As stealthily as possible, Jack slipped his arm behind Keely on the back of the couch. Her hair was long enough he could twine a silky section around his index finger. “You’ve never been tempted to take the plunge?”
“I’ve had my fair share of boyfriends. Some say more than my fair share, but I’ve never seen myself with any of them long term.”
“Why do you think that is?”
Her body tensed. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m flawed. I’m sure you’d derive great joy in detailing all that is wrong with me.”
“I don’t know if your opinion of me bothers me worse than your opinion of yourself.”
Keely snorted. “Please.”
“You don’t need me to tell you you’re a beautiful woman, Keely. You didn’t offer a glimpse of your insecurity because you were fishing for compliments.”
Silence. An unhappy, uncomfortable silence.
“What did I say?”
“Stop teasing me.” She attempted to squirm away.
“I’m not teasing you.” Don’t snap at her. “Why is it so damn hard for you to take a compliment from me?”
“Because you’ve never given me one and it’s insincere,” she retorted.
Jack tugged on her hair until she faced him. “If you’re challenging my sincerity, then I should at least get a chance to prove it.”
“I don’t need proof. We’re pretending to be engaged for Christsake. How much more insincere can it get?”
“We might be lying about some things, but this…pull between us is real.”
Keely shivered. “That’s not—”
“I can demonstrate if you like.”
“I thought you were conditioning me?”
“That too,” he murmured. “Take a chance, cowgirl.”
“And if I say no you’ll call me a chicken?”
“Yep. I’ll even cluck.”
She laughed softly. “You are crazy.”
“I know. It’s part of my charm.” Jack angled his head until his nose brushed her ear. Goddamn. The woman’s scent was a shot of adrenaline straight to his groin. “Close your eyes, Keely.”
“Jack, I don’t think—”
“Don’t think. Just do it.”
She muttered unintelligibly, but she complied.
He dragged his fingers to the top of her thigh where her hand clenched into a fist. He brushed his mouth across the lilac scented skin below her ear. “My lips are a perfect fit for this spot, right here.”
She arched into him slightly.
“I could spend an hour touching you with my mouth and my hands.”
“Over my clothes?”
“To start. Then I’d unbutton your shirt, kissing each section of skin as I bared it. I’d look my fill. I’d taste my fill.”
Jack’s lips skimmed the hollow of her throat. “And then whatever you want, Keely, just name it.”
“What is this proving?” she asked breathlessly.
“Nothing. I’m conditioning you to my touch, remember?”
“So this is just a game?”
“Yes.” Jack let his heated breath follow the sexy curvature of her jaw. “And no. Getting you comfortable with my touch is a means to an end, but the process isn’t a hardship. Not at all.” Hadn’t the woman noticed his cock straining against his zipper?
Keely’s breath caught when he tugged on her earlobe with his teeth.
He smiled against her cheek, figuring he’d won her over. “Am I proving myself?”
“Why not?” Jarred by her response, he stilled. If he hadn’t persuaded her, then why was her voice unsteady? Why was her breath choppy?
“Because you’re not the type of man to take it slow or give me a play by play.”
“And you know me so well?” he murmured with a trace of humor.
“Well enough to know I prefer the zero to four second response time you have, whether it’s in anger or with lust. That’s honest. This calculated seduction is not.” Keely extracted herself from him and stood. She reached for her beer. “Maybe it would be better if we just watched TV.”