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Zandra Kennedy reclined on a chaise lounge along a stretch of white sand beach sheltered by swaying palms. She'd gone out there to relax with a fruity cocktail and catch up on her summer reading. But her mai tai sat untouched, her novel completely forgotten.
She'd found something better to stimulate her imagination.
And she wasn't alone, judging by the riveted gazes of several other women lounging on the beach.
From behind a pair of dark sunglasses, Zandra watched as Remington Brand swam toward the shore, his strong limbs slicing cleanly through the shimmering turquoise waters. Though he'd been discharged from the navy three years ago, the rigorous training regimen he'd undergone as a SEAL had given him a body to rival any classic Grecian statue.
As Zandra watched, pulse thudding, his head broke the surface of the water. And then came the rest of him, rising slowly from the waves like some mythical sea god. Massive shoulders, abs ripped with muscle, powerful thighs and sculpted calves.
His body was, indeed, a work of art. A Rembrandt. So that's what Zandra called him. Privately, of course. She'd never give Remy Brand the satisfaction of thinking he was the hottest guy she'd ever met.
Which he was. Hands down.
He smoothed water off his face, oblivious to the predatory stares of every female on the beach, many of whom would fantasize about him when they made love to their partners tonight. Their hungry eyes followed him as he sauntered across the sugary sand, brown skin glistening in the tropical sun, testosterone seeping from every pore.
Zandra realized she was gawking and quickly dropped her gaze.
Moments later Remy reached the palm-thatched hut where she lay in the shade, pretending to be absorbed in her book.
"Man, that water feels good." The deep, smoky timbre of his voice made Zandra shiver as her nipples hardened. "You don't know what you're missing, Z."
Oh, but she did. Every time she looked at him, she knew exactly what she was missing. Which was why she tried not to look at him very often. But it was hard not to, considering how ridiculously gorgeous he was. With sharp cheekbones, a square jaw and chin, and dark, electrifying eyes shaded by thick black brows, his face was perfect for a military recruitment poster. But it was his lush, sensual lips framed by a trim goatee that drove a woman's thoughts straight to cunnilingus. The kind of back-arching, thigh-shaking, toe-curling cunnilingus that enslaved you for life.
And therein lay the problem.
Zandra and Remy had known each other for twenty-five years, and for most of that time, she'd never seen him as more than just a friend. But something had changed over the past several months, and now she couldn't be anywhere near Remy without wanting to do all sorts of raunchy things to him. She'd tried to keep her distance from him, but he wasn't cooperating. He'd started showing up unannounced at her office to commandeer her into having lunch with him. Three weeks ago, he'd invited himself to a small dinner party she was hosting for some professional associates. He'd claimed that he was interested in networking, but he'd spent most of the night watching Zandra as she mingled with her guests.
At the end of the evening, one of her friends had pulled her aside and gushed, "You are so damn lucky! I'd forfeit my inheritance to have a gorgeous hunk like that completely under my spell!"
Zandra had laughed at the absurdity of the remark. Remy Brand had never fallen under any woman's spell. When it came to matters of seduction, he was the sorcerer.
And she'd do well to remember that while she was stuck on an island with him for two more days.
Grabbing a towel from the lounge chair beside hers, Remy rubbed his face and arms. "Why don't you put that book down and go for a swim?" he suggested.
"I will. Later." Unable to resist, Zandra peeked over the top of her novel to watch as lucky rivulets of water trickled down his chest, inching over the hard, sinewy muscles before disappearing into his dark swim trunks.
The wet material clung to his powerful thighs, drawing her gaze unerringly to the thick bulge at his groin.
Gulping hard, she jerked her gaze back to her book, trying to ignore her throbbing breasts and pulsing clit. No such luck.
Remy finished drying himself off, then stretched out on the lounge chair next to hers with his hands clasped behind his head. She felt him studying her, felt the heat of his eyes slowly roaming down her bare legs. She wished the cover-up she wore was longer, though something told her Remy's scorching gaze would make her feel naked even in an Eskimo suit.
"It must not be very good," he drawled.
"Your book. Must be a snoozer." Zandra frowned. "What makes you say that?"
"You're practically on the same page you were on when I left you over an hour ago."
Her face flushed. "How do you know that?" Remy chuckled. "I noticed."
Of course he had. He'd always been sharply observant, a trait that had served him well as a SEAL commando. So well, in fact, that his teammates had often teased him about having eyes in the back of his head. Nothing escaped his detection.
Unnerved by the thoughtand annoyed with herself for not owning a damn eReaderZandra shifted uncomfortably on her chair. "The book's great. I'm just reading slow, savoring every word."
"Uh-huh." Remy wore a small, lazy smile that made her wonder whether he'd caught her watching him while he swam.
"I've also been enjoying the scenery," she hastened to add.
His smile deepened, but all he said was, "It is beautiful."
For a moment they gazed across the shimmering expanse of the Caribbean Sea, which was rimmed by lush, palm-fringed bays and towering emerald mountains. A distant sailboat drifted lazily across the horizon, and bright sunlight glinted off the frothy waves lapping the shore. To their right, perched on a cliff overlooking the water, was the luxury resort where Zandra and Remy were staying, along with several members of his family.
"Man, it feels like paradise out here," Remy murmured.
"Mmm," Zandra agreed, thinking of how she'd had to be coerced into coming on the trip.
Three weeks ago she'd been a bridesmaid for her friend, Lena, who'd married Remy's twin brother, Roderick. The couple had surprised everyone by inviting their families to join them in St. Lucia at the end of their Caribbean honeymoon. The invitation had included Zandra, who'd been excited at the prospect of spending five relaxing days on a gorgeous tropical island. That is, until she realized that she would be in close quarters with Remythe very thing she'd been trying to avoid.
She'd regretfully told Lena and Roderick that she couldn't make it, blaming her busy workload. But Roderick, like his twin, had never learned to take no for an answer. He'd badgered Zandra for days, reminding her that she'd always accompanied his family on vacations when they were growing up. Though she'd tried to resist, he'd made her nostalgic for those boisterously chaotic road trips aboard the Brands' Winnebago. When he sensed her resolve weakening, Roderick had gone for the kill by enlisting his grandmother's help, because he knew that Zandra could never refuse the beloved family matriarch.
So there she was lounging on a sun-drenched beach beside a man who'd gone from being her childhood playmate to the star of her most illicitly erotic fantasies.
Frowning, she pushed her sunglasses off her face and set aside her book. As long as Remy was around, trying to read was absolutely pointless.
"I thought you were going sightseeing with the others," she grumbled.
He chuckled softly at her disgruntled tone. "Nah, I changed my mind."
One broad shoulder lifted in a shrug. "Didn't seem right to leave you here alone."
"I wouldn't have complained," Zandra muttered.
"Maybe not verbally, but you might have cried yourself to sleep at night, thinking of how I'd callously abandoned you."
Zandra couldn't help laughing. "In your dreams!" He grinned, flashing a set of straight white teeth. He was so devastatingly handsome he took her breath away. "Excuse me, Mr. Brand?"
A young woman had appeared, balancing a drink on a small tray. Her tropical shirt and khaki shorts easily identified her as a resort employee.
She smiled shyly as she handed the cocktail to Remy. "For you, sir. From the woman in yellow at the bar."
Zandra followed Remy's gaze across the beach to the cabana where an attractive, leggy woman sat alone at the counter watching him. When their eyes connected, she smiled alluringly and raised her own glass in a small toast.
Lips curving in a lazy smile, Remy winked at her.
Seeing the way Zandra's eyes narrowed, the resort employee gave her an apologetic look. "She assumed you two weren't together."
"Is that so?" Zandra said coolly. "And what made her assume that?"
The young woman looked uncomfortable. "Your body language, ma'am. She said you seemed to be, um, hiding yourself from Mr. Brand."
Zandra's face flamed. She shot a glance at Remy, whose dark eyes were glittering with laughter as he brought the glass to his mouth and drank.
"Mmm, that's good. What is it?" he asked the departing employee.
She smiled over her shoulder. "A Hole in One."
But Zandra wasn't amused.
"On second thought." She snatched the glass out of Remy's hand, looked toward the cabana and met the bar floozy's gaze. As the other woman watched, Zandra raised the drink to her lips and took a long sip, then deliberately licked her lips and mouthed, Delicious. Thanks.
The woman smirked, her eyes flashing with challenge.
Zandra should have stopped right there. She'd made her point and had nothing more to prove. But something came over her, some reckless impulse that had her jumping up and standing over Remy's chair.
He stared up at her. "What"
His eyes widened in surprise as she lowered herself onto him, straddling his hard, muscular thighs. The moment she felt the thick, rigid bulge between his legs, she knew she'd made a big mistake. But it was too late to backtrack.
"What're you doing?" Remy asked in a rough voice.
"I'm teaching your not-so-secret admirer a lesson in respect. There are some boundaries women just shouldn't cross."
Remy's eyes glinted wickedly. "So you're gonna show her, huh?"
Zandra reached inside the cocktail glass and removed a cube of ice, then set aside the drink. Holding Remy's dark gaze, she slowly rubbed the ice over his full, succulent lips until they glistened wetly. Unbearably aroused by the sight, she leaned down and lightly stroked her tongue over his bottom lip.
He groaned softly, sliding his big hands up her thighs to cup her ass. She gasped, scorched by his touch. Her hips slowly began to undulate, feeling his cock swell against her mound. Her clit hardened from the erotic friction, and moisture pooled in the crotch of her swimsuit.
She held the melting ice cube to her chest, shivering as Remy's hot tongue chased the stream of water that trickled down between her breasts. Her nipples tightened, straining against his palms as he slowly caressed her.
In that moment Zandra forgot about where they were, forgot about the woman watching them from the cabana. All she cared about was Remy's mouth on her burning skin, his hands on her aching breasts, the massive length of his cock between her legs. She wanted to be filled with him, wanted to feel his powerful body thrusting so deep inside her she'd have to breathe for both of them.
Lowering her head to the hard slab of his chest, she ran her tongue over his warm flesh, tasting the salty tang of the sea. His muscles quivered as she dragged her mouth over to the tattoo that curved around his chiseled biceps. She licked him slowly and sensually, her tongue tracing the intricate trident that would always identify him as a Navy SEAL.
"Mmmm," she purred as his erection thickened even more. "You are one sexy sail"
"Yo, Zandra?" A large, masculine hand waved in front of her face. "Hello? You there?"
The sound of Remy's laughter-tinged voice snapped Zandra out of her trance. She blinked, staring dazedly at him.
He grinned. "Damn, what happened? You just zoned out on me."
"I did?" Zandra blushed furiously, embarrassed to realize that she'd been fantasizing about him. Shit, shit, shit! "Did I, um, happen to
Her face flamed hotter. "Nothing. Don't worry about it."
Remy's grin widened. "One minute you were snatching my drink away. The next minute, you blanked out."
She glanced down at the cold glass in her hand, then looked toward the cabana. Remy's flirtatious admirer was now conversing with a guy who'd joined her at the bar. Zandra was relieved that the woman had turned her attention elsewherea feeling she didn't care to examine too closely.
"So," Remy said in an amused voice, "can I have my drink back?"
"No." Zandra emptied the contents of the glass into the sand. "I'll buy you another one. What're you in the mood for?"
"A Hole in One."
The suggestive timbre of his deep voice made Zandra's stomach clench. "Why don't you try something else?"
"Okay." His voice dipped indecently lower. "How about Sex on the Beach?"
When she glared at him, he threw back his head and laughed, a dark, delicious sound that heated her blood and sent thrills racing along her skin. She shifted on the chaise lounge, squeezing her thighs together to stop her clit from vibrating.
"Tell you what," Remy said, reaching for her forgotten mai tai on the table between them. "How about I just help myself to your drink?"
"Sure. Knock yourself out." She shoved her sunglasses back into place and closed her eyes, hoping Remy would take the hint and disappear. She couldn't relax when he was around, and what was the point of being on vacation if you couldn't relax?
"Since you're not reading anymore," Remy drawled, "why don't you go for a swim with me?"
Zandra shook her head. "No, thanks."
"I don't feel like swimming right now. Not everyone is an amphibian like you, addicted to water. BesidesHey!" she cried out as he suddenly plucked off her sunglasses and effortlessly swept her into his arms, unleashing just a hint of the brute male strength he possessed.
She glared up at him, instinctively clinging to his neck as he strode purposefully from the palm-thatched hut. Trying to ignore the heat of his big body penetrating hers, she demanded, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Getting you wet."
Damn if her mind didn't rush straight to the gutter!
"I don't want to get wet," she protested, absorbing the flex and glide of his hard pectoral muscles as he carried her across the beach. Several other sunbathers sat up quickly and peered at them over the rims of their sunglasses. The women's envious expressions told Zandra they would gladly trade places with her in a heartbeat.
"This is ridiculous, Remy," she complained as they reached the foaming shore. "You can't make me go swimming if I don't want to."
"Aw, don't be such a spoilsport, Z. You haven't gotten in the water since we arrived on Monday. It's downright unnatural, if you ask me."
"Well, no one asked you," she retorted.
He slanted her a lazy grin.
Looking at his sensual mouth just inches from hers, Zandra wanted to kiss him so badly she ached. When their eyes caught and held, a current of pure sexual awareness sizzled between them.
After a long, supercharged moment, Zandra averted her gaze and gruffly commanded, "I'm serious, Remy. Put me down this instant"
His dark eyes glinted with mischief. "If you insist."
And without further ado, he tossed her unceremoniously into the water.