“Are you sure?” she managed to ask, staring up into his gorgeous blues. “Because you weren’t sure a few minutes ago.”
He rocked into her, and she felt exactly how sure he was. It tugged a moan from her, and she let her head fall back. This gave him better access and he took it. Lowering his head, he kissed her throat, her jaw. The corner of her mouth.
“What changed?” she managed to ask.
He licked her pulse point. “Watching you turn all violent when you got pissed off.”
Oh, God, his tongue. “That was sexy?”
“Yeah. Big time.” A big, warm, callused hand slid into the back of her panties and palmed her bare bottom. “Everything you do is sexy.”
His mouth and the placement of his talented hand were driving her crazy. He was driving her crazy, and she struggled to get closer to his big, tough body. “Luke?”
He didn’t answer, presumably because his lips were busy moving along the curve of her jaw, her throat, her breast, teasing her nipple, which had long ago tightened for him. But they had to talk first, or at least she had to talk. “Luke?”
“I haven’t been intimate with Teddy in weeks. You know that, right? You heard him mention it when they were searching the house.”
He lifted his head and met her gaze.
“I just wanted to make sure you really knew,” she said softly. “Once we moved in together, things got…weird. After only a few weeks, he started working late, and then he got allergies and snored. He slept in a different room than me, and…” For the love of God, Ali, zip it and let him do you.
Pushing her hair back from her eyes, he traced a line along her jaw. “It’s been a long time for me too,” he said quietly. “So long I can’t remember the last time.” He kissed her shoulder. “I have a condom.” He gestured with his chin to his wallet, which lay on the small foyer table at her hip.
She started to reach for it, but he dipped his knees and ran his tongue around her nipple and then sucked the tight bud into his hot mouth.
She moaned, and her head fell back against the wall. She arched, trying to get him to take more, and felt him smile against her damp skin as he made his way to her other breast. His fingers trailed down her quivering stomach and then slipped between her thighs. “Mmm,” he said. “Hot and wet.”
And then he dropped to his knees.
Not bothering to answer, he stroked the pad of his thumb over her panties, but apparently that wasn’t nearly good enough, because then he caught his fingers in the sides. “Pretty,” he said, “but they have to go.” Slowly dragging them down, he kissed her just beneath her belly button. And then lower, letting his teeth graze over her, his rough jaw scraping her soft skin. His lips applied pressure, and his tongue brought to mind all the wicked things he might do to her. Her knees wobbled.
“I’ve got you,” he murmured, a big, callused hand gliding up the inside of her legs. He kissed first one inner thigh, and then the other, and then…in between.
Her hips jerked.
“Easy,” he murmured, and gripped her hips tightly, holding her to the wall while he gently, but thoroughly, began to take her apart with his tongue and teeth. It was the sweetest, most exquisite torture. Dying to have him inside her, she begged, “Please,” her pulse racing, her heart pounding.
But he still teased.
“I like the way you say my name,” he said, his mouth against her wet flesh.
She had her fingers in his hair, holding on as he drove her out of her mind with slow, hot laving of his tongue, leaving her trembling and beside herself. And still he took his time, until finally, God finally, he took her to the edge and nudged her over.
When she finally caught her breath and her eyes fluttered open, Luke surged to his feet, one arm around her lower back, the other just underneath her butt as he hoisted her up.
“Wrap your legs around me,” he said, voice low and rough with need.
She did, wrapping her arms around him too, drawing him tightly to her.
“The condom,” he said, eyes as intense and heated as his voice.
With shaky fingers, she opened his wallet and dug out the condom. “Here?” she breathed. “Now?”
His words should have felt presumptuous, pushy. Aggressive. Instead, she was more aroused than she’d ever been, making needy little whimpers as she tore at his clothes to get skin to skin.
With calm, steady ease, he took over. He undressed them both, and then, pressing her into the wall to free up his hands, rolled on the condom.
She quivered just watching him. Then his hands were back on her, sliding along the underside of her thighs, angling her hips. And then, hot, fierce, eyes on hers, he slowly thrust into her in one sure stroke, pushing to the hilt and holding there, giving her nowhere to hide.
She didn’t want to hide.
For once, just for this once, she wanted to let go and revel in the delicious sensations of being wanted, cherished, needed, and not worry about what came next. Rocking into him, she tried to match his rhythm, but she was pinned and unable to move. He could move though—and did—pulling out only to push back in, his body taking hers along for the ride.
She cried out, the sound of her pleasure echoing through the house. Her last thought before her mind shut down completely was for the neighbors—specifically, Luke’s grandfather.
Please, she thought, please let Edward’s windows be closed.
Funny, Ali thought hazily some time later from flat on her back on the foyer floor, the moments that marked the most important things in a woman’s life. For her, it’d been graduating high school, moving out of White Center, learning that she was strong no matter what happened, and…
Getting busy with Luke Hanover up against the wall.
Her body was still quivering, little aftershocks of sheer pleasure, and she was pretty sure she couldn’t have moved to save her life.
Beside her, Luke stirred, then came up on an elbow and looked down at her, his eyes still dark with heat. “You good?”
“I moved beyond good a few minutes ago.”
He was thinking about smiling, she could tell. “How far beyond?” he asked.
She thought maybe that would tug a smile from him, but it didn’t. In fact, he looked a little stern as he helped her up, holding her steady until she found her sea legs.
He moved away, presumably to deal with the condom, but he didn’t come back. She found him a few minutes later standing at the kitchen sink, hands braced on the countertop, staring out the window at the ocean.
She took a moment to soak him in, because he could still steal her breath. Wearing only his board shorts and nothing else, he was all tanned, smooth skin and lean sinew.
Paddleboarding did a body good.
Though he didn’t move as she walked into the room, the muscles of his back and shoulders were tense.
“Hey,” she said, “having an orgasm is supposed to relax and rejuvenate you. You don’t seem relaxed or re—”
“I’m leaving. You know that right? I’m going back to my job in San Francisco. I don’t know when exactly, but soon. I have to.”
She drew in a deep breath. She knew all too well, which was a bitch of a problem, considering she’d promised herself not to do this again, not to follow the same patterns as her mom and sister and fall for a guy who would leave her. “I know.”
“I want you to get a restraining order against Marshall so he can’t come back here and bug you again.”
“I don’t think he will,” she said. “And besides, we both know he hasn’t done anything to warrant an order. Plus I’ll be getting an apartment. The search has been slowed down a little by the fact that no one wants to rent to a thief, so—”
He turned to face her, gaze unfathomable. “Keep the house. You can get a roommate if you want. I don’t care. I just want you to stay here.”
“The house suits you. My grandma would like knowing there was someone here who loved it as she did.”
How was it that she wanted to both comfort him and jump him again at the same time? “Luke.” She moved to him, slipping her arms around his waist, laying her cheek against his chest. “It’s okay that it was just sex. I knew that going in. You don’t have to feel guilty.”
“It’s not guilt.” His arms came around her, and he pressed his cheek to the top of her head. “I just…Christ.” He squeezed her. “That wasn’t just sex.”
Her heart squeezed, but then he took one look at her face and blew out a breath. “I don’t know what the fuck to do with this, Ali. I’m leaving.”
“This can’t happen again.”
“I know that too.” She stared up at him, a little blown away by the intensity of his words and the fierceness of his expression. Not possessive, exactly, but definitely protective. Something inside her cracked open just a little bit and let him in, which was terrifying her because he was bound to disappoint her.
They always did.
Ali was up at dawn the next morning and was off and running for work, not allowing herself to let her mind wander. She couldn’t afford to let her mind wander, or she’d get mired down in the fact that the money still hadn’t been found. That she was still the only viable suspect at this point.
That she’d slept with Luke.
Okay, so there hadn’t been any sleeping involved. Which meant that every single minute of it was imprinted on her brain—the best collection of minutes in her entire life.
She hit the flower market in Seattle for her weekly supply run. While she was there, she took an extra few minutes to drop off a bag of donuts and coffee for her mom and sister, which given the decibel of happy squeals they let out, made their day. Then she hightailed it back to Lucky Harbor to unload the week’s supplies for Russell’s shop.