The way you look tonight, p.15
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       The Way You Look Tonight, p.15

         Part #10 of The Sullivans series by Bella Andre
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Page 15

  Author: Bella Andre

  "She’s not going to date Adam," Rafe told her in a hard voice. "And we’re not dating, either. "

  Mia’s eyebrows went up. "Then what are the two of you doing? Because it sure didn’t look like you’d been playing a friendly game of canasta when she opened the door. "

  "I already told you, it’s none of your business. "

  "You’re my brother. She’s my friend, one I haven’t seen in far too long. " Mia sighed dramatically. "When you’re done screwing around, I’m going to end up having to choose sides. . . and of course I’m going to have to choose you just because we’re related. "

  "There aren’t going to be sides. "

  "How can you know that for sure?"

  "Brooke’s an adult. So am I. Even if we have some fun together this summer, no one’s going to get hurt. "

  "Oh crap," his sister said on a groan. "You haven’t made some kind of crazy agreement with each other to have a no-strings summer fling, have you?"

  "Mia. " He said her name as a warning to drop it, but of course his little sister just ignored him.

  "Let me see if I can think of a time no-strings has ever worked out for anyone. " Sarcasm dripped from every word as she made a show of mulling it over. "Nope, can’t come up with a single one. "

  "Brooke’s a heck of a lot tougher than you’re giving her credit for. "

  "I’m sure she is," she said. "But has it occurred to you that maybe it’s not her I’m worried about?"

  Nothing his sister could have said would have surprised him more. He and his siblings might have spent most of their lives ribbing each other, but at the end of the day there was no one they cared about more than family. Clearly, Mia needed some reassurance that he wasn’t at the end of his rope.

  "You were right that I needed a break from the job for a while, but now that I’m back here at the lake, you can stop worrying. I would never do anything to hurt Brooke. And you and I both know she’s too sweet to ever hurt me. "

  Mia threw her arms around him and hugged him tight, a feisty little cub who’d grown into a woman who loved with the ferocity of a lioness.

  "I just keep thinking about that psycho who came after you in Seattle. You know how terrified Mom and Dad were about it, but you have to know they weren’t the only ones. We all were. "

  "I love you, too, sis. " He hugged her back hard enough to lift her small frame off the floor before setting her back on her own two feet. "Come on, let’s go find Adam and get that bonfire and the s’mores started. "

  * * *

  As Rafe and Mia got a bonfire going in the firepit on the beach, Adam finally emerged from beneath the house, brushing cobwebs from his shoulders and hair. When Brooke walked down to the beach to join them with four champagne glasses in her hands, Rafe noticed that she had changed into jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt. Still, even with denim on instead of the sexy-as-hell white dress, she couldn’t mask her natural sensuality. Instead, the hints of bare skin and lush curves hiding behind the fabric almost made her allure more potent.

  Here was yet another reason it was crazy to think about being with Brooke beyond a summer fling. How could he live his life wanting to kill any guy who looked at her—even his own brother? Especially when a guy couldn’t help but look, despite the fact that she wasn’t purposely flaunting anything.

  With a flourish, Mia popped the cork on the Sullivan Winery bottle, fizzy liquid bubbling over the lip onto the sand. Each of them grabbed an empty glass, and after Mia filled them, they raised them in a toast.

  "To Rafe’s new lake house. "

  "To Mia for finding the listing before anyone else could," Brooke added.

  "And to Brooke’s amazing chocolate truffles," Rafe said, barely able to take his eyes off her incredible beauty in the firelight long enough to turn to his sister and touch glasses.

  They all toasted and drank, then found spots in the sand to stretch out.

  "I love that you make chocolate truffles for a living," Mia told her old friend. "Your grandmother and grandfather would be so proud. "

  Brooke’s eyes immediately dampened as she gave his sister a slightly wobbly smile. "Thank you for saying that. "

  "We’re all so sorry that they’re not here with us tonight. "

  Mia squeezed Brooke’s hand, and after a moment of silence in which they all remembered Mr. and Mrs. Jansen, Rafe badly wanted to pull Brooke onto his lap and hold her until her grief was completely gone.

  "Rafe told me all about how brilliantly both of you are doing," Brooke said to his siblings. "Monopoly always was your favorite game, wasn’t it, Mia?"

  Yet again, Rafe was amazed by everything Brooke had noticed when they were kids. Clearly, Mia was, too.

  "Yes, it was. " Mia grinned at Brooke. "And making chocolates with your grandmother was yours. "

  "Remember when Dylan convinced me to make a batch out of mud and you ate one on a dare?"

  Mia put her hand over her stomach. "Don’t remind me. "

  "You never could resist a dare," Adam said with a grin of his own.

  Just as she always had, Brooke fit perfectly into his family. She was fun to be with. The sex was clearly going to be mind-blowing. . . that is, if his siblings ever left and let them get on with it. She was practically already a Sullivan. Lord knew his parents would be beside themselves with glee if he decided to have more than a summer fling and brought her home as his girlfriend.

  It was perfect. So perfect that he knew better than to let himself trust it.

  Not when he’d seen "perfect" blown to smithereens at least a thousand times.

  And yet, even knowing that—and with Mia’s voice in his head telling him how summer flings never worked out—Rafe still couldn’t find the self-control to give Brooke up.

  Brooke turned her focus to Adam next. "Do you work on specific kinds of houses?"

  "Any house that catches my eye. The era or architect is less important to me than the feel of the place. Take your grandparents’ house, for instance. It doesn’t adhere to any one particular sensibility, but your grandfather not only had a great eye, he knew what he liked and didn’t give a damn if it wasn’t strictly Craftsman. "

  Though Brooke’s expression softened, Rafe still thought she seemed a little on edge. "I always loved this house. No matter where else I was living, it was my true home. I’ve kept up with it as best I could over the past three years, but I’m sure I’m forgetting lots of things my grandfather always did. "

  "Tomorrow morning, how about I take a look to see how things are holding up? Your grandfather was always so good about letting me tag along and help him when he could have done the job twice as fast without me there. It’s the least I can do. "

  "Wow, that’d be great, Adam. Thank you. "

  It was irrational to be irritated with his brother for offering to help out with Brooke’s place. Hell, Rafe should already have offered that himself. But he was a hell of a long way from rational tonight.

  "Honestly," Mia said, "I still can’t believe you make truffles for a living!"

  Rafe let her know, "You’ll be even more impressed once you taste one. "

  "How about I bring out a few to go with the s’mores?" Brooke offered, already standing up.

  "Yes, please," Mia said with a wide grin as Adam nodded his approval of that idea as well.

  Mia was about to get up to join her friend inside, when Brooke waved her back down onto the sand. "You’ve only got one night here. You should spend as much of it outside by the lake as you can. I’ll make sure the bedrooms and bathroom have everything ready for you while I’m in there, so don’t worry if I’m a few minutes. "

  Rafe watched Brooke practically bolt away from the three of them and frowned. She’d been her usual friendly self with his siblings, but at the same time, he couldn’t help but feel that something
wasn’t quite right.

  Standing up, he told them, "I’ll take the couch so that you can have the room I’ve been bunking in, Adam. You guys hang by the fire while I go grab my stuff and remake the bed for you so Brooke doesn’t have to do that, too. "

  He needed to find Brooke and make sure everything was still okay.

  Chapter Twelve

  Brooke truly was thrilled to see Mia and Adam again. Still, a little voice in her head that she wasn’t proud of kept asking, Did their reunion have to be tonight?

  Normally she would have loved nothing better than to sit out by a lakeside bonfire catching up with old friends while making s’mores with a glass of bubbly in hand. But she could still feel Rafe’s kisses tingling on her lips, the heat of his hard muscles searing her skin through her clothes. . . and the heated promise in his eyes of more pleasure than she’d ever known before.

  Keeping busy was the only way she was going to make it through the evening and the following day. She stepped into the walk-in closet that held the extra sheets. She had just pulled a folded stack off the shelf when she heard footsteps, and was just about to poke her head out of the closet to see if someone needed something, when Rafe walked in and closed the door behind him.

  Her heart immediately started pounding like crazy, so loudly that it took her a few seconds to register the click of the lock on the door.

  "Rafe? Is everything okay?"

  "That’s what I came inside to ask you. " He took the sheets out of her arms and put them back on the shelf. "I keep thinking about what you said to me before my brother and sister showed up. "

  Her breath caught in her throat as she looked up at him. Somehow she managed to get out the words, "Which part?"

  He took her hands and drew her against him. "You told me you ached. " He buried his face in her hair, and she let herself slide her arms around him again, exactly where she wished she’d been for the past hour. "I can’t stand the thought of you feeling that way all night long. "

  His mouth came down over hers before she could think a straight thought, and then all she could think of was his taste, the feel of his muscles beneath her fingertips, the way his kiss melted her insides until she was clinging to him just to stay upright.

  "Let me take the ache away, Brooke. "

  Everything inside of her was spinning so fast that she couldn’t think coherently. She wanted what he was offering her so badly that she could barely force herself to remind him, "But your brother and sister are outside. "

  He brushed a lock of hair away from her face, his fingertips burning a trail of fire across her cheek. "I know I can’t make love to you while they’re here, but there are other things I can do, things that will make you feel a hell of a lot better. They know we’re getting the guest rooms set up for them. We have a little time before they expect us to come back outside. "

  "I want to, so badly, but I don’t know if I can—" The rest of her words fell away as she felt her cheeks flush even more than they already had.

  "Tell me, sweetheart," Rafe urged.

  She swallowed hard as she whispered, "I don’t know if I can be quiet enough for them not to hear. "

  Rafe’s eyes dilated even further as he slid the pad of his thumb over her lower lip. "I’ll make sure no one hears. "

  Her body flooded with a rush of liquid heat at his promise, one she didn’t know how he could possibly keep. Of course, when he cupped her face in his hands and looked at her with a question in his eyes, she couldn’t do anything but nod.

  He reached for the hem of her long-sleeved T-shirt, and as he quickly pulled it up and over her head, he told her, "The next time we do this, I promise I’ll go so slow that you’ll be begging me. "
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