Marrying Cade(6)

By: Sally Clements


He was close. So close, her heart was doing the rumba.

He grasped her elbow.

A frisson of excitement shot through her at the touch of his warm fingers. There wasn’t any need for him to touch her. To steer her through the throngs of people, but the feeling was so delicious she didn’t complain. When he stopped in front of the bar, still holding her, she didn’t pull away either. His body was so close his warmth permeated the light cotton of her dress.

“Champagne?”

He could talk any woman into bed with a voice like that. Deep, dark and sexy. Melo’s mouth was parched, and she swiped her tongue over her dry lips as a shiver chased up her spine. “No. Just orange juice for me, please, I’m going to be driving later.” She couldn’t slow the shaky words down. Her whole body tingled at his nearness and she crossed her hands over her chest, grasping her upper arms in a frantic effort to regain control.

Cade leaned closer. His breath tickled her ear.

God, if this kept up she would need a dip in the pool. Or a cold shower.

“Where are you going? Running out on me?”

If only. It was becoming harder and harder to hide her reaction to him. She pulled in a breath. Get a grip. “There are four cars and a minibus to ferry everyone back to the hotel tonight. I’m driving the Mercedes.”

“So, while everyone here is throwing back the champagne, you’re staying sober?” A parallel groove wrinkled between his eyebrows.

She wanted to reach up and smooth it away with a finger. Oh boy, she was in trouble. Everything about him made her want to touch him. It was like being a teenager with a crush again. Magnified by a hundred.

“Your dedication is commendable. Rosa doesn’t deserve you,” Cade said.

“She’d do the same for me.”

Melo should step away, and put some distance between their bodies. She didn’t.

“She wouldn’t, you know,” he teased, mouth twisting in a smile.

She tried to repress it, but her grin broke through. They both knew it was true. Rosa was sunny, fun and spoilt rotten. There was no way she’d be the responsible one who drove the party guests home. No one would even expect it.

“It’s too crowded in here. Let’s go outside,” Melo said.

“Two orange juices,” Cade ordered from the bar.

His fingers brushed hers as he handed the glass over. He took a sip, lip curling, then clinked his glass against hers.

“I’ll keep you company.”

****

It was still light outside, although dusk couldn’t be far off. When Cade had spotted Melo across the room his senses had sharpened. For a moment he’d hesitated, telling himself to stay away, but he hadn’t been able to resist moving closer.

He just wanted to talk, that was all, somewhere private. Breathe in her delicious scent without Adam’s keen eyes watching his every move. He’d felt his friend’s gaze from across the room, and when he glanced over Adam’s eyebrows had raised upward, his darned eyes too knowing.

“Isn’t there a seat around here somewhere?” Ancient memories guided his steps, to a rose strewn bower.

“I can’t believe you remember.” Melo sank down onto the weathered wooden bench.

Trellising surrounded the seat and a profusion of blooms grew in and through it, effectively hiding them from view.

He did remember. It had been their talking place. A place for hiding out. He’d come across it one day when he’d arrived up at the villa with Adam to see if the girls wanted to go swimming in the waves that lapped the beach. The moment Adam saw Rosa they’d started an animated conversation.

“She’s over there, somewhere.” Rosa had waved in the direction of the silent garden.

Eventually he found her. The roses were tangled then, much like today, obscuring the plain wooden bench. Melo sat with her head in a book. Her long legs were tucked up under her and she was so engrossed she hadn’t heard him coming.

Cade grinned, remembering the way she squealed when he dropped down beside her. She’d swatted him and held her hand to her chest in shock.

“What’s so funny?” Melo asked.

“I was just remembering the first time I saw you here.”

“You almost gave me a heart attack.” The corners of her lips rose.

“What were you reading? Do you remember?”

It hadn’t mattered, back then. He’d grabbed her hand and had pulled her up. Told her the others were waiting, and she should change into her swimsuit. Now, curiosity bit hard. He wanted to know what had held her in thrall so many years ago.

“I can’t remember.” Her face colored and she avoided his eyes.

She remembered all right, but for some reason wasn’t telling him. She smoothed her dress with restless fingers, her head bent so a long tendril of hair brushed against the side of her neck.

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