“Are you sure you want to take her home?” Whitney asked, once they were outside the restaurant.
“Yes.” Draven said, reaching Rainie’s shopping bag so easily from her hand. “I’ll make sure her safe and sound. “But, I can’t guarantee what would happen in between...” He paused delicately.
“In between the sheet?” Whitney guessed sweetly, knowing well, it made Rainie more furious if not embarrassed. A twenty ton of giant truck would not stand in the way of Whitney or as a matter of fact all of her friends when they really wanted to tease her.
Draven’s mouth curled into a smile that was so adorable, Rainie was so sure he must have practiced for hours in front of a mirror to get such an overwhelming result. “That depends on her.” He said carelessly. He turned to Rainie, definitely took in her wooden expression. “Is that right?” His eyes were alight with laughter.
God. He made that sound seductive. Rainie wished she were three years old so she could indulge in a stress-relieving tantrum! However she definitely was not a child anymore and neither was he.
Draven Knight was a man and totally an all male one at that. Furthermore he had the most amazing eyes. She felt like a rabbit caught in the glare of oncoming headlights. She could not look away. Could not speak either. Her mouth was dry. She had to swallow twice she replied. “What do you mean about between the sheet” She raised her voice to hide her embarrassment regarding the previous comment from Whitney. It was exactly what she’d been thinking for the past two weeks.
“Oh, I’m sure you know, Rain.” Whitney beamed at her and everybody laughed.
“We’d better go now.” Draven said suddenly amid raucous laughter, making her stomach flipped over at the laughter in his dark eyes. Whatever he had, he should have kept it for himself. It was intoxicating. He took her hand and gave their last farewell as they walked down the parking space.
She was acutely conscious of the height and breadth of him as she brushed by, also she was very aware of the delicious tang of expensive aftershave on clean male skin and felt there was some excuse for the fact she was finding it difficult to breathe. Oh, if she thought she had a headache before, now she felt she had sinus. Being around him, could make her sick, physically and mentally. She bet she would spend all of her money to doctor if she kept continuing seeing him. Next illness? Probably she would have a heart problem and one day she would get a heart attack after suffering from his megawatt smile.
What was the colloquialism she supposed to say? A base kind of lust? She thought and used the words deliberately. One that caused the other. So simple and plain to see.
Rainie was so engrossed in her thoughts that she did not notice both of them already away from her annoying friends and stood in front of his parking space.
Once they were alone in front of his posh sport car, he disentangled himself and opened the car door to let her in. His other car now, was showroom perfect. It was too pose and too grand. It was truly beautiful and classy, not to mention magnificent. A typical red-blooded men cars’.
“Is it the new car that Seth was talking about?” She asked out of curiosity.
He only shrugged indulgence. “Only came today. Like you said, apparently Jaguar does breakdown.”
“Very nice. Finally you realize.” She commented drily. Her mouth quirked, she was also fascinated of how easy for him just buying expensive car.
A smile that had a touch of sardonic crooked at his mouth. “Thanks.” He said then asked her as he opened the passenger door. “Are you going to go in?”
“Yes sure.” She replied and slid into the leather interior.
Immediately he joined her and she wished she had insisted to go with Chloe and Nathan, instead of being trapped in this wildly sexy car with him so close she was in danger of hyperventilating.
She sat as stiff as a board as he adeptly maneuvered the powerful vehicle to face the direction in which they were heading, fully aware of strong male hands on the steering wheel and the way his trousers pulled tight over hard thighs. God, it’s disturbing. She mocked of her own choice of words. And as they began to join the other cars along the lane, he settled more comfortably into his own seat and she felt the action in every single cell of her body. She swallowed to combat her dry mouth, pretending to look out of the window as though as she was the tourist and had never seen her own city before.
She discovered she had been holding her breath and forced herself to regulate her breathing and relax the hands in which somehow unbeknown to her had curled themselves into fists.
“Are you alright? Do you have some problem”” Suddenly he asked coolly. He turned his head to look at her, before refocusing on the road.
Just life. Just my life, predominantly. She answered inaudibly.
Rainie saw him from the corner of her eye and managed to pin a smile on her face. “No I’m just thinking.” She blurted out. She didn’t know how to answer his question. How could she tell that perhaps she started to like him? No...The word like was understatement. Fallen for him? Had she fallen for him? She could not have fallen for him! It was too fast to rationalize her sentiment!
“May I know what are you thinking about?” He asked softly, his eyes still on the road.
Rainie shrugged, considering her words for a moment before she murmured. “Many things. Such as why should I stay for the weekend at the cottage only to see my ex fiancé is getting married.”
“Are you afraid to face the reality?” In the semi-darkness of the illuminated streets they were driving through, his fathomless eyes flashed over her face for a moment before again his attention returned to the windscreen.
“No...” She said then as she saw the mockery creased his handsome face, she decided to tell the truth. “Well...Maybe yes.”
“Don’t be.” He easily discharged her worries.
“Huh?” She turned around taking glance at his dark face. “What do you mean?”
“Like I said, you’re a strong woman.” He replied as he brought the car to the halt in the traffic light. He then reached out and placed a hand over hers. “You’re a special person, you should believe yourself.”
To be honest she did not know what to believe. If fact, she had never felt more muddled in her life. And it was because of him! He and his good intention and caress on her.
She smiled sketchily. “When people put you down enough, you intend to believe what they said. I feel exactly that.” She stated prudently. “The ugly stuff is easier to believe.”
“True.” He agreed. “But it doesn’t mean that you lost yourself.” He added.
Rainie glanced at that dark face however she did not say anything.
“Hey don’t frown.” He said mildly, as though he did not care, however he had not removed his hand from over hers. “You’ll ruin your pretty face if you frown too much.”
“I’m not frowning.” She snapped, but not as curtly as she liked. It was not his fault, she reminded herself. Trying to keep her mood light she smiled. “So what should be the move for tomorrow?”
“We’ll go together.” He released his grip returning his hands to the wheel and started to accelerate again of the car.
“You don’t have to do that, you know.” She hesitated replied.
“But I like to do that.” He paused while negotiated the roundabout. “And I think I’ll pick you up earlier than everyone else tomorrow.”
“What for?” She wondered. “I thought that we’re going all together?”
“We’ll grab some food, first.” He dismissed.
Draven glanced across at her and his eyes crinkled. “So we won’t be starving?”
“But, why we should...”
“You like to repeat the same question, don’t you?” He mused teasingly. “I’d like to invite you to have lunch with me first and to give you time preparing yourself before facing Jason again.”
“Will you have lunch with me before we’re heading to cottage?” He interrupted good-naturedly.
“Well, yes. But what about others?” She asked swiftly.
“This is lunch with me.” He said, his hands moving with no trouble on the wheel. “It’ll be just the two of us. No one else.” He added and shrugged his broad shoulders lazily. “I suppose there’ll be other people in that restaurant, but I can guarantee, they’ll have nothing to do with us. Now do I make myself clear now?”
If she understood his word faultlessly, it seemed he had just invited her out on a date! “I think it’ll be okay.” She put a brief smile.
He gave her a slow grin in return before he had his concentration on the road again.
They continued on in silence and with every mile, she was questioning herself. His tenderness of words made her realize that there was something deeper about him. His teasing and sexual expertise was captivating and so was his charm.
Nevertheless it was his character to make her feel so vulnerable. But she had promised herself that she’d never be vulnerable again especially towards men, that included the irresistible charming Draven Knight. She had to keep things in perspective here.
He was only her friend and that would be humiliating to make him even noticed whatever feeling she had about him, she thought as she slanted a glance at him under her eyelashes. Though, Keeping him in perspective might be harder than it was said.
Eventually they turned into the lane which led down to her apartment complex and now she felt the nerve come. The last time he had sent her back, had been five days ago and she had not even had the manner to say the word thank to him. Rainie bent to pick up her shopping bag, not quite sure what she should do now. It was so awkward. Should she ask him in for coffee?
Though, the possibility of him declining was quite thick, she assumed. He lived in central uptown area. His answer would be inevitably big no. If she did not offer him, that would be confirming his suspicious about her feeling or simply he thought that she had not been raised with manners!
It was only a cup of coffee. It was not something she offered him for spending the evening of romantic interlude with her. Only a common courtesy.
She gritted her teeth and took another deep breath. “Do you want to...”
“Can you offer your escort at least a cup of coffee?” He interrupted at the same time.
“You want to come in?” Unreservedly taken back, she stared at him. Her eyes widened with shock, she was sitting with her mouth open and must have looked gormlessly. She did not expect him to ask though the fact she had wanted to offer him at first place. “You want coffee?”
“Yes. But that’s if you don’t have any prior engagement.” He gave a smile on her perplexed expression and her stomach flipped over like a waffle. His father seriously had some good genes. “Besides you owe me a coffee, if you recall.”
His smile made her forget about Jason in flick of time and her heartbroken or even her cry. Within one good smile, all the things seemed to vaporize and she was left with a breathless excitement.
“I forgot about that.” She managed.
“I’m glad to remind you.” He replied. “After a very heavy dinner, I need a cup of coffee...Again.”
“Alright.” She said and tried to reach the door handle.
“Hang on. Let me open it.” He told her, climbing out his side and walking around.
To be honest she could not remember the last time a man besides him had opened the car door for her. He made it so natural thing to do. “Thank you.” She said as he shut the passenger door.
“So you’re well prepared.” He asked as both of them entered the elevator. And again as a gentleman, he carried her shopping bag.
“I saw that you’re well prepared with your outfit for tomorrow.” He clarified.
Rainie shrugged. “Actually the girls forced me to buy a dress.” She replied as soon as they reached her floor. “I don’t really need it. I’ve no one to impress.” She added, searching for her key. His eyes narrowed astutely, but he did not say anything. She wondered what he was thinking. He possibly agreed what she’d said. It was the fact, but it was like an ache. “How about you?” She asked back, fitting the key into the lock. “Ready to have some escapade at the cottage?”
“Perhaps.” He said impartially.
The door opened and she stepped inside to switch on the light. “What kind of coffee you’d like?” She asked after dropping her bags.
“Black will do.” He replied and she thought that he would stay in the living room. Nevertheless he didn’t, both of them walked through the kitchen. He dropped the shopping bag on the counter.
“You don’t have to follow me to the kitchen. If you don’t trust me, I’ll make sure I won’t make myself burned by boiling water.” She determined to keep things light and easy. It was one of her survival technique. Since being around him, would likely make herself burned!
“Ah, but I like to accompany you.” He replied with infuriating calmness. He slipped off his jacket and threw it carelessly across one of the stools. “Besides if you need help, like you said, burning yourself, I’d take an immediate action.”
Just perfect! First, his date tomorrow, now his tease? Why he had to tease her like that? It seemed she ricocheted from one heartbroken to another. What was this, some kind of heroic things he did? Or simply he had been born having one of those qualities, helping the damsel in distress
“I think, I’d prefer to cure my wound with my own ability.” She responded thickly.
“But sometimes you need someone else to help you.” He disagreed as he moved to stand beside her, his dark eyes crinkling at the edges.
Rainie gave a self-derisive laugh. “I never expect anyone to come and rescue me in the instant.”
He retreated an inch away, watching her with hooded eyes. “You don’t trust anyone in your account?”
She did not reply immediately, instead she turned towards the kettle. She filled it with water and flicked the switch before facing him again. “At some extend, I trust people.” She answered with complete honesty.
“How far is your limit to trust people?” He asked, leaning against the kitchen table and surveyed her with his narrowed eyes.
“Why you care so much about my limit of trusting people?” She retorted, feeling trapped by his question or maybe accusation? He seemed to have the thinking that she did not have the capability to trust anyone after what she had been through, she bet all of her money that any women in this world would feel the way she felt right now.
“I just thought you shouldn’t throw your judgement just because a person like Jason hurt you.” He said solemnly. “Keep everything’s real.”
Rainie exhaled defeated. Standing here under the muted light, his nearness was excruciatingly real. She did not care about Jason anymore. Draven was here with her. It was her fantasy and now fantasy meeting reality. “I guess you’re right.”
“Of course I am.” He eyed her lazily, his voice was smoky.
“You do have such confidence.” She commented dryly and smiled to him.
“Most of the time.” He agreed. A small smile lifted the corner of his mouth. A dry, self-depreciating smile.
“I thought so.” She gave a self-conscious laugh.
It was strangely intimate in the quietness of the kitchen where the light under the cupboards were the only illumination.
His eyes were mesmerizing now as he looked down at her, obliquely black, ringed with silver. “So tomorrow lunch with me?” He prompted huskily.
“Er... yes that’ll be fine.” She concurred awkwardly, still unsure with his invitation although if she thought about it that was quite absurd to feel awkward. “I mean if you don’t...”
“Just say yes.” He said to her mockingly. His arms were moving lightly about her waist. “Besides I’d like to see you relax before you start to fidget at the cottage.”
“I don’t fidget.” She retorted, annoyed that he was once again totally right! Nevertheless she realized what annoyed her the most. It was about his theory about her being relaxed and his motive to have lunch with her tomorrow.
However with him standing so close now, she could not even think straight let alone try to rationalize his lunch invitation. Her heart was beating erratically, her breathing shallow as she looked up into the handsome ruggedness of his face.
“But you know you’re also looking good today.” He whispered softly.
“You lied.” She accused quickly. It was more reflex action than anything else, however as soon as the words had slipped her mouth she wished she had not said them. The guy had given her a lift home, had been there while she sorted out the latest disaster to hit her life, encouraged her to stand on her feet and the payment she had given him was to accuse him a liar. She glanced at him apologetically. “I’m sorry…That was rude.” If he was offended, he did not show it.
Instead he only smiled warmly. “You’re forgiven.” His hands linked at the base of her spine and he molded her body lightly against his.
Soon alarm began to overwhelm her. She knew he was going to kiss her. Now matter what was the reason, she did not care. Something had shifted and changed in the last minute or so, something indefinable yet very potent. She stared into his deep grey eyes and slowly, very gently his mouth touched hers. His lips were warm and searching, intoxicating as they moved teasingly across hers.
Rainie had forgotten to breathe again. A burning heat was already flowing along every vein and she felt heady with the thrill of it. Her hands resting on the broadness of his shoulders prevented her from falling down literally. Sensual expertise was evident in every movement and action he made, the way he carried himself, his lazy self-assurance and effortless control.
“You’ve a very kissable mouth, Rainie Yang.” He murmured huskily as in the next movement he lifted his head and strengthened.
He left her so bereft for a second that she almost reached out to him. She gazed at him, utterly besieged by how he made her feel. Never, not even in the first flush of her relationship with Jason, he had been able to inspire such a physical reaction.
“Are you always like this?” She moved ineptly his arms, still very aware of the sudden pertness of his compliment.
His head tilted to one side as he regarded her quizzically. “Why do you mean?”
“Why you do this?” Rainie extended her arms in showing her gesture. “You’re being nice to me.” She pointed out uncomfortable as she extricated herself from his arms, at the same time looking up at him irritably. “Why do you care so much about me?”
“Do you want me to tell you the truth or lie?” He asked, turned to the bar stool and assessed her with narrowed eyes. “What exactly do you want?”
Why did it matter for him what she wanted? She probably even could not make his body to have any physical attraction to her, let alone his heart. She stared at him. There was a look on his face she could not quite fathom.
“I just feel that I’m not ready to face it. As you might aware that I’m trying my to live my life back again and my intention wouldn’t be useful if I’ve to face the same problem over and over again with Jason. And the last thing I want from you is to feel sorry.”
“You think I feel sorry for you?” He asked sharply.
“If not, what’s your excuse for being kind to me?” She catapulted sceptically, looking straight at him when he perched comfortably on one of the high stools.
He did not answer her. Instead he diverted the subject smoothly. “Why don’t you handle the coffee first?” He suggested.
She inhaled a sharp breath to calm down her nerves and began to move economically in getting out the cups, coffee, cream and sugar, all the time avoiding his gaze, but knowing it followed her every movement. She put a teaspoon of coffee granules into a mug. “Is instant coffee alright?”
Great, she did not even know how he even managed to make that sound as though he meant it. She was so sure his household had gourmet coffee. They must be expensive, rich and freshly ground.
“Do you know black coffee could stain your teeth?” She asked.
“So I’m told.”
Rainie could not help to feel her mouth curve into a smile. Until now he still left her wonder how possibly he could be a teaser then turned into a just a friend in the space of five minutes. She put milk in her own coffee, followed by a sweetener, before she turned around to find he was watching her, making her feel self-conscious. It was something in his expression that she did not understand. Something that made her breath shallow and her voice sounded as though it were catching on dust. She passed his coffee with a hand that shook lightly and somehow or rather managed to sit in front of him.
“Thank you.” He received the coffee and sipped the hot brew carefully before putting down on the table and then looked intensely at her. “So what are those terms?” He asked suddenly. “Can you please elucidate me in?”
Great. She wished that she hadn’t started this. She rather hoped that he had forgotten her earlier her sentences and accusation. She inhaled and waved as nonchalantly as she possibly could. “Why do you want to know?” She asked with bated breath.
“You’re only my fake date last week and we spoke for more than just say hello in the past two years?” She paused. The coffee was scalding hot but she sipped at it anyway, trying to dispel the vibrations pulsating from the core of her. “You haven’t told me about if you feel sorry for me.”
“With my previous question should I tell you the truth or lie?”
“You mean?” She pondered, did not understand if he tried to tease her or simply played games.
“I mean if I tell you the truth, are you scared to hear it?”
She looked at him curiously over the top of her mug bashfully. “Better to tell the truth though how painful how it’ll be, right?”
“Fair enough.” He agreed. “I tell you the truth.” A smile lifted the corners of his mouth. “Though I find it hard to say without sounding condescending but you waste your time to mourn for someone who doesn’t love you and see what kind of person you are. And that’s for the start.”
“How about the rest?”
“You’re beautiful and not only physically but also your personality. There are many guys interested in you. And you don’t have to look far either. At least there’s one man who finds you very attractive, if you look closer.”
“Really?” She asked surprised to hear his observation. “Who?”
She bet her life that she had held her breath frantically just to hear his answer. But she did not want him to know. That was why she took another sip of her coffee to hide her face. He seemed to have the uncanny knack of being able to read her mind and it would not do for him to get an inkling of where the thoughts were taking her now.
He appeared to hesitate for a moment then he shrugged. It was kind of victory. “Is....” He began emphatically. “Someone you’ve to see for yourself.” He said mysteriously. “I’m saying this hoping you’ll dismiss your thought about me being sorry for you. It’s the least thing I feel.”
She sighed softly. The sense of anti-climax was intense. And she was not prepared to accept the pace he set. Part of her was disappointed he did not point out that he was actually the person who was attractive to her! And the other part? Who was she kidding? She was disappointed wholly!
“Don’t say something you don’t mean it.” She pleaded almost hopelessly, cradling her hands around the mug. “I appreciate your kindness but it’s not necessary.” She bit her lip to prevent saying more that she should.
He watched how she uncurled her hands from her mug anxiously. She knew he was considering his respond for seconds. “You’re one of the warmest woman I’ve ever met, although our first meeting was beyond my thinking but still...”
He did not have to finish his sentences. She knew the rest and that could only brink her cheeks colored hotly. He still remembered vividly how they first had met. It was no good denying of what he had recalled. However she also felt helpless to deny something else. It was about how she responded towards him. She apprehended truly she felt about him. She did not only like him. She passionately had deeper affection towards him. She was scared to death for her new discovery. He was unsuitable in every corner way. He was successful, powerful, and completely different from her lifestyle. She was just a poor Rainie Yang. The lame duck that everyone had to rally around. Jason was the living proof.
She understood affection was the closet feeling next to love, or so what the dictionary had written. She had been fighting that knowledge for some time now, refusing to allow the thought to even enter her head. But now alone with him in the silence of her kitchen receiving his kisses, being held in his arms, she could no longer deny how she felt about him. It was pointless to tell herself, she couldn’t control the effect this powerful sexual chemistry between them.
“I’ll tell you something else.” He added huskily, standing up to move around the table and pull her unresistingly onto her feet. “I’m glad Jason didn’t see it, otherwise he’d let off a chance for other man to discover it by himself.” He murmured throatily.
“This is for my gratitude for the coffee.” He said more softly before bending to lightly brush her lips with his. “Goodnight. See you tomorrow and dream of me.” And in the next moment he turned, grab his jacket and slid out the door and disappearing without a backward glance.