Saturday, September 5, 2009

Desire by Marie Rochelle

Tasha Kelly stood in line and waited while the person in front of her gave their order before walking away. She was taking a break from purchasing some items off the internet at her job. If she stayed positioned at the computer a moment longer, she was going to get cross-eyed. However, she loved that new supply-chain software that Dylan installed. Her job was so much faster now. Instead of taking about six hours to place orders, it got knocked down to a little over three.

“Ma’am, may I take your order?” the young girl asked her.

“Coffee with cream and two sugars.” Tasha gave her order, walked away, and found a booth to sit in. She usually didn’t drink coffee this late in the afternoon, but she needed the caffeine to keep her going. She had a long day ahead of her with a lot of orders to fill.

Digging the romance book out of her purse, Tasha removed the bookmarker and placed it on the table. She had only been reading for a few minutes when the sound of a man yelling made her stop and look towards the front of the coffee shop.

“I don’t have any cash on me. Why can’t I pay for it with my credit card? Damn it, I don’t have time for this,” the man snapped.

“Sir, our credit card machine is down. We can only take cash today,” the cashier informed him.

“Why didn’t you tell me this before I ordered my coffee? Is that anyway to run a business?”

Tasha watched at the girl struggled to think of an answer. The man’s temper wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t well over six feet tall and built like a god. The white t-shirt was clinging to the bulging muscles in his arms. Dark blue jeans cupped his tight ass and the black cowboy boots only added to his sexiness. The man’s presence was intimating and hot all at the same time. She noticed everyone was waiting to see what was going to happen next.

“Are you going to answer me?”

“Sir, you order comes to $8.75.”

“Haven’t I already told you that I don’t have any cash on me? How do you think I’m going to buy that coffee?”

Tasha knew this had to end. She grabbed her wallet out of her purse and went to the front counter. She almost fainted as she stood next to the man. He smelled so good, like he just stepped out of the shower and splashed on cologne to make a woman fall at his feet. Lord, she had a weakness for good-smelling men.

“I’ll pay for his coffee.” Taking a ten dollar bill out of her purse, she handed it to the nervous girl in front of her. “Don’t worry about the change,” she told the girl when she started to count out the change.

“I didn’t ask you to pay for my coffee,” the rude man growled at her.

Tilting her head back, Tasha’s hazel eyes clashed with a pair of indigo eyes. Shit, the man’s face was just beautiful. A strong nose, firm lips, a dimple in his chin made him too dangerous looking to ever been consider model material, but he would certainly have a center stage in her dreams tonight.

“Sir, I know you didn’t; however, I got tired of listening to you scream at her, so I paid for your coffee.” Tasha gave the man a long look, hoping he was getting her meaning.

“Black coffee with cream and two sugars,” a guy yelled out his order before she could continue her conversation. She spun away from the gorgeous yet angry man. She picked up her drink and returned to her seat trying her best not to look at the man watching her.

* * * *

Nick couldn’t believe that woman had enough nerve to pay for his coffee and then gave him a lecture about his attitude. Moving away from the counter, he took a seat at the booth across the room from her. He sat facing her, so he could watch her.

The black shirt she was wearing stopped mid-thigh over a pair of blue jeans. It hugged her curvy body showing off her perky breasts. The off-black heeled boots gave her some height to her smaller frame.

He watched as she took a sip of her coffee before sitting it back down and turning the page in her book. After giving her body a final appraisal, he let his gaze land on her face. Her skin reminded him of dark Dove chocolate, his favorite treat late at night He liked how her black hair stopped at the nape of her neck and a piece kept falling in front of her glasses. He had to admit she was one hot little number.

Richie would have a good laugh at his expense when he told him about this. He was always telling him not to let the small stuff bother him. He really had no right screaming at the girl trying to take his money. It wasn’t her fault that the machine was down.

“Sir, here’s your coffee.”

Nick glanced to his side and found the girl he yelled at earlier standing there next to him. “You didn’t have to bring this to me. I could have came and gotten it.”

“That’s okay. We aren’t that busy now. I think you scared most of our customers away with your tirade.”

“I want to apologize for my behavior towards you. I shouldn’t have lost my temper like that,” he apologized.

“Oh, that’s okay,” she said, waving off his apology. “I’m used to grumpy people who are craving their caffeine. Enjoy your drink.” The girl spun away from him and went back to work like she had already forgotten all about him.

Nick took a sip of his drink not flinching when the warm liquid hit his tongue. He had been through too much to let some coffee phase him. Now, he had already made one apology which meant that he only had one left. He looked back over at his coffee-paying woman and found she was gone.

How in the hell did she get past him without him noticing? Well, he wasn’t about to give up on apologizing to her. She would probably be back here tomorrow. He would just come back and do it then.

Resisting Kane by Stephanie Adkins

A couple of hours later, the soft sound of Madison’s laughter broke Terry from his train of thought as he aimlessly shuffled through a pile of magazines in the small room Madison called her home office. Bored and tired of sitting down, he got up from his seat and walked over to the door to peer out like he had done at least a hundred times in the past two hours. To his surprise, he discovered Madison walking her guest to the front door.

He had half expected them to escape to her bedroom for the night. Backing away from the door again, he listened intently while they said their goodbyes. Then the front door opened and he was gone. For several seconds all was quiet, and then he heard her heels as they clicked across the foyer floor.

“You can come out now,” she called to him.

Opening the door, he saw Madison pick up their wine glasses from the long coffee table in front of the sofa. He walked to the front door and checked to make sure it was secured. Gazing out one of the front windows, he caught Jackson’s taillights as he turned from the driveway, and he nodded briefly to the police officer sitting in his unmarked car across the street.

Madison had carried the glasses to the kitchen, and after several minutes when she didn’t return, he went to check on her. There, he found her standing by the sink, staring blankly out the window.

“You should probably move away from the window, Madison.”

Her shoulders slumped, she turned to face him, and right away he noticed a very different look in her eyes. It was nothing like he was used to seeing from the fiery brunette. It was despairing, almost empty and lost. It was unlike her to be so quiet, and it unsettled him more than he expected it to. As much as he hated to admit it, he would much rather see her angry and cursing him than to see her so solemn.

“You’re probably right,” she said.

She turned off the kitchen light and walked past him, and he closed his eyes when the scent of her perfume wafted through his senses, temporarily jarring his thoughts. Taking a deep breath to regain his composure, he followed her into the den.

“I’m sorry if tonight didn’t go as you planned,” he said. He couldn’t think of anything else to say. It was obvious she was upset, but he didn’t know what could have brought it on unless it had something to do with her date.

After turning off one of the lamps by the sofa, Madison stopped and looked at him intently. At first, she didn’t say a word. Crossing her arms over her chest, she appeared to be collecting her thoughts before replying.

“I had no expectations from seeing Jackson other than enjoying his company and sharing dinner together.”

Confused, Terry stepped closer so he could gaze upon her more closely in the dim light.

“I thought… I thought the two of you were…” He faltered.

“No. We’re not.” She explained, “We were at one time, but it didn’t work out. Now we’re just good friends, and that’s the way we both want it. He’s happily married. He has children. When he’s in town, he stops by for dinner, and we catch up on each other’s lives. Then he goes back to his life and I go back to mine.”

Squinting his eyes, he tried to find some reasoning behind her empty gaze. As usual, it was hard to read her expression.

“Oh. I just assumed that he…”

Madison smiled half-heartedly. “Of course you did, Terry. You’re great at assumptions.”

She started to move to the opposite end of the sofa to turn off the other lamp, but Terry reached out and grabbed her wrist before she could. She wouldn’t look at him though. Instead, she stared blankly at the wall as if he would disappear if she just kept quiet.

“I shouldn’t have said that, and I didn’t mean it that way. I’m just…I’m sorry. Damn it, Madison, why won’t you look at me?”

Removing herself from his grasp, she backed away from him. All at once her demeanor changed. The melancholy was gone.

“Of course you meant it, Terry. Isn’t that what you think of me? That every male I come in contact with is just prey?”

He didn’t know what to say. She was clearly agitated now, and he knew whatever he said would just make it worse.

“I suppose from all the reading you’ve done about my life that you think my job and this house bring me all the happiness in the world. Well, you know nothing about me. Believe it or not, sometimes I do get envious of people like Jackson who have a family to go home to.”

Angrily, she walked toward him, and he took a cautious step backward.

“Of course, you couldn’t possibly understand what I’m talking about.” She thumbed a tear from her cheek. “You’ve probably never had to want for anything in your life.”

When she turned away from him, Terry grabbed her arms roughly and pulled her close.

“You think—you actually think—I don’t know what it’s like to want something?” He exclaimed, trying to remain calm. “Now you’re the one throwing out judgments you know nothing about. I know exactly what that feels like.”

Gripping her arms tightly, he continued to glare at her. With his lips so close to hers, he could feel the warmth of her breath against his skin. He was angry. She was angry. The heat that emanated between them both was an intoxication that left him all the angrier for wanting her so damn much.

“Why do we keep doing this?” he asked.

Leaning forward, he gently brushed his lips against her forehead. It was a spontaneous gesture that he couldn’t control anymore. He had to feel her skin beneath his lips.

“Why can’t you forgive me? I know I may be going about it the wrong way, but I want to make things right, Madison, and sometimes I don’t know how to do that. I just wish you would meet me halfway.”

As the tension left her body, Terry let go of her arms and placed his hands on each side of her head. Pulling back slightly to look into her eyes, he fought the urge to kiss her against her will. She could infuriate him to the point of no return but she could also make his chest burn from sheer want. At the moment he wanted nothing more than to plunge his tongue into her tempting mouth.

“Terry…” She moaned softly, closing her eyes as he brushed his lips against her eyelids.

“Say my name again, Madison,” he whispered.

Closing his eyes, he marveled in the feel of her velvety skin against his lips. Tenderly he kissed each cheek while she whimpered softly and murmured his name again. He didn’t want the moment to end.

Before he could capture her lips, however, the phone rang. With a gasp, she jerked away from him and looked at him spitefully, as though she couldn’t believe she had let herself fall so haphazardly into his grasp. As she walked toward the phone, Terry glanced quickly at the clock on the wall.

It was almost one o’clock in the morning. Who could be calling at this time of night? A familiar uneasiness encompassed him immediately. Mere seconds after she answered, her face became a deathly shade of white, and he knew something was wrong.

Terry raced to her side just as the receiver fell from her hands. She looked up at him, her mouth open, but she couldn’t speak. He picked up the receiver and yelled into it, but there was nothing. Only silence.

Placing his hands on her face, he forced her to look up at him. “Madison, who was that? Was it Sinclair? Talk to me.”

The look on her face sent a cold chill racing up his spine.

“He’s here,” she whispered, her voice trembling. “He…he mentioned the clothes I was wearing...and Jackson…and you. He’s been watching us.”