Then one look at Luciana and he was back to battling in the internal war. Distrusting her. Still wanting her.
Wrapped in a long, thick wheat-coloured cardigan, chocolate-brown leggings and socks that scrunched around her ankles, she looked so young, so adorable. So hatefully sexy. All that lavish honeycomb hair was pinned in a messy knot atop her head, the odd stray tendril curling, caressing her cheek, and when she lifted one hand to brush it away with her wrist she left a smear of creamy buttery sugar streaking her flawless skin.
He wanted to lick it off. Taste the honeyed sweetness of her skin. Let it saturate his tongue.
Damn him to Hades for allowing her to beguile him.
Nate’s voice yanked Thane from his turmoil and he watched him swipe at his milk moustache with his Batman pyjama sleeve.
‘Eight sleeps until Christmas, Mamá. What would you like from Santa?’
Luciana plopped down into the seat beside him and dabbed his mouth with a tissue. ‘I want you to be happy. Are you happy here?’
So loving she was with him. Selfless. Protective. So much like his mother. And Thane realised then that never had he thought so much of his childhood since Luciana had stormed back into his life. Something else to mess with his head, shove him to the edge of sanity.
‘Yep. I like living on the beach, and my new dogs, and my new daddy, and my room isn’t great…it’s awesome.’
That would be the room that now resembled outer space, with a galaxy of stars painted across the ceiling that shone in the dark.
‘You won’t fit into my new spaceship bed tonight, Mamá, so will you sleep with Daddy, like Auntie Claudia with Uncle Lucas?’
Luciana closed her eyes for a beat. ‘Er…no, I don’t think so, darling. Maybe I’ll sleep in the suite next to yours, in case you need me.’
Aversion constricted his throat. Was that how it would be between them? Separate suites? Strangers who shared a house? A son? The thought made him cold to his bones.
‘I’m a big boy now,’ said Nate, all Guerrero fierce pride. ‘You can go further down the hall with Daddy.’
Thane couldn’t think of anything worse. Luciana lying beside him in that slippery, silky, lacy black camisole and shorts, that vanilla and jasmine scent taunting his senses. So close yet unable to touch. Bad, bad idea. He didn’t trust himself not to reach for her when his defences were low. When his anger was asleep. When he craved oblivion from the pain.
Frankly, she didn’t deserve to be used in such a way. Since he doubted she still shared their fatal attraction. Since she’d moved in with Nate and shrank from him the odd time he accidentally touched her. As if he were some dangerous predator who would maul her at any moment. And he could hardly blame her for that since it was exactly how he felt. Toxic. Lethal.
Luciana, who was clearly reading from the same map, said vaguely, ‘We’ll see.’
Nate gave an immense cat-like yawn, hair flopping over his brow, and Luciana stroked the ebony tufts back and smiled indulgently. ‘Come on, sleepy-head. Time for bed.’
Heavy eyes blinked up at her. ‘Can I have a carry?’
Thane pushed himself off the doorframe. ‘I believe that is my job.’
Luciana glanced up and for a split second he was sure he saw pleasure light a fire in her brandy eyes, but then she trailed that gaze down over his attire and the flames flickered and died. He took a scissor-kick in his stomach and when he drew up close suffered another swift jab. She looked like an exhausted Botticelli angel—the violet smudges beneath her eyes a vivid contrast against her unusually pale skin.
And right then he realised they couldn’t go on like this much longer. While he’d never wholly trust her again, completely forgive and forget, he had to try and move on—for all their sakes. He just wasn’t sure where to start.
Nate found a burst of energy to bounce in his chair and raise his arms. ‘Daddy! Will you give me a carry downstairs?’
‘I certainly will.’
Down they went, Thane stealing a hug on the way, inhaling that glorious warm bathtime scent, loving those fragile arms wrapped around his shoulders trustingly, giving him a ‘squeezy cuddle’ right back. He’d been initiated into the realms of squeezy cuddles yesterday, and found they were strangely addictive displays of affection.
Luciana pulled back the star-encrusted navy bedcovers and Thane eased him down and kissed his brow, stroked the back of his finger down that cherubic cheek. ‘Sleep well.’