This snippet is from Chapter 3. As you’ll learn in Victor’s book, Vicki is trying to establish her own fashion line. She’s working hard to launch her line next month, but she’s not happy with her pieces so far. Something’s missing, but she can’t put her finger on it.
Until Jesse arrives.
“Any color will go with black, white, and gray. How about green to complement the red?”
Closing her eyes, she fought not to lean back and rub her entire body against him. She hadn’t been held, touched, in months. That’s all this was. A night with Elias, and she’d forget this insane need that had risen its ugly head. “Too Christmasy.”
“The colors you’ve chosen so far are hard and dramatic, a bit like you and Reyes,” he mused aloud. “He’s harsh and grim. As a cop, everything is black and white. Right or wrong, law and order or utter chaos. I bet he despises the gray. Gray is where people begin to tell lies. All too soon, gray leads to black. There can be no middle ground, no compromise, or black wins every time. Everything has to be in its proper place, right or wrong, and he’s always right.”
His analysis was spot-on, but then again, Elias wasn’t that hard to read. She wasn’t too concerned, until Jesse began analyzing her.
“Meanwhile, you’re definitely red: passionate, uncontrolled wildfire. You clash with black because of those passions and you never give up without a fight.”
His gentle voice didn’t sound aggressive or inflammatory, but he dared a soft brush of his lips against her ear that damned near made her knees buckle.
“Maybe you need a buffer between you and him. Someone softer, gentler, who can absorb all the dramatics without falling apart, who would never try to set one against the other, and will always do exactly as you say, when you say, how you say, no questions asked. Someone who’d relish getting burned by your sparks, and isn’t afraid of the harder black, either. In fact, you just might like someone who can take it hard, real hard, as hard as you want.”
She knew, then, that she was in serious trouble. Street-smart and worldly in ways she couldn’t even comprehend, Jesse had just voiced the crux of her relationship problems with Elias. In the great war of passion between them, Jesse offered himself as Switzerland.
What he didn’t get at all was that Elias would go all shock-and-awe on them both if she even thought about it.
So why am I thinking about it?
She couldn’t tell Jesse that he was wrong, because he wasn’t, and she couldn’t refuse him, because he had to know how fast her heart was pounding. She couldn’t seem to catch her breath.
Ironically, now she knew exactly which color to use in her line.
Without saying a word or turning toward him, she stepped away. He let her go without trying to hold her back. Trailing her fingers along the fabrics, she walked down to the opposite end of the shelving, straining up high to reach a shimmering bolt of blue-lagoon silk.
It’d been an impulse buy, rather embarrassing, actually, because she’d never thought she’d end up using it, and it’d cost her a small fortune. The color was too bright, too jewel-toned for business wear, and too seasonally restrictive for all-year wear. Or so she’d thought as she’d shoved it on the highest shelf out of her way.
Bracing herself mentally, she raised her gaze to his face as she walked toward him. His eyes, so bright, so hot and intense, made darker and richer by the silk in her hands. Her chest constricted and she felt that answering surge of attraction again, deeper and more compelling every time she looked at him. If he’d stop looking at her like that, begging her with his eyes to devour him whole, then maybe she could pretend nothing had changed.
He was just a good guy who’d fallen on hard times.
She was just a good Samaritan.
He didn’t have to get in the middle of her romantic mess.
Her cheeks burned at the thought. The image of him and Elias both touching her seared her mind, burning her to ash. She’d never once thought about such a thing, but now…
She draped the silk over the center rack and stepped back to look at her entire collection. If she made a simple turquoise shell to wear with the black pantsuit, and maybe something with gray and turquoise mixed together, it might work. She just needed to settle on the signature piece for herself.
“What do you think?” She didn’t turn to look at him, afraid that he’d see the growing need in her eyes and take the next step himself. “Is it too much?”
“Nothing’s too much for you.”
A lump crowded her throat, making it impossible to breathe. “Jesse—”
“Hear me out, please.” He stepped closer, hovering slightly behind and to the side without touching her. “Keep your cop. I don’t care. Just keep me, too.”