LOCKE AND KEY
EXCERPTLocke ducked close to her ear, purposefully rasping a five o’clock shadow against her neck, and again asked, “Do we know anything new?”
She whimpered. He had to have heard the quiet groan, and he swayed them together and— damn, she felt him. Cassidy’s eyes went wide as he held her backside against his crotch.
Was Locke turned-on? Locke was turned-on. And he wanted her to know. The realization was as potent as a narcotic. It hit her blood, and she was high.
But he’d asked about work. What was she supposed to do? She tried to recover. Shaking and stupidly pretending this wasn’t a thing, she turned. Eye to eye, she couldn’t read him!
He didn’t move. Didn’t touch her. Was the ball in her park? He’d asked about Alex, twice. But he had a hard-on!
Cassidy was so confused and turned on that she couldn’t trust her instincts. She needed to do what she did best— work. Focus on the job.
“He’s in there.” Cassidy, failing to regain her composure, was still breathless.
Locke smiled. “Good to know.”
She’d made the right choice in focusing on work. She was there for Alex. If Locke wanted to… pursue something, he could do it when she wasn’t busy. He had her number.
“Cass…” His eyebrows challenged her to admit their tension escalating.
There was Cass again. She hated nicknames— until they flowed from his mouth. They needed space, but she didn’t trust her legs. They were weak as her mind was wild. She tried to swallow, shifting away—
“Don’t go.” He was holding her, hugging her. Locke cupped her cheek and let his fingers slide along her jaw. She was drowning in him as Locke’s hand moved down her neck, letting the thump of her pulse jump against his fingertips. “I—”
“Excuse me,” a woman snapped as she bustled in, grabbing her shawl, and she sneered on the way out.
“Oh, God.” Cassidy jumped, her cheeks hot and her embarrassment swallowing her alive. She choked on the knot in her throat and covered her face, backing away from him. “I’m so sorry.”
“Cassidy.” Locke reached for her.
“So, so sorry.” She tilted to face him, and they stood in the dark shadows. She was the reporter; he was the protector.
His voice rumbled, not judgmental or embarrassed. “You have nothing to say sorry about. To anyone.”
“We might disagree on that.” She’d staked the rebound of her career on Alex, but when Locke came around, she always seemed to forget.
“I don’t try to upset you.” The pregnant pause hung heavy. “Not on purpose anyway— maybe for fun, playing around, but I won’t do that again.”
He was playing down their moment of intimacy. Maybe for him it had been nothing but an erection and a tease, while for her it was the stuff of nightly fantasies. How foolish was she? Embarrassment made her stomach drop.
Again, they were almost stomach to stomach. Too close. Too intimate. Too… much. “I’m not upset.” But that wasn’t true.
“You’re something,” he said.
“Something,” she agreed. “True.” Something she’d never, ever admit to. Tugging her bottom lip between her teeth, she couldn’t map out his intentions—
“Don’t do that.”
“Do what?” Cassidy froze, wondering what she’d done wrong.
His gaze lasered on her lips. “That.”
Finally, she saw the same desperate hunger on his face. The authority in his command made her shiver. Unquenched lust boiled in his eyes, and Cassidy didn’t know how to handle this Locke— the uncontrolled and unscripted one. “Oh… um. I…”
In a tailspin, she couldn’t decide whether to fight for what she could finally read on his face or pull her act together and act like they were working together. She did neither, standing there, still unsure.
“You keep biting that lip, Cass.” Locke lifted an eyebrow and scorched her panties. “Don’t do that.”
“Okay.” The devil on her shoulder whispered, Bite your lip again. Or bite his. Maybe they could kiss and work.
Locke lifted his chin, his gaze falling past her. “Alex is leaving.”
Wait— what? Damn it.