Warnings: "This title contains graphic language, explicit sex and scenes of domestic abuse told in a dream sequence."
Word Count: 37,092
ALSO AVAILABLE IN PRINT
“Well, I noticed you had a fourth backpack. Who’s it for?”
Clarissa turned her gaze away from Jane. She’d noticed a spark between Nick and Jane the first time they’d met, but since then, all they did was argue with each other. She was playing matchmaker now. She’d invited Nick herself. She figured what better way to get two people who are obviously attracted to one another together than put them in a situation where they had to spend time alone.
“The fourth backpack is Nick’s.”
“Nick?” Jane’s eyes widened and her heart rate accelerated at just the mention of his name. “You mean Nick Harrison? James’ head waiter and the bane of my existence?”
“Yes. James invited him,” Clarissa lied. “We needed a fourth for the campsite we reserved. It’s a four person site and the campground director doesn’t allow parties of three or less on a four person site.”
“But surely he could’ve found someone else?”
“He asked everyone.” That much was true. Once James found out what his wife had been up to, he’d asked everyone he knew if they’d like to go. The reservation for the four-person campsite wasn’t refundable. “No one could go besides Nick and we’ll lose our deposit if we don’t keep our reservation.”
“Oh, just great! I’ve gotta spend the weekend with the missing link!”
“Why don’t you like Nick?”
“Why don’t I like him? You’ve seen how he treats me. Ever since Jimmy gave me a job at his restaurant, Nick’s been a pain in my ass. He never has anything nice to say to me and when we’re in the same room together, I feel the tension radiating off him. You might want to ask him why he doesn’t like me.”
“Who said I don’t like you?” Nick asked from the doorway. He leaned against the doorframe, his hair falling over his forehead. He was wearing a black shirt and pants, the same type of outfits most of the people in this time wore. Only the loose fitting garments still stretched across his broad chest and shoulders. He hadn’t shaved and the shadow of beard stubble gave him a dark and dangerous look. Jane felt her heart rate kick up another notch at the site of him.
“Hey, Nick,” Clarissa said, turning to face him.
He nodded and smiled at Clarissa, then turned his attention back to Jane. “Who said I don’t like you, Jane?”
“No one did, but the way you act around me speaks volumes, Nick.”
“Did you ever figure I was nervous around you, that’s why I act the way I do?”
“Nervous? What have you got to be nervous about?”
“Are you serious?” Nick turned to Clarissa. “Is she serious?” Clarissa simply shrugged. He turned back to Jane. “You honestly don’t know the effect you have on men, do you?”
Clarissa turned to Jane and took Kenneth from her. “I’ll give you two some privacy. Be quick though, we’re leaving in about ten minutes.” She pulled the door closed behind her, leaving Nick and Jane staring at each other, oblivious to anything or anyone else.
“The first time I saw you, Jane, I wanted to know everything about you.” He didn’t think it’d be the best thing to tell her that the first time he’d touched her, he’d gotten instantly aroused and every time he’d seen her since, he’d immediately felt his body stir. No other woman had had that effect on him before.
“So you’ve been a complete ass, because you—because you like me?” Jane took a step back when Nick moved forward.
“What can I say? I’m not good at dealing with women. Especially beautiful, slightly older women with smoldering hazel eyes and lips that are utterly kissable.” He took another step toward her.
“I—you—” Jane backed away again, her eyes widening when she realized he’d backed her into a corner, literally. “Kissable?” she whispered, watching as Nick moved closer, their bodies nearly touching, his face only inches from hers. She could feel the heat of his body and his warm breath against her face. She blushed from her toes clear to her hairline. She watched as his eyes left hers, roamed to her lips, then back to her eyes. Her heart hammered against her ribs.
“Very kissable,” he responded quietly, lowering his head and brushing his lips lightly against hers. He fought not to pull her against him to take the kiss deeper. He wanted just a taste of those sweet lips. When she threaded her fingers through his hair and teased his lips with her tongue, he nearly lost all control.
Pulling away, he gazed down into her eyes. He could see the desire burning in the depths, reflecting his own desire for her. However, she was James’ sister and he didn’t want to anger James or jeopardize their friendship so he forced himself to move away from her. For now.
“Definitely kissable,” he mumbled, turning and leaving the room.
Jane stood frozen on the spot, watching Nick walk away and wondering what had just happened. His kiss was feather light, and full of promise of something deeper, but then he pulled away and left her. Left her longing for more, left her blood thrumming through her veins, left her desire for him raging.
She slowly gathered her wits about her and moved away from the wall to finish packing. She sighed heavily and willed her rapidly beating heart to calm itself.
It was going to be a long weekend.