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Ethan Cooper stared out the window, his expression bland. He knew it was bland. He could feel it pulling into lines of complete blank shock.
He should move. He told himself to move as he clenched his fists and pressed them into the wall beside the small attic window.
He was going to move.
In just a minute.
Just as soon as he came in his jeans from the sight that met his bemused eyes.
It wasn’t his fault.
He was excusing himself and he damned well knew it. He was just too . . . shell-shocked. Yeah, that was the word. Too shell-shocked to move a single muscle and drag himself away from the little window with a bird’s-eye view into the neighbors’ secluded backyard.
Pervert! he railed at himself.
That didn’t stop him. He was transfixed. His cock was in hell. He was practically drooling on his dusty attic floor as he watched shy little priss, Miss Sarah Fox, naked as God created her.
Glistening beneath the sun, slender hands moving.
He closed his eyes. Swallowed tightly. She thought she was in the privacy of her own home. She thought that sheltering fence she’d paid a fucking fortune to have built around her pool was tall enough to protect her. That no one could see her. That she was safe.
He opened his eyes.
He felt sweat bead on his forehead and roll down his temple as she smoothed her hands over her breasts. Cupped them. Rolled her nipples.
"Christ," he wheezed. There was a flash of gold.
He felt his cock get impossibly thicker. Felt his balls tighten. His balls? Damn. He could barely breathe.
Prissy Miss Fox had nipple rings. Fucking nipple rings. Beneath those staid blouses and too-long damned skirts she wore, she was wearing fucking nipple rings?
His fists tightened as he pressed them into the window frame. He blinked back sweat, and he couldn’t drag his eyes away from her.
Long nut-brown, riotously curly hair fanned around her. A hell of a lot longer than he had imagined it was. And she was curved. Curved where a woman should be curved.
And her fingers.
He tried to swallow. Her fingers were pulling at the little gold piercings in her nipples, and her expression was filled with pleasure.
Her entire body was sheened with oil. He forced his eyes from her nipples. Down.
"God have mercy." He was breathing fast, hard.
Fine. He was a fucking pervert. He unzipped his jeans, dragged free his dick, and curled his fingers around the shaft, palming it, stroking it.
Because, she was moving again. The fingers of one hand were trailing down her stomach, to her bare, waxed, glistening . . .
He leaned his forehead against the little circular window, stared, fought to breathe. There was gold there, too. Just a flash. Just enough to assure his very trained eye that Sarah Fox had a piercing at the hood of her clitoris.
And she was playing with it. Pulling at it. Stroking her clit with glistening fingers.
She didn’t writhe. She wasn’t arching or giving him a show. She was a woman, lost in her own fantasy, her own touch. Her teeth clenched her lower lip, perspiration beaded her skin. Oil shimmered on it. And she was stroking herself. Slowly. Enjoying it. A woman who liked to be teased. Who liked the buildup. A slow hand.
He timed the strokes on his cock with the slender fingers moving between her thighs. Fine, he was fucking hard-core into watching the coolest little piece of flesh in town touching herself.
Damn. It was good. Who knew?
He stroked his cock, feeling her fingers on his flesh, slick, oil slick. He palmed the thick crown, feeling the steel that pierced the head of his cock, stroked down the shaft, and felt his chest tightening with the release building inside his balls.
And still she played.
His gaze narrowed on her. Her expression was almost distressed. Her fingers were moving faster now, stroking. His fingers stroked. His thumb raked over the curved steel beneath the head of his cock as he imagined the piercing in her clit.
Ah hell. Damn. He couldn’t handle it. He watched. Her fingers, her face, the sweat that ran into her hair and then he blew. He felt the ragged growl that tore from his throat, the blistering curse as his come exploded from his balls, splattering against his fingers as Sarah’s hips arched and her expression twisted.
Her hand slapped the cement beside her. She sat up, pushed her fingers through her hair, then jerked to her feet and stalked back into her little house as Cooper stared at her in shock.
His come was cooling on his fingers and Sarah had been left disappointed?
He blinked down at the pool area as he absently grabbed an old T-shirt and wiped his fingers clean of his release, then his still-hard cock.
Fixing his jeans he stared out the window, narrowing his eyes. Most of the houses in the area were single story, with privacy fences built around them. It just so happened Cooper’s was just a little bit taller than most to allow for a taller attic. Just tall enough, the window positioned just right to look down into her pool area.
For some unknown reason, there were few of the houses built on the same line in the little Southern Texas town. Just so happened, his was built just right.
He grinned at his luck. Then he frowned as he readjusted his jeans and moved to the door of the long attic and down the spiral, metal stairs that led down to the kitchen. Damn if Miss Fox hadn’t just given him the release of the year or something.
The thought of her—disappointed. Wet. Pierced.
Fuck. Pierced. Sarah Fox. The woman he assumed was a staid little virgin. At least, that was the rumor. Virgin? With those piercings? Not likely.
Satisfied was another thing entirely, and as much as he would have liked to, helping Miss Sarah find her release wasn’t going to become his aim in life.
Ethan Cooper was the bad boy, and he knew it. He owned the local bar, a sometimes biker hangout and generally ill-reputed establishment. And he liked it that way.
He was ill-reputable. The local troublemaker turned bar owner after returning from the Army where he’d served more than eight years. A bullet to his knee had put him out of the Rangers, but it hadn’t put him out of life. A few scars and heavy pins in a reconstructed knee weren’t enough to kill that untamed, sometimes dark core inside his soul.
The Army had honed it. The Rangers had sharpened it. Life itself may have darkened it further. But it was still there. He was still dangerous. He was still dark. He was still footloose and fancy-free. And he intended to stay that way.
Sarah threw the towel on her bed, pouted, and stomped to the shower. She washed the tanning oil from her body beneath the spray and sighed in exasperation at the need that still throbbed between her thighs.
Twenty-four years old. She was twenty-four years old and still a virgin. And as though everyone in this little town she had moved to knew it, she was still known as Miss Sarah. And she was tired of it.
She washed quickly, dried her hair vigorously before combing through the tangles and leaving the long, loose ringlets hanging to the middle of her back before moving back to the bedroom and breathing out roughly.
She’d tried everything to make herself fit in here, in this little Texas town.
Well, everything but walking into a bar and just picking up a man and she just couldn’t bring herself to do that. Just as she hadn’t been able to bring herself to let one of the drunken frat boys from college heave and moan over her.
She grimaced at the thought of the parties her sorority sisters had dragged her to while in college. There had been a few boys who hadn’t been drunk. Who had flirted with her, seemed interested. In a quick little screw.
She sat down on her bed and glared at her bedroom wall. She should have moved to a larger town. She made a damn good living as a Web designer and computer programmer. She worked for an excellent company. She had good benefits. She’d been damn lucky. She didn’t have to do the nine-to-five rush and could relax. She could afford to move to Houston or Dallas. The thought had her breath trapping in her throat. So many strangers. So much noise and fear. It was quieter here in Simsburg. A little, almost unknown, town outside of Corpus Christi. She could relax here.
Shaking her head, she rose from the bed and headed to the closet. She pulled one of the sleeveless dresses from the closet and slipped it over her head before buttoning it nearly to her neck.
She went back to the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror. She unbuttoned the dress, spread it back from her chest and stared.
The faint white lines were still there. She should stay out of the sun, she told herself as she let her fingers trace over the thin white scars. Tanning made them worse, she reminded herself. Made them easier to see. Harder to hide.
She let her fingers trace over them. There were half a dozen, long, narrow, very thin. But they were there. They had been there since she was sixteen years old. Sixteen and stupid.
She rebuttoned her dress before moving back to the bedroom and pulling on the bronze lace panties she took from her dresser. She slid her feet into sandals, twisted up her hair and secured it in a smooth twist at the back of her head before heading to the kitchen for her purse.
She locked the house quickly but securely as she stepped out on the front porch a few moments later. Even here, in the quaint little town, amid the little houses and friendly citizens, she didn’t take chances. She kept her doors locked. Her windows locked. She kept her car locked.
Head down, she dug her keys out of her purse, raising her head just in time to see her neighbor driving into the driveway right beside hers.
The powerful steel-gray four-by-four rumbled with power as he drove into the driveway. Parking, he moved from the vehicle, then stopped and stared.
God, he was a poster boy for big, bad, and dangerous. Six four. Jeans and boots. A T-shirt that did nothing to hide the snake tattoo wrapping around his bicep.
And he was staring at her. He stopped by his pickup, folded his arms on the top of it, and just stared. Hooded dark eyes, thick lashes. Black hair, dark flesh.
She stared back, feeling her chest tighten as it did every time she saw him. She could feel her breasts suddenly swelling, her nipples pressing against the thin material of her dress. She could feel heat skimming over her body, as she felt pinned in place, held by his gaze.
His lips quirked. The lower lip was a little fuller than the upper. It was sexy, sexual. It was a wicked smile that promised he knew her secret fantasies. And knew he starred in them.
Sarah felt held. Caught. Her fingers gripped her keys, and as a breeze whispered around her, she was sure she felt his gaze like a caress. Licking over her bare legs. Up her dress.
Her breath caught.
"Miss Sarah, how are you doing today?" His voice rumbled and stroked her senses with wicked fingers of desire.
God, he was incredible.
"Just fine, Mr. Cooper. And your knee appears to be doing quite well."
He had returned from the military wounded. Sarah had done the neighborly thing for a year. Fixed soup and cookies, and a few times made certain to pick up fresh vegetables or light snacks from the store for him to eat.
He was appreciative. He always thanked her nicely. But damn if he had ever invited her to share a meal. She had done everything to make certain he was in fit, healthy shape, and he still called her Miss Sarah.
"The knee is as good as it’s gonna get." He flashed her that bad-boy smile and her heart raced as though he had actually touched her.
"I’m glad you’re doing better."
He made her feel jittery. He made her feel flushed and hot.
"I’m doing just fine." He tilted his head, lifted a hand, and touched two fingers to his forehead in a gesture of farewell before striding to the front door of his house, unlocking it and moving out of sight.
She drew in oxygen with a ragged breath, clenched her keys, and forced herself to the car. Hitting the auto door lock, she got into the sweltering confines of the car and started the engine with a hard turn of the key.
He couldn’t know her fantasies. She kept all her fantasies safely locked away, along with her nightmares.
He would never know that when she touched herself, she thought of him. That when she thought of being bad, being naughty, she always thought of being naughty with him. He would never know that she had come here because of him. Because of his actions on a dark, shadowed Dallas street and her fascination for the man who her uncle had saved.
Ethan Cooper had been one of the first people she met when the realty agent showed her the little house. He had been outside, cutting the grass in his front yard, pausing to watch as she drove into the driveway with the Realtor.
He had smiled and lifted his hand in greeting before going back to his yard work. Shirtless. In jeans and boots. Dark flesh gleaming. Sweat running in narrow rivulets down his back and shoulders. Black hair laying damp along his nape.
Then he had turned his head back quickly, and grinned and winked at her while the Realtor wasn’t looking, which made her respond as though he had actually touched her.
She had gotten wet instantly. Hot and wet. And she had practically been panting as she walked up the drive to the little house. As though it had been a sign, that the dreams and fantasies she had woven around him could have a chance.
He was big, tall, broad, and dangerous-looking. The Realtor said Mr. Cooper was in the military. He had disappeared several weeks later and his house had sat empty, except for the occasional motorcycle-riding thug-looking type who came, checked over things, and then left.
A year later, Ethan Cooper had returned limping. She’d heard he’d been wounded in action. She’d watched as he worked out in the enclosed acre he owned behind his house. Weights, push-ups, sit-ups, stretches. God, he had made her crazy that year. She’d nearly killed herself trying to ease the cramp of arousal in her stomach.
Excerpted from Real Men Last All Night by Lora Leigh, Lori Foster, Cheyenne Mccray and Heidi Betts.
Copyright © 2009 by Lora Leigh.
Published in July 2009 by St. Martin’s Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.