Excerpt: The White Dress

Cover_WhiteDressSmallExcerpt from The White Dress, the Autumn Leaves:

Meredith sat on one of the benches around the central bonfire, in the center of a clearing in a circle of trees. With the large fire and the dancers, it was like being in another world. The drummers, off to one side, kept the pounding rhythm going, every so often shifting rhythms or taking a break. Meredith saw him move away from the drums to refill his water bottle at the cooler. Her stomach did a little dance every time she saw him walk by; tonight he was wearing his usual, shorts with no shirt showing off his tattoos. The man was sexy as hell.

Her throat went absolutely dry when he came over to sit next to her. Without a shirt on and that close to the fire, she could see the sheen of sweat and even feel the warmth off of his skin.

“Hi, I’m Jack.”

“Mer. Meredith.”

“You like the drumming?”

“I love it. Never heard anything like it.”

“Ah, this is your first festival?”

“You could tell?”

“You have that look.” He smiled and her insides went liquid.

“Sorry.” She blushed.

“It’s all right, everyone has a first time.”

If he only knew. She smiled nervously.

“Do you ever dance?”

“Me?”

“Yes you, silly.”

“No, I’ve never danced.” The drummers started up another rhythm, and people started circling around the fire, a number of them naked.

“Come on, you gotta dance. Or drum.”

“I seriously have no rhythm. And I’m not quite…there’s a lot of…naked.”

He laughed. “Yeah, it can take a while to get used to.”

“How many festivals have you been at?”

“This is my fifth year here. This is only my second year in a band though.“

“That sounds very cool. I heard you guys playing at your booth. I think you sound great.”

“Thanks.” He smiled, and she just about fell into those brown eyes of his. “Do you like any other Pagan music?”

“No idea. I liked Spiral Rhythm last night. But I’ve never heard Pagan music before coming here.”

“I see. Well, you’ll have to catch all the bands then. Is this your first Pagan event ever? Like, your first rituals too?”

“Sort of.” Mer quirked her lip. “Kate took me to a couple of public rituals.”

“Have you ever seen the full moon out here, out in the country without any light pollution?”

“It’s been a while.”

“It’s not quite full moon, but if we get away from the fire you can see.”

“Oh. Don’t you need to drum?”

He showed her his hands, the raised welts and a blister. “I need to save my hands for my band’s concert in two days. I kind of overdid it tonight.”

“Oh dear, doesn’t that hurt?”

“I’ll be ok. Come on.” He took her hand, and she blushed to the roots. They walked through the trees along one of the paths leading from the main bonfire and ritual area, then between the rows of closed-up vending tents. When Jack rubbed her palm with his thumb and Mer was lucky she was able to stay standing. Truly, she’d never been this turned on by anyone before. “I have to be honest, Mer. I have been watching you for days.”

She blinked, her blue eyes going wide. “You. You?”

“Yeah,” he said, and his voice seemed to drop an octave, and he was giving her an intense look.

Meredith realized she still had her one arm folded around herself, and she tried to relax. “Well…me too.”

“What’s that?”

She felt a hot river of fear slice through her but said it anyways. “I kept walking by your booth to watch you.”

“Oh.” His face softened, and he stepped closer to her, caressing her face softly. She shivered almost violently. “Sorry, did I—“

“No, it’s fine, I’m just…nervous. Never…well. I’ve…I haven’t….”

He gave her a strange look. “Am I moving too fast?”

“I wouldn’t know.” She sighed.

“How do you mean?”

“I have no idea what I’m supposed to do. I haven’t done this.”

“Never done what?” He pulled her hand up again to caress her palm and she looked away. “Kissing? Really?”

“Yeah. Sorry. Not what you had in mind, I’m sure. I’m probably a total social reject—“

He tilted her chin up. “Can I?”

“Can you what?”

“Kiss you.”

“Really?”

That seemed to break something in him and his mouth descended on hers. He kissed her gently, making a soft, inarticulate, deep sound.

Meredith gasped, and he delved into her mouth, threading his fingers through her hair. He was a full head taller than her but he bent in just the right way, kissed her so sweetly she thought her stomach would never stop flipping. She let out a soft sound in the back of her throat, and Jack pulled her closer, scorching her with a hot, deep kiss that had her reeling.

After that he did have to help her stand, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. He eased his body against hers, and she’d never felt so warm in her life as he kissed her, slow deep strokes that had her melting. Panting, he leaned into her neck, kissing her tenderly there.

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