Teriza absorbed the quiet sound of Paul’s voice, but startled as the oven timer beeped. “Dinner’s ready.”
“It smells delicious, but we both know it’s best if I don’t stay.”
She couldn’t step out on a limb with Paul. Not yet. This was too new. She needed time to think rationally, if her body would allow her that luxury. Such thinking wouldn’t be possible with him so close. Even knowing that, there was a part of her that wanted to stake her claim on him.
Instead of skirting the counter to leave the kitchen area, he chose to pass by her. Gaze locked on hers, Paul drew close, then closer still. One second more and he would pass her. He made a slight shift and Teriza’s hand shot out, her fingers clamping over his wrist. The action was motivated from an instinct she couldn’t trust. Having found and lost her life-mate so recently, this could merely be a manifestation of her fear of being alone, of not ever having a family of her own.
Paul hooked one finger inside her sleeve and tugged twice, asking her to close the distance between them. His gaze smoldered, but he didn’t make a move. Teriza looked away, released him and a chill stole through her chest. Another sign? She took a baby step forward, testing her body’s reaction. Paul remained still. Teriza inched forward until her breasts were dangerously close to brushing his chest when he inhaled. She lifted one hand, letting her fingertips skim over his sweater-covered bicep, up, up over his shoulder.
Her name whispered along raw nerve endings. Raising her gaze to his face she saw the tightly clenched jaw, the warning in his eyes. She was toying with an open flame.
For both their sakes she had to let him go. For now.
Dropping her hand, Teriza took a step back and knew physical pain when Paul closed his eyes and shuddered. She turned away, lest he see her indecision. A slight movement of air preceded muffled footsteps, then the front door opened and closed.
Only then did Teriza release the breath she held and take note of the trembling. The ache. Not just for sex—though that was indisputably present—but for Paul and the closeness, the serendipitous connection of a kindred spirit she felt when he was near.
If only she could trust that what was between them would last.(Bittersweet Obsessions © 2011 by Annie Rayburn)
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