As you guys may remember, a couple months ago, I read and reviewed Come Back to Me by the fabulous Sarah Alderson. This wonderful book came out in paperback recently and was a bestseller! YAY! So we’re celebrating with an excerpt and a giveaway.
I’m barefoot, the grass tickles my feet. I move swiftly across the lawn towards the bushes at the side of the garden. When I get there though there’s no sign of Kit. I glance around. Where is he? Am I losing it? Did I imagine it?
Just then though a hand covers my eyes, and an arm wraps around my waist from behind. ‘Boo,’ Kit whispers into my ear.
Shivers ride down my spine in waves. His left hand lingers on my stomach but he removes his other hand from my eyes. I turn around slowly, shakily, suddenly self-conscious. I’m only wearing pajama shorts and a cotton camisole top, no bra. Maybe I should have thought to put on a sweater. But too late. I see Kit’s gaze fall to my legs and slowly sweep upwards. Goosebumps rise across the surface of my skin as though he’s tracing my body with his fingers, not just his eyes. When he reaches my face I see the smile on his face and the way his eyes are glittering.
My breathing hitches as I stare at him. ‘What are you doing here?’ I whisper.
‘I forgot to give you this,’ he answers, pulling an envelope from his back pocket.
I stare at it. ‘What is it?’
‘Open it,’ he says, pushing it into my hands. ‘It’s your birthday present.’
I take it and open it, the whole time aware that he’s watching me. Inside are two tickets to The Merchant of Venice in Balboa Park for a fortnight’s time. I look up at him wide-eyed. ‘Are you serious?’
He nods, smiling as he sees my grin. ‘I remember when you were in it,’ he says. ‘You want to go and see it? I wasn’t sure . . .’
‘Yes, yes,’ I say quickly. ‘Thank you! I can’t wait. You’re coming with me right?’ I ask, holding up the second ticket.
He shrugs. ‘Sure. I mean, I didn’t want to presume or anything. You know, in case maybe you wanted to take Didi. Or . . .’ he has been staring down at his feet but now he looks up at me and I realize he’s fishing to see if I have a boyfriend.
‘No. I want to go with you,’ I say, the words stumbling over themselves in their haste to get out. Should I have played that cooler? I wonder. But too late. And anyway, he’s now grinning.
‘Cool,’ he says, toeing the ground.
We both take a breath in. My eyes dart towards the house. I guess I should head in before the game ends or my dad hears us. Without saying a word Kit suddenly takes my hand and pulls me deeper into the shadow of the bushes. I make no attempt to protest.
‘You know,’ he murmurs, not letting go of my hand. ‘I’ve been thinking about you. While I was away.’ He looks at me then, straight into my eyes, the smile gone, a look of studied seriousness on his face, and maybe, just possibly, a hint of nerves. ‘I’ve been thinking about you a lot.’
‘Oh,’ I say. Kit’s presence seems to directly affect my literacy levels.
‘Yeah,’ he says, looking down at our hands. His thumb starts almost absently to stroke my pulse point and I draw in a sharp breath. It’s as if he’s stoking a fire, making my blood course through my veins like molten lava. I can feel the heat flooding my face, rushing to other parts of my body too.
‘How long have you been here?’ I ask, trying to keep my voice steady, though I’m losing the ability to concentrate as his thumb keeps stroking.
‘About thirty minutes. I waited until I saw Riley go out.’
‘You’ve been waiting in the bushes for half an hour just to speak to me?’
Kit shrugs. ‘I’ve done sniper training. I can sit for hours in the dark, waiting and watching.’
‘That’s comforting,’ I say. ‘And not creepy in the slightest.’
He laughs quietly and the sound makes me want to lean in closer, to press my body against his.
‘I figured your dad wouldn’t want me coming around and knocking on the door.’
I glance over my shoulder automatically, half expecting to see my dad taking aim from the back porch. ‘You know if he finds you out here he’s going to kill you.’
‘I‘ll take the chance,’ Kit says, shifting ever so slightly and drawing me closer, so only a sliver of space remains between us. I barely come up to his chin so I’m having to tilt my head all the way back. This close I can smell his scent – laundry powder and something else, something citrus, aftershave maybe.
‘I just had to see you again,’ he murmurs, his voice as soft as a caress.
I pull back an inch, my heart galloping. I’m scared. Not of Kit. But of what’s about to happen between us. It feels like I’m about to take a step off a cliff and into a void and I have no idea whether I’ll land safely or end up smashed to pieces on some jagged rocks I can’t yet see. This could be reckless, stupid, dangerous. Or it could be the best thing I ever do. ‘I’m serious,’ I mumble, ‘If my dad finds you out here, he’ll go ballistic.’
Kit smiles. He lifts his hand and strokes back a strand of hair behind my ear. ‘It would be worth it,’ he says, his hand lingering, moving to rest against my cheek.
‘What would?’ I ask, my senses obliterated, all my focus on his hand and on his lips, so close to mine.
‘This,’ he says. And he kisses me.
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