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Just To Be With You (Page 40)

Just when he thought she couldn’t shock him more, she went right ahead and did it without so much as blinking. First, she’d stunned the crap out of him by actually being as innocent as she’d seemed, and then she’d blown his mind by unleashing such sweet yet wild sensuality that he could barely keep up with her. Only to find that one little four-letter word falling from her lips could send him reeling harder and farther than any orgasm had.

And now, this. Actually asking him point-blank to compare his time in the sheets with other women to being with her just hours before.

When he didn’t answer her fast enough, she just kept pushing, “Was being with any of them as good as what you and I shared last night?”

“No.” Damn it. “Not even close.”

She smiled at him like she’d just made her point, and maybe it felt too much like she had, like she was getting too close, too deep again, because even though he’d already been cruel enough, he couldn’t stop himself from saying more. “You’re so tied to the fairy tales you’ve been acting out your whole life, and to the happily-ever-afters that screenwriters tie up into a neat and tidy bow, that you can’t see that nearly all of those perfect endings are just fiction. They’re nothing more than great stories meant to keep the audience coming back for more. So just because we burned up the sheets together doesn’t mean I love you. What it means is that I love your body. I love your face. I love touching you. And I love making you come. But that’s all it is, Tatiana. Just hot sex. Nothing more.”

Her skin lost more and more color as he kept going, kept swinging harder, aiming lower. But even if he had deliberately just said all those things to make sure Tatiana stopped saying how much she loved him, God, how he hated to watch her smile fall.

Hated it more than he could ever remember hating anything before in his life.

“Fine,” she snapped. “I get it. You don’t love me. You’ll never love me. And I’m a naïve idiot for ever thinking you did. Happy now?”

She spun around, ripping off his tie from around her waist and then his shirt from her shoulders. In seconds she was naked again and Ian realized, with no little fury at himself, that he was scum enough to respond to her astonishingly perfect body after he’d just done everything in his power to shove her out of his life.

“No, damn it,” he ground out, “I’m not happy about any of this.”

But she’d already hightailed it out of the kitchen toward his office. By the time he caught up to her, she was shoving her feet into her heels. She looked with obvious dismay at her shredded clothes on the floor, then stalked past him out of the office and toward his front door.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going without your clothes on?”


He knew how mad she was, and how hard she was trying to be tough, but he could also hear the slight break in her voice in the middle of that one syllable. Her pain twisted up everything inside of him…everything he didn’t want to feel for her but couldn’t seem to find a way to stop.

She grabbed her trench coat—one that barely grazed her kneecaps—from where she’d taken it off by the front door, and as she covered her naked body with it, then did up the buttons with trembling fingers, he nearly grabbed her to make her stop. But he already knew that making the mistake of ever touching her again could only lead them back to his bedroom.

It had been hard enough to push her away once—nearly impossible, in fact. He was dead certain he’d never manage it twice.

“You can’t leave dressed like that, wearing only your coat and nothing else.”

“Yes, I can. I can do anything I want. I can even make the mistake of sleeping with a man who’s too haunted by his past and too scared of what the future might hold to let himself believe that I love him.”

With that, she threw open the door, walked quickly to the elevator, and pressed the down arrow. The metal door slid open immediately, but right before it closed behind her, he moved into the small space with her.

“I’ll drive you home.”

“I’m going to walk.”

“You’re not wearing clothes. Hell, you’re not wearing underwear!” And Lord knew that in nothing but a coat and heels, with sex-tangled hair and her lips still slightly swollen from his kisses the night before, she was his every erotic fantasy.

But he couldn’t touch her. Should never have touched her, damn it.

“Well, then I guess I’d better hope there’s not a breeze coming in off the water today, or I’ll be giving people a show they haven’t paid for. And not the happily-ever-after kind this time,” she said, echoing his harsh words in a brittle tone.

Frustration with absolutely, positively everything had him growling, “You’re going to get in my car, even if I have to throw you over my shoulder to get you there.”

“That would mean touching me again…and we both know you’re not about to risk making that mistake again. So I’m pretty sure your car is off the list.”

“I’ll hail you a taxi, then.”

When she didn’t argue, he tried to convince himself that she was finally listening to reason. Not only was she barely dressed, it was pouring outside. Hard enough that even rain-hardened Seattleites weren’t hoofing it through town and the sidewalk was completely empty.

God, how could he have screwed things up with her so badly? It was why he’d been a master of control all these years, because he’d already learned from the way things had turned out with his marriage how little he had to give to anyone else. He’d been careful not to let any of the women he’d spent time with over the past few years feel too much for him. It had been so easy to keep his heart separate from sex that he’d been certain there wasn’t even the slightest chance of being tempted to lose himself over a woman again.

But he hadn’t bet on Tatiana, on how open she was with her emotions, or that she’d choose him to be the one she gave her love and her innocence to. He’d never been able to think straight when he was around her, and mere hours after he’d had her in his bed his brain was more muddled than ever. Later, when he was able to think rationally again, he prayed he’d somehow be able to figure out a way to make all this up to her.

Right before the elevator doors opened in the lobby, she pulled a hat he hadn’t known she had with her out of her bag, jammed it onto her head, then scooted right out the front door of his building and headed up the storm-battered sidewalk at a fast clip.

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