First Rapture

Page 10


Her breath caught, her gaze becoming wary. “No. You just can’t accept that for once you are the one being used and dumped.”
“I’ve been used more times than I can count,” he dryly assured her. Women weren’t the only ones who were chosen just because of their looks. “Certainly enough times to know the difference between a woman who is just looking to scratch an itch and one who is so consumed with need for me she melts at my touch.”
“Arrogant bastard,” she muttered, scrambling off the far side of the bed and heading toward the door.
Once again he moved to block her path, lightly grasping her upper arms to halt her retreat.
“Why, Maddy?”
The hazel eyes flashed with an emotion impossible to decipher. “My name is Madison.”
“You’ll always be Maddy to me.” His voice lowered, his gaze stroking over the features that were astonishingly familiar despite their eight year separation. Almost as if they’d been held as a precious treasure in his mind. “The young beauty who wore her secondhand clothes with such pride and dignity you outshone every other girl in school. The girl who was too shy to say hello, but watched me with those big, innocent eyes. The girl who should have been crushed by the crappy hand she’d been dealt, but instead had the courage to leave behind her past and create a new life.” He gave a slow shake of his head. “Only you haven’t left the past behind. Have you?”
She tried to pull out of his grasp, her eyes clouding with something that might have been panic.
“I’m leaving.”
“Tell me what’s going on, Maddy,” he commanded, his voice harsh with frustration. “There has to be more than revenge that brought you to Vegas.”
Madison whirled away from her tormentor and paced toward the center of the hotel room.
Dammit. Nothing was going right.
He was supposed to be lying in the bed, too stunned by her abrupt departure to do anything but watch her walk away in silence.
And then…
Well, her imagination hadn’t gone beyond that moment, but she’d assumed that she would return to New York; a woman at last at peace with her past.
Instead, Luc refused to let her leave the room, badgering her with questions that he had no right to ask.
Spinning back around, she sent Luc a glare, doing her best to ignore the bronzed, shockingly beautiful male body.
It would have been easier if she wasn’t abruptly fantasizing about running her lips over those washboard abs and allowing her tongue to tease his cock back to full, erect glory.
A heat bloomed between her legs, making her hands clench in frustration.
No, no, no.
Tonight was about new beginnings…not indulging her senses with Luc Angeli.
Even if her entire body ached to feel his touch.
“Why do you have to ruin this?” she growled.
He scowled, as if he didn’t know exactly what he was doing. “Ruin what?”
She pointed toward the door. “My walk-away.”
His brows arched. “Your what?”
“My walk-away.”
“Christ, Maddy.” He shoved his fingers through tousled hair, managing to look completely baffled. “What are you talking about now?”
“When you left me I allowed you to make your grand exit,” she said, torn between punching him in the nose and kissing him. “But you just had to be a bully and take mine away.”
His expression softened as he finally understood why she was so pissed, but did he move aside and allow her to walk away with some dignity?
He stubbornly paced to stand directly in front of her, his hands framing her face in a gentle grasp.
“Because this isn’t you,” he murmured, his thumb brushing her lower lip. “You aren’t cruel. You don’t deliberately try to hurt people.” His lips twisted in a wry smile. “Not even those people who might deserve it.”
The heat from his body blasted through the thin silk of her dress, a raw surge of need making her shiver.
His brows snapped together as her words trailed away. “Maddy, for god’s sake,” he rasped. “Tell me the truth.”
She ground her teeth together. Dammit. Obviously, the only way she was getting out of the hotel room was to give him what he wanted.
Pigheaded pain in the ass.
“I want you out of my head,” she said, offering him the stark truth he claimed to want.
He blinked. Then blinked again. “You mean the memory of that night?”
She planted her hands on her hips. “No, the memory of you.”
He flinched, as if he were bothered by her confession. “Did I truly hurt you that badly?”
“I was hurt and humiliated when you walked out, but it’s…”
She hunched her shoulder, her cheeks heating with embarrassment. “I can’t enjoy myself with another man.”
There was a startled silence, Luc searching her carefully composed expression. “You don’t like men?”
“Of course I like men,” she snapped, deliberately narrowing her gaze. “When they aren’t being jackasses.”
He rolled his eyes at her inability to resist another jab. “Then explain what the hell you’re talking about.”
Unable to reveal her darkest secret while being watched by Luc’s piercing dark gaze, she turned to pace toward the windows overlooking Vegas.
“Over the years I’ve met dozens of wonderful men,” she said, her voice so low Luc had to move closer to hear her. “Handsome, successful, charming.”
His breath brushed the bare skin of her shoulder. “You didn’t like any of them?”
She grimaced. A part of her wished she could say that she’d chosen a string of complete losers. That would easily explain why she hadn’t managed to create a lasting relationship. Unfortunately, there had been more than one man who should have been perfect for her.
“Actually I liked several,” she grudgingly admitted. “A few I even dated for several months.”
He was close enough behind her that she could feel him tense, almost as if he didn’t like her talking about other men.
Which was stupid considering he was the one who’d forced this unpleasant conversation.
“Why didn’t the relationships last?” he asked.
“Because I couldn’t—” The words stuck in her throat.
“Orgasm,” she at last spit out, unable to resist watching his reaction in the reflection of the window. “Are you happy?”
Shock rippled over his fiercely beautiful face, swiftly followed by a frown of disbelief.
“Why would I be happy?”
She hunched her shoulder, feeling raw and exposed now that the truth was out. “You’ve obviously spoiled me for other men.”
She expected smug contentment. Didn’t most men long to think that they were such fantastic studs that no other man could satisfy their previous lovers?
Instead, Luc appeared troubled. Grabbing her shoulders, he turned her to meet his searching gaze.
“Because I walked out?” he demanded, his voice thick with regret. “Are you afraid the men will hurt you?”
It would be so easy to say yes. To let him think that he’d destroyed her life by leaving her that night. She sensed that far from being proud at her inability to find pleasure with another man, it would truly torture him to believe he’d caused such damage.
But he was right.
She’d never been deliberately cruel.
“I don’t know.” She gave a helpless shake of her head. “I can date a guy, enjoy his company, and even be aroused when we go to bed, but then…” She sucked in a deep breath. “Then suddenly my mind is filled with images of you touching and kissing me and the moment is lost.”
He took a second to analyze her words before his fingers tightened on her arms, his eyes narrowing.
“And because I happened to pop up in your sexual fantasies, you returned to Vegas to sleep with me again?” he rasped. “Is that supposed to make sense?”
She licked her dry lips, her breath catching as his gaze was dragged downward to watch the unconsciously provocative movement.
“I thought…” She grimaced. It was going to sound stupid no matter how she said it. “I hoped that once I’d slept with you and walked away I would feel…empowered.”
His brows arched. “Empowered?”
Yep. It sounded stupid.
She clicked her tongue with impatience. “It was supposed to be an exorcism that would get you out of my head for good.”
The dark eyes flared with a sudden fury. “Of all the asinine—” He bit off his angry words, sucking in a deep breath. “Did you ever consider the fact that your inability to enjoy intimacy with a man has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with you?”
She pulled out of his grip, her chin tilting to a defiant angle.
“What are you implying?”
“I’m not implying anything. I’m saying that there are two obvious explanations.”