“Yes, I’ll go to the drive-in theater with you, but you can get rid of the condoms. I won’t be having sex with you.”
Zane didn’t say anything while he thought about her request. Evidently she was still trying to understand this lust-versus-love thing. That was fine, because he would show her that his love encompassed everything—both the physical and the emotional. Besides, they wouldn’t be having sex because they’d never had sex in the first place. They’d always made love, and it seemed he needed to show her the difference.
“Okay, Channing, we won’t have sex.”
As soon as he said the words, he saw what seemed to be anxiety leave her gaze. She stood. “I’ll walk you to the door now.”
He stood, too, and followed her. When they reached the door, they faced each other. Zane stroked Channing’s hair while her gaze locked with his. How could he not have known the depth of his love for her before now? Why had it taken losing her a second time to make him realize that he could not handle losing her again?
“I’ll be back around six.” Deciding to give her something to look forward to, he leaned toward her, placed his hands at her waist and said in a soft, husky tone, “Go ahead and try it now, Channing. Push.”
“I don’t think—”
“Push,” he encouraged again.
He heard her soft sigh and then a whisper when she said his name. “Zane.”
When she boldly licked the tip of her tongue across his lips his breath caught and heat settled in his groin. He inhaled deeply and discovered her scent was as erotic and sensual as ever. Channing’s unique aroma had the ability to drive him crazy… It was doing so now.
“You want to be pushed,” she whispered across his moist lips. “Then you’re going to get just what you ask for. When I finish with you, your heart won’t be the same, Zane.”
He had news for her. It was already different, and he would take great pleasure in proving it to her. When she took a step back and reached out to open the door, he reminded her, “I’ll be back around six.”
He walked out of her door knowing any moves he made on her would be the most important ones of his life.
His campaign would begin tonight. Already his mind buzzed with ideas for ways he could make the evening unforgettable.
Channing picked up her cell phone when she saw the caller was Megan. “Hey, Megan, what’s up?”
“Thought I’d ask you the same thing. Rico confessed that he told Zane where you were. Sorry about that.”
Channing eased down on the sofa. “No reason to apologize and yes, Zane showed up on my doorstep yesterday.”
“And he claimed he loved me.”
There was an undisputed gasp. “Zane told you that?”
“Yes. But of course I don’t believe him.”
“No. It was less than a week ago when he looked me right in the eyes and told me he didn’t love me, that what he felt for me was nothing more than possession. In other words, Zane thinks I’m his and doesn’t want me to belong to another man. Now he wants me to believe he woke up one morning and miraculously realized he loves me. That’s hogwash, and you know it.”
“And you told him you didn’t believe him?”
“Yes, and I asked that he leave.” Channing decided there was no reason to mention she’d had sex with him before he left.
“So now he’s on his way back to Denver?”
There was a pause before Channing said, “Not exactly. He showed up here again this morning.”
“And he did a flip-flop on me.”
“Flip-flop? Now he’s saying that he doesn’t love you?”
Channing heard confusion in Megan’s voice, so she tried to explain. “He’s admitting to feeling things for me he hasn’t felt for any other woman. I guess those emotions are confusing him, and he believes that if what he’s feeling isn’t love yet then it’s close to it. He says all he needs is a little push.”
“A little push by whom?”
Megan frowned. She’d never heard anything so ridiculous in her life.
But the more she thought about it, the more she could see Zane’s ploy even if Channing couldn’t. First of all, there was no doubt in her mind that Zane loved Channing. He would not have dropped everything to go after her if he didn’t. Then there was his admission of love. Zane would never admit loving someone if he actually didn’t. And as far as him miraculously waking up one morning and realizing how he felt about Channing—well Channing might not believe it could happen that way, but Megan did.
Channing was dealing with a Westmoreland male, and most Denver Westmoreland males had put up roadblocks when it came to falling in love. Ramsey, Derringer and Riley had fought the idea of falling in love tooth and nail. Even she and her sister Gemma hadn’t given up their hearts easily.
Knowing how that analytical and psychological mind of Zane’s tended to work, Megan knew his plan. He figured that since Channing didn’t believe him, he would show her the evolution. He’d even gone so far as to encourage Channing to spearhead the transformation. Megan hated to admit it, but it was a brilliant strategy—if it worked. And she had a feeling it would work because Zane never failed at anything that he put his mind to. And he had an additional advantage. His heart was in it, as well.
“So, are you going to do it?” Megan heard herself asking.
There was a moment of silence and then Channing said, “Yes. I love him so much, Megan, even though I don’t want to. Zane is a complex man.” She paused then added, “He explained how your parents’ and uncle’s and aunt’s deaths affected him.”
Megan’s mouth dropped open. “He told you that?” She was stunned that Zane would be that forthcoming about his fears. Over the years, she’d suspected he felt that way but had never been sure.
“Yes, he told me. And if that’s really the reason he’s been holding back then maybe I can help him overcome that. Do you think I’m crazy for thinking that way?”
Megan drew in a deep breath and smiled. “I see nothing wrong with a woman fighting for the love of her man, Channing.” Just like she saw nothing wrong with a man fighting for the love of his woman. Crazy thing was, Zane and Channing were fighting for the same thing, and neither of them knew it yet.
“I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that things work out for you,” Megan said quietly.
“Thanks, Megan. I appreciate it.”
* * *
The rest of the day moved pretty fast for Zane. So he didn’t feel like a slacker while he was in Virginia Beach and Jason and Derringer were back in Denver hard at work, the three of them had agreed that Zane could sort through the online files that had been piling up for months. Using his tablet computer, he had gone through all the emails, trashing a lot of spam and making appointments for interested horse buyers.
Now he glanced at the clock. He had a couple of hours before he picked up Channing, and he had a number of things to do. The hotel would be preparing a basket of food and wine. And when he had stopped at one of the gift shops downstairs he’d seen the perfect wine glasses and told the hotel he wanted them included in the basket, as well. When he was younger, his parents would take him and his siblings to Denver’s only drive-in theater. It had closed ages ago, but those times had definitely been fun for them. Bailey had been in diapers and the twins were barely saying words that you could understand. Too bad Zane hadn’t known that memories such as those were ones he would have to cherish forever.
As he slid into his jacket, he realized he wanted to share that special drive-in magic with Channing. He knew she wasn’t keen on going to the movies with him—or to a drive-in theater of all places. But he thought that was just the kind of place they needed. At the drive-in, they wouldn’t have to worry about anyone sitting beside them, invading their space. They would be in the car all alone.
He shook his head at his predicament. He figured after a week or so Channing would realize he loved her. If not, then he intended to sit down and try again to give it to her straight. Regardless of what she believed, he was a man who knew his mind and his heart.
Zane smiled as he headed for the door. She should have gotten the flowers by now. It wasn’t the first time he’d sent a woman flowers, but it was the first time sending them had ever really meant anything to him.
* * *
“Ma’am? Will you be signing for the flowers?”
Channing blinked, but she still saw the man standing on her porch holding not just a vase of flowers but what looked like an entire friggin’ bush. And they were roses. Red ones. The most beautiful flowers she’d ever seen. “Oh, yes,” she said, coming to her senses. She quickly scribbled her name on the pad he’d given her.