All or Nothing(6)

By: Catherine Mann

Okay, maybe he could be persuaded not to wait after all. “Why is that a bad thing?”

A clear battle waged in her light blue eyes that he understood quite well. The past three years apart had been a unique kind of hell for him, but eventually he’d accepted that their marriage was over. He just refused to end it via a courier.

Call him stubborn, but he’d wanted Jayne to look him in the face when she called it quits. Well, he’d gotten his wish—only to have her throw him a serious curveball. She still wanted him every bit as much as he wanted her.

Granted, sex between them had always been more than good, even when they’d used it to distract them from their latest argument. One last weekend together would offer the ultimate distraction. They could cleanse away the gnawing hunger and move on. He just had to persuade her to his way of thinking

The battle continued in her eyes until, finally, she shook her head, a strand of blond hair sliding loose. “You’re not going to win. Not this time.” Standing, she demanded, “Give me my clothes back, and don’t you dare tell me to go into our old bedroom to get them myself.”

He’d been right to wait, to play it cool for now. “They’re already in the guest room.”

Her mouth dropped open in surprise. “Oh, I’m sorry for thinking the worst of you.”

He shrugged. “Most of the time you would be right.”

“Damn it, Conrad,” she said softly, her shoulders lowering, her face softening, “I don’t want to feel bad for you, not now. I just want your signature and peace.”

“All I ever wanted was to make you happy.” Tonight might not be the right time to indulge in tantric sex, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t start lobbying. He shoved to his feet, stepped closer and reached out to stroke that loose lock of hair. “Jayne, I didn’t ask you to have sex, but make no mistake, I think about being with you and how damn great we were together.”

Teasing the familiar texture of her hair between his fingers, he brushed back the strand, his knuckles grazing her shoulder as he tugged free the pin still hanging on. Her pupils went wide with awareness and a surge of victory pumped through him. He knew the unique swirl of her tousled updo so well he could pull the pins out of it blindfolded.

He stepped aside. “Sleep well, Jayne.”

Her hands shook as she swept back the loose strand, but she didn’t say a word. She spun away on her high heels and snagged her purse from the wine rack before making tracks toward the spare room. He had a feeling peace wasn’t in the cards for either of them anytime soon.

* * *

Jayne closed the guest-room door behind her and sagged back, wrapping her arms around herself in a death grip to keep from throwing herself at Conrad. After three long years without him, she hadn’t expected her need for him to be this strong. Her mind filled with fantasies of leaning over him as he sat in that monstrously big chair, of sliding her knees up on either side until she straddled his lap.

There was something intensely stirring about the times she’d taken charge of him, a scenario she’d half forgotten in their time apart. But she loved that feeling of sensual power. Sure, he could turn the tables in a heartbeat—a gleam in his eyes would make that clear—but then she would tug his tie free, unbutton his shirt, his pants...

She slid down the door to sit on the floor. A sigh burst free. This wasn’t as easy as she’d expected.

At least she had a bed to herself without arguing, a minor victory. She looked around at the “tomato-red room” as Conrad had called it. He’d left this space unchanged and the relief she felt over such a minor point surprised her. Why did it mean so much to her that he hadn’t tossed out everything from their old life?

Shoving back up to her feet, she tapped a vintage bench used as a luggage rack and skimmed her fingers along the carved footboard. He’d even kept the red toile spread and curtains. She’d wanted a comfortable space for their family to visit. Except Conrad and his older sister only exchanged birthday and Christmas cards.Since his parents and her mother had passed away, that didn’t leave many relatives. Jayne definitely hadn’t invited her father and his new wife...

Had she let some deep-seated “daddy issues” lead her to choose a man destined to break her heart? That was not the first time the thought had occurred to her—okay, how could she dodge the possibility when Conrad had tossed it in her face at least a dozen times? She’d forgotten how he had a knack for catching her unaware, like how he’d sent her clothes here rather than demanding she sleep in their old room.