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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(43) by Samantha Young|
He tensed under my hands. “No taking your family problems out on your hair.”
I smiled. “I’ll make a deal with you . . . I won’t cut or dye my hair for the next six months.”
“You’ll not touch your hair for the next millennium.”
I grinned again and started working his upper back. I would never actually change my hair, so it didn’t hurt to concede. “Okay, since you like it so much . . .”
Cole relaxed again and we fell into a comfortable silence as I continued to massage him.
A little while later I heard a snore.
He’d fallen asleep.
My first instinct was to curl up next to him.
However, my brain told me not to get too attached. Cuddling up for a nap with Cole was definitely something I’d do if we were in a relationship. But we weren’t in a relationship. You couldn’t be in a relationship unless you trusted the person you were in said relationship with.
Ugh, I was giving myself a headache.
I slipped off the bed as stealthily as possible and gently eased the duvet over Cole. I ventured back into the kitchen for the takeout, my cheeks flooding with heat as I remembered what had happened on the table the night before. I still hadn’t asked Cole why he’d taken me into the kitchen for sex.
With a plateful of heated-up chicken-fried rice and curry sauce, I made myself at home in the sitting room. Saturday night television wasn’t brilliant, but it would do. I turned the volume low on a talent show so I wouldn’t disturb Cole.
Half an hour later I heard the sounds of his waking. Eyes on the door, I waited for him to appear, his footsteps coming fast down the hall toward me. Cole drew to an abrupt stop at the sight of me. He was still shirtless and his cheek was sleep creased. His hair was rumpled too. I hadn’t realized until that moment that it was possible for a man to be adorable and sexy at the same time.
His tense shoulders dropped when he took me in, curled up on the end of his sofa. “I worried you’d left.”
I shook my head and he gave me a nod before heading back to the bedroom. A few minutes later he passed the sitting room with a shirt on and headed to the kitchen. When he returned and sat on the other end of the sofa with his plate of food, he said, “Sorry I fell asleep on you.”
“My back feels better. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” Why was this suddenly awkward? I frowned at him. He wouldn’t look at me and his tone was . . . weird.
He frowned at the television. “Next time wake me.”
I frowned in return. “Not if you’re exhausted.”
He ate instead of answering, that little furrow on his brow deepening.
Was he . . . “Are you annoyed I didn’t wake you or annoyed I didn’t stay in bed with you?”
He shot me a dirty look and I had to bite my lip from smiling at his endearing disgruntlement. “No.”
I burst out laughing because he was definitely put out. That was sweet.
Now he was glowering. “What?”
I shook my head, still chuckling. “You’re the only guy I’ve ever met who’s gotten pissed at me for not staying to cuddle.” I tried to swallow more giggles, but it was impossible.
To my surprise and delight Cole’s glower melted into a slow, wicked grin. “If you’re trying to make me feel emasculated, you’re wasting your time.”
He put his plate on the coffee table. “I’m perfectly secure in my own masculinity.” His hand wrapped around my ankle and he pulled, sliding my body down the sofa toward him.
“You are?” I whispered as he moved over me, gently easing my legs apart.
He nodded, his green eyes hot. “And I’m about to show you why.”
“A demonstration,” I gasped as his hands slipped up my skirt. “How lovely.”
Laughter glittered in his eyes, a laughter that quickly turned to a smolder as he got down to the business of proving there was more than a little alpha male in him.
Afterward as I lay in his arms watching the television, I remembered to ask him about last night and sex on the kitchen table. His answer: “Missionary was out . . . It was the next best thing. And the kitchen table is sturdy.” He kissed me. “We broke it in.”
“The table was a virgin?” I said, eyes round with mock horror.
“Yes, but I’m sure it was painless for it.”
“Still, I wish I’d known. I would have been more of a gentleman.”
Cole burst out laughing—a deep, full belly laugh that I hadn’t heard from him until then. Knowing I’d made him laugh . . . well . . . it affected me. I spent the rest of the night fighting to ignore the warmth growing in my chest. I didn’t succeed.
Later, as he spooned me in bed, I was thinking of ways to protect myself from becoming addicted to him. The best option, of course, was to go cold turkey and end it before it really started, but I knew I couldn’t do it . . .
I cursed my willpower or lack thereof.
“You’re tense,” he said.
So I tried to relax.
I did not succeed.
Cole tightened his arm around me. “Everything’s going to be okay, Shannon.”
For some reason those simple words choked me up. Tears burned in my eyes and in my throat, and try as I might, I couldn’t stop them from falling down my cheeks. I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat, but I ended up making this dreadful almost, but not quite, sob.
It was Cole’s turn to tense and I suddenly found myself on my back as he leaned over me. Light from outside seeped through the blinds on his window to illuminate the concern in his eyes. “Shortcake,” he whispered, his fingers brushing my wet cheeks.
“I don’t know why I’m crying,” I whispered back, brushing at them. “So stupid.”
“It’s not.” He shook his head and pressed a soft kiss to my lips. “It’s not.” He rested his forehead against mine, hot air puffing over my mouth as he sighed. “If I was less of a selfish bastard I’d let you go.”
I reached for him, my fingers digging into his waist. I didn’t even realize I’d done it until Cole drew back to give me a small smile.
“I am a selfish bastard, though.”
My body relaxed under his, and his smile widened. To my everlasting appreciation he didn’t comment on the fact that my body clearly was at war with my brain.