Read an Excerpt
‘May I use that for a minute?’
I turned to hand over the corkscrew. Warm hazel eyes met my gaze. Dark hair, just a little too long. It fell boyishly over his forehead. I tracked the edge of his jaw with my eyes, took in the perfectly shaped mouth. Red lips. Not too red, just red enough to make me wonder what it would be like to kiss them.
‘May I?’ he asked again with a smile.
I realised I was still holding the corkscrew out. Offering it up but not letting it go. I shrugged, tried to cover with a laugh. I released the tool into his broad palm and wondered for a split second if that palm was soft or calloused. What it would feel like sliding under my skirt and along my stockings. ‘Sure, sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have this glass after all.’
‘Oh, I don’t know about that. I think you just became a little absorbed for a moment. It happens to the best of us.’ He flashed that smile again and I felt a warmth start low in my belly. I liked his smile very much.
‘I was. Just a little.’ I shrugged. No reason to lie, I had been obvious enough from the get-go.
‘Well, my ego would prefer it if you said a lot, but I will take a little and be happy with it.’ He began to uncork the bottle of Chablis he was holding. ‘Not for me,’ he explained. ‘I prefer red. I was told someone with muscles needed to open a fresh bottle. Not that I’m riddled with them, mind you. A respectable amount, though.’
I took this as an invitation to scope out his muscles, so I did just that. He didn’t have the over-inflated look of a gym rat, but a respectable amount was not an understatement. Broad shoulders that hinted at strength. His arms, cut just enough that the contours showed through the cotton Henley he was wearing. It looked soft, too, that shirt. I repressed the urge to run my hands along the swells and dips cloaked in frequently washed cotton.
‘Still a little absorbed?’ he laughed as the cork broke free with a jubilant pop!
‘No.’ I took a sip of my wine and smiled. ‘A lot.’
He let out a laugh and the hair on the back of my neck stirred with appreciation of the sound. He grabbed his chest and sighed. ‘It does an ego good to hear it. I’m Eric.’
He took my hand before I could offer it. He didn’t shake. He just squeezed it gently. Another stirring of baby fine hair, this time up my arms.
‘Ashling. Ash to most.’ He hadn’t let my hand go and I didn’t try to remove it. I liked the feel of his warm skin surrounding mine.
Eric leaned in close and whispered. ‘I like your dress. Very deceptive.’
I glanced down as if I had never seen the dress. It was my favourite. Snug without being too tight. The front cut so that it fell just below my collar bones. Very modest. But the back. Well, there was no back. From behind my neck where the dress buttoned to the small of my back, I was bare. ‘Thank you. I like it, too.’
Eric didn’t back up. He stayed close to my face, his breath on my cheek. His mouth nearly touching my ear. I suppressed a shiver. ‘Turn around for me so I can see. Up close.’
I turned slowly. I didn’t even question why I was humouring him. He asked, I felt compelled to oblige. He still held my hand gently but firmly so I let my arm stretch out behind me as I turned. With my back to him, I waited. I held my breath. My skin felt as if it was on fire. When he touched me I heard a gasp tear out of me. A single fingertip. He traced the edges of the cut-out back, the gentlest touch I had ever felt and yet my head was swimming. He finally released my hand.
I stayed, frozen, back to him. Not moving. Unsure of what to do but determined not to break the spell that had settled over us. I heard the wine bottle bang on the table as he sat it down. His hands slid around my waist. He pulled me back so my ass was flush with a prominent erection. Another sound escaped me, this time a sigh. My dress whispered as he spread his hands across my waist and anchored me. He bent in low again, another kiss of hot breath against my throat. ‘Would it scare you terribly if I asked you to come upstairs with me?’
I shook my head. My voice could not be trusted. Words would not come to me. I just shook my head. No. It would not scare me. Not at all.