Mouth Full of Ashes: Part 11

“You’d have a great time,” Maeve promised. Was it just Callie’s imagination, or did Maeve’s smile turn sultry as she looked Callie over? Maybe she was reading too much into everyone.

But Elijah couldn’t keep his interest a secret. His gaze swept over Callie again, head to toe, and when he met her eyes, she smiled. Most men checked her out like they wanted to devour her. Elijah’s attention was thorough, but appreciative. Warm. The more he looked at her, the more she wanted him to.

“You want to kiss me,” Elijah said.

Callie reddened and gaped at him. “I… I don’t think…”

“You do, don’t you?” He raised an eyebrow. The question held no judgment, though maybe that was because it was rhetorical. He’d spoken like he knew the answer already. Was it that obvious?

She’d never felt so thoroughly embarrassed in her life. The heat of everyone’s gazes made her tremble. They awaited her next move. What was she supposed to say?

“Answer me, please, Callie.”

The words sprang from her lips. “I do.”

Elijah’s grin widened. “You could’ve said so, darling. I want to kiss you, too.”

Callie’s heart thudded. No one else moved as Elijah crept close to her, a golden vision in the firelight. She couldn’t keep her eyes off him, couldn’t look away, couldn’t move—not even when he knelt in front of her.

“I bet you taste like sunshine.” His voice was low, smooth, dangerous, just as it had been before. It made her want to give him everything. It dizzied her.

“I might.”

Elijah closed his eyes and leaned into her, hand cupping her cheek. Callie’s eyes fell shut and she met him halfway, mouth sliding against his like they’d done this before. Elijah’s lips were hot, his kiss deliberate. He made it clear how much he wanted her. His hand slid to the back of her neck. He urged her closer.

“Callie?” Ramsay asked. “What are you doing here?”

Callie broke the kiss with a gasp. Elijah pulled back, but he didn’t stand or anything. Somehow, while Elijah distracted her, Ramsay had walked into the campground. 

Jabari stood, went over to Ramsay, and gave him a quick kiss. He slipped his arm around Ramsay’s shoulders. Still, Ramsay only had eyes for Callie.

Not knowing what else to do, she stood. “I could ask you the same thing.”

“Jabari invited me. What’s going on?” He scowled at Elijah, then looked back to Callie. “Are you okay?”

She didn’t know. Her mouth and cheeks burned and she wanted to kiss Elijah again and nothing made sense anymore. She was in a strange place with strange people at a strange time of night and she couldn’t remember why she’d come to the carnival again in the first place.

“Callie,” Ramsay said.

“Yeah, sorry. I’m fine.” She wasn’t sure why she was apologizing. She had nothing to be sorry for. Hell, she’d be lying if she said she hadn’t liked kissing Elijah. It was a shame they’d been interrupted…

Shit, she had to focus. Maybe she’d forgotten to take her medicine again. Maybe that was the problem. She usually took it before she went to bed—

“It was consensual, if that’s what you’re worried about,” Elijah said.

“I want to hear it from her,” Ramsay retorted.

“I… yes, it was.” Callie chewed her lip. “I wanted him to kiss me.”

“Okay, weird. Whatever.” Ramsay crossed his arms. “What are you doing here? Assuming you didn’t drop by just to get your rocks off with… whoever this is.”

“That’s Elijah,” said Jabari.

“I can introduce myself.” Elijah’s lips were pink, but otherwise, he looked unaffected. He stretched out a hand for Ramsay to shake. “Elijah. I tend to call the shots around here.”

Ramsay ignored his hand. “You don’t own me. Or her.”

“I’m fine,” Callie said. “Really, Ram. I promise.”

“Have you met up with him before?” he asked. “Before tonight, I mean.”

Callie shook her head. Her blush deepened. “I… well, we just met.”

“An hour ago,” Elijah added.

Ramsay’s forehead creased. “You’re making out with some dude you just met? Callie, this isn’t like you. What’s going on?”

She wasn’t sure why, but she felt like she needed to defend Elijah more than herself. “He’s a nice guy, Ram. He hasn’t done anything creepy, okay? He’s been a gentleman, and he—”

“What’s his last name?”

Callie gaped at him. “I… okay, what’s Jabari’s?”

Ramsay’s face fell. “You know that’s not fair.”

“No. I don’t know that.” She put her hands on her hips. “As far as I can see, there’s no real difference, so back off. I’m a grown woman. I can make my own decisions.”

“Yeah,” said Ramsay, “shitty ones.”

Callie’s mouth tightened. What could she say to that? She had no idea why he was so pissed, but she didn’t feel like getting into it with him now, especially not in front of this group of hot people. All she wanted to do now was keep kissing Elijah and Ramsay had gotten in the way of that. She had to get him out.

As if on cue, Jabari touched Ramsay’s shoulder. “Why don’t we go somewhere?”

Ramsay didn’t move. “I’m comfortable here.”

“I don’t think you are, Ram. Come on.” Jabari tugged on his arm but Ramsay stood still, staring dead-eyed at Callie. Jabari tried again. “There’s a club not far from here. I think we all could go.”

Elijah lit up. “Think we need a night out. Could do everyone here a world of good.”

Callie chewed the inside of her cheek. She still struggled to remember why she’d come to the carnival but she knew it was important for her to be there. Normally, it would have bothered her that she couldn’t remember something that seemed so critical, but… being in the group’s presence had calmed her. Nothing else mattered besides hanging out with them.

If that meant she had to go to a club, maybe it wasn’t the worst thing. Besides, she could always come back to the carnival once she remembered why she’d come there in the first place.

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