Kane:Steele Brothers #5By: Cheryl Douglas
I understood why she was panicking. I was too, but for a completely different reason. I was terrified I was falling for her and she’d want to extricate herself from me and our marriage before the ink had a chance to dry on our license. I thought of the document folded in her purse and wondered if she’d want to burn it, to erase any memory of this night from her mind.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked.
I suddenly realized I was staring at her while I’d allowed my mind to wander. “Uh, sorry. I guess I was just thinking about what this will mean for us.”
Kane wasn’t the only one wondering how we were supposed to recover from what may go down in history as one of the stupidest mistakes either of us had ever made.
“Maybe we should just rethink this whole thing,” I said, rubbing my temple. “I’m sure we’re not the first people to get married on impulse, especially in Vegas. We could get it annulled before anyone finds out.”
“Uh, I think it’s a little too late for that, don’t you?” he asked, climbing back into bed.
Before I could object, he pulled me into his arms, clearly trying to soothe me. Which he probably thought was his only option since I was on the verge of hysteria.
“God, I can’t believe I dragged you into my drama,” I said, closing my eyes as his strong arms wrapped around me. I leaned back into him.
“Just relax,” he whispered in my ear. “Our reasons for doing this were valid. You want to send a message to your ex, to let him know that it’s over. Being married to me will do that.”
Brendan wouldn’t continue to hold out hope now that I was someone else’s wife, but it was wrong of me to use Kane. He deserved better than that.
“You’ve been a good friend to me,” I said softly, tears burning my eyes. “If it weren’t for all those talks we had last time I was in Tampa, I doubt I would have had the courage to go back to Nashville and break up with Brendan.”
He kissed my shoulder. “I’m glad I could help, and I’ll go on being your friend, Mace. What happened between us tonight doesn’t have to change that. It doesn’t have to change anything.”
Except it did. It changed everything. Sex with him had exceeded my expectations, convincing me I’d been wasting time with boys when there were men like him who really knew how to please a woman. “But this”—I gestured to the bed—“complicates things, doesn’t it? We can’t claim to be just friends anymore. Can we?”
He inhaled deeply before responding. “No, I guess we can’t. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends and lovers.”
“Riley and Brody know us so well,” I said, pulling the sheet up to cover us. “Do you think they’ll be able to tell something’s up between us?”
“Not if we’re careful,” he said, sounding convinced. “I don’t know about you, but they’re the last people I want to tell about this. Brody’s already given me a hard time about my friendship with you, and I don’t want—”
“What did he say?” I asked, looking over my shoulder.
“He came to see me the day he and Riley moved into their house. He wanted to know what was going on between us because we’d been spending so much time together.”
I hadn’t intended to wear out my welcome at Kane’s house, but I couldn’t stay at my parents’ place for more than a couple hours without going stir-crazy. Riley had been preoccupied with getting her relationship with Brody back on track, so I hadn’t wanted to bother her.
Kane seemed to enjoy our time together as much as I did, so he’d become my safe harbor as I tried to sort through my mixed feelings regarding my future and my relationship with Brendan. He’d been the one to convince me the world wouldn’t end if our relationship did, and he’d been right. I felt happier and freer than I had in years. Too bad Brendan couldn’t say the same.
“What did you tell Brody when he questioned you about us?”
“The truth,” he said, running his hand over my arm. “That it was none of his business.”
“Riley talked to me about us too,” I admitted.
“I think they were both just looking out for you.”
I rolled onto my back and looked up at him. Given how many nights I’d lain awake imagining what it would be like to share a bed with him, I couldn’t believe it was finally happening. “Why do you think that?”
He brushed my hair off my face, his blue eyes softening with something that seemed deeper than affection. My breath caught in my throat as I wondered if I was just imagining it or if his feelings for me were real.
“I’m not good at relationships,” he admitted, sounding gruff. “My job is my life, and that’s the way it’s always been. Doesn’t mean I treat women badly. I’m always honest about how demanding my career is…”
“It isn’t easy, is it?” I curled my hand around the wrist resting possessively on my hip. “Loving your career to the exclusion of everything and everyone else?” When he shook his head, I said, “I think that’s why I got involved with Brendan. He got me. Music was his first love too, so we didn’t put unrealistic demands on each other. At least in the beginning.”