“You left me, Channing. At first, I convinced myself that it didn’t matter, that you were doing the right thing because I couldn’t give you what you wanted. But then…”
She leaned toward him. “Yes?”
He spoke truthfully when he said, “Then I began to feel like a piece of me was gone. I felt empty. My emptiness turned to anger because I had sworn I would never let myself feel such pain over a loss again.”
An uneasy feeling raced up Channing’s spine as she stared at Zane, the movie forgotten. Hearing him say those words had an insurmountable effect on her. Had that been when he’d realized he might feel something for her?
If what he said was true, then she could see why he’d gotten upset when she’d returned almost two years later with a fiancé. But it didn’t explain or excuse his behavior at McKays. She had given him a chance to tell her he loved her, but he hadn’t. Instead, he’d seduced her to prove a point.
“I had to leave,” she said softly. “I could not stay in Denver and pretend I was okay in a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere.” She released a deep sigh. “Maybe this whole ‘pushing’ thing isn’t a good idea, Zane.”
“What makes you say that?”
“If it doesn’t work, I’m the only one who’ll get hurt. After McKays, I left Denver in pain for the second time with no plans to ever return or to ever see you again. Then, low and behold, you show up yesterday and the next thing you know we’re having sex for old time’s sake. You came back again today and convinced me that all it will take is a little push to get you to fall in love. But if I couldn’t do it during the nine months we were together, what difference will it make now?”
He heard the doubt in her voice. The frustration. He wouldn’t be happy until he heard certainty. Absolute and complete. When all was said and done, he wanted her misgivings to be put behind them…mainly because he wanted her to know she had his heart.
She pulled back and looked at him with a narrowed gaze. “Is this nothing but a game to you, Zane? A game to see how far you can make me go without giving me a commitment? Or maybe it’s revenge. You’re getting back at me for having the nerve to leave you in the first place. You like proving points.”
He leaned forward. “Although I know it’s hard for you, I’m asking you to trust me. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t care about you, Channing.” He ran his fingers through her hair. “You mean everything to me.”
Channing drew in a deep breath. Zane knew exactly what he was doing. She’d always loved the feel of his hands in her hair. There was something about the way he did it that sent tingling sensations through her.
The silence between them lengthened. She closed her eyes, wishing she could pretend those two years without him had never happened and things were as they used to be. Maybe if she and Zane had stayed together, if she hadn’t tried to rush things along, they might be married by now. That possibility was why she was here now. Taking another chance on him.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked her in a low voice.
She opened her eyes and looked at him. His face was right there, inches from hers. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Everything about this matters, Channing.”
She wished she could believe that.
“Ask me what I’m thinking,” he said throatily.
They should be watching the movie. Wasn’t that what they’d come here for? she asked herself.
No. The reason they were here together was to see if they could repair their damaged relationship. To see if he could love her the way she needed to be loved. To see if he could really love her the way he thought he could. “Okay. What are you thinking, Zane?”
“How beautiful you are for starters.”
His hand left her hair and moved to her chin. He tilted her face up to his. “Very beautiful.”
“You can’t see very well,” she whispered. His lips were close to hers. She knew those lips well. Full and inviting, they had the ability to make liquid heat fill her. Just thinking about how well she knew those lips, her firsthand knowledge of how they tasted, had her feminine muscles clenching.
“I can see just fine, Channing. And you know what else I was thinking about?”
She swallowed tightly, knowing it was best not to respond but unable to hold back. “No, what?”
“This.” And then he leaned in, capturing her lips with his.
Zane knew that Channing couldn’t deny that kissing was one means of communication they both enjoyed. And he wasn’t about to make it a quick kiss. On the contrary. He intended to play it out for as long as he could and redefine in her mind just what a Zane Westmoreland kiss was all about. He was fighting to keep control, but the mating of their tongues made it difficult. Nearly impossible. He felt weak in the knees even when he wasn’t standing.
Heat tore through him. He tightened his arms around her as his tongue danced with hers. He loved her taste almost as much he loved her scent, and he craved her with a hunger he felt all the way to his groin.
Channing’s moans stirred sensual sensations all through him. They fed him. Stimulated him. Wildly intoxicated him. Nothing, and he meant nothing, was better than this—having your lips held captive by the woman you both loved and desired.
Her moans turned to whimpers when he deepened the kiss even more. Everything about her electrified him, made him feel whole and complete.
The sound of a car door slamming had him lifting his mouth off of hers. He stared at her, trying to come to terms with emotions that, until recently, had been foreign to him.
“What are you doing, Zane?” she asked in a slurred tone, as if she’d gotten tipsy from the intensity of the kiss.
“I was kissing you,” he said smoothly. “And I want to kiss you some more. The Zane Westmoreland way.”
He held her gaze. Saw the perceptive glint in her eyes. She knew just what a kiss his way entailed. Was she game? He was going to make sure that she was.
Lowering his mouth to hers, he kissed her again while wrapping her in his arms. This kiss was just as hot, just as greedy and just as intense, but this time it held more: doggedness, urgency.
Though it was hard to do so, he broke away from the kiss. He had to give her a choice. She could tell him to stop or give him the go-ahead. He watched as her expression got serious, her forehead knotted in deep consideration. He went still, not knowing what she’d decide, but knowing it was her decision to make. He would respect whatever it was.
He released a sigh of relief when she wrapped her arms around his neck, pressed her body close to his and tilted her mouth up to him. Grateful. Appreciative. Enthusiastic. He felt all of those things. Then he gently gathered her close, sliding his tongue between her lips.
He knew how much the kiss affected her when the arms around his neck tightened and her moans deepened and intensified. Her mouth was hot and delicious, and he was giving it one serious sensual assault. He wanted her. With a deep groan, he slowly lifted his head and kissed his way down her neck to the pulse throbbing at its side.
He pressed a lever that made both their seats glide back, and then, with the other hand, he adjusted the steering wheel out of their way. He pulled her into his lap, facing him. He felt the shivers that passed through her body when his teeth grazed across her skin.
She sucked in a deep breath when he whipped the tank top over her head and undid the front clasp of her bra. The minute he saw her breasts he lowered his lips to a nipple, greedily sucking it into his mouth. His hands were busy, unzipping her shorts and inching them—as well as her panties—down her thighs.
His mouth hungrily moved to the other breast while she moaned his name over and over. He raised her up as he worked his mouth down her naked body, licking her belly, tonguing her navel and then tilting his seat back in a reclining position so that Channing’s feminine mound stared him in the face.
Craving her taste in a way he never had before, he grasped her thighs and slid his tongue inside. She sucked in a breath, and he sucked on her, fastening his mouth to her most sensitive spot with no intention of letting go until she screamed his name.
He held tight, needing this as much she did.
* * *
“Oh,” Channing moaned as Zane’s tongue made that swirling motion it could do so well. And then that same tongue began fluttering like crazy, sending all kinds of sensual vibrations ricocheting through her. Did he know how many nerve endings were located right here? Yes, oh, yes. Right there? Oh, yes, he knew. Zane knew just about everything when it came to a woman. And he was devouring her the way only he could.
He nibbled until she couldn’t take any more. Spasms ripped into her body, making her scream. She trembled all over from head to toe and at the juncture of her thighs.
He wanted to be pushed, so she pushed. Boy, did she push, and he didn’t let go. Didn’t let up. And then she climaxed again. Her body became electrified all over again.