After the girl had left, stomping off in a huff, Grant turned back to Kaitlyn. “I’m sorry about that. Allison has a little problem with authority.”
“She doesn’t seem to have a problem with your authority. I’d say that she’s more than eager to do anything that you ask of her.” The observation was pointedly vague, but there was a wealth of meaning in her tone.
“Just what the hell does that mean?”
Kaitlyn shrugged. “You tell me. A grown man wandering around with a sixteen year old girl who obviously worships the ground he walks on...That’s pretty heady stuff, I’d imagine. Needing your ego stroked, Grant? Are actual grown women just too much for you to handle?”
He moved toward her then, stalked more accurately, but Kaitlyn refused to back down. Even when they were toe to toe and his face was mere inches from hers, she stood firm.
“If you want to make accusations, Kaitlyn, make them. But be damned clear about it.”
The anger surprised her. The ferocity of the rage that bubbled within her was something she hadn’t experienced in more years than she could even put a number to. “Fine. That girl, and she is a girl, even if she does look like a grown woman, obviously worships you. If you think for one minute that you can get away with taking advantage of her—”
Kaitlyn didn’t finish the statement. Grant seized her upper arms and pressed her back against the wall of the barn. His grip was firm, but not bruising. The look on his face, the banked fury that burned in his green eyes, was more frightening by far.
“I know the difference between a grown woman and a little girl. Make no mistake about that, Kaitlyn!”
It was all the warning she had. His mouth settled over hers in a hard kiss. It was rough, punishing, but still electric. His tongue slid between her lips, invading, marauding, a blatant display of sheer arrogance and male domination. That didn’t stop her from kissing him back, from tangling her tongue with his while she strained against him, eager to feel the heat and the hard press of his body.
All the anger, the bickering, the constant jabbing at one another had just been fuel for the fire that now burned between them. The heat of that kiss seared her to her soul. It burned through her like a wildfire and left her shaking with both desire and fear. She didn’t want to want him. Wanting anyone that desperately could only lead to disaster. It was a road she knew well and it petrified her to feel so out of control.
It was over quickly, a brief storm that left them both shaken. The fury was still there, but different somehow. There was a hint of what she could only consider to be pity in his eyes. “Who hurt you, Kaitlyn? What happened to make you have such ugly thoughts?”
The kiss might have rocked her back on her heels, but that question had her coming out of the corner swinging. She pushed against him, flattening her hands against his chest, dropping everything that had been clutched in her arms. It didn’t matter. All that mattered in that moment was getting away from him, from the temptation and from the too knowing look in his eyes. Ignoring the pain in her hands, she pressed against his chest, pushing with all her might. He was immovable. “Get off me!”
He took her wrists, closing one hand over each, his touch gentle. “You’re going to hurt yourself!”
She twisted her hands in his grasp, desperate for an escape. “Then stop bullying me and let me go, dammit!” She might as well have been talking to a brick wall. He turned her hands over, checking her blistered palms again. “I’m not a child.”
“No. You’re not, but damned if you don’t act like one sometimes.” His sigh was heavy as he let her go. “What you accused me of, Kaitlyn, that’s not the kind of man I am. I’d never hurt these kids.”
A hot retort burned on her lips, but she didn’t utter it. Because she knew he was telling the truth. Seeing them together, she’d had a knee jerk reaction, sparked by her own ugly past. She’d let it seep too close to the surface and had painted him with the same brush as another too handsome man she’d once known. The need for a reprieve was greater than her need to hold onto her already battered pride. “I just want to go, please.”