“Last night you said that you have to act like a jerk towards me because it’s the only way for you to…” She eyed him sternly. “Finish that sentence, Reed. To what?”
Reluctance dug a deep groove into his forehead. “It’s nothing. Forget I ever said it.”
“I can’t forget. It’s been bugging me all day. I need to know what you meant by that.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Sounding frustrated, he gently uncurled her fingers from his arm.
“Nothing good can come out of this conversation, baby.”
Darcy frowned. “Don’t baby me. And PS? I never took you for a coward. You’ve always struck me as a man who says exactly what’s on his mind.”
Something hot and dangerous moved through his eyes. “Why are you pushing this?”
“Because I’m curious.”
“Curious? No, I don’t think that’s it.” His voice was silky now, deep and mocking. He eased closer, his arm brushing hers as he shifted so they were facing each other. “This is more than curiosity. You’re blushing. You know what that tells me?”
Her breathing went shallow. “What?”
“It tells me you know exactly what I meant last night.”
“I…” Her next words were barely over a whisper. “I need to hear you say it.”
Her body grew tight and achy as she searched his face, waiting for an answer. God, why was she pushing him? He was right, nothing good could come of this. Nothing good at all.
“Don’t do this.” A warning note crept into his husky voice. “Don’t make me say it.”
Darcy’s heart was no longer beating at double time. It had skipped right over triple and was now veering into cardiac arrest territory. The air in the alcove became stifling, rippling with the tension she’d only begun to notice last night. And now it was impossible to ignore.
Reed was standing so damn close to her. Close enough that his addictive scent was once again wreaking havoc on her senses. Close enough that all she had to do was lean in slightly and their lips would be touching.
“You’re right,” she stammered. “You shouldn’t say it.”
“I shouldn’t.” Yet even as he voiced his agreement, his hand had risen to her face, his thumb delicately sweeping over her bottom lip.
Her breath hitched. God. Her entire world had reduced to this one moment, this one man. Her lips were actually trembling from the crazy urge to kiss him.
“Fuck.” The expletive tore out of Reed’s throat, his frustration thick between them. “I want you, Darcy. I. Fucking. Want. You.”
Shock slammed into her, along with a burst of arousal that seized her core. Oh God.
She couldn’t believe he’d said it. Couldn’t believe she’d pushed him to.
Because now there was no way to unhear those blunt words. No turning back from them.
“Is that what you wanted to hear?” he said angrily. “I’ve wanted you forever. Every goddamn time I see you, I’ve had to force myself not to blurt it out. I can barely even look at you, for chrissake, because I’m scared you’ll see it in my eyes. Is that what you want to hear?”
The confession sizzled through her body like merciless flames ravaging a dry forest. Her thighs clenched, breasts tingled, heart stopped. She wanted to dive through the curtain and pretend she’d never seen the raw lust in his eyes, never heard those gruff, honest words tumble out of his mouth.
But she was rooted in place.
They stared at each other for what felt like an eternity, neither one speaking. Darcy had stopped breathing a while ago, and now her lungs burned, almost as painfully as the desire burning in her blood. Reed’s hand was still on her face, his calloused fingertips tracing the edge of her jaw. Her skin felt tight and prickly, the flames traveling south and tingling between her legs.
Reed’s blue eyes blazed with accusation. “Why are you still here?” he burst out. “Go, Darcy. Just go.”
“No,” she whispered.
He took another step closer, crowding her, his broad body dominating every inch of the tiny space. Their mouths were so close she could feel his warm breath fanning over her lips, mingling with the sudden rush of air that seeped out of her lungs.
“You have to go.”
She swallowed. “No.”
“This is wrong.” Half mumble, half moan. The anguish in his voice matching her own.
He cupped her cheeks with both hands, groaning when their eyes locked again. “Just once,” he muttered. “I just need to know.”
Her voice wobbled. “Know what?”
“What it would feel like.” A determined glint lit his gorgeous eyes. “Maybe it won’t be as good as I imagined.”
A laugh shook out. “It might be awful,” she said helpfully.
He groaned again. “Worse than awful.”
“We’ll probably hate it so much that—”
Reed’s mouth crashed down on hers before she could finish.
And there was nothing awful about it.