Read Wild Weekend Online

Authors: Susanna Carr

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Women

Wild Weekend (10 page)

BOOK: Wild Weekend
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Christine lowered her gaze and he knew she wasn’t going to invite him. Something was holding her back. Was the emerald in her home?

“I’m sorry, Travis. I can’t have you stay at my place. Not yet.”

“It’s okay. I understand.” He pressed his hands against the tree trunk and leaned into her. Travis brushed his mouth against her lips. He did it again and again. He ached to hold Christine until he could feel her heart beating against him. Until their breathing became one.

Christine clasped her hands against his jaw and claimed his lips. She thrust her tongue into his mouth and explored him. He tasted her passion and her need. Her groan reverberated deep in her chest. Desire flared between them, burning bright, as the kiss grew stronger. Harder.

He pulled away before he got in too deep, but he couldn’t break the connection. Their lips clung as his forehead rested against hers.

“Why’d you stop?” she whispered.

“If I don’t stop now I’ll take you against this tree.” Christine Pearson wanted him. The seduction in Vegas hadn’t been faked. He should be thrilled, but it just added another problem for him. This woman had stolen his friend’s emerald and was lying about it, but he still couldn’t keep his hands off her.

Christine suddenly ducked under his arm. Her movements were jerky and she didn’t look at him. “I have to go back to work.”

He reached for her hand and stopped her. “Stay with me,” he urged.

“Travis, this is a really bad idea.”

She was right. It was a bad idea. He didn’t know why he felt this way or why he needed to hold on to her. There was something about Christine that he couldn’t get enough of.

“I’m going to be honest. I’m not interested in a relationship,” she said. “There are so many things I want to do and I need to make up for lost time.”

“Then let me help you. Look at what you did in Vegas.”

“Thanks, but I can’t,” she said with a smile. “I went to Vegas because I couldn’t do those things here.”

“Christine, you can do anything you want here. You just have to be smart about it.”

She hesitated and then shook her head as if to clear his advice from her mind. “You’re a bad influence.”

“I’ll show you everything I know,” he promised. It could be fun. Addicting. He needed to be very careful or the student would overpower the master.

“Okay, fine. I would love to see how your mind works.”

A chill swept through him. “What are you talking about?”

“You offered and I accepted,” she said as she walked back to the bank. “Ready or not, I’m going to find out everything about you.”

10

“T
HE
PEOPLE
IN
Cedar Valley sure like to walk,” Travis said as he took a sip from his beer bottle and leaned back on Christine’s porch swing. It creaked as it gently moved back and forth. He gave a nod to a young couple in bright yellow raincoats as they strolled hand in hand down the sidewalk in the pouring rain. The two looked like they belonged in a sappy romantic musical. “I didn’t see anyone when I first arrived and now I feel like I’ve seen the whole town strolling down your street.”

“You are the talk of Cedar Valley,” Christine said, sitting next to him. She had changed out of the brown dress and wore a thin red blouse and dark jeans. Her hair was loose and fell past her shoulders, but his gaze kept going to her bare feet. He hadn’t expected her to go barefoot in front of him. It felt like an act of trust, but he knew he was reading too much into it.

“Why are people talking about me?” he asked. “I didn’t do anything. Yet.”

“Doesn’t matter.” She waved at the couple and they waved back. “They want to see what you look like. If we weren’t sitting out on my porch, they would find an excuse to ring my front door.”

“And here I thought we were sitting here because you wanted to show me off,” he teased. He was surprised that she had invited him to her house, but he didn’t get past the front door.

He had to find a way to get into the house. He needed a chance to discover where she was hiding the emerald. Unless she had it in a safe-deposit box. His stomach twisted with dread at that possibility. He would never get it back if that was the case.

He looked around the screened-in porch again. It was vibrant but relaxing. He could stay here for hours. “This is your favorite spot at home, isn’t it?”

She gave him a sharp look. “How did you know that?”

“It’s you.” From the small glimpse he had of her home, it had minimal furnishings and very few trinkets or pictures. The porch, however, was an explosion of color from the hunter-green floor to the printed throw pillows. There were plants in the corner and a shelf that held books and a stereo system.

“My parents never used the porch so I claimed it for myself. I wasn’t stuck inside, but I wasn’t out in the wild, either. It was a compromise.”

“Do you have your bucket list here?” he asked, glancing at the shelf. He didn’t see a box or a container that would store paper. Or an emerald. Chances were the stolen gem was where she kept her valuables. That bucket list was important to her. The emerald would be near it.

“You are obsessed with that list!” Christine said. “I swear there is one.”

He reached over and splayed his hand on her denim-covered leg. “Then tell me one thing on the list you don’t want people to know about.”

She scoffed at his suggestion. “Why would I tell you that?”

“I want to know what you wanted when you were eighteen that you don’t want now.”

“There are actually a lot of things on that list that I don’t think I’ll do,” she said as she gave him a thoughtful look. “I wanted to build my dream home. That was number twelve. It was going to be glamorous and in a big city. I had always felt cramped in this house and my dream home would have been a showcase for all the things I picked up on my travels.”

Travis couldn’t picture Christine in a big city, but she was someone who had souvenirs and scrapbooks. “And now?”

“I want to stay here. I’m lucky I don’t have a mortgage and I want to spend my time and money on something else. But it’s more than that. I always felt safe here. I can’t replace that.”

Her comment reminded him of his grandmother. The woman only felt safe at home until it got to the point that she couldn’t leave the house. “You wouldn’t sell it so you could go on a big adventure?”

“No. I need to know this is here for me. This is my home base. There were times when I struggled to keep it for my mother and me. I’m glad I fought through those moments.” She took a sip of her beer and sighed. “What about you?”

He frowned. “What about me?”

“What did you want at eighteen?”

“I didn’t want to turn out like my grandmother.” The words slipped from his mouth before he thought about it. He winced. Why did he tell her that? That was something he would never admit, even to himself.

“I don’t understand,” Christine said softly.

“My grandmother raised me,” Travis explained tersely. “She had a lot of phobias that got in the way of living. By the time I was a teenager, she wouldn’t leave the house. Fear ruled her life and I didn’t want to live like that.”

The silence stretched between them as the porch swing creaked back and forth. Travis clenched his teeth. Why didn’t he say something else? Why didn’t he lie?

“What do you want now?” she asked.

He was thirty-one now but his goal had never changed. He had heard stories about his grandmother when she was younger. She hadn’t been adventurous, but she’d been active, always joining clubs and activities. He’ll never know what triggered the change in her, but he worried that he carried the same trait deep inside him. He could enjoy a moment, like sharing Christine’s favorite spot in the world, but he would force himself to move on.

“What I want now,” he said gruffly, “is to read your infamous bucket list.”

She gave a start of surprise and chuckled. “Fine, Travis. I’ll show you my list. But no laughing, do you understand?”

“Agreed.” He didn’t feel like laughing. He didn’t mean to share something personal with Christine. He didn’t know why he felt the need to expose his greatest fear. The one that he had struggled to overcome for years.

“I’ll be right back.” She got off the porch swing and headed for the door.

Travis didn’t say anything as he watched her leave. He listened carefully as she walked through the small house. When he heard her climb the stairs, he knew Christine probably kept her most valuable items in her bedroom or closet.

His cell phone rang and Travis jumped at the harsh sound in the eerie silence. He grabbed it from his pocket and saw it was Aaron calling. Travis wanted to ignore the call, but he knew he owed it to his friend to stay in contact.

“Aaron?” Travis said quietly. “I can’t talk right now.”

“Did you find her?” his friend asked.

“Yes,” Travis said. “I’m at her house and I think I know where the emerald is.”

“You
think?
” Aaron gave a huff of exasperation. “The longer it’s not in our possession, the more likely that I’ll lose this emerald forever.”

“I’m taking care of it.” He glanced at the door. Christine was going to come back shortly, and he didn’t want her to overhear his conversation.

“Why don’t you just confront her?”

“I was ready to, but my instincts...”

“Instincts?” Aaron repeated. “Forget your instincts. Let’s just go with my plan and call the cops.”

“No.” He knew getting the police involved was the best option, but he didn’t want to do that to Christine. She’d grabbed the emerald on a whim or out of opportunity. Undoubtedly, she had no idea what it was worth. “You will have your lucky charm back by the end of the week. I promise.”

“I don’t like this, Travis. How do we know she’s not working for Hoffmann? He left immediately after the game. That emerald could be long gone.”

Travis looked around Christine’s porch and front lawn. “I can honestly say that she’s not an internationally wanted jewel thief.” He heard Christine walk down the stairs. “I have to go. I’ll call you when I know more.”

“Travis!” Aaron said.

Travis disconnected the call and turned off his phone, not wanting any more interruptions. He slid the phone back into his pocket as Christine stepped onto the porch. She held a sheaf of papers that were yellowed and wrinkled with age.

“Here you go. I’m not sure what you’re going to find in this list,” Christine said with a hint of uncertainty. She thrust it toward him and he accepted it. He glanced at the faded print and knew she was trusting him with something deeply personal.

“Are you kidding?” he said as he gestured her to sit next to him on the creaky porch swing. “In this list is our next adventure.”

* * *

T
HE
STORM
SWEPT
IN
later that night. Christine leaned against the column of her front porch and watched the jagged fork of lightning in the dark sky. She heard the patter of rain on the roof tiles and felt a sprinkle of raindrops on her skin. She was protected from the ferocious and wild elements but she yearned for a closer look.

She’d survived having Travis look at her list of dreams. He didn’t laugh or roll his eyes at some of the fanciful items. He wanted to know the reasons behind the goal and what had the greatest meaning to her. He understood what drove her and she felt Travis knew her better than anyone.

“I should have known you’d like storms.”

Christine froze when she heard Travis’s voice right behind her. She refused to follow the urge to look at him. “Do you like them?” she asked.

“Always have.” He was standing close, his chest grazing her back. “When I was younger, I wanted to harness the lightning. Never figured out how to do it.”

“We don’t get storms around here too often.” Christine rubbed her bare arms to ward off the sudden chill. “It’s usually peaceful and quiet.”

“You should make the most of the lightning,” he whispered in her ear, making Christine shiver.

“I am not running outside,” she said over the crack of thunder. “Knowing my luck, I’d get hurt.”

Travis rested his hands on her shoulders as the lightning flashed, illuminating the sky. “Have you ever made love in the rain?”

“No.”
Don’t even think about it. What he’s suggesting is forbidden.
Christine pressed her lips together as the thoughts swirled around her mind. She shouldn’t consider the possibility. Someone would see them and she would have to take care of the mess long after Travis left town.

“Have you chased a storm?” Travis asked.

The roar of thunder matched the thrill coursing through her veins. She shouldn’t make love to Travis again. She could fall fast and hard for this man and he wasn’t looking for any kind of commitment. But she might never have another chance to experience the magic they shared.

“There are many things I haven’t done,” she said as she rested her hand on the porch column. “I want to stand in the eye of the storm, but I’m staying here.”

“Why?”

“Because I can have a taste of danger.” She finally turned around and looked at him. She saw the stark need in his eyes and knew it mirrored her own. “And still stay in my comfort zone.”

He rested his hand on the column, taking away any chance for her to escape. “Why do you want to stay on the sidelines?”

“The risks outweigh the rewards,” she said. Right now she felt as powerful as the storm that whipped around them, but she knew she was vulnerable and insignificant. “I need to look after myself. No one else will.”

“I can take care of you,” he said as he met her gaze.

She closed her eyes, wishing she could ignore his words. She knew he could protect her while making her feel wildly alive. Travis could make her want things she didn’t think were possible. “You don’t know me. You don’t know what I need.”

“I know you better than you think,” he said as he rested his forehead against hers. “You follow the rules, but you still don’t get what you want. It doesn’t matter how much research you do or how many baby steps you take. You’re not making your dreams come true. What you need to do is plunge headfirst into trouble. You’d be surprised how much fun the unknown can be.”

What he was suggesting sounded terrifying. “You don’t know how miserable it is to reach for the stars and fall flat on your face.”

“It’s not as painful as letting a dream go,” he continued. “You let a few dreams slip past your fingers because you couldn’t see the possibilities. Everyone told you that it couldn’t happen. I’m here to tell you that you need to take a leap of faith.”

Christine squeezed her eyes shut as the lightning lit up the night sky. Travis saw more than she realized. She didn’t like feeling this exposed.

“Forget the rules,” he said. “Forget your surroundings. Just follow your instincts.”

She tilted her head to the side and opened her eyes. Travis was standing a kiss away from her. “What do your instincts tell you?” she asked in a throaty voice.

“That you are trouble. I have no self-preservation when it comes to you,” he admitted. “I want you no matter what the consequences and that should scare the hell out of me.”

“I already know how this is going to end,” she declared as her heart raced.

“Liar,” he said with a hint of a smile. “You don’t know what I’m going to do. What I’m willing to risk. And that scares you because you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Well, I’ll give you a hint. It includes you and me naked on this porch.”

She gasped as the image flickered in her mind. It was daring, risky and forbidden. She knew better than to consider it, but the idea was unbearably exciting. “Let me be clear,” she said in a whisper. “We are not having sex on my front porch. Someone might see us.”

“I won’t let that happen,” he promised with a growl. “What happens tonight is for my eyes only.”

Travis reached out and threaded his hands in her long hair. She thought about twisting out of his hold—they might get caught, they might be exposed—but she welcomed the shadows, wanting to hide how she felt.

She didn’t understand it, couldn’t control it. Yet she also couldn’t see Travis’s expression. Was there a gleam of lust or triumph in his eyes? The porch was too dark, but she felt the tension in him. She grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him forward. Travis went willingly and their mouths collided.

The kiss was hot, hard and hungry. Excitement swirled inside her, wanting to break free. Christine slid her hands under his shirt, enjoying the warm skin and solid muscle beneath her fingertips.

Travis skimmed his hands under her thin blouse. Her stomach muscles clenched; his hands were large and she shivered as he tugged her blouse over her head.

The lightning forked across the night sky, illuminating them for a brief moment. She saw Travis’s face. His features were drawn, intense. He lowered his head and pressed his mouth against the curve of her neck as he slid her bra straps down her arms.

BOOK: Wild Weekend
7.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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