Tag pulled her closer and caught her other elbow so she had to face him. “I am not about to quit on you. I like my job, and I like you. Probably more than I should.”
“I…What?” Whether she meant to or not, her hands wrapped around his forearms and held tight like she feared falling over.
“It’s terrible. You’re my boss. Kayla, I know that. And I had a crush on you for years before you ever hired me. But getting to know you, the real you, when you let me in, changed that. I don’t think it’s a crush any longer.”
“This isn’t nice,” she whispered. Tears glimmered at the edge of her eyes. When she blinked, several shimmered on her long lashes. “Don’t tease me like that.”
“I’m not teasing.” He released one of her elbows to brush aside a tear with his thumb. “That ‘Hot for Teacher’ line was crass and stupid. It also wasn’t entirely true. Yeah, I’m hot for teacher, but I’m more impressed with who you are.”
“You don’t—you can’t—I…” She took several deep breaths and her eyes fluttered closed. After a moment she let out a choked laugh. “I can’t even form a sentence.”
“You just did.” The breath he’d been holding released when she laughed in reply. “I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have—”
“Eve and I used to call you jail bait.” In a good sign, she still hadn’t released her grip on his arm, and she hadn’t moved away. “I knew it was dangerous hiring you. I just didn’t realize that it was dangerous because of more than your looks. I think you’re a good guy. I honestly didn’t believe those existed.”
“I’m glad you see me that way. Is there a ‘but’ to that statement?”
“Let me count the ways.” She took a deep breath, and started talking fast. “I’m ten years older; I’m seriously messed up; I don’t trust anyone, not even my friends. I’m also not very good at relationships. Never was. Just because I was married means nothing. In fact, it might have made me worse. And last, but not least, I am your boss and I can’t get sued for sexual harassment. I have no money.”
“Breathe, Kayla.” He released her other elbow and wrapped his arms fully around her. “First off, I told you age doesn’t matter. Second, I know you don’t trust easy, and I know you’re messed up. Third, no relationship is the same. Lastly, I am not going to sue you. If anything I was harassing you a little bit.”
“So you were flirting with me? All this time?”
“You bet your sweet little ass I was.”
“This could be a really huge mistake, Owen. I don’t know that I can handle any more of those in my life.” Her lips drew together in a small ‘O’ and she blew out a long breath.
“It could be, but how about this? It’s not a relationship. We’ll just take it a day at a time and see where it goes. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t.”
“I’m really messed up. So much more than you know. You’ve got so much ahead of you. You shouldn’t be thinking about trying anything with someone so jaded.”
“Maybe I like that you’re jaded.”
Her forehead puckered. “Then you’re messed up.”
“So we’ll be messed up together.” He was rewarded with the sweet sound of her laugh. With one finger hooked under her chin, he tilted her head up. “We’ll try. All I ask is if you have a problem, tell me—and give me the benefit of the doubt.”
“I’ll promise to try.”
“I’ll take it for now.” He bent toward her, close enough to hear her sharp intake of breath when he got close to her lips. A smile took over in the instant before he pulled her into a slow, soft kiss.
Her lips were soft and inviting, drawing him after only a moment’s hesitation. The sweet taste of cotton candy lingered, and he brushed his tongue across the seam of her lips. Her small gasp granted him the chance he wanted and he swept his tongue through her warm mouth.
The cold chill of the evening was replaced with growing warmth as her arms wrapped around him and she relaxed against his body. Her every response to his kiss was tentative, and he tried to keep himself in check, even as each simple brush of her tongue against his drove him crazy with need.
He retreated slowly from the sweet taste of cotton candy and strawberries that was her kiss and pressed his forehead to hers. “I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”
“The feeling’s mutual.”
“What else have you wanted to do?” Once again he was rewarded with the deep hues of a blush. “God, you’re gorgeous when you blush.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are. Why do you think I try to make it happen so much?”
She bit her lips and shook her head.
“At least now I know I’m not the only one with fantasies.”
down by her three special needs kids and loving mate, so she breaks genre
barriers; dabbling in horror, straight fiction and urban fantasy. She loves
historicals and romance, and characters who are real and flawed, so she writes
to understand what makes her fictional people tick. And she lives for a happy
ending – eventually. And enough twists to make it look like she enjoys her
title of Queen of Trauma Drama a little too much.
interests that include singing, dancing, crafting, cooking, and being a photographer.
She fights through the struggles of the day, knowing the battles are her
crucible; she may emerge scarred, but always stronger. The rhythms to her
activities drive her words forward, pushing her through the labyrinths of the
heart and the nightmares of the mind, driving her to find resolutions to her
real to her as her own family, she leads an active online life with her blog,
Redefining Perfect, which gives a real and sometimes raw glimpse into her life
and art. You can most often find her popping out her 140 characters in Twitter
speak, and on Facebook.