EXCERPT: RETURN TO ME
A year earlier
“Would mademoiselle care for more wine?”
Samara blinked up at the waiter, a little surprised he’d had to ask. Couldn’t he recognize when a woman wanted to get rip-snorting drunk? She nodded emphatically, wondering vaguely why her neck felt so loose on her head.
“No, mademoiselle would not care for more wine.”
The masculine, somewhat harsh voice disturbed her pleasant fog. She glared hazily up at Noah McCall. Or Beautiful Jerk, as she’d come to call him in her mind. He merely shot her a condescending, knowing look that rattled her down to her four-inch stiletto heels. Just who did he think he was?
“Mademoiselle would most certainly like another drink. Who do you think—”
A large, male hand covered the top of her glass to prevent the waiter from carrying out her wishes. Samara stared at that hand. Swarthy dark skin, slightly raised veins and a scattering of ink black hair. All in all, a very nice hand. Why didn’t it belong to a nice man?
He pulled a chair close to hers and sat down beside her. “Come on, sweetheart. I think it’s time for a long summer’s nap for you. As tiny as you are, one more drink and I’ll be picking you up on the floor.”
Samara gave him the glare she’d practiced on her brothers, a little disappointed when he just grinned at her…just like her brothers often had. Well hell, she’d just lost one man and now, this handsome hunk was treating her like his kid sister. For a woman who’d always been fairly confident in her powers of attracting men, her ego had taken some major bruising lately.
Needing to reassert herself as a sexy, desirable woman, Samara took the hand that had covered her wine glass and held it between her hands. She turned it over and ran her finger in a soft, zigzag movement down the inside of his palm.
The hand closed on her finger. Samara gasped and looked up at him, losing all breath. Desire, hot and potent, promising her endless hours of pulse pounding pleasure, burned in his eyes. Then, as if a wave of cold water hit him, the heat disappeared and cool arrogance returned.
Samara snatched her hand back and stood. The room blurred, spun and then settled into a surreal, fuzzy setting. She grasped the table with her fingers, refusing to acknowledge that if someone so much as pushed her with a fingertip, she’d keel over.
A loud sigh drew her gaze back to the table. Noah’s too perfect mouth lifted into one of the sexiest smiles she’d ever seen. Knowledge hit her, causing another wave of dizziness. She wanted him. It was as simple and unadorned as that. The thought sobered her quickly. Could she do this? Actually have sex with a man she didn’t like and was quite certain that if she knew him more, she’d like him even less? Her entire body throbbed with the answer…an unequivocal yes.
Hanging on to the table with one hand, she held out the other to Noah. She was a little bewildered when he just stared at it without taking it. Then, shockwaves pulsed through her when he took her hand and stood beside her.
Drawing her to side, he tucked his arm around her waist, his big hand rested just below her breast. Samara leaned against him with a sigh of sheer, unadulterated pleasured-filled relief. His body, hard, warm and reassuringly masculine, felt delicious.
As he guided her between tables, she barely noticed the amused and curious faces they passed. If she’d been more sober and aware, she might have been embarrassed to be almost carried through the restaurant. Instead, she felt only abject relief that they were leaving as the incredible anticipation for what was about to happen mounted.
Noah led her outside and a taxi appeared before them. He nudged her into the backseat and then slid in beside her. His arm came around her shoulders again. Groaning softly, Samara snuggled deeper under his arm and rubbed her face against his jacket. He smelled delicious…clean, masculine musk. A strong surge of heat flushed her body.
Closing her eyes, she was surprised to feel herself drifting off and blinked her heavy eyelids rapidly, not wanting to miss one second of this glorious feeling. Since staying awake was imperative, she decided one of the best ways to do this was to kiss him. No way would she fall asleep with those delicious lips on hers. Cupping his cheek in her hand, she brought his head down to her level and pressed her mouth against his.
His lips…soft but firm, and incredibly arousing, tasted of the dark chocolate mousse he’d had for dessert. He allowed her to press little kisses against his mouth and then with what sounded like a soft curse, he turned her body, pressed her against the seat, and set his mouth on hers. Heaven. His mouth ate at her, moving ravenously, he swallowed her groan of arousal as she sank deeper into his arms. When his tongue teased at her lips, asking for entrance, Samara obliged.
With the first plunge of his tongue, any semblance of grogginess disappeared. He made love to her mouth. His tongue plunged, retreated, licked at her lips and then plunged once more. Over, then over again. Never…ever…had she thought she could become aroused and close to orgasm by a kiss alone. Dear, sweet heavens. This man knew how to kiss!
The kiss ended as abruptly as it had started. One minute, she was rounding a curve, the sun hot, glowing, heating her skin, headed straight to paradise and the next second, everything came to an abrupt, screeching stop.
She blinked her eyes open. Noah’s hard, midnight gaze burned into her like a laser, but she was gratified to hear him panting slightly.
“What’s wrong?” Her voice was low, thick with arousal.
He jerked his head at the window. “We’re here. Get out.” The words were like chunks of ice and ground from him as if he had to dig them out with an ice pick.
Reality and embarrassment slammed down on her. Before she could respond, he tilted her chin with his finger and brought her gaze up to his. “Samara Lyons, you are a dangerous woman.”
Taking her hand, he helped her out of the taxi. Stumbling a little in her heels, she held tightly to his hand as he pulled her toward the heavy glass doors of the hotel entrance.
Samara didn’t know what to think. First he’d acted disgusted with her, then as turned on as any man could be. Then he turned cold and unemotional. Now he was treating her like the overprotective brother again.
At least now, after all that, she was much more sober. Hell of it was, she still wanted him. The alcohol had loosened her inhibitions, but they hadn’t made her want this man. If she were honest with herself, she’d admit she had wanted him from the beginning.
Noah led her into a crowded elevator, his arm once again draped over her shoulder as if he were concerned she’d collapse at his feet. He thought she was still tipsy and she took advantage of that to lean into him. Had a man ever felt this wonderful against her body before?
When the elevator stopped, Noah maneuvered her around the people in the elevator and led her onto her floor. A curious thought hit her when he stopped at her hotel room door. Not once had she told him where she was staying, what floor she was on and certainly not her room number. How had he known that?
Once inside the room, he closed the door and released her.
Samara turned toward him, wanting more than anything to wrap herself in his arms again and relive the magic she’d experienced much too briefly moments ago.
Without warning, Noah scooped her into his arms and carried her across the room. Thinking he meant to settle her on the bed and follow her down, Samara giggled at such an amorous move. Though he hadn’t seemed the type, she appreciated the romanticism.
In an unceremonious and undignified move, he dumped her on the bed. Her body had barely stopped bouncing before he kissed her forehead and growled, “Watch how much you drink next time.”
Stunned, she watched as he strode across the room. Her lips finally unfroze just as he opened the door. “Where are you going?”
Without looking at her, he snapped, “Home.”
“But…but…why? I thought you wanted…”
Finally, he turned toward her and her heart shriveled. The cold smirk was back in place. “Have a good flight home.” He walked out, shutting the door quietly behind him.
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