Another day, another installment. And they surprised me again with this weeks postings. But I like where they are going, so I won't fuss too much. LOL Enjoy!
Hustle Into Love
Chantal’s heart leaped in response. His dark smoky eyes, that slight smile, the way he was holding her…they all told their own story. He wanted her and what was more, had wanted her for a very long time.
And to tell the truth…she wanted him right back.
But no matter the fire between them, there was no way she was going to just melt in his arms like she’d done before. If they were to have anything between them, it couldn’t start out with sex. Not until she knew she was more to him than a face and a body. She had the feeling that her feelings for Mace were too important to play fast and loose now. Even if she did that type of thing. Which she didn’t.
But oh…it was so tempting. Now that she’d gotten a taste of what he could do to her, it would be even more difficult to put aside the longing for more. She wanted to push him to the floor, rip off his clothes and dive in for another round. And by the look on his face, he wouldn’t be adverse to whatever she had in mind.
“Chantal? Where did you go?”
Mace’s deep voice jerked her back. She shook her head ruefully and laughed. “Nowhere. I was just thinking about that ten years.”
He held her a little tighter. “I should probably tell you my mother adores you. And my grandmum, too. Another reason I was a little jealous.”
She smiled, thinking of the two other women. They’d always made her feel so welcome whenever she visited England. “They’re wonderful. They sorta adopted me when they found out I was alone in the world.”
“You were never alone.” Mace shrugged his wide shoulders. “You always had Li.”
She squeezed his wrists. “And it sounds like I had you too, even though you wouldn’t admit it.”
He reddened. “Yes. I wouldn’t even admit it to myself. But I was just so sure you and Li—”
“That’s in the past,” she interrupted him. “There’s no need for any more guilt or confusion.”
“That’s true.” His eyes darkened as he bent toward her. “And we can get started making up those lost years right now.”
“Whoa, there, hotshot!” Chantal put her fingers on his lips an instant before he kissed her. “As much as I’d love to burn up this room with you, what I said earlier goes. I don’t usually jump into bed with men I don’t know. And I don’t really know you.”
There was a flicker of disbelief in Mace’s eyes before he hid it. “You’re saying no again.”
She could sense his disappointment, but she stood her ground. “I’m saying not yet. God, Mace, we’ve just met each other after ten years of misunderstanding and miscommunications. Don’t you think we should make sure we’re okay before we jump into bed?”
He stared at her for a long time before gusting out a heavy sigh. “You’re going to kill me, you know.”
She grinned, relieved he wasn’t angry with her. Frustrated maybe, but not really angry. “Sorry?”
“Good try, sweetheart.” Mace barked out a laugh. “Only I don’t think so. But as much as I hate to admit it, maybe you’re right. Maybe we should try to get to know each other a little more. I’d like to learn more about the Amber Princess.”
Chantal rolled her eyes. “Please. I hate that name.”
“But it fits.” He threaded his fingers through the tangles of her hair. “You remind me sometimes of a statue that Li has in his study. The one where the girl is dancing on the banks of the river.”
She stilled and looked up at him. “You’re talking about Innocence Dancing.”
“You know it, then.”
“I should,” she answered with a smile, “since I was the one who posed for it.”
“It’s of you?” Mace’s face showed his surprise. “The amber carving is of you dancing?”
She nodded. “Li had it commissioned when I hit the big time. He wanted something to remember me by.”
“Remember you by? Were you going somewhere?”
Chantal took a deep breath. She’d been so angry with her honorary brother. “You know Li helped me get to where I am. He found teachers who helped me hone my craft and then made sure I had a chance to show the world what I could do.”
Mace nodded. “He was your sponsor. I get that now.”
“You know he’d done that type of thing before. Helped others I mean.”
“Yes. Just before he left on his…vacation—” it was obvious Mace was still working out his feelings about his brother’s orientation, “—he mentioned something about a new project. An artist this time.”
Chantal nodded. “Yes. But I’m different than the other people he’s helped. To them, he’s a sponsor only. A checkbook, if you may, to help them with their dreams. While he might spend a little time with them now and again, they aren’t really in his life.”
“And you are.”
“I refused to do it any other way.” Her chin went up. “I could tell Li was a very special man. And he was lonely. I couldn’t just take his money and not give anything back.”
“I think—” Mace’s voice was hoarse, “—he isn’t the only special person.”
She blushed at the compliment, but went on. “As we got to know each other, we became close. Like a real brother and sister. But for some reason, Li couldn’t quite believe I’d want to be his friend once I didn’t need him any more.”
“So big brother had some issues, too,” Mace mused. “Now I don’t feel so bad.”
She laughed. “Your brother doesn’t see himself the way we do. I needed him very much. Even more the more famous I became.”
“So what does the statue have to do with it?”
“He had it commissioned about the time I started on my first world tour. In amber, because of my nickname. When we got back, he suddenly announced how he wouldn’t stand in my way any longer. I was free to leave and do what I’d always wanted to do. Because I was becoming a legend, just like we’d planned.”
“Damn it.” Mace shook his head. “Sounds like Li being selfless again.”
“I was furious. It’s the first time I yelled at your brother. When he tried to calm me down, I belted him.” She had to smile at the memory. “I broke my pinky doing it.”
“I remember the bandage. I always wondered what happened, but—” he looked shamefaced, “—I couldn’t ask.”
Chantal thought his embarrassment adorable. “Well, I told him in no uncertain terms he wasn’t getting rid of me that easy. He was my friend and if he didn’t like that…tough. Because I wasn’t going anywhere.”
Mace stared at her. “Just when I think I couldn’t have gotten it any more wrong, you tell me something else that shows me how fucked up I had everything.”
“I’m not telling you about this to make you see anything,” she responded primly. “Li means the world to me, but I won’t use him to get to you.”
“That’s not what I meant.” When Mace pulled her back into his arms, she didn’t hesitate. She couldn’t. It felt so right. “All I was saying is how wrong I was. I deserved the grief I got from you and Li.”
She relaxed. “Oh.”
“Innocence Dancing.” He brushed his lips across her forehead. “It fits. When I watch you, that’s what I see. Innocence mixed with sensuality. A potent combination.” Putting his fingers under her chin, he lifted it so their gazes met. “And very, very, arousing.”
Just like that, her insides liquefied. If she’d been wearing panties, they’d have been drenched in an instant. She stared at him. “You’re going to kiss me again, aren’t you?”
A smile curved his hard mouth. “Are you going to belt me if I do?”
Heat shot through her at the look in his eyes. She knew she was playing with fire, but she couldn’t help herself. “Only a kiss,” she warned. “Nothing else.”
“Only a kiss,” he murmured, and then made his words, truth.
So, we'll see how far Mace and Chantal go next time. Will Chantal be able to hold her ground and keep sex out of the equation? Or will Mace melt her defenses and take what is his? Find out in Thursday's installment!!!
Hugs to all,
Follow Your Dreams