The house was quiet and shadowed as I padded back to the pool. I didn’t see any sign of Jimmy, which was just as well. My dreams had been filled with him; he’d haunted every crevice of my sleep. I felt like I’d been steeped in him, reliving every touch, every glance, every fantasy.
Those dreams clung to my consciousness, as dreams sometimes do, stoking a hunger I hadn’t even realized I had.
I’d been kind of joking when I’d invited Jimmy to my room, but in truth, it hadn’t been a joke at all. I wanted him. Really wanted him. Needed him, maybe.
Needed the oblivion a wild, steamy, pointless affair could provide.
My ego ached after Harlan’s betrayal, but it was more than that. It was more than assuaging a hit to my self-esteem.
I simply wanted Jimmy.
Wanted him in a way I’d never wanted a man before.
Maybe it was the isolation. Maybe it was the magnificent surroundings. Maybe it was simply the fact that he was hotter than hot. Certainly hotter than Harlan with his bad-boy-biker persona, his bull ring. His tattoos. Nothing about him had been real in the end. Nothing about us had been either.
The tiny lights strung around Marlee’s patio glowed as they bobbed in the breeze. The waters of the hot tub steamed a warm welcome, bathed in a surreal blue that shone like a beacon in the gathering night.
I tossed my towel on a lounge chair and stepped in. And hissed.
Warmth lapped at me. I sank, allowing the water to consume me slowly. My skin shivered as I eased deeper, all the way to my neck. I turned around and leaned against one of the benches formed in the tile and closed my eyes.
I owed Marlee. And I owed her big time.
This place was, indeed, heaven on earth. And Jimmy… Well, the jury was still out on that one. Marlee had been frank. “Paige,” she’d said. “You need to get laid. And trust me, if anyone can help you forget about that douchebag Harlan Rivers, it’s my Jimmy.” I tried not to let it bug me that she’d put it that way. My Jimmy. Not that I had any ownership of him. Not that I wanted it.
I just wasn’t used to sharing men with my best friend.
Remembering the ripple of his pec beneath my palm, I nibbled my lip.
I could probably get over it…
“May I join you?”
I opened my eyes at the deep voice, at the question tinged with a throb.
My heart stuttered. My breath caught.
Jimmy. Standing there next to the hot tub, wearing nothing but a tight black Speedo. Everything I had imagined under his casual clothes, everything I had hoped for, was there. Thick muscles roping his chest and forearms, thighs like tree trunks, a flat, taut belly, sculpted abs and a tantalizing dark line arrowing toward a magnificent bulge.
I nearly swallowed my tongue.
Oh lord, I’d been ogling. “Yes. Please. Come on in. The water’s fine.”
Yeah, lame. Cliché. But there you go. It was the best I could come up with. My brain, apparently, was on vacation as well.
The water rose as he eased in. His groan echoed off the shadows. He’d taken off his glasses so I had an unfettered view of his face. When his eyes closed, in that moment of bliss as the water enveloped him, when his lips parted…I thought, perhaps, that was what his O-face would look like.
One could hope.
Many men were like monkeys when their crisis descended. Which was why I rarely looked. I was possessed of the sharp, sudden urge to see Jimmy in ecstasy. To watch him come.
Okay, not so sudden. But definitely sharp.
Though he sat across from me, the hot tub wasn’t too big, and his foot nudged mine. I didn’t jerk away, though my first inclination was to do just that. I reminded myself that any advance had to come from him. Jimmy was Marlee’s pool boy, not a sex slave. And if he wasn’t interested—I ignored the dark dip of my mood at the thought—that would be that.
So when his foot grazed mine, I steeled my spine and left it there. Next to his.
Our gazes tangled. His toe slipped up my ankle, a tentative foray. A fluttery thrill, an unexpected shower of arousal, trickled through me.
I stroked back.
His focus on me intensified, though it flicked, for a fraction of an instant, to my breasts. They bobbed in the water, as breasts often did, buoyed and jubilant to be released from the bondage of gravity. He licked his lips. My nipples pebbled as I imagined his mouth on them.
His eyes narrowed then raked their way back to my face. “How-how did you sleep?”
Was it my imagination or was he struggling for words? As though casual talk had no place between us, but he needed the lubricant.
The thought of lubricant, and what we could do with it, flashed through my brain. Fizzled there, incinerating all other preoccupations.
“I slept well.”
“Good.” A rough growl. “The room was to your liking?”
The word bed made me shudder. Maybe it was just the way he said it, infusing it with meaning, intent.
Or maybe it was simply the fact that he’d slipped nearer.
The breeze shifted and brought his scent to me on wispy tendrils. That intoxicating bite of his cologne made my head spin.
“Are you…hungry?” His voice rumbled, thrummed with double entendre.
“Not for food.” A whisper. I barely choked it out. Because he’d come close, and closer still. “But first… Rules.”
His brow wrinkled. “Rules?”
I nodded primly. Best to just get this out. I held up a finger. “One. Always use protection.”
“P-protection?” He stared at me like a deer in the headlights. Seriously? Had he not known it was going this way? Had he not suspected?
Or was he shy?
I kind of liked that. I kind of liked the fantasy that he didn’t screw Marlee and every one of the friends she sent to him.
He cleared his throat and nodded. “Okay. Protection.” He swallowed. “Any other rules?”
“Just one.” It had to be said. “No talking about Marlee.”
His features froze. His lips opened and closed. “No, ah, talking about Marlee?”
“Exactly.” I pushed off, floated into his arms. He caught me. His hands skated over my wet skin reverently, sending ripples in his wake. “I don’t want anything between us, Jimmy. Not anything at all.”
“Oh God.” He yanked me close. It was a shock, the feel of him so hard and rough against my body, but a delightful one.
“Nothing between us,” I whispered.