Unexpected Packages, page 11
Both hands now gripped her shoulders as if to hold her in place in case she decided to run. And who could blame her. The crazy thoughts and emotions running through him had to be showing on his face, and there was no denying the desperation he was feeling. Kenny needed her to understand.
“And, yes, I am jealous of a guy who had the pleasure of spending the last three and a half hours with you while I sat at home pretending to work and trying to convince myself I should stay away the library.”
Suddenly finding the whole situation slightly humorous, he gave a short laugh and shook his head.
“You can see how successful I was.”
Nerves caused his stomach to churn. In the past, he had preferred to keep his feelings to himself because they were … well, personal. Besides it had been his experience women didn’t usually want to know what he was feeling, even when they asked. He glanced over at Connie. He wished she would say something. Anything would be better than the silence. Just then the sounds of soft laughter reached his ears. Well, that wasn’t the reaction he had expected.
“Mind sharing what’s so funny? I could use a laugh about now.”
He couldn't keep the edge from his voice. Here he had just laid his soul bare for this woman, and she had the nerve to laugh at him. There were no doubts now. It had been a mistake coming here. He should have stayed home and dealt with his misery by himself.
“You are,” she said, her eyes sparkling with humor.
“I fail to see what I have said or done that is so damned funny.”
The smile faded slowly from her face as she looked up at him. He could practically here her mind clicking, going back over all he’d said.
“You were serious? About being jealous of Brad? About worrying about coming here?”
The look of utter disbelief on her face almost had him laughing. That is if he was in the laughing kinda mood.
“Yes, I was,” he said, lowering his gaze.
There was an odd ache in his chest, but he fought the need to rub at it. How many women through the years had called him heartless? Well, if they could see him now, he would bet they would enjoy the laugh. The ever cocky and arrogant Kenny Jamison brought down by a college student/gas station attendant. It was unimaginable. It was hard to believe they had only met a few days ago. Yet in that short time, she had turned his world upside down. Made him feel and think about things.
A soft hand caressing the side of his face brought him out of his thoughts. He looked down into her soft brown eyes. The gentle smile lifting her lips made his heart hurt. What was it about this woman that had him tied so tightly in knots?
“I didn’t mean to laugh at you, but the thought of you being jealous of Brad …,” she simply shook her head.
“Trust me when I say you have nothing to be jealous of. He’s a good guy as a friend, but I don’t want to date him. And if that weren’t enough, when was the last time you looked in the mirror?”
The scent of her perfume wrapped itself around him. It was a scent he would forever more associate with this woman. Her hands slowly moved up his chest to surround his neck.
“You are gorgeous. There’s no way Brad can compete with that,” she said before rising on tiptoes to kiss him gently on the lips.
“Not to mention you have some other redeemable qualities.”
“Oh, yeah,” he said against her lips. “And what would they be because I know plenty of women who would disagree.”
Soft laughter came from the woman in his arms.
“Yes, well, I can see how they could say that. You don’t exactly allow people to see the real you. The man behind the good looks and the impeccable clothes. Not to mention the air of arrogance that seems to always surround you. It’s like a protective shield.”
She had his attention now, and he stopped the slow perusal of her neck he had been making while she had been speaking. He lifted his head to gaze deeply into her eyes.
“Go on,” he prodded softly.
Kenny tried to tamp down on the need he suddenly felt. He wanted to know what this woman saw in him that others had not. In the past, it had been those very things she had mentioned that had attracted women to him. No one had bothered to look further, or had it been as Connie had suggested? He used the material things to keep women out. And if that were the case, how had she managed to slip inside?
“There’s no secret you are gorgeous. You know and everyone else knows it, too, but you are also kind and smarter than the average bear,” she said, laughing softly.
“But more than that, you have a fierce love for your family and friends. In the few short days we’ve known each other, I have heard the love you have for them in your voice. There’s nothing you wouldn't do for them. It makes people wish to be a part of that private group. You have a wonderful sense of humor and great taste in music. There’s something about you that draws people to your insides. Or at least it would if you only would allow them time to see the real you.”
Connie lowered her head as if embarrassed, and if he were honest, he was a little embarrassed himself. How could someone who had known him for a mere six days possibly see so much in him? More than what Lori had seen in the four months they had been together.
Not knowing what to say, he did what he had wanted to do since seeing her tonight. He lowered his head. He meant for the kiss to be a simple thank you, but at the first touch of his lips on hers, the fire that was always banked when near her ignited and exploded. He pulled her tighter against his hardening body. His hands at her hips held her firmly against his aching groin. This is what he had waited for all day. The need he felt for the woman in his arms was beyond his understanding. He wanted to touch every part of her. He wanted to teach her the true value of who she was. It was important for her to know he saw some of the same qualities in her she saw in him. But more Kenny wanted to erase all those other jerks from her memory. Every guy who had ever done damage to her self-esteem and confidence. All those idiots who prevented her from seeing the true Connie. A soft moan escaped her parted lips, and his tongue moved inside. Connie moved restlessly against him. Hands, that moments ago pulled her closer to him, now stilled her moving hips before he lost complete control and took her right here. Kenny pulled his lips reluctantly away from hers and took a deep breath of air, fighting for control. His body was on fire.
“Hmm,” she answered, her head was buried in his neck nibbling.
Damn, she was not making this easy, and the last thing he wanted to do was ask her to stop, but they had to.
“We need to get out of here before they call the police,” he said, laughing in an effort to get himself back to normal.
She raised her head. Her eyes were heavy with desire. Desire Kenny felt down to the throbbing dick straining against his jeans.
“Your place or mine?” she asked, gazing up at him with a far off expression on her face.
He saw the shock and embarrassment register on her face when she realized what she had said. If he hadn’t been thinking the same exact thing, he might have laughed. But the fire blazing through his blood was no laughing matter. After another quick kiss to her swollen lips, he took her hand and headed across the parking lot.
Despite the late hour there were still a few cars in the library’s expansive parking lot, and he realized he had no idea what kind of car she drove.
“Where’s your car, sweetheart?”
It seemed to take her a moment to realize where they were.
“It’s over there,” she said, pointing with her free hand. “Right beside yours.”
The low slung bright red sports car caught Kenny by surprise. He vaguely recalled Roger saying her parents were pretty well off. That had been quite an understatement.
“Nice car,” he said absently.
“Thanks. My parents got it for me when I graduated from high school with honors,” she said, searching inside her satchel for the keys.
He leaned casually against her car and watched her. She
“Connie,” he began but stopped.
What the hell was he going to say? He felt as if they had both revealed so much tonight already, but she seemed to be embarrassed more so about the passion they had just shared than the words that had been said. He didn’t want her to think there was anything wrong with the desire she felt for him ever.
“Kenny, look I’m sorry about what I said a few minutes ago. I don’t know what came over me,” she said, her gaze still lowered.
“I know what came over you. It’s the same thing that came over me.”
Tired of watching her fumble around in her bag, he grabbed her hands. Kenny placed two fingers beneath her chin and forced her head up so he could stare into her eyes. What he saw there made him smile. Uncertainty mixed with desire. Yeah, they were both on the same page, and it was refreshing.
“Don’t ever doubt how much I want you, Connie. It’s all I’ve thought about since I met you.”
Her eyes seemed to be searching his, looking for confirmation of what he was saying. So he stood there with his emotions open so there would be no doubting the truth of his words.
It looked like she was about to say something when his cell phone rang. He gave her an apologetic look before pulling it out of his jeans pocket. Silencing the tone after checking the caller id, he put it back in his pocket. He felt uncomfortable under the weight of her questioning gaze. It was as if she knew it had been a female calling and he felt … well, guilty for it happening while they were together. Not able to take it any longer, he avoided her gaze by looking down to check his watch.
“Look, I know you have an early class tomorrow,” he began.
“Yep, I do,” she said a little too quickly. “I guess I had better get going. Besides I’m sure you have things you need to take care of as well.”
Kenny didn’t miss the accusation in her words, and he felt as if he deserved it.
“Connie,” he said, stopping her from opening her car door. “It’s not what you think.”
The words sounded lame to his ears, but he didn’t know what else to say. This was not how he wanted their evening to end, so there was no way he could have this between them.
“Kenny, look, if you needed to answer the phone, all you had to do was do it. Don’t try and make me believe your sudden need to leave is for my best interest.”
Anger flashed in her eyes for the first time since their meeting, and he paused in what he was about to say. She had a right to be upset with him. He had pulled a typical guy move.
“I’m sorry,” he said, holding up his hands in surrender. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have tried to pass the call off as nothing. But you’re wrong if you think I have intentions on returning the call when I leave you.”
The look of distrust shining in her eyes brought him back to the reality of what he was dealing with. She had been hurt before by guys who hadn’t cared about her feelings. Or bothered to tell her the truth.
“It was my ex-girlfriend, the one who dumped me a few days ago. She’s been calling off and on, but I have no desire to talk to her. In my opinion, there’s nothing left to say.”
It surprised him how dispassionate he truly felt about Lori. She was someone he had shared his life with for over four months. No, he corrected. He hadn’t shared his life with her because Lori had only been interested in certain parts. The parts that allowed her to move and network in his professional world. She hadn’t been interested in meeting any of his friends. She hadn’t been interested in finding out what he liked to do outside of work. But before he allowed the bitterness over the amount of wasted time he had spent on her to fully take root, he realized it had been partially his fault. He hadn’t wanted to include her in any portion of his life outside of the comfort zone they had established. But now he wanted something different.
“Oh,” Connie said. “I’m sure she has something important to say if she’s calling you.”
It was her turn to avoid his gaze, but not before he saw misery and distrust enter her eyes. His only thought was to make that look go away.
“There’s nothing Lori could possibly have to tell me that I would want to hear. I see no reason to go backwards to try and rekindle what wasn’t there to begin with. Besides the road ahead looks so much more inviting. Do you understand what I’m saying to you, Connie?” he asked, a soft smile tilting his lips up.
Confusion clouded her gaze before she shook her head.
“It means, silly girl,” he said, taking her face between both his hands. “That I am doing just fine right here. With you. That is, of course, if you’ll have me.”
Disbelief turned into shock in the blink of an eye as his words seemed to suddenly register. Her jaw grew slack and her mouth opened, but no words came out. Kenny laughed at her response and pulled her to him in a huge bear hug.
“I’ll take that to mean you have to think about it.”
She nodded against his shoulder, and the smile on his face faltered just a little. Kenny was glad she couldn't see it because the reason behind his doubts had nothing to do with her being a part of his life. If nothing else the time he had spent this afternoon pretending he wasn’t thinking about her or what she was doing or who she was doing it with had proved he wanted her in his life. It was the weight of the responsibility he now felt so heavily on his shoulders. What if he wasn’t up for the challenge and he became yet another guy who disappointed her? Or worse. What if he hurt her the most?
Connie threw her backpack on her bed and then fell beside it. She closed her eyes and luxuriated in the peace of being home alone. She allowed the quiet to seep into her pores. It was great living with her best friends, but sometimes it was not the easiest thing. They were lucky that when Tammy’s parents had remodeled the house, they had increased the number of bathrooms to match the number of bedrooms. If not, things could have gotten ugly real fast.
She rolled over on her back and stared up at her ceiling, wondering what to do with the free time. It was Thursday afternoon, and her last class of the day and her study group for tonight had been canceled class she wouldn’t have minded, but sitting through another three and a half hours of review, she could definitely do without. Last night had been torture. All she had been able to think about was how different her evening would have been had she been with Kenny instead of fifteen of her fellow classmates. But the night hadn’t been a total waste. A smile came to her face as she thought back on last night. When she had seen him walking up the library steps towards her. … A giggle escaped, and Connie put her hand over her mouth to contain it, but another burst free. She kept telling herself it was silly to be so excited about seeing another person, but she couldn't help it. Even telling herself to slow down and think this through was having no effect. Somewhere between last night and this morning her common sense had gone on vacation, and she knew exactly the moment it had happened.
“When he asked me to become a part of his life,” she whispered to the empty room.
Even now she couldn’t believe it. Nor could she believe how she had stood there like some deaf and mute statue as he had practically poured out his heart to her. So much had been running through her head at the time, but she just hadn’t been able to put any of it into words. He had seemed to understand and had followed her home when they finally left the library parking lot. They had spent another two hours downstairs in the family room talking and making out. Mostly making out, she thought as another giggle slipped out. Her stomach did flips as the feelings from last night returned in full force. Had it not been for his self-control, she would have let him make love to her right there on the couch with her roommates in the house. And gladly. Her body had been on fire, and she had wanted nothing more than for him to take the decision out of her hands and start peeling clothes from her body. But Kenny had gently put a stop to what they were doing. When insecurities had threatened to make her question why he hadn’t followed thr
Connie rolled onto her stomach and glanced at the clock. She hadn't talked to him since last night. When she’d tried to reach him between classes today, his secretary had told her he was out. Maybe he was back in the office. Excitement over the thought of spending a night alone with Kenny filled her stomach with butterflies. Just as she was reaching for the phone it rang.
“Hello?” she answered.
“Hey you,” she said, rolling onto her back and a smile lifting her lips. Just the person she wanted to talk to.
“I was calling to leave you a message. What are you doing home? I thought you were on campus all day.”
“My class and study group for tonight both got canceled. I was just about to call you. ”
“You were, were you?”
Thoughts of him had followed her to each of her classes today. Since finding out about her canceled class and study group, she hadn’t been able to concentrate on anything except seeing him again.
“Yep, I tried to call you earlier, but your secretary said you were out of the office. I wanted to know if you still maybe wanted to get together tonight.”
As soon as the words were out anxiety set in. It was amazing to her that even after he had revealed so much of himself last night she could still question how he felt. But over the years, she had learned to be cautious in revealing too much of how she was feeling.
“So what are you doing tonight?” she asked cautiously.
“Why, what do you have in mind?”
The husky timber of his voice washed over her like a caress against her skin. It sent a thrill through her.
“Well … my roommates all have plans for tonight and … I will be here all alone,” she began.