The wide pools of emerald green—so bold, so brave—sparkled with unshed tears, and the connection he’d denied so strenuously cracked the impenetrable wall he’d built around his heart.
“If you’re a slut, how come you were a virgin last night?” he demanded.
He was furious, he realized, not just with Lloyd Whittaker—who he was sure had planted this nasty little seed in her head—but also with himself for helping it grow with his self-serving response to her sweet, artless seduction five years ago and his equally crummy note that morning.
“I tried to control myself, but with you I just couldn’t anymore,” she murmured. “And I never could.”
His grip tightened at the reminder he was the only guy she had ever let touch her.
“That’s why I came on to you when I was nineteen.” Her gaze darted away. “And why I seduced you yesterday.” She sighed, the sound so dejected the wall took another hit.
He tucked a knuckle under her chin and nudged her gaze back to his. “You wanna know why I got so mad with you when you tried to kiss me five years ago?” It was time to come clean about that much at least.
“I know why,” she said. “Because the last thing you needed was some spoiled brat making your job even harder.”
“Nope. I got mad because I wanted to kiss you back so bad. And I knew if I did I wouldn’t be able to stop.”
Her eyes widened in stunned disbelief.
Damn, but she was more innocent than he’d figured. His blood surged south. Why that should make her even more irresistible, he didn’t want to examine too closely.
“And you didn’t seduce me yesterday, I seduced you.” Which made his crummy note hypocritical at best.
Just like five years ago, he’d tried to slam the stable door shut after the stallion had bolted. And then put the blame on her.
Great job, Caine. That makes you as much of a bastard as her old man.
“But I don’t understand...” she murmured. “If you wanted to kiss me that night why did you—”
“Shh.” He pressed his thumb to her lips, then let it glide over her mouth.
He cradled her face in his palms. The quick catch in her breathing had him fixating on that lush mouth.
“How about I show you how much I wanted to kiss you?”
The tiny nod was all the permission he needed to cover her lips with his. The kiss was supposed to be gentle, an apology for the way he had treated her then and now. But when her mouth opened instinctively, the yearning to have her again shattered the last of his control and the kiss turned carnal in a heartbeat.
He plunged his fingers into her wild curls and she arched against him, her tongue tangling with his as she surrendered.
God help him, but not even his knowledge of how vulnerable she was could stop him from taking what she offered.
* * *
Katie feasted on his kiss, rubbing her belly against the ridge of his erection. Arousal flared and need flooded through her. She sobbed her encouragement as his lips traveled down to the pulse-point in her neck.
One hot palm covered her breast and the tip engorged in a rush, painful in its intensity. She bucked, cried out. But then he tore his mouth away and stepped back abruptly.
“We have to stop,” he said, the fierce regret in his face leaving her shaky and unsure. “I have to get back to work.”
She folded her arms around her midriff and nodded. It was an excuse, and not a very good one at that, but as she took in their surroundings—the fresh flowers laid on the g
raves of the dead—she had to be grateful that he had brought them to their senses. Following him meekly out of the graveyard, she climbed back aboard the bike, her lips still stinging from the all-consuming kiss.
* * *
“You okay to get back to the villa from here?” Jared asked when they arrived at the place Katie had left the gardener’s scooter.
“Yes.” She nodded, so dazed she wasn’t sure she knew which planet she was on let alone how to get back to the villa. But after that soul-destroying kiss she needed time to get her equilibrium back.