26 May 2008
Her dark eyes grew big, “What do you mean you don’t know?” She questioned.
A void had settled over him as he saw the information he needed from afar in his mind’s eye and craved but it was just out of reach. “I mean, I don’t know who I am. I don’t know anything. I don’t know who you are or where I am.” He gripped the blanket between lean fingers.
“Easy, easy now. We were never properly introduced so you shouldn’t know who I am. Okay. Calm down, my name is Dezarae. Just take it easy.” One dark hand reached out to touch him in a comforting gesture but at the last second she decided against it and withdrew it to rest at her side.
He began to breathe a bit easier. His mind raced as he tried to figure out what was going on. If he could just remember one thing, anything... “So you didn’t ask me to test me, did you?” The dark head looked around her definitely feminine room and he asked, “You don’t know who I am either, do you?”
“No. I don’t.” A bit uncomfortable, she moved back away from the bed, cup in hand. “You should get some rest. It’s not like you can go anywhere, anyway.” For a brief second, she spotted a dangerous glint in his eyes before it was gone, masked under a face of indifference. “Your clothes are still being washed; that’s why I said what I said.” For the second time in a matter of an hour, she bolted from her own bedroom.
In the kitchen, she held her hand over her chest and tried to slow the out-of-control beating of her heart. Her gaze took in the rattling of the windows as the storm only increased in intensity. The phones were down, she had already tried to call the sheriff but she would go in the morning and see if anyone knew her mysterious guest. Assuming the weather would cooperate.
Eyes open or closed, it didn’t matter. All she could see was his chiseled body. He wasn’t a small man but he wasn’t huge, either. Full of defined muscles from his head down. Undressing him had been fun; if only he hadn’t been near death she might have enjoyed it even more. Even so, she had not missed eyeing over what he offered.
Back in the floral bedroom, the dark haired, gray eyed man fought his growing panic. He had no clothes save for the boxers he was wearing, no idea of where he was, how he got there, or what he was doing in this woman’s bed. Topping it off, he had no freaking idea who he was.
The more he tried to come up with his God-given name, the worse his head felt. Looking down his near-naked body, he frowned as he located a tattoo over one pectoral. It was of an anchor and a chain and the backdrop was a rebel flag. “Who am I?”
Well, she had been right about one thing. He needed some more sleep and so he snuggled down deeper into the plush mattress on the full-size bed and allowed the gentle smell of some flower he couldn’t quite identify to cocoon around him as he fell asleep.
He was sound asleep when she came back into the room.
Dezarae smiled as she took in the stranger in her bed. He had curled up against her stuffed tow truck. His face was finally at peace. Moving silently, she left the room and went to make herself some dinner.
While it was cooking, she took his clothes from the dryer, folded them, and placed them beside the bed where he still slept. Again, Dezarae reached out her hand like she was going to stroke his face only to again withdraw it. There was something about this man that called to her but she wasn’t sure what. It could have been the real fear she had seen when he couldn’t remember his own name but she didn’t know.
One more glance at his body and she slipped back out of the room with an extra blanket for her own use that night. As she was leaving the room, she didn’t notice the slate gaze that settled upon her retreating back watching the sway of her hips with considerable less mistrust in them.
Glancing at her watch, she knew how long she had before dinner and so, sliding on her coveralls, Dezarae went to the garage and began to work on her vehicle. She was restoring a classic. It was a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500, obsidian black.
Her hands were gentle as they moved over the shell of the car. Restoring cars was her passion. She was good at it, as the shop next to her would suggest, but it was this car that she worked on in her free time. Little by little, savoring the experience, for it relaxed her immensely.
So, with a grin, she lifted out the dismantled engine and began to clean parts again, laying them out to dry after she was done. James Blunt played through her garage as she worked. When her watch beeped she stood up, degreased her hands, and unzipped the coveralls, draping them across one worktable, and tuned off the radio before going back into the warm house.
Her house was small, a two-bedroom, one-bath home. It worked for her but with the extra guest she was going to be sleeping on the couch. Which was fine, she had done it before.
Pulling the casserole out of the oven, she placed it on the hot pad on the countertop. The smell filled her kitchen as she walked to the cupboards and got down some dishes. As she turned around, she froze. Leaning in her doorway stood the man she had picked up along side the road.
He stood there like he owned the place. His body was dressed in his jeans that she had left folded beside the bed. No shirt and she could see the defined abs that disappeared below the waistband of those blue jeans. Her eyes traveled over the anchor tattoo that sat on his left pec. Suddenly the rebel flag didn’t give her shivers; well, it did, but not like it usually did.
He oozed sex as he leaned there watching her with those intense gray eyes. Eyes that roamed over her body again as if he owned her and the property rights to her. Up and down, slowly, his gaze moved. Burning her, branding her. It was as if he was learning her most private thoughts just from a look.
“I’m sorry I scared you earlier,” he said in a deep voice.
“How are you feeling?” Dezarae asked him, ignoring the trembles his voice hand delivered her body.
“Good.” He took a step towards her but stopped as she shrank back. A sad expression filled his handsome face. “I won’t hurt you.”
It was hard for him to explain how her recoil from him felt. It hurt but it was more than that. This feeling of wanting to make her feel safe and protected felt familiar to him. But she said they didn’t know each other.
Still, the fact that her beautiful sepia face would fill with apprehension at his forward motion crushed him. He didn’t want that expression anywhere near her face. So he stayed in the doorway. But his eyes never left her; he willed her to believe him.
How could she when he didn’t even know who he was or what he was? A groan of frustration left him as he realized this situation was bordering on hopeless.
Hearing the groan, Dezarae took a step towards him immediately concerned for his wellbeing. “Are you okay?” She walked up to him and realized just how much bigger than her he was. He stood about six feet four inches and all of it was well-muscled.
The man managed to contain the next groan that was about to slip out because of his body’s reaction to her nearness. He didn’t understand it. “Fine. I’m fine.”
“Do you feel well enough to eat something?” she asked as she retreated back to the cupboard and took down another set of dishes.
“I think so.” His gaze wandered over her butt as it was exposed from her reaching to the top shelf. Regardless of the circumstances that brought him here, his body obviously wasn’t broken as far as sexual reactions. She was making him feel some very intense sensations. And, considering his lack of memory, if there was a woman out there who made him feel something more intense it would kill him.
“Well, it isn’t fancy but it will stick to your ribs. I hope you don’t mind chicken casserole.”
“Not at all.” He kept staring at her, hoping she would turn and meet his gaze, but she steadfastly avoided his eyes. After she set the table, she turned and began to prepare a salad as the house shook from the force of the winds.
“Grab a seat,” she murmured, as she opened the fridge to take out the pitcher of cold water she had in there. Turning towards the table, Dezarae sent the man sitting there a nervous smile, wishing he wouldn’t stare at her so.
She dished up the food silently and put the plate in front of him. Turning her attention to her food, not the bronzed torso muscles he had. Concentrating on keeping her gaze firmly on the plate in front of her, she began to eat. Stay firm and concentrate on food. Girl, you know he is firm.
“Where are we?” he asked her as they were finishing up dinner.
“The middle of nowhere. You are about twenty miles from a town called Shadyville. In Montana.”
Shadyville. Why did that name seem familiar to him? Why can’t I remember anything? “Damn it,” he swore as his fist pounded on the tabletop.
Unable to help it, Dezarae jumped and squealed, an act that brought him to a halt.
“Jesus, I did it again. I don’t mean to scare you. I am just so frustrated that I can’t remember anything. I try but it is all just a complete blank.” His frustration was palpable even to her.
“I’m sorry. I am just not used to having a…a…a…” She had no idea of how to finish that sentence.
For the first time a half smile cracked that face. Firm lips twitched as he filled it in, “A man in the house.” He was glad she wasn’t.
“Well…yes, I guess.”
“Or a white man?” His eyes grabbed hers and forced a connection.
She nodded and said candidly, for if there was one thing about Dezarae Phoenix Kerry, it was honest. “Especially not a white man.” Even more, not one sporting a freaking rebel flag tattoo.
“Do you have something against white men?” The blunt question was asked as charcoal gray held dark chocolate. Please say no.
“Not that I’m aware of. Have something against black women?” she asked in return. On the other hand, do I want to know if you do?
“No, not at all.” If I ever did, I don’t remember it and I don’t now. I wish she wasn’t glancing at my tattoo so often.
“Well, at least we got that out of the way. I have to tell you,” she said as she cleared off the dinner dishes and set down a blueberry cobbler and a pot of coffee. “I don’t know if I will be able to take you to town tomorrow if this storm keeps going the way it is.”
“And you don’t mind me being here?” His head cocked to the side as he accepted the helping of warm cobbler and a hot mug of coffee.
“I’m not going to send you out in the storm, if that is your concern. You didn’t even have a coat on. And, while I don’t know you from a hole in the ground, I don’t want to send you to your death.”
“That’s good, ‘cause it would severely hamper our courting,” he said with a bone-melting grin.
A brilliant smile filled her face. “Our courting?”
“Well, I don’t always let women undress me down to my boxers, and let me sleep in their bed. So I figure we must be courting.”
Her body shook at some images her mind painted for her. “That is an interesting piece of logic you have there. What makes you think you I am interested in being courted by you?” She arched her brows and stared at the handsome stranger across from her.
He took a bite of the cobbler, washed it down with a swig of the coffee she had placed there, and never once released her gaze. “You just said you didn’t have anything against white men.”
“I don’t, but it doesn’t mean you are my kind of man, does it?” she questioned him.
There was a flash of something foreign in his eyes as they moved over her upper torso. “Oh, I’m your kind of man. I can see how you react to me,” he purred as he drew the fork slowly out of his firm mouth.
He is a tease. “So you are handsome, big deal.” It was a struggle to keep her true feelings off her face.
He shrugged. “Glad you find me handsome, and I know you think it is a big deal.” He winked suddenly. “I think you are enchanting.”
“You don’t know me.”
“True. Tell me about you.” His request came out more like an order.
Standing, she removed the dishes and put them in the dishwasher, got it set, and turned it on. “It’s late; you should get some sleep.” She put her hand out, gesturing for him to leave the kitchen first.
He acquiesced. His body was exhausted still, so he didn’t put up much of an argument. As he got to the entrance to the bedroom, he stopped suddenly. Turning to face the beautiful woman trailing him, he reached out one tanned hand and caressed her face. “Thank you for all you are doing for me.”
“Anybody would have done it,” she said, moving back, uncomfortable with the feelings his simple touch evoked in her.
I don’t think they would have. “Tell me something.” This time it was a request, not a command.
“If I tell you what you want to know, then will you go to bed?” Dezarae questioned.
“I’ll even let you tuck me in,” came his saucy reply.
How nice that could be. “Ask your question.”
“What is your full name?” One hand reached for her before clenching and remaining at his side.
“Dezarae spelled D-E-Z-A-R-A-E, Phoenix Kerry. Now, get some sleep.” It was a gentle push that she gave him to send him in the door. “Good night.”
Both trembled from the contact but neither responded to it. “Night.” My little firebird. He walked into the room, stopping by the bed to turn around and meet her gaze. “Sure you don’t want to tuck me in?”
“I’m sure a strong man like yourself can handle that,” she smirked, liking how his teasing brightened his whole persona, making him less severe.
“Glad to you know also think I am strong,” he teased back.
Dezarae refused to answer him, just left the room with a shake of her head.
The digital readout on the clock said 3:00 in the morning. Body not as sore but feeling just as disoriented, the man who had no name got out of the soft bed and padded silently to the door. His gray eyes easily adjusted to the dark as he stuck his head out into the hallway.
There was another door to his right and he cracked it open, looking for his hostess. Nothing in there but books and papers that were scattered all over the room. He walked past the bathroom door and, as he walked into the living room, he found her.
She lay on the couch sound asleep. A blanket covered her from toes to chin. I can’t believe she took the couch and let me have her bed. A gentle smile crossed his face as he moved silently into the room and knelt down beside her.
“Thank you for saving my life, Dezarae Phoenix Kerry. Thank you.” he whispered as his hand trailed down the side of her sleeping face, almost—but not quite—touching the skin that was smoother than silk.
When she moaned softly and tried to burrow deeper into the couch, he reacted. With ease, he slid his arms under her and lifted her off the couch and carried her back down the hall to place her in her own bed. She never woke.
After tucking her in, he brushed some wayward curls off her face, staring at her like he couldn’t get enough. “Sleep well, my little firebird, sleep well.” Before he did something he couldn’t take back, the man with the gray eyes left the room, carrying the blanket she had used on the couch, and took her place.
19 May 2008
So this is what it feels like to be at the end of your life.
The car careened out of control, spilling hot coffee all over the dark-haired man behind the wheel burning his leg. A burn that soon faded from memory. As the vehicle crashed through the guardrail along the isolated highway to flip down the snow-covered embankment, the relatively short life of its driver flashed before steel gray eyes.
Ross Murdock Connelly wished he would just be able to see the love of his life one more time. He knew he had been driving too fast along the slick roads but the desire to see her overcame his normal sense. To be able to hold her in his arms one more time. So he had taken this supposed shortcut, an idea that seemed pointless as he grew dizzy from the revolutions the car made.
As he was tossed from the vehicle he lost consciousnesses. Waking in the snow moments later he felt rather than saw the incinerating blast that engulfed the totaled vehicle. The swirling winds covered the sound of the explosion as the metal ripped apart and flew into the night sky.
“Charmane,” his injured voice muttered as his eyes closed again, submitting him to the pain free world of oblivion where a beautiful face with sparkling doe eyes beckoned to him.
“Where the hell is that smoke coming from?” the scratchy voice asked the interior of her vehicle. “I’m the only one that lives up this way. For that matter, who the hell is traveling on this road this time of the year?”
The old Land Rover was moving about five miles an hour. Even at night the smoke was obvious, billowing across the beams her headlights made as they cut through the snow and wind. As the dented vehicle passed the broken guardrail, she knew.
“Damn it,” she swore as she stopped as carefully as she could. Setting the brake, she turned the heat to high and began to shove her body into the thick coat and other winter accessories that had been eagerly discarded the second her body was warm enough in the car.
Fighting the wind and snow whose chill cut right through the thick layers of clothing she wore, Dezarae Phoenix Kerry began to yell into the night. “Hello? Hello! Is anyone down here?”
Struggling to slip only a minimal amount, she gazed through slitted eyes as she approached the wreckage. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.” Gathering the thick coat tighter against her body, she realized that if there had been anyone in the car, they were dead now. Still, she looked around.
By some miraculous stroke of luck Dezarae found her eyes drawn to what looked like a human lying face first in the snow, illuminated by the burning glow of the car. Eyes watering from the stinging force of snow pellets, she struggled to get to him.
“Are you okay?” she screamed only to have her words whipped away into the night. No response. Kneeling beside the body, she touched the shoulder and asked again. Nothing.
The person lying there was a man. A large man wearing only a long-sleeved shirt and pants. No jacket or anything. “How the hell am I going to get you up the hill?” she muttered as she cleared away the snow from his face so he could breathe. Then she checked for a pulse; he had one.
A groan barely reached her ears. But she took it as a good sign. “Hey! Hey, Mister. You okay?” Dezarae noticed his body shivering and, without a second thought, took off her heavy wool coat and put it over his body.
“Mister. Come on, wake up!” she yelled down by his ear. Even through the layers of clothes she wore she immediately felt winter’s bite down to her bones. “Can you move?” Dezarae knew the dangers of moving an accident victim but he would die out here if he didn’t move. Her teeth began to chatter.
“I’m here,” a gravely voice said.
Thank the good Lord. “Can you move? Do you think you can help me get you up? Or does it feel like you have a neck injury?”
“I can move,” he rasped.
“Okay, slowly now. I will help you.”
Inch by tortuous inch, the man moved. Dezarae felt her eyes grow wide as she looked at his body. Dear Lord, he is fine and big. As he managed to get to his hands and knees, she helped him slip the coat on. It barely seemed to fit him while it engulfed her.
Dropping into the snow, Dezarae slipped under his shoulder to help support him. He smells like leather and spices. Shaking her head she waited for him to drop more of his weight on her. Come on man, I’m freezing here. “I can help you. Let’s go.”
Almost reluctantly it seemed, he let her have some more of his weight. As he got unsteadily to his feet they began the climb up the hill. The farther up they got, the more of his weight she supported.
“Good thing I am not a weakling here, Man,” she mumbled under her breath. “You weigh a lot more than it looks like you would.” Dezarae had never been so happy to see her car.
Opening the door, she helped him into the back and just kind of pushed him in. He toppled over to the side and, after making sure his feet were in, she shut the door to move to the other side and drag him across the seat so he was almost stretched out. Then it was back to the tailgate to grab another blanket to cover him with.
Climbing into the driver’s seat, she allowed the warmth to seep into her body. Taking a drink of her now-lukewarm coffee she pulled off her gloves, wiped her eyes, and began to drive home. She glanced back frequently at the man in her backseat. He had apparently drifted back into unconsciousness.
Pulling into her garage, she turned off her vehicle and got out. “Good work today, Old Man,” she said as she patted the green door affectionately. Dezarae moved to the back and opened it.
The man lying there had a cut on his head. He had dark hair that was cut short. A face that was beginning to show the signs of a shadow seemed sad. Thick black lashes rested against his cheeks.
Cocking her head to the side, Dezarae smiled as she looked at him. He was very handsome. And in danger of getting pneumonia if she didn’t get to work. “I don’t know who you are, Mister, but you have to wake up again.”
“I’m awake,” that deep voice grated although the eyes never opened.
“Sit up and we will get you inside where it is warm. Come on,” she insisted.
Like before, he moved slowly. But this time there was no wind, snow, or hill to fight. So it didn’t take long before she was helping him into her bed dressed in only his boxers. Great, I find a man and he has a damn rebel flag tat on his chest as a backdrop for an anchor. Damn, he is fine, even with that tat; I hope he doesn’t get frostbite.
She gazed over his limbs and didn’t see any signs of it, but time would tell. It was important now to get him warm. Dezarae covered him in her blankets and thick comforter before she left to change into dry clothes herself and make him something warm to drink.
Finally warm, dry, and comfortable, Dezarae slipped back into her bedroom to check on her ‘guest’. He had drunk the cup of broth she had made for him but she wanted to wake him up every now and then. His head injury was cleaned and bandaged and, as she looked at him, she saw he was sleeping comfortably.
Gathering up his wet clothes, she searched for any kind of identification and couldn’t find a single thing. No wallet, nothing.
“Well,” she whispered as she took his clothes out of the room and put them in the washer. “I sure hope you aren’t a serial killer.” After the load was set, she returned to her room.
“Wake up,” she said softly. Nothing. Fearing the worst, Dezarae reached down to pat him on the cheek. “Hey,” she spoke in a normal tone. “Wake up.”
The second her hand landed on his stubbled face, her wrist was caught in an ironclad grasp. Panicked, she flashed her eyes to his and found herself looking into the steeliest gunmetal eyes she had ever seen. They were alert and they scared her.
Warm. Comfortable. Dry.
Finally he was warm.
Fuzzy recollections flashed through his head as he remembered being helped into a vehicle. The most vivid thing he could remember was the cold. The biting pain of the cold.
Now it was warm. He felt better.
The faint sound of the door opening brought him as alert as he could be. Watching through his lashes he lay still as the figure of a woman filled the doorway.
She was pretty, if he wanted to think about it. A thick green sweatshirt concealed most of her figure from him but he would guess she was very curvaceous. Her skin was brown, nut-brown. He would put her about five-five. Her hair was thick and curly, hanging down past her shoulders, framing her face gently. Her lips were full and lush.
It was her eyes that got him. They were dark and they stared directly at him as she moved quietly into the room. It seemed to be almost concern he saw in them and he wanted to know what color they were. He noticed she wore a pair of black sweatpants and had large fuzzy red slippers on her feet, as if she had killed Elmo or Animal and turned one of them into a pair of slippers.
As he lay there, he watched her go through his clothes, searching for something. She took his clothes and left just as silently as she had appeared. He didn’t know who she was and that bothered him.
His mind was just too jumbled right now to figure things out. Before he could do anything one way or the other, the doorway was once again filled by his mysterious woman.
She moved effortlessly across the floor to stop beside the bed. Her head tilted to the side as she gazed upon him. “Wake up,” her silken voice said. He refused to move and she spoke again. “Hey, wake up.”
He’d had an instinctive reaction when her hand touched his face. Without conscious thought, he grabbed her and captured her wrist in his hand. She gave a frightened gasp as her eyes moved up to meet his.
Chocolate. Sinfully dark chocolates were what her eyes reminded him of.
A pink tongue snuck out and licked full dusky lips. “Can you let me go please? I am not going to hurt you. I just had to wake you up.” Dezarae could feel the intense pounding of her heart. “Please, you’re hurting me.”
Those eyes never left hers as he dropped her wrist as if it burned him. He remained silent as she stood straight and rubbed her sore wrist. “Sorry I frightened you but I was worried that you had fallen unconscious again,” she muttered, still absently rubbing her wrist.
Those smoky eyes moved down her body slowly and back up again making Dezarae feel as if she stood before him totally naked. When that intense gaze reached her eyes again, she felt flushed.
Damn it. No man has made me feel like this before. At least not a man I don’t know and have never met. Swallowing to give herself extra time to regain her composure, Dezarae tried to affect a look of indifference.
“Can you stay awake until I get you some more broth to drink?” she asked, glad he didn’t know her well enough to know just how affected her voice sounded.
Still, all he did was stare at her. Jesus, that is one unnerving stare. “I will take that as a ‘Yes’. I’ll be right back.” Dezarae fled to the solitude of her kitchen and made him another cup of broth. By the time it was ready, her heartbeat had returned to normal.
This time she knocked on the doorframe before she walked in, holding the cup as if it would keep her safe from him and his stare. With determined steps, she moved to the bedside and held it out to him even as his eyes held hers.
“Here, drink this.” She flicked her gaze from his to the drink and back again. My God, he is suspicious. “What, you think it’s poisoned?”
Well, those eyes narrowed as they moved from her face down her chest and back again. They stared into her soul and assessed her. Unnerved her.
“Look.” She put the cup up to her lips and took a drink of the warm liquid. “It is fine, now come on you need to get some nourishment in you.” Dezarae offered him the cup again.
One strong tanned hand reached up and took the cup from hers. A quivering began in her belly as she felt his fingers graze against hers. Bringing the cup to his mouth at the very last second, he turned it and drank from the exact spot that she had put her lips. Those gray eyes never left hers as he drained the cup.
What would it be like to have his lips on mine? Guess he doesn’t have anything against me yet. Knees trembling from the erotic picture his lips touching the same place as hers had she took the cup back and swallowed. Now was as good a time as any. “Who are you?”
He blinked as he looked almost hesitant since she had seen him awake. Dark masculine brows furrowed in thought. Only to scrunch together tighter before he looked up at her and said in a confused voice. “I don’t know.”
16 May 2008
And here is the blurb for this story.
LUCIEN ST. MARTIN, Marquess of Heartstone, is ordered to travel to the “the uncivilized” part of the world. The Colonies. How was he to know everything was about to shift on its axis.
CIARA MCKAY is known as “The heart of the Mountain.” She lives near a town but chooses to remain alone up in the mountains. Her world is changed the day she encounters a man being tossed about by an enraged mother bear.
Long winter nights lead to explosive passions. Seven years pass before they meet again. Can they overcome the “accepted” rules of society? Or will “the heart of the mountain” cease to be?
Is it possible that Lucien can convince her to give them another chance? Will Ciara accept her destiny that together is the only way for them to be, as the…
The Princess and the Marquess
12 May 2008
“Sir, I believe I asked you a question,” the smaller officer said.
“What’s going on here?” Scott asked, moving to stand closer to the woman he was going to protect for the rest of her life. That and marry her.
“We are looking for a man who was injured in this area who fits your description. Can I see your identification, please?” The officer held out his hand.
“Sure, but if you don’t know who the man is, then what good is my identification going to do?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet to get his card.
“You sure are asking a lot of questions. What’s your name?” He gestured impatiently for the piece of plastic.
“Lieutenant Commander Scott Leighton,” he snapped in return, handing over his military identification. He didn’t like the way the men looked at Alexis. Hell, I don’t like any man looking at Alexis. My Alexis.
“How do you know Ms. Rogets here?” the larger man asked in a snide tone.
Thick arms crossed, showing Alexis not one shred of pain from his wound, as a blonde eyebrow rose. “Are you trying to imply something, Officer?” He looked at the nametag. “Johnson?”
The officer took a deep breath and tried to look as impressive as Scott, only to fail miserably. “Of course not, it’s just that we are wondering what you are doing here.”
Aren’t we all, Alexis thought as she relocated next to the statue of carved muscle in her living room. “We are both in the Navy and have,” she glanced at him, “served time on the same ship.”
Scott looked at the woman standing next to him, her head barely coming to his shoulder. She was ready to defend him. He held out his tanned hand for his ID. It was returned to him with great reluctance. “I had some business to do around here and came to ask Alexis for her help on it.” His eyes dared the men to say anything to dispute him.
Clearing their throats, the police looked at the five young men also in the room and the smaller one, Officer Petrasla, nodded his head at them. “What are they doing here?”
Fists clenching, Alexis took a step forward. “They have every right to be here. They were here last night. This is my cousin and his friends. Are you implying something, now?” Her tone had grown cold.
It was a simple action by Scott, reaching out and touching her shoulder, but it halted her forward movement. “I’m sure,” he drawled, “that these officers wouldn’t insinuate anything when it is obvious that I am not the man they are looking for and the young men here are not doing a single thing wrong.”
Officer Johnson got the hint and shrugged. “Well, if you see him, Ms. Rogets, please give us a call.” He grabbed his partner’s arm and led him back out the screen door and down to the patrol car.
“What made them come here?” That deep voice caressed her, chasing away the anger she had from the visit.
“They always come here. I don’t always know them but the officers always know me.” Alexis looked at the young men in her house. “Well, come on then. Breakfast is ready. Put your things away and get into the kitchen. I have better things to do today than baby-sit you bunch of ragamuffins,” she huffed even as she winked at them.
“We love you too, Lex,” the group said as one before they headed for their sleeping bags to put them back in the hall closet.
She grumbled and walked off, just expecting that Scott would follow her. “Well, get yourself some breakfast, Commander, unless it isn’t your kind of food.”
Scott looked at the sideboard that teemed with steaming food. It looked like enough to feed an army, or at least his SEAL team. His stomach growled as the intoxicating aromas filled his nose.
“Go on, if you want any. Better get it before they get here.” Alexis nodded toward the stack of plates.
“And you?” His question fell as he reached for a plate, trying to hand it to her.
“No, I already ate.” I can’t eat in front of him. I have enough of a hard time just trying to swallow in front of him.
His eyes moved slowly up and down her body. “Really?” he asked doubtfully.
“I snacked while I made breakfast.” The noise from the boys grew louder.
“Don’t you know I know you are lying to me? Trust me; I like a woman who’s willing to eat in front of me. Are you back to being scared, Alexis?” he challenged.
Damn you, Scott. Just kiss me. She snatched a plate and before she could say a word, he interjected, “Or did you need a good morning kiss?” His mouth was right next to her ear.
Jesú, it’s like he is reading my mind. “I don’t think so,” she managed to mutter.
“I do.” His arm snaked around her waist, spinning her towards his body…and his mouth. Unlike their first kiss on the carrier, this one was gentle. A learning kiss. Scott slipped his tongue into her mouth and stroked it against her own. A slow-drugging kiss that had her shaking on her feet.
This man could kiss. Time stood still for the two as they were locked in an embrace. Scott had one arm around her and her one free arm slowly made its way around his lean waist.
“Uh-hmmm,” came the interruption. “Lex, what the hell is Casper doing sucking on your face?”
They moved slowly apart, like snails in winter. Scott drew her bottom lip into his mouth as they separated, keeping her close for a moment longer. “I love how you taste,” he whispered as he released her.
“Eat your breakfast, Jay.” Her chest heaved as she moved towards the food herself.
“And Casper here?”
“Why do you keep calling me that?” Scott asked.
“Have you noticed your skin color, man?” Jay snapped, taking his plate and making it so Scott couldn’t stand next to Lex.
“I get it, Casper, as in the ghost, the Friendly Ghost.” He moved to the other side of Alexis and ignored the warning glare from her pintsized bodyguard.
“Man, I don’t want your lips anywhere near Lex,” Jay threatened.
Setting down his plate beside the seat that Alexis took, Scott sat down and pinned the young man with a purposefully-bland stare. “My relationship with Alexis is not any of your concern.”
“Jay, sit down,” she interjected because she knew where this was heading. “Commander Leighton and I don’t have a relationship other than a working one. What you saw was a mistake and it won’t be happening again,” Alexis said firmly.
Like hell it won’t be happening again. “There you have it.” Scott sent Alexis a small shake of his head before dropping it and digging into his breakfast with relish. His relationship was too new for him to hash things out with a young man who wanted to protect her.
As the rest of the group sat down at her long table to eat, talk was turned towards Alexis and her plans for the day. “What gives you boys the right to think you can run my life?” she asked the young men.
“We’re family,” they responded as one.
“And, yet, you don’t stay out of trouble. I can’t help you out next time. You know that, don’t you?” Her tawny gaze pinned each and every young man there.
“Yes, Lex. We know.”
One by one they finished and put their dishes in the sink before kissing her on the cheek and leaving the kitchen. “Dinner’s at six-thirty; it’s ribs. I’ll do some laundry tomorrow as well, so bring a change of clothes,” she yelled to their retreating backs.
As the screen door slammed, it dawned on the two adults that they were completely alone. No young people, no crew, no ship, no regulations. Just them. A man and a woman who had a fierce attraction for one another.
Swallowing hard, Alexis shoved back from the table and took her dishes to the sink. She opened the dishwasher and began to load it. Trying hard to stay focused on the job at hand. He’s hard. And so much more fun to focus on.
“You can’t ignore me forever, Alexis.” His velvet tone moved over her.
I will do my damnedest. “I’m not ignoring you,” she lied. “I am just cleaning up.”
His chair scraped the wooden floor as he rose with his plate in hand. A glance at the sideboard showed nothing but empty dishes. Those boys had cleaned up every bit of food she made for them. “Wow, they sure can eat a lot,” he said as he handed her the plate.
“They are growing boys,” she replied easily. It was nothing new for her to feed them. It was just something she did.
“So am I,” he muttered as his gaze swept over her denim-covered ass.
Shutting the black door of the dishwasher, she leaned against it and met the blue gaze of the only person who could make her lose her mind. “Tell me where you got the gunshot wound.” Her tone was doctor-like, demanding an answer.
“There was some kind of shootout a few streets over from where you found me. It was a stray bullet.”
Her eyes narrowed. “What were you doing down here, anyway? No offense, Commander, but you don’t exactly fit the look of the majority of people that come down here.”
“Would you please not call me Commander? If you won’t call me Scott, call me Harrier. But for the love of God, Alexis, we aren’t on any military installation anymore. Don’t call me Commander.”
“It’s easier for me to call you Commander, but I will try to call you Scott for the time being.” At his gesture, she took a seat across from him at the table. “What are you doing here? I’m not going to believe you have family down here.” She raised a brow quizzically.
The one that I am here to see will be family soon. “I needed to see you.” His blatant statement made her eyes grow wide.
Insides trembling, she didn’t want to ask the question that slipped out of her mouth. “Why?”
He sent her a look like ‘you can’t be serious’. “Because since I met you in Norfolk, I can think of nothing but you. Jesus, Alexis, I know this will sound corny but you have bewitched me. Totally.”
It was a good thing she was sitting down, because her knees were shaking like there was an earthquake rumbling beneath them. “We can’t do this,” came her inevitable protest.
“Don’t give me that whole code of behavior or modus operandi shit, Alexis. Where is the nearest military base from here?” At her silence he continued, “See, there is no reason for that to be an issue. You do realize that, although it is frowned upon, people do fraternize in the Navy.”
“It may not be a problem for you, being a commissioned officer, but for us non-coms it is. I am not willing to risk my career for a roll in the sack with you, no matter how much I want to, only to have you need to put me somewhere where I won’t be able to ruin your career, or to please your ‘trophy’ wife. I worked my ass off in Harvard and I love serving in the Navy, so no matter how tempting it may be.” Her eyes roved over the exposed part of his body as her voice deepened with desire, “And it is tempting, but not worth my career.” Sure it would be, to be loved all over by that man. Hell, yeah!
His tall body rose gracefully out of the chair and lifted her boldly out of hers, cradling her in his steel-lined arms. He walked to the countertop and set her down, wedging his body between her spread thighs. “I would never,” he stated as his hands found the hem of her shirt and moved under it, searching for the skin he knew would be smooth as silk. “Never do anything like that to you. I’m not looking for a roll in the hay with you, my little healer. I was thinking something much more permanent than that.”
“What do you want from me?” she gasped as his large hands moved up her sides over the lace of her bra.
“I want everything from you.” He took a deep breath and moved his hands down out of her shirt and placed them on her sides. “Everything.” Then he stepped back and allowed her to jump down from the counter.
“So you took a chance in coming down here, to maybe run into me and what, try out sex with the HMC?” She narrowed her eyes at him. “For that matter, how did you know where to find me?”
He moved towards her again, “I’m a SEAL. That’s what I do. And I know you are on leave for the next twenty days.” His eyes looked at her directly, “Just like you know all about my file.”
God, everything about him made her tremble. “I don’t know anything about you, Commander.” She was using his title as a barrier.
He knew it. “Don’t start with that shit again, Alexis,” his warning came.
“I have things to do.” The fiery woman stomped off to the living room where she began to clean it up and get it ready for the evening.
Scott followed her. He leaned in the doorway and watched as she moved around her living room picking up things and fluffing pillows. “What were you doing over there last night?” His question startled her.
“If you must know, I was on a date.” She never missed a beat with her cleaning.
“With who?” Those two words were growled with such animosity she stopped and looked at the man who uttered them. His eyes were shards of ice and there was a very pronounced tick in his jaw.
“That is none of your business.” He’s jealous, Alexis told herself with one hand on her hip.
The hell it isn’t. “Believe what you will, but you’re wrong. It is my business. Everything about you is my business.”
“So says you,” she muttered.
“At least you are beginning to see it my way,” came his smart-ass remark. His hard body plunked itself down on the couch that she had just finished straightening as if it had every right to.
Throwing the pillow she held in her hand at him, she just sat down in a leather chair and watched as he snatched it out of the air, nice and easy-like. “So tell me what you are doing here, in my neck of the woods?”
“I told you, I came to see you.”
“Well, you have seen me.”
Not as much of you as I want to. “Take a vacation with me,” he blurted out.
“Come on, take a vacation with me. I have some down time, at least a week. We could take a cruise,” he grimaced. “Sorry, I forget you are on the water all the time. A rail ride, spend a few days with me. Get to know me, inside and out.”
There’s a loaded statement. “I am on vacation.”
“Is this really the vacation you want? Or would you rather spend time with me? I will do whatever you want, anoint you with baby oil, rub you down anytime you want. We can go to movies, whatever. Spend about a week with me, have room service, let me take care of you.”
This has to be a dream, because there wouldn’t be a cold chance in hell that Lt. Commander would want to spend a vacation with her. “I get it, this is another dream. Very funny, Lex, come on wake up. Keep this up and before long you are going to be naked with this man of your every fantasy and erotic dream. Commander Leighton. And then, as usual, we will wake up before we actually get to what I have wanted since I was almost run over by his fine-ass body,” She mumbled as she got up off the chair and walked back to her bedroom, rubbing her head totally ignorant of the wide grin on the very real and now very knowledgeable Commander Leighton about her fantasies in which he was the star player.
11 May 2008
06 May 2008
Six months later…
The bullet wound in his side seemed to be getting worse. What did you expect Scott, that it would feel better? He stumbled down the darkened street knowing that he had just as much chance of dying from the bullet as he did from the people whose neighborhood he was in. He was not of the right persuasion to be down here, but he didn’t care.
The sudden lights blinded him and he stumbled to a halt, holding his hand in front of his eyes. As he lowered his hand he found himself surrounded by a group of younger men of a variety of races who didn’t look at all happy to see him. He saw their weapons, shoved into the waistbands of their pants and his body; although extremely fatigued, he went into battle mode.
“Well, well, well. What have we here?” one of the men asked his friends.
“I think you took the wrong street, man,” another said as a third shoved the intruder to the ground.
Scott showed no emotion as he was forced to the pavement. Maybe they just want to scare me, he told himself. The second he felt a kick in his side he knew he had been wrong. He was about to get beaten up by a gang. His body reacted violently as the next person kicked him.
Reaching out, he grabbed the leg and twisted it, tossing the man off balance. As that man hit the ground, the others began to swarm over him. The loss of blood slowed Scott down considerably. The men were high and felt no pain, whereas he did. He was holding his own until he felt a hit into the back of his head and he dropped like a light, losing what little ground he had gained.
What are they up to now? Alexis hurried towards the group of guys that seemed to be kicking or at least prodding something. Last week she had found them beating a helpless puppy in a bag, this was getting old. “Hey!” she shouted, getting their attention. “Back off,” she ordered. Her hair bounced in time with her steps; she had just left the corner bar from her date and wasn’t in the mood for Jay and his gang. They knew better.
The ringleader looked up and rolled his eyes. “Lex, go home,” he yelled back as her steps brought her closer. “It ain’t got nuttin’ to do with you.”
She ignored him and shoved her way through only to stop and gasp. The form on the ground was a man. “What the hell are you doing?” Instantly, she placed herself over the man and began to check him for injuries, each one she found making her angrier. The Caucasian male was either unconscious or very close to it. Checking for a pulse, she breathed a bit easier when she found it, faint but steady. Her body trembled as she touched him.
“Leave him alone, he shouldn’t be down here. And we found him like this” the oldest boy protested.
Rising to her full height, she glared back at him, totally unintimidated. “What the hell do you think you were doing? The puppy was bad enough but damn it, Jay, this is a man.”
“He was trespassing. We were just looking to see if he were dead. We didn’t beat him up.”
Trespassing? The man on the ground moaned. “I suppose he got these injuries by himself? Get out of here,” she hissed as she knelt back down beside him. “Easy now.” Her voice dropped into her soothing bedside manner voice.
“Alexis?” The voice reached her causing her to panic.
No, it couldn’t be. Not here. Carefully, she rolled the man over so she could see his face. Oh, dear Lord. It was. “Commander?” She asked softly.
“You know him?” Jay asked.
“Get over here, Jay, you and the rest of your friends who seem to think I am not serious. Pick him up and take him to my car.” She stood quickly. “Hang in there, Commander.” Her eyes snapped with impatience. “Now! Damnit, move!”
The five remaining men struggled to carry him to her sport utility vehicle, before they climbed in at her glare and carried him into Alexis’ house. A small three-bedroom rambler. She led the way to her spare room and told them to put him down.
“Where do you know Casper from, Lex?” Jay asked her.
“He is a Commander in the US Navy and a SEAL so if you guys weren’t getting the shit kicked out of you then he has another injury somewhere.” Her eyes took in the man lying there. He still looked so good.
“Alexis?” The slur came again.
“I’m here, Commander. Right here.” Instantly she was beside him, touching his face. “I have to check you out. Can you tell me where you are injured?”
Those eyes opened and settled on her face. A quirky smile tugged at the side of his mouth. “Still so beautiful, I like your hair down. I have a gunshot wound in the side.” He looked around the room at the men. “Is it safe here?”
Jay stepped forward, “We’ll be the ones asking questions, Casper. Where did you get shot at?”
Alexis waved him away, her insides trembling at his words. “You’re fine. You are at my house.”
“They helped bring you here. Close your eyes, Commander,” she ordered as she moved towards her doctor’s bag. “I have to get you stabilized and to a hospital.”
“No!” He grabbed her arm, sending shivers through them both. “No hospital.”
She removed his hand carefully, ignoring his comment, and got her bag. “Quiet. Conserve your energy.” He had fallen unconscious.
“You gonna call the police, Lex?” Jay asked as he watched her skillfully remove his shirt to expose the gunshot wound. It sat about an inch lower than the scar made from when she had sewn him up on the Endeavor the last time they met.
“You better pray I don’t. You boys would be in serious trouble, attacking a man just because. Don’t tell me you are trying to join that damn gang.”
Jay turned away from the man’s scarred body. There were dark bruises forming from where he and his boys had kicked him. “I swear we didn’t shoot him, Lex.”
“Quiet, Jay, let me concentrate.” There was silence in the room as her now-clean fingers probed into the wound, until she stuck in some clamps and pulled out the bullet. Correction, bullets. There were two inside his flesh. Holding the second one up, she frowned, “Hmmm. It’s a .38. Interesting.” She dropped it into the metal dish, the loud clang grabbing the attention of the boys who were in the room.
Her arresting gaze took in each and every one of the young men in her room. “Think about the choices you make, 'cause I don’t want to be doing this to you one day.” Her lean hand reached out and shook the container holding the bullets. “Now, go on, get some sleep.”
“It started to rain, guys…it’s gonna be a wet night.” Jay told his crew.
“Guys,” Lex interrupted. “I meant go crash in the living room. You know you are welcome to stay here. Just make sure you don’t disturb him.” Five young men smiled at her as they went to grab their usual sleeping gear from her hall closet to make up their beds.
The whispering grew louder. He opened his eyes and found two men in the room with him. They were going through the closet. His body tried to react but he felt almost paralyzed.
“He’s awake, go get Lex,” one of the guys said. The other one disappeared out the door. Dark, distrustful eyes fell onto the man lying on the bed.
Scott didn’t move, just stared back. Movement at the door caught his attention. It was Alexis. She wore a cream-colored short-sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans that should have been declared illegal, they fit her so tight. Even hurt and feeling like this his body reacted to her.
“Morning, Commander, I see you made it through the night.” Her eyes flashed with humor.
“You didn’t take me to a hospital,” he stated the obvious.
“Nope, you didn’t want me to and so, against my better judgment…I treated you here.” She moved to the bed and the deep breath he took was filled with her scent. Her hands were professional and steady as she checked the wound. “Gonna tell me how you got this, Commander?”
“Thank you,” he murmured as his hand reached for hers. She froze at his touch.
Dear God, how can he turn me into such a quivering mass of Jell-o with something as simple as a touch? “For what?”
It was as if there were no one else in the room with them, the tension grew so thick. “About that wound, Commander,” she insisted removing her hand from his. Her gaze was direct.
“We aren’t on the ship, Alexis; you can call me Scott,” he said.
“I’m afraid that doesn’t change who we are or protocol, Sir.”
With an energy he didn’t know he had, Scott sat up in the bed, oblivious to the fact that he had no shirt on. His face got right into Alexis’. “That is where you are wrong. It changes everything.” He dropped his voice even more, “Not that it would matter. I’m a SEAL, Alexis, and I do things my way.” And I want you, regulations be damned.
God, if it were only that simple. “Well, I’m not a SEAL, I’m a doctor and it would affect my career.” Her words were level and direct.
Nose to nose, they faced off, neither backing down. “Do you really think I would do something to hurt your career?” His hand cupped the side of her face. “I feel how you react to my touch Alexis, and my body reacts the same way to you.”
She swallowed hard. His touch was sinful. “I don’t know you, except that you are an officer…a superior officer…and it is against regulations to have that kind of relationship with you.”
He clucked his disapproval. “We aren’t serving in the same place. We are both consenting adults and therefore there is no coercion on either part.”
“What makes you think that?” She barely breathed the question.
“I have known that since the first day we met.” His fingers moved again, sending those impulses back down her body. “And each time after that. It was only a matter of time.” His voice just as low as hers, so although they were observed by the group of young men, their conversation was unheard.
“You seem mighty sure of yourself, Commander.” She wasn’t about to give in and call him by his first name. That would be admitting he was right. And she was firmly aware of his naked chest.
He nodded slightly. “I am. Just like I know you are dying to say my name, to hear it rolling off your tongue, just like I am. I am very arrogant. I know that and so do you, but you love it.” His thumb moved over her lower lip. “You loved how I kissed you standing at the fantail on the Endeavor.”
Like I needed that reminder, she thought ruefully. She whimpered, helpless to move out of his touch. Her entire body ached to be touched by his callused fingers.
“Don’t worry. I will wait to hear you scream my name. That will be as I am sliding my thick, hard length deep inside your body.” As potent as liqueur, his voice poured over her. “Alexis, when we make love it will be like nothing either of us has ever experienced. I can’t wait much longer.” He dropped his hand as he slumped back on the bed, exhausted. His eyes twinkled as he licked his firm lips, “Nice to know you want me.” That blue gaze fell to her chest and she knew he could see her hardened nipples through the shirt.
A loud pounding on her screen door jolted her attention back to earth, where making love to him was once again just an erotic fantasy, not almost a reality. “Excuse me, Commander.” She rose off the bed and walked past the boys who were standing there, watching the whole interaction avidly.
“You can run, my little healer, but be forewarned: there is no place for you to hide.” His words followed her out of the room and up the hall to where she looked out the door and found the police.
“Can I help you, Officers?” she asked, taking in the two who stood there on the other side of her screen door.
“We are looking for a man who was last seen in this area,” the larger of the two cops said.
“Sorry, Officer, you are going to need to be a bit more specific than that. There are a lot of men around here.”
His eyes narrowed at her quick retort, but he continued. “He may be injured.”
Years of keeping a bland expression on her face came in handy now as she merely said, “And?”
“Can we come in?” the other cop asked.
She shrugged and opened the door, inviting them in. “Can you give me a bit more information about this person you are looking for?”
“Well, he is reported to be tall, muscular, blond…” the officer trailed off as something caught his eye. Alexis followed his gaze and prayed for strength as she saw Scott enter the room chatting with the other boys like he belonged there. “And you are?” the officer asked, taking in the out-of-place white man in the house.
Alexis watched as his broad-shouldered body filled her living room. He wore his shirt which she had washed and had sewn up the tear in last night so it was hidden from the officers’ view. His body looked poured into his jeans and tennis shoes were on his feet. In no way did he look like the man from whom she had removed two bullets last night. His blue eyes immediately moved to her as if assessing that she was okay. Touched by his concern, she nodded slightly.