Remy closed his eyes and tried to figure out if he had ever heard a more convoluted line of thinking.
He was pretty sure he had--after all, he was a lawyer, he'd heard some seriously inventive arguments.
But this...Opening his eyes, he studied her heart-shaped face. Without all that hair, she didn't look so fragile, he realized. Not that she really was, he was coming to realize. A fragile woman would have broken after what had been done to her. No matter what people thought, Hope hadn't broken. She had been forced to bend, to take unimaginable shit and heartbreak.
But she hadn't broken.
She had to be one of the strongest women he'd ever met.
Still, just looking at her flooded him with the most insane urges--the need to protect her. The need to touch her. The need to see her laugh. To smile...at him.
And she thought he was here because he wanted her out of town? His town? Like he owned the damned ground it was built on?
"I'm not here because I'm trying to run you out of town," he finally said, when he thought he might be able to say in a somewhat level voice.
With that doubt still glinting in her pale green eyes, she jerked one shoulder in a shrug . "Fine. Then whatever you're doing here, would you please just get it done? Please? So you can leave?"
Something moved inside him. It might have been anger. Might have been wounded pride. Might have frustration...or all of the above. "Just get it over with?" he repeated, some of his tension edging into his voice.
"Yes." She swallowed. "Please."
"So polite. Even when you're that pissed off at me. Still so polite," he murmured. "Okay, Hope. I'll get it over with."
Then he closed the two feet between them. He wanted to touch her...he wanted it so bad, he hurt with it, ached with it, would have gone to his knees and begged if he thought it would have done any good.
Instead, he jammed one hand into a pocket, closed it in a fist.
The other, he used the tip of his finger and used it to lift her chin.
He had just a second to see her eyes flare wide before he dipped his head and brushed his mouth against hers. Just the lightest brush--hardly enough to even get a taste.
Still, that one taste blistered through him, rushed through him, setting his blood to boil.
He heard her gasp, felt it...and as her lips parted against his, he wanted, desperately to tease that slight opening with his tongue, see if he couldn't coax her mouth into opening for him, just a little more.
Instead, he whispered against her lips, "I've wanted to do that from the first second I laid eyes on you."
Then he turned around, and without looking at her again, he left the kitchen.
He didn't stop to say anything to Law, didn't stop until he was in his car with the seatbelt fastened. And even, then, he wouldn't let himself look back, wouldn't let himself look and see, if maybe, just maybe, she had come to watch him leave.