What had it done for Ruby other than leaving her alone and humiliated at the altar?
Ruby was just relieved that Braden had left her when he had. When their love was still innocent. Before they’d married, or worse, had a child. But she had no intention of ever trusting a rich, ruthless man ever again.
Then, tonight, Ares had kissed her.
It was the kiss Ruby had dreamed about, even while telling herself that romantic dreams were lies. The kiss she’d been waiting for all her life.
He’d held her tightly beside the flames of the bonfire, beneath the cold, bright stars, and when his lips had touched hers, she’d forgotten all her sensible plans and promises.
There was only this.
Now Ruby glanced at him out of the corner of her eye as he drove her old truck down the snowy road. Her gaze lingered on his sensual lips, and she felt her own tingle in memory of his embrace.
Her eyes traced unwillingly over his strong arms, as he changed gears; over his strong thighs, as he pressed on the gas. She’d never let anyone drive her truck before, but she’d had no choice tonight, because her own knees felt so weak, for reasons that she knew had nothing to do with hunger or snowboarding.
Ares was right. She was hungry. After so many years being strong for everyone else, she felt like she’d been starving for years, on a treadmill of unending work. There’d been no color. No joy.
I took you for the kind of girl who doesn’t care what other people think. Only about her own pleasure.
A shiver racked Ruby’s body. But she couldn’t let herself be tempted. He’d already told her outright that he was selfish and ruthless. He didn’t do complicated. Why would she be foolish enough to believe any love affair between them, even a one-night stand, could end any way but badly?
Staring at him, her heart was pounding. She felt danger. Pleasure. Excitement. In this moment, she couldn’t think straight. All she could do was feel.
She was tempted. Even knowing herself for a fool. She wanted him. His kiss had overwhelmed her senses. Her toes still hadn’t uncurled in her boots.
Ares glanced at her. His black eyes glinted in the darkness, and heat flooded her body. Then he turned away as he steered the truck onto a small private road, and she exhaled.
All right, so maybe she’d become a modern-day spinster, a twenty-four-year-old virgin who worked too much and, as her little sister had pointed out, who had apparently given up on her dreams. But if Ruby truly wanted to change that, if she wanted to take her first lover, it would be better to proposition Monty or even Paul Vence himself rather than let herself be seduced by the selfish, arrogant Greek billionaire everyone else wanted. Whom even her baby sister had wanted.
As if on cue, Ruby heard her phone ringing from her canvas duffel bag. Digging through neatly folded clothes, she looked at it and saw Ivy’s number. Guilt rushed through her. After the way she’d prevented Ivy from sleeping with Ares, the word hypocrite didn’t even seem large enough to describe how her sister would see Ruby’s actions right now. She pressed the button to decline the call.
“Everything all right?”
Ares’s voice was sensual, low, and it did crazy things to her insides. “Everything’s fine.” Biting her lip, she took a deep breath and said in a rush, “But I think I changed my mind about dinner and I should just go home—”
His hands tightened on the steering wheel. “Is that what you want?”
Ares stopped the truck abruptly in the middle of the dark, empty road. Turning off the engine, he looked at her.
“You’re lying.” His hot dark gaze pierced her from across the worn bench seat. “There’s no way you want to go home. Not after the way you kissed me.”
She shrugged, trying desperately to play it cool. “I guess the kiss wasn’t totally bad…”
“Bad?” He looked incredulous.
“…but it was just a kiss.” She was proud of the way her voice held steady, as if his embrace beneath the winter sky hadn’t twisted her body inside out and turned her heart upside down, leaving her weak and yearning.
“We both know it was more.” His voice held an edge. “You felt it. I felt it.”