Not My Lover Ch. 04byJazzMatthews©
Summer got home after Gage had dropped her off and meandered to the phone to catch her messages. Calls from bill collectors and friends, but she didn't feel like dealing with them right now. The last message, however, was from her grandmother, who insisted that Summer call her right back when she got in.
Mina Sheppard was the woman who had raised Summer when her parents died in a fateful car crash seventeen years ago. She had her grandpa too, but her grandparents were married by common law, and still were, but they lived in different places.
Summer dialed the number and for the first time all day, she was relieved to hear someone's voice other than Gage's. His voice got beneath her skin and it was disturbing how that kiss affected her. Though she didn't respond, his brief mauling left her with a nice taste of him in her mouth.
He was a damned good kisser. With the surge of his possessive tongue and his arm wrapped around her waist made her want to swoon. His kisses weren't of the subtle kind. Such carnal need swirling in those bedamned eyes of his, in his character and tone of voice. Good Lord, there was just so much testosterone in one male and Gage Ryan could effortlessly give a woman an orgasm just by talking or looking at her.
Lord, the man had said the words himself despite all the animosity they had shared in the past. Tonight, he wanted her. It was probably that she was the most available woman at his disposal, but it was still shocking that he would even ask her if she wanted to screw around. It was more of a shocker that she wanted to take him up on his offer, just to see if the man was as blessed as rumors claimed him to be.
Summer was flustered by the time her grandmother picked up the phone, but calmed down as casual conversation took root. Topics tiptoed around the matter of Gage until Summer went into detail about the baby shower she had been asked to plan. Her grandmother listened attentively as she reviewed all that she was told, from who to invite to what she should get the mother-to-be.
"I think I have enough time to throw this together," Summer replied contemplatively, "but I don't want it to look like I was told at the last minute. I want everything to be nicely situated for her. Gage had also told me that his grandmother volunteered to throw the shower at her home in Georgia and invited anyone to come."
Summer understood the hint in her grandmother's voice. "She doesn't mind if I bring someone along. At least, this was told to me through the grapevine. Mrs. Ryan told Grant that he should throw her a baby shower, then Grant asked Gage to ask me."
"Grant," Mema said as if trying to jog her memory of who he was. "That's the brother, right? The one who got married a few months back?"
Her grandmother knew in incisive detail just who the Ryans were. She seemed interested with the story, especially where it concerned Gage. Two years ago, it seemed like Summer couldn't stop going on about the man, then suddenly, it was as if she had forgotten about him. But Mina knew differently. Maternal instinct never failed.
"So, Gage is the lucky groom?"
If she considered hours on end of fighting and lust pitted against her, then he must be the luckiest bastard in the world.
Summer was startled by the sharp squeal coming from her phone. "I'm so excited," Mina exclaimed. "At last, my grandchild settling down with a man."
Summer rolled her eyes. Her grandmother had such illusions. Summer had informed her of the humiliating plans for a FBI wedding that Stallings had thrown down at their feet and how Gage was going to be her husband only for the assignment. But she didn't see why her grandmother was getting all happy about it. "I'm not settling down with anyone," she confirmed. "It's just for an assignment, Mema, before we go back to our separate, boring lives."
"Well, I would like to come to this baby shower," Mina said, her thoughts still on the positive. "I've heard so much about these Ryan folk that I wanna meet them. Especially this Gage fellow. Is he as fine as I imagine him to be?"
The man could give Adonis a run for his money.
She sighed resignedly. "There's nothing to get all flustered about him." He only has the most perfectly shaped lips to ever grace a man. "He's only a man."
"Oh, don't give me that 'he's only a man' talk every time you call."
"That's because you always ask about him. The man's breathing. When he stops, I'll be sure to let you know. Other than that, it's best to just leave well enough alone."
She knew she was being difficult, but the feeling settling in her stomach when her thoughts ventured to Gage of the impure nature unsettled her.
Her grandmother was silent for a moment, the measured seconds doing murder. "Something happened between you two, didn't it?"
Summer stiffened at being found out, but quickly recovered. Good thing her grandmother wasn't here in person or she really would have given herself away. "What are you talking about?"
"I was a young woman once, you know. I know how it feels to be flustered with a man. And considering from all that I've heard, he's as slick as oil, but as charming as Don Juan when it comes to women."
Don Juan Gage was what she called him. Summer bet that his black book was so full, he could put the Yellow Pages out of business.
"He has his way with them, yes, but it doesn't mean anything to me," she fabricated. It meant like hell in the past, and for some reason, it still did.
Summer was looking for a way to dismiss this issue. She didn't want to talk about it anymore. "It's late, Mema," she huffed, drawing on an excuse to end the dreadful subject. "You should be getting to bed."
"I see what you're trying to do," Mina caught, "but I won't let it rest with that. You're almost twenty-eight, Summer. It's time for you to find a good man and stop dwelling on the past. That one's long gone."
Summer's frown intensified. "But he taught me not to take another man's disrespect. I won't go through it again. Not with anyone."
"Are you sure that Gage will show you disrespect?"
"He's done it before," Summer scoffed.
"I bet you never allowed him the shadow of a doubt," Mina debated.
Summer's voice suddenly turned cold. "He deserves none," she grated tightly. "His lifestyle speaks for itself. He just now confessed that he doesn't want to be weighed down by anyone, which shows that the man isn't housetrained. Impossible male!"
"They all are, baby."
That wasn't the guarantee Summer had in mind. She groaned aloud. "Why can't I just find the perfect man?"
"Because they don't exist," Mina said softly. "That's why women accept them for who they are, flaws and all. It's called love."
The day she loved Gage was the day heaven became Satan's outhouse. "Heh, that is something Gage Ryan will never be capable of, Mema. Believe me."
The Ryan family opened their Georgia doors the following weekend. Even Graham managed to take off of work to attend the get-together. It was the first time Summer had seen the youngest Ryan in person. He resembled Grant and Gage stroke for stroke, except his raven hair was curly and wild where his older brothers were straight and long.
Summer was greeted warmly by Susanna Ryan, the boys' grandmother. Her green eyes held deep reflection, light, and courage. She took it that these were the same emerald gaze that had haunted her dreams lately. Gage was able to inherit those eyes while his brothers gained the cool, refined glare from their grandfather, Conrad Ryan, a seventy-two year old man who barely looked a day over fifty-five.
It made her wonder if Gage was going to turn out that way in forty years. He was barely thirty-two and could tell the man inherited good genes. When he smiled, he looked as if he was fresh out of college, but the more he frowned, the more he seemed his age.
She met a lot more people that she had heard of but never seen. She met the former Senator Emmanuel Harden and Alexa's childhood friend, Noah "Ducky" Livingston, with his new girlfriend. She understood that though he wasn't completely trusting of Grant, he tried for Alexa.
Lastly, she sat down for a chat with Alexa, the reason of the occasion. The mother-to-be was forced into a cushioned armchair by the demand of her husband. He went off and chatted with his brothers and grandfather while he left the two young women alone.
Alexa informed her that she decided to take a year or two off from school to take care of the baby. Summer was still astonished that Alexa, being only twenty, could already have a husband and child on the way. And she married the most distant of all the brothers, yet he came around her like a purring kitten. It made her wonder if Gage could perform tricks like that.
She shook her head as Alexa called her name to alert her back to attention. "I'm sorry, what?"
Alexa smiled the smile that caused her youthfulness stand out. "Are you all right? You zoned out there for a second."
Summer nodded. "I'm fine, I was just thinking of something strange."
Alexa hazel eyes heightened with light. "If it's about a certain man in this room, I'm sure that it's completely normal."
Summer's mouth fell open. "That could go for anyone here, except for a few."
"Come on, Summer. I know already."
Her eyes dimmed. "How?"
"Have you forgotten? I married one of them. He told me of the War of the Roses you two managed to construct, but there is always something deeper beneath the words."
Was lust included? "Like what? The man hates me, pure and simple."
"If that's what your eyes see, that's fine, but let me give you some advice. Your mind might doubt, but the body and the heart don't often agree."
"Why, are you going to tell me you went through this with your husband?"
Alexa cast a brief glance to Grant, who also turned to glance into her direction. Alexa's smile was gentle and full of love. "I hated him fiercely at the beginning, but at the same time, I didn't."
She giggled at the way Summer stared at her, clearly confused. "I know it sounds confusing, but that's how love is. It's supposed to be this jumbled mess of feelings."
Alexa was suddenly eclipsed by a shadow. Summer's eyes climbed to the towering height of Grant Ryan from her position in the chair. His keen, navy blue eyes shifted between them before settling on her with a suspicious study. "What's my wife been plottin' over here?" he spoke in his slow-as-molasses accent.
Alexa's churning gold eyes lifted up to the man standing next to her chair. "Why do you think that I'm plotting against you?" she teased with a grin.
"You're my wife. I should know. There ain't no damned glint in your eye for nothin'. You're up to somethin' and I wanna know what." His eyes directed back to Summer "What has this lil' devil said to you?"
Summer held her hands up in a hands-off fashion. "She said nothing except how much she loves you."
His eyes told of disbelief, but his mouth creased into an idiotic grin that was enough to flutter a woman's heart. "Is that right?" he said, looking down at Alexa.
She nodded as he came down on his hunches to level with her. He gave her tender kisses against her temper and cheek. "You know what your plottin' and declaration of love does to me."
"Yes, and that's why we're having a baby."
A grating chuckle sounded from Grant as he curved an arm around her shoulders and encouraged her to lean against him. The look of them was enough to make Summer start bawling. They were so perfect, so happy as their humble family of two and a half. Grant loved his wife more than anything considered precious in the world. If Summer could find a smidge of the type of happiness Alexa possessed, she would go to her grave with just that.
Forcing a smile onto her partially quivering lips, she rose from her seat to leave the two lovebirds alone. "I'm going to go get something to drink. Do you want anything?"
She had said it out of kindness, but really wanted Alexa to decline. She was in luck when Alexa shook her head. She could then go out back and have a moment to herself.
Summer walked with determination toward the kitchen, but found that she was caught by something. Gage had stopped her by grasping her arm. Her dark eyes lifted to stare into his eyes, which reflected concern. His eyebrows twisted. "You all right?"
Summer was able to blink back the wetness forming in her eyes and was able to level her racing feelings. "I'm fine. I was about to get something to drink."
He threw her the same doubtful glare his brother had. "Don't lie."
"I'm not," she replied, lying once again. Then she glanced back into the direction she came from. "I've never seen a couple so happy. They're very lucky to find each other."
Gage's gaze moved to his brother and his wife, laughing while whispering in each other's ear of things they were bound to do to each other later. Summer watched as his eyes darkened several elements before returning to her. His stare was concentrated and demanding. "Yeah, they are."
His response was stony but his eyes were burning with a dark fire that was almost frightening. That was the same look he had given her the night he kissed her in the parking lot, but more dangerous.
Summer's gaze touched on his hold before lifting back to him. "What else do you want, Gage?"
"This is a nice baby shower you managed to pull, darlin'."
Summer was surprised that Gage could even manage a compliment as nice as that, but for some reason, she doubted its sincerity.
"Thank you," she accepted, nonetheless. "The compliments should really go to your grandmother for inviting us all down for the weekend."
He coughed. "Yeah, um, since we're stayin' the night here, rooms are gonna be a lil' scarce. I was thinkin' that we oughta shack up."
Summer frowned. "What do you mean, shack up?"
"Share a room," Gage shrugged. "Possibly a bed."
"What for?" Summer nearly barked, omitting a swear word.
Gage brought Summer closer until his lips were inches from her ear. "We're supposed to get better acquainted, right?" he whispered. "Sharin' the same personal space can solve that problem."
She should have seen it coming. No wonder the man kept staring at her while they were here. She had ignored it, but now it was impossible.
Gathering her wits, Summer allowed him to hear the soft irritation in her voice. "So, you want me to sleep with you? While everyone's here and able to listen to us?"
Again, he did that damnable, nonchalant lift of his shoulders. "They've heard squeakin' beds before. Now wouldn't be no different, but I'd be lyin' if I didn't say that I don't want you. Here and now."
Lord, it was those cursed words again. She didn't want to hear them ever again. Her passionate dreams of sheets entangled with the slick, hot bodies of Gage and herself were enough to put a regular night's sleep far from mind. He invented the need in her, the want to find out what he was capable of driving home between her dark thighs. She wanted to know, but at the same time, she hated how he was able to get her body to respond in ways she hadn't known.
Damn the bastard, this was his fault. Why would he bring this to attention now while everyone in the world was watching them. What made him want her now was even more puzzling, since she hadn't done anything arousing. Perhaps if the complications of their sleeping arrangements would have been delivered with more care, she wouldn't be restraining herself from kicking Gage where the sun didn't shine.
Glancing around the room, Summer saw her grandmother and Susanna staring at them as they chattered idly over delicious spice tea. They were up to something. If Grant wanted to know who was plotting, he should go over to his grandmother and find out. As for Gage, she wouldn't want to embarrass him or herself in front of their family. She wasn't that cruel. She had to get him to talk to her in private.
"Can I speak to you outside?"
Gage, with those eyes unrelenting, nodded and pressed his hand to the small of her back to guide her through the sea of people in the living room and out onto the front porch. They made sure to shut both the front and screen doors, though the windows didn't give complete security from curious eyes.
With her arms crossed and her eyes glinting, she said, "Now, I'm sure that you want an answer to your proposal?"
"That's the general idea."
Summer smiled coldly before giving it. A nice, hard meeting of her hand against his strong jaw. Gage's head snapped to the side for half a second before his emerald eyes narrowed on her with lethal accuracy. Summer was too angry to care about his reaction. He deserved it.
"You stupid jackass," Summer replied with a trembling voice full of loathing. "How dare you even propose that with a house full of people? Not to mention my grandmother is here and you think I'm desperate enough for sex to sleep with you? I'm not a whore."
Gage's eyes were hooded as they regarded her with coldness. "Coulda fooled the hell outta me."
Summer lifted her hand to him again, but he caught it, mere inches from his face. He pulled her harshly into him so that her vision was full of nothing but him. The man's eyes reflected hell's fires and the look on his face was soft, yet betrayed the fury.
"I warned you once 'bout raisin' your hand to me," he grated in a low, cutting voice. His hand tightened around hers. "But the consequences have changed. I have no shame takin' you against this wall and lettin' everyone in that house hear you scream for mercy."
Summer's lips quivered at the pure, carnal message she read in everything. His voice, his eyes, the set of his jaw and the quip of his lips. The tension was strained in his well-developed body and the hardness that was grazing her thigh told her that this man wouldn't think twice about taking her so possessively.
"C'mon," he provoked. "Dare me. You know you wanna. You always do."
Summer licked her lips nervously at his taunting. "Go to hell, Gage."
"I'm already there, sugar, and I'm afraid I'll burn to ashes if I don't have you soon."
Summer's wide gaze regarded him silently, at a lost for words. He wanted her and was damn near about to hurt her with his grip. She had seen a barn around the place. Would he drag her there and take her like a servicing whore?
Her cheeks burned at the thought of being buried in a pile of hay while Gage rammed into her. She was going to hell for such contaminated thoughts.
"Is everythang all right out there?"
They both turned to see Susanna looking through the screen door, her smile fading as worry took her. Summer hadn't noticed the door had been opened. She wondered how long she had been standing there with her eyes focused upon the war between her grandson and Summer.
Roughly, Gage set Summer apart from him, suddenly going down the porch steps without a word to where he was going. Susanna came outside as Summer watched the man who aroused both her desire and anger disappeared around the corner.
Susanna placed a careful arm on Summer's shoulders. "Is everythang all right, dear?"
"Yes," Summer replied with a strained voice. "We just had a difference of opinion. That's all."
She attempted to smile. "Well, we won't let this ruin the evening. Shall we go back inside?"
Susanna nodded, not wanting to force the issue that Summer evidently didn't wish to talk about. "Of course," she accented slowly, "but there's somethin' you need to know about Gage. You shouldn't allow him to get to you as he does."
Summer shrugged. Too late for that. "I can't help it. No offense, Susanna, but your grandson is virtually an impossible man."
The elder woman chuckled. "I believe it's hereditary. Those boys bear such a resemblance to their grandfather...and father." A brief hurt expression crossed her features. "I'm glad they didn't grow as impulsive as Travis and left. Even through the hot tempers, they're still my darlin' boys."