Casey woke to an erection poking against her backside, David’s lips nibbling her neck, his hand wrapped around her breast, and his thumb flicking her nipple. Sunlight trickled through a part in the drapes. The bedside clock proclaimed it to be nine o’clock. Late for her, even on a Sunday morning. Her phone next to the clock agreed. It flashed a rainbow of colors announcing missed calls, texts, and messages. But she hadn’t fallen asleep until five, and not because of her lascivious bedmate.
“I presume you have a plan for my morning breath?” she mumbled. His smelled minty fresh. Cheater.
He rolled her facedown, pulled her to all fours, and plunged his cock inside her.
“Your foreplay is a little lacking. But I’ll allow it.” Casey wiggled her hips. “Make it quick. I need coffee.”
David nipped her shoulder. “And I need you.”
Hot fingers brushed over her belly and stopped over her swelling clit. She nestled her cheek into her pillow, riding his strokes to a quick, sweet orgasm that left them both out of breath. He dotted kisses down her spine before rolling free.
“Let me get rid of this thing, and the bathroom’s all yours.” He kissed her and left the bed. “There’s a carafe of coffee over there.” He pointed to the table and chairs across the room.
“You could have led with that when you woke me.” She crawled out of bed and stumbled for the coffee.
“I didn’t want you to come that quickly. Pour a cup for me, would you?”
“My pleasure.” Casey leaned over the table and filled the two mugs. The sweet ambrosia of coffee filled her senses. David had even remembered she liked half-and-half.
She glanced up to find him knotting the belt on the white robe she’d given him downstairs. “What? No breakfast pastry?”
David laughed and landed a solid swat against her backside as he sank into the chair. She let out a yelp and jerked upright.
“You do know how to live dangerously, don’t you? Don’t start something you can’t finish.”
“Oh, I can finish it. After I’ve had my coffee.” He winked and blew the steam off his mug.
“We’ll see about that, mister.” Casey placed her palms on the armrests and leaned in. “I’d be willing to bet you don’t even realize what you have
“You might be surprised.”
That lift to his eyebrow challenged her. “Indeed.” She pushed away and headed off to take care of her own needs.
Behind closed doors, her thoughts intruded. David had slept without issue, deeply and soundly. For all her talk about being able to protect herself, she’d been hypervigilant to his every sound and move. She’d pushed to have him back in her life, thinking it wouldn’t matter, that she had a handle on what had happened. Fear ruled the great and powerful Casey Sullivan instead. She was supposed to be the strong one. Hell, she was
the strong one. Not this time. That she was vulnerable and human knocked her down more than a few pegs.
That long-ago night had played in her mind over and over. It had happened so fast. One minute she’d been sound asleep. His scream had awakened her a second before his hand had clamped around her throat. She’d clawed for freedom and thrashed around for a weapon—the bedside landline—and hit him as hard as she could. David had jolted awake on a “What the fuck?”
Casey had rolled away and turned on the lights. Terror had filled his eyes. They’d fallen into each other’s arms, sobbing.
She glanced in the mirror and found tears trickling down her cheeks. David couldn’t see her like this. It would involve too much explaining. Telling him would cause her to lose him all over again, and that was the last thing she wanted. But to live like this, with this constant fear? Now she knew how David felt. He’d lived with it openly all this time while she’d buried her head in the sand.
“Goddamn it,” she muttered, frantically flicking away tears. “Stop your fucking crying. Casey Sullivan does not
cry.” Apparently this Casey Sullivan did and was making up for lost time.
She spun away from the mirror and charged into the shower stall. The glass door banged closed behind her. She twisted on the double showerheads and sank onto the marble bench set in the wall between them. Palms pressed into her eyes, she doubled over and let her agony out. Her dreams of a happily-ever-after with David taunted her. She’d been so cocky and sure of herself, never for one second imagining she was vulnerable.
“Oh, baby, what’s wrong?”
Casey jerked her head up. David shrugged off the robe and stepped into the shower. He reached for her, or she reached for him, or… Hell, she didn’t know. She’d been so lost in her agony she hadn’t even heard him walk in. Now that he was here, she didn’t want to let go. Ever.
David took the seat and cradled her on his lap. He soothed her with soft words and gentle caresses. It made her cry all the more. Not once did he press her for information. Maybe on some level, he already knew.
“Come on.” He kissed her forehead. “Let’s get you cleaned up and out of here before the hot water runs out.”
There was little chance of that. Still, she let him care for her—washing her and her hair, turning the water off, towel drying her, even combing the tangles from her hair. Her love. Her man. Her heart and soul. And the one thing that scared her half to death. She’d been a fine one to talk counseling when she hadn’t done the same for herself. She hadn’t thought it mattered. She was wrong.
“Into the robe.”
David guided her arms through the sleeves, tied the rob shut, and then put his own robe back on before scooping her into his arms and carrying her back to the seating area. After sitting in his chair, he cradled her on his lap and handed her the mug of coffee. “If it’s too cold, I’ll dump it and pour you a new one.”
Casey sipped. It was too cold. “No, it’s perfect.” You’re perfect. I’ve missed you so much. I love you.
“Did I hurt you last night?” He brushed his hand over her thigh.
“No. You slept very well.”
“But you didn’t.”
“Because you were afraid I’d attack you.”
“Yes.” Damn, she couldn’t look him in the eye. This wasn’t a conversation she wanted to have. It would mean they were truly over. He’d never be back. Everything was lost.
Under the circumstances, isn’t that for the best?
Her heart screamed no
while logic said yes
“I guess even having kick-ass martial-art skills isn’t enough to chase the fear away, is it?” He reached for his mug.
Casey used the distraction to slip into the chair next to him. “I wasn’t expecting it,” she freely admitted.
“I can understand that. We talk about having control, but the fear is always in control. At least that’s how it is for me.”
She drained her mug and reached over him to set it on the table. “What do we do about it?”
David put his mug aside as well and pulled her astride his lap. “I don’t know.”
At least he hadn’t said I told you so
. He brushed his thumbs against her sides. Judging from that worry line between his eyebrows, his thoughts were elsewhere. She could feel his walls going up and didn’t know how to stop that, or if she wanted to.
“I hate doubting my instincts.” Casey curled her fingers over his shoulders.
“Which ones? The ones that insisted you lure me to your bed, or the ones telling you that you’ve put yourself in a potentially lethal situation? Before you answer”—he pressed his index finger over her lips—“I have a war inside me too right now. One part of me says this was a big mistake. The other one…” He cupped her head to his shoulder. “I need time to think. You need some sleep.”
In other words, he was leaving. It tore her heart into itty-bitty pieces. She raised her head and kissed him, long and sweet, saying good-bye and begging him to stay at the same time. When their lips parted, he patted her on the butt and lifted her from his lap and onto the cushion.
“Take the Cherokee.” She tucked her feet under her and poured another mug of coffee. “I’ll arrange to get it later.”
He dressed quietly and efficiently. Casey drank her fill of him while she could. She felt like a coward, letting him go this way. Another alien concept. She was the one in charge, the one with the answers, the one who made everything all right.
David’s last act was to drape his jacket and tie over his arm. All told, it had taken him less than five minutes to prepare to walk out of her life again. He looked devastatingly handsome with his white shirt open at the collar. Temptation urged her to lick the hollow of his throat. That would lead to her unbuttoning the shirt, exploring his chest, cupping his crotch, dragging him back to bed. It was David who took action, though, bracing his hands on the armrests as he leaned in to kiss her good-bye. It started as a gentle touch of lips, then he thrust his tongue inside and deepened the kiss.
Casey bunched her robe in her fist and fought the moan welling up in her throat. He pulled away on a sharp gasp and butted his forehead to hers.
“I’ll call you. Okay?”
Somehow she managed to nod. He drew in a sigh as he stood, stared into her eyes for a couple of heartbeats, then walked away. Casey strained her ears for his passage through the house but heard nothing. The place was acoustically perfect. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes. Fifteen.
Finally she unfolded herself from her nest. Her phone rested on the nightstand. She’d lose herself in work, practice schooling her expression to neutral the next time their paths crossed in the course of business. Crawling into bed, she scrolled through the list of missed calls first. Connie, of course. They spoke at least twice a day. He’d called five times and left a CALL ME RIGHT NOW!
text. She didn’t know whether to be alarmed or annoyed. Annoyed won out. Conrad Baxter might be a killer in the boardroom and dripping money, but he could also be one hell of a drama queen. Casey didn’t think she had the patience to deal with it right now. She had her own problems.
She heaved a sigh. Who better to tell her troubles to than Connie? He’d laid the world at her feet, helped her be all she was, and she him. He and Seth were her best friends and confidantes. Whatever meltdown he was having, he could damn well wait while she dumped her stuff on him for a change.
“Well, well, well,” he chortled when she called.
“Long night, angel?” Seth added.
Damn it all, they had her on speaker.
“You called?” she replied.
Laughter burst over the phone.
“Distant and snotty,” Connie said. “I love it.”
“Don’t play coy with us.”
She could almost see Seth wagging his finger.
“You and lover boy made the paper,” Seth said
“Political section. Lovely night shot. A hot embrace. Captioned Lawyers In Love?
” Connie added.
“In the Times
“Oh yes,” they replied.
“Is he still there? Have we overstepped? Was it all you—”
“Stop it, Connie. Everything is all fucked up!” Her tears welled up again.
“Then spill all, darling. Need us there? We’ll head out right now.”
Suddenly, she was too spent emotionally to share confidences. “Not now. I’ve got work to do.” And a newspaper to grab from the driveway. She’d have to call David and warn him. There’d be fallout of some kind, even if it was only teasing. The district attorney hooking up with the people’s advocate was big gossip.
“I want to meet him,” Connie said, all humor vacant from his voice. “And if he doesn’t already know about us, you need to tell him before someone else does.”
He didn’t know. Enlightening him now was unnecessary. It was over. Even if David was able to overcome his fear, he wouldn’t be able to overcome hers. “Please. He hasn’t bothered to check on me in all these years, he certainly doesn’t need to be privy to our secrets now. It was a one-night stand, nothing more.”
“The picture says differently, angel,” Seth softly replied. “I’ll send you a snap of it.”
“Heat of the moment,” she snapped. “The moment’s over.”