-Heather Van Fleet, author of the Reckless Hearts seriesSmart and fun, with a rocking voice, A CRUEL KIND OF BEAUTIFUL will keep your heart racing until the end. -Katie Golding, author of Order Up
“You keep saying you shouldn’t have a relationship, so why are you even here?”
His Adam’s apple bobs, and for the first time since he woke up in my bed, his confidence falters. “I…” His shoulders tighten, and I can all but see the wheels in his engineer’s brain cranking to life. But a long moment passes, then two. A chill of dread is starting to creep along my fingers before he finally answers. “I can’t help it.”
My breath explodes out, the relief turning it into something like a laugh. “What? Jesus, with a pause that long, I thought you were about to confess something about wanting to make a lamp out of my skin.”
He doesn’t laugh, his eyes dark and still as he watches me. “You’re right. I shouldn’t be chasing after you. I’ve got a ton of family responsibilities I didn’t have a year ago. A girl like you deserves somebody who can put her first, and as much as I want to, I can’t promise you that. I can’t even take you on a decent date, because the only jobs with a flexible enough schedule for me don’t pay worth crap and I’m pretty much always broke.”
The tiny lines of sadness are back at the edges of his eyes, and it’s almost like he’s asking for my forgiveness.
“I know I shouldn’t, but there’s something about you. I can’t…help it.”
This man. Dear God, this man.
“Neither can I,” I whisper.
He takes a step closer, and when I don’t move away, he lifts my hair back over my shoulders, the strands brushing over my neck seeming like a caress just because he’s the one moving them. “Are you saying yes?” Guilt and hope war in his eyes, and I know he must see the same thing in me.
“You let me make you some soup before you have to go.”
He exhales and then lays a kiss, very softly, on my right cheekbone. Even that small touch sends a flash of heat through me so fast I’m left lightheaded. I never had a prayer of telling him no. Not in person. Not when he touches me like that.
“I have a condition, too.”
Nervousness twists under my breastbone. “Okay. Please tell me it doesn’t involve exotic sex toys.”
“The fact that you look worried tells me you have a lot to learn about sex toys. Don’t worry, though, this is perfectly innocent. If you get to make me soup, I get to make you dinner.” He straightens and takes a deep breath. “At my house.”
My eyes narrow. “Why’d you say it like that?”
His gaze flicks away, and then he puts on a quick smile. “Well, once you see my apartment, you might be overcome with lust and want to experiment with exotic sex toys. I’m just bracing myself.”