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Excerpt: Almost Romance

Excerpt: Almost Romance

Book 5: Clover Park Charmers

Kate turned, about to ask Ian to give her a moment to change, when the room went dark. “Ian! Turn the lights back on.”

The door to her office clicked shut. “Not until you answer a few questions.”

She considered if she could maneuver in the dark to the desk drawer where she’d stashed her purse with its handy flashlight keychain. But then Ian held both of her hands in his warm grip, which somehow warmed her all over. “Okay, what?” she asked.

“How many men have you slept with in the last four years?” While the question was intimate, it was within the normal realm of their conversations. They talked about anything and everything. Ian had been very helpful in explaining things of a sexual nature early on, before she was experienced. Still, this conversation could easily become foreplay, especially in the private darkness of her office. Ian was quite the dirty talker, capable of accelerating her libido at an alarmingly high rate.

“You’re not my boyfriend,” she said. “You don’t get to ask me questions about my sexual history.”

His thumb stroked across the sensitive underside of her wrist, making her pulse skitter. “Counting me.”

She sucked in a breath. “I fail to see the relevance of this question.”

“That many, huh? Twenty, thirty?”

“No! Five!” She really couldn’t tolerate inaccuracies, especially in numbers. Like nails on the chalkboard for her.

He squeezed her hands gently. “Five. Including me. Did you sow your wild oats, Kate?” She could hear the smile in his voice, which annoyed her because his number before his big relationship was probably much higher.

“I guess.” She’d told him she’d wanted to sow her wild oats in grad school after their first hookup, but truthfully the men she’d been with had been rather disappointing. None of them had given her the full-tilt boogie orgasm she’d hoped for, which would’ve made them a ten on her rating system. Ian had explained about the full-tilt boogie once when she was a virgin and dying not to be. The topic came up naturally when they’d overheard the screams of ecstasy from across the hall where their respective siblings, Amber and Barry, were fucking like rabbits. She and Ian were often kicked out of the apartment for their siblings’ naked time and hung out a lot that one summer because of it.

“And how would you rate those other men on your performance scale of one to ten?” Ian asked, entwining his fingers with hers. “Ten being full-tilt boogie.”

She flushed and yanked her hands out of his grasp. “Ian, this conversation is over.” The way he intuitively knew what was in her head was unnerving. Especially since she always had to guess, usually incorrectly, what was going on in someone else’s head. She carefully skirted her way around him and turned the light back on. She blinked owlishly.

“That bad, huh?” he asked. “Only threes or fours, or, ooh—” his voice took on a pitying tone “—pathetic ones?”

“Not at all! The median was seven point two.”

He leaned close and spoke the next words near her ear, his breath hot across her skin, making her knees weak. “And what was I?”

She squirmed because the truth was only going to get her in deeper. She clung to a technicality. If she discarded the outlier, the graduation beer-driven hookup, and focused on the deflowering, she had a good answer. “I had nothing to compare you to, so no relevant scale or scoring system was applicable.”

He pulled back and met her eyes. “Ten?”

“A solid eight.” She was forced to admit that for the sake of accuracy.

He cocked his head. “Why not a ten?”

“A ten requires things you couldn’t be expected to do with a virgin in terms of stimulation or erotic…” She trailed off at the heated look in his eyes, feeling like somehow the conversation had gotten away from her. She fanned herself, suddenly overheated. “I wish I had a window.” A nice cold winter breeze would be awesome.

He leaned closer, and her body temperature spiked again. It was so inconvenient the way he took her from a nice comfortable state of rest to full thrusters ahead. “You’re forgetting the last time we were together.”

That was definitely a ten, but she did not want to encourage him. For a very legitimate reason. That she would tell him as soon as she found out how she rated.

“What’s your rating for all the women you slept with?” she asked casually.

His brown eyes twinkled with amusement. “You get a ten, even the first time.”

“Oh!” She tittered. “A ten! I—you flatter me.” She giggled in a very uncharacteristic way and smoothed her hair. “I was so inexperienced. I didn’t even know what I was doing.”

“You were open and honest, and you let me do whatever I wanted.” His fingers slid into her hair, cradling her head with one large hand. Her breath caught, but she couldn’t seem to move away. “And I realized sex is only special with the right person. Kate, you’re that right person for me.”

“Ian,” she said nervously, “I-I don’t know why you’d say that. I was a dopey desperate virgin. And that last time I was drunk.”

“No, you were tipsy from one beer.” His mouth grazed her earlobe as he spoke in a low, husky voice. “And the virgin thing, well, it was a privilege to be your first.”

She shivered. “Oh.”

He pulled back, his eyes hot on hers. “I’m going to kiss you now.”

“In my office?” she asked inanely.

“In your office,” he confirmed.

“Why?” she asked softly in a voice that sounded like an invitation even to her ears. This was a very bad idea. But his hand was so warm and large and strong, tipping her head back in delicious anticipation. And he smelled so good.

“Wrong question.” His gaze dropped to her mouth. “Ask how long I’ll be kissing you.”

“Ian,” she breathed.

His arm wrapped around her waist and with a quick tug made her tip into him. “Until you agree to let me give you a ten.”

She melted against the heat and strength of his body, but even so, a voice in her head was shouting at her to protest. There was a small problem with this line of experimentation. “Ian—”

She was cut off when his lips met hers, hot and demanding, and that electrifying chemistry that always happened when he kissed her shot straight through her body, making her mind shut down, a blissful break from its usual constant cranking. Only Ian could make her forget the world and lose herself in the moment. She clutched his sweater as he palmed her ass and pulled her up on tiptoe, pressed against his long, lean body. The kiss went on and on, and she just let go, lost in the feel of his mouth claiming hers, his taste, his scent. Nothing mattered except this heat that consumed her, made her ache and remember what they had together.

He lifted his head just as she attempted to climb his body, one leg lifted and wrapped around his. He gazed into her eyes with a warm smile. “Let’s go.”

She set her leg down and released her hold on his sweater, smoothing it back in place. And then she was forced to admit a very unfortunate fact that just proved her theory that their timing would never be right. “I have a boyfriend.”

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