“Catch!” I shout, and then I run at Nash and jump. Landing in his arms, I wrap my legs around his waist as he spins us around and around, cackling.
He comes to a stop, his chest heaving up and down. “Aw man, I'm all out of breath.”
I grin down at him. “You're getting old.”
“Evil little Ivy.” He smiles up at me, so tenderly.
I become aware then of how hard I'm breathing, of how hard he is breathing, and I'm no longer sure it has anything to do with all the running. We keep looking at each other, and things just. . .they just change. Suddenly nothing seems so funny anymore. Our smiles fade away, and the look in his eyes is replaced by something. . .intense. He lets me slide down his body, his hands moving from my thighs to my butt and eventually stopping on my waist when my feet touch the ground. Something crackles in the air between us, something that wasn't there before. I feel lost, like the rain fell so hard that the water rose above our heads and now I'm swimming inside it, but I have no idea which direction is up.
We stand close together, too close together. So close that I can feel every hard inch of his body against my own. This is definitely the point that I should move away. It's past the point that I should move away. His hands are still gripping my waist tightly, holding me to him. My fingers, resting on his shoulders, twitch as a bolt of energy thrums through them.
His hands slip beneath my coat, beneath my top, and I gasp as his cold fingers touch my skin. The noise draws his attention to my lips, and his gaze grows heated. My lips, they throb as he studies them, as if he's committing them to memory.
I need. . .I need. . .something. I need him.
“Ivy,” he murmurs, and my eyes drop to his mouth. To that full bottom lip, slightly thicker than the top even when it's not swollen. To the tiny, barely visible white scar at the corner of his mouth from where he fell off his bike when he was eleven, before we were even friends. I want to touch that scar, to see how it feels beneath my lips. The force of my need sends a jolt of electricity rushing straight through my body.
Like he's in a trance, one of Nash's hands comes up to brush the damp strands of hair back from my face. I blink, because a simple gesture like that shouldn't make my stomach clench but it does. He swallows, as if he's just as affected by this. . .this thing between us as I am. Raindrops cling to his dark eyelashes. They drip from the edge of his hat and trickle over the tiny, permanent bump in his nose that he got defending me. I want to follow them, each and every one, as they discover his body and trace every inch of him.
I can't move. I couldn't move right now if I was struck by lightening and set on fire.
Our faces have drawn closer together. I can feel the heat of his breath of my lips. It's warm, such a contrast to the frigid air everywhere else.
And then it hits me like a slap to the face. I want him. This is Nash, my best friend, my oldest protector, my long term partner in crime. This is Nash, and I want him more than I can even understand.