Page 39

He stepped into the bathroom, shut and locked the door, and cranked the shower. The hot water felt soothing, but there was no soothing his aching body. “You’re a dumbass,” he told his erection.

His erection had no response.

AJ bent his head, letting the water hit the back of his neck and shoulders as he wrapped a soapy hand around himself. His own form of sleep medicine.

Ten minutes later he was back in the room, his body temporarily sated but his mind no more relaxed than before.

Darcy hadn’t budged an inch.

Glad that at least one of them could sleep, he carefully slipped into the bed and stared at the ceiling.

You could go back to your own room.

He had absolutely zero excuse for not doing exactly that as he turned on his side and studied the woman next to him in the dark.

She was breathing deeply and evenly, and with the ambient light sliding in from the gap in the shades, he could see her expression was calm.


An expression he didn’t get to see on her all that often. Seeing it now tightened his chest. He blew out a slow, careful breath and closed his eyes.

When he’d been a soldier he’d been able to order himself to sleep. It was a skill born of years of military training and necessity, as was the ability to tell himself to wake at any given time or for any given reason.

So that’s what he did now.

Told himself to sleep until Darcy stirred.

Darcy woke up at some point in the middle of the night and found herself lying on top of a big, still body that was radiating heat like a furnace.


He was flat on his back, just lying there innocently sleeping. And she? She had literally draped herself all over him like a blanket.


Holding her breath, she tried to pull back but his arms tightened and she stilled. “AJ?”

“Mmmph,” he said and didn’t budge his arms of steel.


His answer was to roll her beneath him and kiss her.



And wet.

And good God, her body helplessly rocked up into his because of that mouth.

Letting out a groan of pleasure, he slid his hands inside her shirt and up, until the tips of his fingers brushed the undersides of her breasts.

And then he went utterly still.

“Shit,” he said.


“Gonna give a girl a complex,” Darcy murmured.

AJ shook his head to clear it but that didn’t help. Christ, had he just basically molested her in her sleep? Given that his hands were beneath her shirt, the answer was a big, fat yes.

“Shit,” he said again, brilliantly repeating himself, and rolled to his back.

“That’s quite the expansive vocabulary you’ve got there.”

“I thought I was dreaming,” he said.

With a laugh, Darcy hit the lamp this time. Her hair was Girls Gone Wild and the tee she’d stolen from him slipped off one creamy shoulder.

Her nipples were just about boring holes in the soft material and made his mouth water.

Jesus. He settled his arm over his eyes to block the view. He could feel most of his business hanging out in the chilly room air because at some point in the night she’d hogged all the covers. He needed to right them and get her back to sleep before she started asking questions he didn’t want to answer.

“You dream about me?” she asked.

Like that one. “Shit,” he said for a third time and sat up.

“That’s so annoying.”

He slid her a look. “What?”

“How when you sit up your abs do that stupid sexy guy crunch thing because you have no body fat, you bastard.”

She might as well have been talking at him in Chinese. He rolled out of the bed and stalked toward the bathroom.

“Aw, don’t go away mad,” she said, sounding amused. “Just go away.”

He slammed the bathroom door in tune to her low laugh.

The next morning Darcy pushed the lobby button and felt the elevator begin to glide. She stared at the numbers on the display as they raced toward the ground level, incredibly aware of AJ standing at her side.

He’d been gone when she’d woken up a half hour ago.

She hadn’t yet addressed the teeny tiny stab of disappointment that had hit her. By the time she’d come to terms with his absence and the winter wonderland outside the hotel window, he’d been back in her room with a coffee in each hand.

She’d gratefully downed the caffeine but still didn’t feel ready for this breakfast gig. She hadn’t been nervous last night at dinner. She’d still been pissy about being there in the first place.

But apparently she’d moved past the pissy stage into the anxiety stage.

“Do we need to talk about it?” AJ asked. His voice was still morning gruff, which somehow slid across every single one of her nerve endings. And apparently she had many.

“No,” she said firmly. The less talking the better.

He turned her to face him. He wore jeans and a gray Henley, looking disturbingly laid-back and easygoing and … hot.


“We don’t need to talk at all,” she assured him. “In fact, let’s practice not talking, all the way home.”

“Okay,” he said, annoyingly game. “But there’s something you should know.”

Great. “I’ll behave myself.” Probably.

He shook his head, a tiny quirk at the corner of his mouth suggesting that he sincerely doubted her ability to behave herself. “Not that,” he said, and waited a beat, his hazel eyes holding hers prisoner. “We got more than the forecasted six inches.”