He grinned, and she blushed. “You know what I mean!” she said, clapping a hand to her cheeks. “Oh, never mind. Candles. I’m getting candles.”
She moved to an antique hutch and opened some drawers, pulling out two armfuls of candles, which she spread around the place. “Here,” she said, handing him some more. “I’ll start lighting them.” She struck a match along the matchbox, and it sizzled, went whoomp, and burst into flame.
He startled. It pissed him off, but he did. There was no getting around it, and there was no missing it either. He’d just jumped like a goddamn baby because a goddamn match had been lit.
Over the small, flickering flame, Olivia met his gaze. She didn’t say a word, just slowly touched the tip of the match to a candle and then repeated the process on the other candles until the match’s flame got too low and she had to blow it out.
She didn’t light another.
The five candles she’d lit brought a little glow to the place, and some desperately needed warmth.
Or maybe that was the look in her eyes.
She set the matchbox down and came to him. “I’m scared,” she said.
Bullshit. She wasn’t scared. But then she slid her arms around him again, and he couldn’t think beyond the fact that she was clearly cold. Letting out a low sound, he pulled her into him. “You’re shaking.”
“That’s you,” she said softly.
She slid her fingers into his hair and met his gaze. “What’s going on, Cole?”
“Nothing is why you’re jumpy around flames?”
“I’m never jumpy.”
She ticked the moments off on her fingers. “You fell off your boat at a spark. You froze at my shop at another spark, and then just now with a flame.”
“Maybe I’m just a fucking pussy,” he said.
“Or maybe things are bothering you.”
His gaze locked on hers. “And you think badgering me about it will help?”
A bolt of lightning lit the room like day for one single heartbeat. Thunder immediately boomed, shaking the ground and rattling the windows. She shivered and shifted closer. “I think I know something that will help.”
Olivia pressed closer to Cole, tilting her head up to see his face. But it was dark, and he’d closed his eyes.
It was a technique she knew well. She’d just never had it used against her before.
“Not talking about it,” he said. “Not right now.”
She got that. She could understand that. “You’re wet,” she said softly.
“So are you.” He opened his eyes then, and with some of his usual good humor, met her gaze. “And déjà vu.”
Had it been only a week since that morning they’d dragged themselves to his boat, frozen, shivering, needing to get warm, stripping down to the skin beneath a blanket?
Why did it seem like a million years ago?
The reason was both obvious and uncomfortable. There was the amount of time you’d known someone, and then there was the way you’d spent that time.
They hadn’t had much, she and Cole, and though the time they’d spent together had been intensely intimate, bonding them, she still didn’t know his favorite color or whether he was a lid up or down sort of guy.
But she knew something was wrong. Something was haunting him from deep inside. And she was driven to help.
Odd, because he was just about the least helpless male she’d ever met. But she wanted to bring him comfort. She wanted to be his comfort. “You know what comes next, right?” she asked, keeping her voice light, teasing.
He shook his head.
“I get you warmed up.” So she took him by the hand and led him over to her bed, where she pushed him down to sit. Then she wasn’t sure what to do with herself.
He arched a brow.
His facade. That amused, laid-back expression, like Everything’s cool, no worries. He was damned good at that, so good that she imagined most people never saw past it.
But because she had that same look mastered, she could see beneath it. She didn’t know exactly what was wrong, only that something was. And if he was half as good at hiding his emotions as she was, then he wasn’t going to let go easily.
“Strip,” she said.
He smiled. “Love it when you get rough,” he said, but didn’t move.
Fine. She got that too. Holding back, building barriers. Hard to keep up any barriers without clothes, however, and on a mission, she pulled off her coat, tossing it on a chair by her bed.
His smile widened at the costume beneath. “You going to let me peek this time?” he asked.
“You peeked last time,” she reminded him, willing to let him think he was running the show. She unlaced the costume and it fell from her. This left her in leather arm bands and…neon pink panties. She bent to the sandals and he groaned.
“Leave them,” he said.
She yanked the covers down and sat on the bed, eyeing him expectantly.
Eyes on her, he stood up and toed off his shoes, then did that sexy guy thing where he one-handed his shirt off over his head. Then his hands went to the zipper on his cargoes. “You going to warm me up, Supergirl?”
“That’s Warrior Princess to you,” she said, sucking in a breath when he shucked his pants. He was commando. Cole wore clothes extremely well, but he wore nothing even better. She loved his build, all those rangy, lean muscles. There wasn’t an ounce of extra fat on him.