Read Dane - A MacKenzie Novel Online

Authors: Liliana Hart

Dane - A MacKenzie Novel (7 page)

BOOK: Dane - A MacKenzie Novel
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Common sense had kicked in once her brain had
started functioning again. Cade had actually said, “If I was the
kind of man who believed in settling down for the long haul,” which
meant he wasn’t the type at all. She wasn’t built for one night
stands or casual affairs. It wasn’t his fault, it’s just the way
she was. But she also knew the power of attraction. She was only
human, but as long as she stayed away she’d be fine.

“You okay, Bayleigh?” her assistant, Tara
LeCourt asked. “You’ve been acting strange all day. Maybe you’re
coming down with that same bug I had.”

Tara’s smooth mocha skin was creased with
concern, her dark eyes filled with worry, and Bayleigh turned back
to the mannequin she was working on in the window so Tara wouldn’t
see the lie on her face.

“I’m fine, Tara,” she said, adjusting the
black lace negligee so it hung perfectly. “Just a little tired. I
haven’t been sleeping well the last couple of nights.”

The long swath of fabric was completely
sheer, shot through with threads of silver. The neckline and back
plunged dramatically, and it was meant to catch the eyes of those
walking past her shop. All she could think about was wearing it for
Cade and watching him lose his mind. Of course, she’d have to alter
the bust if she were to wear the gown, but it would be worth the
extra work.

“Well, it’s no wonder. You’ve worked non-stop
since I was out sick. I still think you need to hire a part-time
person or two. We’re getting enough business that you and I are
spread pretty thin. And it would be nice to have extra time off
every once in a while.”

“I know. I just want it to be the two of us
for as long as possible. I’m not ready to let go just yet.”

She and Tara had met in college and had been
inseparable ever since, and the thought of someone else coming in
made her heart hurt just a little. She’d built her business from
the ground up, and it was making her a hell of a profit. To the
point that she’d started to think about opening another shop in
Dallas.

“Why don’t you go home for the rest of the
day?” Tara said. “And take tomorrow too. I’m feeling much better,
and you look like you need the—”

Tara’s words trailed off as the bell chimed
over the front door, and she could have sworn she heard her friend
mutter,
Holy Mother of God
under her breath. Bayleigh knew
it was him before she turned around. The atmosphere was immediately
charged with tension, and she swore her nipples hardened like
homing beacons whenever he was near.

Bayleigh gave the front window display a
final look before turning to Cade. She made sure her expression was
composed and her breathing was mostly normal before she met his
eyes.

“I don’t think we have anything in your size
here, MacKenzie.”

Tara choked and Cade smiled wickedly, making
Bayleigh’s heart pound harder in her chest.

“What do you have in your size?” he asked
“This?”

His fingers skimmed the bodice of a silvery
blue gown she’d been eyeing for herself. It was more modest than
most of the pieces in the shop, but it was breathtaking, reminding
her of something that would have been worn in the forties.

“I think I’m going to take my lunch break,”
Tara said wide-eyed. “Three is obviously a crowd here.” She grabbed
her purse from under the counter and headed out the door before
Bayleigh could stop her.

“You’ve been avoiding me, Bayleigh.”

“I know, Cade,” she answered sardonically,
causing his lips to twitch.

“I didn’t take you for a coward.”

Her eyes narrowed and she took two steps
forward before she realized that’s exactly the reaction he’d wanted
her to have. She was too close to him now—so close all he had to do
was reach out and pull her into his arms.

“I’m not a coward. But I’m also not stupid.
You think I didn’t see the light that went off in your eyes when I
told you I couldn’t have an orgasm. All you want is the challenge
of trying to prove me wrong.”

“That’s not all I want from you, baby.”

“Really? So you’re interested in taking me
out to dinner? Maybe to a movie? Getting to know each other over
bad Chinese food and neighborhood barbecues?”

Cade’s eyes narrowed and she knew she’d
struck home with her point. He wanted her in bed and nowhere else.
He didn’t want the connection of anything past the physical.

“We’ve known each other four days,” he said.
“Don’t you think you might be overreacting a little?”

“No, I don’t.”

He took a step toward her, and it was
everything she could do to hold her ground. His fingers touched her
hair lightly before moving to the sensitive skin at the side of her
neck. She gasped at the contact and she felt the dampness gather
between her thighs. Chills snaked up her spine and zinged across
every erogenous zone in her body.

“What’s wrong with satisfying the physical
aspect? Those needs and feelings will always be there. We can be
friends later. Once the edge is off and our bodies are sated.
What’s wrong with giving in to that need? Sex is just another part
of life. Why would you deny yourself one of its greatest
pleasures?”

Confusion began to cloud the lust rioting
through her body. He made a persuasive argument, one she was
tempted to give in to. But it wasn’t just her need for something
more that was holding her back. It was shame. And fear. What would
happen when he finally got what he wanted? Would he be disappointed
when she didn’t respond the way he imagined? Would he look at her
with disdain and tell her all the things she was doing wrong? It
wasn’t a chance she was sure she could take. Paul had damaged her
pride, but she had a feeling Cade could destroy it completely.

“In my opinion, I’m not denying myself
anything,” she said, shakily.

“Only because you haven’t had me inside you
yet.”

He leaned down and took her mouth fast and
hard, his tongue sliding along hers sinuously, and she realized too
late that the moan she’d heard had come from her.

He pulled back, but he kept her wrapped
loosely in his arms. “What’s going on between us is rare, Bayleigh.
I don’t think you’re experienced enough to realize how rare. It’s
fine that you want something more, and I won’t stand in your way
when you’re ready to find it, but there’s no reason we can’t enjoy
this and take advantage of it while it lasts.”

“You’re asking a lot of me, Cade. I just
don’t know if I can do it.”

“We’ll see, sugar.”

He kissed her again, and she melted into his
arms, knowing her resistance was wearing thin. If he kept up this
assault she’d never be able to hold out against him.

“Oh, sorry,” Tara said as she came back in
the shop.

Bayleigh hadn’t even heard the chime ring,
but she could tell by the smug look in Cade’s eyes that he’d been
perfectly aware of what was going on.

“I thought you’d be done by now.” Tara’s eyes
danced with humor as she moved back behind the counter to store her
purse. “Who’s your friend, Bayleigh? And why am I just now finding
out about this? You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, girl.”

Bayleigh stepped out of Cade’s embrace and
narrowed her eyes at him. “There’s nothing to explain. He’s a
nuisance. And my new neighbor,” she added as an afterthought,
waving her hand agitatedly.

“Cade MacKenzie,” he said to Tara, his mouth
quirking as if he wanted to laugh.

Bayleigh was glad they were both having such
a good time at her expense.

“New neighbor, huh?” Tara asked. “So you
bought the house Bayleigh wanted.”

“Really?” Cade asked, his curiosity evident
in his expression. “Why didn’t you buy it?”

“Because it wasn’t for sale then. And I love
my house. Will you please go away now and stop bothering me?”

“Sure,” Cade said. “I can always bother you
at home later. I’ve got to get back to work anyway.”

It wasn’t until he’d mentioned it that
Bayleigh noticed the silver badge hooked to his belt and the
sidearm he had strapped at his waist. He had the ability to cloud
her judgment and her senses just by being in the same room. He
hadn’t been lying. He really was a cop.

She swallowed painfully, looking at the
evidence in front of her face before meeting his laughing eyes. “So
I guess you really are a cop?”

Tara burst out into laughter, and Bayleigh
scowled at her friend.

“Want to see my handcuffs?”
Bayleigh felt the heat rush to her cheeks at the memory of what
he’d promised to do with those cuffs and she straightened her
shoulders, more determined than ever to keep pushing him away.

“Goodbye, Cade.”

“Goodbye, Bayleigh,” he mimicked in the same
tone of voice and winked as he left her shop.

“Helloooo? Bayleigh?” Tara said, waving her
hand in front of her face to get her attention. “You want to tell
me what’s going on?”

“Nothing is going on. That man is driving me
crazy.”

“He’s obviously doing a good job of it. I’ve
been trying to get your attention for a good five minutes.”

“I think I’m going to go home,” Bayleigh
said.

The sensations pulsing through her body made
it difficult to function, much less think. There was no way she’d
be any help in the shop for the rest of the day, and she didn’t
have any appointments scheduled that needed her personal
attention.

“Good, why don’t you take that blue silk gown
with you? Your new neighbor seemed partial to it.”

“You’re not helping, Tara.” Bayleigh grabbed
her purse and the light sweater she’d worn that morning, trying to
remember where she’d put her car keys. Tara reached into the drawer
under the counter and handed them to her.

“What were they doing in there?” Bayleigh
asked.

“You tossed them in there when you were
looking for an envelope,” she answered. “You know he’s not going to
leave you alone until he has what he wants. That man has Alpha
written all over him. I don’t suppose he has a brother, does
he?”

“Three, I think. I’m sure the Neanderthal
runs in the family.”

“As long as he’s good in bed, then I can do
without the stimulating conversation for a while.”

Bayleigh hmmmed noncommittally, wondering if
her need for stimulating conversation and friendship was because
she’d never had the satisfaction in the bedroom. Maybe she was
looking at this all wrong. Or maybe she was looking for any excuse
at all to give herself permission to give into Cade’s demands.

***

She spent her afternoon off watching old
movies and working on some of the exclusive pieces Becca Whitson
had ordered, thinking of the day she’d be able to design her own
pieces. She decided being alone with her thoughts for the afternoon
had left her nothing but confused and wanting. Her body was primed
and damned if her vibrator was taking the edge off like she needed
it to.

She’d finally thrown on a pair of old pajama
pants and an old Texas Rangers jersey and decided to call it a
night when the doorbell rang. It was well after nine o’clock at
night, and she rarely got visitors this late unless one of her
neighbors had an emergency and needed help. She grabbed her robe
and was just tying it when she answered the door.

“Nice robe,” Cade said, eyeing her from head
to toe before stepping inside as if he owned the place. “I’ve never
seen flannel in a patter quite like that before.”

“Umm, you can’t just come in without an
invitation.”

“You invited me earlier today,” he said,
tossing a DVD in her direction as he roamed around the house,
looking things over, and mentally dissecting her decorating
choices. “You asked if I wanted to watch a movie. Here I am.”

“Porn doesn’t count,” Bayleigh said, rolling
her eyes as he went to all of her windows and began lowering the
blinds.

“I wouldn’t bring porn. At least not on the
first date.”

“So this is your idea of a date?”

She followed him into the living room and
watched as he dropped down on the couch and picked up the remote.
He should have looked ridiculous against the delicate floral
pattern of her too small couch, but instead it just showcased his
maleness—the power and energy that seemed to come off of him in
waves.

“Nah, this is just two neighbors getting to
know each other. Do you have popcorn? Also, haven’t your brothers
told you that it’s not safe to let people see in your windows? You
have blinds, woman, use them.”

“How do you know I have brothers?”

“It’s a trade secret, sweetheart. If I told
you, I’d have to kill you.”

“Oh, please,” she said, wondering how she’d
lost the upper hand.

And where the hell was she supposed to sit?
He practically took up all the space on the couch.

“And yes, my brothers tell me to use my
blinds every time they come to visit, but I ignore them just like
I’m going to ignore you. I moved here because of how beautiful the
street is, not to hole up in my house like a paranoid ex-DEA agent
who expects the whole world to be out for him.”

“How do you know I’m an ex-agent?” he asked,
eyes narrowed.

“Trade secret, sweetheart,” she said, smiling
serenely. “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”

He threw his head back and laughed and the
sound caressed her already sensitive nerve endings. She should
throw him out and bolt the door behind him. She’d never be able to
resist him if he created something more than just physical between
them.

“So are you going to join me over here or
stand there all night with your mouth hanging open? Though I have
to say, the bathrobe is a pretty great deterrent for what I
originally had in mind. I thought you’d be more inclined to wear
the things I saw in your shop.”

“Only in your dreams, MacKenzie.”

Bayleigh put in the DVD and went to join him
on the couch, trying not to dwell on the fact that she fit
perfectly in his arms.

BOOK: Dane - A MacKenzie Novel
2.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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