Authors: Marie Ferrarella
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Morgan murmured against her mouth. She was a constant source of surprise to him. A mystery box that defied opening.
But he was bent on trying.
His hands were hot upon her body, hotter than any flame could ever be, she thought. Excitement leapt so high within her that it made her dizzy.
And everywhere he touched her, everywhere he brushed against her, was singed. Pulses were vibrating all along her body, anticipation within her mounted with every pass of his fingers, every movement of his hands.
Every promise he silently made her.
Eager to bring her flesh to his, Traci began taking off his shirt. She felt several buttons loosen as she mimicked his actions.
And in between, they kissed. Kissed so that both were completely numb, operating on automatic pilot and needs that were far greater than any sense of order or logic could ever be.
She wanted him. She wanted him more than she’d ever wanted anyone before. More, she knew, than she would ever want anyone again.
Except for him.
Guilt rose, distant, but hoary, to torment her. She struggled against it.
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” she breathed against his mouth.
She didn’t mean it, he thought. But what if she did? “Want me to stop?”
She fairly whimpered. The very thought of his stopping now weakened her knees. “If you do, I’ll be forced to kill you.”
The laugh in his throat was deep, sensual. Almost primal. “Wouldn’t want that.”
She stopped a moment, her lips blurred from racing along his face, and looked at him. “No, but I do want you. Am I crazy?”
“Probably,” he guessed, framing her face so
that he could kiss her again. “But so am I.” He couldn’t get enough, never enough. The more he kissed her, the more he wanted to kiss her. The more he felt her body rub along his, the more he wanted that body. “Traci, you turn everything inside out, including me.”
He wasn’t the only one. “There’s a lot of that going around,” she murmured.
Nude, with their clothes tangled in a hopeless heap, Traci and Morgan reveled in an exploration of tastes, textures and contours.
Nothing was left untouched. Most especially not their hearts.
Morgan gathered her close to him, his mouth drawing in sustenance from hers. And while he sealed his lips, his very soul, to her, his hands took possession of what already had been declared his.
It humbled him. She was soft to the touch. Soft and giving and incredibly silken. She seemed to pour through his hands like a precious life force. The image of that laughing-eyed girl melted away in the heat of the passion generated by the ripe woman who twisted so urgently beneath his hands.
Needs pounded against him. Morgan wanted to rush, to claim what he knew was waiting there for him. But he forced himself to take it slow, to give her every bit of her due.
And to imprint this night indelibly on both their minds.
For he wasn’t about to let her return to Donald
or Daniel or whatever the hell his name was, with her heart intact. Not after tonight Not after he’d had her like this. And not after she’d had him.
Drunk, she was completely drunk, Traci realized. Far more drunk than she’d been on the wine last night. Drunk and empowered at the same time.
Whatever he was doing to her was making her feel as if she were having an out-of-body experience. She delighted in his expertise on a dual level, both joining him and yet standing back and taking a reckoning of what was happening to her. To them. She wasn’t a novice, but this was an entirely new level of pleasure for her.
Morgan? This was Morgan? When had he learned to be all things to her? To make her want to sob in sheer ecstasy even as she scrambled to grab a little more of the pleasure he was doling out to her so freely.
Had she somehow missed all the signs? Or was this something he’d acquired of late? From Cynthia?
Jealousy reared and then disappeared in the same instant. It didn’t matter what had come before. All that mattered was this moment, now.
Traci grasped his shoulder, tempted to bite down hard as his mouth seared her breast. She twisted and turned, eager to absorb more, as he trailed his lips along her body, grazing, teasing.
He was making things happen to her she’d
never thought possible. Anticipation rippled through her like a lightning bolt creasing the sky. She didn’t know if she could take much more of this.
“Where in the world did you learn to do that?” she gasped. Morgan raised himself back up to her level. She wasn’t sure if she could move anymore.
“Instinct.” He smiled into her eyes. “Pure instinct.”
If there was a quip for this, she wasn’t capable of mustering it, not now. All she could do was raise her head slightly as she knotted her arms around his neck. With the last bit of energy she had, Traci brought his face down to hers.
“There’s something to be said for that,” she whispered just before she kissed him. Draining him. Draining herself.
And then he was over her, claiming her the way her body begged to be claimed. The way he’d wanted to from the moment he’d seen her standing outside the house on Friday.
Slipping into her, Morgan could feel her heart hammering hard against his chest. Very slowly, he began to move. She moaned, then joined in, mimicking him. The intensity grew as journey’s end approached.
The rhythm they achieved was echoed by the pounding of both their hearts. They rode out the storm they had created until it crested. Exhausted, they slid down the mountainside together, still locked in an embrace.
It seemed an eternity before his head finally
cleared. Morgan turned his face toward hers and looked down. He was just barely balancing his weight, trying not to crush her beneath him, although the temptation was there. He wouldn’t mind being sealed to her for all time.
“That was you, wasn’t it?”
She let out a long, contented sigh, her eyes still closed. “I think so.”
“Maybe I’d better check.” He shifted a little. “Any distinguishing moles or scars?”
It took her a moment to gather enough breath to answer. “Just the tire marks over my body that you left behind when you ran over it just now.” Traci opened her eyes and looked up at him in unabashed awe. “Morgan, you do have hidden talents.”
He nibbled on her lower lip. “Just takes the right person to bring them out.”
And that would be her, she thought, secretly hugging the comment to her. “That
The time for games was over. At least for now. “Yes, I know.” Shifting, Morgan lay back on the floor. He tucked his arm around her shoulders and nestled her against him. “Next time, we have to try it on a bed.”
“Next time?” She didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Or what to make of either reaction.
“Next time,” he repeated firmly.
Hope skipped through her. “Then this isn’t a one-night stand?”
He wasn’t that kind of a man. He never had been. “Not in my book.”
Guilt rose again, insistent and annoying. “I’m supposed to be engaged.”
He wasn’t about to let her wheedle out of this. She cared about him. He knew that, had felt that. There were no more secrets, not after tonight. “No, you were thinking about whether or not to be engaged. And I think you came to a decision.”
“I did?” She tried to sound flippant, but couldn’t quite manage to carry it off.
He shifted her so that she was over him. “Let me refresh your memory.”
“Oh.” Startled, she realized what she’d just felt beneath her. A grin burst out, lighting her eyes. “Okay.”
azy with sleep and the rosy contentment that came from a night of lovemaking, Morgan reached for Traci before he even opened his eyes.
His hand came in contact with her hair. The vague thought drifted across his mind that she
must have slid down to waist level on the pallet they’d formed out of blankets on the floor.
He didn’t remember her hair feeling so coarse. Or being so short.
When she growled, his eyes flew open. Morgan sucked in his breath before the image looming over him stabilized into a mass of fur, hot breath and dripping tongue. It was Jeremiah.
The sound of Traci’s laughter surrounded him. This would be her idea of a joke. Sitting up, Morgan uttered a good-humored oath as he dragged his hand through his tousled hair. He was feeling too good to be annoyed.
Traci had thrown on her clothes and was sitting cross-legged on the floor not far from him, sketching. She’d felt inspired this morning. Things were finally coming together for her. It showed in her work.
“Uh-huh.” She glanced at her watch. “I’ve been up for about half an hour.” She nodded toward the kitchen. “The phone’s working.”
Suspicions began to nudge at him. He studied her profile. “How would you know that?”
Traci put the finishing touches on the middle panel. She liked to complete each before going on to the next. This one was shaping up rather well, even if she did say so herself.
“I made a call.” Her answer was, distracted as she plotted the next frame.
Why was there this odd, unsettled feeling in the pit of his stomach? As if he were waiting to find
out if he was going to. be wheeled into the operating room, or released from the hospital with a clean bill of health?
“Oh?” He tried to sound disinterested. But he wasn’t. He was very interested in whom she had placed the call to. “To a garage in town?”
“No, to Daniel in his hotel in Connecticut.” Two figures began to take shape in the last panel. She smiled. She had a feeling that Mike the VCR repairman was going to be a new regular in
Traci on the Spot.
“I told him I had to see him once he got back.”
So it was business as usual. And last night had meant nothing. Morgan’s jaw hardened. He glanced down at the sheet that was haphazardly sprawled out over his lower extremities, just barely covering the essentials.
“Do you think you should be telling me this while I’m lying here, naked?” He looked around. Damn, where were his clothes, anyway? The dog had probably buried them. He wouldn’t put it past the mutt. After all, it was her dog.
“I don’t know, should I?” Calling Daniel at the hotel had been one of the hardest calls she’d ever made. And the worst was yet ahead. But it had to be done. Her voice grew quiet. “I told him we had to talk about getting engaged.”
“Then you are?” He had to hear her say it, say that last night hadn’t meant anything to her. Say that she was marrying Daniel, anyway. Then maybe this sinking feeling would leave.
“No, we’re not.” She set the sketch pad aside
and looked at Morgan. Why was he so surprised? Didn’t he realize that she couldn’t have made love with him if her heart belonged to someone else? “I want to tell him in person that I can’t be engaged to him and emotionally involved with—” Morgan was looking at her so expectantly she just couldn’t bring herself to say it. “Well, I just can’t get engaged, that’s all.”
He moved closer to her. He needed to hear the words. “Why?”
He was going to make this difficult, wasn’t he? Why wasn’t she surprised? Traci blew out a breath. She might as well recite her reasons.
“Because you showed me that the bells and the banjos are too important to me to leave out. That, ultimately, I won’t be happy without them.” Traci looked at his face and saw Morgan for perhaps the first time. Her heart skipped a little beat. Damn, that was the face of the man she wanted. The man she loved. But she probably couldn’t get him, last night notwithstanding. “That they still do exist for me and that I shouldn’t sell out before I find them.”
Morgan frowned. “I think you’ve lost me here. Didn’t you just say that you’d found them?”
he added silently.
“Yes, that’s what I said.” Traci discovered that her patience this morning was very short and raw. “But that was with you.”
He didn’t see the problem. “And—?”
She hated having to spell out everything like this. “Well, you don’t want a relationship.” She
slanted a look at him and prayed that it didn’t appear as hopeful as she felt. “Do you?”
She was a puzzlement, there was no disputing that. “What made you think I didn’t?”
She laughed shortly. “Ten years of coming up here each summer for openers.”
He took this slowly, one step at a time. Love wasn’t ordinarily something you jumped into, although he certainly seemed to have. Somewhere in the middle of the night, it had hit him. And he rather liked the impact. He was in love with Traci and was willing to allow that maybe a part of him in some small way always had been.
Otherwise, why would he have felt so compelled to orchestrate all this?
“I grant you that the twelve-year-old boy I was didn’t want any sort of a relationship—on any level—with the ten-year-old girl you were. But that’s in the past. The distant past,” he emphasized. “Last night is still palpitating.”
Nervous, she ran the tip of her tongue along her lips. She saw desire bloom in his eyes and it thrilled her. And gave her hope. “And you think last night is the basis for starting something?”
Was she being deliberately dense, or couldn’t she see? He laughed. “Lady, haven’t you noticed? It’s already started. The train has left the station and you’re in the head car.”
Pressing her lips together, she managed to hold back her smile. “Who’s the engineer?”
Arranging the sheet over himself, he sat back. “Guess.”
She didn’t have to. This was just like him. Never mind that she was beginning to really like what was just like him. “Why don’t I get to be engineer?”
Just like old times, he thought fondly. But with one hell of a difference. “‘Cause you’re a girl and it was my idea.”
Traci sniffed and pretended to look away disdainfully. “Sexist.”
His mouth curved as he grabbed her and pulled her to him. She tumbled against him willingly. “Only when it comes to the things that count—like you.”
She gloried in the feel of his body beside her. “I count?”
Morgan could only shake his head. “If you haven’t figured that one out yet, you’re not as bright as I always thought you were.”
He lowered his mouth to hers, but she pushed him back. “You always thought I was bright?” This was certainly news to her.
Why did she look so surprised? “Sure.”
He was just saying that to get on her good side now. “You never said anything.”
“Of course I didn’t,” he admitted. “It was against the code.”
Warm wisps of desire floated through her as he ran his hand along her arm. “What code?”
He pressed a kiss to her throat. “The male supremacist code.”
He was making it awfully difficult to think. “And since when were you a supremacist?”
Morgan stopped and raised his head to look at her. “You mean you didn’t notice?”
“No.” She almost laughed the answer in his face.
He feigned disappointment “Damn, I must have been doing something wrong.”
Love softened her expression. “o, Morgan, I think you were doing everything right.”
He rose, the sheet pooling to the floor at his feet. Damn, but he was a magnificent specimen of manhood, she thought. And as unselfconscious about it as the day he was born.
Morgan took her hand in his and turned toward the stairs. “Why don’t we go upstairs to your bedroom where we can discuss this further?”
Traci let herself be led off willingly, but she glanced at the phone as they passed. “Before we call the towing service?”
He was gently tugging her up the stairs. “Way before.”
Humor and desire vied for the same space. “Don’t you want to be rescued?”
“No.” Morgan’s hand tightened around hers. “Not particularly.”
She could feel her heart begin to race. “You know what?”
At the landing Morgan turned to look at her. He hadn’t known it was possible to want someone so much. And he had a feeling he hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface. “What?”
“Neither do I.”
He took her into his arms, unable to wait. His
mouth found hers and did incredible things to the composition of her body, turning it to hot liquid. It melted in the heat coming from his hard, lean body.
“Knew we’d find common ground if we looked hard enough.” Taking her hand again, Morgan guided her to her room.
He looked at her. Was she hesitating? No, he didn’t think so. “Hmm?”
Doubts and anticipations nibbled at her. “Do you think it’ll work between us?” She’d never wanted anything to succeed so much in her life.
The woman talked way too much. “Damned if I know.” He began unbuttoning her shirt, just as slowly as he had last night. “But I think it’s worth a shot.”
She could feel her breath catching in her throat. “How long?”
“The first hundred years ought to do it.” The shirt hung open at her sides. He noticed with satisfaction that she hadn’t bothered putting on her bra. He rather liked this style. Morgan slid his hands beneath her blouse, cupping her breasts. “After that, you get your walking papers.”
She raised her chin, her eyes dancing. “No, you get yours.”
He pretended to take that into consideration. “We’ll work out the fine print later.”
Traci laughed. “Deal. You know, I think I
going to buy this house from your parents, after all.”
“Sorry, it’s not for sale.”
Her eyes narrowed. “But you said—”
Morgan smiled at her. “I lied.”
She didn’t understand. It didn’t make any sense. “Why?”
“Because I picked up the paper last week and read
Traci on the Spot.
Suddenly, I knew I had to see you before you became officially engaged.”
“Why?” she pressed.
It was the same question he’d asked himself. Over and over again. “That I didn’t know.” He drew her even closer. “Until now. I guess, subconsciously, maybe I always knew that you and I were meant to be.” He grinned. “Either that, or I was a hell of a masochist.”
It was hard carrying on a sensible conversation with a nude man. Not when she wanted him so much. Anticipation was growing to phenomenal proportions within her. Traci glanced meaningfully toward her bed.
“About those negotiations.?”
He laughed. It was going to be a damn good life. And they were going to make their mothers very happy women. “Ready when you are.”
Traci laced her arms around his neck and pressed her body against his. “I’m always ready—when it comes to you.”
“I’m very glad to hear that.” He picked her up into his arms. Turning to enter the room, he saw that the dog was about to follow them. “Sorry, dog. These negotiations are going to be held in
private.” With the heel of his foot, Morgan closed the door behind him.
With what seemed to pass for a loud sigh, Jeremiah laid down before the bedroom, settling in as if he sensed that it was going to be a long time before the door was opened again.
* * * * *