Cover Design: Okay Creations
Photography: Joseph Sinclair
Concession stands filled the air with salt and sugar. A food truck beckoned me with roasting meat, the warm breeze carrying a dozen scents. I moved from the walking path and headed toward the line of trucks standing on the green, and then a flash of purple stole my attention. A woman in cutoffs and a blouse patterned with small, blue anchors burst into giggles. She held a hand to her deep red lips, trying to stifle her mirth as the man beside her grinned.
Rain was with Nick.
Warmth leeched from my skin as she turned bright red with the effort of not laughing, giving Nick a playful punch. He absorbed the blow, his face rapt with admiration.
It looked real.
They weren’t close enough to be confused as a couple, but what worked venom through my veins was her laughter. He made her happy, and it riled my insides. Their faces tipped to each other as Nick removed a blossom from her hair. She smiled. It was polite, not the heavy-lidded stares she gave me, but I hated seeing them together.
I made a beeline for them, bulldozing into their discussion. “Hey.”
“Cassian!” Rain brightened when she noticed me. “You’re up and about! That’s—”
“—weird,” Nick finished.
“I was going to say, unexpected.” Rain toyed with a purple strand as I closed the distance.
I pulled her into a one-armed hug, smirking at Nick over her shoulder. As I disengaged, a fierce blush burned her cheeks. She wanted me, not Nick. The asshole knew it, and wouldn’t leave her alone.
I ignored Nick, facing Rain. “Want to get lunch?” I wasn’t planning on a date, but I wanted to crush whatever he was trying to start. “It’s an hour until my shift.”
“I’d love to!” she said. “Is that allowed?”
Nick forced a grin. “Not really.”
“Oh. Maybe we all could go.”
“Three’s a crowd.” I didn’t care how this looked. I needed her away from him. “Don’t bother following us, bro. I’ve got it covered.”
I took Rain’s arm, but she resisted. “Nick and I were in the middle of a conversation.”
“It’s all good,” Nick relented. “I’m sure we’ll hang again.”
Her smile dropped as he melted into a crowd of senior citizens with floppy hats and walking sticks.
“Geez. He looks mad.”
“At me,” I said. “Not you.”
Wind played with her hair, obscuring her widened eyes. I pushed it behind her ear. We were in plain sight, but I couldn’t stop myself. I brushed petals off her shoulder, and her blush darkened.
“Why is he upset?”
“Because I blocked his cock.”
“Cassian.” Rain’s expression was torn between exasperation and amusement. “Just because you and I fooled around doesn’t mean I belong to you.”
“Then I’m making it a rule,” I growled. “You’re mine while I’m fucking you.”
“Technically, we haven’t done the deed.”
“That’s awfully possessive from a guy who doesn’t do relationships.”
I palmed her back, the only part of her I could touch while standing in the heart of D.C. “Rain, I am not big on sharing—and that’s putting it lightly.”
“No kidding. You wouldn’t even share a pie. You think I have a crush on Nick?”
“He’s doing everything to win you over.”
“I’m a virgin, Cassian. Put yourself in my shoes. You’re new and overwhelming.” Her husky voice cracked like it always did when she went quiet. “You’re all I can handle. And the only man I want.”
Rain tipped her head as though she expected a kiss. Her presence draped me like a warm blanket, and I was half-drunk with it.
People flooded the Mall. Among them, there might’ve been a photographer, but I didn’t give a fuck. Rain leaned into me, palms sliding up my armor to anchor at my shoulders. She plastered a clumsy kiss on my chin before I dipped to meet her, warmth spiraling in my chest as our mouths touched. She sighed, giving into the passion and wrapping her arms around my neck.
I circled her waist and gripped her tiny curves. She dragged her fingers through my hair. I devoured her red pout. My tongue lashed her. She moaned, digging her nails into my skin. I pushed her behind the row of food trucks where generators hummed, drowning her sighs. She backed against the truck, purple strands fanning against gold paint.
We made out like two teenagers at school, but only one of us was nineteen. Where the hell was my restraint? Dead on the ground, somewhere.
I kissed a senator’s daughter on the National-fucking-Mall.
Rain’s tits pressed into me. She fluttered air as she gasped for breath. She pulled me close and kissed me as though she couldn’t stop.
But… someone had to be the adult.
I took her wrists, hoping she didn’t feel my goddamn erection.
“This is insane.” My heart hammered. “Insane.”
And yet, I couldn’t let her go.
She breathed hard, looking equally startled. “What are we doing?”
I didn’t know.
Whatever it was, it was headed for a spectacular crash.