I can't believe it! I wrote my installment on Wednesday so I wouldn't be late this week and guess what? Forgot to post it. I'm such a loser. :-( I'm in San Diego on a family vacation. If you entered my contest...so sorry, I'm not going to draw a winner until I get back.
So last week Kaia James left us with this: http://kaiajames.bravejournal.com/entry/19449. Nice job removing our hero/heroine from the bunny ears and mud fight, btw. :-)
So here is the next installment.
The sound of tires on the asphalt was soothing, but Leanne was too tense to let it lull her. She didn't know what kind of trouble Suzy could be in, but it was bad. If she had something that belonged to this Marchasi, the consequences could be fatal. But what could she have? And why would she have it? Suzy wasn't always the fastest fish in the ocean, but she usually didn't try to swim with the sharks, either. What she lacked in common sense she made up for in street smarts. If she knew Marchasi well enough to take something from him, she had to know how dangerous he was.
Leanne sighed and looked beside her at Aaron. He drove with a single minded concentration that told her he was probably having the same kind of internal dialogue she was. "Well," she asked. "Figure anything out yet?"
He glanced away from the road. "Not a thing."
"Can I ask you something?"
"Why are you helping me?"
He seemed to consider this for a moment and she couldn't stop the rush of embarrassment. What had she hoped? For some declaration of feeling? They'd only just met. But if he said, I don't know, it was going to hurt. Why, she didn't care to examine. It just would.
"You need it," he said at last.
She stared, her mouth dropping open a little. "I do not."
"Sweetheart, you are a woman crying out for help."
"I am not."
"Look at yourself. Why are you dressed like that?"
She sputtered for a moment, not sure if he was insinuating or insulting. "What's wrong with what I'm wearing?"
"Nothing, if you have a press conference scheduled. But honey, we're not headed for the office."
She folded her hands primly in her lap and looked out the windshield.
"Hey," he said. "I'm not trying to hurt feelings. I'm just making an observation. You're too uptight."
"And that's not supposed to hurt my feelings?"
Aaron gave a deep sigh and pulled to the side of the road. He put the car in park, but left the lights on and the engine runnning. Turning in his seat, he watched her huddle against the door. "Look at me," he said.
She was too hurt, too humiliated to do as he said. She didn't want him to see her, to see the pain in her eyes. Because she knew he was right. She'd been the good sister for so long, she didn't know how to be anything else. He probably thought she was fool, all dressed up to visit the likes of Fat Frank the mud king and God knew who else. But it went against the grain to relax, to pull on a pair of sweats or jeans when she left the privacy of her house. Who knew what could wait on the other side of the door? Who knew what kind of ambush might be lurking to catch her unaware and expose her?
Slowly, Aaron leaned over, took her chin in his hand and turned her face. "Look at me," he said again.
His voice was deep and softer than the air that swirled around their car. His words drew her attention to his mouth. He had full lips and white teeth. A five-o'clock shadow covered his jaw and gave him a dangerous look in the close confines. Against her will, her gaze traveled up, over the solid features, to the slate-blue eyes. He wasn't looking at her like he thought she was a fool.
He reached over and pulled the two strategically placed clips from the back of her head and her hair fell free to swing against her shoulders. He smiled as he touched it with his fingers.
But she didn't have to finish the questions, because he was moving closer still and she already knew the answer. He was going to kiss her, that's what he was going to do. And she was going to let him. Something tightened in her chest as she waited for his mouth to settle over hers. It seemed to take a long time, but finally he was there, his face blurring before she closed her eyes and then his lips were on hers.
The kiss had one, sweet, tentative second before Aaron shifted and wrapped his arms around her. He pulled her hard against him, hauling her to the middle of the seat so he could have her closer. Leanne felt a surge of something she didn't quite know how to classify. It was passion but it was power as well. Some feminine trigger that she possessed had moved him to this. He wanted her. As unbelievable as that seemed, he wanted her.
"Leanne," he said into her mouth.
"Yes," she breathed back.
And then his tongue slipped between her lips and she did exactly as he said.