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Authors: Katherine Allred

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary

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BOOK: Sweet Revenge
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But she wasn’t going to rush blindly into this thing. Whether he liked it or not, they were going to take it slow and easy. The part of her that still didn’t trust him demanded that much. She wouldn’t even tell him about her decision. Instead, they would just let nature take its course.

She tore her gaze from his and turned back to the TV, staring at the screen without really seeing the rest of the show. A fter the last scene A my hit rewind and then turned the lights on, her glance going from Chase to Jessie.

“What did you think?”

Jessie smiled at her. “I think they’re very good for amateurs.” She glanced at Chase. “A re you going to try out for the lead in Grease?”

“I don’t think so. I might be able to handle the singing, but I have two left feet.”

“Danny’s part really doesn’t have that much dancing in it. I bet you could do it, and you’d make a great Danny.”

“A re you going to try for Sandy?”

“Oh, no.” She waved a hand in protest. “If I have to do the choreography, I’m not going to be in the show.”

“Well, tryouts won’t be for a few months yet. You’ve got time to change your mind.”

“I think you should both do it,” A my told them. “Jessie could teach you the dances, Dad.” Chase looked at her in surprise, but Jessie spoke before he had a chance. “I’ll make a deal with you, A my. If you’ll let me teach you how to dance and be in my Christmas revue, I’ll teach your dad, too.”

“Me?” The girl’s eyes widened.

“You.”

“A nd you’ll try for Sandy’s part?”

Jessie nodded. “I will.”

A my looked back at Chase. “A nd you’ll try for Danny’s?”

He gave her a wry smile. “I think I’m outnumbered. I’ll try, but don’t be disappointed if I don’t get it.”

“You will. Okay, it’s a deal.” She shook hands with Jessie, then turned to take the tape out of the VCR. “I’m going to go finish my book.

Night, Jessie.”

“Hey, wait for me.” Chase stood, but A my turned in the door.

“Dad, you don’t have to come with me. I’m not a baby, you know.”

He watched her leave then glanced at Jessie. “Is it just me, or are you getting the distinct feeling that my daughter is trying to set us up?” Jessie picked up the empty bowl and put it on the coffee table. “I did get that impression.” She shrugged. “If I can use it to get her in the studio I don’t mind.”

“Thanks for that, by the way. It’s the first time she’s shown any interest in doing something other than read for a long time.” He sat down on the cushion next to her and stretched his legs out in front of him.

Jessie turned to face him. “You know, I don’t think depression is A my’s problem.”

“What else could it be?”

She thought for a minute. “You said she was loading the dishwasher earlier. Does she do things like that a lot?”

“I guess. She’s always been pretty neat.”

“A lways?”

It was his turn to think. “Well, since Becky’s been gone anyway.”

“Is it possible that she feels like it’s her responsibility to take care of you now?” He studied her face. “I hope not, but you think that’s it, don’t you?”

“I think it could be, yes.”

Chase straightened and ran a hand through his hair. “Then I need to have a talk with her.”

“No, you don’t. Not yet. If I’m right, A my herself may not even realize what she’s doing. A nd if you push her, she’ll just deny it. Let’s try getting her out of the house and busy first.”

“If this works, I’m going to owe you a lot.” He reached out and ran a finger down her cheek.

Jessie forced herself not to pull away in spite of the fact that she’d started vibrating on high speed as soon as his hand lifted. How could he do that to her so easily?

Self-consciously, she lowered her eyes. “If you don’t have to go right back, there are a few other things we should talk about.”

“I’m not in a hurry. A my will call if she needs me.”

“Okay.” It felt like someone had replaced her blood with champagne. Tiny bubbles were exploding in every vein as her gaze met his.

Chapter Eight

“What did you want to talk about?”

Somehow, they had managed to edge closer together on the couch. She sat next to him, trying to ignore his thigh pressed against hers, and his arm stretched along the back of the seat.

“A my, mostly. Why don’t you want her listening to the scanner?”

“Because she worries about my job too much as it is. With her imagination, she sees danger in every call I go on.” He hesitated. “A nd on the off chance that something ever does happen, I’d rather she not be listening.” Jessie studied his profile. “I suppose there is an element of danger in every call.”

“The potential is always there, but that’s why we go through training. We know how to minimize the risk.” A bsently, he picked up a strand of her hair and wound it around his finger. “I could just as easily get hit by a truck crossing the street. A unt Ruth and I are the only family A my has. If anything happened to me A unt Ruth would do her best, but she’s not really able to care for A my on a full-time basis. A my knows that.”

“What about Becky?”

His hand in her hair stopped moving. “Becky doesn’t want her. A nd I think I’d rather see her go to a foster home than let her back into her mother’s clutches.”

“She doesn’t try to see A my, or ever call her?”

“She called a few times the year after she left. But only when she needed money. I stopped sending it to her and she stopped calling. A my never talks about her. It’s like her mother doesn’t exist for her.”

“Oh, she exists. It just hurts A my too much to talk about it. She’s keeping it bottled up inside and that’s not good.” He shifted, turning so he could see her better. “How do you know so much about kids?” Jessie smiled at him. “I used to be one.”

“So did I, but it doesn’t seem to be doing me much good with A my.”

“That’s because you had a fairly normal childhood. I had some of the same problems A my does, although maybe not as extreme. Then, when I first went to New York, I got a job with a dance studio that catered to rich kids. I worked there two years, and those kids had every problem you can think of.”

“A nd you helped them.”

It wasn’t a question but she answered it anyway. “I tried. Not always successfully.”

“You must have loved doing that job. I can hear it in your voice. Why did you quit?” She shrugged. “Because it wasn’t mine. I’ve always wanted my own studio and I knew I’d never make enough money working for someone else to afford it.”

“So how did you get to be a rich and famous choreographer?”

“Rich and famous, huh?” She smiled. “A ctually, I just got lucky. The mother of one of my students considered herself a patron of the theater. She produced an off-Broadway show and asked me to do the choreography. It was horrible. Bombed after one night. But it just happened there was a man in the audience who produced music videos. He contacted me later and asked me to do the choreography for his next project. The video went gold. The rest, as they say, is history.”

“Well, I for one, am glad you decided to come home.”

Damn. He was playing with her hair again and it was making it hard to think. “There’s one more thing.” Jessie cleared her throat. “What have you told A my about sex?”

His brow arched and a grin tugged at the corner of his lips. “What brought this on?”

“A conversation we had earlier today.”

“She asked you about sex?”

“Not exactly. She wanted to know if kissing was gross.”

A chuckle rumbled from deep in his chest. “A nd what did you tell her?”

“I told her not if it’s someone you care about.” She dug her elbow into his side. “Stop laughing. This is serious. If she decides to pursue the topic, I don’t want to tell her something that contradicts what you’ve told her.”

“Just how did this subject come up?”

Jessie could feel the heat creeping into her cheeks and prayed he wouldn’t notice. “She said she thought you liked me and wanted to know if I liked you.”

“Do I dare ask what your response was?” He was still grinning.

“I said you were nice.”

“That enthusiastic, huh?”

“Well what did you expect me to say?”

“Okay, fair enough.” He released her hair and draped his hand over her shoulder, his thumb rubbing gently over the skin below her ear. A shiver ran over her at the light touch, and heat curled inside her.

“First of all, I’ve tried to answer all her questions honestly, so she knows the basics. But we don’t call it sex. We call it making love. I don’t want her getting the idea that there’s anything casual about it. I want her to know there should be more involved than just physical feelings.

There needs to be an emotional commitment first. I’m trying to teach her that both parties involved have a responsibility to each other and if they aren’t ready to accept those responsibilities then they shouldn’t be in a relationship.”

“A nd how does she take that?”

“So far, so good. A t least she looks like she’s listening. The biggest problem is finding a balance. I don’t want to scare her, but I do want her to take it seriously. A ny other questions, Sherlock?”

She tilted her head and studied him. “You were serious when you said it had been a long time since you were interested in any woman, weren’t you?”

“Did you think I was lying?”

“A s a matter of fact, I did.”

“Well, I wasn’t. It’s been six years.”

Shock ran through her. “But you and Becky-“

“Were divorced four years ago. I moved into the spare room two years before that. A my is the only reason I didn’t end it sooner. Becky was sleeping with every man in town. I had no desire to touch her. A fter the divorce…well, A my took up every spare minute I had. But that’s not the only reason. When you’re burned as badly as I was, it makes you sort of shy away from anything resembling a relationship.”

“I’m sorry, Chase. I didn’t mean to drag up things you’d rather forget.”

He nodded. “I guess I should go.”

In spite of the words he continued stroking her skin. Jessie was afraid to move. She didn’t want him to stop, she realized, even if he didn’t seem aware of what he was doing to her.

“I’ll pay you for A my’s lessons.”

“I’d rather you didn’t. I want this to be fun for her, not just another business deal.”

“Can you afford a free student?”

“Two free students.” She smiled at him. “Better get your dancing shoes out, Sheriff.” His head went back and he groaned. “I can’t believe I agreed to this. I’m going to look like a clown. Not a good thing for someone in my line of work.”

Jessie patted his knee. “Don’t worry, we’ll whip you into shape. Maybe we can start with the last number between Sandy and Danny, when they’re at the carnival. That one shouldn’t be too hard.”

“You’re the boss.” He captured her hand and stood, pulling her to her feet. “I really have to go. But there’s one burning question I’d like the answer to before I leave.”

“What question?” She looked up at him curiously.

Before she knew what was happening, his hand slid under her hair to cup her nape and his mouth came down on hers. A s he had the night before, his lips and tongue teased, making her desperate for more.

A sigh of surrender whispered in her throat as her eyes drifted shut and the bones in her body melted. She didn’t even have the strength to lift her arms to his neck. By the time he claimed her mouth completely the only thing that mattered was easing the burning hunger he’d brought to life in her.

He raised her arms to encircle his neck then slid his hands down to her waist, pulling her tightly against him as he kissed her slowly and thoroughly. A nd from the size of the bulge in his jeans, he was as aroused as she, and making sure she knew it. Reflexively, her hips moved, pressing even tighter against his hardness, and a low groan escaped his lips.

Still taking his time, nibbling as he went, he gradually released her mouth. “So tell me.” His voice was husky and low. “Is that gross?” Jessie’s lips quivered into a shaky smile while she attempted to slow her racing heart. “That was your burning question?” she whispered.

“No. I can assure you, it isn’t the least bit gross.”

“That’s good,” he said solemnly. “Because in light of your earlier statement, I’m going to assume that means you care.” He kissed her again, hard and quick. “I really, really have to leave now. Fast.”

“I know.” Except now that her arms were around his neck, she couldn’t get them to turn loose. She let her hands drift through his hair the way she’d always dreamed of doing, and he groaned. Inexorably she pulled his head down until their lips met again. This was Chase holding her, the man she’d ached for most of her life. The edge between fantasy and reality became so blurred in her mind that she couldn’t tell where one started and the other ended. She only knew she wanted him.

“Jessie.” Chase whispered her name as his lips moved frantically over her face. “Oh, God, I need you. I haven’t been able to think about anything else since you came back. It’s driving me crazy.”

“Ssh. Tell me later.” She found his mouth again, effectively silencing his words, and felt herself being lifted. Then his weight was pressing her into the couch, his hands moving over her. A whimper of need escaped her as his callused palm skimmed her breasts. It seemed as though her clothing had been magically seared into ash by the heat racing through her.

Even as his mouth ravaged hers, his hand moved down her body, under her clothes. Her legs parted and Jessie arched as he touched her sensitive swollen flesh, slipped beneath elastic, to caress with exquisite torture before his fingers found entry.

The sound that came from him when he felt her readiness was agonized, and it sent blood singing triumphantly through every inch of her body. He wanted her. He really wanted her.

There was a slight pause, the sound of metal on metal as he lowered his zipper, and then he was positioned above her. Her eyes widened at the pressure, then she gasped as he pushed past her entrance, stretched her almost beyond endurance.

Instantly his mouth was back on hers as he froze, his tongue probing, claiming her attention. A nd when he had it, he began to push again.

Jessie couldn’t stop the tensing of her muscles. She had known he was big, but dear lord, it felt like she was being skewered.

“Please, baby.” His voice was hoarse, desperate. “Let me in. A ll you have to do is relax. I swear, I won’t hurt you.” He lifted himself slightly and moved his hand between them until he was caressing her again.

Jessie’s head went back, her eyes closed as a wave of fiery sensation rolled over her.

“That’s it,” he whispered. “God, you feel so damn good.”

He began to push again, keeping his hand in place, and this time the pleasure increased until she was shaking with it. By the time he filled her completely she was no longer in control.

She slid her hands under his shirt, her fingers digging into the damp skin of his back to urge him on. “Don’t stop. Please, Chase.” With a shuddering moan, he moved, his thrusts strong and powerful. A rching over her, he let their mouths touch, merge together as his speed increased. When his tongue stroked hers the lava that had replaced her blood erupted, sending her whirling into the shattering oblivion of a climax that seemed to go on forever. She was barely aware of his shout as her muscles pulsed around his length. For a split second he swelled even more, and then she felt the pumping energy as he spilled hotly inside her. One thrust, two, and still the driving force continued as they captured each other’s cries. In aching wonder, they clung together until the last shudder eased and Chase collapsed on top of her.

Jessie kept her eyes closed, savoring the warm feeling his comforting weight generated. Soothingly now, she ran her hands over his still trembling back and smiled. A fter six years of abstinence, his body was probably in shock. Breath still laboring, he dropped his forehead to hers and she wondered what he was thinking.

In spite of being at half-mast now, he still filled her and it was an odd sensation. Not unpleasant by any means, she decided. She rather liked it. It made her feel even more connected to him. She’d probably be sore tomorrow, but it was worth any discomfort. No one had ever made her feel like Chase had tonight.

“Shit.”

Jessie slit her eyes at the low exclamation, but he was too close to focus on properly.

“Please tell me you’re on the Pill.” A tinge of panic edged his voice.

“Okay. I’m on the Pill.” When he lifted his head and looked down at her she realized his face was pale under a sheen of sweat.

“Damn it, Jess, I’m serious. If I’d expected anything like this to happen so soon I would have taken my own precautions.” He moved away from her and sat up, dropping his head into his hands. A muffled groan escaped his lips. “God, I couldn’t stop. I am such an idiot. This a nightmare.”

A nightmare? He’d just made the most beautiful love to her she’d ever experienced and he thought it was a nightmare? Jessie reached for her clothes. “I said I’m on the Pill, Chase. You don’t have to worry.”

He turned to glance at her. “You’re sure?”

She yanked her T-shirt over her head. “Would you like to see the dispenser?” she snapped. “It’s upstairs in the bathroom.” She put her hands on her hips and glared at him. “What is your problem? You act like you think I’m lying.”

“I got trapped into a marriage I didn’t want because I was stupid and careless.” He ran a hand though his hair in frustration. “I promised myself I would never chance it happening again. Now I have. If that doesn’t make me a damned idiot then nothing does.”

“No, Chase. The only idiot here is me.” Her voice throbbed with pain and anger. “I’m the one who believed that little speech you made about caring for someone before you get involved with them physically. I should have gone with my first instinct and stayed away from you.” The anger blossomed into a many-petalled flower in her chest, smothering the pain beneath its weight. “You arrogant, conceited bastard!

I can’t believe you think I’d want you enough to try and trick you into marriage. What makes you such a great catch, huh? A ll your money?

Your big fine house?”

“Jess—”

BOOK: Sweet Revenge
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