She could feel Julien tense against her back.
Anger frothed inside her, an unpleasant emotion she welcomed for nothing other than its intensity. Because it was better to feel *something* than nothing at all, and because it was better than her other options. Anger overrode the sudden sinking feeling in her stomach, the one that told her he’d named his price, even if she wanted to deny it. She’d gained only a few precious moments of peace tonight, but they more than equaled whatever retribution he planned.
He held the winning hand, but she didn’t think he was ready to play his cards just yet.
Time to call his bluff. “So change it back,” she said calmly, and turned in Julien’s arms. The hairs on her back prickled while she willed herself to relax. Air hissed from his lungs, the soft sound falling like stones against her ears.
But she felt him whirl and stalk away.
Now she really did relax, sinking into Julien, closer than decency and Mr. Rogers should allow. His arms crept back around her slowly, but his body was still tense. “What was that about?”
“Nothing,” she mumbled into his shoulder, hoping he would drop it. The stroke of his palms against her spine comforted her, yet somehow she knew he didn’t believe her.
He drew back slightly and frowned down at her. “Has he been bothering you, Tierney?”
Swallowing, she shook her head, but she didn’t meet his eyes. How could she explain to him? He wouldn’t understand unless he belonged to the Nightworld, and even then it might be a stretch. Bothering her? No, not at all.
Only every time her heart beat and bled from his rejection.
“I’m fine,” she said, pulling him closer again.
He seemed to accept that. His hands resumed their soothing path along her back and he rested his chin against her head, where the tiara didn’t interfere. Then he sighed and stepped away. “I need a drink.”
Nodding, she took his offered hand, allowing him to lead her from the dance floor. Her buoyancy had long fled. Now, instead of feeling cherished and special and loved -- as she had since she’d seen Julien standing on Raquel’s doorstep earlier that night -- she felt empty. Trust Dare to ruin the one perfect night she’d ever had... especially after giving her so much hope with his peace offering.
What had made him change his mind?
Goddess forbid he find out she and Julien were dating. She could only imagine what he’d do then.
They stopped in front of the refreshment table the dance committee had set up at the edge of the dance floor. A variety of cookies heaped on shining silver trays surrounded the large vat of pink punch. She wondered if anyone had managed to spike it yet, just because Mr. Rogers had warned them not to do so.
Julien glanced at her. “Do you want a glass?” he asked, offering her one politely.
“No, thank you,” she said.
He nodded and set it back on the table, taking her hand once again. They wound their way back to the table, where they sat. Shifting the chair so that he could face her, he leaned forward and brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes. She shivered under that touch.
“Are you having fun?”
She could hear the worry in his voice. “How could I not?” Linking their fingers, she smiled at him. “Tonight has been perfect so far.”
“So far?” he laughed. “Are you expecting it to get worse?”
Her grin widened. “Not at all. I’m expecting it to get better.”
Sitting back, his gray eyes softened. “Good. You know--“ He laughed, looking down at their hands and grinning sheepishly. “You look gorgeous tonight, Tier.”
“Thank you.” Blushing, she didn’t know what else to say.
“No, really,” he said, his face contorting earnestly, “You-- I don’t know. It’s not even your appearance, really. It’s just you and how you are. You know, I didn’t even fall for your looks.”
That’s because I didn’t have any, she answered silently.
He didn’t seem to notice that she hadn’t responded. “You have such a great personality--” He winced. “Ugh, that sounds so cheesy.”
“It does,” she laughed. The conversation was making her slightly uncomfortable. She knew Julien liked her; he didn’t have to justify it. That he did at all was enough for her.
Glancing around quickly to make sure no teachers were in view, he leaned in and kissed her quickly on the mouth, grazing his lips over hers. “Well, cheesy or not, it’s true.” He glanced down shyly. “I’m lucky you’ll have anything to do with me.”
Her smile faded. “Julien, you don’t really think that, do you? You’re -- wonderful. I’d be stupid *not* to.”
She could see the blush creeping slowly over his face, his cheeks turning an adorable shade of pink. Guys were so cute when they blushed, if only because it was so rare. “Thanks. I’ll be right back.” He stood up, looking embarrassed, and shrugged hesitantly. “Restroom.”
With a sigh, she watched him walk away. Oh, yes, she was the lucky one here, whether he saw that or not. He didn’t even realize how downright *sweet* he was, or how every girl followed him with her eyes when he walked into a room. And that genuineness was a lot of what she liked about him. She fiddled with the moonstone bracelet on her wrist.
Her attention focused on her jewelry, she didn’t notice her soulmate until he was standing directly in front of her. She froze in the middle of twisting the bracelet on her wrist.
“What do you want?”
“You don’t have to sound so horrified to see me,” he said mildly, while taking the seat Julien had just vacated. “Did I mention you look lovely tonight?”
Somewhat stunned, she wondered why he wasn’t being his usual charming, vicious self. “You did.”
“And I don’t even get a ‘thank you?’” he complained. “I’m crushed.”
“Why are you being so... nice?” she asked suspiciously, while her eyes searched for some sign of Julien in the crowd. Where was he? She started to get anxious, wondering if there was some other way to escape Dare, but none presented itself.
The heavy droop of his lashes shielded the bold gold of his eyes. “Is that what I’m being?” His voice was laced with amusement. “Maybe you’re just imagining it.”
“Or maybe you’re just playing with me,” she said bitterly.
“Oh, no.” The soft tones of his voice breezed gently over the skin of her neck and she wondered if he knew what he was doing to her. “I can think of more interesting ways to do that.”
Something in those words stung deep into the core of her being. She had no doubt he would find his ways, no doubt he would use them, and no doubt he would hurt her. He was like a magnet: flipped one way, he repelled her -- flipped the other, and she had no more chance than a moth drawn to candlelight. She could feel her wings slowly singeing away.
“Please, don’t,” she said. She stared into the distance. Better to stare into the empty darkness than to look at him. If she didn’t meet his eyes, maybe she could pretend they weren’t connected in that unfathomable way. If she didn’t meet his eyes, maybe she could pretend he didn’t affect her.
She didn’t see the hunger flitting over his face. “Did you just say, ‘please?’” he wondered.
“That is generally the polite way of asking for something. You should try it some time.”
He pondered that suggestion for a moment, his gold eyes heavy with swirling streaks of light. “Perhaps I will, when I’m with someone who matters.”
Her jaw clenched. It was easy to tell herself not to let him get to her, but much harder to practice. If only his words didn’t cut so close to her soul... She straightened her spine. “Maybe you should get to know someone before you make judgments about them.”
“Get to know someone?” He smiled, the predatory smile of a cat about to pounce. “Like you?”
“Would it be that bad?”
“Would it?” Shrugging, he stepped in front of her, his tux brushing against the bare skin of her arm. “I don’t know. Why would I want to?”
“Because I’m your soulmate!” she snapped, the words harsher than she meant them to be. How could he not understand that? Did he think it was something that would just... go away? All the helplessness rose in her like a storm cloud waiting to be released and morphed into something she couldn’t quite explain.
He seemed to sense that. Leaning forward until the bright gold eyes swamped her vision, he said, “Then come to the beach with me.”
“W-what?” The surprise was evident in her voice and in her expression. “When?”
She glanced wildly around the ballroom for some sign of Julien, of Raquel, of Adrien -- or anyone who might be able to save her from this conversation. It never occurred to her just to walk away. “I can’t.”
A skeptical laugh rumbled in his throat. “You can, Tierney. We have things to talk about.”
Panic turned to steel inside her, freezing into that curious sort of anger. “You never seemed to think so before.” She didn’t like the triumph shining from his eyes.
“Aren’t you even curious?”
“I’m really not in the mood to listen to you hurl abuse,” she retorted.
He smiled lazily. “I’m not going to hurl anything, my dear soulmate. I just want to talk.”
His voice hesitated before the word “talk,” but she was too angry to dwell on it or even notice it. Of course, she didn’t believe him. Dare wasn’t the type to suggest a rousing chat, and especially not about something as volatile as the two of them. He must want something from her. Now she just needed to figure out what it was...
“Come on, Tierney,” he urged, taking one of her hands in his. She stared down at their joined hands in shock. “Please?”
She found herself responding before her brain really registered the question. “I’ll go.”
Satisfaction spread across his face. He reached to pick her purse and her flowers off the table and handed them to her. “Good. Here’s your purse. Let’s leave.”
“But I have to -- Julien --“
She shrank away from the hand against her back as she stuttered, bumping her hip on one of the chairs cluttered near their table. A small gasp escaped her and her words trailed off. He shook his head and grasped her waist more firmly, drawing her toward the door. At first, she tried to fight him -- she had to at least tell Julien where she was going -- but she soon realized her efforts were futile.
Looking around the ballroom, she tried to see his blond head above the crowd. It shouldn’t have been hard; he was almost a foot taller than most of the people there. When she finally did spot him, he was talking to Lindsay only a few meters away. She found it slightly ironic that Lindsay was off with her date, while she was leaving with Lindsay’s date.
Her step faltered. She didn’t want to leave him here, to go off with Dare... Emotions warred inside her. On one hand, she wanted her soulmate. On the other, Julien was so much more important. But Dare was right. They needed to talk...
If only to clarify what was never going to happen between them.
Julien looked up then, his clear eyes meeting hers, and he frowned. She swallowed hard. Staring quizzically at her, he watched as Dare steered her to the door. Oh, she couldn’t--
“Dare, please! He’s right there!”
Dare only stared coolly at her and kept walking. She could see the expression on Julien’s face change when he realized she was leaving, but even when she tried once more to struggle and go to him, Dare pushed her in the opposite direction. He didn’t say anything, just kept her from leaving his side.
Her head twisted around so she could still see her boyfriend. Something stricken played in those silver eyes, as if she’d crushed something he held close and dear. And something died in his eyes with each step she took.
The hand on her back propelled her through the door, Dare’s impassive face watching her hawkishly. Even though that face was devoid of expression, she knew he was enjoying her agony. She could feel his smugness through their bond. She threw one last look back into the ballroom.
The tortured expression on Julien’s face followed her out the door.
A cool breeze blew lightly across the still warm sand.
Tierney carried her shoes in one hand and let the tiny chips of mica and quartz slip between her toes. The gauzy dress billowed like a ghost, whipping around her legs and curling over her limbs. Sliding over her skin lightly, it did nothing to protect her from the chill filtering through the crisp night air. She focused on the moon in front of her, wondering why she had agreed to come here.
He walked in silence beside her, the soft glow of the moon deepening the old gold of his hair to a shadowed russet and striking stabbing shadows across the sharp planes of his cheekbones. He didn't look at her as they walked slowly down the deserted beach.
He probably wanted to warn her one more time what would happen if she didn’t cooperate.
She sighed, a soft gush of air that said everything and nothing. Moonlight graced the crests of the waves with shimmering silver fingers, reaching for that hovering orb and never quite touching it. It hung alone in the sky. Alone. A feeling she hated, but could not push away. A soft, blue-white corona glowed gently at its edges, luminous and painfully clear, and blurred the colors into soft shapes instead of harsh lines.
The man in the moon smiled gently down at her. It must be easy to be benevolent when you are so far removed from everything around you, she thought bitterly. Easy to watch mortals smile and laugh and fall in love at your feet. Just as easy to watch them weep and scream in rage.
When you are that far away, nothing matters.
Fighting away waves of panic, she looked away. Join the moon, she told herself silently. Whatever he tells you, whatever ultimatums he gives, lock yourself far away on that distant surface where nothing can touch you.
It sounded so easy. To feel the cool rush of wind through your hair and to dance on moonbeams and magic. To fly away from this place that left her with nothing but hurt...
Tears swam heavy in her eyes and she quickly blinked them back. Crying wasn't going to change anything. She'd played the game. She'd lost. Nothing remained but how she reacted to that loss and she would be damned if she did anything but give in gracefully.
"What are you thinking?" he asked coolly.
Hundreds of answers sprang to her lips, but none escaped. She had too much to say and too few words, so she said nothing at all. But for just one second, she wanted to pour those well-kept secrets from her heart and lay them at his feet. She wanted to let him know exactly what she was feeling, not to reason with him, but to appeal to that part she knew was buried deep, deep inside, where his emotions meant more than how others saw him.
For just one minute, she wanted to believe that her answer mattered to him. But how she felt was not important to him; he cared only that he would get his way. His question was a distraction, something to draw both their minds away from here and now. Anything so he didn't have to see her as a person who had emotions and ideals and dreams.
For just one hour, she wanted to indulge her hopes for the future. It was stupid to lie to herself, to think that maybe, just maybe, she could make him see her for who she was. Not for what she looked like on the outside, not for what she'd been born as. She would never be anything more than a half-breed who annoyed him. And all he saw when he looked at her were the things that didn't matter.
For just one night, she wanted to pretend he cared.
"Tierney?" he prompted, eyes shining like the brilliant morning sun, so far away at this midnight hour.
"Would it matter?"
And even she was surprised at the bitterness in her voice, roiling through layers of distrust and misery like a heavy fog. Horrified, she searched for words that would snatch the thought back, but none sprang to life.
Dare shrugged, kicking a pile of damp sand. "Probably not."
"I didn't think so."
Silence fell between them once again. She veered toward the water's edge and ignored the way her delicate dress dragged through the sand, jagged shells clawing at the dirty hem. She would never wear it again anyway. She'd always made it a point to save her dresses, maybe for the memories they invoked, but this one... Something told her she wouldn't want to remember tonight.
Think happy thoughts, she reminded herself firmly. Easier said than done. The cold ocean water lapped over her bare feet, rinsing away the clinging sand. If only that water could cleanse her soul. If only... She had too many of those regrets trapped inside. And miserably, they all rose to greet her in discordant harmony.
Utterly preoccupied with her misery, she didn't notice his fingers twine with hers as they walked, or see the sullen sweep of his lashes sending spiky shadows to steal over his cheeks. Moonlight illuminated the stark planes of his face and highlighted the broad curve of his shoulder. But she didn't realize this, and wouldn't have cared if she did. She simply walked, lost in thought, and blocked him from her mind.
She was the only one surprised when he stopped, his tall frame silhouetted cleanly against the cold slice of moon, and drew her around to face him.
He silenced her by brushing the hard pad of his thumb over the soft curve of her lower lip. And for once, the stunning gold spilled warmly from his eyes. "It's a shame you're only an illusion," he said.
That warmth curled through his voice like diamonds, and cut just as cleanly. The tone burning and raging and scalding her, while those words broke from the coldest glacial reaches of his heart.
Only an illusion. Her soul fluttering into gaping pieces slashed by his cruelty, she yearned to make him see the folly of his words. An illusion, maybe, but more importantly, she was a mirror. Her appearance was beautiful now, but only because she was lovely inside. She stole a quick glance at Dare from beneath lowered lashes. He, in turn, was a reflection, but in him there was nothing lovely and nothing dear. Simply a few worthwhile fragments which clung hopelessly at the edges.
She would rather be hideous and lonely than be sheltered by physical elegance. At least then you knew who truly cared.
"It's a shame you're not," she replied, and tried to turn away.
He wound a hand through the silken tendrils of her hair, marveling at the texture sliding through his fingers, and realized absently that he preferred her untamed curls. Tightening his grip, he held her immobile in front of him, one hand gripping her waist and one sliding to cup the edge of her jaw. A finger stroking over the soft skin.
"Let me go."
A small smile curved his lips and he only pulled her tighter. She could feel his breath brush warm against her throat. "Why?"
"Do you care about me?" she demanded. They both knew the answer.
Laughing softly, he shook his head, moonlight glinting on the short spikes of his hair and freezing the gold to silver. "Of course not." Then the grin faded and intensity washed over his features. "But I could."
She blinked. "Excuse me?" And somehow she knew that this was his revenge, and that he would be neither kind nor fair. Somehow she knew that he would be far more brutal. "Did Satan just buy ice skates?"
"How cruel," he murmured, his hand shifting so his fingers could trace the delicate shell of her ear. "We *are* soulmates, Tierney. You seem to think that means something. I'm merely agreeing with you."
"And your nose just grew four inches," she retorted, glaring.
"Really?" he asked, unfazed by her anger. "I rather thought that was something else."
For a moment, she was too stunned to respond, then she stiffened and tried to pull away. Outrage jumped in her veins and she could only think how awful he was to tease her like that, how cruel he was to taunt her. "Will you please let go!"
"For a price." His gold eyes flared wickedly and the hand at her waist pulled her closer, slipping to rest at the juncture of cloth and naked flesh. "It's not negotiable."
Hurt replaced the startled anger on her face. One hand slid between their bodies to rest on his chest, wedging distance between them. "Why are you doing this?" she wondered, her voice almost inaudible.
He shrugged. "Why not? I didn't have anything better planned for tonight."
She jerked away so quickly he didn't have time to stop her. "I won't warn you again. Don't touch me."
Wrapping her arms tightly around herself, she stepped away, hoping distance would clear her head. The water ebbed and flowed over her feet and splashed around her calves. It soaked the thin fabric of her dress, molding the layers to her legs and inhibiting her steps. Then she stopped, wishing he would disappear.
It was a futile wish.
His arms slipped around her from behind. One hand rose to tuck the silken strands of hair behind her ear, running lightly along the base of her neck, and she shivered. Go away, she thought stubbornly. But if she was honest with herself, she would admit she didn't want him to. As comfortable as she was with Julian and as much as she liked him, he wasn’t her soulmate. She couldn’t help but wish the one person she was meant to be with would treat her with the same deference.
For just one night, she wanted to pretend he cared.
It was easier to pretend she didn't want him.
"Don't you understand simple sentences?" she snapped, and jabbed an elbow hard into his stomach. He gasped, loosening his grip just briefly. Too filled with satisfaction to move away, she drew her elbow back for another round.
He caught it. His fingers squeezed around the bones so hard she thought something might pop. "I understood them. I just chose to ignore them," he informed her succinctly. The grip on her arm didn't loosen. She whimpered under the pressure, but her defiance was still written on every line of her body and etched on each plane of her face. She was tempted to turn her head and spit at him.
If only it wouldn't leave her with a broken arm, she might actually do it.
Eyes flashed darkly in the cool night air. "I want to go home."
"I'm not done with you yet."
Her mouth fell open in shock. "What's left? Finding the sacrificial rock?"
"I believe that's your specialty, not mine." He released her arm and she felt blood rush hotly into the limb, sending dazzling spikes of feeling shooting into the tips of her fingers. "And besides, I wouldn't want to ruin my tux."
A small sound of fury escaped from deep in her throat. "Appearances are all that matter to you, aren't they?" She turned to face him, her hair whipping furiously behind her. Stabbing an accusatory finger at his chest, she snapped, "You are the most shallow and superficial person I have *ever* met!"
His voice dry, he asked, "You don't know Jihn very well, do you?"
"A lot better than you do, obviously." The tenseness fled her body, leaving her slumped tiredly in defeat. "What do you want from me?"
Once again, he brushed the hair back from her face, letting the strands slip between his fingers like raw silk. Something breathtakingly beautiful and breathtakingly simple rose in his bright gold eyes, shining purely and hotly.
She didn't know what to say. A kiss? Of all the things she had been expecting, that hadn't been one of them. And for just one night, she wanted to forget that she had renounced him, forget that Julien existed, forget that Dare didn’t want her... She still didn’t trust him. Guardedly, she asked, "Why?"
He laughed, shaking his head. "It's my last chance to kiss you while you're still beautiful. I do prefer you this way, my dear, and would be more than happy to leave you thus, if it didn't mean I stayed the way I am."
"You'll be lucky if I don't turn you into a slug," she muttered darkly.
He was the one to turn away this time, shoving his hands deep into his pockets and staring at the swollen moon. "I'll just have to be there to make sure you don't do anything rash, I guess."
"Oh, no, you're not coming anywhere near me."
She caught the faint edge of his smile flashing coldly and heard amusement tinge his voice endless and seductive. "A kiss, then." He shrugged. "It's your choice, you know. My presence during the spell, or a harmless kiss. Which will it be?"
"Neither!" she exclaimed. "What makes you think you can give me ultimatums?"
"What makes you think I can't?"
She threw up her hands, feeling angry and reckless. "What if I told you I have a horrible, incurable disease, and if you kiss me you'll die?"
"I wouldn't believe you," he answered rather calmly. Those golden eyes were spinning with laughter now, darker amber flecks whirling from the pupil. But in the light, they only looked old and cold and dangerous. "You kissed Julien at prom, remember? But it was a nice try."
"I don't have time for this," she said. She picked up her drenched white skirts, pulling the material away from her legs, and began walking regally in the opposite direction.
He matched her pace easily. "Where do you think you're going?" he asked, but made no move to stop her.
"That," she said, "is none of your damned business. Why don't you go drown yourself?"
"And spare you the embarrassment of doing the spell? I don't think so."
She only walked faster. "Go away."
"Only once I've gotten what I want," he answered.
She glanced over to see him watching her, his long strides eating at the ground. She snapped her eyes ahead. Don't look at him, she chided herself. He'll only think he's convinced you.
"Is that all you think about?" she demanded instead, shoving a strand of midnight hair from her forehead. "Stop following me!"
"Then stop walking."
Surprisingly, she did. She stopped so suddenly that he didn't realize he'd left her standing several paces behind, tapping a foot and glaring impatiently. The frown did nothing to mar the illusion of her face, only made her eyes smolder hotter and a slight flush rise to highlight her cheeks. A shame, indeed, that after tonight, she would more closely resemble a troll.
"I've stopped," she pointed out, in case it wasn't obvious. "Now what?"
He frowned reproachfully and traced his way back to where she stood. "You don't give an inch, do you?"
"As long as it's distance you're putting between us, you can have miles."
He sighed. "That's extremely generous of you, but it's not what I want." He brushed a stray patch of sand from her fingers, twining them together, then raised her hand to his mouth to drop a light kiss on the sensitive skin. She yanked it out of his grasp before he could. He raised an eyebrow. "One kiss, Tierney. Just one. Is that so much to ask?"
She let her eyes slide shut, trying to remember exactly why she'd told him no. And then it came to her, sudden and biting. She was afraid she would lose herself somewhere in him and never find her way out. Afraid that everything except he would stop mattering, even though he didn't care. Afraid that she would be cast aside, or worse, left to fester alone while he played his games. And besides, there was Julien to think of.
"It's your choice," he answered amiably. "Should I pick you up tomorrow around seven?"
He *sounded* friendly and agreeable, but she knew he was only trying to make her angrier. They both knew she didn't want him there while she did the spell, just as they both knew he didn't trust her to actually do it. She wouldn't be surprised if he showed up anyway. He was just trying to bully her, and she would be damned if she'd let him.
"Just one kiss?" she asked, her voice suddenly breathless, with just a hint of doubt. "Do you promise?"
And she even managed to let worry flood through her face and pucker the bow of her mouth. She looked, if anything, the picture of uncertainty, which wasn’t that far from the truth. She remembered the look on Julien's face as she walked out of the hotel. Guilt flooded through her.
She fell silent, worrying her lower lip with her teeth, and tried to look like she was really thinking about it. Her lashes swept down and shielded her thoughts from that persistent stare. She knew she wanted to, just like she knew she would. And any guilt about Julien ebbed away when the soulmate connection flared. It was just one kiss...
"I promise," he said, "as long as that's all you want."
She hesitated just one moment, then her arms slipped around his neck, curling into the short hair at his nape and stroking over the downy skin. The last thing she would do was make this easy for him. He hadn't moved, was simply watching her as if he wasn't sure what she meant to do, wariness shining from beneath those lush lashes.
Taking advantage of his surprise, she leaned into him, their gazes clashing. Those golden orbs flared hotly, just a moment before her mouth met his. How right she had been to fear kissing him, to fear him -- and most of all, to fear herself. Despite everything he had done to her and everything she knew he would do if only given the opportunity, she finally felt as though he held her where she belonged, clasped against his chest as if he wanted her.
She knew better than to believe in the promise of his mouth or of that wickedly sensual mind wrapping around hers, but her body didn’t want to listen. In all sixteen years of her life, she’d never felt so sure of something, and especially not of something as elusive as Dare. But even when she tried to wrench herself away, the connection’s hazy call sealed them together.
It was like plunging deep into the ocean, but forgetting that you needed to breathe. She sank into him, into the darkness that was Dare, into the part that didn’t care if he didn’t have anything to offer. And through the shallowness, her brain screamed that it didn’t give a damn about logic or hatred. Only about this feeling coursing through her.
It was he who broke the kiss, his eyes swirling like liquid sunlight and his breath coming rapid and harsh. "An illusion, maybe, but a surprisingly good one."
Reality washed over her like a tidal wave. "Get away--"
Then his mouth stopped her angry words. His lips moved gently, so gently, over hers, brushing across her cheek and whispering down the line of her jaw. He murmured something against the soft skin of her neck, but she didn't care, didn't notice, because it wasn't important. Here, now, there was only this. Only him.
Vaguely, she realized she clung to his wide shoulders and that somehow they knelt in the warm sand, even though she didn't know how they'd gotten there. She didn't want to think; she only wanted to feel.
When he laid her against the sand, she didn't bother to protest.
For just one night, she wanted to pretend he cared.