A/N: Alright everyone! This is my second to last chapter. The last chapter has been written for quite some time and has been edited. I plan on posting it in a day or two. Other than that, I hope you all enjoy and I'm so excited for your feedback! Also, I will have an overall dedication next chapter for the entire book. I should have been doing chapter dedications all along and I apologize for that. But I really have to dedicate this chapter to my PR, Jeri. Without her words of wisdom, this chapter would not have been possible. XO to you all!!!!
*Hunter's Perspective* (again)
The feel of Jessie's warm, sweet breath trekking down my neck slowly pulls me out of dreamland. I force my eyes open and smile as her sun-kissed, bare body focuses into view. My hands act of their own accord as they reach forward, my fingertips gently grazing her slender shoulder.
A soft moan escapes Jessie's lips, and that's all the motivation I need to move closer and start placing air-light kisses over every inch of her body. Every time my lips touch her skin my desire grows exponentially. Jessie finally succumbs to my touch, rolling on her back and looking at me from under her seductive, dark lashes. A carnal growl emits from my throat as I climb on top of her.
"Hunter," Jessie says soft laugh. "We literally went to bed two hours ago. How can you have enough energy to have sex again?"
I lean forward, placing a slow, passionate kiss on her warm and ready lips. Jessie wiggles her hips beneath me.
"It's not my fault," I reply huskily. "You're too damn hard to resist."
Jessie rolls her eyes but her cheeks flush from my words. My hands move down her slender stomach until they come to rest on her lean hips. My erection is already throbbing for her, and I know I won't be able to hold out much longer.
"Hunter - remember, we have those tickets to the Summer Boardwalk Festival. I just - I don't want you to be too tired," Jessie says breathlessly as she feebly attempts to push me away.
But I'm not going anywhere, I think slyly.
"I know baby, and I promise I'll be loads of fun when we go to that….that festival thing. But I can't stop now….you're too irresistible."
I don't know what it is - but I can't seem to get enough of this woman. A slow smile spreads across Jessie's lips as she draws her arms up and pulls me close to her body.
"Ok you win," Jessie says softly. "Just…don't ever get sick of me, OK?"
The innocent and pleading tone in her voice is enough to push me over the edge.
"Jessie," I say just before losing myself to my sexual, primal instincts. "You are the only girl I have ever loved. I promise you, on my own life, I will never, ever, get sick of you….."
The Summer Boardwalk Festival is an event for the 'locals' of our town. But because it's held right along the ocean shore, it attracts tourists as well. There's always lots of food, live music, beer and booths selling a bunch of homemade crap. None of it really appeals to me, but it doesn't bother me either. The only part that drives me crazy?
The endless stream of people.
But if it makes Jessie happy, I'm on board. The two of us weave our way through a thick crowd of people standing in line for some sort of deep-fried food. The different smells of ocean air, summer heat, fried food, and alcohol mix together before creeping into my nose and settling into my senses. Oddly enough, the combination works.
Jessie points a slender finger to a carnival ride up ahead and turns to look at me.
"Do you want to ride on that one?"
I grimace as I look at the ride, its passengers screaming with fright as the cars swivel and turn upside down. My stomach drops and my palms begin to sweat. Carnival rides have never really been my thing. And as embarrassing as it is to admit, I'm deathly afraid of heights.
Oh come on, Hunter. Stop being such a pussy, I scold myself.
"Sure, babe. Let's do it."
Jessie claps her hands with delight, scurrying over to the ticket booth to purchase the tickets. I try to reach her before she pays but she beats me to it.
"Jess - please," I say gently as she hands me the small, paper ticket. "I wanted this to be my day to treat you to whatever you wanted. And a part of that is letting me pay. Is that cool?"
Jessie beams up at me and nods. I lace my fingers with hers as we make our way to the long line for the carnival ride. My stomach squirms with protest the closer we get. The child in me wants to turn around and make up some excuse as to why I can't go. I gulp down my fears as the man at the front of the line takes our tickets and points to a red car.
My hands shake at my sides as Jessie and I hoist ourselves into the car and buckle up. I can feel the blood draining from my face as the man who collected our tickets ropes off the line and walks to his small control center.
"Ok, here we go!" Jessie squeals with delight.
I say a silent prayer as our car jerks to life. The speed immediately picks up and my stomach jolts as we're tossed from side to side. I clamp my lips shut to avoid throwing up as we flip upside down more than a few times.
When the ride finally comes to a stop, my hands are clammy and my head is spinning with dizziness. Jessie looks at me and her face falls.
"Hunter - are you alright? You're pale as a ghost!"
I slowly unclamp my safety lock and allow Jessie to pull me out of the car. I swing my arm over her shoulder and the two of us slowly walk to the exit. I take in a few deep breaths, trying to ease both my mind and my stomach back to their normal state. Jessie shakes her head and a frown settles on her beautiful face.
"Why didn't you tell me you couldn't handle those types of rides?" she asks.
I ignore her question until we're out of earshot of anyone else. The ocean breeze picks up and the coolness of it calms me down a degree. Jessie and I keep walking until she gently lowers me onto the sandy beach. She gives me an expectant look and I shrug my shoulders in defeat.
"I've always hated those types of rides," I explain impishly. "But you were so excited…I didn't have the heart to turn you down."
Jessie's tense look softens at my response and she moves in closer to me. She places a single kiss on my cheek and the feel of her lips lingers against my skin.
"You're pretty amazing - you know that?" she asks and nestles into the crook of my arm.
Happiness pulses through my body. I have never felt this intense feeling of love for any other woman before. And the more time I spend with Jessie, the more I fall in love with her. We sit in comfortable silence as the waves lap softly against the shore.
My ears perk up when I hear someone approaching us from just a short distance away. I crane my head to the side, my defensive instincts rearing to life when I realize who it is. How did he know we were here? How did find us? My hold on Jessie tightens when my brother reaches us, his eyes completely ignoring me as he focuses on the woman I love.
Jessie's body tenses when Elliot comes into view. I lower my gaze to my brother's face and a huge pang of guilt slams into my chest. Even though it's been over a week since our 'falling out,' his face is still badly banged up and bruised. I curse inwardly.
"Elliot?" Jessie asks in disbelief.
Elliot stuffs his hands in his pockets, grimacing when he notices the tight hold I have on Jessie.
"I'm sorry to sneak up on you," he says, his voice tortured with sadness.
Despite my better judgment, I loosen my hold on Jessie, allowing my hand to fall at my side. It's hard enough for Elliot to see the two of us together. I shouldn't rub it in his face even more, especially when he did nothing wrong.
"Uhm…are you ok?" Jessie asks uncomfortably. "Do you…I mean - do you need something?"
Elliot sighs and tips his head to look at the clouds. A heavy blush ignites his cheeks, and I know whatever he's about to say is going to embarrass the hell out of him. So I try to be respectful and turn my gaze elsewhere. He's still my brother, after all.
"I applied for a different internship," Elliot says quietly. "I mean, let's face it. The only reason I chose to stick around was to be with you, Jessie."
I run my fingers over the sand, trying my best not to eavesdrop on the conversation…but it's nearly impossible.
"I've found someone else to take over my lease for the year," Elliot continues. "So I'll be heading out of town until…well until I feel like I can come back."
There's an awkward silence between the three of us and Jessie shifts her body uneasily. The sound of all the people on the boardwalk rings softly in my ears. Even though I love the fact that I'm not amongst that noisy crowd, giving the current situation, I'd gladly be back in it.
"Well, I appreciate you coming here to tell us," Jessie finally says. "And good luck with your internship, Elliot. I know you'll do great."
I so badly want to wrap my arms around Jessie, but somehow I refrain. I nod at her words and look up at my brother.
"If you need anything you know you can call me anytime," I add.
My brother's soft expression hardens as he rakes a cold glare over my face. His eyes narrow to slits as he looks at me, and I know right now he can't see me as his brother. He only sees me as the man who stole away his girl. Another pang of guilt knocks into me.
"I can't fucking stand to even look at you," Elliot snarls in my direction. "And I know I'll get over this. But until then? Don't seek me out, Andrews. Because I swear if you do, I'll beat the shit outta you."
It's not often that Elliot refers to me by last name. I think over the years he's done it maybe twice before. Once was when I stole his red tractor and crashed it into a tree. The other was when I cheated off his test in school…and he was the one who got in trouble for it. It's the name he uses when he's beyond mad at me.
I nod my head in understanding.
"I get it," I say coolly. "I do."
At my lack of response, Elliot's face relaxes ever-so-slightly. He turns his focus back to Jessie and the anger in his eyes completely fades. Replacing it is a look of love and desperation. He once again ignores my presence as he takes a step in Jessie's direction. The protective side of me wants to step in front of Jessie and tell my brother to piss off. But I don't. Elliot deserves at least a final word with her.
So I stay quiet.
"Jessie," Elliot croaks out. "I…well….I'm still in love with you. I know you chose Hunter and that probably won't ever change. But I just want to be sure you're making the right decision. Because once I leave, I'm going to move on. Don't try to come back to me after that. It'll be too late."
He pauses for a moment and closes his eyes. When he opens them again, they are shimmering with unshed tears.
"All the way here, the plan was to beg you to get back with me," Elliot continues and his voice cracks near the end. "But just by the look in your eyes, I know it'd be useless. So I won't even try."
Jessie stands from her sitting position, brushing the sand away from her butt and legs. She leans forward and hugs Elliot without saying a word. I hear her whispering she's sorry and watch as a few small tears drip down Elliot's sullen cheek.
He hastily wipes them away when she breaks contact and he gives us each a nod.
"I'll see you around," Elliot forces out.
He doesn't wait for either of us to reply before he starts jogging back the way he came. Both Jessie and I watch him as his figure becomes smaller and smaller, eventually blending in with the crowd completely. Jessie plops down next to me and sighs.
"I feel terrible," she admits, and I cringe at the sadness in her voice.
"I do too."
"You think he'll be OK?"
I nod my head. "I know he'll be OK," I answer truthfully. "He'll find someone that's perfect for him, just like I did."
Jessie's sad eyes meet mine and a small smile plays at her lips.
"Did you just admit that I'm perfect for you?"
I let out a husky chuckle and tug her slender body close to me. Her sweet and familiar scent travels up my nose and a warm feeling of love fills me to the core.
"I did," I admit weakly. "And I'll say it again and again. You're perfect for me, Jessie. And I'll tell you that everyday…for as long as you'll have me."
Jessie's smile widens as she once again nestles into my body. The warmth and softness of her skin sends tingles through my body. I don't know how I've lived without this woman all these years, but now that I have her, I refuse to let her go.
"Well then, Hunter," Jessie purrs against me. "Looks like you'll be stuck with me for a very, very long time."
I bite back a grin as I place a soft kiss on the top of her head. "Sounds like a plan to me, Jessie. Because honestly? I can't think of a better way to live out the rest of my days."