Unplanned Love: A Love In Spring novel, page 15
“How about you tell me everything about you, and then I do the same. I want to get to know you.” His deep voice rumbling in his chest broke the quiet and interrupted her fantasies. “That way, we won’t be strangers anymore. You know, just in case you change your mind about this being a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
The mirth in his voice made her lips curve into a smile even as she tried to keep a straight face to maintain what little dignity she had left.
“Let’s start from the beginning. Tell me about your family. Got any siblings?”
She took a long breath, snuggled a little more into him, then let it out. His hand stilled as his breath caught and his body stiffened. Had she done this? Was she affecting him as much as his touch was affecting her?
“I have three older brothers. Enrique is six years my senior, Diego three and Rafael two.”
“Oh, so you’re the little princess!” He chuckled, and the way her body tingled in response caught her off guard. Had she ever had this kind of reaction with anyone before? She couldn’t recall ever feeling so turned on and at the same time so at ease with any other guy she’d dated. Okay, her relationships had been few and far between, and they’d always been rather fleeting, so perhaps she’d never reached this level of spill-your-guts intimacy before.
As his hand resumed its up and down movement on her arm, she realized that not even after nine months of dating Lousy Pig had she ever felt this much intimacy. They’d never really cuddled in bed and bared their souls to each other. When they did linger in bed, maybe a couple of times or so, they’d ended up talking about work, namely about some project they’d been working on. He’d never really seemed that interested in knowing her or her family—and she was ashamed to admit she’d done the same.
“Why are your brothers’ names all Latino, but yours is not?” He stilled his hand for a moment, then resumed his soothing caress. His confused tone and the frown on his face made her chuckle. She probably sounded cheesy, but he looked adorable.
“My parents agreed that every boy child in the Wingate family would have a Mexican name—my mother is Mexican, in case I haven’t told you—and every girl would have an American name.” She smiled, remembering her parents telling her brothers and her the story of how they’d picked their names. “Turned out, they really wanted at least one or two girls, but they always got boys. So they kept trying until, at last, the ultrasound showed a girl was on her way.”
He chuckled. “Good thing you arrived when you did, or they’d have a football team by now.”
She nodded. “Eventually, they decided to name me after my two grandmothers, just to make sure nobody took offense—seeing as they weren’t planning on trying for another girl. The American name, which is Charlotte by the way, is my dad’s mother’s middle name, and the Latino, Ariela, is my mom’s mother’s.”
“Charlotte Ariela Wingate.” He sounded it out slowly, as if savoring it on his tongue. She could swear her name had never sounded so hot coming out of anyone’s mouth. “Sounds awfully posh.”
She slapped his chest and he laughed. More tingles danced around her body. “For your info, Ariela means ‘lion of God’, so don’t make fun of me. It’s a very important name.”
He chuckled again, squeezing his arm around her shoulder and practically molding her body into his. “That’s quite fitting. You really are a lioness. Roaar!”
The rumble against her ear caused goosebumps to erupt all over, but she tried to ignore them as she laughed. With her chin propped on his chest, she looked up at him. His face was still crinkled into a smiling expression.
“What’s your middle name then, Bob?”
He raised a dark eyebrow. “I’m Irish and the firstborn. What do you think it could be?”
He nodded. “Of course. And I have another brother, apart from Adam.”
“Thank you, Mr. Obvious. I already knew that bit of trivia.”
He shrugged. “You were so drunk at the wedding, I thought perhaps you’d forgotten you’d met Kyle.”
“I was not!” She moved to sit up, but his arm was wrapped so tightly around her that she couldn’t move a single muscle. “Okay, so maybe I was a little drunk toward the end of the day—”
“So little that you didn’t remember sharing a mind-blowing kiss with me,” he cut in, the smirk clear in his tone even though she couldn’t see his face with her head resting on his shoulder. Just the memory of that first kiss was enough to set her body on fire again. She should really try to rein in her emotions but—oh, wow—the way his finger was now tracing circles on her back made it hard for her to concentrate on some smart comeback.
“And to finish our get-to-know-you chat, I also have four cousins who are practically like siblings, since they moved in with us when their parents died. Now, next topic.”
She chuckled. “Okay. Tell me the story behind your tattoo.”
She propped herself up with her hands on his chest and forced him to roll on his side so she could see it again. She’d noticed it before, of course, but she’d been a little, um, distracted. Now as she traced the intricate design of the Celtic cross painted on his right side, spanning three, probably four ribs, she was curious to know everything about it. Because she wanted to know everything about him. The thought made her flinch.
“No, let me guess,” she said, needing to take her mind away from that perilous train of thought. “You wanted to look badass to impress girls, hoping they’d drop their panties for you.”
His low chuckle made her body tingle. Again. Oh, come on now, Charli. Pull yourself together!
“If I said yes would that make me a lame guy?”
“Um… probably.” She giggled when he tickled her in the ribs. “Okay, okay, no. Stop it.”
He pulled her to him, and she didn’t offer any resistance. She rested her head on his chest, finding she enjoyed this position a bit too much for her peace of mind.
“I was kidding. It wasn’t to impress girls. At least not completely.” His breath hitched when she grazed his tattoo with the tip of her finger. “And yes, maybe I wanted to look badass. But it was just a challenge, really. A stupid teenage challenge I thought my brothers wouldn’t take up.”
“But they did.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, and I couldn’t step back if I wanted to maintain my reputation.”
“Perks of being the eldest.”
“Says the little princess.” She swatted him on the chest, and he laughed. “Anyway, I thought that, since we’re Irish, we should honor our roots by getting a Celtic cross tattooed upon turning twenty-one. When my mother found out, she went hysterical but by then, both Adam and I were already marked for life.”
Charli laughed. “I so would’ve loved to see that.”
“She wanted to swat us with the wooden spoon she used to threaten us with when we were little. She said I’d brainwashed Adam, and my idiotic brother didn’t contradict her. So I got blamed, even though Adam had been game from the very beginning. He’d actually convinced me it was a great idea when I first said it as a joke, like a rite of passage into manhood or something, but he obviously told Mom it had all been my doing.”
“Your brother’s pretty slick.”
“Kyle’s even worse. As the baby of the family he always got away with everything he did. Mom still doesn’t know about the tattoo on his calf.” He chuckled, squeezing her a bit more. She reveled in the warmth of his body. “He convinced her he’d never, quote, let his evil brothers pull him to the dark side. We were both there with him when he got his tattoo, a week after he turned twenty-one. And I went with Cayden when he got his, two years ago.”
“And I bet your mom doesn’t know about your cousin either, does she?”
“Nope. He’s been careful never to be seen without a shirt when she’s around.” He grinned, and Lord help her, she wanted to kiss him senseless right then and there. “Since you don’t have any tattoos, I think we should move on to the next topic.”
“Only we started from the end and moved backward. You should get to know a person first, and then end up in bed. Shame on you, Lioness.”
“Oh my God! Don’t blame me for what happened!” She tried to move away from him again, and this time he let her. She pulled the duvet with her to cover herself. The way the right corner of his lips curled made her realize she was quite ridiculous. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t already seen what was beneath that duvet anyway. She let out an annoyed huff. “You were the one carrying me into your bedroom.”
“Didn’t seem like you were against it, Lioness.”
“Stop calling me Lioness.” She glared at him, but he only laughed in response. There he went again, the annoying man who got on her every nerve with just a word or a smirk. Why had she even let him get this far into her system?
He sat up and wrapped both arms around her, pulling her flush to him. The duvet fell to her hips, and the heat coming off his body was enough that she didn’t miss the cover. Um, yeah, perhaps she knew why she’d let him get this close.
“For your info,” he said, mimicking her earlier tone. “I don’t regret a moment. And I would do it all over again without even thinking. In fact”—his lips brushed hers so lightly she wondered if she’d imagined the contact—“I plan on doing it all over again. Right now. Multiple times.”
His mischievous grin promised he would definitely make good on his promise if she let him. And boy, did her body want her to let him. But light was creeping in through the curtains and she was sure dawn was now only a short while away. She couldn’t stay any longer. This had been all wrong. It should never happen again. She should leave.
Her eyes went up to meet his, and he shook his head, smiling.
“Don’t overthink it. And please don’t freak out. We don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to.” His hand went up to her head and he smoothed what she was sure was a bad case of bedhead. When he tucked a lock behind her ear, the contact made her shiver. His touch was… addictive wasn’t a strong enough word, but right now it would do. “We don’t have to tell Ellie you seduced her brother-in-law, if you’re not comfortable.”
“Ha. So, I seduced you, huh?” She shook her head in exasperation, letting out a groan. He could be sexy and romantic, then pull it all down like a house of cards with one single sentence.
“And I plan to let you seduce me every day, if you want to.”
This was getting out of control. Fast. Too fast. She’d barely started tolerating the man, and now he was talking about repeating last night? About more dates, or whatever last night had been? She had to focus on her life, she had to find a job, a house, a goal. She wasn’t going to stay here, especially not for a man.
“I have to go.”
He rolled his eyes. “Won’t you at least let me feed you?” He placed both hands on her shoulders and when his fingers kneaded out the kinks, she couldn’t stop a moan from escaping her lips. She shouldn’t let him resort to those low tricks to change her mind, but—
Oh, gosh. Had she just made those whimpering sounds again? Her eyes rolled back when his fingers, so rough and big, gently massaged her sore shoulders. She’d spent a lot of time hunched over her laptop or tablet lately, looking for a way to restart the life she’d paused when she left San Francisco. She hadn’t realized her back was so sore, and—
Oh. My. God. The guy was a massage guru.
“You were sayin’?”
She moaned again as he squeezed a little more, kneading out one particularly stiff knot. He chuckled.
“Will you stay for breakfast? Please?”
If his impromptu massage hadn’t already fully convinced her, his warm breath in her ear would have won her over. She nodded, too afraid to speak in case her voice came out like an unintelligible squeak.
“Good. Then, in the name of chivalry, I’ll let you hit the shower first.” His hands stopped their wondrous work and her body immediately lamented the loss. She opened her eyes and found him grinning at her. “Unless, of course, you want to help the environment and have a shower together. You know, just to save water.”
She couldn’t help laughing as she pushed him away. “Somehow, I doubt we’d save water if you were in the shower with me.”
His grin grew even broader. “Somehow, I think you’re right.”
He got out of bed and reached for his boxers on the floor, while she wrapped herself in the duvet like a caterpillar. He came out of the bathroom a moment later, the smirk still on his handsome face.
“I put clean towels on the cabinet. And you already know where everything else is, seeing as this isn’t the first time you’ve had a shower in my bathroom.” He winked, and she blushed a little at the memory of that very first night she’d slept in his bed—or actually, been out cold in his bed. It seemed like eons ago. Had it really only been a month? “I’ll go get the coffee started. Don’t be long, Lioness.”
He ducked his head as her hand missed it by a millimeter, and the sound of his low chuckle carried down the corridor as he walked out and toward the kitchen. She shook her head, wrapped the duvet more securely around her, and hopped into the bathroom, thinking a cold shower might be a good idea right about now.
* * *
As he poured coffee into the filter, Kean couldn’t stop imagining Charli in the shower—and what it would’ve been like if he’d joined her. Last night had been as mind-blowing as it had been unexpected, but he couldn’t bring himself to regret it.
After that first kiss on the wedding night, he hadn’t been able to look at her without wanting more, even though he knew his thoughts were out of line and Adam would probably have his head if he knew. He’d tried looking at other women, waiting for some kind of reaction showing he might be interested in getting to know them, but ever since that kiss he hadn’t felt an ounce of interest for anyone else. And, wow, after last night he was rather sure she’d ruined him for everyone else. If he hadn’t been able to get over an amazing kiss, he definitely wasn’t going to get over an earth-shattering night like that. No, this couldn’t be a one-time thing.
With a stupid smile on his face, he reached for the coffee pot and filled two mugs. He had never had anyone stay overnight, but in just four weeks Charli had already slept in his bed twice. Unlike the first time, though, now he knew how she took her coffee. And he felt like an idiot for feeling some weird fluttering in his chest at the thought. As if he’d never slept with a woman before. But in a way it felt as if this had been the first time, because nobody had ever made him feel this way. And as he realized the implications of his train of thought, he knew he was in knee-deep trouble.
The soft padding of bare feet on the wooden floor alerted him to Charli’s arrival. His heart rate picked up as his lips curled instinctively into a silly smile when she showed up, stilettos in one hand, her damp hair pulled up in a bun, her hourglass figure accentuated by the tight jeans and dark pink sweater that hugged all her delicious curves—those curves he’d spent hours worshiping last night.
“The shower’s all yours,” she said, with what looked like a tentative smile. The awkward morning-after, where-do-we-stand smile. He handed her one of the two mugs he held in his hands, and her smile brightened as she took it.
“Just a splash of milk. No sugar.”
She smiled. “Wow, you remember how I take my coffee!”
“I guess I’m awesome like that.” He lifted a shoulder nonchalantly and took a sip from his mug. She smiled into hers, her Bambi eyes a warm shade of caramel as they locked with his. His heart stuttered, his throat constricted, and he barely managed to swallow the coffee.
“I should probably hit the shower,” he said, placing the mug on the counter. “If you’re hungry, there are cereals, bread, and eggs. I don’t keep a wide variety, but you’re welcome to help yourself.”
“Don’t worry, Bob. I’ll find my way to the pantry.” She smiled and, damn, all the blood left his brain to head somewhere south. Yeah, it was probably time for a cold shower.
He returned ten minutes later, his hormones tamed and his stomach now churning, to find Charli standing by the counter wolfing down a sandwich. She stopped mid-bite when he showed up, and smiled awkwardly as if she’d just been caught stealing cookies from the jar.
“Um… Sorry, I was starving so…”
“We did work up an appetite last night,” he said, moving closer to her to check what she was eating. “And I told you to help yourself, didn’t I? What are you eating?” He narrowed his eyes and frowned when he spotted the contents of her sandwich. “Are those scrambled eggs? Are you eating a sandwich with eggs?”
“It’s a scrambwich,” she said, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. When she noticed the confusion on his face, she smiled. And, double damn, he wanted to kiss her. “I invented it for when I was in a hurry but didn’t want to skip breakfast. Carbs and proteins, in a to-go version.”
He smiled. “Smart,” he said, as he moved right in front of her and snaked an arm around her waist, pulling her flush to him. “Are you saying you’re in a hurry to leave, Charlotte?”
Her eyebrows went up and she bit her bottom lip. That plump, sweet lip he’d bitten himself a couple of times. Gee, what had this woman done to him?
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