“Favorite track?”

“Talledega—too easy.” Yeah, that was too easy, because that was all she had cared about: Carter winning every race. Confidence made her smile. “Give me something hard.”

“Names and ages of all of my brothers and sisters. Since we were together for two years it should be easy, right?” Picking up his glass of red wide, he drank deeply and set the glass down.

“Zoe, twenty-four; Heath, nineteen; Evangeline, sixteen.” She smirked. “Guess I know you better than you thought.”

“Not so fast, honey. Heath’s eighteen and you forgot the twins, Luke and Logan, twenty-three.”

April’s nose wrinkled. “But they’re not your—”

“Luke and Logan are my brothers, no matter the color of their skin or what language they spoke first. Funny how right I was about you. Can’t tell you how much I hate that I wasted so much time trying to prove myself wrong. ”

“Now if you’ll excuse me,” he added and rose to his feet, paid their bill on the way out and went to look for Melanie.


Carter found Melanie out back, sniffing and shivering. White puffs of air floated with every breath she took.

Taking off his coat, he draped it over her shoulders. “Did I chase you off earlier today?”he asked. He hadn’t returned to his garage until well after five. His office had been organized and he could tell she’d begun to clean.

“This is one of my jobs. I had the night off, but Kelsey called in sick,” she said with another little sniff. “Congratulations, by the way.”

“Not mine.”

“Don’t be a jerk, Carter.”

He couldn’t help but smile and shake his head. She would defend a woman who’d never been anything but rude to her. “This really isn’t any of your business, but she’s four months pregnant and we haven’t been together in eight months. Math doesn’t work out and she told me who the father is.”

“Oh.” She looked up at him then, the security lights in the parking lot highlighting her pretty face and the multiple paths of wetness on her cheeks. His heart pinched at the sight. “Sorry for calling you a jerk.”

Using his thumb to wipe away the tears, he tried teasing her. “Gotta admit, I liked what you were wearing in my office better than what you have on now. Best theme outfit I’ve ever seen you in.”

The most adorable scowl appeared on her face. Thinking she was adorable was okay. Puppies, kittens and babies were adorable. “Now I’m back to not being sorry.”

He pulled his coat tighter around her body, then started buttoning her up. “Why’s that?”

“Because you’re teasing me.” A lock of hair had come loose from her ponytail. It seemed to glow as he picked it up and tucked it behind her ear.

“I’ve always teased you, Melanie.”

She licked her lips. That wasn’t adorable in the least, mostly because it made him want to lick her lips, too. “Yeah, well, I don’t want you doing it anymore.”

Then how the hell was he supposed to talk to her? “You want me to treat you like a sister?” It hit him right in the gut how much he did not want to treat her like that, as if she were an afterthought, or still a pain in the ass kid that had followed him everywhere, always spying on him.

“You already treat me like one.” Her shoulders fell, then she took a deep breath and looked him right in the eye. “I want to be treated like a woman, with needs and wants that only a certain kind of man can satisfy.”

Damn, but she couldn’t have said the most perfectly sexy and terrifying thing right then. “Suppose I know a man who’d be up for that. A man who’d not stop until every need and want was met to your satisfaction.” Ah, hell. There was no going back now. His dick was all up for it. Literally. “And if it wasn’t…well, he’d redouble his efforts and take it from the top.”

“Is that man supposed to be you?”

“And if it were?”

“Fat chance that will happen,” she said, her voice laced with sarcasm. “Not that I care. There are plenty of men around here.”

Jealousy, hot and lethal to his state of mind, coursed through Carter, surprising him with its intensity. He pulled her to him. Her eyes grew wide, then heavy-lidded. Oh yeah, she cared. So, he leaned down, hovering his mouth mere inches from hers. “Baby, I’m your man.”

Chapter Five

Gazing into Carter’s dark green eyes set Melanie off-kilter, like she’d been spun around on a ride at the county fair and hadn’t found her center of gravity yet. The only other time she’d ever been this up close and personal had been when he’d caught her taking pictures of him skinny dipping with Naomi Price in the Pamlico Sound. Though he wouldn’t have caught her if she hadn’t fallen out of the tree she’d been hiding in.

Except this time, there wasn’t murder and embarrassment on his face as he patted her down, searching for broken legs or arms while yelling at her for being a nosy pain in his rear.

Oh no, Carter was extremely serious.

His lips lightly brushed against hers, over and over, like he was teasing her. She tried to put her arms around to get him to kiss her fully, only they were trapped beneath his coat. She was trapped beneath his coat. She’d rather be trapped by his body.

“Carter,” she whispered against his mouth. “Kiss me.”

“Patience, sweetheart.”

“I’ve waited my whole life for this.”

“You say the most amazing things to puff up a man’s ego.” He her drew in her bottom lip and lightly bit it. Her knees went weak and she sagged against him. “Like that?”

Nodding, she rose up on her toes. She used the tip of her tongue to trace the seam of his mouth. As soon as he parted his lips, she slid inside and his tongue met hers. He growled, his shoes crunching on gravel as he moved out of the parking lot light.

His hands moved to the front of his coat, unbuttoning and sliding inside to touch her. One of his thumbs found a tight nipple through her thin bra and shirt, beginning a slow glide. “Before the night is over, I’m going to have these in my mouth,” he said between kisses as he pushed up her shirt.

The cold night air washed over her but she was too hot for him to care.

“Unfasten your bra.”

Hands trembling with desire and excitement went to the fastening in the front, his dark gaze tracking her movements. With one tug, the fabric fell away and her br**sts spilled out.

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