The soft thunk of Delta’s head connecting with the doorframe told Mike he’d missed the entrance to her bedroom. By a lot. As it turned out, walking through an apartment with a girl’s legs wrapped around his waist was a lot more precarious and dangerous than it was sexy. He was pretty sure whatever had fallen off the end table beside the sofa had shattered, and now he’d given her a concussion against the doorjamb.
Her arms were around his neck and one withdrew, her hand going to the side of her head just above her ear, dark hair rustling. “I’ll live,” she said with a grimace. “But God, be careful.” Her brown eyes lifted to meet his and he knew she wasn’t just talking about the knot on her head, but her whole body. Be careful with all of me, her eyes said, and for the first time, a fast twitch of fear skittered across her face.
His hands were on her hips, over the delicate lace of her panties, under the midnight blue sequined dress that he’d pushed up to get to her. Her mile-long legs were tight around him, too tight, her heels digging into the backs of his thighs. Mike squeezed the sharp points of her hipbones and then set her away from him, her legs slowly uncurling as he set her on her feet.
“I’ll be careful,” he said, and she nodded, muscles in her slim throat working as she swallowed. If she was used to a dud, he realized, she wasn’t used to leaping into bed with near-strangers.
She presented her back to him and walked into her bedroom, not bothering to straighten the hem of her dress, her bare feet silent on the carpet. It was an elegant, overstuffed, feminine sort of room, the big bed in the center piled with champagne and cream covers and pillows. The chair in the corner and her dressing table were spindly and delicate. The chandelier above the bed dripped crystal and was probably on a dimmer switch given how low the light was.
Delta walked to the end of her bed and reached with long, thin fingers to pluck down the straps of her dress. She rolled her shoulders one at a time and the material slithered down, leaving a lean, smooth stretch of back exposed, the ridge of her spine and grooves between her ribs looking positively breakable, her skin a shining alabaster. She wasn’t wearing a bra. Her thumbs hooked into the dark fabric and a slow roll of her hips took the dress over them before gravity pulled it down to puddle around her feet. Her lace panties were the cheeky kind that flirted with the line between visibility and imagination.
Hooooly shit. Before she turned to face him, as her muscles tensed and she was all lithe curves and shimmering dark hair, Mike couldn’t believe this was happening. He hadn’t won, though, he realized, as she stepped out of her dress and squared off from him. Standing in front of him mostly naked, with her perky, perfect tits and her supermodel legs, there was a clear challenge in her eyes.
Cocky bitch, he thought with a grin, already tearing at the buttons of his shirt. He hadn’t wanted anyone in his life as badly as he wanted her now. Challenge accepted.
Delta didn’t know why she was awake, but her room was the deep pitch of early morning and the sheets were soft and warm against her naked skin. She stretched – her spine popped and her ankles cracked as she twirled them – and rolled onto her back, into the center of her bed, toward –
She collided with something warm and solid and her heart leaped halfway up her throat. Oh, God, what –
Mike, she remembered, heat flaring in her cheeks and deep in the pit of her stomach. Still fuzzy-headed with sleep, the images that splashed across the back of her mind were blurry and hard to reconcile. At some point between getting almost naked and Mike crashing into her and laying her out across her bed, she'd switched her brain off and let her body take over.
He was a big guy, and all six-feet-four inches of him pressing her down into the mattress might have been frightening if he hadn’t grinned at her like an overgrown teenager and asked her what she wanted him to do. And his big hands had been careful. And the tight bunch and flex of his muscles under her hands had been almost as exquisite as the kiss of pain that accompanied the pleasure of him sliding into her.
But now it was well after midnight and he was still very much asleep and naked in her bed.
“Michael,” her voice was thick and sleepy, but she reached out through the sheets and gave his shoulder a shove. “Mike, wake up.”
He stirred with a deep inhale and a rustle of the sheets. “Wha…?”
“Wake up,” she repeated, and shoved him again, suddenly anxious to get rid of him. This was wrong; it wasn’t fair. She couldn’t say she was just seeing where Mike could take her if he was sleeping over and taking up all of her bed and pushing for supremacy.
“Why?” he groaned. “Time is it?”
“I don’t know. Early. Get up.”
“Wait…” he rolled so suddenly she gasped; he was just an ominous shadow that moved over her, his arms braced on the mattress, one of his legs pushing between hers, his bare chest pressing down against hers. “You want me to wake up?” He was grinning, his teeth that faintest glimmer in the dark, “or get up?” His hips flexed and her breath caught again. “’Cause those are two very different things, sweetheart.”
“Get out of bed,” she clarified, “put on your clothes, and leave. That’s what I want.”
His hand trailed down the outside of her arm, under her elbow and around her ribcage. “No it’s not,” he said lightly, his palm cupping the underside of her breast, thumb tracing around her nipple. “You just think that’s what you’re supposed to want.”
“Don’t try to psychoanalyze me,” she warned, but felt her shoulders lifting away from the mattress as she leaned up into his touch. “It’s bad enough,” she put a hand against his chest with the intent of pushing him away, but felt the slow thump of his pulse against her fingers and kept still, “this happened. You don’t need to spend the night.”
“Why not?” He ducked his head and kissed the side of her neck.
Her free hand slid up the back of his neck and her fingers threaded through his short hair of their own volition. He was on top of her and around her, touching her, his mouth trailing over her pulse point, and the reason why not seemed weak at best. “Because…” His hand swept down her hip, her thigh, his fingers curling under the soft back of her knee as he tried to bring her leg up around his waist.
“Stop.” She yanked at his hair and brought his head up, shoved his chest as hard as she could. The sharp, desperate crack of her voice finally caught his attention and he pushed himself up with both hands on the mattress, hanging above her.
“Are you serious?”
He flopped down onto the mattress beside her. She bounced just a little; he was all muscle and bone and big as a house, she could feel him taking up space beside her. When she compared him to Greg’s unobtrusive perching on the far side of the bed, Mike seemed bold. She liked it, if she was honest, and it scared her too for some reason. He was too close too fast and she couldn’t even…think properly, especially not when he was trying to sex her up again.
Mike sighed. “I repeat, why?”
Delta tucked the covers in tight around her breasts.
“We already did the deed. And it’s not like you didn’t enjoy it.”
“That’s not the point,” she protested, pressing a hand over her fluttering heart.
“Then, Jesus Christ, what is?”
“I…” she, what? Was afraid she could like him and not just sort of like him? Didn’t want to set herself up for disappointment? Actually missed Greg? Had a guilty conscience? She swallowed hard. “Sleeping over dulls the excitement,” she said finally. “Morning breath and no makeup will have you seriously rethinking how competitive you want to be.”
He was silent a beat. “That’s the stupidest excuse I’ve ever heard.”
“It’s not an excuse.”
“Yeah, you tell yourself that.” But the sheets rustled as his shadow sat upright next to her. “You’re not fooling me, though.”
“What makes you think I’m trying to fool you?” she stared at the ceiling and folded her arms over her chest, listening to him get to his feet and start feeling across the floor for his clothes. She reached out and turned on her bedside lamp, but she didn’t look at him.
“How could you keep up the ice princess routine if you let yourself get all snuggly?”
“It’s a word,” he defended. The mattress dipped as he sat down again, presumably to put on his shoes. Delta let her head cock to the side and saw his wrinkled white oxford stretching across his shoulders as he reached to lace his Nikes. “And the point is: you’re freaking not.”
“Oh, yes you are.” He stood and her eyes swept back to the ceiling. “And it’s cool, I get it.” He was walking around the foot of the bed, coming around to her side. “I tend to have that effect on women.”
“Do you ever stop being a self-important jackass?” she asked, clenching her hands tight in the sheets to hide the unwanted tremor that rattled them.
“Nope. It’s kind of my thing.”
Go away, she wanted to tell him as he knelt beside her and took a lock of her hair between his fingers. Instead she rolled her head to the side and watched her shiny dark hair get wound around his index finger.
His cocky smile became more true. “I can still stay,” he offered. “You clearly know how to get a guy’s pants off in a hurry.”
Delta didn’t want to, but she smiled, cheeks feeling hot with embarrassment. “I think…” for one horrifying moment, she almost asked him to get back into bed with her, but she recovered. “You should probably go.”
He sighed, but nodded. “Okay.” He opened his hand and her hair spiraled loose of his finger. In a shockingly sweet gesture that made her feel like a total bitch, he smoothed loose strands back off her forehead and leaned in to press one last, very convincing kiss to her lips. She lingered longer than he did, neck stretching, their lips coming apart with a wet sound when he pulled back. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said, “or later today. Whatever.” One more smile that made her feel guilty, a stroke of his thumb along her temple, and he stood.
Long after the front door had locked behind him and she’d doused the lamp, Delta stared at the sheer drapes over her window, covers pulled up to her chin, wishing she’d slept straight through to morning and hadn’t kicked him out.