So first I had been comparing her to a wood nymph, now some kind of fire creature, maybe a genie. All that passion mixed up with sweetness in her, and now it was flashing hot in her eyes. She wanted to stand close to the fire like I wanted to stand close to her.
And I was buzzed, so I did. Not that I usually avoided her or anything, because no way in hell, but in general I just say shit when I’m buzzing. And things were so nice with the two of us, even if my fantasies (and oh, there were fantasies) went way farther than reality.
I didn’t even know if she liked girls. Or that’s what I kept telling myself.
She grabbed for my hand the moment I stepped up beside her. “Do you like the fire?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Especially when s’mores are involved, but in general too.”
She laughed, and I could’ve sworn the fire convulsed with it. So probably not just buzzed but outright drunk. Good to know. Hey, it was a party.
“I love your hair,” she said suddenly.
I didn’t have a free hand to reach up and ruffle my pixie cut. It was still vaguely pink from the last time I’d gotten into the Manic Panic. So I just took a drink instead.
She went on, “I always want to just run my fingers through it. Not to be weird. Sorry, I’ve been drinking; my brain-to-mouth filter is broke as shit.”
I laughed. “Then I’ll let mine fly too, because yeah. Same. Thanks, though.”
“You’re beautiful,” she said.
“You are,” I replied instantly. My face heated. I just blamed it on the fire.
“Come on inside with me?” she asked. It was almost innocent, the way she turned her face toward me and bit at her bottom lip.
God, I seriously hoped I was about to get to bite that bottom lip.
She turned and tugged me straight inside, back into the shop—where we both left our bottles on convenient bits of spare wood—and into the women’s dressing room. Then she turned to me and took both of my hands, looking at me earnestly. “Mitzi and the arts council,” she said.
I blinked in surprise. Not where I thought this was going. But not a subject we could really get into with everyone around outside, so…okay then. Cool.
Gen asked, “Do you think they’ll listen to you now?”
“Too early to say, but I think this show at least proved I deserve a chance.” I squeezed her hand. “Gen, you really fucking saved me with the social-media help. And the pyrotechnic thing. Thank you.”
She laughed, all silky again. “You swear a lot when you drink.”
“I fucking know. Sorry. I just. I have a lot of feelings.”
She laughed some more at the quotation and reached up to flick at my hair. Then, gently, slowly, ran her fingers along the edge of my bangs, brushing them back. “I know. I see it when you talk about this place. I know you want everyone else to see what you see here.”
“I do.” Then I realized. “Oh, fuck, I didn’t—do I talk about it too much?”
“No.” She huffed out a little laugh and leaned forward. Her breath was pure strawberry sugar on my lips. She rubbed her adorably upturned nose against mine. “I just listen.”
“I’m about to kiss you.” It just popped out; I couldn’t stop it. Every time she was close, it gave me that weird rush, but this time I just felt like I was being sucked into her. “Like, so goddamn hard.”
But she kissed me first. Just full-on, lips on mine, mouth prying mine open for that very first taste. For a second I was stunned by a combination of drunk and horny and happy; I kissed back, but the rest of me was frozen. Except between my legs, anyhow, which was already hot and about three seconds from wet, just from being so close to her, from having so much affection leading up to this moment.
When she tilted her head and leaned into me, I found myself enough to walk her backward and press her into the clothing rack so her ass could rest against one of the tables there. I don’t know—I just wanted to pin her to something, so I did.
And she moaned. She fucking moaned into my mouth, those gorgeous lips vibrating against mine even as they slipped, warm and sweet, mixing peach and strawberry. I reached for her, brought my hands to rest against the gentle curve of her waist, felt her warmth through the thin white cami that had been driving me batshit all night. Her skin was so hot; I wanted it, wanted to feel it, but knew I should be happy with the kiss. I was happy with the kiss. But, “I really fucking want you,” I mumbled.
She laughed, but it wasn’t the usual. It was warm and low and almost hot, like honey mixed with hot pepper, and it made my spine tingle, down, down, ending right between my legs. “I hoped so.” Just a rough whisper, barely a breath from her on the end of the laugh. Her fingers twisted up in the hem of my T-shirt while the other hand went to my hair, ruffling it at the back of my neck.
The way she touched was like the way she moved, soft and gentle, effortless. But the way she kissed—goddamn, that was the way she sang. Passion and energy and confidence. A heady cocktail of sensation all coming at me at once, so perfect I just wanted to lose myself in her.
Instead I lost us both in the clothes rack.
Summer has been Lily McBride’s favorite time of year since she was a kid, because that’s when the Brookesville Playhouse opens its doors. Now that she’s an adult and works as their tech director, Lily wants more for her beloved Playhouse: a larger audience, a longer season, and exciting shows to draw new patrons.
This year, though, she also wants Genevieve Mason, a pretty starlet-in-the-making from the local university, recruited for the season’s tech crew. Genny throws her heart and soul into the place too, adding her own dreams of representation to the ‘must-have’ list, and using her sweet voice and surprising flare for pyrotechnics to draw the crowds in droves. They work so well together, it’s not long before their summer crush blossoms into a steamy affair.
Lily’s falling hard, but always feels like Genny’s holding something back. And then there’s the dreaded Brookesville Arts Council—supposed to be a support system for all things cultural, instead dragging the Playhouse down with their old-fashioned stubbornness. There are a lot of hurdles to jump and egos to deflate before they can get what they want, both for the theater and from each other.
Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in Ohio. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills.
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