The Hating Game Page 52

“Yes, it does. After the swim, I lie in the shade eating grapes and cheese. Then I’d have a big glass of wine and fall asleep with a book on my face.”

“Basically you’ve just described heaven. What happens then?”

“I forgot to mention that a beautiful girl swam in that pool with me and slept in that sun too. She’s starving. I’d better take her out for pasta. Carbohydrates and oil, covered in cheese.”

“I’m enjoying this food fantasy,” I manage. I want to be that girl so badly I could howl.

“We’d walk back to the villa in the dark, and I’d pull down the zip of her red dress. I’d feed her champagne and strawberries in bed to keep her strength up.”

“How are you coming up with this stuff.” I’m so enraptured I’m almost slurring. If this is what his holiday daydream is like, I wouldn’t survive his bedroom.

“Then I’d wake up and do it all again the next day. With her. For weeks.”

I stare at the painting and imagine standing with him under the glittering dark purple sky, the headlights of faraway cars illuminating the rows of poplar trees lining the road.

I have to say something. Anything. He’s looking at me, clearly entertained.

“Lucky bitch.”

He laughs out loud at that. I fire off my next quiz question.

“You’re shipwrecked onto an uninhabited island. What three things would you take with you?”

“A knife. A tarpaulin.” He thinks for a long time on the last item.

“And you. To annoy you,” he amends.

“I’m not an object. I don’t count.”

“But I’d be so lonely on the island,” he points out. I think of him sitting alone in the all-staff meeting.

“Okay. So we’re crawling up the beach and I’m cursing your name for pulling me away from civilization and hair-care products and lipstick. What then?”

My shiver from the movement of his lips on my earlobe shakes the couch. When I feel the press of his mouth to my throat, I groan out loud.

He turns the TV off, and for a moment I’m certain he’s about to walk me out. Or pick me up and throw me on his bed. It’s hard to tell. He raises his hands into my hair, softly trailing his fingertips through it, until he reaches my scalp. My eyelids flutter.

“I’d build you a shelter and find you a coconut, and then we’d pass the time.”

“How?” My voice is barely more than a whisper.

“Probably like this.” He presses his mouth to mine.

Chapter 17

We both suck in a breath and the room has no oxygen left.

Last night he picked me up under a streetlight and gave me a kiss that was calculated to leave me wanting more. Now I know what my problem has been today. I’ve been craving.

Images of us in another life in Tuscany are still behind my eyelids as he kisses my mouth open, touches my tongue with his, and breathes. He sighs. He’s wanted this. He’s been craving as badly as I have. My mouth is vanilla, his is mint, and they combine to create something delicious.

A miracle has occurred, and I don’t know when, but I know it now. Joshua Templeman does not hate me. Not a bit. There’s no way he could when he kisses me like this.

He loosens one hand from my hair and spreads it across my jaw, stroking my skin, cupping and tilting my face. It’s so completely sweet, even as our tongues begin to get filthy.

I slide my knee over his lap, feeling my inner thighs stretch.

“I swore to myself I wouldn’t come here tonight.”

“Yet here you are. Interesting.”

We both look down at my thighs on his, and I can’t stop myself from sliding my hips forward.

This new position splices power and adrenaline into my blood. I put my hands on his collarbones and look him over. His hair is still a little damp. I cup the nape of his neck in my palm and press my hand against his heart.

I start a slow slide down to his chest, ribs, testing the density of flesh. He’s so firm I can trace the lines between each muscle, even through a T-shirt. I try to tug up the bottom of the shirt but it’s pinned under my knees.

Impatience rips clean through me. I nearly tear his shirt off but I force my fingers to loosen. He must see this flash of violent cavewoman, because he closes his eyes and his throat hums in a groan.

“Sometimes you look at me like you’re . . .”

He forgets what he was saying when I begin to kiss his jaw. His hands lie palms-up on either side of my calves. He’s letting me control this and I like it. I feel him smile when I nibble against his bottom lip.

The couch gives softly underneath my knees, and as our clothes begin to make a warm friction, I feel his arousal, hard and blunt, pressing into the back of my thigh.

“I need it,” I tell him and watch his eyes go viciously black. I take huge handfuls of his clothes and we kiss again.

I roll my hips slowly in his wide lap and his hands slide down my body in a series of slow, squeezing pauses. Shoulders, underarms, the sides of my breasts. I shiver, and he slides his hands lower. Ribs, the curve of my waist. Hips. Butt.

His hands slide down my thighs, his long fingers dragging down the outer and inner seam of my jeans. He traces his fingers along my calves. When I drop my face to his neck, his hands tighten on my ankles, a little reminder he could take control if he wanted to.

“I like how little you are.” He sure sounds like he likes my body as he takes another slow, stroking tour.

As I slide my tongue into his mouth, I begin thinking about a board meeting we’d been in, a few weeks back. He’d been sitting by the window and I remember watching the sun slowly slide along the windowsill, across the floor, across the board table as the afternoon dragged on.

He’d been wearing a navy suit I don’t see him wear often and the pale blue shirt. I’d sat there opposite him, watching the way the sun slowly crept up his body like a rising tide. I’d breathed in the scent of the fabric warming on his body.

I remember how he’d cut his dark blue eyes to me during the meeting, and it had flustered me, made my stomach twist in half. He’d smirked and resumed his patient staring at the PowerPoint presentation, not taking a single note whereas my scribbling hand was cramping.

Those eyes, flashing to my face, made me jump out of my skin. I hadn’t known why. Now I do.

“I was remembering the board meeting a few weeks back.” My head rolls to one side as he kisses under the hinge of my jaw. I have a full-body shiver. His hand spreads across my ribs, thumb nudging the underside of my breast. My total focus narrows down to this half inch of contact.

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