Damn, what was he going to do with this woman?
He had never found innocence a turn-on before. But he had to admit with Katherine it had always been a factor. The woman was a mass of contradictions—bold and provocative one minute and then strangely unsure the next.
Was that why she had always fascinated him?
Solving puzzles had always given him a rush. It was one of the things that had driven him to set up his own security agency—once Dario had hauled him out of the gutter and shown him a better way. It was a beautiful irony that the skills he’d learned on the street had eventually helped to make him a model citizen—and a very rich man.
Perhaps his fascination with Katherine was nothing more than an extension of that.
She’d always frustrated and intrigued him—even as a mouthy nineteen-year-old. Add in the insane sexual chemistry that had just flared out of control and it created a potent cocktail.
“What’s so funny?” she asked stiffly, confusion and insecurity replaced by indignation, which only captivated him more.
“I’m not going to make love to you again tonight,” he said. Or not in a way that would make her more sore, he corrected himself. He couldn’t make any guarantees he would be able to keep his hands off her entirely.
“I just want to make sure you’re all right.”
The blush softened, and her eyes were shadowed by surprise, but also an emotion that struck him deep in the chest. Gratitude.
Why would she settle for so little?
His ribs tightened. He ignored the feeling. Plumping the pillows against the headboard, he lay down beside her and slung his arm around her shoulder.
She snuggled close to his side, resting her head on his arm, the shuddering sigh full of relief. He wasn’t a snuggler—he never cuddled after sex because he’d never seen the point. But once again he found himself beguiled, oddly humbled by the ease with which she had accepted his comfort. Why would she trust him, he wondered, when he was the opposite of trustworthy where she was concerned?
She pressed a hand to his chest and wound her fingers absently in the hair there. The familiar heat triggered in his groin.
He flattened his hand over hers. “Go to sleep,” he heard himself say, the selflessness of the gesture surprising even him.
There were so many things he still wanted to do to her. And so many questions he wanted to ask. But he remained silent, knowing the answers might deepen the strange sense of connection.
As she relaxed against him in sleep, the robe fell open, giving him a tantalizing glimpse of one flushed breast, the nipple rouged by his earlier attention.
The need pooled in his groin, intensifying the ache, the urge to draw the rigid peak into his mouth again and suck the same livewire response from her all but unbearable. But instead of waking her up, and bringing them both to another shattering orgasm, he found himself lying there in a state of purgatory and staring at the night sky through the terrace doors.
He had a golden rule, a rule he had never broken before now, had never even had the desire to break. He never slept with any woman for more than one night. But he already knew one night with Katherine would never be enough.
KATIE AWOKE THE next morning with a start to find herself alone. In her own bed. Sights, sounds and sensations bombarded her from the night before. She might almost have believed it was another erotic dream as she lay in the bright, airy room, the sun streaming through the balcony doors, but for the tenderness between her thighs and the oversize bathrobe she was still swaddled in.
Jared’s mouth hot on her breast, his penis hard and thick as he entered her, the all-consuming orgasm which had swept through her... And afterward the shock, the concern and—so much more devastating to her peace of mind—that tantalizing glimpse of the man behind the facade.
For a moment as he’d held her afterward she’d felt so secure, so safe.
She blinked, the sting of tears in the back of her throat almost as concerning as the melting sensation in her core.
She crawled out of bed and headed to the bathroom as numerous other niggling aches and pains made their presence felt. The scalding-hot shower went some way to restoring her equilibrium, or at least a semblance of it. But she still felt off-kilter.
She’d spent so long trying to suppress her mother’s legacy that on some weird subliminal level she’d simply assumed she would be able to sleep with Jared and forget about it. The way her mother had done with so many men.
The vague recollection of him carrying her back to her own room, and her sleepy attempts to get him to stay, made her shiver as she soaped her hair and tested the tenderness in her breasts.
How could she not have realized sex would be so...well, so intimate?
She tugged on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, the shaky feeling returning as she recalled the look on Jared’s face when he’d come back out of the bathroom.
If she was reluctant to need a white knight, Jared was considerably more reluctant to be one.