What was he trying to do to her? What was he trying to make her feel? She was assailed with sensations she only felt while around him: that sinfully seductive consciousness washing passion through her, intense degrees of longing pulsating through her body.
Drawing in a deep breath, she broke eye contact with him and picked up her menu. Whatever it took, she must not forget that he was Zane, the man she had fallen in love with, the same man who had told her that he enjoyed sleeping with her but didn’t love her. He could never love her, and she wanted a man who could.
When she glanced back up at him, he was still staring, which prompted her to ignore the racing of her pulse long enough to ask, “Have you forgotten that I’m engaged to someone?”
She watched as he took a slow swallow of his wine and then licked his lips before answering her.
“No, I haven’t forgotten. Although I would like to,” he said in a deep, husky voice. “I was just sitting here remembering all the good times we had together.”
A shudder worked its way through her body as she remembered those good times, as well. Within a week of being introduced, they had shared a bed. That was unusual for her because she wasn’t the type to become involved in meaningless relationships. But she’d been like most women who’d found him addictive: Zane’s masculine charm had lured her in, conjuring up illusions that he was falling in love with her as much as she was with him. At the end, she’d found out the hard way just how wrong she’d been. Two years later and she could still feel the aftershocks of a broken heart.
“They were good times, weren’t they?” he asked softly, breaking into her thoughts.
She gazed into dark, mesmerizing eyes. Whether she wanted to admit it or not, those had been good times. Candlelit dinners. Sex so hot it burned the sheets. And a closeness she’d never felt with any other man. “Yes, Zane, they were good, but those times are over and done with.”
There, he needed to know she’d moved on. But had she really? She wanted to think she had, even though she hadn’t been involved in another affair—serious or otherwise—since him. But that was beside the point. The main point was that Zane had never loved her and never would.
She was saved from any further conversation between them when Tasha returned to take their dinner order.
* * *
Zane took his time eating; he was in no hurry to broach the subject he had brought Channing here to discuss. At the moment, he was satisfied just indulging in small talk. He’d told her how the family was gearing up for his cousin Riley’s wedding in September and how the horse breeding and training business was going. He talked about Bailey and how annoying his kid sister could still be at times, and he brought her up to date on Bane and how proud they were that his cousin was officially a navy SEAL.
Every so often he couldn’t help but stare at her. She was so incredibly beautiful. How could any man not appreciate the woman she was? Now, two years too late, he himself could admit he had not appreciated her. He had enjoyed her, admired her and lusted after her. But he hadn’t appreciated her. He would have been happy for their relationship to remain the same—without considering her wants and needs. Without considering what she deserved.
She deserved a man who appreciated her. He hadn’t done so, and it looked as though her fiancé wasn’t, either.
“I understand from Megan there might be some more Westmorelands out there somewhere,” Channing said, breaking into his thoughts.
He looked at her, and another dose of desire tightened his groin. Her hair was pulled back and pinned on top of her head in a knot. A few tendrils had escaped confinement and brushed against her cheek. She was wearing a skirt and blouse; the color of both brought out the hazel of her eyes. There had always been a powerful attraction between them. He would have thought it had eroded by now. It hadn’t.
She had to be aware of how charged the air was. She was trying to downplay it, but he felt that tug each and every time their gazes met. To know the attraction was still strong engulfed him in one hell of a delicious feeling. She might be engaged to marry another man, but there was no doubt in his mind she was still drawn to him. How was he supposed to concentrate on his meal with that kind of knowledge nudging up his testosterone?
“Yes,” he said, taking a sip of wine. “During Megan and Rico’s trip to Texas, they found evidence of a child my great-grandfather Raphel never knew he had. That child was given up to a woman right before the mother died in a train wreck. There was little for Rico to go on since few records were kept during that time. We’re talking about more than seventy years ago. But Rico was able to get a listing of every passenger on the train—those who survived and those who didn’t. He’s still weeding through all of that information now. I’m told it was an extensive passenger list.”
Channing nodded. “All of you must be pleased with how the investigation is going, though.”
“Yes, we are. I’m confident Rico will eventually find our relatives. He’s good at what he does, but it will take time. And there’s still another woman who was assumed to be Raphel’s fourth wife, Isabelle Connors. Rico is investigating any clues associated with her, as well.”
As they continued their meal, he brought her up to date on all the babies who had been born to his cousins, the Atlanta Westmorelands. She had met most of them when they’d come to town for his sister Gemma’s wedding.
“How’s your folks?” he asked her.
He’d never met her parents or any of her family members since the Hastings lived in New Hampshire, but she would speak of them often and fondly. “They’re fine. My brother’s employer moved him to San Diego last year, and he loves it there.”
Channing finished her meal and paused before asking, “So what did you want to talk to me about?”
She felt the intensity of his gaze once again.
“It’s about the mistake you’re making.”
She lifted a brow. “What mistake?”
Zane took another sip of his wine. For some reason, she was willing to accept Mack Hammond and all his flaws, but Zane refused to let her be that generous. He placed his glass down on the table. “Marrying a man you don’t love,” he said calmly.
Fire flashed in her eyes. “And what makes you think I don’t love Mack?”
A smile touched his lips as he leaned in closer. “Because I know you, Channing. If you loved him, you would not be sitting over there getting as aroused as I am.”
Channing gaped. “Aroused?”
She frowned. “I’m not aroused.” The sudden rush of heat between her legs made a liar out of her, but she would never admit it.
“Yes, you are,” Zane said with certainty. “Do you want me to prove it?”
“No, because you can’t.”
“You think not?” he asked, sliding his chair back and standing up.
Channing recognized that look in his eyes and drew in a sharp breath. “What is wrong with you, Zane?” She held up her ringed finger, slowly waving it for him to see. “Doesn’t this mean anything to you?”
“Not a damn thing.”
He reached behind him to lock the door before moving around the table. She quickly stood and backed up. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but I refuse to put up with this foolishness. I’m leaving.”
When she moved toward the door, he grabbed her hand. The moment he touched her, she froze, then a flood of desire rampaged through her bloodstream, making mush of her already stretched-to-the-limit senses.
“You think you’re not aroused, Channing,” he drawled, leaning in close. His tongue teased her lips, and she knew she had to stop things from going any further.
“I’m an engaged woman,” she tried saying in outrage.
“You’re an engaged woman who wants me,” he countered. “Admit it.”
“I won’t admit a thing.”
He shrugged. “Then feel,” he whispered as his fingers traced up her arm.
Channing fought back a lustful moan as pleasure swept across the skin he touched. “I don’t want to feel.”
“Your body is saying otherwise. Why is that, Channing?”
She shook her head, fighting off the way his eyes were mesmerizing her. “You’re wrong.”
“No, sweetheart, I’m right, and I intend to show you just how right I am.” He pulled her close, leaned in and swooped down on her mouth.
* * *
Push him away, damn it, Channing’s mind screamed.
But at the first taste of his tongue her mind changed course and began chanting, Devour him like he’s devouring you, and don’t let go.
So she didn’t.
Moments later, she wasn’t exactly sure whose tongue was dominating or at what point they had begun pulling off each other’s clothes. What was happening here? Invading another man’s territory was not Zane’s style.