She glanced down at Sam from on top of the table. at his hot-and-hungry stare, she felt certain he was prepared to clean the icing from her entire body. And boy did she believe she could do the job on him. For days now she’d wanted this man, for days she’d wondered if it was unquenched desire for him or something more. For days now she’d been stressed, worried, confused. She’d felt as if the world were spinning out of control.

For tonight, what was wrong with being on top of the world? Okay, she was on top of a coffee table, but with a cake-covered, gorgeous army guy about to carry her away to a private place, she believed she could do anything. She had a hot show and a hot man. If that was a curse, bring it on.

She slid her hand into his.

* * *

SAM HAD PLANS FOR Meagan, a celebration of her success, that led them down the beach, off the grid of the cameras, to a secluded area where he’d pitched a tent and set up a lantern inside.

Meagan laughed the minute she saw the tent.

“I thought I’d show you how a soldier roughs it on the beach.” He motioned her inside, and she disappeared through the open zipper. “And you and I get privacy we wouldn’t get at either of the houses.”

“Champagne?” she asked, as he joined her on the inflatable mattress.

“Unless you prefer the sparking grape juice you’re wearing as perfume? Derek was right when he said those kids are crazy.”

She laughed. “They’re excited.”

“As they should be,” he said, and popped the top on the bottle and filled her glass. “Congrats on your ratings.” His mouth brushed hers. “You taste like strawberries. I think I just decided I love strawberries.” And yes, he’d said love. He was falling in love with Meagan. He’d never been in love, thought it wasn’t in his cards. And he was probably a fool to choose a woman sure to kick his ass a hundred times over, but then, Sam never ran from a challenge. And Meagan was more his kind of challenge than any he’d known in a very long time.

She inhaled on his words, as if she’d understood the discreet message. Softly, she breathed out his name. “Sam.” Her fingers curled on his cheek, and for long seconds stayed there. The air was thick around them, electric and hot, until she pressed her lips to his. “You… taste like strawberries, too.”

“I taste like you,” he told her, leaning back so she could see his expression. Then he slipped a glass into her hand. “Drink up. You deserve to celebrate.”

She crinkled her nose and downed the drink. “Always the bossy one, aren’t you?”

“Hmm,” he said, emptying his glass and scooting to her side. “You seem to like me being bossy, like I do you, at least sometimes.”

“Only because it hasn’t gone to your head,” she said, letting him ease her to the mattress. “The minute it does—”

“You’ll put me in my place,” he said, framing her face with his hands. “I know. Believe me, I know. I like that about you, too. But do you know why you keep letting me take control?”

“I’m sure you’ll tell me,” she commented dryly, but not without a rasp of desire in her voice.

“Aside from trusting me,” he began.

“When did this become about trust?”

“Are you saying you don’t trust me?” he asked, sliding her shirt up to her stomach and kissing the delicate skin he’d revealed.

“I didn’t say that.”

He caressed her narrow waist, her hips. “So you do trust me?”

Her expression softened. “I do,” she whispered. “I trust you, Sam. Very much.”

The confession took him off guard, warmed him. “I’m glad,” he said, resting his hand on her belly. “Not so long ago, I wasn’t so sure you ever would.”

A smile tugged on her lips. “You kind of blasted into my life like a bolt of lightening. The minute you arrived, I felt your presence.”

“I know the feeling.”

He would have lowered his head to kiss her then, but her fingers slid into his hair. “Do you ever feel out of control, Sam?”

“When I’m not with you.”

“I’m serious,” she said.

“So am I, sweetheart. I’ve never had a woman twist me in knots like you can.”

“I don’t mean to do that to you.”

“Then stop pushing me away. Let me inside, Meg. Really let me in.”

“I don’t want to push you away,” she said. “But—”

He kissed her. “Then don’t. Just don’t. Be with me, Meagan.”

“I am, but—”

He kissed her again, a long stroke of his tongue against hers, before repeating, “Let me in, Meagan. Let go of just enough control to give me room inside your life. Everyone has to let go sometimes.”

Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Stepping Up Romance
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