“It’s my money and I can do what I want with it.”
“Were you buying the tattoo package as a gift for your date?”
“She’s not exactly the tattoo type, is she? And God forbid anyone else in this town would admit in public they’d pay to cavort with a low-class ink slinger like me.”
Fury darkened his eyes. “Watch it.”
She gave him an innocent look. “Did I insult her?”
“It ain’t my date you’re insulting, it’s yourself, and that pisses me off worse, so knock it the hell off. I expected better from you, sugar.”
“Don’t you sugar me, Colt McKay.” India tugged her wallet out of her back jeans pocket and unclipped the chain. “How about if I write you a check for a thousand bucks and we’ll call it even.”
“Put your money away.”
“I won’t be beholden to you for anything.”
“Too fuckin’ late and you’re treading on thin ice, India.”
She got right in his face. “So? I feel like stomping all over that ice, Colt, with sharp, pointy crampons to see who falls through the cracks first.”
“It looks like you’re the one who’s cracking up.”
“It’s your fault.”
“My fault? How do you figure?”
India smacked him in the chest with her wallet. “Because I’ve been trying to get in touch with you all week.”
Because I missed you, you clueless jerk. “Because you missed Tuesday night’s meeting.”
Colt stared at her with belligerence. “So? I’ve been busy.”
“You were too busy to come to a meeting?”
“Cut me some slack. I’ve missed one meeting in two and a half years.”
“I left you a bajillion messages.”
“I particularly liked the one where you called me a dickhead.”
That brought a small smile. “If the shitkicker fits…”
“Don’t fuck with me, India. I’m not in the mood.”
“Well, gee, I wouldn’t want anything to ruin your ‘mood’, especially since you have a hot date.” India bit her cheek to keep from lashing out further. “You know what? Forget it. All of it. Have a lovely evening with your horse-faced honey.”
Colt laughed and said, “Oh, no you don’t,” as he snatched her elbow. “We ain’t close to done with this conversation.”
“We are. Just leave me alone.”
Stupid tears flooded her eyes. She couldn’t blink them away fast enough and the stupid jerk saw she was about to bawl like a stupid baby.
“Sweet Jesus, are you cryin’?”
“No.” She jammed her wallet in her back pocket and attempted to flee.
“Dammit. Don’t you walk away like this.”
“Haven’t you humiliated me enough tonight?” India dodged people congregating in the hallways, fully aware they were gawking at her. And him. And them.
“Come back here.”
Burning gazes of strangers raked her inked skin as deeply as if they were wielding tattoo needles. Disgusted glances at her piercings pricked her as sharply as if they were holding a piercing gun. Normally she could give a rip about the stares, but tonight she had a hard time holding her head up, which pissed her off.
She didn’t get far before Colt clamped his fingers around her biceps. “Let me go.”
“Not a chance.”
“Where’s your date?”
“Shut up, Indy.”
“I hate you.”
“No, sugar, you don’t.”
More tears surfaced.
He dragged her downstairs. Smart people scattered at seeing the intent on Colt’s face and the fury in his every movement.
Taking a quick look around, he pulled her into a closet in the middle of the hallway. Then he stepped in front of the door, blocking her exit. “Start talkin’.”
India mimed zipping her lip and tossing away the key.
“You are the most annoying woman I’ve ever met.” Colt advanced on her. “For the record? There are lots of things I feel for you, but pity ain’t one of them.”
Her shoulders hit a wall.
“Still ain’t talkin’ to me?”
She shook her head.
Colt was a breath away. “I’ve got an idea on how you can put that smart mouth of yours to better use.”
Her lips parted. In protest or invitation? Dammit. Lately whenever they got within kissing distance all she could think about was locking lips with him. For hours. Days maybe.
“Fine. If you wanna talk so bad, why don’t you tell me one of the things you feel for me?”
“You couldn’t handle it right now because you’re mad and confused.”
“Mad? Yes. Confused? Where do you get off—”
“Look, at yourself. Why are you pushin’ me away with one hand, and pullin’ me closer with the other?”
“I’m not.” Then she noticed her right palm was flat against his chest shoving, while her left hand was bunched in his T-shirt pulling. “Nice try at changing the subject, but I know the real reason you won’t tell me.”
“In your dating… void over the last few years, your silver tongue has tarnished and you aren’t very good with words.”
“Is that so?” His eyes never left hers. “I wish you weren’t bein’ so damn difficult because we both know the real reason you’re fightin’ with me.”
“Wish granted.” She sidestepped him.
A hand clamped on her shoulder. He used the momentum to spin her against the wall again.
“Let me go. You’ve made it clear—”
“No, I haven’t.” His hands braceleted her wrists and he held them firmly by her sides. Colt eliminated the gap between their bodies and nestled his cheek against hers. Whiskers scraped her jaw, his soft lips brushed the side of her neck, his hot breath skittered across her damp skin with every exhalation.
“This’ll make it a damn sight clearer of what I feel for you. I wanna touch you, Indy. Right here. With your back up to the wall. I wanna suck your nipples through your flimsy shirt. Taste how anger changes the sweet flavor of your skin. When that ain’t enough contact, I’ll lift up your shirt so I can pull those pretty pink nipples in my mouth, rollin’ my tongue around the hoops. I’ll suck hard, suck deep, suck for a good, long time.”
Colt’s words set her blood on fire.
“That ain’t all. I wanna go down on you. Yank off your jeans.
Rip aside your panties and finger you until you’re nice and wet.
Then I’ll drop to my knees and taste you. Gently at first. Lick a path from the top down to where you’re weepin’ for me.”
India’s knees threatened to buckle as he tormented her with erotic images.
“I’ll swirl the tip of my tongue around your opening, never going higher, sometimes slipping just a little too far back. Nipping that tasty tender flesh between your thighs with my lips and teeth.
Then I’ll jam my tongue as deeply inside you as it’ll go. I’ll do it again and again and again. Licking you from the inside out. But I’d stop.”
“No,” she whispered hoarsely.
“Yes. I’ll pull back and cool you down.” He blew a stream of air across her neck. Chills beaded her skin. “Can’t you feel it? My breath blowing on the hottest part of you?”
“When you can’t stand it, when you’re grinding your wet sex against my face, demanding release, then I’ll give you what you crave. My thumbs will spread you wide. I’ll set my mouth on you and I’ll suck until you explode on my tongue. And I’ll lap up your sweet juices like candy.”
India panted. She clenched her thighs together, hoping the pulsing tremors would break free into a full-fledged orgasm.
He dragged openmouthed kisses across her throat to her ear and whispered, “You still thinkin’ I ain’t good with words?”
She glimpsed fire burning in his eyes before he crushed her lips beneath his and kissed her until she thought her head would explode from the sheer hedonistic pleasure of it.
Eventually she recovered her sanity. “Is this some kind of game to see if you can get me hot and bothered?”
“You ain’t the only one who’s hot and bothered.” Colt released her right hand and placed it over his fly.
India felt his hardness straining against the zipper of his Wranglers. She stroked him until air hissed through his teeth. “Colt.
What are we doing here?”
“Goin’ straight to hell.”
“Then why doesn’t this feel wrong?”
“It isn’t. Stop.” Colt pushed back, putting a few feet between them. “I can’t do this again.”
“Want you when I can’t have you and be miserable because I can’t stay away from you. I’ve tried. And what’s the first thing I do when I see you? Run the other direction? No. I haul you off and maul you.”
While India stared at him, he stared at the cement floor.
“I don’t want you to stay away from me, Colt.”
“Sayin’ stuff like that is not helpin’ this situation.”
“What will help?”
“I don’t know.” Colt left without another word.
India’s urge to cry was almost as strong as the one to run. Her fingers had circled the door handle to chase after him, when she heard a lilting voice say, “Colt?” on the other side of the door.
“Hey, Fallon. I was just comin’ to find you.”
“Really? Because I’ve been looking all over for you.”
Fallon? His date was named after a character on Dynasty?