Everyone thinks brilliant designer Chris Kessler is the playboy of the architectural world. Truth is, he’s strictly a one-woman man. But how can he reveal his feelings when Ali Montalvo’s his fiercest rival for junior partner? And now they’ve been teamed up to volunteer at one of Pittsburgh’s most popular charities.
In addition to helping underprivileged kids celebrate their special day, there’s something else at the top of Ali’s wish list. If only she and Chris didn’t clash on just about everything! Now he’s planning a circus outing–this from a man who never had a birthday party. That’s when Ali comes up with a surprise of her own. Because it’s never too late to give the gift of love…
“You walked in the room, bee lined straight for me, and started arguing about the glass block windows in the lobby. From that first day, I saw your passion for architecture, your drive to not miss a single detail. It was like looking in a mirror. That’s partly why I told you.”
God, Ali knew exactly what he meant. That pull in the belly when a new idea poked at her, kept her up refining the curve of a building until it was perfect. Almost identical to the pull she’d felt toward Chris since day one, no matter how hard she dug in her heels to resist. “What’s the other part?”
With a tug at her waist, he spun her around to face him. One hand stayed on the window. The other laid, heavy and warm, on her shoulder. They were so close Ali felt his breath on her cheek, smelled the faint waft of junipers on his breath from the martini. And tried fruitlessly to keep her pulse from racing at the press of his strong thighs against hers.
“It’s one thing at the office. Hell, at this point I put on my façade for Brian when I put on my tie every morning. But spending weeks on this volunteer thing with you?” Chris shook his head. The corners of his mouth drew down. “When you just accused me of disposably dating my way through the whole city? That was the line in the sand I didn’t even know I had. I couldn’t take the disappointment blasting at me from those beautiful eyes of yours.”
It mattered what she thought of him. Oh, that was more than she’d hoped for, and touched her heart. Breathlessly, Ali asked, “What do you see in them now?”
“An invitation.” The statement, the brink of change it represented shimmered in the air between them for a moment. Then her eyelids fluttered shut as his lips brushed across hers. Once, twice, soft as a butterfly flitting past. But on the third pass, everything changed.
Chris moved in closer, fitting them together with heat and intent. One hand pressed at the base of her skull, tilting her head up, into a better angle. Lips firmer now, they molded hers, learning their shape. Shivers raced up her spine. Heat raced down her abdomen. A moan slipped out before she could stop it. For Chris Kessler kissed the same way he worked. Full-out, nothing held back in a glorious melding of desire and experience and excellence.
A throat-clearing ended in a choked-off laugh. “Sir, your table is ready.”
“It’s not the only thing,” he muttered.