Seduced, Page 5Melody Anne
Shane’s mouth took Lia’s in a kiss fraught with hunger; his hands ran up her quivering stomach, skimmed over her swollen br**sts and caressed her hungry body. Why fight it anymore? She wanted him — had always wanted him. It was time to give into her desires.
There was no other man for her except for Shane. What was the use in pretending otherwise? The feel of his mouth on hers, his hands sweeping over her neglected body…
She needed him like a fish needed water. She tried to open her eyes, but they were weighted down. As he pressed hard against her chest, she fought him. No. This wasn’t right. Why was he trying to hurt her? Shane would never hurt her.
That wasn’t a cry of passion, but of panic. “Dammit, Lia. Don’t do this!”
Suddenly, she was coughing as water spewed from her mouth. What the heck? Her throat was on fire from the salt water; her chest felt bruised. Finally the weights lifted from her eyes, and she cracked them open, looking into the face of a very ashen Shane.
“Thank you, Lia,” Shane gasped as his arms went beneath her and he pulled her against his solid chest. She finally realized where she was, what had happened.
Falling. She’d been falling, then everything went black.
“I’ve never been as panicked as I was when I watched your body get sucked beneath the waves. You’re OK. We’re both OK. ”
Lia wasn’t sure whether he was trying to reassure her or himself. As he loosened his grasp, she looked around her in horror. They were on the sandy beach about ten yards from the angrily pounding waves of the ocean, both of them drenched in salt water, both of them apparently trapped in the middle of nowhere.
She didn’t know what she was asking, but he had to have the answers. This was Shane — he’d always had the answers to everything, ever since she was a teenager and he stepped through the doors of her parents’ house, his dark hair just a bit too long, his roguish smile confident and self-assured.
“I’m not exactly sure where we are, Lia, but let’s hope this is one of the inhabited islands,” he admitted.
“We’re lost? Please tell me you have the beacon so they can find us. There are hundreds of islands out here! It could take weeks for them to locate us. ”
“I haven’t checked the equipment yet. I’m sure it’s fine,” he answered, but his voice wasn’t full of confidence.
Lia pulled away as she looked around the lonely beach. With the sun shining, it would be a true sight to behold with chalky sand, fan palms, and exotic plant life. With the storm angrily brewing around them, it was sinister and frightening.
“We need to take cover, Lia. We can fight later,” Shane promised as he helped her to her feet, then rushed over to their boat.
As she gazed at the broken craft, she had to fight the fear gnawing away at her stomach.
They would be all right. Rafe wouldn’t rest until she was found. She knew her brother well. On a good day he was overprotective. On a bad one, he’d move heaven and hell to track down his sisters, for whom he felt responsible, even though they had incredible parents who were more than capable of taking care of them.
Just as Shane returned, carrying a large backpack, Lia felt the first drops of rain splatter down.
“Let’s go,” he said, holding his hand out to grip hers.
As Lia looked into his strained face, she decided she’d fought him enough for the day. They were stuck, and there was nothing they could do about it, so now it was time to give him a hand. She accepted his help up, then fought the wind instead as she followed him into the protection of the trees.
Her throat felt as if she’d swallowed sandpaper, and it hurt to breathe, but she didn’t complain as she moved by Shane’s side. She ignored the pain, and moved quickly, knowing they had to get under cover. It was a tropical storm, but though she wasn’t freezing, the elements could still cause major damage — even death.
“It’s really blowing, Shane. ” Pretty stupid statement, considering he could feel it too, but she needed to hear her own voice. Admitting how frightened she was wasn’t acceptable, so she was stuck with stating the obvious.
“We’ll be fine, Lia,” he assured her again as they broke through the tree line and the wind instantly lost some of its fury. Shane threw down the large pack, which had to weigh at least a hundred pounds, and then he began pulling out a small piece of black canvas.
Soon, he had a tent going up — a tiny tent — and was tossing the pack inside. She wasn’t a lot of help, because he was moving so swiftly, but she managed to pound a couple of the stakes into the ground, securing their makeshift shelter.
Lia began trembling as everything caught up to her. The air was ridiculously warm and humid; being soaked through wasn’t helping, and her nerves were shot. One glance at Shane told her that he wasn’t holding up much better than she was; he was just working through the pain a lot faster.
“Come on, Lia. We need to get inside so we can dry off. ” Shane gripped her hand and sent her into the tent ahead of him, ducking behind as he joined her.
As she sank to her knees, then fell on her butt, her body was overcome with the shakes. She couldn’t even speak, her teeth were chattering so loudly. She knew it was just the situation, but she couldn’t manage to stop.
“I only have two blankets and one change of clothes in the bag. The pack is mainly filled with food and fuel,” he told her as he pulled out a tiny contraption and within moments was lighting a candle beneath it. A small flame cast a bit of heat and light in a tent barely big enough for the bag and them.
“We need to get out of our wet clothes. Here’s a shirt. I’ll take the pants,” he said while tossing a long-sleeve dark T-shirt her way. Lia wasn’t sure she’d be able to command her seized-up muscles to strip her clothing away. She was far past embarrassment at this point — she just wasn’t sure she’d be able to get a decent grip on her saturated clothes.
Shane quickly shed the clothing he hadn’t lost to the ocean, turning as he used a small towel to dry his body, then covering his firm behind with the thin sweats and turning her way.
“Lia, I’ve seen you naked. Get out of those wet things,” he said in exasperation, and he turned around to give her a modicum of privacy. “I’m not going to jump you right now. ”
“I…I…my fingers aren’t…working,” she stuttered as her eyes filled up with frustrated tears.
He turned back around with instant regret on his face at her rare moment of vulnerability.
“Oh, baby, I’m sorry,” he said as he kneeled down and placed his hands beneath the hem of her shirt and began pulling it over her head. “We need to get you out of these saturated clothes. I promise that I just want to get you dry,” he said gently as her shirt was tossed in the corner and he reached around to unclasp her bra.
He rubbed her upper body with the towel and gently pushed her backward while he undid her slacks, then pulled them and her panties swiftly from her body, leaving her lying na**d before him. She watched the flare of heat light his eyes, but true to his word, he just dried her off, then pulled the warm shirt over her head and covered her nakedness from his view.
“Even near death you are a stunning woman,” he whispered as his arms wrapped around her and he pulled her into his tight embrace.
Exhaustion was overpowering Lia as she leaned into the security of his body. She couldn’t think of anything past her near drowning.
“Come on, baby. We need to hold each other beneath the blanket, keep our bodies warm since you are still in shock. Then we’ll go through the supplies and figure out what comes next. ”
“OK. ” Lia felt only relief as he laid one of the blankets on the tent floor, then stretched the other one over the two of them as he held her in his arms.
Lia had shivered for what seemed like
hours. But as his arms comforted her and the shock began to wear off, she started feeling a bit of warmth. She would be angry with herself for falling apart, but for now, she was just relieved to be safe. She drifted off to sleep knowing Shane would watch over her.
Rafe didn’t even attempt to hide the smile as he walked by Ari’s side. He was finally getting her to come to his house. So what if he’d agreed there would be no touching? He could seduce a woman with just his words.
Rafe had it in spades. He wanted Ari back in his life, and he would get her. Being away from her for two years, only catching brief glimpses here and there, had changed him in ways he couldn’t even explain to himself.
The word docile wasn’t in his vocabulary — for himself, that was — but he had learned a thing or two about give and take. He would win her this time rather than force her. The prospect was oddly enjoyable.
“My driver is parked over here,” he told her. He lifted his hand to place it on her back, but he caught himself in the nick of time and instead pointed. This no-touching business was going to be a real pain in the ass.
“I can follow you in my car,” she insisted.
“It’s late, and I would feel much better if you just came with me,” he replied. He was trying to be more patient, ask instead of tell, but he was still a man, and he’d never gone out with a woman without getting her to the destination in safety.
“Well, that’s just ridiculous. Then your driver will have to go back out to bring me to my car. That’s unnecessary. Besides, the campus gets a bit spooky late at night and I’m not comfortable with coming here then. ”
Rafe thought for a minute before picking up his phone and speaking. Then he turned toward her. “Give me your keys. I will have your car delivered home for you. ”
The way he spoke was just like the man she’d met in the beginning of their relationship three years earlier. Her eyes narrowed as she focused on him, ready to unleash her wrath.
“First off, Rafe. This isn’t a date. Secondly, I’m not the same scared little girl who was shaking in your office three years earlier. No. I will not give you my keys. I will admit that I want to look at the journal, but if you are going to be a high-handed ass, then I will just go home and keep searching the Web for old journals. ”
As she stared him down with her hands on her hips, Rafe felt his adrenaline spike. Damn, she was incredible when her temper caught fire. He wanted to take her right there in the parking lot on the hood of the nearest vehicle.
Patience, he reminded himself. He wanted to win her, not break her. He wasn’t lying to her when he said he would do things differently.
Ari looked at him with suspicion, not understanding his easy acceptance. He could see why she was so confused. She’d never won a battle with him — at least not one that he could easily recall. OK, maybe she’d won a few skirmishes, such as when she’d made him compromise in the jet so long ago. But that was still rare enough that he was throwing her off-kilter with his new ability to compromise.
“Good. Then I’ll see you at your house. ” She moved forward, walking through the dark parking lot, several of the campus streetlights flickering. The college really needed to do something about that.
When the two of them arrived at her car and he walked to the passenger side, she looked at him with her eyebrows raised. She paused before unlocking her doors.
“I will just ride with you,” he said in explanation. He could see that she was trying to decide whether this was an acceptable compromise or not. When he just stood there, she sighed and clicked the button on her keychain twice, unlocking the doors.
Rafe slid into the small passenger seat with a great deal of satisfaction. He hadn’t been able to get her to ride with him, but at least they were still traveling together. They’d both won a bit of that battle. Now, they just had about a million small skirmishes to go — perhaps he should change the word to squirmishes because of what they’d both likely be feeling before it was all over — and then he could have her lying beneath him once more. He took a minute to inform his driver that he was with Ari and to meet him at home.
“Do you remember the way to my house?” he asked as he buckled his seat belt. He wasn’t comfortable having her as the one driving, but he’d keep his mouth shut.
His heartbeat accelerated slightly at her quick response. She wasn’t as over him as she wanted him to believe. He wondered if she’d ever driven by his house during the night. Had he ever stood at his window as she was passing?
No. He surely would have felt it to his very soul.
The two of them had a connection, a bond that couldn’t be broken. The ties might have been loosened, but every moment they were together, the bonds were growing strong again. It was only a matter of time before she realized this and let him back into her life. They needed each other. It was as simple as that.
“You do realize that red means stop, right?”
Ari slammed on her breaks, obviously flustered. The flush in her cheeks made him want to lean over and kiss her. Damn, he wanted to touch her like nothing else. He wanted to run his hand up the lean muscles of her legs, and not stop. Next, he wanted to lean over and slide his tongue along the silky skin of her neck before pulling her against him and kissing her the way a woman should be kissed.
He was making her nervous. It was time to see how in control she really was. He leaned over, which wasn’t very far in her compact Toyota.
“Green means go,” he whispered in her ear, delight filling him as an army of goose bumps appeared on her flesh where his breath had danced across her skin.
She slammed her foot against the accelerator, throwing him back and causing him to fight the laughter that wanted to spill forth. Knowing it would have her hackles up, he held it in, but the more she fought her attraction, the harder it was for him to hide his joy. She brought him so much pleasure, from the smallest things she did to the little quirks that belonged to only her.
What a fool he’d been ever to want to tame her, ever to want to extinguish even the smallest flame from her eyes. No. He would embrace her passion, stoke the flames of her desire, and together the two of them would soar to new heights.
The breath she let out as they arrived at his home was filled with relief, and he couldn’t hold back a light chuckle, though he was quick to cover it up with a cough. She looked at him with suspicion, but didn’t say anything.
His body was hard and aching, but she seemed to be in even worse shape. He would have enjoyed riding around in her tiny car for much, much longer. He’d thought the ride would be miserable, but he’d been very wrong.
Ari jumped from the car before he could say anything.
“I can’t stay long, so let’s do this,” she said briskly as she moved toward his front door as he was struggling to pull himself from her car. It was much harder crawling out of the small thing than it had been for him to get in. He just didn’t fit.
Rafe took his time walking up behind her, enjoying the view of her h*ps swaying as she marched up the front steps. He wished she were wearing a skirt so he could see the muscles flexing in her toned calves. Why a woman’s calves were sexy, he didn’t know, but everything about Ari was sexy — absolutely everything.
“I have all night,” he said, standing only an inch behind her and one step below, aligning the two of them perfectly. Her body jerked, and for a moment the back of her pressed against him, her delicate behind rubbing against his hardness.
The satisfaction of her quickly indrawn breath wasn’t enough to relieve the ache. What he wanted to do was wrap his arms around her and pull her tightly against him, while his hands moved up her flat stomach and caressed her impressive br**sts.
He had to get some control over himself. He wasn’t a horny teenager.
“No touching,” she snapped, but it came out too breathy to have any effect.
“You did that; I didn’t,” he said as he stepped around her with his arms raised in innocence and proceeded to unlock his door.
She didn’t say anything as he opened the door wide for her to go in ahead of him. This night might test the very limits of what he could handle, but he didn’t care. The torture was worth it just to be close to her.
“Would you like a drink?”
“Yes. A glass of wine…please,” she said with a hint of desperation. He was sure her nerves were raw.
Rafe led her into the parlor and poured her a glass of red, then waited for her reaction.
“This is fantastic,” she said as she took a sip, then placed her beautiful lips on the rim of the glass and sampled more.
“I hope so. That’s a 1945 Château Mouton Rothschild. I’ve been waiting to open the bottle until the day I could drink it with you. ”
Ari’s eyes widened as she looked at him, and then moved closer to examine the venerable old bottle. He’d taken her by surprise, which pleased him greatly.
“No. Don’t say it. Let’s just enjoy the moment. ”
“I didn’t mean to mislead you, Rafe, but I only came here to look through the journal. I’m not interested in resuming our relationship. ”
She wouldn’t look him in the eyes while she spoke. She just wasn’t the type of person who told a lie very easily. He could call her on it, but he knew that would cause more harm than good. He was much better off to just ignore the statement — get her mind occupied on something else for a while.
“Please get comfortable while I find the journal. ”
He didn’t want to hear her tell him all the reasons this was impossible. They would be together; it was only a matter of time. It wasn’t easy for Rafe not to push her, but if it meant that he got to be with her for the long haul, he would put his immediate needs on hold even if that meant his body was on fire 24-7.
Returning to the room with the carefully preserved journal, he felt a thrill at the rapture on Ari’s face. He could even overlook that he might as well have been invisible at that moment. She had eyes only for the journal. Never had he been so happy to own a piece of leather and a bunch of yellowed paper.