Read The Object of His Protection Online
Authors: Brenda Jackson
Over the next few minutes Drey talked and Charlene listened; she even asked him a few questions every now and then. He wasn’t surprised by her intelligence or how quick she was in figuring out things. Pretty soon they were pulling back into the parking lot of the café where they had left her car.
“You can follow me back to my place. It’s not far from here,” he said, bringing his car to a stop next to hers.
“Okay,” she said, unsnapping her seat belt and turning to open the door.
Drey glanced in his rearview mirror, something he’d done several times to make sure they hadn’t been followed. He glanced back at her in time to see one smooth thigh when she descended from the vehicle. And again when she got into her car. His mouth hardened. That hadn’t been what his already horny body needed to see.
He only began driving away when he was certain she was following him.
It was then that he decided to try contacting his mother again. Pulling his cell from off his belt, he flipped it open to punch in his mother’s number only to be met with the answering machine again. This time he left a message.
“Mom, this is Drey. We need to talk. I would appreciate if you’d call me later.”
He hung up the line wondering how soon she would contact him and whether he was ready to hear what else she had to say.
Charlene was quiet as she listened to the soft jazz sound on the radio while following behind Drey. She couldn’t help wondering what she had gotten herself into. She knew moving in with him on a temporary basis was the smart thing to do, but that didn’t mean she had to like it.
He had surprised her when he had opened up and told her about the first case he had taken on as a private investigator. She had found it interesting, but more than anything she had admired his diligence in solving the case. She figured getting him to talk would ease some of the heated tension between them. It had for a while, but she had felt his eyes watching her every movement when she had gotten out of his car. It was if he’d been undressing her with his gaze. How in the world would they manage to live under the same roof? She had never felt this desired by a man in her entire life.
Of course she knew it was a passing fancy for Drey. She couldn’t allow herself to get caught up in what was probably one of his testosterone moments.
She followed his car into a gated community and as she pulled in directly behind him, she glanced around at the large town houses that made her place look like a dollhouse.
A smile touched her lips. Drey’s first case might have been the pits, but evidently he had recovered nicely. She nearly jumped when her cell phone went off in her purse and she eased it out and flipped it open after seeing the caller was her mother. “Yes, Mom?”
“I called your house and there’s a message on your phone indicating you’re out of town. You didn’t mention coming to Florida, so does that mean you’re visiting your father?”
Charlene rolled her eyes. Another issue she had with her parents was their constant competitive nature where she was concerned. Her mother did not like her father’s third wife and wanted to make sure Charlene didn’t like her either. “No, Mom, I’m not visiting Dad. I just need to get away for a while.”
“Why?” her mother demanded, as if she had every right to know.
“Things are crazy at work,” she said truthfully. “So I thought I’d take a few days off, go somewhere and enjoy myself.”
She had to be kidding. She watched as Drey parked his car and got out, saw how nicely his jeans covered his tush and knew she
kidding. Inexplicably, a heated sensation flowed through her.
“Better do it now before you stress yourself out,” her mother said. “Stress isn’t good. That’s why I stopped working.”
Charlene frowned. She’d never known her mother to work outside the home. At fifty, Nina was still a beautiful woman and would be a trophy on any man’s arms. When Charlene saw that Drey had turned and was waiting for her to get out of the car, she quickly said, “Okay, Mom, I need to go. Someone is waiting for me.”
“It’s a man, right? Tell me that you got away with a man.”
Charlene’s mouth tightened. Why was her mother so obsessed with her finding a man? “Yes, Mom, I’m spending some time with a man,” she said, giving in to what she knew her mother wanted to hear. “I’ll touch base with you when I return.”
“You haven’t said where you are.”
No, intentionally, she hadn’t. Charlene glanced around and noticed the name of the community and saw the huge water fountain close by as well as the well-tended landscaped yard. “It’s called Kindle Wood Lakes and it’s near the water.” Okay, so she was stretching the truth a little bit.
“Sounds like a real nice resort. Have fun and don’t make any babies until after the wedding.”
“Don’t Mom me since I was young once. Besides, I’d like to have a son-in-law while I’m young enough to appreciate him.”
Yes, Charlene thought, she knew that, had accepted it and most of the time just plain ignored it. “Goodbye, Mom.”
Drey leaned back against his car and watched Charlene get out of hers with a frown on her face. He had seen her cell phone plastered to her ear and had wondered who she was talking to. Whomever it was evidently had gotten her a little annoyed. Had her boss tried contacting her? His protective instinct automatically kicked in, and when she reached his side he asked, “Are you okay?”
She glanced around, looking everywhere else but at him when she said, “Yes, I’m fine. I just finished talking to my mother.”
He knew damned good and well he shouldn’t care one iota about her relationship with her mother but heard himself remarking anyway, “You were frowning.”
She looked at him. “I usually do whenever I talk to either of my parents. Sometimes they forget our agreement.”
He would not have been surprised if she had told him it was none of his business, because truly it wasn’t. So she sort of stunned him when she answered, “Considering their numerous marriages, they promised me on my twenty-first birthday that they would stay out of my business if I stayed out of theirs. Staying out of theirs is a piece of cake, but they still find it a challenge to stay out of mine. Especially Mom. She’s constantly reminding me that my biological clock is ticking and wants me to do something about it.”
Drey laughed. “So in other words, she wants grandchildren.” He’d heard the same request a number of times from his own mother.
“She wants me to find a husband before I start populating the earth and gets quite annoyed with me by my lack of interest.”
Lack of interest?
He couldn’t help but remember she had gotten quite annoyed with him last night when he’d asked why she didn’t have a date.
“My mother thinks we’re having an affair.”
“Excuse me?” Staring down at her, he could clearly see the red highlights in her hair, although she was wearing her hair pinned up in a knot on her head. He preferred seeing it down the way she’d worn it last night.
“She called my apartment and got my message about me going out of town. I couldn’t tell her the truth, so I fabricated a story for her that included a trip away for a few days, and of course she assumed it was with a man.”
“And she’s okay with that?”
“Overjoyed, actually. Like I said earlier, she thinks my biological clock is ticking.”
He watched as she glanced around again. “Nice community. Have you lived here long?” she asked.
“A couple of years.” He pushed away from his car. “Are you ready to go in? I can come back for your stuff later.”
He then smiled when he saw the look of apprehension on her face. “Will it make you feel better if I promise not to jump your bones as soon as I get you over the threshold?”
She narrowed her gaze. “I’m glad one of us finds all of this amusing.”
Drey held up both hands in a defensive pose. “Hey, don’t get uptight on me. I don’t find the thought of your life being in danger amusing. What I do find amusing is your reaction to the idea of living with me for a while. I take it you’ve never shared quarters with a man.”
“Of course not!”
“Any reason why?”
She didn’t answer immediately, so he figured she was thinking about his question. “I’m nitpicky.”
“So am I, but I have a feeling we’ll get along just nicely.”
She opened her mouth as if to say something, then quickly closed it, leaving him wondering just what was on her mind. “Get it out, Charlie. Say whatever you want.”
Her eyes narrowed at him and then she asked, “Just in case one of your lady friends shows up and wonders who I am, what should I tell them?”
“I doubt that will happen, but if it does the simple thing is to tell them you’re my girl.”
She shook her head. “No way would I lie like that.”
“Then if it will make you feel better, tell them you’re my long lost sister, although I doubt they’ll believe you.”
Determined to end this topic of conversation before he would be forced to tell her that she would be wearing the title of “Drey’s lover” before long, he began moving toward his front door. She walked at a leisurely pace next to him and for the first time in a long while he liked the thought of a woman by his side.
Another thought that flashed through his mind was that Charlene was used to handling dead bodies. There was nothing dead about him and soon enough she would discover how it was to handle a living, breathing, hot-blooded man.
harlene froze the moment she stepped over the threshold in Drey’s home, finding his taste in furniture and decorating utterly exquisite. Her gaze was immediately drawn to the numerous selections of Asian artwork he had on his walls. Even from a distance she found them intriguingly unusual and definitely exotic.
She crossed the room, immediately smitten with one painting in particular. She couldn’t help but study the richness of the colors the artist had used as well as the selection of a mahogany-trimmed leather frame. It was a painting of a beautiful Asian woman, drenched in a multicolored robe as she walked through a flower garden with a shimmering pond in the background. The expression on the woman’s face was both exotic and erotic.
“I see you like this one,” she heard Drey say, coming up behind her. She tensed, immediately feeling his heat, which made her totally aware of his masculinity. Those thoughts made her even more determined to keep a tight rein on her control as well as her common senses while around him.
“Yes, it’s different, although I’m surprised to find such a painting in your living room. It seems more fitted for the bedroom.”
Drey chuckled. “Yeah, probably, but I prefer to have it out here.”
“Thanks. When I see her I’ll tell her you said that.”
Charlene spun around, her eyebrows arched. “You know her?”
“Yes. I know her. That’s my mother.”
Charlene blinked before turning back at the picture, amazed. “Your mother?”
Drey smiled. “Yes. She was only twenty-three when it was painted and she gave it to my father as a wedding gift.” He didn’t say anything for a while, then added, “I recall it was one of Dad’s most prized possessions.”
Charlene could clearly see why. As she’d said earlier, the woman was beautiful. Although he had told her about his parents, he hadn’t said a lot about his mother, other than the state of her health. He’d mostly spoken of his father. She wondered if his relationship with his mother was strained for some reason.
“Come on, I’ll give you a tour of the place and then I’ll show you to the room that you’ll be using while you’re here.”
The tour made her realize even more just what a beautiful home Drey had. His kitchen, with stainless steel appliances, was to die for, large and spacious. He told her he enjoyed cooking and spent a lot of time in the kitchen. She could tell just from looking around that like her, he was neat and tidy and liked nice things. She could also tell that his tastes included the exotic and she figured they were mainly because of his background.
He worked from his home, so the room he considered as his office reflected such. It wasn’t cluttered although a number of files were open on his desk. He told her that he had a woman come in a couple of days a week to file and manage the books.
The guest room was neatly decorated although he told her that in the three years he lived there she was officially his first guest. The view out of her bedroom window faced the lake. The only problem she had was the proximity of her bedroom to his. It was directly across the hall.
Overall, she liked the layout of his home. It was rather spacious for one person, but he indicated he didn’t like the feeling of being cramped.
He had just placed her luggage on the bed when his cell phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket, glanced at who was calling and then flipped it open. “Yes, Mom?”
A few moments later he said. “Good. I’m on my way.”
He glanced over at Charlene as he put his cell phone back in his pocket. “I need to go visit with my mother for a while. Will you be okay here while I’m gone?”
She waved off his question. “Of course. After I unpack I intend to sit outside on the patio. “You have a beautiful view.”
She studied his features, saw the dark look in his eyes and the way his nostrils flared. He was staring at her and the look at that moment was so blatantly sexual, she felt chills run up and down her spine at the same time blood raced through her veins.
“If you get hungry before I return, I have a loaded refrigerator.”
She straightened her shoulders. “Thanks.”
He suddenly took a step forward and on instinct she took one back, but not quick enough to stop him from reaching out and letting his fingers gently grab her wrist to bring her close to him. “Where do you think you’re going?” he asked in a husky tone.
She stood close to him. More than ever she could feel his heat. Standing this close was causing all types of emotions to bombard her inner being. She tilted up her head and met his gaze. “I was trying to get out of your way,” she said, trying not to look into the darkness of his eyes. “I’m not here for this, Drey.”
A smile touched his lips. “Here for what?”
“To be a live-in woman who is available for you.”
He didn’t say anything, but she could tell her comment had him thinking and she had a feeling whatever it was, wasn’t to her advantage. “I really hadn’t thought of you as such, but now that you mention it, Charlie…”
She tried pulling her arm away; instead he pulled her closer with his full concentration on her mouth. “Don’t get irritated with me, but before I leave there is something I need from you,” he said in a deep, throaty voice.
She gave him a quelling look. Her chin went up. “There is nothing that you could possibly need from me.”
“Want to bet?” He released her arm and reached up and let the tip of his finger caress her lips, as if he was fascinated with their shape. Without his hold she had the perfect opportunity to bolt, but she found herself rooted to the spot, held prisoner by the heated look in his eyes.
Looking down at her, he said in a whispered tone, “The shape of your mouth fascinates me.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to say the shape of his mouth fascinated her, as well. But she didn’t. Instead she continued to watch him while intense heat seemed to flood every part of her body.
“I want to kiss you, Charlene.”
His words had her swallowing deeply. They had every nerve ending in her body on fire. “If I let you kiss me, it will give you the wrong idea.”
She watched the corners of his lips tilt into a smile that nearly took her breath away. “Or it could give me the right one,” he answered.
She signed deeply. “You mother is waiting,” she said, deciding to remind him he had more pressing matters to take care of.
He still didn’t move. “Drey,” she said softly. “I think that—”
“Shh, don’t think at all for a second,” he whispered, removing his hand from her face to place it at her waist. “Just close your eyes and experience the taste.”
He leaned in closer and lowered his head. His breath felt hot and wet against her lips, “Will you do that for me, Charlene?”
There was something in the way he asked that touched a part deep within her, persuading her to give in to his request. And just that easily she closed her eyes and within seconds, she felt his mouth on hers as he began kissing her in a slow, yet deep connection that devoured her with each stroke of his tongue.
It was like taking a sip of a bubbly drink in a highly charged room. That was the only way she could describe the feelings that were overtaking her senses. Just once she didn’t want to think that this was a kiss with a purpose or one that wasn’t meant to happen. Instead she catered to needs she’d never encountered before and let herself be swept away by a multitude of feelings. Grudgingly she conceded that she wanted to indulge in this type of kiss as much as he did. It was a stimulant to her senses, a boost to her hormones and a must-do to her brain cells.
The kiss was everything it should be and more. And it reminded her of what she’d been missing out on for a long time. A life filled with long hours at work without any type of social life had led her to this. She didn’t understand why they were drawn to each other, but she couldn’t deny they were and had been from the first, although they’d tried downplaying it.
The kiss turned greedy, almost shamefully erotic, as he shifted his stance to take as much of her mouth as he could. His arms tightened around her like a band of steel and she was pulled even closer into his tight embrace.
For a split second she came close to moaning deep in her throat, but held it back and shivered under the impact of what he was doing to her mouth. She felt the physical evidence of his desire pressed against the apex of her thighs. It both frightened her and elated her that she had the ability to elevate his desire and bring him to this point.
He slowly released her mouth but not before taking his tongue and licking her lips from corner to corner, then sliding it back into her mouth for one final intense mating. She clung to his tongue with her own, feeling the strength in it, while her body quivered in the rush of sensations passing through her.
The moan she couldn’t hold back any longer came out in a soft whimper, and at the same time her knees weakened under such intense passion. When it came to the art of kissing, Drey was an expert. He had the ability to take it to a level she had never experienced until now.
He finally pulled back from her mouth and lifted his head. The dark eyes staring into hers almost made her dizzy and she watched as his eyes lowered from hers to flick over her lips once again.
“I’d better go before I kiss you again,” he said in a low, deep voice. “If I keep it up I’ll make good my threat.”
She swallowed, knowing just what threat he was talking about. The one about kissing her all over. If he did make good his threat, she was doubtful she would be strong enough to resist.
“I’ll be back later. Just make yourself at home.”
And then he released her and smiled down at her. It wasn’t a smile of victory, but one of contentment. She could tell from the expression on his face that he had needed that kiss as much as she had and the enjoyment of it was mutual. That kiss had been the turning point for her and she admitted at that very moment that she wanted to get to know Drey St. John on an even deeper level.