They came to a stop at a traffic light, and she could feel the dark depths of Zane’s eyes staring back at her behind his sunglasses. Her heart thumped hard in her chest, and her breath stopped from the intensity of his gaze.
“Is anything wrong, Channing?” he asked her.
“No, but I have a question for you. Lisa and Morris were lovers for five years before Morris asked her to marry him. Had I not left Denver for Atlanta when I did…had I remained there as your lover, where would we be now?”
She watched as a frown of concentration marred his forehead. “I honestly don’t know,” he said softly. “I want to think I would have come to my senses and you and I would be married, or at least engaged. But I can’t rightly say. It took your leaving a second time to make me realize what you meant to me.”
Channing nodded. What she meant to him… Even now she wasn’t sure what that was and had only a limited amount of time to find out.
The car moved again, and Zane shifted his gaze back to the road. Behind the sunglasses, he tried to keep his eyes from blazing in frustration. When would she ever believe that he actually loved her? What if she never believed it?
For the first time in his life, he was dealing with the fear of losing the woman he loved. The thought that no matter how hard he tried he could still end up without her as his wife sent a rush of irritation flowing all through him.
Hey, don’t even think of losing her, man. You got yourself in this mess, and you can get yourself out. You got to make her feel as if she’s the most important person in the world to you, because she is.
He brought the car to a stop again at another traffic light. He glanced over at Channing to find her still looking at him, and he drew in a shaky breath. The air between them was charged.
She absently licked her lips and tucked strands of her windblown hair behind her ear. At that moment, all he could think about was just how delicious the area around her ear tasted. He’d used his tongue there a number of times.
He was a man with a healthy sexual appetite, but he knew she equated his desire with lust. How could he get her to understand that his sexual need for her was an extension of his love? He was fully aware she was fighting her own deep attraction to him.
“Got any plans when we get back to your place?” he asked when traffic began moving again.
She shrugged. “I thought I’d grab something out of the freezer for a quick meal and then I’ll let you come up with ideas for ways to spend the rest of the day.”
He wasn’t so sure she would want to do that. If she left it up to him, they would be making love all over the place for the rest of the day and well into the night. “I guess we can spend time on the beach,” he offered.
“Yes, I guess we can do that.”
When traffic slowed up again, he gave a quick glance over to her. She hadn’t sounded enthused about doing that. “Any other ideas?” he asked holding her gaze.
“Anything you want to do is fine with me, Zane.”
His erection began throbbing again. He quirked an eyebrow at her to make sure they were on the same page. “Anything?”
Shivers of anticipation raced through his body, and he broke eye contact with her to return his gaze to the road. If she thought he didn’t intend to hold her to what she’d just said, she had another thought coming.
He glanced at the clock on the car’s console. At that moment, he decided to discontinue driving the scenic route and hit the interstate. She had been sending out some pretty strong vibes today, vibes that all but declared that she was now in the driver’s seat. And he couldn’t get back to Kindle Shores quick enough to find out just how she would drive him over the edge.
* * *
Channing watched the endless stretch of two-lane road ahead of them. She’d told Zane what she wanted, and knowing him like she did, he would take full advantage of it.
And she’d be ready when he did.
Her body had been attuned to him since he’d changed her panties that morning. At the Holders’ ranch, she had caught him staring at her more than once, pinning her with his dark gaze. Other than when Lisa had invited her to take a tour of the ranch so Morris and Zane could talk business, he had been there by Channing’s side.
She had been fully aware of him every time his arm had snaked around her waist, every time he’d taken her hand in his, every time he’d brushed a wayward curl back from her face. Those looks and impromptu touches had ignited a flame inside her, one she hadn’t been able to put out yet. So here she was, probably as aroused as Zane, and it didn’t matter that he knew it.
“Did skipping out on that symposium cause problems for you at the hospital, Channing?”
She looked at him, finding it oddly gratifying that he cared. “No. I have a really good relationship with Dr. Rowe and the other top hospital administrators. I had only committed myself for three weeks, although I’d taken a six-week leave from my position in Atlanta.”
“But you would have considered staying all six weeks.”
She noted he said it as a statement more than a question. She could tell him that she had been leaning toward not doing the additional three weeks because being back in the same town with him hadn’t been easy. She had even considered visiting her brother and his family in San Diego for a week or so. But Zane didn’t need to know any of that.
“Maybe. Maybe not,” she said. “I hadn’t made up my mind yet.”
“But what happened at McKays that night made you decide to leave.”
Again, he had presented it as a statement. “Yes,” she said. “It helped me to decide.”
“I’m sorry I drove you away from Denver. But I’m not sorry for coming after you, and I’ll do so again if I have to, Channing. To be quite honest, my real mistake was not coming after you that first time.”
His words gave her pause and reminded her that the Zane she’d known had been quite the ladies’ man. He would have no reason to run behind any woman, no matter how much she had wanted to be his exception.
“Just think how different things would be now if I had come after you,” he added.
Channing smiled at him. “And how different do you think things would be, Zane?” she asked and noticed he was pulling off to the side of the road.
Zane brought the car to a stop, cut the engine and turned to her. “I want to think we’d be married with a baby.”
Seeing the startled look on her face, a smile curved his lips. “Yes, Channing. A baby. My baby. Don’t you like children?”
“We never discussed children,” she said softly.
No, he thought, they hadn’t. Mainly because he’d never wanted to discuss a future with her. “We’re talking about them now.”
“Yes. I like kids. What about you?”
She nodded. “Yes, I like them.”
“How many do you want us to have?” he asked her. “I want several since I’m used to a big family. Hey, we can be like my cousin Quade and have three in one day.”
Channing’s mouth dropped open, and she simply stared at him. She knew all about Quade’s babies. Triplets. “Are you crazy?”
He chuckled. “Yes, I am. I’m crazy about you.” He brushed a kiss across her lips. “If you don’t want triplets, I’ll settle for twins.”
Zane laughed at her shocked expression as he straightened in his seat. Turning the car’s ignition back on, he maneuvered the vehicle onto the road knowing he’d given Channing something to think about.
Channing didn’t say anything as she watched Zane switch from the two-lane road and take the ramp that led to the interstate. What could she say when her mind was spinning? Zane had just implied they had a future. With children. She wasn’t mistaken about that. She knew he liked children. She’d seen him around his cousin Dillon’s son. But Zane had never brought up the subject of children they would have together.
But today he had.
Channing stole another glance at Zane. She had to admit that over the past two days she had detected changes in him. Positive changes. He wasn’t as inflexible as he once had been, and he came off as less guarded. He was letting her into his private world. A small stirring of pleasure rippled through her and warmed her insides. They were making progress.
A good twenty minutes or more passed. When she saw they were taking the exit for Kindle Shores, anticipation nipped at her heels. Although Zane’s expression was well hidden by those navigator sunglasses, she knew he was just as eager as she was to get to their destination.
Within five minutes, Zane pulled the car into her driveway as all kinds of emotions churned inside of her. As he cut off the engine, she saw his fingers tap the steering wheel while he focused desire-drenched eyes on her.
“Are you hungry?” he asked in a low, sensuous tone.