Advertising executive extraordinaire, Prada shopaholic, and all-around tough-as-steel LA Mia Appleby could put a good spin on anything, but waking up in the bed of a man when she’d only meant to admire his motorcycle wasn’t one of those things.
Apparently, you could take the girl out of the trailer park, but you couldn’t take the trailer park out of the girl. She hated that, but she’d long ago accepted it—in her avid appreciation of the male species, she was her mother’s daughter.
Never a dip-her-head-in-the-sand type of woman, she faced the music. She opened her eyes, took in the pale pink June dawn streaking across the skylight above her, and blinked, which turned into an involuntary squeak of surprise when the view was suddenly hampered by a head.
A male head.
A gorgeously rumpled male head with sleepy, heavy-lidded light caramel eyes and a slow smile that had all sorts of wicked, naughty trouble in it.
God, she was a sucker for wicked, and with that bad-boy motorcycle of his and those let-me-do-you eyes, this man so fit the bill.
“Hey,” he said in a rough morning voice that went with the dark stubbled jaw and bed hair as he slid his body over hers, pinning her to the mattress with his warm, hard torso and mile-long legs, which spread hers.
In spite of herself, her body tightened. No doubt, he was stop-the-presses hot. He had a body for sinning, of which they’d done plenty last night.
He’d moved into the neighborhood two days ago. His first night in town she’d welcomed him with a plate of cookies. The next night they’d pulled onto their street at the same time, she in her car, he on his motorcycle.
Wearing battered jeans and boots and a leather jacket.
Looking extremely tall and leanly muscled and full of mischief.
Check, check, check!
Instead of more cookies, she’d offered him a drink, which they’d shared at his place.
And then, because she’d had a shitty day, because she’d been feeling down and weak with it, because he’d looked as good as a long, tall drink of water, she’d given him a different welcome altogether: a horizontal one.
And it’d been spectacular.
Her job in advertising was high stress. Her life was high stress, and while she was very much on top of her universe, she occasionally felt the need to let go, to relax. Some people used Prozac. Mia didn’t. She used other feel-good tactics, such as a good man, for instance. And sure, occasionally that meant a wild bout of mutually satisfying sex. Why not? It was immediate gratification, she enjoyed variety, and there were no calories involved.
Sure, it might have been a bad decision on her part that this man was now a neighbor and therefore on her home turf, but she couldn’t resist. Besides, she’d intended to leave his bed before midnight, telling him that while he’d been fun, there’d be no repeats.
After all, she rarely repeated.
But then he’d kissed her again, and oh, God, was he good at that. And now he was looking at her, with that two-day growth on his lean jaw, with that bed-head hair that should have been so silly but she just wanted to sink her fingers into. Those melt-me eyes seemed to see right into her, a fact that rattled her enough that she pushed at his chest. “Move,” she said.
He smiled and dipped his head, taking a playful nibble out of her throat, a lovely, sexy little nibble that had her eyes rolling into the back of her head and little zaps of sexual energy zinging all her happy spots.
Of which, apparently, she had many. “Get up,” she repeated.
“I am up.” He sucked a patch of her skin into his mouth as he nudged his up part against her.
In spite of herself, she clutched at him, enjoying the feel of his hard body against hers, his rough jaw brushing her skin, the scent of him…
Focus, Mia. “Listen, big guy, I have to work—”
His hand stroked up her body and cupped a breast.
Her bones dissolved. “Stop that—”
His thumb rasped over her nipple. “Mmm. I love your body.”
And she loved the touch. Too much. Vaulting into action, she scrambled out from beneath him, rolling off the bed. When her feet hit the floor she whirled around, looking for her clothes, which had been wildly and carelessly scattered the night before. There was her tweed skirt on the floor, the matching top draped over a lamp. She stepped into the skirt, pulled on the top, slipped her feet into her heels. Her bra…where the hell was her bra?
“Here,” he said, and she whipped around to face him.
He’d rolled onto his back and scooted up against the headboard, one arm up and behind his head. Man, oh man, she could have just looked at him all day.
Except that he was twirling her lace Wonderbra around his fingers, watching her with an expression of vast amusement.
The blankets were long gone, tumbled to the floor. The sheet, pale blue against his tanned skin, pooled low on his hips, not quite covering his EMH.
She heard the words in Sugar’s soft Southern drawl and shoved them ruthlessly to the back of her mind. After years of hard work, none of Mia’s south showed, not an ounce of that trailer-trash upbringing. She’d made sure of it.
She snatched her bra from his fingers. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure.” His voice was still low and sleep-rough. From this close she could smell him, some uncomplicated mix of man and soap, but it was enough to have her nostrils quivering for more.
He shifted, and those six-pack abs she’d had so much fun touching last night rippled.
Oh, damn, he was something. If only the sheet wasn’t tented, if only he’d show a single sign of wanting her to get out, this would be so much easier. She folded her bra and slipped it into her skirt pocket as she looked for her panties.
He let out a slow smile. “You fold your underwear?”
Forget her panties. She walked to the door.
“Hey, it’s cute, that’s all. A little uptight, maybe. But cute.”
She reached for the handle.
“Ah, don’t go. Let me get you some breakfast.” He slid out of the bed and walked toward her in all his morning glory, and there was lots of glory.
“I don’t eat breakfast.”
“Everyone needs breakfast.” His every movement was fluid and easy. Uncalculatedly sexy. Watching her thoughtfully from his deep, direct eyes, he grabbed his jeans off the floor and slid them on.
Fascinated in spite of herself, she watched. He pulled the jeans up, winced slightly, and then didn’t fasten them, his wryly amused gaze meeting hers. The man was comfortable in his own skin, she’d give him that. As well he should be, because his skin, and everything beneath it, was damn fine.
She’d been with particularly fine men before, but she’d never experienced such a visceral spark. It felt different, too: close, a completely unexpected—and unwelcome—twist.
He was still watching her as he absently shoved his fingers through his short, rumpled hair. Scratched his chest.
“At least let me get you eggs, maybe some juice,” he said. “Protein and sugar all in one. Breakfast of champions.” He came close then, too close, lifting a hand, stroking a stray strand of hair from her face. “Last night…” He let out a low, rough laugh. “Pretty amazing, huh?”
Yeah, and so was he. “I’ve really got to go.”
He cocked his head. “I thought you said you were from here. Born in LA.”
She hadn’t said “born here.” She’d always been careful not to out-and-out lie. She’d said she belonged in LA. “Why?”
“Because I definitely heard a Southern drawl in that pretty voice of yours.” He smiled.
She did not, because, wow, she’d stayed waaaaay too long if he was picking that up. How many years ago had she squashed that accent, and all that went with it, far, far into her past? Simply buried it beneath her carefully planned layers of college, jobs, hard work, sheer tenacity, and pure will? She was no longer poor little “Apple,” a kid who had to settle, thank God, but a woman who had choices and a future that didn’t include living in a crowded, broken-down mobile home full of stacks of bills that couldn’t be paid. There’d been mistakes, too many to count, but she’d buried them and danced on their graves. She turned to the door.
Setting his hand on the wood above her head, he held the door closed. “Hey,” he said quietly, wrapping his fingers around her arm and turning her to face him. “You okay?”
Sure. Just as soon as she got out of here and away from this man who instead of giving her a few hours of mindless oblivion made her think, made her remember where she’d come from, and she hated that. “I’ve really got to go.”
Still looking at her, he slowly nodded. “I can see that. Mia…” He went to touch her again, another stroke of those fingers she knew now to be extremely talented, but this time she stepped back.
His expression as he studied her was bemused, and a little confused. As if maybe he’d never been walked away from before. And there in the swirling depths of those fathomless eyes was something else as well, something that she hadn’t expected.
Oh, no. No, no, no, no. This had to be squashed. Now. Like a bug. “Listen,” she said in her cool business voice, the one meant to send him scrambling away from her. “Last night was fun, we both got off, yadda yadda. But now it’s the light of day and I have work. And you have to…” Damn. She had no idea. “Do something, too, I’m sure. So let’s just both get on with it.”
He nodded, watching her thoughtfully. “And the next time we see each other, we’ll just forget it ever happened. Is that it?”
Right. Except there wouldn’t be a next time.
“I live here now,” he said. “On your street. We’re going to run into each other. What do you expect us to do, pretend we’ve never met?”
Hey, it was a long street.
“My God,” he said with a low laugh. “That’s exactly what you expect.”
“Look—” She racked her brain for his name. “Uh…”
He stared at her in disbelief. “You don’t remember my name?”
When she only winced at this, he let out a low oath, stalked away, then whipped back. “Kevin,” he said, no longer looking so laid-back or sleepy-eyed. “My name is Kevin.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not very good at this.”
“No, actually.” Sinking his fingers into his hair, making the short, dark, silky strands stick straight up, he shook his head. “You’re far better than you think.”
“I meant at leaving.”
“So did I.” He opened the bedroom door for her, turning sideways for her to get by. The space was narrow, and her breast brushed his ribs. A shiver actually passed through her, startling her into stopping, into staring up into his eyes.
He didn’t look away. Of course he didn’t look away. He’d probably never run, never avoided or ducked an issue in his life. As opposed to her, who quit and ran far and fast whenever the going got tough.
His hand brushed her hip, and as her body was inexplicably aware of each place where they’d touched, her pulse leapt.
The beat stretched into a moment, until she was forced to pull air into her lungs. It sounded like a gasp, loud in the silent room.
Again his fingers brushed her hip, this time as if trying to soothe, but this time the touch had the opposite effect because she wanted to rip her clothes off again. This was bad, very bad—not only was there the awkwardness of realizing she still wanted him, but no doubt he could see that want.
And yet he didn’t speak, didn’t move, just stood there with his fingers barely grazing her hips.
“No,” she said to his unspoken question, to her need, to every damn thing, and she pushed past him. “It wasn’t that good.”
“Oh, come on. You can do better than that.”
Already halfway down the hall, she looked back. “Excuse me?”
He stood there propping up the doorjamb with his shoulder, bare-chested, barefooted, jeans low on his hips, his expression assuring he saw right through her. “I thought maybe you’d also want to slam my character in some way to make sure that I don’t call you or try to pick up where we left off.”
She struggled not to wince.
“Because that’s what you’d like to do, right?” he pressed. “Piss me off so there’s no chance in hell I’ll want to be with you again?”
She opened her mouth, then slowly closed it again.
He just waited with the patience of a saint. A rough and rumpled gorgeous saint.
Or a teacher.
Yeah, she remembered now. He’d told her he was a teacher. A teacher in a leather jacket on a motorcycle. God, her hormones hadn’t had a chance.
But they had one now. “Good-bye, Kevin.”
“Remember my name,” he called after her. “You’re going to be saying it again.”
Against her better judgment, she turned back one more time. “No. I won’t.”
He leaned there so negligently in that deceptively lazy pose. “So you felt nothing?”
She’d felt a hell of a lot of things, mostly mind-blowing lust, but it was the light of day now and in it all she felt was a desperate need to be gone. “Absolutely nothing.”
“Liar,” he chided softly.
Fine. She’d just do exactly as he’d accused her: make him glad to see her go. “Last night we both agreed that this was just a scratching of an itch, a one-time thing.”
“Yes,” he agreed with that maddening calm. “But that was before we mutually imploded in bed.”