December 15, 2010
Erotic Contemporary Romance
Into his life she came—wanting…willing…wanton
It’s no ordinary morning when Toni Starr arrives at Zach’s garage. Flat broke, with a past she won’t share, Toni’s instantly taken by such a potently virile man. Direct and unashamed, she tells him she’s a motorcycle performance artist who needs work and knows motors.
Zach knows women, and Toni’s unlike any he’s met. Lushly sensuous, exceedingly assured, she’d easily be his match in business and bed. A provocative challenge that stirs him as nothing has since losing his wife. A chance he’s reluctant to take, offering no more than a month’s employment, then she’ll have to be on her way.
The hours tick by. Each word and glance intensifies their denied yet escalating desire, forcing them to surrender to passion and Toni’s need for Zach’s dominance. Driven by carnal hunger, conquered by yearning, they face the unforeseen truth of Toni’s past and a future neither of them expected.
Surrendering to a yawn, Zach Brody reached for his bottled water. His fingers connected with the chilled, damp plastic only to pause, not bringing it closer as a gentle breeze wafted in. On it, he caught an unexpected fragrance, a decadent mixture of leather and lavender. Bold yet gentle. Hard yet soft.
Before he could look up, a shadow fell across the metal cabinet and today’s work orders. Head lifting, he glanced over and saw the source of the sudden shade…a woman silhouetted by the outside light. It skimmed the ends of her hair, cut in what appeared to be a layered style, the color so black there were faint blue highlights. With her features hidden by the glare from behind, Zach dipped his gaze lower, taking in her full length, noting she was tall and curvy with long legs.
Heat rushed from his chest to his groin. Involuntarily, his cock stirred, proving what he already knew. Although his heart had been immune for nearly two years to the complications of love, the possibility of loss , his body continued to lust.
The muscles in his torso tightened. Every bit of moisture in his mouth dried up. Unable to stop himself, he studied the curve of her hips and sleek thighs.
She shifted her weight, lowering something to the concrete floor.
Zach looked to see what it was.
She asked, “Are you the owner?”
His gaze jumped up. New warmth arrowed down to his cock, making it even stiffer, tightening his balls. Seductive didn’t begin to describe her smoky voice. The deep, throaty pitch reminded him of how a woman sounds after she’s been sated by sex—a long, hard, satisfying fuck on a blistering summer afternoon.
Awaiting his answer, she adjusted her weight, moving slightly to the left.
Zach squinted at the sun hitting him full in the eyes. Head turned, he pushed away from the cabinet, pausing at the pain and stiffness in his left leg. Gritting his teeth, he gave his limb a moment to relax before stepping to the side, his gaze returning to her. Journeying over her.
His pulse quickened at her snug leather pants and jacket, both garments supple and black, the outfit covering her from toes to throat, surprising him. Although it wasn’t yet eight o’clock, late spring mornings in this part of Arizona heated up fast. From a cool sixty degrees at sunrise, the temps had already reached the mid-seventies. Hadn’t she noticed?
Zach regarded her biker boots, the helmet hanging from her left hand and the fringed saddlebag she’d lowered to the floor. Irresistibly drawn back to her, he noticed how the leather molded itself to her full, ripe breasts.
They moved slightly as she inhaled.
It reminded him to breathe. Pulling his gaze from her chest, he got his first good look at her face.
Something inside him shifted, heightening his senses, his awareness of colors, textures. Her pale skin had a dewy quality only youth could provide, telling him she couldn’t be more than mid-twenties. Her blue-green eyes were amazing. There simply wasn’t another word to fit such an unusual shade. Coupled with her raven hair and all the leather she wore, he couldn’t stop staring. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen or even conventionally pretty.
Rather, she was decidedly interesting and effortlessly sensual without seeming to realize it. Her full lips, a pale pink and absent of lipstick, seemed to beg for a kiss. Her gaze—direct, yet oddly vulnerable—had surely made any number of men do whatever she’d proposed.
Zach ran his tongue around the inside of his mouth, hoping to moisten it. He watched a bead of perspiration slide from her temple to her downy cheek. A strand of damp hair stuck to it.
Eye lifting, he caught her sneaking a glance at the water he’d left on the cabinet.
Grabbing the bottle, he twisted off the cap and offered her the beverage along with an answer to what she’d asked, a question he just recalled. “Yeah, I’m the owner. Zach Brody.”
Her attention flicked from the bottle to him and back. “Thanks.” She took the water, her fingertips touching his.
Currents of sensation stole his breath, stalling his next comment. Releasing the bottle, he glanced to the left, scanning the street for her bike. That had to be why she’d stopped here, to get it repaired. Of course, that didn’t begin to explain why she’d dressed as she had when she was obviously baking in the soaring heat.
Zach focused on her saddlebag, then her kick-ass boots. After a momentary struggle, he surrendered and allowed himself another glance at her face.
Eyes closed, head tilted back, she enjoyed long gulps of the chilled water. With each swallow, her slender throat bobbed. He saw a faint blue vein on the right side of her neck and had an insane urge to touch it.
Hands at his side, he resisted.
She stopped drinking, the lip of the bottle still to her mouth. A small whimper of delight escaped her.
Zach told himself to get her another bottle.
Not moving, he watched a wayward breeze stirring the ends of her hair. Past the opened bay doors, the town began to come alive. A pickup or car’s tires hummed down the street. The door of a vehicle made a brief smacking sound as someone closed it. Faint voices drifted from the direction of Hector and Em’s diner.
In here, the radio played a LeAnn Rimes tune. Her clear, powerful voice swept across the work area as she sang about living without her man.
The young woman upended the bottle and finished the last of the liquid. Eyes still closed, she brought the container down, pressing it to her forehead, her cheek, her throat, moaning softly at its cool bite.
Zach’s heart beat out of time. To regulate the damned thing, he inhaled as deeply as he could. Didn’t help. With his gaze still on her, he backed up to the fridge and pulled out another bottle.
Her lids fluttered, opening to pleasured slits. She watched his approach, her tongue snaking out of her mouth, the dark pink edge gliding over her plump bottom lip.
Stopping well short of her, conscious of his sprinting pulse, Zach put out his hand for the empty bottle.
She delivered it with a smile.
As if it had a mind of its own, the corners of his mouth tilted upward, betraying his approval. His hand closed around hers, his touch lingering, imprisoning her slender fingers as his gaze shifted back to her eyes.
She studied him without self-consciousness or guile, the same as he studied her. A rush of something passed between them, inviting him closer.
Zach locked his knees, remaining where he stood, surprised at his reaction. Since losing Meg, he hadn’t—or rather his mind hadn’t—responded this strongly to any woman and certainly not a customer.
Warning himself to cool it, he took the empty bottle from her and offered the new one.
She regarded his hand that no longer touched her. Several emotions passed over her face—what seemed to be disappointment, embarrassment, resignation—almost too swift to catch.
Releasing a sigh, she murmured, “Thanks.”
He heard sudden hesitation in her voice and nodded, experiencing his own. He waited until she’d enjoyed a fourth of this water before he asked, “What’s wrong with your bike?”
Finishing her swallow, holding the bottle to her cheek, she inhaled deeply. Her lids slipped down. “My bike?”
“Your cycle,” he amended.
Chin lifted to the ceiling, she exposed her neck so she could roll the water bottle over it. A position leaving her throat vulnerable to a man’s mouth, his lips pressed to her moist flesh.
At his crazy thoughts, Zach’s skin flushed. He cleared his throat. His muscles were so tight, his voice still rasped. “Whatever you drove to get here.”
She lifted the bottle to her temple and shook her head gently.
Mystified, he asked, “You did drive here, right?”
“No.” She finished another long sip, using the back of her hand to wipe off her mouth. Beads of water clung tenaciously to the corners.
Zach pulled his attention from them to her eyes, still amazed at their color. In a distracted voice, he asked, “So how’d you get here?”
“I hitched a ride.” She rested the bottle on her left wrist. Her black helmet swung back and forth like a pendulum. “And then I walked.”
Without thinking, he glanced at her biker boots and the bottom of her leather pants, finally noticing the dark brown dust on them. She’d walked? “From where?”
“The next town over. I don’t recall its name.”
The only town in the vicinity happened to be several miles north and not connected to this one by a local road. The sole way to get to it by car was over the interstate. On foot, as the crow flies, one had to hike through a wash bordered by chaparral thick with cottonwood trees, junipers, snakes, scorpions and lizards. Which she’d obviously done.
So what was she doing here, thirsty and no doubt tired from her trek?
Glancing up, he caught her licking the right side of her mouth. The movement caused a droplet on the left to slide down her chin. Sparkling in the sun, the water hung on for a moment before falling to her jacket near her right breast.
With concentrated effort, Zach directed his attention back to her eyes. He forced his voice to sound far more casual than his body wanted to allow. “And you’re here in my garage because?”
“I’m flat broke. I have nowhere else to go. I need a job.”