Heat of Passion
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“I’m sorry,” Carson said softly, running his fingers along her cheek.
“Me too. I miss her. And after she died, I got cast into the Mom role. I’m the youngest, for God’s sake, and yet somehow I have to take care of everyone else. So that’s what I wanted to forget, okay? I just wanted one night where I didn’t have to think about my family, or work, or being responsible and good. I wanted to be selfish and wild and bad.”
Holly shook her head in irritation. “I still want that. And you being here makes me want it even more. The night with you was the best time I’ve had in so long.”
She couldn’t believe she was spilling her guts to him, but it felt good letting it all out. For two years she’d focused on making sure everyone in her family was happy, and she was tired of it. Why couldn’t she think about her own happiness for once? What she wanted?
And perplexing as it was, what she wanted at the moment was Carson. She didn’t know anything about him, only that he was in the Navy, that he was drop-dead gorgeous, and that he had the power to set her body on fire. Did she really need to know anything more?
A strange sense of liberation flooded her body as her brain informed her that no, she didn’t. She was twenty-four years old, damn it. She was allowed to have a casual fling that didn’t lead to a relationship. Because at the moment, she didn’t want a relationship. Her last one had scarred her pretty badly, and besides, she was busy with work, busy with culinary school, busy playing mother hen to her family.
But that didn’t mean she had to be too busy for sex.
“I think…” She moistened her dry lips and met his gaze. “I think maybe we should have a fling.”
He raised his eyebrows. “A fling?”
Uncertainty tugged at her belly. “An affair then? I’m not sure what people call it, you know, not dating, but, um, spending a couple of weeks having sex with someone…”
“So you want to have sex with me, but not date me?”
A pained expression creased his handsome face. “Well, then, that might be a problem.”
She fought back disappointment. “Why?”
“Because I’m not really interested in flings anymore.” Carson’s jaw tensed. “After the night at the club, I decided I’m not that kind of guy anymore.”
“What kind of guy?”
He frowned. “The kind who screws random strangers in closets.” He shook his head, looking upset. “I’ve done the casual thing all my life and I think it’s time to stop it.” Something that resembled vulnerability flashed across his eyes. “I want to go on a date with you.”
He shot her a cute grin and shrugged. “Because I like you. You’re…well, you’re kind of weird.”
She bristled. “Thanks.”
“In a good way,” he added quickly. “I mean, you’re gorgeous, sure, but there’s something else that draws me to you. Maybe it’s that good girl image you’re determined to lose. And you’re funny, and interesting, and…I don’t know, I just wouldn’t mind getting to know you.”
She had no response. It was really sweet, everything he was saying, but she wasn’t sure she wanted sweet right now. The night she’d slept with Carson, she hadn’t been sweet. Naughty, maybe. Reckless, sure. But not sweet.
And a date? That was the last thing she wanted right now. She’d just gotten out of a six-month relationship, one she’d poured so much time and energy into—for nothing. At the moment, dating again sounded way too tiring, and she was tired enough as it was. Sex, she could handle. But not a new romance. Not when her heart was still recovering from Steve.
“So what do you say?” Carson asked, looking oddly nervous.
She felt awful, but she had to tell the truth. “I don’t want to start dating anyone right now. I recently got out of a relationship. I’m swamped with work and the culinary course I’m taking. I just want…fun.”
“You mean sex,” he said flatly.
She sighed. “Yes.”
He shoved his hands in his pockets and gave her a rueful look. “Then I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”
She rolled her eyes. “Sure you can. Just do me again.”
A faint smile broke through the serious expression on his face, but it faded quickly. “I’m serious, Holly. I want something different this time around.”
They’d reached an impasse. She could see it. But she could also see the glimmer of desire in his blue eyes.
Maybe if she gave him a tiny little push…
Licking her lips, she stepped forward and rested both palms on his impossibly broad shoulders. “Are you sure I can’t change your mind?”
He was a lot taller than her and she had to tilt her head fully to look into his eyes. The desire she’d seen there had deepened the moment she’d touched him. Fueled by the obvious attraction, she leaned up on her tiptoes and brushed her lips over his.