This Time Forever
She wants him to want her—desperately—but without the inconvenience of wanting him back.
When Jake Caine walked out on Kelly Rawlins ten years ago, after taking her virginity and her faith in love, she put the whole affair behind her and went on with her life—or so she thought. Now Jake is back, and he seems determined to turn Kelly’s carefully ordered life upside down all over again.
Recently single, after being dumped by a man she intended to marry, Kelly begins to see all sorts of interesting possibilities in Jake’s unexpected return. Perhaps he is exactly what she needs to regain her sense of feminine power. She makes the bold decision to seduce him, and she plans to make him beg.
Jake Caine wants a second chance at love. Convinced Kelly is the perfect woman for him, he is thrilled when she reignites their passionate affair, until she makes it clear their relationship ends at the bedroom door. Committed to showing Kelly he wants more from her than sex, he begins to rebuff her advances.
But when Kelly responds by launching a no holds barred sensual ambush, will he be able to resist her? Will he break before he can convince her that, this time, he wants to love her forever?
Midnight was a mere few minutes away when Jake heard the key turn in the lock. He held still, sprawled beneath a blanket on the couch, and listened as Kelly crept into the apartment, the door closing behind her with a quiet click. When she appeared in the living room, she walked on tiptoes with her shoes clutched in one hand.
At her small intake of breath, he lowered the book he’d been pretending to read. “Good evening, gorgeous.”
She dropped her shoes on the floor and padded across the carpet in bare feet, her previous stealth forgotten. The pursed lips and narrowed eyes betrayed her annoyance at being caught trying to sneak past him.
“You’re up late,” she said, a hint of accusation underlying her words.
Jake gave a lazy smile, enjoying her subtle show of temper. He considered making up some flippant excuse for why he was still awake, but in the end, he decided it would be more fun to see what she did with the truth. “I was waiting for you.”
She hmphed, placing her hands on her hips. “Is that so?”
Jake drank in the sight of her as she stood there in front of the couch. Her denim jeans may as well have been painted on and the blue satin of her shirt hugged her breasts before falling in shimmering waves to her waist. Her long, blonde hair fell over her shoulders in disarray, like she’d run her hands through it too many times. His own fingers itched to do the same.
He’d expected to still be attracted to her, so the rush he’d felt when he saw her again for the first time hadn’t surprised him. But the strength of it, the intensity, that was a jolt to the system. She’d been beautiful before, now she was fucking phenomenal.
Not wanting to infuriate her with his ogling, he tossed aside the blanket and stood. “Now you’re here, how about joining me for a coffee?”
She opened her mouth to answer, but then he saw her eyes glaze over as they stroked his bare chest, lingering on the waistband of his jeans. He lifted an eyebrow in surprise. She might be acting the part of the ice queen, but she wasn’t any more immune to him than he was to her. The urge to satisfy the lust in her eyes washed over him and his body tightened in response, but he knew better than to try his luck so soon. Instead, he waved a hand at her.
“Hello, Kelly? Anybody home?”
“What?” Her gaze snapped back up to his face and her cheeks flooded with colour. “Coffee, right. Um… sure.”
Unable to resist teasing her, he closed the short distance between them. Her eyes widened at his approach, but she stood her ground. He stopped just short of touching her, his voice dropping to a quiet, husky murmur. “You’re still adorable when you blush.” Before she had a chance to form a no doubt scathing reply, he backed away and headed for the kitchen.
She followed him a few moments later. “Why were you waiting up for me, Jake?” Leaning back against the counter, she crossed her arms over her chest in a defensive manner, even as her lips curved in a mocking smile. “Did you want to make sure no one tried to follow me through the front door when I came home?”
Jake paused in the act of spooning instant coffee into two mugs. “Is that what happened?”
“What business is it of yours?”
When he glanced up and saw her eyes lit with amusement he knew she was baiting him, but he couldn’t help the twinge of jealousy twisting his gut at the idea of another man putting his hands on her. He was well aware he had no right to feel that way. His gut didn’t care.
“You still haven’t answered me,” Kelly reminded him. “What do you want?”
Oh, that was a loaded question. Right now, with her in that outfit, he only wanted one thing. Her. Bent over the counter. Moaning his name in ecstasy. Clearing his throat, he fought to keep his baser urges under control. “I figured this would be a good opportunity to catch up.”
He’d manipulated his way into her home with the sole intention of spending the evening in her company, scoping out her reaction to seeing him again. That plan was thwarted when she bolted out the door as fast as viably possible. But he was a patient man. He’d simply waited for her to come home again.
“Because the middle of the night is always the best time for idle chit-chat,” she said now, a wry smile creeping across her lips.
“It used to be.” Ignoring the way her spine straightened, he gestured to the sugar tin. “Lots of milk and half a teaspoon of sugar, right?”
A flicker of surprise crossed her features before she nodded. “I’m impressed.”
He shrugged. “I remember a lot of things about you.” He didn’t have to see her to know what she thought of that statement. She’d be rolling her eyes right about now.
“Yeah, right. Whatever.”
Yep, that’s where the eye roll would come in.
“No matter,” she added. “Coffee preferences aside, most of what you knew about me no longer applies.”
He looked up at her words. She was making a thorough inspection of her scarlet-tipped fingernails, as if their conversation wasn’t interesting enough to hold her full attention. That irked.
Bringing two hot mugs with him, he placed them on the counter behind her and leaned one hip against the edge, so he could study her profile. “I don’t know. Some things never change.”
She turned toward him with a sly smile. “Don’t count on it.” Her green eyes dropped to his lips, her head tilting slightly to one side as she leaned a fraction closer.
Her boldness surprised him, but he wasn’t about to complain. Then she began to trail one fingertip lightly along his collarbone and down over his chest. He hissed in a breath at the contact.
“I bet I could shock you.” Her sultry tone implied every dark fantasy he’d ever had about her could come true any time she felt like indulging him. His heart began to pound at the possibilities.
The musky scent of her perfume invaded his senses and he felt the urge to follow each and every tendril of fragrance back to its source. She bit at her bottom lip and he imagined himself soothing it with his tongue. What would she do if he tried?
“Go ahead,” he murmured, his voice husky with need. “Shock me.”