“I came to apologize, Channing,” he said, leaning back against the closed door. “The reason I did what I did that night at McKays was because I thought you were engaged to Hammond, and I didn’t want to see you get hurt.”
She gaped at him. “You didn’t want to see me hurt? So seducing me just for the hell of it, to prove a point, wasn’t going to hurt me?”
Zane crossed his arms over his chest. “I did not seduce you for the hell of it, Channing. I did it to make sure you would break off your engagement. At the time, I thought it was a good idea. Hammond was screwing around on you. How was I to know the two of you weren’t really engaged?”
Channing clenched her jaw before saying. “That’s beside the point! How Mack was treating me wasn’t any of your business.”
“The hell it wasn’t. Was I supposed to stand around and let him mess with you?”
She looked livid. “Yes, that’s precisely what you were supposed to do. It wasn’t your business, Zane. I’m not your business. You didn’t want me, remember? Who I became involved with after leaving Denver wasn’t your concern. You can’t have it both ways. You don’t love me yet you didn’t think twice about sabotaging what, for all you knew, was my happiness with another man.”
Zane shook his head at their senseless argument. “I do love you.”
Channing froze. And then seconds later, when he leaned in closer, she blinked. When he grasped her chin to tilt her face up to his, the only thing she seemed able to do was stare up at him. Did he really think she would believe that he loved her after all the times he’d denied it? No, Zane didn’t love her. He just didn’t want anyone else to have her. Hadn’t he all but told her that very thing at McKays?
“I’m sorry I made you mad at me, but I’m here now, and everything is going to be fine, baby. You’ll see.”
Before she could respond, he licked his tongue across her lips slowly with deliberate strokes. He toyed with her mouth by sliding his tongue in and out between her parted lips. Her traitorous body let out a moan.
There were some things a woman couldn’t get over, and that was how skilled a man could be at seduction. Zane was an ace. He could kiss the panties off a woman, and she of all people should know since he’d proved that skill on her a number of times.
Moments later, he lifted his head from her mouth, and she could hear his heavy breathing. But what made her breath catch were the dark brown eyes fixed on hers. He was staring at her in a way that made her insides melt.
“I want you,” he whispered huskily against her lips.
Channing tried to ignore how quickly he had gone from loving her to wanting her. It was obvious Zane Westmoreland didn’t know the difference between love and lust. And, for now, she didn’t want to know, either. There was no denying she wanted him, and as long as she knew that love wasn’t a part of the equation there was no reason she couldn’t enjoy him.
Hadn’t she told her grandmother a few days ago she was locking up her heart and throwing away the key? Zane showing up like this didn’t change a thing. As far as she was concerned, his declaration of love was nothing but words. Words she refused to believe in.
“Channing, say you want me, too,” he said throatily, holding her gaze with his dark eyes.
What he was asking of her was easy. “I want you, too, Zane.”
A smile touched his face, and he drew her closer, putting his hands on her rounded bottom, cupping her in a way that placed an arch in her back and made her press tight to his middle.
She felt him, the heavy bulge of his erection through his jeans. Even through the denim she could feel him throbbing. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and they stared at each other as sexual heat surrounded them, stimulating them, charging the air. Erotic tension vibrated between them, and a gigantic craving rushed blood through her veins.
Then, soundlessly, he lowered his mouth back down to hers.
* * *
Zane felt his world rocking the moment their mouths locked. Tongues touched, entwined, twirled with a hunger that tugged mercilessly at his groin. Damn, he had missed this. He had lain in bed plenty of nights remembering. Channing had a mouth that was made to be kissed, and he had taken great joy in doing so. She had a taste that was unique, and his tongue was greedy ready to make up for lost time.
She was kissing him back, tangling her tongue with his in a heated duel, a sensuous motion that made his erection throb harder. There had never been a time when she hadn’t met him on a primal level. There had never been a time when she hadn’t both fueled and satisfied a need within him. Even now, his stomach muscles quivered as raw desire took control of him.
He shifted his stance so the apex of her thighs made better contact with his erection. He wanted her to feel it, to know what she was doing to him, to know just how much he wanted her.
Zane deepened the kiss, and the moan that came from deep within Channing’s throat told him all he needed to know. He wouldn’t have to grovel as he’d thought he would have to do. Like he’d been prepared to do. Like him, she was ready for them to move into the future together.
He pulled his mouth from hers and stared down into eyes glazed over in passion. How could he not have known he loved her? How could he have missed the truth when all signs pointed to those emotions he hadn’t wanted to acknowledge? She had been the one even when he’d convinced himself that she was not.
He loved her. He needed her. And he never intended to let her go again. Derringer was right. The thought of not having Channing in his life far outweighed the fear of losing her to some tragic event.
Filled with love to a depth that was mind-boggling, he cupped her face in his hands. She looked absolutely beautiful, staring up at him with hazel eyes. Suddenly, something clenched in his gut. He saw desire in her eyes, but where was the vibrancy that was always there when she looked at him? He recalled seeing it that night at McKays. Perplexed as to why he would imagine such a thing, he asked softly, “You okay?”
She nodded. “Yes, why wouldn’t I be?”
Good question. Zane grew thoughtful. But before he could dwell on her response any further, Channing placed her hands on his shoulders. At her touch, his heart pounded furiously in his chest. Needing to have his mouth connected to hers once again, he leaned down and feasted on it like a desperate man. The only times he’d ever been this hot for a woman had always been with Channing.
He moaned deep in his throat when he felt her hips grind against his hard length, sending rapid sensations rippling through him. The sensual pull between them was too strong, more overpowering than ever before, and he needed her now.
She released a startled gasp when he swept her off her feet and into his arms. Glancing down at her, he asked, “Where’s the bedroom?”
“Straight ahead on your right.”
He walked at a brisk pace, feeling the urgency in every step. When they reached the bedroom, he placed her on her feet beside the bed. “Do you have any idea how I feel?” he asked, letting his fingers tenderly stroke the side of her face.
Zane paused. She’d given him a quick and simple answer. “Then let me show you.”
The one thing he’d always enjoyed during their time together was his ability to pleasure Channing. Her body would respond to him in the most sensuous ways. She loved the taste and feel of him as much as he did her.
He murmured gently, telling her in plain terms just what he planned to do to her. He heard how breathless she became with every explicit detail.
He removed several condom packets from his wallet and tossed them on the bed. Then, without wasting any time, he quickly shed his shoes and socks before yanking his shirt from his jeans and removing the rest of his clothing.
“Now for you to join me,” he said, laving his tongue across her jaw. He then stripped her of her T-shirt, pulling it over her head and tossing it aside. He cupped her breasts through her lace bra, and his entire body felt an electrical charge. Then, with a flick of his wrist, the front clasp was undone and gorgeous twin globes were free, making his mouth water with heated male appreciation as he gazed at them.
“Beautiful,” he murmured, heat stirring in his gut. Her breasts were perfectly shaped, enticing to the eyes and delicious to the mouth. Lowering his head, he buried his face between them and inhaled the luscious scent of her flesh.
Breathing thickly, Zane’s mouth latched onto a swollen nipple and licked it with the tip of his tongue before sucking greedily. He felt and heard her body’s response when she shivered and moaned, which triggered a similar reaction in him. Blood pulsed through the veins of his engorged shaft, making it ache that much more.
A thrill of intense pleasure ripped through Channing, and she held Zane’s head to her breasts as his mouth had its way with them. Her nipples throbbed while being devoured by his tongue, and her belly quivered with intense arousal that moved lower, to the apex of her thighs. It was only a matter of time before he took note and gave her the kind of attention that only he could give.