"—call with Mia the other day, and she told me you bought your family’s lake house back. I’m so happy for you, and actually that’s partly why I’m calling. We’re planning on taking a vacation later this summer, and once your sister told me about the lake, it sounded like the perfect retreat from our everyday nuttiness. Plus, I could see you and stop by Seattle to see the rest of your family, too. Do you know if there are any cottages or vacation rentals available?"
"Stay here, at my place."
"Are you sure? The four of us can be a lot to live with, even for just a few days."
"You can have the place to yourself."
"We couldn’t kick you out of your own summer house."
"It’s okay," he reassured her, "I’m sure I can stay next door."
"So," his cousin said, drawing out the two letters, "then it sounds like Mia’s right. You and Brooke are officially—"
"Nothing’s official," he quickly clarified, "but Brooke’s a good friend, and I’m sure she’ll have no problem with me crashing at her place, especially if she gets to see you and your family."
But even as he said it, the words didn’t sound quite right in his head, didn’t feel quite right falling off his tongue. Because he wasn’t "crashing" with Brooke anymore, and even though it was true that nothing was official, that didn’t make what they’d shared so far feel any less powerful, any less potent.
He heard a shriek in the background and then the phone dropped as Sophie said, "Oh, Smith, honey, it’s okay." When she picked the phone back up, he could hear her little boy crying. "Sorry about that, Rafe. Like I said, never a dull moment. Oh, and before I go, Jake wants you to know he’s got some awesome new beer he’s been brewing that he’ll bring for you."
"Give everyone a hug and a kiss for me, Soph. And as soon as you figure out the dates for your vacation, consider my place yours."
Rafe wouldn’t have thought he could envy a guy who’d once had his pick of any woman he wanted for now having to deal with a wife and two babies...but right then it seemed to Rafe that Jake McCann was the luckiest bastard in the world.
* * *
Just under three hours later, Brooke stumbled in her front door. She’d heard the drill going at Rafe’s house when she’d gotten out of her car, and even though she was dying to see him, she was also desperate for another shower to wash away the slight aches from her long drive.
It always felt so good to come back to the lake, even after only a day away. Only, today she was thankful for far more than the beautiful lake with the waning moon beginning to rise over it.
She’d had a lot of time to think in the car. It was, in fact, the main reason she’d wanted to make the trip alone. Of course she would have loved to spend the hours with Rafe, but her head had been spinning so fast after they’d made love yet again on the bed that morning, still wet from the shower.
How, she wondered, could everything change so fast?
Or, she’d asked herself over and over again as the miles rolled beneath the tires, had anything really changed at all?
Yes, they were no longer platonic friends, having transitioned pretty darned completely into friends-with-benefits. But beyond that, had there been something more than just heat in his eyes when he’d gazed down at her as he was making love to her?
Were the emotions she’d thought she could hear in his voice when he whispered her name really there? Or was she simply imagining what she so desperately wanted to see and hear...and feel…from him?
For tonight, she’d decided it would have to be enough to push at his sensual boundaries. She’d focus on fighting one battle at a time.
First, for every last ounce of pleasure they could give each other.
And then, if she was even luckier, for his heart.
Unlike the shower she and Rafe had taken together that morning that she’d never wanted to end, now she quickly shampooed and soaped up before rinsing off and getting out of the shower. Normally, slipping back into her jeans and a T-shirt after wearing a tailored dress and heels all day in the city felt like coming home. But she wasn’t planning on putting her jeans back on tonight.
Before she left Colbie’s store, she’d bought not only the gorgeous lengths of silk, but also the prettiest—and sexiest—lingerie she’d ever seen. She’d bought it with thoughts of how Rafe would react when he saw her in it, but as she pulled the exquisite lace and silk out of the shopping bag, she realized it would thrill her just as much to wear it. She’d never given too much thought to her undergarments before, but after spending a little time in Indulgence, she had to wonder if this could be yet another way of letting out her wild side, with sensual secrets that only she and her lover would know were waiting there beneath her clothes.
She was wearing her secret beneath a simple blue cotton summer dress and had laid her other purchase out over the pillows when she heard Rafe walk in the front door ten minutes later. But as she walked out into the living room, and he met her halfway to tug her into his arms, she immediately forgot about secrets and her day in Seattle.
All she could think about was how good it felt to be back in his arms.
God, he’d missed her today.
When Rafe had heard Brooke drive up, he’d wanted to drop his tools, pull her out of the driver’s seat, and kiss her senseless, but he’d forced himself to give her a few minutes to decompress first.