Time Out Read online

  Every. Single. One.

  He kissed her, sweeping his tongue over hers in a slow, languid stroke that melted her bones. She ran her hands up his sides and down again, sliding them into the back of his loose, low-slung jeans, and…

  Oh, yeah. Commando.

  She tried to get closer, and it still wasn’t close enough. She’d have climbed inside him if she could, and she let out a low sound of frustration and need and desperation. His lips left hers for a bare second to whisper her name soothingly before hungrily devouring her again, until her entire body was trembling. Breathless, she tore her mouth free. “Mark, I can’t… I can’t stand up.”

  Almost before the words were out of her mouth, he lifted her and carried her to the bed. Then he stripped out of his jeans, shoving them down his thighs and off, his eyes never leaving hers.

  At the sight of him, she gulped.

  “Did you change your mind about the stripping or licking or…” His mouth curved, though his eyes remained serious. “Other stuff?”


  He put a knee on the bed, then crawled up her body, looking bigger and badder than she remembered, and with a momentary bout of nerves, she scooted backwards.

  He immediately stopped stalking her. There in the middle of the bed on his knees, gloriously naked, gloriously hard, he went still. “You have all the power, Rainey. You know that, right?”

  She didn’t feel like that at all. This had started out as a way to have him, knowing that it wasn’t real. For keeps. Even if she had any of the power, he was way too in control for her tastes. To even the playing field, she pulled off her shirt, then felt better when his eyes glazed over. She wriggled out of her jeans and panties, soaking up his appreciative groan. He was kneeling between her legs when he took one of her feet in his big hand and kissed her ankle, her calf, and then the inside of her knee.

  At the soft sigh that escaped her, he looked at her from those smoking eyes. “Good?”

  “So good. Don’t stop.”

  “I won’t.” He set her foot flat on the bed, her knee bent, affording himself a front row center view of ground zero. “Mmm.” The sound rumbled from his chest, and he slid his hands beneath her bottom and tugged her to him. Then he put his mouth on her, sending her flying with shocking ease.

  When she’d stopped shuddering, he pushed up on his forearms. “I like that expression you’re wearing.”

  “The one that says I no longer have a thought in my brain?”

  “You have a thought. You want me inside you.”

  “More than my next breath.” She hesitated, then admitted the rest of that truth. “There’s a condom in my purse.”

  His smile was slow and sure and sexy as hell. “Brownies and a condom.”

  It took him less than ten seconds to locate it. And then he positioned himself above her and filled her in one smooth stroke, making her gasp and clutch at him. Her eyes closed involuntarily at the sensation of him pressing deep, so deep that she cried out from the sheer perfection of it, and then again when he stroked his thumb over her. “I’m—I need—”

  “I know. I’ve got you.” And he did. He brought her to another shattering climax, staying with her through it, then when she could open her eyes, she found his, black and scorching on hers. Still hard within her, he leaned over her, thrusting deep, sending her spiraling again, and this time he followed her.

  RAINEY LAY THERE staring at the ceiling, sucking air, trying to get her breath back. Mark appeared to be in the same state. After a minute, he rolled to his side and pulled her in close, fitting her against him so that she could feel the after-shock when it ran through his body. It caused the same tremor within her, so strong it was almost another orgasm—from nothing more than knowing she’d given him pleasure.

  With a low, very male sound of satisfaction, he ran his fingers over her heated skin. Thriving on the touch, she had to fight the urge to crawl under the covers with him to fall asleep in his arms.

  Definitely, she needed to go.

  Sitting up, she slid off the bed and began to search for her clothing, not missing the irony—she’d told him to stop interfering with her life, and yet she’d been the one to bring them to this point. The naked point. Which was about as deep into the interference of one’s life as it got. At his soft chuckle, she looked up.

  Mark was still sprawled across the bed, arms up behind his head, feet crossed, casual as could be, seeped in the supreme confidence of someone who didn’t have to worry about whether or not he looked good naked.

  Because he did.

  So good.




  “Why are you laughing?” she asked, wearing only her bra and one sock. “And where are my panties?”

  He sat up, the muscles of his abs crunching and making her mouth go dry. In one fluid motion, he was off the bed and handing her the panties.

  She reached for them, but with a wicked smile, he held them high above her head.

  “Give me,” she said.

  “Don’t you mean please give me?”

  “You want me to beg?”

  That smile spread slightly. “Nah. I just heard you beg plenty.”

  “I did not beg.”

  But she had. She so had.

  Still grinning, still naked, he pulled her against him and pressed his mouth to her shoulder.

  “My panties, Mark.”

  Eyes warm, he handed them to her, and then suddenly it was like her brain disconnected from her mouth because she heard herself say, “Do I really have all the power?”

  “After what we just did, you can doubt that?”

  “I want the power to do something with this thing between you and me. Something more than just sex.”

  He went still, and her heart stopped. “Or not,” she said. Feeling very exposed, she backed away. She shoved her legs into her panties and pulled them up. Then her jeans.


  “No, you know what? That was leftover pheromones talking. Ignore it. Ignore me.” Oh, God. “I gotta go.”

  He let out a long breath, then reached for her. “I thought you had me figured for a bad bet.”

  “You are. A really bad bet, at least for me, because you operate day-to-day.”

  And she operated long term. They both knew that. “I’m not a keeper, Rainey.”

  There was something in his voice, something terrifyingly regretful and terrifyingly firm.

  Did he not realize that to her, he was the ultimate keeper? Sharply intelligent, funny as hell, hardworking, caring… But she wouldn’t argue this, because as he’d pointed out, she’d already done her begging tonight. She went back to dressing, getting out of here her only plan. He’d told her that she had the power, but that was all wrong. He had the power, the power to stomp on her heart until it stopped functioning.

  She turned to look for her shoes and bumped into his chest, which was a little like walking into a brick wall. “Excuse me,” she said.

  “I want to make sure you understand.”

  “I do.”

  “I don’t think so,” he said. “This isn’t just sex for me, Rainey.” He took her arms in his big hands to keep her from escaping and her belly quivered.

  Stupid belly.

  “I just don’t have anything to offer more than what we have right now,” he said quietly.

  “Which is what, that day-to-day thing?”


  Okay, she got that. Loud and clear. Sex was great. More than sex…not so much.

  “Where does that leave us?” he asked, his eyes serious.

  “In the same place we’ve always been,” she managed to say.

  “So then… why exactly are we dressing?” His eyes were dark and focused on her breasts. “Because from here,” he said softly, “going back to bed looks like a great idea.”

  “Because…” Hell. This was getting complicated. This had been all her doing, she should be fine. She wanted to be fine. But her feeling