decided against explaining why heâd forced her to head for the hills with him.
Fine. She was having second thoughts, anyway, wondering what had possessed her to ask him why in the first place. Whatever his reasoning, she didnât need to hear it.
And it had been a long day. Sheâd go upstairs, enjoy a soak in her own private claw-footed bathtub and then watch some TV. Maybe jot a few notes for the story. Play a computer game. Read a book.
The keyword here was disengage. When it came to Buck, prolonged contact inevitably meant trouble. If she didnât watch herself, sheâd start obsessing over how attractive he was, how smart, how funny. In notime sheâd be thinking that maybe they could get something going, after all.
It could end up just like that night in Septemberâwith her naked on top of him, demanding more. Or beneath him, begging for more. Orâ¦
Now, see? See what she was doing? All it took was dinner and a little semi-friendly conversation, and she was back with the vivid images of the two of them doing things they were never going to do again. Italics intended.
Chastity looked up from her book. âDid you two have a nice dinner?â
âGreat,â said Buck.
âWe did,â B.J. agreed. She brought her hand to her mouth as she faked a yawn. âIâm pretty tired, though. Jet lag, I guess. Goodnight.â
âSleep well,â said Chastity with a serene little smile. The cat looked up at Buckâs mother and twitched its caramel-colored tail. Chastity petted it as she turned her attention back to her book.
Buck said nothing. Why? What was he thinking? What did his silence mean?
Bad questions. Pointless questions. Keyword: disengage. B.J. turned for the stairs.
He fell in behind her. He walked softly. Still, she could feel him at her back all the way up the stairs and down the hall to their side-by-side rooms. She had her key ready. She slid it smoothly into the lock and pushed the door open. Stepping swiftly in, she turned to shut it behind herâto shut him out. She almost made it, too.
At the last possible second, he said, âFive minutes.â
Disengage, disengage. Without a word, she shut the door the rest of the way and shot the bolt, heard thatreassuring click as the lock slid home. She turned with a groan and sagged against the door.
âShit,â she said to the empty room. Five minutes. What did that mean?
O nce B.J. had shut her door in his face, Buck turned and headed back down the stairs. Chastity glanced up with a questioning smile as he entered the front room.
âWhereâs the brandy?â
âTry the mirrored sideboard.â She gestured toward the door that led to the formal dining room. âTop shelf on the left.â
âThanks, Ma.â Buck continued on through to the dining room, got the brandy and two small snifters and retraced his steps back through the front room and up the stairs again.
In his own room, he waited the final two minutes until the five-minute deadline and then exited the French doors onto the balcony. Three steps and he stood at the glass doors that led into B.J.âs room.
She hadnât pulled the curtains. He could see her inthere, sitting on the edge of the bed, slim shoulders drooping, lookingâ¦what? Dejected?
Could be. He smiled to himself. B.J. would never let her shoulders droop if she knew someone was looking. She was too tough by a mile. As long as Buck had known her, sheâd been that way. Probably because she had to be. No choice in the matter, with a father like L.T.
It wasnât easy getting through that toughness, no simple task to peel B. J. Carlyle down to her soft, passionate feminine core. But Buck had this crazy idea he was man enough now to understand that things didnât always have to be easyâespecially the important things.
He tapped lightly on one of the panes and watched her slim back snap straight. Slowly,