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"I brought you something from London." His voice was soft.
Katie leaned heavily against the front door she'd just closed. Her head swam from the whisky, and her knees wobbled unsteadily.
Steve had gone home. Although he usually spent a couple nights a week at her place, they'd both decided three adults sleeping in her small house might be a bit much. Katie wasn't sure if she was relieved or distraught. The idea of sharing a bed with Steve while Tyler slept in the room next door was more than a little unsettling. At least if Steve were around there would be no time to think about Tyler. On the other hand, with Tyler around, there'd be no way she could focus on Steve in bed.
Urgh! It did her head in.
Steve's departure left her and Tyler alone. The last time Tyler had been with her, in her house, at night, alone, they'd spent maybe ten minutes of it out of bed.
No! She would not think about that now. What was, was. Finished.
Right now, Tyler, her old buddy, stood five meters away telling her he'd brought her something from overseas, and she needed to concentrate. Hmm, he'd bought her a present? From London?
The only thing she'd ever wanted from London was Tyler. Even if he presented himself to her now, gift-wrapped with a bow--which he didn't--it was too late. She was engaged to someone else. "That wasn't necessary," she said with a thick tongue.
"Yeah," he answered. "It was."
She squinted at the two Tylers standing across the room. Drinking all that scotch probably wasn't the smartest move she could have made tonight. Having all her wits about her would have been a considerable asset if she had to sleep in the same house ashim.
Hang on. He'd said the gift was necessary? Why? Because he wanted to make amends?
She was certain she'd only questioned him in her head. From the dismayed look on Tyler's face, she realized she must have voiced her thoughts out loud.
Ah, crap! She hadn't meant to bring up the past. If she could just stay firmly fixed on the present she'd be able to get through the next few weeks with Tyler staying with her.
"Don't worry about it, Ty. I don't need gifts to make things better."
Shit! She hadn't meant to say that out loud either. It was the alcohol. It had to be. No way she'd say anything if she hadn't downed all those blasted drinks.
She made her way to the living room and plonked herself on the couch, aware she'd placed her butt in the exact same place Tyler's had been this afternoon. She swore she could still feel his warmth seeping from the cushion.
He followed her into the room, sat before her on the coffee table and pressed his knees against hers. "Katie?"
Heat raced up her thighs and settled between her legs.
He waited until she met his eyes before he spoke. "I didn't get you a present to make amends." His voice softened. "I got it because I missed you."
"Missed me?" She could hear the animosity in her voice, yet she couldn't stop it. The scotch and the thrill of the physical contact combined to make her lightheaded. "Gosh, and all this time I thought you'd forgotten about me." Unlike her, who hadn't forgotten one damn thing. Who hadn't forgotten that even the most innocent touch of knee against knee could stir up the amorous beast in her.
Two years. She'd gone two years without uttering a single nasty word about him. Now that they were finally alone for the first time in twenty-four months, she couldn't seem to think of one single decent thing to say. Unfortunately, the need and the hunger and the desire were all still there in spades, but the will to hold a pleasant conversation was gone. She wanted to inflict pain. Deep, endless pain, just like he'd inflicted on her.
His eyes darkened. Or maybe the drink blurred her vision. Whatever, his reply was unmistakable. "I never forgot you. Not for one minute of one day that passed."
Okay, that took her by surprise. Hmm, how could she respond? Oooh, yeah, she had a killer comeback.
"So, Ty. Did Steve ask you to be his best man?" Good one, Katie. Go for the jugular.
She didn't bother waiting for an answer. "He's going to. If you refuse, I think maybe I'll ask you to walk me down the aisle. Just for a laugh. It would be hilarious, don't you think, if you were the one who gave me away?"
A muscle worked in his jaw. "Yeah, Katie. It would be a real hoot. For all of us."
What was he so uptight about? "Oops, hang on." She hiccupped. "I forgot. You already gave me away. Two years ago."
"You're drunk." It wasn't a criticism, merely a statement.
"I think we should call it a night. Go to bed."
"Together?" She feigned shock. Although the pretense wasn't too difficult. The very thought sent her stomach lurching into deep space. "Well, gosh, Ty, what do you think Steve would say about that?"
Was that a smile on his face? If so, it was the most rueful smile she'd ever seen.
Rueful. She rolled the word over in her head. Rueful. Rue-ful. Roo-full. Was that actually a word? Had she actually just thought Ty's smile looked roo-full? She giggled. Ty had a roo-full smile.
"Come on." He stood. "I'll help you to your room."
Her mouth dried instantly. Any laughter left in her stilled. The zip of his jeans was at eye level. All she need do was lean forward slightly and she could nuzzle her face into his groin. God, she wanted to. She wanted to so bad, she could almost feel the soft, faded denim against her lips. Could almost taste the cool metal of his fly between her teeth.
The scent of his desire filled her nose, musky and masculine. Or maybe it was the drink again, teasing her.
Silence filled the room, punctuated only by the roaring rush of blood in her ears.
She continued to stare at him, and licked her lips.
"Katie..." His voice was gruff. Soft.
She lifted her eyes to look into his. The chocolaty brown irises, usually laced with gold flecks, were hooded and dark. The longing she saw hidden in them left her breathless.
Her gaze dropped again, took in the fabric straining across his rising erection.
Shit, she shouldn't be looking there. Lift your head, Katie. He doesn't belong to you anymore.
"Katie," he whispered again.
You don't belong to him.
She was trapped like a deer in headlights, staring blindly at the oncoming danger. She couldn't move, couldn't look away. "I'm drunk," she thought out loud. It didn't stop the warm moisture seeping onto her panties.
"Plastered," Tyler agreed above her.
The scotch sang through her veins. Bed suddenly seemed like a good idea. Her head turned to cotton wool, and her thoughts were a jumbled mess. "I think I need to go to my room." She stared at his erection and heard the scotch sing a little louder. "Alone."
"Give me your hand." He offered her his. "I'll help you."
"Don't be silly," she insisted. "I can get to my room myself." The faster the better. Before she did something stupid, like reach out and nibble the denim-covered dick.
She stood, a little too quickly, and the room spun. Had Tyler not been there to catch her, she would have lurched forward on two unsteady legs. He scooped her up, one arm around her neck, the other below her knees, and headed effortlessly towards her room.
His chest was hard and warm, and pressed up against the side of her breast. She honestly, honestly didn't mean to do it--he wasn't Steve. He wasn't her fiancï¿½. Nevertheless, she turned slightly and snuggled into him. Breathed him in. The alcohol and his closeness befuddled her senses. All she could think was that he smelled yummy. So damn yummy.
She sighed as he lowered her to her bed. "Ty?"
Would he undress her? Remove her clothing piece by slow, torturous piece, like he used to?
"Yeah, Katie." He sat beside her, took her foot in his hand and pulled off her shoe.
Would she let him remove the rest? "What present did you get me?"
He lifted her other foot and tugged off the shoe. "I'll show you tomorrow. I think you'll like it."
"Ty?" she asked again as he pulled the doona out from under her. That was it? No more clothes coming off?
He drew the duvet over her body, tucking it under her chin, so she was cocooned within it. "Yeah, Katie?"
"Why'd you come home?" She couldn't keep her eyes open. Her lids dragged, heavy as concrete.
"I told you," Tyler whispered as he leaned over and kissed her forehead. "I came back for you."
The last thing she heard before she nodded off was the soft click of the bedroom door closing.