I let out a heavy sigh and slowed the car down, stopping on the shoulder. I turned and looked into those amazing eyes, the color of tanzanite. My heart skipped. “Look, you’re Marjorie’s best friend in the world, and you are very welcome at our home. I didn’t mean to allude otherwise. I’m…” Why did I have such a hard time saying that one damned word? I breathed in and let the air out slowly. “Sorry.”
Her smile lit up face. Those cherry-red full lips, looking so kissable, gave way to big dimples on each side of her cheeks. Her blue-gray eyes sparkled. “There, was that so hard?”
Brown hair fell across her shoulders in waves. I itched to touch the hair, the silkiness of her cheek, the moist scarlet of her lips.
Damn it. I wanted her.
And I had never wanted anything before in my life.
* * *
“Jade!” My sister came running as soon as we got in the door.
My mutt, Roger, panted at her heals.
“Hey, boy.” I scratched him behind the ears.
Jade fell to her knees. “How cute! Hi there, baby.”
Roger took to her immediately, licking her face.
Marjorie laughed. “I forgot how much you love dogs.” She turned to me. “Jade goes crazy whenever she sees a dog.” Back to Jade. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t come to the airport. Did Talon take care of you?”
For a moment, my stomach dropped. Would she tell Marjorie how rude I had been?
But Jade just smiled. “Oh, of course, everything went fine. Did you get the job?”
Marjorie shook her head. “Nope. Somebody else beat me to it. So I’m back to learning the ropes here. I guess three years of travel while you went to law school was enough.” She laughed.
I loved my sister, but she was a little spoiled. Okay, a lot spoiled. But she didn’t shy away from hard work. I’d give her that.
“So how was the drive from the city?” Marjorie continued.
“Just fine. Talon even treated me to a burger on the way home. I was starving.”
“I’m so glad to hear that. Tal can come off a little abrupt sometimes. But he means well, don’t you, Tal?”
Mean well? I’d do anything in the world for my baby sister, or either one of my brothers, for that matter. But did I ever mean well? That was a damned good question—one I’d probably never find the answer to.
So I sidestepped it. Just like I’d been sidestepping for twenty-five years. “I assume she’s going to take the empty bedroom next to yours, right, Marj? I’ll take her stuff up.”
“Oh, you don’t have to—” Jade began.
“Oh, let him,” Marjorie said. “Might as well put all that good muscle to use.”
Jade’s cheeks pinked. Goddamnit, did she get red over the rest of her body too? On her chest? On those amazing voluptuous breasts that I could see even under the shapeless top she wore? The girl was stacked. No doubt about it—a goddamned brick house.
“So next to your room, Marj?”
“Of course. It’s a great room, Jade. It has a private bathroom and everything.”
“You guys really don’t have to go to all this trouble.”
Marjorie laughed. “Trouble? The room is empty, for God’s sake. As are three others. Jonah lives on his own ranch house down the way, and Ryan lives in the guest house out back. Tal and I are the only ones who live here anymore.”
Like I had a choice. When I got back from overseas, Jonah had already built himself a house, and Ryan had taken over the guest house. I was stuck in the main ranch house. I had the master suite, but still I felt closed in. And now, with Jade living here… I’d better get to drawing up some plans for my own house…far away from this one.
I grabbed Jade’s suitcase and her carry-on and walked down the hallway toward Marjorie’s room. I deposited the luggage in the extra bedroom. My suite was on the other side of the house, thank God.
I needed to stay as far away from Jade Roberts as possible.
I just wasn’t sure any amount of distance would ease my craving.
I punched my pillow for what seemed like the hundredth time. The bed was comfortable enough, and so was the pillow, for that matter. It was just strange, and until I got used to a new bed, I often couldn’t sleep. Whenever I stayed at a hotel, I never slept the first night.