“I don’t know,” she nearly wailed. What had happened? Why had they combusted like that? They barely knew each other.
“I mean, why is it nuts?”
“Because…” She struggled over the question, not finding a satisfactory answer. At least, not one that she could share with him. “It’s you, and it’s me. And we’re…” She couldn’t find the words.
“Attracted to each other?” he finished for her.
“Apparently,” she responded dryly.
He let his thigh fall away, and she nearly groaned with the sensation.
“Stephanie would be pleased,” he pointed out.
Melissa’s gaze darted to the window, suddenly wondering who had seen what before they moved away. What if Stephanie had seen them?
“Nobody saw a thing,” said Jared, guessing her concern. “They were too busy running from the storm.”
The rain had turned to a steady drum, while thunder and lightning punctuated the darkened sky. The yard was empty, everyone having taken shelter in one of the buildings. Horses were huddled in small groups, most of them under run-in shelters, some in the larger pens moving into the shelter of the trees. Tarps still billowed, cracking and snapping in the wind.
Jared gently stroked his thumb across her swollen bottom lip, making her desire flare all over again. “Our secret is safe.”
She gazed into his eyes, unable to hide her renewed longing. And try as she might, she couldn’t bring herself to walk away.
His eyes darkened further and his voice went husky. “You want to make it an even bigger secret?”
Before Melissa could even open her mouth, Jared knew to retract the question.
“I’m sorry,” he quickly told her. “That was way out of line.”
He was her boss. Just yesterday he’d threatened to fire her, more than once, if memory served. He had absolutely no business propositioning her. It was unprincipled, immoral, probably illegal in most states. “It wasn’t-”
“It was.” He forced himself back, hands tightening by his sides as he put some distance between them. The torrential rain was still dripping through the open windows, and he slammed one window shut, then the next and finally the third, taking some of his frustration out on the inanimate objects. He’d never felt this way before, never desired a woman so quickly and thoroughly. Yet he was wrong to feel this way, and he had to make it stop.
“Jared?” Her voice was tentative, and he felt like a complete jerk.
He latched the final window, then turned back to face her. Her hair was wet, messy from his hands. The damp blue tank top clung to her breasts, highlighting her nipples. Her eyes were round, sea-foam green and confused.
“I’m mad at myself,” he assured her. “Not at you.”
She took a step forward. “It was my fault, too. How about we forget it happened?” “Can you forget it happened?” He’d give it a shot, but he wasn’t holding out much hope.
“Sure.” She nodded, offering a small smile. “Easy.”
She seemed sincere, and he tried not to be offended. Maybe he’d imagined their explosive passion. Maybe to her it had been a simple ordinary kiss. He gave himself a split second to ponder exactly who the hell else she’d been kissing like that, but then he acknowledged that it was none of his business.
He took a deep breath, forcing himself to relax. “Sure,” he forced out, adjusting his damp shirt and raking his fingers through his hair. “We’ll just forget it ever happened.”
Melissa glanced down and plucked at her own wet shirt. Then she quickly folded her arms across her breasts. Just as well, Jared told himself. Her clinging clothes were turning him on. So were her swollen lips and messy hair.
“You have a comb?” he asked.
She shook her head. “It’s in my bag downstairs.”
He realized they couldn’t risk leaving the room with her looking like this, so he steeled himself against the inevitable reaction and moved toward her.
Her arms stayed protectively crossed over her breasts, so he reached for the hair clip. “I’ll just…” He raked spread fingers through the mess, straightening out the worst of it, wondering how he’d ever manage to get the clip back in.
A voice called from the hallway. “Jared?” The door burst open, and Stephanie instantly appeared.
He and Melissa both jumped guiltily back, her covering her breasts, him holding her hair clip.
Stephanie stopped abruptly. “I’m sorry.” But she didn’t look sorry in the least. A broad grin grew on her face and her eyes sparkled in delight.
Barry Salmon and Hal Norris halted behind her. All three of them stared at the incriminating scene.