“You cooked dinner and cleaned up afterwards,” she reminded him. “You’ve done more than your share of helping.”

Why was she still holding onto his shoulders?

Why was he still holding onto her waist?

Why did she want to lean against him, feel his body next to hers?

“I’d like to do more.”

Lord help her, so would she, but that thought was futile.

“We’ve had this conversation. My mother invited you to stop by tomorrow, but please don’t bring food.”

“Do you want me to stop by tomorrow?”

She should lie and say no.

She should tell him to stay away so she could get her work done.

She should do a lot of things, but instead what she did was realize her thumbs were caressing the man’s shoulders. Realized that his hands had slid from her waist to behind her to her low back.

She bit into her cheek and didn’t scold herself for doing so. No wonder she was giving in to her nervous tic.

Stone’s hands slid up her back in a slow explorative move that she knew she could stop with a single word.

She didn’t utter a peep.

When he reached up and pulled the clip from her hair, letting her long locks tumble free, Carly didn’t stop him. He dropped the clip onto the countertop beside him, then dug his fingers into her hair.

“So soft,” he said, staring at his hands surrounded by her hair. “I knew it would be like this.”


“Touching you.”

“My hair, you mean?”

“Your hair. You. All of it.”

“We’re friends,” she reminded him, not quite believing he was saying the things he was, touching her as if she were…desirable.

“I haven’t forgotten.”

“Good friends,” she added, quoting him from earlier. A shiver ran down her spine, prickling her sensitized skin.

“Very good friends.” His fingers tangled further into her hair, then caressed the back of her neck. “The best.”

“That feels good,” she heard herself admit, perhaps speaking to keep from moaning with pleasure. Stone’s fingers were magic. Pure magic.


At first, she thought he meant touching her felt good, then she realized her fingers were at his neck, were threading into his dark hair, caressing, touching. So, maybe he’d meant her touching him.

Not that her fingers were magical, but she felt as if she had some type of super power when his skin goose-bumped and a low sound emitted from his throat.

Good. If he was doing crazy things to her she wanted to do them back, for him to feel the heart-racing breathlessness too.

Stone lifted her hair away from her neck, bent, and pressed his lips to her throat.

Pinpricks of pleasure covered her skin and Carly moaned.

He nuzzled, kissed, and gently supped at her throat. Carly melted. Her fingers dug into his shoulders for support because she might just puddle on the floor.

“You taste so sweet.”

She didn’t use any fancy perfumes or lotions. All he could be tasting was soap, water, and her.

He raised his head, stared into her eyes, a thousand questions in his green depths, but one main one that overshadowed all the others.

Rather than say yes, Carly stood onto her tiptoes and answered.

By pressing her lips to his.

Dear sweet heavens. His lips were soft. Perfect against hers.

Perfect in how they moved, in how they tugged at hers, tasted hers. In how he let her explore his mouth, taste him.


Her fingers still tangled in his hair, pulling him closer. His hands slid to her bottom, lifted her into him.

Need like Carly had never known took over every cell of her being.

On and on, they kissed, leaving Carly practically gasping when their mouths separated by a few centimeters. She stared into his eyes and didn’t bother to try to hide how dazed she felt. Trying wouldn’t have worked. He’d totally overwhelmed her senses. Overwhelmed her.

* * *

Trying to catch his breath, Stone rested his forehead against Carly’s and stared into the molten honey of her brown eyes. “That was amazing.”

Her lips twitched. “You think?”

He laughed. “Afraid you might inflate my ego?”

“I’m quite positive your ego is already inflated.”

One side of Stone’s mouth tugged upwards. There was no hiding that she was right. Not with her body pressed against him. “It’s your fault.”

A small smile toyed at her lips. “I can live with that.”

Her response surprised him. He’d expected her to pull away once the kiss ended, for her to have regrets, possibly backtrack and ask him to leave. Instead, her hands were around his neck, her forehead was against his, and she was smiling as if she’d enjoyed their kiss as much as he had.

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