Delicious: TART by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2012, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Gideon stood under the hot water for a long time. He’d dug fence-post holes for hours that day. Not his favorite thing, but totally necessary as the old ones were a mess and the goats kept getting out.
It was late. Later than he’d planned to finish up. What he’d really wanted, all day long, was to sink into Jules’s arms and hold her. Damn, he missed her smile. The rest of her too.
It’d only been a few days since he’d seen her last, but it felt like a year. He wasn’t a teenager anymore, but she made him feel that way.
Six weeks he’d had with her. Seemed a silly, short period of time to feel so deeply for someone, but he did. And he’d been with enough people to know the difference between infatuation and love.
And Cal? Well, Cal was his buddy growing up and as it turned out, they still managed to keep that relationship. In the two weeks or so since the first time they’d all been together, he and Cal had managed to continue their friendship with this new facet. They were outwardly different. Cal with his buttoned-up, designer-suit-wearing ways, complete with swanky house and car, was still the same kid who cut the fuses short on his fireworks because he’d been impatient for the boom.
Gideon liked that. Liked having someone he could talk to, though as it happened, sometimes he wanted to talk about Jules, which made it a little complicated, as she turned out to be what Cal wanted to talk about most often too.
But it was working. Slowly but surely the three of them were finding their way to make this threesome thing work.
He walked out into the main room in his shorts, needing some dinner, but started when there was a knock at his door.
He opened up to find Jules there with a smile and a bag. Instantly his exhaustion faded and he found himself smiling because she was so beautiful and he’d been wishing for her and there she was.
“Hi. I know you’re tired. I just wanted to bring you something to eat.” She cocked her head. “Nothing fancy like Mary makes. Soup and some bread.”
“Come on in here and give me some sugar.”
Once she’d put her things aside, she moved into his arms, lifting her face for a kiss.
He took his time. Needing to soak her in. She tiptoed up, wrapping her arms around his neck, smelling of spring and rain.
“I need to bring you food more often.” She stepped back, licking her lips.
“It’s been a long day. You’re just what I needed.”
“I’ll dish the soup up since you brought it and all.” He motioned to the table. “Sit and tell me about your day.”
Before she got a word out, her phone rang and she answered.
“It’s Cal. He’s sad without us.” She looked up to catch Gideon’s eye. He really liked that she checked in with him and also that Cal wanted to be with them.
“Tell him to come over.”
She did and hung up shortly after. “He’s on his way.” She put her phone in her pocket and stood moving to him again. “Why was your day long?” She kissed his neck. “Would some hot tea help?”
He leaned back into her “God, it’s so much better now. It was fence-post digging day. We’re done now, but I’m not as young as I used to be.”
“When you finish your meal, I’ll give you a massage. I’m a pretty good hand at them.” She kissed him again and wandered over to the stove to get the kettle on for the tea she’d offered to make.
“I’ll take you up on the tea and the massage. If you’re naked it will work better. Just sayin’.” He winked at her and she snorted.
“I’ll take that under advisement.” She sniffed.
She moved around his space and filled it up just right. He ate, content just to watch her.
“What did you do today? I missed you.”
Her smile was all he needed really. The sight of it filled him with warmth. “I was a baking machine. A machine, I tell you.” She grinned and put a cup of tea on the table for him. “You know I had that job for Mary’s catering gig tonight so I baked an ungodly number of sweet little baby tarts.”
He found her dedication to her career admirable. She loved what she did and spent a lot of time making herself better. But it was her sense of whimsy that always pleased him so much. Baking was more to her than a job.
“And yes, there are some for you and Cal both in the bag I brought. Cal’s sort of addicted to them, so you have to be quick if you want any. He’s an unrepentant lemon tart hog, though for heaven’s sake I have no idea where he puts it.”
He stood, swept her up into his arms and carried her off to his bed where he kept her close as they got situated.
“All this for lemon tarts? I had no idea you were so easy for them or I’d have made them for you far sooner.”
“While your goodies—the baked ones, I mean—are tempting, it’s the way you always think about me and Cal that pleases me so much.”
She blushed a little. “We all do for each other.”
“We’re lucky that way.” He rolled on top and ground himself into her. She made a lovely little gasp that caught his attention.
“I can’t very well massage you with you on top of me.” She kissed him quickly.
“I’m sure we could figure out a fair exchange for the loss of massage.”
“I’m guessing that’s also to be done while I’m naked.”
He laughed. “You catch on quick.”
He kissed down her neck as he unbuttoned her sweater.
“I bet you were a menace back in high school with those magic unbuttoning fingers.”
He popped the catch on her bra and sent her a raised brow. “It’s a skill, what can I say?”
“You’re doing all the work.” But it didn’t sound like a complaint at all.
He bent to lick over a nipple. “It’s work I love doing.”
She laughed and hugged him tight and he realized this is what he never had. Not with anyone. This sort of funny, intimate, easy relationship. Oh, they were going to fuck, hell yes. But she lightened his heart. Made him laugh even as she sometimes got stubborn and made him mad too. She was his partner, not his dependent or someone he had to manage.
It was sexy. And exciting.
She wasn’t like anyone he’d ever known and though he had grown up around her a few times a year, the woman she’d grown into . . . and the man he’d become . . . seemed to be right together.
There was a knock on the door that reminded him there was an added facet to their relationship.
Gideon rolled off her and made his way to the door he’d locked to be sure his granddad didn’t go stumbling into something that would send him into therapy.
A shiver went through Gideon as Cal came through the door and closed it, locking it behind himself.
Gideon leaned in and brushed a kiss over Cal’s mouth. Cal hummed his satisfaction and opened his lips, breathing Gideon in. Something so arrestingly delicious Gideon groaned.
Jules lay on the bed and watched the two of them together. Cal was so confident and self-assured, freely giving in to the kiss. Gideon had his own sort of surety. He eased his way in, but he kissed Cal differently than he kissed her. Held Cal differently as well.
Her breath came out sort of shaky. Just watching them made her hot and not a little achy. It was sexy and gorgeous and totally uniquely male. A little fear twisted through the shiver.
She shoved it away as far as she could.
When Gideon straightened, he turned and looked at her. “Cal’s here.”
She laughed, unable to help herself. “I can see that.”
“There she is.” Cal tossed his stuff to the side, toeing off his shoes, and moved right to her. She’d wanted him for so long, had watched him be with other people. Most of the time she hadn’t been bothered by it; she’d dated too after all.
He’d looked at her like she mattered. Even when he’d been with other people he’d looked at her like she mattered. He’d been her friend and someone she loved like she loved his sister and Gillian.
But this Cal? The one who moved to her like there was nothing else he wanted to do in the world but touch her? Yeah, his attention was like a hundred billion times better this way.
This was laced with their friendship and the trust they’d formed after knowing each other so long. They confided in each other, cheered each other on. But his gaze burned with something a lot more than friendship.
It was as if he’d suddenly turned the dial up. That intensity he always carried had deepened. Aimed it at her. She’d seen him with enough people over the years to know he never looked at any of them the way he did her.
That thrilled her to her toes.
And scared the hell out of her.
He got on the bed and didn’t stop until he’d laid on top of her and touched his nose to hers. “Hey. This is good. Goddamn, I’ve needed this all day long.” He kissed her, slowly at first, nearly sweetly. And then once she’d wrapped her arms around him, it deepened, he slid his tongue into her mouth, his taste filling her up. His taste mixed with Gideon’s.
He didn’t stop that kiss until she was thoroughly boneless and her fingers dug into his upper arms as she held on.
“Now I’m feeling a lot better.” He smiled at her and she smiled back.