Brandon stood, naked, and looked down at the woman dozing on the fine cotton sheets. Her fingers curled in against her palms and her hands were pulled in next to her body. She looked peaceful and docile and nothing like the hellcat who’d just wrung him out.
Wandering down her hallway, he touched his head. He still felt drunk, although the physical activity he’d just completed should have sobered him right up. Also, he’d only had beer, and not that many of them, at the bar earlier. It seemed much longer than . . . two hours? since she’d offered to bring him back here.
Brandon glanced down at his watch, the only item of clothing that he still had on after that crazy round of sex. He searched the fridge, finding a glass and a pitcher of cold water. The chill hit him as he drank it while making his way back over the soft carpet to her bedroom. For a brief moment he wondered if she had a roommate or someone he should worry about while he was walking naked through her apartment. But he dismissed the thought as quickly as it came.
A strange light flickered in the doorway of her bedroom, and that combined with the cold water brought him fully alert. As he stepped into the opening, he was surprised to find her awake. She was sitting, facing away from him, on the side of the bed. Moreover, he was relieved that the odd light was nothing more than the glow of a candle she was lighting.
Her blonde hair was almost platinum in the amber glow, and it brushed the middle of her back in loose curls that had previously been near-perfect ringlets. Now it was a near-perfect mess, and knowing that he was the one who’d messed it was sexy as hell.
She turned to smile at him, pink lips reminding him what she’d done and where she’d done it. Her eyes were liquid and fathoms deep in the candlelight. She picked up a sprig of something and held it into the flame. Soft, gray smoke curled upward and disappeared.
Brandon didn’t think anything of it until the awful smell hit him. His nose wrinkled against his will and without thought he dove across the sheets toward her. “Don’t please. I’m . . . allergic to a lot of incense.”
That wasn’t true at all. But that stuff stank.
He grabbed it from her hand and blew out the glowing ends on the small blooms, sloshing a little of his water on the sheets as he did.
He figured he should apologize, but now that he was lying across the bed he felt the turning sensation in his brain again—like he was drunk. He closed his eyes and the world felt like a boat rocking beneath him. For a moment, he wondered if he’d been slipped something more powerful than alcohol at the bar. He’d thought only women really had to worry about that. He was getting ready to ask her if she’d noticed anything, when he realized he couldn’t remember her name.
She was leaning over him, reaching for the half-ashed stem in his fingers. She took it away and asked him what it was that he wanted.
But that was a stupid question. She had just leaned over him, naked, making him forget all about her stinky incense. The world had stopped spinning as the ends of those mussed curls tickled across his bare chest. The sheets were still tangled from the best no-holds-barred sex he could remember. And she asked him what he wanted.
So he reached out for her soft skin and showed her.
* * *
Delilah gazed at the man beside her, watching his chest rise and fall in rapid waves, much like her own was doing. She let out a breath.
The universe was right. Tonight had been her night. The olives had not deserved the way she’d cursed them.
It was midnight. Perfect timing. If she got him out of here and then passed out within twenty minutes, she could catch a neat two hours of sleep before she had to get up to go to work.
As her breathing and his slowed to a more normal rate, she moved into action. Delilah kissed her fingertips, imbuing her touch with an extra nudge, leading him to agree with her. “Thank you. That was fantastic.” She caressed his upper arm with a sweet stroke, intending him to absorb both the compliment and the suggestion a little more deeply. “But I need to get some sleep now. I have to get to work at three.”
He rolled to look at her, his eyes showing that he’d been affected by the simple magick. He smiled. “I should get some sleep, too.”
However, instead of standing, he reached for the covers, pulling them all the way up and over both of them before she could get her bearings. She tried again.
“No,” She kept her voice soft but steady and firm, “I need to sleep alone. You should go.”
His laugh rumbled low in his bare chest; he was still not agreeing. “You don’t need to sleep alone, and I’m too tired to move.” His arm came up and around her, pulling her closer and alarming her more.
Surely he wasn’t immune to her magick.
That would mean that he was stronger than her. She would have sensed that right from the start.
Again she pushed a little extra power into her touch and shoved against his chest, still barely budging him. “I have to go to work at three. That’s just a few hours.”
Delilah hadn’t even added a kick to her words. She was a little panicked by his nonchalance, which was enough to make her forget the magick that should be second nature. She was functioning on pure logic.
Unfortunately, logic didn’t work on him either.
“You shouldn’t have invited me home if you have to work that early. The room is spinning like I’m drunk, so I can’t drive. And I don’t think you really go to work in a few hours anyway. Who starts work at three a.m.?”
He snuggled in a little deeper under the white fluffy comforter and let his eyelids drift shut.
Fine, if he wanted to sleep, he could just sleep through the forgetting.
As his face relaxed, Delilah rolled herself up to sit on the side of the bed, relaxing now that she had a Plan B. With a deep breath to re-focus herself, she lit the white beeswax candle again and pulled out a fresh stick of lavender, lighting the tips of the small white blossoms.
She woke him to hand him the smoking sprig figuring she would just push him out the door while he forgot.
But he didn’t go.
Brandon sat up, coming awake with the burning lavender in his fingers. He frowned at it, crinkled his nose and blew it out. “That smells bad. Stop doing that.”
He handed her back the burnt blossoms and rolled over, tucking the covers under his chin.
What was wrong with him?
Delilah sniffed the lavender for herself. It didn’t stink. It wasn’t beautiful, but it didn’t produce a smell worthy of the faces he made.
She was startled from her wonderings of what the hell she might have done wrong by a soft snore.
The damn man was out like a light.
She should never have indulged in that second round with him. She’d worn him out and now what was she going to do?
Her shoulders slumped. She could burn the lavender and cast the spell on him. He’d forget about her and what they’d done. But he’d still be in her bed, so that was just fruitless.
After nudging and shaking him more times than she could count, Delilah gave up.
Fine, he’d believe she had to be at work at three a.m. when she woke his sleepy ass up at two fifteen.