“They wouldn’t understand why I want to be here...need to be here.” The explanation burned in his throat.
Sadie reached out to him, offering comfort instead of the passion he’d planned on when he’d first walked through the door. “I understand. Sometimes life is overwhelming, and you need to recharge—somewhere away from all the things you feel like you have to take care of.”
She stepped in close, the arm around his waist making him wish there was nothing between his skin and hers. “You’ve worked incredibly hard, Zach. You deserve this sanctuary for yourself.”
“Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.”
He shook his head. “If it wasn’t for the Blackstone brothers, I’d probably be rotting in jail from that crop dusting incident. To have everyone patting my back...it just feels false.”
Sadie wasn’t buying it. “You’ve worked at the mill a long time, right? Long before you were head of security for the Blackstones.”
“You’ve known most of those people all of your life, right?”
“I saw you with them, Zach,” she said, squeezing him a little tighter. “I’ve watched you interact with them since that first trip out there. They respect you. Your direction and judgment.”
Her gaze remained clear and direct, pulling him in.
“That doesn’t come from Blackstone backing. You have to earn that. Which you did with your integrity and hard work. They know you because you’ve proven yourself time and again. And that’s why they won’t judge you for indulging in some of what we girls call me time every so often.”
Her assessment left him speechless and in desperate need of a few minutes to himself. As if she completely understood, she graced him with a sweet smile and continued on her exploration.
Leaving him and his emotions behind.
Eager for something to do, Zach carried the bags up the stairs to the master suite. Simply furnished in beige suede with accents reminiscent of the nearby woods, the atmosphere was soothing without being feminine. He dropped the bags, wondering where he would put Sadie’s stuff.
With a self-deprecating shake of his head, he conceded that he hadn’t thought through his plans for this visit very well. He could put her bag downstairs, but he wasn’t about to give even a ghost of an impression that he wanted her that far away. Upstairs, he had a few drawers built into the closet, filled with his own clothes.
Maybe they’d stay busy enough that clothes wouldn’t be necessary.
They definitely weren’t necessary for what he had in mind. He glanced from the bed to the French doors leading to the balcony and hot tub. For the first time, Zach planned to explore every fantasy he could with a woman. Until now, he’d always held back. The intensity of his nature kept him cautious.
But tonight he was cutting the caution tape and diving in headfirst.
As he heard her footsteps on the stairs, a tremble started in his hands. Not hard enough to be seen, just subtle enough to be felt. He clenched his fists, unwilling to give in to the need to pounce the minute she strolled through the doorway.
But when she came in, she didn’t look around, didn’t inspect her surroundings with the curiosity she had downstairs. Instead her gaze rested solely on him.
Just as she had downstairs, she reached for him. Only this time, her touch wasn’t intended for comfort. She moved in close. The faint scent of sugar drifted over him as her hands traveled across his chest to grasp the edges of his open flannel shirt. Slowly she pulled down, just hard enough for him to feel the weight. Then she let go and slipped her hands inside. The same feeling of need came over him, multiplied by a hundred.
But he refused to take the reins...just yet.
The light scrape of her nails against his ribs through the undershirt tested his resolve. His eyelids slid closed. A few deep breaths might help...
She pressed her mouth against the underside of his jaw.
His heart raced as she nibbled and licked her way to his neck, then down along the sensitive skin of his throat. He growled a warning.
And heard her giggle.
With a quick move, he lifted her by her arms and tossed her lightly onto the bed behind them. A high-pitched squeal signaled her surprise. He stood his ground at the mattress’s edge, staring down at her with the knowledge that the game was now his. He was in control. He would make the next move.