Authors: Rainey Anne
The hell of it was, he couldn’t remember another woman who’d ever made him feel so edgy. As if he were on the very verge of flying out of control at any moment. He’d been with women of all types—brunettes, redheads, blondes—but none compared to Sarah. She was turning out to be in a class all her own.
“You’re gorgeous,” he told her, giving her the raw truth. Brodix noticed she didn’t invite him, though. Instead, she kept him in the doorway, her body partially blocking his view of the room beyond. He had a contrary urge to nudge his way around her so he could get a better look at Sarah’s private sanctum.
“Thank you.” Sarah looked down and smoothed a hand over the waistline of the dress. “I bought this little number for a convention one year. It was pricey, but I figured it’d be worth it at the time. Unfortunately, I never even had the chance to wear it, until now.”
“So you saved it for me,” he said, knowing he sounded cocky as hell but hoping to get a rise out of her because of it.
She chuckled. “Don’t let it go to your head,” she said as she reached behind the door. When she brought out a black leather purse and a set of keys, Brodix stepped back so she could move into the hallway.
“You didn’t invite me in,” he said, smiling down at her. “What’s the matter, don’t you trust me?”
As Sarah stepped into the hall with him and pulled the door shut, she locked it behind her. “It isn’t that,” she said, “although you are a virtual stranger. I just haven’t been out on very many dates since my divorce. I’m somewhat cautious these days, I suppose.”
He nodded. “That’s smart, but why haven’t you been out on many dates?” he asked, genuinely curious about her.
She shrugged. “Too busy with work. You know how it goes.”
Yeah, he knew exactly how Sarah felt. Holding down his day job and working at the restaurant on nights and weekends over the past several months had pretty much screwed his personal life all to hell. He was past due for a night out.
As they headed toward the elevator, Brodix caught himself staring at her breasts. God, how he wanted to dip his head and taste her there. Just a sample to tide him over. He forced himself to look away. He didn’t think getting a hard-on in the middle of her apartment building before their date even began would make a real great impression. He needed to cool off. Take his mind off the woman striding down the hall with enough confidence to rev his engine. “When was the divorce?”
They reached the elevator, and Brodix hit the Down button. “We’ve been divorced two years now,” she answered. “Every so often, he gets it in his head that he wants me back. The truth is that Jack just wants sex. He’s so transparent, and yet he thinks he’s all charm and sophistication.” She rolled her eyes. “Sadly, I bought into that load of crap at one time. Stupid.”
“Falling in love isn’t stupid,” he said as the doors slid open. He waited for her to precede him. “You might have been a little blind, but who isn’t when it comes to love?” After the doors closed them in and he hit the button for the lobby, Brodix allowed his gaze to travel the length of her. When he reached her long, lean legs, he had to stifle a groan. “He, on the other hand, must be an imbecile.”
She pulled her purse onto her forearm and looked up at him. “You haven’t even met him. Maybe I was the imbecile.”
“Don’t forget the conversation I had with him on your cell.”
Sarah winced. “Yeah, he didn’t really start off on the right foot with you, did he?”
When the doors opened, Brodix placed his hand at the small of her back. The light contact sent fire licking through his veins. “Whatever,” he replied. “All I know is that he let you go. That’s enough proof right there that he’s not firing on all cylinders.” When she walked through the lobby, Brodix stole a glance at her legs once more. Damn, Reilly had been right. Sarah’s legs did go on for miles. And he had a feeling they’d wrap around his hips nicely. Right now they were beautifully displayed in a pair of black pumps.
As they reached the parking lot, Sarah turned her head. Their gazes caught, held. “Thank you,” she said in a voice so soft he had to strain to hear.
He quirked a brow. “For what?”
“For giving me a chance. And for taking me out tonight. It’s been too long since I’ve let myself have any fun.”
“You’re welcome,” he said, at a loss for words. Sarah’s little confession fueled his need to have more than a meal with her. To strip her out of her sexy black dress and discover all her naughty secrets. What would it be like to make love to her, slowly? The kind of loving that lasted clear into the night. He’d want to do it all over again when morning came. Only rougher. Brodix ached for no-holds-barred sex with Sarah. He had to have her soon. Simple as that.
His steps never faltered as he brought her to his black BMW. When he placed her in the passenger seat, he took a moment to look at her. With her oval face and honey-blonde hair, she looked like an angel. The shiny strands drifted down past her shoulders in loose, sexy curls. When he caught on to the fact he was staring, he smiled. “Let the fun begin.”
She grinned up at him, and Brodix’s heart nearly stopped.
Christ, he was toast.
Breathe, woman, breathe.
The reminder wasn’t helping, not when the only thing separating her from Brodix was the center console. Just as the engine hummed to life and he drove out of the parking lot, Sarah thought to ask, “Where are we going?”
“I managed to get reservations at The Cozy Catch. It’s up north. Ever been there?”
The mention of the upscale restaurant sent her heart fluttering. It was silly, she knew, but it seemed rather romantic that Brodix had taken the time to make reservations at one of the more expensive places in town. “I’ve been there a couple of times for work but never leisure. I love their baked cod.” She quickly glanced down. “Now I’m really glad I wore this dress.”
When his head turned, Sarah knew he was looking at her, but she couldn’t make out his features in the dark confines of the car. “I am too,” he murmured.
Sarah stifled a grin. Brodix liked to flirt. She’d noticed that little character trait already. While it wasn’t the first time he’d complimented her—and she was probably naïve for thinking it meant anything—Sarah enjoyed hearing the words all the same. She took advantage of his attention to the road to get a longer look at him. Brodix wore a navy-blue suit and a white dress shirt. When he’d arrived at her apartment, she’d noticed how yummy the man looked in the fitted jacket. He filled it out in all the right ways. The shirt beneath showed off his chest to perfection. Oh yeah, definitely a hottie.
When they arrived at the restaurant, Brodix opened her door for her, which was something Jack had never done the entire time they’d been married. Without even knowing it, Brodix was racking up points left and right. He took her by the elbow and leaned close. Sarah heard him inhale and mumble something under his breath.
“What did you say?”
“I don’t know what that perfume is you’re wearing, but I like it. It’s delicate and feminine, like you.”
The compliment had her heart soaring. “Thank you. It’s my one indulgence. I’m normally very careful to stay on a budget, but this particular perfume is my favorite.” She thought of his deliciously masculine scent, and her pussy throbbed. Whenever the man was near, she had the urge to take several deep breaths.
“You should definitely indulge, then,” he told her as he led the way to the front of the restaurant. He let go of her long enough to open the door for her, but once they were inside, his hand reached out and took possession of hers. Sarah liked the feel of him holding on to her. Brodix made her feel wanted. And wanted was definitely good. Sarah peeked over at him and caught him staring at her, a wicked smile on his face. Her stomach filled with butterflies.
This is supposed to be a working dinner.
She was supposed to be interviewing him for the story. She needed to get her reputation back. It was important, she reminded herself. The newspaper didn’t matter right now though. The only thing on her mind was Brodix.
The Cozy Catch restaurant was an impressive establishment. The main dining area consisted of three levels. On the entry level was the bar and a door that led to the kitchen. An exit at the back of the restaurant led to a large garden. On the lower level was an area where a band could set up to play live music. A short flight of stairs led to a balcony that overlooked the ground level. The seating in the balcony was usually minimal, and reservations had to be made way in advance. A little thrill went up her spine as the hostess led them there. Once they were seated, the hostess left them to look over the menu.
“I don’t know how you managed to get such a great table, but I’m impressed.”
Brodix winked, his intense blue eyes focused on her as if she were the only person in the room. “I admit, I know the owner. Duke Wells and my dad go way back.”
Sarah laughed. “That’s cheating.”
“A man will go to great lengths to impress a pretty lady,” he said.
His voice was low and deep, and the sound fueled her imagination. Sarah immediately pictured them alone in a candlelit room. In her mind, Brodix was nude, and his strong, gentle hands were slowly undressing her. An image of him dragging her to the floor and making love to her sent her head spinning and her body temperature spiking.
Sarah pushed the erotic thoughts aside and forced herself to peruse the menu. After she settled on her usual, baked cod and steamed vegetables, Sarah put the menu aside and looked at Brodix. His gaze, so warm and tender, rested on her instead of the menu. She wondered what he was thinking.
“Did you decide what you want to eat?”
“I always get the same thing here. The filet mignon and baked sweet potato. You?”
“The cod,” she answered without a second thought. “The fish here is amazing.”
“So,” he said, leaning forward, “when does the interview start?”
Heat crept into her cheeks as she became aware of just how little she cared about the interview. And a knot formed in her stomach as she thought of the little white lie she’d told him earlier at his mother’s house. Oh, she did intend to write a piece honoring Wanda and Chet Jennings, but she’d left out a key ingredient. In order for the story to make it to the front page, there would have to be something juicier for the readers to sink their teeth into. Guilt assailed her as she looked across the table at him. He trusted her with his family. For the first time since becoming a reporter, Sarah wasn’t sure she had the right stuff for the job.
She yanked herself out of her depressing thoughts and said, “Uh, we can start anytime you’re comfortable.”
Brodix held out his hands. “Fire away, then.”
As if on cue, their waiter came over, and their conversation was temporarily put on hold as they ordered. After he hurried off, Sarah said, “Before we start, I wanted to ask you something, but I’m not sure how you’re going to respond.”
Brodix cocked his head to the side. “You can ask me anything, but some things might get you a ‘no comment’. My family can be damn prickly about their privacy, and I’m no different.”
“I understand, and if I ask you something you aren’t comfortable answering, just say the word.” At his nod, she continued. “It was made very clear to me earlier that Reilly and River are extremely bothered by my profession.” She frowned when she thought of the twins and the tension they’d exhibited while in her presence. “Can you tell me why?”
Brodix hesitated a moment, a scowl marring his handsome face. “It’s because of a man River had to live with once. It was while he was in foster care. He was abusive to River. It just so happens that the asshole was a reporter.”
Ah, now it was all making more sense. “I remind River of that time in his life,” Sarah surmised. All these years later and River still carried the pain with him. “It must have been pretty awful.”
Brodix nodded. “Yeah, and that’s not for public consumption, just so you know. The last thing my brother needs is to have those years splashed across the pages of the
Sarah shook her head. “I would never do anything to hurt your family, Brodix.” She only hoped that was true. “I know there are some in my business who would do anything to snag a headline, but I don’t work that way.”
“I know.” He winked. “I just felt a reminder was in order.”
She propped her chin on her fist. “What about you? What were your days in foster care like?”
“Nothing like what River went through.” Brodix shoved a hand through his hair. “Some neglect, I suppose, but nothing life-changing.”
“Why do I get the feeling you’re oversimplifying?” she asked as she narrowed her eyes.
He chuckled. “Maybe, but the fact remains that nothing newsworthy happened during those early years.”
Sarah cocked her head to the side. “And here I thought we’d established a measure of trust,” she said, hoping to loosen his tongue a little. Brodix was holding something back; she could feel it in her bones.
He was quiet for a minute as he stared across the table at her. Finally, he shrugged. “You’re right; it wasn’t all roses and sunshine.”
There was raw pain in the tone of his voice, and Sarah immediately wanted to stop the interview.
Quitting isn’t an option.
Damn it, she knew that, but she didn’t have to like it. “What happened?” she asked, hating herself for forcing Brodix to dredge up bad memories.