The Way You Look Tonight / Page 22

Page 22


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Author: Bella Andre


But the way Brooke looked riding him—beyond gorgeous with her head thrown back, wet hair streaming down her back, lost to ecstasy with her hands gripping his forearms—crushed any control he should have had. He could feel every catch of her breath, every gasp of pleasure when he thrust into her and hit just the right spot.


He wanted to watch her come, but he needed to taste her more. Sitting up, he slid his hands into her wet hair and kissed her. He’d never experienced need this fierce, this consuming. All that existed was Brooke, the smooth slick of her tongue against his, the grip of her hands across his shoulders as her climax hit her hard enough that all she could do was press her cheek against his and hold on tight.


* * *


Rafe forced himself to unwrap his arms from around Brooke so that she could get dressed. But instead of putting on jeans, she took a pretty dress from her closet, along with even prettier lingerie to wear beneath it.


At his unspoken question, she told him, "I spoke with Cord before I got in the shower. He needs me to come into the city today to do a walk-through on the new storefront and sign some papers."


Rafe’s gut tightened at nothing more than the sound of another man’s name on her lips. He didn’t much care for the idea of her being away from him for so many hours, either. All these years he’d been wary of women who clung too tight, who wanted to be together every free second, yet here he was feeling exactly that way with Brooke.


"I’m sure Mia would love to have you stay with her while you’re in town. Or," he told her instead of begging her to stay the way he wanted to, "you could use my place."


She smiled at the offer, but shook her head. "I’m not planning to stay in Seattle tonight."


Though he was silently rejoicing at the thought of having Brooke back in his arms by nightfall, he said, "I don’t want you to be so tired after your meetings that you have trouble driving back to the lake."


Her chin lifted, but she gave him one of her sweet smiles. "I’ll be fine, Rafe." Her gaze heated up as she added, "And I don’t want to spend the night in the city, not when I’d much rather be here in bed with you tonight."


"How about I come with you?" He’d like to meet this Cord guy, and see what his gut told him about the man who’d managed to sign himself up as Brooke’s business partner so easily.


"No," she said with a shake of her head, "you’re just hitting your stride on fixing up your house. And this is your vacation."


She was right, but she meant a hell of a lot more to him than some house ever would. He was about to insist, when she cut him off at the pass with, "Honestly, I’ll be totally fine on my own."


Knowing it was her gentle way of telling him to back off, and trying to respect her wishes despite his concerns for her, he pulled on his jeans from the day before and went out to the kitchen to make her breakfast before she hit the road. Lord knew, they’d expended more than enough energy since the night before. But instead of sitting down with him, she simply told him she was already late, thanked him for the bagel he’d toasted and buttered for her, threw several boxes of her chocolates into a big canvas bag, then kissed him once before flying out the door looking stunning in her wrap dress and heels.


Rafe stood in the middle of her kitchen feeling as if he’d just been hit by a hurricane.


He’d had plenty of good sex in the past fifteen years, but nothing anywhere close to as hot as what he and Brooke had shared. Sure, he was just a clueless guy, as his sister had pointed out at least a hundred times to him over the years, but he hadn’t missed the fact that even in the midst of the heat between him and Brooke, there’d been something more.


Only, instead of angling for more of a commitment or wanting to define whether they’d shifted into officially being boyfriend/girlfriend now, she’d hopped into her car and headed to the city alone.


Hell, he thought as he ran his hands roughly through his hair, he’d practically begged to tag along. But she very clearly hadn’t wanted him to come with her.


He chewed the situation over. Was it because she didn’t want him to meet her business partner? Rafe had developed an irrational hatred just for the guy’s name. What kind of legitimate businessman was named Cord? After pulling out his phone and doing a search on the guy, Rafe didn’t much care for the way he looked, either. Why the hell did her partner have to be so good looking?


He thought about Brooke hooking up with the man, but he couldn’t get a clear vision of it, for one really good reason: She would never in a million years leave his bed to go to anyone else’s. Rafe was a cynical bastard, but he wasn’t blind. Brooke had surprised him over and over during the past few days, but she wasn’t, and would never be, a cheater.


But while he wasn’t worried about her hooking up with her partner behind his back, he was still worried. Particularly with regard to the money she was continuing to hand over. She was too smart to walk naïvely into a business partnership with a stranger, and while he assumed she’d done her due diligence on the guy, the truth was that Rafe and his employees could find out things about Cord that she never could. Particularly if her new partner had anything he was trying to hide.


It was one thing for Brooke to risk her hard-earned money on her own talent—which she had in spades. It was another entirely for her to risk it on someone else.


Angry with himself for not making this phone call earlier—he’d been so wrapped up in wanting Brooke, and then when he’d failed to keep a handle on that need, he’d been even more caught up in taking her every which way he could—Rafe’s voice was gruff as Ben picked up at the office.


"Hey, boss, I hope you’re calling me from a fishing boat to brag about your latest catch."


Normally he would have shot the shit with his employee, who was also a longtime friend. But today Brooke was all that mattered. "I need you to check into a guy called Cord Delacorte."


Ben immediately switched into business mode. "Anything you’re looking for in particular?"


"I want to know everything about the guy."


Ben knew precisely what everything meant in their business: where Cord went and who he went there with, everything he bought, everyone he called, and where his money was coming from and going to as far back as they could trace his activities.


"I’ll make this my top priority and will both call and email you immediately with anything that looks suspicious."


With Brooke in Seattle, Rafe had nothing to distract him from putting in the rest of his new flooring, along with the kitchen cabinets that the hardware store would be delivering today. But instead of being glad to have so many uninterrupted hours to set his lake house to rights, he was already counting down the minutes and hours.


Not for sex this time, but simply for the chance to see Brooke’s smiling face...and to hold her in his arms.


Chapter Seventeen


Brooke stood on the muggy main street in Kirkland at dusk and waved good-bye to Cord and his wife. Just as Rafe had predicted, she was exhausted. The hours she’d already put in driving to Seattle, combined with actually signing the papers with the lawyer and Realtor for the storefront, would have been tiring enough. But doing all of that after making love with Rafe for half the night and then twice this morning had left her with rubbery limbs and a mind that kept drifting back to him. On top of that, after a quick wrap-up drink with Cord and his wife in which she’d learned more about their fertility problems, she dearly wished she could help them in some way. They were clearly deeply in love with each other and desperately wanted a child, but all the love and wanting in the world hadn’t yet made a difference.


Love, she’d always thought, could make magic happen. But could it?


Yet again, her thoughts swung around to Rafe, just as they had every other minute or so during her long day. From the first moment she’d seen him get off his motorcycle and look at her with his darkly intense eyes, she’d wanted him. Needed him, woman to man. From the way he touched her, kissed her, made love to her, she knew he wanted and needed her in just the same way. But it was everything he’d told her about his job, and the scar he wore across his ribs, that made her believe he needed her for something more than just the quenching of desire. For more, even, than friendship.


For love?


A young boy whizzing by on a skateboard had her jumping out of the way with a hand over her racing heart. Of course, it had already been racing from the thought of falling in love with Rafe...


Reminding herself that nothing was certain about their relationship going forward, that they purposely hadn’t made any promises to each other beyond making sure they didn’t hurt their friendship, Brooke refocused her attention on the present. She had one more very important errand at an address she’d looked up on her phone earlier that day. In fact, she was hoping to bring a present home to Rafe tonight.


Brooke was impressed with the front window of Indulgence. While she and Mia had been painting Rafe’s living room, Mia had told her all about the incredible new store just down the street from where Brooke’s new store would be. Indulgence was owned by one of Mia’s closest girlfriends, a woman named Colbie, who believed every woman should not only indulge herself, but the man in her life as well. And when Mia had mentioned that the store carried a few things in her Members Only room that were so naughty even she hadn’t bought them for herself, Brooke had made a mental note to pay a visit to the store on her next trip to Seattle.


Downtown Kirkland, with its abundance of children’s toy shops and housewares stores and cafes, wasn’t the kind of place a girl went to find super-sexy lingerie, or so Brooke had always thought. She walked in, and a beautiful woman immediately greeted her with a warm smile.


"Hello, how are you doing tonight?"


Brooke immediately felt at ease with the woman behind the register. "I’m doing great, thanks. Are you Colbie?"


"I am. And you’re one of Mia’s friends, aren’t you?" When Brooke nodded, Colbie laughed. "I don’t even know why I pay for advertising when she’s better at spreading the word than any newspaper or magazine could ever be."


"Mia raved about your store." She looked around at the beautiful merchandise on tasteful display. "I can see that she was right. I’m Brooke."


Colbie’s grin grew even wider. "You’re her childhood friend from the lake the Sullivans used to visit! I can’t tell you how thrilled she is to have found you again after all these years."


"I’m thrilled, too." Brooke suddenly realized that by coming here and saying who she was, Colbie might very well know precisely which man she was shopping for.


"Can I help you find something specific, or would you like me to leave you alone so you can browse in peace?"


"Actually—" Brooke felt her face flush and covered her cheeks with her hands to try to hide it.


"Do you want to see what I’ve got in my Members Only room?" Colbie guessed.


"I do."


The other woman grinned at her. "I knew I liked you, right from the moment you walked inside. Follow me."


As they headed past a gauzy curtain, Brooke felt her face heating up again, but she was here, wasn’t she? She needed to be brave enough to follow through with her purchase.


She’d seen pictures of some of the merchandise in the velvet-lined display cases, but even though the very sexy products Colbie carried were actually quite elegant, Brooke just couldn’t see herself wearing or using any of them. She wanted Rafe to understand that her boundaries were further out than he obviously thought they were, but she also needed to stay true to herself.


Besides, he hadn’t needed anything but his hands over her wrists last night...


"Let me know if you have any questions," Colbie offered.


Brooke’s eyes had caught on one possibility. "Tell me more about these."


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