Authors: Lynn Raye Harris
He reached out and touched her shoulder and she jerked. He jerked too because, whoa, that was some charge that lanced through him. Probably static electricity, though he hadn’t actually heard a pop. Not to mention the air was wet.
Chase frowned. “Sophie,” he said, not touching her this time.
She stirred, moaning a little as she did so. The sound went right to his groin and twisted his nuts with need.
“Sophie,” he said again, rougher this time. “We’re here.”
She pushed herself up and shoved a mass of silky hair from her face. Her gaze fastened on him, and she fumbled for the seat belt. “Great. Awesome.”
She got it undone and slid from the Tahoe, stumbling as she landed on the concrete pad of the carport. Chase caught her and steadied her. But not before those glorious breasts mashed up against his chest. He sucked in air, set her away from him, grabbed her jacket from the seat and his bag from the floor. Then he shut the door and herded her toward the steps leading up to the house.
“Get some rest,” Hawk called from the window he’d rolled down. “I’ll text in the morning before I come out.”
“Copy,” Chase said as he inserted the key into the lock. Hawk waited while he got the door open and punched in the code for the alarm. He turned and gave Hawk a thumbs-up, and the man powered up the window and backed slowly down the driveway.
“Come on,” he told Sophie.
She stepped inside and he closed the door behind her, securing it with a dead bolt and resetting the alarm. When he turned, she’d walked into the kitchen and stood there looking at the flowery wallpaper and worn cabinetry.
“Not up to your standards, princess?” He didn’t know why he said that, except she looked so out of place there, so shocked at the interior, and it angered him. Because he’d grown up in a house not much different from this one while she’d lived in a Hollywood house with an infinity pool overlooking the LA skyline.
She turned at the sound of his voice, her eyes wide as she wrapped her arms around her body and chafed her upper arms.
“What?” She sounded a bit distracted, and he felt a pinprick of annoyance.
He jerked his chin at the garish wallpaper. Yellow with white daises. Much like the curtains his mother had put up in their kitchen. “A little low-rent for you?”
Her mouth dropped open for a second. Then she closed it and straightened her spine until she seemed to look down at him even though she was much shorter than he was.
“For your information, I was thinking how glad I am to be in a house rather than a tree, and how awesome a shower will feel. But I was also wondering what’s in that refrigerator and hoping it’s something good.”
He refused to feel chastened. Instead, he went over and yanked open the refrigerator. It wasn’t packed, but it had food in it.
“Looks good to me,” he said. “But you’d better know how to cook because I don’t.” That wasn’t precisely true, but damn if he was cooking for her after everything else.
“I can fix a few things,” she said. “But I’m no Rachael Ray.”
He let the door close. “Why don’t you shower first and then come in here and figure out what you want?”
She chafed her arms again and he handed over her jacket. She took it and draped it over her shoulders. But she didn’t leave.
“Are we really safe here?”
Chase nodded. He wasn’t going to tell her that even the best preparations sometimes weren’t enough, but he was pretty confident they were today. Hawk didn’t do anything half-assed, and now he had the money—loads of money thanks to his pop-star wife—to have the best of everything, which included high-tech surveillance equipment and alarms.
“Yeah, we’ll be fine. Hawk knows what he’s doing.”
“Are you just telling me that to make me feel better?”
“Do you really want the answer to that question?”
She nodded, her hair shining in the overhead light, her expression wary and haunted. He wanted to go over and pull her into his arms, hug her tight. No way in hell would he give in to that urge though.
“Yeah, we’ll be fine,” he said. “Go take a shower and stop worrying.”
She looked at him for a long moment before she turned and melted into the darkness of the house.
Chase shoved a hand through his hair as his heart pumped faster than it should and his gut squeezed tight. Jesus, what the hell was wrong with him? Sophie wasn’t his type—too soft and pampered—and she damn sure wasn’t on the menu.
ophie found the bathroom and turned on the shower to let the water heat. She slipped out of her clothes, intending to hang them to dry when she was finished. There was a fluffy blue robe draped on the door hook, the kind that wrapped you up in a soft hug when you slid it over your skin. She ran her fingers over the terry cloth and nearly shivered in delight.
The bathroom was small and the mirror only provided her with a view of her torso. She studied her nakedness critically, almost compulsively. No, definitely compulsively. It was a habit going back to childhood when friends and family would remark to her mother that she was a little plump and then ask if her mother wanted a guaranteed-to-work diet plan for her.
She was pale with a smattering of freckles marring her skin here and there. Her breasts were full, double
s with dusky areolae and nipples that beaded tight as she hefted her breasts and looked in the mirror.
Her waist dipped in where it was supposed to, but it wasn’t tiny. And her hips, if she stepped forward and peered downward, curved away from her waist and gave her a classic hourglass shape. Growing up in LA hadn’t always been easy, especially with a mom who’d been a Victoria’s Secret model. Her mother was tall and lean and toned, even now at the age of forty-six. Sophie was, by comparison, huge.
Not that she was really huge, but standing next to her mother had always made her feel awkward and ugly. It was part of the reason she’d wanted to escape and do her own thing in New York. She snorted softly. A lot of good that had done her.
Steam rose from the shower, and she pushed the curtain back and stepped inside, groaning when the hot water pummeled her back and shoulders. It was almost as good as sex, she decided.
And that was the wrong thing to think of, because sex immediately conjured the image of Chase. Of his naked chest and broad shoulders when he’d opened his door to her. Of the lazy slant of his eyes as he’d taken her in and the heated grin he’d given her before she’d said her name. The man oozed sex appeal. If the circumstances hadn’t been what they were, she could well imagine herself falling for that charm. Stripping herself and offering her body up for his pleasure.
Not that she had a ton of experience in that department. She was self-conscious, and that made getting naked with a man a little difficult. Part of the reason she’d been susceptible to Grigori’s charm was because he’d told her she was beautiful and desirable. Though he’d never tried to have sex with her, which had made her begin to doubt his sincerity. Why else would he waste time with her? He didn’t listen to the blues, had no idea who Tyler was. It wasn’t as if he wanted to get close to her to meet her stepdad. Even if he did want to meet Tyler, there were easier ways for someone with his money and connections.
Sophie pushed her face under the spray and let the water wash away her thoughts of Grigori and Chase, at least for a few moments. She was alive and that was a good thing.
She soaped herself all over, washed her hair, and then finished her shower when she figured she was in danger of stealing all the hot water. That would be yet another black mark against her in Chase’s book when he stepped into the shower and got hit with cold water.
She dried off, twisted her hair into a towel for a few minutes before combing it out, and then slipped into the robe. Her skin was pink from the hot water, and her face was scrubbed free of makeup. Not that she needed much makeup, but she loved playing with it. If nothing else, she had been fortunate enough to inherit a flawless complexion from her mother.
Which was a good thing because all her makeup was gone, burned up with her purse.
She found Chase in the living room, kicked back on the couch with his feet propped on the coffee table. CNN blared from the television, but he looked up when she walked in. Her heart thumped as his eyes narrowed. They slipped over her, from her wet hair to the robe and down to her pink toenails before landing on her face again.
“Marginally. But I have no clothes to put on.”
His face became a thundercloud. “Are you warm enough in that robe?”
She ran her hand down the softness of the fabric. “Yes.”
“Then it’ll have to do.”
“My clothes will be dry by tomorrow—but my boots are ruined.”
She knew they would be, but damn, she’d loved those boots. It wasn’t easy to get a low heel from Louboutin, or a comfortable one—and those boots had been both.
“We’ll get something for you. But if you expect designer names, ain’t happening.”
She felt herself bristling. Yes, everything she’d been wearing was a brand name, but that didn’t mean she
to have them. “I don’t know what makes you think I won’t be happy with a pair of tennis shoes.”
“Honey, you look expensive. Those weren’t Walmart clothes you had on—and then there’s the gold watch on your wrist.”
She sniffed. Her watch had been a graduation present from Tyler and her mother—and yes, it was Cartier. “As long as the shoes are dry and comfortable, I don’t care who makes them.”
Which was essentially true. Maybe if she was in New York, she’d want to go to Saks and buy whatever her heart desired. She could admit that shopping made her happy. It had been a crutch since she’d been old enough to realize she wasn’t ever going to be a Victoria’s Secret model herself.
Chase reached into a bag of potato chips sitting by his side and crunched a few. Her stomach rumbled, but she was
“There’s a washer and dryer behind those folding doors in the hallway,” he said without looking at her. “You can wash your stuff and dry it.
you know how to use a washer, that is.”
“I’ll manage,” she said tartly. She hadn’t realized there was a laundry area in this house, but the thought made her ridiculously happy. So happy that his snottiness wasn’t going to get her down.
“Good,” he said. “My stuff needs washed too.”
She gaped at him. And then she got mad. “Tell you what. I’ll fix something to eat better than those”—she nodded at the chips—“and
can do the laundry.”
His eyes flicked up to hers—and stayed there. The intensity of that gaze—God, she didn’t know why it made her heart thunder or her pulse trip. Or her body grow achy and needy.
He pushed himself off the couch, all six foot three inches of him. Then he picked up the chip bag and rolled the top down before tossing it to her. She somehow managed to catch it, but she clutched it to her torso so hard she probably crushed half the chips.
Chase reached behind his back with one hand and tugged his shirt up and over his head in the sexiest maneuver she’d ever seen. Then he smirked at her and balled the shirt in his fist before heading down the hallway.
“Deal,” he called behind him. “But the food better be good.”
he food wasn’t bad. It wasn’t gourmet, but Chase finished the grilled cheese sandwich and wished he had another one. Sophie sat across from him at the table in the small living/dining room combo, her eyes on her food as she took slow, deliberate bites.
He’d showered and thrown their clothes into the washer, then returned here to find her fixing grilled cheeses and tomato soup. Hell, he could have done that—except she’d done something to the grilled cheese that tasted better than when he fixed them.
When she’d realized he was in the room, she’d turned to him—and colored immediately. He wouldn’t forget the look on her face for a long time. He was wearing a pair of athletic shorts and nothing else because that’s what he had in his bag until his stuff was clean.
The look she’d given him had arrowed straight to his balls. He’d seen need on that face. Raw, lustful need—and it knocked him for a loop.
She’s not really your sister, dude. You could totally bang her.
Yeah, true—but not helpful. Banging Sophie was a bad idea because he couldn’t walk away in the morning. He still had a few days left with her while they tried to get to Paris to find that flash drive before Androv’s people did. If he let his guard down and fucked her—which he really wanted to do, God help him—he had no idea how to handle the aftermath.
Typically, he fucked a woman a few times and then they were done. He wasn’t a manwhore—well, not totally—but he wasn’t looking for a relationship either.
And he was supercareful about birth control too. After the way he’d come into the world and the way his biological father hadn’t given a fuck about him, no way was he doing that to a kid.
Not that he didn’t have condoms in the bugout bag. He did.
But he was
She looked up then and their gazes clashed. He tried not to let it affect him, but of course it did. The telltale tightening of his groin was a sign that he didn’t have nearly the control over his reaction that he wanted.
Fuck, she looked a lot like her mother—but a lusher version of her mother. Yeah, he’d been a horny teenager and more than a bit wowed by the gorgeous model his father had married. Justine DeMontford-Nash had been smokin’ in a bikini—and in the bras and panties she modeled in the pages of a Victoria’s Secret catalog.
He had a sudden urge to see Sophie in a bikini. She’d have more flesh, more curves—but he would bet anything they were spectacular.
“What did you put in the grilled cheese?” he asked suddenly, trying to shut down that line of thought before he had a frigging tent pole in his shorts.
“Cheese. What else?”
He snorted at her snappy answer. “What kind of cheese, Soph? Doesn’t taste like American.”