“I’m sorry I don’t have any furniture. That doesn’t mean we can’t sit.”
He placed his hands around her waist. Strong hands, yet with a suppleness in the fingers that made her want him to stake a claim on that particular piece of territory and stay for a while. A long while. Her sundress served as the slimmest barrier between her skin and his. She might as well have worn a sheet of saran wrap. She held her breath and stifled the purr that throbbed deep in her throat.
He lifted her up and sat her on the blanket. “I’m starved,” he said in an almost hushed tone. His eyes stayed on hers; his fingers probed her sides.
She tried not to read anything suggestive in any of it. Not when her synapses twanged like guitar strings and the word “willing” flashed in giant neon letters through her addled brain.
He blew air out through his mouth. “I think we need something to drink.”
Molly swallowed hard and nodded her agreement.
He removed his hands.
A wine rack atop the refrigerator held three bottles of red. He selected one, brought it over to Molly and offered it for her inspection as if he were a Sommelier.
“Would madam care for Cabernet or something cold from the refrigerator?”
“Do you have Chardonnay?” It surprised her that her voice sounded normal and not like she just survived a bungee jump off the Transamerica Pyramid.
“No. I meant beer. Sorry.”
“Hmm. I’ll take the Cabernet. Not that I don’t ever drink beer, but that’s usually at an outdoor barbeque, in the heat.” It was pleasantly cool inside the house with all the stone.
He retrieved an opener and stemmed glass from the top of the refrigerator. She assumed he kept the wineglass for visitors since he preferred beer. Possibly — no, probably — he came up here plenty of times with women over the course of three years. A twinge of jealousy pricked Molly’s skin. The opener was the two-pronged kind that Molly had never mastered. Naturally, he extracted the cork with no effort. He filled her glass halfway and handed it to her. Then he fetched a beer from the fridge and joined her on the blanket with the basket between them.
“Okay. Let’s see what we have in here.” He retrieved two black handled knives, forks, and spoons from the basket and laid them aside. A pair of linen napkins along with two small china plates followed. He passed one of each to Molly. She set them on her lap. Next he produced crackers, cheese, and a link of summer sausage. “Oh, good. I was afraid we were going to be stuck with girly food. Why don’t we start with these?” He used a knife to load a hunk of brie onto a cracker and handed it to her.
She figured he wasn’t much of an hors d’oeuvre man.
He cut off a thick slice of sausage and put it on her plate. He added another slice to a cracker and bit into it. Crumbs scattered and he caught most of them with his free hand. He brushed the others off his lap.
He gave her a sheepish smile. “I guess I’m not very good at this. Usually, when I eat a cracker, I push the whole thing in my mouth.”
Molly bet he probably managed it without looking like Gordo the Gastronomic Glutton, too.
“Go for it.” She fished out a tin of caviar. She held it toward him.
He pulled the edges of his lips down so far the tendons in his neck corded. “I’m not into exotic foods.”
“I forgot. You prefer junk.”
He smiled. “There’s a lot to be said for it.”
“Okay. Then, I guess we can scratch the jellied eel.”
He tilted his head toward her. “Absolutely, unless the big quake hits pronto and that’s all we have left to eat. How about you?”
She shuddered and wrinkled her nose. “Not even then.”
He laughed and lightly tapped her cheek with his knuckle.
She felt another surge of heat.
He rummaged around in the basket. “What’s this?” He held up a plastic container of pasta salad with pesto. He removed the lid and sniffed. “Hmm. I’ll bet this tastes good.”
Man food. Green, too. No wonder it appealed to him. They ate quietly for a while. Molly discovered a jar of olives, along with smoked salmon pate (her favorite), chips and salsa (his), dried fruit, which they both passed on, and chocolate fudge shortbread cookies, which they devoured.
“I’m glad I bid on the Napa package.” He dusted the last of the crumbs off his hands. “I had a really good time today.”
“So did I.”
He stood and took her plate and glass from her and put them aside with his. He set the basket on the floor. “I’m glad, too, that I got to know you a little better.”
“Why is that?”
“I found out more about what you’re like. We’re pretty similar in a lot of ways.”
“You mean the jellied eel.”
He moved in front of her. “I mean in important ways.”
She perched several feet above the floor and sat close to the edge of the plank. Her knees bumped his hard abs just above the waistband of his jeans. Her shins brushed his fly.
“Really, like what?” She debated whether to move her legs. In case he hadn’t noticed, she decided to keep them in a holding pattern. Why direct his attention there?
He rested his hands on the blanket, one on either side of her. His thumbs lightly stroked her fingers. “Oh … I think we proved today we’re both pretty easy to get along with. We’re considerate and caring. We’re both serious about our work. Come to think of it, too, we know how to get down and dirty and have a good time.”
She nodded, although she wasn’t sure about the “down and dirty” part. She might have questioned one or two other points as well. Right now, though, he was proving a lot more than easy to get along with. As for her, she was nano-seconds away from feeling just plain easy.
“This was fun.”
“I’m glad you think so. You spent plenty of money on today’s outing.”
“It was worth every dollar.”
He placed his hands around her waist. His thumbs pressed into soft flesh as his fingers spread along her lower back. A shiver prickled her skin and spiraled into her toes and scalp. Her abdominal muscles tensed. She wondered if the “down and dirty” part was about to begin. She looked into his eyes and saw her desire reflected back at her. She laid her palms against his chest and touched lightly, her fingers rigid, making up her mind as to just how “dirty” she wanted to get with him.
His forehead rubbed the spot above one of her eyebrows. The edge of his nose touched the tip of hers. A corner of his lips grazed her cheek. Then his mouth moved over hers. Any thought of pushing him away evaporated under a seductive power that turned her hands to marshmallow fluff. The warmth from his mouth sent her body heat into a zone she’d never experienced. The kiss deepened and her heart pumped so fast it thumped inside her chest. The temperature in the room shot from cool to warm to something close to a tropical burn. Her lips parted, and he slid his tongue inside her mouth. A moan echoed from deep inside her throat, like the ocean’s roar in her ears. Her Aunt Vi’s warning flicked along the edges of her mind: “Either ride him until he’s spent or prepare to be gored.” How prophetic. He edged back just about the time she thought she’d need resuscitation from a posse of EMTs.
It took a few moments before she remembered how to breathe like a normal woman.
“You taste like chocolate cookies,” he said.
“Is that good?”
His hands moved up her back. “So good, I’d like more.”
“Are you going to kiss me again?”
“That’s sounds like a plan.” He smiled. “Do you want me to?”
Did she? Sure, she did, although it probably wasn’t a smart idea. He looked more than ready. So why didn’t he just do it? She didn’t recall him negotiating with her either of the other two times.
“Well, do you?” His finger traced a slow S curve down her spine.
“I … think so … ” Why couldn’t she just come right out and say yes? Maybe because warning bells were already … if not clanging, at least pinging.
His nostrils twitched.
“Though maybe you shouldn’t.” If she kissed him again now, would she wind up looking like a fool later if he bulldozed the clinic right out from under her desk chair?
“That’s what I like, a woman who knows her mind. You’re not a tease, are you?”
The tips of his fingers played with the moist flesh at the back of her neck. “Then let’s start from the beginning. Do you want me to kiss you again?”
“Yes. But … ”
He took hold of her head with both hands and angled his body between her knees. His mouth teased hers for a moment then came down with a possession that cramped her toes and brought her arms around his back. The muscles in his shoulders tensed where she pressed her fingers. His thumbs circled along the outer ridge of her earlobes and her skin tingled as if he tickled her with a thousand silky threads. Fiery heat pooled deep inside her, confirming her strong attraction to him.
He dragged his mouth away from hers and kissed her throat. His tongue flicked her skin, hot and wet and demanding. She pulled in her breath. The tips of her fingers pressed deeper into his muscles. Her nipples grew stiff and pushed against his chest. He hooked his thumbs under the slender straps of her sundress and peeled them off her shoulders. His mouth and tongue followed their descent while he began to undo the buttons at the front of her dress. He slid his hands beneath the fabric and stroked her breasts.
“No bra,” he whispered against her ear.
“I was … in a hurry.” She breathed rather than spoke the words. “The straps … show, too.”
His fingers brushed her nipples, stiffening them further until they felt as hard as two perfectly matched stones. “We definitely can’t have that.”
Her knees clamped against his hips.
“Hmm. You feel good.”
The tingle that started in her breasts curled into the deepest part of her body. She squirmed under his feathery touch. She brought her hands to his chest and rubbed her palms against hard pectoral muscles. She kissed his neck.
He peeled off the top of her dress. With one hand, he cupped her breast and brought it to his mouth. His other hand moved lightly up her thigh. His thumb stroked the flesh on the inner side and paused for a moment at the elastic band that edged her panties. She groaned and her body swayed; the muscles in her abdomen tightened. She rubbed her chin along his shoulder. He raised her knees higher up onto his hips then slid his thumb inside her panties and caressed her hot, slick flesh, sliding inside her, up as far as he could reach. She yelped and shuddered as he pushed his finger in and out of her. It was like nothing she’d ever experienced before. It was … hellacious. “You feel better than good.” He licked the aureole that circled her nipple.
She reached down and worked open the button on his jeans and pulled his shirt out of the waistband. She slid her hand over his hard abdomen then followed the trail of soft hair that led beneath the band of his underwear. She bet something felt better than good down there, too.
“Nick … Nick?”
Had she, in a moment of passion, called his name? If so, she didn’t recognize her voice. Who could blame her with what was happening to her body? Damn if she didn’t feel the beginnings of an orgasm. Another few moments and it would tear through her like a scythe slashing through a poppy field.
“Hey, buddy … you in there?”
That was definitely not her voice. Nor was she in a position to knock on the front door.
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