Read Love for Beginners: An Under the Hood Novella Online

Authors: Sally Clements

Tags: #Romance, #Single Authors, #playboy, #Short Stories, #Series, #fling, #cindi madsen, #small town romance, #Marina Adair, #Contemporary, #sweet romance, #boss, #opposites attract, #julia london, #mechanic, #Catherine Bybee, #Single Author, #novella, #reformed, #Literature & Fiction

Love for Beginners: An Under the Hood Novella (6 page)

BOOK: Love for Beginners: An Under the Hood Novella
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Chapter Six

Mel wished she had a camera, because the look on Heath’s face was worth capturing for posterity. With eyes wide, he climbed from the pickup and strode to the cabin. “Wow, I didn’t think places like this still actually existed.” He swung around to her, excitement coming off him in waves. “I want to take a picture of it exactly as it is, before we go inside.”

She really needed a pee, but couldn’t object in light of his zeal. “Why don’t you set up your camera stuff? I’ll just…” She waved vaguely in the direction of the trees. He could guess, surely?

“Okay, great.” Heath didn’t even glance her direction. His entire focus was the cabin, and how he’d capture it on film.

Leaving him to it, Mel stepped away into the undergrowth next to the cabin. She kept walking until she was far from view, then crouched behind a tree.

By the time she returned, he’d set the camera on a tripod and was snapping away.

“There you are.” He glanced away from the viewfinder for a moment. “I was thinking…” In quick strides, he was by her side. Warm hands trailed down her upper arms, and her skin tingled as if brushed with an electrical charge. “I wanted to thank you for bringing me here. For remembering about this cabin. For keeping my secret.” He leaned closer. His eyes’ dark centers expanded, swallowing up the blue.

Dimly, through a haze of sensation, Mel realized she didn’t mind him touching her. In fact, she liked it, and wanted more. She longed for the touch of his mouth on hers. The intensity of her need was stunning—a knockout blow. She felt as though she was in a steam room, unable to breathe for the intensity of emotion swirling around her and clogging her airways.

Her tongue swiped across her dry lips.
This is it, he’s going to…

“I’d like to take a series of photographs of you. I’ll be including some portrait shots in the portfolio I’m submitting to the magazine, to show my range and versatility as a photographer.” His hands fell to his sides. “Would you let me?”

Her heart was pounding. He was so close, if she just reached out, she could run her hands over his broad shoulders. She’d have to go up on tiptoe for his mouth…


With a rapid intake of breath, reality came back in a rush. “I…”

Heath waved at the cabin. “Stand in front of the cottage.” He peered through the viewfinder again. “Great. Now turn, walk up the stairs. Slowly. Look back at me, that’s it.”

His running commentary blurred her senses, had her moving like an automaton to his commands. What if he dictated other commands? Would she automatically follow those, too? Walk over here, run your fingers across my jaw, press your lips to mine. Lean against me and let me kiss you all over?

“Ow!” Pain lanced through her toes as she stumbled on the second-to-last step. Her flailing hand grabbed for the railing, but missed. Her knee banged against the wooden deck, sending a sharp dagger of pain through her.

Before her ass hit the ground, Heath was there. He sank down on the step next to her. Warm fingers stroked around her kneecap, while his other hand cupped the back of her head. Her knee hurt like crazy. And her toes throbbed, although at least they didn’t hurt any more. They were too numb for that.

The heat of his fingers seemed to permeate the skin, as though one of those heated massage packs had been strapped on.

She leaned against his chest, like a child instinctively seeking comfort, but there was nothing childlike in her response to his nearness.

“We should ice this.” Heath removed his hand from her knee, probing the rising bruise with careful fingers.

“The freezer is off. There’s no ice.”


Heath’s mouth flattened, and his eyebrows pulled together in a frown. Carefully, his butterfly touch swept from her knee to her toe. It was enough to make a girl happy she’d worn shorts rather than jeans setting out. Although the fact that her skin had erupted in a temporary rash of goose bumps was probably a dead giveaway that she was aroused. Or was it?

There was so much she had to learn. So much that was a complete mystery.

Heath undid her boot and slid her sock off.

His fingers curved around her foot. The pad of his thumb rubbed over the inside of her ankle, tracing its outline carefully.

A couple of years ago, she’d tried yoga. The most memorable moment of the entire experience was the relaxing at the end of the session. When she lay on the floor and breathed in slowly and deeply, feeling the air permeate into the bottom of her lungs. It was a focus impossible to recapture in everyday life, but as Mel watched the side of Heath’s face, concentrated on every single detail about him—the way that stubble was evident, even though he’d obviously shaved this morning; his dark eyelashes, longer than her own, but not softening the harsh masculinity of his face—captivation clutched.

Now, on the wooden boards of this cottage in the woods, time seemed to still to one moment. One experience.

Heath’s thumb moved to her instep, stroked across the high arch.

She inhaled quickly, feeling the instant flare of passion ignite. His thumb moved in lazy circles, and Mel’s nipples stiffened under her lacy bra. Warmth spread through her pelvis, unfurling an unfamiliar sensation of want. “Does that hurt?” His voice was deeply seductive, wrapping her in a black velvet cloak that smoothed over her senses, adding even more sensuality into the mix.

Mel’s mouth felt dry. “It’s just bruised. I’m sure it will be okay.”
But I won’t.

If she were a different girl, she’d happily surrender to the urge to claim the lips so tantalizingly close. Heath had loved many women—surely one more wouldn’t matter? They didn’t need to discuss it, or have a relationship. Neither of them wanted that.

She’d always thought the threat of making herself vulnerable, of falling in love with the wrong man—a man who would leave—was too strong to risk a night of passion.

She’d told Heath she wasn’t interested in sex. And obviously she was wrong. Right now, the thought of going inside with him, peeling off her clothes and having crazy, mindless sex was definitely appealing. The thought excited and terrified her in equal measure.

“Why don’t we go inside?” Heath asked.

The loss of his hand from her foot hammered a nail of disappointment into her heart. When his gaze met hers, the expression in it gave the nail another couple of hammers home.

Where Mel was so turned on she wanted to slide right into his lap and press her chest against his, run her fingers into his hair, and devour his mouth as he peeled her shirt off to reveal her to the wilderness, Heath obviously felt no such compulsion. He looked completely unaffected—as though talking to a store assistant or buying a train ticket.

“You can lie on the sofa while I go set up the kitchen.”

This was gonna be the weekend from hell.

Heath should get away from her as quickly as he possibly could. He’d promised that they were spending this weekend as friends, nothing more. That their relationship would be platonic. His mind told his body she was off-limits, but his body wasn’t listening.

In the silence earlier, he’d become almost hypnotized, running his fingers over her soft, warm skin. It had been a magical moment, one where the world seemed to stop, leaving them as the only two humans on earth, encased in a bubble of nature. Before Cindy, he might have just gone with the flow, leaned close, and tasted her lips. Despite Mel’s protestations about being untouched by desire, longing had been coming off her in waves as he stroked her skin.

Things had sure changed since she’d pronounced she wasn’t interested in sex. He could tell from the shock apparent in the naked depths of her eyes that the desire racing through her as he caressed her foot was yet another first.

He grasped her elbow and helped her up. Quickly he pulled off his jacket in a pretense of finding the keys, which he knew damn well were in his jeans pocket, and casually held the jacket in front, to disguise his state of arousal.

She gripped his arm.

Heath’s teeth clenched so hard his jaw ached. “Put your weight on it.”

Cautiously, Mel stepped, then her expression lightened. She stepped forward again. Pressed her foot onto the ground for a moment. “Actually, I think it’s going to be fine.”

In a few steps they were at the front door, and moments later they were in.

The air smelled musty, but the cabin looked clean, if a bit dusty. Heath opened the window to let in the fresh summer breeze.

Mel hobbled toward the back of the cabin. “There are two bedrooms.” She pushed doors open to reveal basic rooms with iron beds. “And the kitchen is over here.” In the corner of the simple kitchen, just next to the large fridge and plain wooden dresser, was a gas oven. “Let’s have a cup of coffee before we start to unload the pickup.” She rooted through the kitchen drawers and pulled out a box of matches.

Heath left her to it. If there was going to be any chance of surviving this weekend, he needed to get his sexed-up responses to Melody Swan under control—and fast.

It took four treks to bring in supplies from the pickup. And every trudge up the steps, he stopped on the top one to relive the feel of her body against his. Her foot was soft and white, with nails painted the same blue as the sky. He’d always thought blue toes would be sort of frostbite disgusting—but on her it was a good look. Her little sigh as he’d rubbed the raised arch had set his temperature from simmer to boil.

Heath groaned as he pushed through the front door carrying the final load.
Did they really need to bring all this stuff?

He slipped off the lid of a plastic box. Tossed lettuce in bags, cartons of milk and juice, a jar of coffee, a loaf of bread, and what looked like a couple of fat steaks snapped into another Tupperware container.

His stomach growled. Uh, yeah. They definitely did need this.

“The water’s boiled.” Mel walked in from the sitting room. “Let’s have lunch.”

Her tongue swiped across her lips in a nervous motion, and all the efforts that Heath had made over the past half hour were instantly obliterated.

Emerald eyes darkened to forest green.
Damn this
. He crossed his arms over his chest to stop himself from reaching for her. Tried to remind himself that the lady had said she wasn’t interested, that there was going to be no sex in this relationship. He almost felt like saying it aloud, so that the rest of him got the message, because it sure hadn’t so far. His gaze dipped.
Oh God, nipples
. Why on earth had he suggested they come out here alone?

Mel stepped closer. “I want to talk about what happened in the garage before. About kissing you. I…I shouldn’t have.”

She’d wanted to forget it, to pretend it hadn’t happened, but the moment Heath had started to touch her it was as though she was back at that moment again. Back

“You were just flexing your wings—I get that. Our deal was you could practice on me.”

“Yeah, but I crossed the line. And I want to cross it again.”

Desire held her in its grip. Mel felt so hot her skin seemed to glow with stored heat, like a radiator. Longing made her blood molten. Like mercury, or motor oil.

“You want to kiss me again?” His voice was deep. He stared into her eyes, not moving an inch, keeping the decision hers.

Mel placed her hand on his chest.

His arms uncrossed, and his hands fell to his side. “I’m not sure this is a good idea.” But he didn’t stop her, and there was banked heat in the depths of his eyes.

“I just want to know”—she trailed a finger over his lips—“if what I felt before was a onetime thing. I want to find out if things really have changed for me. If the ice really is in the process of melting.”

He closed his eyes. His hands curled into fists at his sides, and he seemed to have stopped breathing.

“Can I?” she whispered.

His chin jerked in a terse nod.

On tiptoe, she pressed her mouth against his.

With a groan, he responded. His hands moved to her hips, then slid up her back, bringing her close against his body.

Daringly, she traced Heath’s top lip with her tongue, wondering where this person driven by desire had been all her life.

Maybe she’d needed this particular man to rev up her engine.

She’d never given herself permission to feel like this before. Had been so fearful of the consequences that she’d persuaded herself that she never, ever felt sexual. And now she was wrapped around Alice’s brother, pushing her hands under the hem of his shirt…devouring him like a lioness making short work of a gazelle.

The red mist of lust thinned. Mel pulled back.

“What?” Heath murmured against her lips.

“You must think…”

Heath’s hand clasped her nape. His lips trailed across her cheek to her ear. “Don’t tell.” His lips returned to hers. “Me.” He punctuated his word with a kiss, then his lips trailed to her other ear. “What I think.” He nipped at her earlobe, sending a shivery flash of heat down Mel’s spine.

The moan was half sigh, and as impossible to hold back as water leaking through a hole in a dam.

For the first time, he initiated. His kiss was wild—abandoned. His hands cupped her breasts through the soft fabric of her shirt. Every time she’d been touched there before, she’d felt awkward and embarrassed. Now, embarrassment was merely a memory as she flattened her palm to his back.

She was glad his eyes were closed, because she would have hated him to see her eyes at the moment—she wasn’t sure, but it felt like they’d rolled all the way back in ecstasy.

Could making love be this easy—this enjoyable? Mel’s preconceived notions tilted and shifted.

Her hand crept to Heath’s stomach again, trailing lower to find the arousal pressing against his fly.

She undid the top button.

Heath’s hand covered hers. “Mel.”

Mel’s gaze lifted to his.

“If we don’t stop now, we’ll be in bed for the entire weekend.” He rested his forehead against hers. “And I don’t think that’s what you want.”

If she went to bed with Heath, slaked this need that held her so tightly in its grip, she could be sure once and for all that she would be able to go through with sex without freezing up and destroying a relationship.

BOOK: Love for Beginners: An Under the Hood Novella
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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