My eyebrows shot up. “You know how to dance?”
“Of course,” he said, looking at me strangely. “It was required.”
“Required by who?”
“The schools. It’s a basic skill. Do they not do that in the slums?”
“No. Definitely not.” I rolled my eyes. Ricos. “They were lucky if they were able to keep a history teacher for a few months.”
I held out my arms, an idea occurring to me. “Teach me to dance.”
His eyebrows lifted. “What?”
“Teach me to dance.”
“We don’t have any music.”
“So? Pretend.” I bounced my arms up and down impatiently. “Come on.”
He stepped forward and wrapped an arm around my waist. I felt the blush on my cheeks right away, but the tingling his touch created on my back was unexpected. His hand was warm against my shirt and produced little flurries of excitement up and down my body.
“Your hand goes here,” he said, putting it on his shoulder. His big hand covered mine completely as he took the other one, and I wanted to lace my fingers through his and pull him closer to me.
I blinked at that thought, lowering my gaze so it was even with his chest. I wanted to press my cheek there. Feel the warmth on my face and breathe in his fresh, alive smell.
“You’re so short,” he said.
I looked up to see a smile twitching at his lips. It was an obvious statement, but I smiled anyway. “I’ve noticed.”
“Sorry. It’s adorable.”
Adorable seemed the wrong word to describe me. It suited him better.
“We’re not dancing,” I pointed out.
“All right. I’m going to take a step back. You take one with me.” He looked down as I stepped on his foot. “You have to wait for me. I’m leading.”
“Why are you leading?”
“Because you have no idea what you’re doing.”
He took a step back. “You’re going to have to be faster than that,” he said as I just stood there.
I laughed and his eyes fell to my lips as a huge grin spread across his face.
“We would have danced earlier if I knew I would get a laugh out of you.”
I stepped to him, matching his smile with one of my own.
“Now step back,” he said quietly, his eyes burning into mine.
I did as he said, almost tripping over my own feet when he tightened his arm around my waist. It would have been so easy to loop both my arms around his neck and press my whole body against his, to be lost inside those arms.
I glanced up at him and saw the amusement sparkling in his eyes. Maybe he knew exactly what I was thinking.
I accidentally stepped on his foot again and he chuckled. “At least you’re not good at everything.”
“What are you doing?” The gruff voice of a guard burst the spell and I jumped away from Callum.
“Training,” I said, hoping my cheeks weren’t too red.
The guard frowned. His mustache was so thick it covered his whole mouth, and I tried my best not to wrinkle my nose in distaste. “It doesn’t look like it.”
“We’re trying something new. He needs different methods.”
“I guess,” the guard muttered. “Fine. But I don’t want to see this going on for too long.”
I nodded and he stomped away, taking his spot by the door again.
I gestured for Callum to come to me. “Come on, let’s keep going.”
He hopped over and pulled me into his arms so quickly I gasped.
“Where’s that speed when we’re fighting?” I asked as we began moving again.
“I like this better,” he said softly.
I should have said it didn’t matter what he liked. But I just shook my head. “I’m going to spin you,” he said, stepping back and lifting his arm up.
I gave up trying not to smile as we danced. It was too easy to lose myself in his eyes and arms. I wanted to move like this with him forever, gliding across the gym floor to nonexistent music. I let it go on longer than I had planned, let myself forget that I was finding a way to make him a better hunter, a better killer.
Finally I took a step out of his arms and swung a fist in his direction, pulling up before I made contact with his face. He stopped and I shook my head, pointing to his feet.
“Keep moving them. And then swing.”
He laughed. “Angry dancing.”
I swung again and he blocked it, moving his feet like we were still dancing. I couldn’t help beaming at him.
“Good,” I said.
We continued our screwed-up dance for a long time, circling, swinging, moving in a way that made a funny little heat stir in my stomach. My eyes kept flicking over his body, watching the way his muscles appeared in his arms when he made a fist. The way I could see the outline of his thighs against his black pants. The intense look he got when he blocked a punch.
He made no sign he saw the other Reboots leave for dinner, no complaint that we had been at it for so many hours with few breaks. His eyes were trained on me, intense, focused, and I loved it. I felt like there was nothing else in the world, nothing but him, nothing other than his fists swinging at me.
I was overwhelmed by the urge to grab both fists, yank them behind his back, and kiss him. I had never kissed anyone, but I swear I could feel his lips against mine every time I looked at them.
When he broke the spell by dropping his hands and taking a step back I had to blink several times to clear the fog. It was all around him and for a brief moment I thought it might be real. But I blinked again and it was gone, and there was nothing but him and a silent, empty gym. My eyes found the clock. 11:16 p.m.
He was breathing heavily and I stared at the way his chest rose and fell, pressing against his white T-shirt like it wanted to burst through it.
“You have to keep going until you hit me,” I said. My words sounded firmer than I had thought they would. I had expected my voice to waver and give away the fact that I didn’t really care if he hit me anymore.
But I did. If he didn’t hit me, if he didn’t improve, he would be eliminated. The thought of him not breathing made my fists clench so tightly it hurt.
He said nothing. He put his hands on his hips and frowned at the ground, stared until I was worried it was some sort of silent rebellion.
But eventually he lifted his arms and motioned for me to come to him. His face was hard, determined, but I saw the twinge of defeat flicker across his eyes.