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Authors: Sandra Hill

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BOOK: Heart Craving
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The twilight air resonated with the sounds of crickets from the nearby woods, and heavy breathing. His and hers. Melded. In rhythm.

When the final climax came—a shattering explosion of the senses—he drew back one last time and slammed into her, his thighs braced rigid with tension, the sinews of his arms roped with muscles. They cried out their release together and gasped for breath as her searing sheath continued to caress him with smaller and smaller spasms until, whimpering, she could bear no more. And he wilted with the intensity of his release.

Softly, he kissed the back of her neck.

After a long moment, he pulled out of her and let her feet slide to the ground. But his arms continued to hold her from behind, one around her waist, the other gently stroking her arms and shoulders and hair. She could feel his heart thudding wildly against her back.

Finally, he turned her in his arms, still pressed against the car. He must have removed his hat and sunglasses before making love with her. His short-clipped hair was as thick and black as a moonless night.

His eyes held hers for a long, poignant moment in question, perhaps wondering if she was angry or pleased. Blue pools of passion surrounded by thick, black spidery lashes. So beautiful.

Slowly, he lowered his head. With tenderest care, his full lips brushed her mouth. A pleading caress. No demands here. A lover’s kiss.

Then he drew back and grazed his knuckles along her jaw and tilted her chin upward.

Paula could see the sexual satisfaction in his misty eyes and parted lips. And she saw the silent sadness on his face, as well.

“Come home, Paula,” he pleaded huskily. “Please, come home.”

Chapter Four

Baby, come back . . .

TIME SEEMED TO stand still as Nick waited for Paula’s answer. Surely, they would reconcile after what had just happened between them.

He couldn’t believe his plan had gone so well. Hell, satisfying this heart-craving business was going to be a snap. And more damn pleasure than he’d ever imagined in his hottest wet dreams.

Now, all he had to do was get Paula to come home with him, and he’d spend the rest of his life fulfilling every sexual fantasy—every heart craving—she could ever have. And then some.

Who was he kidding? He’d forgotten his plan the moment she’d stepped from the car. He couldn’t have stopped himself from touching her if his life depended on it. He’d been celibate for so long—a year, in fact, until yesterday.

And he had to admit, she’d surprised the spit out of him. He had never been so demanding in the four years they’d been together. Or suggested such exotic sexual activity. And, hot damn, she’d liked it. A lot.

He brushed several strands of silky auburn hair off her face, and she swatted his hand away. That was his first clue that fantasy island was fast becoming a mirage.

The second clue came right after that, when he rubbed the pad of his thumb over her passion-swollen lips, and she bit him, hard.

“Ouch! Why’d you do that?” He stepped back, sucking on the sore appendage. With a sigh, he then adjusted himself inside his pants and zipped up. The cold, angry glitter in her green eyes did not bode well for sexual seconds.

“Are you crazy?” she lashed out, smoothing down her silk tank top. Her still-aroused nipples stood out like sentinels, and he couldn’t help the slow grin that pulled at his lips.

She looked down and grunted with self-disgust, then folded her arms across her chest. “You are a toad.”

“Yeah. You wanna check out my warts?” He reached out for her, but she ducked under his arms. “Or we could play leap frog.”

“Aaarrgh! Would you stop kidding around?” She reached down with a groan of dismay and picked up her torn panties, stuffing them into her skirt pocket. Turning back to him, she asked tiredly, “What did you hope to accomplish here—no, let me guess. You figured a quick screw on the side of the road, and I’d drop the divorce petition. God, you must have a low opinion of me.”

He cringed at her vulgar assessment. “We made love, Paula. And you’re just mad because you enjoyed it so much.”

“I did not,” she said, raising her chin defensively.

“Liar.”

“And stop grinning at me.”

He shrugged and grinned even wider.

“You are such a rat.”

He jiggled his eyebrows. “And that would make you the cheese. Would you like me to eat—”

“Don’t even say it!” She began pacing back and forth along the length of the car. “Nick, you caught me in a weak moment, but it’s not going to happen again. Ever! You’ve got to give up. It’s over.”

“No. No, it’s not. If you’d just come home, we could talk—”

“Like we ‘talked’ just now? Like we ‘talked’ in the shower yesterday?”

“Why are you being so difficult?”

“Why can’t you understand that our marriage is dead? And sex can’t resurrect it.”

He closed his eyes briefly on that painful thought.

“What are you doing in uniform anyhow? You haven’t been in uniform since you made detective ten years ago. I’m surprised it still fits.”

“It didn’t,” he admitted sheepishly. “Skip loaned me his.”

“Skip? Oh, you are too much! Dragging other people into our affairs.” She blushed as a sudden thought occurred to her. “You didn’t tell him why you wanted the uniform, did you?”

“Nah, it’s our secret. Listen, honey, it’s getting dark. Let’s go back to our apartment—I mean, your place—and talk. I promise I won’t touch you again. Unless you want me to.”

She flashed him a look of utter disbelief. “I’m not going anywhere with you, Nick. And we’re getting a divorce six days from now.” Tears filled her eyes as she gazed up at him bleakly.

“I love you, Paula. Doesn’t that count for anything?”

“Oh, Nick. Of course, it does. But we’ve been over this a hundred times before. Your love suffocates me.”

He flinched at her harsh words. “I can change.”

“No, you can’t. You’ve tried. Many times. But you can’t stop smothering me with your obsessiveness.”

“I only want to keep you safe. What’s wrong with that?”

“Nick, I hated that high-rise prison we lived in.”

“It was a maximum security complex,” he corrected. “That’s why we moved there in the first place. And I got us another place, just like you wanted.”

“No, Nick, like
you
wanted. Not me.” She shook her head wearily. “A low-rise apartment building with bars on the windows is not my idea of home.”

He drew himself up, affronted. “They aren’t bars. They’re security grills.”

“Why couldn’t we have lived in the suburbs? All I wanted was a little house with a backyard and an apple tree.”

“Uh-uh. Too unsafe, especially close to the city.”

She made a clucking sound of disgust. “And my car? I asked for a Volkswagen convertible, and you bought me a Volvo sedan.”

“Honey, soft-top cars are an invitation for burglars. You could be attacked at a stoplight, even with the doors locked.”

“And Gonzo! Lord, I asked for a cocker spaniel, and you gave me a small horse.”

“A German shepherd is one of the best guard dogs.” He looked wounded at her lack of appreciation. “I thought you liked Gonzo.”

“I love Gonzo.
Now.
But he’s not what I wanted.”

“So, you’re pissed off because of a house, a car, and a damned dog?”

“Aaarrgh! Listen to me for once, you stubborn fool. Those things were just bricks in the wall you were putting up day by day. What hurt the most the last couple of years was your refusal to talk about your work.”

He braced himself, knowing what was coming next.

“I had no idea what kind of cases you handled. Sometimes you were so angry, or sad, and you kept it all inside.”

“Paula, I’m surrounded by muck in my job. The dregs of humanity. Believe me, you don’t want to know about some of the things I witness.”

“How do you know what I want, you blockhead? God, you’re impossible! And my job—you refused to listen—oh, I give up!” She threw her hands up in the air. “We’ve been over this a million times.”

Nick’s pride tempted him to turn on his heel and say, “To hell with it, then.” But he couldn’t give up without one last salvo, “Don’t you love me anymore?”

She averted her eyes.

“Tell me. Say the words, ‘I don’t love you, Nick.’”

A single tear slid down her cheek, and she wiped at it angrily.

He felt like a fist was squeezing his heart.

“You know I can’t. Not yet,” she said on a sob. “But I’m going to learn to stop. And finalizing the divorce is the first step.” With determination, she opened her car door and slid behind the steering wheel.

“I have six more days to convince you otherwise,” he shouted through the closed window, with equal determination.

“Give it up, Nick. All I crave now is . . .”

Crave?
He couldn’t hear the rest of her words as she revved the motor and shot out onto the highway. At first, his shoulders slumped with defeat. But then, in the wake of skidding gravel and exhaust fumes, he noticed the oddest thing growing along the road.

A lone sunflower.

Day Three

Bad boys come in all sizes
 . . .

Nick finished booking the three teenage boys for burglary, carrying an unlicensed firearm, resisting arrest, and possession of narcotics.

“Man, you gonna lock us up again?” the freckle-faced kid with the nose ring whined.

“You bet your stupid ass, I am, Peterman. And this time, I’m asking the judge to send you to Stonegate.”

“I ain’t goin’ to no juvie hall again. Betcha my momma’ll have me outta here by tomorrow.”

“Not if I can help it! When are you guys gonna learn?” Nick’s contemptuous glare took in Peterman, as well as his two buddies, Casale and Lewis. They all wore T-shirts proclaiming the name of their gang, “Blades.”

“Learn what?” Casale asked angrily. “You make me puke. You sit in your lily-white houses in your lily-white neighborhood. Whaddayou know what it’s like in our hood, Po-lice-man?” His intelligent eyes bespoke a deep rage—one Nick, unfortunately, understood too well.

“I know that your way is a dead-end street,
Richard.

Nick saw Casale grit his teeth at the use of his given name. Somehow, the anonymity of surnames suited these street gangs better. Growing up, Nick doubted any one ever knew his first name. It was always just, “Hey, DiCello!”

Patiently, in a softer tone of voice, he informed Casale, “Richie, I was born in your hood . . . Patterson Street. I lived in the same project you do, maybe even the same unit.” At the look of disbelief on the kid’s face, he asked, “Do the halls still smell like spaghetti sauce and urine all the time?”

Casale blinked with surprise. Then he sneered, “We got us a
crew-say-dah
here, boys. A real Deputy Do-Right. There ain’t nothin’ worse than a reformed bad boy.”

Nick made a blowing noise of exasperation. What was the use? “You do know that the captain wants you guys charged as adults this time?”

A brief spark of fear appeared in Casale’s brilliant blue eyes before he masked it with the usual bravado. Of the three, this kid had the most potential to pull himself out of the ghetto dung heap. But he probably wouldn’t.

Nick filled in the last of the forms, then motioned for the patrolman at the door to lead them away. Handcuffed and shackled, the trio shuffled down the hallway to the holding pen, arrogant and unremorseful. They knew the way with their eyes closed.

Nick felt a twinge of pity for the stupid kids. Hell, they were only fourteen years old. Yeah, fourteen going on forty! And with rap sheets to rival those of the hardest criminals.

Any sympathy he might have considered died when Lewis looked back over his shoulder and called out, “I’m gonna get you, DiCello. I’m sick of you jerks pickin’ me up. Watch your back, you sonofabitch. I got a bullet with your name on it.”

Lewis was the most incorrigible gang member he’d encountered in the last few years—a vicious, surly punk with a chip on his shoulder the size of a tombstone.

“I’m shivering in my boots,” he snapped back.

“Yeah, well, how ’bout your old lady? You even got a chick, you fag?” Lewis asked.

Nick made a low hissing sound.

Seeing that he’d found Nick’s vulnerable spot, the creep laughed evilly—how could a kid so young be so evil?—and spelled out graphically, in filthy gutter language, what he could do to Nick’s “old lady” to get back at him.

Trembling with fury, Nick started after the hoodlum. But Skip stepped up to him and put a restraining hand on his shoulder. “Let him go, Nick. They all make threats like that. He’s just a punk with an attitude.”

As a final insult, all three delinquents flicked their middle fingers at him.

Nick pressed his forehead against the cold concrete wall, inhaling and exhaling deeply.

And Paula wonders why I don’t want to talk about my work. Or why I’m overprotective. Hell!

Finally, his temper cooled. He looked back at Skip—a patrol officer and friend, only twenty-five years old, who worked out of the same precinct. “You off duty now?”

Skip nodded.

“How ’bout going for a beer?”

“Sounds good.”

They were about to leave the building when Captain O’Malley called out, “See you tonight, DiCello. Right?” The burly Irishman smirked from ear to ear, then erupted into a deep belly laugh.

Nick felt a flush move up his neck. “Yeah, I’ll be there.”

“Eight o’clock. The high school gym. Don’t be late.” He started laughing again.

“What was that all about?” Skip asked as they walked toward his patrol car.

“I’m going to the prom.”

Twerk, jerk, same thing . . .

LATER, NICK AND Skip were nursing their second beers in a neighborhood tavern.

“Stop smirkin’ at me,” Nick said.

“I can’t help it. Geez, I just can’t picture you at a prom. Do you even know how to boogie?”

“Boogie? I was thinking more along the lines of dirty danc—”

His words were interrupted by the waitress, who smiled invitingly down at Skip and asked, for the third time in a half hour, “Will there be anything else, sugar?” She totally ignored Nick.

Skip winked. “Not now, darlin’.”

Smiling, Nick shook his head at his friend. “Stop flirting with the waitresses. If Kahlita were here, she’d wring your neck. And you’re not on stage now, so you have no excuse.” Everywhere he went, Skip attracted women. And it wasn’t just that he looked like Denzel Washington in an Arnold Schwarzenegger body. Skip exuded sexual charisma without even giving it a thought.
Hmmm. Maybe Skip can give me a little advice.

“Maybe you ought to moonlight, too,” Skip suggested. “Might learn a few tricks to lure Paula back.”

Now that was hitting too close to home. Nick winced. “Me? A male stripper? Hardly. Besides, if you’re not careful, the captain’s gonna hear about your nightclub act. Do you wanna get fired?”

Skip shrugged. “Maybe it would be for the best. The money’s better, for sure. And, no kidding . . . Sal is looking for someone to replace Lee as the Indian in the line-up. Lee got moved up to detective. He’s working night shift now and had to quit.”

Nick choked on his beer. “Lee Chin was stripping? As an Indian? Holy hell! He’s Chinese.”

Skip grinned. “Yeah, but the women didn’t seem to notice his face. They were lookin’ a little . . . lower. Then, too, he can flex his buttocks. I don’t suppose you can do the twerk.”

“The who?”

“The twerk. It’s a dance move where you squat down and spread your knees, then vibrate your butt cheeks real fast.” He stood and demonstrated. At the look of horror on Nick’s face, he remarked, “I guess not.”

Smiling, Nick leaned back and sipped at his beer. “Even if I had the inclination, this aging body couldn’t stand the scrutiny of a couple hundred screaming women. I could lift weights till my nose bleeds and still not look like you. Besides, I’m trying to get my wife back, and Paula’s not the type to go for male strippers.”

“Actually, Paula and Kahlita came to the club one night. They seemed to be having a good time.” Skip raised an eyebrow knowingly.

Nick gaped at Skip’s grinning face. “Not my Paula!”

“Maybe you don’t know Paula as well as you think.”

If they can’t make love, at least they can dance . . .

BOOK: Heart Craving
12.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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