And that admission tipped the scales. It was definitely safer to abstain.
Now that she had made the decision, all she had to do was implement it. She was going to have to stop kissing him first, of course, but oh Lord, that was proving a difficult challenge. Dylan was an amazing kisser. He could give lessons. He took his time, savoring what he was doing, as he lazily explored her mouth with his tongue.
She wasn’t sure when she crossed the line from being smart and sending him on his way to unbuttoning his shirt and kissing nearly every inch of his neck and chest. He was warm and hard and sexy. Her fingers gently traced the ragged scar on his left shoulder. The bullet had gone clear through, tearing tendon and muscle and just barely missing an artery.
Dylan grabbed her hand and wouldn’t let her stroke him. He kissed her again, long and hard, and then tried to end it.
“Kate, we aren’t going to do this.”
He wasn’t sure if she heard him. She was nibbling on his earlobe, driving him nuts. Then she shifted on his lap, and his jeans suddenly felt three sizes too small. It was damned painful. He grabbed hold of her h*ps to keep her from wiggling again. His voice was ragged when he said, “If we’re going to stop, now’s the time.”
“Yes, of course.”
She didn’t resist when he lifted her off his lap. She stood next to the sofa and looked away as she tried to catch her breath. Kissing had never caused such a reaction before, but then she’d never kissed Dylan.
He also stood. They were toe to toe but he towered over her. He stared at the top of her head while he waited for her to look at him. His shirt was hanging out and was wide open, but he didn’t bother to button it. His priority now was to get the hell out of the apartment before he did something he knew she would regret.
He had no business starting this. Granted, he had had the hots for Kate since the moment he’d met her. The woman was built, all right. Still, wanting and doing were two different things. Dylan loved women, and flirting with Kate was always fun. She might give others the appearance of being a sophisticated woman, but he saw through that façade. When it came to men and sex, she wasn’t all that experienced.
He threaded his fingers through his hair. He was throbbing with his need to touch her. To feel her na*ed body underneath him . . . to taste the liquid heat . . . to hear her moans of pleasure . . . to . . .
“I’ve got to go.”
“Then go.” She reached out and grabbed hold of his shirttails. “Unless you want to stay.” She stared into his eyes as she slowly slid her arms around his waist. The feel of his warm skin made her want to do crazy things.
For one night only. Like the commercial . . . a once in a lifetime deal . . . take it or leave it.
“Kate, listen to me. You know I want you, but . . .” He gently pushed her arms down.
“I know,” she whispered. “This is a bad idea.” She pulled back, but her eyes were still looking up into his.
His mouth settled on hers, his tongue slowly penetrated and then began to stroke hers until she trembled in his arms. He couldn’t seem to get enough of her. He slowly eased her T-shirt up.
The second he touched the sides of her br**sts he felt her shiver, and he knew then he was lost. He tore his mouth away from hers, kissed her neck, and then moved lower, all the while telling himself to pull away.
He listened to his own warning for a second but then stepped back, lifted her into his arms, and carried her to her bed. His mouth left hers long enough to pull her T-shirt over her head.
“This is crazy,” he whispered.
“Crazy for one night.”
She was nibbling on his earlobe as she tugged his shirt off. The contact of her br**sts against his hairy chest made her shiver again. She helped him get out of his jeans.
Cradling her in his arms, he followed her down onto the bed. His hands caressed every inch of her body. She was just as passionate, as giving, and as frantic to please him. She rubbed against him, cuddled him between her thighs. He loved the feel of her soft body pressed so intimately against his own.
He left her long enough to see to their protection and when he was ready, he drew her into his arms and kissed her again, a hot, searing kiss that made her ache to have him inside her.
Her response stunned him. She became a wild woman in his arms, and the sexy sounds she made drove him crazy. All he wanted to do was lose himself in her.
Her legs moved restlessly against his. “Don’t make me wait any longer . . . please,” she whispered.
He tore his mouth away and buried his face in the crook of her neck, inhaling her wonderful feminine scent as he thrust deep. He growled low with such intense pleasure he thought he would die from it. He heard her cry out, realized he might have hurt her, and went completely still. He could feel her throbbing around him, squeezing him, and damn, if he didn’t know better, he would have thought this was her first time. He lifted his head and looked into her eyes, saw passion and tears there, but before he could speak, she closed her eyes and arched up against him.
He could feel the urgency in her. “Sweetheart, did I hurt you? Did I—”
Her nails gently scored his shoulder blades as she once again arched up against him.
The pleasure she gave him intensified. He slowly withdrew and then thrust inside her again. She increased the pace, demanding more and more of him until they were both mindless to the world around them. Only the two of them existed, and for that short time, there were no problems, no fears, no insecurities.
She reached a shuddering, heart-stopping orgasm before he did. She cried out and squeezed him, forcing his own cl**ax.
Kate couldn’t form a thought, couldn’t make herself let go of him. She took deep breaths and tried without success to calm her racing heart.
“Ah, Kate,” he whispered. He collapsed on top of her, grimaced when his left shoulder struck hers, and quickly eased the weight to his right side.
He could hear her ragged breathing and lifted up on one elbow. “Are you okay?” He looked into her eyes and laughed. “Damn, you’re beautiful.”
Before she could respond he ran his thumb across her lips. “Can you feel my heart? It’s still trying to jump out of my chest.”
Her hand curled around his neck. She leaned up and kissed him, let go of him, and closed her eyes. “You exhausted me.”
He kissed the bridge of her nose and rolled away from her. It took every ounce of energy he had to get out of bed, but he finally managed it.
Kate heard the bathroom door close behind him. She was still woozy from their lovemaking, but reality was trying to intrude. She rolled to her side, pulled the sheet up, and hugged the pillow to her. She could taste him on her lips. Don’t think about it, she told herself. Keep your eyes closed and try to go to sleep.
She tensed when she heard the door open. Light spilled across the bed, but she didn’t look behind her. If he thought she was asleep, he would probably just leave. Had he come to his senses, too? Lord, she hoped he didn’t regret what had happened.
She heard him yawn, and she felt the mattress give as he got back into bed. She tried to roll over to face him, but he hauled her up against him and kissed the back of her neck.
“Are you asleep?”
His warm, sweet breath tickled her ear. “Yes.” She gasped then, for he’d just covered her breast with his hand.
“You don’t sound like you’re asleep.”
She couldn’t believe it, but she was actually embarrassed to look at him. “What are you doing?” she whispered, clutching the pillow tighter as he began to caress her breasts.
“Making love to you. Roll over, Katie.”
“But we . . . you’re . . .”
“Sure am,” he whispered.
“We can’t . . .”
“It’s just one night, right?”
“Night’s not over.”
Dylan Buchanan was a man of his word. Their night didn’t end until he left the apartment at seven the following morning. Saying good-bye should have been awkward, but Dylan made it easy. Kate was just drifting off to sleep when he leaned over her and kissed her on the cheek.
She remembered that sometime during the night he’d told her he would be tied up for the rest of the weekend, but that he would probably see her Sunday night or Monday. He was either giving her the “I’ll call you sometime” line or he actually thought she was back in Boston for good. She didn’t correct the misconception. She doubted that after everything they had done she would ever be able to look him in the face again.
So much for being a sophisticated, empowered female.
The doctors kept Jordan until Sunday. She was still too miserable with her splotches to complain about having to stay in the hospital, and when she finally got home, she slept the afternoon away.
Kate picked up carryout for their dinner. They spent a quiet evening together, and both went to bed early.
Jordan wanted Kate to stay a couple more days, but Kate was anxious to get home and tackle the problems there. She also wanted to get out of Boston before she ran into Dylan again. Every time he was mentioned Kate rushed to change the subject. She usually told Jordan everything, but this was different. Way different.
By Monday Jordan was feeling much better and the splotches had faded. Still, Kate wouldn’t let her drive her to the airport. She took a cab. It wasn’t until she was in the air and on her way back home that she realized how nervous she’d been about seeing Dylan. She sighed with acute relief and decided then never to think about him again. She couldn’t change what had happened, but she could force herself never to think about it or talk about it to anyone.
Out of sight, out of mind didn’t work. She tried to read, but she couldn’t concentrate, and when she closed her eyes and pretended to sleep so the salesman sitting next to her would stop bothering her, all she could see was Dylan’s amazing body. The man didn’t have any fat at all. And his thighs . . . oh Lord, those thighs . . .
Stop thinking about him. Telling herself to do so didn’t make it happen, though. By the time she reached Charleston, she was furious with herself. She had the discipline of a nymphomaniac. How could she go so long without sex and then in one night . . .
Stop thinking about it. Those words were becoming a chant in her head.
She took a bus to the long-term parking lot. When she was dropped off, she stood for a second and watched lightning shoot across the ominous sky as she tried to remember where she had parked her car. The bus had just turned the corner when she heard a car coming up behind her. She was standing in the center of the lot and hurried to get out of the way. The driver, she noticed, increased his speed. It was probably some teenager with a lead foot, she thought as she jumped between two parked cars to get out of his way. The car zoomed past. Kate tried to see the driver’s face but couldn’t. The windows had been tinted a dark gray. She shook her head as she watched him turn the corner on two wheels.
“Idiot,” she muttered.
She wasn’t just referring to the crazy driver. She was feeling like an idiot herself because she had forgotten where she’d parked the car. She dug through her purse until she found the parking ticket stuck in the back of her billfold. Fortunately, she had remembered to write down the number and the row on the back of the ticket. She was standing in section B, but her car was in D, row three. She headed in that direction, pulling her overnight case behind her.
Her battered, rusted-out car was parked by the exit, wedged in between two huge SUVs. She put her suitcase in the trunk and was just pushing the lid down when she heard the squeal of tires. She turned around and spotted the same white car barreling down the lot one row over. He slowed down a couple of times, then increased his speed again.
Kate had the sense that the driver was trying to find someone. He had to be a teenager, probably joy-riding around the lot, having a fine old time scaring people or, more specifically, scaring her.
The car was heading down her row now. She wasn’t certain if the driver saw her or not. He was barreling straight toward her as if he was actually trying to run her down. She dove to the pavement just as the car sped by, and she whacked her knee in the process. Grimacing from the sting, she got to her knees. Her purse had opened and her lipstick was rolling under the Suburban. She hit her head when she lunged for it.
“Okay,” she whispered. “Now I am an idiot. A paranoid one at that.”
She heard a car honk and thought that maybe the white car was terrorizing someone else. She finally managed to unlock her door and get inside. She felt like she was climbing into a pizza oven. She quickly rolled down the windows but didn’t turn the air conditioner on just yet because the car had been sitting a long while and would stall if she didn’t let the motor warm up. Getting it started a second time would be tricky at best.
She looked for the white car as she drove to the booth, and after she’d paid for parking, she told the attendant about the crazy driver. He immediately picked up the phone to call security.
Kate didn’t remember to turn her cell phone on until she was waiting at a red light before merging onto the highway. She found it in the bottom of her purse, and about twenty seconds after she pushed the button for power, the phone rang, notifying her that she had voice mail.
The message was from a contractor named Bill Jones. Kate had never heard of him. He explained he worked for the owner of the warehouse she was going to lease, and he wanted to meet her there to go over the design changes she wanted. He also mentioned that the inventory she’d sent over had been stacked in the back of the space and would be out of harm’s way during the renovation.
What was going on? Kate hadn’t even signed the lease yet, and she certainly hadn’t authorized any construction on the warehouse. What had the Realtor told the warehouse owner? She waited until she was at another stoplight to return the call. Jones answered on the second ring. She pulled off the street and into a parking lot as soon as the light changed. She hated talking on her cell phone while she was driving.
“This is Kate MacKenna.”
There was static on the line and what sounded like traffic in the background. The contractor couldn’t have been at the warehouse because that was located at the end of an isolated street.
“I’m so glad you called, Miss MacKenna. I need to see you at the warehouse as soon as possible. Time is money, and I’ve got my crews ready to start.”
“I don’t understand. Your message said that my inventory was moved over to the warehouse?”
“Yes, that’s right. I’m on my way over there now. I’ll be waiting for you. It shouldn’t take long at all.”