I take another step toward him, building up the nerve to just do it, just kiss him. But Hemi surprises me when he takes the step that will bring us near enough to touch.
He’s so close, my chest almost brushes his every time I inhale. I sway toward him the tiniest bit, craving the contact. With him. A perfect stranger.
“Sloane,” he whispers, the sound of my name on his lips bringing chills to my arms again. He reaches out to push my hair back over my shoulder. His fingertips linger on the skin of my neck before they fall away.
“Hemi,” I sigh, melting into the heat of his eyes. I knew there was something between us. Well, I’d hoped. Hoped I wasn’t imagining it. But now I know I wasn’t. It’s there, staring out at me from behind his hooded eyes. Blatant and unabashed, he wants me. And I want him, too.
“You need to walk out that door and never come back.”
My heart stops. Of all the things I thought he might say, this came out of nowhere. “What?” I ask in a small, uncertain voice.
“You need to leave. And don’t look back.”
I scramble to recover. “But…but what about the rest of my tattoo?”
“I’m not talking about your tattoo and you know it.”
“Then what are you talking about?” I inquire, playing dumb to save what’s left of my crumbling pride.
“I’m talking about you. And me. This. Us.”
“There is no us.”
“There will be in about thirty seconds if you don’t get the hell out of here.”
“What if I don’t want to leave?” I’m confused. Is he saying that he wants me? Or that he wants me to go?
“I’m not asking.”
“Why do you want me to go?”
“Because guys like me change girls like you.”
“Girls like me?”
“What if I’m not that innocent?”
His lips quirk in a wry grin. “Oh, you’re exactly that innocent. I can practically smell it on you. Sweet, pure, untouched. And, if I’m being honest, I’d like nothing better than to taste that on the tip of my tongue.”
“Then what’s stopping you?”
I watch him wrestle with…something. “I don’t have the time or the inclination to get involved in ruining someone else’s life.”
“What makes you think you’d ruin my life?”
“Oh, trust me. I would.”
“But nothing. For tonight, I’ll be the good guy you need me to be. Whether you know you need it or not. I’m asking you to leave, Sloane. But I promise you—promise you—that if you so much as darken my doorway again, I won’t let you walk back out again.”
I’m torn between heady elation and harsh rejection. “Hemi—”
“Go, little girl,” he says softly. “Go before I change my mind.”
AUTHOR BIO -
M. Leighton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Wild Ones and The Bad Boys romance trilogies. She is a native of Ohio, relocated to the warmer climates of the South, where she lets her mind wander to romantic settings with sexy Southern guys much like the one she married and the ones you'll find in her latest books. When her thoughts aren't roaming in that direction, she'll be riding horses, swimming in ponds and experiencing life on a ranch, all without leaving the cozy comfort of her office.
For more about M. Leighton, visit her website at www.MLeightonBooks.
blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter@mleightonbooks.