Adrian and Gillian do not have an easy start. He’s got his own issues, as does she and they clash – especially when she comes to tell him he’s got a son…
NEVER ENOUGH by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2011, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Releasing September 6, 2011
He didn’t know why he’d shown up so early. He told himself it was so he could stop in and chat with Brody. But he’d only seen his brother the night before, so it wasn’t as if there was much to catch up on.
He set himself up at his favorite table. In the far corner where he could see anyone coming and going. He had a mocha and bagel, but it was nervousness that brought his knee to bounce, not caffeine.
Adrian knew it was her the moment he caught sight of the dark-haired woman making her way up the sidewalk. What a fucking walk she had. Confident and yet wary.
Her clothes were nice but not showy, he noted when she walked into the cafÃ© and looked around. The only jewelry he saw were some earrings, tasteful and elegant, a watch and one ring on her right hand.
She locked gazes with him, nodded and made her way over. He may have been suspicious of her motives, but his brother hadn’t raised him not to stand when greeting a woman. So he did, holding his hand out.
She took it and shook. Not overlong. Not too soft or too hard. “I take it you’re Ms. Forrester?”
After a quick nod, she turned just slightly to put her sweater over the back of her chair. Enough for him to catch sight of the neat knot of hair at the back of her neck. Thick. It would have been thick, and with the mass of it he wagered it hung to her ass. He got a vivid flash of the way it would look, dark and smoky against her pale, creamy, naked skin.
“Gillian Forrester. You’re Adrian Brown then?”
She said it seriously and for a moment he believed it. Believed that she really was just making sure instead of knowing it was him without a doubt because she stalked his website or whatever. But he’d been through some type of this scenario more than once, so by that point, he wasn’t much up to trusting anyone but himself.
“Yes. Please, sit.” He indicated the table and she sat. Her voice was perfect. Smooth. Soothing even.
“I appreciate your time, Mr. Brown. I know you’re a busy man.”
And suddenly none of that mattered. Because he wanted a whole heaping helping of whatever the hell it was Gillian had on under those clothes. Sure, they covered every part of her, but fabric couldn’t begin to hide what had to be a hot fucking body underneath it all.
He let his breath out and leaned in closer. “I was far more annoyed five minutes ago than I am now.” He smiled and she returned it, not quite willingly. For some reason that appealed to him too. If she was playing him, she was a fuckin’ master, which could work too. But he preferred to think she was genuine.
The server came over. “Can I get anything for you two? A refill on that mocha, Adrian?”
He held his cup out. “Great. Thanks.”
Gillian frowned slightly, her lips, lush and juicy, turning just a bit. “I’ve already had two coffees today. Can I get a cup of tea, please? Just something black?”
“Earl Grey all right?”
Gillian nodded before looking back at him. She hadn’t expected to be charmed. The man had been such a cad on the phone, she figured he’d be snotty. Instead, he was fabulously charismatic. Charming. His speech had a cadence to it, slow and honeyed. Not southern, but something similar. As if he liked to roll his words over his palate before he gave them up.
And, she had to admit, after sneaking a few looks at his hands and forearms, that he had lovely arms. She had a thing about a man’s hands. When a man pushed his sleeves up, she looked. And she liked what she saw.
Sun-kissed, but not fake-tan orange, a dusting of dark hair. Firm, muscular flesh. Big hands. He had calluses. She knew from the handshake. Where he strummed his guitar she assumed. Strength but not a showy type.
His hair was a dark chocolate tousle. Tumbled around his face and shoulders, taunting her fingers. It would be soft and cool against her skin. A neat beard and mustache only framed lips she had a feeling knew their way around a kiss.
And none of this was anything she should be thinking! She should especially stop looking at his arms. Her fingertips itched to slide along the tattoo she could see. Musical notes. On the other arm . . . she paused. “Woody Guthrie,” she murmured, not meaning to.
His smile was surprised and pleased. “You know the quote?” He turned his arm out so she could see it better.
“My grandmother used to listen to Woody Guthrie when I was younger. She liked to tell this terribly lurid story about how she had a wild and passionate affair with him back in the day.” Oh and wasn’t that an appropriate story.
He laughed though, and she liked it on him so much she didn’t ruin the moment.
When her tea arrived, she put her file on the table and decided to just say it.
“Thirteen years ago my sister gave up her newborn son for adoption. To me.” She licked her lips. “I’ve asked her several times a year since she got pregnant just who the father was and until several days ago, she always refused.”
The teasing warmth in his eyes was gone in a second as he physically sat back, away from her.
She sighed and tapped the folder. “Yes. My sister, Tina, died last week of congestive heart failure, and for whatever reason, she finally decided to tell me who the father was on her way out. Miles and I live on Bainbridge Island.” She passed Adrian a card. “This is my attorney. I have other things here. Pic—”
Before she could finish her sentence, Adrian burst out, interrupting her. “Christ. There are easier ways to get money out of me. You’ve got a nice enough body, a pretty face. This is bullshit. I’ve heard this tune before. Didn’t work for her either.”
She blinked several times, her face noticeably paler than it was before.
But her back was ramrod straight as she let out a long breath. “You continue to return to this theme, no matter that I’ve not asked you for a single thing but your time. Miles is your son. I promised my sister to find you and now I have. Fat lot of good that’s done.” She had the nerve to look him up and down, finding him wanting.
He stood, the chair clattering behind him, so angry he barely registered the way she flinched before she recovered her composure. “I don’t give in to blackmail. I’ve dealt with whores and gold diggers plenty of times. You played me wrong, baby. We could have burned things up between the sheets. I’d have tossed some money your way. A lot easier than this bullshit.”
That’s when she stood as well, grabbed her things, tucking the folder into her bag. Her jaw was tight, her gaze narrowed. Every movement was totally precise. Sharp. “You, my son, are a piece of work. No one calls me a whore and walks without a limp. So if you want to keep walking you’ll stay behind that table. Bugger it all, you’re a sullen little boy. You don’t deserve Miles.”
She headed out, pausing to put a few ones on the counter for the tea she’d never drink.
“You’d better go! If I see your face again or you contact any of my family, I’ll have you arrested for attempted blackmail.”
Gillian Forrester paused at the door and sneered. “You’re a pathetic little man. Never you worry, I’m done with you and it’s all your loss.”
Adrian did have to admire the way she sniffed at him and flounced out.
“Shall I call the police?” the server asked.
Brody spoke from where he’d been standing at the doorway. “No. It’s fine. Adrian, with me.” He indicated the tattoo shop and Adrian headed after his brother, ready to punch something.
I promise they make up and get their HEA! Today I’m giving away TWO signed copies of NEVER ENOUGH (yep, international entries too). I’ll choose the winners tomorrow from the comments to this post. Tell me folks, who are some of your favorite heroes?