Almost Summer (Page 7)
It was, apparently, what he’d been waiting for, because he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her hard against him. They were touching everywhere and then his mouth was on hers.
She let herself get lost in his kiss and when he took her upstairs, she got lost in the rest of him.
* * *
Two hours later they were back downstairs. Alistair had pulled on his jeans and his shirt, but left off his shoes and socks. Paige wore her dress and nothing else. Knowing a beautiful woman was nearly na**d beside him made it difficult to concentrate, he discovered as he prepared to barbecue the steaks.
Every time she walked past him, he was aware of her. He couldn’t seem to stop staring at her br**sts as they moved. Telling himself he was a trained medical professional didn’t make the sensation any less intense. Warning himself that fire was dangerous didn’t lessen his desire, either. Even though they’d just made love, he wanted her again.
She walked out of the kitchen with the steaks on a plate. Her expression was relaxed and content, her eyes knowing. She looked like what she was—a woman who had been well-satisfied.
He could still taste her and feel her skin, hear her moans as he gave himself over to her while she shuddered beneath him.
Her mouth curved into a slow, sexy smile. “Stop it,” she told him.
“Thinking about it. At this rate, we’ll never get dinner.”
He took the plate from her and put it next to the barbecue, then pulled her close. “Food is highly overrated.”
She reached for his hands and placed them on her breasts. As his fingers explored her, her pupils dilated and her breath caught.
“Maybe you’re right,” she whispered.
He kissed her, moving his tongue against hers. She leaned into him. He dropped his hands to her h*ps and pulled up her dress until he could touch bare skin. Wanting poured through him until he was hard and ready and—
He drew back and stared at her.
“What?” she asked.
He shook his head, not ready to admit to her what he couldn’t even admit to himself. Only the truth wouldn’t be denied. It took root in his mind and grew until it threatened to consume him.
“I can’t do this.”
She swallowed. “Dinner, or…” Her voice trailed off as her mouth trembled. “Alistair?”
He took her hands in his.
The words were there, waiting to be spoken. They required forgiveness, of himself mostly. And a willingness to admit that before, with Sara, he’d taken what was offered. An easy solution. He’d been too wrapped up in his work to want to truly engage his heart.
“I was wrong before. I hurt someone I cared about because I wasn’t willing to be honest.” He stared at her. “I won’t do that again. I’m sorry, Paige, but I can’t leave you. I won’t leave you.”
He tried to smile and couldn’t. He could only hope she would understand, would feel the same and agree.
“I know you have your heart set on Paris, but perhaps you could consider Australia and Thailand first. We could go to France after that. Or if you don’t want to change your plans, then I’ll wait. If you’ll have me. I’ll wait and then we can be together.”
She drew her eyebrows together. “I don’t understand. Are you asking me to go with you?”
“I’m telling you that I love you and I’m doing a very good job of it.” He touched her face with one of his hands. “I love you, Paige. You have shown me what was missing in my life. What I tried my best to avoid. I couldn’t understand how Simon could give up his work for a woman, but now I see what he was trying to tell me. That loving Montana makes him better at what he does.”
He kissed her. “I love you and yes, I’m asking you to come with me. We’ll travel the world, and in between we’ll come home to Fool’s Gold.”
The trembling began deep inside. Paige heard the words and yet couldn’t quite believe them. Alistair was still talking, repeating what he’d said about Australia and how he would wait for her if she wanted to go to Italy first.
She felt tears in her eyes and then she was laughing and throwing herself at him. He caught her against him and hung on as if he would never let go.
“I love you, too,” she murmured before kissing him.
Later she would tell him that Italy would wait. That she was thrilled to go to Australia and Thailand. That she would go anywhere with him. But for now it was enough to be in his arms, knowing this was where she would spend the rest of her life.
She felt a whisper of touch against her back. A presence. As if Sophia were there, happy for her. Then the sensation was gone, as though a spirit had been set free. Love had always been the answer, Paige realized. And now it would always be hers.