A Tricky Proposition(6)By: Cat Schield
“I want to help.”
“You do?” Doubt dominated her question, but relief hovered nearby. She studied him a long moment before asking, “Are you sure?”
“I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon and decided I’d be a pretty lousy friend if I wasn’t there when you needed me.”
A broad smile transformed her expression. “You don’t know how much this means to me. I’ll call the clinic tomorrow and make an appointment for you.”
Jason shook his head. “No fertility clinic. No doctor.” He hooked his fingers around the sash that held her robe closed and tugged her a half step closer. Heat pooled below his belt at the way her lips parted in surprise. “Just you and me.”
Something like excitement flickered in her eyes, only to be dampened by her frown. “Are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting?”
“Let’s make a baby the old-fashioned way.”
“Old-fashioned way?” Ming’s brain sputtered like a poorly maintained engine. What the hell was he…? “Sex?”
“I prefer to think of it as making love.”
Jason’s grin grew wolfish. “Not the way I do it.”
Her mind raced. She couldn’t have sex—make love—with Jason. He was her best friend. Their relationship worked because they didn’t complicate it by pretending a friends-with-benefits scenario was realistic. “Absolutely not.”
“Because…” What was she supposed to give him for an excuse? “I don’t feel that way about you.”
“Give me an hour and I’m sure you’ll feel exactly that way about me.”
The sensual light in his eyes was so intense she could almost feel his hands sliding over her. Her nipples tightened. She crossed her arms over her chest to conceal her body’s involuntary reaction.
His cocky grin was her only reply. Ming scowled at him to conceal her rising alarm. He was enjoying this. Damn him. Worse, her toes were curling at the prospect of making love with him.
“Be reasonable.” Please be reasonable. “It’ll be much easier if you just go to the clinic. All you have to do is show up, grab a magazine and make a donation.”
The air around them crackled with electricity, raising the hair at the back of her neck.
“Why not?” She gathered the hair hanging over her shoulder and tugged. Her scalp burned at the harsh punishment. “It’s not as if you have any use for them.” She pointed downward.
“If you want them, you’re going to have to get them the old-fashioned way.”
“Stop saying that.” Her voice had taken on a disturbing squeak.
Jason naked. Her hands roaming over all his hard muscles. The slide of him between her thighs. She pressed her knees together as an ache built.
“Come on,” he coaxed. “Aren’t you the least bit curious?”
Of course she was curious. During the months following senior prom, it’s all she’d thought about. “Absolutely not.”
“All the women I’ve dated. Haven’t you wondered why they kept coming back for more?”
Instead of being turned off by his arrogance, she found his confidence arousing. “It never crossed my mind.”
“I don’t believe that. Not after the way you came on to me after prom.”
“I came on to you? You kissed me.”
“Because you batted those long black eyelashes of yours and went on and on about how no one would ever love you and how what’s-his-name wasn’t a real man and that you needed a real man.”
Ming’s mouth fell open. “I did no such thing. You were the one who put your arm around me and said the best way to get over Kevin was to get busy with someone else.”
“No.” He shook his head. “That’s not how it happened at all.”
Damn him. He’d given his word they’d never speak of it again. What other promises would he break?
“Neither one of us is going to admit we started it, so let’s just agree that a kiss happened and we were prevented from making a huge mistake by my sister’s phone call.”
“In the interests of keeping you happy,” he said, his tone sly and patronizing, “I’ll agree a kiss happened and we were interrupted by your sister.”
“And that afterward we both agreed it was a huge mistake.”
“It was a mistake because you’d been dumped and I was fighting with my girlfriend. Neither one of us was thinking clearly.”
Had she said that, or had he? The events of the night were blurry. In fact, the only thing she remembered with crystal clarity was the feel of his lips on hers. The way her head spun as he plunged his tongue into her mouth and set her afire.
“It was a mistake because we were best friends and hooking up would have messed up our relationship.”
“But we’re not hormone-driven teenagers anymore,” he reminded her. “We can approach the sex as a naked hug between friends.”
“A naked hug?” She wasn’t sure whether to laugh or hit him.
What he wanted from her threatened to turn her emotions into a Gordian knot, and yet she found herself wondering if she could do as he asked. If she went into it without expectations, maybe it was possible for her to enjoy a few glorious nights in Jason’s bed and get away with her head clear and her heart unharmed.
“Having…” She cleared her throat and tried again. “Making…” Her throat closed up. Completing the sentence made the prospect so much more real. She wasn’t ready to go there yet.
Jason took pity on her inability to finish her thought. “Love?”
“It’s intimate and…” Her skin tingled at the thought of just how intimate.
“You don’t think I know that?”
Jason’s velvet voice slid against her senses. Her entire body flushed as desire pulsed hot and insistent. How many times since her engagement ended had she awakened from a salacious dream about him, feeling like this? Heavy with need and too frustrated to go back to sleep? Too many nights to count.
“Let me finish,” she said. “We know each other too well. We’re too comfortable. There’s no romance between us. It would be like brushing each other’s teeth.”
“Brushing each other’s teeth?” he echoed, laughter dancing in his voice. “You underestimate my powers of seduction.”
The wicked light in his eye promised that he was not going to be deterred from his request. A tremor threatened to upend the small amount of her confidence still standing.
“You overestimate my ability to take you seriously.”
All at once he stopped trying to push her buttons and his humor faded. “If you are going to become a mother, you don’t want that to happen in the sterile environment of a doctor’s office. Your conception should be memorable.”
She wasn’t looking for memorable. Memorable lasted. It clogged up her emotions and made her long for impossible things. She wanted clinical. Practical. Uncomplicated.
Which is why her decision to ask him to be her child’s father made so little sense. What if her son or daughter inherited his habit of mixing his food together on the plate before eating because he liked the way it all tasted together? That drove her crazy. She hated it when the different types of food touched each other.
Would her baby be cursed by his carefree nature and impulsiveness? His love of danger and enthusiasm for risk taking?
Or blessed with his flirtatious grin, overpowering charisma, leadership skills and athletic ability.
For someone who thought everything through, it now occurred to her that she’d settled too fast on Jason for her baby’s father. As much as she’d insisted that he wouldn’t be tied either legally or financially to the child, she hadn’t considered how her child would be part of him.
“I would prefer my conception to be fast and efficient,” she countered.
“Why not start off slow and explore where it takes us?”
Ming’s tongue went numb. Her emotions simmered in a pot of anticipation and anxiety.
“I’m going to need to think about it.”
“Take your time.” If he was disappointed by her indecisiveness, he gave no indication. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Three days passed without any contact from Ming. Was she considering his proposal or had she rejected the idea and was too angry at his presumption to speak to him? He shouldn’t care what she chose. Either she said yes and he could have the opportunity to satisfy his craving for her, or she would refuse and he’d get over the fantasy of her moaning beneath him.
“Jason? Jason?” Max’s shoulder punch brought Jason back to the racetrack. “Geez, man, where the hell’s your head today?”
Cars streaked by, their powerful engines drowning out his unsettling thoughts. It was Saturday afternoon. He and Max were due to race in an hour. Driving distracted at over a hundred miles an hour was a recipe for trouble.
“Got something I didn’t resolve this week.”
“It’s not like you to worry about work with the smell of gasoline and hot rubber on the wind.”
Max’s good-natured ribbing annoyed Jason as much as his slow time in the qualifying round. Or maybe more so because it wasn’t work that preoccupied Jason, but a woman.