Authors: Lisa Plumley
Tags: #American Light Romantic Fiction, #Romance: Modern, #Contemporary, #General, #Romance, #Romance - Contemporary, #Fiction, #Fiction - Romance, #Single mothers, #Suspense, #Single fathers, #Hotelkeepers, #Espionage
Willingly, he submitted. Even though they were both still fully clothed, this was rapidly becoming her new favorite position. From here, she could admire Reid’s muscular chest, his sculpted face, his expression of pure delight as she flexed her thighs and settled more comfortably on top of him.
She liked this. She liked this a lot. She could do this all night—with a few variations included, of course. Like a pantsless version, an entirely naked version, a reverse-cowgirl version. Unfortunately, her new position also brought the desk clock into her line of sight. Karina couldn’t help noticing, through her dreamy-eyed gaze, that hours had passed since she’d first entered the office.
She could scarcely believe it.
“You realize this is only procrastination at work,” she panted, still reeling at the revelation she’d had earlier. “You realize this behavior isn’t doing either of us any good.”
Reid groaned. “You’re right. We’re going to have to deal with our issues.” He brought his hands to her waist. Slowly, he slid his palms higher. He cupped her breasts, making her nipples harden beneath her multiple sweaters. “Sooner or later.”
“Yes. Yes!” Closing her eyes, Karina swayed. That felt
good. Except they were supposed to be talking, she remembered. “Yes, we will,” she repeated in a slightly more controlled voice. She opened her eyes again. “Now that I’ve recognized my procrastination pattern, I’ll have to be on guard against it.”
“Right. You’ll have to be vigilant.” Reid caressed her again. With fluid movements, he tugged off her cardigan. With relish, he eyed the additional sweater she’d put on beneath it, then toyed with its hem. “You’ll have to be sure you don’t get caught up in something else. Something distracting.”
“Right.” She bit her lip, then gave in to an urge to kiss him. Their mouths met, stretched wide, explored in a slippery arc that made words extraneous. “Mmmm. What were we saying?”
“That you want to focus on what’s happening now.” Smiling, Reid slipped his hands beneath both her remaining sweaters, her T-shirt, and her lacy camisole. Unerringly, he closed his hands on her bare breasts. How had he known she wasn’t wearing a bra beneath her camisole? “Concentrate,” he suggested. “Focus.”
“Okay.” The way he was rubbing his thumbs gently over her nipples made focusing feel surprisingly easy. Breathily, Karina exhaled. “I am. I’m focusing.” An idea struck her, making her go motionless in a way that only allowed Reid greater access. “Wait. Focusing doesn’t count as procrastinating, does it?”
His throaty rumble confirmed it didn’t. “If it helps, you can close your eyes. Just lean forward, come a little closer to me, let your eyelids drift shut, and then—”
Karina sighed as his tongue swirled over her nipple, bringing it to an ever-tauter peak. Impatiently, Reid groaned. He tugged off her remaining sweaters. They landed beside the bundled-up holiday lights. He pushed her T-shirt and camisole higher, baring her other breast. At the feel of his mouth there, she rocked forward, mindlessly driving her pelvis against him.
She needed a little more. No, she needed
“Mmm,” she said, striving for words. Eventually, she found a few, tucked in between breathy gasps. “We wouldn’t want to allow any loopholes in the focusing process,” she managed, her voice husky with needfulness. “That could be dangerous.”
“Yes.” Reid cupped her derrière, then tilted himself upward. “That could be very dangerous.” A pause. A slow, hard, demonstrative thrust. A gentle inquiry: “Are you focusing?”
“Yes.” Karina gave her answer honestly. Immediately. Hoarsely. “Right now, I’m thinking about how hard you feel.”
His answering groan made both of them tremble.
“I’m thinking about how much I enjoyed feeling you inside me last time.” Excited by the very memory, Karina quivered anew. Together, they’d been good. Very, very good. “I’m thinking about how much I want to feel you again, big and hard and—”
“Remembering isn’t feeling.” With a dark, warning look, Reid flipped her in his arms. An instant later, he loomed over her, balanced on his elbows and knees, eager and ready, just as powerful a presence as she remembered. “I want you to
this,” he said. “I want you to feel everything, forever.”
“Forever?” Woozily, Karina fluttered her eyelids, struck by the romantic notion inherent in those words. Was Reid really as quixotic as he sounded? She couldn’t tell. Even as she opened her mouth to respond, the sound of a moving zipper stopped her.
Concentrating hard, she focused. Was it hers? Or his?
she realized with an initial pang of disappointment. That tiny, raspy sound was the zipper sliding down on her jeans.
She would much rather have heard Reid’s zipper coming undone, Karina knew. She imagined those tiny metal tracks gradually coming apart, slowly revealing the bulge she’d been rocking against just a few minutes earlier, treating her to an up-close and personal view of Reid’s…
With her heart pounding, Karina stilled. Then she arched upward, needing more.
She needed more of Reid’s hands on her, she realized belatedly. Much more. Because while she’d momentarily lost focus, he’d unzipped her jeans, nudged them down a few crucial inches, and…
How did one man manage to have hands that talented?
Tossing her head against the cushy office rug, Karina became compellingly aware that she was already wet, already swollen, already impatient for more. More more more.
Was this really
she wondered in amazement, writhing on the floor in a sexy man’s arms, all but begging him to take her?
And the knowledge of that thrilled her. She’d never before been as bold as she’d been with Reid.
right now, with Reid. But even without the excuse of spiked cider or months’ worth of pent-up lustiness to blame, Karina knew what was happening between her and Reid was about more than physical needs. This was about taking chances, making a change…doing something that was wholly for herself and no one else.
Suddenly alarmed by that idea, Karina stopped moving.
“Wait. Let me touch
” she whispered. “Let me—”
“Not yet. Don’t spoil my fun.” Reid paused, resting the heel of his hand against her. The gesture felt less like a break in the action…and more like a promise of what was to come. “You’re supposed to be concentrating on focusing, remember?”
With those small, swirly motions he was making, drawing her closer and closer to the edge, it was pretty tough to forget.
“I know I am, but—” But something still nagged at her. With her heart pounding and her head whirling, Karina clenched her fists. Her whole body thrummed with desire. Her hips arched upward all on their own, searching for completion. And yet…“But I have to do more for
first. Otherwise, you won’t—” She panted, stalled for an answer, even as Reid waited.
her impatient mind demanded. Only one answer supplied itself: “Stay. You won’t stay! Just please, let me touch you.”
Desperately, she reached for him, nearly able to grasp the cold kiss of his zipper tab beneath her fingertips. Instead, she felt the hard clamp of Reid’s hand on her wrist. He stopped her, held her, then levered over her with his eyes fiercely on hers.
“Nothing on earth could make me leave you. Especially right now,” he promised. He kissed her, slowly and thoroughly, and with much more tenderness than his harsh tone suggested. Gently, he pulled her against him. “No more of that. All right?”
“All right.” Karina nodded. Maybe she
yet a master of on-the-spot, impromptu liaisons. “Thank you. I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to derail all the focusing. Please, go on.”
Reid smiled. “So polite.” He sounded amused—and affectionate too. He gazed into her eyes, then exhaled deeply. He shook his head. “It’s no wonder I love you, Karina. There’s no one else like you—no one in the whole wide world.”
“Well, you’d know, having traveled through most of it.”
“I would.” A somber nod. “It’s true. You’re special.”
“Well, there’s definitely no one else who’d let you get away with using
I love you
that cavalierly, that’s for sure.” Karina laughed, grateful to Reid for keeping the conversation going. “I knew there’d be awkward moments when I started dating again”—
like the one thirty seconds ago, when I blurted, “You won’t stay!”
—“but now, thanks to you, I’ll be ready for anything when I get back home and start whooping it up.”
“I mean it,” Reid insisted. “You have no idea how unusual this is for me.” He kissed her again. “Believe me, I did
want Vanessa to be right about us. But she was. She
So…I’m afraid you won’t be dating anyone else when you get home.”
His self-assured smile made her heart turn over. Reid was so cute when he pretended to be jealous. So tough. So sweet.
“Oh yeah?” Teasingly, Karina rolled her eyes at him. It was fun to see this lighthearted side of him. It was fun to banter with him this way, too. “Exactly how do you plan to stop me?”
“Easy. I plan to ruin you for any other man. When I get done with you, no one else will possibly satisfy.”
“Ooh!” Karina grinned. “Big words.”
“That’s right. Big words, from a big man.”
With a grin as wide as hers now, Reid touched his profile to hers. They lay together on the rug, side by side, touching from nose to toes, in a way that felt uniquely close—uniquely
Reid pillowed her head with his bicep. Karina felt surprisingly comfortable there with him, talking and joking.
“There’s a problem with your plan, you know,” she said.
“My ‘big words, big man’ plan?” A head shake. “Can’t be.”
“There is. Unless you’re in California or I’m here, I’m going to date someone else eventually—no matter how unsatisfying they might happen to be.” Karina gave a pretend regretful sound. “I won’t have any choice. A woman has needs, you know.”
“Mmm.” Reid stroked her hair. “Needs, hmmm?”
“That’s right. And it’s way too freezing for me to live here in the Midwest. There aren’t enough sweaters in the world.”
“You’re not trying hard enough.” Reid gestured at her discarded cold-weather gear. “Three sweaters? Amateur.”
“I’m sorry, but three is my limit.” Growing restless now, Karina cradled Reid’s face in her hands. His beard felt soft and spiky beneath her fingertips. “Mmm. I
like this, though.”
“You like my beard?” He seemed surprised. And pleased.
She nodded. “I’d like to feel it…elsewhere.”
Reid caught her intimation immediately. He smiled at her. “I knew I was right not to shave,” he said. Inexplicably.
“And that would be because…?”
“Because this gnarly nookie beard of mine worked,” Reid told her. “It
bring back happier days. It brought back
Smiling and bemused, Karina shook her head. “I hate to break it to you, but your beard is probably not a good-luck charm. That doesn’t make any sense at all.”
“I disagree.” Reid shrugged, then went on gazing at her. He trailed his fingertips over her cheek, appearing wholly absorbed in the shape of her face, the curve of her smile, the texture of her skin. “But the important thing is, I’m glad you’re here.”
makes sense. I approve.”
“And since my nookie beard has worked so well, I’m going to test the theory even further,” Reid said. “Until you say you love me back, this beard of mine is sticking around.”
“Ha! You’re in for a long wait then,” Karina joked. She wiggled as Reid kissed his way down her body. “Because I’m just using you for your body, pal. Your big, strong, extrahot—”
“You’re using me for my body?” In midkiss, Reid glanced up.
Something in his rough tone made her look at him twice. For a heartbeat, Karina had second thoughts about teasing him.
What if Reid meant it? What if he really
After all, Rodrigo loved Amanda after only one week….
But before Karina could regroup, Reid pulled up her shirt and camisole again. He gave her belly a teeny, affectionate nibble, then made his way to the waistband of her panties. He hooked his fingertips inside, sending a cascade of goose bumps skating along her skin from hip bone to hip bone. All thoughts of true love and weeklong holiday affairs flew away.
“I thought we’d moved past the sex-only phase,” Reid said. “But for now, using me is enough. I’m yours.” In a mock stern voice, he added, “Just remember, the fate of my beard is in your hands. Until you feel like saying you love me too, it’s staying—no matter how rugged and macho it makes me look.”
In demonstration of those dire consequences, Reid nuzzled her. Slowly, he let his beard trace the area just above the tiny bow decorating the low waistband of her Christmas-print panties.
“Mmm. That tickles,” Karina breathed. Feeling dreamy eyed again, she grabbed Reid’s head. She stroked his neatly trimmed beard, then smiled at him. “I have to tell you…you’re not exactly incentivizing me with this tactic of yours. If you keep that up, I’ll never want to admit a thing! Much less—”
Much less say that I love you.
It sounded so…
No. Perfect. It sounded
But Karina couldn’t risk it. What if Reid really was joking? She’d look like a naïve fool for taking him seriously. She’d already been down that road with Eric. This time, she wanted a new road. A new future. A new
with new freedom.
Besides, what were the odds she’d find true love during her very first postdivorce fling? She could hardly hope for
She had to be a realist, Karina knew. Eric might have emerged from their broken marriage with a new relationship, but she couldn’t possibly be that lucky. Especially with a man like Reid—a man who was gorgeous, thoughtful,
good with kids,
great in bed.