Authors: Synithia Williams
Tags: #contemporary romance
He pulled Mikayla against his chest. Her body jerked.
“No…please…leave us alone,” she murmured.
He wrapped his arms around her. “Shh, baby, it’s okay. You’re having a dream. It’s okay.” He ran his hand up and down her back and gently rocked from side to side.
She stiffened. He sucked in several deep breaths to calm his racing heart as she lay rigid against him, when suddenly her body relaxed and she collapsed into him.
The tension left his shoulder, and he pulled back enough to see her face. Her eyes closed, her breathing smooth and even. She slept like the dead. A nightmare and a strange guy holding her and still she hadn’t awakened.
She appeared calm now. He could leave. Lay her back down, tuck the sheets around her, and go back to the couch. He smoothed the hair away from her face. He watched and slowly the fear from seeing her thrashing around on the bed evaporated.
He pulled her close again. Burying his nose in the crook between her shoulder and neck, took a deep breath, and pretended she was his, while he inhaled the sweet floral fragrance she wore.
Andre’s heartbeat slowed, and his body temperature steadily rose. A reminder that his good deed for the day was done. He gently laid her back on the bed. He ran the back of his hand along her cheek, then moved to get up.
Her hand shot out and grabbed his. His body froze. Her eyes opened and she observed him through sleepy eyes.
“It was a nightmare,” she said in a low husky whisper.
He smiled. “I kinda figured that out. You want to talk about it.”
“You’ll think I’m crazy.”
He rested his arms on his knees. “I doubt that.”
She brought his hand back to the side of her face and placed a warm cheek against his palm. Her light breaths brushed against his wrist, sending a tremor through him.
“I was being chased by zombies.”
A relieved laugh burst from him, and his shoulders relaxed. He’d expected some deep-seated trauma to be the cause of her nightmare.
“Then it’s my fault for bringing those movies.”
She shook her head. “No, my fault for not telling you. I sometimes have nightmares after watching horror films.”
“Then why did you watch?”
She opened her eyes and met his. “I needed the distraction…you know?”
His thumb trailed down the side of her face, stopping at the corner of her mouth. Her full lips parted. Moonlight streamed in through the windows, reflecting off her cocoa skin and that damn orange head wrap. He wanted to snatch the thing off, dig his hands in her hair and chase away the remainder of her nightmare with a kiss.
“I should go back to the couch,” he said, though the couch no longer held its previous appeal. He moved to get up, but her hand tightened.
“Don’t go,” she whispered.
He cleared his throat and shifted on the bed. Her quiet declaration tightened his groin.
“That’s not a good idea.”
She shook her head. “Maybe not. I know there’s this…attraction between us, but we’re both smart enough to realize that it would be stupid to follow up. I would feel better if you stayed with me a little while longer.”
She sucked in shallow breaths and her hand clung to his. Asking him to stay after acknowledging the attraction meant she was either really afraid or really stupid.
He was really stupid.
He pulled his hand out of hers and shifted. “Slide over. I’ll sleep on top of the covers.”
She scooted out of the way. Then lifted the duvet. “No need for you to be cold. We can keep the sheet between us.”
Suppressing thoughts of how only a sheet separated him from her beautiful warm curves, he slid in next to her.
Somebody lay beside her. Mikayla hadn’t opened her eyes, but she recalled the memory of asking Andre to stay. Her face heated. If she’d been fully awake, and not wrestling with leftover fear, she wouldn’t have made such a crazy suggestion. He must think her all kinds of dopey for dreaming about zombies then asking him to sleep beside her like a toddler.
Slowly rolling onto her back, she peered at Andre out of the corner of her eye. He lay on his back, with one arm draped across his eyes. His mouth slightly open, a soft snore escaped with each exhale. A slight nudge would push him to the floor he lay so close to the edge of the bed.
She frowned, he didn’t look comfortable. Well, what should she expect, for him to be curled up against her back? Handsome, wealthy, and used to dating women as beautiful and polished at Angelica; there was no way he’d be flattered that Mikayla asked him to protect her from imaginary demons. Still, thoughts of the day before made her smile. Even though Andre didn’t talk much, he seemed to enjoy himself. He wasn’t like Ryan, who always needed to talk and be the center of attention.
She stared at the ceiling. The vision of Ryan and Angelica falling out of that closet was so vivid it could’ve been projected on the flat surface. Tears burned her eyes, and she let them fall. She’d have to face him, and the humiliation of what he’d done, on Monday. She thought of going to work and facing Ryan again. A sinking feeling assaulted her midsection.
Mikayla sniffed and Andre rolled onto his side. Panic flashed across his handsome face. Oh yeah, he didn’t do crying. Grabbing the edge of the sheet, she tried to dry her cheeks.
“Are you okay?” Andre’s sleep filled voice a deep sexy rumble.
She sat up and tried for nonchalant. “I’m good.”
“Are you sure? I mean…I can get you some…whatever it is you may need.”
His helpless expression did make her smile. “Do you have a new job you can pull out of your hat?”
He groaned and sat up beside her. “Sorry, can’t help you there.”
They both sat silently for several seconds. When Andre’s smoky eyes met hers, desire burned away the sinking feeling in her stomach. Barely a few inches separated them. His body would still be warm with sleep and perfect for snuggling.
She pushed back the covers and scurried off the bed. Crossing the room to the bathroom, Mikayla stopped at the door and faced him. He watched her with a slight frown.
“Umm…sorry about last night. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable by asking you to sleep beside me. You could have left. I would have been alright.”
One of his shoulders lifted, his mouth curved into a too sexy for this early in the morning grin. “I didn’t mind lying beside you, Mikayla.”
She nodded, met his gaze, and her heart thudded. So, so wrong to be attracted to him. Spinning around, she went into the bathroom and closed the door. She furiously brushed her teeth. Each stroke came with a mental chide to stop thinking about how Andre in a t-shirt and sweat pants lounging on the bed created a pretty damn good visual of the word sexy. After giving her teeth and gums an undeserved trashing, she stepped into the shower. Once she finished and stood cold, wet and dripping in the bathroom, she cursed herself for running in there without any clothes.
She wrapped one of the thick burgundy towels around her torso and peeked into the empty bedroom. A relieved sigh escaped her. Padding across the room she unzipped her bag and pulled out an outfit to wear. Andre knocked on the bedroom door.
Mikayla tightened the towel before crossing the room and cracking the door. Andre held his body wash, toothbrush, and a t-shirt in his hands. And a pair of red plaid boxers. A mental image of him in the boxers filled her brain and, her cheeks flamed.
“Do you want me to wait to take a shower?”
“No, I just finished.” She stepped back and opened the door wider.
“Thanks. I checked the news and apparently the detour roads are clear. We can leave as soon as we’re dressed.”
He stopped just inside the door. Gave her a quick once over in the towel. Her skin tingled. Andre’s hot stare made her body come alive. The soft towel rubbed against her puckering nipples creating a delicious friction that scattered across her skin everywhere the material touched. She twisted one foot into the carpet and ignored the sensation that made her want to drop the towel.
“Good. I need to get home,” she said.
He blinked then stepped around her. “Yeah, me too.”
She didn’t watch him go into the bathroom, just waited tensely for the door to close. Once the door was shut, she let out a shaky breath. Thank goodness for the men and women of the Department of Transportation for clearing the roads. Another day in the mountains and she’d make a monumental mistake.
Mikayla dressed quickly in a pair of jeans and a red sweater. By the time Andre emerged from the bathroom—bringing a burst of steam and the sexy fragrance of that damn body wash—her packed bag sat near the door. He’d put his sweat pants back on but wore the clean t-shirt. And probably those boxers. In his hand, was the old t-shirt, toothbrush and body wash. No underwear present; maybe he hadn’t slept in any. A slick stream of excitement rode down her spine as various possibilities that could have happened if he had curled up next to her beneath the covers.
“I’ve already packed my bag. We can leave whenever you’re ready,” he said.
She jerked her thoughts away from Andre’s underwear preferences. “Same here. Whenever you’re ready. I know our situation is weird,” she smiled. “But thanks for making a terrible weekend a little easier.”
“It wasn’t a chore to be with you.”
She sat on the bed, grabbed a pair of socks and put them on. “You did act like it was a chore when we first left.”
He crossed the room and sat on the bed. They didn’t touch, but she still slid over a few inches. “I didn’t know what to expect spending the night with Ryan’s girlfriend.”
She glared and he held up a hand. “Ex-girlfriend.”
“I guess I can understand that.” Mikayla relaxed, then cocked her head to study him. Andre seemed to be handling the split tremendously well. “How are you doing?”
“What do you mean?”
Mikayla turned on the bed to face him. “Yesterday you mentioned things were getting serious between you and Angelica. Are you doing a good job of distracting yourself, or are you crying when I’m not looking?”
The deep rumble of his chuckle sent a quiver through her stomach.
“I can promise you I’m not crying.”
“Why not, if you two were getting serious. You paraded her around the night before so everyone could see how much you loved her.”
A frown replaced the smile on his face. “I paraded her around, but that wasn’t love.” He sighed heavily and met her eyes. “You don’t understand my family…Well, maybe you do. When you’re raised to idolize certain things, it’s hard to let go.” A hint of disgust clouded his voice. He rubbed his hand over his face and shook his head as if he could clear it of the bad memories. “Long story short, Angelica fit the bill of what I need in a wife.”
“Angelica’s beautiful, she knew how to entertain, and is a perfect companion for social events.”
An armpiece, Mikayla thought. “Then how could it possibly be serious?”
He shrugged. “I thought she was a nice person. I did like her, we were compatible, and she wouldn’t make a fuss about the demands of my family or the business. I planned to marry her.”
“You would marry her, but you didn’t love her?”
He smirked and shook his head. “My family doesn’t marry for love. You only briefly met my dad and step-mom, but a few minutes in a room with them will quickly reveal there’s no love between them. They started as an affair that resulted in both of them dumping their old spouses for a newer model.”
“Don’t you want to love someone,” she asked.
Simple, abrupt, with no explanation.
“I’ve been in love.” Some of the wistfulness of what she’d once felt floated with her voice. “It’s not so bad.”
He leaned back and crossed thick arms over his wide chest. “Ryan?”
She shook her head. “No. My college boyfriend. We met our junior year and dated all of our senior year. He asked me to marry him.”
“He died in a car wreck.” She said simply.
Andre’s dark eyes lowered briefly. “I’m sorry.”
She shifted and toyed with the edge of her shirt. “I’ve come to terms with my loss. Cried enough tears to fill Lake Michigan and yes, I still miss him. But his mom insisted that I live after it was over. He wouldn’t want me to cry every day.”
“What was his name?”
Brown eyes that crinkled when he grinned in a thin face tanned from spending so many days outside flashed across her mind. “Brenden.” She smiled. “He made me laugh, all the time at the silliest stuff. He was such a great guy.”
Andre slid closer, wrinkling the patterned quilted bed cover and her will to slide away. “The look on your face. You didn’t have that look with Ryan.”
She lifted then lowered her shoulders. “No, I didn’t.”
Andre lifted a hand and brushed the hair from the side of her face. His fingers trailed down the side of her cheek, sending shivers across her skin. A warning flared somewhere deep that they were getting too comfortable again. Mikayla ignored it and turned to rest her cheek against his palm.
She met his gaze. His dark eyes were alive with desire. Heat sparked between them. She took a stuttering breath and blood pounded in her veins like a rushing stream. Too many emotions swirled inside of her. She hadn’t talked about Brenden in years, mainly because she didn’t want those old feelings brought up. Andre was the last person she should trust with those feelings, but after he’d spent the night keeping her nightmares away it seemed silly not too.
“You don’t talk much, but when you do you get right to places I don’t like going,” she said in a wobbly whisper.
“If you’re going to talk, it might as well be about something.” He slid a hand to the back of her head. Long fingers gently twisted in her hair, which was probably now a mess. He pulled her closer.
Anticipation ignited and flared along her skin. As much as she’d wondered about Ryan’s kiss, she’d never longed for his lips to touch hers the way she did now for Andre’s. She called on reason to stop her now. “We shouldn’t do this.”
“No, we shouldn’t.” If she loved his voice before, she was completely enamored with the thick layer of desire flavoring the deep rumble. “That’s why it’s just going to be a kiss.”