Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (Vikings Underground #2) (Page 14)

Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (Vikings Underground #2)(14)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Mrs. Carlton hadn’t mentioned the football player’s name, but Savannah knew. She had seen similar gossip in the newspapers about Donovan, photographers shooting him with one gorgeous woman after the next.

It was ridiculous. She had no feelings left for Donovan, and yet her heart hurt. Perhaps it was only because she knew Janette and would have to see her every day.

Savannah sank down onto the step, absently petting Sadie. The brown Lab laid its head in her lap and rubbed her nose against Savannah’s hand, looking for some loving.

She had bought Sadie when Reese was five, after Oreo, Savannah’s black-and-white Maltese, had died. Donovan had bought Oreo for Savannah for her Sweet Sixteen, which fell three months after her father had died of a sudden heart attack and the weight of the world had felt as though it would suffocate her.

Oreo had been such a comfort to her. Perhaps it was then that she knew she loved Donovan. For so many years he had been her friend, her confidant. It seemed only natural to love him.

Savannah chided herself for her wandering thoughts and wondered if Jake was enjoying his party. He was such an endearing stick-in-the-mud, more prudish than most women, which was one of the things she had most liked about him. With Jake, she would never have to worry about other women. Not as she did with Donovan.

Savannah smiled as she remembered her bachelorette party a week earlier. The obligatory male stripper in his cop uniform had shown up to dance for her, but the fun had been watching her aunt blush and fuss when Savannah had turned the policeman on her. Within ten minutes, her normally sedate aunt had a fistful of dollars in her hand and was swinging a pair of handcuffs in the air.

Sadie’s head suddenly jerked up, her ears alert and a low growl rumbling up her throat.

“What’s the matter, girl?” Savannah heard the snap of a twig, and Sadie jumped to her feet in a defensive stance.

“Who is it?” Savannah called out. “Who’s there?”

A body moved out from a copse of trees, the face in shadows as the moon slid behind a drifting cloud only to reappear a moment later to illuminate the ground and surroundings.

And person.

“Hello, Savvy.”

No one before or since Donovan had called her Savvy. He owned the nickname.

“What are you doing here?”

“That’s how you greet an old friend?” he asked in that slow, seductive drawl she had always found so entrancing.

“I have the right. You’re on my property.” And far too close for her peace of mind as he moved to stand at the bottom of the steps.

The years had done nothing to mar his handsomeness. If anything, he was even more attractive. His features had sharpened, the leanness accentuating his rugged jaw and defining his cheekbones.

His penetrating blue eyes still had the ability to look through a person and see what was inside, as he seemed to be doing as he watched her.

“God, you’re still beautiful,” he said, coming up a step, forcing Savannah to move back in a subconscious gesture, catching herself before she took another step.

She folded her arms across her chest, hating the ache just seeing him caused. “What do you want, Donovan?”

“I’ve come to give the bride a kiss before her wedding.”

So he knew. All the better. “Have you been drinking?” She could smell no alcohol—only the cologne he wore, a woodsy fragrance that slid over her as softly as the night.

He shrugged. “I had a few drinks with Meat.”

Only his old football pals still called Herschel by that nickname. He now heard a new name far more often: Daddy. Herschel had five rambunctious children that he adored and who adored him.

Had Donovan run across Jake at the strip club? Is that how he had found out about her getting married, or had Herschel told him? Jake had heard some of her story about Donovan, but he didn’t know the half of it.

Donovan moved to the next step, propping one foot up to rest next to hers. Lizard-skin boots adorned his feet and a Stetson was tipped back on his head, a frame for his dark, shoulder-length hair. Savannah tried to ignore the lean, muscular body in between those boots and that hat.

“Should I assume you’ve lost your way?” she asked, acutely aware of how close he was, how his leg lightly brushed hers.

“Nope,” he replied. “In fact, I think I’ve finally found my way.”

“How terribly prophetic you’ve gotten with age.”

“How terribly bitter you’ve gotten.”

Anger welled up inside her. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a busy day tomorrow.” She turned to go, but his words stopped her cold.

“I’ve missed you.”

Slowly, Savannah faced him, ready to blister his ears but reining herself in at the last moment. “I could tell. All these years you’ve been pining away for me, dating one supermodel after the next because a case of amnesia made you forget I exist.”

“Sarcasm was never your strong suit, and not very pretty.”

“Forgive me if I don’t care. Good night, Donovan.” Savannah intended to make a grand exit and nurse her wounds with a half gallon of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, but his hand clamped around her wrist, bringing her to a sudden halt.

The next thing she knew, she was in Donovan’s arms, held unrelentingly against his chest, enveloped in his scent and his heat, no words spoken as his mouth trapped hers in a breath-stealing kiss.

Her head swam. It had been so long, too long, a voice whispered. It all came back in a rush of emotions: all the love she had once felt for him, and the fun they’d had, the laughter, the tears, the ups and downs. The passion. A single kiss had the power to steal her will and bring her back to a time when everything had been good and strong and right.

Her arms rose and twined around his neck as his mouth slanted over hers, his tongue tasting her, his hands sliding down her side to nip at her waist before easing over her backside, pulling her tighter against him, letting her feel the arousal between his legs.

She remembered all the steamy nights they had spent making love, how he could bring her to a shuddering orgasm with the simplest effort, how he would climb between her legs and hook them over his arms and stroke inside her, looking into her eyes and kissing her endlessly.

She had loved the intimacy between them, feeling as though she would never get that close to another human being, and she had believed their world would never change. But it had all been a dream that had evaporated.

Recovering her senses, Savannah pushed against Donovan’s chest, her breathing heavy as she looked up at him, waiting for the outrage to pour from her, but feeling only a hollow ache.

“Let go of me,” she said with surprising steadiness. Donovan hesitated, but then opened his arms. Only the wall at her back kept her from buckling. “I don’t know what you’re out to prove, but you won’t use me to do it. I’d like you to leave my property and not return.”

“I don’t think that’s at all what you want.”

“You don’t know me anymore.”

“But I do. It’s still there; you felt it. You just won’t admit it.”

“Go.” She pointed. “Leave now and it will be forgotten.”

“I don’t want to forget. I’ve done that for too long. I want to talk to you.”

Savannah’s short laugh was tinged with bitterness. “Now you want to talk? Eight years ago you didn’t. You ordered me out of your life.”

“I was young and hardheaded, and too busy to listen. I’ve forgiven you for what happened. I don’t want it to be like this forever. Not for us.”

Savannah couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “You’ve forgiven me? You’re unbelievable! I never did anything that required forgiveness.” She shook her head. “You haven’t changed, Donovan. You’re still the same bullheaded, king-of-the-hill know-it-all. And you know what? I haven’t forgiven you.” She spun around and yanked open the back door, her body rigid with indignation and banked passion.

The screen door had just banged shut when the hinges whined. She whirled around to find Donovan in the doorway, looking huge and menacing.

“I said get—” The rest of the sentence was cut off as she was hauled off her feet and thrown over his shoulder, caveman style. “Put me down!”

His lizard-skin boot kicked open the screen door, his grip sure as he carted her across the back porch and down the six steps that led to the barn and the orchard.

The night closed in around them as Donovan’s determined stride carried her down the graveled driveway. Without losing a beat, he pulled open his car’s door and tossed her in the passenger seat.

As Donovan dropped into the driver’s seat and backed out of the driveway, she demanded, “Stop right now.” When he didn’t, she panicked. “Where do you think you’re taking me?”

“Somewhere we can talk.” Turning his head, he added pointedly, “Somewhere you can’t run away.”

“You’d better think of another plan. I’m getting married tomorrow.”

He just kept on driving, his razor-sharp headlights the only illumination on the dark back road, the woods speeding by on the left and right looking oddly sinister.

Savannah tried to calm herself and think rationally. “You don’t really believe this will solve anything?”

“We weren’t solving anything your way.”

“And you think this is the way to go about it? By kidnapping me?”

He smiled at her. “Yup.”

Chapter Three

Savannah had the strongest desire to stomp her feet. How dare he! He had no right to think he could just walk in after all this time and expect her to welcome him with open arms.

“Why don’t you just drop me off here? Janette lives only a few miles away. I’m sure she’d appreciate your caveman antics far more.”

He had the good sense to look shamefaced. “You heard about that, did you?”

“She’s twenty-two, you old lech.”

“Need I remind you that I’m only thirty?”

Savannah didn’t care. And it didn’t help that he was a stunning thirty, to boot. Did the man never age?

“You kept her from her job.”

“I didn’t even know she was there, so how could I have kept her from anything?”

“That’s not surprising. You always did care for only yourself.”

“That’s not true and you know it.” A wicked half-grin turned up his lips as he shot a glance at her. “You’re jealous.”

“Hah!” Oh, she was certainly full of great comebacks.

“This is priceless.” He shook his head, his smile intact. “Nothing happened with her.”

“I really don’t care. All I care about are my guests, who very nearly arrived to dirty rooms.”

“That’s right. You turned your parents’ place into a B & B, and a very successful one, from what I’ve heard.”

She would appeal to his sense of decency—her business would be in jeopardy if she wasn’t there to oversee things. He didn’t need to know her aunt and brother were in place to take over for her during her two-week honeymoon.

“So certainly you must see that I have to get back to my guests?”

A dimple appeared in his cheek. He was laughing at her. “Don’t think to pull the wool over my eyes; I know you too well. Just sit tight. We’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Where?”

He wouldn’t answer, damn him. She surveyed him from her captive’s seat, wondering if a full-blown temper tantrum would get him to stop. She doubted it. She knew what a pig-headed mule he could be when he set his mind to something.

Fine, she would go with the flow. Fighting would only get him hovering over her even more. He had something to say, so she would let him say it and be done.

His Aston Martin Vanquish turned down a heavily wooded dirt road that sparked a memory in her, a feeling that she had traveled this way a long time ago.

He slid an unreadable look her way. The woods suddenly opened up to a wide clearing, and Savannah saw the big old plantation house in the distance, sitting on the rim of Crawfish Lake.

How could she have forgotten this place? They had spent so many lazy afternoons and warm summer nights here, talking, laughing. Making love when it had verged on the forbidden because of their age.

“Remember?”

Words deserted her and her heart beat in slow, thick strokes, a heavy lump in her throat.

The Vanquish came to a purring stop at the front door of Donovan’s grandparents’ old home, Magnolia Hills. His grandfather had died eleven years earlier, his grandmother shortly thereafter—from a broken heart, Donovan’s mother had said at the funeral.

Donovan’s grandparents had shared a special bond, sixty-one years of marriage. It was practically unheard of. Savannah realized now why the Newsomes, her elderly couple who were visiting for the week, had held such a fascination for her. They had reminded her of Grandma and Grandpa Jerricho.