Authors: Rhian Cahill
He straightened off the wall as she headed his way. Her stride was determined and he noticed her hands were clenched at her sides. This could go either way. She’d either rip him a new one or…actually, he wasn’t sure how else it could turn out. Dan waited.
“Is there a problem?” she demanded.
“Then what are you doing?”
“Um, staying out of your way like you asked?” He arched one eyebrow.
you back off. Typical.” Jody spun on her heel and headed for the kitchen.
“Hey, what the hell does that mean?” he called after her but she ignored him and kept going.
Damn woman. There was no way he was leaving it there. He followed her into the laundry off the kitchen where they’d stored supplies. Dan didn’t think about it, he just moved up behind her, grabbed her shoulders and turned her around to face him. Her gasp had warm minty breath fanning over his chin and neck. A shudder rolled down his spine. His fingers flexed and dug into the flesh at the top of her arms as he pulled her closer until her breasts pressed against his chest.
“W-what are you doing?” She tried to push him away but he held tight.
“Something I should have done weeks ago.”
Dan crushed his mouth to hers. He slid his hands over her shoulders and up her neck until he gripped her head. He tilted his head to the left, moved hers to the right and sealed their mouths completely. Her lips parted on a puff of air and he took advantage. Diving deep, he thrust his tongue past her teeth and stroked hers. A hot, wet slide that stole his breath and shot molten blood through his veins. She tasted of peppermint. The Tic Tac’s she popped like an addict. Speaking of addicts. He could
get addicted to this.
He pressed closer. Pressed his suddenly rock-hard cock against her soft belly. Her curves cradled him and he lost a little more of his sanity. He’d been in denial. Had ignored the rush of desire that coursed through him whenever she was near. There was no denying it now. With one kiss, he’d smashed every wall blocking the way. He couldn’t go back to pretending he didn’t want this woman.
She tore her mouth from his. Her breath rasping in and out as she dragged oxygen into her heaving chest. He was pleased to see he wasn’t the only one blown away by a simple kiss. Not that what they’d just done was simple. Kissing Jody was the least simple thing he could ever do. His gaze locked on hers and he wanted to yell in triumph when he saw her dazed, lust-filled eyes.
“Jesus.” The word whispered over her lips a second before she slipped out her tongue and licked across her red kiss-swollen mouth.
A growl rumbled in his chest and he leaned in to take her mouth again. This time, he took it slower. He still plunged deep, tangled his tongue with hers and explored every dark recess. But he did it with a little finesse, a little less desperation. His chest screamed for air but he wasn’t done tasting her. Wasn’t done sinking into the most sublime kiss of his life. Easing back, Dan turned it down a notch until he caught his breath again. He’d planned to dive back in. Planned to submerge himself in the carnal pleasure that was Jody’s mouth, but it was the wrong time, wrong place.
They sprang apart just as one of the servers rounded the corner. Dan sucked in air, his chest lurching with the effort. Jody’s eyes widened. He couldn’t read the myriad of emotions flashing through her eyes except the last one. That was anger. Her cheeks were a delicate pink, whether from their kiss or her escalating outrage, he wasn’t sure, but he could guarantee she’d be lashing out at him in three, two—
She shoved past him, almost knocking him off his feet. “What’s up, Kerry?”
Her voice was a little raspy and he took satisfaction in knowing he’d affected her even if it meant she’d avoid him even more now that he’d laid one on her. Dan almost rubbed his hands together. He might not have wanted to tempt fate and pursue her due to their working relationship, but he wasn’t an idiot. That kiss did not fall in the bracket of normal by a long shot. If she wanted to bury her head in the sand and run from their explosive chemistry so be it. He’d let her run for now.
He had to think it through anyway. Come up with a plan. Because there was no way he was living his life without a repeat performance. And if he had his way, they wouldn’t stop at a kiss. So he’d let her run, but she wouldn’t get far. It was a good thing he wasn’t afraid of a little chase. In fact, back in school he’d excelled at catch ’n’ kiss, and he couldn’t wait to start the game.
Jody splashed cold water on her face and wrists. She couldn’t believe Dan had kissed her. Kissed the ever-loving life out of her. Dear God, that had been a toe-curling, panty-melting lip lock of epic proportions, and she wasn’t sure she’d ever breathe normally again. The man had serious skills. They’d been seconds away from tearing each other’s clothes off. She’d never experienced such mindless lust before. Not even in the heady first days of her relationship with Colin.
She sighed. It couldn’t happen again. The last thing she needed was a man complicating her life. Her stomach cramped at the thought of never kissing Dan again. He’d had her on edge for weeks. She’d told herself she was still pissed by his obnoxious behaviour when they were first introduced but she couldn’t lie to herself any more. Dan O’Conner made her want things. Sex. God, yes! He made her want sex. Jody couldn’t remember the last time she’d even had sex. Five years? Six?
Could it really be that long? The more she mulled it over the more she had the sinking feeling that six years was an understatement. She hung her head and let out a deep sigh. She’d buried her needs along with her marriage. Neither had ever been that satisfying, but at least she’d had them. Sort of. Okay, who was she kidding? Both her marriage and sex life had sucked. And not in a good way. Jody smiled. At least she’d kept her sense of humour. Then again, she’d probably curl up in a little ball crying her eyes out if she hadn’t.
She grabbed a towel and used it to pat her face dry before checking herself in the mirror. She needed to get back out there, but she’d needed a few minutes to regain her composure. Never let it be said that Jody Walsh couldn’t hold it together no matter what life threw at her. Spine straight, shoulders back, she flung the door open and got on with it. The crew had everything packed up and all that was left was one final walk through. She pulled her phone from her pocket and opened her picture gallery to compare each room to the photos she’d taken before they’d set up for the party. It was cheating, but she had no intention of screwing this job—any job—up.
Each room appeared as it had hours earlier. Looking at the house now, you wouldn’t know it had been crowded with people partaking in a risqué adults-only party for the last couple of hours. She glanced at her watch. Three fifteen. It had run longer than expected, but instead of being dead on her feet, she was strangely wired. Her system buzzed, every nerve alive and ready for action. Hopefully, she’d be able to sleep. The girls were due home at seven in the morning and she still had to head to the warehouse and unload the night’s equipment.
Rounding the corner, Jody ran into a solid wall of warm muscle. Dan. Why was he still here? “Sorry.”
“No worries.” He steadied her with his hands on her waist. “All done?”
“Yes. I just need to lock up on the way out.”
“Let’s go then.” He cupped her elbow and steered her to the front door.
“What are you doing?”
“So go already.” She really didn’t want to spend any more time with him tonight.
“I came with you in the van, remember?”
He had. Jody closed her eyes and prayed for strength. They’d spend at least another thirty minutes together. “Right. Sorry.” She fished the keys from her pocket and picked up her pace. The faster she got him back to his car, the quicker she could take a breath and clear her head.
“Where’s the fire?”
“Huh?” She opened the door and climbed in the driver’s side.
“Never mind.” Dan buckled his belt and stared straight ahead.
She couldn’t be sure, but she thought he was looking at her from the corner of his eye. A shiver skipped down her spine and goose bumps broke out on her skin. Her mind replayed their kiss and she licked her lips as the memory of his taste flooded her senses. No doubt about it, the man was lethal to her equilibrium. She stuck the key in the ignition, turned it and fired up the engine. Hot, stale air blasted through the vents and she quickly wound the window down to let in some of the fresh autumn breeze.
The drive back was quiet. Only the soft sounds of the radio and the early morning filtered through the cabin. She couldn’t think of anything to say and had no intention of discussing their encounter, so Jody concentrated on getting them to the warehouse safely. A tall order when her mind wanted to circle back to those few minutes with his mouth on hers.
Jody pulled into the driveway and hit the remote for the loading door. The double-wide metal panel slid up in a smooth, noiseless motion before grinding to a halt. She glanced up as she drove under.
“That reminds me. I need to get the installer back out to check the roller door,” Dan said.
“But it’s brand new.”
“Oh, I don’t think it’s broken. But the guy did say sometimes they need an adjustment after the first so many uses. Better to be safe than sorry.” He opened his door when she brought the van to a stop. “I’ll start unloading. You go file the paperwork.”
“You’re hanging around?” Too late. The door closed behind him before she even got one word out. By the time Jody swung out of her seat, Dan had the cargo doors open and was carrying the first of the equipment boxes to the racks. She might not be rid of him as quickly as she liked, but at least she’d get distance—and possibly some sense—when she went upstairs. Perhaps then she’d manage to catch her breath.
She picked up her backpack and headed to her office. A thrill of delight ran through her.
office. After years of working any part-time job she could get, not only did she have a fulltime job she loved, but she had an office. There was no stopping the grin. Even sharing the workspace with Dan couldn’t dampen her excitement. The room appeared a little cramped with two desks, but at least they could share the filing cabinets. In the beginning, she’d worried about the combined work zone, but so far it had worked seamlessly. Not that they’d found themselves in the room at the same time very often since she started working at Are You Game?
Jody thought he’d been avoiding her in the beginning, and with her own turbulent emotions about the man, she hadn’t worried about it. But now… Now she figured that her initial assumption the tension between them would cause problems had been correct, and couldn’t imagine how they’d work in such close proximity after their latest encounter. Not that the conflict between them had headed in the direction she originally expected it to. She swallowed through a constricted throat when she thought about just how close they’d been a little while ago.
Her body still hummed with arousal. She’d done well to mask her reactions to his kiss up until now, but there was a very real possibility she wouldn’t be able to hide them any longer. Definitely time to get out of here. Unzipping her bag, Jody pulled out her clipboard and began flicking through the pages. She grabbed a pen and flopped into her chair. Marking off each task, jotting notes about the evening and signing off on staff timecards took her about fifteen minutes, and it wasn’t until Dan cleared his throat that she looked up.
“Done?” he asked as he pushed off the doorjamb.
“Yep.” He perched his hip on the corner of her desk and her eyes were drawn to the way his pants pulled tight across his muscular thighs.
Jody coughed and jerked her gaze back to the paperwork in her hand. “I’ll see you next week then.”
“What?” She risked a glance up and regretted it the second his gaze snagged and held hers.
“Trying to get rid of me?” One corner of his mouth tipped up.
“Ah, no, but there’s no need for you to hang around waiting for me.”
“Good manners dictate that I do.” He picked up the picture frame she kept on her desk. The one with her and the girls at SeaWorld last year. “They look just like you.”
“Really?” She’d never seen the resemblance, but he wasn’t the first to make the observation.
“Yeah. How old are they?”
Crap. She didn’t want to have this conversation with him. It brought them closer, this whole sharing of personal lives. But she couldn’t ignore him. “Fifteen and thirteen.”
“Shit. What were you when you had them? Twelve?”
She smiled. The compliment was nice, but she knew she looked every one of her thirty-four years. “You should know better than to ask a woman how old she is.”
“I peg you at thirty.” He arched one eyebrow.
“Ah, you sweet talker you.”
“Hey, if all it takes is sweet talk I’ll lay on the sugar until the cows come home.”
She’d have to be stupid to miss the undertone of his remark.
“Seriously, how old are you?”
Jody had the sudden thought that her age would be a good deterrent to his obvious pursuit. “Thirty-five in two months.”
“June? What date?”