When she falls in, she starts sinking fast.
Drowning Erin by Elizabeth O’Roark will be here November 9!!!
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He lifts the champagne high overhead. “Mouth wide,” he warns.
“No, Brendan, it’s going to go everywhere,” I complain. “I can’t swallow it all.”
“That’s what she said,” he answers.
And then we’re both laughing, and he tips the champagne so it seems to explode from the bottle—over my face, my shirt, my shorts—and I laugh even harder. This moment, like so many from the last few weeks, reminds me of biking downhill faster than I should. It feels thrilling and wild and reckless, the danger and the excitement weighted equally. When I compare this moment to the rest of my history, it feels as if I’ve been tethered to the ground my entire life. Right now I finally feel free.
I jump to my feet, still giggling. “Your pouring skills are legendary.”
He sets the champagne down and moves toward me, closer than he should. I can feel the warmth radiating from him. It makes me want to move closer too. His hand presses to my stomach, and I hold my breath.
“You need to change or you’re gonna freeze out here. You want me to go get you clothes?”
I shake my head. As much as I don’t want to be the voice of reason, and as much I want to remain out here with him, I have just enough common sense to know it’s the last thing I should do.
“We should probably head in. We’ve got to be up in four hours,” I tell him. “But I wish we had more time.” I wish this was a night we could stretch into a week’s worth of hours, or more.
His eyes are brighter right now than I’ve ever seen them. “I wish a lot of things were different, Erin.”
My heart goes triple time, and my breath stills somewhere between my lungs and my throat. The prospect of admitting even a tiny portion of the truth to him is terrifying. “I wish they were different too.”
His hands frame my face, sliding through my hair, and then his mouth is on mine, better even than I remembered. He tastes like champagne, and all of my resolution is forgotten under the force of this, after years of wanting this exact thing only from him.
This kiss reminds me of diving off the rocks yesterday, of the moment when I first plunged into the water—surrounded, disoriented, thrilled, and horrified all at once. In the space of that moment, only as long as it takes us both to swim to the surface and gasp for air, nothing makes sense and nothing else exists—only tangled limbs and warm skin and hearts that beat too fast. My mouth opens under his, and he groans, one hand sliding down around my hip, pulling me into him so that all of his heat is pressed against me, pulsing and ready.
“I’ve wanted this for so fucking long,” he says, his mouth moving to my neck, his hands sliding to the hem of my shirt, grazing my skin.
There are a million reasons why this is a terrible idea, and I don’t care about any of them.
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Elizabeth O’Roark is a former medical writer who lives in Washington, DC with her three children. She is an avid runner when able to escape the aforementioned children. She drinks an embarrassing amount of Diet Mountain Dew, and would exist entirely off of candy corn were it socially acceptable to do so.
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