Page 8 of 28
As much as he would have liked to drive slowly just to feel her sweet body pressed against him, he didn’t want her out in the rain any longer than she needed to be. He zipped around the last bend and up the hill toward his house. He pulled up the long driveway, tipping off the sensors that turned on the outside lights, illuminating the two-story estate. The press of a button on his bike opened his garage door. He parked and climbed off the bike, then helped Fiona take her helmet off. He was glad to see she was smiling instead of looking surprised.
He tried not to stare, but her pert nipples pressed against her drenched shirt. The way her shorts fit like a second skin and his jacket hung several inches too long added a flare of innocence to her sexy ensemble. She looked hot as hell.
He watched her smile falter at the sight of his cars: a midnight-blue Aston Martin, black Jaguar, red Ferrari, and farthest from them, his Mercedes McLaren.
“Are all of these cars yours?”
“Yeah.” He grabbed her hand again and took a few steps toward the door, then realized what he’d done and stopped. He looked down at their hands, then up at Fiona, who was still smiling like she’d just won a prize. Aw, hell. He fricking loved her smile.
“Old habits and all that.” He led her inside and stopped in the laundry room to grab fresh towels. He slipped his jacket from her slender shoulders and hung it on a hook beside the dryer; then he gently pressed the towel to her shoulders. She watched him with a warm gaze as he dried first one arm, then the other, slowly running the towel over her skin. They stood inches apart, and he realized she was staring at him in a way that made his body hot despite being soaking wet. And she was shivering. He wrapped a dry towel around her back and arms, and she curled her fingers around the towel to hold it up. Their fingers brushed for the briefest of seconds, and it brought his eyes to hers again.
He tore his eyes away to gain control of his conflicting emotions.
“I’m sorry. You must be freezing.”
“I’m okay,” she said softly.
He knelt to dry her legs, and the second he touched her calf, his body flashed hot. He rose to his feet and handed her the towel.
“Of course. Sorry.” She took the towel in a trembling hand and dried her legs.
It had been so many years since they’d been so close to each other that by the time she finished drying herself off, Jake was fighting the desire to touch her again. He had never envisioned Fiona in his house, and here she was, more beautiful than any woman he’d ever seen and looking at him like she’d never left all those years ago. How easy would it be to kiss her? To lower his lips to hers and taste her again? To strip those wet clothes from her body and make sweet love to her?
Hell. What was he thinking? He drew in a long breath and took her hand again. Goddamn it. He hadn’t meant to, but there it was, enveloped in his, feeling fucking perfect as he led her into the great room.
“Wow. You live here?” Her smile faded as she looked around.
“Most of the time,” he said. “I travel for movies and own several houses, but this is my primary residence.” He was usually proud of what he’d accomplished and of all he had, but now he felt like he sounded pompous.
“Jake, this is…” She walked through the great room, to the glass doors, and peered into the rain at the illuminated bar and pool in the backyard.
Watching Fiona assess his home brought pride and embarrassment. He’d hired the best decorators to outfit it with dark, masculine colors and the finest handmade furniture. The image he presented with his houses and cars was a far cry from the down-home guy he used to be, who hated pretentiousness. As he watched Fiona take it all in, he wondered if this was really who he had become, or if, like his anger, it was a front meant to keep the world at bay. To keep anyone from seeing who he really was. To keep anyone from seeing the man Fiona had slayed.
“It’s not what I expected, I guess.” She stammered for a moment. “I didn’t realize you had such fancy taste.”
No, he guessed she wouldn’t have. When they were together, he’d never needed material things. He had Fiona and his family, and he was perfectly content. Hell, he would have been content sleeping in a tent with Fiona. He ran his hand through his wet hair, forcing those memories aside for the moment, and led her upstairs. He walked past the guest rooms and pushed open the doors of the master bedroom. It wasn’t until he was halfway to his closet that he realized he’d brought her directly into his bedroom. He’d never had any woman in his bedroom, and with Fiona it was automatic, like his body knew that Fiona would one day come back into his life and it knew just what to do when she did.
Jake tried not to dissect what that meant, even though it took him by surprise. He went into the walk-in closet to find her clothes to put on. He heard Fiona behind him. She leaned against the doorframe, looking wet and cute. His protective urges came rushing back. Fiona was strong and capable, but he knew she was also feminine and had a vulnerable side. Even when they’d first begun dating, he’d wanted to protect her from everything, from physical harm to disconcerting sights like animals that had been hit by cars and were left lying on the side of the road. And now he wanted to carry her into the bathroom, run a warm bath, and wash every inch of her until she felt safe and her body warmed. He forced himself to turn his attention to the task at hand—finding her something dry to put on.
“This closet is bigger than the apartment I rented.”
“Yeah. It’s pretty nice.” He found a pair of smallish sweatpants and a T-shirt and handed them to Fiona. She’d probably fit in one leg of his sweats. “I’ll run a bath for you, and then I’ll toss your clothes into the dryer.”
She followed him into the bathroom, and he sensed her trying not to look around.
“Fiona, I’ve got nothing to hide in here.” He looked at the counter, where his colognes were lined up beside his toothbrush and toothpaste.
“I didn’t think…”
“No, but you’re trying not to look around.” He smiled to let her know he wasn’t irritated.
Her cheeks flushed. “Thanks for picking me up. I really didn’t plan to run into you this time.” She smiled and ran her finger along the edge of the counter as he ran the bath.
He nodded. “I’m sure you didn’t.”
He watched her as she touched the end of his toothbrush, then lifted his cologne bottles one by one, inspecting them. Maybe he should have been annoyed that she’d taken his words as a blanket statement to look through his things, but he wasn’t. He was puzzled by how much he liked seeing her in his bathroom, touching everything. Her eyes lifted to his, and she smiled.
“Then again,” he added, “you did wait for me at Old Hill Road, and you were somehow able to get this into my trailer.” He reached into his pocket and withdrew the envelope she’d left for him.
“I tracked down your assistant, Trace. She’s lovely, by the way.” She leaned against the counter and fidgeted with the ends of her wet hair.
He set the envelope beside her, drawn to her honesty. She’d never been one to dance around the truth, and he appreciated that she didn’t skirt around tracking down Trace. She was still the same Fiona she’d always been. Life hadn’t jaded her as it had him, and it made him want to be closer to her, to share in that innocence again.
“Fi, what do you want from me?” He didn’t recognize his easy, soft tone, and as he moved closer to her, nothing about him felt familiar. Not the nervous fluttering in his gut or the way his breathing seemed louder, felt heavier.
“I don’t want anything from you, Jake. I…” She lowered her gaze and ran her finger along the edge of the counter again. “I just want another chance to see if…” She waved her hand in the air, as if he’d figure out the rest of her sentence. Worry, hurt, and something else passed through her blue eyes.
“It’s okay, Fi. I’m not going to bite your head off.” At the moment he was fighting a killer urge to fold her into his arms and kiss her, and it shocked the hel
l out of him. “I was a dick back in Trusty, and I’m sorry for that. It’s…been a long time.”
“You are? Sorry, I mean.” Her eyes warmed again.
Her voice was tender and sweet and almost too much for him to take. Almost. He was still nursing pretty sharp wounds, regardless of how his mouth was spouting emotions without checking with his head first. He took a moment to think before answering this time.
“Yeah. I am sorry. There’s no reason for me to be that way toward you.”
She let out a relieved sigh and nodded.
“I just don’t know what you want.” He eyed the envelope. Did she really want to try to work things out after all these years? Why? Did he?
Along with being angry, Jake had become distrusting. He’d lived in the land of ladder climbers for so long that the first thing that came to mind was what did she want from him? But he knew Fiona wasn’t interested in using him for her own personal gain. With that thought, he realized how jaded he’d become. If he and Fiona tried to work things out, he’d have to deal with that side of himself—and several others.
When had that even become a possibility?
The mirrors steamed up as warm water filled the tub. They were standing inches apart. He could hear every breath she took and noticed that her breathing had become shallow again, as it had downstairs. The urge to reach out and touch her, stroke her cheek, to feel the curve of her hips in his palms, was overwhelming. He fisted his hands, and he swore her soft blue eyes darkened. He remembered that look in Fiona’s eyes. It had been a very long time, but it was a look no man could ever forget.
“I think you do know.” Her lips parted.
The air between them pulsed, alive with want and need and all things in between, and hell if he wasn’t hard as steel. Fiona pushed from the sink and reached for him.
“Jake.” Her eyes shifted away.
He was lost in desire as he settled his hands on her hips and nearly groaned at the feel of her sweet curves in his hands after all these years.
“Jake! The water.”
The surprise in her eyes drew his to the tub, where water was trickling over the edge and wetting their bare feet. How’d he miss that? He shut off the water and yanked a towel from the rack, trying to clear the lust from every crevice of his being. This was not an easy task with Fiona crouching beside him on the floor, wiping up the water and bumping against his shoulder, her knees accidentally brushing his thighs. Were her knees accidentally brushing his thighs, or was she trying to give him a signal? Hell. What was he doing? His thoughts had gone to hell in a handbasket.
They rose to their feet at the same time, bumping chests.
“I should…” Her eyes dropped to the tub.
“Right.” His heart thundered in his chest with what he thought she should do, and it had nothing to do with bathing unless he was naked in that tub with her. He reached down and opened the drain to the tub to keep from reaching for her.
“Let it drain a bit so it doesn’t overflow.” He thrust his thumb over his shoulder. “I’ll be…I’ll wait out here. Just, uh, toss your clothes out and I’ll throw them in the dryer.”
She swallowed hard and barely nodded as he forced himself to walk out of the bathroom and shut the door behind him. He leaned his back against the wall and closed his eyes, willing the eight hard inches in his pants to ease and knowing there wasn’t a chance in hell of that happening.
The bathroom door cracked open and Fiona’s arm reached out, holding her clothes. Jake took them, and for a brief second their fingers brushed again, sending a shock of anticipation through his veins. When the door closed again, he lowered his eyes to the black lacy thong tangled with a matching bra and her other wet clothing. He stared at the bathroom door. She was naked, probably sinking all those delicious parts into the warm water that very second. He couldn’t resist her. He reached for the bathroom doorknob.
His cell phone vibrated in his pocket, which felt really sweet, considering his jeans were stretched tight from his erection, giving that vibrating ringtone a whole new benefit and pulling him from the insanely bad decision he’d almost made.
THE AIR IN the bathroom was thick with steam and Jake’s masculine scent. His hungry gaze had bored right through Fiona, making her wet with desire. Her body hummed with the urge to satisfy her ache for Jake. She gazed at the door, and her pulse kicked up impossibly faster. She slid her fingers between her legs, feeling her slick, oversensitive sex. She closed her eyes, knowing she could take herself over the edge in two minutes; then maybe she could have dinner with Jake without wanting to rip his clothes off. Her fingers knew what to do, stroking the bundle of nerves as her mind conjured up the image of Jake standing so close she could practically taste him, his drenched T-shirt clinging to every muscle. She imagined her hand as his and sank deeper into the water.
I just don’t know what you want.
Oh, but Jake, I could tell by the look in your eyes that you do. Oh, yes, you do.
Her limbs tingled with the promise of a mounting orgasm. Her breaths came quicker, her legs tensed beneath the water. She bit down on her lower lip, craving the release.
Her hand stilled. “Um…Yeah?” Crap. Crap. Crap. She looked around the empty bathroom and crossed her arms over her chest, feeling exposed and embarrassed. She drained the tub and reached for a towel.
“Pasta okay for dinner?” Jake called through the door.
She’d rather have him for dinner, and now that she had what promised to be a magnificent orgasm trapped inside her, she wouldn’t be able to think, much less eat.
“Sure,” she managed.
She dried off at a frantic pace and pulled his T-shirt over her head. It hung nearly to her knees, and it dawned on her that she had no underwear to put on. She knotted the end of his shirt at her waist and looked at the sweatpants with dismay. Not exactly the right attire to try to woo an ex-boyfriend back into her arms, but what could she do? She pulled them on, then rolled down the waistband to just below her belly button. Jake was a thick, muscular guy. Fiona wasn’t willowy, but she was going to have a hard time keeping these pants on for reasons other than the naughty thoughts racing through her mind.
She scanned the sink for a comb, then reached for a vanity drawer and hesitated. He could have anything in there. Another woman’s stuff, condoms, sex toys. Anything. Her stomach tightened, and not in the luxurious way it had when she was busy getting dirty while she was supposed to be getting clean. She decided against the show-and-tell scenario and finger-combed her hair, fluffed it as best she could, and tried to pinch the flushed look from her cheeks. No luck there, of course. She reached for the doorknob and her nerves prickled.
The bedroom was empty. Fiona let out a relieved sigh and took a moment to see just how different grown-up Jake was from the young man she remembered. The furniture was masculine and substantial, made from dark, expensive-looking wood. The brown bedspread was several inches thick and looked soft as butter. She glanced at the door, tiptoed over to the bed, and ran her finger over the to-die-for softness of the comforter, just like the T-shirt he’d given her to wear, which felt like an old favorite. This was a whole new side of Jake she’d never experienced before. He was always so easygoing, never giving two hoots about material things beyond typical boy toys—dirt bikes, hunting rifles, and cars.
The dresser had not a speck of dust on it, which told her that he paid his cleaning people well, because as organized as Jake was—and he was mighty organized for a man—he’d never been one to settle down long enough to do a load of laundry, much less dust.
He’s drying my clothes.
Well, that didn’t exactly count. If she didn’t have her own clothes she’d have to wear his home, and she was sure he wouldn’t want her leaving with them. She picked up a framed photograph of Jake and Pierce from the dresser. It must have been taken in the last few years, because all the innocence and softness of young men was g
one. They looked like rugged men, both unfairly handsome, as was their entire family. But they’d never acted like it when they were younger. She remembered noticing something different in Jake at the Brewery, something beyond the conflicting emotions in his eyes. He’d been tense in a way that had shaken her a little. It wasn’t until he’d stormed out with Sarah in tow that she’d realized what it was. She’d heard the rumors, seen pictures in the rag magazines. It wasn’t usual for a stuntman to be photographed, but Jake wasn’t just any stuntman. He traveled in circles of famous movie stars and dated some of the most glamorous models and actresses so often that the paparazzi had begun following him early on in his career. She knew he was a player of the worst kind, but to see it firsthand had shocked her. In all those magazines, she’d never once seen him look happy, and he hadn’t looked happy that night.
She gazed down at the picture in her hands, and the smile on his full lips reached his eyes. He was happy when he was with his family. He should be—he had a great family. A family who loved him and supported one another. Her family was the same way, or at least it had been before her father had left. Sadness washed through her. At least she knew her father, which was more than Jake ever had. Her heart squeezed at that thought.
“That was taken at Ross’s engagement dinner.”
She startled as Jake came to her side. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snoop.” She set the picture down on the dresser.
Jake smiled, looking more relaxed than she felt as he placed a hand on her upper back and leaned in close. “Yes, you did.”
His husky voice sent a shiver down her spine. The fact that she heard a smile in his voice only made her feel more like a naughty girl who’d gotten caught with her hand in the candy jar.