Authors: Carly Phillips
Being naked with him was intimate, having sex with him was too, but letting him do
created an even deeper connection between them than she was ready to face. But he wasn’t asking for her permission and when he settled himself at the apex of her thighs and kissed her
, thinking was no longer involved at all.
Almost reverently, he licked her with his tongue, and the crescendo of need began to build all over again. He braced his hands on her legs and pried them apart, pausing long enough to look up, meet her gaze, and show her with his clouded blue eyes and taut expression how much
wanted this too.
“Relax,” he said, rubbing his thumbs along the sensitive skin of her thighs.
He then returned to his mission, which she immediately understood by the caress of his tongue along her inner folds. Long, loving laps of his tongue alternated with short nibbles of the tiny bud that brought her closer to climax. Strokes followed by delicious nibbles, ending with the thrust of his tongue deep inside her, and Kelly lost track of reality.
All she cared about was the pleasure that lay just out of reach but so close she could almost taste it, and she lifted her hips and allowed him deeper. Obviously sensing her need, he parted her, and between the plunge of his tongue and the sudden pressure of his fingertip on exactly the right spot, Kelly’s world flew apart.
She shattered, her orgasm sending her into a never-ending roller-coaster ride of pleasure. Pleasure Nash seemed determined to continue because he didn’t stop, deep glides of his tongue and perfect circles against her mound that allowed wave after wave to rock her to her core.
And when the pleasure finally wound down, her body too sensitive for more, she heard the ripping of a condom, felt the rustle of movement, and suddenly Nash thrust deep into her body, filling her exactly the way she’d imagined during that long, intense climax.
she thought when she could think at all,
fits so perfectly,
and she shut her eyes and let go.
Pure pleasure coursed through Nash, as Kelly surrounded him in damp heat. Need slammed into him hard.
“Open your eyes,” he said roughly against her ear. “I want to see how I make you feel.” Because in his wildest dreams, he’d never experienced anything like this—anything like her—ever before.
Nash watched as Kelly forced her heavy eyelids open and met his gaze, and there he found the same intensity, the same shock, the same desire as the physical and emotional yearnings inside him.
Knowing she shared those feelings helped now, in the moment. Later, those same emotions would come back to haunt him. But right now all he could do was concentrate on how good it felt to be buried inside her, her inner walls still contracting from the climax he’d given her.
As he began to rock his hips from side to side, her eyes opened wide, her expression one of utter surprise.
“What?” he asked, unable to keep still, sliding in and out of her body, reveling in the unbelievable friction they created together.
“I didn’t think I could… That is, I just…” Her voice trailed off. “And I was so sensitive, I didn’t think I could. Again.”
He slid all the way out, then drove back in and a low groan reverberated from her throat.
“But I was obviously wrong. You
be that good.”
In other words, she’d never come twice in one night? There was a boost to his ego that was as unexpected as it was satisfying. “You know how to give a compliment, sweetheart.”
She grinned and he was lost. Lost to her smile, lost to her blissful expression, lost inside her tight sheath.
Beside himself now, he began to thrust into her, a steady rhythm she obviously enjoyed because her breathing came in harsher shallow gasps. She grew damper beneath him as she met his movements with equal force. Each time their bodies collided, she seemed to come closer, her pants and moans keeping him going. She dug her nails into his shoulders, the pain nothing compared to the pleasure building higher and harder until her body contracted around him and she cried out, telling him she was ready.
And damn but so was he.
She curled her legs behind his back and he levered himself up on his hands and pushed harder and higher, sure he was hurting her, but her screams were good ones and he couldn’t stop even if he wanted to. But she begged him not to stop and he didn’t, not until he came in the most intense explosion he’d ever experienced.
And with the way she twisted her hips and ground herself into him, she was still coming too.
Nash didn’t know when he came back to himself. He
just suddenly became aware of his surroundings—the warm body beneath him, her harsh breaths in his ear, his entire body still shaking in reaction.
Sure he was hurting her, he rolled to his side, giving her room to breath, space to process. “You okay?” he asked.
She reached her arms over her head and sighed. “Better than okay.”
He smiled at her, enjoying her feline-like stretch, the flush in her cheeks
“But I’d better get home before Tess starts wondering where I am.”
He didn’t want her to leave but couldn’t argue the point. “I’ll take you back to the hospital for your car. Are you up to driving home?”
She nodded. “Not a problem. I definitely got my second wind.” She rolled to her side and sat up in bed.
Even from behind, she was a treat for his senses. Her long hair falling over her pale skin, her trim figure and narrow waist… He shook his head to stop from staring.
He had to get moving too.
They dressed in silence. Somewhat awkward but, all things considered, not too bad. Even the car ride back to the hospital was comfortable all things considered.
He pulled up near her car. Before she could get out, he turned and placed his arm behind her seat. “I’d like to see you again.”
A whole host of emotions flickered across her face, none of which he could read.
“I didn’t mean more sex,” he added when she didn’t reply. Of course he
to sleep with her again, but he sensed she was suddenly thinking too much and he’d do anything to keep her cemented somewhere in his reality, whatever it took.
She laughed suddenly, breaking the tension. “Okay, then what did you mean?”
He grinned. “I want to be with you. How about dinner on Saturday night? We can take Tess to this great Mexican place I know.”
“Using your sister to get to me again?” she asked, clearly amused.
“You know as well as I do that I want to spend time with Tess. Being with both of you at the same time is a bonus.”
He trailed his fingers over her arm and she bundled her coat tighter in her hands.
“Okay, Saturday night with Tess sounds great.” She was out of the car before he could speak or open the door.
She definitely needed time and now that he was alone in his car and overwhelmed with emotions, he realized he needed some space of his own.
The next morning, Kelly slept through her alarm and
by the time she woke up, she was late for work, with no time to rehash last night in her head. Which was fine, since she’d spent her dreams doing just that. Her body tingled deliciously in some places while she was equally sore in others. Her sex life had been nonexistent since Ryan, and that had been okay with her.
But she had no time to dwell on what she’d done, what it meant, or how she felt. With Richard in the hospital, it was up to Kelly to run the office. Still, she was so frazzled, it took two wardrobe changes before she could walk out of the house, and running late, she couldn’t even stop for coffee before work.
The minute she stepped into the office, Annie called with an update on her father’s condition. At the sound of her friend’s voice, Kelly’s stomach cramped as she remembered that she’d spent the night with Annie’s ex-husband. Kelly forced herself to remember Annie insisted she was over Nash and she’d wanted out of the marriage. Kelly had come along long after.
“How’s your dad?” Kelly asked, sticking to what was most important.
“The surgery was long, but the doctors said it was successful.” Annie sounded exhausted. “Dad made it through the night and he’s in CICU—cardiac intensive care,” Annie explained. “I’ll keep you posted as I know more, okay?”
“Okay. And if you need me for anything, just yell.”
“I will. Thanks.”
Kelly bit the inside of her cheek, then asked, “Do you want me to let Nash know?”
“I already did, but thanks. I told him I’d be calling you next.”
“Great!” Kelly said, hoping her voice didn’t sound as awkward as she felt. “Go take care of
.” Though Annie tried not to focus on her MS, Kelly was worried about her anyway.
They said good-bye and Kelly hung up, letting the good news flow through her. Richard wasn’t just a good boss, he was a truly decent man and she was so thrilled he’d come through surgery.
To her surprise, work was quiet except for people checking on Richard. Apparently in a small town, business came to a halt out of respect, so she fielded those concerned calls from business acquaintances and accepted that nobody she spoke to wanted to work on anything that would involve Richard’s office today.
Unfortunately, lack of work gave Kelly way too much time to think about herself, herself and Nash, and having slept with him last night. She hadn’t planned it, and if anyone had asked her earlier in the day, she’d have said the idea was absurd. And now?
Now, with free time on her hands, the memories came flooding back. He was phenomenal. They were explosive. But the biggest surprise of all was just how tender and caring he could be. She hadn’t seen that side of him before and that was the part of him she was falling for.
And oh, wasn’t that just her typical MO? Though she didn’t have many relationships in her past—she’d been too busy in school, at work, and caring for Tess—that when she allowed herself to get involved, Kelly fell too hard too fast, walking blindly into emotional danger without thinking things through.
Not this time.
Though she’d slept with him once, she had to pull herself together and take things slow. She exhaled deeply, surprised to find herself actually wringing her hands.
“Caffeine withdrawal,” she muttered to herself.
Since today was a slow day, she turned on the answering machine and headed to Cuppa Café, hoping if she flooded her veins with coffee, she’d feel better and more able to function.
Instead of the usual teenager at the counter, Kelly found the owner, Trisha Lockhart, taking orders and working the register. Trisha was Joe’s sister, and by all accounts the two had a close relationship. Trisha liked to say that her job in opening this place was to sober up the people her brother served alcohol. But she knew the two were close anyway.
Kelly ordered her drink and, since there was no one behind her in line, talked to Trisha while she waited for her drink to be made.
“So, what has you working the register?” she asked the owner, who was usually in the back or walking through, talking to customers.
Trisha sighed. “Carrie was a no-show. Which is what I get for hiring minimum-wage labor.” She frowned and wiped down the counter as she explained. “Lissa Gardelli used to work here before she made it big as a reporter, and though she had an attitude, she always showed up ready to work.” Trish looked as stressed as she sounded, having pulled her normally lustrous brown hair into a messy ponytail, no makeup on her face, and her expression tense.
“The hazards of owning your own business,” Kelly said, commiserating.
Trisha nodded. “I was surprised when I didn’t see you this morning, but then I heard about Richard and figured you were holding down the fort.”
“I was. But nobody seems to want to work until Richard’s completely out of the woods. So here I am.”
Trisha leaned closer. “I’m glad you came in today. Something odd happened yesterday. Odd for around here, anyway, since everyone knows everyone else and a stranger asking questions is unusual.”
The hairs on the back of Kelly’s neck literally stood on end. “What do you mean, a stranger asking questions? About who?”
“You,” Trisha said softly. “Some guy was hanging around the shop, nosing around for information. I finally asked him to stop bugging the customers and leave.”
Kelly swallowed hard. For all the trouble she’d left behind, she wasn’t surprised. “What kind of questions?”
Trisha shrugged. “Where you live, who you hang out with, things like that. Don’t worry. I didn’t tell him anything. But I can’t vouch for other busybodies. By now you’ve been here long enough that folks know who you are, where you live and work, things like that.”
“I know. And thanks,” Kelly said, grateful. But her stomach began to clench painfully in response to the news.
Trisha put down the rag she’d been using to clean the counter and leaned closer. “Are you in some kind of trouble?” she asked quietly.
Kelly shook her head. “Not the kind anyone else has to worry about.” Just the personal kind that could send her own life spiraling.
The other woman nodded in understanding. “Well, if there’s anything I can do, just let me know. I’d like to think that here in Serendipity, we take care of our own.” Trisha smiled in an attempt to put her at ease.
“Thanks. Again.” Kelly offered Trisha a genuine smile, appreciating the sentiment.
More important, she valued how Trisha had grouped Kelly into the
, as if she already belonged here. It had been a while since she’d had a place where the people surrounding her cared about her and she cared for them right back. Mostly because she’d spent her formative years in a large city, taking care of herself.
Serendipity was a place she’d quickly grown to love, a town where she was beginning to feel at home. The last thing she wanted was for her past and her mistakes to come back and haunt her, make staying here impossible.
A customer strode up behind her and cleared her throat. Kelly stepped aside and waved a silent thanks and good-bye to Trisha. Kelly headed out the door, feeling both edgy and angry because someone was lurking around, determined to find out information instead of just confronting Kelly.
she wondered, then immediately discounted the idea. A vice president at a major brokerage and financial services firm in Manhattan, Ryan Hayward was nothing if not direct; and if he had something to say, he’d come to her himself. Even if he needed her to testify about their relationship during his divorce proceedings, he’d just ask. He wouldn’t send someone sniffing behind her back.
Someone his ex had hired to find out more about her?
Frustrated and in no mood to return to the too-silent office, Kelly turned around abruptly, planning to go to her apartment over Joe’s instead.
She bumped into someone and quickly stepped back. “I’m so sorry,” she mumbled, and glanced up only to realize she’d walked directly into Annie. “Oh, hi!”
“Hi! What’s the hurry?” Annie asked. One glance at Kelly’s expression and she asked, “What’s wrong?”
Kelly exhaled a deep breath and replied, “Just about everything,” immediately regretting the admission. The other woman had more things to worry about than Kelly’s life problems.
“Talk to me. What’s wrong?” Annie asked again.
Kelly shook her head. “It’s okay. I’m fine. How’s your father?”
“Status quo, which the doctors say is a good thing. My mother basically threw me out of the hospital. She told me either I go home and get some sleep or she’ll bar me from visiting him permanently.” Annie scowled at the threat.
Kelly smiled. “She’s just looking out for your health. That’s a mom’s job, isn’t it? Can’t stress and lack of sleep exacerbate your condition?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Annie said, sounding annoyed. “But I’m not the one who’s sick right now and I want to be at the hospital in case Mom or Dad need me.” Annie’s eyes filled up, her frustration clear.
The other woman clearly needed a break as badly as Kelly did. “How about this. I was just going to go upstairs to my place for a little while.” Kelly explained how nobody wanted to discuss their legal affairs with Richard just out of surgery, so she’d decided to take a few hours off. “Let’s go and hang out.”
A warm smile replaced Annie’s earlier angst. “Sounds good. Just let me get a cup of coffee.” She gestured her head toward the café.
A few minutes later, they were upstairs in Kelly’s apartment. “It’s still a little sparse,” Kelly said as a way of apologizing for the bare walls and lack of warmth. “I haven’t had a chance to really unpack the little things or shop for what I need here.”
Annie laughed. “You’re worried about what I’ll think? Please. Half the time I have a sink full of dishes when I have unexpected company. Today is what? Thursday? I’m losing track of things since Dad went into the hospital. Anyway, when Ethan and Faith come home on Sunday, you’ll have all the time you need to fix things up here.”
Kelly nodded, sliding her hand over a table that had once sat in her mother’s apartment. After her Mom left, Kelly had kept a few cherished things, but with the price of storage rentals these days, she’d had no choice but to get rid of everything else. She blamed her mother for forcing her to make such a difficult decision about that too.
Annie glanced around the small apartment. “I like the place. It’s cozy.”
“Thanks. I felt the same way the first time I saw it. The timing was perfect, what with Faith getting married and me needing a place to live.”
Annie settled onto the couch and stretched her legs out in front of her, avoiding the cocktail table. “Luck is something we could all use a time or two.”
“So what had you so preoccupied earlier? You practically ran me down back there outside Cuppa Café.” Annie raised an eyebrow in curiosity.
Kelly slumped into her small sofa and curled her legs beneath her. She’d wanted a friend here in Serendipity and now she had one. But friends exchanged confidences and secrets, and though Kelly definitely had some of those, was she ready to open up to someone about them?
She glanced at her more delicate friend. Annie had already admitted she had MS, which showed a definite kind of trust in Kelly. And Kelly needed someone to talk to, both about Nash and about her past—otherwise she’d turn into a mass of anxiety and worry. Then Tess would sense something was wrong and the life she was building here would crumble.
“I won’t judge, you know,” Annie said.
“I know. It’s just that you have so much on your plate right now, between your father and your—”
“My condition is part of who I am, so don’t mention it, okay? And I can definitely use a break from thinking about heart monitors and machines and all the things that can possibly still go wrong back at the hospital.”
Kelly bit the inside of her cheek. “What if some of it’s about Nash?” After all, she’d slept with this woman’s ex-
Annie focused her honest gaze on Kelly. “If you’re telling me you will be distracting him and keeping him out of my personal business, I’m all for it.” Annie laughed. “Seriously. I’m fine with the idea of you and Nash. Besides, if you talk to me about your love life, I’ll talk to you about mine.” She stared at Kelly, obviously waiting for her to go first.
“Okay.” Kelly decided to take Annie at her word. “I slept with Nash last night,” she said, and held her breath, waiting for a reply.
Annie’s eyes opened wide, but she nodded slowly, a smile easing onto her face. “I can’t say I’m surprised,” she said at last. “I’ve never seen him bolt after someone the way he did with you the other night. He cares about you,” Annie said, sounding sure.
Kelly’s heart did a flip at the thought that her friend might be right.
“But? What’s really going on? You’re upset and it can’t be about that. You’ve got this rosy glow when you talk about him.”
Kelly tilted her head back and stared at the white ceiling she’d debated painting a different color. “You’re right. It’s not about him, it’s about me.” She forced herself to meet Annie’s gaze. “I don’t have the best track record when it comes to relationships,” she admitted.
“And I’m the poster child for them?” Annie laughed at her own joke. “What matters is what’s in your heart. Just do the best you can. At least that’s what I tell myself about this date I have with Joe.”
Kelly stared in surprise. Joe the bartender? She’d agreed to go out with him? “Okay, we definitely have to talk about that.”
“Not until we’re finished with you. What’s this bad track record?” Annie asked.
This time, Kelly looked down at her polished nails. She’d managed to do them herself each week despite her busy schedule because she liked having fresh colors on. This week’s choice was a deep, soothing purple. She knew she wasn’t being fair to Annie, finding first the ceiling and now her nail polish to focus on instead of answering a direct question.
Kelly let out a sigh and decided it was time to dive in. “I was in a serious relationship with a man back in Manhattan. When we got involved, he was married but separated. I was sure I wasn’t breaking up a relationship or involved in cheating. I even insisted on seeing proof that he was getting divorced before I agreed to get involved.”