Free Me (Page 22)

Free Me (The Found Duet #1)(22)
Author: Laurelin Paige

It wasn’t until we’d completed nearly all of our breakfast that he finally dabbed at his mouth with his napkin and said, “Okay, my offer to help you be less tense. Are you ready? It’s simple.” He spread his arms out like it was obvious. “Spend time with me.”

“And?” Because I’d expected his offer to be something more explicitly carnal.

“And that’s it.”

I wiped at my own mouth and took another sip of my coffee, trying to decide what it was that bothered me about his offer. Then I figured it out. “That sounds a little like dating.”

“No.” He drew the “o” out, shaking his head. Admittedly, it was nice to see him worked up for once, instead of vice versa. “Definitely not dating. In fact, no commitments.”

“Because you’re a commitment-phobe. How cliché.” Not that I cared. In fact, I counted on it. Just, somehow, sitting there with JC, poking and teasing came easier than usual. Maybe he was right that spending time with him was the answer to all my problems.

“No, not because I’m a commitment-phobe, though that’s not entirely inaccurate. But this is about helping you let loose and commitments are designed to do just the opposite.”

I couldn’t argue with that. “Okay. So I just spend time with you. Not dating. No commitments. I’m cool with that.”

“Good. Look at you. Loosening up already.” He ignored the scowl I shot at him. “Now, we both have weird schedules so we’ll need to set up a time for a standing date. Or not-date.”

“Isn’t a standing anything a flat-out commitment?” I’d been the one to initiate this…whatever this was between us, and now I was the one who kept coming up with arguments. I heard myself doing it. But it wasn’t like I was looking for an excuse for the “whatever” not to happen. Just, I’d been burned before in a casual arrangement. This time there was going to be no doubt about the terms going in.

“I knew that was coming. And, yes.” He pointed in the air with a long finger. “It is a commitment. But it’s the only commitment we’ll have in this. And either of us can always cancel.”

I rolled my hands along the sides of the coffee cup, busying myself, steadying my nerves. “I’m listening.”

“So, I don’t actually live in New York. I live in L.A.”

My eyes flew up to his. “Oh. I didn’t know that.” I tried not to sound disappointed. He had the Viper booked every Tuesday, but I supposed that didn’t mean that he was actually present every week. So how often was he in town?

As if reading my mind, he said, “I’m here every week. For work. I take a red-eye to New York on Monday, and Thursday night I take a red-eye back.”

Thank the Lord. While I was curious about what he did for a living that had him working on two coasts, it was another part of his statement that struck me. “But today is Friday.”

“I skipped my flight last night.”

My stomach flipped. “Why?”

“For you.”

I felt the color leave my face. There was no denying the rush that came from his admission, but another part of me, the smart part, was ready to take that adrenaline and run. I wanted casual. I wanted strings-free. I didn’t want changing-my-routine-for-you.

JC leaned over and placed his hand on mine, sending a mess of tingles shooting through my body. Red alert, my rational side screamed. Take your recently rediscovered sex drive out the door and head to the Pleasure Chest to pick up a new dildo.

Not for the first time in my life, it occurred to me that there was probably something very wrong with me. Besides being completely uptight. Because, what girl in her right mind wanted her sexual relationships to be only physical, no emotion?

Yet that was exactly what I wanted. I was hardened. I’d accepted that long before. There was exactly enough room inside me to love my brother and my sister and nothing else. No one else. Everyone else I’d ever felt strong emotions for had beaten me, left me, or died. Of course I knew that my past experiences didn’t dictate my future. The next person I cared for might not disappoint me—of course I knew that; I was a smart woman. But I wasn’t ever going to take that chance.

And emotional involvement from one party in a duo and not the other was messy. I’d been there, done that. Wasn’t doing it again.

JC gently squeezed my hand. “Gwen, stop freaking. I’m horny, not in love.”

I narrowed my eyes, studying him, trying to ignore the burn of his hand still covering mine. “So you skipped your flight in order to get laid?” It was hard to believe he couldn’t just as easily get laid in L.A.

Unless it was specifically me who had him turned on.

“Pretty much.”

It was me then. Well. Wow. I couldn’t help smiling. So it was over the top to stay for me, but not the craziest thing I’d heard a guy do for sex. And as long as it wasn’t wrapped up in touchy-feely, I could live with it. “Very well then. Carry on.”

JC seemed mildly surprised that I was so easily convinced. “Okay. Now we’re talking.” He removed his hand from mine to gesture as he spoke. “So if this is going to work, there are a few things we have to agree on up front.”

“Right.” Still dizzy from his warmth, I pulled my hand from the table to my lap. If I left it, I was afraid he’d realize how badly I hoped he’d touch me again. And this time not just on my hand.

He seemed oblivious to what was going on with my libido, which was crazy since it was exactly what we were discussing. “First and foremost, we’re just spending time together.”

“Time that involves sex.” The space between my thighs was beginning to itch. I wanted to get through the talking and get to the actual doing.

“Well, yes.”

That tiny acknowledgment made my stomach quiver, deep and low.

Then he was back to hammering out the details. “There will be no relationship stuff. No boyfriend/girlfriend. No getting attached. Are you with me?”

“Yes. I’m completely with you. I have no interest in attachments of any sort.” I hadn’t expected anything else from a guy like JC, but after his earlier remarks that had sounded to the contrary, the confirmation was a relief.

“Are you sure? I really don’t want you falling in love with me. It wouldn’t be pretty.”

Again with the arrogance. Why did he make hubris look so sexy? “Rest assured, JC. There is nothing you could do to make me fall in love with you.” I had very few emotions I indulged in. Romance was definitely not in my repertoire.