Copyright © 2014 Cynthia D'Alba
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
This woman…this beautiful woman had a thing for him?
His circulatory system shunted all his blood to his groin, which swelled with interest and desire.
“Drake? What are you doing here?” she repeated.
For an additional second, he reconsidered why he’d come. What if Leo had been wrong? Crap. What if he made a total fool of himself?
He cleared his throat. “Do you have a minute? I thought we could talk.”
She picked up the wiggling dog and cocked her head. “About what? You pretty much made your position clear at Leo’s.”
He walked down the porch steps to where she stood on her walkway. “Yeah, about that. I need to apologize.” He tapped the side of his head. “Brain fog.”
“Great,” she said with fake enthusiasm. “Apology accepted.” She swept past him and climbed onto her porch.
“Wait.” He followed her. “What’s his name?” he asked, stroking her dog’s head.
The puppy squirmed in her arms. Drake leaned over and the animal licked his nose.
“Her name is Killer,” KC said.
“Can I?” Drake held out his hands to take the puppy.
KC passed her over.
“Killer? Why, this little lady doesn’t look like a killer.” He nuzzled the dog’s fur. The puppy darted her pink tongue out and tickled his face with tiny licks.
“You’re just lucky I don’t give the command to kill. She’d rip your lips right off your face.”
He chuckled. “You mean lick my lips right off my face, right?”
She sighed and opened her door. “C’mon in, I guess. If you insist.”
Killer—Drake had serious doubts that was the dog’s real name—and he followed KC into the house. They stood in the foyer as she unclipped the dog’s leash.
“You don’t have to hold her. She’s done her business outside so she can run around.”
He set the tiny bundle on the floor. “What breed is she?”
“Yorkie. She turned six months old last week. Want something to drink?”
“Just water. I’ve had my beer quota for today.” They turned to the right and he followed her into a large, bright kitchen.
“I haven’t.” She pulled a bottle of beer and a bottle of water from the refrigerator.
“Nice place,” he said, taking the water and allowing his gaze to roam. The hardwood floor from the entry continued here. The dark gold and black granite countertops were set off by the glossy white of the cabinets. The black appliances complimented the black swirl in the granite.
The area behind the sink opened up on the dining room just beyond it. Through that large opening, there was an expansive view of a golf fairway.
She shrugged at his comment. “Let’s go to the living room and you can tell me really why you’re here.”
He followed her through the adjacent dining room and then down three steps to a sunken living room. The room had a back circular wall comprised completely of glass, providing the view of the golf course he’d admired from the kitchen. He realized that the sunken room kept the incredible view available to anyone in the kitchen or the dining room.
She dropped into a plush off-white leather recliner. Killer—that just couldn’t be this dog’s name—followed them, her nails clicking faintly on the hardwood. As soon as KC sat, the puppy stood on her hind legs to be picked up, which KC did. She stroked the dog’s head, sat back and waited.
A large, butter-yellow overstuffed leather sofa beckoned to him. He sat and took a large gulp of water. First to dilute the beer floating around in his gut. Second, to put some moisture in his mouth and down his throat, both of which had turned to dust the minute he saw KC standing on her walk. And third, to buy him some time as he tried to find the words he wanted to say.
KC waved her hand in a get-on-with-it gesture. He nodded.
“Oh God. Leo sent you here?” she snarled. “I’m going to kill him.”
“Don’t kill him yet. He sort of knocked me upside the head and rattled my brain enough that what you said this afternoon finally sank through my thick skull. You really want to go with me to the Sand Castle?”
She dropped her head against the headrest. “Great. Just freaking great. You have rattled brains, and because of that you’ve come to see me.”
He laughed. “Not exactly.” He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. His movement caught the attention of the puppy, who jumped down and ran over to him. The ball of furry energy danced around his feet and Drake picked her up. If she weighed a pound, he’d be shocked. The puppy wiggled and climbed up to his face, again smearing it with her puppy tongue.
“Traitor,” KC said.
“Me or Killer? And what is her name? It isn’t Killer.” He nuzzled his nose on the puppy’s head. “This baby isn’t a killer of anything.”
“Ha! You haven’t seen the heel of my leather boot.”
“Her name is Jasmine. I call her Jazz.”
At the mention of her name, the puppy’s head snapped toward her owner and she immediately began struggling to get down. Drake set Jazz on the floor and she scurried to KC, who shook her head and picked her up.
“She’s rotten,” she said, but there was no fire behind her words.
Drake leaned back on the sofa and crossed an ankle over a knee. “Okay, as I was saying, do you want to go with me on vacation? You sort of caught me off-guard this afternoon, and I’m sorry for being so slow on the uptake. I’d love for you to come with me.” He drained the remaining water and set the empty bottle on the side table. “But you need to know that I reserved a one-bedroom suite. I’ll sleep on the couch, you don’t have to worry. You can have the bed.”
KC set the puppy down and leaned forward. “You’re asking me to go with you on vacation?”
“Yep. My treat.”
“And you’re not going to make me sleep with you?”
He shrugged and made himself maintain eye contact when what he wanted to do was look anywhere but at her. Damn. Her voice was a little tight and high with that last question. Now what had he done wrong? He didn’t think he’d ever understand women.
“Right.” He dragged the word out. “No obligation.”
She drained her beer. The empty bottle dangled from the tips of her fingers. The side of her cheek sucked as she rolled it between her teeth.
“So no sex. That’s what you’re saying? I just want to make sure there are no misunderstandings this time.”
He nodded. “Sure.”
She echoed his nod and then set her bottle on the floor. “Well then, in that case, no.”
His head popped back. “What?”
Leaning toward him, she said, “No sex, no trip.”
This time, he swallowed hard. Crossed and uncrossed his legs. Adjusted his position on the sofa. “Explain exactly what you’re saying. Use small words and short sentences. I don’t think my mind is hearing correctly this afternoon.”
“Here’s the deal, Doc. I want a vacation with the five S’s. Sand. Surf. Sun. Spa. And sex.” She leaned back in her chair. “And not necessarily in that order.”
“So you want to sleep with me?”
“I want a two-week torrid, scorching-hot affair. No holds barred. Then, we walk away. No harm. No foul. Those are my terms.” She stared into his eyes. “Take it or leave it.”