But no, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, now could I? I turn the water off and knot a towel around my hips. You’d think I’d be feeling a measure of relief but my dick is still standing at full attention. I tug on a fresh pair of boxers and climb between the sheets. Outside the near full moon shines in through my open curtains, and I wonder if she’s in her bed, staring at the same moon, thinking of me the way I’m thinking of her.
I spend the next two hours tossing and turning. The creaking of Londyn’s bedsprings is a sure sign she’s as restless as I am. But as I think about her alone in that big bed, in a strange place, my heart squeezes, softens around the edges. She’s a bad sleeper even when she’s in familiar surroundings. There is probably no chance in hell she’ll relax enough tonight to drift off. Come morning she’ll be exhausted.
So, what are you going to do about that, Cason?
The bottom line is this: I brought her here, which means I’m responsible for her. I might be an asshole but contrary to what she thinks, I’m not a fucking ogre. Yeah, I’m ruthless in business, but I do not feed on the souls of innocent children.
I kick off the covers, and follow the path of the moon to my bedroom door. I twist the knob and listen for sounds as I quietly pull my door open. Silence meets my ears, and I wait a moment longer. Maybe this is a bad idea. Fingers wrapped tightly around the doorknob, I’m about to close my door again and head back to bed when the sound of her springs squeaking reaches my ears. I pad quietly across the floor, and find her door slightly ajar. I peek in and chuckle silently. In typical Londyn fashion, her sheets are kicked off and tangled around her feet. She’s a hot mess and never looked more inviting.
I inch the door open. “Londyn,” I say quietly as I walk across the floor, the boards groaning beneath my weight.
“Cason?” she says, rolling over. Flat on her back, I can make out the shape of her body, and I take a moment to admire her generous breasts hugged by a tight T-shirt. Her cotton nightclothes are far from sexy, but I somehow want her more.
“Roll over,” I command in a soft voice, and she hesitates, her brow furrowed as her eyes lock on mine. My heart tumbles and I pinch my eyes shut for a brief second to slow it down.
“What’s going on?” she asks, her voice husky and deep, her lids fluttering rapidly.
“You need sleep and I’m going to help.”
“Are you...” She hesitates, but she doesn’t need to finish for me to know what she’s asking.
“Yes. I’m sure.”
I step toward her and a surprised little yelp catches in her throat as she rolls, and aims her sweet ass my way. Damned if I don’t want to slide those shorts down her legs and help her relax with my mouth...my fingers. I lift the blankets, and gently fix the sheets around her shoulder before crawling in behind. Her soft body relaxes against mine, and I nuzzle my face into her hair, breathing in the fresh scent of her shampoo.
After a long moment, she breaks the quiet, “Cason...”
“Shh, everything is okay. Go to sleep,” I say. Tonight isn’t about sex. I refuse to give in to the demands of my body. It’s against host rules but, more important, I’m afraid if I do, I’ll fall for her a second time. I care about her, yes. I can’t deny that. But I can’t, under any circumstance, love her again. She gutted me, and no matter how many millions my businesses are worth, I’m still the unwanted, unlovable boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Her father would see me dead before he’d see my ring on her finger. Not that I care what he thinks, but Londyn does. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s been starved for his approval, but she should stop trying to please him. He’s never going to give his approval until she marries a man of his choice and becomes a dutiful wife, and to be honest that’s just fucking sad.
She takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly and softens against me. I pull her in tighter, and put my arm around her to hold her close, much the same way I used to do back in college. Her breathing changes, slows, and just when I think she’s asleep, she speaks.
“Thank you,” she says in a groggy voice, seconds before her body completely settles against mine.
“You’re welcome,” I whisper. As my words fall on deaf ears, my traitorous heart misses a beat. I swallow against a tight throat, and gently blow a strand of long blond hair from my face. My lids fall shut and the next thing I know, light from the rising sun slants into her room, pulling me awake. Jesus, when was the last time I slept so soundly? With my arm still around her—hard to believe neither of us moved through the night—I slowly lift my head to check the clock on the nightstand. I didn’t bother bringing my phone in with me, didn’t bother setting any kind of alarm. My routine is set in stone, and my internal clock is pretty good at waking me. But there was nothing normal or repetitive about yesterday, which is why it’s an hour past my regular wake-up time.
I slowly inch away, not wanting to wake her, and she makes a sexy little noise of disappointment. I tuck her back in, and stand over her for a second. My heart beats double time against my chest as I take in her beauty. This morning her face is free of makeup, and dammit that natural, girl-next-door look works on her. She used to always wash her face clean before I tucked her in and stayed with her until she drifted off. I always loved this side of her, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only guy she ever let see her that way.
Walking on my tiptoes, I head to my room, and my heart is somewhere in my throat as my brain dredges up old memories. I tug on my jeans and check my phone for messages. A few business calls that can wait until later, and one from Peyton. What would she think if she knew Londyn was here with me—that I bought her at a damn auction? She’d probably lose her mind. She’s the only one who really knows me, the only one I let see the pain under the easygoing facade I present to the world.
I shoot her a text back, letting her know I’ll see what I can do about setting her up with a good guy from Penn Pals in the New Year, and take the stairs quietly. In the kitchen I put on a pot of coffee and look out the window. The water is calm today, a good day to take the catamaran out. The dock is decorated for the season, each post sporting a festive wreath. Last night Londyn picked at an old wound when she brought up Christmas. It’s not right for me to keep her here over the holiday, but she doesn’t seem in any hurry to leave. She can say she hates Christmas as much as I do, but I call bullshit. There is a part of that girl that has “white picket fence and a big house full of kids” written all over her.
I dig eggs and bacon from the fridge, and when the coffeepot beeps, I pour a big mug and take a generous sip.
“Save some for me.”
I spin at the sound of Londyn’s voice. The second I set eyes on her, my heart stops beating, all the need from last night bubbling
to the surface. Her hair is a mess, her eyes wide but still sleepy and those lush, bee-stung lips are slightly parted, like they’re desperate to be kissed. I instantly harden, and I fight for a measure of control, but it’s fraying along a finely stitched seam like a sail caught in a windstorm. How can I possibly hide what she does to me?
What if I don’t want to anymore?
Her pink tongue snakes out, and she swipes it over her bottom lip. I curl my fingers before I grab a fistful of her hair and tug, until her mouth is poised open for mine. Sensations pulse through my body, effectively cutting each threadbare edge of my control.
She makes a small move, but I’m right there, right there on her until we’re standing toe to toe, our bodies aligned, our knuckles brushing.
“Last night—” she begins, and I cut her off.
“Did you sleep well?”