Nick pushed to his feet and took off after her, a bare body-length or two behind. It didn’t take much for him to catch her. For all her effort, she wasn’t fast. He grabbed her up in a big bear hug from behind. The woman yowled like a wet cat. Her feet left the ground and her heels drummed against his shins. She wrestled and growled and he just held on tight as he could without hurting her.
“Stop it,” he ordered.
Her kicking increased.
“Alright. Alright, I shouldn’t have done that.” Because a half-assed kiss wasn’t worth all this drama, not when it hadn’t even gotten him anywhere. But he had to push her, didn’t he? Fair enough if she pushed back.
He couldn’t resist the opportunity to grab for more. His idiot dick stirred in his pants, seconding the notion, loving the feel of her curvy ass writhing against him. She made him greedy and stupid, stupider even than normal. “Roslyn, ease up.”
Her elbows jerked, trying to reach him and failing.
“Easy,” he said. “I’m going to put you down.”
She slowly slid down him until her feet returned to solid ground. Bits of grass and debris clung to her socked feet.
“There,” he said. “Now calm down.”
“Let me go,” she huffed.
“Are you going to run?”
“No,” she said in a low voice. Fury radiated off her. If sparks had flown from her fluffy red hair he wouldn’t have been surprised.
“Okay.” He loosened his grip, set her free.
Without another word she turned and strode back to the cabin. Her movements were tight, tense.
Shit. How much damage had his idiotic kiss done? “Roslyn, wait.”
He followed her and she sped up, jogging up the ramp and crossing the plank in a few hasty steps. Head down and ass twitching angrily beneath the sweatpants. Into the cool, shadowy interior of the cabin she stomped, with him on her tail.
“Ros, let’s talk.”
She turned an abrupt corner and ducked into the bathroom. The door slammed shut and he heard a thud, as though she’d set her shoulder to it.
Nick took a deep breath, hands on his hips. Huh, that hadn’t gone well. He hadn’t given any real thought to the consequences of kissing her. There’d been no grand plan. But if he had, this result would have been pretty fucking obvious.
“Hey.” He leant his shoulder against the wall beside the bathroom door, scratched a finger experimentally against the pine. “Ros?”
He didn’t expect a reply.
She didn’t disappoint.
“I’m not mad you tried to run.” Even though she’d broken her word by doing so. There, he’d given. Now it was her turn.
“Everything’s okay,” he lied.
More silence. He searched his mind for something to say. The memory of her lips still messed with his brain.
“Um, I was joking about the belt. I wouldn’t really spank you.”
Something thumped against the door on the other side. It sounded angry, a mad ramming of a shoulder or something. At least she was still alive and, hopefully, unhurt.
So it probably hadn’t been the right thing for him to say.
In all honesty he’d been dead serious about the belt. Deep down he happened to be rather keen on the idea of striping her ass pink. He’d indulged in a bit of kinky fuckery in his time, but Roslyn made his imagination boil over. Her creamy skin marked by his hand as she lay bent over the arm of the couch.
All of her displayed, just for him.
And her pussy … he’d love to gorge himself on her. Far too easily he could imagine the taste of her on his tongue.
His dick throbbed in his pants, completely out of control. Rather fucking painfully trapped behind his zipper, too. Bad timing, but not so surprising. He was a beast, an animal reeking of sweat and ready to pounce, rock hard and hurting. His hard-on gave Godzilla a run for its money. If he swung it about, Tokyo would be leveled.
Thank fuck she couldn’t see.
No wonder he repulsed her. Though, when he thought about it, she didn’t exactly act like he did most of the time.
Nick winced and adjusted himself before the zipper of his jeans did him damage.
He scratched at the door again. A plea from the randy dog locked outside in disgrace. Probably would have gotten off easier if he’d just pissed on the rug. He drew the line at whining and pleading. Or at least, at obvious pleading.
He could go in there after her. Force the door open and force a confrontation. What would it prove? She’d been behaving, and the minute she gave an inch he pushed for the full country mile. Because he was an idiot, clearly. An idiot who would do it all again in a heartbeat for the chance to get close enough to touch her.
Nick slid down the wall with a sigh. Hung his head and rubbed the back of his neck. Got himself comfortable.
It was going to be a long wait.
Roslyn didn’t end up sleeping in the bath. She wanted to, but she didn’t. There was every chance he’d storm in and she didn’t have anything suitable for barricading the bathroom door. So she gave him the silent treatment instead. A brick wall couldn’t have competed. Even when hunger gnawed at her guts, forcing her to leave her haven, her lips remained pressed tightly shut. Every time he tried to talk to her she turned her back.
Untrustworthy, manipulative, repugnant piece of shit that he was.
After the hundredth mumbled apology he’d slapped the chain back around her ankle with a long-suffering sigh and gone off to wash up.
Poor him, so fucking maligned.
Kissing her had crossed a line. The memory of his breath on her face and his mouth against hers kept twirling about inside her skull. She hated him. She did. Loathed his firm lips and reviled his steady hands. Abhorred the sound of his voice and detested the scent of him. Every piece of him repulsed her.
Despicable fucking man. The rant went on and on inside her head. She’d drive herself insane at this rate. When it came time for bed she lay down and hid her head under a pillow. Her very own cone of silence. In a surprisingly intelligent move, Nick slept on the couch. It still took her hours to get to sleep.
He’d disappeared again the next morning when she woke. Everything lay quiet. No footsteps or wood-chopping or anything. She and her chain were alone by the look of things. But he’d be close by. Of course he would.
Roslyn climbed out of bed, stretched, and wandered around. The back door was closed. She ambled over and turned the handle, the metal cool against her skin. He’d locked it. The big front bi-fold doors overlooking the cliff stood open, exposing a cloudy sky.
Where was he?
More of the floury rolls waited on the bench, neatly set out on a plate. A jar of raspberry jam sat beside it and one blunt-edged butter knife. The kind of knife that’d do no one any harm. Well, not without a hell of a lot of effort. He’d even left an elegantly folded napkin.
For the fun of it she checked the utensils drawer. There were spoons of all shapes and sizes: dessert, soup and tea. He apparently didn’t even trust her with forks anymore, because they were gone. Afraid she’d do a Betty Blue and stab him in the arm, perhaps. Nothing but an egg-whisk and a plastic spatula inhabited the second drawer. Tea-towels sat neatly folded in the third and a stack of placemats in the fourth.
The chain was thick, but there had to be something that could damage it, something to lever apart the padlock. People usually kept tools under the kitchen sink.
When she looked there, she saw nothing but a dusty old cockroach bait and some dishwashing detergent.
Frustration beat at her chest, making her blood race. He’d be back soon. This was her chance. Time to get the hell away from him before kissing and cuddling turned into anything more persuasive.
She sucked in a sharp breath. Invasive. She’d meant invasive.
As if he could persuade her to do a damn thing. The cupboard with all the clothes, maybe there’d be something in there.
Hurry, hurry, hurry.
Her breathing sped. She threw open the big doors and started dumping shit onto the floor, clearing it all out. Behind her a bower of clothes and accessories grew. She had to climb up some shelves to check out the back of the top one properly. Her socks slipped, but she persevered. Up she went. Out it all came. Jackets and sweaters and scarves and hats hit the floor. He must have emptied out entire shops in town to outfit her. Did he really think collecting all this stuff was going to get him somewhere? His mind was warped.
Shit. There must be something.
She climbed down before she fell down.
He wasn’t going to be happy with the state of the place. As if his happiness mattered.
Quickly, she searched the rest of the kitchen cupboards, pulling everything out, piling it up on the kitchen benches and generally going crazy. Double-checked the bathroom even though she knew its contents back to front, thanks to the time she’d spent cloistered in there the day before.
Under the bed.
In the bedside tables.
She tore the cushions off the couch. Like a pair of bolt cutters might have accidentally slipped out of someone’s pocket along with their spare change. Mostly she found lint and a long-forgotten tissue. A couple of dust bunnies hid underneath the couch. Nothing useful over by the fireplace, unless she could bang the padlock apart with a block of wood. Unlikely. By the back door there was a little cupboard for stowing shoes and crap. It only held a couple of empty, scrunched-up plastic bags and an ancient umbrella.
He obviously kept anything useful outside. Out of her reach.
But she wouldn’t give up. Not a chance. This might be her only chance to get away from him. Who knew where he’d gone, or for how long. Somewhere in the cabin he had to have missed something and she would find it. She would.
The school gates stood open. The first sign something was up.
Nick parked the pickup beside the tall stone wall, out of anyone’s immediate view but close enough for a quick getaway. Wind shook the trees and a dark bank of clouds sat on the horizon to the west. The storm would probably hit in the late afternoon.