The clothes said he didn't belong in the lobby of the mansion-turned-luxury hotel. The command emanating from his frame, his stride and his gaze said otherwise. Clad in a rumpled white shirt, faded blue jeans and worn cowboy boots, and carrying a black overnight bag, he headed straight for the reception desk and the staff whose expressions were faintly wary.
A slim man in a very nice suit and a brass name tag hurried from around the desk, and Amie half expected him to fall to his knees and bow. Instead he started talking, fast. And apparently got nowhere, if the tightening of the broad shoulders on the man looking down at him was any indication.
She wasn't staring, Amie told herself, and touched some random buttons on her smart phone. Not blatantly anyway. And her heart was beating a little faster, a little harder, because of her annoyance at David's lateness.
The man turned and through the veils of her lashes, Amie caught sight of dark hair, equally dark eyes and features too harsh to be handsome. Despite the hour, a heavy five o'clock shadow covered the lower half of his face, surrounding a sculpted mouth. His lips were thin with displeasure and something skipped down her spine. She told herself it was relief for not being the target of that displeasure.
"Amie," a male voice called.
She started and jerked her head toward the voice, wondering if her face was as guilty-looking as she felt. David, blond and blue-eyed, was hurrying toward her. She put a hand to her stomach, as if it would calm the roiling, and rose. He reached her, cupped her shoulders and whisked a cool, dry kiss across her lips.
"Sorry I'm late. Frank caught me in the elevator and you know how he is."
She drew back, snatched up her handbag and slipped the smart phone inside. "Don't worry about it. I surprised you by coming early, remember? Where are we going for lunch?"
David settled a hand on the small of her back and steered her in the direction of the entrance. "I talked to the staff. There's an excellent French restaurant in town. The chef's a James Beard recipient. We can get in some sightseeing afterward and be back in time for the event tonight."
"That sounds—" She froze, skin tight with the awareness of being watched. Before she could stop herself, she glanced over her shoulder. The cowboy was stalking through a door behind the reception desk like he knew where he was going, the suit trailing on his heels. Only her imagination, she decided, ignoring a tiny flicker of emotion she didn't want to examine too closely.
She gave herself a mental shake. "That sounds great," she said, and hoped her smile didn't look forced.
* * * * *
The open balcony door beckoned. Escape was within her grasp. Amie reached it, edged through the opening, hurried around the corner and kept going. The railing dead-ended and she was forced to stop. It was dark, the moon clouded over, the noise muted—and she was alone. Finally. She exhaled, felt the tension seep from her shoulders and closed her eyes, letting the autumn air cool the heat of embarrassment and anger.
A whisper of cloth against cloth. Her eyes flew open and she froze. Her heart leapt. Ice clinked. She whirled around and a shadow detached itself from a recessed doorway. Large and looming, and oddly familiar. She stumbled back a step, tried another but the stone railing halted her retreat.
"Here." The voice was male, low and rough like it hadn't been used in a while. There was the faintest hint of a drawl. He was a long way from home. More ice clinking. "You look like you need this more than I do."
A breeze molded the shift dress to her body, making her realize just how thin the silk was. She crossed her arms over her chest, swallowed. He started to move closer. When she edged sideways, slowly because sudden movements didn't seem smart, he stopped.
"If you want to be alone, I can leave," he offered, even though she'd been the one to intrude on his privacy. He reached for the door behind him, turned the knob.
"Wait." Her heart was suddenly pounding as if it was trying to break through bone and flesh. Hearing the breathless quality of her voice, she told herself it was the brisk walk from the ballroom. She took a breath. "I'm the one who should leave. You were here first."
He cocked his head, silent. She felt his scrutiny and suddenly hoped for another breeze to cool her skin.
"If you promise no inane chatter," he said finally, "we can share the space."
She nodded, not trusting her voice. He took a step toward her and meager light from the rooms above fell over him. White shirt, worn blue jeans and cowboy boots. A switch flipped on in her brain.
"Do I pass muster?"
"Sorry." Her cheeks heated and she yanked her gaze up. She remembered that mouth. Tight, hard, it had held her attention when she'd seen him in the lobby. Now, though, a corner of that mouth lifted, amusement and knowledge in that faint half-smile, and she didn't want to look away.
She spun around, stared blindly at the garden, leaned against the railing and shifted her arms lower, hoping to still the coiling sensation in her middle and failing. She sensed movement, her skin prickling, then he was beside her. Even though he was careful to not block her escape, the delicate wings in her stomach kept fluttering. The soft material of his shirt skimmed her bare arm. A hot shiver skipped down her spine but she didn't move away.
He put the rocks glass on the wide railing and pushed it toward her. Without a word, she picked it up and took a swallow. And inhaled sharply and shivered some more when fire burned down her throat and pooled in her stomach. He chuckled, the sound low and dark. Her skin tightened and she had to close her eyes for a moment, glad for the railing's support.
Female laughter, rich and suggestive, drifted from an open window, dragging her back to her senses. Stupid, she thought. Standing here in the dark with a stranger. No matter how hot he is. She exhaled, set the rocks glass down. No matter how much I need to reconfirm my femininity. "I…I have to go." She turned.
A hand shot out and clasped her wrist. Amie stilled, afraid to look back, more afraid of doing something to make that large hand withdraw. His touch seared, the heat traveling from the point of contact and up her arm, spreading over her chest and lower. She planted a hand on the cool stone and pushed down, deliberately imprinting the rough texture onto her skin. Stupid, she told herself again, but her feet felt rooted to the floor. The fingers around her wrist loosened, and something akin to panic flooded her.
"Don't." The word slipped past her lips before she could stop herself.
He misunderstood and let his hand drop away, and the sudden bereft feeling made her want to hug herself.
She closed her eyes again because it was easier in the total darkness. "Don't…stop."
The sudden silence was heavy, muffling all other noises like batting. Amie waited, anxiety and anticipation an uneasy mix in the pit of her stomach. She felt his move rather than heard it; warmth surrounded her, flattened her hand on the railing, pressed against her back. Driven by instinct, she inhaled deeply. A warm, clean scent of male filled her nostrils. Maybe that's what had her knees buckling. Or maybe it was the parted lips on her neck. It didn't matter which. All she knew was that a melting sensation had started at the sensitive skin beneath where her jaw met her ear and was quickly spreading throughout her body. A shudder ran down her frame, leaving goose bumps in its wake.
An arm encircled her waist, keeping her upright and pulling her even closer to the body behind her. A soft, feline mewl of pleasure escaped her when the pointed tip of his tongue traced teasing patterns on the small area covered by his open mouth. She stretched onto her tiptoes and, without shame, pushed her hips back, wanting to feel his erection nestled between her buttocks, seeking release for the tight coil of desire that kept winding, creating a delicious kind of urgency.
Amie, lashes lowered, rubbed her body sensuously against his harder form as he ran a rough hand over her shoulder, down her ribs, his fingers skimming the sides of her breasts; across her tummy, causing new flutters within; over the apex of her legs, pressing hard enough that she was sure he could feel her dampness through her dress. Fire washed over her.
Her breath hitched and she turned her head. "Please," she breathed, beginnings of desperation in the word. His hands clenched, squeezing her flesh, then his mouth covered hers. Her lips parted, wanting the feel of their tongues sliding together. He obliged, thrusting deeply, and a broken sound escaped her. She tried to reciprocate, couldn't, and reached for him, digging her nails into forearm and thigh.
He tore his mouth from hers and froze, as hard and still as a stone statue. A low protest rose from her throat. The arms around her squeezed then he muttered, "Fuck," and she heard it too. Voices, footsteps, approaching them.
"Come," he growled in her ear, loosened his grip and moved backward. He opened the door behind them, went inside and tugged her along. She stumbled and clung to him. When she was steady, he released her and closed the door. She heard the snick of the lock.
In the total blackness, uncertainties arose. She looked about, saw nothing because her pupils hadn't adjusted, and heard the voice of common sense berating her. She swallowed.
"Second thoughts?" The words floated out of the darkness, hit her skin. Her sharp inhalation was loud in the muffled quiet of the room. He was close enough to touch her, and when she didn't answer, couldn't answer, a rough hand curled around the nape of her neck and tipped her head back.
He kissed her. He bit at her lips, soothed them with his tongue, and when she parted them, surged inside and explored the soft contours of her mouth.
Amie moaned, let her tiny silk wristlet slide from her wrist and grabbed fistfuls of his shirt because her knees threatened to buckle. She let her body sink into his, arching her pelvis as she sought sexual release. He skimmed his palms over her buttocks before cupping her hips, lifting and tilting them so he could grind into her, move her against him. She whimpered, quivering with the heady, almost painful mixture of pleasure and frustration. He gave a small thrust, and her sharp teeth came down on his lower lip, hard enough to draw blood.
He drew back in surprise. Shocked by her own actions, Amie stared at him. Apologize, she thought—then felt him swell against her middle, and all thoughts dissipated. He cursed again. Suddenly something hard and solid was against her back. He crushed his mouth to hers. Their teeth scraped, tongues twirled around each other, and the metallic taste of his blood flavored their kiss.
Amie dug her fingertips in the heavy muscle of his shoulders, wanting to pull him closer, wanting to lie down on any surface and pull his body over hers. She wanted to feel his heavy weight, his calloused palms on her naked flesh, his teeth scrape her ultrasensitive nipples, his hardness stretch her deep inside. But she would've settled for something—anything—to release this vicious ache that only intensified the more she touched him.
He slid his thigh between her legs, making her dress ruche up around her hips. She inhaled, anticipation wound like a spring inside her. His fingers dug into her flesh and her breath locked in her throat. He jerked on her hips, ramming her core against his muscled thigh. She broke the kiss to draw breath as she rode it, feeling every fiber of his rough jeans through the silk of her thong. The tension consuming her twisted even more.
He nipped at the skin of her arched throat, dragged his lips up to her ear and whispered hotly. Broken phrases of how much he wanted her, of how hot and wet she was, of how hot and wet she would feel around him. Her mouth fell open but no sound emerged. The movement of her hips quickened, became erratic. He sucked her earlobe between his lips, bit it. And she came, splintering into a million brilliant pieces. Her head fell back as she found her voice, and he swallowed her cry of release.
Moments, maybe eons later, Amie dropped her entire weight on him, letting the intriguing stranger support her. He was still rubbing her damp sex against his thigh. She clutched his shoulders, not wanting to let go, afraid to let go. She took several shuddering breaths and buried her face in his chest, listening to the rapid, uneven beat of his heart.
She was a warm, light weight, molded to him like softened candle wax. Her hands had fallen to his sides, rested there, fingers lax and open like she no longer had the strength to make a fist. Jay felt the hammering of her heart, felt the cushions of her breasts move against him with every panting breath, and his muscles shook with the need to come, to ram himself inside and feel her, soft and hot and wet around his cock.
He eased his leg from between hers and slipped a hand between their bodies. The inside of her thighs were like velvet, soft and smooth, and later he would spend more time appreciating them. He found her thong, the crotch damp, smiled with grim satisfaction and slid two fingers into her creamy center. A throaty moan drifted to his ears and he thrust his fingers inside her. He cursed, muscles hardening to the point of pain as he imagined her sex sheathing his cock. He twisted his fingers and a broken sob filled the room. Her inner muscles clenched and she fell back against the wall, hands curling into the waistband of his jeans to pull him closer.
"P-please," she breathed.
He withdrew his fingers, brought them to her lips and traced the swollen flesh. Her tongue flicked out, tasted herself, and he groaned. He kissed her, quickly and fiercely, his fingers between their open mouths so he could taste her musk, slightly salty yet incredibly sweet. Wanting more, he pulled back, gathered up the skirt of her dress to her waist and ordered hoarsely, "Hold it."
She didn't move. He repeated the order and she released a shuddering breath, finally understanding. She grabbed a fistful of her dress and he fell to his knees. He yanked down her panties, heard fabric tearing, didn't care and tossed aside the scrap of material. After wedging a shoulder between her thighs to open them wider, he inhaled her female scent, groaned and gave her sex a long, deep lick. She stiffened then went liquid with pleasure.
He stroked his tongue through the springy curls and over the intimate pleats, drawing breathy moans from above him. Her hands fisted in his hair, silently demanding more, and he obliged. He dipped his tongue in the opening of her body then sealed his lips over the hard bud of her sex. He sucked it, flicked it with his tongue, scraped it ever so gently with his teeth.
His body throbbed with increasing need for relief, but he continued licking and sucking and thrusting. Her whimpers were louder now, wordless sounds of desperation. He cupped her buttocks, spread the plump cheeks and skimmed his fingers over the puckered ring of muscle.
Her body seized then she was crying out, shaking with intense vibrations.
Jay shot up, ripped open his fly, freed himself and was inside her with a single powerful thrust.
Oh, fuck. She was hotter and wetter and tighter than he'd imagined. Her inner contractions nearly made his head explode. Her arms lashed around his neck as tightly as her legs around his hips. He pulled out, pushed back inside, repeated the movements, again and again, faster and faster until he was hammering between her thighs.
Hot, dark sensation ran through his loins and into his balls. Nails clawed at his back through the barrier of his shirt. Teeth found his shoulder, bit down. And the world exploded around him.
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Copyright © 2011 by Ann Bruce. All rights reserved.