Read Sweet Online

Authors: Skye Warren

Tags: #Romance, #Adult, #Dark

Sweet (7 page)

BOOK: Sweet
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“Because you’re my sister, and I have a lot of enemies.”

I softened, knowing he was only trying to protect me. That was what he’d told Drew all those years ago, and I knew he still thought that way, that his job was to keep his family safe at all costs. “I’ll be careful, Philip. But I can’t stay here forever. You know I can’t.”

“Is this because of—” He looked at Drew.

Drew opened his mouth, and I realized how much worse it would be if he spilled the beans now. Now, when Philip would surely attribute my desire to open a studio and move out to my desire for Drew.

In all honesty, they
were
linked—all wrapped up into a neat package labeled
Things Rose really wants but never had the guts to take
. Then Philip would blow up, and I wasn’t going to let that happen.

“Drew, I really need to speak to my brother alone. Would it be possible for you to excuse us?”

His eyes narrowed. He knew exactly what I was doing, and he could light the fuse with a few choice words. But he was too good for that. Too respectful—something that I found a real turn-on, considering the lowlifes I’d met in my past.

“Okay.” He shuffled the papers together from the coffee table. “I’ll work on these at home.”

Philip and he discussed their plans briefly before Drew left. His last look at me was a concession:
Fine, we’ll do it your way. For now.

I hated that he might think, even for a second, that I was ashamed of our relationship or that I wasn’t serious about him. But I had been locked up in the tower for so long. It would be a long, slow way down to the ground, starting with telling Philip about my plans.

I sat with Philip in the opposing armchairs. “I know you feel protective of me.”

His expression was stormy. “Protective doesn’t really describe it. Do you remember how I found you?”

How could I forget?

As they say, there are only two seasons in Chicago: winter and construction. When Philip turned eighteen, he found work for a small building company, but the judge wouldn’t grant custody of me to a punk eighteen-year-old who lived with a roommate to make rent. Then the company he worked for got in a bind—something about a city permit that wouldn’t go through. I never found out what Philip did to push it through, especially with the tiny amount of clout and money he’d had back then, but after that, he became known as the man who fixed problems.

With typical teenager shortsightedness, I grew to resent his freedom while I was cooped up under curfew. I stopped confiding in him, and he was hardly in the mindset to win over a surly teenager.

My boyfriend had gotten rougher, meaner…he was abusing me, though I still struggled to admit it. When Philip had shown up at the group home for a visit, I hadn’t been there in days. He went looking for me and found me passed out in my boyfriend’s bed from alcohol or drugs or whatever else. He’d lit into my boyfriend, and I was convinced he’d have faced a murder charge if he hadn’t been more concerned with getting me to a hospital, where I was pronounced to be fine.
“She’s lucky,”
the doctor had said.

“Well.” I forced a smile. “Everything worked out for the best.”

Philip snorted. “Too fucking late, in my opinion.”

Guilt had been written all over the judge’s face when Philip had applied for custody again. He had an apartment in a better part of the city by then, but we all knew it was because of that incident that the judge had awarded custody to him. And living with him, where he had sheltered me from the harsher side of life all these years, was the best thing that could have happened to me.

I’d been protected, allowed to heal and flourish without any pressure at all. Dancing had been a way to express myself and take back control of my body. This was the next step.

“I’m grateful you were there for me. I’ll always love you for that, but it’s time for me to leave.”

There was a long pause while he stared into the empty fire grate. “I know. I guess I’ve known for some time, but I’ve been in denial, because I like having you here.”

My chest tightened. “I like being here too, which is part of why it’s taken me so long to get to this point. But I’ll come back and visit.”

“You’d better. I want to hear more about this studio.”

“Of course I’ll be asking for your advice, seeing as you’re so successful in business. Albeit a slightly different industry.”

“Customer satisfaction, marketing. The same principles apply.” He nodded sagely. “And I’m going to be in charge of security.”

His brand of security in a dance studio? “It’s open for discussion,” I promised.

“There’s one more thing I need to ask you.”

I braced myself. “Shoot.”

“Perhaps it would be better if you did come to me with questions…and not Drew. At least, not to him alone.”

Oh God, I was being warned away right when I needed to tell him we were together. Considering I’d just gotten him to graciously accept the opening of the studio and my imminent move, this was so not the time to push for one more thing. But I couldn’t outright lie. Drew didn’t deserve that.

Caution slowed my words. “Why do you say that?”

“Well.” He grimaced slightly. “I normally wouldn’t divulge this, since I consider him a friend, but it’s different where family is involved. I know you’re simply using him as a resource, but the truth is, I think he has a bit of a crush on you.”

“I don’t—What?”

“For years, really. At first, I worried it might be reciprocal, but…” He shrugged. “It’s Drew, so he’s not going to push you into anything, but maybe it’s best not to meet with him alone. To lead him on, even unintentionally.”

Oh Lord.

He knew about Drew’s interest in me? And wanted to protect him. From me. I almost laughed.

“Anyway,” he said. “You have a business to start. When can I see this new studio?”

I considered telling him right then. What could I say?
Yes, he’s had a crush on me, and it’s reciprocal, and oh by the way, we had some bad sex just now on your carpet.
No.

It wasn’t just that I was worried about how he would take it. I didn’t want anyone to know yet. My relationship with Drew, whether just sex or something more lasting, was something rare and precious. If everyone knew, they would weigh in; they would change it; they might
ruin
it, and I couldn’t risk that.

Instead I cleared my throat. “Very soon. It needs some work before I can open.”

First, I wanted to show it to someone else.

Chapter Eight

A
fter showering for
the night, I dressed in a cotton T-shirt and yoga pants. With a duffel bag slung over my shoulder, I headed downstairs. Trying to play it cool, even though I would’ve made the worst spy in the whole world.

“Rose?”

I backed up a few steps. My brother was sitting in the library, one leg slung over the other and a book open in his lap. “It’s late,” he said. There was no censure in his tone—there didn’t need to be. He was used to having his implicit curfew obeyed, and I was used to following it.

“Just meeting a friend,” I said, hoping I wouldn’t have to lie too much to get out of here. I wanted to come clean with Philip, but later. Once Drew and I were more solid, more sure, and not when I was on my way out the door to meet him.

He frowned. “What friend?”

“An old one.”

“Why are you dressed like that?”

“We’re going to work out together.” Sex was a form of physical exercise, right? Oh, I was going to hell for this.

He seemed to consider pressing the issue, but he finally turned back to his book. “Don’t come back too late.”

I mumbled something that would hopefully pass for agreement. If the night went according to plan, I’d come back very late. The plan was very simple. To have sex. Real, regular sex where something of his got inserted into something of mine. Dancing around the issue had been fun, but every ballet needed a climax.

My ballet studio slumbered in the shadows as I drove past. Drew’s condo was only a couple turns away, which was a lovely accident. A complete coincidence, or had I once heard that he lived near Lincoln Park? Was that why this studio had seemed so enticing? But no, it was perfect all on its own. This was plain old good luck. Serendipity to sweeten the pot.

Parking was dicey in this whole neighborhood, so I ended up across the street and one block away. The hems of my yoga pants grew soggy as I hurried along the sidewalk, but what really mattered was underneath.

The doorman smiled when I told him my name. He’d been expecting me, he said. I rode the elevator to the ninth floor.

Drew grinned as he opened the door. “Hey, you.”

“Hey back. You…gonna let me in?”

His grin remained steady. “Definitely. Just savoring the moment.” He waved me inside. “Never thought I’d see the day Rose Murphy showed up at my door.”

I stopped still at the sight of a fully laid-out dining table. The table itself was small, but its dark wood surface was almost completely obscured by two elaborate place settings, candles, and a low, rectangular arrangement of carnations.

“Wow.” I looked down at my yoga pants with their soggy hems. “I feel seriously underdressed.”

He waved a hand in dismissal. “Don’t worry about it.”

I looked dubiously at his slacks and rumpled shirt. Not a tuxedo, at least, but he clearly outshone me.

“I’m sorry, Drew. Honestly. I know I should have told him by now.”

“No, it’s okay. I understand why you haven’t yet. He’d just meddle. It’s nice to be with you…just the two of us.”

“That’s exactly it,” I said, relieved that he felt it too. The sad truth was that if he were looking for a woman with sophistication and charm, that wasn’t me. I was just Rose, the sister of Philip, the silent dancer on the stage. I still wasn’t sure what he’d found in me of value, but I had enough faith in him to know he had. With him, I was worth more than how I looked or whose blood I shared.

“Drew,” I said. “I’m not that hungry.”

“God, me neither.” His expression made the words a lie. He looked hungry…starving…dying for a sip, and I felt it too. Ragged inside, empty. Waiting for something to fill me up, and there was the hallway. His bedroom was only ten feet away. All I needed was courage.

“I have something to show you. But maybe more private.” I laughed a little, at myself. “Somewhere a little darker than this. I’m not sure I’m ready for a lit room yet.”

He didn’t laugh. His face was somber, the lines of his face traced in charcoal shadow. His eyes, though. They were full of compassion, brimming with gratitude.
Trust me, and I’ll never fail you
, they promised, while my heart beat with my answer. He’d always been asking, I realized, with those sexy, soulful eyes, but he’d only moved forward when the answer had changed to
yes
.

He took my hand and led me down the hallway. In his bedroom, he clicked on the bathroom light, lending a glow to the room. Enough to see by, as I stood in the middle. Enough to show him, as I toed off my sneakers and pushed down my pants. Years of professional dance training, but I lacked grace completely. I must have made the strangest striptease, yanking off my dumpy clothes. Hopefully the endgame would be worth it.

I stood still and allowed him to inspect me. Black lace pushed my breasts together, creating cleavage I was usually too small for. The sheer fabric of my thong rubbed against my smooth skin.

The light rained down on me, while he stood in the shade, his expression obscure.

“Is this okay?” My voice sounded anxious.

“Oh, Jesus,” he said roughly. “Are you asking me that?”

I laughed shortly. “I guess so.”

“I just need to… No. I need to stand here until I can touch you without falling all over you and… I need to make it good this time.”

“I liked it before,” I said softly. I liked watching him enjoy himself. I only wished he’d finished inside me. I wanted to hear him groan while his weight hovered over me, while his head hung beside mine, while our muscles strained together in a timeless dance.

“On the bed.”

I climbed onto the dark blue bedspread and glanced back at him. He groaned. Then he stalked toward me, shedding his clothes as he came. He left his briefs on this time. I glanced down and then up, a question in my eyes.

A brief shake of the head.
No, not yet.

His hand started at my ankle, skimming the outside. Almost innocent, that touch. Wondering and kind. He felt higher, along my thigh. His hand skipped lightly over the scrap of thong at my hip, like a pebble over the water’s surface. I shivered as his hand skated over my side and ended below my breasts.

Our eyes met. In his, I saw a battle being waged. Control and wildness. Gentleness and relief.

“Take me,” I whispered, trusting him to understand.
Do what you will, make me feel.

He transformed in front of me. A killing blow for whatever chivalry might have fought. His fist wrapped around my ankle, tugging me closer to the edge. The other hand spread me wide. I knew without being able to see that the black fabric did little to cover me. Especially now that it was wet.

“I should kiss you first,” he said, his voice like gravel.

I licked my lips in anticipation. At the same time, my hips lifted slightly off the bed.

His eyes flickered with heat. “Later. First I need to do this.”

He bent his head and pressed a kiss to the top of my mound. Chaste and sweet, yet my sex clenched, begging to be filled. He tugged the thong aside and slid his tongue between the slippery lips of my sex. I gasped at the warm contact, letting my head fall back.

His tongue worked on me, speaking silent, dirty words and painting their portraits in my head. He lashed at my clit until I cried out; then he delved lower and deeper, teasing me until I cried out again, this time in frustration. He replaced his mouth with fingers then, slipping them inside me while his tongue curled around my clit.

“Oh God. Oh please. I need…”

“What do you need?” he murmured.

“You. I need you to—”

But that was enough. He cut off my words with a well-placed flick. My body clenched up tight, my legs locking straight, my hands clinging to the bedspread as if it could moor me. The orgasm was a soft and pleasant relief, like a warm summer’s rain on my naked, upturned skin.

BOOK: Sweet
2.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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