The way you look tonight, p.27
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       The Way You Look Tonight, p.27

         Part #10 of The Sullivans series by Bella Andre
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Page 27

  Author: Bella Andre

  "Remember how I said that if you ever gave up being a P. I. , you should consider short-order cooking?"

  He cocked his head at her strange response to his incredibly sweet words. "You’ve got a hankering for eggs all of a sudden?"

  "No, but I want you to know I’ve changed my mind. Plenty of people can make great scrambled eggs, but so few can be a poet. "

  "I’m no poet, Brooke. "

  "To me," she said as she laid her head against his shoulder, "you are. "

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Rafe wanted to do anything he could to strip away the lingering pain in Brooke’s eyes from her phone call with her parents. But since more lovemaking would only put her more behind on her truffle-making schedule, he offered his two hands in whatever way she could use them to finish getting the rest of her orders made. She took him up on it with a big, happy smile that had him wasting a few more minutes of her tight deadline in his arms despite his best intentions to keep his hands off her until her work was done.

  Earlier in the day, he’d been worried about being in her way, but as she quickly showed him what she needed him to do, he realized he should have given her enough credit to know exactly how to put him to work in such a way that he’d be a help rather than a hindrance.

  He hated the thought of anyone harming her in any way. When he’d walked in after she’d gotten off the phone with her parents and she’d told him she’d needed him, he’d been desperate to heal the hurt in her eyes by replacing it with pleasure. Their lovemaking on the kitchen counter had been wild and hot, but more than that, it had been full of the sweetness that was at Brooke’s core.

  Everything she did held that same beautiful contradiction. The combination of heat and coolness in her chocolates. The simple sundresses over naughty lace and silk. . . or nothing at all. Wicked and oh so good. A man would be a fool not to look deeper than the surface with Brooke.

  Did that mean he’d also have to be an even bigger fool about the background check he’d ordered?

  And yet, even though Rafe had meant every word he’d said to her in the bathtub, though he’d seen with his own eyes her beauty, her brains, and how big her heart was, what about all those years he hadn’t been with her? Could there be something he needed to know that was bigger than sneaking out at sixteen and getting drunk, something she would never admit even to him? Something that would tear them apart down the road?

  "Rafe?" He didn’t realize he’d given voice to his frustration at the battle raging inside of him until she said his name. "You’ve already done so much to help. I’ll come to bed after I’ve made my deliveries. "

  He moved from the boxes he was putting together to wrap his arms around her from behind. He rested his chin on the top of her head and loved the way she immediately relaxed back into his arms and chest. "I’m not going anywhere. "

  She turned her face to his, and he caught her lips in a soft kiss. Before she could spin around in his arms and convince him to ruin their hard work by lifting her up onto the counter to take her again in another rush of unquenchable desire, he moved his hands to her shoulders and began to give her a massage.

  "Oh God. Please don’t stop doing that. "

  He grinned as he dug his fingers just a little harder into her muscles. "I’m glad it feels good. "

  "So, so good. " Her eyes had closed and her head fell forward as she let herself enjoy every second of the impromptu massage. "A short-order cook, a poet, and now a masseur. You’re so good at everything you do. "

  He pressed a kiss to her head. "You must inspire greatness in me. "

  She rubbed her hips against his groin. "I wonder what else I can inspire?"

  "As soon as we get the rest of these chocolates made and out the door, we can find out," he promised her, before reluctantly lifting his hands and stepping away from her gorgeous, extremely inspiring curves to get back to work on filling truffle boxes.

  The sky was dark, the moon only a sliver now. As they worked, its reflection on the surface of the water outside moved across the lake until it was replaced by the rising sun.

  "No doubt about it," she said as they put together the last handful of boxes, "I’m officially too old for all-nighters. Thank you for helping. I couldn’t have even come close to pulling this off without you. "

  "You wouldn’t have been this far behind without me, either. "

  "We’re having another one of our silly arguments again," she said with a little smile. "Come on and let’s get these delivered so that we can get back to being inspired, instead. "

  People were going to wonder—and assume—when they saw him with Brooke this morning. It was a small, tight-knit town. He hadn’t been a part of it for the past eighteen years, but he hadn’t forgotten how it worked. Word had likely spread like wildfire that he’d bought the lake house his family used to own, and he doubted his dinner or motorcycle ride with Brooke had gone unnoticed, either.

  The locals would wonder how on earth he’d gotten to be the luckiest bastard on the planet. But more than that, they’d want to know if he was even close to good enough for one of their own.

  They were the exact two things Rafe kept wondering himself.

  * * *

  Four hours later, Brooke was asleep in the passenger seat as he drove her car back up the long gravel driveway between the Douglas firs that led to both their houses. They’d driven to the main shopping areas of the three towns closest to the lake and delivered chocolates to every gift store, grocery, sweet shop, and ice cream stand. He’d been momentarily surprised when Brooke stopped in at the police and fire stations with free boxes of chocolate. It was a brilliant marketing idea, and he’d seen the incredible goodwill everyone in town had for her, but that wasn’t why she did it. She simply wanted to show her appreciation for the difficult and important work the cops and firefighters did.

  He’d run into guys at the stations he hadn’t seen in years, and while they’d clearly been glad to see him again, he’d also felt the weight of their silent warning: Screw around with Brooke and you’re screwing around with all of us. On top of that, more than one of them had clearly been upset that he’d stolen the prettiest girl in town out from under their noses. Knowing just how many guys would have been more than willing to be "wild" with her had Rafe feeling even more possessive and protective of her.

  His sister had been right: Summer flings never worked out the way they were supposed to. Maybe, he found himself thinking as he unbuckled Brooke’s seatbelt, then lifted her out of the car, that was because sometimes they worked out even better.

  She nuzzled her face into his neck as he carried her inside. Laying her down on her bed, he intended to gently strip her clothes off without waking her up, but she wouldn’t let go of him.

  "It’s time to be inspired. "

  Her whispered words in his ear had him growing even harder than he’d already been just from holding her in his arms. She inspired not only deep desire, but also emotions he would have been on guard against with anyone but her.

  Brooke had slipped in beneath his defenses, not just with sweet kisses and incredibly hot lovemaking, but with her constant smiles and laughter that jumped like a cannonball into the dark spots inside of him and splashed them with light.

  "I’m always inspired when I’m with you. "

  Her eyes fluttered up, arousal quickly edging out the sleepiness. "Show me. "

  Her mouth was so damned soft, her tongue so sweet, that all he could manage to show her was the fact that he couldn’t resist her.

  Every time they’d made love had been special. Perfect. Wild. This was their first time for sleepy and slow, her body like melting butter beneath his.

  How many other ways would there be to love her?

  It was a question he knew he’d enjoy trying to answer every day for the rest of his life.

  Her skin smelled l
ike chocolate, and he breathed her in all over as he slowly stripped her clothes away and ran kisses from her temple down to the brightly painted tips of her toes. She stretched like a contented, sleepy kitten beneath his increasingly heated caresses, purring like one, too, every time he found a particularly sensitive spot with his tongue.

  He could have spent the rest of the day tasting behind her knee, nipping at her hipbone, rubbing his cheek against the undersides of her breasts, but there were so many other spots he needed to taste, too.

  The soft skin on her neck when she arched beneath him.

  The small of her back when he rolled her onto her stomach so that he could fully appreciate the gorgeous curve of her hips while massaging away the aches that came with doing such hard work at the kitchen counter all night long.

  The shadow of curls between her thighs that tempted a man beyond reason.

  She was pliant enough in her drowsy passion that he could easily turn her in his arms and open her thighs with his as he took care of protection. And then she was reaching for him again, and her mouth was connecting with his at the exact moment he slid into her. She was so wet and hot and ready for him that he nearly lost it right then and there.

  Cheek to cheek as they moved together, he could tell by the way her inner muscles clenched around him that she was as close as he was. Sex for Rafe had always been a marathon, a test to see how far he could push his partner and himself. But with Brooke there were no goals, no rules, no awards he was trying to win. Just pleasure.

  And pure joy.

  He could feel her mouth curve up against his cheek as she approached her climax. Only this time, as he increased his thrusts to help take her all the way over the edge, she gave him more than her smile, more than the sweet sound of her laughter.

  "I love you. "

  Her mouth was so close to his ear as she gave him her heart that he almost felt as though the words had always been there inside his head, flipping every off switch to on, turning every red light green.

  Rafe knew Brooke hadn’t said the three little words to try to get him to say them back, or to push him into making a decision he wasn’t yet ready for. She’d simply given him what was inside her heart, just as she’d given him her body.

  And in that instant, Rafe knew it didn’t matter what Ben’s background check said. Brooke could have a thousand skeletons in her closet and he’d still love her.

  "I love you, too. "

  He swore time stopped as her eyes opened. She looked up at him in stunned surprise. "You do?"

  All these years he’d been so certain love only happened once in a blue moon, but somehow they’d gotten one, hadn’t they?

  "I do, so damned much. You’re all I can think of, all that I’m going to want forever. "

  Her eyes filled with tears even as a wide smile split her face. Just as she laughed through every orgasm, she did the same now while teardrops rolled down her cheeks. After he kissed each of them away, she whispered one word against his mouth.

  "Forever. "

  Chapter Twenty-two

  A ringing cell phone woke them up. Rafe pulled Brooke closer, intent on ignoring anything that wasn’t warm and soft and smelling like chocolate in his arms, but the damned thing kept buzzing again and again.

  She finally murmured against his shoulder, "Sounds like it’s pretty important. "

  By the fifth time it rang, he’d begun to think the same thing. Worried that something had happened to his siblings or his parents, he kissed Brooke on the forehead, then eased out of her bed. Through the window, he could see that the sun was high in the sky, and her bedside clock said it was past noon. They hadn’t slept more than a handful of hours after working all night long, but every hour in bed with Brooke was worth at least two without her.

  She loved him.

  The memory of the way she’d said those three incredible words to him just hours ago—and how he’d, amazingly, said them right back—had him wanting to toss his phone out into the lake so that the two of them could be left alone in their cozy little world together.
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