Bonita leaned forward and paid her fare. “You can go. I’ll be fine.” Probably. Maybe. She scrubbed her knuckles across her cheeks and rubbed her eyes, a niggling, gypsy fear stealing around the edges of her mind. Kat didn’t know she was coming. She could be working late or partying with a houseful of people. Heck, she could even be out of the country.
The driver got her bag out of the trunk and left it under one of the two palm trees that flanked the front walkway. He jumped back into the taxi and zipped down the driveway. Before Bonita could really consider her half-formed plan of throwing up in the astonishing, brightly tiled fountain, two uniformed security guards appeared, no doubt notified by the other goons at the front gate.
“Good evening, Miss. We’ll need to see your bag before you enter the house.” Bonita suppressed a giggle at being called “Miss”. The security guard was all of twenty-something to her round thirty. She said nothing as they waved their metal-detecting wands around her body and checked her bag, instead focusing on the calming gurgles and the truly stunning Talavera tile work of the fountain.
“Thank you, Miss.” The guard rang the bell for her and nodded politely, then silently disappeared around the side of the house with his partner. Without a warning sound, the front door swung open.
Bonita stared at Kat.
She was ten times more beautiful than she had been in her last movie. Twenty times more magnetic. And about a hundred times more distant. Each film took her further out of reach.
The reality of their situation ripped into Bonita with the punishing lash of a whip. She had been foolish to come here.
“Hello, Beauty.” Kat’s voice was pitched for privacy, and she wrapped her tongue around the words as if she could taste them, teeth flashing.
Saliva rushed to Bonita’s mouth, and blood rushed everywhere else, her long-standing, automatic reaction to being near Kat. She wanted her, immediately, hopelessly and helplessly, any way she could get her. She was drawn to Kat’s fearlessness. Her beauty. Her bad-girl, gonna-f***-you-’til-you-drop, bone-deep sensuality that was so different from Bonita’s restrained desires.
She tried to tune all of that out and focus on the not-so-hopeless part. Kat had long ago chosen her career over love, but Bonita didn’t need love. She just needed Kat once in a while.
She swallowed. “You answer your own door? I’m impressed.” Oh hell, three years of virtual silence and the best she could come up with was lame sarcasm? That wasn’t what she’d meant to say at all.
“Don’t be. I knew it was you.” Kat tossed her head. Her inky-black hair rained over her proud shoulders. Kat’s hair had been an untamable mane since childhood. Even when her mother had been able to catch her and hold her down, she had never been able to get a brush through all of it. “Come on in, little Beauty.”
“I’m not little.” Bonita squared her shoulders.
“No, but you’ll always be younger than I am. I like to keep you in your place.”
“Two months, Kat. Two months younger than you.” Bonita tried to brush by her, but Kat put a lazy hand on her bare arm. Her jasmine scent made Bonita dizzy with longing, so she held her breath. At least once a month, she would wake from a dream and swear she could smell the warm, seductive scent on her pillow.
“Aren’t you going to kiss me hello? How long has it been?” Kat asked.
“You know as well as I do how long it’s been.” She stumbled over the words. Why did Kat always do this to her? Her tongue felt thick in her mouth. Her brain couldn’t quite bridge the synapses. Her skin felt dry and taut. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from Kat’s dark gaze.
“Aside from polite e-mails and skillfully timed voice messages, I’m positive that I haven’t heard from you in three years, darling.” Kat let a bit of Western New York slip into her voice. “And you never answer when I call. Caller ID has given me a f***ing complex.”
Kat held her hostage in the doorway, stroking her arms and making the hairs stand on end. Bonita’s breath whooshed out of her lungs. This was why she kept her distance. Being near Kat was dangerous to her self-control. Yet here she was, square in the lioness’s den, planning to bait her, no less. She was a total masochist.
“I’m here, Kat,” she said quietly. “Can’t that be enough for now? Can’t I just be here? With you? Can’t we spend some time together?”
“Of course, Beauty.” Kat drew Bonita into the house and shut the door behind her. There was more of the pretty tile in the entryway, textured terra cotta inset with smaller, more intricately designed squares. Hardwood floors stretched beyond the tiled foyer, and to the left, a carved wood staircase with a wrought-iron railing hinted at more grandeur above.
For a moment Bonita thought she was safe. Then Kat’s lush curves trapped her against the door. “I’ve missed you. I’ve missed our games. You’ve always been my most responsive audience.”
“Kat,” Bonita began, her voice leaden with warning, but she couldn’t get another word out before Kat pushed away from her.
“Don’t.” Kat turned her back and walked to the wide stairway that seemed to extend to the heavens. “Come on. I have something to show you.”
Excitement burned in Kat’s eyes, but Bonita also sensed loneliness and a black weariness that broke her heart. She could ignore an insult and resist a dare, but she could never walk away when Kat truly needed her. At this moment, Kat could have been asking her to join her in hell, and Bonita would have said yes, just to keep her company.
Tough Kat. Beautiful Kat. Selfish Kat.
Bonita had watched her transformation from afar, driven back every so often, yes, just like that dumbass moth after the flame, to get the thrill that only Kat could give her. And every time Bonita had subsequently run like hell. She was as captivated by Kat’s unbelievable beauty as the rest of the world, but she had never been fooled into believing her harmless facade.
Bonita stepped forward and took the hand Kat offered. Desire juxtaposed with fear rushed through her. It was a heady mix, especially when it was followed by the sure knowledge that nothing short of nuclear war could stop them from making love.