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Arousal. Zoë felt it as soon as her car approached the village of Carbrey. Her thighs instinctively pressed together, her hands moving on the surface of the steering wheel. It was almost as if a warm, lingering touch had moved over her entire body. The sensation was pleasant, and it caused a sensuous shiver to pass through her, but it was so odd that she had to glance into the backseat to reassure herself that there was no one in the car with her. She wondered if she'd driven into a humid weather trough. It was particularly hot, even for late August, but this was different. This felt as if the warmth were all around her—and inside her, too.
It was like, what? Being turned on?
"Too weird," she said aloud, her hands tightening on the steering wheel. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror. Running one hand around the back of her neck, she tried to concentrate. The long drive from London to the east coast of Scotland had got to her, that's what it was. She'd stopped overnight in York the night before, but had covered the rest of the journey in one lap. A coffee stop after Edinburgh might have been a good idea. Reaching for the air-conditioning, she flicked it up a notch.
Ahead, an old-fashioned black-on-white signpost pointed the way to the village. She was almost there. She'd memorized the directions, and she knew the right-hand fork led to the coast road, the left led down the cliff side and into Carbrey, the harbor village where she'd rented a cottage. She took the left fork and then pulled her car up onto the grass verge. Still she felt it, like warm breath moving over her skin, as if she weren't alone.
"I need fresh air," she murmured.
Just beyond the spot where she had parked was a heavily wooded area, and she got out of the car to take a better look. Stretching, she leaned up against the side of the car. The sun felt good on her back and she only vaguely registered the occasional passing car as she stared over at the tall trees that stood so close together against the cliff side, like sentries.
It would feel good to go in there, into the mysterious enclave of the forest, to walk barefoot in the moss and rest her body up against the large tree trunks. It wasn't something she'd normally think about, but she found the idea oddly compelling and she stared into the verdant gloom between the trees, imagining what it might feel like, what the scent of the forest would do to her. As she thought about it, she could almost feel the mossy ground beneath her feet and the brush of the leaves against her hands as she wended her way through the woods.
The voice was close by and Zoë's heart leapt in her chest, her pulse erratic as she turned in the direction of the man who had spoken. She hadn't even heard the motorcycle approach. It purred softly, all shiny black metal and chrome. The rider switched off the engine and took off his helmet. Pale blond hair spilled to his shoulders. Gray-green eyes scrutinized her.
"No," she managed to reply, "I was just admiring the view." She gestured in the general direction of the forest, unable to drag her attention away from him.
Built tall and distinctive-looking, he demanded her attention even more than the pretty countryside. He had a defined jaw and cheekbones, and the most sensuous mouth she'd ever seen. Taking a deep breath, she smiled.
"I saw you pull up as I came along the coast road. Thought you might have lost your way." He spoke with a rich Scottish accent, and one corner of his mouth lifted as he contemplated her. "Maybe I can help."
There was something that he could help her with, and that thing came to mind in blazing 3D graphics. An image of him climbing over her, thrusting inside her, flashed through her mind. Where did that come from?
She stared, rudely, but she couldn't help it. She wanted to drag him over her and demand contact. A chuckle escaped her lips. He was very attractive; her reaction was to be expected. Broad shoulders outlined in a leather jacket and faded blue jeans outlined strong muscular thighs to perfection. Her gaze was instinctively drawn to the bulge at his groin, and she caught her bottom lip between her teeth, her face heating before she managed to drag her attention away.
He kicked down the bike stand and climbed off it, peering at her with those intense gray-green eyes, the sort of eyes you didn't forget in a hurry. "Sure you're okay? You look kind of startled. Is that my fault?"
He gave her a slow once-over, his gaze lingering around her bare midriff, then he locked eyes with her, the question hanging in the air between them. She felt that weird feeling again, as if something had wrapped itself around her, sinuous, and oddly seductive. Why the hell am I thinking about sex?
Too long since I had it, maybe.
The sun shone bright behind his head and for a moment she felt dizzy and disoriented, gazing up at him.
She shielded her eyes. "I'm fine, thank you. I'm just about to set off."
He loomed closer, blocking out the sun, his face in shadow. "Stay very still," he instructed.
Her breath caught in her throat when he reached over with one leather-gloved hand and lifted her hair from where it clung to her neck. Something moved against her skin and she jumped.
"Still as you can," he whispered, and she felt his breath against her face. His proximity made her feel deliciously unsteady, her state of arousal increasing by the moment. As he bent over her neck, she was glad of the car at her back, holding her up.
Tension ratcheted inside her and she was about to question him when his free hand swooped in and closed over her skin. Sensation ran the length of her neck and then shot deep inside her when he ran his thumb against her skin, soothingly, before moving his closed fist away.
Opening his hand, he revealed his catch.
A large, spindly black spider sat in the palm of his leather-gloved hand, still as a statue.
"Oh, bloody hell." She shivered.
"He won't hurt you. It's a forest spider. He's wandered in the heat and found somewhere appealing to hide. He likes you." He smiled, and rested his hand on the roof of the car, setting the spider free.
She jerked away from the car and found herself pressed up against him, one hand on his leather jacket. The spider scurried quickly across the roof of the car and away over the other side, as if headed back to the woods. Realizing that she was now pinned up against him, she glanced up at him.
He put his hand flat on the car roof, trapping her, a gleam in his eyes as he considered her. "You're safe now."
He didn't move.
For some reason she didn't feel safe, but she liked it. Looking at his mouth, just inches from hers, she wanted contact. His jacket beneath her hand felt solid and warm from the sun. She could smell the leather, leather and his cologne, something akin to the forest. Images of raunchy sex filled her mind, assailing her senses. Scottish biker on the side of the road—she wanted to be rolling on the grass with him, to have his powerful male body between her thighs, thrusting and grinding. Her legs felt weak when the idea of it forced its way to the front of her mind, and her pussy throbbed with longing. She squeezed her thighs together, trying to maintain some sense of decorum, hard though it was. "Thank you. I do appreciate you checking on me."
"No problem. I'll see you later." He stroked her hair as if tidying it for her, before returning to his bike.
She made herself look away, but stole another glance as he mounted the bike, her body growing hotter by the moment as he settled onto the machine, legs wrapped around the engine. He pulled on his helmet, revved the engine, and gave her one last wave with a leather-gloved hand.
He'd said, "see you later," she thought, as she returned the wave. Zoë was born and bred in London and it wasn't something she'd expect a stranger to say. This was a small village, though. That's why he'd said that, she reasoned, getting a good look at his physique as he sped off.
Leanly muscled back inside black leather. Fit rear end outlined in denim. Her fingers itched to touch him, to discover how that body might feel under her hands.
I want to sit on him, to ride him until I come.
Cupping her hand briefly over her fly, she ached to touch herself. What was the matter with her? She didn't normally look at men this way. Well, not quite so blatantly, at any rate.
When her mobile phone bleeped into life she leapt into the car seat and picked it up, glad of the distraction, fanning her face with her free hand as she glanced at the screen. It was her sister. "Hey, Gina."
"Are you there yet? I'm dying to know what it's like."
"Not quite there yet, but soon. The landscape is stunning. You were right, it's a great spot."
"Are you okay? You sound kind of fazed."
"I'm fine." She reached into her bag for her electronic organizer, bringing up the calendar to see if she could be premenstrual. There had to be a logical explanation for her being so bloody horny. That might be it. Her natural instinct was to check all possibilities, as if she were checking last-minute flights for her boss. The practical approach was second nature to her.
Her calendar flashed into action. Nope. It wasn't that. She would have known. She was a well-organized personal assistant in London, and she had to be on top of everything. Never distracted, never disorganized. If it wasn't that making her hot and horny, it had to be a freak weather condition, because of the village's positioning on the coastline.
"What was that?" Gina asked, when the organizer beeped.
"Just checking my calendar."
Gina groaned. "Zoë, leave your London attitude behind, for God's sake. You're on holiday, relax."
"I am. I'm fine. I just got hot all of a sudden and I wondered if I was premenstrual."
Gina sighed, heavily. "Good grief, woman."
"I'll be fine when I have a shower and a nap. I'm literally just outside the village. I'll call you back as soon as I get the keys to the cottage. Deal?"
Reluctantly, Gina agreed. "You better ring back soon. I'll be hanging by the phone waiting to hear all about it."
Zoë smiled as she put her phone away, feeling a tad more levelheaded. She wondered what the biker's name was. The accent had suggested that he was local, although she was no expert on Scottish accents. This was her first visit.
There was something about him, something compelling.
Her mother used to talk about people having auras. Zoë thought it was nonsense, but for some reason it came to mind now. The biker had an aura. That, and sheer animal magnetism. His hair was so unusual, white-blond and heavy. If he were in bed with a woman, would it brush over the woman's body, heightening her pleasure? The thought made her want to find out. With those stark cheekbones and unusual eyes, he had a hellish sexy look.
She couldn't help wishing she really had broken down and needed his assistance for a bit longer. She reached over to turn the radio up. The raunchy rock music she'd had on at a low level in the background had hardly touched her consciousness on the entire drive up here, and yet now it made her hum along. She signaled, checked the rearview mirror, and pulled back onto the road.
Winding down the steep cliff side into the village, she turned a corner, and there it was. Pretty, pastel-colored cottages lined up either side of a meandering road that led down to the harbor. "I made it."
Carbrey was a small fishing village. There were other villages nearby but the nearest large town was some twenty miles along the coast. Zoë had come for the sea views and the coastal paths, and the place was postcard perfect. She had a stack of books in her suitcase and her walking gear. That was all she needed, although a bit more time around that sexy biker might make it a holiday to remember, she mused.
The locals watched her car go by with undisguised curiosity. Several of the children waved, making her smile as she waved back. Passing by a pretty pub called the Silver Birch, a tiny school, and a chapel interspersed with quaint houses, she drew to a halt at the crossroads at the bottom of the hill. A marina provided safe harbor for around forty small boats that were bobbing merrily on the incoming tide. It was gloriously sunny but windy down here, the sky a blaze of blue, the fast-moving clouds barely blocking out the sunlight as they sped across it. A handful of tourists drifted about the harbor area, three teenagers eating ice cream, a young family posing for photographs by the boats. It was almost the end of the season and Zoë imagined it was much busier in the middle of the summer.
On her right a corner shop with a post office sign marked the place where she had to pick up the keys. To the left, Shore Lane ran down to the very edge of the water. The last few houses existed on a limited lifespan as the sea ate away at the land. That was a big selling point about the fisherman's cottage she'd rented. It was a beautiful little place, over three hundred years old, but in a decade or so the sea would erode another few feet of the coast and the cottages out on Shore Lane wouldn't be habitable.
She turned left, figuring she'd park up and walk back to the post office for the keys. In the distance she could make out a small island where a lighthouse stood. The sun gleamed on the water. Driving slowly along the narrow street, she marveled at how close the water came to the houses. On her right-hand side, a large workshop took the last bit of land, backing onto the marina, before it dropped away completely into the sea, right behind the wall at the edge of the lane. A sign read Logan's Boat Yard. As she drove by, a tall young man appeared from inside the boat workshop to watch.