The Way You Look Tonight / Page 7

Page 7


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Author: Bella Andre


"Take either of the guest bedrooms and let me know if you need anything." She paused and looked up at him with her big green eyes. "Anything at all."


His head swam with thoughts of all the things he needed from her. Backing her up against the wall. Pinning her against him with his thighs between hers. Pulling the long-sleeved shirt over her head. Lowering his mouth to the soft swell of her breasts. Drinking in the sweet sound of her gasps and sighs as he laved her skin with his tongue. Lifting her into his arms, before lowering her onto the bed. Using her shirt to tie her arms above her head to her bed frame. And then loving the hell out of her with his hands and mouth until she was begging for more. For all of him.


"I’m not going to need anything." The words came out harder than they should have, but that was only because he was mere seconds from losing control entirely and acting out the scene his brain had just scripted.


"Okay." Her mouth started to move up into a smile, but fell before it got all the way there. "Good night, Rafe."


For a moment, he thought—prayed—she might turn and walk out of the room without giving him a hug good night. But then she was moving closer and wrapping her arms around him. Of course he had to put his around her, too.


Once he was there, he couldn’t do a damn thing but breathe her in...and relish every single inch of her body against his.


"Good night, Brooke."


When she finally moved out of his arms and walked down the hall to her bedroom, he finished cleaning up the kitchen. The dishes didn’t take him long, but before he headed back to the small guest room, he made a quick sweep of the house. First, he checked that all the windows were latched—of course, most of them weren’t—and then the locks on the front door.


When they were kids, the lake was a safe place, but after working as a cop and then a P.I., Rafe no longer trusted in that safety, not even in a sleepy little town like this. He couldn’t stand the thought of anything happening to Brooke as a lone woman on a mostly deserted stretch of road off the lake. First thing tomorrow he’d pick up some better locks at the hardware store.


His ride out to the lake had been a good one, but that many hours on his motorcycle could be fairly exhausting. Still, he knew if he got into bed now he’d only end up lying there fixating on the beautiful woman down the hall, so he started doing push-ups until he was dripping with sweat. Sit-ups were next, a hundred and then a hundred more, until his abs were burning as badly as his arms. By the time he’d finished his impromptu workout, then taken a much-needed shower and climbed into bed, he should have been burnt out enough to fall asleep.


But every time he closed his eyes, he saw Brooke standing, dripping wet in her bikini, her expression at once innocent and yet innately sensual. He’d taken the small guest room farthest away from her. The double bed barely left room for a dresser and one side table, but frankly, he hadn’t trusted himself to sleep only one wall away from her. Not if it meant he could hear every time she rolled over in her bed. Not if it meant he’d be unable to stop wondering if she had changed into pajamas...or if she slept in the nude like he did.


Reeling with full-on need that he hadn’t even come close to squashing, Rafe closed his eyes again and willed himself to sleep.


He’d need every ounce of focus tomorrow to keep his hands off Brooke.


Chapter Five


The next morning, Rafe woke to the sound of the shower running. Even though it was fairly cool in the house, he was sweating. He couldn’t have imagined having this kind of reaction to Brooke, but that didn’t change the fact that he was.


Pissed at himself, he yanked on his jeans and pulled his cell from the pocket. His sister picked up on the first ring. "How’s the lake?"


"The lake is great. It’s the house that’s the problem."


He waited for her to exclaim with surprise, or to ask him exactly what the problem was. But all Mia said was, "When I finally got hold of the selling agent last night, she mentioned it needed a little TLC."


"TLC?" He might have laughed at that ridiculous understatement if his system hadn’t been so twisted up with impossible desire for the beautiful, entirely off-limits woman in the shower down the hall. "You should have seen the look on Brooke’s face when we walked in there, crunching over dead raccoon bones."


Of course, Mia didn’t comment on the animal bones, not when her ears had perked up for a completely different reason. "Wait a minute—Brooke’s still next door?"


"She moved in a few years ago after her grandparents passed away and willed the place to her." As Mia made a sound of distress at the thought of Judy and Frank being gone, he added, "Brooke makes truffles for a living."


"Chocolate truffles?" He could practically see his sister drooling over the phone. "Sounds like the two of you caught up last night," she said in a deceptively easy voice. One he knew better than to take at face value.


"She offered to let me stay with her until I fix up my place enough to move into it. I figure it will take at least a week if I work around the clock on it."


"Wow, that’s great that you’re staying with her," his sister said in a voice heavy with suggestion.


Suggestion he was going to ignore, just as he was ignoring his own brain’s suggestions for all the super-sexy things he and Brooke could do together. Knowing Mia, she’d use her annoying little-sister ESP to pick up on his inappropriate thoughts for their next-door neighbor over the phone, and he’d never—ever—hear the end of it.


He’d called his sister to mutter about the state of the house she’d bought with his money, not to talk about Brooke. But somehow everything kept coming back around to his beautiful new roommate no matter what he did. Turning his focus back to the house, he’d finally begun to walk Mia through its state of disrepair when his sister’s phone beeped with another incoming call.


"I’ve got to take this call, Rafe, but don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you hanging. It’s really good to know Brooke’s taking care of you. Say hi to her for me and tell her I can’t wait to see her."


The shower turned off at the same time his sister hung up on him. Rafe had a feeling Mia’s upcoming trip to the lake was going to have far more to do with spying on her brother and her old friend than it would with helping him fix up the wreck of a house.


Knowing better than to allow his brain any time to focus on the fantasy of Brooke getting out of the shower and drying off her wet, naked skin with a towel, he quickly pulled on a T-shirt and went into the kitchen to make breakfast for them both.


There were several loaves of dough rising—when had she made those?—and all he could think was that it smelled exactly the way a home should. His mother had always made her own bread, and the familiar smell reached down into him, past all the crap that he’d dealt with these past few years, into the childlike and innocent part of him he’d thought was completely lost.


How, he wondered, could nothing more than a smell do that?


He shook his head against the crazy thoughts. By the time Brooke walked into the kitchen looking fresh and gorgeous in a tank top and shorts, he had dished up scrambled eggs and bacon and toast on the kitchen island for both of them.


"You made breakfast." She looked as pleased as if he’d bought her a diamond bracelet.


"I couldn’t tell if you ate when you got up to make these—" He gestured to the bread rising on the kitchen sills. "—but it didn’t look like you had."


"God, no, who could possibly eat that early?"


She sat on one of the stools and immediately dug into her breakfast with a gusto he rarely saw in the women he dated. Not that he and Brooke were going to date, now or ever, of course.


After crunching through a piece of bacon, she said, "If you ever get tired of investigating bad guys, you should open a breakfast place. Promise me that once you’re back in your own house, you’ll still come over and make breakfast for me sometimes."


Rafe didn’t put much stock in promises anymore, not when he watched people break them all day long. But he had a feeling Brooke did, and that once she made one, she would never break it. No matter what.


"I can definitely do that," he told her, and when she smiled at him, it occurred to him that she looked a little tired. Had she had trouble sleeping, too? And, if so, were her reasons anything like his?


Thank God it was sure to be a long, exhausting day getting started on cleaning up his place. Best-case scenario was that he’d work so hard, and so far into the evening, that all he’d have the energy to do was fall into bed...and sleep without dreaming of Brooke.


"I was thinking," she said after she’d eaten half the food on her plate, "that while you’re hauling out furniture, why don’t I get going on cleaning? I have a feeling that just getting rid of the layers of dust and grime on the floors and counters and walls will make a big difference."


"You’re already giving me a place to stay. I can’t let you drop everything to clean my disgusting house, too."


"And I can’t let you deal with that place alone. Besides, I’ve already made the rest of my big deliveries for the week, so I can easily afford to take a day or two off."


She was still cute, not to mention sexy as hell, but also clearly stubborn enough that he knew he wasn’t going to win this one. Unfortunately, a full day of being near her wasn’t going to help him put the brakes on his attraction to her.


At the same time, knowing she would be there with him made the task seem less daunting.


"Thanks," he finally said. "But first I need to head out to the hardware store to pick up new locks for your doors."


She looked at her front door and then back to him with a confused frown. "What’s wrong with my locks?"


"Everything."


"I almost never lock the doors anyway. No one does around here. You know that."


"Maybe this was a safe place when we were kids, but I don’t want you taking any risks now."


Rafe was the one who could see through people, who with nothing more than a look could read secrets and lies. But as Brooke stared at him, he felt like she was the one looking too deeply into him.


"This is still a safe town, Rafe. Just like when we were kids."


"Just let me put the locks on your doors, Brooke."


She thought about it for a moment before finally agreeing, "Okay." Unfortunately, any relief he felt was countered by her honest admission, "But I’ll probably forget to use them, so I don’t know how much good they’ll do if some crazy person shows up in town to break in and attack me."


Rafe could barely bank his fury at the thought of anything ever happening to the too-trusting woman sitting across from him. "Don’t ever joke about something like that. It isn’t funny."


* * *


Coming out into her kitchen and finding Rafe making breakfast had felt like a dream come true, especially when he made the best scrambled eggs she’d ever had. With his big hands and rugged handsomeness, she could only imagine the way women must throw themselves at him...and how many he must have caught over the years to take to his bed.


It felt so natural to have him in her house—two friends who had been lucky enough to reconnect after so many years apart—that Brooke had found herself questioning everything she’d felt last night. Was Rafe truly darker and more intense now? Had she invented the frustration she’d seen on his face when he’d told her, ever so briefly, about his job as a private investigator? And had she imagined the hard tone of his voice when he’d told her flat out that he wouldn’t let her blindfold him for a taste test, obviously because he didn’t trust her?


Or was it simply that she’d been so surprised to see him—and had been so bowled over by his good looks—that her brain had spun off in ridiculous directions? Particularly the ones that had kept her up part of the night, dreaming of what it would be like to have his hands, his mouth, on her.


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