Page 39 of Lavish Loving

“Clarisse.”

She turned around. Her breath caught. Heartbeats increased. Ace had found a plot of grass and removed the contents of the bag he carried. Two boxed lunches sat on a plastic tablecloth, along with a bottle of sparkling water, a bowl of fruit and two plastic cups. She looked from the modest spread to the man who’d prepared it, caught the challenging yet vulnerable look in his eyes. She saw the jacked-up little boy he’d described the other night thrown into a world of wolves. And for the first time in a long time she imagined someone’s feelings above her own.


She walked to stand in front of him, raised up for a quick kiss. “I’ve eaten in the finest restaurants in exotic places all over the world. But by far, this is sure to be my favorite meal.”

She watched his eyes shift from conveying worry to relief. He pulled her into an embrace. They kissed until her nipples pebbled and she felt his erection stirring.

Ace pulled away. “There’s a choice of turkey on wheat, pastrami on sourdough or a vegetarian wrap. For dessert—” he reached up and trailed a finger down the side of her face “—I’d like something caramel.”

“Then I say we get started.” London sat cross-legged on the cloth and pulled a bottle of sanitizer out of her bag. The sooner they devoured the sandwiches, the sooner they could have dessert. And since it was clear Ace was the adventurous, outdoorsy type, she hoped they wouldn’t have to get all the way back to the city to enjoy it.

She didn’t have to wait.

On the way back to the car, once inside the tunnel, he took her hand and led them behind a jutting rock. No need to ask what was on his mind. His eyes were black with desire, his hard shaft imprinted against her thigh. She was equally hot for him. Something about being outside, technically in public, added another level of thrill. He settled against the tunnel wall, pulling her with him. Lined her lips with his tongue, kissed her cheeks and temples.

“You don’t mind, do you?” he whispered against her ear.

“Mind?”

“Yeah. Making this little pit stop before heading back into the city.”

London looked him in the eye as she reached for his belt buckle. “You can make a stop like this anytime you want.”

She wrapped a hand around his manhood. He groaned, raised her sweater and pulled a nipple into his mouth. The move brought moisture to London’s pearl, made her crazy with wanting to have him inside her. She pulled off her leggings. Shivered from the cold, but not for long. Ace soon filled her with the heat of his desire. Made the goose bumps disappear. Made her forget about everything except this moment, this meeting of the minds and melding of bodies. Soft moans and increased pelvic movements signaled her approaching release. Waves crashed against the water as Ace caught her scream in a kiss. He held her close and let go, too. Then kissed her with such tenderness that she could have wept.

They dressed quickly, reached the car as thunderclouds swirled and the temperature dipped. Leaving Lands End, London had a new appreciation for hiking—and a deeper appreciation for the man who’d brought her here.

CHAPTER 16

London arrived back in Paradise Cove on Sunday afternoon just in time for brunch and a house full of Drakes. In other words, just in time for Operation Interrogation. From the number of cars parked in the circular driveway, it looked like every sibling, spouse and child had decided to show up today. And wouldn’t you know it? In her hasty departure she’d forgotten the side-door key that would have let her sneak in unnoticed. She’d have to go through the front door. Great.

The car stopped just beyond the main entrance. As she refused his offer for help with her luggage and gave him a generous tip, London tried to convince herself of the slight chance that only Quinn had seen the latest tabloid headlines. Her sister, Teresa, had a blog and was always online. No doubt she’d seen it. That meant Teresa’s twin brother, Terrell, knew. And if he knew, so did Niko. Heck, all of the siblings had probably read the stories. Had they kept their mouths shut? London had her doubts.

By the time she reached the front door, she’d changed her mind about facing the questioning head-on and opted to try to make it to her room unnoticed. Hide out until the brunch munchers left. Talking to her parents without the familial judge and jury present would offer the chance for more damage control.

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