|Название||The Honeymoon Arrangement|
|Автор произведения||Joss Wood|
|Жанр||Современные любовные романы|
|Издательство||Современные любовные романы|
Rowan shoved her tongue into her cheek. ‘How long is a while? A week? A month?’
Callie looked at Rowan and tried to ignore the flash of hurt. She knew that Ro was teasing, but saying it like that made her sound like a slut—and she wasn’t. She really wasn’t. She didn’t bed-hop or treat sex casually, but neither was she a nun.
‘I haven’t slept with anyone for about five, maybe six months,’ she admitted quietly.
Rowan instantly looked apologetic. ‘Sorry, honey, I didn’t mean to sound judgemental. Teasing, maybe—judgy, no.’ Rowan waited a beat before speaking again. ‘Why not, Cal? You like men and men like you.’
Callie wished she could answer her but she couldn’t—not really. Like her avoiding the party scene and her occasional dissatisfaction with her job there was no reason—nothing she could put her finger on. She just hadn’t met anyone lately whom she wanted in her bed … in her body. Nobody she liked enough to make the effort.
She just couldn’t put her finger on why, and she was getting a bit tired of her self-imposed celibacy. She liked sex—she needed sex.
‘I genuinely don’t know, Ro. It just hasn’t happened lately and I refuse to force it.’ Callie shrugged before sitting up straight and putting a smile of her face. ‘Anyway, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll find someone sooner or later who I’ll want to tumble with. In the meantime I have a great, interesting life.’
Rowan bit her lip—a sure sign that she was about to say something that Callie might not like.
‘Is it possible that your life is too great?’
‘Huh? What?’ Callie wrinkled her nose, puzzled.
‘Your life is so busy, so crazy, and you are so virulently independent—do you have any room in it for a man? A lover? Someone who might be something more than a temporary arrangement? Can it be, darling Cal, that you’re too self-sufficient and busy for your own good? Or is it a defence mechanism?’
Okay, had Rowan acquired a psychology degree along with her engagement ring? What was this all about?
‘What is wrong with you? I came out for a drink—not to be analysed.’
Rowan pulled a face. ‘We both had screwed-up childhoods, Cal. My parents and their inability to see me—your mum leaving when you were a little girl. Our push-the-envelope crazy antics got worse and worse the older we got and ended up with you writing off your car when you were eighteen. I landed in jail shortly afterwards.’
‘Just for a weekend.’
‘That was long enough. That was a hell of year, wasn’t it?’ Rowan shook her head at the memory.
It had been a hell of a year, indeed, Callie agreed silently.
‘After both incidents we … settled down, I suppose. We’re so much better adults than we were kids,’ Rowan continued.
‘Speak for yourself,’ Callie muttered. All she knew for sure was that she’d felt more alive when she was a kid and a wild teenager than she did now. Right now she just felt … blah. Not brittle—just blah. As if she was a cardboard cut-out of herself.
Rowan sent her a quick, worried look. ‘While we’re on the subject of your mother, I need to tell you that …’
They were on the subject of her mother? Since when? And, oh, hell no—they were not going to go there. Not tonight, not tomorrow, not ever. Her mother was long, long gone and not worth wasting time and energy discussing. They most certainly were not on this subject and would never be …
Good try, Ro.
Callie quickly shook her head. ‘Don’t.’
Rowan held her stare and Callie knew that she was debating whether to get pushy and pursue the topic. Luckily Rowan’s mobile rang and she scooped it up off the table. Judging by the soft look on her face, she quickly deduced that it was her brother Seb on the other end, cooing into her ear. She genuinely loved the fact that Seb and Rowan were so unabashedly happy, but their sappiness frequently made her feel queasy.
She couldn’t imagine acting like that—being so intertwined, so in tune with another person. It just wasn’t her.
Callie looked up when a hand touched her shoulder and saw Jim, the owner of the bar, smiling down at her. He bent to kiss one cheek and then the other, and when he was done she allowed his big fingers to hold her chin.
‘Where have you been, hun?’
‘Here and there.’
‘We’ve missed you,’ Jim stated.
Callie grinned. ‘You’ve missed me starting tequila shooter competitions which invariably turn into massive parties which lead to your till feeling very full at the end of the evening.’
‘That too.’ Jim dropped his hand and tipped his head, his expression enquiring. ‘Listen, I’ve got guys at the bar wanting to buy you a drink. You up for company or must I tell them you’re not interested?’
Callie didn’t bother looking at the bar. She just wanted to talk to Rowan and, if she was lucky, say hi to Finn Banning again. She shook her head. ‘I’m not in the mood, Jim—and, besides, I told Rowan that I’d keep a low profile tonight and behave myself.’
‘Why do I suspect that that is very difficult for you to do?’
Callie heard the deep, dark voice and whipped her head around to look up and into Finn’s face. Tired, she thought, but still oh, so sexy. Purple shadows were painted beneath his eyes and his face looked drawn and thinner. His back and shoulders were taut with tension and his mouth was a slash in his face. She wanted to kiss him and cuddle him at the same time. And she thought that he needed the cuddling a lot more than he needed the kissing.
The last couple of days had clearly put him through the wringer. Experiencing that kind of pain, Callie thought, being that miserable, was why she never got emotionally involved. She’d experienced emotional devastation once before and it wasn’t something she ever wanted to deal with again.
However, despite looking like a love refugee, he still looked good. Sage and white striped shirt over faded blue jeans and flat-soled boots. Curls that looked wild from, she guessed, fingers constantly being shoved into them, and a four-day beard. Tough, hard, stoic—and more than a smidgeon miserable.
Yeah, there was that tingle, that bounce in her heart’s step, the womb-clench and the slowly bubbling blood. This was what pure attraction—lust—felt like, she remembered. This crazy, want-to-lick-you-silly feeling she’d been missing.
Jim melted away and Finn looked at her with those sexy light eyes. She felt her face flush, her breath hitch.
Sexy, hot, sad man. What she wouldn’t do to make him smile—she needed to make him smile.
‘Now, why would you think that?’ Callie asked him, projecting as much innocence as she could.
He slapped his hands on his hips and narrowed his eyes at her and she hoped he couldn’t tell that her heart was thumping in excitement. He pulled his lips up into a smile which tried but didn’t quite make it to his eyes.
‘The passage to the bathroom facilities is covered in framed photographs of the parties that have happened here. Not so strangely, you are in most of them—front and centre. Oh, yeah, you’re just trouble looking for a place to happen.’
Callie batted her eyelashes at him, her eyes inviting him to laugh with her … at her. ‘My daddy told me that talent shouldn’t ever be wasted.’
‘Your daddy is probably on Prozac.’ The smile lifted higher and brushed his eyes.
Progress, she thought.
He shook his head, bemused.