When they’d returned to her villa, he’d hinted that he needed to go back to the hotel to change clothes. He had hoped she would suggest he check out of the hotel altogether and spend the rest of his time at the beach house with her. But she hadn’t. He’d been disappointed, but he hadn’t pushed. He recalled one of his father’s old sayings: “Anything worth getting is worth waiting for….” And he knew deep in his heart that Channing was worth waiting for. He was determined to rid her of any and all doubt about his love for her.
She shifted her body in sleep, and immediately he became aroused. When he felt her hand on his thigh, every cell in his body became energized. She slowly opened her eyes, and his heart pounded in his chest when she smiled at him.
“Now that you’re awake,” he said softly, brushing hair from her face, “I need to leave.”
“To go back to the hotel?” she asked quietly.
He saw the slight marring of her forehead and knew she was trying to make a decision. When she shifted closer and eased her thigh between his, he knew she had made it.
“Since you’re determined for me to push you into falling in love with me, then maybe you should stay here.”
He cupped her chin in his hand. “You sure? Whether I stay here or at the hotel, I’m not leaving Virginia Beach until you do, Channing.”
She nodded. “I’m sure. So unless you’re desperate for your things, you can wait until the morning to go get them.”
His hand left her chin to rub his own. “I can use a shave, but I can wait until tomorrow. If you wake up in the morning and I’m not here, that’s where I’ll be…checking out of the hotel.”
He kissed her and felt that special connection between them. They still had more road to travel, but at that moment, he felt that they were at least making progress.
* * *
The ringing of the telephone woke Channing. She noticed the spot beside her in bed was empty as she reached for her cell phone on the nightstand. “Hello,” she said in a sleepy tone.
“Gracious. You’re still in bed?”
Channing came wide-awake upon hearing her grandmother’s voice. She glanced over at the clock. It was close to eleven. Typically she was an early riser, but when you spent most of the night making love, exhaustion had a tendency to creep up on you.
“Yes, I’m still in bed. How are you Gramma?”
“I’m fine, but I wanted to check on you. Our last conversation had me worried.”
Channing took a deep breath. “I know, but I’m better.”
“Does that mean your opinion of men is better?”
Channing thought of the past two days she’d spent with Zane and how thoughtful and considerate he’d been. But, most importantly, she thought of how he’d included her in his world. “Yes, it’s improved some.”
“Glad to hear it.”
She and her grandmother talked for a little while longer before they ended their call. Channing stretched and then eased out of bed. Thinking of Zane checking out of the hotel, she nibbled her bottom lip. She wanted to be optimistic that she wasn’t making a mistake.
She hoped she wasn’t wrong, but she was beginning to feel a special bond between them, and it wasn’t just about sex…although she thought that part of their relationship was super, too. She felt more.
But then, she quickly reminded herself, she had felt more the last time they’d been together, when she’d assumed he had fallen in love with her. She couldn’t afford to make another mistake about something like that. So she would take one day at a time. She wouldn’t rush, but she would, in her own way, continue to push him. Yes, she’d push, but she wouldn’t shove. In her mind, there was a difference. If he was close, she would see to it that he got closer. She had to believe that Zane was worth taking a chance on.
The sound of a car door closing had her looking out the window. Zane was back, and she watched as he went to the trunk of the car and removed his luggage and laptop. As if he felt her watching, he glanced at the window, tilted his Stetson back and looked straight at her. When he smiled, she actually felt it radiate from him to her and she smiled back. Then he did something that the Zane she’d always known would never have done.
He blew her a kiss.
Her breath caught, and his gesture sent a warm rush of pleasure flowing through her. This was the man she loved, the man she wanted to marry and the man she wanted as a father for her children.
Suddenly, she realized that she was looking at the world through rose-colored glasses again, and Zane had once again unlocked her heart.
“Zane, don’t you dare! Put me down this instant!”
And he did so, unceremoniously dumping her into the ocean. Channing surfaced, sputtering and pushing wet hair from her face. “How dare you!”
“I dare because I thought you needed cooling off. I saw the way you were looking at me. Like you wanted to jump my bones.”
“I was not, you arrogant, conceited…!”
Ignoring her ravings, he continued. “Not that I’m complaining about you wanting a little roll in the sand. But although this is considered a private beach, there are others around. What would the Farmers think? Or your grandparents’ neighbors for that matter?”
Instead of answering, she shot him a venomous look before turning to swim the short distance back to shore. He let her go. There was no doubt in his mind that she was angry with him. He smiled, thinking he would have to make up with her. The thought fired his blood. Making up with Channing was always an enjoyable experience.
Since he was in the water, he might as well take a leisurely swim. Because there were so many lakes on Westmoreland land, the one thing his parents had been sure to teach their offspring was how to swim. He considered himself pretty good at it…mainly because of the swimming races he, his brothers and his cousins had held during the summer months while growing up. He’d been the reigning champ for years…until Bailey showed him up. Now the little nymph still held the title.
He glanced to where Channing lay on the towel she had stretched out on the sand. It was hard to believe it had been a week since he’d moved out of the hotel. As far as he was concerned, every day seemed like heaven.
They woke up making love and went to bed making love. In between, they spent the day on the beach or, like yesterday, shopped. She had been determined that he should purchase a pair of shorts, and, to satisfy her, he had. After she had whistled outrageously about what a nice pair of legs he had, he’d poked out his chest and decided wearing the damn things wouldn’t be so bad…especially if it meant she would continue looking at him with all that sexual hunger in her eyes.
After spending enough time in the water, he swam back to shore. Smiling, he sauntered across the beautiful white sand toward Channing. She opened her eyes and eased up when she heard his approach.
“Relax, I’m not going to bother you,” he said, flopping down on the towel beside her.
She frowned over at him. “You better not.”
He pretended to shiver. “Now I’m scared,” he teased.
She rolled her eyes and lay back down. “Your cell phone’s been ringing,” she said casually, although he knew there was nothing casual about it. A lot of women had his number, and being missing in action probably had a lot of them worried about him. Evidently, no one in his family was giving out information as to his whereabouts so the women had taken to calling. For the past couple of days, he had turned off his phone. He’d cut it back on this morning to check with his family and to call the phone company to request a new phone number. The latter was something he hadn’t told her about yet.
“It was someone in my family,” he said, looking over at her.
She frowned. “You have several missed calls, Zane.”
“Like I said, it’s someone in my family,” he said, reaching out and sweeping a lock of damp hair from her face.
“How can you be so sure?”
A smile ruffled his mouth. “Because I had my number changed this morning. No one has it but my family, and they wouldn’t share it without my permission.”
He saw the surprised look on her face. “You had your number changed?”
“Yes, and you’re the only woman who’s not related to me who has it.”
She gave him another surprised look. “I have it?”
He nodded. “Yes. I keyed it into your phone while you were washing your hair this morning.”
“Oh.” She didn’t say anything for a minute, but he knew the idea of him having a new, private phone number pleased her. He was glad that it did.
“And speaking of my hair, I’m going to have to wash it again, thanks to you.”
“No problem, I’ll help.” He saw the way her cheeks flushed at his offer. No doubt she was remembering what had happened when he’d offered to help wash her hair the last time, three days ago.