“Hot damn!” he shouted, and my eyes flew open as I turned around, expecting to have to tend to an injury. Instead, I found him bobbing his head, dancing to imagined music as he pulled a spoon from his mouth. I laughed, wondering how something so downright silly could be so simultaneously sexy. “This is it, Syd,” he said, raising his hand to motion me over. “This is it. Goddamn, this is it.”
“It can’t be that good,” I said, shaking my head as I approached the stove. He dipped a clean spoon into the syrup mixture, then lifted it, blowing to cool it off. When the temperature was right, he raised it to my lips, and I opened with no hesitation, closing my mouth around the spoon.
My eyes went wide. “Oh my God, that’s amazing.” Harlan’s face spread into a big grin as I took the spoon from him, licking the back to get another taste. “What all did you put in there?”
“Uh… blueberries, fresh squeezed lemon juice, brown sugar, the light maple, and… ah… shit. I can’t remember.”
My eyes bucked even wider. “You can’t remember?! Harlan, what the hell? You didn’t write it down?! Well… well, shit. Umm… I think I tasted a little cinnamon? And some orange zest?”
“Maybe if I taste it again…”
I nodded. “Yes, do that, now.”
He lifted an eyebrow, then took a step closer to me. “Now?”
I narrowed my eyes. “Uh… yeah, right now, while it’s still fresh on your mind.”
“Okay.” He nodded, and the next thing I knew, my face was in his hands, and his lips were on mine.
Just like I’d opened for that spoon, I parted my lips to accept Harlan’s tongue as he slipped it into my mouth. His hands dropped to my waist, gripping and pulling me closer as he deepened the kiss. He groaned a little as he explored my mouth, and that sound of his pleasure spurred my own. I melted into the hardness of his chest as he pulled back, tugging my bottom lip between his teeth, and caressing it with his tongue before he sucked into his mouth. I whimpered as he pushed his tongue against mine again, licking and sucking and swallowing my moans. I was light-headed, completely out of breath, and hopelessly wet by the time he withdrew his mouth from mine.
I still had the spoon in my hand, gripping it so tight my knuckles ached as my chest heaved against his. “Wha… what just happened?” I asked, still dazed, still relishing the heat of his hands at my waist.
One side of Harlan’s mouth perked into a grin. “I… believe I just kissed you.”
I ran my tongue over my still-tingling lips, then swallowed hard. “Okay. Um… did you remember the recipe?”
His brow furrowed in confusion for a second, and then softened as he gave a light chuckle, and reached around me for something. A second later, he held a notepad in front of me. “I wrote the recipe down, Syd.”
“Oh.” I blinked hard. “Oh. So… you didn’t really—”
Whatever I was about to say – hell if I knew – was swallowed by the impact of Harlan’s lips against mine. He backed me against the counter as he pushed his tongue into my mouth this time, tasting and devouring me like he was hungry. I lifted my hands, slipping them over his chest to wrap around his shoulders and then up to rest at the base of his neck. His fingers dug into my waist as he pressed closer to me. Heat blossomed between my legs as I felt him harden against my stomach.
The sound of one of the servers calling his name, obviously searching for him, should have hit us like a bucket of cold water, but neither of us immediately stopped. Harlan pulled away slowly, coming back to my mouth for a few more soft kisses before he finally drew back, leaving me breathless again.
“Are you still confused?” he asked with a small grin, lifting a hand to stroke my face.
I pulled my lip between my teeth as I shook my head. “No.”
This time, the voice sounded closer, and Harlan glanced around before his gaze returned to me, full of regret. “I have to—”
“Yeah,” I nodded, still winded. “Go. I – I’ll take care of this,” I said, gesturing at the simmering pot of blueberry citrus compote.
He stared at me a few seconds longer before he turned to duck out of the kitchen to see about the front. I closed my eyes, pressing my fingers to my lips before I took a deep breath. If I focused, I could still feel the pressure of his hands, the rasp of his tongue, the velvety warmth of his lips.
Harlan had kissed me.
He’d actually kissed me.