“Getting chummy. This is temporary. Some kind of processing center. We’ll all be redistributed. Who knows where we’ll end up? You worry about you, and I’ll worry about me. Got it?”
“Yeah, I got it,” Penny snapped back. She curled up on her side, one hand cradling her belly. Jewel turned toward the wall. That baby wasn’t her problem, but she couldn’t help wonder what would happen to it after it was born.
Brody grabbed towels from the closet. He handed one to Hannah and rubbed the other over the dog’s fur.
Hannah’s teeth chattered as she unsnapped AnnaBelle’s leash. “Your house is beautiful.”
“Thanks. It’s big and requires a lot of work, but it’s home.”
The dog trotted down the hall. She found the cat’s water bowl and drank it dry. Brody refilled it. “She won’t chase the cat, will she?”
“I have no idea,” Hannah said. “Let me grab her.”
But the old cat sauntered in, fearless, and rubbed on the dog’s side. AnnaBelle gave him a sniff and a wag.
“What’s his name?” Hannah stooped to scratch behind a scraggly ear.
She laughed. “Good name for a cop’s cat.”
Brody went to the thermostat and turned up the temperature. “The retrofitted air-conditioning system isn’t the most efficient, but these old radiators can put out some heat.”
“What year was this built?” She trailed a hand over the wainscoting that lined the foyer and hallway.
“1885.” He led her down the wide-planked corridor to the kitchen. “Why don’t I give you something dry to put on? I have to shower and change.”
“Would you mind if I took a quick shower?” she asked. “I’m cold straight through.”
“Not at all.” The thought of her naked in his house sent a bolt of hunger straight through his blood.
The narrow staircase forced them into single file. He flipped on the light in the guest bath. When renovating, he’d followed the house’s original decor as closely as possible. The bath was fitted with retro fixtures: a pedestal sink and a cast-iron claw-footed tub he’d bought at auction and had re-enameled. The floor was cream-and-black octagonal mosaic tile.
“This is lovely.”
“There’s soap in the shower and towels in the linen closet behind the door.”
“Thanks.” She went into the room, pausing with the door half closed. She blinked back at him, a shocking amount of emotion swirling in her pretty blue eyes. With the crisis over, she looked lost.
He wanted to kiss her, but she was shivering hard, and he was filthy. “Need anything else?”
“No. I think that’s everything.”
“I’ll put some dry clothes outside the door.”
With a nod, she disappeared. A minute later, he heard plumbing squeal, and water rushed through pipes somewhere else in the house. He rooted through his drawer for a pair of sweatpants, a tee, and a flannel shirt. He piled them outside the hall bath. In the master, Brody stripped, dropping his bloody clothes in a trash bag. He stepped into the glassed-in shower. While he’d maintained the house’s antique integrity in the rest of the rooms, he’d fully modernized the master bath. It was ten minutes before he was satisfied that no more blood remained on his body. He dried off and wrapped a towel around his hips.
“Brody?” Hannah called from the hall. “Can I put my wet stuff in your dryer?”
He opened the door. She was standing just outside his bedroom, the lapels of his flannel shirt clutched in one hand, a pile of wet clothes in the other. Her hair was damp but combed, the short locks framing a heart-shaped face flushed pink from the hot shower. Though she was only a head shorter than him, her frame was narrow. She’d rolled the waistband of his sweatpants over twice, but they rode low on her hips as if they could fall at any second, something he could easily picture happening. Right now. A tiny sliver of skin showed between the hem of the shirt and the waistband of the sagging pants. His eyes lingered on that half inch of bare skin. If those pants dropped an inch . . .
Yes, he’d seen her in a silk blouse and tailored power suit, but this . . . This was sexy. And made him want to tug her into a bed beside him.
After the horror of today, he needed . . . He paused. What did he need? Hannah.
Her eyes strayed from his face down his chest and paused on the towel.
She was checking him out. Nice.
“I’m sorry.” Blushing, she turned away. “I’ll wait downstairs.”
“No need.” Brody moved closer and took the wet clothes from her. He leaned closer and inhaled. She smelled of mint and soap, and he wanted a taste. His gaze drifted from her mouth to her eyes.
Her hand in the middle of his bare chest stopped him. She was studying him with suspicion, almost wariness. “What are we doing here, Brody?”
“I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go along.” But he was thinking ahead. Maybe ten minutes ahead. No more. He refused to think about the reports he’d file tomorrow or about today’s shooting. Or where Hannah would be in a month. There was only here and now.
He saw her hand inching lower, sliding down his abs . . .
“Do we have to have a plan?” he asked, his voice rough.
“I like plans.”
“How does this fit into your plan?” Brody caught the back of her neck with his free hand, gently pulled her in, and covered her mouth with his. Her elbow bent, trapping her hand between their bodies. He turned his head, slanting his lips to taste more of her, easing his tongue inside her mouth. He dropped the clothes to place his other hand on her hip and touched the exposed strip of smooth skin at her waist. His thumb stroked her hip bone. He felt the shiver course through her body.
“Cold?” He lifted his head. Her eyes were closed. They blinked open, the blue clouded with confusion—and desire.
“Um. No.” She slid her trapped hand to settle it on his shoulder.
Brody’s gaze caught the fading bruise at her hairline. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea. You’re still recovering.”
Had he heard her correctly? “What?”
“You heard me.” Her expression went from wary to wicked. How did she know that humor was exactly what he needed? “You started this, and now you’re chickening out.” Her hand dropped to the towel. She tugged the end free and let it drop. “Mm. I don’t see any second thoughts.”
“I want you, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to take advantage of you.” The tension inside him eased with her teasing.
“You are the one who had a hellacious day. Am I taking advantage of you?” Hannah took a step back and unbuttoned the flannel shirt. Walking past him into the master bedroom, she tossed it over her shoulder. She slid her pants down her legs and stepped out of them. Oh. She’d been commando under his pants, something he should have known since her clothes had been wet through. Why did that thought zing straight to his balls?
The T-shirt hit the wall next to his head, and the sight of her naked body stunned him.
Challenge filled the glance she cast back at him. He’d always thought of blue as a cool color, but tonight her eyes blazed pure heat.
“Come on, Brody. What are you afraid of?”
Somewhere inside Brody’s head, under the raging want of her, an alarm went off. If he gave in to his desire tonight, nothing would ever be the same. One night with her would never be enough. He’d be giving her the power to hurt him. But tonight, he didn’t care. He needed human contact.
He needed her.
She walked five paces and stopped next to the bed. She turned, giving him her body in profile. Long, long legs. Lean body. Small breasts in perfect proportion to the sleek length of her.
Deep in his chest, something gave, opened, unfurled. There was no choice to make. He had to have her.
Brody moved toward her. No risk. No reward.
Was he going to reject her?
Hannah paused in the doorway. The air in the room chilled her skin. Brody’s bedroom was masculine, decorated in earth tones from pale gray to deep brown. An island-size sleigh bed dominated the space. Goose bumps rippled up her arms. Fear or cold?
Ten feet away from her, Brody wrestled with a decision. A thought bloomed in Hannah’s mind. She needed to get to know this man better. There was more to him than he’d revealed. He’d kissed her, and his physical hunger for her was obvious. So why was he hesitating?
Brody kept his emotions bottled with a tight seal. From the desire in his kiss, she’d thought he needed comfort and distraction after today’s turmoil. But she shouldn’t have pressured him. Behind the want in his eyes, there was another emotion buried: pain. He’d downplayed his ex-wife’s cheating, but clearly, her betrayal had left a scar. The sudden surge of anger shocked her. She couldn’t bulldoze her way through Brody’s walls. A kiss was not always an invitation to share one’s bed. Sometimes a kiss was just a kiss.
Her gaze fell to the clothes she’d tossed on the floor. She stooped to gather them, shame bursting through her. “I’m sorry. The timing is all wrong. I didn’t mean to—”
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