Shit. He knew. She swallowed hard and stared out into the night—until he turned her to face him.
“Lotti,” he said again, that same level of emotion in his voice.
“Don’t,” she whispered.
“I’m sorry,” he said huskily. “I should’ve seen it earlier. All this . . . it was for your wedding.”
“Well not the pizzas.”
He didn’t smile. “I hate that I put you in this position. It’s not too late, Lotti. You don’t have to do this.”
“It’s okay. Really.” She closed her eyes. “But I’d like to be alone now.”
“I get that, and I’d really like to give you what you want,” he said. “But I can’t. Not this time.”
At the empathetic tone in Sean’s voice, Lotti’s heart and stomach and head all clenched in unison. “What do you mean you can’t give me what I want?” she asked. “All you have to do is walk away.”
“Tried that already,” he said. “And it was the biggest mistake of my life.” He brought her hand up to his mouth and met her gaze over their entwined hands.
He was looking at her like . . . well, she wasn’t sure what was going on in his head, but her thoughts were racing along with her pulse.
“You’re incredible, Lotti. I hope you know that.” Very slowly, clearly giving her time to object, he pulled her into him.
Her breath caught at the connection and his eyes heated in response as he slid a hand up her spine and then back down again, pressing her in tight to him from chest to thighs and everywhere in between. His nose was cold at the crook of her neck, but his breath was warm against her skin. She felt his lips press against the sensitive spot just behind her ear and she shivered. “You’re trembling,” he said, his voice low. “Are you cold?”
“No,” she whispered. Try the opposite of cold . . .
“No.” Not even close. The way his mouth moved across her skin was making her warm all over. Not that she could articulate that with his body pressed to hers and his fingers dancing over her skin. She was literally quivering as the memories of what it felt like to be touched by him washed over her, as if no time at all had gone by.
Yes, she’d let him think that their time together had sucked for her. But it hadn’t. Not even close. That long-ago night he’d evoked feelings and a hunger in her that she’d never forgotten. “I’ve just had a long day,” she said.
“I know. I’m going to make it better.” He pressed a kiss at the juncture of her jaw and ear before he made his way to her lips for a slow, hot kiss, his mouth both familiar and yet somehow brand-new. She was so far gone that when he pulled back she protested with a moan, but he held her tight, staring down at her with heated eyes. “Just checking,” he murmured.
“That you want this as badly as I do.”
She sure as hell hadn’t meant to want him at all, but she fisted her hands in his shirt and yanked him back in. When he let out a soft laugh, she kissed him to shut him up. She shut herself up too as she lost herself in his kiss, in his touch as their hands grappled to get on each other, touching, caressing, possessing.
She’d have denied this until her dying day, but God she’d missed this, missed the feel of his mouth on hers, missed his hands on her body, missed him.
But she was no longer a clueless teenager, and neither was Sean. They were grownups with entirely different lives from each other. “I can’t,” she whispered and slowly opened her eyes to face his.
“Can’t?” he asked. “Or not interested?”
She hesitated, but then gave a slow shake of her head. “Not interested.”
Sean gave her fingers—the ones she’d dug into his biceps—a wry look.
She quickly dropped her hands. Okay, fine. She was interested. So very interested. And also dying of curiosity. Would this time feel different?
“I’ve changed,” he promised her. “Give me a chance, Lotti. Give us a chance.”
Unable to help herself, she touched his jaw, letting her fingers slide into his silky hair and for a beat, pressed close to him again. It’d be so easy to fall for him. Too easy. And knowing it, she stepped back. “I’ve changed too,” she said. “No more relationships for me. They don’t work out.”
She blinked. “How many what?”
“How many relationships haven’t worked out?” he asked.
“Two, an ex-boyfriend and ex-fiancé.”
“You’re not counting me?”
“Hard to count someone you only got naked with one time.”
He paused and then laughed softly. Mad, she turned away to go back inside but he caught her and pulled her around. He’d stopped laughing, which meant she didn’t have to kill him outright, but he was still smiling.
“I don’t appreciate you laughing at me,” she said stiffly.
“I’m not laughing at you,” he said. “You’re amazing. I’m laughing at myself. We’ve both been relationship shy. You, because I hurt you. Me, because I’m the idiot who hurt you. Please give me another chance, Lotti.”
She shook her head. “No. I’m over that. I’m going to Cabo to drink fancy cocktails and smell like coconut sunscreen and to have a one-night stand with no strings.”
He stared down into her eyes, no longer laughing. Or smiling. “I know I have no right to ask, but do you trust me, even a little?”
“I don’t know.” She stared at him right back. “Maybe a very little tiny spark.”
“I’ll take that.” He gave her a quick kiss that was no less heart-stopping than his previous one. “Give me fifteen minutes. I’ll meet you at your apartment.”
But he was already gone.
You’re not going to do it, she told herself. No way. She hadn’t been expecting him. At all. In fact, many times over the years she’d told herself to forget him.
But she hadn’t. Not even a little bit.
Fifteen minutes later Lotti climbed the stairs to her apartment.
“You’re late!” Peaches yelled as she entered.
She ignored the parrot for a moment, Sean’s earlier words floating in her brain.
Do you trust me, even just a little?
She still wasn’t sure but her apartment was lit with candles flickering on every surface. He’d somehow come up with two large cutouts of palm trees, which were on either side of her bed. There were blue and green scarves on top of her lampshades, giving the entire place the feel of . . . water.
Sean stood in the center of the room wearing board shorts and a T-shirt that advertised some surf shop in Mexico. No shoes and a pair of sunglasses shoved up on his head. He was holding a pitcher of what looked like strawberry margaritas and a bottle of coconut suntan oil.
“What’s all this?” she asked.
“Take out the trash!” Peaches yelled.
Sean slid a look at the parrot. “We discussed this,” he told the bird. “You were going to let me do the talking.”
“All you want is sex!” Peaches squeaked. “I need it to mean something!”
Lotti strode across the room, took a blue silk scarf off one of the lamps, and covered Peaches’s cage. “Say goodnight, Peaches.”