Or at least what she thought she might want, even if it was only temporary.
Which equaled pretty much the same thing.
“We were kids then. Things are different now. He"s achieved the success he"s always wanted. Besides, ever heard of a harmless fling?”
“A fling? With a man you used to be in love with? Get real, Rachel.” With a snap of his wrist, he spun her out again, twirling her until she collided hard into his muscled chest. She gasped, but he didn"t seem to notice. “Where do you think you"ll fit into his world?”
Swallowing, Rachel tipped back her head. She was actually dizzy, and she was beginning to think it wasn"t from Shawn"s killer dance moves. “We"ll see, won"t we?
I"ve been down that road once before. Now I want to see where this one takes me.”
“As you wish. If you need to go, go. But I"m coming with you.”
That she hadn"t expected.
“Say what?” At his mulish stare—and the demanding press of his hands against the small of her back—she swiftly backtracked. “Look, Shawn, Ryan"s publisher is putting on this big masquerade party to celebrate the release of his new book. We"ll have one memorable night. Or a memorable couple of hours.” She huffed out a breath when he cocked a dark blond eyebrow. “I hardly need a chaperone.”
“No, but you may need a friend.”
Immediately she softened. Staying mad at Shawn was a losing proposition. He was, after all, the person who"d helped her balance on her first two-wheeler and hadn"t stopped steadying her since. “There are phones, you know.” She laid her hand lightly on his chest. “I"m only going for ten days. Once school starts up again, I won"t be able to get away. This is the right time.”
“Let"s say he falls madly in love with you again.” Even as she wondered if she"d imagined the hurt undercutting his deep, honeyed voice, she dismissed the idea.
Why would he possibly be hurt? “Then what? You leave your position at CB Middle School, leave your family, leave—”
He hadn"t had to say the word aloud.
She bit the inside of her cheek. In their nearly thirty-year friendship, Shawn had always demonstrated his loyalty through actions, not words. Or in this case, a soulful look that set off a quiver low in her belly.
Wow, he was really giving this acting job his all.
“No.” Quietly, she repeated, “No. I"ll never leave you.” Her fingers slid into the opening in his shirt, brushing over warm, smooth skin and rough hair, but the warning flash in his eyes made her snatch her hand back. “Don"t you get that yet, Griffin?”
She waited for his trademark slow grin. It always started with a slight twist of his lips as he upped the wattage degree by degree. But this smile wasn"t merely unhurried, it was nonexistent.
“I won"t wait forever, Rachel.”
While she struggled to decipher what he"d said, her world narrowed to him clasping her fingers in a punishing grip. As their gazes locked, her breath lodged in her throat.
“No,” she whispered, her lashes sweeping down to block her view as his mouth met hers.
It wasn"t a kiss. She couldn"t, wouldn"t, have labeled it as such. More, it was a claiming, a territorial seizing a heartbeat before his tongue demanded entrance.
Shawn, her brain screamed. This was Shawn. The child she"d built sandcastles with, the boy she"d called to take her to the hospital the night she"d miscarried Ryan"s baby.