Home > Awakened (Intimate Relations #3)(5)

Awakened (Intimate Relations #3)(5)
Author: Kate Douglas

She rolled her eyes. “Oh, yeah.”

“I never knew.” He held her face in his hands, kissed her quickly, ending it before he got carried away. “Mandy, I’ve wanted you since the first time I saw you, but I can’t make any promises. There are things about me that you don’t know, that I’m not sure I’m ready to share with anyone, that…”

She covered his lips with her fingers. “It’s okay. We can do this and know that we’re friends, first. Nothing will hurt that, Marc. We won’t let it.”

“Do you think we can we do that?” He traced the line of her jaw with a single fingertip. “You’re special to me, Mandy.” He laughed, knew he sounded self-conscious, but didn’t try to cover it up. “More special than you can possibly know.”

She pressed her hand against his chest and her eyes twinkled. “Thank you. But I just had a thought that could screw up any plans we might be considering. I’m not using birth control, and I don’t have any condoms. Do you?”

He tried not to. There was no stopping it. The laughter exploded out of him, and once it started there was no stopping. At least not right away. When he finally got it under control, he was lying on his back on Mandy’s bed, staring into an expression he wished he could capture.

“Are you okay?” She tilted her head and stared down at him, but from the way her lips were twitching, she was fighting a smile. “I had no idea there was anything remotely funny about not having condoms.”

He reached up, wrapped his hand around her neck and pulled her down for a kiss. When he turned her loose, she had a wonderfully glazed expression in her eyes. “Mandy, if I had any condoms they would be out of date. I haven’t had sex with anyone other than my right hand for so long it’s not even funny.”

Her frown was actually kind of cute, and he waited for the questions. When they didn’t come, he sat up and wrapped his arm around her. “I do, however, have an idea. I bet Ben has a stash in his bedroom.”

“Are you sure? Lola’s on the pill. At least she is now. Why would he need condoms?”

“When they first hooked up, I know he bought condoms. I was at the store with him.”

“Yeah, but…” Shrugging, she just watched him.

“Trust me. Ben bought a couple of economy packs. He can’t possibly have used all of them.” He stood and reached for Mandy’s hand. “I mean, I know he’s got it bad for your sister, but there have to be a few left. C’mon. It’s almost midnight. Their plane left at eleven. Even if he needed them, he won’t be coming back for any tonight.”

His giggling co-conspirator let him drag her down the hall to Ben and Lola’s room. They tiptoed in as if Ben might pop out of the shadows at any moment, and Marc went straight for the bedside table. With all the drama he was capable of—which wasn’t much—he held a finger to his lips and cautioned Mandy to be quiet. Then he slowly opened the drawer.

It was filled almost to the top with little foil packets. Dozens of them.

Deadpan, Marc glanced at Mandy and whispered, “I was right. He does have a few extras. I doubt he’ll miss any if we take a couple.”

Mandy slapped her hand over her mouth. When Marc grabbed three of the packets, Mandy reached inside the drawer and took three more. He turned to her and raised his eyebrows.

“One can hope,” she said. Then she grabbed a couple more.

So did Marc. “Just in case,” he said.

This time it was Mandy grabbing Marc’s hand, dragging him back to her room, and tossing the condoms on top of the bedside table. He added his handful to the pile.

For a moment, they merely stood there, staring at each other. Mandy made the first move. She slipped her hands beneath the hem of his long-sleeved T-shirt, ran her fingers over the sensitive skin above his waistband, and Marc knew there was no fighting the inevitable.




The first time he saw Mandy, Marc thought she was adorable, a cute little blond-haired, brown-eyed pixie with a twinkle in her eyes and a perpetual smile on that sexy mouth. She wore her hair fairly short, and no matter what she did with it, it always had that tousled just-out-of-bed look. She was petite—slim and fit looking, yet rounded in all the right places—but still an adorable pixie.

His physical reaction to her had been a lot more down and dirty. He’d wanted her. It had been a visceral punch to the gut, so unexpected that he’d actually tried to avoid her the first few times they were all together.

Avoidance hadn’t worked when, less than a week later, a fire in his apartment building had coincided with the girls and Ben asking him to move in. Ben didn’t want Mandy and Lola left here alone when he reported for duty at Camp Parks across the bay.

They knew by then that someone had targeted them, but they’d had no idea who it was or what it was about. Since Marc’s apartment had been damaged by the fire and Ben worried about leaving the two women alone, Marc had agreed to make the move permanent.

The danger was over, the perpetrators in jail, but Marc was still here, an accepted member of this loosely knit family of old and new friends.

A win-win situation, right? He’d had no idea at the time how much Mandy was going to come to mean to him, not a clue what kind of effect she would have on his life.

He’d been here a little over two months now, and it hadn’t taken him long to figure out he was in big trouble. Lola had Ben, Kaz, the woman who had once been the girls’ roommate, had Marc’s oldest, closest buddy, Jake Lowell. Jake and Ben were brothers, once estranged, now rebuilding a relationship they’d lost almost twenty years ago, and they’d drawn Marc in, even closer, as part of their family. Jake and Ben had accepted him as if there was something even more binding than their life-long friendship. He was their brother—and by virtue of their relationships, Kaz and Lola’s as well.

Then there was Mandy. They were the only two of their group who weren’t attached to anyone, and while no one had actively tried to throw them together, the couples dynamic had paired them up whenever they did stuff as a group—which was quite often. It hadn’t taken long for Marc’s physical craving to develop into something so much deeper, a longing for so much more. While it was natural to think of Kaz and Lola as the little sisters he’d never had, there was absolutely no way he could ever see Mandy in that role.

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