I stand and clear my plate and glass. “Are you finished?”
“Yeah, but I’ll clean up.”
“You cooked. I think there’s a federal law somewhere that says that the cook doesn’t clean.” I wink and gather his dishes and carry them to the kitchen. I rinse and load the dishes into the dishwasher, wipe down the countertops, and then turn to find him standing on the other side of the island, leaning on his elbows.
He opens his mouth to speak, and just when I think he’s going to say something profound, he says, “I have plans for this kitchen.”
He nods and watches me carefully. “It hasn’t been updated in about fifteen years.”
I glance about the homey space. “I guess it could use some work.”
Why are we talking about the kitchen?
“I think I might gut it and start from scratch.”
“That’s quite a project.” I swallow hard as he walks around the island to me. I know I said no sex tonight, but frankly, if he boosted me up on this countertop and had his wicked way with me right now, I wouldn’t turn him down.
I am a red-blooded woman, after all.
His hand glides down my arm and he links his fingers with mine, raises it to his mouth, and plants a soft kiss on my thumb.
“Shall we watch a movie?”
“Sure.” My voice is high and squeaky, and I want to die. I clear my throat, but Zack grins and leads me out of the kitchen to the family room, where a huge TV dominates one wall and soft brown couches sit around the room. There are game systems situated on a unit under the TV and controllers are lying on the ottoman, obviously left there from the last time the guys played.
“Seth and I spend a lot of time in here,” he says sheepishly.
“It’s a comfortable room.” I flop down on a couch slouched in the corner and prop my sock-clad feet on the ottoman. “I like it.”
“Make yourself at home,” he says with a chuckle. “What do you want to watch?”
“Why don’t we flip through the channels to see if there’s anything on TV?”
“You’re a channel flipper,” he says accusingly and passes me the remote.
I begin flipping through the stations, pausing at the History channel to watch a show about secrets of museums.
“I have a thing for mummies,” I say and glance over at Zack, who’s watching me with a funny look on his face.
“What kind of thing? They’ve been dead for a while. It’s not like you can date them or something.”
“I think they’re interesting, Captain Obvious.” I throw the one pillow on the whole couch at him.
“Aren’t there sports on? Or a show about murder?”
“Probably.” I continue flipping through the channels and come to a stop. “NCIS is my favorite show!”
“Really?” He eyes me again. “Mine too.”
“This is a marathon.” I set the remote aside and settle in for a night with Zack King and Jethro Gibbs.
Not a bad way to spend some time.
“The ones from the beginning with Kate are the best.”
Zack nods. “She was hot.”
“Yeah, I have a thing for brunettes.”
I roll my eyes and then startle when Zack pulls my feet into his lap and begins rubbing the left one, his eyes never leaving the TV. I sigh and settle deeper into the plush cushions of the couch. His thumb catches a particularly delicious spot in my arch and I moan, then slap my hand over my lips.
He does it again and my eyes drift shut in ecstasy. “God, you’re good at that.”
I hear him swear under his breath, and when I open my eyes, his jaw is clenched shut, but his face is impassive as he watches his hands knead the muscles in my foot.
I have to get out of here. If I stay, I’ll give in and rip his clothes off him and have my way with him.
“I should go.”
“Stay,” he says immediately and turns those dark chocolate eyes on me. “It’s a mess outside. The roads are most likely frozen over from the rain.”
“I didn’t bring anything with me . . .” Am I seriously considering this?
He pulls me into his lap and holds me against him, pushes my hair back over my shoulder, and drags his knuckles down my cheek.
“I won’t ask you to do anything that you don’t want to do, Jillian.” His voice is soft. “But I’d love to have you here with me. We’ll finish this NCIS marathon and take it from there. I have plenty of spare bedrooms.”
“I just . . .”
“I don’t want you to drive in this.” He kisses my forehead, and I feel my resolve evaporating. I want to stay. I lay my hand on his cheek and my stomach clenches when he turns his face and presses a wet kiss to my palm. “Didn’t I hear that you remodeled the attic into a new master suite?”
He turns surprised eyes to mine and a slow smile spreads over his sexy lips. “I did.”
“I’d love to see it.”
“Are you sure?” He whispers and rests his forehead on mine. “I swear, there are no strings, sugar. You can have a room all to yourself.”
I bite my lip and inhale deeply. He gently tugs the flesh out of my teeth with the tip of his thumb. “We’ve been circling around each other for months, Zack. I’m tired of it. I don’t feel this with anyone else.”
“What do you feel?”
I frown and try to look down, but he catches my chin with his finger and keeps me trapped in his gaze.
“I won’t ask again.”
“I feel . . . safe.” I shrug. “Sexy. Turned on.”
He stands easily with me in his arms and buries his face in my neck as he carries me to the stairs.
“You are all of those things, baby.”
“I wasn’t going to do this.”
“You still don’t have to.”
I rest my hand on his cheek as he continues to climb the stairs without even an increase in his breathing.
He’s so fucking strong.
“I want you.” It’s a whisper, but I feel it to my toes. His eyes dilate as he pushes open his bedroom door and carries me to his bed.
“I never stopped wanting you,” he replies.
The bed is wide, king-size for a big man. The room is enormous, spanning the entire length of the house. There is a sitting area with bookshelves near a wide window that looks out to the back part of the property and the mountains, and I can just imagine what that view must look like early in the morning. The wood floor is covered in cozy rugs. There are two doors, both closed, on the opposite side of the space.
“Bathroom and closet over there,” he murmurs when he sees me glance that way.
“This is beautiful.”
“You are beautiful. Are you completely sure that this is what you want, Jillian?” He kisses my cheek and my neck then pulls back to watch my face.
I grin and lean in to press my lips against his. “Hell yes.”
He growls and kisses me with restrained fervor. His hands grasp the hem of my sweater and tug it over my head, followed by the orange cami beneath it, leaving me in jeans and a bra.
I pull frantically on his T-shirt, dying to see and feel the muscles beneath.
Zack naked is a sight to behold, and it’s been way too long since I last saw it.
He yanks the shirt off and returns his lips to mine, plundering, then reeling it back, tasting and nibbling.
“This isn’t going to be fast, sugar,” he murmurs as his lips drift down my jawline. “We have all night, and I’m going to take my time.”
I push my fingers into his hair, loving the softness of the strands between them. “You don’t have to go slow for me.”
“I’m going slow for me.” He reaches around with one hand and deftly unclasps my bra. I shrug out of it and toss it aside. “You are never going to forget all of the things I’m going to do to you tonight. Every inch of your amazing little body is going to feel me.”
My breath hitches at his words. He boosts me up in the bed, unclasps my jeans, peels them down my legs, and kneels between my legs, staring at me clad only in my tiny blue lace panties.
“Do you have any idea how fucking beautiful you are?” he growls and braces himself above me, holding his body away from mine as he brushes his lips over mine softly, barely touching me.
My hands glide over his smooth chest, over his sculpted stomach, to the button on his jeans.
“I need you naked,” I breathe.
“Here’s the thing,” he whispers and pulls the lobe of my ear between his teeth, then soothes the bite with his tongue. “I only have one condom.”
“Well, you’re not very well prepared for this,” I mutter grouchily.
“I wasn’t trying to jinx anything,” he replies with a chuckle. “But I do plan to make you come all night long, so we’re going to have to be creative here, baby.”
“All night?” I squeak. Dear God, I don’t think I can do it.
“All.” He kisses my collarbone. “Night.”
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Available January 27, 2015