Burn Me Once - Page 22

Swoop. Swoop. I’m on a rollercoaster of emotions. I tighten my seatbelt mentally, donning my best hyper-professional voice. ‘There’s really no need...’

His eyes pierce me all the way to my core. ‘Lunch.’

He speaks so authoritatively his strength and dominant confidence slam into me, and I am completely powerless to resist his request.

I shouldn’t stay. I know that. I should go. No, I should run. Because I’m looking at him, and what I really want to do is collapse against him, against his strong chest, press my ear to his heart and listen to its shudderingly wonderful rasp. What I really want to do is strip his clothes off his rock star body and touch him all over.

But I can’t. I don’t. That would be madness.

What was so natural and easy that night is now just out of my reach. We are not a couple. We are not even friends. We are strangers who fucked. Once.

No, not once, my memory hastens to correct me. We fucked the hell out of each other. But it was just one night. One glorious night.

I don’t even realise I’m chewing on my lower lip until he reaches down and smudges his finger across it, pushing my hand away. Heat sears me and my eyes lock to his. I feel the earth shift beneath our feet. Does he as well?

‘Lunch?’

I realise I haven’t answered. Slowly, I nod my head—so slowly that it’s as though I’ve been drugged. And I kind of have been. He is a drug. And exposure is fast turning me into an addict.

‘Okay.’ I sound pissed off, and I am. I have dealt with my desire for him and I have boxed away what we were that night. Now I am looking at him again, and possibilities I dare not explore are twisting and turning inside me.

I have to be strong.

I can manage this.

I can control it.

It is a balmy day. The low cloud cover has layered humidity over the city and I’m pleased to see that he hasn’t organised anything hot to eat. The table has some kind of yam salad on it, with what looks like feta cheese and herbs, and another salad. Kale?

And in the middle, so beautiful and attention-grabbing: a single peach.

‘I remember what you like,’ he says with a wink, and my blood boils. It’s intentionally ambiguous, but I imagine he’s not talking about the peach. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at a peach without remembering the way Ethan Ash went down on me.

Against my will, my eyes run down his body, landing on his crotch. I’m not imagining the way he’s straining against his pants, and I’m glad. Immediately glad.

If I’m going to be wading through sensual heat then he’d better damned well be doing the same.

‘Good to know.’

His smile is droll as he pulls the chair out for me. As I sit his hands brush my shoulders and my stomach lurches.

He pours us a couple of glasses of sparkling mineral water and I watch him. I watch everything about him. The way his thick hair flops forward over his brow a little, the way his fingers are firm and commanding as they wrap around the bottle. The way he is strong and confident and sexy even while undertaking such a mundane task. The way his eyelashes, long and thick, clump together.

It was like this with Jeremy, I remind myself. Desire made me dumb. It made me incapable of feeling anything else.

He looks up and smiles—a smile which drops slightly when he sees the look on my face. I imagine I look a little bit the way a wolf might stare at a lamb. I am hungry; he is my meal.

Or is it the other way around? Beneath the table he kicks out his legs and his foot brushes against my ankle. I can’t tell if it’s intentional or not, and it hardly matters. The effect is the same. The heat of the sun rampages through my system.

‘So...’ I say, desperate to regain some control of the situation. ‘Why don’t we cut to the chase?’

His eyes narrow, regarding me thoughtfully. As if he’s trying to read my mood. ‘I had fun the other night.’

I swallow, but it’s no good. The beauty of that night burns me with its heat. ‘Me too.’ It’s a raspy, cautiously given admission.

‘I want to do it again.’

Alarm bells are screeching through me. Again? ‘Why?’

His laugh is soft and he leans forward, his eyes hooked to mine. ‘Seriously? You want a reminder?’

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