Nick rubbed his sternum and let his anger drop away. God help him, Gracie had tried to explain. Time after time he’d shut her down. He deserved more than a couple of jabs in the chest for his stupidity.
When she spoke again, she articulated the words slowly, oozing patience, as if to a child. “Here’s the thing, Nicholas. I have to find Miss Coco, both for poor Ruby-Pearl and myself. It should be obvious, even to you, that if I hadn’t tailed them, we wouldn’t have known about this club.”
If she wasn’t so cute and earnest, he would be seriously ticked at her tone. Instead, he was merely uneasy that she was hell-bent on continuing the hunt.
He heaved a gusty sigh. “That’s no excuse for hanging around a fetish club, darlin’. I’m surprised no one has hogtied you before now to keep you out of trouble.”
“Hogtied me?” she shouted.
Shit! Bad choice of words. He patted her arm and said, “I just meant, ah, you bring out the protective instincts in men.”
She shrugged off his hand. Her voice swelled in volume. “Don’t you dare patronize me. I know exactly what you meant. You want to do the job yourself.”
Nick cast a glance over his shoulder. Christ, if he didn’t find a way to muffle the uproar, Kinki’s patrons would exodus en masse into the parking lot, hoping to join in the action. He shut her up the only way he could think of. by dragging her against his chest, fisting a hand in her hair to anchor her head, and claiming her lips.
She tensed and shook her head, trying to break away, but he noticed her eyelashes flutter down, covering her eyes.
All of a sudden what he’d started as an act of expediency turned into a real kiss. Her familiar scent and taste flooded his senses. A wave of lust, thick, fast, and damn near irresistible, stole his breath away. Emotions he’d thought long buried stirred, stretched, exploded into life. He became aware of the softness of her skin, the fragrance of her body, the quivering of her mouth as she struggled against his invasion.
Slowly, she relaxed into him.
He traced her lips with the tip of his tongue, murmured her name on a breath. When she didn’t draw away, he caressed the small of her back and pressed her body against his, stilling her restless movements, and thrusting himself against her softness.
Oh, yeah! That’s what he’d been missing.
Her lips parted on a low moan, allowing his tongue the entrance it craved.
He deepened the kiss and touched the smoothness of her cheek. When he traced a lazy pattern down her neck, her pulse rocketed under his thumb. She swayed a little.
Beth’s voice in his ear dragged him back to sanity . “I hate to interrupt, children, but I thought I’d better warn you. Someone’s coming. We don’t want the wrong people to find us here.”
They sprang apart.
A small knot of party-goers sauntered into the parking lot. Once the group departed, Nick noted with a pang that Gracie turned away, almost as if she couldn’t bear to look at him. She radiated hostility, while every fiber of his being wanted to beg her to stay.
Before he could make a bigger mistake than he had already by kissing Gracie, he forced a grin. “It’s time y’all high-tailed it on home.”
Beth hopped into the driver’s seat. Gracie moved toward the passenger side without protest, a sure sign of emotional turmoil.
Beth lowered the window and stuck her head out with a grin. “I’m the getaway driver.”
She lowered her voice to a confidential whisper. “If you’re as smart as I think you are, you won’t let her get away from you this time.”
The Chevy peeled away with a squeal of rubber and a cloud of smoke.