Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes Page 27

“I wrote it Saturday, before I came home and found Momma.”

Joe reached over and took my hand in his. “Rose, did you kill your mother?” His voice was so quiet the cicadas almost drowned out his words.

I tried to snatch my hand away. “No! What do you care, anyway? You said it wasn’t for you to decide, remember?”

His grip held tight. “You’re right, I don’t care. I’m just curious.”

“What? Are you afraid I’ll beat your head in with a rollin’ pin?”

Joe laughed and let go of my hand. “No, I’m not afraid of you, not how you’re thinkin’ anyway. If you came at me with a blunt object, I could fend you off with one hand tied behind my back.”

I thought about arguing with him but decided maybe I’d prove him wrong later. I’d bide my time.

“Number twelve, dance. You’ve never danced?”

“Nope.”

“Not even in your livin’ room?”

“Nope.”

“Now that’s a damn shame. Everyone has danced in their livin’ room.”

“Not me.”

“Number fifteen.”

I turned to face him. “Which one is that?”

He glanced up. The teasing expression on his face looked forced. “Do more with a man.”

For the first time since he started reading, I felt embarrassed. “I didn’t say what I wanted. I just said do more.”

“Why do you want to commit all Seven Deadly Sins in one week? Why one week? Why commit them at all?”

I took a drink, suddenly tired of all his questions. “Look, there’s rules with that list. I can only mark them off when I do them. If I don’t do them, they can’t come off. I wrote that one without thinkin’. I thought about how Momma always said I was committin’ deadly sins and I thought I was gonna commit them all and enjoy it. But one day just didn’t seem right, you know?” I stopped to make sure he did.

He nodded with a smirk.

“So I decided one week would be more respectable. But what I hadn’t thought about was keepin’ track of them all. I think I’ll have to write them down or I’ll forget which ones I did and didn’t do.” I stood up. “I gotta pee.”

Joe laughed. “All right. Do you need help gettin’ to the bathroom?”

My snort told him what I thought of his ridiculous question. I turned to go inside the door, teetering because the porch began to wobble. I giggled again.

Joe got up and held onto my elbow. “Be careful.”

I tripped over my foot and started to fall. Joe wrapped his arm around my waist and steadied me, pulling my body to his in the process.

We stood chest to chest, his arm holding me to him. My heart sped up and my breathing became shallow. The warm feeling down below returned with a tingling I hadn’t expected but wasn’t ready to lose just yet.

“Can you list the Seven Deadly Sins?” Joe asked, his voice barely a whisper.

I stared up into his eyes, mesmerized. “Envy, slothfulness, gluttony.”

“Have you ever done any of those, Rose?”

I nodded slowly.

“That’s only three. Do you know the other four?”

“Wrath, pride, greed,…lust.”

His face moved closer to mine. My heart beat even faster, trying to flip-flop out of my chest.

“Ever felt greed?”

“I don’t know.”

“Lust?” His mouth was inches from mine.

Overcome with a yearning I’d never felt before, I didn’t answer, just studied his face.

“Have you really never been kissed? I find that so hard to believe.” His free hand caressed my cheek.

I felt his breath on my face and something in me ached with a need I couldn’t name.

His mouth lowered so close to mine, our lips almost touched. “I can help you with an item on your list.”

“Which one?” I whispered, searching his eyes and trying not to go cross-eyed.

“Number fourteen, a kiss.”

My heart thumped so hard I wondered if I was about to have a heart attack. But I decided if I was gonna die, then kissing Joe was probably a good way to go. “Can you make it a really good one?”

Joe laughed, tilting his head back, to my utter disappointment.

“So you can’t make it a good one or you don’t want to kiss me?” I asked, peeved.

He stopped laughing. “Neither.” The hand around my waist inched up my back, pulling me even closer to him, which I hadn’t thought possible. He did it slow and deliberate, like I was a mouse and he was a cat, playing with his prey. His eyes bore into mine, his mouth inching closer. My heart rate sped up again, the ache inside growing with every second.

“Are you sure, Rose?” he asked, a small grin lifting the corners of his mouth and making his eyes twinkle.

“Yes,” I sighed and closed my eyes.

His lips touched mine, soft and gentle, pulling my lower lip between his. I felt his tongue dart out and tickle my upper lip. I gasped and he pulled me even closer, his mouth working magic on mine, igniting a bonfire in my gut that threatened to consume me. My legs felt weak and I wrapped my arms around his neck to steady myself. His response was to open his lips even more and do things with his tongue that I had never considered before. I clung to him for dear life, certain I would never survive the onslaught of fire raging through my body.

When he pulled his mouth away, we both panted, our faces inches apart. His hand cupped my face and his thumb stroked my cheek. “How was that?”

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