coming October 6, 2015
• SNEAK PEEK •
“When was the last time you’ve been decently kissed, Penelope?”
She licked her lips. The gesture was more nervous than it was seductive, but damn if Cole wasn’t seduced all the time.
This was madness.
She was his coworker. They spent eight to five together, Monday through Friday. Did he really want to go and complicate that?
No. He didn’t.
Especially considering her little pep talk she’d given him a couple weeks ago about how they were going to be friends. Just friends.
But then he saw it. Saw that she saw the moment he’d decided to walk away. That she’d been expecting it.
Cole didn’t have a temper. Wasn’t prone to bursts of anger. But he was good and pissed. Pissed at whomever had taught her that she didn’t deserve a hot goodnight kiss on a New York City sidewalk.
Cole’s hand slipped around the back of her neck, his thumb running along her jawline, as he slid his other hand around her back, the bulk of her puffy winter coat doing nothing to disguise how small she was.
He bent his knees slightly as he used his thumb to hook under her chin, tilting her face up to his. He paused for the briefest of moments—giving her the opportunity to pull away … to protest if she didn’t want this.
She didn’t protest.
He kissed her.
He kissed Penelope Pope in the snow like his life depended on it.
His lips moving against hers insistently, swallowing the sweet breathy noises she made, his arm bringing them even more firmly together.
And when she molded herself against him, her snowy gloved hands coming up to cup his face, Cole forgot all about the reasons they shouldn’t be doing this. Forgot about the fact that this was going to make Monday morning a hell of a lot more complicated.
He thought only of her. Of them. His tongue nudged her lips apart, and she surprised him by slipping her own tongue into his mouth, tangling with his in teasing yet urgent strokes.
For someone who claimed to not have much kissing experience, she sure as hell seemed to know precisely what he liked.
He shifted them even closer, the hand on her neck sliding backwards so that her head was cradled in the crook of his elbow, as he held her small frame all the way against him as he devoured her mouth.
A car door slammed, and Penelope jumped, her hands pushing against his shoulders as she moved away.
Cole was still trying to gather his thoughts—hell, was still waiting for her the world to stop spinning—when she closed the distance between them once again, her hand coming up as she jabbed a finger in his face.
“Don’t ever do that again.”
Cole’s mouth dropped open.
Not exactly the response he’d been expecting. Or hoping for.
“Hey, hold on now—“ he said.
He reached for her, but she stepped back. “Don’t you dare, Cole Sharpe.”
Her voice was firm. Unwavering, but her lips shook, just a little, and his eyes narrowed as he tried to figure out what the hell was going on here. Talk about mixed signals.
She looked mad and scared and aroused, all at the same time.
“I don’t want this, Cole. I don’t want you, not like this.”
Well … hell.
What did a man say to that?
He wanted to snap that her kiss had said otherwise. That a woman didn’t plaster her body against a man’s and kiss the hell out of a man she doesn’t want.
“You’re telling me you didn’t feel anything with that kiss?” he asked, hating what the question revealed—that he’d felt something—but he threw it out there anyway.
She looked away, and his eyes narrowed. “Of course I did. You’re very … skilled.”
He felt a little thrill of victory, and started to reach for her again, but her next words stopped him cold.
“But I don’t—don’t do it again. Please.”
It was that last word. The please uttered with just the tiniest bit of pleading that had his hands dropping to his sides once more.
“Okay,” he said quietly.
He felt defeated. And rejected. Neither was a familiar sensation, and neither was pleasant.
But what could he do?
He’d been in her shoes dozens of times. It was never easing telling a woman that she wanted more than he had to give.
Somehow he’d never pictured how it would be on the other side, and …
He started to turn away, when she called his name.
Cole turned around, found her watching him with a nervous expression. “We’ll be okay, right? On Monday?”
He forced a grin. “Absolutely, Tiny.”
It wasn’t until he’d put several blocks between the two of them that he let his forced smile slip.
But as he trudged home through the snow, Cole knew one thing for sure. Penelope Pope would never find out just how much that kiss had rocked him.
Or how much that rejection had burned.