Piper swallowed, holding his gaze. “What about love?”
Ryan froze for a second, then raked his hand down his face. “Piper, you know I want marriage and the whole thing my parents had. I know they were a minority when it came to eternal love, but I’m not sure that’s what I feel right now. All I can do is move forward and hope that’s what happens. I can’t guarantee anything and I’m not making promises.”
Piper reached up, cupped his cheek and stroked his dark stubble with her thumb. She knew he didn’t love her, not like a man would love a woman romantically. He loved her on a friend level and that was fine because she herself wasn’t sure about that intimate degree of love. Did it even exist? Certainly not for her parents. So how would she know if she was making a mistake if she and Ryan moved forward?
“I can’t think about settling down, Ryan. I like my life. I enjoy my work, fixing up my house, hanging with you and watching our friends fall in love and marry.”
Ryan reached up, grasped her hand and squeezed. “I’m not asking for wedding bands here, Red. I just want you to know I’m not going anywhere and I plan on seducing you at every opportunity I get. If anything else comes into the mix, then that’s icing on the proverbial cake.”
Shivers raced through Piper as another loud rumble of thunder shook her old house. The electricity flickered once, twice and finally died.
Silence surrounded them; darkness enveloped them as they stood still holding on to each other.
“Looks like no work for us,” he murmured. “I think fate just handed us a prime opportunity.”
Piper inhaled Ryan’s familiar scent as fear was replaced by certainty. This was the one man who knew her better than anyone. Why shouldn’t she let him possess her body, as well? She’d slept with two men in her life, neither of whom she had feelings half as strong for. Ryan was it for her. No, she wasn’t ready for marriage or kids, but intimacy with the one man who always made her feel safe and cherished, and treated her like a lady would not be a wrong decision.
“I’m tired of being strong for both of us.” She searched his eyes, praying she was making the right decision. “I’m tired of analyzing this to death and I’m tired of this achiness I feel when I’m around you. I can’t handle it anymore.”
Ryan slid both hands around her face and into her hair, pulling her closer. “Piper, I don’t want to pressure you. Be sure about this. I’m demanding and I don’t want you to regret this later.”
“I’ll have no regrets,” she told him, knowing she wouldn’t. “I want you. I want what’s started between us. I know you in so many ways, but not the most important one. I want to know more, Ryan. Show me more.”
Ryan’s lips came down fast and hard on hers. He claimed her as he never had before. His tongue thrusting in and out as his hips aligned with hers had Piper moaning and gripping his shoulders.
Rain beat down on the house, thunder rattled the old windows. Storms had always been sexy to her. The intrigue, the careless manner in which they came through, the loss of control. Much like sex.
The ambience couldn’t have been better scripted for their first time. With their playful bickering through the years and the way they’d met, with her quick punch to his face as kids, the thunderstorm sweeping through was almost nostalgic, like Mother Nature echoing their own stormy relationship.
Perhaps Fate had planned this whole evening. Who was she to argue?
Ryan gripped her shirt and tugged it from her work pants. With little finesse, he jerked it apart, sending the tiny buttons flying across the room, spattering as they hit the wall, the floor. Piper didn’t care that he was in such a hurry. She knew the need he had because that same urge burned in her, stronger than she ever thought possible.
“Wish I’d worn something a little more feminine,” she told him.
Hunger stared back at her. “I don’t want you any other way, Piper. Always remember that.”
Strong hands encircled her waist, his thumbs stroked along the underside of her breasts across the lacy edge of her bra.
“Perfectly feminine,” he whispered. “Perfectly mine.”
As shivers raced through her, Piper went to work on his pants. In no time Ryan had released her, shucked his work boots and jeans, leaving his glorious body in only black boxer briefs. Seeing this man in swimming trunks was hot, but this was downright scorching with his erection trying to spring free out the top of his boxers. Ryan Grant should pose for one of those hot, hunky cowboy calendars. The world really shouldn’t be deprived of seeing this tatted-up bad boy in nothing but his Stetson and snug briefs.