“You stole candy from a store?” I raised my eyebrows at Emily sitting across from me. “I don’t believe it.”
She laughed and brushed a few windblown strands of hair from her face. “It was my first and last crime. My cousin Bella was going through her rebellious phase, and since I idolized her, I did whatever she told me to. Aunt Debbie caught us with the goods, and I cried and begged her not to tell my parents.”
“No, thank goodness. My dad would’ve given me his calm ‘I’m so disappointed in you’ talk, but my mom would’ve flipped out. She’s the reason I always tried to stay out of trouble. She put the fear of God in me.”
“I can see her being pretty intense.”
“You have no idea. When she goes into crazy Italian mode, look out.” She laughed again, and I grinned at the melodic sound.
I didn’t know how long we’d been talking, but I didn’t want the night to end. I’d ignored all the warnings in my head about spending time alone with Emily. How was I supposed to walk away from someone I felt so connected to? Not to mention that gorgeous smile she kept giving me. It lit me up inside like… What was that American saying? Like a Christmas tree.
“How about your parents?” she asked. “Were they strict?”
I stiffened and shifted in my seat. Did getting kicked out of the house by my father qualify as strict? I couldn’t tell Emily about that because then I’d have to tell her the reason. And that needed to stay buried in the past where it belonged.
“My father was tough. He’d punish me, but then my mother would try to make it easier.” I smiled a little. “I remember he’d say I couldn’t have any dessert, and my mother would sneak some to me later.”
“Aww, she sounds sweet.”
“She is. She has a great heart,” I said, looking down at the patio table. I’d given my mother plenty of reason to be disappointed in me, but she’d never stopped supporting me.
“Do you miss home?” Emily asked.
I lifted my head as I pondered her question. It seemed like another lifetime that I’d lived in Russia. I hadn’t thought of it as home in years.
“I miss my family, but the
Cape feels like home now. It’s quite different from , but I love it.” Moscow
She leaned forward on her elbows. “It’s amazing how well you speak English, living in the States only five years. Before we met, I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to understand a word you said.”
“I should’ve talked to you in Russian just to scare you.” I grinned. “But I wanted to make a good impression.”
“You made a great impression.”
She bit her lip and lowered her eyes before peeking upward. She has such a crush on me. I’d seen all the signs before with some of my other students. The difference was I’d always kept things strictly professional with them. With Emily, I’d let myself get closer and closer to her, against every bit of good judgment I had. Not to feed my ego but because she fascinated me like no one I'd ever known.
The breeze sent her empty paper cup across the table, and I caught it before it tumbled onto my lap. I saw the time on my watch and did a double take.
“Oh, wow, it’s two thirty. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stay this late.”
“No worries. I can sleep till noon tomorrow.”
I stood, and my back creaked from sitting in the wrought-iron chair all night. I stretched my arms and looked toward the sliding glass door. “Do you think they all killed each other downstairs?”
“My guess is they played so hard they passed out at some point. That’s been known to happen.”
She rose from her chair, and I scrambled to decide on a parting gesture. A quick touch on the arm? A hug? Whatever I did, I had to be cool.
I stepped closer to her, still debating. “Thanks again for the great meal. And the even better company.”
“You’re very welcome. I’m so glad you came.”
She reached up and looped her arms around my shoulders, taking the decision out of my hands. I hugged her narrow waist, and my body tightened. She fit against me perfectly. All the soft curves touching all the right places. I took a deep breath, inhaling her sweet scent. It filled me with a hunger I hadn’t felt in a long time. I wanted to tangle my fingers in the long curls of her hair and press my lips to hers, tasting her sweetness. My palm inched along her spine, and she squeezed my shoulders harder.
I gulped and pulled away. I couldn’t cross that line. Emily deserved better.
“I can let myself out,” I said.
She nodded slowly. “Okay. I’ll see you Monday.”
I took one last look at her and saw the daze in her eyes. She’d felt it, too. I had to get out of there.
I jogged down the stairs but quieted my steps when I got to the living room. Chris and Trevor were sprawled on the couch and the carpet. I made a silent exit and let out a long breath when I reached my car.
What am I going to do now?
I closed my eyes and rested my head against the seat.
I had to act like nothing had changed between Emily and me. It was the only solution.
It didn’t matter how strong the vibe between us was. How right she felt in my arms. My mind went to the terrace, and I rubbed my hand over my face, trying to erase the memory of her body nestled to mine. I’d only end up hurting both her and myself if I did anything to pursue this. She and Chris had put all their trust in me, and I couldn’t let them down.
I’d ruined my skating career by making a careless mistake. I wasn’t going to ruin my coaching career by making another one.
Both LIFE ON THE EDGE and EDGE OF THE PAST are on sale for 99 cents for just a little while longer! Get caught up before the final book in the series comes out! :)