He began to roll up his shirtsleeves to keep his hands busy. Better to tear his clothes than hers. That skinny little nothing of a dress she was wearing was so amazingly perfect on her. He didn’t want to ruin it, but he didn’t want her wearing it with any other man either, and how could he justify that backward reasoning?

She couldn’t hold his stare long. She focused on his chin and said, “I know I put you on the spot. It’s just that this is the first time I’ve ever tried to … you know … and I’m apparently causing you extreme anxiety. I’m just not any good at it. I realize my mistake. I just didn’t put enough thought into it.”


“Into what?”

He couldn’t be that dense. No one could. Was he deliberately toying with her?

“Into what?” he repeated when she didn’t answer.

Seducing you, you idiot. That’s what she wanted to say. She didn’t, though. Some inhibitions were just too firmly entrenched to get past. Besides, Alec was right. It would become messy, and she had the feeling she’d be the one all messed up when he left.

“You’re right,” she said. “Becoming involved, even for one night, would make things … awkward.”

He didn’t look relieved. She edged around him, flipped off her heels, and continued on to the French doors. Alec had left one open when he’d checked the bedroom. She pushed the other door back and then turned around to tell him good night.

He stared at the king-sized bed for a long minute. He felt a tightness gathering in his chest, and his mouth was suddenly dry. Every possible fantasy about her bombarded him. Hell, it was already messy.

And he wasn’t going anywhere.

Chapter Thirty-five

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FROM THE MOMENT ALEC HAD BUMPED INTO HER ON THE STREET and heard that wonderful laugh, he had become hers for the taking. He never had a chance. He understood that now. No reason to keep fighting the attraction, he decided as he pulled away from the door. He made sure everything was locked up tight, then reached over and turned the lamp off.

He was unbuttoning his shirt as he headed toward her. Light from the lamp on the bedside table spilled across her shoulders. Her skin was golden, and she was, without a doubt, absolutely breathtaking.

And nervous as hell. Her eyes were huge, but she didn’t look away. She took a step toward him and then stopped. His gaze swept down her body. He noticed her hands were clenched at her sides, and her toes were curled into the carpet as she watched him come toward her.

“Just remember,” he whispered gruffly as he reached her. “You started this.”

He pulled her close, kissed her forehead, and then let go. Regan knew he was giving her yet another chance to change her mind, one last chance perhaps to tell him to leave.

Like that was gonna happen.

Alec held his breath while he waited for her to make up her mind. She put her arms around his neck and smiled up at him with that tantalizing dimple just above the corner of her mouth. Nope, he never had a chance.

“Just you remember,” she said, “that I started this.”

She kissed his chin, then moved lower and kissed the pulse beating rapidly at the base of his neck. He must have liked what she was doing because he pulled her tight against him, and so she did it again.

And then he took over. He tilted her head back with a kiss that didn’t leave any doubt how much he wanted her. He lifted her off the ground as he ravaged her mouth.

They were suddenly frantic to get their clothes off. His hands shook as he reached for the zipper at the back of her dress. It was awkward because he couldn’t stop kissing her long enough to pay attention to what he was doing, and she was trying to remove his shirt at the same time.

She’d gotten a couple of his buttons undone, and was tugging his shirt from his waistband when she accidentally touched his gun and holster. She reacted as though she’d just touched fire. Flinching, she jerked back, but Alec was still quicker. He had her hand flat against his chest before she could pull away from him.

“Could you …” she whispered. She was trying to ask him to remove the gun but couldn’t get the words out. He was distracting her by nibbling on her earlobe. “… get rid of …”

“It’s okay,” he answered.

She sighed. Her heart was racing, and she was trying to catch her breath. Kissing had never caused such a reaction before. Granted, she hadn’t kissed all that many men, but enough to know that kissing Alec was completely different. Maybe because she was already emotionally invested. Everything about him aroused her. She needed to slow down so that she could savor every single minute of this night with him, but at the same time, she wanted him to hurry up and take his clothes off.

He made her step back so he could pull his shirt over his head. His chest was all muscle, swirling dark hair, and bronzed skin.

He was beautiful. He pulled her back into his arms, and she felt his hot skin against hers. It wasn’t enough. She wrapped her hands around his neck and tugged on his hair to get him to kiss her again.

The kiss was hot and wet. She felt like she was melting against him.

He removed his gun and holster, and backing her to the side of the bed, he put the weapon on her nightstand and then forced himself to stop kissing her long enough to get her clothes off.

That was the goal anyway, but the dress wasn’t cooperating. The zipper got stuck and wouldn’t budge, no matter how much he tugged on it. He thought maybe he’d jammed it. He clenched his jaw and tried again. He was usually a hell of a lot smoother undressing women, but tonight was different because he was with Regan. He had never felt this kind of desperation before. He wanted to wrap her in his arms and never let go.

He tried to concentrate on the task at hand, but she was making it difficult. She was kissing his neck again and stroking his back. It felt so good he didn’t want her to stop.

“Turn around,” he whispered as he pulled her hands away and forced her to do as he’d asked. Then he tried again to get her dress unzipped.

She tried to help, but her hands just got in his way. “How much do you like this dress? The thing … it’s stuck.”

“The thing?”

“The zipper.” He was smiling now because she sounded as rattled as he did.

“I hate this dress,” she blurted out.

She sure looked hot in it, but if he had to, he was going to tear it to shreds to get to her. The zipper finally gave and slid down … all the way to the base of her spine.

She wasn’t wearing a bra. He noticed that right away. Then he noticed how flawless her back was. He slowly trailed his fingers down the opening until he reached a tiny wisp of black lace.

He didn’t know which turned him on more. Her indrawn breath when he’d touched her or seeing that little bit of lace.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispered.

Regan reached up to pull the straps over her arms but suddenly froze when his hands slid inside her dress and began to caress her skin.

His hands slowly circled her. She started to turn in his arms, but he wouldn’t let her, and when at last he touched her breasts, she made a tiny gasp in the back of her throat and fell back against him. Trembling with desire, she didn’t know how much of this exquisite torture she would withstand without coming apart.

Her response drove Alec crazy. His head dropped down to the side of her neck, and his breathing became harsh. He managed to let go of her long enough to get undressed. Her dress fell to the floor, and she gracefully stepped out of it and reached for the covers. She pulled them back and then began to pull the clips from her hair. Alec’s shoes and socks went flying in one direction and her clips in another.

He knew it was only a matter of minutes before he lost all control. He wanted her ready before he did that.

“We’ve got to slow down.”

He meant what he said, but then she turned around and those perfect br**sts rubbed against his chest. Slowing down didn’t seem all that important any longer.

They fell together onto the bed. He cradled her in his arms as he rolled her onto her back and nudged her thighs apart with his knee. He braced his weight so he wouldn’t crush her. Then he growled low in his throat with sheer male satisfaction because one of his fantasies about her was finally coming true. He had her right where he wanted her.

She looked disheveled and thoroughly aroused. Her hair was spread on the pillow, framing her flushed face; her eyes were dark with passion, and her lips were swollen from his kisses. He knew it was a primitive, barbaric response on his part, but he was still arrogantly pleased that he had put his mark on her. He’d never felt this way about any other woman. What was next? he wondered. Would he start dragging a club and carrying her over his shoulder? Would he start shouting like Tarzan?

He shook his head when she tried to pull him down to kiss her. He rolled to his side and took his time looking at her perfect body.

“I’ve been thinking about this a long time.” He slowly trailed his fingertips down her neck, then lower to the valley between her breasts, smiling over the goose bumps he left behind. She tried to grab his hand when he reached her navel. He wouldn’t be stopped, though.

And he wouldn’t be rushed. Ever so slowly he removed her lace panties, taking his time, savoring every inch of golden skin he touched.

She battled her shyness, but she didn’t cover herself. She watched his face as he stroked her. His jaw was clenched tight, and sweat had broken out on his forehead. He seemed to be on the verge of losing his control.

But then so was she. Her legs moved restlessly against him. He was tormenting her, making her crazed because he wouldn’t let her touch him. His hand moved between her thighs. She almost came off the bed then. His touch was magical and demanding.

She couldn’t remain passive any longer. She pulled her hand away from his and reached up to stroke the side of his face. Her fingers slowly traced his mouth, then moved lower to caress his neck and shoulders. His body was absolutely perfect. His skin was hot, and she could feel the power of those hard muscles in his upper arms. The crisp dark hair on his chest tickled her fingertips.

She took her time, for she was determined to drive him out of his mind, but he kept distracting her. He was stroking her br**sts as he nibbled her neck.

She closed her eyes, arched her neck back, and then trailed her fingers down his stomach. The muscles in his abdomen flexed in response, and he growled low in his throat.

She knew her touch pleased him, but she wanted more. Ever so slowly her fingertips circled his navel and then moved lower. Her hand slid down between his thighs. His deep indrawn breath told her how much he liked what she was doing to him.

She became more demanding. She wrapped her hand around him … and sent him right over the edge. He grabbed her hand, rolled on top of her, and kissed her passionately. His tongue rubbed against hers as his hands caressed her. He moved lower, and when he began to kiss her breasts, she arched up against him and let out a ragged sigh. He told her he was going to kiss every inch of her body, and then he set about proving it. He tickled her navel with his tongue, then moved lower still until he was touching the very heat of her.

The pleasure was exquisite, consuming. Her nails dug into his shoulder blades and she cried out.

Alec’s control was in tatters now, and he was desperate to be inside her.

“Alec …”

“It’s okay. I just need to protect you.”

He reached down and grabbed his trousers. Regan rolled on top of him and was fervently kissing his shoulders while he fumbled in the back pocket for his wallet. He found what he was searching for and gently rolled back until she scooted off him.

When he was ready, he grabbed her hands, stretched her arms high above her head, and held her there. And then he once again began to make love to her with his mouth, his tongue, and his fingers.

The first tremors of ecstasy caught her unaware. It should have ended there, but it didn’t. The pleasure was gathering, building, so intense she almost couldn’t bear it. Terrified of what was happening, she struggled to stop it.

“It’s okay,” he whispered as he continued to stroke her. “Just hold me and let it happen. It’s okay, Regan.” He moved between her thighs, and with one swift plunge, he was inside her, deep inside. He squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his jaw tight for the pleasure was almost too much to bear. She cried out and arched up against him, then drew her knees up and wrapped her legs around him.

His control snapped. She felt so wonderful he couldn’t make himself slow the pace. Her passion more than equaled his, and her response to his touch was wild, uninhibited.

She lifted her h*ps to meet each hard thrust, and when at last he cl**axed inside her, she was there with him, screaming his name as she came apart.

She thought she just might die from the sheer ecstasy shimmering through her. Alec collapsed on top of her and buried his head in the crook of her neck. It took him several minutes to calm his labored breathing.

It had never been this good, no, not good, perfect before. She had overwhelmed him, and he was staggered by his need for her.

He slowly regained enough strength to move. He lifted up and looked into her eyes. “You okay?” His voice was no more than a raspy whisper.

She was still reeling from what had just happened. She’d read about it. She’d heard about it, but until tonight, she had never experienced it.

Amazing, she thought. Simply amazing. And beautiful. There weren’t enough words to describe what had happened to her. She still felt a warm glow all over. Could he feel her heart pounding against his? Did he have any idea what he had done to her? Had he experienced the same splendor? Or was it different for a man? The wonder of their lovemaking stunned her, and she couldn’t stop trembling.


“Yes, I’m okay.” That had to be a gross understatement.

He kissed her once hard then rolled away from her and went into the bathroom.

His abrupt departure startled her. She didn’t want him to leave, not just yet anyway. She wanted him to hold her in his arms and whisper all the romantic words she longed to hear.

She could feel the tears gathering in her eyes. Oh, God, not now. Don’t let me cry now. She took a deep breath, groaned, and then pulled the sheet up and rolled onto her stomach. His scent was on the pillow. She had the urge to pick up that pillow and bury her head under it. She couldn’t believe how vulnerable and self-conscious she was feeling. What was the matter with her? She had started this. What had she expected? For him to drop down on his knees and tell her how much he loved her? That was the stuff of fairy tales.

A tear spilled out on her cheek. She impatiently wiped it away. Tonight was driven by lust, not love … for him, anyway. She groaned again. She wasn’t going to regret tonight. Her heart was too fragile to ever let it happen again, but she wouldn’t be sorry.

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