Read Playing with Dynamite Online

Authors: Leanne Banks

Playing with Dynamite

BOOK: Playing with Dynamite
3.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Playing with Dynamite
Leanne Banks

As a demolition expert, Brick Pendleton is used to being in complete control. So he's shaken when his lover extinguishes their explosive affair before he's ready to say good-bye. He's never felt about any woman the way he feels about Lisa Ransom, but that doesn't mean he can give her what she wants most of all: marriage and family.

Lisa knew from the start that Brick wasn't looking for a wife, but couldn't stop herself from falling for him anyway. Though the last nine months have been the most passionate of her life, she can't stay in a relationship that's going nowhere. And since the one man she wants isn't interested in committing, Lisa sets out to find a man who will.

Brick can't stand the thought of Lisa in another man's arms, and does everything in his power to tempt her back into his. But if he's going to hold on to the only woman he'll ever love, he's going to have to face up to his fears of forever.

Previously published.

This book is dedicated to all who feel the fear…and do it anyway.

Author's Note

The technical knowledge required for blasting with explosives covers the gamut of chemistry, engineering, geology, etc. Amazingly enough, a certified blaster learns his craft primarily through on-the-job training instead of books. This could have made my research for
Playing with Dynamite
very difficult if I hadn't had access to Dennis Gould, technical consultant/certified blaster extraordinaire of Piedmont Explosives. Thank you, Dennis, for your patience and generosity. I must also thank the Demolition Contractors' Association of America for sharing information, and Alexander/Scott Inc. for providing pictures of nonelectric detonators. For clarification on another issue broached in this book, I'd like to thank the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

Chapter One

“It's time to fish or cut bait, Brick.”

Lisa Ransom's husky voice seeped through Brick Pendleton's mind at some semiconscious level. Several moments had passed, yet his body still pulsed with the exquisite sensations of sexual release. Their lovemaking had seemed even more intense than usual.

He had seduced her with persistence and care until she had turned the tables and
her
hands had gently inflamed him. The heady scent of her arousal had narrowed his awareness to her and only her. Her soft gasp of pleasure as he sank his hard flesh deep into hers had torn at his control, but it had been the signs of her climax both inside and out that had put him straight over the edge. When Lisa held him, she held him with her smooth thighs, her moist femininity, her trembling arms, and with the dazed satisfaction on her face. She held him with everything.

At the moment, he could identify with the buildings he demolished every day. He felt gloriously wasted, and he'd loved every minute of it.

He reached for the woman responsible for his current state of sensual repletion and his hand encountered her foot. He frowned, his sense of well-being abruptly altered. She had apparently sat up in bed.

Fish or cut bait.

“Fish?” he repeated, pulling his hand back and rubbing his face in an effort to clear his head.

“Yes,” she said in a tense way that caused a sinking sensation in his gut. He had an uncomfortable premonition about what was coming. Reluctantly, he shook off his sexual lethargy and sat up in bed too.

“It's what I was trying to tell you before you—before we—” Lisa exhaled in frustration. “Before we ended up here. I've tried to tell you, but you always managed to distract me. Brick, I want a baby.”

His breath lodged somewhere between his heart and throat. He stared at Lisa. Her long brown hair tumbled past her shoulders to the rose-colored sheet she clenched above her breasts. In the last six months, he'd made it his personal mission to learn every one of the five feet ten inches that comprised her luscious body, including the inches concealed by that cotton sheet. He knew she possessed the hourglass figure of his secret dreams along with a sweet, sensual generosity that had always brought him the greatest satisfaction.

Plus, she wasn't the least bit intimidated by his large size, and since Brick was over six-three, he was accustomed to women being intimidated by him. Lisa, however, was fascinated by his size, and it had been his ultimate pleasure to indulge her fascination.

Touching her aroused his most primitive sexual instincts to a fever pitch. Exploring her personality…well, it sounded kind of smarmy, but the woman made him smile. He liked making her blush and laugh. And though he'd have a tough time explaining it, he liked the slightly awkward way she tried to make him welcome in her home. He worried that others would take advantage of her kind nature, so it was natural that he felt protective of her. With the exception of this baby thing she'd been hinting about for the last two months, Brick had been more than satisfied with their relationship.

He studied her face, noting that her lips were puffy from his kisses and she wasn't smiling. Her usually warm green eyes were clouded with a faint sadness. And she'd just told him she wanted a baby. A sick feeling settled low in his belly.

“Baby?” He'd hoped this was a passing phase. He reached over the side of the bed for the roll of antacids in his jeans' pocket. “You've got plenty of time to have a baby. You're just twenty-nine and—”

“Thirty.”

Brick jerked back around to stare at her. “You didn't tell me. When was your birthday?”

She pulled the sheet up higher on her chest. “A week and a half ago. You were out of town for three weeks on that special job for the Andersons.”

Discomfort simmered inside him. He'd been seeing Lisa for nine months, and for the last six they'd been intimate. He should have known when she'd had her birthday. Why hadn't he thought to ask? “I called you when I was gone. You didn't mention it.”

Lisa gave a little shrug. “You didn't ask, and you didn't call that particular day.”

Feeling as if he was a day late and a dollar short, Brick shook his head. “I sure as hell wish I had. Well, what did you do? Go to your parents' and celebrate?”

Lisa's eyelashes swept down like shutters over her eyes. “No. Senada gave me a little party.”

Lisa's business partner, Senada, was one more reason for Brick to be chewing antacids. The woman was wild, and he didn't particularly like her influence over Lisa. Despite her age, Lisa had a rare innocence about her that appealed greatly to Brick. “What kind of little party?”

“It wasn't that big of a deal. She and a few other friends surprised me at the office.”

“She probably brought in an army of male strippers,” Brick muttered under his breath.

“Only one,” Lisa countered. She must have registered his disapproval because she quickly went on. “But my birthday's not the real issue. It just helped me confirm what's been on my mind for a long time. The issue is that I want a baby.”

Brick thumbed another tablet from the roll and popped it into his mouth. “Thirty's still young.”

“I know, but I don't want to wait until I'm thirty-five or forty and feeling desperate.” Lisa pushed back her hair. “It's hard to explain, Brick. I just have this strong, strong feeling that now is when I want to have a baby.”

There was dead silence except for him crunching the tablet between his teeth. Brick felt Lisa's expectant gaze on him.
Marriage.
His stomach twisted violently. “I'm not ready.”

Another dead silence followed his words. She squared her shoulders. “That's what I thought,” she managed in a quiet, unsteady voice.

Appearing to brace herself, she took a deep breath and gave a tremulous smile. “It wouldn't be fair for me to try to badger you into changing your mind, and I wouldn't be happy staying in this—” she waved her hand searchingly “—non-relationship. So we can't keep—” Her voice broke off, and she took a few seconds to get back on track.

“I can't tell you how much these last months have meant to me. Being with you has made me more confident. I need to thank you for that and for everything you've taught me about myself.” She looked away self-consciously. “And for everything you've taught me about men.”

Everything you've taught me about men!
Reeling from that last statement, Brick watched in utter disbelief as Lisa rose from the bed and quickly pulled on her robe. She set his clothes on the bed beside him. Lisa was talking, but he couldn't hear for the roar in his ears.

He got out of bed and planted himself directly in front of her. “You're dumping me!”

Lisa blinked. “I wouldn't really call it dumping.” Her gaze slid away from him. “Would you please get dressed?”

Frustration bucked through him. “What's the matter? You don't like my body anymore?”

Lisa shot him a dark look. “I never said I didn't like your body. It's just distracting for you to stand there stark naked when we're trying to talk.”

Brick saw the resolute expression on her face and swore. In heated silence, he jerked on his jeans and shirt. “If you wouldn't call it dumping, then what would you call it?”

Lisa sighed. “We want different things. I want family and commitment. You want a good time. It's stupid for us to continue to want things from each other that we just can't give. I've been reading some books on the subject, and—”

Brick groaned and sat down on the bed to pull on his shoes. Not another one of those women's self-help books. They would be the death of him yet.

“—they say it's better if you make a clean break in this case. It has taken me two months to be able to do it, but I think it's for the best.” Her voice wavered as if she were fighting back tears.

Brick was dealing with a surprisingly sharp pain in his chest. He stood. “So this is it?” he asked, still not quite able to comprehend it. “After nine months of being together, this is it.”

Lisa closed her eyes, appearing to gather her composure. “I guess it is,” she finally said in a small voice as she opened her eyes. “I wish—” She pressed her lips together and shook her head as if she'd made a vow not to make any more wishes concerning him.

With every passing second, she seemed to grow farther and farther away from him. She'd taken him by surprise, and he was left not knowing what to do. He'd been completely faithful to her and as thoughtful as he knew how to be. He'd also, however, assumed he had the upper hand in their relationship and always evaded any discussion about commitment. He was battling confusion at the same time he realized that she meant what she was saying. She meant to end it, and he wasn't ready for that either. He plowed his fingers through his hair, not knowing what the hell to do or say. “Can I kiss you?”

Wrapping her arms around herself, Lisa took a step back. She shook her head again. “I don't think it would be a good idea.”

Her refusal cut like a knife. “Then why'd you go—” He gestured toward the bed.

“I—I hadn't really intended to, but you—”

“But I was ready and raring to go the second I saw you. Like I always am,” he finished in disgust, recalling her slight hesitation when he'd kissed the breath out of her and carried her to bed. Feeling lost, he shoved his hands in his pockets. “I guess this is goodbye.”

Lisa's eyes welled with tears. “I guess it is,” she whispered.

Brick walked to the front door and put his hand on the cold doorknob. He hesitated. This was nuts. Maybe they could talk about it some more. Maybe Lisa could wait a little longer. Wait for what? his conscience chided. He was never going to get married and have children. Something inside him rebelled at the thought of not being with her anymore, though. Having no idea what he could say, he turned. “Lisa?”

“Go on,” Lisa urged. Her body was more shadow than substance in the dark hallway, but her voice was sure. “You've already said goodbye.”

With a bitter taste in his mouth, Brick opened the door and walked out.

 

Lisa didn't breathe until she heard his footsteps completely fade away. Panic squeezed her chest like a huge rubber band, and she breathed so quickly, she feared she might hyperventilate. She grabbed a paper bag from a cabinet beneath the kitchen sink and yanked it over her head. She concentrated on breathing slowly and deeply.

Lord help her, she'd done it.
After two months of rehearsing and letting futile wishes die, she'd ended her relationship with Brick Pendleton.

It would be easier to dismiss Brick if he were shallow or cruel, but Lisa knew better. He'd been fair and square with her from the beginning. Marriage wasn't in his plans, he'd told her, and she'd accepted his stand until her feelings had grown to where she couldn't conceal them. She knew Brick had been promoted to a division director in his business because of his hard work, honesty and fairness. He had the respect of not only his profession, but the whole community.

He was a man of action and compassion. When the Midwest had suffered from horrible floods, he'd organized a relief program that had benefited the flood victims and the citizens of Chattanooga who'd watched the devastation on the news every night and felt helpless.

He'd been a passionate and thoughtful lover. He always held her after they made love, and there'd been a few times she sensed the holding had been as much for him as it had been for her.

And she'd just told him goodbye.

“It's the right thing to do,” she repeated to herself for the two hundredth time, and pulled the bag from her head.

She turned off the lights and went back to her bedroom. The bed was a tumbled mess, and the air seemed to mock her with his scent. Ignoring the quick clutch in her heart, Lisa stripped the bed and immediately tossed the sheets into the washer. She sprayed air freshener until she nearly choked from the “fresh spring” scent.

Lisa would be the first to admit she'd never been comfortable around men. Since she was a child, she'd always been the tallest girl in the class, and she hadn't carried her height gracefully until a few years before when she'd stopped trying so hard to figure out how to attract men. Ironically, at the same time it seemed men had begun to notice her, but Lisa had plunged herself into making her catering business a success. Except for an occasional date, she focused her time and energy on her career. It was something she found she had a measure of control over, and that gave her the biggest rush she'd ever experienced.

Until Brick. When she'd first started dating him, one of her friends had warned her that she was playing with dynamite. Lisa had laughed and assumed the woman was making a little pun since Brick was an expert in demolition. Now, however, she knew the truth. Brick had turned her life upside down. He'd made her acutely aware of her femininity, her sexuality and, ultimately, her womanhood. Although he would be horrified to know it, he was responsible for bringing the desire for hearth and home to the surface.

For years Lisa had buried her secret wishes and desires beneath a more practical facade, but now she could no longer ignore the wishes of the real Lisa. The real Lisa had the audacity to want a man to share her life with, and a baby. According to five books she'd read in the last few months, there was no reason she couldn't have what she wanted. It just took a little strategy and a lot of practicality, starting with the end of her non-relationship with Brick.

She looked at the sets of sheets in her linen closet and felt a strange tug. Brick had made love to her on every single set except one. Desperately fighting back a wave of melancholy, she unwrapped the brand-new sheets and put them on her queen-size bed. She took a shower in an attempt to delete the memory of his most recent possession of her.

BOOK: Playing with Dynamite
3.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Sex in the Hood Saga by White Chocolate
Paris Trout by Pete Dexter
A Crafty Killing by Bartlett, Lorraine
Surge Of Magic by Vella Day
Historias de Londres by Enric González
A Lady Under Siege by Preston, B.G.
Ghost Stories by Franklin W. Dixon
A Cowboy in Ravenna by Jan Irving