“I’ve picked up a lot of things. It’s been a long time,” Alex said, and when she tripped on her foot, they both laughed. “Maybe we should try something slower.”
“It’s probably for the best since I don’t really want to break my leg,” she agreed, and grinned up at him. Once they began to move slowly again, she brushed a hair back from her forehead, and he smiled down at her.
“I’ve kinda missed you actually.”
“Me, too,” she admitted.
“I should be going to Sundham for the spring semester, so maybe we can be study buddies again,” Alex suggested.
“That would be fantastic. I’m not doing so well in school so far.” Harper frowned, knowing that was an understatement.
“Well, I’m sure once all this stuff with Gemma is solved, you’ll do much better.”
She smiled, trying to look as confident as Alex sounded. “Yeah. Me, too.”
The song ended, switching over to Agnes Obel’s “Riverside,” which felt much slower than the previous one. She glanced around, looking for Daniel, or barring that, an excuse to sit back down.
While she’d been looking left, Daniel and Gemma appeared at her right, and she turned to see Daniel asking Alex, “Mind if I cut in?”
“Nope.” Alex stepped back, offering her hand to Daniel. “She’s all yours.”
Harper slid gratefully into Daniel’s arms, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Gemma and Alex disappearing onto the dance floor again. She looped her arms around Daniel’s neck, and he held her much closer to him than Alex had.
“Did you have a nice time with Alex?”
She nodded as she swayed with him. “Yeah. How about you?”
“Pretty good. Your sister’s a rather enthusiastic dancer, though.”
“Yeah. And she stepped on my foot.”
“Is it okay?” She tried to step back, so she could see his foot, but he held her close to him, refusing to let her go. “Do you want to sit down?”
“No.” He smiled and shook his head. “I never wanna sit. I just wanna dance with you for the rest of the night. Just like this.”
Staring up into his eyes, it was hard for her not to cry. So she rested her chin on his shoulder and held on tighter to him. His arm felt strong around her waist, but his other hand was up higher, pressing warmly against her skin in the open back of her dress. The stubble on his cheek rubbed against hers, but she didn’t mind.
In fact, she relished it. She wanted to savor every moment of this. The way his arms felt safe around her, the way he smelled of sandalwood, the scrape of his cheek, even the feel of his shirt underneath her hands as she hung on to him.
“I don’t want this song to end,” she whispered.
“I can go talk to the DJ,” Daniel suggested, trying to make a joke. “Bribe him to keep playing it all night long.”
Harper didn’t say anything, but she didn’t let go of him, either. He exhaled deeply, and she felt his breath warm on her neck. He moved his head, so that he could kiss her cheek, then she looked up at him.
He brushed her hair back, burying his fingers in the thickness of it, and his thumb lingered on her cheek. She tried to meet his gaze, but she couldn’t do it. She didn’t want him to see the tears in her eyes, so she closed them.
And then she felt his mouth on hers. His fingers knotted in her hair, and his hand on the small of her back pressed her harder to him. She kissed him back, hungrily, greedily, and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck, pulling herself to him.
She didn’t care who was watching. She didn’t care how this looked. At that moment, all that mattered to her was Daniel, and hanging on to him for as long as she could. She wanted to consume him, to swallow every bit of him, so that she’d never be without him again, so no one could ever hurt him or take him away from her.
The song finished, switching to something that sounded far too peppy, and they stopped kissing. Breathing heavily, she buried her face in the crook of his neck. His hand moved to the back of her head, stroking her hair.
“Well, this looks like fun,” Penn said, her words carrying through the music and the sound of the crowd.
“No. Not tonight. Please,” Harper begged into his shoulder. “Not tonight.”
“I’m sorry,” Daniel murmured, his words nearly lost in her hair.
“Can I have this dance?” Penn asked, sounding more like a demand than a question, and then she was right next to them.
Harper looked up and pulled away from Daniel a little bit, so it would be easier to see Penn. But he kept his arms around her, unwilling to let Harper get too far away.
“I’m dancing with my girlfriend right now, so no,” he told Penn firmly. “You can’t have this dance. And before you ask, you can’t have the next one, either. Harper has reserved me for the entire night. She’s actually reserved me all the way until Monday, so…”
“All right, all right.” Marcy came out of nowhere to save the day and moved in between Daniel and Penn. “If you’re really desperate for a dance, Penn, I’ll dance with you. As long as you promise not to try any hanky-panky.”
Penn crossed her arms over her chest and looked past Marcy, her dark gaze locked directly on Daniel. “I’ve changed my mind, Daniel. I want you tonight.”
“Didn’t you hear the man?” Marcy asked. “He’s booked up. Take a number.”
Liv’s familiar laugh came from behind her, and Harper glanced back to see her former roommate hanging on to Kirby. Thea stood a few feet away, looking bored as usual, while she poured herself a glass of punch at the refreshment table.
“Marcy, thank you, but why don’t you go with Kirby before Liv eats him?” Harper pointed over to where Liv was flirting. She appreciated Marcy’s help, but if things were going to go down with Penn, she’d rather have her out of harm’s way anyhow.
“Dammit. He’s like catnip to these witches,” Marcy muttered as she walked off to deal with the situation.
“That’s not what we agreed to, Penn.” Daniel had moved away from Harper so he could reason with Penn, but he kept one arm around her waist.
Penn shrugged. “Well, I’m changing the agreement.”
“You can’t just change things whenever you want,” Daniel argued. “We have a deal.”
“Daniel.” Penn took a deep breath, and her eyes blazed. “If you’re gonna do this, we’re doing it now. Or the whole deal’s off. And you know what that means for Gemma and your little girlfriend?”