As I walked down the aisle, I should’ve been looking at Grant but the only person I could see was Karson. With those light green eyes that had always reminded me of summer, he looked at me like he was a man who’d been in the desert for days and I was a tall glass of ice-cold water.
Tingles ran through me, and even if I’d wanted to, I wouldn’t have been able to stop them. It’d been four long years since I’d last seen him in the flesh, and tonight, I was hoping to see him in nothing but the flesh.
The beautiful sounds of the rock version of Canon in D filled the air as I made my slow progression down the aisle, unable to stop staring at my childhood crush just as much as he seemed to be unable to stop staring at me.
I didn’t believe in love, but the closest I’d ever come to feeling the emotion had been with him. Well, maybe not with him, but for him.
The Neidums had moved in next door when I’d been so young that I didn’t remember the time before they’d become our neighbors. My brother, Grant, and Karson Neidum had become best friends almost instantly and they’d stayed that way for all this time.
As for me, I’d never really become friends with him but there had been a time when I wished I could be. I’d wanted the kind of relationship with him that my brother had, but they were four years older than me, and as kids, that gap had just been too big.
Maverick, Karson’s brother, was two years older than them, and therefore, it hadn’t been an option for me to befriend him, either. So I’d been left on the outside looking in, the little sister to the three boys who turned into men right before her eyes.
When that had happened and I’d started growing up as well, I’d suddenly realized that I didn’t want the same relationship with him that my brother had always had with him. What I wanted from him was something else entirely.
Secretly, it still was. I’d been crushing on him forever and now he was finally back from college just in time for it to be my turn to go. The fall semester started next week, and since I wanted to get settled on campus before classes kicked off, I was leaving sooner than I wanted to think about right now.
What it all came down to, however, was that I only had tonight with Karson. After he’d been away for four years and I was about to go for the next three, I had to work with the time we had.
As I reached the front of the aisle and turned to wait for the bride, my gaze remained on his. Those green eyes had always reminded me of new leaves and freshly mowed grass, of baby plants breaking through the ground after a long winter, and of the brighter moss growing on the rocks by a riverbed. With his tanned skin and the warmth in those eyes, looking at him was like seeing the very embodiment of all the best parts of summer—and that included all the fun to be had over the break.
With shaggy black hair, he stood about six foot five and he was built like a lumberjack. All bulging muscles and broad shoulders under his fitted black suit. I wouldn’t have believed it to be possible, but he’d only gotten more handsome during the time he’d been gone.
The music changed to the wedding march and my brother’s future wife appeared in the doorway, but I only gave his bride a quick glance before my eyes were back on Karson’s—and his were back on mine.
All through the ceremony and even during the chaos of the wedding photos, I struggled to keep my gaze off him for longer than a few seconds at a time. And every time I looked at him, he was already looking back at me with a playful smirk on his face and a dangerously flirty glint in those summery eyes.
The formalities of the evening passed in a blur of helping Emily, my brand-new sister-in-law, with whatever she needed like the good little bridesmaid I wanted to be for her. As the best man, Karson was always in motion, too.
We hadn’t had the chance to say a single word to each other so far and yet, it was like I could feel his presence even when he was on the other side of the room. I felt his eyes on me and the heat of them made my very blood sing with desire.
I watched from a distance as he held court with some of the guys at the bar, his arm slung around my brother as they raised tiny glasses of what I assumed to be tequila. Everyone around him was always roaring with laughter, even my aunts who’d been pissy ever since they’d found out my brother had invited our father to his wedding.
As my mother’s sisters, they’d taken her side in the nasty divorce—No, Payton. You’re not thinking about any of that right now.
The important part was he obviously hadn’t lost any of that natural charisma he’d developed as a teenager. In fact, it only seemed to have grown and blossomed into something that was so beautiful and interesting to watch that my mouth was practically hanging open.
Until I noticed him walking up to me carrying a bottle of champagne by the neck in one hand and two flutes in the other. I deliberately touched my mouth to make sure I wasn’t gaping, then dabbed at the corners just in case I’d been drooling a little.
As he approached me, our eyes met close-up for the first time in ages and my panties nearly melted at the way his were sparkling like precious gemstones.
“Where did you get that?” I inclined my head at the bottle. “Aren’t guests supposed to wait for the servers to come around?”
A playful spark lit in his eyes as he shrugged. “I snagged it from the bar.”
“So you’re not supposed to have it,” I mused, my eyes never leaving his.
“No, so we should probably drink it somewhere out of sight.” The hand with the glasses in it motioned toward a hallway outside of the bar area where the drinks were being served. “I’m sure we’ll find a place out there.”
My insides went to war, torn between going with him and insisting that he return the bottle to where it should be. I wasn’t a rebel. I believed in rules and I played by them, but this was my brother’s wedding and I knew they’d seen to it that the bar was overstocked.
Just this once, I decided to go with the flow and enjoy the moment. I’d pledged to myself to enjoy tonight with him if I got the chance to do it, and this was it. So instead of following my natural instinct to reprimand him and take the bottle back to the bar myself, I nodded and let him lead the way.
“It’s good to see you, Payton. You look beautiful tonight,” he said as he offered me his elbow. I took it, and his grin came easily when we left the room. “When did you get all grown up?”
I giggled—then I nearly smacked myself in the face for it. “You’ve been gone a long time. I took a year or two while you were at college to grow up. The rest of the time you were gone, I spent perfecting my adulting style.”
He laughed. “You’ll have to teach me how to adult. I haven’t quite taken the time to learn that skill myself yet. It’s good to see you’re still such a ball-breaker, though.”
His tone was teasing, but my cheeks flushed anyway. “I’m not a ball-breaker. If yours got busted just because my answer to what was, no offense, a very stupid question, then you’ve got problems.”
His head fell back as he laughed again. Then he glanced at me to waggle his eyebrows. “Nah, my balls are just fine. A lesser man, however, definitely would’ve tucked tail for fear of being reported to the principal about snagging the champagne.”
“Is Grant the principal in this scenario?”
He smirked. “Grant? No, he just pledged his life to his wife, which makes her the principal in this scenario. And his boss forevermore. Poor guy.”
More giggles spilled from my lips, and I resisted the urge to shake my head at myself. Karson was like the anti-me with his playful, easygoing nature and effortless flirting. I freaking loved that it made me feel like I could be that way just for tonight, too.
He had no idea who I’d become or that I was the furthest thing from spontaneous, playful, and fun that a person could be. Freed from the shackles of having to be who I usually was by the knowledge that this would be a one-night only deal, I cut loose and hurried off with him to find a private room around the corner from the reception hall at the church.
It was set up like a living room of sorts, probably a casual meeting area for the community. Large, over-stuffed sofas were placed around a fireplace that was lit, and around the sofas, there were tables with their chairs stacked on top of them. There was no one else in here, but I assumed they kept the fire lit when they had functions at the church.
“This is cozy,” Karson commented as he sat down on a wide leather sofa. He set the glasses down, then popped open the champagne and filled the glasses to the brim as I got comfortable next to him.
“So,” I said, surprised that the beat of silence between us while he was pouring the champagne wasn’t awkward at all. “How was college? Grant said you guys were in the business program together.”
“Yep,” he replied happily, picking up both flutes and handing one over to me. “We served three years together in that hellhole.”
I laughed at his joke. “Isn’t college supposed to be the best time of your life?”
“God, if that was supposed to be the best time of my life, I might as well keel over right now. Did you know that they actually keep attendance records at that place? We had to go to every class. It was ridiculous.”
“It is a pretty fancy college,” I said, giggling again despite myself. “When you applied, you knew academics were their top priority and that they’re pretty serious about it.”
“You can say that again,” he joked. “I should’ve gone to a party school. Or even a sport school. I’m a decent football player. I could’ve made that my focus.”
“Why didn’t you?”
He shrugged. “Maverick and I are starting a company together. He thought it’d be useful if I got a degree in business administration with a minor in architectural design.” Giving an exaggerated shudder, he grinned at me again. “How have you been, ball-breaker?”
“You said your balls were just fine.” I lifted my eyebrows again. “Unless you were lying?”
“I never lie.” He crossed his heart with his fingers, winking at me before taking a long sip of his champagne. “You could check them out, though. Just to be sure. If you don’t believe me.”
My face burst into flame. Even the steamy banter seemed to come easy to him. It wasn’t something I was used to but again, if I could be whoever I wanted tonight, then I could be the girl who gave as good as she got in that department.
I didn’t know if he was serious. He was one of those people who had that type of humor that made it difficult to know when they were kidding. “You’re pretty confident to make an offer like that.”
He smirked. “I’ve got nothing to hide, but you’re right. That was too forward. Let’s drink some more and I’ll try again once you’re plied with champagne.”
Surprised laughter bubbled out of me, but I took a long sip of my drink and enjoyed making small talk with him while we had the champagne. While we spoke, Karson kept looking at me like he wanted to devour me and frankly I wanted him to do it.
We’d drank most of the champagne by the time he leaned in, cupping my face in his hand. “Can I tell you something?”
“All I’ve been able to think about since you walked into the chapel is kissing you.” He leaned in closer. “I’m going to kiss you now, Payton.”
My mouth went dry, my heart racing as I nodded, pressing my legs together to relieve some of the tension there. Karson smiled and when our lips finally met fireworks exploded behind my eyes. I moaned, looping my arms around his neck to pull him closer. This was so unlike me, but I loved every second of it when he pulled me into his lap and our hips started rolling together.
It was like a switch had tripped inside me, and I didn’t care that someone could walk in at any given moment. I didn’t care that my hair and makeup were going to be ruined after this. And I really didn’t care when things went further than I thought we’d take them right here and now.
Without even taking off our clothes, Karson pushed up my dress until it was hitched around my waist, his fingers teasing me over my panties until I was panting for him. He used his free hand to tug my dress down and my breasts spilled free since I hadn’t been able to wear a bra underneath it. His hot mouth closed over one of my nipples while he reached under my panties and pushed a finger into me.
Loud moans flew out of me before I could stop them, and he pried his mouth away from my chest to seal it over mine instead, swallowing every sound I made. Meanwhile, his hands were magic, knowing exactly where to go and when until he sent me flying over the edge more effortlessly than I’d even managed by myself before.
My body trembled, but Karson slid his arms around me and lifted me off him, laying me back gently on the sofa before kneeling between my legs. Before I could even tell him not to bother and before I’d stopped shaking, he yanked off my panties and his mouth was on me not a second later. No one had ever gone down on me before, but I decided that it was the best thing I’d ever felt.
With his rough hands on my breasts and his teeth and tongue at work down below, I turned into a writhing, incoherent mess. Clamping my own hand over my mouth to keep from crying out, I bucked my hips and almost started crying as sensation overwhelmed me before the best orgasm I’d ever had rolled through me.
It took ages before I started coming down and when I did I opened my eyes to find Karson’s face hovering above mine. Every gorgeous inch of it was tight with tension and his pupils were so blown, there was only the faintest ring of green left around them.
“Want to stop?”
I shook my head, reaching for him with numb arms and wrapping them around his neck to pull his mouth back to mine. I tasted myself on his lips, but it only made me want more. As he lowered himself down on me, my core came into contact with a concrete-like bulge beneath fabric, and I groaned. “I’m so sorry. I haven’t even gotten you naked yet.”
He chuckled into my mouth, pulling back to look into my eyes. “You have nothing to be sorry for. Ever. That was fucking incredible.”
Letting go of his neck, I pushed my hands in between us and when he lifted his hips for me to undo his pants he let out the sexiest moan I’d ever heard. It sent more need racing through me and my fingers fumbled a few times, but eventually, I managed to free him from the confines of his pants.
My fist wrapped around his length and my eyes widened. So all that big-dick energy he’s got is for a damn good reason.
I stroked him a few times, watching eagerly as his brow furrowed. He let me play with him for only a few seconds before he suddenly lifted himself off me. “You’re sure you want to do this?”
I nodded. “Don’t back out on me now, Neidum. Finish what you started.”
Something flared behind those eyes and he looked like he was about to thrust into me and never stop. I opened my legs wider in anticipation, but he groaned as he swept his hand over his face. “We need a condom, Pay.”
Oh, right. “Do you have one?”
He nodded and reached for his wallet that must’ve fallen out of his pants at some point. Hastily grabbing a foil packet from it, he tore it open with his teeth and rolled the latex over his shaft before he sat down and patted his lap.
“Get on top of me. I want to see you for every second of this.”
Obeying like I’d done it a hundred times before, I climbed on top of him, straddling him before I slowly started sinking down. First, there was just his broad tip at my entrance and I had to work to get him in since he was much bigger than the only other guy I’d ever been with, but finally, when he was fully seated inside me, I was ready to fall to pieces again.
Crying out his name when he started moving, I shoved my hands into his hair and pulled at it until he tipped his head back. Then I sealed my mouth over his, my inhibitions long gone. I kissed him like I meant it—because I did—and relished every moment of feeling so full. He rubbed me in all the right places and as my hips rolled with his I suddenly fell apart all around him.
Karson’s eyes were glued to me the entire time, and when I opened my own eyes again, it was as he found his own release. Feeling him so deep inside me at this moment made me feel things I shouldn’t have been feeling, but thankfully, a few minutes after it was over and while he was still stroking my back gently, he passed out.
I thought about all those shots I’d watched him take and chuckled softly, getting up and sliding my dress back into place. I felt bad about leaving him here, the condom still on and his pants still around his ankles, but I’d take the guilt over the consequences any day.
Sneaking away from him on my tiptoes just in case he roused from his slumber, I took one last look at him before slipping out the door. We’d had our fun, but it was over now. It was time to get back to my real life and Karson Neidum wasn’t in it.