Home > Off the Record (Record #1)(17)

Off the Record (Record #1)(17)
K.A. Linde

“Can I quote you on that?” she asked, licking her lips as his hand moved to the small of her back.

“By all means, Ms. Dougherty,” he said, pulling her against him.

She could see the mask slipping as he stared down at her. What was it that put him so on edge, and how did she manage to smooth that away so easily? She could do both within seconds, and both sides of him were incredibly appealing.

“Liz,” he whispered, leaning down closer. “Are we done discussing politics? You know how much I like being lectured.”

“I would say so,” she responded, pushing her hands up his chest and around his neck.

Kissing his lips set off a fireworks display in her stomach. She pressed farther into him, gripping his back with the extreme intensity she was feeling. He responded with fervor, walking her back against the wall and kissing her as if it had been years rather than two weeks. His hands ran up and down her body, making her remember every place he had touched.

She couldn’t get enough, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. There was just Brady. She felt as if she was lost in a world of him, drowning in him, suffocating in him. Nothing could feel more real or more enticing than this moment.

If she had ever been kissed like this before, then her memory was entirely faulty. His need was showing through with every grasp of her body, with every heavy breath from his lips, and with every swish of his tongue against her own. It wasn’t even the first time they had kissed, but it was laced so heavily with the absence.

She had thought it was hot before, but she was practically perspiring with the heat rushing to the surface of her skin. He ran his hands down her body and between her thighs, sending chill bumps up and down her arms. He pressed his fingers against her most sensitive spot through her pencil skirt, and she groaned into his lips.

“Brady,” she whimpered, her thoughts flying back to the hotel room.

“God I want you,” he admitted, locking lips with her again.

She was aware as he swirled his fingers that she wanted him pretty damn badly as well. How had he cast such a spell? She just wanted to go home and let him have his way with her. She didn’t care that she had promised herself it would only happen once. She couldn’t be satisfied, couldn’t be satiated.

She wanted Brady Maxwell.

“Come back to my place?” she asked boldly.

“I have a dinner I have to attend,” he said as if it was the hardest thing he had ever done.

“Come after. Whenever,” she nearly pleaded.

“I want to, but I can’t,” he said, shaking his head. He pulled her against him, hugging her tight. She held him, somehow knowing their time together was over for now. She felt a sudden loss. “Meet me tomorrow?”

Liz nodded. She would meet him anywhere.

He bent down and kissed her lips one more time, a lingering good-bye with promise for more.

Chapter 11

EQUALIZER

Liz yawned as she walked into the diner where she had agreed to meet Brady. It was a small, dingy-looking place that she had overlooked a hundred times before. She had heard that it had superb breakfast, but she was never awake in time to go unless she had class. And she wasn’t going to wake up early. Her sleeping schedule was precious.

She hoped she looked okay. She wasn’t a morning person, and her earliest class last semester had been noon. She had left her heels at home and opted for her brown-and-gold sandals. She had on short, cuffed white shorts and a long, see-through teal blouse. At least she had taken the time to do her hair, and it fell down to her shoulders in soft waves.

Tossing her Ray-Bans into her purse, she made her way to the back of the restaurant. If Brady wasn’t here yet, she would rather take the farthest booth in the back and wait for him to arrive. That way she wouldn’t miss him, and she could observe everyone else who was walking in.

She broke past the small bar area in the front where a few older gentlemen sat with coffee in hand as they mulled over their newspapers. The back room was pretty empty, only one elderly couple sitting in the front holding hands. Brady was already there, sitting with a cup of coffee in front of him.

“Good morning,” he said with a cheery smile.

Her breath caught as she stared down at him. He was insanely good-looking. It actually hurt to look at him and not jump over that table to get at him. He was wearing a blue polo with dark jeans and a black Arc’teryx shell jacket. She was surprised to see that he wasn’t in his typical attire. She wasn’t sure if it was because their meeting was informal or because he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. Either way it was nice to see him out of a suit. She blushed when she remembered the last time she had seen him out of one.

“Hey,” Liz whispered. She took the seat across from him.

“You look well this morning,” he told her, drinking her in.

“Thanks,” she said, thinking the complete opposite.

As hot and heavy as they had gotten backstage yesterday, she didn’t really know what he wanted from her. Why meet her here in a public place? Was he going to be letting her down easy? It hadn’t seemed like that yesterday. He had initiated and pushed it further. She had just suggested moving it to a more private location.

And what was this dinner he had mentioned? Who had that been with? She didn’t know, and she knew that it could have been any number of people from a girlfriend (though she hadn’t dug one up yet) to his campaign staff to donors and anyone in between.

“You hungry?” he asked with a smile.

In fact, she wasn’t all that hungry. She had too many questions to ask. The reporter in her was about ready to burst.

“They have great waffles. Do you like waffles?” he said.

“Yes,” she responded. So, he was going for normal then.

“Coffee?”

“Definitely. It’s early,” she said, stifling a yawn.

A waiter came and took their orders. She seemed familiar with Brady. Apparently she had been working at the place all four years he was in college, and went to church with his parents. Liz shouldn’t have been surprised, but she was. She sometimes forgot that everyone knew him here.

“I suppose I should go ahead and say that if anyone asks, we were finishing our interview,” he offered.

Liz nodded, pulling out her recorder and setting it on the counter. “All right.”

“You came prepared.”

“Always. Should I turn it on?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

Brady shrugged. “Not if you want to keep it.”

Liz chuckled at the comment. She liked his humor…even if he wasn’t actually kidding. She had no doubt he would take the recorder from her if need be, but he was lightening the mood. The veil of secrecy clouded the booth like a drape, and he was trying to sweep the curtains open.

“I think I’ll just leave it there then. You can check my hands,” she said, holding them up so he could see she hadn’t touched the recorder.

Brady smirked, and she wondered what devious thought he was thinking.

The waitress returned with their food a few minutes later. He was right: The waffle was pretty great. Though she thought a person had to be pretty inept to mess up a waffle.

As they ate, more people filtered into the diner. A college couple sat in the booth behind them. A few bleary-eyed people obsessed over their coffee. A group of regulars smiled at the waitress as she passed and chatted with her endlessly when she came to their tables. Liz felt more and more withdrawn the more people who came into the restaurant. As far as she could tell, he was simply happy to have breakfast with her…as strange as that sounded.

“You know what I love about diners?” Brady asked, looking up at her out of the blue.

Liz shook her head. She knew why she loved diners, but she was sure it was for different reasons. She never knew where he was going with anything.

“It’s an equalizer,” he stated simply.

She didn’t have any idea what he was talking about. “Hmm?”

“Anyone could be sitting in this booth—a Senator, a businessman, a sorority girl, a bum. We’d all be in the same boat,” he said absentmindedly.

“I guess I never thought about it like that.”

“You were never in the booth with me.” His ever-present charming smile sucked the breath right out of her.

Seriously, where did he come up with this stuff? It was like he knew exactly what to say to disarm her. She didn’t know if it was because he was damn good at his job or if he was a master seducer, a Casanova of the twenty-first century. Whatever it was, she didn’t want it to stop. Then again, she never wanted her time with Brady to stop.

“I wouldn’t guess you were a man who wanted to be equal to anyone,” she said finally.

“In politics? Never. In romance? You’ll never find my equal. Having breakfast with a beautiful woman? I’ll be equal with anyone for that pleasure.”

Liz’s heart fluttered. He was a smooth talker…she knew that much.

“So, why did you ask me here?” She was aware of how many people were in the room, and hoped no one had overheard their exchange.

“I want to see you again,” he stated simply. She searched his dark brown eyes for any hint of humor or malice, but there was none. He was telling the truth.

“Again as in now or as in later?” she asked.

“Now and later and many times after that.”

Liz swallowed. She didn’t know what she had expected, but certainly not that. It didn’t make sense. Why had he let her leave the club that first night? Why had he let her walk out of the hotel room? Why had he never called her back, sent his press secretary to fetch her, and then not finished off the job he started? That didn’t sound like a man who wanted to see her many more times.

She needed answers.

“If you wanted to see me again, why didn’t you call me?” she asked defiantly. She didn’t even have the patience to let him answer. “In fact, why did you even start something yesterday at all? You obviously knew you couldn’t finish, because you had some dinner.”

“Indeed, I did.”

“Now you’re coming to me saying you want to see me again, but you made no effort before this point,” Liz said. “Why did you even kiss me yesterday? Your actions seem rather mixed.”

“Because I wanted to kiss you, like I want to kiss you right now,” he told her.

Liz blushed. He had said that he wanted her multiple times, and yet he had left her dangling for someone else to scoop up for two weeks, letting her think it was a one-night stand.

“For someone who claims to know what they want, you don’t act like it.” She could see him tensing.

“Do you want the truth?” he asked, his tone flat.

“No, lie to me,” she said, with an eye roll.

His eyes narrowed, and she could see she was pushing too hard. “The truth is, I had to test you.”

“Test me?” she nearly squeaked out.

“I didn’t know for certain if you were sure about this,” he answered her.

“How thoughtful of you to inform me,” she said dryly. She was uncertain how the conversation had even gotten here. Brady Maxwell, a State Senator, was testing her to see whether she was sure about the two of them. How did this make any sense?

“People, women in particular, get close to a politician for a reason,” he stated bluntly. “I wanted to know whether you were that kind of woman.”

“And you decided I wasn’t?”

“With the fervor you kissed me back yesterday…no one could fake that.”

She hadn’t faked it, but she wasn’t so sure about his reasoning. “That’s it? A kiss?”

“You might have cleared the background check as well, but that’s neither here nor there.”

Oh, of course. A background check. “Seriously?”

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