“That kiss,” he whispers, his breath hot against my ear. “In Torment’s office. That was nothing?”
“Aside from the fact that we risked both our lives, and you have to pay a heavy price, and I maybe got a little hot from all the activity…nothing.”
“And when we touched…” He slides one arm around my waist and pulls me close as if we were alone and not in the Redemption parking lot where, no doubt, we are fueling the overactive gossip mill. “When I held you…nothing?”
My cheeks burn at the memory. “A friendly hug.”
“And back there in class…” His hips press up against mine, and his voice drops to a sensual growl. “When I had you underneath me with your hands pinned above your head totally at my mercy…nothing?”
I open my mouth, but nothing is exactly what comes out.
Zack responds with a satisfied grunt. “Something.”
“Don’t let it go to your head.” I grit my teeth and look away. “It was a natural physiological response. I’m genetically programmed to be attracted to handsome, sexy men in peak physical condition. Survival of the species and that sort of thing.”
He laughs, and oh God, I missed that deep, rich rumble that rolls right through me. “What about this?” He taps my head. “I’ve heard the brain can overcome basic instinct and genetic programming. Free will and that sort of thing.”
“Yeah, well, it’s not working right now. I think it’s the gi.” Unable to stop myself, I run my hand along the edge of his gi, my fingers trailing over the hard muscles of his chest. “It’s…distracting.”
His muscles tense under my touch, and a growl vibrates in his chest. “You’re distracting.”
“We’re supposed to be keeping it professional,” I remind him, pulling my hand away. I watched his body change from boyhood through his gangly teen years and then fill out when he reached his early twenties. He was ripped back then in a way that made heads turn, but his muscles now are thick and hard, ripened by age and hundreds of fights. When I last saw him, there was still some boy left in the way he held himself, a slight unease with his body. But now, he is all confidence and power. Pure solid man.
Zack grabs my hand and presses it against his bare chest, right over his heart. “You’re not making it easy. Your jealousy…knowing you care…feeling that connection… You don’t know what that does to me.” He is on me before I can part my lips, one hand firm around my neck, his lean, powerful body caging me against the car. His mouth claims mine, stealing my breath away with a kiss that sends a scorching wave of heat through my veins.
“Professional means no kissing,” I say when he lets me up for air. Without thinking, I trace the edges of the scar on his forehead, a bitter reminder of Matt’s misdirected anger when Zack brought home his mangled bike.
Zack covers my hand with his, trapping it against my cheek. “No kissing,” he agrees. “Unless you touch me, and then I can’t be held responsible for my actions.”
“Fine. No touching.” I pull my hand away, pleased that we are setting out some ground rules so I don’t have to worry about wanting to tear his clothes off in the gym.
His naughty hand skims the side of my face, his thumb stroking over the apple of my cheek as he tips my head back, forcing me to look at him. “I can’t train you if I don’t touch you, especially when we’re rolling on the mats like we just did in class.”
“Okay. Professional touching. Nothing else.”
He licks his lips like a predator about to feast. “Unless you want something else.”
I press my lips together and scowl. “Stop qualifying everything. I know exactly what you’re trying to do, and it’s not going to work. You can’t seduce me, Zachary Grayson. You know exactly what professional means. Now let’s shake on it.”
He cups my face between his hands and tilts my head back. “Kiss.”
“You had your kiss—”
Without warning, his hands drop to my hips, and he yanks me against him. His mouth crushes mine, and his tongue slides between my lips, touching, tasting, claiming. I startle at the urgency of his kiss, the raw heat, the fierce desire. I shouldn’t kiss him back, but I can’t resist the dark temptation, the firm hand that has found its way to my nape, holding me in place as he coaxes me open for the slow, relentless possession of my mouth.
Blood pounds in my temples, my hunger for him raw and wild. My hand slides up his chest and over his shoulder. I pull him closer, my fingers clutching the soft, silken strands of his hair. My heart pounds in my chest, and the world shatters around me.