Reckless In Love
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James obviously immediately noticed something was off between the two of them, but Drew wasn’t going to kiss and tell, and he definitely didn’t want James to say anything to Ashley that would make her any more uncomfortable than she already was.
Now he was finally with her again at a TV station in Phoenix. She looked beautiful, but pale, as if she hadn’t slept much better than he had. Which was to say, barely at all.
All day long he’d been trying to figure out what to say to her when they were finally together again. I’m sorry wasn’t right. I wish I’d never made your father that promise wouldn’t work either.
Drew had never second-guessed himself like this before. On the contrary, his decisions, his path forward, had always been obvious to him. But now, not only was his music tying him up in knots, but so were his feelings for Ashley.
The station was in a historic four-story building downtown. He’d toured through here before and when he saw the interest in Ashley’s eyes as they got out of the town car, Drew said, “I heard that the building was built as a love letter from a poor man who had nothing more to his name than his hammer to the wealthy magnate’s daughter who was off-limits to him.” At this point, he would take any excuse to get Ashley to talk to him again, even if it was just about some building in Phoenix.
For a moment she seemed to forget to keep her distance. “What happened to them? Did they fall in love?” In the moment their eyes met, heat sizzled between them just as much as it had on the beach.
“The night before she was to marry the wealthy fiancé that her father had chosen for her, but that she didn’t love, she went to tell the builder she would run away with him. But when she got there, she found him lying on the floor, unconscious from a piece of cement that had hit him on the head.”
Too late, Drew realized that he should have kept the sad story of star-crossed lovers to himself, because instead of opening up more, she said, “That’s really sad. Sometimes I guess people really aren’t meant to be together.”
The next time he looked into her eyes, it was as if she’d pulled shutters down over her emotions.
Damn it, for a moment there he’d thought that she might be about to open up to him again. And even though he understood why she was wary—there was no way to sugar-coat the way he’d flat-out rejected the offer she’d made last night—frustration was still eating him up from the inside by the time they stepped into the lobby and the elevator came to take them up to the fourth floor.
James waited for Ashley and Drew to get in before saying, “Looks like a pretty tight fit in there. I’ll take the stairs.”
Ashley quickly said, “There’s plenty of room,” but by then the doors had closed, leaving the two of them alone in the small space.
Drew didn’t want to make things even worse, but he couldn’t stop himself from asking, “Did you sleep okay?”
She didn’t quite look at him as she paused for a long moment. “I—”
Before she could say anything more, the elevator suddenly jolted to a stop...and then the lights went out.
“Ash?” He instinctively reached for her hand. Damn, it was dark in here. “Are you okay?”
“I’m okay,” she replied, but her voice sounded a little shaky, and she was holding pretty tightly to his hand.
“I’m sure they’ll have the elevator up and running again in just a second. I’ll text James to let him know we’re stuck, just in case they haven’t figured it out yet.”
“Great.” But, again, she didn’t sound particularly great.
As he pulled out his phone and sent the text without letting go of her hand, she took out her own and turned on the onboard flashlight. But even with the light on, her breath seemed to be coming a little faster. “I’m not always great in small, enclosed spaces.”
“I’ve got you, Ash,” he said in a gentle voice as he drew her closer. “Just close your eyes and we can pretend we’re somewhere else.” He was glad when she wrapped her arms around him. Nothing had ever felt as good, or as right, as having Ashley in his arms.
“Back in the Valley of Fire.”
He stroked her hair, then her back. She smelled amazing, like the lavender and roses in his parents’ backyard. And she was his perfect fit absolutely everywhere.
Don’t stop, Drew. I want this. I want you.
Oh hell, he needed to stop thinking about what could have happened if his goddamned honor hadn’t stopped him from tearing off her clothes last night. But focusing on how much he wanted Ashley wouldn’t help her right now, so he tried to take her back to the Valley of Fire in her mind.
“The sun is bright yellow. The sky is blue. And the sand is that incredible red.”
She moved closer, her breath warm against his neck. “Ever since that day you showed it to me, I dream of it.”
“I dream of you.” In the small, dark space, the words came before he could yank them back, and he couldn’t stop himself from brushing his lips over the top of her head. “Every night.”
He was holding her closely enough that he could feel the rise and fall of her chest and hear her soft gasp of awareness at his words. If she had any idea just how sexy his dreams were...