Read Summer Solstice Online

Authors: Eden Bradley

Summer Solstice

Dedication

Thanks, as always, to my fellow Smutketeers, just for being your fabulously smutty selves. You girls inspire me!

Chapter One

“El Niño strikes again with the worst heat wave to hit Southern California in twenty years…”

Leigh reached over her kitchen table and shut the radio off, then stood to lift her long hair from her neck. If only she had air conditioning. One of the reasons she’d moved to Santa Monica after her divorce was because of the temperate weather. The mercury rarely rose above the low eighties this close to the beach, even at the height of summer. No such luck this year.

She grabbed a dishtowel to stroke away the perspiration pooling at the base of her throat and trickling between her breasts. Even the short cotton sundress she wore felt like too much weight on her skin.

She watched through her kitchen window as the sun began to set in a watercolor glow, orange and pink filtering through the leaves of the date palm in her yard. Hoping the evening air might be cooler outside than in, she took her glass of iced tea and wandered out to her small front porch.

Settling into the wicker chair, she leaned back, stretching her long legs out in front of her. Languid with the heat, she sipped her tea and gazed around the neighborhood.

The houses on her street were a mix of the old Hollywood-style stucco bungalows that were so common in the Los Angeles area and Craftsmen homes, both the small cottages originally built as summer homes, like hers, and larger, two story dwellings. A dog barked somewhere in the deepening twilight, and she heard the faint
swoosh
,
swoosh
of sprinklers, along with the easy song of crickets. Despite the intensity of the heat, there was something she loved about summer. Maybe it was the scent, especially at this time of day—the hot pavement of the sidewalks cooling down as everyone watered their lawns, the mixed fragrances of the palms and colorful lantana that grew everywhere on her street. Even the heat itself seemed to have a certain scent.

The banging of a screen door caught her attention, and she watched her new neighbor across the street step onto his lawn. He was a large man, his height and bulk casting a long shadow in the dying light of day.

She’d noticed him before, had watched the muscles in his big forearms flex when he’d moved his furniture in a week earlier. Built like a football player, he had broad shoulders and a narrow waist that tapered into a pair of low-slung cargo pants. His sun-streaked brown hair was a bit too long and fell into his eyes. She hadn’t been close enough yet to see what color they were. But the man was sexy as hell, and she’d been waiting to catch another glimpse of him.

Leigh liked big men. She was tall herself, and a large man always made her feel more feminine. Her ex-husband had been well over six feet.

Don’t think about him now.

No, better to think about the basketball player she’d dated briefly in college, his long, lanky form draped over hers on the too-small single bed in his dorm room. Sweaty afternoons there when she should have been in calculus class. But math had never done her as much good as an afternoon of sex had.

She stroked the beads of sweat from her icy glass with an absent finger as she watched her neighbor move across his lawn to bend down and pick up a few tools at the edge of his driveway. Like her, he’d probably waited until the heat of day had passed before venturing outside. He was graceful for a man of his size. It was pure pleasure simply to watch him move. Even in the dark she could see how the fabric of his pants stretched taut over his firm backside.
Nice.
The sight made her want to cross the street just to touch it. To touch him…

It had been a long time since she’d touched a man, which was probably why her thoughts were treading down such a lustful path. She’d been divorced for over a year, and had hardly dated since she’d caught her ex with a co-worker. The woman was everything Leigh wasn’t—petite, with a lush figure, dark and exotic. Leigh herself had always been too tall and lean for her own taste. And apparently for his. She stood five-foot nine and had an athletic body with small breasts. But her ex hadn’t cheated because of her breasts. He’d cheated because he was a selfish bastard with no self-control.

He’d blamed Leigh for his infidelity. He’d claimed she lacked the passion they’d had before they were married, that sex with her was boring. Well, it hadn’t been great for her, either, especially since they’d married. It was as if a switch had been flipped, and the moment she’d become his wife sex had to be every Saturday night, missionary position. And when she’d put on her sexy lingerie, he’d asked her not to wear it anymore. It wasn’t long before she’d put aside all thoughts of asking him to explore anything kinkier with her. Instead, she’d amassed a collection of vibrators and had a vivid fantasy life. Oh yes, the sex had been boring for her too. But she hadn’t cheated on him.

Asshole.

Since the divorce she’d dated a bit, slept with two of the guys, but had quickly realized it wasn’t going anywhere. And the sex had been disappointing.

Better to stay at home with my vibrators.

Enough of that.

She sipped her cold tea and turned her attention back to the appealing sight across the street. Her new neighbor peeled his white T-shirt over his head, and she watched as a narrow waist gave way to a tight six-pack. Then, as he whipped his shirt completely off, his beautifully muscled chest came into view. Leigh allowed her gaze to rest there for a moment before letting it wander to his strong shoulders and then to his arms. His enormous biceps flexed as he wiped his face with the shirt, again as he loaded the tools into a wheelbarrow. His arms looked as big around as one of her thighs.

Very nice.

The sudden flash of heat between her thighs surprised her. She shifted in her seat, trying to ease the sharp stab of need soaking her panties. When was the last time she’d had this kind of reaction to a man? Had she ever responded to her ex this way? She certainly hadn’t felt this kind of response with the men she’d dated since.

Her mind wandered as she watched him work in his yard, imagining those big hands on her, slipping over her sweat-dampened skin. The heat between her legs spread into her belly and became a dim, pulsing throb.

Her neighbor stood and ran a hand over his stomach, making hers tighten in response. Did he have any idea what this was doing to her? Just him working in his yard in the deepening twilight, his big, toned body rippling with muscle. She wiped beads of perspiration from her upper lip. She could imagine running her hand down that tight wall of abs…then lower…

It had been too long since she’d touched a man, felt that tightening of muscle beneath her searching hands. Felt the pulse beat of need in a hard cock in her palm, between her thighs…

Her sex clenched once more.

“Oh God.” Leigh groaned quietly as she rose to escape back into the hot, stuffy house, letting the screen door slap shut behind her. Her body was screaming for release, just from seeing a shirtless man from a distance. A big, muscle-bound man with a line of dark hair that led from his navel to places she almost didn’t dare to think about. But she would.

Inside, she moved through the half-dark across the wood floors, switched on the stereo to a classic rock station and flopped onto the old velvet-covered sofa in front of the standing fan she’d kept there since the weather had turned so hot several weeks earlier.

As the sultry tones of an old, bluesy Janice Joplin song played in the background, Leigh leaned back into the pile of throw pillows and released the top two buttons of her sundress to catch as much of the cool air as she could. The breeze played over her damp skin. It felt good, but did nothing to cool the lustful thoughts she’d been having about her new neighbor. If anything, the sensation of air blowing teasingly over her skin heightened her senses even more.

She undid another button and moved the fabric aside. Her nipples peaked as the artificial breeze played over her flesh. Her hands drifted over her breasts, her fingertips brushing the hardened tips. She paused to cast a glance at her open door, but the room was dark and it grew darker outside by the minute. She felt enveloped by the darkness as much as she did by the heat, heavy on her skin.

She needed so much to be touched, and not by her own hands. Her mind went immediately to the man across the street, to the image of his naked torso gleaming in the dying light of the setting sun.

She moved her hand lower to lift the hem of her dress, slid it up over her damp thighs. Her body went rigid as she moved the elastic of her bikini panties aside. They were soaked.

She sighed as her fingers brushed the narrow strip of tight curls there, pleasure sifting through her in soft waves…and froze at the loud knock on her front door.

Leigh bolted upright, pulling her dress together to cover her breasts. She fumbled to fasten the buttons, the fabric brushing almost painfully across her erect nipples. Trying to get her brain to function, she stood, running a hand through her thick, blonde hair. Could whoever was there have seen her through the screen door? She didn’t think so. The couch was at the opposite end of the room and it was mostly dark. But still…

She took a deep breath as she approached the door, then exhaled with a sighing breath when she saw who was standing there.

“Hallo?” His voice was deep, rumbling in that big chest, exactly as she would have expected it to sound coming from a man of his size. And it held the delicious edge of an accent—British, she thought. “Anybody home?”

She tried to collect herself, but the throbbing between her thighs was still so sharp she had to squeeze her legs together to ease it.

She flipped a small lamp on as she reached the door, hoping she wouldn’t sound as breathless as she felt. “Hi.”

“I hope you don’t mind me coming ’round uninvited, but I saw you go inside just a few minutes ago.”

“No, not at all.”

She noted with disappointment he’d put a shirt on. But it was the first chance she’d had to see him up close. He had a handsome face, with a strong jawline and craggy brows over dark eyes. And his mouth was frankly luscious, wide and full. A man with a mouth like that needed to be kissed…

She bit her lip.

Calm down.

“I’m Jared Townsend, by the way.”

“Oh, hi. Leigh Novack.”

She pulled the screen door open to extend her hand. His fingers wrapped around hers, and heat shimmered over her skin, racing through her system. Reminding her of what her own hand had been doing when he’d knocked on her door. Damn it, was her hand still damp? She pulled it back, folded her fingers in the hem of her dress.

He smiled at her, a row of strong, white teeth she couldn’t help but imagine sinking into her flesh.

“Very nice to meet you, Leigh. I suppose you know I moved in recently. I’m still not unpacked yet and can’t find…well, anything. I was hoping you had a bottle opener I could borrow?”

“Of course. Come on in.”

She backed away as he moved past her, his solid wall of a body dwarfing her small living room. He smelled faintly of freshly cut grass and just a hint of sweat. A shiver of need ran up her spine, arrowed into her belly.

Giving herself a mental shake, she headed for the kitchen. The old, white honeycomb tile floor was mercifully cool against her bare feet. She flipped the light on and pulled open a drawer to find her bottle opener. She paused to take a few long breaths to clear his scent from her head before she went back into the living room to hand it to him.

“Thanks.” He smiled again, a dimple flashing in his left cheek. “Hey, would you like a cold beer? It’s hot as hell tonight.”

She definitely wanted something, but it wasn’t a beer. Still, it would do for now, a cold beer and a hot man. “Sure.”

He gave a quick tilt of his head. “Come on over then. I’ve a few bottles of Guinness. Hope you like a good stout.”

“I do, actually.”

“Ah, wonderful. Seems a lot of you Americans drink nothing but light beer. An insult to the trade.”

Leigh laughed. “Americans are known throughout the world for their bad taste, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.”

“Sounds like you’ve traveled a bit, then?”

“A bit. I spent some time studying in Paris and Milan.”

“Ah. I love Paris. Never been to Milan.”

They stepped outside, crossed the street, and he seemed even larger to her, somehow, walking beside her in the shadowed light of the moon, the soft glow of streetlights. They reached his wide front porch, and he held the screen door open for her.

His living room was a mess of open boxes on the dark, wide-planked wood floors. An enormous couch covered in soft, brown leather held a few throw pillows in colorful, ethnic prints and a small pile of books. Leigh spotted an ancient copy of Defoe’s
Robinson Crusoe
and a Stephen King thriller, and beneath the books, a few copies of
National Geographic.

Interesting.

She’d always thought you could tell a lot about a person knowing what they read. But she wasn’t quite sure yet what to make of Jared. He was charming. Maybe too charming. Or maybe she was just being paranoid.

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