He let out a deep sigh, knowing I was winning this round. “So in the name of amnesia research, you’re inviting me to stay?” His voice is tinged with just a bit of humor, like mine was.
I nodded, solemnly. “In the name of science, yes, I’d like you to stay.”
He cracked a slight grin. “Then how can I say no?”
“You shouldn’t want to.”
Our conversation had too many twisted meanings and double negatives. Just his physical presence made my head spin and I couldn’t be certain we were talking about the same thing. “So you’ll stay the night?”
I claimed a small victory at winning this round. “How could they just let you leave…? Without anywhere to go…any money…? That’s crazy.”
He ran his hands through his hair. “Yeah, I suppose it is. But they couldn’t legally hold me there anymore and I knew sitting in a hospital room wasn’t going to help me remember anything. I’d rather be out in the city, experiencing life and seeing if anything sparks a memory. Or maybe someone might even recognize me. Assuming I did live here in Chicago.”
“I guess that makes sense, but I mean, what was your plan? Sleep on a park bench tonight…and then…” I threw my hands up in the air.
“Actually, no. Before I left the hospital they gave me the address of a shelter to stay at for the night and a social worker to visit in the morning about a work program they have for rehabilitating people. I just…couldn’t follow through with it.”
I waited while he gathered his thoughts, not pushing him. Before I even realized it, my hand drifted to his and I lightly brushed the back of his hand.
He gazed up at me, surprised. “Going through with that was like admitting I was nothing, a nameless, faceless nobody. With nothing to my name and nobody who even cares. It was too much.”
“I see.” I understood just what he was saying. Sleeping overnight in a homeless shelter would be a very humbling experience. I was grateful, not for the first time, that I had happened upon him tonight. “You’re not alone.” I squeezed his hand.
He looked down at our intertwined fingers, a frown forming on his face. “There’s something we need to talk about if I’m going to stay here with you.”
I nodded obediently. “Come sit down.” I just wanted to keep him from fleeing. I couldn’t stand the guilt of thinking he was spending the night outside on a park bench.
We each pulled out a chair and sat perched at the dining room table facing each other.
He looked me straight in the eye. “I know my attraction to you has probably been obvious.”
A slow smile crept over my lips. Interesting…
“I know you could get into trouble if someone thought you were having an improper relationship with me. I need to let you know, I’m not ready to pursue anything…with anyone. So if I’m staying here with you, we’ll need to agree it’s friendship only.”
“Absolutely, of course.”
He nodded his head, solemnly, and cleared his throat, taking his time. “Thank you.” He nodded his agreement, but I could tell this conversation was far from over.
I gathered up some extra blankets from the closet and the spare pillow from my bed and set them on the sofa for him. “Hope these are okay.”
“Yes, thank you.”
I stood there awkwardly for a second, unsure what to do with myself while he looked down at me. “I think I’ll go change. Be right back.”
He nodded and watched me turn to leave. I grabbed my pajamas and headed into the bathroom. What was I doing? I had impossible conversations with myself while I stared in the mirror. Maybe it was insane to have him here in my apartment, but I couldn’t see reason or logic where Logan was concerned. My instincts told me that he could be trusted. I stripped off my jeans, shirt and bra and changed into a pair of cotton shorts and a clean white tank top. I lifted my hair off my neck and secured it in a messy bun.
I’d thought about having Logan in my bed for weeks, and now that he was here, I was a jittery mess. I knew I’d never have the courage to make the first move, and he seemed unsure about even being here, so somehow I doubted my fantasy of getting him in my bed was going to come true, especially after his little speech about us being just friends. It both frustrated and relieved me. I wasn’t one to make a first move, and my ego couldn’t handle being shot down by him. Plus, I’m sure he had bigger things on his mind, like where he was going to live, and wasn’t as sex-starved as me.
I took a deep breath, pulled open the bathroom door, and headed into the living room. I expected to see him making a bed on the couch, but he was no longer there. I checked the kitchen and dining room. Both were empty.
His file lay open and scattered across the dining room table. Photos of the crime scene and an email from Professor Clancy were at the top of the pile. The email was brief, but contained a stark warning against getting involved with Logan, reiterating the violence at the crime scene. Damn it. I hadn’t intended for Logan to see these. I rushed into the hall.
Logan was retreating down the hallway, but when I called out his name, he stopped and turned to face me.
“Please.” The one word plea was all I could verbalize. It meant so many things, please stay, please don’t just leave me, please don’t be the man they say you are…
He seemed to understand on an unspoken level and began walking toward me. I met him halfway, as if drawn forward by some greater force.
“Those things in my file.” He sighed and rubbed his hands across his face. “I’m not safe. You don’t even know me.”
“I know you better than anyone. I trust you.” I knew one thing for certain; I didn’t want him to leave.
“Ashlyn…” My name on his lips was the softest sound. His gruff, deep voice was incredibly sexy.
“What?” I whispered, stepping in closer.
“About the murder…” He clenched his fists at his sides.
My stomach dropped. Oh shit. Maybe this was a terrible idea. Logan didn’t seem violent or dangerous to me, but how well did I really know him? He didn’t even know himself.
“I honestly don’t believe I’d have it in me to…do something like that. It had to be self-defense, but the truth is I don’t know for sure. But I want you to know, you can trust me being here with you.”
The murderer said to the weak, young girl. I swallowed the lump in my throat, and met his eyes. They were sincere and kind, and locked on mine, seeking forgiveness. Trust. It was the one thing I had to offer him, after he had opened himself up to assist in my research. “I know.”
He was quiet for a moment while he studied me. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” I mumbled, looking down at my feet.
“I know I didn’t deserve it, but it was your visits that got me through the past few weeks.”
“Me too,” I admitted.
He seemed shocked by my admission. He lifted my chin with his fingers. “What do you want?”
“Stay here with me.”
“I shouldn’t be alone with you. Maybe what they say about me is true.”
“I don’t believe you’re dangerous. I trust you.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t.”
It was like a bucket of ice water thrown on my libido.
“I was your test subject, someone to study and experiment with to see how I responded. Was that all I was to you?”
“No, Logan. I never saw you like that. I probably should have. I’m sorry you saw that email from Clancy, but that was his warning because he and Dr. Andrews knew I was getting attached to you, and my friend Liz took me out tonight to meet a man because she said…” I stopped myself from saying anything embarrassing. “She said I needed to, um, get some.”
“Get some?” He quirked an eyebrow.
Shit. My cheeks flared crimson. So much for not incriminating myself with something embarrassing.
He brushed my hair back from my face. “You’re beautiful. You could have any man you wanted on his knees begging for you.”
“Yeah right,” I mused.
His look of concern held. “So…did you? Get some, I mean?”
I looked him straight in the eyes, my lower lip pouting out just slightly. “No.” Okay, that was so the alcohol talking. I was never usually this bold. But he had already admitted he was attracted to me.
He leaned down, bringing his lips flush with mine. “We shouldn’t do this,” he whispered against my mouth.
“I know,” I whispered back. My head knew I was crossing a professional line that wasn’t appropriate, but damn if my body had gotten the memo. I wanted his hands on every inch of me. I leaned in closer, eager to feel him pressed against me.
His eyes stayed locked on mine, as he brought his hand up to cradle my jaw. His thumb skidded against my cheek, brushing my bottom lip.
My lips parted just slightly, in an open invitation to him.
“We shouldn’t,” he breathed, but his eyes were full of heated passion.
“Please.” My eyes drifted closed as he leaned forward and pressed a single kiss to my lips. It was soft and careful, almost innocent, like a kiss between friends. Except his mouth continued to hover over mine.
I trailed my tongue along his top lip until he opened his mouth. When his tongue touched mine, a warm rush of heat shot straight between my legs and I let out a ragged moan.
Logan stopped suddenly and pulled back. “You taste like liquor. Are you drunk?” He tilted my chin up, forcing me to meet his eyes.
“Not drunk, just a little tipsy.” I leaned into him, wanting to feel his mouth against mine again, but he hesitated to kiss me back.
“I want this, Ashlyn, believe me, I’ve thought of this since I first saw you, but not like this. Not when you’re drunk. Not when you’re unable to think clearly about what you want. You’ll regret this.”
“Hush.” He silenced me with a finger placed over my lips. “Don’t tempt me. My willpower can’t stand much more.”
“So give in.” I smiled at him coyly.
He pulled in a deep breath and released a sigh. “Woman, you are trouble.”
I slid my hands up his chest, loving the feel of his firm muscled chest under his T-shirt. My hands found their way into the hair at the back of his neck and I used the leverage to bring his mouth to mine once again. The kiss started out soft and teasing, just damp lips exploring each other, but soon turned wild and heated, our tongues flirting and tasting as we got more comfortable. He might not remember anything of his past; but I knew one thing for certain, he was a damn good kisser.
He pulled back just slightly, breathing hard against my mouth. “Tell me to stop.”
I couldn’t. My voice wouldn’t come. I just continued kissing him, wishing this never had to stop.
“Ashlyn, make me stop.”
“No,” I breathed into his neck, holding on for dear life. He growled near my ear as I moved my hands to his butt, pulling him firmly against me. I felt his thick erection press against my belly. “Don’t stop,” I moaned.
He pulled back from me suddenly. My lips were swollen and damp from his assault of kisses.
“I trust you.”
“If you knew what I thought about….you wouldn’t trust me.”
My heart strummed in my chest. “What do you think about?”
“All the things I want to do to you, but can’t.” He ran his thumb across my bottom lip.
I sucked my lip into my mouth and held my breath. “Like what?” I whispered.
He leaned in toward me. I thought he might kiss me, but he turned his head, leaning down near my ear. “Being inside you,” he whispered against my hair. “Making you come.”
My sex clenched at the sultry sound of his voice and a breathy moan slipped from my lips. Oh God, he was hot.
“But I won’t do that. We can’t.” He swallowed roughly, his throat constricting with the effort.
I rubbed my breasts against him, hoping to change his mind. My sensitive nipples rasped against his firm chest, which only succeeded in making me hotter.
“Please…Logan…” I breathed, continuing to rub myself against him like a cat against a scratching post.
“Not here.” He took my hand and pulled me into my apartment, kicking the door shut behind us and pressing my back against the wall. He kissed me senseless while I writhed against him. He gripped my ass and pressed his erection against me. I’m not sure how long it went on, but my panties were soaking wet, and I’d never been so turned on in my entire life.
I reached between us for the button on his jeans, but his hand found mine and stopped me. “Ashlyn, no.” He let out a frustrated growl and worked to get his breathing under control. Then he pressed a kiss to my nose. “You’ve been drinking. Please. Let me put you to bed.”
“God, yes,” I moaned.
He chuckled. “I meant that I’d tuck you in to sleep.”
Oh hell. I’d tried and failed to seduce the one man I truly wanted. My chest suddenly felt tight, and I swallowed hard, forcing my emotions to take a back seat. I nodded my consent and untangled myself from him. I wouldn’t cry, but damn if I didn’t feel rejected, betrayed.
I headed into my bedroom, not bothering to turn on the light, since the moonlight filtering in provided plenty of light to see by. I collapsed onto my bed, hoping he’d just leave me alone before I broke down with the tears that were certain to come. So, of course, he didn’t. Logan followed me in, knelt beside my bed and helped me get under the covers.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, which sounded more like a disappointed sigh.
“Hey.” He brushed my loose strands of hair back from my face. “What’s wrong?”