★ Breaking the Rules – Excerpt ★
From Noah’s POV
“Did you fall into some paint, Echo?” Isaiah asks, changing the subject.
Echo’s shoulder slumps as she pivots toward the mirror. She groans as she touches her cheek and forehead that are more red and pink than skin.
“Dang it. Why am I such a mess?”
“I think it’s sexy as hell,” I say.
“I think I’m going to barf,” Beth mocks my tone.
Death radiates from the look I send her way. Enough that it should melt her. “Ever sleep in a tent, Beth?”
Beth focuses on the screen while raising her middle finger in my direction.
“Screw it.” Echo turns away from the mirror. “I need a shower.”
I smile, Echo blushes, then I laugh. Damn me for inviting Isaiah and Beth to share our room.
“Anyhow.” An excited glint strikes Echo’s eyes. “Are you ready? I hope you like it. It’s sort of…for you. But it’s not done, okay? I mean, something like this would actually take a while to perfect, so I guess I’m saying—”
“It’s all good.”
“Okay.” Her fingers drum nervously over the top of the canvas before she repeats, “Okay.”
“I’m assuming that’s not the constellation Aires?”
“No. I’ll have to start on that tomorrow.” With a deep inhale, Echo pulls out a chair from the table and rests the painting on the arms and leans it against the back so it will stay upright.
Air rushes out of my body, and I sink onto our bed. It’s the same damned shock as when she drew my parents this past spring. There’s awe and joy and this ache that hits deep in my gut. I bend forward and rest my joint hands on my knees and stare at the sight in front of me.
Fuck me, my eyes burn. I shut them, attempting to get my shit together. It’s a painting. Only a painting. I reopen them, and it’s the same disorientation as a right hook to the head. It’s more than a painting, and that’s the reason my throat swells.
Last night meant as much to me as it did to her and she painted it, capturing it in a way unique to Echo. She’s right, it’s not done. It’s a skeleton compared to her other work, but I see enough to know what she desires, what she plans to design. Up close all those colors would look like chaos, but when viewed as a whole it creates this beautiful picture. In the end, that’s the best way to describe me and Echo, our relationship. Our love.
The bed dips as Echo eases onto it, settles behind me and props her chin on my shoulder. Her signature scent that reminds me of walking into a bakery becomes an invisible blanket surrounding me. “What do you think?”
“It’s us,” I whisper, and knots form in my stomach. Echo always finds a way to blow my mind. She tenses behind me and I continue, “It’s where we spent last night.”
“It is.” Echo relaxes, and her fingers curl around my biceps. “Do you like it?”
Struggling for composure, I place my hand over hers and pause. “It’s…”
I’m not Echo. I don’t have words for what happens inside me. If I did, I’d fail at describing this. I shift to rest my forehead against hers. “I don’t deserve you.”
“That’s my statement,” she says so only I can hear. “I wish we were alone again.”
I press my lips to hers, slide my hand through her hair and watch as the curls bounce back into place. “Me, too.”
★ About Katie ★
★ Giveaway ★