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"You had enough, sweetheart?"
Drew's question made Sidney cut her gaze away from Brody. She flushed with guilt at having been caught ogling another man while her boyfriend was sitting beside her. Yet there was no censure in Drew's expression. His eyes were hooded--from the effect of alcohol or desire she wasn't sure. Perhaps a little of both. Between the three of them, they'd polished off two bottles of wine, and any time she'd caught Drew's stare throughout dinner, the air between them had crackled with sexual energy.
Her brain was a little slow in registering his meaning, but at last Sidney glanced down at the food in front of her. "I can't eat another bite." She pushed her plate aside and leaned back in her chair.
"Don't say that," Brody admonished, that irreverent smile surfacing. "I brought dessert."
"Brody wouldn't take well to anyone turning up their nose at his dessert," Drew teased.
"I wouldn't know. It's never happened."
"Arrogant bastard isn't he?"
"Yes." Sidney eyed the man in question over the rim of her wine glass. "He is."
Drew laughed and Brody slanted his dark brows at her. "Is that a complaint? I don't usually get them from Drew's girlfriends."
"Low blow, bringing that up, Nash." Despite his words Drew didn't seem angered by Brody's remark. Catching the curious look Sidney sent him, Drew explained, "He's talking about Cheryl Ames. One of my girlfriends who seemed to appreciate his particular brand of charm, such as it is."
"She had a crush on me."
"He's been holding that over me ever since we were twenty-one."
"What did she do?" Sidney asked. "Leave you for Brody?"
"Don't sound so incredulous,shortcake. It's not a complete impossibility."
Sidney met the challenge in Brody's eyes square on. "I guess that depends on the woman."
"Aw, Sid." Drew leaned close and nuzzled her neck, making Sidney giggle. "Loyal and sexy. What did I do to deserve you?"
"Nothing but sheer dumb luck, I reckon." Brody's teasing seemed good natured on the surface, but something in the lilt of his voice set Sidney's hackles rising.
She made her point by turning and treating Drew to a thoroughly seductive kiss. When she at last pulled back she said, "No luck involved. It was all his devastating charm."
"You hear that, Nash?" Drew didn't take his eyes off Sidney's. "My charm is devastating."
"Yeah, I got the message loud and clear. You two are like a couple of lovebirds, joined at the wing." Sidney turned at Brody's mocking tone and saw he was looking at her with a steady gaze. "You think I want to mess with that, shortcake?"
"I don't know what you want."
Brody's smile was shrewd. "You're smarter than that."
He'd practically pronounced that he wanted her while Drew's arm was still looped over her shoulders. His brashness sent a tingle of awareness dancing over her skin. Her nipples drew tight against the lace of her dress. Brody's gaze dropped, as though he somehow sensed her reaction and Sidney felt her cheeks heat.
"If my being here is so off-putting," Brody continued. "Why haven't you asked me to leave?"
A good question which Sidney had difficulty answering. She stood abruptly and began clearing the table. "Perhaps you should."
The clash of cutlery and crockery sounded piercingly loud in the silence that closed in behind her as she carted her load to the kitchen. She was rinsing the plates, using the time alone to catch her breath when she glanced up and saw Brody in the entryway. All efforts she'd made to calm her rapid heartbeat were ruined at the sight of him, his bulky arms crossed over his chest, the black clothes making him seem even more mysterious than usual. His gaze trailed over her, from her ridiculously high heels to her flushed cheeks. He made no attempt to pretend disinterest in anything in between.
Desire clutched at Sidney, burning a hole in her stomach. Her nipples thrust against the lace that barely covered them and moisture gathered between her thighs. She shouldn't be feeling this way about any man except Drew. But God help her, she was lusting after Brody.
Sidney reminded herself that Drew had given her permission to lust. He'd arranged this. If she wanted to indulge in a long-cherished fantasy, now was the time.
Brody unfolded his big body from the doorjamb and wandered into the kitchen. He leaned a hip against the sink and watched her. "Need help?"
Sidney continued to do the dishes in a vain attempt to ignore his presence. "No. Thanks."
"My being here is making you nervous."
His droll observation made her cut her gaze sideways at him. She wanted to deny it, but instead admitted, "A little."
He raised a dark brow. "Just nervous?" He dropped his attention to the rapid rise and fall of her chest in a knowing assessment.
"What do you want me to say, Brody? That I'm sinfully turned on?"
His quiet laugh had a harsh edge to it that scraped against Sidney's nerves. "That would be a start."
"You'd like that, wouldn't you? You think every woman you meet wants to go to bed with you." Sidney shoved a dinner plate into the dish rack with a clunk. "Just because most of them seem to, doesn't mean you're a shoe-in with me."
"You've been keeping tabs on me," he remarked. "Is that what's bothering you? You think I'm easy?"
His terminology made her laugh despite her annoyance. "Brody, easy is not a word I'd use to describe anything about you. You are most definitely hard." Realizing what she'd said, Sidney fought to control another blush. "I didn't mean..."
"Maybe not." He took a step closer, moving around so he stood behind her. Heat emanated from the body pressed against her back. "But if you want to talk about how hard I am, I'm more than willing."
He rested his hands on her bare shoulders, his touch an electric burn on her skin. "You can trust me. Despite my reputation I'm not irresponsible. I always suit up for the occasion."
Sidney released a derisive laugh. "I have no doubt you do. No way would you risk getting some poor girl pregnant and tying yourself down in the process. Besides, if Drew thought there was the slightest risk you'd pass on something unpleasant there's no way he would have suggested this."
"So what are you afraid of? That you'll like it too much? That you'll prefer me to Drew?"
Anger lashed through her. Sidney whirled around to face him, shooting fire from her eyes. "You son of a--"
He cut her off by capturing her parted lips with his hot and insistent ones. He worked her jaw to better facilitate the progress of his tongue into her mouth, brushed damp heat to her lips only cursorily before tripping past to explore the caverns beyond. He drank from her, tasted her as thirstily as he wished while Sidney could do little but go along for the ride. With a helpless groan of acceptance, she pressed her chest to the solid wall of his and let him lead her where he may.
It was indescribably arousing. The marauding nature of his kiss that compelled a reaction rather than persuaded it. She thought of Drew in the other room, who could walk in and see them at any moment. Perhaps that was what he wanted. To see her with another man. Perhaps he was as excited by the idea as she was.
She could no longer deny to herself that she wanted this. When Brody slid one hand down to cup her breast through the gauzy fabric of her dress, she could no longer deny it to him. Her flesh sizzled beneath his touch, her already hardened crest growing painfully taut. He drew his thumb across the distended tip and took her secrets into him.