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.We're not a great deal alike on the surface."Cool and sexy, Reed thought again.That was precisely Chantel's image as a symbol of Hollywood glamour.The woman beside him would never be termed cool, and her sexuality wasn't glamorous but tangible.Dangerously so."Being a triplet must be a very unique sensation.""It's hard for me to say, since I've always been one." They began to walk again."But it's special.You're never really alone, you know.I think that was part of the reason I had enough courage to come to New York and risk it all.I always had Chantel and Abby, even when they were hundreds of miles away.""You miss them.""Oh, yes.I miss them dreadfully sometimes, and Mom and Pop and Trace.We were so close growing up, living in each other's pockets, working together.Yelling at each other."She chuckled when he glanced down at her."It's not so odd, you know.Everyone needs someone they can yell at now and then.When Trace left, it was like losing an arm at first.Pop never really got over it.ThenAbby left, and Chantel and I.I never thought how hard it was on my parents, because they had each other.You must be close to your parents."He closed up then, instantly; she thought she could feel the frost settle over the heat."There's only my father.""I'm sorry." She never deliberately opened old wounds, but innate curiosity often led her to them."I've never lost anyone close to me, but I can imagine how hard it would be.""My mother's not dead." He didn't accept sympathy.He detested it.Questions sprang into her head, but she didn't ask them."Your father's a wonderful man.I could tell right away.He has such kind eyes.I always loved that about my own father—the way his eyes would say 'Trust me,' and you knew you could.My mother ran away with him, you know.It always seemed so romantic.She was seventeen and had already been working clubs for years.My father came through town and promised her the moon on a silver platter.I don't think she ever believed him, but she went with him.When we were little, my sisters and I used to talk about the day a man would come and offer us the moon.""Is that what you want?""The moon?" She laughed again, and the sound of it trailed down the sidewalk."Of course.And the stars.I might even take the man."He stopped then, just outside the beam of a streetlight, to look down at her."Any man who'd give it to you?""No." Her heart began to thud, slowly at first, then faster, until she felt it in her throat."A man who'd offer it.""A dreamer." He combed his hand through her hair the way he'd wanted to, though he'd told himself he wouldn't.It spread like silk through his fingers."Like you.""If you stop dreaming, you stop living."He shook his head, moving it closer to hers."I stopped a long time ago." His lips touched hers, briefly, as they had once before."I'm still alive."She put a hand on his chest, not to keep him away but to keep him close."Why did you stop?""I prefer reality."This time, when his mouth came to hers, it wasn't hesitant.He gathered and took what he'd wanted for days.Her lips were warm against his, exotic in flavor, tempting in their very willingness to merge with his.Her hand pressed against the back of his neck, drawing him nearer, eagerly accepting the next stage of pleasure as their tongues met and tangled.The streetlight washed the sidewalk beside them, and the buildings blocked out most of the sky.They were alone, though traffic shuttled by on the street.His fingers spread against her back, bringing enough pressure to align her body with his, hard and firm.The scent she wore made the musky smell of the city disappear, so there was only her.Trapped in his arms, she was already soaring up so that in a moment she could touch the chilled white surface of the moon and learn its secrets.She hadn't expected to be breathless, but she swayed against him with a helplessness neither of them could comprehend.He tasted of power and ruthlessness.Her instinct for survival should have had her turning away from it, even scorning it.Yet she remained as she was, wound around him in the warm evening air.The hand at the back of his neck stroked to soothe a tension she sensed intuitively.He knew better.From the first moment he'd seen her, Reed had known better.But he'd continued to take steps toward her rather than away.He was no good for her, and she could only mean catastrophe for him.There would be no casually complementary relationship here, but something that would draw you farther and farther into a slowly burning fire.He could taste it.The frank surrender that was seduction.He could hear it in her quiet sigh of acceptance.With her body hugged tightly against his, he could feel the need expand beyond what should, what must, be controlled.He didn't want it.Yet he wanted her more than he'd wanted anything that had come into his life before.He drew away.Then, before he could stop himself, he framed her face in his hands to kiss her again.He wanted to be sated by her, done with her.But the more he took, the more he wanted.A woman like this could destroy a man.Since childhood his life had been based on the premise that he would never allow a woman to be important enough to hurt him.Maddy was no different, he told himself as he all but drowned in her.She couldn't be.When he drew away again, Maddy's legs were rubber.She had no flip remark, no easy smile.She could only look into his eyes, and what she saw wasn't passion now, wasn't desire.It was anger.She had no answer for it."I'll take you home," he told her."Just a minute." She needed to catch her breath, needed to feel firm ground under her feet again.He released her, and she stepped to the street lamp and rested a hand on the solid metal surface.Light washed white over her and left him in shadow."I get the feeling that you're annoyed at what happened."He didn't respond.When she studied him, she saw that his eyes could be colder than stone.It made her hurt, as much for him as for herself."Since I'm not, I'm left feeling like a fool." Tears came to her easily, as easily as laughter, but she wouldn't shed them now.She'd inherited a good deal of pride as well as quick emotions from her parents."I'd just as soon see myself home, thanks.""I said I'd take you."Inner strength came back.It might have been the underlying fury in his voice that did it."I'm a big girl, Reed.I've been responsible for myself a long time.See you around."Maddy walked to the corner and lifted a hand.Fate took pity on her and sent a cab steering toward the curb.She got in without looking back.He stood there until he saw her get safely inside.Then he stood there longer.He'd done them both a favor—that was what he told himself.He continued to tell himself that over and over as he remembered how soft and fragile she'd looked in the bright glow of the streetlight.Turning away, he began to walk.It was late before he headed for home [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]