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Excerpt: Dream With Me

Book 4: The With Me Series

Chapter Two

Sunday, Seven Days until Graduation

DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE measures. And if I don’t hurry, I’m going to miss the boat. Literally.

“Wait!” I wave my hands out the taxi window, trying to draw anyone’s attention on board. Hopefully one of my friends will see me and tell someone—preferably the captain—to hold off on leaving.

But who am I kidding? It’s seven fifty-nine p.m., one minute away from launch time. The skies are already midnight blue and the dock isn’t well lit. No one is going to be looking in this direction anyway. They’ll be looking at Lake Champlain or they’ll be inside. Most likely, my friends are at the bar or grabbing food from the buffet.

I should be with them—and not stuck in the backseat of this cab. I’m never late, but it felt like the Universe conspired against me. My car stalled, and to make matters worse, my cell died right after I phoned for a taxi. I’ve been unable to text my BFFs, Chloe and Taylor, to let them know I was on my way. And now, the car is slowly winding its way through the crowded parking lot.

“Stop!”

We jerk to a halt a second later.

“I’m going to make a run for it,” I say.

“In those heels?” the driver asks me, disbelief heavy in her raspy voice.

“I’ll manage.” I thrust the fare plus tip to the driver and step out. “Thank you!”

And then I run.

I don’t even like boats that much, but the dinner cruise is the kick-off to a bunch of events for Green College seniors. Graduation is next week. I still can’t believe that it’s so close, but I’m definitely looking forward to receiving my diploma. I can’t wait for the next phase of my life to begin.

I stumble in my haste but catch myself before I fall. Ugh, it looks like the driver’s disbelief was warranted. I’m usually good in heels, but I don’t want to risk a fall and have bloodied knees. The gold sparkly heels need to come off. Wasting precious time, I remove them and sprint—loose gravel is impossible to avoid, but I hardly notice. It doesn’t matter how fast I am because the boat sails off just as I reach the end of the dock.

I drop my things to the ground and let out every imaginable curse I can think of. I really can’t believe I missed it. I’m so mad at myself.

“Evie?”

I turn with my left arm pulled back, ready to punch, just in case the person is planning to attack me. When I see who it is, I let my arm drop to my side and unfurl my fist. Just when I thought my night couldn’t get any worse, I have to run into him.

“Griff.”

Griffin Sinclair is the bane of my existence. We haven’t gotten along since our disastrous introduction at a mixer our first week on campus. Green College is small, so I should have been able to avoid him.

Yeah. No such luck.

Griff and I are both English majors, and while we both have double majors (Business for me and Library Sciences for him), we share the same English advisor. Since freshman year, we’ve also had at least one class together. One unlucky semester, we had the same exact schedule. Needless to say, I’ve had to look at Griff’s no-nonsense, grouchy face for far longer than I’ve liked.

And sure, Griff might be considered handsome if one happens to like the tall, dark-haired, dark-eyed guy who doesn’t say much. He’s built, but not in the gym rat, steroid abuser kind of way. Natural-looking with all those big, hard muscles that so many girls go crazy over.

Me? Nope. Not interested.

Sure, maybe there was a time when I thought he was hot and sexy. But it didn’t last long. Especially not after he insulted me and hurt my feelings. That combination killed any attraction I might have felt.

It’s shocking to see Griff dressed up. He’s usually in jeans and T-shirt, the standard college guy fare. He’s not super fancy, but he’s also not in casual day to day wear. He’s wearing nice black pants and a collared hunter-green shirt. Our colors almost match—my dark green halter dress flares out. We look like we planned it.

I glance behind him to see that the parking lot has emptied, leaving us alone. Well, shoot. I’ll have to call for a new taxi. Except my cell is charging back at my apartment, so I’ll have to ask Griff if I can borrow his.

Griff and I barely say one word to each other if we can help it. But he hardly talks to anyone, so it’s surprising when he clears his throat and takes a step closer.

“You missed it, too?” he asks.

“Yeah.” I feel foolish, standing there in my bare feet, with all my things scattered about. My gaze flicks to the dock and Griff follows the movement. At the same time, we bend and reach for one of my discarded shoes.

Our hands collide.

It feels like I’ve just had a million static shocks. A distinct hum vibrates in every single nerve. My blood sings with awareness.

I cannot freaking believe this.

And from Griff’s widened dark eyes, neither can he.

I shouldn’t do this. I know I shouldn’t.

But . . .

“It’s probably a fluke,” I say.

I touch his hand again.

I jerk my hand back, cradling it to my chest. It’s the wrong move to make.

I can still feel him.

And now the feel of Griff is burning through my dress straight into my pounding heart. I jump to my feet, needing distance . . . I don’t even like Griff. Why would there be any chemistry of the I-want-to-jump-your-bones kind? I don’t understand it.

It has to be a mistake.

It has to be.

And it doesn’t escape my notice that Griff Sinclair has not said one word about . . . this.

Whatever this is.

Typical of him. I shouldn’t be surprised by his silence. And I shouldn’t be feeling this way about a guy who has made it very clear years ago that he didn’t like me.

I turn my back on Griff and face Lake Champlain. The water is calm and gentle, so completely at odds with how I’m feeling. When I glance up, the skies are clear. There are no storms on the horizon, no hidden currents of electricity that can explain away the shock of awareness.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe I’m the only one who felt anything. The whole day has been off. And other than Griff’s widened eyes, there was no other sign he felt anything.

Maybe it was nothing.

His hand curves over my bared right shoulder, his fingers settling onto my skin. His thumb skims my exposed shoulder blade, tracing the hard line of it.

My breath catches in my throat. And I stop thinking about why there shouldn’t be any attraction between us—how I should pull away and get my head back on straight . . . how I should forget everything. I know what the sensible thing is.

I know what I should do.

But another part of me—that part that always gets me in trouble—is telling me to stay. To not be sensible. To see what happens.

Griff reaches the line of my shoulder, but he doesn’t stop.

He moves.

His fingers glide up, his touch rough yet gentle. He doesn’t have smooth hands; they’re hardened by manual labor. I try to recall where he works outside of college, but I can’t. I’m focused on one thing. This mindless pleasure.

He strokes the curve of my neck, then lifts my thin, rose-gold necklace. When he lets go, the chain lands like a soft whip. My skin burns, my breathing shallows even more. And I tilt my head so he can continue touching me.

Griff takes the unspoken invitation.

He starts where my neck meets shoulder line. His fingers briefly rest over my pounding pulse before resuming their heated caress. He reaches my jawline, but doesn’t go toward my chin. Instead, he plays with my dangling earring before tracing the shell of my ear.

He doesn’t touch my hair, the loose dark curls that spill down my back. But I can feel his fingers itch with the need to do so, to run through the wild strands . . . to tangle himself even more in me.

I don’t want him to stop.


Excerpt: Dream With Me