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“Maddie, pay attention to my instructions this time.” He must have heard her click her tongue. “C’mon, this can be a lot of fun.”

“You’re obsessive about everything. Does it matter how I hold this woody?”

He nudged her. “Wood. I told you, it’s called a wood.”

She smiled. “Woody sounds better.”

“You would say that.”

She glanced down at his hands wrapped over hers, showing her how to grip the golf club. The night before those same hands had stroked her breasts with tenderness. From meeting some of Alex’s past dates, it was obvious his taste ran to gravity defying busts. It had almost brought tears to her eyes when he hadn’t cringed at her C cups. Okay, B’s, but with a padded bra they were easily C’s.

“Let’s practice your swing,” he said. “Follow my lead.”

She leaned into his lower body and wriggled her bottom against him. Hmmm, the man with the steel self-control lost it faster than a football team at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

“Play nice,” he said.

His refreshing citrus scent combined with the outdoor aroma sent naughty vibrations through her body, deliciously landing on her breasts.

“No idea what you’re talking about,” she said.

He backed away and stood to the side. “You know what I’m talking about.”

She bent over at the waist, swayed her hips back and forth and swung the club. “It didn’t go far.” She shielded her eyes, looking for the golf ball. “I’d rather throw it. My softball team tells me I’m a good pitcher.”

He slipped a black glove on his hand and touched his temple. “I remember.”

She had pitched the softball at his head at the last media charity tournament—he was wearing a helmet, and it was an accident.

Well, okay, not exactly an accident.

It was his fault for bringing an obnoxious bottled blonde to the tournament. The Baywatch wannabe not only patronized Maddie by calling her a “cutie patooty”, but the way she’d paraded those super-sized boobs had bugged the PMS right out of Maddie.

She rolled her eyes. “Do you always remember everything that happens to you?”

His eyes traveled up and down her body and another droplet of perspiration joined the others on her damp forehead.

“I have a photographic memory.”

She mentally handcuffed her hands to stop them from ripping off his golf shirt. The man could bring ice cubes to a rapid boil.

Deep breaths.

“It would help if you forgot to load the film in your brain once in awhile. Let me take another swing. I’ll even let you stand behind me again.” She burst out laughing at his obvious attempt to hide a smile. His stubborn streak wouldn’t allow him to admit he enjoyed her sexual banter.

He shook his head and pointed to his left. “Stand over there so I can take my shot.”

She raked her eyes over his toned, lean body and parked her gaze on his behind as he swung.

“Did it go in the hole?” she asked when he was done.

“Nope. It’d be a hole in one. Hard to do.”

“Some stud you are.” She walked to the cart and dug out her tape recorder from her pocketbook. “Would you mind getting the balls while I brainstorm?”

“Need my help with any golf terms?”

“No thanks. Just trying to get the island’s sights and sounds.”

“I’ll leave you to boost our circulation.”

“It’s your Pulitzer that does that.”

“Hey, if it wasn’t for you, no one would even know what I do in the Middle East.” He winked at her, took two bottles of water from the cooler and tossed her one. “I’ll leave the cart here and walk over. That should give you enough time. If not, I’ll sit and wait for you.”

She nodded, clicked the record button on her machine and dictated in a low voice. “My adventure continues. I’m striking a ball on a luxurious golf course. You’re probably wondering how golf relates to romance at a tropical getaway.” She paused and inhaled the essence of grass mixed with the salty scent wafting in from the sea and noted the fairway’s isolation.

“For one thing, you’re afforded privacy. In between teeing-off, you can steal a few kisses amidst the sound of exotic birds.” She closed her eyes and replayed Alex’s lips on hers. She hoped to experience the incredible sensation again soon.

She exhaled and wiped the beaded perspiration streaming down her face. “To continue. Are you game for some daytime fantasy? No golf widows on this trip. You’ll want to be together to experience a sensual adventure in the lush bushes and tree-lined, private fairways.”

Her imagination took over as she saw herself crushed in Alex’s naked embrace by the concealed thicket of trees. The vivid image was so realistic, a rush of heat shot right through her.

She sagged against the cart and fixed her gaze on Alex as he strode toward her.

A moan escaped her throat. “Oh, gawd.”

Alex’s warm hand touched her arm. “You okay?”

She jolted back. “Huh? Yes. Yes, of course.”

“You looked like you were in a trance. Do you need more time to brainstorm, or my help with anything?”

Yes, take your damn clothes off and do me here. Now. “No thanks. I’m done.” She clicked her recorder off and threw it in her purse. “I’ll ask Tim to come back with me for a few pictures.”

His dark eyes caressed her under the glare of the sun, making the inside of her mouth burn as hot as jalapeno pepper seeds. She drained the bottle of water to douse her internal furnace.

It didn’t work.

The sound of water spraying caught her attention. “Can I drive the cart?” she asked.

“Sure, hop in.”

She sat in the driver’s seat, slammed her foot on the pedal and drove toward the sprinklers.

“What the–? Maddie?” He shouted over the whir of the cart. “Watch it…”

Her sense of humor took over, and she laughed in answer. She steered the cart straight toward and right through the water.

She parked the cart and jumped out. The fresh water flew over her body like a thousand butterfly wings. She twirled around, threw her head back and squealed in delight.

“C’mon, join me.” She waved. “This is a treat. We can’t do this in February back home.”

 “Yup, a real treat. Rice Krispies come to mind. You’ve snapped, crackled and finally popped.”

“I never got to do this as a kid.” Her internal blaze cooled and her skin broke out in goosebumps. “This is fun.”

Alex sat with his arms crossed in front of his chest, smiling. “Once again, you’ve created chaos. Your work here is done.”

He shifted over to the driver’s side and gestured for her to get in.

Sliding into the passenger seat, she bent over and squeezed the excess water from her hair. “Whew. That cooled me¾”

She stopped talking when she noted his flushed face. He turned and grabbed a bottle of water from the cooler. Beads of sweat poured down the side of his face.

“Wow, you’re hot.” She smoothed one hand across his forehead and placed her other hand on his shoulder. He stiffened beneath her touch. “Hope it’s not heat stroke.”

“It’s not heat stroke.” He took a long pull from his water bottle and rubbed the back of his neck. “I’ve had enough golfing.”

“Me too.” She sat straight. “Do you still want to help me with my piece?”

He leaned his head outside of the cart and poured water over his hair. “How?”

“Drive down to those trees, go through that path, turn off the ignition, and we’ll try out—we can discuss the theme for my article.” She wanted to ensure her making-out-in-the-woods idea worked before suggesting it to her readers.

“You know,” he rubbed the hand towel vigorously over his face, “occasionally, not often, mind you, I can actually get inside your head and figure out what you’re thinking.”

“Oh, now that’s a scary thought.”

He grabbed another bottle of water and stared long and hard at her. “Don’t I know it.”

His gaze moved downward and rested on her short-sleeved blouse plastered to her braless chest. She glanced down where her nipples had tightened like two small marbles against the wet material.

Excitement tugged at her heartstrings. This was the second time he had looked at her chest with approval and, dare she think, desire?

He shook his head. Damp hair clung to his neck, and wet curls framed his hooded eyes. “Aw, hell.” A myriad of expressions danced across his handsome features. Confusion? Frustration? Passion?

She was ready. And willing. Sizzling liquid melted between her thighs.

He stretched his arm across the back of her seat and bent his head close to her ear.

The man could bring a mannequin to life.

“You,” he said, “look so damn good in water.”

She turned her head and faced him, a mere breath away from his lips. “You too.”

“I know I said it wasn’t a good idea, but…” He leaned in closer and caressed her cheek. “I want.” His minted breath hit her face. “You.”

Exhilaration ran through her and she nodded her response.

Yes, yes, yes.

She wanted him to go crazy with lust as she pressed her wet shirt next to his scorching body, and experience their passion explode like a lit match tossed into a barrel of gasoline.

As quick as a wink, he drew back. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” He rammed his foot on the pedal and sped away with the determination of a Nascar driver.

Soaked with desire, her pulse kept pace with the velocity of the cart.

Dammit. They’d been so close.

What the hell was wrong with this man? Did she have to be the one to take the lead again?

Oh, the hell with it.

She whipped off her blouse, flung her arms around his neck and smothered his lips with a hard kiss.

Unfortunately, they drove onto an incline. Her foot accidentally hit the pedal and the cart veered off its course.

At least the breeze cooled her off as they zoomed down the hill, before the golf cart unceremoniously swerved into a copse of bushes.

# # #

He pointed toward the tree. “Turn around.”

“Why?”

“Do you ever take orders?”

“Not often.”

“Shocker.” He placed his hands lightly on her shoulders. “Try it this once.”

She faced the tree. “Now what?”

“I’m going to get rid of your headache.” He touched the clip in her hair. “I’ll have to undo this first. That okay?”

“Sure.”

He unclasped the clip that held her hair in a ponytail, admiring how her hair tumbled in thick waves past her shoulders.

Exquisite.

She tipped her head back and looked up at him. “Cook, knit, and a hairstylist?”

He slipped the hair clip into his jacket pocket. “Relax and let me work my magic.”

“Magic as in twisting my hair into an updo?”

He shook his head. “Do you think you can stay quiet for ten minutes? I guarantee your headache will go away if you do.”

“Ten minutes, huh?”        

“I’m that good.”

“And modest,” she said.

“Are you going to be quiet now?”

He noticed a slight wince before she tipped her head forward. Her headache was more painful than she’d admitted.

He smoothed a few strands of hair away from her face, exposing her neck—smooth, long, and looked so damn stroke-able, lick-able, kissable—all the above. He’d always been a sucker for a woman’s neck. The anticipation of exploring it with his hands and mouth and the satisfaction of hitting a woman’s erogenous zone.

Lifting his gaze skyward, taking quiet, deep breaths to compose himself, he moved his hands up to her forehead and gently massaged each side of her head with his fingertips.

Her pleasurable sigh added pleasurable pressure below his belt.

He stared straight ahead, focusing on helping her alleviate her headache and ignoring his mounting desire to explore the back of her neck with his mouth. Then, mentally shaking that thought out of his head, he slid his hands to her scalp, kneading tender, circular movements.

The sound of her low, soft moans conjured up sexy images in his head. He clenched his jaw tight and calculated the square root of a non-perfect square.

He pressed his palms on each of her temples, applying moderate pressure, triggering her moan zone again. If that soft sound wasn’t enough to drive him to distraction, he had to endure her delicate touch as she placed her hands over his.

She rubbed the back of his hand with her thumb.

Killing me here.

It was going to take a helluva lot of financial equations to tamp down the desire coursing through him.

Business. Think. Business.

He focused on the tree trunk and mentally computed how much it would cost to renovate the inn when his glance took a detour from the tree to her face, now gazing up at him.

Her eyes sparkled like sapphires under the moonlight.

He opened his mouth to ask if her headache was gone, which would then be his cue to disentangle their hands and step away.

The logical part of his brain disconnected his voice, and nothing came out except for a low groan, which he hoped wasn’t loud enough for her to hear.

Who could blame him? He was out in the moonlight with an attractive woman who wasn’t backing away from him.

He removed her hands from his and turned her around to face him.

She held his gaze and bit the corner of her lip.

He leaned in close to her. Their faces were less than an inch away from each other.

She parted her lips, desire flickering in her gaze.

Mesmerized, he ran his fingers through her hair, and she moved her head from side to side. He slid his hands down and applied light pressure to her shoulders, hoping to massage the tightness away.

Her shoulders and expression softened, and he felt her relax.

She batted her lashes, unknowingly using them as an instrument of torture against his apparent fragile resilience.

I’m toast.

She wet her lips, creating an even sexier appeal, disabling any and all rational thought.

Make that burnt toast.

“I want to kiss you,” he said, not taking his eyes off her pretty face. “And I know you want to kiss me too.”

She leaned into him. “Pretty sure of yourself, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

He lifted her chin, bent, and brushed his lips across her mouth.

The heady taste of the brandy still lingered on her delectable mouth. The flavor mingled with the sweetness of her lips, riling up his insides in a damn good way.

She wound her arms around his neck, responding to his kiss with enthusiasm.

Sweet mother of all mothers.

She cinched herself so close to him they were practically sharing the sweater.

His lips tingled.

Tingled.

The leaves on the trees stopped rustling, and even though it was long after sunset, it felt as if sunshine warmed his neck where her fingers grazed him, and he forgot why he was even in Vermont.

Her teeth lightly scraped his lower lip as her hands slid to his leather jacket’s collar, tugging it and pulling him even closer to her.

His adrenaline-addled heart pumped as if he’d run a marathon.

This is one holy shit fantastic moment.

She slid her hands inside his jacket, digging her nails into his shoulders.

They deepened the kiss with a sensual intensity that almost buckled his knees.

Hungry to taste more of her silky skin, he reluctantly pulled away from her delicious mouth and kissed the side of her neck. She raked her fingers through his hair, sending the real good kind of shivers up his spine.

He continued exploring the sides of her neck, pushing away the sweater, and peppering the top of her shoulder with light kisses.

Her hands slid inside his jacket and roamed down his back. If the zipper on his pants was uncomfortable before, it was downright unbearable now. He didn’t care. The pain was worth it.

She guided his head back to her lips for another deep, breath-stealing kiss.

If he passed out, it would be worth it, and from her response, she didn’t seem to care about the lack of oxygen.

Nothing existed except for the two of them as a powerful surge of electricity singed the tips of his fingers where he relished running his hands through her soft hair.

He had no concept of time, but it felt way too soon when she broke off the kiss and mouthed against his lips, “This is not a great idea.”

Catching his breath, he kissed both sides of her mouth. “Bad ideas are the most fun.”

Still pressed against his lips, she cupped her hands behind his head. “I’m your employer.”

He returned to her neck. “Technically,” he said, between grazing her delightful neck, “the agency is my employer.” He lifted his head and pressed his lips firmly against the space between her expressive eyes, trailing his thumb up and down her soft jawline. “If this is what heaven feels like, I would have made sure to have been a good boy.”

“You’re good. Very good.”

He tipped her head back and kissed her chin. “Right now, I want to be bad.” For a few seconds, he averted his attention to their surroundings. It was still quiet, with no wind and light except the moon’s beams. “Very bad.”

“Where did you learn how to kiss like that?” She leaned her forehead into his chest. “Uhm…I said that out loud, didn’t I?”

He breathed out a quiet chuckle into her hair. Hooking his arm around her waist, he pulled her closer. “I sold kisses for five bucks a pop in a kissing booth.”

“Wiseass.”

He tucked her loose strands behind her ears. “Thank you.”

“No, thank you.” Her dimples hooked themselves to his chest, causing his pulse to pick up speed. “My headache’s gone.”

He kissed her temple, inhaling the fruity scent of her hair, intending to go back in for another bone-melting round with her delectable, now swollen lips. His cell phone buzzed.

He ignored it.

The hypnotic atmosphere seemed to have disappeared, and he felt her stiffen in his arm as a gust of wind whirled around them, so strong a lower branch swatted him behind the head.

The glare of bright lights from a car parked by the inn’s entrance beamed in their direction.

She stepped out of his embrace.

The car’s headlights flashed off and on. A car door opened, and a woman waved. “Sabrina, is that you, dear?”

 


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