“Do you make it a habit of smacking men in the noses? That’s twice now you’ve gotten me.”
Wade’s gut clenched as Taryn took her bottom lip between her teeth and apologetically looked at him. With her standing this close, and her scent wafting around him, it took all he had not to pull her into his arms.
“Sorry, for both times. Today was a complete accident.”
“And two days ago? That was no accident.”
“Well, no, it wasn’t. You do have to admit you came on a little strong.”
His nose stopped bleeding. Wade pulled the tissue away and flashed a smile. “When I see something I like, I tend to go after it.”
Taryn scowled. “You can save your charm for another girl. It won’t work on me. I know you aren’t serious.”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
Taryn rolled her eyes. “I do own a mirror, you know.”
“You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you? Fine. With my looks and the way I dress, there’s no way a man as good-looking as you would be attracted to the likes of me.”
“So, you think I’m good-looking?”
Taryn rolled her eyes once again. “Do I have to add conceited to the list?”
Unable to stand having her next to him and not touching her, Wade reached out and pulled Taryn onto his lap. He wrapped his arms loosely around her waist. She stiffened for the briefest of seconds before she relaxed. “For your information, you’re exactly what I’ve been looking for.”
I find hard to believe.”
“It shouldn’t be all that unbelievable. I can prove it as well.”
Shifting Taryn on his lap, Wade pressed her bottom against the evidence of his arousal. Her eyes widened slightly, but she made no move to pull away. He took that as a good sign. It was killing him, but he sensed the only way he was going to get anywhere with her was to take it slow and easy.
The hard length of Wade’s cock nestled against Taryn’s bottom. Oddly enough, she couldn’t force herself to move away, let alone get off him. Sitting on his lap, she felt protected. She was still finding it hard to believe a guy with his looks was actually attracted to her, but there was no mistaking the longing in his ice-blue eyes, nor the hardness pressed against her.
She found it no easy task to think straight so she changed the subject. “Why have you come to The Pines?”
“To see if I could get you into bed.” She cocked a brow at him, and he chuckled. “Okay. I can see you aren’t open to that just yet. I also wanted to discuss business.”
“Has Beowulf decided to buy my wine?”
“Not yet, but he’d like to know more about you and your winery. Such as what types of grapes you grow and how your wine is made, that sort of thing. If you’re agreeable, I’d like to stay here a few days and get my hands dirty, so to speak. I know it’s almost harvest time, and I’d like to help out with it. Then when I return to San Francisco, Beowulf will make his decision.”
“And if I refuse to have you stay?”
“Then I can’t promise you Beowulf will buy your wine.”
The idea of having Wade stay at the winery was appealing but made her uneasy at the same time. It sounded a bit like blackmail. She did need the extra pair of hands at harvest time, though, and it would give her a better chance to get to know Wade, but the thought of having him stay at her house, just the two of them, made her a little apprehensive. Not since Nigel had a man slept under the same roof as her, except, of course, for Uncle Colin.
Not wanting to lose out on the business arrangement she could have with Wulf’s Den, Taryn ignored her uneasiness and nodded. “All right. You can stay, but there have to be a few ground rules.”
“If you want to help with the harvest, you have to do what I say. And I can promise you it’ll be no walk in the park. The grapes have to be harvested by hand, which takes many hours.”
“I’m up to the task. Now what about us?”
Taryn shook her head. “There isn’t any us, Wade. No offense, but you aren’t the type of guy I usually date.”
“I know you’re attracted to me as well. Why not let nature take its course and see what happens?”
“That has no bearing on my decision.” She tried to slip off Wade’s lap, but he wrapped his arms tighter around her, not allowing her to move. Panic rose inside her. She pushed at his chest and looked at him, hoping what she felt wasn’t showing in her eyes, and muttered, “Let me go.”
Wade quickly let her off his lap. “I can sense your fear. I would never hurt you.”
“It’s not you. I’m the problem. If you weren’t so dominant, I’d be fine. I have to be the one in charge or I panic.”
“I think it’s far from nothing. You can trust me. I would never do anything to hurt you.”
Taryn sighed. She had no idea why she believed Wade wouldn’t do her any harm, but she just knew he wouldn’t. “A boyfriend I had when I was younger didn’t take rejection too well. When I broke up with him, he didn’t…react…too kindly to it.”
Wade stood and looked at her. “He hit you, didn’t he?”
She heard the anger in his voice. “Yes, but I never gave him the opportunity to do it again. And it was a long time ago.”
“He marked you on the inside, not just on the outside. Does he live around here? I’d gladly show him the error of his ways.”
Taryn shook her head. “Nigel doesn’t live here. I met him when I was living in Los Angeles. I haven’t seen him since that day, and I’m sure I’ll never see him again. I hadn’t told him about my uncle or the winery. Uncle Colin patched me up and made sure I wouldn’t find myself in such a predicament again.”
“He taught you how to defend yourself.”
“Yes. He’d done a stint in the Army for a few years. He left it when his parents died, and took over the winery. Now it’s mine through him.”
“When did your uncle die?”
“Almost a year ago.” Taryn missed her uncle and still found it hard to talk about his passing. “He had cancer. I don’t want to talk about it. Just try to understand that this will be a business arrangement only.”
“I’m not willing to just let you slip through my fingers. Now that I know about your past, we can work through this together. You were fine with me kissing you the other night when I wasn’t holding you to me. How about we try again? I’ll keep my hands to myself, and you can stop me if you start feeling panicky.”
“I don’t think that’s a good—”
Wade cut off her protest with his lips and kissed her as if he had all the time in the world. He stayed true to his word and kept his hands behind his back so he couldn’t touch her. Taryn’s eyes fluttered shut as she enjoyed the feel of his mouth on hers, but soon it wasn’t enough. There was something about him that affected her on the basest of levels.
Taryn took the step needed to bring their bodies within touching distance, then placed the flats of her hands on his muscled chest. His heart thundered beneath her palms. Her body reacted to his closeness. Her breasts grew heavy as her nipples tightened into buds. Sighing, she increased the pressure of the kiss.
Wade swept the seam of her lips. She opened for him, allowing him entrance. She fisted her hands in his shirt and clung to him as his tongue twined with hers. Her body liquefied with need as he sucked her tongue into his mouth. Taryn moaned and ground herself against his hard thigh after he put it between her legs.
It was then that his control slipped. One arm snaked around her waist and pulled her hard against his chest. The flames of desire that’d been licking at her body quickly changed to panic. She whimpered. Wade growled in the back of his throat, but he released her before he turned away.
Taryn placed her hand on his back. Wade held himself stiff. “Sorry.”
Wade stepped away until she no longer touched him. “Don’t. Don’t apologize.” His voiced sounded strained, almost as if he was on the verge of growling again. “Just give me a minute to get myself back under control.”
Without saying a word, Taryn left the kitchen and went outside. She wouldn’t blame Wade if he gave up on her. Hell, if she were a man, she would give up on her. No sane member of the opposite sex wanted a head case for a girlfriend. That was part of the reason she’d given up looking for that special someone. She really didn’t need a man in her life. She had the winery, and that was all she needed to make herself happy, but she couldn’t quite ignore that small part of her that screamed at how unfair it all was. Pulling herself together, she stepped off the porch before she headed for one of the outbuildings. The day was slipping away, and she had work to do.