“Okay, I’m totally doing this wrong.”
With her hip cocked and her breasts straining the cotton, he had to fight to concentrate. Anger was never cool with his Bella—fiery and off the charts, that was her personality and what drew him to her. Because of that anger, he usually knew where he stood with her. But the lazy, “’yeah,’” just sliced at him.
Was he the moron with a crush? Did she even realize how much he wanted her all the time? That he’d come here with only her in mind. Not even the blind lust, just needing to see her. That smile, the eyes and her smell. She was comfort even in her frenetic personality.
He put his pride on the line, one more time—All in. “I missed you, dammit. I don’t have to like it either.”
“What? I like missing you? Christ, I watched Youtube to see you!” She said and immediately wanted to snatch it back. Fuck, fuck, fuck!
“What?” His eyebrows snapped down. “What the hell does youtube have to do with anything?”
“Never mind.” She strode off into the kitchen. Hell if she was going to explain that one to him. She was a grown woman with a really great career—a blooming career, goddammit. And she’d been searching out any Australian video she could find the night of the show. The good thing about Australia was the time difference. For God’s sake she’d even watched the interviews.
Ugh, she was just queasy at the thought.
“Oh hell no,” he muttered and chased after her. He grabbed her upper arm. “What did you mean?”
“Stop man handling me!” She jerked her arm back. Did he have to look at her like that? All expectant and intense. She didn’t know what she was feeling, how was she supposed to explain it to him?
“Stop avoiding the question!”
Temper arced between them. She could feel it as sure as the ice ticking against her house. “Just forget it, I don’t want to fight.”
He drilled his hands into his hair, but didn’t drop his gaze. He met her slightly panicked eyes. Frustration pounded on top of the out of body feeling of jet lag. “What’s so hard about this, Isabella? I missed you, I was hoping you missed me. End of story.”
Christ, her full name? It tweaked the anger to the forefront. Was he touched? For the love of Mike, she just opened herself up to him on a damn banister. “Of course I did!” She tugged the strap of her top back up and twirled toward the kitchen. “You’re such an asshole.”
He frowned after her, but the sexy sway of her hips distracted him. Izzy had a helluva strut when she had a head full of steam. She turned around at the threshold and caught him looking. Shit. His eyes flashed up to hers.
“We’re having a fight and you’re staring at my ass? Are you serious?”
He couldn’t stop the grin. “Dammit, Iz, it just wiggles so perfectly.”
Her mouth dropped open. He did not just say that. “Oh, my God! You think you’re charming, but you’re not.” She slammed cabinets, looking for anything to diffuse her anger. There had to be chocolate somewhere. “We’re having a fight and you’re ready to grope my ass.”
He leaned against the doorjamb, trying really hard to not notice how said ass curved as she squatted down to the lower cabinets. “I’m always ready to grope your ass.”
“You are not endearing yourself to me,” she said over her shoulder. “And don’t you flash those perfect teeth at me, it’s not funny.”
He stepped into the kitchen and crouched down beside her. It wasn’t like her to fly off the handle for no reason. Yes, she was passionate and could argue him cross eyed sometimes, but she wasn’t a drama queen. Unwrapping her hand from the fifth cabinet she’d slammed, he turned her to face him. “Izzy, what are you looking for?”
“I don’t know!” The words exploded out of her. She couldn’t even tell him what was in any of the cupboards she’d opened. Chocolate wasn’t going to save her from this conversation. It wasn’t going to save her from the man who had more determination than sense. Didn’t he know not to ask intense questions right now? He was home on a little break. They were just supposed to get naked and enjoy each other, dammit.
“You don’t know what you’re looking for or you don’t know what you want?” He could feel the nerves and the anger flowing off of her.
“I don’t know what I want,” she whispered. The floor took on a glassy sheen and she stared right at him. “This wasn’t supposed to be hard.”
“It doesn’t have to be.” Flicking his thumb under a pooling tear, he brushed it away. He stood, twining their fingers together before he dragged her up and against him. He pressed his forehead to hers. “I just want you. That’s the only thing I’ve been able to figure out.”
She pressed her nose into his neck, breathing in his Ivory soap scent. “I don’t like being dependent on someone,” she whispered.
He stepped back, cupping her face in his hand. “Who said anything about being dependent on me? I just want you—that’s it.” He shook her a little, staring into her dark eyes until she really saw him, really got what he meant. “I want you in my life. I think we’re good together—definitely good enough to figure out where to go from here.”
“You’re home for what? A little over a week before you’re back on the road?” She pressed her cheek into his hand. “You’re timing sucks.”
“Come on the road with me.” The words came out before he could censor them or explain. Shit. Way to go, fuckhead.
“What?” She jerked back and turned away from him, staring into her sink. She couldn’t have heard him right. Following him around? No, that wasn’t in her plans.
“Izzy, just think about it.” Her shoulders bunched up against her neck and his words came out in a rush. “I know it’s fast and I probably sound crazy, but I don’t want to waste any more time.” It was like she curled into herself. All or nothing, asshole. “I want to be with you, I want to know if this is just a fling or if it’s going to be more.”
“Why the hell are you pushing?” She curled her fingers around the edge of the sink, where tile met basin. Not that she should be surprised. He’d pushed at her from the first day they’d met.
He stood behind her, wedging his hands in until she eased, then kneaded his thumbs into the base of her neck. “I don’t want to ruin this.” He pushed aside all the bright blonde curls that had a mind of their own and pressed a kiss to the nape of her neck. “I just want more.”
How the hell was she supposed to fight that? She melted back against him until his arms came down and around her. The solid wall of muscle and man, the steady beat of his heart; they all went a long way in evening her out. “You always want more.”
He pressed a kiss to her temple. “One of my best and worst traits, babe.”
She twisted in his arms, burying her nose into the crinkly hair at the center of his chest. Another deep breath of him and she finally eased. “I’ve never let myself get so wrapped up in a man, Jon.” She smoothed her fingers over his back, following the dips and ridges of muscle. “I have my work and my family and the occasional man that I allow into my life for a little fun.” She looked up at him. “That’s not how it is with us.” She brushed her thumb over the dip in his stubbly chin. “It’s so much more. Almost too much more.”
“Too much aren’t even words we can use for us. It’s good.” He lowered his lips to hers, sunk into her softness until the anger drained away between them. “More than good, Izzy.” Coaxing her closer, he let himself drift in her taste until cinnamon and vanilla replaced the nerves swarming in his gut. “Come away with me.”
She gripped his shoulders, staring into the limitless blue of his eyes. So sure, so clear and sure—unlike hers. “I—“
“Just to my
“It’s January!” she blurted out.
“The ocean doesn’t care what time of year it is. I need the ocean and you.” He held on tight when he felt her slipping away from him. “Bring your laptop, you can work out there. I promise—you’ll probably work better than ever before. There’s something about the air there.” He could see her wavering. Confusion and indecision warred in her eyes and in the tense posture. He wanted her lose and soft again. Needed it more than he’d ever own up to.
She swallowed hard. Taking a leap with a man like him—she must be out of her ever lovin’ mind. She was better off balancing on the edge of the Cliffs of Mohr. “Okay, Slick. You’re on.”
He lifted her, swung her around with a whoop. “Okay, let me go grab my shit.”
She blinked at him, clutching his shoulders. “Now?”
He put her down with a smacking kiss. “Yes, now.”
“You do realize we’re having an ice storm, right?”
He frowned, moving back toward the window. “Huh—I guess I forgot about that. I wasn’t paying attention.”
She grabbed his hand and drew him back to the stairs, climbing two before she turned back to him. It was time to put them back on even footing. No more talk of future plans, of tours, of books. Just them, just the elements…inside and outside. “Let’s go listen to the ice hitting the house—together.”
“Yeah?” He grinned up at her.
His eyes sparkled with mischief. She’d push aside the idea of forever for a little while. Tomorrow was soon enough to deal with that. “Too late to do anything else.”
“I already slept twelve hours.”
“Who said we were sleeping?”