Read Overdrive TheLookOfLove June14 Online

Authors: Bella Andre

Tags: #alpha male, #love, #love story, #alpha hero, #romance, #bad boys, #falling in love, #sexy romance, #heroes, #contemporary romance

Overdrive TheLookOfLove June14 (8 page)

BOOK: Overdrive TheLookOfLove June14
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“I don’t have anything other than this to wear,” she said, gesturing to her clothes. “So, thanks, but it would probably be best if—”

Marcus smoothly cut her refusal off in a show of brotherly love at its finest. “My suit’s coming off as soon as I’m done with my final meeting.”

With Marcus going out of his way to make Chloe comfortable, she finally agreed. “Okay.

Thanks.”

Chase owed his brother one.

* * *

The two of them hiked up the hillside and the view took her breath away.

Chase took a waterproof blanket out of the basket and laid it on grass that was still damp from the previous night’s shower.

“Wow, you really come prepared.”

“I’ve got a good crew.”

She nodded. “They’re all great.” Jeremy had introduced her to Alice, the stylist, Kalen, the makeup artist, and Francis, who was in charge of lighting. The words, “I liked watching you work,”

came out before she could hold them inside.

His smile was like a warm caress over her skin. “I liked you being there. I was trying not to show off.”

Amazed by how easily he could make her smile and laugh, she said, “Most guys don’t admit stuff like that.”

She half-expected him to say something like, “I’m not most guys.” Instead, he asked, “So, what do you do?”

He was being so careful with her. She felt it in every glance, every word. Even now, when he could so easily have asked her where she was from or why she was running, he was getting to know her another way instead. Just as he hadn’t touched her without her permission last night. It was as if there were a silent agreement between them that he wouldn’t push too far or get in too deep before she allowed him in.

The question was, would she dare let him in?

Chloe didn’t have an answer. How could she, when she was afraid to even acknowledge the question?

He handed her a gourmet sandwich and as she took it, she said, “Well, I’ve been waitressing.”

He nodded. “But what do you like to do?”

Most people would have stopped at her day job. But not Chase. He was truly interested. And that honest interest went a long way toward shoving aside her reluctance to talk about herself. She paused before answering, “I make quilts.”

People never knew what to make of that. Most assumed it was a hobby. Others just thought it was plain weird or boring. Men, without exception, dismissed it as just another housewife craft.

“Tell me more.”

Downplaying it like she usually did, she said, “I like seeing how fabrics come together in patterns.”

“I’ve photographed a few quilt shows and art quilts for various publications, so I know a little bit about it, but I’d love to know more. When did you start?”

Chloe rarely had a chance to wax on about her love for quilting. Not since she’d last been a member of a quilting guild years and years ago. She missed those women—and their shared passion—terribly.

Which was probably why she actually found herself telling Chase, “I started quilting when I lost a close friend from college in a car accident. She had been such a passionate quilter. Her mom actually owned a store in town. It was the only way I could think of to keep up my connection to her. And it gave me something else to think about—the motion of my hands and the needle, the patterns of fabric and shape, the building of something that I could create. Sometimes I can almost feel her watching me from up above with a smile on her face.”

“I’m sure she is.”

She started at Chase’s words. Had she really just said all of that to him? Somehow he had gotten her to talk about her passion for quilting—a subject that would have put nearly every guy on the planet to sleep.

She wasn’t at all comfortable acknowledging that Chase had just become the exception. And that it had felt so good to share herself with someone who was really listening.

She was being stupid, letting herself think that this fantasy of sitting with a gorgeous guy on a hilltop in Napa Valley had anything to do with her real life.

It didn’t.

She put down her sandwich and made herself face him, but before she could say anything, he said, “Uh-oh. That’s not a good look.”

She wasn’t going to smile. There was no place for grinning when she was about to set him straight, when she was about to make her position on the two of them perfectly clear. “Why are you being so nice to me?”

“I like you.”

The glow his words caused was too bright. Too warm. Forcing herself to blot it out, she said,

“You don’t know me.”

“I’m starting to.”

No pauses. No smooth words. No trying to charm her into agreeing with him. Didn’t he realize just how much harder his honest responses were making this for her?

“Is this what you do?”

“What am I doing?”

“You keep helping me, making me breakfast, asking Jeremy to be nice to me all day.”

He frowned and she could see that he was confused. “Is there something wrong with wanting to make you smile?”

Oh. Wow. Why did he have to say that?

She couldn’t think of any other man who’d simply wanted to make her smile. Not even the man she’d married.

Frustrated with herself for being so soft—so easy to turn to goo—she made herself come at him one more time with, “I get it if you’re into saving people, but—”

“I’m not a saint, Chloe. I’ll always take care of my family, but I’ve never gone out looking for women who need to be saved. And it’s not why I asked you to stay.”

His low voice cut her accusation off in mid-stream and she found herself unable to look away from his serious expression. Feeling like a big jerk for doing anything and everything she could think of to try and keep herself from doing something really, really stupid like falling for him, she said,

“Look, Chase, you really have been nice.” Despite having been slow to hand her a towel last night, she silently amended with a flush. “But, we’re not going to do…well…you know.”

Ugh. She wasn’t used to having conversations like this.

She half-expected—half-wanted—him to tell her she was wrong. That they were, in fact, going to end up doing
well-you-know
if she stuck around much longer.

Instead, his expression grew perfectly serious. “Earlier, when we were out in the vineyard, when I asked you to stay, you didn’t want to. But I didn’t let up until you finally gave in.” He ran a hand through his hair, clearly upset with himself. “I would never want to force you to do something you don’t want to do, Chloe. I don’t ever want to take something from you that you don’t want to give me.”

This was the perfect opening. Her chance to tell him she’d never had any intention of staying, to make it clear that there was no connection between them, and that it was time for her to be moving on.

So then, why did she find herself saying, “I wanted to stay.”

The pure truth of that statement resonated within her solar plexus. Turned out the truth didn’t care if she wanted it to be true, or not.

“I want to stay,” she said again in a firmer voice. She wanted to spend more time with Chase.

She shouldn’t. But she did.

His grin came back, softer this time, and somehow even more potent. “Good.” And then, “You were saying something about how you and I aren’t going to do…?” He paused, letting the unsaid words hang in the air between them.

She should have come back with a quick retort, something to put him in his place. But right at that moment, with the Napa Valley sun shining down on her and grapevines budding to life across rolling hills as far as the eye could see, there was nothing left but honesty.

“I haven’t had a male friend in a very long time.”

He was silent for a long moment, and even though the butterflies in her stomach had her keeping her eyes on the horizon, she could feel his gaze on her.

“I’d be honored to be your friend, Chloe.”

Her breath caught in her throat, then, and she liked him so much it was almost impossible not to grab him and kiss him.

Sure that he could hear her heart beating in her chest, it was so loud to her own ears, instead of kissing him she had to be content with whispering, “I like you, too.”

Chapter Six

Chloe wasn’t used to sitting still. Especially not after the past year, when she’d had to keep working odd jobs just to pay the rent and eat and be able to buy some fabric to quilt together. She kept asking Jeremy if there was something she could do to help, but he was firm about her being Chase’s guest.

Worse still, all that staring at Chase was doing really funny things to her insides. To her outsides, too. Her skin felt sensitive all over beneath her clothes. Warmer than the weather warranted.

Similar to the way she’d felt in the tub as the water had slid across her skin and she’d ended up coming apart with his name on her lips.

Chloe’s uncomfortable musings were interrupted by a loud squeal that was followed by female cursing. Chloe craned her neck and saw that Amanda had tripped over a rock and her dress had a long, jagged rip across the front.

Chase called, “Jeremy, we need a new dress. The same one.”

Jeremy’s face had gone even paler than it already was. “I don’t think they sent more than one of this dress. I’ll look again to make absolutely sure.” He scurried off to look through the huge containers of clothes.

Chloe spoke without thinking. “I’ll fix it.”

Chase turned his green-eyed gaze to her and at the question in his eyes, she said, “I’ve worked with some pretty similar fabrics in my quilts. I can at least try.”

“Amanda, take off the dress.”

The model pulled it off without giving so much as a thought to the fact that she was wearing only very sheer panties beneath the gauzy fabric.

At first it had been a bit of a shock to see how comfortable these young girls were with their near nudity, but then, Chloe figured if she’d had a figure like that when she was nineteen, she would have been smart to flaunt it, too.

More glad than she should have been that Chase didn’t so much as glance at Amanda’s perfect naked breasts, Chloe got up out of her seat and came to get the dress. “Can you wait ten minutes?”

He looked down at the large tear. “You can have this fixed in ten minutes?”

She looked at it more closely, running her fingers along the tear. “I think so.” Satins and silks were always harder to work with because every hole the needle made showed, but she’d been eying the enormous sewing box all day. Now she finally had a reason to dig into it.

Chase called out for a break. She quickly threaded a needle with thin, transparent filament and began to work on the dress. She was so entranced by the soft fabric beneath her fingertips that it took her a few moments to realize Chase was sitting beside her.

“What would I do without you?”

She almost stabbed herself with the needle. Thankfully she was concentrating too hard to have to reply. Actually, she wasn’t concentrating all that hard. After the past year of doing side jobs for the local tailor for what amounted to little more than slave wages, she could sew up things like this in her sleep.

Only, it was more than a little unnerving to have Chase’s full attention like this.

“Don’t you have something else you need to be doing?”

She could feel his grin without needing to see it. “Just keeping my friend company while she does me a favor.”

Friends. He’d agreed to be her friend. So then, why was she a teeny bit disappointed that he hadn’t pushed her for more up on the hill?

No. That was crazy thinking. And she knew exactly where that kind of crazy would lead.

A bed…with Chase in it.

“I’d like to help more,” she told him. “You’ve been so kind to me and I wish there was something more I could do to repay you.”

“Chloe.” The serious way he said her name had her looking up at him. “I wanted to help. You don’t need to repay me for anything. Ever.”

The intensity of his gaze—the utter dedication and focus on her—nearly had her stabbing herself again with the needle.

“I need to concentrate on this,” she lied.

What she really needed was some breathing room from her budding feelings for him.

“Go check on something else,” she told him in her best no-nonsense voice.

Before she looked back down at the dress, she caught a flash of his gorgeous grin. A grin that told her he knew exactly why she was sending him away, darn it.

Ten minutes later, she helped Amanda put the dress back on and found herself blushing as everyone started clapping and telling her how great she was to have repaired it so quickly and so well.

It wasn’t long until the sun set and the models were really drooping.

“Let’s call it a day,” Chase said. “Great work, everyone.” He made sure to include her with his eyes, even though she’d barely done anything to help. “Really, really great.”

Chloe could see how much his praise meant to everyone. Including her.

“My brother, Marcus, is hosting all of us for dinner and drinks at his place tonight.” He pointed to the big house across the vineyard. “Jeremy, why don’t you take everyone over?”

Without being asked, Chloe helped the models out of their dresses, making sure to tell each one of them how impressed she was with the work they’d done. “How do you hold those poses for so long?”

Amanda was already on her cell phone, but Jackie, a shy “older” girl (who was barely twenty-one, but Chloe had already learned that was borderline ancient in their business), said, “I do a lot of yoga.”

The girl’s smile was beautiful and Chloe immediately grinned back at her.

“It was nice to have you on set,” Jackie said. “Kind of like having my mom here to take care of us.”

Chloe somehow managed to hold her grin.

She was only nine years older than Jackie. And yet, she supposed the model was right. If life experience was anything to go by, they were a century apart.

Jeremy loaded the huge van with trunks and racks of clothes and camera equipment, then called everyone together. “Are you coming, Chloe?”

She was tempted to go with the group, rather than stay behind with Chase. But she felt grimy.

Even if she didn’t have nicer clothes to wear to Marcus’s house, the least she could do was smell better than this. A shower was definitely necessary.

BOOK: Overdrive TheLookOfLove June14
3.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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