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Just To Be With You (Page 31)

Both her voice and her hands were shaking by then, and Ian instantly grew worried. Had something happened to her sister or mother? Or was Smith delivering other bad news?

Just as he had yesterday when they were in her kitchen, Ian didn’t think twice about his urge to comfort her. He simply moved closer so that he could put his hands on her waist to steady her. And, for the moment at least, what he felt for her didn’t have anything to do with sex…it was simply about taking care of someone who had come to matter a great deal to him.

He felt her react to his touch with an instant answer of heat through her silk dress at the exact same moment that she looked up at him with eyes that seemed to cut straight through to his soul, her beautiful mouth opening slightly in surprise.

“Ohmygod.” She was vibrating beneath Ian’s palms as she said to Smith, “Yes, that’s a good idea, a really good idea. I’ll call you back once I’ve had a little time to process the news.”

Ian was trying to figure out her contradictory signals—she was shaking and yet her entire expression seemed to be lit with excitement—when she suddenly tossed the phone onto the couch and threw her arms around his neck.

As she hugged him so tightly that he finally felt every single one of her luscious curves against him, Ian knew in the space of a heartbeat that no other woman had ever fit this well in his arms.

And that he never wanted to let her go.

But then she was moving to take his hands in hers and twirling around in the middle of his office, laughing. Watching her was like watching sunlight stream through a multifaceted crystal, shooting off light and bright color and vibrant life everywhere it spun. He’d never known another woman who was this open with her emotions, who didn’t seem to realize that she had to protect herself or else she’d get hurt.

Just the thought of anyone or anything hurting her had his chest clenching tight. He pulled her to a stop in mid-twirl.

He couldn’t understand her, and Ian made it a point to understand everything that was a part of his world. It was the only way to make sure he knew exactly how to play all his cards correctly. But worse than not being able to understand Tatiana was the fact that he couldn’t understand himself whenever she was around. She threw off his perfectly ordered schedule and made him feel vulnerable in ways that he’d vowed never to be again.

And, still, he wanted her with a desperation that stunned him.

“You were shaking when Smith first spoke to you and I thought something bad had happened. But now you’re laughing. Tell me what he said, Tatiana.”

“It wasn’t bad news. It was great news. Shocking news.”

She laughed again, and he wanted to shake her for not telling him what the news was already. But even more than that, he wished he could laugh with her, wished he were the kind of man who could pull her back into his arms and dance with her without knowing better than to give a woman such easy affection.

“I just can’t believe it,” she finally added.

“Believe what?” His question came out rougher, and louder, than he’d intended, but at least it seemed to startle her into realizing that she hadn’t yet told him the news. “I still don’t know what happened.”

She gripped his hands even more tightly and he honestly didn’t think she had a clue that she’d put them between her br**sts as she finally told him, “Smith was nominated for an Oscar this morning. And so was I.” She pressed in even closer to his hands, as if only he had the power to help slow the incredibly rapid beating of her heart. “For Best Actress,” she whispered.

Her happiness was such a living, breathing thing between them that all Ian knew in that moment was that he would do anything he could, give everything he had, to keep her looking like this. Which was why it was the most natural thing in the world to say, “I’m so proud of you,” then pull her back into his arms and swing her around and around while she laughed again.

Her cheeks were flushed as she looked up at him, and he had to stroke her face, had to get closer to the brightest, warmest sunlight he’d felt in a very, very long time.

She was still laughing when she pressed her mouth to his. A kiss of pure happiness, pure joy. Stunned by the beauty, the sweetness of her unexpected kiss, he didn’t even have a chance to kiss her back by the time she pulled away.

Her eyes were wide with surprise, and when she looked at him, and said, “Oh my God, I just kissed you,” he knew for sure that nothing about the kiss had been planned. She had simply been so happy, so excited, so expressive in her joy, that hugging him, dancing with him, even kissing him, was the way she’d needed to express herself.

Just as he now needed—more than anything he’d ever needed in his life—to crush her mouth to his again. He could still taste her joy in their second kiss, but within the span of several heartbeats, desire and desperate need quickly edged their way in.

With Tatiana in his arms and her mouth pressed against his, Ian momentarily forgot all the rules, all the restrictions he’d put on his life and his heart. He couldn’t do anything but feel, couldn’t stop himself from taking another kiss, and then another and another, dragging her closer with each one, falling deeper under her spell with every breath he stole from her lungs, with every gasp of pleasure she made against his lips.

He’d known it would be like this with her, hadn’t he? So powerfully sensual, and so addictive as she opened for him so that he could stroke his tongue against hers and she could taste him just as intimately.

On and on their kiss went, her response utterly unrestrained, but it wasn’t until he heard her moaning softly against his mouth that he realized his hands had slid up from her waist to cup her br**sts, her ni**les pebbling against his thumbs as he stroked her.

What the hell was he doing?

And now that they’d kissed, now that he knew just how good they could be together, how could he possibly go back?

Ian tried to think straight. Tried to remember all the reasons why they shouldn’t do this, even as she told him, “I’ve never wanted anyone, or anything, as much as I want you, Ian.”

And in that moment, when it felt to Ian as though everything he’d ever wanted was right there in front of him, even though he knew better, he simply didn’t have it in him to move away from her.

But despite the hungry way she’d kissed him, he also instinctively knew that for all the lovers she’d already had, none could have needed her as badly as he did…or would demand as much of her unfettered sensuality as he would. Grasping at straws now, he decided the only chance—and the very last one—that he had of getting them to stop this madness before it slid all the way out of their control, would be if he could scare her with the force, the depth, the wildness of his need.

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