Authors: Eden Bradley
It’s not like you’re going to date him, sleep with him.
She noted a few framed prints stacked against one wall and wondered what was behind the bold, primitive abstract at the front of the pile. Track lighting illuminated the mantel and hung above the sofa, and the built-in shelves on either side of the fireplace held a small collection of African pottery along with the books. He was obviously a man who liked art. Even better.
“Have a seat.” Jared moved the books onto the coffee table, which was a carved Indonesian trunk in dark wood, then disappeared through an archway into what she assumed was the kitchen.
The leather was cool against her bare thighs, and she squirmed when it hit her still-damp panties. The contrast against that aching heat made her all the more aware of the man whose couch she was sitting on. He reappeared a moment later with two tall, brown bottles.
“Sorry, I haven’t found glasses yet.”
Jared settled onto the couch beside her, and Leigh drew in a lungful of air to steady her racing pulse. She sipped her ale. The cold bitterness felt good as it slid down her throat, the tangy bite of it pleasantly distracting.
“So, where did you live before moving here?” she asked him.
“All over, really. The last apartment I had was in New York. Prior to that I stayed in London for a few years, and before that was Cape Town, in South Africa. That’s home for me. I’ve wanted to live at the beach again ever since I left.”
“I thought your accent was English.”
“English?” His face creased in a mock scowl. “Englishmen are a different breed entirely. We South Africans are a sturdier lot. Come from prison stock, you know.”
She laughed. “So you don’t care for the English?”
He took a swig from his bottle. “Ah, I’m teasing you. I lived among them for a time before moving on. Nice enough folks, but England isn’t the place for me. Too cold, for one thing. Luckily, I didn’t have to stay once I’d made up my mind to move on. I’m a photojournalist, so I go where the stories take me.”
“And the stories have taken you to L.A.?”
“It’s a good home base. I like it here. Beautiful beaches, although not as good as at home. And beautiful women.” His dark gaze roved over her for a moment, then came to rest on her face. His voice was a low, smoky tone that sent a shiver up her spine. “I hope you don’t mind my saying so.”
Leigh swallowed hard as his gaze connected with hers. His eyes looked almost black in the dim light of the room, and seemed to look right through her skin, inside her somehow. She wondered briefly if he’d caught sight of her touching herself when he’d knocked at her door. A rush of heat hit her sex, making it clench in remembrance of the much-needed orgasm he’d interrupted.
“I don’t mind.” She tried to smile but her insides were shivering too hard for her to do more than quirk one corner of her mouth. She lifted her bottle and took another quick slug of the Guinness.
She was suddenly hyper-aware of everything—a car going by outside, the soft chirping of crickets, her own breath. And mostly his dark eyes, which were still fastened on her as he took another pull on his ale.
“I’ve been watching you,” he said quietly. “Just a quick glimpse of you now and then, leaving your house in the morning. Sitting on your porch in the evening. I noticed you right away. I hope you don’t mind that, either.”
“I, uh…” She tucked a stray lock of her long hair behind her ear.
“I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable. I’m not some crazy stalker, I promise. I simply appreciate a beautiful woman.”
Leigh looked into her lap. “Well, thank you.”
She was surprised to feel his fingertips tilting her chin up. “You are, you know. All that blonde hair and those long, tanned legs. A real California girl. Just like the songs.” He grinned, a wicked glint in his eyes, and Leigh couldn’t help but smile back even as her insides melted at his touch.
He pulled his hand away. “So, what is it you do, Leigh Novack? Isn’t that what all Americans ask each other when they meet?”
The way his mood shifted from sensual to wicked to pure humor and back again made her head spin. She covered her confusion with a small laugh. “I’m an interior designer. I just quit my job, actually, to start my own business. It’s a few months down the road, still.”
“Ah, hence the study in Europe. And an artist, like me. I knew we’d have something in common.”
He leaned toward her, just a few inches, yet making everything seem more intimate. She caught the scent of his body so close to hers, sweat and grass and pheromones released in the sultry heat. She struggled against the singing of her blood, the sensation of her mind emptying as desire took over. Another long sip of ale cooled her throat, but did nothing to ease the lust raging through her system.
Maybe she’d better leave before she did something foolish. Not that casual sex was an issue for her. She loved men, loved sex and saw no harm in two adults sharing an evening of sensual pleasure. But he was her neighbor, and she should think before getting involved with him. Despite this insane attraction to him. Or maybe because of it.
She set her bottle down on the coffee table and stood. “I’d better go. I should get an early start in the morning.”
He rose, towering over her. “Thanks for the company. And the bottle opener. Mind if I hang on to it until tomorrow?”
“No, not at all.” It meant she would see him again soon. “Thanks for the Guinness. Good night.”
He held the door open for her as she left, and she couldn’t help but draw his male scent into her lungs once more as she moved past him. She crossed the quiet street, climbed onto her own porch and let herself into the house, shutting the front door behind her.
What was it about the way that man smelled? And the way he looked, those dark eyes, the heavy muscles. And that accent… Every cell in her body responded to him on some primal level. If the summer heat hadn’t had her temperature soaring, Jared certainly did. Her whole body was slick with a thin sheen of perspiration. She was even slicker between her thighs.
Impatiently, Leigh kicked off her sandals and pulled her dress over her head as she moved down the hall to the bathroom, her bare feet padding on the hardwood floor. She reached into the vintage-tiled shower and turned the cold tap all the way up, adding just enough warm water to make it bearable. She whisked the scrap of white lace panties down over her legs and stepped in.
Her breath caught when the first shock of water hit her skin, but after a moment her body calmed beneath the cool spray. She closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation of the silky water on her skin, the contrast to the still-hot evening air.
But soon an image of Jared invaded the quiet moment. His midnight eyes, his too-sexy mouth, that huge, muscled body. And his scent. She could almost smell him now if she tried. Despite the cold water coursing over her skin, she went warm all over, the heat thickening in a melting pool between her thighs. Her hand lowered to ease the ache there.
She leaned against the green tiles, her head falling back as her fingers slipped between the slick folds. She probed gently at the opening, pressed a finger, then two, just inside, pleasure shafting through her.
Teasing herself, she skimmed her fingertips over her outer lips, sliding in for a moment, then out again, refusing to touch her already swollen and pulsing clit.
What would that lush mouth feel like on hers? On her skin? On her breasts? Her hard and needy clit?
She turned into the needle-sharp spray of water, and it stung her hardened nipples. She lifted her other hand to caress her breast, taunting the nipple, grazing and pinching. Her legs quaked as she pictured Jared’s mouth on her, sucking her nipple between his lips, then moving lower, between her thighs. She could imagine how hot and wet his tongue would be, imagined it was there instead of her fingers, teasing her clit now with light caresses.
She stroked her clit harder, faster. Wishing it was his hands on her, his beautiful mouth. He would lick her slit in long, wet strokes, take her clitoris between his teeth and tug…
She liked a hint of pain, that just-too-hard nibble on her clit, her nipples, her neck. Especially with the right man. Someone who really turned her on.
She pumped her fingers into her pussy, in and out, grinding onto her clit with the heel of her hand, making it hurt a little. When she grasped her nipple between her fingers and pinched, hard, she exploded in orgasm. The shock of pleasure jolted through her as the water sluiced over her shuddering body.
She gasped, hanging onto the showerhead with one hand, her legs threatening to go out from under her.
If only a man could make her come like that.
Her pulse fluttered, then calmed as she pulled in a few deep breaths, leaning against the cool tiles, letting the water wash over her, wash her juices from her hand.
She always came with a man. That wasn’t a problem. But she’d never come as hard with a man as she did using her own hands, her vibrator. She wondered if Jared could be the first. The first time a lover would make her shiver, cry out, explode. Wondered if he was half as good with his hands and his mouth as he was in her imagination.
Her own hands skimmed over her breasts, the nipples engorged and tingling. Her body came to life once more, heat blooming in her still-throbbing pussy. She groaned and pressed her hand between her thighs, her fingers caressing her clit. She had better find out soon, or she was going to spend the rest of her life in the shower.
Jared was staring out the front window of his new house. Watching Leigh’s house, the halo of light shining on her small front porch. The dim glow from behind her closed curtains. He was hard as a rock. He had been since the first moment he’d seen her up close, after he’d knocked on her door.
Something about this woman…
It was more than her endless legs, the exotic tilt to her green eyes. He liked her easy smile. It was honest, real. Sexy. She was smart. He could tell already, and that was sexy as hell too. And he liked the athletic tightness of her long, lean body, her small, high breasts. The classic California girl, as he’d told her. The classic dream girl, for him.
He hadn’t been with a woman in a while. Women were so different from men. So much softer. He loved the plush feel of a breast in his hand, the silk of female skin beneath his lips. Leigh had gorgeous, sleek skin, with a few freckles that made her look almost innocent. Except it was obvious she wasn’t.
He turned and settled down on the couch once more, picking up his ale and taking a long swallow as he swung his feet up onto the coffee table.
Her nipples had gone hard beneath the cotton of her dress as she’d sat next to him on this very sofa. He couldn’t help but notice. And he’d wanted her, had let her know it. But she’d left.
Maybe he’d pushed too hard. He was usually a bit smoother than that. But he’d felt as driven by his hormones as a teenager.
Not that he’d expected her to sleep with him tonight, a virtual stranger. But he’d wanted it. He could think of nothing but seeing her naked, sinking into her sweet flesh, fucking her…
He groaned, pulled a pillow over his lap.
Calm the hell down.
The small weight of the pillow on his crotch made him want to arch his hips up into it, to press against it until the rhythm soothed the ache in his cock.
The hell with that.
He tossed the pillow aside and stood, stalked upstairs and into his bedroom, where the shuttered windows offered more privacy than the living room.
There were boxes everywhere, but he ignored them as he crossed the room, tearing his T-shirt over his head, kicked his way out of his shorts, heading for his bed. Catching his reflection, he stopped before a tall, wood-framed mirror leaning against one wall.
His erection was like some angry muscle, rigid, the head swollen and purple.
“There’s nothing for you tonight,” he told it, giving it a small slap.
His cock leapt, hardening even more.
“Fuck,” he muttered under his breath.
His fingers brushed the swollen tip, and his body clenched.
She was beautiful, this woman. Sensual. He swore he could feel desire radiating off her, that it was more than his own need for her. He swore he could smell it on her. Dark and earthy and sweet. Or maybe that was just her.
“Fuck,” he said again, taking his cock in his fist and pumping into it. “Ah…”
He watched himself in the mirror, watched the flex and pull of his body as he arched into his hand, pictured Leigh kneeling on the floor before him, her long, blonde hair falling over her naked back, brushing his thighs as she took his cock into her lovely mouth. Oh yes, her mouth was one of the hottest things about her, those full, pink lips. Babymouth, in that beautiful face that was all high, lean angles.
He gripped his shaft harder, thrust again.
Her mouth would be hot and wet, enveloping him, her tongue teasing. He would ask her to suck, and she would, swallowing him…
He squeezed his cock, pleasure shuddering through him, his body tensing, shivering as he came in a torrent of heat and need pooling in his palm. He pulled in a deep breath, leaning over, using his free hand to brace himself against the cool glass of the mirror.
Why did he feel unsated, moments after he’d come?
Have to have her.
He knew then he might never feel satisfied until he did. No matter how many times he got himself off. If he slept with someone else. It would only be Leigh he wanted.
He must be losing his mind. He’d just met the woman. This was insane.
He grabbed his discarded T-shirt from the floor and wiped himself, then tossed it into the laundry basket sitting on the floor of the closet.
He didn’t think he’d ever felt chemistry like this with anyone, male or female. Maybe not even Matteo. Never needed anyone so badly it hurt.
Maybe he was losing it. Losing it over her.