Wicked Lovely Page 37

She held out the paper she'd been trying to read. "This one has to sit for three days."

"A few are like that." He took that page with his free hand, the one that wasn't tracing circles on her skin. "The tinctures are to 'steep' for seven to ten days. I'll start a couple later tonight when you're out. I just wondered if any of them seemed, I don't know, familiar?"

She dropped the other pages on the stack in his lap. "I was born like this. Grams, my mom, that's just what happens in my family—something in the genes. Like being short or whatever."

"Right." He wasn't looking at the papers, but at her hand, which was still resting on his leg. Abruptly he stood up and walked away. "Let's try a salve. They seem quicker."

She followed him to the counter, where he had spread out the herbs, some bowls, a knife, and a piece of white pottery with a matching stick. She picked it up.


She looked at him. "What?"

"It's a pestle. Here." He put some of the herbs into the white bowl and held out his hand.

She gave him the pestle, noticing how much distance he was suddenly giving her.

He used it to grind the herbs, crushing them into tiny pieces. "Like this."

Then he handed it back.

"Saint-John's-wort. Pulverize it and dump it here." He pointed at an empty cereal bowl.

"Right." She started crushing the strange-smelling plants.

Beside her, Seth filled a pan half full of water and set it on a burner. He got out two more pans and sat them on the counter.

"So about the other day, about us…" She glanced at him, more anxious than she expected. She needed to be sure what it really meant to him, but she was afraid he'd be hurt when she asked.

His tone wasn't insulted, though. Instead he sounded nervous too. "Yeah?"

"Are you, I don't know, going to ask me out or something? Or is it just casual, wanting to…"

"Just tell me what you want." He took the bowl out of her hand and pulled her up against him, hip to hip. "Dinner? Movie? A weekend at the beach?"

"A weekend? Aren't you moving a bit fast?" She put her hands on his chest, keeping a little distance between them.

"Not as fast as I want to." He bent down so his mouth was almost touching hers. "But I'm trying to wait."

She didn't even think about it; she nipped his bottom lip.

And they were kissing again, slow and soft and somehow more maddening than the first time. Somewhere between telling him she was meeting Keenan and asking him where they stood, the stakes had shifted.

Her hands found the bottom of his shirt, slid under it, over skin and the rings that decorated his chest. Any objections she used to remember had melted.

I found the uncrossable line. She almost giggled at the thought.

"Seth? You in there?" The doorknob jiggled.

"Seth, we know you're in there," Mitchell, one of Leslies exes, yelled. He knocked again, loudly. "Come on, open up."

"Ignore him," Seth whispered, his lips against her ear. "Maybe he'll go away."

The doorknob jiggled again,

"It's probably a good thing." Aislinn pulled back further, feeling almost lightheaded. "We're not thinking very clearly."

"I've done nothing but think about this for months, Ash" — Seth put a hand on either side of her face—"but just say the word and we stop. You set the pace. I won't push you. Ever."

"I know that." She blushed. It was a lot easier to give in to the temptation than it was to talk about it—surprisingly easy. "I'm not sure how far that is, though."

He hugged her closer and stroked his hand down her hair. "So we take it slow. Right?"

"Right." She nodded, feeling both relieved and disappointed. There were too many diseases out there to be casual, but just letting go of control, of logic, of what she should and shouldn't do… Tempting was an understatement.

His voice was low and steady as he said, "And yes, dating. There's nothing casual about what I want."

She didn't say anything, couldn't.

From outside Jimmy yelled, "Open the damn door, Seth. It's freezing out here."

Seth titled her head up so she was looking at him and said, "You're worrying me here. We good?"

She nodded.

"You thinking about running again?"

Her heart thumped too fast. She blushed. "No. I'm thinking the exact opposite."

He ran his fingertips over her cheek—pausing at the corner of her mouth—and stared at her. "No pressure."

Finally she leaned her face on his chest, hiding her expression. "I need to think. If we're going to try this …us together. I don't want to mess it up, mess us up."

"It wouldn't, but" — he swallowed audibly before adding—"we don't need to rush. I'm not going anywhere."

The knocking grew louder again until finally Seth let go of her. He straightened his clothes, turning his back to her to do so. Then he went to the door and yanked it open. "What?"

"Christ, man, it's cold out there." Mitchell pushed past Seth.

Jimmy, another one of the guys who had graduated last year, came in behind him. With him were three girls Aislinn didn't know.

Aislinn went back to the counter and resumed crushing herbs. Jimmy stopped just inside the door and looked over at her with a wide grin. "Well, hello, Ash."

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