The way you look tonight, p.23
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       The Way You Look Tonight, p.23

         Part #10 of The Sullivans series by Bella Andre
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Page 23

  Author: Bella Andre

  Colbie grinned as she ran the length of colorful silk between her fingertips. "My fiancé loves these. So many possibilities. . . " A low man’s voice asked for her from the other side of the curtain, and she literally glowed with happiness at hearing it. "Noah is a little early to pick me up for dinner, but I’ll tell him to relax for a while. "

  But Brooke had already made up her mind. "I’ll take the silks. " She pointed at the lingerie on the mannequin. "That, too, if you’ve got it in my size. "

  Brooke went out into the main room and met Colbie’s sinfully gorgeous fiancé, Noah Bryant. The way he looked at Colbie, as though she were brighter than the sun, the moon, and the stars combined, had Brooke barely containing her sigh at how sweet they were.

  Was there any chance that Rafe would ever look at her that way?

  Or maybe, just maybe, if Mia was to be believed, was there a chance that he already did?

  * * *

  Rafe had just finished laying the final floorboard when his phone rang. He hoped it was Brooke letting him know she was on her way home.

  But it wasn’t. Instead, his cousin Sophie’s name lit up the screen.

  Always glad to hear from one of his many cousins, he picked up. "Hey, Soph, how are you, Jake, and the kids doing?" He could hear a baby girl’s laughter in the background, and then her husband Jake’s booming laugh a moment later.

  "Amazing," she answered. "And loud. Really, really loud, if you hadn’t noticed. "

  Sophie’s nickname was Nice. On top of that, she was a librarian, so she was used to working in a quiet space all day. He imagined marriage to the owner of a chain of Irish pubs, and then having twins, had taken some getting used to. Clearly, though, she was happy with the huge changes to her life, especially since Sophie and Jake had been in love with each other since they were kids.

  It wasn’t, he suddenly realized, too different from his situation with Brooke. Sophie and Jake had known each other since she was five or six; Rafe had known Brooke even longer than that. And then one day Sophie and Jake had gone from being family friends to much, much more, just as Rafe and Brooke had. The only difference was that where Jake McCann had changed from not wanting a serious relationship to happily marrying and having a family with Sophie, Rafe and Brooke were simply having a good time with each other.

  It was only a summer fling, just for fun, wasn’t it?

  Belatedly, he realized Sophie was talking.

  "—call with Mia the other day, and she told me you bought your family’s lake house back. I’m so happy for you, and actually that’s partly why I’m calling. We’re planning on taking a vacation later this summer, and once your sister told me about the lake, it sounded like the perfect retreat from our everyday nuttiness. Plus, I could see you and stop by Seattle to see the rest of your family, too. Do you know if there are any cottages or vacation rentals available?"

  "Stay here, at my place. "

  "Are you sure? The four of us can be a lot to live with, even for just a few days. "

  "You can have the place to yourself. "

  "We couldn’t kick you out of your own summer house. "

  "It’s okay," he reassured her, "I’m sure I can stay next door. "

  "So," his cousin said, drawing out the two letters, "then it sounds like Mia’s right. You and Brooke are officially—"

  "Nothing’s official," he quickly clarified, "but Brooke’s a good friend, and I’m sure she’ll have no problem with me crashing at her place, especially if she gets to see you and your family. "

  But even as he said it, the words didn’t sound quite right in his head, didn’t feel quite right falling off his tongue. Because he wasn’t "crashing" with Brooke anymore, and even though it was true that nothing was official, that didn’t make what they’d shared so far feel any less powerful, any less potent.

  He heard a shriek in the background and then the phone dropped as Sophie said, "Oh, Smith, honey, it’s okay. " When she picked the phone back up, he could hear her little boy crying. "Sorry about that, Rafe. Like I said, never a dull moment. Oh, and before I go, Jake wants you to know he’s got some awesome new beer he’s been brewing that he’ll bring for you. "

  "Give everyone a hug and a kiss for me, Soph. And as soon as you figure out the dates for your vacation, consider my place yours. "

  Rafe wouldn’t have thought he could envy a guy who’d once had his pick of any woman he wanted for now having to deal with a wife and two babies. . . but right then it seemed to Rafe that Jake McCann was the luckiest bastard in the world.

  * * *

  Just under three hours later, Brooke stumbled in her front door. She’d heard the drill going at Rafe’s house when she’d gotten out of her car, and even though she was dying to see him, she was also desperate for another shower to wash away the slight aches from her long drive.

  It always felt so good to come back to the lake, even after only a day away. Only, today she was thankful for far more than the beautiful lake with the waning moon beginning to rise over it.

  She’d had a lot of time to think in the car. It was, in fact, the main reason she’d wanted to make the trip alone. Of course she would have loved to spend the hours with Rafe, but her head had been spinning so fast after they’d made love yet again on the bed that morning, still wet from the shower.

  Too fast.

  How, she wondered, could everything change so fast?

  Or, she’d asked herself over and over again as the miles rolled beneath the tires, had anything really changed at all?

  Yes, they were no longer platonic friends, having transitioned pretty darned completely into friends-with-benefits. But beyond that, had there been something more than just heat in his eyes when he’d gazed down at her as he was making love to her?

  Were the emotions she’d thought she could hear in his voice when he whispered her name really there? Or was she simply imagining what she so desperately wanted to see and hear. . . and feel…from him?

  For tonight, she’d decided it would have to be enough to push at his sensual boundaries. She’d focus on fighting one battle at a time.

  First, for every last ounce of pleasure they could give each other.

  And then, if she was even luckier, for his heart.

  Unlike the shower she and Rafe had taken together that morning that she’d never wanted to end, now she quickly shampooed and soaped up before rinsing off and getting out of the shower. Normally, slipping back into her jeans and a T-shirt after wearing a tailored dress and heels all day in the city felt like coming home. But she wasn’t planning on putting her jeans back on tonight.

  Before she left Colbie’s store, she’d bought not only the gorgeous lengths of silk, but also the prettiest—and sexiest—lingerie she’d ever seen. She’d bought it with thoughts of how Rafe would react when he saw her in it, but as she pulled the exquisite lace and silk out of the shopping bag, she realized it would thrill her just as much to wear it. She’d never given too much thought to her undergarments before, but after spending a little time in Indulgence, she had to wonder if this could be yet another way of letting out her wild side, with sensual secrets that only she and her lover would know were waiting there beneath her clothes.

  She was wearing her secret beneath a simple blue cotton summer dress and had laid her other purchase out over the pillows when she heard Rafe walk in the front door ten minutes later. But as she walked out into the living room, and he met her halfway to tug her into his arms, she immediately forgot about secrets and her day in Seattle.

  All she could think about was how good it felt to be back in his arms.

  Chapter Eighteen

  God, he’d missed her today.

  When Rafe had heard Brooke drive up, he’d wanted to drop his tools, pull her out of the driver’s seat, and kiss her senseless, but he’d forced himself to give her a few minutes to decomp
ress first.

  Four days ago she hadn’t been in his life.

  Four days ago he could have made it through a twelve-hour stretch without longing for her.

  Four days ago he hadn’t had the slightest clue just how much his life was going to be completely rocked by a beautiful girl with innocent eyes and soft curves that went on forever.

  Brooke’s hair was still just the slightest bit damp from the shower she’d taken. He could have stood with her and breathed in her sweet, fresh scent for hours.

  "How were your meetings?"

  "Good. " She lifted her face from his chest. "I missed you today. "

  His heart squeezed. The women he’d been with before Brooke had either played hard to get, or had pressured him for more than he’d had any intention of giving. But he knew she was simply telling him what she felt, with no ulterior motives.

  He lowered his mouth to hers and told her with his kiss just how much he’d missed her, too. And yet, though all he could think about was taking her to bed for a repeat of their earlier lovemaking, he made himself pull back. "You must be exhausted from your trip. "

  "I was," she admitted, "but now that you’re here, I’m not anymore. "

  Sweet Lord, all he wanted was to drag her into the bedroom, tear her clothes off, and take her fast and hard. Instead, he asked, "Are you hungry?"

  Her lips curved up into a small smile. "Yes. "

  Damn it, somehow he was going to have to make it through a meal without losing what was left of his mind.

  But then she was pressing her body against his and saying, "Hungry for you. "

  How could he do anything but love her mouth the way he wanted to love the rest of her? When he finally let her up for air, and both of them were panting, she licked her lips, already damp from his tongue.

  "There’s something I want to show you. "

  Rafe warned himself it could be anything. Pictures of her new storefront. A new style of box she’d found to package chocolates. Even, possibly, the contracts she’d signed today. But the way she’d said the words There’s something I want to show you had Rafe only able to think about sexy things.

  Dirty things.

  When she slid her hands into his and took him back into the bedroom, he immediately noticed several strips of colored silk draped across the pillows. To the naked eye they looked like scarves. But Rafe knew exactly what they were for.

  They were sensual bindings meant for a woman’s naked skin, and he went a little crazy just thinking about using them with Brooke.

  "Where did you get those?"

  As she picked up the silks, sweetness shimmered in her eyes alongside a budding wickedness that kept surprising him, over and over.

  "In a really fun store in Seattle. "

  The vision of Brooke browsing through sex toys had Rafe nearly bursting the zipper of his jeans. But this was just the kind of thing he’d sworn he wouldn’t do to her. She’d been a good girl before him, and he doubted she would ever have walked into the store before they’d started sleeping together.

  Forcing himself to shove aside the too-clear vision of using the scarves to bind her to the iron head- and footboards, her beautiful body naked and open to him, he said, "I already told you we don’t need props. "

  Though his voice was rough, when he pulled her back into his arms a moment later, making silk fall from her fingers as her hands slid over his shoulders, his lips were gentle over hers. She sighed into his mouth, making one of her little sounds of pleasure that had been playing on repeat inside his head all day long.

  He gathered the fabric of her dress in his hands and pulled it up. But when he got to her hips, he had to smooth his hands over her hips and thighs. Lace and silk and soft, smooth skin met his palms and fingertips. She pleased him, every part of her, so much that he couldn’t wait any longer to strip her dress all the way off. Only, once her dress was on the floor, Rafe had to try like hell to pick his jaw up off it, too.
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