Today we have a retro smooch from way back by Bronwyn Jameson.
Happy Sunday, Smoochers! Today's smooch is from Quade: The Irresistible One, first published 15 years ago so we're talkin' retro-bordering-on-old-skool. Chantal and Quade’s story is the second in a four-book series set in small-town Plenty, Australia. The series theme is coming home – and finding home – so I am thrilled for this re-packaging under the title No Place Like Home.
Chantal Goodwin had always had a weakness for Cameron Quade. And now that he was back in town, she discovered a single glance still made her ache like the lovesick schoolgirl she’d once been.
But Chantal was a woman now who took what she wanted, and she wanted a single night of passion with Cameron. She told herself she could still watch him walk away, but that was before she learned about the consequences of their passionate night.
Scene set-up -
Chantal invited her sister and brother-in-law, Julia and Zane O'Sullivan, to dinner and they’ve brought Quade along. He’s seen her at her worst on several occasions since arriving back in Plenty. She’s determined this will be different.
The only way she could concentrate on cooking was to chase all chattering distractions – aka Julia – from her kitchen with instructions to set the table.
Delving deep into the chest freezer for more bread rolls, she sensed a new disruption. Her first abstracted thought was: so that’s how he knew when I came into the living room—he felt me eyeballing his backside. Her second abstracted thought: if I stay here much longer, generating this amount of body heat, I’ll defrost the whole freezer-load of food.
While she extracted herself from the freezer depths, Chantal rued the fact that her jeans, like everything else in her wardrobe, fit a little too snugly.
“Julia sent me after a corkscrew.”
“Top drawer, beside the stove,” she instructed.
He found it—she heard the drawer slide open then click shut—but she felt the touch of his gaze as she placed the rolls in the microwave. Suddenly her roomy kitchen felt very small, the lack of words between them awkward.
“For some reason I’m one roll short,” she said, punching buttons to start the oven. She turned to find him leaning against the bench top, tapping the corkscrew against his thigh. A frown drew his dark brows together. “Sorry for the lack of notice. Julia said you wouldn’t mind.”
“Julia’s right—I don’t mind. And the bread shortage isn’t because you’re one extra but because she’s been sampling the goods.” She crossed to the stove, lifted the lid and stirred the simmering soup. It looked good, smelled even better.
“Knowing Julia,” she continued conversationally, “you’d have had little choice on whether you came or not.”
“I had choice. That bossy thing you Goodwin girls have going doesn’t sway me.”
Funny, but she’d never heard bossy sound like a compliment before. It was that voice, that mouth. Irresistible. The word drifted unbidden through her senses but she shook it away. “So, why did you come?”
What a curious answer... She turned a little, resting her hip against the stove, so she could see his face. “Curiosity about?”
“Your sister says you’re an excellent cook.”
And he didn’t believe her. Well! Indignation rising, she lifted a ladle full of the thick orange puree and tilted it this way and that in the light.
“Pumpkin?” he asked.
“Roasted pumpkin with green apple and sage.” She noticed his eyes haze just a smidge as he drew in the aromatic steam. “Would you like a taste?”
“Is it safe?” Perhaps it was her imagination, but his cool Midori gaze seemed to slide to her mouth and back again. Chantal felt the impact flow through her blood in a prolonged wave of longing. The touch of his lips wouldn’t be safe, not to her sanity, not to her senses, but she didn’t care. Oh, how she didn’t care!
Gaze locked with hers, he slowly ducked his head to the ladle suspended between them. When he sipped from the edge of the tilted spoon, she felt her own lips open reflexively, felt her tongue touch the very center of her top lip. Felt a soft sigh of appreciation slide between her open lips. Saw something flicker darkly in his eyes. Desire? Resolve?
He leaned closer, beyond the spoon, and another sound escaped her throat, a sound of heightened anticipation.
When his tongue touched her top lip, one soft stroke, she allowed her lids to drift shut. She needed to concentrate, to categorize each nuance, the whisper of his exhalation against her cheek, the slight change in angle that brought their lips into perfect alignment, the sensual slide of his tongue. Top lip, bottom lip. Sweet, spicy, hot. So delicious, the rush of flavor, of heat, of desire, but still just a sample, she knew, of what was to come...
Her knees turned weak, her shoulders slumped, her elbows gave way as a rich multitude of sensations coursed through her body. And then the ladle slipped from her fingers, bumped down the front of her jumper and clattered to the floor.
Eyes flying open, she jumped back just as Julia barreled through the door. Pulling up short, she took in the scene in one raised-eyebrows look, turned on her heel, and left as quickly as she’d arrived.
Which left Chantal to deal with sloshed soup and one very uncomfortable man. He stood rubbing his forehead and looking as if he couldn’t quite believe what he’d just done. She couldn’t quite believe what he’d just done. She definitely couldn’t believe what he was about to do...
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