Authors: Ciara Cole
Emily sighed and shook her head to herself. Trying to forget that she had no idea where her clothes were and that she was naked underneath this shirt, Emily shifted to the next available topic.
“You, um, left me in that room,” she said, hands moving expressively in direction of where she’d come from.
To her surprise, Chace grabbed her wrist. He tugged her hard up against him, their first body contact of the day – and oh, so sizzling with their special chemistry. Emily’s dry throat worked helplessly.
His eyes traced her newly washed, bare of makeup face. Emily couldn’t read much from his face, but judging by the burgeoning heat of him against her midsection, he seemed more ready to have
for breakfast than anything else.
“I couldn’t sleep next to you. Because the last thing I’d want to do is sleep. Not with you beside me…naked and warm and inviting,” growled Chace. “The things I want to keep doing to you are driving me insane. You don’t want to have me insatiable for you, Emily. Not unless you can promise me we have more of a chance.”
. Chace’s words had Emily’s head spinning even as he pressed a hard kiss on her mouth and stole her breath right along with her senses.
It ended too soon though, Chace letting her go and then moving round the other side of the island to pour out two fragrant cups of coffee. Emily pressed her fingertips to her slightly bruised lips which still felt warm from Chace’s.
Not sure what to make of what had just happened, Emily could only follow Chace with her eyes. He reached across from the opposite side, placing her steaming cup in front of her. Then he took a sip from his own brew, saying, “I didn’t use protection. Last night.”
Emily’s cheeks heated up and she buried her nose in her mug. “I trust you,” she said quickly. “That you’re clean and all that. So am I, by the way.”
“But there’s the issue that you might also get pregnant.”
Emily shifted on her stool and looked everywhere but at Chace. Damn she’d been really careless last night! Never thinking of a condom and simply getting caught up in all that belly-crunching sex. Thank goodness she’d taken precautions.
She finally made herself look at Chace who stood waiting for her reply. “I haven’t gone off the pill since I broke up with Devan. My ex.”
“I see. What happens if you’re wrong and you end up pregnant?”
Emily heard a laugh burst from her lips. “That wouldn’t happen, but if by any slim chance it does, then I’ll handle things my way.”
Chace didn’t say anything more for the moment and instead turned off the food while Emily wondered where all this was going. Was he worried she might try to tie him down with a pregnancy?
When Chace turned to her again, it was to place their plates of food down. Emily’s mouth began to water. Chace definitely knew how to fill a big woman up after an exciting night of power orgasms and back-bending sex.
Only for his next words had Emily pausing as she readied for her first morsel.
“Haven’t you ever wanted a family, you know, settling down?” he asked mildly as he sat to eat. He passed her some dressing to go with the food and chopped vegetables. Emily’s eyes darted in confusion.
“Well, yeah,” she said. “Everyone does. Especially when I look at Ciara, and Zane; I realize how much happiness lies in store. There’s a time for everything, though, so I’m in no rush.”
She looked up at Chace. “Why are you asking?”
He shrugged and forked food in his mouth. “I’m curious about you. What goes on in your head, the things you feel strongly about. Even though we’ve spent the last ten years apart, nothing stops us from moving on to the next step.”
“And what could that be?” Emily found it hard to swallow her food, heart jumping.
“Come with me on my trip and find out,” Chace said. “I’ll be making a stop in New York on business. It’ll be a few days at most – and I’ll make it worthwhile. I promise there’ll be no dull moments.”
He made it sound mouthwatering indeed
, thought Emily in amazement while he gave that sexy grin she both hated and loved. Ugh! Why did he have to be this hot, rich, sexy god who gave her the best sex and the worst insecurities?
“I do have a job, you know,” she said. Well, it was more part-time than anything. And it was not like the whole place would fall apart if she took a few days off. The owner of the restaurant was pretty laid back and cool; he wouldn’t begrudge her a little pleasure trip of sorts. Any sane woman would at least picture spending more time with Chace after last night’s pleasure fest. Even now, Emily couldn’t help her inner shiver.
“I was thinking you could work something out – as a special favor to me. I don’t relish the thought of not getting to see you,” said Chace. “The trip is important and has been planned months ago. Running into you again at the benefit brought to bear how much I’ve always felt a connection with you. It’s not too farfetched to think you’re as reluctant as I am to part ways.”
Emily sighed and rubbed at her temples. The oversized shirt slipped off one shoulder, but she was too preoccupied to tug it back up. “Look, Chace…last night…it happened. I’m nursing no regrets nor asking for more than I deserve. We had some history and I wanted us to work things out so we could get back to not being awkward around each other.”
“That’s what it was all about?” Chace had that dark brow up in a quizzical arch. “A night of hot sex and everything’s ironed out? What am I supposed to do the next time we see each other, smile and act all cavalier?”
“I didn’t expect you to agree with my methods,” Emily said. It was an effort to stay calm, even while she began to feel his darkened temper. Why was he so mad? She was doing them both a favor. Keeping things simple would make it easier on him to make that needed break they both knew would come.
Emily watched Chace’s face for a reaction, but beyond that narrowed, speculative gaze, he seemed to be containing himself admirably. Good thing he wasn’t going to make a big deal out of this. She could understand he was keen to explore their implosive passion for each other, but did he really believe it could mean more than that? She wasn’t sitting around waiting for him to figure out he wasn’t the type to want commitment with someone like her.
Emily had to think of herself since obviously no one else would.
“I need to hit the road, so to speak,” she said calmly. She finished her coffee and rose, taking up her empty dish, but Chace told her to leave everything, that the cleaner would come in and handle the dishes.
Emily fidgeted slightly as she shrugged. “Well, okay. I just need my clothes and I’ll change before I leave. Breakfast was nice, so thanks and um…for last night, too.”
Chace rose fluidly. “Your dress and underwear have been laundered and you’ll find them inside the closet in the room you slept in. Sure you can’t come with me to New York?”
“Nah…we could always hook up when you get back,” was Emily’s airy reply. “Much as my schedule’s basically carefree, I really can’t just jet out on a whim. It was nice of you to offer, though, it’s been a while since I’d been back home.”
Considering she grew up in New York and it was where they’d met and fell in love, maybe Emily was wary of going down
memory lane. Still, it
prickling that Chace didn’t bother to try harder at changing her mind.
Knowing she was simply being perverse, Emily hid her inner discomfiture with a smile and left Chace in the kitchen before heading quickly for the room he indicated. Her lingering image was of him standing behind the island, his lithe frame half leaning on his fists propped on the marble countertop. His expression as usual told her nothing, but she imagined he might be frustrated she wasn’t playing along unquestioningly.
Chace might be the hottest lover I ever had, but if he really thought he’d gained the right to control my life, he was dead wrong
, thought Emily.
She found her clothes and put them on, grateful to have them clean. Emily hadn’t run into anyone, but there had to obviously be some kind of ever-efficient attendant available, since even her bed had been remade while she’d been at breakfast.
When she emerged again, it was to find Chace dressed and shaved. He was in one of his dark, fitted suits minus a tie, the collar of the pristine white shirt slightly unbuttoned. Something thrummed in between Emily’s thighs, but she quelled it, hoping Chace couldn’t see how much he turned her on when he looked so effortlessly dashing.
I wish he was mine, all mine
. But it was no use nursing such hopes even for a moment, Emily told herself sternly. No one spelled “inaccessible” more than Chace Hammond, especially to her. She had far too much to lose to a man like him.
What came as a surprise, though, was that Chace didn’t bother hiding his appreciation as he regarded her now in her dress and heels.
“I never got to fulfil my promise to peel this off you,” he mused, running a knuckle along the sweetheart neckline. Emily sucked in a breath, butterflies summersaulting in her stomach, thinking how he more than fulfilled many other promises last night.
Speech was out of the question for Emily, who could only berate herself for getting so tongue-tied each time Chace drew on his silken charm. His head tilted to hers, till their faces were only inches apart. Emily should have backed away, not ready to be drawn into his spell again. Chace, too, seemed reluctant, as just at the last second he pulled back sharply.
“Shall we?” he asked with far more composure than Emily felt.
Emily had to fight down her disappointment. They headed for the door, and Emily’s feet felt like lead. This was what she wanted, wasn’t it? Chace had confirmed he was looking for more, and it had been her choice to keep him at bay. She’d held on to her pride and even as much as she longed to stay, she’d overcome her momentary weakness.
It was better this way
Convinced of that one fact, Emily’s shoulders squared as the front door opened and she stepped out without a second thought. Only to have camera lights flashing in her eyes, blinding her for a moment as she reared back.
Chace’s solid frame was there behind her, keeping her from stumbling. He steadied her with his hands on her shoulders. “What’s wrong?” he asked when more lights flashed. He looked up in anger and in front, just beyond the entrance stairway, was a slight figure in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. Emily had turned her face into Chace’s shoulder, but it was too late, the photographer had taken another few shots before dashing off to a waiting car.
Chace swore under his breath, pushing Emily behind him. However, there was no other nosy photographer around while that familiar figure in the hood backed the car up and did a U-turn before disappearing down the drive.
Emily stared down at the platter of cupcakes Ciara had placed in front of her.
Red velvet with cream cheese icing
Now here was some curvy girl kryptonite if there ever was one
, thought Emily. Especially with the butter cream frosting shaped into pretty little flowers atop each cupcake. Emily’s sweet tooth didn’t stand a chance.
“Why do you do this to me?” Emily groaned while biting into one with a look of sheer bliss.
Ciara laughed. “We all need our guilty pleasures.”
Don’t I know it
, thought Emily shifting in her seat while trying not to think about Chace. He was one hell of a guilty pleasure, alright. Had it been just twenty four hours since she’d seen him?
Emily concealed a shudder, thinking about that last time in the front doorway and getting surprised by that crazy fool of a reporter Amanda Weeks.
What the hell was that
? Chace had shielded her, but the photographer had definitely managed to get some shots. What did she intend to do with them and why did Emily seem to be getting caught up in all of it?
Emily chose not to blame Chace, though. There was no way he could have known there’d be someone with a camera right in front of his door, unless this happened all the time with his other conquests. Did those other women at some point get surprised by a lurking “photog” ready to shoot incriminating pictures? Yikes.
Ciara had her laptop open on the table with them and she was clicking through webpages. “So how’s the new blog coming along?” Emily asked between bites.
“Awesome. I never knew it would be this much fun. But since the pastry shop keeps expanding and someone said I start up a blog to showcase my recipes and build more awareness, I’m enjoying it more than I should,” Ciara confessed with a smile. “Maybe you should try it.”
“What, the recipes?”
Ciara rolled her eyes. “No, girl, I meant
. Maybe it would help kick start your creative juices again. I used to love reading your stuff. Why did you ever give it up?”
Emily sighed and reflectively licked on her lips. “Let’s just say, my writing gave up on me. I don’t know…something feels empty somehow.”
“Maybe you need a muse,” Ciara said with a teasing smile. She shut the lid of her laptop and rested her elbows on the table as she leaned forward conspiratorially. “You never told me what happened with Chace. How are things going?”
Ciara was much too astute for her own good
, thought Emily while saying grudgingly, “Okay, you might as well know. We went on a date.”
“Oh my gosh,” Ciara cried in between grinning widely. “
Emily felt her cheeks go hot. She reached for her coffee. “And I’d rather not go into details. But if you
know, I did end up going back to his place. So…maybe we spent the night together. But that was it, okay? No building fairytale castles or shopping for wedding outfits just yet.”
Ciara’s grin only widened. “I don’t know about that. Somehow I have a good feeling about you two.”
“Well don’t,” Emily said grumpily. “I know you, Ciara May. You’re going to be thinking of ways to keep throwing us both together. Just let it go, okay?”
“You wound me, really you do,” Ciara said. “I’m much too busy to start any of that. That reminds me…”