"Excuse me, dollface, you're in my seat."
Dollface? You've got to be kidding me. Frannie craned her neck to look up at the man who had spoken. The toffee-rich voice should have warned her that the owner was sinfully delicious, but she didn't expect to find Heaven peering down at her. Intense black eyes caressed her with frank appraisal and amusement. Her spine tingled with the wicked perusal.
Hot day-um, he's as fine as homemade wine.
Before standing, Frannie fumbled in her purse for her ticket receipt. The dark-haired stranger towered over her, not moving an inch, and she felt trapped--seat to her front, seat to her back and sex appeal to her side. What a spot to be stuck in! First class might have more leg room and wider seats but when a large hunk of manly goodness was nearly in your lap, there wasn't much room to turn around. If she wasn't so grumpy, she might have appreciated the limited view.
Checking the seat assignment, she shook her head. "No, I'm in the right seat."
"That can't be right. Let me see your ticket."
Great, entitled beefcake attitude. First he thinks I'm a seat thief and now he's calling me a liar, or worse, illiterate.
"I can read, but here, see for yourself."
She tossed the receipt at him. Having gone forward and backward through three time zones in forty-eight hours along with two layovers, all she wanted was a bath, some hot food and a soft bed. Her feet ached, her underwire poked her ribs and she felt as wilted as a prom corsage three days after the dance. Her mood was ripe for a fight.
He examined her ticket as if it were a map to a hidden treasure. A sparkle lit his eyes and he smiled overthe wrinkled receipt, one thick black brow arched in smug delight. "Houston, we have a problem. This is an e-ticket. I purchased mine the old-fashioned way. It appears a computer goof assigned us the same seat."
Smugness, thy name is ... whatever McHottie's name is.
Her last nerve frayed, Frannie couldn't help it. His claim of the obvious sent her over the edge. Hand to her chest, she quipped in her deepest drawl, "Lawdy-be, what powers of deduction you have there, Sherlock. And all without your Captain Marvel Decoder Ring! Be still, my beating heart."
Chuckling, he leaned closer and purred, "So do you want top or bottom?"
"Top or bottom of what?" He couldn't mean the seat. It sounded as if he was flirting with her. That couldn't be right. She was plain old Frannie, the girl next door, the best friend of your girlfriend, the sensible shoe in the stiletto aisle.
"Of the seat," he confirmed, handing her back the ticket. Zings and zaps shot up her arm as his finger stroked hers with deliberate intention. She snatched her hand away, earning a wink. "I prefer the bottom with you on my lap, but if you want the bottom, I don't mind."
He eyed her with lusty consideration and Frannie decided on the spot he was crazy. Not just a little loony but flat-out nutso.
"Uhm, no. I was here first and possession is nine-tenths of the law. Go find another seat."
One palm smoothing her skirt over her butt, she intended to claim her seat but he caught her arm and swung her into the aisle. Before she could blink, she was perched on his lap. In her seat! Her overtired brain short-circuited and blanked out her thoughts. Only two things registered. Her feet did not touch the floor and her ass was planted snugly on his zipper. His fingers reached up and traced the curve of her jaw while her brain rebooted and fired up.
"I always get what I want and I want this seat. I like it. It has a wonderful view." Low and seductive, tinged with a slight flavor of the Deep South, his voice caressed her skin. "We don't need two seats. We can share."
She would have leapt off his lap but he held her fast with a strong arm across her waist. An angry burn started in her throat and shot to her scalp. "Mister, if you want to keep that arm, you'll let go of me right now and get out of my seat."
It took a bit of a shove but she freed herself from his embrace and leapt into the aisle. Only a wiggle-step back prevented his hand from cupping her elbow once more. Her lips parted to tell him where to shove his caveman demeanor when a savior appeared in the guise of a flight attendant with too much Botox.
A false smile pasted on her face, Frannie explained the situation to the plastic Barbie-looking woman who promptly rolled her eyes.
"Not again. I hate that computer. Sir, if you'll follow me, I can get this straightened out." The attendant turned and walked back to the cabin, fully expecting the dark-haired man to follow in her hip-jiggling steps.
Frannie plopped her fanny into the vacated seat, attempting to ignore the warmth left from his body, and smirked up at him. Neener neener neener. She expected to find anger on the man's face. Instead she found barely concealed laughter. He raked his hand through ebony hair and cocked that annoying brow at her once more. Hard muscles strained at the sleeves of his polo as he crossed his arms, shaking his head at her. An indulgent smile curved his lips.
"Pretty proud of yourself, aren't you?"
"Yep." Her own brows raised in exaggerated haughtiness, she settled comfortably, making sure to snuggle her fanny deeper into the seat. "I just love squashing the arrogant claims of overly pompous playboys."
"And just which claim do you think you squashed?"
"The claim you always get what you want. You may have wanted this seat, but my ass is in it now."
"Okay, I'll take it."
She frowned. "Take what?"
"Your ass. I do always get what I want and I've decided I want you."
Her jaw dropped at his absolute gall. His gaze was too personal, his voice too intimate, his manner too pushy. "My, we are stuck on ourselves, aren't we? Better run along now and find that new seat. Preferably in the baggage hold."
She waved her hand in a "shoo fly" motion. Sir Boss-a-lot, you are dismissed.
He threw back his head and let loose a hearty laugh before bowing and snatching her hand for an exaggerated European kiss on her knuckles.
"Farewell, dollface, 'til we meet again."
"Go away. We'll never meet again."
"Wrong," he whispered before turning his back on her and following the attendant. Sputtering in speechless fury, Frannie turned to watch his tight buns clad in faded jeans walk down the aisle. What an ass! And dayum, what an ass.
She was shaken from her stupefaction by her real seatmate claiming his place beside her. As soon as the takeoff was complete, the gray-haired Asian man began frantically typing on a laptop. No conversation needed. Determined to put the McHottie encounter out of her mind, Frannie opened her computer and tried to work. It wasn't long before the columns of numbers blurred. When it took her three tries to get the math right, she gave up and leaned back against the seat.
Lawd, I'm tired. She'd nearly dozed off when the hair on her neck rose and her heart beat faster. Turning in her seat, she peered behind her and found McHottie staring at her with those coal-black bedroom eyes. Three rows back and across the aisle, he winked and blew her a kiss. In a burst of immaturity, she stuck her tongue out at him then huffed back into her seat, earning a reprimanding look from the little Asian man.
For the rest of the flight, she refused to turn around. Even when she had to pee, she crossed her legs rather than walk past him. Instead, she spent the long, quiet hours in a daydream state picturing herself with the dark-haired man in various sensual yet torturous scenes.
The corners of her mouth tilted in a wicked smile as she imagined him hung by his feet over an anthill, golden slick honey smeared over his bare body. She could see the thick, sweet gel spread across his bare back. It glistened on his hard muscular chest, smoothed over broad, straight shoulders, coated solid thighs. An ache in her sweet tooth echoed between her legs. All during the return flight, she allowed her mind to frolic with images of his delicious torture, every last one of a sensual, sexual nature. By the time the landing gear opened, her panties were soaked through and she was in desperate need of her vibrator.
Instead she contented herself with touching up her makeup and fluffing her drab brown hair. She'd tried dyeing it once but the red highlights made her look orange. Too pale to pull off a dark chestnut, she also had no wish to be a blonde, so mousey brown it would stay. It was cut in a great no-nonsense brush-n-go style. No two-hour morning routine for her.
With a sigh, she contemplated her eyes, wishing they were any color other than plain old medium brown. Unfortunately, she had twenty-twenty vision and never needed contacts. Purchasing something just to change her eye color seemed overly vain. Besides, it would be like adding a teaspoon of dirt to Mt. Everest--too little change to make a difference.
The tiny mirror caught a brief flash of dark hair and darker eyes and she snapped the compact shut. Why would someone as sexy as McHottie bother flirting with a Plain Jane? His kind never had before unless they wanted something. She had nothing he would want. She was grilled cheese to his smoked salmon, vanilla to his triple fudge chunk. No, men as sexy as McHottie didn't flirt with women like her. Beautiful people flocked to each other. The men she attracted were just like her--sensible, steady, pleasant and boring.
She wasn't ugly, just normal. Normal build, normal height, and maybe ten pounds overweight according to those stupid women's magazines where everyone looked anorexic. That was okay. She liked to eat more than once a full moon. Those ten extra pounds she could deal with if it meant her breasts weren't microscopic. Small but firm, they suited her frame just fine, and when she wanted more, she had Vicki Secret's super-duper, ultra-padded pushup bras.
Still lost in her personal musings, Frannie gathered her things and stood to exit the plane. Her head connected to something very hard with a loud crack. McHottie's chin. Wiping a small dab of blood from his lip, he sighed as she rubbed the small knot forming on her skull.
"Careful, dollface. You don't have to attack me."
"I didn't ask you to stick your face over my head."
"I'd stick my face any place you like." His voice was husky, private, meant only for her ears. A jolt of longing made her wet panties grow warm again. She jerked away, making a mental note to buy extra batteries soon. Luckily, her Asian seatmate wormed his way between them as she made her escape. She filed McHottie away in the corner of her mind marked fantasy material.
In the terminal, she stopped only long enough to run to the ladies room to pee, wipe some of the wetness from her crotch and wash her hands. Collecting her bag, she pulled on her long, lightweight coat. Early December had been wet and rainy with snow threatening Northern Pennsylvania nearly every day. The Weather Channel predicted a cold snap. For once, it seemed they were correct. Outside, the icy wind stole her breath for a moment as she hurried to a waiting cab.
Her mental fuel reserves plummeting, she spat out her address before sliding into a stale incense-scented cab. An extravagance, but the solitude during the long ride home would be well worth the undoubtedly outrageous fee. The Middle Eastern cabbie put her bag in the trunk as she sank into an exhausted slump. Moments later, his dark, bearded face appeared beside the window. His heavy accent was difficult to understand.
"Miss, you share cab ride? Same area you go to?"
"Whatever," she replied with a tired wave of her hand. Mentally, she was already raiding her fridge. Business trips were not her favorite pastime anyway, and the strange encounter on the plane had strained her fatigued mind into absolute mush. She could not hold one coherent thought in her head.
Two well-developed legs clad in faded blue slid in the seat beside her, followed by a deep gray overcoat.
"You!" she screeched banshee-style.
"My, my, my, what a nice surprise. I told you we'd meet again." McHottie's broad smile made tiny lines crinkle around his onyx-like eyes. He leaned back against the cab seat and arched an eyebrow. "Your place or mine?"
"Get out of my cab!"
Squinting into the front of the cab interior, McHottie chuckled. "Your cab? I didn't realize your name was Muhammad Aziz Ahmed Nabal?"
Growling in annoyance, Frannie hopped out of the cab, ripped her bag out of the startled cabbie's hands and stormed off in search of another taxi. A passing shuttle bus whizzed through a slimy puddle, covering her in misty spray. This definitely was not her day. Rolling her eyes and pushing her wet hair off her face, Frannie scowled up at the dark heavens that seemed to laugh at her predicament.
"What'd I do to piss you off?"
I found her.
Heart pounding, adrenalin pumping furiously, Jinx closed his eyes, leaned against the cracked cab seat and fought to contain his racing thoughts. He hadn't known he'd been looking for her until she appeared, like a genie in a bottle. Poof, here's your destiny.
She's real. She's real, feisty, and I found her. Now, I just have to make her mine.
"Sir, the lady ... she leave and..." The sputtering cabbie flapped his hands and mouth while staring in the direction Ms. Feisty had fled.
Jinx climbed from the back of cab with a fortifying breath, shoved a folded bill in the man's hand and grabbed the suitcase from beside his leg. If his brain had been working better, he might have looked at the money, but it wasn't so he didn't and he had no idea if he just gave the man a ten or a hundred. He didn't care. He'd found her.
"Thanks anyway, I changed my mind about the cab."
"But ... but ... but..."
Hand thrown up in farewell, Jinx stepped onto the slick concrete and strode away without giving the slack-faced cabbie a second glance. A dark Lincoln pulled beside him within a few paces and he threw the suitcase in the back before sliding in the passenger side.
"Welcome back." Dave smiled, lips splitting the short white beard.
"What were you doing in the cab? Did you forget I was picking you up?"
"No," Jinx hooked his seatbelt and leaned back into the seat with a sigh. "I was working on a pickup of my own."
"Nope ... brunette ... kind of."
His head shaking with mirth, Dave pulled into traffic and chuckled. "I take it you struck out?"
"I wouldn't say that," Jinx murmured with a grin. "Let's say I was laying the groundwork for something bigger ... definitely bigger."
The chuckle faded with the older man's smile. "That grin always scares me. You've got something hatching in that head of yours."
"Drive, Dave. I need to think."
Traffic slowed and stopped, honked and swerved but Jinx saw none of it. He was focused on a pair of bourbon-like eyes shimmering with banked anger. Deep in his gut, a tsunami brewed. Destiny was a strange little shit with a warped sense of humor. He'd expected a boring trip home but found his future in front of him instead. He'd pretty much given up believing it could ever happen again. He'd had his chance at happily ever after and watched it crumble into dust and take his heart with it. Did he dare believe a sharp tongue in a tempting mouth could resurrect Forever out of the ashes? And if he dared believe it, how did he find her again?
* * * *
"Hocus! Pocus! Here kitty, kitty," Frannie walked in her door, dropping her suitcase and portfolio. Two speeding black cats zipped down the staircase. One bounded onto the couch before sailing at her chest, the other twined itself between her feet. Smiling, she nuzzled and petted her furry family. No one could tell the cats apart just by looking at them, but their personalities were as different as night and day. Frannie would've loved to have more than two, but fear of turning into the Crazy Cat Lady prevented her from falling victim to adorable Free Kitten posters.
Hocus sniffed her damp ankles, trilling his greeting. Putting Pocus down, she kicked off her soggy heels with a groan. Why did something that made your legs and butt look good have to hurt your toes so much? In wet stocking feet, she padded into the kitchen, made coffee and fed the cats while checking her voicemail.
By the time there was enough dark, fragrant coffee for a vital cup, Frannie had untucked her silk blouse, pulled off her soggy pantyhose and removed her earrings. The first invigorating sip was pure bliss, an orgasm in a cup. The only thing better than an orgasm was chocolate, so she devoured four Oreos with her coffee.
Life was looking better after the infusion of both liquid and crunchy caffeine so she grabbed the suitcase and climbed the stairs barefoot, carrying a second cup of French Roast. A long hot shower sounded sinfully perfect at the moment. Before long, pear-scented steam rolled out of the open bathroom door. As she washed away the travel grime, her thoughts returned to McHottie. Good Lawd, but the man was a dish!
In an annoying sort of way, he was almost endearing. Her pulse had certainly jumped up a few notches when he kissed her hand. But men like him oozed charm, and charm was something she didn't need. Sincerity was what she wanted--honest, down-to-earth, last-a-lifetime commitment. Playboys rarely lasted a month. She'd never cared for those flavor-of-the-month clubs and had no intention of ever becoming the limited feature item on someone's menu.
This is not my underwear. Brow wrinkled in confusion, Frannie stared at the various colored briefs in the suitcase. Male briefs, complete with the mysterious front pocket most women wondered about. And it was more than not her underwear. It was not her shirts or her pants or her shampoo. The suitcase looked like hers. Okay, so there wasn't that little scuffed place where it had fallen off the hotel luggage rack and got stuck in the elevator door. And the red piece of ribbon she'd tied around the handle so she wouldn't mistake it for someone else's was missing. Yeah, that theory sucks. You have to actually look for the ribbon for it to work. They didn't tell you that little hint on all those travel channels. But anyone could have made the same mistake, especially when your mind was filled with erotic images of a side serving of honey-glazed McHottie. The suitcase was the same color and style as hers, with the same identification tag. Even the name was hers, Frances Sullivan.
No, wait. She peered closer. It wasn't her name. It read Francis, not Frances. And it was almost her address. The numbers were transposed and she lived on West Claireborn, not West Claymore. West Claymore was the upscale end of town, full of new homes built by fast-rising young executives. Frannie's side of the tracks was more modest, full of starter homes and remodels, like her own little Craftsman-style house.
So, this suitcase was not hers. So whose was it? Well, duh. She mentally smacked her forehead. She'd obviously grabbed the wrong case from the cabbie, which meant this belonged to none other than McHottie himself. Funny, he didn't look like a Francis. He probably went by Frank.
Suddenly curiosity tapped her on the shoulder. Two fluffy black bundles hopped into the open suitcase, drawing her from her musings. She shouldn't invade his privacy anymore. She should probably zip everything back up and try to track him down. Yeah, I should also drink eight glasses of water a day and avoid caffeine. It was possible--in theory, if you stretched your imagination--there could be a piece of paper somewhere in the suitcase with a phone number on it. She really should look for it. It would be the responsible thing to do. Not nosy in the least, nope, responsible. She always did the responsible thing. She was good like that.
Shooing the cats away, she picked up his shaving kit. McHottie had no athlete's foot or crabs or other ailment that would require OTC medications, just plain old Tylenol. He used basic white toothpaste and a shampoo/conditioner blend for normal hair. Boring. In fact, the only interesting things in the kit were four pre-lubricated condoms tucked in the outside zipper. She smiled in nosy delight. So he's most likely single.
Guilt tossed aside, Frannie delved through the rest of the suitcase. Gawd, it smelled good in there, like spicy woods and raw sex appeal. Buried under a stack of socks was a John Grisham paperback with bent cover and folded pages, one she hadn't read. He seemed to prefer silk-soft worn jeans and comfortable sweatshirts. An enormous pair of ugly, broken-in sneakers proved he had size thirteen feet.
And you know what big feet mean, the slut in her mind whispered.
Yeah, big shoes, replied the geeky accountant who held the slut in check.
She found no pajamas so he must sleep in the nude. It fit her image of a playboy perfectly. The thought of his bare skin made her heart leap up and dance a little rumba around her chest. To calm her sudden pulse rate, she blew out a quick breath. She really had to stop fantasizing about him.
The doorbell's harsh intrusion into her fantasy made her jump. Frannie knew in her heart who stood beyond her door and hated herself because she was looking forward to seeing him. She descended the stairs, determined to be civil to the sleeps-naked, big-footed, condom-carrying single man. She ignored the fire ants that raced through her veins and congregated in her belly, doing a little conga line. Glancing down at her chest, she quickly contemplated changing clothes. The faded cotton pajama bottoms and plain pink tee shirt with no bra would have to do. Completing this fashion statement were her favorite dilapidated slippers. With no makeup and her freshly washed hair damp about her face, her desirability factor registered somewhere on the negative end of the beauty scale. If nothing else it would put a screeching halt to his flirting.
At that surprisingly sad thought, the conga line fizzled and sank, leaving her with a heavy stomach. Outwardly calm and deliberate, she opened the wooden door.
"Hello, Mr. Sullivan." Frannie tried to make her voice sound friendly. Friendly is good, sex-starved is not.
"Hello, Ms. Sullivan." Rich as butter, his voice prickled her skin more than the chilled air streaming in from outside. McHottie had changed into another pair of careworn jeans and the deep blue of a sweatshirt poked out of his half-opened winter coat. A few ice crystals clung to his midnight hair and he had an open, easy smile on his face. He carried a pizza box beneath a pastry box. Even through the storm door she could smell the fragrant scent of garlic, cheese and pepperoni.
Fizzles bolted through her stomach that had little to do with the food boxes he lifted. "I brought a peace offering. I thought it might make the luggage exchange more pleasant. Can I interest you in a slice of pizza or cheesecake?"
He could interest her in a whole lot more than food but she stifled that notion. With a nod, she took the boxes while he picked up her case from beside his knee, red ribbon screaming brightly next to his hand, and stepped into her world. Glancing at her hardwood, he kicked off his damp boots, revealing stark white athletic socks, no holes. Her lip tilted, touched at his unexpected thoughtfulness.
"You really didn't have to but I'm starving so I'm not going to complain. The kitchen's this way. Just leave that case by the door. I'll go get yours after we eat."
"Uhm, is your husband home?" He removed his coat and followed her into the small kitchen.
"Oh, I'm not married anymore. Sullivan was my ex's name. You can call me Frannie."
McHottie clasped his hands together and raised his eyes upward in prayer. "Thank you, Lord. I owe you one." At her quizzical glance, he sent her a sheepish smile. "I was having a very difficult time accepting the fact that we might be related. I'm from Georgia but I still don't flirt with my cousins."
"Georgia? Really? I'm originally from Valdosta but we left there when I was about eight." Frannie opened the refrigerator and peered inside to hide the jitters in her stomach. He's still flirting. "I have milk, coke, beer or coffee."
"Beer, please. Here, let me help." McHottie opened the cabinet behind him and retrieved two plates. Frannie stopped perfectly still, the cold brown bottle chilling her fingers, and stared at the fake china in his big hands. Bristles of apprehension skittered across her flesh.
"How did you know which cabinet to open?"
"Uhm, I don't really know." His brows dipped and she found solace in his confusion. He seemed as surprised at his action as she was. He shrugged with dismissal. "I keep my plates beside the stove, so I just assumed yours would be there. I guess it's a pretty common place."
Handing her the dishes, he took the beer then sat at her small table. The tantalizing smell made her stomach growl as she sat across from him. She inhaled the aroma of heaven--pepperoni, bacon, spinach and black olives on Gino's special thick crust. Her favorite. Her mouth watered in anticipation. When he reached for the pepper shaker at the same time she did, she thrust herself back in her chair and crossed her arms across her braless bosom.
"This has got to stop."
"We have the same name, similar addresses and now you bring my favorite pizza and top it with black pepper, just the way I do. What's going on? Are you some kind of stalker or something?"
Both inky black brows shot upward toward a slight widow's peak and he roared with laughter. He twisted the cap off the beer then leaned forward and extracted his wallet from his back pocket. He handed it to her casually. The warmth it held from his body stuttered her heart like the engine of a four-hundred-dollar rust bucket on a February morning. She fought the urge to bring the supple leather to her cheek.
"Here, check my license. I swear to you I'm not a stalker. I really am Francis Sullivan. I really do live at 4742 West Claymore. I own brown leather luggage, love Gino's number three special with extra cheese and black pepper and keep my plates beside the stove."
"This is too weird," she murmured, staring at the rather unflattering identification picture of him. He was six foot one, his birthday was June ninth and he was an organ donor. The laminated card said his eyes were brown but they appeared black as she watched him watch her. Black as homemade sin and damn near as potent.
He served her a slice of pizza and put three on his plate. "Do you think someone's trying to tell us something?"
Ignoring his question, she handed him back his now cool wallet and picked up her pizza slice. "Do people call you Frank?"
"Frank is my father. Francis was my grandfather. I go by Jinx."
"Jinx?" The pizza halted in front of her lips. "Why Jinx?"
"Yeah, long story short, I was a surprise. My brother was in college when I was born. My sister was a junior in high school. She was mortified her parents still did it and got pregnant. My very existence scandalized her. So she named me Jinx before I was even born, claimed I ruined her life."
His easy grin made her relax even more. "My parents were older too. Dad had just retired from the Navy when Mom started tossing her cookies every morning. They were ecstatic, I'm told. They thought they were destined to be childless."
"Do they still live in Georgia?"
"No, Mom passed away a few years ago and Dad just last year."
"I'm sorry." His gentle murmur warmed her blood. Deep compassion reverberated in his dark eyes and it stirred those stomach ants back into dance. Nodding her acceptance, her cheeks heated. He was sweet. Gawd help me.
Frannie stuffed herself with two slices of pizza then sat and listened to Jinx talk about his family while he ate. His voice rolled over her skin like heated oil, soothing and sensuous. Having just returned from an extended Thanksgiving visit, he had plenty of fresh stories to tell. The vivacious humor in his eyes enthralled her. His animation and energy filled the room and she laughed along with him, drawn in by his teasing banter. More similarities came to light amidst shared memories.
Their first pets were both named Snoopy although neither was a dog. Each had teachers named Mr. Butts. They attended high schools named for presidents, although in different states, and both had graduated summa cum laude from different colleges. After slicing two pieces of cheesecake, hers less than half the size of his, she went to the coffeemaker. When she offered him a cup, he agreed but a dare seeped into his tone.
"Take one guess how I like it." As she poured liquid creamer in her cup, she smirked. She added an equal amount of the rich white cream to his cup and handed it to him.
Chuckling, he took a small sip. "Perfect."
"You know, this has got to be some kind of cosmic thing." She pulled her knees up under her on the chair. "It's unreal how similar we are."
"Well there are some important differences," he pointed out, hiding a smile behind his coffee cup. "I don't have three romance novels tucked underneath my thong panties."
"You went through my suitcase!" The accusation in her voice should have made him feel guilty. Instead, he just laughed, arching that devil-black left eyebrow.
"Tell me you didn't do the same."
Since she couldn't, Frannie wisely stayed silent and sipped her coffee. A panicky thought burst through her brain. Had she packed anything embarrassing? No. Her vibrator was still in her nightstand drawer and she hadn't needed the acne cream so far this month, so she was covered. But just knowing his fingers had touched her underwear made her blush. Peering over the rim of her cup, she caught him studying her with intense eyes. The crackle of mutual attraction electrified the air.
Before she could think of a response, Hocus and Pocus wandered into the kitchen. Idly, Jinx reached down and stroked one silky cat as it twined through his feet. A love-starved Pocus pushed his broad head against Jinx's calf. With a deep chuckle, he reached lower to pet the animal. A second sneaky black paw darted out from behind his chair. Suddenly, he jerked his arm up, hissing in surprise and pain.
"Hocus! Pocus! Out!" Frannie scolded, sending both cats scurrying into the living room at breakneck speed. Flirtation fled as mortification barreled into the room. Three long scratches just above Jinx's right wrist oozed blood. He took a paper napkin and dabbed at it as she ran water on a clean dishcloth.
"I'm so sorry. Hocus doesn't like men but he's never drawn blood before." Face burning, she handed him the cloth.
"It's okay, it's just a scratch, but it stings like hell."
My luck he'll get some weird cat fungus and sue me. "Come in here. Let me wash it out and put something on it."
Frannie led him to a small half bath off the hallway. She poured peroxide on the thin red lines and tried to ignore the way he seemed to take up all the space in the tiny room. There was barely enough room to turn around with him standing beside the sink, and she fumbled with the bottle lid. He was too close, too male, too delicious. The scent of pure masculine essence intoxicated her. She couldn't think straight.
It's not fair. No one should be capable of making a bathroom a sexy place.
But he did, just by being there. Gone was the easy friendly presence and harmless flirtations which had developed in the kitchen. Here in the tiled closet, he oozed sex appeal. And I like the ooze, damn it! He stepped even closer. Concentrating on drying the foaming bubbles from his arm, she tried to ignore the jerk in her heart. His quiet voice fanned the hair at her temple.
"So, no husband, but is there a boyfriend I need to worry about?"
"What?" Why do I always turn into an idiot around this man?
"If I kiss you, is there a boyfriend somewhere who's going to clean my clock?"
Frannie raised her head and stared directly into the deep pools of his eyes. Thick lashes framed his searing gaze, rekindling the smoldering fire he had sparked on the plane. He's a snake charmer and I'm dancing to his tune. Mesmerized, she couldn't speak and simply shook her head. He took the damp cloth from her hands and tilted her chin fractionally upward with his knuckle. Her eyes closed as her mouth parted in anticipation. Since the encounter on the plane, she'd been dying to taste his kiss. Soft as a snowflake's landing, his lips settled across hers.