Reunited with the Lassiter Bride(9)By: Barbara Dunlop
Deke signaled the waiter, asking the man for the duck and the veal.
Evan leaned toward her, his voice a ragged whisper in her ear. “Tell me to stop.”
She tried. She opened her mouth, but the words didn’t come out.
His hand slipped higher, and her grip tightened on the wine glass.
“Angie?” Tiffany’s voice penetrated the haze inside her brain.
“Hmmm?” she managed.
“I said do you have a preference for desserts?”
“Torte? Éclairs? Maybe cheesecake?”
Evan’s fingertips swirled lightly against her skin. The sensation took her back months in time. For some reason, she remembered a particular morning when they’d lounged in bed at his house in Pasadena. It had been pouring rain, and he’d made hot chocolate, lacing it with coffee liqueur.
“Maybe the pecan tarts?” asked Tiffany.
“Okay,” Angelica managed.
Tiffany peered at her strangely. “You look flushed. Are you having an allergic reaction?” Her glance darted from dish to dish. “Were there almonds in something?”
“No, no.” Angelica put in quickly. “I’m good. I’m fine.” She put her hand down on top of Evan’s. She’d intended to push him away, but somehow it didn’t happen. Instead she pressed down on his hand, pushing it harder against her thigh.
“The chocolate truffles,” said Evan. “Get them to bring some of the chocolate truffles.”
Tiffany smiled. “I love chocolate. It’s so richly decadent.”
Evan’s touch was richly decadent, and indulgent, and Angelica had to stop him.
“Are you dating anyone?” Deke asked Tiffany.
“Seriously?” asked Evan. “You’re hitting on her during dinner?”
“I’m asking her out,” said Deke. “There’s a big difference.”
“I can tell the difference,” Tiffany offered breezily. “And he’s hitting on me.”
Deke pulled back in his seat in mock offense, his hand on his heart. “You wound me deeply.”
As Tiffany answered back, Evan leaned in close to Angelica’s ear again. “In case you’re wondering, I’m also hitting on you.”
His words gave her the strength to tug his hand away. He gave in easily, but she was left quivering.
* * *
Evan knew it was his turn to make sure Angelica got home safely. By the time they made it through the all the wines, she was in no condition to drive, and Tiffany was probably over the limit as well. He paid the bill and slid his keys across the table to Deke. Then he held out his hands for Angelica’s keys.
“I’m fine to—” She stopped herself. “You’re right. I’m not driving anywhere. But I can call a driver.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. It’ll take them until midnight just to get here.”
“They’re on call for a reason.”
“And I’m already here. I trusted you to drive my car, and it’s a whole lot more expensive than yours.”
“Can you drive an automatic?” she asked, humor lurking in her slightly glassy eyes.
“I’ll manage.” He flicked his gaze to Tiffany. “We’ll have to put you in a cab.”
The sports car was a two-seater.
“I’ll take her home,” Deke offered.
“Oh, no you don’t,” said Evan.
“You’ll love Evan’s convertible,” Deke said to Tiffany.
She looked at Evan. “I’m more worried about you with Angie than I am about Deke with me.”
“Seriously?” Evan asked, honestly offended. “How well do you know me?”
Tiffany studied his expression for a critical moment. “I don’t want you fighting with her.”
“I’ll be a perfect gentleman,” said Evan.
Truth was, fighting with Angie was the very last thing on his mind. Seducing her, now that was the real danger.
But he could absolutely control himself. His hand might still be warm where he’d caressed her thigh, and he might remember the unique, arousing texture of her skin, but he was keeping it in context. He had to keep it all in context.
“You’ll be okay with him?” Tiffany asked Angie.
“I have to get my car home somehow.”
“You’re not drunk?”
“I’m not drunk. I’m merely over the legal limit from doing my duty as a bridesmaid.”
“Fair enough,” said Tiffany. “I on the other hand did my duty with the dessert.” She popped the last chocolate truffle into her mouth.
“How do you stay so slim?” asked Deke.
“Give the compliments a rest,” she responded with a laugh. “They’re not going to work.”
Watching the exchange, Evan couldn’t help feeling envious of Deke. He suddenly wished he and Angie had just met tonight, that they had no baggage between them. If that were the case, he’d also be putting on a full-court press.
“You ready?” he asked her, resisting the urge to smooth stray wisps of hair away from her forehead.
She reached for the purse between them. “I really didn’t think this through.”
“I’ll get you home safe,” he told her.
She gave him a nod of agreement and slid from the booth. The two couples separated at the bottom of the café steps. Evan settled Angie into the passenger seat before starting her car and pulling onto the highway.
As he drove, he struggled to push away the memory of her warm skin. But instead, he found himself wondering what she’d thought. When he’d caressed her thigh, she hadn’t immediately pushed him away.
Maybe she was too shocked by his behavior to react. Or maybe she’d been sitting there fuming mad. He knew nothing good could come of bringing it up again. But that didn’t mean he could stop it from ticking through his mind.
He made it fifteen silent minutes down the Pacific Coast Highway before he cracked. He wheeled into a dark parking lot overlooking the surf and the moonlit night.
“What?” Angie was clearly confused by the unexpected stop, glancing around outside.
He angled his body to face her. “Should I apologize here?”
Her jaw went lax in obvious shock, and her eyes went round in the dashboard glow. “You’d actually do that?” she asked in an awed whisper.
It took him a moment to realize what she was thinking. She thought he was talking about how he’d gone along with J.D.’s will. For some reason, she’d guessed he meant the big apology, the one where he told her he’d been wrong all those months, that she was justified in not trusting him, and that the problems between them were his fault, not hers.
That was never going to happen.
“For what I did in the restaurant,” he clarified.
“The...oh. Okay.” She schooled her features and glanced away from him.
“I didn’t do it to upset you.” Half his brain was telling him to shut up already, while the other half seemed hell-bent on ploughing forward. “It was an accident. Well, at first. But then...you didn’t seem to mind.”
“I minded a whole lot.”
“You didn’t stop me.”
She looked at him again. “You took me by surprise.”
“I took me by surprise too,” he admitted.
They both fell silent, and the air seemed to thicken inside the dim car. His gaze moved to her full lips, and her taste from last night invaded his senses. He wanted to kiss her again, wanted it very badly.
“Don’t what?” He hadn’t made a single move here.
“I can see what you’re thinking.”
“You can read my mind, Angie? Really?”
“You’re remembering what it was like between us.” She swallowed. “You remember it being good.”
“It was good.”
“Sex is always good.”
Her words were like a bucket of cold water. “Always?”
“You’ve had a lot of sex lately, have you?”
She smoothed the hem of her skirt. “That’s none of your business.”
Hard anger invaded his stomach, turning his voice to a growl. “Who, Angie? Who’ve you been sleeping with? Was it Jack Reed?”
“Jack’s with Becca now.”
“Doesn’t mean he wasn’t ever with you.”
“I am not having this conversation.” She abruptly swung open the door.
He leaned across the car, reaching for her, but she slipped out too quickly, slamming the car door firmly behind her. He was out his side in a shot, pacing his way to her.
“Tell me the truth,” he demanded. It wasn’t the first time he’d wondered about Jack Reed. And it wasn’t the first time he’d wanted to take the man apart.
She glared defiantly up at him, her back against the car. “Why? Why would you even care?”
“That’s a yes.”
“It’s not a yes,” she retorted.
“How long?” he asked, his tone deceptively soft. “How long after you left my bed were you in his?”
“I never slept with Jack.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Believe whatever you want, Evan. But I have never lied to you, and I’m not about to start now. I haven’t slept with anyone since we broke up.” She gave a slightly hysterical laugh. “When would I have time for a relationship? And you, of all people, you, Evan—” she jabbed a finger against his chest “—should know I don’t just jump into any man’s bed.”