More than want you, p.3
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       More Than Want You, p.3
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         Part #1 of More Than Words series by Shayla Black

  As we leave the restaurant with full stomachs, I lead her to the valet stand. The night—like so many others in Maui—is balmy, slightly breezy. It’s heaven. I might not have loved moving here as a teenager because being pale and green-eyed hardly made me liked by all my native public school peers. But now that adolescence is behind me, I admit that I love the temperate, year-round weather.

  Once the valet pulls up in my new vehicle, I edge the teenager out of my way and help Keeley into the passenger’s seat. She strokes my Range Rover Evoque convertible in Waitomo Gray. It’s almost sexual watching her touch my car, which is great for showing clients the best of Maui, top down, while sporty enough to keep me from feeling like I’m driving my old man’s Lincoln.

  After tipping the valet, I climb in beside her and take the wheel. As I pull away, I wonder what the night will bring. I feel an urge to ensure she doesn’t slip through my fingers, so I rack my brain for some way to impress her—beyond the expensive Japanese food, the hot car, and my stylish suit. She’s not a tourist, so I doubt I can wow her with sights around the island. So…I’ll have to rely on conversation. Not my first choice. But she looks relaxed, almost happy. I’ll go with the presumptive close and see if that will get this deal done.

  “That was the best crème brûlée I’ve ever had.” She puts a hand to her stomach. “Good wine. Good company. Good evening.”

  “It could get even better.” I send her a wry grin. “I could ask you if you’d like to come to my place to see my art collection…”

  “You don’t have any art, do you?” She laughs. “If I’m wrong, I’ll be shocked.”

  I shake my head.

  “You’re too driven and bottom-line to spend money on old stuff to watch it gather dust.”


  “And you’d never stop to simply stare and appreciate it.”

  That sounds faintly like an admonishment, though I’m not sure she means it that way. Maybe Britta’s speech is still lingering in my brain. “You’ve got me pegged, sunshine. I can think of a lot of things I’d rather spend time on. And people I’d rather spend it with.”

  As we stop at a light, the trees part. The moon glows on her skin. She looks alabaster and flawless with her soft smile. Her blue eyes seem to shine silver. I can’t remember the last time I found a woman so beautiful.

  “Come home with me. No pressure. No bullshit. Just you and me and all the pleasure we can stand.”

  She reaches across the console and drops her hand on my thigh. My whole fucking body lurches, and it takes all my restraint not to pull over, rip off my seat belt—along with her dress—and get as deep inside her as I can.

  When did I turn into a caveman?

  “Yes.” Her one word has me sweating. I can just imagine how perfect she’ll feel against me once I have her naked in my bed.

  Traffic is thin now. Maybe if I run a light or two, we’ll make it to my condo in the next five minutes. Screw that. I’m shooting for three.

  “I like you,” she elaborates. “I never spend the night with a stranger. Seriously. But I guess there’s a first time for everything. You…kind of do it for me, so yeah.”

  “Kind of?” Okay, I feel myself preening, but come on. This quirky, amazing, funny girl is into me. “You kind of do it for me, too.”

  She gives me that crooked smile I noticed when I first laid eyes on her. Just like then, my chest beats in some mad rhythm, like John Bonham himself is pounding out a signature Zeppelin drum solo on my heart. I’m a sucker for classic rock. Sue me.

  I’m pretty sure my driving is worth a speeding ticket as I head up Highway 30 toward my place. When we reach the complex, Keeley turns to me. “The Ritz? You’re bringing me to a hotel?”

  I chuckle. “I live here. It’s a residence, too. I get all the hotel’s amenities as a part of my homeowner’s dues.”

  She still looks confused. “Don’t you have tourists underfoot all the time?”

  “Not in my building, and some facilities are reserved just for the owners. We always get the first and best service. The food is decent. The housekeeping staff is fantastic. It works for me.”

  As I drive through the gated entrance, I glance over at her wide eyes. She looks dazzled, and I’m feeling good about giving her an early thrill before the good stuff starts.

  “You like it?”

  “I totally take back whatever I said. It’s beautiful here. The grounds…”

  “They’re meticulous. And people rave about the views of the water.”

  “I love the ocean. It’s why I came here.”

  “You moved here just to see the Pacific from Maui?” To me, the view of the ocean is pretty much the same all over Hawaii. L.A. isn’t much different from Honolulu, honestly. Just a few more palm trees and Hawaiian street names.

  “Not exactly. I came with an ex-boyfriend because we wanted to see the views around the island. But we could only afford a one-way ticket. We figured we’d work all winter at a resort or something, save a little, then fly back home when we were ready.”

  “But you loved it so much you decided to stay?”

  “No. After work one day, I returned to our little shithole apartment to find that he’d moved out, taken our savings, and flown to Denver.”


  She shrugs. “It wasn’t going to last. He liked smoking pot more than working, which explains why he headed to Colorado, not home. Besides, the sex was really average.”

  Keeley doesn’t look like she’s brokenhearted over this jerk, but I know how crazy someone hung up on the wrong person can behave. Griff was such a dumb ass about Tiffanii.

  As I pull up to the front of my building in resident parking, I kill the engine. “How long ago was that?”

  “Almost three years go.”

  She surprises the hell out of me with that answer. “You’ve stayed here all this time? You must like it. Maui is paradise, right?” I toss over my shoulder as I step out of the car and jog around to her side, then open her door.

  “I could never afford the roof over my head and a plane ticket off the island at the same time. In the ages-old tradition of saying ‘I told you so,’ my mom won’t lend me the money to leave. So…here I am.” She stands. “Can we talk about something else?”

  “Sure.” I shut the car door and lock it as I lead her toward my unit.

  I want to keep things light between us. If I’m going to ask her tomorrow to tempt my brother into losing his mind, I don’t need to get too involved in her life. We’re here to have a good time. Yet all these questions run through my head. How long had she and dirtbag been together? Keeley seems to have a soft heart, so how devastated had she been by his betrayal? Has she found it hard to forget this guy? Already I know the sex between the two of us won’t be anything but amazing, but I wonder if she still misses the ex. Will she think of him—even accidentally—while I’m inside her?

  Okay, I need to stop that train of thought. What the hell is wrong with me? I never ask questions, much less want to know a one-night stand’s personal shit. We have a few drinks, a few laughs, a few orgasms, then it’s over. I give her a fond memory, and we move on. I don’t remember anything more than her name—if that.

  Already, I’m pretty sure Keeley will be different.

  Worry less about closing the deal and open yourself to someone who can share your life.

  Damn it, Britta needs to get out of my head.

  Keeley follows me up the stairs with a grateful nod and stands quietly while I unlock the door at the end of the breezeway. It’s a pretty standard layout: short hall, closet on the right, kitchen with a bar top overlooking the living room on the left. Hardwoods, granite. It’s neutral. I wonder what she thinks.

  Keeley barely looks at it. She heads straight for my balcony, which overlooks a portion of the pools and a nice slice of the ocean. It tends to be quieter on this side of the complex. All that will totally help with resale someday.

  “Wow, this is amazing.” She sinks down
into a patio chair, looking mesmerized, and stares at the moonlight beading over the quiet grounds and the waves crashing with a dull thud in the distance. “You must spend all your time out here.”

  “No.” I can’t remember the last time I even opened the lanai door. Sure, I look at the view through my window, but to just sit out there? “I’m not home that much.”

  “Seriously? I’d find reasons to be home. I’d live out here. I could clear a spot for meditation. Studying with this view would be fantastic. The sound of waves helps me concentrate. I’d eat out here…” She turns to me. “And you never use it?”

  Her words feel like an indictment, and my knee-jerk reaction is to defend myself. “I don’t really have time. Drink?”

  “Sure. I’ll take a glass of wine.” She turns to me as I head back to the kitchen. “But when you’re home, you don’t come out here just to enjoy it?”

  “No.” I’m getting a little irritated, mostly because I know she’s right. Why don’t I look at the natural beauty I paid a fortune for? “I don’t. Inside is nice, too. All my creature comforts are here. Honestly, I just don’t think of it much.”

  I pour her a glass of red and myself a brandy before heading back outside and sinking into the chair opposite Keeley. As she sips her vino, I watch her. Every move has a quiet female sexuality I don’t think I’ve seen—or noticed before. It’s fascinating, her fingers holding the glass with unconscious elegance, the delicate pursing of her lips as she imbibes. Her chest rises and falls, and a pink curl tumbles over one shoulder, then dives between her breasts. They’re a nice handful—just right for her body—and obviously natural. I like that she’s real. Grabbing fake boobs can be like caressing rocks.

  She sets her glass down. “Why would you spend your time inside when the place was clearly the hotel decorating staff’s attempt to appeal to the unimaginative? It’s not you at all.”

  I sit back and sip. I’ve never really thought of all the browns, tans, and creams as being dull, but to Keeley, they would be. “I have some blue throw pillows on the couch.”

  “They’re aqua,” she corrects. “And I didn’t see a single personal knickknack or photo anywhere in the living room.”

  “You hardly looked at it.”

  “There wasn’t much to see after the sectional, coffee table, and big-ass TV. Sorry. I’m not criticizing. I’m just surprised. Your car is so…you. This place isn’t.”

  “You think you know me?”

  She shrugs. “You have a certain vibe. It’s way more bold and masculine than this Tommy Bahama pad. Why haven’t you made it your own? Or do you have that male inability-to-decorate gene?”

  I don’t know how to answer her. I’ve never tried to decorate. “Probably.”

  “Describe your first place.”

  I picture it in my head. Early macho dorm room. Two monster truck tires and a sheet of glass made my first coffee table. Posters of hot chicks straddling hot cars… I frown. Come to think of it, that was all Griff’s doing. But I didn’t object.

  “Okay, you win,” I concede with a self-deprecating smile. “I can’t decorate.”

  She laughs. “Take me down to the beach?”

  I start to balk. I haven’t even kissed her. The conversation has been nice. Okay, it’s actually been enjoyable. She’s got an interesting perspective. Strange that she’s making me look at myself with a critical eye…but not terrible. According to Britta, I need it. I was hoping we’d finish our drinks, then get naked for some mattress tango. But she’s looking at me with big blue eyes, and there’s a little pout to her lower lip. On anyone else, it would seem childish or petulant, but she looks damn sexy begging.

  In fact, I don’t hate that idea. But we’ll come back to that…

  “Sure.” It’s nearing ten o’clock, so most of the tourists who have kids should be tucking them in their rooms. Honeymooners are done with dinner and drinks and probably boinking the night away. All the grandparents were in bed by nine. We should be alone at the shoreline.

  The big smile on her face is worth the twenty minutes it will take me to give her a tour of the Ritz’s semi-private beach. She tosses back her wine and leaps to her feet with a wink. “Thanks. If you’re not careful, I’ll think you’re Prince Charming.”

  “Once you get to know me, you’ll know better. Let’s go.”

  As we walk back through my unit, I swap out my loafers for sandals and slip a condom in my pocket because…well, hope springs eternal. I grab the bottle of wine, tuck my keys away, and take her hand. We head for the big, luminous moon hanging over Honokahua Bay. She’s quiet beside me, holding tightly to my hand, but the rest of her is fixated by the endless stretch of ocean before us. Absently, she kicks off her heels at the bottom of the stairs. I realize she’s more petite than I thought, a couple inches over five feet. Her childlike glee as she darts toward the water and wiggles her toes in the sand makes me smile.

  The lazy, back-and-forth breeze makes the trees lining the beach look as if they’re doing a sensual hula to the rhythm of the leaves rustling. The inky sky shines brilliant with infinite stars. The whitecaps glitter like diamonds. Best of all, we’re alone.

  It’s perfect.

  “Wow,” she breathes, standing inches from the surge of the water as it breaks along the beach. “Every time I see something this beautiful, I’m in awe. The vastness of the ocean humbles me. I’m one speck of a human, but look at the sleek power of all that water. It hosts life. It balances the planet. It’s…” She turns to me, wincing. “I’m babbling.”

  Kind of, but not the point. “It’s interesting to hear your thoughts. I never considered it that way.”

  “Hmm.” She grabs the wine and takes a long swig from the bottle.

  There’s more in her head than she’s sharing with me, but I can be patient. I can coax. I’m not sure why I want to know but I do. “You were being philosophical. Don’t let me stop you.”

  Her flirty glance lightens the moment. “I was just thinking. A sight like this reminds me of Victor Hugo’s “The Ocean’s Song.” I don’t remember every word, but part of it goes something like this:

  We saw the boundless waters stretch in glory

  And heave in power.

  O Ocean vast! We heard thy song with wonder,

  Whilst waves marked time.

  ‘Appear, O Truth!’ thou sang’st with tone of thunder,

  ‘And shine sublime!’”

  I mull her words over, then look at the bay again, trying to see it through her eyes. She’s right. It’s majestic. It’s a fucking natural wonder. I’ll have to look at it more often.

  “This is the perfect place for me to finally kiss you,” I murmur, bringing her in closer.

  Keeley braces her hand against my chest and looks into my eyes. “I don’t have to know everything about you in order to spend the night with you. But I want to understand you. I need to. Help me?”

  In most instances, I’d mentally roll my eyes. This is a lot of effort for a piece of ass. But I’m studying her face. I don’t understand why she feels this way, yet I see clearly that she does. Britta’s earlier words ring through my head, and I wonder what I have to lose by getting to know this multi-faceted woman a bit. Besides, if I’m going to convince her to help me with my Griff problem tomorrow, it behooves me to know her in return.

  “How can I do that?” I caress her face, startled again by how soft she feels.

  “Tell me something about you, something most people don’t know.” She shrugs. “What’s your most prized possession?”

  “My professional reputation.”

  “That’s not a possession.” The little frown between her brows disturbs me. “The thing you hoard and keep safe above everything else.”

  No one has ever asked me that. This girl has unexpected depth. She might be wearing a cheetah dress I would have sworn only a refugee from a ’90s music video would sport, but Keeley is full of surprises. The first is how much she’s making me think.

  “My grand
father’s watch. He was an amazing man, served in World War II. He was part of the Normandy Invasion.” And what kind of guts had it taken to storm the beach that day, knowing he might not live to see the next? I can’t imagine. “He rarely talked about it. But Miles Ambrose had grit and honor and…” I get choked up, which is crazy. He died almost ten years ago. But I miss the old guy. “His grandfather gave him a Cartier watch just before he went into the service. Black leather band, white face, roman numerals. Very classic. Growing up, I always thought Granddad preferred my younger brother, despite the fact that my middle name is his first. So I assumed he’d leave the timepiece to Griff. But no. The bastard left it to me, along with a note that said he’d chosen me
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