"Trust? You have more secrets than the U.S. government."
Bryce gazed down at her, accepting the full brunt of her fury.
"I'm outta here," Ciara snapped.
Before she could move, he grabbed her up against him, his mouth descending on her with the muttered words, "The hell you are."
* * *
Any retort Ciara had was cut off, blunted by his mouth crushing over hers. He put everything he had into the kiss, using the strength of his desire and her weakness for him. And it worked.
She came unglued, slapping her arms around his neck, driving her fingers into his hair.
It was the same.
Only stronger. Harder.
Passion erupted between them in a powerful wave and Ciara was helpless as it swept over her, shutting everything else out and filling the loneliness that had been her only company for so many years. She surrendered to it. Her hands roamed over his chest, her fingers flipping open his shirt buttons, then diving inside. He moaned at her first touch, trembled as her fingers met flesh.
His kiss grew harder, devouring, and when he pushed his hand under her shirt and discovered she was naked, he thought his knees would cave.
"Oh Ciara," he groaned softly as he filled his palms with her breasts, his thumbs circling her nipples and she thrust into him, almost climbing up his body.
Bryce lifted her and her legs wrapped his hips. He shoved her top up and took her nipple deep inside his mouth. She cried out softly, throwing her head back, holding him there as he laved and nipped, suckled harder until she thought her insides would shatter.
"Sweet mercy Bryce, it's the same," she whispered.
"No, no," he managed over his rough breathing. "Better." He staggered back, then sank to the floor, not giving her a moment to think, only to feel, his mouth on her skin, his hands molding over her body.
Straddling his thighs, she kissed him with a ferocity that left him moaning, his hands rushing over her as if to touch every inch in one sweep, then try again. She was no less busy, shoving his jacket off, peeling open his shirt, stroking down between his legs and shaping his arousal. He made a dark hungry sound, like the rumbling of a storm, and gripped her hips, thrusting against her in the dance they'd once shared.
Ciara gasped and answered him with a hard push, wanting to feel him inside her. His mouth was on her breast again, his fingertips diving below the waistband of her slacks, then sweeping around to the zipper. He sent it down and pushed beneath the fabric, her panties, fingers sliding lower, seeking her wet warmth, and the instant his touch neared her center, she knew she couldn't do this.
She stilled and he immediately noticed it. He lifted his head and knew this would go no further.
"I can't do this."
"You were doing right nicely a second ago."
She pushed off his lap and righted her clothing as she said, "This was why I was leaving. I can't live here and do this with you." She stood.
"You want me."
She choked off a short laugh. "I don't think there is any doubt."
"I want you like mad."
She looked at him. The tender smile she sent him was so unrestricted, so free, his heart skipped and crashed in his chest. He wanted to see that look all the time.
"I know. But…"
"But what?" he said as he stood.
"I can't look at you in the morning and know that we have only this between us."
He rubbed his face, still breathing hard. She was right. He didn't like that he wanted more. He didn't like that he wanted more so badly.
Her voice came soft, and almost distant as she said, "We used each other that night in Hong Kong, Bryce. We both knew it. That's why I said no names and you agreed. If I'd wanted more—"
"I know," he interrupted, meeting her gaze. "You would have looked me up. But did you ever think of what I wanted then?" He'd torn up the city looking for her the next day.
"No, I couldn't. I still can't."
"Why?" What the hell was she hiding?
"I have my reasons. And you already made it clear that you're not looking for a wife, so that leaves easy companionship. Well, no dice. Sleeping with you while I'm your daughter's nanny just makes me feel cheap."
"Don't say things like that."
"Well, that's how I see it. We used each other five years ago. And that was fine with me. Then. Not now." Not when I know your name, not when I see you like a man and not a fantasy, she thought, swallowing hard. "I'll be gone in the morning." She turned to the closet and pulled out her suitcases.
"What about Carolina?"
"She's a good baby. She'll take to anyone." Ciara opened dresser drawers, walking woodenly to and from the suitcase. "Wife Incorporated will send someone to replace me."