He considered her for a moment, searching her face. “I want to get you out of those expensive clothes.”
She froze and took a jagged breath.
Sawyer slid a hand behind her to pull her ponytail over her shoulder and run the curls through his fingers. “I want to mess up your hair, fist it in my hands while I kiss you until you can’t think.”
As he toyed with her curls, Justine blanked. At that second, she’d have said yes to anything he asked of her. She stood to open her door then turned back, unsure what would come out. “I can’t think right now.”
With a tilt of the head, he leaned in. “I’m going to kiss you anyway.”
A voice in the back of her mind told her she was going to have to practice telling this man no. He pressed her to the wall, sucked at her bottom lip, ran his tongue across it. Heat blasted through her.
Sawyer tugged her through the open doorway. He kicked the door shut and backed her against it slowly. Pale streetlight from outside the window cast them in shadows. The weight of how much she wanted him almost crushed her. They kissed and, despite them both being fully clothed, she felt vulnerable. Naked.
His hands pressed flat against the wall beside her, his breathing as uneven as her own. “Say it.”
“Tell me you want me. That you think about me touching you, that it keeps you up at night. Tell me it’s not just me.”
“I do.” Her voice came out fluttery.
He ran a hand through her hair, toying with the ends. “I wonder things, like how you sound when you’re excited and…”
She put a finger to his lips, still moist from their kisses. “Stop saying things like that. I don’t want to know because then I won’t be able to stop thinking about you thinking those things.” She tilted her head back against the wall and steadied a hand on his chest. His muscles bunched beneath her fingers. She needed to think. She needed to process all of this and…
He lifted her hand, nuzzling the sensitive skin on her wrist, which sent a quiver down her spine. When she couldn’t take any more, she withdrew it from his grasp. And Sawyer was there, picking up where he left off, with a leisurely, complete, thorough kiss. And, oh, she kissed him back. How could she not? His kiss, it was everything. Like something in her, that had been off her whole life, snapped into place.
Her heart jittered in her chest and propelled her past the desire, past the panic gnawing inside because she wanted more of him. She wanted to touch him and taste him and be filled by him, but even more beyond that.
Justine put her fists on the bed and dipped her head until they were cheek to cheek. Turning to face him, she let her lips skim across the stubble on his cheek. A short sound escaped him at the touch. So like a growl, it inflamed her. She’d wanted to experience all of him, to touch and taste, a savage need to possess him took over. To take his mouth, to take him inside of her, until she drove all thought from him, the way he’d done to her. His scent flooded her senses, leaving her breathless, as she sought his kiss.
He pulled back to look at her, his eyes as unreadable as ever. He lifted his hand to her cheek and stroked her bottom lip with his thumb. “What is it?” she asked, her breath still coming in uneven bursts.
“I don’t want to give you the wrong idea.” His hand dropped and he eased himself from the mattress.
He crossed behind her, to the door, and she twisted on the bed to look at him. Her robe gaped open with the movement, and she yanked it together with a hand, exposed now.
But he wouldn’t meet her gaze, wouldn’t look at her at all, so it didn’t much matter. He looked at the TV, the window, the floor. Everywhere but at her. “About us.” Finally, he let his gaze rest on her.
Justine flinched slightly, and she hoped he hadn’t noticed. She forced herself to maintain eye contact. “You should go now.”
Sawyer spoke her name, his voice soft and full of pity. For her.
“Don’t. Don’t say it like that. Pathetic Justine, so unwise when she chooses a lover.” Justine climbed off the bed and walked the ten steps across the room to stand in front of him. “You know, I never thought I’d meet anyone more emotionally broken than me.”
“I’m trying to do the right thing here, which is a pretty novel experience for me, so…give me a break.”
Justine whirled away, grabbed his jacket off the chair where he’d dropped it earlier, and threw it at his head. “Get. Out.”
Sawyer caught the jacket before it slapped him upside the head, which disappointed her. He opened the door and then wrenched back around to look at her. “This is twice I haven’t taken advantage of you when you threw yourself at me. Next time, I’m using you for sex. You couldn’t possibly be more pissed by that.”
“There won’t be a next time!”
The door slammed behind him, and she jumped, staring at it for the longest time. She couldn’t get back in that bed, not now. She’d been so foolish, attributing feelings to him he didn’t have, to rationalize her own desires were getting the best of her.
When she came out and flipped the bathroom light off behind her, Sawyer wanted to tell her to try again. Her choice was anything but unattractive. She’d slipped into a gown that settled halfway between her knees and…well, places he had no business concerning himself with. The gown flounced around her, touching her nowhere except under the arms and across her chest with a black ribbon gathering the material.
She lifted one foot and slid it behind the other. “Poppies.”
He dragged his gaze to her face. “What?”
“The flowers on the gown are poppies. They make you drowsy.” She slid her gaze to the side. “I found that amusing when I bought it.”
He held up his hands. “It’s fine. Get in the bed.”
“I don’t do pajamas. I have a thing against sleeping in pants. I like the way the sheets feel, cool and slippery, on my legs.” She looked past him to a corner of the room. “I talk a lot when I’m uncomfortable.”
“It’s fine.” He shifted toward the bed and then paused as her words sank in. “Wait, you have panties on, though, right?”
He tilted his head to glance at her with a frown, trying not to look at her bare legs. “Are they hot?”
“Right, no. Doesn’t matter. Lay down.” She stopped beside him at the foot of the bed and they stared at the down-turned blankets. “I want to make sure you get some sleep. You get under the covers, and I’ll lie on top so I don’t invade your not-pants-wearing space.”
“You’re volunteering to give me emotional comfort.”
“Shut up, Justine.”
She hopped into bed, twisting to pull the covers to the top of her shoulders, and lay on her side. He climbed on top of the blanket, scooted close. “Do people send you designer nightgowns, too?”
“Trying to sleep here.”
Her body moved in the rhythm of breath, slowed down, as her muscles softened and relaxed. He wanted to kiss her shoulder, to press his lips against it, to find out if it was as soft as it looked. And what was that scent? Her hair fanned across her pillow and it smelled like… watermelon? Strawberries? Apples?
She interrupted his fruity thoughts, her voice soft and blurry. “Thank you.”
“I’m an ass.”
“You’re okay right now, though.”
“I’m using you, right now, because I like how you smell. I’m an ass.”
She didn’t speak again, and he realized she was out. He should get up. Go to his own room. Get away from the bare legs, under the covers, and the shoulder, and the hair. Try to put whatever had awoken during that hug back to rest. In a minute, he’d get his jacket and go.