Decision made, he crossed to the slider and gripped the handle. Zoe’s head jerked up when he began to slide it open. She shut the laptop and set it aside as he stepped out. It only took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, broken by the faint glow of a streetlamp across from her building. Now he heard the quiet sounds of jazz floating from down the block, people talking as they passed by on the sidewalk beneath her balcony.
“Couldn’t sleep, or did I wake you up?” she whispered, scooting aside to make room for him.
Clay lowered himself onto the daybed beside her, momentarily distracted when the hem of the robe rode up her thighs as she bent her legs and tucked her feet beneath her. Can’t sleep because I want to be buried inside you.
“What are you doing working at this time of night?” he asked instead, reaching out to tuck a lock of silky hair behind her ear. His fingers slid through the strands in a caress far gentler than he was feeling at the moment, when all he wanted was to pin her flat on this bed and devour her, inch by inch. Another scene from one of her books popped into his head. The one where the hero had surprised the heroine from behind one night, pinning her down and taking her right there out on the lawn, where anyone might see them.
The balcony wasn’t a lawn, but the scene was hot and gave him ideas. Zoe pinned beneath him on the daybed, naked and wet for him, fighting to stay quiet while he made her come. He was rock hard at the thought.
Zoe stilled at the contact and stared at him questioningly. Thunder rolled faintly in the distance, the air suddenly feeling heavier. “Couldn’t sleep, and I like working in the middle of the night anyway. It’s quiet, the moon’s out and there’s something magical and sensual about sitting out here creating worlds and characters while jazz music floats up from down the street.”
There was something magical and sensual going on here, yeah, but it had nothing to do with the city or its music.
He let his fingertips trail along the side of her face as he lowered his hand. Her skin was so soft, just touching her like that made him hard all over. He caught her quiet indrawn breath, noted the way her nipples hardened against the satiny fabric of the robe and knew she was naked underneath.
Clay looked up into her eyes, saw the pupils expand in the faint lamplight. In the sudden stillness the air around them seemed to crackle with latent energy.
Clay gripped the edge of the quilt she’d spread onto the bed to keep from touching her again. “Tell me no, Zoe.” His voice was deeper than normal, raspy, but he couldn’t control it or the desire streaking through him.
She licked her lips, leaving them shiny in the soft light, making him want to taste those tempting curves. “Why? Because you turned me down earlier?”
He should get a fucking medal for that. “Because you’re supposed to be off limits.”
Her chin came up, a defiant expression on her face that only made the desire flare hotter. He loved that she didn’t back down from his direct challenge. He got the feeling Zoe didn’t back down from anything. “Says who?”
“People who care about you.” Tuck, for one, and that should be enough. Clay was sure Celida would have said something to warn her off him too.
Zoe studied him for a moment while the heat built inside him, wanting to be unleashed. “What about you? Do you care about me?” she asked softly.
He did. More than he’d ever expected to. “Yeah.” And even though that meant he should get up and walk away, he couldn’t help but reach out a hand to touch the stubborn point of her chin, rub his thumb lightly across her full lower lip. “And so you need to tell me no, right now, before I do something you might regret later.”
She inched closer, leaning forward at the waist, and the combined lust and anticipation in her gaze made him bite back a groan. Her whisper was seductive as hell. “I’m not going to regret it.”
Clay heard as much as felt his control snap.