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The buzz of the intercom echoed throughout the spacious co-op. "I'll get it," Myles Eaton announced loudly from the bedroom. Pressing the button on the intercom, he spoke into the speaker. "Yes?"
"Mr. Eaton, there's a take-out delivery in the lobby for you."
"Please send it up."
Zabrina Mixon stepped inside the apartment from the terrace, closing the sliding-glass door behind her. She liked seeing her fiancé dressed casually in T-shirts, shorts and sandals rather than a business suit. Suits always made him appear staid, standoffish. Her gaze lingered on his muscular calves before moving up to his broad chest and finally his ruggedly handsome face. His face was symmetrical with a dark brown complexion, deep-set eyes and a lean, angular jaw that became more pronounced whenever he smiled. His gorgeous smile drew attention to his perfectly aligned white teeth.
She couldn't remember when she hadn't been in love with Myles Eaton. He'd taught her to ride a bike, and whenever she fell he'd brushed off the dirt from her scraped knees and elbows, then helped her to get back on. Her infatuation began in childhood when Myles became her prince.
"I've finished setting the table," said Zabrina.
Myles smiled at his fiancée. He hadn't believed his luck when he'd finally opened his eyes to his sister's best friend. He'd thought of her as a younger sister until her eighteenth birthday. It was the first time that he had kissed her. A few years before that she had kissed him before he left Philadelphia to attend Penn State. Her excuse was that she hadn't wanted him to miss her.
Zabrina kissing Myles had left him feeling unsettled, because at eighteen he was an adult—a sexually active adult, and he had not wanted to take advantage of a teenage girl. However, several years later, they both had changed. Zabrina left home to attend Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Tennessee while he was headed to Pittsburgh to enroll in Duquesne University School of Law.
By the time she was in college, there was nothing prepu-bescent about Zabrina Mixon. She was no longer tall and gangly, her body had filled out with womanly curves and her voice had deepened to a low, sexy tone that never failed to send shivers up and down his body. The sound of her voice was only matched by the luminous hazel eyes that pulled him in and refused to let him go.
Zabrina had a way of seducing him without saying a word. All she had to do was look at him and he forgot any woman he'd ever known. They reconnected whenever they returned home during semester breaks, but it wasn't until she'd graduated from college that he'd proposed marriage and she'd accepted. They'd talked about having a June wedding, but the establishment where they wanted to have the reception was booked solid until October. They'd reserved the last Saturday in October, because neither wanted a winter wedding given the unpredictable weather.
Myles winked at Zabrina. "Go back outside and relax, baby. The food is on its way up and I'll bring everything out to the terrace."
She returned the wink, then retraced her steps. Settling into an oversize pillow on the terrace of Myles's fourteenth-floor co-op, Zabrina waited for him to join her.
After her twelve-hour shift at a busy Philadelphia municipal hospital, she'd checked her cell phone for messages earlier that day. There were two: one from her father to let her know he was having dinner with an up-and-coming local politician who wanted Isaac Mixon to run his campaign for reelection to the state assembly, and the second from Myles.
After listening to Myles's message asking her to meet him for dinner at his apartment, she'd gone home to shower and change her clothes, then walked the short distance from the condominium where she lived with her father to Myles's high-rise. The doorman at the luxury building had greeted her by name. Within days of Myles slipping the diamond engagement ring onto her finger, he'd given her a key to his co-op and had officially notified the building management to grant her complete access.
The sun slipped lower, taking with it the intense summer heat as a cool breeze swept over her face and body. Lighted votives that she'd positioned around the terrace flickered like fireflies with the encroaching darkness. Philadelphia had experienced the most brutal heat wave it'd had in years. A steady two-day rain had finally broken the ninety-plus-degree heat and the streets in the City of Brotherly Love once again teemed with residents and tourists taking advantage of the more comfortable summer temperatures.
Turning her gaze away from the panoramic view of the twin glass spires of Liberty Place soaring above the Philadelphia skyline, Zabrina saw Myles holding a shopping bag from which emanated the most mouthwatering aroma.
"Something smells wonderful."
Myles leaned over and kissed the hair she'd brushed off her face and secured in a single braid. "That must be my linguine with garlic and olive oil."
"Phew," Zabrina said, pinching her nostrils. "Remind me not to kiss you."
"What if I brush my teeth and use mouthwash?"
She wrinkled her nose. "I'll think about it," she teased.
Myles sat opposite Zabrina, reached into the bag and took out a small container of Caesar salad, then two larger containers with his entrée and Zabrina's Caesar salad with grilled chicken. "Wait, darling, we're missing something."
Zabrina examined the place settings. "What's missing?"
"Wine and music."
"What are we celebrating, Myles?"
He stood and leaned over the table. "My love for you, darling."
Zabrina rose to brush her mouth over his, her eyes filling with tears. She never tired of hearing him say that he loved her. "And I love you, too, Myles Adam Eaton."
Myles returned with a bottle of wine, glasses and a small portable radio that he'd tuned to an all-music station.
He filled the wineglasses with a light rosé, raising his goblet in a toast. "Here's to the sexiest and most beautiful woman in the world. I'm counting down the days until I can make you my wife."
Zabrina paused, trying to keep her fragile emotions under control. She touched her glass to his. "Here's to the man who makes me feel alive, look forward to tomorrow and to all my tomorrows as his wife."
A wave of sadness came over her like a rushing wave. She didn't know why, but she felt like crying. In exactly three months she would exchange vows with the man she loved beyond words. How many women, she wondered, were fortunate enough to marry the first man they'd fallen in love with? Not too many, so she'd counted herself blessed.
"Here, here," Myles intoned before taking a sip of wine.
"I hope your client is toasting you for keeping his butt out of prison."
A scowl settled across his features. He'd made it a practice not to discuss his work with Zabrina, but the name of his high-profile client was on the tongue of most Phila-delphians after the aide to the mayor had been charged with a sex crime.
"Jack Tolliver was innocent and apparently the prosecutor agreed with me when he threw out the charges for lack of evidence."
"But didn't he admit to sleeping with the woman?"
Myles rolled his eyes upward. "Yes, baby."
"So, who's to say it was consensual?"
"He said he didn't rape her."
Zabrina gave him a quizzical look. "And you believed him?"
"Just because he said he didn't do it?" She gestured with her fork. "Darling, Jack Tolliver is a lying, cheating politician who wouldn't recognize the truth if it jumped up and bit him on the ass."
Myles angled his head. "Are you angry with Jack because he cheated on his wife with another woman, or are you angry because he's a politician?"
"It's because he's a politician, Myles. I know he's human, but when he stands up in front of millions of voters asking for their trust, the least he could do is not betray their trust—and his wife's—by creeping with a married woman."
"You're too young to be so jaded when it comes to politicians, baby. Perhaps you should stay away from your father's friends."
He'd gotten the judge to dismiss the case because the plaintiff's rape kit had turned up evidence that she'd slept with his client and with another man. If Myles was going to toast anything it was that DNA forensics had helped to exonerate or convict suspects in some of the most violent crimes.
"My father's friends are just that—his friends. The only interaction I have with them is when I stand in as his hostess. Other than that, I loathe their fake smiles, weak handshakes, lecherous stares and the rare occasion when they brush against me pretending that it was an accident."
Myles went completely still, his frown deepening. "Is someone bothering you?"
She waved a hand. "No, darling. Most of them are around the same age as my father, so I ignore them."
Zabrina stared at her fiancé across the small space. Lately, she and Myles saw less and less of each other. Her eight-hour shift rotated every three months, and then there was overtime. Myles had passed the bar and clerked for a judge before becoming a trial lawyer for a Philadelphia firm handling high-profile cases. His ultimate goal was to make partner within ten years.
Swallowing a mouthful of pasta, Myles met Zabrina's eyes. They appeared catlike in the candlelight. "Can you take a couple of days off?"
"I'd like for us to go away together so we can spend some quality time together."
Reaching over the table, Myles grasped her hands. "I saw more of you before we were engaged than I do now."
Zabrina sobered. He'd read her mind. "That's because you've become a workaholic."
"I want to make partner, Brina."
She wanted to tell Myles there were no guarantees that he would make partner even if he worked ninety hours a week, while winning every case for the firm. But she held her tongue because she didn't want him to think she wasn't supportive.
"Where do you want to go?" she asked.
His grip tightened on her fingers. "I'll leave that up to you."
It took only seconds for her to make a decision. "I want to go to Buenos Aires."
"Buenos Aires, Argentina?" She nodded. "What's in Buenos Aires?"
"Tango lessons," Zabrina replied. "I want our first dance as husband and wife to be a tango, and what better place to learn the dance of love and passion than in Argentina?"
Rising, Myles walked around the circular table and gently pulled Zabrina to her feet. He dipped his head and pressed his mouth to the column of her scented neck. "I happen to believe we dance very well together."
She giggled like a child. "Are you talking about the horizontal mambo?"
"Yes, I am."
Moving into his embrace, Zabrina wrapped her arms around Myles's waist. He felt so good, smelled so incredibly delicious. His cologne was specially blended to complement his body's natural pheromones. She closed her eyes and smiled. "I seem to have forgotten the steps."
Pulling her closer, Myles reveled in the soft crush of firm breasts against his chest. "How long has it been, baby?" he whispered.
Zabrina thought back to the last time they'd made love. "It's been at least three weeks."
"I promise to make love to…"
She placed her fingertips over his mouth, stopping his words. "Don't promise. Just do it."
Bending slightly, Myles swept his fiancée up into his arms and carried her off the terrace to the bedroom. He hadn't wanted to believe he hadn't made love to Zabrina in weeks. When, he thought, had his work taken precedence over the woman he loved and planned to marry? She'd become the most important thing in his life, yet he'd let something else replace her.
Their candlelit terrace dinner was forgotten when he placed Zabrina on the bed, his body following hers. It took less than a minute for Myles to remove her sandals, sundress and panties. The light from the bedside-table lamp, dimmed to its lowest setting, spilled over her nude body, making it appear like a statue of gold.
He undressed and then moved over her. "I can't believe I've neglected you for so long. I want you to remind me when I get so caught up straightening out other people's lives that I forget what I have right in front of me."
Zabrina buried her face between Myles's neck and shoulder at the same time her arms went around his waist. "How often do you want me to remind you?"
"Every night," he said in her ear.
She opened her eyes and smiled. "If that's the case, then I'll be certain to do it."
Myles breathed a kiss under her ear, along the column of her neck and to her throat. His rapacious tongue charted a path down her body as he suckled one breast, then the other. Zabrina's breathing came faster and faster. His tongue swept over her like a wild cat savoring its kill. He tasted her belly. Effortlessly he turned her over to taste her back, nipping the skin covering her hips. Pressing a kiss to the small of her back, he moved lower to the area between her legs. Myles anchored his hands under her thighs and pulled her up into a kneeling position.
Zabrina was on fire! It was as if Myles had struck a match and set her ablaze. The increasing heat between her legs escalated as her hips undulated in a natural rhythm that communicated a long-denied need.
Myles felt and inhaled the rising desire from the slender body pushing back against his belly. He hardened quickly, so quickly he feared spilling his passion on the sheets. Guiding his erection, he eased it between Zabrina's thighs. The two of them sighed as flesh closed around flesh, making them one.
Grasping her waist with both hands, he held her captive as she pushed back to meet his strong thrusts. He closed his eyes and bit down on his lip to keep the groans building in his throat from escaping, but the rising passion was too much and he moaned as if in pain. But it was the most pleasurable pain he'd ever experienced.
He didn't know what it was about Zabrina Mixon, but once she had offered him her virginal body, every woman in his past had ceased to exist. And what he couldn't understand was how had he gone nearly a month without making love with her. Had his quest to make partner taken precedence over the woman he loved? Zabrina didn't want him to make promises, but he promised himself that tonight would signal change. He would put his fiancée first and his career second.