Brazen (Brazen 1) - Page 26

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“I’m going to pack,” he said softly, and he turned to walk away, anticipation tightening every muscle.

Chapter Thirty-Three

Seth stood outside Zane’s door listening to his brother throw his clothes into a suitcase. His family was crumbling around him, and only he had the power to stop it. He had to have the courage to take a chance.

It terrified him and gave him hope all at the same time. Could it really be as simple as trusting himself and trusting Jasmine? Could a relationship between the three of them work? No more guilt, no more angst, just an embracing of something different and yet so special?

He pushed the door open wider and stepped inside. Zane looked up and paused in the zipping of his suitcase.

“Tell me something, Zane. I need to know the truth. Are you really okay with the idea of sharing Jasmine…with me?”

Zane straightened his stance, his expression serious. “I won’t lie to you, man. In the beginning I was jealous. But it seemed natural that she’d love you, too. The only fear I’ve ever had is being the lower rung on the ladder. Assuming the role of the younger brother, not considered an equal. I love Jasmine just as much as you do, and I assume just as much responsibility for her and her happiness.”

Seth nodded. “I understand. I’d never want you to feel second best, not when it’s the fear I hold most. I realized something after Jasmine left.”

“Yeah, what’s that?” Zane asked, his voice cautious.

Seth let go of the door and shut it behind him. “I realized I wasn’t allowing myself to trust Jasmine. That the whole time she was telling me she loved me just as much as you, I didn’t believe her. And maybe, for this to work, I have to be willing to have faith in her. Believe in her.”

Zane nodded.

“It won’t be easy, and maybe that’ll be my fault, but I want to try, Zane. I don’t want to live without her. I don’t want you to leave here. I want to bring her home. To us.”

An expression of pure relief flooded Zane’s face. He sat down on the bed, his hands trembling. “Are you sure?”

“I’m not sure of anything but the fact that I love her and that we’re both miserable without her. There has to be a way to make this work, and I want to find it.”

Zane smiled then, and Seth realized that he hadn’t smiled since Jasmine had left. None of them had.

“Maybe you should go get packed,” Zane said, “because I plan to leave in the next thirty minutes.”

* * *

Jasmine was just finishing dinner with her brother and sister-in-law when the doorbell rang. Cody excused himself to go answer the door while she and Tara began clearing the table.

“I’m glad to see you eating better,” Tara said as she walked around Jasmine with a pile of plates.

“I’ve missed Cajun food,” she replied. “Carmen cooks some mean Tex-Mex and Mexican food, but I haven’t had Cajun food since Mama used to cook her etoufee.”

“I hope mine measures up,” Tara said with a grin.

“It was terrific.”

Both women looked up when Cody walked back into the kitchen, a smile on his face. He dropped a kiss on his wife’s lips then turned to Jasmine, eyes gleaming.

“There’s someone here to see you.”

Jasmine blinked in surprise.

“In the living room.”

She stared between her brother and Tara, who now wore a wide smile of her own.

“Go on,” Tara encouraged. “Cody can help me finish up.”

Jasmine turned and walked on stiff legs into the living room. When she saw both Zane and Seth standing there, her mouth fell open in shock.

“What are you doing here?” she whispered.

“We’ve come to take you home,” Seth said gruffly.

Her heart pounded furiously. There was only one way she’d return to Sweetwater, only one condition. He had to know that. To give her false hope was terribly cruel.

She wiped her hands down her jeans, unsure of what to say. Too afraid to give voice to her hopes. All she could do was stare, so hungrily.

Seth and Zane both moved toward her, their expressions softening with something that looked so much like love. They each took a hand and guided her toward the couch to sit.

“Cody was right,” Zane said grimly. “You look like hell.”

Her gaze shot to his, her hopes sinking fast. “Is that why you’re here?” she asked dully. “Because Cody was worried about me?”

“No,” Seth said, turning her chin toward him. “We’re here because we love you, and we want you to come home.”

Her eyes widened.

“Yes, Jasmine, you heard right. We love you. We want you to come home. We want you with us always.”

She glanced between Zane and Seth but if she thought to find doubt or disagreement between them, she found only calm acceptance.

“You changed your mind?” she said in wonderment.

“I think Zane’s has always been made up,” Seth said ruefully. “I was the hard-headed bastard. And I’m sorry that I hurt you so many times. I won’t hurt you again, Jasmine. I want this to work. I’m willing to do what it takes to make it work.”

She threw her arms around Seth’s neck and held him as tight as she could. Then she turned and did the same to Zane. She was in sensory overload. She wanted to crawl all over both of them, hugging, touching and kissing them. Finally she settled for pulling them close to her sides so she was held firmly between them.

“Zane?” she asked, looking up at him.

He put a gentle finger to her lips. “We’ve talked, Jaz. We can do this. Seth and I are good, I promise.”

The tears she’d been trying so valiantly to hold at bay trickled down her cheeks. And then more came and soon she was sobbing great big noisy sobs as each man held her, stroking her and murmuring soothing words.

“I thought this would make you happy,” Seth said with a chuckle. “We didn’t come all this way to make you cry.”

She kissed him, cupping his face in her hands. “I am happy. So happy.” And then she started crying again.

Zane laughed and pulled her onto his lap. “You have to stop, Jaz.” He squeezed her to him and pulled her hair away from her face.

She buried her face in his neck and clung to him, so very afraid this was all the product of too many sleepless nights and that she’d finally fallen asleep only to dream wonderful, impossible dreams.

“I thought I’d lost any chance I ever had of making you both love me,” she whispered. “I made so many mistakes. I handled things all wrong, and still, you’re here. I cannot even begin to tell you how completely and wonderfully happy I am right now.”

Zane pressed his lips to her hair, and Seth reached out to take her hand.

“Will you come back home with us, Jasmine?” Seth asked. “I promised Carmen before we left that we’d return her family to her. But more than that, I promised myself to bring back the one person who ties us all together. You.”

She reached out to touch his face. He nuzzled into her palm then reached up to take her hand, turning it over to kiss the soft pad of her thumb.

“Yes, Seth. Please take me back. Take me home.”

Epilogue

She entered the water with barely a ripple. Jasmine skimmed along the bottom of the pool, her arms fanning out as she propelled herself forward.

The water surrounded her, sliding sensuously over her body, and she felt light, at ease. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the cool caress over her bare skin. Here, she felt weightless, like she was flying.

Her chest tightened as she felt the twinges of her lungs, starved for oxygen. Almost reluctantly, she pushed herself upward, breaking the surface of the water. She sucked in a mouthful of air as her hands gripped the side of the pool.

When she opened her eyes, she saw a worn set of boots mere inches from her fingers. She looked up just as Seth squatted. He reached for her and pulled her from the pool and into his arms as he stood.

“I’m going to get you wet,” she murmured just as he closed his lips over hers.

“I don’t care,” he murmured back.

She melted into him. Her arms twined around his neck as he deepened his kiss. She let out a long sigh of contentment when he moved from her lips to her jaw and finally down the curve of her neck.

When he nibbled a path toward her breast, she grinned but made no effort to push him away.

“I’ve always wanted to f**k in the pool,” he said. He nuzzled aside her bikini top then ran his tongue over one taut nipple.

She groaned and arched more fully into his mouth. “You’re not dressed for swimming.”

She felt his lips turn upwards.

“Who said anything about being dressed?”

“My thoughts exactly,” she said.

Over the last year, her battle with the swimming pool would best be described as volatile. It hadn’t been easy, and it hadn’t been overnight, but Seth and Zane had been patient with her and never tried to push her before she was ready.

Now swimming was nearly a daily ritual. The water that had long been such an enemy was now one of her greatest indulgences.

As Seth tugged on the strings of her bikini, she grabbed for his shirt. She wasn’t careful, didn’t care if she ripped the damn thing.

Seth had her na**d before she managed to get his shirt off, and with a growl of impatience, he stepped back to hastily do the job himself. He yanked his jeans down his h*ps and kicked them, along with the boots he’d shucked, toward one of the chairs.

She smiled, gave him her best come-hither look and crooked her finger. He paced forward, a lean, hungry look simmering in his eyes. She backed away and hopped over the side of the pool.

She landed with a splash, got her footing then glanced up to where he stood. “Come and get me,” she challenged.

He quirked one brow, and she being the smart girl she was, turned and dove under the water, heading as quick as she could into deeper water.

She didn’t get far.

A strong arm closed around her waist, and she surged upward as Seth yanked them both to the surface. His mouth was on hers almost before she could take a breath.

He picked her up and stalked through the shallow end until her back met the hard edge of the pool.

“Put your legs around my waist,” he rasped.

When she complied, he cupped her ass, spreading her. One hand left her, and he reached between them to position his c**k at her pu**y entrance.

He thrust hard. Their coming together was urgent and hurried. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on as he f**ked her against the side of the pool.

“I’m a married woman. I shouldn’t be doing stuff like this,” she teased.

He buried himself in her and took several long, shuddering breaths close to her ear. “Yes, but f**king my brother’s wife has such a forbidden quality to it, don’t you think?”

She sank her teeth into his neck and nipped him in retaliation.

“Ouch. Damn it, woman.”

A year ago, Jasmine wouldn’t have taken such a statement so lightly, but then Seth wouldn’t have made a joke of it either. When their relationship was in its infancy and the three struggled to forge a tenuous bond, Seth had suggested that Zane be the one to legally marry Jasmine.

Her heart softened all over again when she thought of how hard it must have been for Seth to make that offer. But he hadn’t wanted Zane to think he would ever take a backseat in the relationship.

So she and Zane had been married in J.T.’s office by the local judge. Then Seth and Zane had whisked her off to Paris for a honeymoon. Cherisse arranged a ceremony where Jasmine was wed to Seth and promised to both men. It had been beautiful, emotional and it was a night she’d never forget.

“It’s a damn big insult for a woman to leave the building when a man’s making love to her,” Seth said dryly.

She reached up to touch his face. “I was remembering Paris.”

His blue eyes sparked, and he kissed her hungrily. He eased forward again, and the cool water splashed up her sides. His arms tightened around her, his mouth fused hotly to hers as his h*ps met her flesh again and again.

A low moan tore from her throat as his mouth fed hungrily on her. His lips glanced down her neck and to the soft spot under her ear. She threw back her head and gave herself over to the pleasure he lavished on her.

The sun warmed her face, but Seth’s love warmed her heart.

He shuddered against her as her orgasm broke and splintered through her body. For a long moment, he held her there, buried between her legs, his taut muscles coiling beneath her fingertips.

“God, I love you,” he said raggedly.

“Carmen will be home soon,” she whispered. “And I love you, too.”

He pulled away and smiled. Bereft of his closeness, the water quickly chilled around her, and she shivered. He picked her up and waded to the steps.

Water fell from their bodies and splattered the concrete as he headed for the kitchen door.

“Carmen’s going to kill us if we get her floors wet,” Jasmine muttered.

Seth set her down inside the door. “Wait here and I’ll get us some towels.”

She rubbed her hands up and down her arms and bounced on her toes in order to keep warm as he dashed na**d up the stairs. Seconds later, he enveloped her in a towel and dried her from head to toe.

He leaned down to kiss her. “Get upstairs and get some clothes on or Carmen will scold me for not taking better care of you.”

Jasmine snorted. “As if.”

But she hurried up anyway to shower and dress. Anticipation curled in her stomach when she glanced at the clock. In just a few more hours Zane would be home.

Seth watched Jasmine yawn and battle sleep as she struggled to remain focused on the movie they were watching. She glanced at the clock every few minutes, and he knew she was anxious for Zane to get home.


Tags: Maya Banks Brazen Erotic
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