Marrying Cade(2)

By: Sally Clements

She straightened. Long chestnut hair shot with caramel lights was piled up on top of her head. A couple of tendrils had escaped to dust against the smooth, tanned skin of her cheek. Large sunglasses covered her eyes, and her full mouth formed a perfect bow. She locked the car and sashayed into the hotel, hips swaying in the tight blue cotton sheath. Cade breathed out the breath he’d been holding, shaken by the surge of arousal the mere sight of the woman had awakened. It had been too long since he’d had a female in his arms. It must be, if the mere look of a gorgeous woman had him this hot and bothered.

She must be meeting her lover. Women didn’t dress like that unless they were meeting a man. Cade glanced at his watch, wondering if he’d have to rescue Adam from the hotel’s owner, just as Adam arrived with a plateful of antipasti. He wasn’t alone. The bombshell with the killer curves walked next to him, right up to the table. Cade pushed back the chair and stood up.

“Hey, Cade. Our ride is here. I’ve persuaded her to join us for a drink and a snack before we go back to the house.” Adam eyed him carefully. “You remember Melo?”

Melo? Cade rubbed a hand over his unshaven jaw.

She slipped off her glasses, and stowed them in her bag.

Could this really be Rosa’s sister? The tall, boyish tomboy he’d spent the summer with, so many years ago? She’d been gangly, awkward. Barely in her teens. The woman who stood in front of him bore no comparison.

“Ciao, Cade.” Her low voice caressed his name. Her eyes rose to his and jolted him with a bolt of blue.

It was Melo, all right. He’d know those eyes anywhere.

She leaned toward him, proffering her cheek for the customary kiss.

Cade’s lips grazed the smooth skin of her cheek, and his nostrils filled with the intoxicating scent of her perfume. His fingers smoothed over her upper arms, feeling the shiver snaking through her. She had a tiny mole above the outer curve of her mouth, something else he remembered from the Melo of old.

He stepped back, needing distance.

“Hi, Melo. You look great.” The scratchy croak was just about all he could manage. Rosa’s sister had blossomed into the most stunning woman he’d ever seen. Twelve years ago, the gangly tomboy had been the perfect companion for a boy on holiday. They’d done everything together. Well, almost everything. Now he was tongue-tied around her, and that was new.

“So do you.” She grinned, revealing white even teeth. Long fingers reached up and smoothed over his jaw line.

Cade held himself in check, resisting the urge to rub against her like a lonely cat.

“Are you growing a beard?” Her tone was deep, sexy, teasing.

Cade struggled through the sensuous fog that descended as her fingers touched his skin. Melo’d always teased. “Maybe. Do you like it?” Her eyes were no ordinary blue, but deep sapphire.

She dropped her hand quickly. “I love it. But Rosa won’t. She’ll probably ask you to shave.”

Adam pulled out a chair, and Melo sank into it.

Cade took his seat again, and helped himself to an olive-topped crostini. Melo picked an olive from the platter and popped it into her mouth. The cherry gleam of her lips was impossible to ignore.

Adam poured her a glass of wine. “So, how’s my Rosa?”

“Desperate to see you.” Melo’s mouth curved in a smile. “If she knew you’d arrived she’d be here to fetch you herself.” Her shoulders lifted and her open palms tilted upwards. “We’re under time pressure, so I didn’t tell her.”

Cade swallowed his wine and tried not to look at the siren Melo had become. Since the Alison fiasco, he’d been careful to keep his relationships casual. He’d thought he and Alison had an equal relationship, based on trust and mutual desires. He cared about her, had given her a platinum credit card, which she promptly proceeded to melt. It had taken mere days to track down her addictions. Roulette, haute couture, and cocaine. Cade had financed the most expensive rehab possible, but Alison’s bland statement she didn’t want to get better, she wanted to “have fun,” had sent a steely javelin of ice through him, severing their connection irrevocably. He’d been a blind fool, but no more.

The world was full of beautiful women happy to share his bed, women who understood his aversion to forever. Melo was in a different category. They’d shared dreams and confidences when they were teenagers, and he’d never really thought of her as a female.

And she was going to be Adam’s family—totally off limits. But that didn’t stop his hungry gaze roaming over the curve of her lips, or his body’s ardent reaction.

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