The Fairest of Them All

The Fairest of Them All by Leanne Banks Read Free Book Online

Book: The Fairest of Them All by Leanne Banks Read Free Book Online
Authors: Leanne Banks
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Contemporary
of the drive to her apartment wondering how to subdue the firecracker in his passenger seat without completely dousing the flame. He hadn’t counted on her initiating anything between them. This wasn’t part of his plan .
    He knew it was too early to take her to bed. If he’d wanted her just for the night, he wouldn’t hesitate. She was ready. Lord knew, he was ready. That she’d tempted him beyond his self-control made him uneasy.
    Grimly, he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, recalling the other time he’d given his emotions free rein. Talk about a nightmare. This head- over-heels business was for the birds, Russ thought, stifling a snort. He’d arrived at his decision to marry Carly after months of careful evaluation, and it comforted him to know he wasn’t selecting a mate based on emotional hogwash.
    Carly’s trust was critical, however, and a too-early loving could mess that up. Other issues needed to be settled first. They needed to establish themselves as a couple. He wanted her to confide in him, to believe in him. Russ resolved to keep the logical sequence firmly in his mind.
    Letting out a long breath, he pulled the car to a stop and turned to face her. The woman was a vixen. She was so sexy with her mussed hair and swollen lips. She was a provocative invitation to insanity and ecstasy.
    She was also asleep.
    There was a pleasurable irony to this situation, he realized, as he took her sleeping form into his arms and carried her up the steps to her apartment. She was dead to the world. It made him wonder what time she’d been getting to bed.
    He shifted her weight slightly to pull the key from her white purse. When she started to fall, he jammed the key into the lock.
    After shoving the door open, he paused to let his eyes adjust to the pitch darkness.
    Out of nowhere a fist struck his jaw. He shouted at the pain. Carly jerked awake and screamed. Still reeling from the blow, Russ grabbed the door and tried to shove her outside in a protective maneuver.
    The door slammed against the jamb, trapping his hand. Russ cursed, pushing Carly to the side, kicking and striking at two indistinct forms.
    He felt the satisfying impact of his fist against flesh. He heard a grunt of pain. His foot connected with an animate object. A yelp followed. Then a very familiar voice growled, “What are you doing with my sister, you sonova—”
    “Troy!” Russ shouted. He’d thought they were burglars or worse.
    Carly hit the lights and stared down at her oldest and youngest brothers. They lay sprawled on the floor with dumbstruck, then sheepish expressions on their faces. Daniel was rubbing his shin, while Troy gingerly felt his eye.
    With an audible wince, Russ pulled his hand from the doorway. “I’m not sure I want to know what this is all about,” he said, then looked at Carly. “I need some ice.”
    Gritting her teeth, she motioned toward the kitchen. “In there.” Extreme embarrassment fueled her anger. She turned her furious gaze on her brothers.
    “Aw, hell,” Daniel said, covering his face.
    “You’re ten years older than I am,” Carly said. “You should know better. How’d you get in?”
    “Your next-door neighbor let us in. I know. I know. I was at loose ends, and Troy suggested driving by to check on you.” He shrugged. “It was habit.”
    “One you need to break,” she said emphatically. Daniel had always been the steady, even-tempered leader. Carly thought he’d seemed restless lately. “Get a life of your own.”
    “Now, hold on, Carly.” Troy shuffled to his feet. “How were we supposed to know you were out with Russ?”
    “You don’t have to know,” she shrieked. “I’m twenty-three years old.”
    “Mama would turn over in her grave if she saw you in that dress,” Troy continued, ignoring her protests.
    “Then shall I strip it off and take a walk down Main Street?” Carly asked vehemently.
    Daniel muttered a barnyard curse.
    Troy remained uncharacteristically silent.

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