It had been so long. Too long.
She'd forgotten how hot his mouth would get as he trailed it along her throat, seeking out the sensitive spot just below her ear, nipping her tender flesh, before swirling his tongue along the outer shell, ending the journey with a gentle nibbling of her lobe and endearments murmured in a voice raspy with yearning.
She'd forgotten how slowly he removed her clothes, as though he were awed by the creamy texture of her skin that each released button revealed, as though she were an unexpected gift discovered on Christmas morning to be unwrapped without hurry, the uncovering of what lay inside to be savored as much as the item nestled within.
She'd forgotten how gently demanding he could be as he glided his roughened palms along her ribs, until he cradled her breasts within his hands, his callused fingers kneading and teasing, taunting her with the memories of all the other times he'd stroked her, never in a hurry, taking his time until she was writhing against him.
She released a tiny whimper, and he drew her nearer, blanketing her mouth with his own, his tongue delving deep and sure, plundering, conquering. With his hands, he cupped her bare backside, pressing her hips against his, the unmistakable hard evidence of his longing burning hot against her soft belly.
She wanted to weep for the joy of his desire for her. It had been so long. Too long.
She wound her arms around his neck to keep from melting at his feet, the heat intensifying with each touch, each exploration. She'd forgotten how broad his shoulders were, how his defined muscles quivered as passion took hold. She slid one hand down his strong back, along his hip, until finally she wedged her way between their bodies and wrapped her fingers around him. She'd forgotten how magnificent the velvety length of him felt. Tightening her hold, she stroked him.
His guttural groan echoed through the darkness.
And then she was falling, falling onto the giving softness of the bed that was in direct contrast to the hardened body lying on top of her. Nestled between her thighs where he belonged, he entered her with one solid, powerful thrust that had her crying out in ecstasy.
It had been so long. Too long.
Oh, God. She thought she'd die from the glorious sensations building within her as he pumped his massive body against hers -- unmercifully, mercifully. She'd forgotten how beautifully they moved together, their bodies seeking fulfillment, their hearts reaffirming their love.
She was climbing toward the exalted pinnacle of pleasure. It had been too, too long.
And when he carried her swiftly over the precipice, her orgasm rocked her foundation, had her screaming his name right before the tears of wonder engulfed her.
It had been so long. Too long.
Steve hadn't made love to her since he died.
With his face buried in his hands, Hunter Fletcher sat on the edge of his bed, his body drenched in sweat, his muscles still quivering. He'd known she was inebriated. You didn't pick up a woman at a bar and expect her to be stone-cold sober. But he hadn't realized exactly how drunk she was. Not until she'd called out her husband's name with such longing that he realized he'd made one hell of a mistake. By then it had been too late for him. He couldn't have stopped if his life had depended on it. As a matter of fact, stopping at that precise moment probably would have killed him.
With a deep sigh, he plowed his hands through his hair. He'd known she was married, of course. The wedding band nestled up against the engagement ring sporting a diamond too small to glitter had clued him in to her marital status. Which was fine with him. Married women were safer, not looking for commitment. They'd tapped into that pipe dream already, and if they were with him, they'd given up on it. Usually they wanted nothing more than to get back at their husbands, and he was only too happy to oblige.
The disadvantage to preferring married women was that those willing to cheat on their husbands were few and far between, which meant that he spent a good deal of his time living like a monk, so when he did finally find a willing lady, he made the most of their brief time together.
Which usually wasn't a problem. Two willing partners just looking for a quick romp. No names exchanged, no phone numbers memorized, no unrealistic expectations to be met.
Fast, furious, hot, and wild.
It was the way that he liked it. None of that romantic crap women required in order to remain in a relationship for any length of time. Sex. Pure and simple. Animalistic. Nature at its most basic -- and in his opinion -- finest level.
The woman in his bed right now had certainly been willing, but he had a feeling she was going to wake up with a mountain of regrets. What he'd delivered was obviously not what she'd intended to order.
He supposed he could hope she would awaken with no memory of what had transpired between them. Then he could lie and tell her that he'd been too drunk to deliver on the promise he'd made at the bar. Although he doubted that he'd ever forget this night. Not if he lived to be a thousand.
She'd drawn his attention because she looked incredibly out of place, a woman trying so desperately to appear as though she belonged that it became obvious she didn't. He, on the other hand, was skilled at appearing to belong in places where he didn't. He also had the advantage of being the best at determining who didn't fit in. He'd done it throughout the world -- for a covert branch of the CIA that few people knew much about until the war on terrorism escalated.
So figuring out that she didn't really belong at the bar had been simple.
What he'd failed to realize was that she also didn't belong in his bed.
A damned shame. He couldn't remember the last time he'd had sex this intense or satisfying. The woman had incredible legs and a well-toned body that told him she was as physical outside of bed as she was in it. It had crossed his mind -- briefly and insanely -- that getting to know her outside of bed would be equally rewarding.
He twisted slightly and gazed over his shoulder at her, lying on her side. Spilling in through the uncurtained windows, pale moonlight danced lightly over her bare shoulder, bare back. He was half tempted to nudge aside that sheet bunched at her waist and once again enjoy the sight of her perfectly rounded backside. Removing her clothes had nearly brought him to his knees as he slowly revealed her firm breasts, her flat stomach, her silken skin limned by the moonlight. She'd wanted the darkness; he'd happily obliged, knowing he could use the moon to his advantage.
And use it he had. He'd never relished the sight of a woman's body revealed as much as he had tonight. He'd never taken so much time to get to know a woman. What was it about this one that fascinated him, that urged him not to rush, that caused him to actually care about pleasing her?
After her cry had ceased to echo through his mind, after he was once again able to move his sated limbs, he'd eased off her. She'd rolled over and immediately drifted off to sleep -- or passed out. He was hoping for the former.
Honest to God, she hadn't seemed drunk enough that she wouldn't realize she wasn't with her husband. She hadn't seemed drunk at all. Relaxed, sure. Feeling good, definitely. Content to be with him, without a doubt.
His harsh curse seemed out of place within the stillness of his bedroom. He didn't know why it bothered him so much that she'd confused him with someone else. He'd gotten what he wanted: great sex with an attractive woman.
What more did he need?
He shot down the demons that threatened to taunt him with suggestions that he did indeed need much more. He'd shut off his emotions long ago and caged up his heart. It was part of the reason he was so good at what he did. Nothing affected his concentration. Nothing distracted him from his purpose.
Not even a doe-eyed beauty whose hair looked as though it had been spun from moonbeams. He wondered what her bastard of a husband had done that sent her scurrying to the bar in the first place. When Hunter had approached her, she'd appeared vulnerable and hopeful at the same time. Grateful even.
A woman in need of rescue. And he'd found himself wanting to rescue her.
He wasn't certain why he envied her husband. It went beyond the sex, beyond her physical beauty. Maybe it was the depth of love he'd heard woven through the guy's name when she'd uttered it. Maybe it was the way she'd clutched him as though she never wanted to let him go, clutched him thinking he was her husband.
He contemplated waking her up, driving her back to the bar, helping to get her home -- wherever home was. But his survival instincts kicked in. He wasn't a knight in shining armor. Maybe he was even a little drunk himself.
He rolled back on to the bed, draped himself over her with his chest against her back, and pretended what he'd never envisioned with any other woman. He imagined that she was his, that it was his name she'd sent echoing into the night.
Copyright © 2004 by Jan Nowasky
Smooth Talkin' Stranger
Serena Hamilton has never had a one-night stand, but the supreme loneliness she feels after the loss of her husband drives her to a bar and into the arms of a sexy stranger. Afterward, she's racked by guilt...or at least she knows she should be. But there's something about her one-time lover that makes her think they may share more than just out-of-control chemistry.
Hunter Fletcher isn't a commitment kind of guy, but the woman he meets at the honky-tonk stirs a new kind of longing. A covert operative for the CIA, Hunter carries his share of secrets. But when they intersect with Serena's tragic past, he fears she won't want to know the truth...or that once she does, the only woman he's ever loved will leave him forever.