She fell to her back, and he leaned over her and kissed her, a long, lazy, hey-how-ya-doin’ sort of kiss that was perfect for stormy nights with no electricity and nowhere else to be in any hurry.
“What?” she asked, pulling back. “You’re smiling at me.”
“You’re purring,” he said, and laughed when her dark eyes narrowed to slits. “You are. It’s cute.”
“Well, you’re smug as hell. And it’s not cute.”
Once again she started to escape, but another burst of lightning lit the place, and she went still.
Flat on his back, he reached over and ran a hand up the back of her thigh to cup her ass. “Where you going?”
A shockingly close roar of thunder sounded, rattling the windows, the ceiling, hell, even the floors, and Olivia turned and leapt on top of him. “Nowhere.”
Laughing softly, he tugged her into him, made a Herculean effort to get them both on the bed, and pulled the covers over them until they were cocooned. “Nowhere sounds good to me.”
Olivia snuggled into Cole’s body. Snuggled. She was still trembling and feeling a little bit like she’d revealed her tender underbelly. She felt…exposed and vulnerable, and as a rule, she didn’t do either very well.
And neither did Cole, she was guessing, given how he’d shut down after what had happened with the match. She’d managed to distract him from that, but he’d distracted her right back.
Still, she hadn’t forgotten that look of utter hollowness and despair. “Does it have to do with the rig explosion?” she asked quietly.
He’d been stroking a hand up and down her back, and his hand froze low on her spine.
“A little bit,” she guessed.
“The anniversary of Gil’s death is this week.” He said this into her hair, voice low, so low as to be almost inaudible, but she felt the vibration of the words rumble through his chest into hers as the words sank in.
She had one hand on his biceps, the other on his jaw. She stroked down his arm, around to his back, where beneath smooth, heated skin and muscle, she could feel the coiled tension in him. “You miss him.”
He let out a low breath and brushed his jaw to hers, saying nothing.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly.
“It’s not just the loss,” he said. “It’s that I thought…” He shook his head. “It’s turning out that maybe he wasn’t exactly the guy I thought.”
Her fingers trailed up and down his spine, the way he’d done to her only a little while before, and she realized his grief was mixed with something more. Anger.
She was definitely missing a piece of this puzzle. “What do you mean?” she asked.
He shook his head.
“It’s okay,” she murmured, “if you still don’t want to talk about it.” After all, she had plenty of her own secrets to protect.
“Something came out after,” he said. “After Gil died. And it changed…things. For me.”
She squeezed her eyes shut. Oh, boy. Okay, so they were going to go there. And she couldn’t be surprised. He was not a man to hold back for long, if at all. “And whatever it is,” she said softly, “it affected your feelings for him?”
“Yeah. Though I’m trying to get past it.” He slid out of her arms and rose from the bed. “I’m getting water. Need anything?”
A moment to herself to regroup would be nice, to back away from the emotions that were entirely too close to the surface when it came to him. “No, thanks.”
Cole turned toward the kitchen and promptly tripped over the old trunk at the foot of her bed.When he righted it, the lid popped open. Inside were the costumes of her own personal collection, the ones she shared at Drama Days but couldn’t bear to part with. On top was the Cinderella costume, which he reached for.
The trunk lid slammed closed, just missing Cole’s fingers. He glanced at Olivia.
“Sorry,” she said, kneeling at the foot of the bed, holding the trunk closed while all gloriously rumpled. And gloriously nude. “You okay?”
“Private collection?” he asked.
She wrapped herself in the sheet they’d kicked to the foot of the bed. “Maybe I’ll take a glass of water after all,” she said.
In other words, Yes, asshole, private collection. Message received. Cole crossed the open space and hit the kitchen, filling up a glass of water, downing it in a few gulps before filling it again and bringing it to Olivia.
While she drank, he slid back into the bed with her. “Not exactly an open book,” he said.
She didn’t pretend to not know what he was talking about. She simply shrugged. “Old habits.”
He studied her face by the ambient candlelight flickering around the room. “You can tell me anything. You know that, right?”
“Nothing much to tell.”
One of their phones was going off; he could hear it vibrating across her nightstand. He lifted his head and found it was hers.
It said: DICKWAD CALLING—DON’T ANSWER!
He glanced at Olivia. She did not meet his gaze. “Ignore it,” she said.
A minute later, another call came in. This time the screen read: EVIL QUEEN CALLING—DON’T ANSWER!
He was starting to see a pattern.
Olivia’s hand came into view, and she scooped the phone from under his nose and brought it to her nose. “Damn,” she said.