Chapter 8 (2 parts)/WARNING
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|Tue, 06-17-2003 - 1:04am|
Hey Ladies! Now, technically, it has been four days. If you go by EST, technically it IS tomorrow. Lol Sorry, couldn’t wait. Looking for anything and everything. I promise to get to everyone’s stories that were posted today tomorrow.
For the next six days, that’s exactly what they did. They went back to their lives, to their routines, pretended nothing had happened.
Six days Cecelia spent coming to terms with her attraction to her best friend, and, once she did, trying to set it aside and get over it. So they really could move past this and go back to the way they were.
Because she desperately missed her best friend. Missed being able to go to him whenever she needed someone, to talk to him, to cuddle with him as they lazed around on a Saturday night at his place watching a movie. Missed feeling so comfortable with him she didn’t hesitate to stay the night with him, sleeping wrapped in his embrace.
She missed that special connection she felt with him. He held a place in her heart no one else would ever fill, and it killed her that they might have lost that.
But for six frustrating days she failed. Miserably. All because Kyle had called her in the mornings before she left for work. He’d called to chat, to see how she was doing, or so he always said. All her mind ever concentrated on was his deep, rich voice, still husky from sleep. How that voice made her tremble with need. How it brought memories of his mouth searing her skin wherever it touched. How his hands set her body on fire and made her ache in a way she’d never felt before.
On the seventh day, her day off, she stopped answering the phone, and decided she needed a major distraction. So she immersed herself in trying to dig up her past. But since Kyle had refused to help, she hadn’t the foggiest idea where to start.
Over the years, she’d gotten the distinct impression that her adoptive grandmother had known more than she let on, because, like Kyle, she refused to even discuss the subject of her parents. So today, she decided to start her search in Gran’s room.
Gran had died a little over two years ago, but Cecelia had yet to put her things away. Besides Kyle—and even that was iffy these days—Gran had been the only family she had. The only link to her past. She just couldn’t bear to part with her belongings, for them not to be out where she could see them, touch them.
That afternoon found Cecelia seated atop the white lace bedspread on Gran’s four-poster oak bed, her chest aching with the loneliness that had seeped inside. She looked down at the porcelain doll in her arms, with her neat blonde hair and the red bow that matched her velvet dress. A family heirloom of sorts, something Gran’s mother had given her when she was a child. Gran had given to her the first day she’d come to live here.
With a wistful smile, she clutched the doll tighter to her chest and turned her gaze to the faded yellow wallpaper, dotted soft pink roses. She’d spent the morning in here, going through everything, slowly putting things in boxes, but had yet to find anything that even hinted at her past. Her hopes were still high, though. She had the attic to go through yet.
The shrill of the broken doorbell drew her out of her reverie, a sound that reminded her of a sick cow. She set the doll on the bed and rose. With one last look around the room, she closed the door behind her and trotted downstairs. Just as she reached the bottom, the bell rang again, and she hurried to the door before the person on the other side could press the button again.
The instant she yanked the door open, her feet froze in their spot on the polished hardwood floor.
Kyle. He stood leaning a shoulder against the frame, his left hand shoved deep into the pocket of his jeans, appearing all too relaxed and casual, like he could stand there all day.
And looked sexier than any man had a right to in faded, hip-hugging jeans. All too well she recalled his rear-end in the torturous denim. His dark blue T-shirt, the kind with the police department logo on the left breast, was by far the worst, though. The blasted thing molded itself to his upper body, teasing her by showing off every bulging muscle, every hill and valley. Making her remember how that body had felt pressed against hers, how she longed to be there again, to discover every nuance of it.
Her heart thundered in her ears, her temperature skyrocketing as liquid heat replaced the blood in her veins. God, did he have to look so…delicious?
“You didn’t answer the phone this morning,” he said, one shoulder hitching, as though that alone was reason enough for him to come over. Which, she admitted reluctantly, it normally would have been.
Before he’d kissed her, before she’d become aware of him as a man. A spectacular man with a touch that made all the secret places of her body ache.
She glanced up at him, regretting the decision the instant their gazes connected. As she stared into his eyes, those blue-gray orbs that had the power lately to make her shiver and overheat at the same time, she saw it. The barest hint of heat, of the strong attraction neither of them could deny but neither was willing to admit either. It simmered in the depths, subdued, as if he tried to hide it, but undeniable all the same.
The air between them sizzled with an aching awareness, with electricity that begged her closer. His gaze lazily trailed down the length of her body, an innocent action, she told herself. An action she felt as surely as if he’d touched her, which melted her insides, made her breath catch then grow rapid and shallow. She shuddered with the force of the desire that slaked through her. Every second that ticked by her body grew weaker, until her knees felt like rubber.
“I was, um, up in Gran’s room, going through her belongings.” She ran a hand over her hair, and cringed inwardly, praying it looked better than it felt.
Then cursed herself for even thinking it. Two weeks ago, she wouldn’t have cared. Over the years, Kyle had seen her looking far worse than this. He’d seen her through chicken pox and colds and flu’s and Gran’s death, when she’d been at her absolute worst. Why should this bother her now?
Because he’d kissed her. Because she couldn’t forget. Deep down, what she really wanted him to do was touch her. Not hold her, or kiss her cheek like the best friend she was supposed to be. But touch her the way he had a week ago. Touch her in that way that set fire to her skin, made her ache in all those secret places, like the passion pounding between was all that mattered.
“You should’ve called me. I would’ve helped.” Concern flashed across the depths of his eyes. He pulled his hand from his pocket, looking as if he might reach out to touch her, but then seemed to think better of it and stuffed it right back in.
“No, I need to do it myself.” She folded her arms across her chest, needing something to do with her hands. Something besides toy with her hair. If she did that, he’d know she was as nervous a caribou that had just wandered into the lion’s den.
As silence stretched out between them, the tension skyrocketed, became thick and heavy and undeniable.
“So, do I get to come in, or I have been banished to the porch?” His tone and crooked smile teased, but his eyes held only seriousness. His attempt to break the uneasiness, she knew.
She paused, considered her words carefully, before deciding, with a sigh, to go with honesty. He’d see right through her lousy attempt at lying anyway. That, she was realizing, was the bad part about being as close to someone as they were.
Holding his gaze, she shook her head. “I don’t know if I can handle you being in the house right now.”
Pain flashed across the depths of his eyes and went straight to her heart, but before she’d even had time to ponder a response, he drew his brows together in determination. A look that made her shudder.
“I think you know why,” she mumbled, turning her gaze to the floor.
Her heart pounded, the need to run, to close the door and forget he’d ever come over seizing her in a vice grip. Not that it would do her any good. When Kyle got that look in his eyes, nothing she did or said could stop him. He’d most likely follow her into the house anyway.
“What good will it do, Kyle?” she asked, lifting her gaze to his. “Except to bring us right back where we were a week ago.”
“Say it.” He folded his arms across his chest, looking entirely too much like an immovable mountain. “Obviously we still need to clear the air about this. You’re dancing around me like you’re standing on hot coals or something.”
She almost wanted to laugh. Ever practical, that was Kyle. To a fault. Of course he’d insist they hash this out.
To make matters worse, those eyes bored right into her, refused to let her run and hide, demanding honesty the way she always demanded it from him.
So she turned her back to him.
It didn’t matter that he was right, she couldn’t say it. She didn’t want to say it, because she was terrified that if she did, she wouldn’t be able to hold back all the emotions that at this moment threatened to burst from her. All the sensations she wasn’t supposed to feel for him. That had her entire body riding an edge so fine she feared falling off. That had her on the verge of throwing caution to the wind. For once in her life to stop being afraid of everything, fling herself into his arms and beg him to make love to her.
“Say it, Cecelia,” he insisted again, the challenge she heard in his voice pushing her clean over that edge.
If he wanted honesty, she’d give it to him. He’d just better hope he was prepared to hear it.
“Because I want you, Kyle.” Spinning to face him, she fisted her hands at her sides, glared at him, the words tumbling from her mouth, unstoppable. “Because I can’t forget the way you kissed me. The way you make me feel. Nobody, not even Jimmy, ever made me feel that way. So…crazy. Mindless with it.”
When he didn’t say anything, when not even a glimmer of emotion flashed in his eyes, she threw her hands up in the air.
“But you pulled away, stopped it, and I’m frustrated as hell. Because you called me every day this week.” She stared point blank at him, but her voice lowered, betraying the fierceness she originally started with. “Do you have any idea what the sound of your voice does to me now?”
She spun on her heel, paced away from him, halfway down the length of the foyer, only to turn and march right back.
“And then you show up here—” She waved a hand at him, gesturing at his clothing. “—in, in that, and all I can think about is how good you look, but how much better you’d look if I took it all off.”
“Is that what you wanted to know?” Her chest heaving with her breathlessness, she squared her shoulders, rising to her full height. “Are you satisfied now?”
He didn’t say a word, merely stared at her, so many emotions playing in the depths of his eyes. Confusion, indecision. White-hot need. He held himself stiff, his hands fisted at his sides, the muscle in his jaw jumping. Once again, he looked as if he were balanced on the edge of a line they both knew they shouldn’t cross.
But this time, as if the dam had broken loose inside him, he did.
With a muttered curse, he stepped across the threshold, seized her waist, and yanked her against him, all fire and determination that evaporated the instant their bodies touched.
A fire of an entirely new kind flared between them, rocked her.