Happy Ever After

Page 25


When he felt that control begin to fray he lifted his head, but he didn’t let her go, didn’t step back.
“That ought to demonstrate I won’t be backing off.”
“I never said—”
“We made a deal.”
“That doesn’t mean you can . . .” She paused, and he watched her gather herself, steady herself.
Jesus, he admired that.
“That doesn’t mean you can just grab me anytime you want, or put your hands all over me when the urge hits.”
“Didn’t grab you,” he pointed out. “And didn’t put my hands all over you.” He gave the hands he still held a squeeze to remind her. “Thought about it though.”
“Regardless, I’m not going to—Would you please give me some room?”
“Sure.” Now he let go of her hands, stepped back.
“I’m not going to tolerate this kind of behavior.You can’t just push yourself on me whenever you like.”
“I might’ve pushed a little. So guilty.” In the dark his eyes gleamed like a cat—one on the hunt.“But, honey, you were right in there with me, and I figure you’ve got the spine to admit it.”
She said nothing for a moment. “All right, that part may be true. But just because I have a physical reaction to you doesn’t mean . . . What are you smiling at?”
“You. I just really like the way you talk, especially when you’re riding the high horse.”
“Damn it, you’re frustrating.”
“I probably am. I was going to say I have some kind of thing for you, and want to figure out how it works. But we can go with physical reaction if you like that better.”
“You better understand I take relationships seriously, so if you think I’m just going to jump into bed because—”
“I didn’t ask you to bed.”
He watched her eyes smolder and had to order himself not to press her right back against the door again.
“You’re going to stand there and tell me that’s not what you want, not what you intend?”
“Sure, I want you in bed—or any place that’s handy—and I intend to have you. But I’m not in a hurry.You jump in? It takes off the edge, and I like the edge. Plus, it’s hard to figure out how something works if you’re busy just banging.”
It was completely honest, and so damn logical she faltered. “This is a ridiculous conversation.”
“It seems sensible and civilized to me. That’s right up your alley. Do you want me to say I think about peeling you out of one of those fancy suits of yours, finding out what’s under it? Getting my hands on what is? About feeling you move under me and over me, and being inside you, watching your face when you let go? When I make you let go?
“I do, Parker. But I’m not in a hurry.”
“I’m not looking for this—you—this.”
“Everybody looks for this.You’re not looking, or you weren’t looking for this with me. I get that loud and clear. But I’m not backing off. Because it’s a solid fact we’ve got a thing, sorry, a physical reaction. And if you didn’t want me to make any moves on it, you’d have shut me down, taken me down. Maybe even enjoyed doing it.”
“You don’t know me as well as you seem to think.”
He shook his head. “Legs, I’ve only scratched the surface, and I’m coming back for more.”
The argument was—not really an argument, she realized, and whatever it was, she was losing it. “I’m going in.”
“Then I’ll see you around.”
She turned her back, half expecting him to move in again. But when she opened the door, he simply stood back in what she’d have called a gentlemanly manner if she hadn’t known better, until she stepped inside, closed the door.
She stood there a moment, trying to regain the equilibrium he’d managed to shatter. She heard the engine kick on, rip through the quiet.
Which was, she realized, exactly what he’d done. He’d ripped through her quiet.
Everything he’d said was true.
More, he understood her pretty damn well with that scratch of the surface of his. That was . . . frightening and gratifying at the same time.
Nobody, she admitted as she started upstairs, nobody she didn’t consider family knew her all the way through.
She wasn’t at all sure how she felt about Malcolm getting all the way through, and wasn’t at all sure she’d be able to stop him.
Mostly, she thought, she didn’t know what the hell to do about him.
ALTHOUGH IT HAD BECOME TRADITION, PARKER WOULD HAVE PREFERRED to skip the sexy breakfast story. But motorcycles had a distinct sound, one Mac had heard clearly while she and Carter had been enjoying some time on their new patio when Parker had ridden off on Malcolm’s bike.
Mac may have dragged herself into the home gym when Parker was nearly finished and Laurel well on her way, but she had more than her biceps on her mind.
And she’d dragged Emma along with her.
“I asked Mrs. G for pancakes,” Mac announced. “I especially like pancakes with a sexy breakfast story.”
“Who’s got one?” Laurel demanded.
“Wait a minute.” Laurel whipped around to where Parker stayed a bit longer than necessary in forward fold position. “You have a SBS, and didn’t tell me?”
“It’s nothing. Plus we’re jammed for the next several days.”
“If it’s nothing, where did you and Malcolm go on his bike last night for almost three hours? No, don’t tell us now.” Mac only smiled, gave an exaggerated wave when Parker straightened. “We need the pancakes.”
“I don’t monitor your comings and goings, Mackensie.”
“Oh, don’t pull Mackensie on me.” Mac waved that off, too, and started biceps curls with the Bowflex. “Carter and I heard Mal drive in, and I saw you leave because I was outside. So yeah, I kept an ear out for you after.You’d have done exactly the same.”
“Did you have a fight with him?” Emma asked. “Are you upset?”
“No, I’m not upset.”After dabbing her damp face with a towel, Parker walked over to drop it in the hamper. “I just don’t have time for pancakes and gossip.”