Macie couldn’t blame the way she trembled solely on the change in the weather. The change in Carter had a lot to do with it.
Stupid girl. Stupid to hope he’d be different. When would she learn nothing ever changed for her when it came to her relationships with men?
Water splashed up to her ankles, as she couldn’t avoid mud puddles. Had she left her keys in her car?
He’d glared at her like a disobedient child.
A sharp rock tore at the skin on the bottom of her foot and she stumbled. She righted herself and kept limping along in the downpour. Why in the hell had she parked so far away?
Maybe it was a cosmic sign she should drive far away and never look back. Good plan.
Don’t look back. He’ll convince you to stay—only temporarily—and you need to keep running.
She’d counted to ten when a hand landed on her shoulder and jerked her to a stop.
A BOOM of thunder nearly burst her eardrums.
Strong male arms wrapped her against a warm bare chest. “Hey. It’s okay. I’ve got you.”
“No! Let me go.” Being wet and mad made it easy for her to slither out of his grasp.
Her hair hung in her eyes, obscuring her vision, her dress was sopping wet and stuck to her calves like plastic wrap.
Still, Macie ran.
Until two steel bands immobilized her completely. She’d only taken three steps that time.
“Macie. Calm down.”
She thrashed and shrieked.
He put his mouth directly on her ear. “It’s me. Carter.”
“I know who you are, dumbass, why do you think I’m trying to get away?”
Carter spun her to face him, keeping his hands gripping her upper arms. “What is wrong with you?”
“You won’t let me go. You’re keeping me here against my will. I just want to go home.”
The clouds rumbled and she went absolutely still.
“You’re soakin’ wet, scared out of your mind and in no shape to drive.”
“I have to get out of here.”
“No, you don’t. You need to take a deep breath and calm down.”
“Don’t tell me what to do!”
The threat of thunder gave way to another loud boom and before the noise quit, Macie screamed again.
Carter cupped her face in his hands. “Look at me. Jesus, Macie, you’re scarin’ me.”
“And you’re pissing me off. Let. Me. Go!” She knocked his hands away, dodged sideways and ran.
This time she made it about ten steps when she heard— Riiiippppp. Carter had caught her by the back of her dress.
She whirled around, leading with her fists, losing her footing as she yelled, “You bastard.”
He lunged for her as she slipped in the mud and they both fell to the soggy earth.
She scrambled to her hands and knees and tried to crawl away from him.
He snagged her ankle, rolled her on her back and pinned her to the ground.
Macie thrashed and bucked like a penned wild animal. She was scared by the storm, mad at Carter for treating her as callously as every other man in her life, but mostly mad at herself for acting like a child in the face of a thunderstorm. Again. Breathing hard, she closed her eyes and managed not to scream at another deafening roar of thunder.
Carter locked her wrists in one of his hands and pressed them above her head, while his hard body trapped hers.
“Look at me.”
She shook her head.
“Please. Macie. Let me help you.”
“It’ll help me if you let me go.”
“You can’t do this to me. First you snap—”
“I’m sorry I yelled at you.”
“And now seein’ you so upset, knowin’ it’s my fault. It’s killin’ me. Please. Let me make it right.”
“Let me try.”
Macie didn’t move.
When he eased up, she finally looked in those blue, blue eyes. She lost her will to fight when she witnessed the misery on his face.
“I’m an ass**le sometimes.”
“But I’d never do anything to intentionally hurt you. You have to know I ain’t that kinda man.”
“What kind of man are you, Carter?”
“A sorry son of a bitch right about now.”
Rain fell as they studied each other.
“I wasn’t spying on you.”
“On some level I know that. But I’m so used to keepin’ people away from my work until it’s finished. I force everyone away from me when I’m workin’ because I’m not always nice. When I saw you standin’ there, starin’ at my piece of shit work in progress… But it ain’t your fault. Sorry I lashed out at you.”
“I wasn’t staring at what you were working on, I was staring at you.” Crap. That hadn’t come out right. “What I meant was—”
“I see in your eyes exactly what you meant.”
The gray clouds above them clashed like cymbals. Before she had a chance to scream, Carter slanted his mouth over hers and kissed her.
And kissed her.
And kissed her some more, until he’d thoroughly scrambled her brain to anything beyond the way he tasted and the sexy sounds he made as his mouth dominated hers.
“Macie,” he mumbled against her damp cheek. “God, Macie. Let me have you. All of you.” He released her wrists and levered himself over her, trailing his lips down her throat. When he reached her chest, he yanked the stretchy bodice of her dress aside and his warm mouth engulfed her breast.
“Oh. Man. No fair,” she whispered.
Carter rolled to his side, taking her with him. Mud splattered his face. He flicked his tongue over the tip of her nipple while his other hand kneaded her left breast. “Goddamn you’re perfect. Just like I knew you’d be.” His gaze hooked hers. He vigorously sucked her left nipple through the wet fabric until she couldn’t lie still but wiggled like a worm.
“I want you like this. Right now. Wet. Raw. Dirty.”
“Yes. Oh. Yes.”
He returned to her mouth, kissing her stupid. She felt him sliding her sodden, mud-caked dress up her trembling thighs. When it was bunched around her waist, he knelt between her legs. He pulled aside her thong and fingered her where she was slick.
“Lift up.” He tapped her butt. In the split second she raised her hips, he grabbed her thighs to slide her closer to his torso and draped her knees over his shoulders.