Today's WIP snippet is from Her Panther for Hire, a standalone shifter romance coming August 8th!
"If I had my way…you’d still be in Atlanta. Or I’d leave you here with Francesca. Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind, to just drive off without you this morning.”
Lainey scowled, lifting her chin to glare up at Gideon, lips parted, ready with angry words. But he surprised her with a low laugh, leaning against the Rover. He reached out, taking her chin between his thumb and forefinger, gently tipping her face down.
“You can put your chin back down and get that belligerent look off your face. I said I thought about it. I didn’t do it. For one thing, Francesca would kill me.”
She jerked her head, pulling away from his grasp. He let go, arms folded across his chest.
“What’s new? You’ve been trying to get rid of me ever since we met.” She resisted the urge to thrust her chin at him. It was such an automatic gesture.
His eyes held hers, a smile lifting the corner of his mouth, the gleam she’d seen before lighting his eyes. “You’re growing on me.”
With feline grace, he straightened, moving half a step toward her, closing the small distance between them. As he reached out, his hand cupping the side of her face, a voice in her mind said he was going to kiss her. She thought she should pull away, but her body moved toward him, toward his warmth and toward the undeniable charisma he possessed.
“I thought you apologized last night for being out of line.” Her voice was a bit shaky, her breath catching in her throat. His fingers worked into her hair, gently tangling the strands.
“I did.” The pressure of his hand increased as he pulled her toward him. His voice dropped, the growl becoming a purr.
“And then I regretted it.”
He moved closer, his head tilted, lips parted.
“I thought you didn’t like me. I’m an encumbrance. I’m crazy.” Her words were barely audible, heart fluttering in her chest. He looked down at her, eyes hooded, dark gray in the dawn light.
“You are. Both. But right now, you’re far too talkative.”
He kissed her, more gently than she would have ever thought possible. And far more gently than she decided she wanted. But beneath the soft touch she felt a barely restrained intensity, the panther crouched, muscles tensed, waiting to pounce. She wasn’t sure why the image of a panther had come to her, but it felt right.
Lainey’s hands rose to Gideon’s chest, his body hard and warm beneath her touch. As her fingers grazed his hard nipples he shuddered briefly, the kiss deepening for a moment. His fingers pulled her that much closer, the only part of him touching her except for his lips.
But those lips were doing amazing things to her, a surprising ache blooming deep within. Just as she leaned in, parting her lips for more, Gideon drew back, breaking the kiss. He rested his forehead against hers as she strained upward, lips parted, seeking to renew contact.
“We have to go. It’s late.” His voice was husky and he released her, casting one last smoldering look at her. She nodded, speechless.
Lainey walked to her side of the Rover on shaky legs. What the hell just happened? The man confused her. He’d been trying to get rid of her ever since they met. And then he kissed her.
Her mind was in turmoil, her body no less distressed. As much as she might want to deny the effect of the kiss, the effects still coursed through her. Something she’d thought was long dormant – dormant since Scott – had been awakened.
She wanted to brush it off as just a physical reaction to a handsome guy kissing her, but she couldn’t quite buy into that. Something unexpected had happened to her in that kiss. Whether or not it had affected Gideon the same way was the question. She couldn’t get a read on him at all.
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