Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Keeper by Jane Leopold Quinn

Pete Rayne didn’t run from the thought of getting married. He just hadn’t met the right woman yet. He always figured, not to sound incestuous, that he’d marry a girl like his sisters. Blonde, blue-eyed, sweet and innocent looking. He never, in a million years, believed he’d seriously fall for the exact opposite.

Sharon Timmons was someone else’s girlfriend, though. His partner’s, to be exact; off limits, untouchable, taboo. So, he didn’t touch. He just occasionally fantasized about her.

However, the night his partner, Hank Crossman, followed the new woman in town, Nickie Grace, out of Nook’s, Pete knew it was time to make his move on Sharon.

“Well,” he said to Sharon, “I guess it’s just you and me. Do you want to go home or stay a while longer?”

She concentrated on drawing circles in the wet rings on the bar. “Like I didn’t see that coming a mile off.”

“Dance with me, Share?” He couldn’t stand the dejected look on her face.

“Oh, that’s all right.” Her brows drew together in a frown. “You don’t need to…”

“Don’t think about it right now, honey. Let’s just dance.” He brushed her jaw, then raised his hand to her hair, and twisted his finger into the curls around her ear, his gaze following the movement. Pure silk, soft as clouds, he had to clench his fist to keep from clutching the strands and burying his face in her hair.

Instead, he escorted her to the dance floor and wrapped her in his arms. He couldn’t believe it. It was just like his fantasies, except they involved being naked, in bed, with her on top. She folded into his embrace as if she belonged there. Her delicate body with its high, firm breasts, felt like heaven against his chest. Unbelievably, his arms shook more than they should have, so he tightened them and hunched over as if protecting her.

He rested his cheek against her hair and pulled her even closer, one hand around her waist, the other cupping her nape. She must have just washed her hair because even in the smoky bar, the scent of it was fresh and lemony. Every delicious inch of her—breasts, belly, and thighs—crushed against him as they swayed to the music. There was no way she could mistake his sexual interest since his cock had grown hard and heated, but he tried his damnedest not to grind it into the cushion of her body.

“Sharon, look at me,” he commanded in a husky whisper, pulling gently on her hair to tip up her chin, his breathing none too steady. “Share?” He tugged again. Crap. She’s shivering. Is she crying?

She finally lifted her eyes to his. “No, no, I’m all right.”

He could barely hear her over the jukebox.

“You don’t have to do this.”

“I don’t have to do anything, Share, but I want to kiss you.” Hank was an asshole for dumping her publicly like this. For so many reasons, some he didn’t quite understand, he wanted to make it better for her. They swayed to the beat of a Joe Nichols ballad. His chest expanded against her breasts.

“Pete, it’s…”

He lowered his head and murmured into her ear. “But, if you want, I’ll wait.”

“Wait?” She tensed, pulled her arms from around his neck, and grasped his forearms.

Her small hands on his arms made him feel strong and protective. “Until tomorrow night. How about we go to a movie tomorrow night?” He held back from taking advantage of how close his lips were to her ear. He really wanted to kiss the pretty little shell, and, oh fuck, he wanted to suck her earlobe between his teeth and bite…

She clung to him. The noise and smoke of the bar disappeared, and it was as if they were alone. Some singer a long time ago said dancing was like making love standing up. Man, was he right. Maybe she’d like to dance naked. He groaned, the sound reverberating in his chest.

When the song ended, and he reluctantly came to his senses, he steered her to the door and out into the steamy night. He was all heat, hot from the night and hot from Sharon. Extremely aroused, he stood very close to her at her car door, balancing one hand on the roof of the car and resting the other on her waist. She toyed with the buttons on his shirt. He held his breath when she pressed her palms against his chest, then lost it when she brushed her knuckles on his belly, just above his belt buckle.

Her expression was surprisingly shy, which seemed odd for the experienced woman he thought she was. Is she playing me?

Her fingers resting on his belt, she whispered, “Do we have to wait for tomorrow night for the kiss?”

Her lips parted and pursed, her gaze focused on his mouth, and that was all she wrote. Instantly, his mouth connected full on with hers. Lightly—intense but delicate—he brushed his lips back and forth, learning her, tasting her. He fought his desire for more. He wanted to plunder, but the softness of her response kept him in check. He let her lead the way and kept his eyes narrowly open to watch her expression.

Her eyes popped open.

With a shivering sigh, her breasts rose against his chest. The kiss ended. They separated, both gasping raggedly. What’s wrong with me? He’d been turned on before, but he’d never had this much trouble breathing.

She cupped his cheek, scraping her nails in his late night whiskers. “Wow,” she said.

“Yeah,” he responded, feeling distinctly off kilter.

She smiled at him. “I’ll see you tomorrow night?”

“You bet,” he replied huskily. “I’ll call you.” Bracing his legs, he watched her pull out of the parking lot and drive down the street. “Holy shit,” he muttered under his breath. “I gotta talk to Hank.” There was no way he was going to let his partner have her back. Not after that kiss.

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