Beneath These Scars (Page 58)

“Are you complimenting me, Yve?”

I relaxed. “I’m just saying I like you this way. You’re easy to be around. It’s nice. My vote is for buying this place, because I think it makes you happy.”

Lucas’s gaze shuttered and the smile on his face faded. “What would make me happy is for you to be naked.”

Apparently our conversation was over, but I was good to roll with this change of subject.

His hands slid up my jacket until he reached the buttons, then unhooked them one by one. Once he’d undone them all, Lucas tugged it off and pulled me to the bench near the lake. Laying the jacket over the top, he started on the buttons of my shirt.

I reached for the hem of his T-shirt. “I think you being naked would make me happy too.”

Lucas pulled the sides of my shirt apart, and I helped drag his up and over his head. His eyes—hot and hungry this time—devoured my semi-nakedness.

“I don’t say it enough, but you’re fucking gorgeous. I should tell you that more often.”

Something in me, I refused to pinpoint what exactly, clenched almost painfully. “Why don’t you show me instead?”

Lucas pulled the shirt from my arms and laid it over his on the bench. “Gladly.” He looked around. “Our options are limited, though.”

“I’m not complaining.” And I certainly didn’t.

Lucas rolled on a condom and made use of our limited options. He held me close, both arms wrapped firmly around me as I bent over the back of the bench, and he pressed kiss after open-mouthed kiss to my shoulders, neck, and jaw. His teeth grazed the tendon along my neck as he told me how beautiful I was, how good it felt to be buried inside me, and how he couldn’t let me go.

The pleasure was every bit as intense as the other times we’d been together, but there was something very different about this Lucas. He was almost . . . worshipful.

Something had shifted between us.

I moaned his name as I came, with no urging. It was the only word I could bring to my lips. And the tight grip I had on my heart began to slip.

Later, I slowed my mount with a triumphant laugh. “I trotted! And did that posting thing!”

Lucas slowed beside me.

“I didn’t even fall.” I pumped a fist in the air, bravely letting go of my reins with one hand for a moment. “Win!”

I still felt him between my legs. Which made this all even more impressive.

“Told you it’d be fine. You sit a horse well.”

Warmth washed through me at Lucas’s compliment. I hadn’t been exaggerating before; I truly liked him like this. He was still every bit the arrogant man he’d always been, but now there was a certain easiness to him. I felt like someone had dug a tunnel under the walls we both kept so high, and I’d gotten a glimpse at a hidden side of him.

“Thank you.”

“You do other things just as well, if not better.”

I shot a sideways look at him. “You’re going there again?”

His brow creased and then he smiled. “No, but it’s good to know your mind is.”

I rolled my eyes.

“I meant at managing Dirty Dog. I attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday afternoon for a new business started with a grant from the Entrepreneur Fund. The new proprietor was singing your praises because apparently you found her the dress she’d worn for the big day. Several of the ladies present were complimentary as well, and to be honest, they were women I never would have expected to admit to wearing anything that had had a previous owner.”

I glowed at the compliment. “You’d be surprised how many society types I have as regulars. Vintage Chanel, Dior, Dolce & Gabana, YSL, Versace—I know where to get the good stuff. And it’s classy to be vintage these days.”

“It’s a credit to you that you know what people want, how to get it, and how to make it most appealing.”

“That’s my job.”

“And when you own the place? Are you up for the rest of the challenge?”

I glanced over at him. He didn’t look as if he was questioning my abilities, but just curious.

“I wouldn’t be so dead set on buying it if I weren’t. Contrary to what you might think, Harriet doesn’t run any of the money side. I do everything. I deliver financial statements to her on a monthly basis, and she lets me know if she has any questions. I also deliver a healthy profit margin every month, one that’s increased year over year at an impressive rate.” I paused. “You do know I got my business degree at UNO, right? Graduated with honors, full scholarship, and I worked full time.”

He would have read it in the grant application, so it shouldn’t have come as a shock.

“You’re type A, goal-oriented, high-achieving. You’re a hell of a woman, Yve Santos.”

Before I could bask in the glow of yet another compliment, we reached the barn. Chris, the groom, met us outside. Lucas dismounted and was by my side before Chris could lead me to a mounting block. I gave Belle up reluctantly; I wasn’t ready for this day to be over.

“How’d she do for you?” Chris asked.

“She was perfect. Which is kind of terrible, because now I’m going to want to do it again.” And I really did. There was something incredibly relaxing about riding.

“Fitting that Creole Belle would be perfect for a beautiful woman,” Chris said before ducking his head shyly.

I slid my gaze to Lucas. He was shooting a thunderous gaze at the kid, so I nudged him.

Lucas’s gaze dropped to me. “How is that a problem? You wanting to do this again?”