Zane stirred from his sleep to the sound of someone humming.What the hell? He knew for a fact that he lived alone, so who was in his house? He tried to remember if he’d brought someone home last night from the bar he’d gone too. No, he definitely hadn’t brought anyone home. He would have remembered that.
Rising from his bed, he followed the humming into his kitchen. He froze in the doorway upon seeing a pair of gorgeous brown legs. He followed those gorgeous legs up to one of his white t-shirts that hung loosely on the woman’s body. Was she wearing underwear underneath there? He wondered. Good grief. He was acting like a starved sex maniac but for some reason he couldn’t stop his train of thought. Even though his shirt was big on her, he could see the curves that accentuated her body. His eyes traveled further to brown and blonde curls that looked oddly familiar. His heart did a flip flop as he realized who this person was. It was Lexi. And when her eyes met his, he knew he was right.
She must have sensed he was there. Or had he said something? Hell, he didn’t know. He was too mesmerized by that luscious, shapely body of hers that he couldn’t remember. Shit. This was his best friend’s sister. Rafael would kill his ass if he knew he was lusting after Lexi.
“Hi, Zane. You doing okay?” She said softly. Her eyes took in his finely sculpted body and she had to keep herself from sighing. The man was beautiful personified.
He shook himself out of his lust filled haze or at least he tried to. Get a grip, man. “Lexi, what the hell are you doing in my house? I don’t remember letting you in last night.” His voice boomed. He cringed. Okay, that didn’t come out right.
She frowned and planted her hands on her hips. “Well, somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. First off, I called you and asked could I stay the night, because Gabe and I had a huge fight last night. You might want to check your phone in case you don’t believe me. And second, do not talk to me like that. I’ll just get my shit and leave.” She threw down the spatula she had been using for the pancakes she was cooking. She turned off the burner and walked past him to the guest room she’d slept in.
The nerve of him talking to her like she was some stalker or something. What the hell was wrong with him? She wondered. What made her come over here, she wasn’t sure. Whatever the reason, it had been a big mistake. She hastily put on her jeans and tank top. Before she could slip on her shoes, she felt his presence. Just like she had in the kitchen. What was that? It was like her body went on high alert whenever he was near now.
“Lexi, wait. I’m so sorry about how I talked to you.” After she’d left the kitchen, he remembered her call late last night. He’d been half drunk which was the reason he couldn’t remember at first. He shouldn’t have talked to her like that. Hell, he’d never been that abrupt with her and it unnerved him that he’d hurt her. Why it bothered him so much, he couldn’t say. He was more upset with himself because of his reaction to her. Maybe it was the shock of seeing her without much on her body. Yeah, right. He was he fooling? Himself? Probably.
He wasn’t sure what possessed him to move towards her but he did. He stood behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders and drew her back to his chest. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pressed a kiss to her hair. “You don’t have to leave, Lexi.” God, she smelled incredible. Her body was soft against his and he couldn’t stop himself from reveling in how good she felt against him.
Her breath caught when he embraced her and smelled her hair. She hadn’t expected this. Not at all. Her anger melted just that quickly. “Zane, what’s happening?” She whispered. Suddenly, she found herself snuggling deeper into his arms. Not wanting him to ever let her go. His strong arms felt incredible around her.
“I don’t know. I saw my best friend’s sister in my t-shirt and now I can’t get that image out of my head. You looked incredibly sexy.” His voice dropped an octave lower.
Sexy? Oh my God, he wants me! She screamed in her head. For years she’d liked Zane but he’d never really noticed her. Wait. What was she getting so happy about? She was involved with someone. She couldn’t ignore that. Could she? “Zane, I…I’m with Gabe, remember.” Well, that sounded convincing. Real good job, Lexi.
He wrapped one of her soft curls around his finger. “Are you? You guys fight a lot, Lexi. Why are you still with him?” He’d always wondered about that but never asked. She deserved so much better.
She wasn’t sure how to answer him. The question had crossed her mind more than once. Last night’s fight had been the worst fight they’d ever had. Gabe had accused her of being in love with someone else and things had escalated from there. Technically, they had broken up. Hadn’t they? “I don’t know.”
She sounded so unsure. He hated that. He wanted her for himself. As crazy as it sounded, that’s what he wanted. Gabe be damned. He gently tugged the hair wrapped around his finger until her head fell back onto his shoulder. “Let me give you something to think about.” He placed small moist kisses on her beautiful neck and felt her shudder. He kissed her cheek and then his mouth slid to hers. Their breaths mingling sent his senses into overdrive. When their mouths joined, he felt a jolt in his body. God, he’d never felt that before with anyone else. He groaned when he felt her tongue slide into his mouth. When his tongue slid back over hers, a fire began to build in his lower belly. And damn he never wanted it to go out.
She turned in his arms and wrapped her arms around his neck. She moaned when he pulled her closer. Their kiss turned hot and demanding. She rubbed her body against his and gasped when she felt how hard he was. The passion that gripped her made her dizzy with longing. She had never felt this out of control…not even with Gabe….Because she didn’t love him. She loved Zane. This newfound revelation stopped her cold. She froze in his arms and panic began to set in. She loved a man who didn’t love her back. In fact, he’d never thought of her as a woman until today. Oh God, she had to go. Now she understood how Gabe felt. He loved a woman that didn’t love him back. Funny how that little fact had never come across her mind until now.
“Lexi, are you okay?”
She shook her head and quickly moved out of his arms before she changed her mind. “I have to leave. I will call you later.”
He frowned. Something just wasn’t right about her hurried departure. ” Wait. Lexi..”
“No. Just stop. Please.” She gathered her things and all but ran out of Zane’s house. As soon as she reached her car and got inside, she hit her steering wheel with her fist. How could she have not known that she loved Zane? Had she been in denial? That was a strong possibility. She wasn’t sure but she needed to figure it out. But first she needed to move out of Gabe’s apartment and find her own.
Two weeks later
Zane felt like he was going crazy. He shut down his computer and leaned back in his chair in his office. For the millionth time, he thought about Lexi and their kiss. He’d loved every minute of her lips on his. He loved the taste of her and was disappointed that the kiss had ended so quickly.
He wasn’t sure what made her run from him but he was determined to find out. He wasn’t easily deterred. If anything, he was more determined to find her. He’d already tried calling her but she wouldn’t answer. He had even been desperate enough to go by the apartment sh’de shared with Gabe. When Gabe had told him that she’d moved, it was as if he’d been sucker punched in the stomach. Now, he had no choice but to ask Rafe. Shit. The last thing he wanted was for his best friend to be upset with him, but he just couldn’t give a damn right now. He needed to see Lexi like yesterday.
Rising from his chair, he went next door to Rafe’s office. He and Rafe had been partners in their construction business, Stepping Stones LLC, for nearly ten years. They’d never let business come in between their friendship and he was glad that he could trust Rafe. He knocked on his door and peered inside. Rafe waved him inside.
“What’s up, man? Have a seat.”
He pushed his hands into his pockets. “No. I’d better not. This won’t take long.”
Rafael’s eyebrows drew together. “What’s wrong, Zane? Has something happened?”
Zane pushed a hand through his already tousled hair. “No, everything’s fine. Have you heard from Alexis?”
“Yeah. She called this morning.”
“Okay. Is she still in school? At Stanford, right?”
“Yes. She normally leaves around two in the afternoon.”
Great. That was enough to track her down. “Thanks, man. I will catch up with you later, okay?”
“Hold it right there. Zane, is there something on between you two?”
Zane exhaled sharply. “I won’t lie to you. I think there is something going on between us. What exactly that is, I’m not sure. I just need to talk to her.”
Rafe smiled knowingly. This was the first time he’d seen his friend so out of sorts over a woman in quite some time. His sister no less. “Looks like you got it bad, man.”
Zane’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “What the hell does that mean?”
Rafe chuckled. “You like Lexi. Admit it.”
Dammit. He was not suppose to catch on this quick. “Hell. I guess you could say that.”
“Why was it so hard for you to say that?”
“Come on, man. You know why. Let’s not pretend.”
Rafe shrugged. “I’m not. It’s been five years since Amber ripped you to shreds because of her inability to be faithful to you. Don’t tell me you’re not over that?”
What kind of question was that? Of course he was over it. “I am. I’m just a lot more cautious now. Lexi’s younger than Amber was.”
Rafe snorted. “She’s five years younger than you. That’s not a huge difference. Besides, why does that matter?”
It didn’t really. He just didn’t want to be hurt again. “Let’s not go there right now. I gotta catch her before she leaves school.”
“Just so you know, I don’t think you’re really being cautious, otherwise you wouldn’t be running after her. Care to tell me how all this came about?”
Zane rolled his eyes upwards. “Later, Rafe.” He ignored his friend laughter as he left.
Lexi walked out of her last class of the day. She was glad to be done for the day. She had a few months until graduation and then she could start her career as a nurse. As she walked outside to her car, she saw a couple of women she knew and waved to them. She was a few feet away from her car when she saw him. Zane. He was casually leaning against his truck. All of a sudden, it felt like she couldn’t breathe. How did he know what time she left school? She wondered.
Granted, she hadn’t left right at two today, but he didn’t look like he was in a hurry. What was he doing here? Damn, she was not prepared for this. Lexi, just breathe and just go talk to him. She reasoned with herself. But she couldn’t do it. She had to get past him somehow without him seeing her. She began walking but stopped again when his head lifted and their eyes met. Their kiss came rushing back into her mind. She knew he had to be thinking of it too.
Ignoring him or at least trying to, she made a beeline for her car. She pulled the keys from her purse with shaky hands once she got there. She’d just gotten the door open, when a shadow fell over her. He didn’t need to touch her for her to know it was him.
“Its time to stop running, Alexis.” He said as he gently closed her car door.
She swallowed hard and did her best not to tremble. She wasn’t scared of him because she knew he would never hurt her. The feelings she had for him made her afraid to take a chance. “Zane, please.” She pleaded.
He drew her back to him and inhaled her scent. She smelled of lilac and flowers. “God, Lexi, I missed you. It’s crazy how one encounter can change you.” He left off forever. It was too soon to say that.
“I know what you mean.” She murmured.
He gently pushed her curls behind her shoulder. He dipped his head to place a kiss there, and when he heard her inhale sharply, all the blood in his body felt like it was rushing to one spot in particular. He had to get a grip. The last thing he wanted was to scare her off. “Lexi, we need to talk. Don’t you agree?”
She nodded and let herself snuggle deeper into his embrace. She’d missed him and his touch. Suddenly, she regretted her impulse decision to run from him.”Yes, I suppose so.”
“I love when you do that.” He murmured near ear.
She smiled. “What is that exactly?”
“Snuggling deeper into my arms. Trusting me.”
She moved her body just enough to turn and look into his eyes. The hazel depths mesmerizing her. “Hi.”
He smiled. “Hi there.”
She sighed. “I guess I owe you an explanation.”
“An explanation would be nice.”
She chuckled. “Where do you want to go to talk?”
He pulled her closer. “Wherever you’re most comfortable. I promise I wont do anything you don’t want me to do.”
Indecision gripped her hard, but for the moment she decided to just be free and not so uptight. “So no kissing?”
He grinned. “Do you want me to kiss you, Alexis?”
She loved the way he said her full name. There was something sexy about how he let the “l” roll off his tongue. “I will admit that I’ve been thinking about it since I left your house. Yes.”
“You mean since you ran from my house?” He teased
She groaned and ducked her head. “Look, I-
He slid his finger down her cheek. “Hey, this is new for me too. I guess I can understand why you ran. Let’s go talk somewhere in private. Where would you like to go?”
He had no idea and she wasn’t going to correct him. She had no intention of telling him she loved him…yet. “How about your place?”
“Are you sure you’re okay with that?”
She smiled. “I’m more than okay with it. Come on. We can come back for my car later.”
“If you’re sure, then okay.” He took her hand and led her to his truck. When he helped her into his truck, he had to keep himself from staring at the way her skirt clung to her thighs. He had to keep his desires under control, at least until he talked to her. Damn, it was going to be a long day.