When you're done here, go HERE to find a list of other participants and to continue the steamy, no kiss goodness. Steaminess that wasn't tainted by dry toast and dreams of baby knitting.
“I still don’t know why you agreed to this. You’re going to miss out on the awesomeness of the party if you’re working the whole time.” Jer stared at the dark window in front of them. Sara had dragged him away from the town Halloween party to climb the four story stairway up to Lonaconing High’s clock tower with single-minded purpose.
The camera bag looked conspicuously out of place against her costume’s delicate cobwebby black and silver dress, its strap jostling at her wings with every gesture. “This is for the Inquirer. Getting some pictures in that paper would look great in my college applications.”
He shook his head. “Just take a few group pics, some closeups. They aren’t expecting more than that. You don’t need to kill yourself for a page four article in the suburbs section.”
She threw him a dirty look over her shoulder. “Look, just help me get up on the balcony so that I can get an overhead shot. I can’t climb in this getup.”
He sighed, gesturing towards her camera. “Give me that. I’ll go up there, take a few shots for you…”
She shook her head so hard that she nearly dislodged some of the ribbons woven into her hair. “And share the photocredit? You’re sweet, Jer, but I need to do this myself.”
“You are effing stubborn.”
“Whatever. Give me a boost, please?”
With a sigh, Jer grabbed her by the waist and lifted her through the window. When her feet disappeared into the dark hole, he hauled himself up to join her. “Nice view.” The balcony was narrow and small and he had to steady himself when he realized how close they were standing. Sara had leaned against the clock face to catch her breath, her chest heaving with the effort. The corset that she was wearing pushed… things… up and he had to fight to keep from looking, well… down. Jer forced his eyes over to the points that she had glued onto her ears and still felt the heat rising into his cheeks. Since when did elf ears become so sexy? “Are you okay?”
She gently set her camera bag on the floor and turned to look out over the festival below them, visibly paling. “I—“she quickly turned back to face him. “I’m really not afraid of heights… but, frack” Her fingers gripped the railing so tightly that her knuckles turned white. “I’m going to need a minute.” She bit her glittery lip. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m great.” He awkwardly pat her arm. “I’ve been practicing getting up here with some of the other guys for next year’s senior prank. It’s going to be epic.” He tugged at one of her black bat-like wings. “Hey, at least you have wings.”
“Very funny,” she said dryly, but seemed to relax slightly. “With my luck, they’ll get caught on the clock hands and I’ll end up splattered on the school green.”
“I think they look awesome. Actually, I think you look awesome.” Barely touching her skin with his fingertip, Jer traced the glittery swirl running from her collarbone to her cheek. “Nice touch with the sparkle.”
Sara visibly caught her breath and sounded slightly choked as she spoke, but didn’t pull away from his hand. “I thought it was a fun twist on the dark faerie thing.” Momentarily forgetting her fear, she reached out with one hand to touch one of the black runes that he had scrawled on his bare bicep. “And what are you supposed to be again?”
“A Shadowhunter.” At her blank look, he frowned. “You know, from the books? ‘Looking better in black than the widows of our enemies’ and stuff? The whole rune thing gives me that edgy look that you girls love.”
“Ri-ight.” Sara rolled her eyes, but her hand flattened against his arm, burning hot against his cool skin. “Aren’t you cold?”
“Nah. I’m naturally hot, you know. And I think that one of these runes is supposed to be some sort of protection against the cold.”
“You are such a geek.”
His hand seemed to have a life of its own. Moving from her cheek to her hair, his fingers carefully tucked a loose curl of ribbon behind that pointed ear. Sara didn’t seem to mind. “If you have a sharpie in your camera bag, I can draw a fearless rune on you.”
She laughed softly, her big brown eyes meeting his. “You’re the only person I know who would put on a black t-shirt and pants, draw all over yourself with a marker, and call it a costume.” Her eyes flickered again briefly towards the drop behind her and she stiffened.
“Let go of the railing, Sare. I promise that I won’t let you fall.” He worked her fingers away from the metal, curling them instead between his own. His voice grew softer, his other hand resting on her bare shoulder. Damn, that off-the shoulder thing was distracting… “Someday, you’re gonna be this awesome photojournalist taking pictures of some revolution while hanging off the side of some giant monument and I’ll be in a grungy local paper’s office, talking about my glory days when you dragged me up into the school’s clock tower for one of your first iconic shots. But you have to trust me first.”
“I always trust you,” she murmured, “You’re my best friend.” The hand that had been sitting on his bicep slid down his arm and gripped the faux weapons belt that he had mocked up, pulling him closer.
Jer choked back a surprised sound. He’d been in love with her since eighth grade, but Sara had put him firmly in the “friends” category, and he had never done anything that might mess up that relationship. But now... “Uhm, what are you—“
She turned, her one hand still gripping his belt, and reached for her camera bag. Those damned wings whacked him in the face and he shoved them aside. “Just hold on to me while I get these shots, okay?” Her eyes sought his again. “If you drop me, I’m dragging you with me.” Her voice shook, but her free hand was steady as she turned on her camera.
The corset-thing felt weird under his hands, the satin and metal bones pressing into his palm as he pulled her close. “I’ve got you.”
“Thanks.” Camera strap wrapped tight around her wrist, she bent forward slightly and started working, her body relaxing as her focus shifted to her art.
The photographer in him usually loved watching her work, watching as she caught something that he would have missed, or pointing out a good angle that she hadn’t tried. But this time, he couldn’t focus, hyper-aware of how much of her body was pressed against his. Even sliding one of his hands down her arm to help her balance the camera made his heart beat so fast that he was convinced that she’d be able to feel it through their clothes. He closed his eyes and tried to think about tomorrow’s US History test. The Alaska Purchase was definitely the opposite of hot.
“Last picture. Oh, thank God.” Sara slowly turned in his arms, camera hanging limply from her wrist. “Why were you talking about eighteen-sixty-seven?”
“Right.” She shrugged and then wrapped her arms around him in a hug. “I think I have some awesome shots in here. Thanks to you.” She tilted her face up at him, beaming. The glitter on her skin glowed in the faint light of the clock face.
He bent his head until his forehead touched hers. “You’re the one who took the pictures. I was just your tripod.”
Their eyes met and the world around them froze. Sara was breathing just as rapidly as he was, though he couldn’t tell if it was from the fear, from excitement, or something else. She reached between them to trace one of the marks at the neckline of his shirt. “See, I didn’t need that fearless rune, after all.”
Fearless. He had seen how Sara’s eyes had lingered on his lips. Jer bent forward, closing his eyes, and could feel her pulse speed up to match the staccato beat of his own racing heart. His lips brushed her hair, skimmed that glitter swirl on her cheek…
“Uhm, Jer…” Sara whispered, her breath tickling the corner of his lips.
His heart skipped a beat. They were so close. “Hmm?”
“Isn’t this where we’re not supposed to kiss? For that blog thing?”
He groaned, opening his eyes to take in her serious gaze. “Can we please ignore that stupid blogger? Sare…”
“We’re just friends, remember?” An impish smile crossed her lips. “You know, if Stacey Stratford sees us up here, she’ll definitely never go out with you. I’ll bring down your hotness factor.”
Jer blinked, trying not to groan again. “Uh, yeah, right. Wouldn’t want that.” He let her go, watching silently as she packed up her camera and slipped down into the tower again. “Frackin’ stupid bloggers,” he muttered, and then, with one last glare at the clock, followed her off of the balcony.
(Many apologies to Cassandra Clare for the Shadowhunter references, but Jer just couldn't help it.)