Chasing Lights

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Chapter 28: Promises, Promises

Florence

Part of me couldn't believe I was doing this.

But the other, more prominent part cheered me on, and it didn't even wait for his response before I reached behind my back, unclasping my bra.

Phoenix's gaze stayed fixed on my own as I let the fabric drop to the ground and approached him.

"What are you..."

"Answer my question." I was right in front of him, already feeling the steam and stray droplets on my skin. They were nothing against his heated stare, though, and I realized that coming in here didn't help the burn inside of me at all. It just added fuel to the fire.

After deliberating for what felt like minutes, he finally nodded his head, reaching his hand out to me. I wiggled out of my slip and took his hand, never leaving eye contact, not even when he pulled me into the warmth of the shower.

The water was hotter than I expected, but somehow helped calm my raging soul. My eyelids fluttered shut as I let the water hit my skin, and I took a deep breath before I dove beneath the showerhead, letting the rain fall over me.

Phoenix's hands slowly wandered to my side, keeping me in place while I enjoyed the heat on my body. "You're so fucking beautiful, Florence."

I moved closer to him, letting the water hit my back so I could brush the soaking hair out of my face, opening my eyes again. His flaming gaze instantly found my own, the tension making me swallow hard. "And you are absolutely stunning."

The bruises on his wet skin seemed even more protrusive now, and I couldn't help but furrow my brows as I studied his injuries once more. It wasn't fatal; I knew that, but my fingers still moved with care as they outlined the yellow and blue colors. I pressed a gentle kiss on his shoulder, letting my lips wander across his collarbone as his gaze pierced straight into my being.

His breathing picked up when my hands dug into his back, needing an outlet for the fire that's still raging in my heart. One part of me needed more than this, and the other basically begged me to be gentle, to not let my stubborn personality take over this moment.

Neither of those parts surfaced when Phoenix captured my chin and pulled me up, letting our lips collide without warning. I almost gasped from the impact, but his firm grip on my sides kept me steady as he deepened the kiss, not leaving an inch between us.

My chest brushed against his own as we breathed each other in, the heat between my legs suddenly more eminent than the scorching water on my back. "Phoenix..." I swallowed hard, trying to catch my breath, but he wouldn't let me.

His lips already chased my own again, pushing me straight against the glass. It was cold on my skin, but with the hot water pouring over us, and the scorching touch of his fingers roaming over my body, I was still burning alive.

I hooked my leg around his calf, pushing him even closer to me, but an involuntary gasp fled my lips when I felt his length dig into my thigh. He was as ready for me as I was for him, that much I knew.

"We need to stop..." he finally groaned, his hand flat against the pane behind me as we broke the kiss. With ragged breaths, our gazes locked, and I could sense the fire in his irises with every second that passed, with every moment we left untouched.

"We don't," I responded as confidently as I could, my hand cupping his cheek. "I want you, Phoenix."

Hesitation creeped into his heated stare, and so I lifted my other hand as well, letting it run through his hair as I whispered, "I'm the last one who'll make you rush into things you don't want. I just..." A sigh fled my lips as the remaining shred of my conscience tried to convert my stream of thoughts into proper words. "I want to feel you with everything that I am."

He swallowed deeply, resting his forehead against my own. "Of course I want you, Flo. Are you insane?" His hands dug into my sides, making me bite on my bottom lip right as he regarded me again. I felt the way his eyes flicked to my mouth and then back to me, the fire reigniting long enough for me to burn along with it. "There's just so much you don't know, so much I have to tell you..." I barely heard his words above the stream of water pouring down on us, but nodded my head in response.

"We'll have all the time in the world to talk about everything after the race." My words were as true as the night. I knew I couldn't postpone this talk any longer, but the urgency in my bones paid no heed to my thoughts. "I... You..." My gaze flicked to the bruises on his shoulders, emotion once more getting the better of me. It was overwhelming, seeing him like this. "You fucking scared me, Phoenix."

I looked back up at him, his intense eyes instantly meeting mine.

For a moment, the stream of water raining down on us was the only sound in this confined space.

For a moment, it was just us. A girl ready to find herself, and a boy who hadn't found his place in this world yet.

The water stopped, and within seconds, Phoenix's hands dug into my thigh. I almost squealed when he hoisted me up, letting my grip tighten on his neck. "Your shoulder!" I scolded him, but he silenced me with a kiss.

"Shut up, Nyx," he growled while carrying me out of the bathroom, and steered for the bed. His frame towered over me as my back hit the mattress, anticipation now fluttering in my stomach.

"And I'm rude, huh?" I couldn't help but smirk, grateful when he reciprocated the action.

"Yeah, you are." His expression contradicted that statement, but I decided not to tease him about it, especially not when he crashed his lips against my own again with so much fervor that my spirit instantly went up in flames.

My skin ignited from the friction of our naked and wet bodies moving with each other, and I dug my fingers into his hips, trying to find an outlet for my pleasure that gave me a sense of power in this more than futile fight for dominance.

The thundering heart in my chest was loud enough to drown out the thoughts spiraling through my head, asking what the hell I was doing jumping, no, leaping to a step like this. I didn't do that, normally. I didn't do one-night stands, but also knew it wouldn't be one with him. Not with the connection we'd built until now.

And so, when he broke the kiss to shoot me a hesitated glance, I reached for one of his hands propped next to my head. Leading it down my body, I watched how darkness clouded his already dark green irises and suppressed a moan from the mere feeling of his fingertips on my breast.

His gaze never left my own as he caressed my skin, sparking furious shivers that ran down my spine, desperately asking me to arch my back to minimize the distance between us. There was something about the way he looked at me that made me feel safe yet wanted, fragile but powerful, and I inhaled a sharp breath when his fingers wandered down further, reaching between my legs.

My teeth came down on my bottom lip when he ran his hand between my thighs, spreading the heat with his fingertips. "Fuck..." he muttered, coming down to press a gentle kiss on my neck.

"That— oh." I sighed when his fingers moved in circular motions, sucking the air right out of my lungs. "Shit. That feels... Oh my god."

I'd been touched before — I'd had the experiences you could have at eighteen, but never in my life did it feel like this.

My fingers dug into the skin of his back as he caressed me further, driving me further and further to the brink of insanity and pleasure, to the edge I was so desperately waiting to jump off of. "Phoenix..." I unabashedly moaned out his name, failing my attempt of a warning.

His lips wandered to my collarbone before they spread into a smirk, and his other hand reached for mine, interlacing our fingers right above my head. I suppressed a guttural moan when he applied more pressure to my core, knowing just where to push already.

"Tell me what you want, Flo." The darkness of his voice vibrated in my ear before he leaned back to look at me, his eyes holding the same fire I felt deep in my core.

"I want..." A gasp fled my lips when he gently dipped his finger inside me, hooking it up. "Fuck. I want this. I want more. I want..." My toes curled when his thumb traced wet circles on my skin, moving in sync with the rest of his body. "Shit. I just... I want you, Phoenix. All of you."

My heart pounded so violently in my chest that I had a hard time containing the pleasure in my core, and so, even though my entire body fought the mere thought of stopping him then and there, I reached for his hands between my legs and clasped it with my own. "I want to do it with you." I hoped he got my point without needing me to be more blunt, the breathiness of my voice surely should've been an indicator to my emotional state.

But Phoenix just looked at me, his piercing green eyes focused on my own when he asked, "Are you sure?"

I nodded instantly. "A hundred percent."

He studied me for another moment, and then finally pressed his lips against my own. It was a short but rough kiss, one that promised much more than what we'd already experienced, and when Phoenix leaned back to glance around the room, anticipation fluttered in the pit of my stomach. "Bathroom, blue bag," I told him, answering the question in his gaze.

I used the moment he left my body to take a deep breath, and only when I heard the wrapper opening in the room did I open my eyes, finding him climbing on top of me again. His brows furrowed slightly as he towered over me; it was a sight I wasn't used to, and one I didn't like, either.

"What's wrong?" I asked, reaching up to run a hand through his wet hair, and I bathed in the way he leaned into my touch with closed eyes, letting me calm him the best way I knew how to.

"Nothing..." His words were swallowed by the deep kiss we shared. "I just don't want you to regret anything."

"I won't." My lips left his as I pressed myself into the pillow, glancing at his bruised shoulder once more. The ache in my heart from seeing him hurt was almost unbearable, and every fiber of my being asked him to soothe the pain, to calm my raging soul. "I promise, no matter what happens after today... I won't regret it. I couldn't."

My heart thundered when he looked at me again, his green eyes dark with lust but glimmering with something else, something that drew me to him from day one. It was the curtain of emotions he hid behind so often, the one he rarely lifted to allow me a glimpse of who he was deep inside. Every inch of me knew the danger lying in the depths of his being could burn me alive, but I didn't want to listen to myself. Just once.

Just once I wanted to be the girl dancing with fire, consequences be damned.

Phoenix didn't respond; at least not with words. The way he brushed his lips against my own said more than he ever could, though, the gentleness of his touch exhilarating our experience to an unearthly level. My hands roamed over his back, pushing him closer to me, inviting him in while I lifted one leg up to his hips, angling us the way I wanted him. He knew what I was doing. I could feel that, but our kiss remained slow and gentle, a stark contrast to the fire raging between our nearly connected bodies.

I could feel him between my legs, drowning in my pleasure and sending all sorts of sounds from his lips as he chased my own. He moved his body closer but stopped right at the edge, and knowing what was going through his mind, I instantly whispered, "I want you, Phoenix."

His hand found my own and they intertwined next to my head, squeezing my fingers as he kissed me again, and finally pushed inside. A gasp fled my lips and Phoenix stopped his movements, but I nudged my hips toward him, gesturing for him to continue.

Pleasure rolled through my veins when he did as I asked, our wet bodies moving in an almost synchronized rhythm. We were a scorching wet mess, my fingers slipping through his wet hair while his own found a tight grip on my hips, keeping me in place as he continued his thrusts. My back arched when he hit a spot I hadn't even felt before, and he broke the kiss, pulling back to look at me.

I panted, closing my eyes and pulling my lip between my teeth as Phoenix focused on hitting that same spot again and again in an almost painfully slow manner. "Fuck, that's so good..." I didn't even try to hide my moans.

"You're so breathtaking, Florence." My name sounded like music from his lips, a dark melody composed to drive me insane with every fiber of his being. "Literally. I can't catch my breath with you..." His hushed voice confirmed that statement, but he continued his motions before he kissed me again, deeply and with a passion that rippled straight to my core.

I tightened my grip around his back, needing less space — hell, no space at all — between the two of us. He obliged, and soon we were connected on a level that made my head spin and my toes curl, leaving me breathless and moaning out his name in a matter of minutes.

"Phoenix, I don't—I can't..."

His movements increased slightly, but still teased me with a gentleness I hadn't expected from him, or me, for that matter. It was enough to push me to the brink of insanity, though, and so I held on tightly as I felt both our highs rush through our connected bodies, knocking the air straight out of my lungs.

My legs trembled as he held himself on top of me, his hand still clasping around my own, almost painfully so. I didn't mind, though. Not at all.

"Fuck..." A visible shiver ran down his spine as he leaned his forehead against my own, and I could only reply with a long sigh.

"Yeah..." I inhaled a shaky breath, giving myself a minute to calm my raging spirit.

Phoenix used the moment to disappear into the bathroom and clean up, but he came back seconds later, pulling the duvet over our bodies as he pulled me close. Our hearts still thundered in unison when I laid my head on his chest, inhaling his earthy scent.

His arms circled around me, holding me close, and for a moment, we just existed in our little bubble, breathing each other in as he drew circles on my hot skin.

I turned a little, placing my chin on his chest as I studied the bruises on his skin. His eyes were closed, and the deep breaths he took told me he was still recovering from our adventure.

My fingers traced the outline of his colored skin, practically feeling his thundering beneath my fingertips. I couldn't help but sigh again, furrowing my brows at the injuries he faced today.

"Are you—"

"Flo, please." His thumb brushed over my cheek, angling me up so I could meet his fiery gaze. "I wouldn't have done what we just did if I wasn't feeling fine."

A smile spread across my lips from the reminder, and I nodded while he ran his fingers through my still wet hair. He studied me intensely, scanning every inch of my face until he asked, "Are you okay?"

I'd practically thrown myself at him, and here he was, asking if I was okay.

Something about the blunt emotion in his voice made my heart leap out of my chest, and I swallowed hard, trying to find the right way to process all of this.

"More than," I replied, still wandering through the maze in my soul.

His response was as powerful as it was futile: He pressed his index against my chin, lifting me up to brush his lips against my own.

The kiss wasn't heated, and it wasn't what I would've expected after an experience as sensual as this one, but the raw gentleness he laid into it just made me fall in love with him even more.

Because there was no fucking way I could deny it now.

I fell in love with Phoenix McCoy, unabashedly so.

I loved the way he listened intently when I told him about my work. I loved how he made me feel powerful, but still gave me the confidence to let myself be fragile around him. I loved that his eyes searched for mine whenever he entered a room, and I loved even more that he actively sought my touch to calm himself, even if I acted like I didn't notice.

And when I looked at him just then, I knew he felt the same. I could read it in his irises, right beneath that vulnerable curtain he operated so skillfully.

"Can you promise me something?" His question revealed yet another layer, fear entering the stage now.

"Depends on the promise," I replied softly.

A thin smile appeared on his lips as he scanned every inch of my face, like he was searching for an answer I didn't even know I could give him. He leaned down and even though I was waiting for his request, I instantly met him halfway, somehow wanting to feel him now.

The kiss both calmed and enraged my nerves, but I was already used to that exhilaration of his proximity, the storm he caused every single time he so much as looked at me.

"Promise me you won't hate me." His words were a whisper against my lips, and I leaned back to look at him, to understand what exactly he's telling me.

"Why would I hate you?"

"Because there's so much I have to tell you, but I..." A deep sigh fled his lips as he gently shook his head, closing his eyes. "I don't know how to."

My brows furrowed as I placed my palm on his cheek, making him look at me. "I won't judge you. No matter what it is."

Phoenix stared at me for a long moment, and the longer I looked back at him, the more prominent the fear in his eyes became. It scared me, almost, that's how empathetic I was to his emotions. It wasn't helpful, but I'd learned to swallow that apprehension with every single race I'd watched my dad win.

It became a part of me, and I was no longer frightened of the dread that settled in the pit of my stomach. Fear was my constant now, offering company when all other emotions were too busy keeping me alive.

When you live with an emotion like that for such a long time, you learn to become friends with it.

And yet, today that friend felt like an unwelcomed visitor, someone I barely knew.

"What are you so afraid of?" I asked, partly to him, but also to me. I always promised not to fool myself, after all. Seeing him like that scared the hell out of me, and that fact alone offered a variation of fears I hadn't seen in a very long while. Or maybe ever.

His emerald irises held so much worry that I couldn't help but reach up, offering both of us some relief as I ran my hand through his damp hair. I loved the way he closed his eyes and moved his neck to meet my fingers, to let me calm him the best possible way. It relaxed me as well.

A long moment passed before his eyelids fluttered open again, and my heart literally stopped for a moment when he whispered, "Of you not being a part of my life."

As much as that admission made me weak to the knees... It also invited my friend back inside, because I couldn't deny that I was scared as shit of whatever he needed to tell me

I could see it in his eyes, even though I didn't want to: He'd done something he regretted now.

God fucking damnit...

"What did you do?" I asked, ready to face the storm.

But, as always, life had other plans. Because just as I thought we were getting somewhere, as I ignored the warning signs in my head telling me to wait, my phone started buzzing on the nightstand.

I sighed, propping myself up to reach for it, but Phoenix already glanced over. "It's Jin," he said with a sigh of his own, probably knowing I'd have to answer the call.

"I'm sorry..." I whispered, pressing a quick kiss on his chest before I picked up the call. "Jin?"

"Florence? Where the hell are you?"

My cheeks heated when I looked at Phoenix, who just raised a brow at me, apprehension still visible in his eyes.

"Uh, I took a nap." I cleared my throat, and Phoenix snorted. My hand flew to his lips, but he bit into my finger, making me pull back with a frown. "What do you need?" I ignored the infuriating man beneath me, and also pushed away the knot that formed in my stomach upon realizing I was probably more right than I wanted to be. Phoenix hid something from me, and it wasn't good.

"Well, you, considering we have two cars we need to get ready for the race tomorrow."

"Two?" I gasped. "What happened to Felipe?"

"Nothing, nothing. But the configurations we tried this morning didn't work, and on top of that, his power unit seems to be damaged, so there's a shit ton of work for both cars."

"Fuck..." I muttered. "I'll be down as quick as I can. Just let me get ready."

"Alright. I'll be in Felipe's garage."

"Okay. See you there."

And with that, I hung up, rolling my eyes at the smirk on Phoenix's lips, even though it didn't quite reach his eyes. "Nap, huh?"

"Shut up." I threw a pillow at him. "I need to get down there. They need help with fixing these cars."

"Shit... Sorry."

I shrugged, pulling myself up the bed and closer to him to press a kiss on his lips. "It's my job, at least until tomorrow."

He nodded as I jumped off the bed, looking for my clothes so I could get back to work. I dashed around the suite, ending in the bathroom where I put my old clothes back on. No use in changing if they're getting destroyed anyway, right?

Phoenix appeared behind me, dressed in black jeans and a dark blue shirt, and wrapped his arms around my stomach while I clipped my hair back, getting into mechanic mode.

He watched me through the mirror, and even though his hold on me restricted my range of motion, I didn't mind. I just fixed up my hair as well as I could before I leaned back against him, letting my body rest for a moment.

His gaze found my own in our reflection, and I took a moment to bathe in the way we looked together. Phoenix had always been stormy, but I loved that about him as well. His dark hair was disheveled, and I fought the urge to run my hands through it to calm both our souls from the chaos lingering between us.

I really came true to my name.

Pleasure was still visible on our features, especially mine. Flushed cheeks and glassy green-blue eyes were a stark contrast to the wrinkly Azure Racing overall I was wearing, but I loved it with every fiber of my being. I felt like I belonged when I wore these clothes, and my confidence sure made up for the lack of neatly ironed skirts and revealing blouses.

It was utterly me. And I loved myself.

"We'll talk about everything," I promised, holding his intense stare. "After the race, though. I don't want you to be distracted..."

Dad had always said that he forgot everything going on in his life the second he let the visor down, but I'd always found that hard to believe. You couldn't just drown out the rest of the world like that... Could you?

"Okay." Phoenix pressed a kiss on my neck, not breaking our locked gaze.

"Okay..." I closed my eyes for just a moment, memorizing the feeling of his lips on my skin.

And even though every inch of me soared from happiness, from the newly found connection we opened ourselves up to today, I couldn't help the sliver of panic running through my veins.

It felt like a giant sword of Damocles was hanging right above our heads, ready to strike the second we let it.

I'd said it before: I never ran from my problems. But right now, dodging that sword seemed like the best option.

I knew the storm that'd follow would be strong enough to uproot my being, but I didn't care. After all, I'd known Phoenix McCoy was as stormy as they'd come when I'd fallen in love with him.

Taking a deep breath, I slowly opened my eyes, still finding Phoenix looking at me in the mirror. His gaze was pensive but intense, and I had to swallow from the pending doom in his irises.

"I should go..."

"Yeah." Phoenix nodded, taking my hand in his.

Allowing myself one more glance at us, I took in the fiery girl mechanic with tousled hair, standing in front of the race driver who screamed recklessness and danger, and I realized... I loved the way we looked together.

It just worked.

I took a mental picture of that image before I pulled Phoenix out of the room, aiming straight for the door, where the rest of my belongings already waited for me.

"I'll see you before the race?" I asked, and Phoenix nodded.

"Yeah. I'll come find you."

"You always do." The words slipped out of my mouth, but the smirk on his lips definitely made it worth it.

"I do," he confirmed, and we stared at each other again.

God, how much more staring can someone take?

"Okay. I'll go now." I grabbed my bag from the floor, reaching for the door handle before I leaned over to him. He met me halfway and brushed a kiss on my lips, letting them linger a moment longer than usual.

Phoenix suddenly pushed me against the wall, caging me in and causing my bag to fall to the ground. I knew I was late, but something about this kiss felt so important that everything else seemed insignificant. His hand ran through my hair, getting a tight grip on it as he devoured me like he never did before, not even in bed.

"Phoenix..." I whispered, but he shut me up with his lips, despair and fear lingering on his tongue.

"Not yet," he murmured, deepening the kiss.

And I knew what he meant; it felt like this was more than just a kiss. It was an entire story we told ourselves for the first and maybe last time. Unspoken words were delivered with every inch lost between us, and the more I listened to them, the less I wanted to leave this damn room.

I just wanted to be with him.

I wanted the earth to stop spinning, wanted to pause life just to live in this moment forever.

But I knew that wasn't how the world worked, unfortunately.

And so I pulled away from him, even if unwillingly so.

His gaze found my own, and I could see the plea in his eyes, the same desperate call I'd heard in my heart the second he placed his lips on mine, reaching out to me now.

I kissed him once more, softly and swiftly, and then picked up my bag from the floor. Opening the door, I found him still staring, still looking at me with that expression in his eyes I knew would break my heart in the future.

"I'll see you, Phoenix," I said, stepping out of the room.

He caught my wrist and stopped me, slamming his lips against my own once more. His hands framed my face as he rested his forehead against mine, letting the silence linger between us until he finally said his goodbye.

"I'll race my heart out for you, Florence."

And despite the dread settling in the pit of my stomach, I shot him the best smile I could muster up.

"I know you will. Just be careful."

He nodded. "Promise."

I stepped away from him and toward the elevator, but as I watched the numbers climb to meet my floor, I couldn't help but glance back once more.

Our gazes met, and somehow, even though I didn't know what it was at that moment, I could feel that something terrible was going to happen.

I just hoped he didn't break his promise...



Author's Note

Hey, folks.

Well... I mean... That happened. I know you hate foreshadowing but sorry not sorry! Will try and get the next chapter out in the next few days so we can start the Present soon.

Don't hate me! Lol

Lots of love,

Jane





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