Chapter 6

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"What were you going to do next? Punch her?"

"She started it! Since she walked in the door she's been insulting me."

Liam faced Emerson, placed his hands on her shoulders. "Yes, she has. And you've been dishing it back."

"She deserved it."

"Yes, she did. You look incredible by the way. Darling."

Emerson huffed out a breath. "When I'm not so mad I'm going to ask you about that ridiculous closet you have back there."

"And when you ask, I'll tell you that last month I hosted my corporation's holiday party here and my assistant bought a room full of extra clothes, knowing most would drink too much and stay the night and need clothes the next day. She went crazy with my credit card and I've since dubbed it the 'monster closet.' At the time I thought she'd lost her mind but looking at you now in that dress, I'm inclined to thank her.

"So are you done insulting the senator's wife? Can we have a civil meal together?"

"The what?"

"Grace is Senator Van Morten's wife. I've been toying with the idea of running for Governor next term and Grace and her husband will be instrumental in the run if I go for it."

Deflated, Emerson shimmied out from under his hold and leaned back against the island. "I'm an idiot. I'm so sorry. Had I known, I...I'm an idiot. I didn't really mean for this to get out of hand. It wasn't really about the prize—you—I guess, but something playful kicked into gear and I wanted Stupid."

She let out a long sigh and her hands lay lax against her sides. "My temper got the best of me. I'm sorry."

Liam pulled the scalloped potatoes from the oven, set the dish on a towel on the counter then stepped toward her. "You fighting for me, Em, dear?"

She rolled her eyes. "Oh, knock it off. I just told you I don't care. I'm an idiot, and I'm sorry for that."

"You don't care about me?"

Her gaze lifted to his. It was too poignant, the way he asked, and it shook her. "You're free to do whatever you want to do, be with whomever you want to be with. I'm leaving tomorrow, Mother Nature willing, so I can't care. It's your life, you do what you want."

Liam's eyes darkened, glinting with flecks of light that snuck in and penetrated the smoke. "Don't move."

He pulled the prime rib out from the warming drawer, sliced a few thick pieces then tossed on a sprig of rosemary for garnish.

Carrying both the scallop potatoes and the steak away, he returned moments later.

She hadn't moved, not because he'd told her not to but because her mind was catching up to where her temper had flung her.

"I really am sorry, Liam. I'm not sorry for dishing it back to the senator's wife, she really did bring that on, but I'm sorry for not being the bigger person. I tell my son all the time that—"

His lips crushed against hers, heat and hunger combusting. Breath mixed with demand, the vivid spark and the shadowed dark.

"Take your clothes off," he muttered the order.

"What? No. Grace is liable to come in and accuse me of being your concubine. Plus, technically they're your clothes."

He caught her lips in a kiss, slow, seductive, and primal.

"Then I'll take them off." He knelt down, slid his hands up her legs, slowly, under the dress. His touch trailing, heat rising, her center pulsed alive.

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