Chapter Five

For a moment he could only look at her as old memories and old needs tangled with new. Time hadn't stood still for them. She wasn't the coltish young girl who would splash headlong into the water with a dare. The woman who watched him now with cool, measuring eyes had a layer of polish and sophistication the girl had lacked.

The breeze had her hair dancing in fiery spirals. That, at least, hadn't changed. She waited with every appearance of calm as he walked to her, but he neither saw nor felt any welcome.

"I wondered how long it would take you to come here. " Her voice was low, as measured as her gaze. "I wasn't sure you'd have the nerve. "

It was difficult, horribly, to speak rationally when the emotions and images from the cave still churned inside him. "Do you ever come back here?"

"Why would I? If I want to look at the ocean, I can stand on my own cliffs. If I want the beach, it's a short walk from my store. There's nothing here to warrant the trip. "

"But you're here now. "

"Curiosity. " Her head tilted to the side. The dark blue stones at her ears caught the light and glinted.

"And did you satisfy your own?"

"I felt you in there. Felt us in there. "

It surprised him when her lips curved, almost affectionately. "Sex has strong energy, when it's done correctly. We never had a problem in that area. As for me - well, a woman has a certain sentimental vision of the first time she gave herself to a man. I can remember that particular event fondly, even if I came to regret my choice of partner. "

"I never meant to - " He broke off, swore.

"To hurt me?" she finished. "Liar. "

"You're right. Absolutely. " Whatever came from this point on, if he was indeed fated to lose her, he could and would be honest about this one thing. "I did mean to hurt you. And I'd say I did a damn good job of it. "

"Well, you surprise me at last. " She turned away because it hurt to look at him, to see him stand there with his back to the shadowed mouth of the cave that had been theirs. To feel the echoes of that boundless, consuming love she'd once felt for him.

"A clear truth, after all these years. "

"Meaning to do something at twenty doesn't mean I can't, and don't, regret it now. "

"I don't want your regrets. "

"What the hell do you want, Mia?"

She watched the water tease the shore in its endless flirtation. She heard the edge in his voice, knew it as a sign of a rising and reckless mood. And it pleased her. The more unsettled he was, the more she could feel in control.

"A truth for a truth, then," she said. "I want you to suffer, to pay, and to go back toNew York or to hell, or wherever you choose, so long as it isn't here. "

She looked back over her shoulder at him, and her smile was cold as winter. "It seems so little to ask, really. "

"I mean to stay on Three Sisters. "

She turned back to him. He looked dramatic, she thought. Romantic. Dark and broody. Full of anger and turmoil. Because of it, she indulged herself and gave him yet another push.

"For what? To run a hotel? Your father managed to run it for years without being here. "

"I'm not my father. "

The way he said it, that small, verbal explosion, triggered more memories. He'd always had to prove himself, to himself, she thought. The constant internal war of Samuel Logan. She shrugged.

"Well, in any case, I imagine you'll be bored with island life soon enough and escape. As you did before.

'Trapped,' I believe was your term. You felt trapped here. So, it's just a matter of waiting you out. "

"You'll have a long wait," he warned. He hooked his hands in his pockets. "Let's get something straight, so we can avoid going around the same loop again and again. I have roots here, just as you do. The fact that you spent your twenties on-island and I didn't doesn't change the fact that we both come from the same place. We both have businesses here, and beyond that we have a purpose, one that goes back centuries. What happens on and to Three Sisters matters to me as much as it matters to you. "

"An interesting speech from someone who walked away so casually. "

"There was nothing casual about it," he began, but she had already turned her back on him, was already striding toward the bluff.

Let her go, his mind ordered. Just let her go. If this is fate, it can't be beaten. Shouldn't be, for the good of the whole, fought against.

"The hell with that. " The words ground between his teeth as he went after her. He grabbed her arm, spun her around so quickly their bodies collided. "There was nothing casual about it," he repeated.

"Nothing impulsive, nothing careless. "

"Is that how you justify it?" she tossed back. "Is that how you make it right? You left because it suited you, and you come back because it suits you. And because you're here, why not see if you can stir up some old flames?"

"I've been pretty restrained in that area. " He yanked his sunglasses off, threw them on the ground. His gaze was burning, blistering green. "Up till now. "

He crushed his mouth to hers, let himself take, let the storm of emotions that had shadowed him since he left the cave break over both of them. If he was to be damned, he'd be damned for taking what he wanted, not for letting it go.

The unique flavor of her seared through him, sizzling the nerves, smoking the senses. His arms tightened so that her long, lean body was molded to his, and against his heart her heart kicked and galloped until the paces matched. Exactly.

The scent of her, darker than he remembered and somehow forbidding, slithered into him, twining through his system until it was tied in knots. The memories of the girl, the reality of the woman - both blurred together and became one. Became Mia.

He said her name once, his lips moving against hers, then she broke free. Her breathing was as uneven as his. And her eyes were huge, dark, unreadable. He waited to be cursed, and counted it worth the price of that one taste of heaven.

But she moved to him in one quick stride. Locking her arms around his neck, pressing her body to his, she took from him as he had taken from her.

Her mouth was a fever, and the ache of it throbbed through her. He was the only man who'd ever brought her pain, and the only man who'd ever brought her true pleasure. Both edges of that keen sword stabbed, and still she took.

She had pushed him, plucked at the ragged threads of his temper with one underlying purpose. This. Just this. Whatever the risks, whatever the price, she'd had to know . She remembered the taste of him, the texture, the way it felt when his hands slid up from her waist to fist in her hair. She relived all of that now, and experienced the new.

He nipped her bottom lip, just one quick bite before his tongue slicked over the same spot to soothe and to entice. She changed the angle of the kiss, daring him to follow, to circle the slippery rim of that well of need.

Someone trembled. She wasn't sure who, but it was enough to remind her that a misstep could lead to a tumble. And the fall was long.

She drew back, then away, as the reverberations of that mating of mouths tossed her emotions. So she knew. He was still the only one who could meet and match her passions. His voice was hoarse, and far from steady when he spoke. "That proves something. "

It helped, somehow, knowing he was as undone as she. "Proves what, Sam? That we still have heat between us?" She waved her hand, and a duet of clear blue flames danced on her palm. "Fire is easily lit. " She curled her fingers, opened them again, and her palm was empty. "Easily extinguished. "

Tags: Nora Roberts Three Sisters Island Romance