"That's crap! People don't fall in love in five minutes."

She managed a wavering smile at his vulgarity and persevered. "When you kissed me that first night, you felt something for me, too—something strong and special and—"

"What I felt was common, ordinary indiscriminate lust," Ted snapped, "so knock off the infantile fantasies about love and stop pestering me. Do I need to make it any clearer than that?"

She gave up the fight with a slight shake of her head. "No," she whispered shakily, "you've made it perfectly clear."

Ted jerked his head in a nod and started to turn, but she stopped him. "If you really want me to forget about you, about us, then I guess this is good-bye."

"It's good-bye," he said shortly.

"Kiss me good-bye, then, and I'll believe you. That's my bargain."

"Oh, for God's sake!" he exploded, but he yielded to her "bargaining." Or more correctly to his own desire. Pulling her into his arms, he kissed her with deliberate roughness, crushing her soft lips, then he pushed her away while something deep inside him howled in protest at what he'd done—and what he'd deprived himself of by doing it.

She pressed the back of her fingers to her bruised lips, her eyes filled with accusation and bitterness. "Liar," she said. And then she closed the door.

For the next two weeks, Ted found himself watching for her wherever he went, whether he was off duty or patrolling or doing paperwork in the office, and when he failed to see a glimpse of her or her white Corvette, he felt … let down. Empty. He decided she must have left Keaton and gone off to wherever rich girls go when they get bored in the summer time. Not until the following week, when a burglar was sighted two miles from her house, did he realize how obsessed with her he truly was. Telling himself that it was in the line of duty for him to drive up a winding hill that no burglar in his right mind would climb on foot, Ted drove up to her house—to make certain it was secure. There was a light on in a window at the back of the house, and he got out of the car … slowly, reluctantly, as if his legs understood what his mind was denying—that his being here could have long-lasting and probably disastrous results.

He raised his hand to ring the doorbell then dropped it. This was insane, he decided, turning away, then he jerked around as the front door opened and she was standing there. Even in a simple pink tank top and white shorts, Katherine Cahill was so beautiful she drugged his mind. She was different tonight, though—her expression was sober, her voice softly frank rather than flirtatious. "What do you want, Officer Mathison?"

Confronted with her calm, direct maturity, Ted felt like a complete fool. "There was a burglary," he dissembled, "not far from here. I came up here to check—"

To his disbelief, she started to close the door in his face, and he heard himself say her name. It tore out of him before he could stop it: "Katherine! Don't—"

The door opened, and she was smiling just a little, her head tipped to the side as she waited. "What do you want?" she repeated, her eyes searching his.

"Christ! I don't know—"

"Yes, you do. Furthermore," she said with a funny teasing catch in her voice, "I don't think the son of Keaton's very own Reverend Mathison should go around lying about his feelings or using words like crap or taking God's name in vain."

"Is that what this is all about?" Ted snapped, completely off balance, a drowning man, grasping at straws to save himself from a fate he's about to embrace. "You think it would be a sexual kick to sleep with a minister's son? To find out how we make love?"

"Was anyone talking about sex, Officer?"

"Now I get it," he said scornfully, seizing on her use of his title. "You've got a hang-up about cops, haven't you. You've got me mixed up with Bruce Willis and you think having sex with—"

"There you go again, talking about sex. Is that all you can think about?"

Nonplussed and furious with himself, he shoved his hands into his pockets and glared. "If it isn't sex with me that you have on your mind, then what the hell is it?"

She stepped forward onto the porch, looking gutsier and more worldly than he felt, but his hands reached for her arms drawing her closer to his hungry body. Softly she said, "Marriage is what I have on my mind. And don't swear."

"Marriage!" Ted exploded.

"You sound shocked, darling."

"You're crazy."

"About you," she agreed. Leaning up on her toes, she slid her hands up his chest and around his neck, and Ted's body ignited as if hers was a torch held against it. "You get one chance to make up for hurting me the last time you kissed me. I didn't like it."

Helplessly, Ted bent his head, touching his lips to her soft ones, and his tongue slid across them. She moaned and the sound snapped his control. He seized her mouth, his hands shifting over her, pulling her hips tightly against his, but he gentled the kiss, and then he deepened it. She tasted like heaven and felt like it; her breasts swelled to fall his hands, and her body fit his as if they'd been sculpted exclusively for each other. Many minutes later, he finally managed to lift his head and speak, but his voice was hoarse with desire and he couldn't pull his hands from her waist. "We're both crazy."

"About each other," she agreed. "I think September is a lovely month for weddings, don't you?"

"No."

She tipped her head back and looked at him, and Ted heard himself say, "I like August better."

"We could get married in August on my twentieth birthday, but August is hot."

"Not nearly as hot as I am."

She tried to look censorious at his sexual remark and ended up giggling instead as she teasingly admonished, "I'm shocked to hear such talk from a minister's son."

"I'm an ordinary man, Katherine," he warned her, but he didn't want her to believe it. Not really. He wanted her to believe he was all the extraordinary things she made him feel—powerful, soft, strong, wise. Still, he felt she should have more time to find out exactly who and what he was. "September is fine with me."

"I don't think it's fine with me, though," she said as she studied his face with a teasing smile. "I mean, your father is a minister, and that probably means you'll insist on waiting until after we're married."

Ted managed to look innocent and confused. "To do what?"

"Make love."


Tags: Judith McNaught Second Opportunities Billionaire Romance
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