‘I know that’s hard, but you tried and you did your best. And when she was gone you did something out of character, not because you loved her any less, but because you wanted to stop...thinking.’ She shook her head sadly. ‘I don’t know what your wife was like, but I’m willing to bet she would have understood what you did and not considered it any sort of betrayal. I wouldn’t, if it had been me.’
She was displaying a generosity of spirit that made him feel humble. ‘I think you are a better person than me.’
‘I wish I was. You lost yourself in one night of sex and I...I...’ She choked with a bitter laugh. ‘I was kind of in love with the idea of being in love. Relax,’ she added, seeing his expression. ‘I have grown up.’
‘Being a single parent will do that to a person.’ She might have relieved some of his guilt over that night but not over the repercussions. ‘I want my child to know she is wanted, Angel.’ He doubted very much he could be as good a father as Angel was a mother, but he would try.
‘So why didn’t you just say so instead of... It’s obvious your sister had a tough time, but Jasmine knows she is wanted, Alex.’
‘She doesn’t know she is wanted by me.’
The words made her heart give a heavy thud of empathy. In the fast-falling dark she struggled to read his expression. Now his figure was little more than a dark outline, backlit by the moonlight reflected off the silvered ocean surface.
‘You wanted me to listen.... Angel, I’m listening. I want to help, I want to be involved. Is that selfish? I don’t know....’ He took a deep breath, a soft sibilant hiss escaping through his teeth before he said quietly, ‘No threats.’
‘I wasn’t threatened.’ Not true—she had been. But not nearly as much as she would have been had she not had the security and the confidence of a brother with all the ruthlessness and resources to face Alex on equal terms. To fight on her behalf, should she ask him.
‘I need to be part of her life...whatever it takes.’
Angel’s restless covetous glance was drawn and then lingered on the sculpted contours of his wide, sensual mouth.
There was a big difference, she reminded herself, between wanting and needing. She needed to rediscover that mouth about as much as she needed a boil on her nose, but, God, she wanted it so much it hurt.
Angling her chin defiantly, she cleared her throat.
‘I suppose you think all you have to do is kiss me and I’ll agree to pretty much anything?’ she challenged. ‘Your problem is you think you’re irresistible!’ she tacked on, realising as she spoke that she was halfway to believing he was!
Maybe more than half, she thought. She recalibrated as she lost the ability to move, actually to breathe, as he surged towards her, taking the shallow steps of the bungalow veranda two at a time. He was at her side before she had an inkling of his intentions and then it was too late to stop him.... Did she actually want to?
He framed her face between his big hands. His stare had a soul-piercing intensity and she couldn’t look away, afraid that a blink might break this spell.
‘Kiss...?’ The flash of his white grin was predatory as he bent his head and kissed her slowly, extending the erotic pleasure, taking his time as he slid his tongue deep between her parted lips, tasting her. There were no words to describe the sweet, hot ache between her thighs.
Angel was left gasping, open mouthed, for air when his head finally lifted. She felt his hands at her waist supporting her; her knees sagged; her legs felt as though they belonged to someone else.
‘I’m planning to do more than kiss you, Angel,’ he rasped, the promise making her tremble in anticipation. Still holding her eyes, he ran his tongue across the plump, trembling outline of her lower lip before tugging it gently with his teeth and asking, ‘You have a problem with that?’
His problem is he thinks he’s God’s gift!
My problem is he’s right.
In her head Angel saw herself pushing him away, defusing the situation with a few well-chosen words interspersed with the odd acid barb.
Outside her head, she was melting into him, pushing her aching breasts up hard against his chest, absorbing his heartbeat, his heat and the sheer maleness of him. She drew his head down so she could take the initiative and move her lips slowly across his, sampling the texture, breathing in his scent as, with eyes half-closed, she whispered into his mouth, ‘No problem.’
His eyes flared and the primal incandescence made the breath in her lungs catch and burn. She stood trembling and passive, her heart thudding like a drum as he pushed his fingers deep into her lush hair so that they cradled her skull, dragging her head back to expose the long line of her throat.