“You’re the expert on women. What do you think I should do?”
Zane snorted. Yeah, he was an expert all right. An expert who couldn’t handle his own damn business. “First of all, she’s probably not acting secretive, Canyon. She’s probably being coy. Keisha’s sizing you up to see if you can be trusted again. Trust is important to a woman.” So is being told she’s loved, Zane thought.
“I didn’t betray her,” Canyon blasted.
“Doesn’t matter. She thinks she caught you red-handed. You’re going to have to prove Bonita Simpkins set you up.”
“Why should I have to prove anything? She should have trusted me. I didn’t do anything wrong, and I’m sick and tired of her treating me like I did. Goodbye, Zane. I’ll see you when you get back to Denver. And where are you, anyway? You didn’t say.”
And he didn’t intend to. “Gotta go, Canyon. I’ve just made it to the hotel.”
“Oh, okay. When will you be back?”
Now that was a good question. He intended to stay for as long as it took to convince Channing that he was in love with her. “Not sure, but I’ll keep in touch. Talk to you later.”
Zane ended the call and decided he needed to come up with a solid plan. He’d gotten himself into this mess, and he would figure a way out of it.
What was this nonsense about them just having sex? Their time in the bedroom had always had more meaning than that. It had never been just sex for him.
He winced upon realizing that he’d never told her that. But somehow Channing had fallen in love with him anyway with the hope that one day he would love her back. Instead, he had looked her right in the eyes and told her—on more than one occasion—that he didn’t love her, that he wasn’t capable of loving women. And now he expected her to believe otherwise. Today, angry and hurt, she had shown him that things didn’t work that way.
He opened the car door, thinking that no matter what it took, he would convince Channing that he did love her.
* * *
Whenever she got in a tizzy about anything, Channing had a tendency to cook…and not just a little bit of food. She released a sigh as she glanced around the kitchen at her handiwork. Ignoring the pots and pans stacked sky-high in her kitchen sink, she studied all the containers that littered her table, countertops and island. She had finished everything down to the chocolate chip cookies that had just come out of the oven.
She walked over to the refrigerator to grab a wine cooler, deciding to sit outside on the porch awhile. She’d cooked enough food to last her for the next two and a half weeks. But she couldn’t help it. She needed to keep busy, and cooking had always been her solace. This time she’d ended up with spaghetti, two different casseroles, baked chicken, four kinds of veggies, rice, corn on the cob and green beans.
It was more than enough food to share. She immediately thought of the Farmers. There was no reason they couldn’t benefit from her madness.
Had it been only a few hours ago that she’d engaged in incredible sex? If the tingling sensation between her legs was anything to go by, she would admit she could use some more. That was what two years without intimacy could do to a woman. She’d always enjoyed sharing a bed with Zane. The man was walking testosterone on legs. And in bed he was simply amazing. Truly unbelievable.
And yet he wanted her to believe that he loved her.
Channing shook her head as she opened the door and sat down on the porch swing. Zane must have forgotten who he was trying to convince. She had been the one, like the others, who’d gotten his spiel when they’d first started dating and the one who’d also heard it plenty of times in between. I will never love any woman. I don’t love you. I’m not capable of falling in love.
And then he’d stop reiterating it, and she’d made the mistake of thinking she was different. She’d wanted to mean more than the others.
Channing took a deep swallow of her wine cooler, deciding not to rehash the mistakes she’d made with Zane. She was trying so hard to get over him, but after he’d shown up here and made love to her, he’d probably only made things worse. He had stirred up wants and desires she’d convinced herself she didn’t have, but what had happened last week in McKays had proved otherwise. She had let him take her on a table in a restaurant for heaven’s sake. The only regret she had was that he’d only done it to prove a point.
What if he’s telling you the truth about loving you? What if…
Channing pushed the possibility out of her head. There was no way. It was lust, not love. She got it now. She would never be confused again. And hopefully Zane was on his way back to Denver.
The next morning, Zane pulled up in front of Channing’s grandparents’ home with a purpose and a plan. He’d never pursued a woman in his life, but giving Channing up wasn’t an option. He hadn’t gone to bed until he’d come up with this idea. And now he was back with a game changer.
If anyone had presented this problem to him, he would have told them, based on what he knew about women, that actions speak louder than words. Since Channing didn’t believe a word he said, it was time to show it.
The next thing he would do was let her think she was in control. Some women enjoyed having the upper hand when a man fell in love with them. They had to see it happening before believing it was real. Especially when it came to a devout bachelor. The woman had to feel she’d succeeded into pushing the man into loving her. When she assumed she’d used her feminine wiles to conquer the man’s heart, that made victory so much sweeter.
If that was what was needed, then he was game. And he planned to enjoy every single minute Channing thought she was winning him over, mainly because he would be winning her over, as well. And he knew just how to do it because he knew Channing—her weaknesses and her strengths.
By the time it was over and done, the how of it wouldn’t matter because he’d loved her, anyway. And when he was through, there would be no doubt in Channing’s mind that she was his woman and he was her man.
Where was the shudder he was supposed to feel at being any woman’s man? In fact, he felt pretty damn good when he considered the idea. And he also felt good about the fact that Channing still loved him although he was sure she would deny it with her last breath. What had happened yesterday in that bedroom wasn’t just about sex like she’d claimed. It had been about making love.
To Channing, passion and love were synonymous, and there had been a lot of passion in that bed yesterday. But he wasn’t stupid. Although she might still love him, that love was being held hostage by her mistrust, and he’d have to work hard to release it. More than anything he had to find a way to rekindle that love.
Smiling, Zane swiftly walked up the steps to the porch and glanced at the swing. He’d seen it yesterday but had been too focused on Channing to pay much attention to it. He could see her in the swing. He would be sitting there with her, his arms around her and her head resting on his chest. He’d whisper that he loved her while the motion of the swing rocked them. She would believe him when he said the words. And there would be no doubt in her mind of his sincerity.
He was about to knock on the door when he glanced through her living room window. He paused, angling his head for a better view. When he got it, anger shot through him. A man was moving around Channing’s kitchen. What the hell!
A deep scowl covered his face as he moved toward the door. He didn’t know what was going on, but he was about to find out.
* * *
“Jennifer and I thank you kindly for all this food, Channing.”
Channing smiled as she continued packing up the containers. “No problem, Ronald. You’re actually doing me a favor. I hadn’t meant to cook so much.”
Ronald Farmer glanced around the kitchen. “Yes, I would say you did get a bit carried away.”
Channing threw back her head and laughed. It was then that she heard the knock at the door. “Would you get the door for me? That’s probably Dan Joyner. His grandfather owns the house with the gate down the road. I’ve known him for years, and he’s stopping by to get some of this food, as well.”
Zane was about to knock on the door again when it was opened by the man he’d viewed through the window. Dressed in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, the man was as tall as Zane but with the body of someone who worked out often. The man had the nerve to be smiling.
“How are you doing?” the man greeted with a friendly air. “You’re here for the food?”
Zane frowned. “No, I’m not here for any food. I’m here to see Channing.” And without waiting to be invited inside, he moved past the man before turning back to him. “Where is she?”
The man looked at him curiously, as if to size him up. Then he said, “She’s in the kitchen.”