When her stomach growled again, she headed to raid the kitchen. She moved down the stairs like a cat burglar, but froze like an ice cube at the sight of Roth sprawled on the sofa fast asleep with an open book flat on his shirtless chest.
Whoa. Now, this was a sight for sore eyes, not-so-sore eyes, eyes of all states. The flickering flames washed him in an amber glow. It was the most alluring thing she’d ever seen. Stop it, Tressa. Consider him the enemy. A well-put-together, devastatingly appealing enemy. But the enemy nonetheless.
With his mouth partially open, soft snores poured out. Helpless against it, her eyes trailed over his smooth chest, appreciating the one pec peeping out from under the book. She would love to run her tongue over his nipple and those faithful-to-his-workout-routine abs. No, you wouldn’t. Nor did she want those muscled arms to close around her in a snug embrace. Nope. Not at all.
A fine line of curly black hairs disappeared beneath the waistband of the gray sweatpants he wore. Her system hadn’t been ready for the imprint at his crotch. She squinted to make sure her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her. Nope. The man was packing, with a capital P.
Before the sight blinded her with desire, she slid her eyes away. A blanket lay in a multicolored puddle on the floor beside the sofa. Had it fallen off or had he kicked it off? Probably the latter. It felt like 710 degrees in there. In her case, she suspected the scorching temp had less to do with the fire and more to do with her reaction to all of that hot chocolate before her.
Tressa reached for the book, then reconsidered. Okay, now she was being silly. Even though he was now in the enemy category, what harm could come from her removing it?
The second she touched it, Roth’s eyes popped open. In a flash, he grabbed a fistful of her shirt. Startled, her legs wobbled, then buckled, causing her to collapse on top of him.
The surge that coursed through her entire body had to be what it felt like to touch a live wire, minus the threat of certain death. Then again, by the magnitude of which her heart pounded, cardiac arrest couldn’t be far behind.
Eyeing Roth dumbly, she said, “I… The book…” Her eyes traveled to his mouth, posed in a straight line. “I’m sorry.” But when she tried to shimmy out of his hold, he held her in place.
As usual, they eyed each other for a long suffocating moment. Roth’s eyes lowered to her mouth, and his jaw tensed as if he was fighting not just a desire to kiss her but a need.
His gaze rose to her in a manner that suggested he struggled with what to do next.
“Did I frighten you?” he said.
“Why are you trembling?”
Desire. “Okay, maybe a little,” she said instead.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. In one of the facilities I lived in for a while, you always had to keep one eye open. Falling asleep guaranteed you’d have your belongings stolen. I learned to sleep lightly. Some habits are hard to break.”
“It’s okay, really.” To even imagine the hell he’d been exposed to growing up hurt her to the core. There was no wonder he didn’t have a lot of faith in people. If she had to guess, he viewed her as one of those thieves in the night just waiting for him to doze off. But the only thing she would ever be interested in stealing from him was his heart.
Unsure why, Tressa rested her head on his shoulder. Maybe because she felt a tremble in him, too. Comforting the enemy was the noble thing to do, right?
To her surprise, Roth circled her in his warm, strong arms. She exhaled. This is how it’s supposed to be. Closing her eyes, she relaxed and enjoyed being the object of his affection. This was how she liked things between them, comfortable, easy. So why was she about to make things bumpy?
“Something clearly exists between us, Roth. Something that gives me so much peace it scares me.”
He hummed a sound that could have been interpreted as understanding or confusion, then his arms tightened around her a hint more. Was that his way of saying he felt the same way? She needed him to use words.
“Why are you afraid of me, Roth?” That was the only logical explanation. The only thing that made sense.
Roth chuckled a smooth, sexy sound that caressed her ears.