Her throat was tight when she said, “And you don’t see how good a man you are?”
“I’ve still got a lot to make up for.”
He wanted redemption for the wildness of his youth. He wanted to make amends. He wanted to man up and be a dad.
She admired the hell out of that.
Tanner’s phone buzzed and he read the text, his mouth going tight. “It’s from Elisa. I’ve got to go.”
She straightened and set down her coffee on the counter. “Is something wrong?”
“I’ve been summoned to the principal’s office.” His smile was grim. “Again. And here I thought those days were long gone.” He moved to the door.
He turned back. “Yeah?”
“Don’t doubt your ability to be a dad,” she said softly. “You’re a great one.”
He stared at her for a few beats and then moved back to her, planting one hand on either side of her body, caging her against the counter.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting ready to kiss you,” he said, voice low and…damn. Seductive as hell.
“You are?” she breathed. “Why?”
His mouth was at her ear but he lifted his head to look at her with a smile. “Because I want to.”
“You want to kiss me?” she whispered, needing to hear it again. She couldn’t help it; she’d dreamed of this for so long when she was younger.
“Yeah,” he said. “I want to kiss you. To start.”
Holy. Smokes. “But…” Her body quivered. Bad body. “But we talked about this. We’re both way too screwed up, remember?”
“I don’t feel screwed up right now.”
She felt her stomach clench a little, in a good way, the kind of excitement humming through her veins that she usually associated with opening a gallon of ice cream or a new bag of chips. “But your text…you have to go.”
“In a minute,” he said, staring at her mouth.
Oh boy. He wasn’t helping. In fact, he was making her want things. Lots of things, not a single one of them ice cream or chips. So she closed her eyes. This made him seem even closer. They weren’t touching, not a single inch, but she felt completely surrounded by him. Intimately so.
She wanted more. “I’m off men, you know.”
“Yeah. I know.” He took his hands off the counter and pulled her in, hard against his body.
She took two handfuls of his shirt. For balance, she told herself.
But the truth was, she wanted to put her hands on him. His chest was warm and hard beneath her palms. It almost hurt to look at him, he was so damn good-looking. Those dark, dark eyes that held his secrets and emotions in check, that square jaw with a sexy amount of scruff.
Everything about him saying badass tough guy who didn’t ever do soft and gentle.
And yet he did exactly that when his hands, strong and warm, slid up her back and then down, pulling her in even closer.
Then he looked down on her face for another second, his brown eyes soft but full of intent as he slowly lowered his head.
He paused, eyes on hers.
She had her hands over his heart and could feel the beating beneath her palms. Slow. Steady.
The opposite of hers, of course.
“I…can’t remember what I was going to say.”
His eyes were smiling into hers. “So I can continue?”
She cleared her throat and nodded. “Carry on,” she whispered.
He started with a brush of his lips against one corner of her mouth, a butterfly touch. And then the other corner.
She heard a soft sound, an almost whimper, and realized it was her.
He slowly sank his fingers into her hair and she melted. No other word for it, her bones just melted clean away. And then he proceeded to kiss the living daylights out of her, a hot, wet, deep kiss that was good. So very good.
As it went on his fingers squeezed her hips, pulling her in closer. And then closer still, so that she could feel every inch of him. And, oh goodness, he had some really great inches.
She was lost, swirling in the sensations that would surely drown her if she let them. With a moan she leaned in, feeling his heart pounding at rocket speed now. Gratifying.
Tanner shifted and kissed his way over her jaw to the shell of her ear, his lips closing around the lobe, sucking it into his mouth before his teeth scraped over it.
A rush seared through her belly and she gasped. She opened her eyes and found Tanner watching her with a look she couldn’t quite place. “What was that?” she whispered, staring at his mouth.
“A test.” His voice was husky, doing nothing to ease the need inside her.
“Did we pass?” she asked.
“No. We failed. Spectacularly,” he said. And then he kissed her again—a hot, intense tangle of tongues and teeth that had her letting out that soft, needy sound again.
In fact, he didn’t stop until she was completely and utterly one-hundred-percent upside down and inside out. She might have even been transported to infinity and beyond.
When he finally lifted his head, she had to take a second before she could open her eyes.
Or maybe it was an hour.
Or a lifetime.
But when she finally dragged her lids up and stared at him, he smiled an especially bad-boy smile. “We’re going to do that again,” he said.
“Oh,” she whispered. “Okay.”