Actors, she reminded herself.
And there wasn’t a single fake bone in Cole’s body.
He reached down for the bulb without looking at her, and she handed it over.
“Where did you get the duct tape?” she asked.
“Had some in my pocket.”
Of course he did. She watched as he shoved the roll of duct tape back in said pocket and pulled a screwdriver from another.
He twisted one end off, and in the blink of an eye, the thing had turned into a hammer. He hit something a few times, turned it into yet another tool, played with the wiring, and then screwed in the new bulb.
“Hit the switch,” he said. He paused. “Please.”
Damn, he was good. She hit the switch, and then blinked as a circle of light flooded over them.
He hopped down with his usual easy agility. “Turn it off again.”
She turned it off without question.
Then he stepped into her, bumping her body with his.
“Why did I turn it off?” she whispered.
“For this. Which, by the way, I’m going to owe Tiny for after all.”
Oh, God, and then.
He kissed her.
The moment Cole’s mouth touched Olivia’s, he caught some serious voltage. Not electrical this time, but two hundred volts of pure sexual energy.
Her lips were soft, and sweet.
So damn sweet.
And yet somehow not sweet at the same time. Wanting to savor her, he moved slowly, sliding his hands up her arms, over her throat to her jaw, his thumbs caressing her as he tilted her head to suit him.
And man, did she suit him.
She let out a soft, wordless murmur, and then her hands were on his chest. He liked that. Her fingers dug in a little bit, signaling that she was about to either push him away or pull him in.
What’s it going to be, babe?
After the longest heartbeat of his life, those fingers of hers curled, gripping his shirt.
He was going to take that as a good sign.
Her mouth parted, and then she was kissing him back. He let her take control for a moment, a rough groan escaping him when her hands slid from his chest into his hair.
Things went hot then, detonation hot, and only when they were both breathless did she pull away.
“Don’t take that the wrong way,” she gasped.
“There’s no wrong way to take that.” His voice was more than a little rough. He couldn’t help it; all the blood had drained out of his head.
Staring at him, she put her fingers to her own lips. “That was…”
Spectacular, he thought. Heart-pounding. Perfect—
“Interesting,” she finally said.
He stared at her and then had to laugh. “You’re not easy on the ego.”
She made it worse by smiling. “I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, I can see that.” But he couldn’t help smiling, too, as he turned to go. “’Night, Olivia.”
She didn’t say anything, so he turned back to look at her. She was standing there in the doorway, lit only by the moonlight. But he didn’t need to see her face to know she was still looking a little dazed.
Which was only fair. He was dazed all the way into next week.
“Bye,” came her soft whisper.
“I said good night,” he said, “not bye.”
“What’s the difference?”
“A whole hell of a lot,” he said.
“Not to me.” And then she slipped inside, the click of the lock sounding in the night.
Cole was halfway home when his cell rang. His mom. “Everything okay?” he asked. The question was habit, one born of fear. When his father’d had his heart attack, Amelia had called Cole first. It’d fallen to him to handle his mom, his sisters, all the arrangements, everything, and he’d done it without fail.
But his heart still skipped a beat whenever she called him late at night.
“I’m fine,” she said, her voice light and happy, signaling that everything truly was okay. And given the party atmosphere he could now hear in the background, things were more than okay.
“I’m just wondering about you,” she said in the way people did when they were trying to get you to spill your guts.
There was no possible way the gossip mill could’ve gotten ahold of the mind-boggling, heart-stopping, pulse-racing kiss he’d just laid on Olivia.
He stopped right there in the middle of the sidewalk and looked around. Nope. All alone. “I’m fine,” he said.
“No,” she said. “Fine would be you married with kids so I could be a busybody grandma to them—”
“I am. You’d make a great husband and father, Cole.”
He’d never been one to see himself with a wife and a family. He had all that craziness already on his plate with his mom and sisters. “Mom, what did you need?”
“To know why you aren’t here.”
He tried to visualize the calendar he rarely bothered to keep updated, tried to remember whatever it was that he’d forgotten. Not that anyone could blame him, because there was some sort of family gathering every week. He did his best to skip as many of them as possible, but he was rarely successful in this endeavor.
Blood was much thicker than water.
“Need a hint?” his mom asked.
Apparently so, since his brain was currently replaying that kiss with Olivia on repeat, leaving little room for anything else. “No, I remember.”