Authors: Shiloh Walker
Her laugh sounded breathless, even to her own ears. Then he caught the hem of her shirt and dragged it higher, exposing her breasts, and she didn’t have the breath to laugh, to think . . . “And just what does this service entail?” she asked.
“Whatever you want.” He curved a hand over her knee. At the same time he caught one nipple in his mouth, tugging it gently with his teeth as she arched up against him, her back leaving the cushioned softness of the bench behind her. “What do you want, Abs?”
The low, husky sound of his voice hit her square in the heart. And lower. Heat spread through her and because it was a dream, because it was safe, she caught his hand and guided it between her thighs. “I want you.”
His mouth closed over hers. Shocking and hot, the kind of kiss she hadn’t had in far too long . . . and neither of the two men she’d been with had been able to make her feel like
. Like she was the very center of everything. Zach’s hand cupped her core, but he did nothing else as he kissed her and the kiss was even more intimate, more erotic than the feel of his hand between her thighs. His tongue stroked along the curve of her lower lip, teasing her until she opened for him and then teasing a little more until she was about ready to scream. When she might have pulled away, he shifted, pulled her off the chair and onto his lap.
“No pulling back now,” he muttered. “You wanted a torrid affair, I’ll fucking give you one.”
She tensed, caught off guard. Just a dream . . . only a dream, so yeah, he knew. But could she really?
“It’s a dream,” he whispered against her lips. “You do what you want.”
“I want you.”
Lifting her head, she stared into those familiar blue eyes, eyes she’d known for more than half of her life. So dark and hypnotic. So amazing. Lifting her hands, she cupped his face, her fingers pushing into the gold-streaked brown hair that fell to his shoulders. Holding him steady, she lowered her head to his, pressed her mouth to his. Against his lips, she murmured quietly, “I want you.”
Between her thighs, through his jeans, her panties, she could feel him throbbing against her and it was enough to make her moan. “Then have me,” he whispered. “Have—”
* * *
Abigale jerked upright, her breath coming in harsh,
ragged pants as she stared around. Confusion, heat, and hunger burned inside her. What in the world? The dream burned inside her brain like an afterimage, searing along the pathways of her mind and she groaned, flopping back on the bed and closing her eyes.
Her eyes flew open and she shot back up, staring toward the door.
Two seconds later, Zach appeared in the door.
Then have me.
Those words, whispered against her mouth only seconds ago, echoed in her mind, and the dream, so vivid and bright, flashed through her memory as she stared at him.
He leaned against the doorway, arching a brow. “You’re still in bed.”
“Ah . . .” Glancing down, she stared at her rumpled sheets and blankets and then back up at him. “Ah, yes. Um. Late . . . late night.”
She swallowed again and then looked back up at him.
“I can see.” A faint grin curved his lips and he asked, “Were you up late formulating your response to Roger? Or carrying out some other nefarious step on your new life plan?”
She made a face at him even as blood crept up her neck to stain her cheeks red. Dreams didn’t count as carrying out nefarious steps. “Neither, you jackass. I was covering a job for a friend who ended up with the stomach bug that’s been going around.”
She arched a brow. “How did you know that?”
“She’s about the only one you like well enough to take on a big job for at the last minute. Anyone else, you refer out to Midnight Delite.”
Sighing, she shoved her tangled hair back from her face. “You know me too well.”
“Hey, isn’t that what friends are for?” He shoved off the wall and swung the bag he had in his hand. “I was going to make you breakfast, if you were interested.”
“Breakfast, huh?” Eyeing the bag, she asked, “And just what are you making?”
“The only thing I can do that passes muster for the professional caterer.” He winked. “Bacon and an omelet.”
“Hmmm.” Her belly rumbled. “Well, I guess that decides that.” She went to climb out of the bed and that was when she remembered she’d been too damned tired to dig for clean pajamas last night. Wearing just a camisole and panties, she stood by the bed. Blood crawled up her neck, but she casually grabbed the robe from the foot of her bed and put it on. Hell, it wasn’t like Zach hadn’t seen her in less. Toward the end of their show, they’d had a few . . . mini-make-out sessions, including one where she’d been wearing just jeans and a bra. And hell, they went swimming together all the time in the summer.
Still . . .
Hell, he isn’t going to notice
, she told herself as she tied the robe around her waist. Keeping that in mind, she made herself smile as she shifted her attention back to him.
And the look on his face stole the air right out of her.
His face could have been carved from stone and his eyes burned. They burned so hot, it was a miracle the air around them didn’t explode.
Shaken, caught off guard, she licked her lips as his gaze slowly moved up along her body, but before he met her eyes, he closed his eyes and in that moment, the strange tension in the air shattered. It fell apart and dissolved, like spun sugar in the rain. When he opened his eyes to look at her, it was as though it had never happened.
“So . . .” With his easy, cocky smile on his face, he met her gaze. “You want breakfast or should I just head home and eat it all myself?”
His hands were shaking.
Once more, she’d done this to him.
Damn it, this was out of hand.
He’d dropped one of the eggs on the counter. He’d almost cut his finger off with the damned butcher knife and his hands were shaking as he went to flip the bacon.
Upstairs he could hear the pulse of the water and if he closed his eyes, he could just picture her standing under the spray. Water gliding over all those lush pale curves, her deep red hair hanging in wet ropes along her spine.
It wasn’t a new fantasy. He didn’t
new fantasies about Abby. He’d dreamed everything imaginable about her, but somehow, seeing her in that ridiculously thin, skimpy little top that she’d slept in and a pair of pale pink panties, it hit him square in the gut.
No. Actually it was lower and all he wanted to do was close the distance between them and go to his knees. Beg her to see what was right in front of her . . .
was right in front of her.
He wanted to press his lips to the soft swell of her belly. Along the lush curves of her hips. He wanted to palm those amazing round breasts in his hands and taste her . . . see just what color her nipples where. He’d caught a glimpse of the dark shadows through the top she’d been wearing, but what color were they? Pink? A soft, warm rose brown?
“Man, you’ve got to stop this or you’ll end up crippling yourself.”
He could still hear the water.
And it was so very, very easy to imagine himself climbing those stairs. Stripping his clothes away and joining her.
Hot grease splattered his hand and he jerked back as the small flame flared. Jerking his head back on track, he went to grab a small hand towel and caught the handle of the skillet.
* * *
With her back leaning against the warm, smooth
walls of her shower, Abigale closed her eyes. Her breath came in harsh, broken little pants as the showerhead pulsed and warm water beat against her.
In her mind, she was back in that dream.
That heady, erotic dream.
Bringing herself to climax had become habit, but it had never been so painfully necessary until now and she was all but ready to cry. Her muscles tightened, locking up on her as she started to rock her hips, desperately empty inside.
The heat of the water pounding against her clit felt so damned good, but it wasn’t enough . . .
“Zach . . .”
Focusing on his face, she imagined he was there. Coming to her through the cloud of steam and heat. Stepping between her thighs. Or maybe kneeling . . .
And just that thought did it. Pushed her right over the edge.
With a sob, she climaxed, biting her lip so the man downstairs wouldn’t hear her as she cried out.
* * *
A few minutes later, a little embarrassed but feeling
more relaxed, she tugged her robe back on and stood in front of the mirror drying her hair.
A muffled shout came from downstairs and she paused, then frowned.
Reaching for the doorknob, she cocked her head.
Then Zach’s pained shout echoed through the house and she took off running.
Stumbling to a halt in the doorway of her bright, open kitchen, she stared. She didn’t see any blood. There was a big butcher knife on the island, so no blood was a good sign. There was a skillet on the stove, smoking—too hot. Grimacing, she headed over to it and then saw the mess. The island had been blocking it.
Bacon and grease splattered all over the floor . . . and Zach was at the sink with the water running. Groaning, she turned off the stove and then edged around the mess.
“Let me see your hand.”
He shot her a dark look. “I got it.”
“Zach, let me see your hand right now, or I’m going to call your damned mother,” she warned.
He curled his lip at her. “That’s such teenaged shit, Abs.”
“And it works.” She reached for his forearm—everything looked fine there and he didn’t seem to be trying to get it under the water, so she figured it was safe. “Come on, Zach. Let me look,” she said, softer this time.
Leaning in, she sighed as she saw the leather bracelet he had on. “You’re probably ruining that,” she said quietly, gently unsnapping it. It was harder to make out anything on his wrist and lower forearm, thanks to the vibrant colors of his tattoos, but the back of his hand, spreading down across his fingers was a vibrant, angry red. “You burned it good.”
“That’s why I’m putting it under cold water,” he said, his voice grouchy.
She shot a glance up at him, smiling a little. “Cranky.”
,” he snapped.
“Yeah, I bet it does.” She put the stopper in the sink and filled it up, getting the water as cold as it would go.
“I was going to ice it—”
“No. Ice is bad for burns. Can affect circulation.” She guided his hand back into the water and held it there as the water started to fill up, slowly rising over his wrist and forearm. Once it was up a few inches over the burned areas, she shut it off. “There. You need to keep it in there for twenty minutes or so. We’ll keep letting the water out as it warms up and adding in more cold.”
“I need to finish the food,” he muttered, staring down into the sink.
She rose onto her toes and kissed his cheek. “I’ll do it. It’s the thought that counts and all.”
“I was supposed to be doing the breakfast
you . . . not having you cook for me. You always cook for me.”
“I don’t mind.” She went to glance at him. Such a mistake. That dream, that torrid, wicked dream continued to dance through her mind and when their gazes locked, the heat in his dark blue eyes was enough to leave her feeling like
had been scalded. Only there was no pain.
Just burning, burning heat.
The breath whooshed down out of her lungs and for a moment, she could picture herself doing exactly what she’d done in that dream. Reaching up, framing his face with her hands, and holding him as she pressed her mouth to his.
Have a torrid affair with a hot guy
Such a simple thing, it seemed.
And if this was anybody but her best friend . . .
Sucking in a breath, she eased away from him just as he opened his mouth. Nerves punched through her, hard and vicious, and she caught the bright edge of them dancing in her voice as she said, “So, what do you want in your omelet? Do you want to be able to taste anything afterward or do you just want it your normal level of spicy?”
* * *
The pain in his hand seemed to pale in comparison
to the sudden, vicious ache in his dick. Zach brooded. Staring at the back of her head, he had to swallow twice and clear his throat before he could manage anything more than a rasp to answer. “Just do what you want,” he said. “I’m not picky.”
Then as she knelt down on the floor, the robe she’d pulled on riding high on her thighs, he had to swallow back a groan. “Abs, I’ll clean that up. Why don’t you go get dressed?”
Please? For the sake of my sanity?
“I didn’t mean to drag you out of your shower.”
When she glanced at him, he nodded toward the stove and said, “It’s not like anything is going to burn.”
“You need to keep soaking your hand and I’d rather get this cleaned up before it becomes a bigger mess.” She shrugged and went back to the task at hand.
He went back to fighting the urge to stare at the creamy slope of her breast, which he could see all too easily from where he was standing. And
. . . now he knew the answer. Her nipples were a deep, dark rose. Feeling like a fucking Peeping Tom, he dragged his eyes away from her and focused back on his hand. “Sorry about the mess, Abs,” he said.
“It’s no big deal. I’m just glad you didn’t do anything worse to your hand. Grease burns can be nasty.”
Staring down at the red splotch spreading across his skin, he grimaced. This was going to be a bitch to deal with for a few days—he could only imagine how much fun it was going to be trying to work. And it served him right. Down here, mentally jacking off while she was in the shower, blissfully unaware of what was going on in his screwed-up head. Yeah, he was lucky it wasn’t a lot worse.
He shot another glance over at her and wondered if maybe he just shouldn’t scrap his entire plan. He’d come over here because he’d thought about trying to work up to telling her that he’d seen her journal. Or getting her to tell
what was in the journal.
he thought sourly. He’d done such a bang-up job so far this morning. Making a mess in her pretty little kitchen. Burning the fuck out of his hand. He ought to just—
“You look pissed.”
Startled, he looked up as she moved to come stand next to him. “Huh?”
“You heard me.” She smiled at him, her dimple flashing. She checked the water. “I’m going to let some of the water out and add in some more cold water real quick.”
As she leaned in, the robe she wore gaped and he had another glimpse of smooth, soft breasts.
Stop it, Zach
He swallowed and doggedly stared out the back window at the rock garden and pond she had set up. There was a sitting area, too, with an outdoor fireplace. They’d spent many a night out there. Nights where he’d tormented himself and watched how firelight danced over that soft, ivory skin—
“How does it feel?”
. Mentally, he swore and then looked down at his hand. It was still red. It still hurt. And he had a feeling it was going to blister, too. “It hurts like a bitch,” he said honestly. “Ah, why don’t you go get dressed? You can turn the bacon down, or off, for a few minutes. And I’ll just stand here and not mess with anything since I seem to be screwing everything up today.”
A faint blush crept up her cheeks, dusting her skin with a soft pink. “Yeah. Probably not a bad idea to grab some clothes. I’ll be back in a few.”
“Take your time.” He flexed his hand and wiggled his fingers. “I’m at your mercy right now. If I try to cook with my head where it is, I’m going to burn the place down.”
As it was, he was going to walk with a permanent limp or something if he couldn’t get his thoughts on a safer track. Priority number one was seeing Abby in something other than that short, thin robe.
* * *
“It’s going to blister,” Abigale said, nibbling on her lip
as she pulled Zach’s hand out of the water. They’d soaked it a good thirty minutes while she finished up breakfast, but it was still red. His palm felt rough against hers and his fingers were long. She had to suppress a shiver at the memory of the feel of them on her skin as she studied the burn.
Help . . . you’re supposed to be helping. Not lusting.
Except she was still thinking about number five on her list. Right?
“Serves me right,” Zach said, tugging his hand away. “I was distracted and that’s never a good idea with hot grease splattering around, right? Come on. I’m hungry.”
“Go sit at the breakfast nook. I’ll bring the food.”
“I can get the food. Why don’t you get us something to drink?” He flexed his hand and added, “I suspect I should stay away from the coffeepot.”
She laughed. “I don’t think you’re a hazard in the kitchen all of a sudden, Zach.”
He grumbled something under his breath that she couldn’t quite make out, but as he grabbed the plates, she didn’t see the point in arguing with him. She already had one cup of coffee but she refilled his. He was going on his third cup.
“You have a bad night last night?” she asked as she put his coffee down.
He shot her a sidelong look and shrugged. “Didn’t sleep well.”
They lapsed into silence for a few minutes as they ate although Abigale had to force herself to do more than pick at the food. It was like chewing on sawdust. How in the hell was she going to be able to follow through on number five when lately all she could think about was Zach?
“You done anything else with this infamous new plan of yours?” he asked, bumping her with his shoulder.
In the process of slipping a bite of the omelet into her mouth, she froze. She lowered the fork to the plate and sat there as she chewed, stalled a minute by taking a sip of the juice she’d poured for them both. She should have made screwdrivers, damn it.
“So far, no,” she said honestly. “There’s just the . . .” She glanced over her shoulder at the hip closest to him and then shrugged. “That.”
He grinned. “It’s called a tattoo. How is it looking?”
“How would I know?” She made a face at him. “I’ve never had one and I can’t exactly see it all that well. But I’m doing what you told me to do. So . . .”
“I’ll take a look.”
As he slid off the stool, her breath froze in her lungs. “Ah, is it really that big a deal?”
Long, warm fingers brushed against her skin, nudging her forward. “If it’s not healing well, yeah. You want it looking good, don’t you?”
Her breath hitched a little as he tugged the waistband of the wraparound skirt she wore out of the way, easing it lower. “It’s looking fine,” he said after a minute.
Face flaming, she focused on the plate in front of her, keeping her head bowed as he settled back on the stool. “So why haven’t you done anything else? The Roger thing
needs to happen, by the way.”