The Good Luck Charm Page 16

I fight not to allow those memories to surface. His gaze is hot, warming my skin, starting with my cheeks. Pushing away, I step to the side so I’m a little closer to the exit and gesture to the handleless door behind me. “Is that a safe?”

He lifts a shoulder and moves around me to take a closer look. “Dunno. What’s that?” He pushes a button I failed to notice, and the door slides open with a metallic click.

He peeks inside and I grab on to his arm. “Do you really think you should go in there?”

He looks down at me, clinging to him, the hint of a smile on his lips. “I’m sure it’s fine. I’m going to check it out.” I don’t let go as he takes another step forward, and another. He’s pretty much dragging me along with him, but my body has locked up, and no matter what I try to tell my brain, I can’t seem to let go.

Over the past several years I thought I’d gotten past my fear of tight spaces—I still avoid elevators whenever possible, but I thought I had it managed. Guess not. The wine cellar on its own created a little anxiety, enough to make my palms damp, but I find myself frozen, unable to unlock my arms from around Ethan’s.

A red light flares as we cross the threshold. My heels slide across the floor with every step he takes. Half of me appreciates the feel of his body close to mine, protective, safe; the other half is highly in tune with my uncontrollable rising panic over the small, windowless space we’re in.

“Ethan.” My voice is high, shrill.

“You okay, baby?”

“I can’t—” I dig my nails into his skin, while simultaneously trying to force myself to release him so I can get back to a room with windows.

“I think there’s a light switch right here.” He slaps at the wall to the right, spinning us around so I’m fully inside the room.

A metallic grating follows as the door begins to slide shut. My arms finally obey the command to release him. I shove him out of the way, which is pretty incredible considering he easily must weigh more than two hundred pounds. I catch him off guard, so he stumbles back with a grunt. I can’t see well enough in the dim lighting, so I trip over his foot, falling into the closing door. I try to grab the edge and keep it from sealing us in, but it seems to function like an elevator, and I nearly lose my fingers as the wine cellar disappears from view.

I’m already in full-on panic mode, and as much as I’d like to keep my cool, this is my single phobia. Tight, dark spaces send me from logical and levelheaded to complete freak-out mode.

I pound on the steel door with my fists. I’m not drawing full breaths. I might actually be at risk of passing out if I keep this up, but there’s no room left for reason in my brain. In my head, we’re stuck in the room together until we die.

Strong hands grip my forearms and pin them to my side. Then I find myself straitjacketed by his arms as Ethan pulls me away from the single point of escape. I thrash and scream, because the only way out is through that door, so that’s where my attention needs to be.

“DJ, calm down. You’re fine. You need to take a breath.” Ethan’s voice is soft in my ear. There’s no panic or anger, just that calm, smooth voice I remember from when we were young.

“We need to get out!”

“We will, but you have to calm down first.”

“Let me go!” It feels like I’m trying to breathe underwater.

“I’d like to, since you keep kicking my shins, but if you go apeshit on that door again, you’re going to break your hands, and I will not be responsible for that, so take some deep breaths with me and calm down.”

“I don’t think I can.” I suck in another raspy, high-pitched breath, aware the panic is something only I can control.

Ethan releases my arms slowly.

As soon as they’re free I spin around and grab his shirt. “What is this? What if we can’t get out? What if no one finds us?” I wish I could get it together, but I’m just not capable.

Ethan must realize this, because he takes my face in his hands. “Delilah, baby, relax.”

His words are gentle, but the intimate contact is jarring. Intense. Familiar and not. He regards me with uncertainty and then resolve. I don’t understand the emotion until he takes action.

I’m shocked out of my panic as Ethan’s lips descend on mine. They’re so soft and warm. I know them, and yet they’re not quite the same as I remember. At first he’s tentative where he was once certain. But his tongue peeks out to stroke the seam of my mouth, and resistance isn’t even a whisper in my head.

When he slides his fingers into my hair and tugs, I automatically tilt my head back and part my lips. When his tongue pushes forward to stroke mine, I moan.

It takes several more seconds, in which I meet his tongue in a soft tangle with my own, before I fully process that Ethan is kissing me, and I’m kissing him back. It’s been so long since I’ve been kissed like this, felt anything close to this level of overwhelming desire. When he steps in closer and his body comes flush with mine, I feel him hard against my stomach. It’s too much. It’s not enough. I’m terrified to want this.

I push on his chest, separating our mouths, and step back. “What’re you doing?”

He drops his hands and blinks at me, and blinks again. That weird red light makes his expression difficult to read. His voice is full of gravel. “Trying to get you to calm down.”

“By putting your tongue in my mouth?” I wish I sounded incredulous rather than breathless.

“You’re not freaking out anymore, are you?” He rubs his lips.

I can’t tell if he’s trying to hide a smile or not. “It’s not funny, Ethan. We’re trapped in here!” I cringe at my reedy tone.

“I’m not laughing.” His voice is smooth satin, stoking the fire he’s awakened with one kiss.

“How can you be so calm?” The panic is already rising again, a siren in my head growing louder, drowning out desire.

“Your sister’s meeting us here soon, right?” He puts his hands on my shoulders. “You should sit.”

I brush them away, my palms clammy. “How is that going to help us get out of this weird fucking box?”

“You’re panicking again, so unless you want my tongue in your mouth, I suggest you take a seat.”

I huff out an irritated breath, not wanting to follow his directions but uncertain whether I can control my reaction if he follows through with that threat. I enjoyed his mouth a little too much. After only the briefest hesitation, I drop to the floor.

Ethan barks out a laugh. “Wow—I’m not sure whether to be insulted or not.” He crouches in front of me, hands coming to rest on my knees. I allow the contact because it makes me feel safe. “I’m going to see if there’s a light switch in here somewhere. Is that okay?”


“Put your head between your knees and take some deep breaths.”

When I do as he says, he strokes my hair. Eventually he severs the connection, and then it’s just me in the eerie red darkness. It only takes a moment before pale, bright light filters into my line of vision. I turn my head, focusing on deep breaths even though I’m light-headed. He uses the flashlight on his phone to scan the wall.

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