday party game mostly because every co-ed party, birthday or not, has also included at least one—if not both—Jackson boys.
But as I lay there in my bed, my lower legs entangled with Nate’s and my hands trapped between our bodies, feeling his soft, gentle lips move across mine, I’m just so glad I’ve never kissed anyone before. The shivery sensation that is tingling me from the inside out is being generated by Nate and only him. This is the safest thrill ride I’ll ever be on but I want so much more.
Parting my lips, I give a silent plea for him to take my offering and lead me deeper into the heart of our connection. Right now I feel like we are standing on the periphery looking down. He hesitates for just a moment and then I feel it. His tongue running lightly across my bottom lip. The shivers are turning into quakes and my body seeks purchase against his. When his tongue sweeps inside my mouth, I stroke it with my own. His barriers melt, like an icicle in winter under the heat of the midday sun.
He’s no longer holding me a safe distance apart. His hands are in my hair and then he’s rolling me over, pressing his long body into mine. A hard ridge in the middle of his body settles between my legs and I clutch him even closer—my legs hitching up around his hips and over his thighs. His tongue feels huge in my mouth and he’s licking every inch inside me as if I’m the tastiest thing he’s ever had the opportunity to savor.
All the locker room gossip suddenly makes so much sense. Kissing is the best thing in the world. It’s more exciting than a roller coaster at the Navy Pier. It tastes better than a root beer float from The Brown Cow in Franklin Park. It feels better than sitting by the fireplace after eight hours on the slopes in Aspen. I wish I had the courage to reach down and palm him. To feel what Greta was so shocked I’d never touched before. But I’m also distracted by the way the weight of him between my legs makes me feel and how that rigid length between his legs is making me pulse and itch. My fingers are digging into his muscular shoulders and my hips are moving, almost as if they are independent of the rest of my body. I’m moving and pushing and pulling against him all at the same time.
My sudden flurry of activity causes Nathan to pull his mouth from mine and burying his face in my neck. He groans out my name. “Charlotte. God.” Then he’s pressing down against me hard and I’m whimpering. I don’t know what I need or want right now but I instinctively know that he can give it to me.
“Please Nathan,” I plead.
“Oh Charlotte,” he repeats as if in pain. Then with a giant sigh he pulls away from me and flops onto his back. His chest is heaving as if he’s run a very long distance and I hear myself panting lightly. I lean forward to kiss him again, to restart all those lovely feelings but he holds me away. “I need a moment,” he says.
“Why?” I’m genuinely puzzled. “We don’t need to stop.” I start to roll out of bed to find the condom wrapper that Nate had thrown aside but a large hand on my wrist makes me pause.
“I do.” Rolling to his side, he props himself on one elbow and pats the space right next to his body. I climb back into bed and cuddle up next to him staring up with big eyes. “I want this all to be special for both of us Charlotte. There’s no rush.”
His hand has burrowed its way under my t-shirt and just that action makes my breasts feel a little heavier and a little more sensitive. “But I want more now,” I say a little petulantly.
“Me too,” he responds with a rueful laugh. “It’s just that I want to do this so right for you that when we finally do it, it will be one of the best memories of your life.”
“It will,” I promise because how could it not?
He shakes his head as if I’m not really understanding him. “It’s your first time—no our first time,” he corrects.
I scrunch up my nose remembering that he’s had other girls before me, ones with more experience who aren’t as fragile as I am. Maybe he’s afraid I won’t be very good at this and that he’ll be sorry for all the promises he felt like he had to make because he’s Nathan Jackson and I’m Charlotte Randolph.
“Is it because I don’t have enough experience? If I’d done this before, we’d be having sex right now?” I ask in a small voice.
“No!” He shakes his head and pulls me closer to him. “I’m glad, selfishly, that I’m your first. And I wish I’d waited too because we could be learning together. I just think that we should take our time.” He gives a small shrug. “I didn’t come here tonight or last night just because I want to have sex with you Charlotte. I want to hold you. Make some memories before you leave.”
“So let’s make the best memory,” I beg but Nathan is resolute. I know I’m not going to be able to move him from his path so I allow myself to vent some of my frustration in the form of a punch on the arm—the one he’s leaning on. I hit in just the right place and he collapses next to me with a huff of laughter.
“I’m going to make it so good for you Charlotte.” Tucking my head against his shoulder, he draws up the blankets around us. “So good.”
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