He chuckled softly but didn’t say anything more. Instead he used those articulate lips for something better. He tasted of the rain, of the coffee he’d just finished and something else. Something warm, something—tender.
Tara stopped thinking. Only feeling—the solid bands of his arms around her waist, his fingers splayed across her back, the warm wall of his chest beneath her palms and the full length of her forearms.
When had she closed her eyes? She couldn’t recall, she didn’t care and she reveled in the darkness, tasting, touching—feeling this wonder.
Slowly, Morgan slid the tip of his tongue across the seam of her lips, hinting, asking for entry, seeking more of her. And she wanted more of him, too. Much, much more.
Hesitantly at first, Tara slipped her arms over the hard contours of his chest to loop over his shoulders and around his neck. She held on tight, her fingers brushed the close-trimmed hair at the nape of his neck.
Was that sound her sigh or his? “Again?” his touch silently asked, and she leaned closer, if that were possible, and let him in.
Everything about the man was solid and warm. Hot. She leaned into him, and he took the full weight of her against him. Angling his head, his lips found more of hers, drinking her in. His hands curled around her, the heat of his palms burning through her clothing, making her feel as if she’d been branded by his touch.
They couldn’t get much closer, but she ached to be much, much closer. Ached to feel him against her skin.
As if he had some type of psychic power, his hand slid beneath the fabric of her sweater, brushing her skin like a match touching kindling. She trembled.
“Morgan,” she whispered against his lips, needing to say something but unable to form a sentence.
He didn’t move. He didn’t breathe, it seemed. Then he withdrew his hand from her skin. “No,” Morgan whispered, surprising her as he put his hands on her shoulders. “This…” Shaking his head, Morgan stepped back, those warm fingers lingering, then leaving a trail down her arm, before he abruptly turned away. “Thanks for the coffee. I’ll let myself out.”
He couldn’t seem to get away fast enough. Before Tara could move, she heard the door open, then close. Morgan’s footsteps were loud and hurried down the stairs. The front door opened, then closed. After that, she couldn’t hear anything more. Only the patter of the rain on the window broke the silence he left behind.
He was gone.
She was happy. Relieved. He’d saved her from herself, from her own weakness. She stared at the closed door, hearing the rain beating on the roof.
He’d be soaked in seconds. She shivered, recalling how he looked in his damp clothes. Was he right? Was their kiss really a mistake? Why did he think that? The speed of his escape said so much and didn’t tell her a blessed thing.
* * *
STUPID. STUPID. STUPID. Morgan called himself every kind of fool as he stomped down the sidewalk. He could still taste her, still feel the soft, giving warmth of her lips under his. Every muscle in his body, save for the one thumping deep in his chest, screamed to turn back and pick up where he’d left off.
When he’d left his truck earlier, all he’d planned to do was go downtown and ask some questions. He hadn’t intended on meeting Tara. Hadn’t planned to follow her home like a sad puppy dog. And he certainly hadn’t planned to kiss her.
That had been the stupidest piece of all.
But oh, so worth it. His memory filled with the images and sensations of her so close, so sweet and warm.
He cursed and resumed stomping across the damp pavement.
Soon, he was at the diner and he climbed into the cab of his truck. He was soaked through again, and the rain still pounded, loud and tinny against the truck’s metal roof and the windshield. It was deafening. He sat in the bucket seat and stared at the storm, understanding its fury completely.
His phone rang, and he almost missed answering Jack’s call because digging it out of his sodden jeans pocket took effort. “What?” he barked into the phone.
“Well, aren’t you cheery,” Jack snapped. “What the hell happened to you?”
Morgan could almost hear Jack rolling his eyes. It was Jack’s favorite expression when he was frustrated with him, which had been quite often when they were growing up.