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One perfect night, p.6
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       One Perfect Night, p.6

         Part #9. 5 of The Sullivans series by Bella Andre
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Page 6

  Author: Bella Andre

  "Keep looking at me like that and we may not make it all the way to my house, after all. "

  Pleasure lit through her veins. She used to dream of someone wanting her like this…until she’d nearly stopped dreaming altogether.

  But as he pulled into his garage, the weight in her stomach that had lifted when she was in his arms fell part of the way back into place. She turned her face from him, not wanting him to see her wavering again. Especially since she could guess that Noah was a man who made a decision and stuck by it, regardless of the risks.

  "Colbie?"

  Only a coward would continue to stare out the window. She’d been a coward in Lake Tahoe and where had it gotten her? Wracked with desperate dreams of the man she’d thought she would never find again.

  She turned her face back to his just as he said, "I would never do anything to hurt you. Do you believe me?"

  Just a few weeks ago, Colbie had vowed never to trust another man as long as she lived. Not with her body. And definitely not with her heart. Which was why she had to be honest with Noah, regardless of how much she wanted him. . . and even though she’d already promised him the night.

  "I don’t know you. And since it turns out I shouldn’t have trusted a man I thought I knew so well, I have to ask myself—how can I trust you now?"

  Noah responded to her honesty by picking up her hand and placing it over her heart, covering it with his. "Right here. " Now he moved their hands to his chest, pressing her palm over his breastbone. "And here. " He paused, letting her feel the strong, steady beat of his heart. "That’s what we’re going to listen to tonight. "

  She thought he would kiss her again to really make his point, but he didn’t. He simply brushed his other hand across her cheek and said, "Come inside so that we can get to know each other better—" His gaze darkened again, heating the car up at least ten degrees. "—before I strip your clothes off and make love to you. "

  She was supposed to be able to get out of the car after he said something like that?

  Fortunately, he came around to take her hand, so it didn’t matter if her legs were less steady than ever in her heels. When, she wondered, was the last time a man had done something even as simple as that? An everyday courtesy that meant so much.

  Moments later, he was leading her inside his stunning house, complete with a wraparound view of Puget Sound.

  "Noah, your house is incredible. "

  Despite the huge windows, it was warm and welcoming, rather than just a big fancy box built to maximize the view rather than comfort. She could easily see herself living in this house, making dinner in the large kitchen, curling up under a blanket to read on the couch.

  "I told my architect I wanted a place I could raise a family in. "

  Although she had only a vague idea of how much a waterfront house like this cost in Seattle, it had to be a heck of a lot more zeros than she’d ever seen.

  Slowly, she turned to him and asked, "Should I know who you are?"

  He drew her to him as his heated laughter filled up all of her empty spaces. "My sister would tell you not to do my ego any favors. "

  Oh, how Colbie loved hearing him laugh. There was such warmth in his joy. Such pleasure, too. Already, she found herself wanting more than one night. She wanted to hear him laugh while they were riding bicycles around the lake. . . or while they were rolling around together on a bed, tickling and teasing each other.

  She already wanted him, but though the week she’d already waited for him had been too long, now she wanted to know him, too. Even if it meant having to wait a little while longer for another kiss.

  "Tell me about your family, Noah. "

  He moved into the kitchen and pulled out a bottle of cabernet. It was what she’d been drinking at the bar, and she wondered how he’d even had a chance to notice what was in her glass.

  Then again, he noticed everything, didn’t he?

  He poured two glasses and brought them over to where she was still standing by the floor-to-ceiling window. She took the glass from him as they sat on the couch.

  "My parents are great. They’ve been married thirty-five years and still live in San Francisco, where I grew up. My sister Barbara lives there, too. She’s two years older than me and used to beat the hell out of me when we were kids. "

  Noah was at least six foot two, his shoulders were broad and his arms were obviously muscular even beneath his dress shirt. "I can’t picture anyone being able to beat you up," Colbie said.

  "When you meet my sister and see that she’s barely five feet tall, you’ll think I was kidding," he said with a very disarming grin, "but I used to call her Killer when we were kids. "

  He was doing it again, talking to her as though what they were doing wasn’t just a one-night thing. Not if you meet my sister. When.

  Hope flared in her chest, and even though she knew it would be smarter to keep her guard up to protect herself, she didn’t want to force herself to push it away this time. And even though she was going into one night with her eyes wide open, she wanted simply to close them and fall into Noah’s waiting arms.

  As he’d asked her to do on the mountain in Lake Tahoe, she wanted to close them and just feel.

  "What else do you want to know?" he asked, and she didn’t even need to think before answering, "Everything. "

  "I want to know everything about you, too," he agreed, "but first I want this. "

  His mouth was on hers before she could take her next breath, forcing her to take it from him instead. Every kiss he gave her pushed out more of the darkness her ex had left her with and filled it instead with sparkles as bright as the stars outside his living room window, until she felt as if she were shimmering as beautifully as the moonlit Sound. And then she was lost to anything but the way his lips sipped at hers, his tongue slowly tasting her lips from corner to corner, before he plundered the depths of her mouth again.

  When he finally pulled back and started to speak again, it took several seconds for her synapses to fire. "Wait," she said as she brushed the tips of her fingers across her tingling lips, "I just missed all of that. Can you start over?" On a laugh, he bent his head to kiss her again, but she said, "If you keep doing that, I’m never going to be able to focus on what you’re telling me about yourself and we’ll be here on your couch all night. "

  "In that case, we’re going to have to make this quick," he said as he stared down at her with hungry eyes. "I’m thirty-three. I work for the Maverick Group here in Seattle. I play basketball a couple of times a week and you already know I love to ski. And I recently learned that I have a major thing for pretty brunettes with blue eyes. Your turn now. "

  She was just as anxious as he was to get on with the "making love" part of their evening, so she didn’t waste any more time than he had. "I’m thirty. I used to work for a gaming company, but I recently quit to open my own store on Lake Street in downtown Kirkland. It’s called Indulgence. "

  "I like the name you chose," he said as he stroked his hand over her hair, and left it cupping the back of her neck. It felt good to be held by him like that, and also to be able to tell him, "Today was my first day in business. " She couldn’t have held back her smile if she’d tried. "It went amazingly well. "

  "Of course it did," he said as if her opening day couldn’t have gone any other way.

  She was so tempted to kiss him again, but first she wanted to add, "While I’m a much better ice skater than I am a skier, swimming is really my sport. And. . . " She paused to press her palm to his cheek, loving the way his rough stubble scratched her skin.

  "And?"

  She leaned in closer. "And I’ve recently learned that I have a major thing for green-eyed ski instructors. "

  Their mouths met again, another hungry exploration of desire that told her as much about Noah as anything he’d said. His mouth
was at once rough and gentle, and he gave at least as much as he took. He knew what he wanted from her, and she knew he intended to have it, but even then she could feel him holding onto his control. . . until he knew that she was ready for him to lose it.

  Any other guy would have taken her into the bedroom by the time they pulled apart, but when he ran the pad of his thumb over her tingling lower lip and said, "What about your family?" she was amazed to realize that he’d actually meant it when he said he wanted to get to know her better before making love to her.

  He was still the best-looking man she’d ever seen up close and in person, but now that she’d had a chance to spend some time talking to him, she saw more than just his good looks. She saw strength—and sweetness—at the core of who he was.

  "I used to wish for a sister or brother," she found herself telling him, "but my parents split up when I was really young. I grew up with just my mom. "

  "Did she remarry?"

  "After my father walked out on her, I guess she didn’t trust men anymore. She dated, but once things got serious with a boyfriend, she always broke it off. "

  "Before they could hurt her the way your father hurt her," he said with immediate insight.

  She’d never told anyone this before, not even Mia. How, she wondered, could it be so natural to open up to Noah so much?

  "Yes," she said softly. "She warned me to be careful about trusting my heart to anyone. "

  "I’m sure she thought she was doing her best for her daughter, didn’t she?"

  She heard what he wasn’t saying—that her mother had unintentionally led her astray. "But she was right. Because the one time I let down my guard, I—" She shook her head. "I should have known better. "

  "Who hurt you, Colbie?"

  She shook her head, hating the way her mouth was starting to wobble at the corners. "We’d been dating for almost a year. " She didn’t want to say his name aloud, didn’t want to let any part of Rob’s memory ruin this night for her. "I found him in bed with someone from work. " She’d thought the woman was a friend, but she’d been wrong about both of them. "But do you know why I’m really angry? Not because he cheated on me, but because I already knew he wasn’t the right man for me. I should have had the courage to break up with him before he cheated. "

  Anger moved across Noah’s face. "Your ex-boyfriend was an idiot. How could he not have known what he had?" He pulled her closer into him, so gentle and yet so strong all at the same time. "I never want to hurt you, Colbie," he promised in that deep voice that sizzled up and down her spine before landing smack dab in the center of her heart. "Do you know what I’m going to do instead?"

  Oh my. She almost didn’t dare ask. "What?"

  "I’m going to love you. "

  "Yes," she whispered, wondering if she’d ever be able to catch her breath all the way again. "Make love to me, Noah. Please, I can’t wait anymore. "

  Chapter Seven

  As Colbie lifted her mouth to Noah’s and she kissed him, the ache inside him both deepened. . . and gave way to the greatest pleasure he’d ever known. He swept her up into his arms, hardly able to believe that he was finally going to get to strip off her clothes, to touch her soft skin, to learn every inch of her beauty. Even as he held her in his arms and kissed her lips, he ached for her.

  When he finally put her down in his bedroom, letting her curves slide slowly over his muscles until her feet touched the floor, he put his hands on either side of her face and stared down at her. His chest clenched tight at the depth of her beauty. Just looking at her—without yet touching anything but her face—had his breath coming in ragged pants.

  "I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for you," he said right before he finally gave in to the need to have her, the greed that had been eating him up since the first moment he’d held her in the snow in Lake Tahoe. He ran kisses from her mouth, over the arch of her cheekbones, to the gorgeous curve of her neck.
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