How about a snippet from SWEET CHARITY?
SWEET CHARITY by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2008, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, Samhain Publishing
Gabriel paced in his front hall. Since he took over operations at the dairy, he’d taken over the ranch style house his parents used to live in when his grandparents ran the dairy. Sighing, he headed back into his bedroom and changed his shirt yet again. This time back into the simpler button-down shirt instead of the dress shirt he’d put on earlier.
He’d psyched himself out. This wasn’t a big date. He’d been friends with Charity forever, long enough she was like one of his family. He’d go over there and they’d have dinner, he’d explain that he wasn’t the man for her and they’d enjoy a meal. He’d come home, masturbate like a fiend and fall asleep wanting her like he had for over a decade.
This was just dinner with a friend. Period. End of story.
So why did he show up on her front steps holding a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine and some chocolates?
It’s only a wonder of nature why he didn’t drop it all when she opened her door wearing an outfit that set all his hot for teacher fantasies aflame. Her hair sat on the top of her head in a loose bun, curls had escaped and she wore her glasses instead of her contacts.
The dress she wore was buttoned up high, even had a bow at the neck. It wasn’t obscene. It wasn’t showy in any sense but there was something about what it didn’t show that made him crazy.
Her long legs peeked from the skirt that hit her at mid thigh and she had on those shoes he loved, high heels, round toes and the strap over the front of her foot. And good Lord, did she have hose on?
“Hi there, oh are those for me?” She smiled and he forgot all his reasons for distance, instead he leaned in and brushed his lips over hers.
That’s when he caught her scent. Oh man, he was such a sucker for women who chose no perfume at all or more natural, earthy scents. This was, mmmm, he didn’t know but he liked it.
“I like the way you smell,” he heard himself saying and she blushed.
“Thank you. It’s essential oil. Marta makes it. Frangipani. Come in.”
The skirt swayed around her legs as she moved back to let him in and he felt like he was seventeen again.
“I hope you’re hungry. I’d planned on something simple and light. Shrimp and some rice, a salad. However, you’re getting pot roast, roast red potatoes, coives and the potato salad I know you like.”
“Wow. Why the change in program? Not that I’m complaining.”
“Come through to the dining room. Have a seat while I open the wine.” She motioned to the small table heaped with food. “You’ll probably know by tomorrow anyway but my my mother wanted me to come to dinner there tonight. You know how my family comes into town and all for Christmas. Anyway, when I said no I had to say why and that I was making you dinner. Apparently she thinks little of my cooking skills.”
“Your mom has mad skills in the kitchen so it’s all good with me. But I’m sure I would have loved the shrimp too.” All he really wanted to eat stood before him. Damn it, ever since that kiss the night before, he’d lost rein on the need he’d had for her.
“Good answer. There’s pie too. Pecan. And ice cream. It’s in the oven keeping warm so the ice cream will be all melty.”
How was he going to resist her?
“Here.” She began to make him a plate, putting several large slices of pot roast on it. “Potatoes? Or would you rather do it yourself?”
Not that he’d ever say it out loud but he loved being served by a woman. Not just any woman. Not a weak woman or a passive woman. No, he loved it when a strong willed woman took care of him, when she put that aside and did things for him. What? Some men had rubber fetishes, he liked it when a woman went all Donna Reed.
“N-no, that’s fine. Some of everything, please.”
She smiled. “Great. In that basket to your left are some rolls. Sweet and sourdough too. The butter is yours. I mean, from the dairy.”
Damn, her mother was a good cook. Everything was delicious and perfectly seasoned. Admittedly, he was spoiled because he ate with his parents a few times a week and his mother routinely brought leftovers to him so even when he ate at home, it was good stuff. He wasn’t a loser in the kitchen or anything, he could cook too. But he wasn’t in this league at all.
“This is really good. Thanks for inviting me. Or let’s be honest, thanks for ordering me over.” He grinned and she laughed.
“Years of trying to be subtle got me group dates with pizza, eight people and crappy beer. I figured it was time to make a point.”
She might have that Donna Reed thing going with the making of his plate but Charity Harris was a bulldog. Which, insanely, only made him want her more. The women he chose most often were showy on the outside but he set the pace, he began it and he ended it. What made Charity so dangerous was that she was precisely the kind of woman he craved. He’d be lying if he denied that her being Portuguese didn’t appeal. From the fact that she shared his heritage to the fact that she shared the way he grew up but carried it into the next generation. She was ambitious, smart, soft in the best ways and hard where she needed to be. A woman like Charity Harris was wife material in the best possible way.
If he thought he could turn off his sexual desires, he’d have pursued her years ago. But he’d tried that route. Tried to be satisfied with sex where he pushed the darkness back. And he hated himself and the woman he was with because of it.
He admired Charity and the last thing he wanted was to end up resenting her and himself over it.
“Are you happy you came back to Davis instead of taking that job in LA at the TV station?”
She sat back in her chair and sipped her wine. “Really? Gabriel, are we going to do it this way? Fine, I’ll play. For now. I came back because family is important to me. I wanted to be here and not hours away. I interned at the station, it was a good offer for an entrance level job but when I came back to town and saw the open storefront where Second Time Around is now, I saw myself there. I love to find treasures for people, I love what I do. I was raised with this idea of community values and spirit and it seemed like a good way to give back and to build a life for myself.”
He watched as she buttered the roll and ate it, closing her eyes briefly as she did, clearly enjoying it.
“I liked LA. I still have friends there and I go to the Rose Bowl Flea Market at least once every two months so I meet up with them. But in the end, I couldn’t see myself there the way I am here.”
Why did she have to say all that?
“Wasn’t there anyone special there?”
“I was in a serious relationship in college, yes. Two actually. But they didn’t feel the same way about family I did. They were both really nice guys, don’t get me wrong. But neither could understand that I like being with family. They’re not an obligation I hold my breath and deal with. I could never be with someone who didn’t have those values. Men like, well, like Kevin and Brian, Belle’s brothers, or Rafe. You even if you stopped being such a tool.”
He laughed. “I’m a tool?”
“Why are you avoiding the subject? We both know why you’re here.” She stood and began to clear away the dinner dishes. He helped her, startled by their easy rhythm in the kitchen.
He could tell she was upset, her mouth, that luscious, gorgeous mouth of hers, compressed into a hard line.
Wanting to soothe her, he turned her to face him. “Honey, don’t be upset. I just think we’re better as friends. It’s not about you.”
“Oh my God!” She slammed her hand down and apple pie flew everywhere. She looked down and saw she’d put her fist into the pie dish. “Look what you made me do with that it’s not you it’s me bullshit!”
Fascinated, he watched her eyes flash, her face flushed and, he couldn’t miss that her nipples pressed against the front of that dress. He groaned.
Her angry movements were precise and mechanical as she wiped her hands off on a kitchen towel before she finally turned her attention back to him. “For the record, of course it’s you. I am normal. I can admit when I want something. I can talk about things instead of pretending they don’t exist. What is your problem? You tell me right now and I’ll back off. Give me a real reason why you treat me like I have cooties when you’re staring at my nipples like you want to lick them.”
He dragged his gaze back up to her face. A bit of the crumble topping from the pie had landed on her cheek and even though he knew he shouldn’t, he reached up to flick it away but ended up kissing it instead. The sweetness of the sugar melting on his lips as her taste married with it.
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