READ THE FIRST CHAPTER OF TEMPTED
***Sample contains explicit content. May not be suitable for all readers.
A heavy sigh escaped Jane Sims as she closed the email. Shutting down her laptop, she walked to the window and leaned her head against the pane, looking out onto the street as the words she’d read replayed in her head.
Sorry, but we won’t be able to make it next weekend. Brian has a business meeting with some local investors Saturday morning, and the twins have already made plans. We’ll try to come up the following weekend.
She shouldn’t be surprised. It wasn’t the first time Emily had canceled, yet despite her daughter’s assurances, Jane knew there would be another email next week, postponing the visit yet again. Though they only lived forty-five minutes away, Jane hadn’t seen Emily and her family since Thanksgiving.
The buzz of the dryer signal interrupted her thoughts, and she turned from the window, making her way to the laundry room. She could hear the drone of the television coming from the den and glanced in on her way down the hall. Roger was watching a sports program on ESPN, completely engrossed in the commentary between the two sportscasters. He didn’t look up as she passed; she may as well have been invisible for all of the attention he paid her lately.
Pulling the warm, fluffy towels from the dryer, she paused before folding them, holding the soft cotton up to her face and breathing in their fresh, clean scent. She didn’t mind doing laundry; well, she didn’t mind the washing and drying part, but she hated the putting away. It was her most dreaded chore as a child, and she chuckled at the memory of her laundry ritual from days long past.
She quickly folded the towels and carried them to the hall closet, placing them on a shelf. Chores completed, she closed the door with a resounding thump, debating how to spend the rest of her day. Originally, she’d planned to do some baking for when Emily and her family came to visit, but that was off the table now.
Looking outside again at the bright sunshine, she was overcome with the urge to take a walk through the neighborhood. With Spring right around the corner and early flowers already in bloom, she could use some fresh air. It’d been an exceptionally cold winter, and she hadn’t spent as much time outdoors as she would’ve liked.
Turning on her heel, she walked to her bedroom, smiling as she entered the suite. She loved this room. She’d redecorated it three years earlier, and the rich hues and lovingly chosen details always invoked a sense of peace.
The walls were painted a rich shade of caramel, and the light pine floor gleamed. Ornamental wrought iron adorned the walls, and throughout the room splashes of chocolate brown and blood orange added color from the draperies to the throw pillows and accent rugs. The space felt warm and inviting, and when the afternoon light streamed through the arched windows, the room lit up like a sunset.
Most of one wall was taken up by a king-sized bed with a padded tapestry headboard, shades of rich espresso and deep vermillion carrying over to the comforter. The fabric was microsuede, and Jane loved the feel of it against her skin. One of her greatest luxuries was sliding between crisp sheets at the end of a long day and wrapping the comforter around her like a cocoon, snuggling deeply into its softness.
While the bed was the showpiece of the room, her favorite space was a small alcove on the far wall. Here her grandmother’s secretary desk stood, its rich mahogany finish glowing as a result of daily polishing. The tiny drawers and cubbies had always fascinated Jane as a child, and she’d been overwhelmed when the dear lady bequeathed it to her only granddaughter. She’d been lucky to find a chair in the same style and finish to match the desk as the original had long since been discarded, the victim of an unfortunate game of indoor touch football.
A Tiffany-style lamp shone like a jewel, its panels embedded with green and red dragonflies. Bills to be paid and correspondence to be mailed both were stacked neatly on the desktop, and her writing implements stuck out of a mug proclaiming her to be the World’s Greatest Mommy, a gift she’d received over two decades earlier from a proud five-year-old Emily.
The remainder of the room exhibited a hodge-podge of antique furnishings. The Maloof-style rocker where she’d spent countless nights rocking her children to sleep. A hand-stitched Moroccan ottoman. A pair of matching Victorian-style dressers strewn with personal items – a wallet, loose change, and lottery ticket on Roger’s; a porcelain vase and their wedding photo on Jane’s.
The small antechamber that connected the sleeping area with the bath boasted her vanity, the mirrored top holding her makeup and accessories. The master bath was almost as large as the bedroom, with an oversized Jacuzzi tub and walk-in, multi-head shower. Separate sinks and dressing areas were on each side of the closeted commode, and the large walk-in closet belonged to Roger. Jane preferred keeping their clothes separate, and aside from one shelf that held their daily towels, she was more than happy to let him have the space. Since the hall closet had been designated as a linen closet that left her the huge walk-in closet in the bedroom as her own.
She’d decorated the bathroom in much the same way as the bedroom, with complementary colors throughout. Dozens of candles and a built-in sound system, including a multi-cd changer, added a spa-like quality. A skylight in the ceiling above the tub provided a perfect view of the stars during her nighttime bubble baths.
Roger had never complimented her on the rooms or decor, had made no remark one way or the other except to complain about the number of pillows on the bed. She knew he didn’t care how she decorated the house, but it wouldn’t have hurt for him to at least acknowledge her effort.
He rarely remarked on anything anymore; not her cooking, her housekeeping, not even her looks. It had been months since he’d touched her with the exception of a cursory kiss on the lips before leaving for work in the mornings. She wasn’t sure why he lost interest in sex, but despite her best efforts he always found a way to avoid it.
She tried talking to him, concerned there might be a medical reason behind his disinterest, to no avail. Thinking he was bored, she began dropping subtle hints, leaving little love notes around the house for him to find. When that didn’t work, she progressed to dirtier suggestions, hoping he’d be amused and interested by her initiative.
Those also failed to produce a response, so she’d resorted to a more basic enticement, whipping up his favorite meal, soft music and candlelight adding to the ambiance. When he raised an eyebrow at her comment about dessert consisting of chocolate sauce and whipped cream she was hopeful, but no sooner had he shoved the last mouthful of pot roast in his mouth did he push his chair away from the table and head for the den.
Jane dissolved into tears as the television blared to life down the hall. Not bothering to clear away the dirty dishes, she headed for their bedroom, peeling off her clothes and removing the sexy lingerie she’d bought earlier in the day with Roger in mind. Kicking it across the floor, not caring that the silk and lace ensemble cost more than a weeks’ worth of groceries, she’d put on her flannel pajamas and climbed into bed, hot tears trailing down her face as she sobbed into her pillow. She’d never felt more alone in her life.
In the weeks that followed, not much changed. Memories of how it had been when they were younger streamed through her mind like a home movie. She remembered all the times they’d skipped class during high school to be alone; fevered, frenzied encounters that left them breathless and, more than once, worried about their lack of birth control.
At their wedding reception, her maid of honor caught them in the dressing room, Jane gasping for breath as she clung to Roger’s back, her legs wrapped around his waist. They’d honeymooned in Aruba, an idyllic location for as much as they saw of it. They’d spent more time in their room than they had sightseeing, though they’d managed to sneak in a couple of nighttime trysts on the beach.
Their first four years of marriage had been filled with sexual escapades wherever and whenever the mood struck. Mornings, evenings, quickies on Roger’s lunch break, nothing stopped them. They were equally sexually adventurous, trying new positions and toys, and even experimenting with light bondage. After Emily’s birth, the frequency of sex had decreased, but the intensity increased. It was hotter, more satisfying as they each perfected what the other liked.
Once, on a rare weekend alone together at an awards ceremony for Roger’s company, they became aroused in the middle of a banquet hall filled with people. A smoldering glance from across the room sent a thrill through Jane, leaving her wet and filled with anticipation of what was to come later that evening. Her fingers stroking the inside of his thigh beneath the table left Roger hard for hours, counting the seconds until dinner came to an end. Barely able to contain themselves in the elevator, he ripped off her pantyhose, pushed her panties aside, and thrust into her from behind as soon as they reached the hotel room. They were more in love than ever.
With Steven’s birth two years later came less time alone together which necessitated finding more creative ways to be intimate. They implemented date night once a week which more often than not was a quick burger from a fast food restaurant drive-thru, followed by hours of parking behind the old mill on Thatcher Lane, a place they’d frequented in high school but was no longer a popular hangout. Roger joked that they spent more time in the backseat now than they ever had when they were teenagers.
They managed to have sex at home, too, but on more than one occasion they were interrupted by a crying infant or cranky toddler. They held hands all of the time, touching each other whenever they possibly could. He never missed an opportunity to smack her ass or squeeze her breast, and she delighted in rubbing herself against him suggestively when they embraced, turned on by his erection. They kissed passionately at every opportunity, the air charged with sexual energy. Jane’s heart gladdened every time her eyes fell on Roger, and as the years passed, she disregarded his paunch and receding hairline, just as she knew he overlooked her laugh lines and graying hair.
Time moved on, and the children had grown up, married, and had children of their own. Jane and Roger still made love several times a month, but it had become routine, almost perfunctory. Gone were the days of crazy positions and glow in the dark dildos. Before she realized it, there was less hand holding, less ass smacking, less kissing. Roger often went to sleep early, turning away from her in bed when she reached out to him. Not wanting to let him see how much it hurt her feelings, she joked about how he was the one with the headache now, which was ironic because she’d never used that line herself.
Not once in the thirty-two years that they’d been intimate had she ever denied him sex. She understood his libido wasn’t the same as it used to be; hell, neither was hers. To be honest, it was the lack of intimacy that bothered her most. She’d wondered briefly if he was having an affair but quickly dismissed the idea. He left home at the same time every morning and returned at the same time every evening. She handled their finances and had never seen as much as a dollar spent anywhere other than the gas station or sub shop.
Against her better judgment, she’d snooped through his cell phone bill, poring over the incoming and outgoing numbers. There weren’t any she didn’t recognize; hers, Steven’s, Emily’s, his office, and Harold, Roger’s best friend. He spent his weekends sitting on the sofa watching sports or tinkering in the garage. Date night was a thing of the past, and Jane was lucky if she could convince Roger to eat out once a month.
The night of their disastrous meal, she’d lain in bed wondering how things had gotten so bad between them and when it’d happened. The lack of sex and intimacy was bad enough, but the general sense of apathy that Roger felt towards her was puzzling. It was as if he took for granted that she would always be there to prepare his meals, wash his laundry, make his appointments, attend to his every need without giving any thought to her own. It wasn’t that he was mean or argumentative; she almost wished they would argue. At least that would show he still gave a damn about their relationship. It felt like they were roommates; two individuals living in the same house but rarely interacting.
She loved Roger, had loved him since she was fifteen years old. They’d be married thirty years in three months, and she couldn’t imagine spending her life with anyone else. He knew everything about her. Not even Marci, her best friend, knew all of her secrets. Something had to change, and soon, because she couldn’t imagine – didn’t want – to live the rest of her life like this.
Disappointed as she was with Roger’s attitude towards her, she’d vowed to make more of an effort. They shared too much together to give it all up. If she stopped trying, then their marriage really was over, and she wasn’t about to let it go without a fight.
Walking over to the dresser, she picked up their wedding photo and stared at the couple behind the glass. How young they’d been then! She’d just turned eighteen and Roger had been a month away from twenty. Closing her eyes, the memory of the first time they met came rushing back as if it were yesterday.
She’d been a sophomore in high school, and he was a junior. Roger’s family had moved around a lot during his childhood which resulted in him having to repeat a grade. Most of the kids in their Biology class held his age against him, but Jane liked the fact that he was older. He seemed more mature than the boys her age, a quality she found irresistible. Sneaking glances at him while she was supposed to be studying, she prayed for the moment he’d notice her.
That moment came during the pep rally when Dale Truman cut in front of her at the concession stand. Jane barely had time to protest when Dale was lifted up by the back of his shirt and tossed out of line. Before her brain could process what she’d witnessed, Roger materialized beside her and offered to buy her a Coke. As butterflies fluttered in her stomach, she accepted, and leaving the fuming bully on the ground they spent the rest of the afternoon together, sitting on the stands and chatting about which teachers were the best (and worst), and which song would make it to the Top 40 that week.
At dusk, they headed over to the bonfire and found a place to sit. Jane shivered when she saw Dale glaring at her from across the fire pit, but Roger took notice and draped his arm over her shoulders, effectively announcing to all that she was his. He drove her home that night, holding her hand the entire way, and she couldn’t take her eyes off him. He had a brooding quality, but when he smiled, his face lit up like Christmas, Fourth of July, and his birthday all rolled into one.
Walking her to her door, he gave her a kiss on the cheek and said goodnight. Telling her he’d phone the next day, she’d been heartbroken when the call never came. She spent the rest of the weekend hiding in her bedroom, refusing to come out, begging her mother to let her stay home from school on Monday, but predictably her request had been refused. Miserable at the thought of running into Roger, certain he and his friends would be laughing at her, she dressed in jeans and a baggy sweatshirt, pulling her unwashed hair into a ponytail.
Her stomach sank as she approached her locker and saw the group of students gathered in front of it. Certain she was about to become a laughingstock for believing that a boy like Roger would be interested in her, she stopped and gaped as the crowd parted. A contrite expression deepening his usual solemn appearance, Roger was holding a bouquet of flowers and a sign that read, ‘Sorry for not calling. Forgive me?’ It was the most romantic gesture she’d ever seen in her life and fell in love on the spot.
They drove to the old mill after school that day, and he explained that his father had taken him on an impromptu camping trip. He hadn’t returned until late the previous evening and hadn’t been able to call. When he took her home that afternoon, he kissed her for real, his lips pressing against hers. They were inseparable after that, and it was no surprise to anyone when they married one month after Jane’s graduation.
Rubbing her thumb over the photo in her hand, she tried to picture them back then. She’d worn her blonde hair long, letting it fall in a shimmering sheet down her back. Roger loved tangling his hands in it while they made love. It was shoulder length now, though it was still long enough to pull up into a ponytail which is how she wore it most of the time, though lately, it seemed as if silver strands outnumbered the gold.
She’d been thin in high school, almost anorexic, trying to keep up with the other girls, but that was also a thing of the past. After the birth of her children, her body had changed, but daily walks on the treadmill, light cardio, and yoga classes three times a week kept her in shape and she was more fit now than she’d ever been. She was proud of her figure and looked damn good for a woman of forty-eight years.
She’d never thought of herself as beautiful, or even pretty. Attractive maybe, in a certain light, but most of the time she viewed herself as average; just another plain Jane. But Roger had been captivated by her looks and her body just as she’d been with his. Most of the girls in high school never gave Roger Sims a second glance, but Jane thought he was gorgeous, with dark brown hair that fell over his forehead, green eyes that sparkled with mischief, and a solid physique, neither too bulky nor scrawny. He stood a couple of inches taller than she, and in her teenaged experience, there wasn’t anything better than being wrapped in his arms.
He’d been her first everything. First French kiss, first ‘run’ around the bases, first and only lover. She’d lost her virginity to him on her sixteenth birthday, and to this day she could recall the tenderness he’d shown. He’d been experienced, having been with a few girls before her, and she remembered how scared she’d been; afraid she wouldn’t do it right, afraid it would hurt, afraid that the only reason he was with her was to have sex. He’d allayed her fears, taking his time and patiently teaching her how it was done. There’d been a lot of fumbling on her part, a lot of pain, but she needn’t have worried about him leaving her.
Roger Sims was so in love with Jane that he couldn’t see straight. His every waking thought was of her, and at night, after driving her home, he slept in his bed and dreamt of her. They were never apart from each other for more than a day, and after graduating, he chose to take classes at the community college in town rather than attend an out of state university. He studied to become an electrician and proposed to her the Christmas before she graduated.
They planned a July wedding, setting the date for two weeks after her eighteenth birthday. It was a modest affair. Her parents were middle income and had three other children to provide for. When Jane announced she had no intention of attending college, they used the money they’d been saving for her education to pay for the wedding. Roger’s parents had divorced a year and a half earlier, not long after the camping trip that had nearly ended the blossoming relationship before it began, and as her wedding gift, his mother paid for their honeymoon. They’d been so excited; so ready to embark on a life together. So in love.
Looking again at the picture in her hand, of herself in her white gown and Roger in his tux, a bittersweet smile crept across Jane’s face. She’d never thought for a moment that their love would fade. Placing the photo back on the dresser, she swore not to give up on what they had. “No time like the present.”
Grabbing her running shoes from the closet and lacing them up, she decided to ask Roger to join her for her walk. He’d been parked in front of the television since Thanksgiving, and aside from the obligatory family holidays, they hadn’t spent any time together, just the two of them. A leisurely stroll around the block on a sunny Sunday afternoon was exactly what they needed to reconnect.
Picking up his Nikes from beside the bed, she left the bedroom and walked down the hall, the drone of the TV growing louder as she neared the den. Entering the room, she saw a commercial on the screen – some sort of beer ad featuring muscle-bound men and girls in skimpy bikinis. “Roger?”
His eyes glued to the set, Roger grunted an acknowledgment.
“Roger, why don’t you take a walk with me? It’s a beautiful afternoon, and we’ve both been cooped up. I have your shoes right here,” she said, holding up the Nikes.
Ignoring her, he turned up the volume as the image of players dribbling a ball up the court filled the screen.
Glancing up at her sharp tone, he said, “The game’s on now. We’ll go later.”
Knowing that later meant never, Jane sighed and returned his shoes to the bedroom. A walk no longer sounded appealing, so she decided to run to the supermarket and get a jump on the week’s errands. Although she usually shopped on Mondays, she surmised that the market would be less crowded on a Sunday afternoon.
Picking up her purse and checking to make sure her coupons were tucked inside, she poked her head into the den. “I’m running to the market. Do you need anything?” Not surprised when he didn’t respond, her feelings nevertheless took a dip. When had things gotten so bad between them that he couldn’t even acknowledge her presence?
In the kitchen, she snagged a bottle of water from the fridge, grabbed her car keys from the hook beside the door, and entered the garage. Pushing the button to raise the automatic door, she blinked rapidly as bright sunlight filled the darkened enclosure.
She unlocked the car and slid behind the wheel of her baby, a 2006 Sebring convertible, smiling contentedly as the engine purred to life. Roger had been on her for years to trade the Chrysler in for something newer, but she loved this car. She had it serviced on a regular basis, and although it had over one hundred and sixty thousand miles, it never gave her a moment’s trouble. She knew the day would come when it finally gave up the ghost, but that day wasn’t today, and as she backed down the driveway, she lowered the top, reveling in her first convertible ride of the year.
The sun was warm on the back of her neck, the fragrance of spring flowers scenting the air. Loose strands of hair danced around her face as she traveled the twelve miles to the supermarket. Traffic was light, and as she drove, she sang along to her favorite 80s station, adding her voice to the lead singer’s as he implored his fans to never stop believing. Less than twenty minutes later, she pulled into the market’s parking lot, stunned by how crowded it was. Apparently, everyone in town had the same idea about getting a jump on their shopping, and her good mood evaporated as she drove around the crowded lot searching for a place to park.
More than three-quarters of the spaces were full, necessitating she park at the far end of the lot. Regretting her decision to shop this afternoon, she decided she might as well get it over with since she was already here. She felt a burst of energy as she powerwalked to the front of the store, pumping her arms and judiciously ignoring the stares from the other shoppers. Hell, it was one way to get her walk in!
Her irritation immediately returned when she ended up with a cart that not only had a wobbly wheel but also sounded like a cat in heat.
Make that ten cats.
Fighting her way up and down the aisles, cringing at every squeal that emanated from her wheeled torture device, she plucked items off of the shelves and dropped them into the buggy as quickly as possible.
Turning down the baking aisle, she found it blocked by two women who were engaged in an animated conversation, apparently regarding this part of the store as their own personal gossip corner. Stopping within a foot of them, Jane cleared her throat. Nothing. Thinking that if she wanted to be ignored, she could’ve just stayed home, she said, “Excuse me.”
Neither one hazarded her a glance.
Fighting the urge to commit shopping cart homicide, she took a deep breath and shouted, “Excuse me!”
That got their attention. Both women scowled, grievously injured by Jane’s lack of consideration for their gab session.
“Thank you,” Jane mumbled as she squeezed her cart past.
Looking behind her, she saw the aisle was empty but heard laughter coming from around the corner. Her psyche couldn’t take much more, so she quickly loaded her last remaining items into the buggy and headed to the checkout. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!”
Only two cashier lanes were open even though there were twelve people to a line. She was going nowhere fast. Wheeling her cart forward only to be cut off by the bimbo who’d tossed the expletive at her, Jane let a few choice words of her own fly, pitching out an extra one as she noted the woman’s basket held triple the number of items as hers.
A glance at the lane next to her revealed even more people waiting, so it made no sense to move. Resigned to the fact that she’d be stuck in the store for the next forty-five minutes, Jane occupied herself by people-watching, a pastime she and Marci had spent many an afternoon perfecting.
Their usual hangout was the yoga studio Marci owned. After class, they’d sit with their feet propped up, sipping their flavored waters, speculating about the lives of those individuals rushing past. Jane would imagine the most complex scenarios, while her friend laughed and did her best to figure out who was doing who.
Now, perusing the market, trying unsuccessfully to tune out the piped in, easy listening music, Jane noticed an attractive man standing in the produce section. He picked up a tomato, squeezing gently, checking its firmness before returning it to the bin and choosing another. She watched, mesmerized, thinking that if Marci were there her friend would be inviting him to check the firmness of certain parts of her anatomy.
At that moment, the man looked up and caught her staring, the corner of his mouth upturning slightly before he turned back to his tomatoes. Jane blushed, wondering if he’d read her mind. She stood frozen in place until the man behind her cleared his throat loudly. “Sorry,” she mumbled, wheeling her cart forward and unloading her items onto the conveyor.
Five minutes later, her purchases paid for, she wheeled the squealing cart outside. It was late afternoon by this time, and most of the lot was empty. The sight of her car parked by itself at the end of the lot left her feeling forlorn. Would it have killed Roger to get off his ass and come with her?
Even as she thought it, she knew it wouldn’t have made a difference. It was stupid to think a trip to the supermarket would’ve been less lonely if he’d joined her. It would take more than running errands together to fix what was broken.
Cringing at the hated nickname, Jane turned to see Stephanie Grenier, a former classmate and the wife of one of the contractors Roger worked with, waving enthusiastically. Half-heartedly returning the greeting, waiting for Steph as she scurried across the parking lot, she wondered how this afternoon could get any worse.
“Jane! It’s wonderful to see you!” The platinum-haired woman teetered on impossibly high heels. “You look fantastic! Have you lost weight? I haven’t seen you in forever. What’s it been – six, seven months?”
“Three,” Jane corrected drily. “We saw each other at the company Christmas party, remember?”
“Oh, that’s right.” Stephanie’s tinkling laughter grated on Jane’s last nerve. “You and Roger looked so splendid together. How is Roger? You have an anniversary coming up, don’t you?”
How this woman could remember someone else’s anniversary when Jane could barely remember her own dental appointment was beyond her. And the last thing she wanted to discuss with anyone, especially this anyone, was her husband. Pasting on a fake smile, she answered, “Yes, we do, and he’s fine. Thank you for asking.”
With a conspiratorial whisper, Stephanie confessed, “I always thought he was the cutest boy in school. I used to wish that he’d ask me out, but no, he took one look at you, and nobody else was good enough.” Though her words were meant to be complimentary, there was no disguising the jealousy in her voice.
Be careful what you wish for, Jane thought grumpily. Pre-empting any further conversation, she said, “Well, Stephanie, it’s nice to see you, but I’ve got to get home and put these groceries away.”
“Oh, of course, don’t let me keep you. Just wanted to say hello. You really do look good, Jane.”
“Thank you. Give Rob my best.”
Looking confused, Stephanie’s face abruptly cleared when she realized Jane was referring to her husband. “Oh, I will.”
Jane shook her head as she walked away. Apparently, things weren’t going so well in the Grenier household, either. Chiding herself for her mean thoughts, she watched Steph drive away in her BMW and wondered if happy marriages even existed anymore.
Lengthening shadows striping the asphalt made Jane aware of how late it’d become. Only a few cars remained in the lot, and the manager had begun turning off the lights inside the store. Wrestling with her wailing cart, fighting against the protesting wheels, she finally reached her car and unloaded her bags into the trunk, cringing when she noticed the bagger had placed her apples on top of her grapes.
Slamming the trunk shut, she wheeled the buggy to the curb. Usually good about returning her shopping carts to one of the corrals placed strategically around the lot, there were none close to her, and she was tired of fighting with it.
Ready to go home and be finished with this day, she unlocked the driver’s side door and slid behind the wheel, the strap of her purse snagging the doorframe. The bag slipped from her shoulder and hit the pavement with a thud, tipping over and spilling its contents everywhere.
Fighting back tears, Jane got out and began gathering her belongings, stuffing them into the ruined bag. Looking around for her wallet, she saw it had slid under the car just out of reach. Getting on her hands and knees, she stretched her fingers, just barely touching the corner. Extending her arm a little more, she froze when a man’s voice sounded above her.
“May I be of assistance?”
Derek Hampton fought back a grin as he admired the nicely shaped ass sticking up in the air in front of him. He’d noticed the woman in the market, watched as she paid for her groceries and left the store, admiring her graceful gait, well-toned body, and full breasts. Not currently involved with anyone, he decided it would be fun to get to know her and followed unobtrusively as she walked to her car. Inventing an excuse to approach her, the opportunity presented itself when she dove under her car in search of her wayward items.
Holding her wallet, Jane wriggled out from beneath the convertible and looked straight up into the face of the man she’d seen in the produce section. He was gorgeous, with dark brown hair that framed his tanned face and hazel eyes edged with long, luscious black lashes that were certainly wasted on a man. Those eyes held her gaze, rendering her speechless. She stared at him for several seconds until he raised a quizzical brow, breaking the spell. Tearing her eyes away from his, she continued her scrutiny of his face.
He had a long, perfectly shaped nose, neither pointy nor bulbous. His lips were full, the bottom one a tad bit larger than the top. He’d yet to smile, so she had no indication as to the condition of his teeth, but she imagined that they were straight and gleaming white. Not so much as a freckle marred his perfect facial features.
Her eyes glided down his body, taking note of his firm chest and strong arms. The long-sleeved tee he was wearing molded to his torso, showing off his muscular frame. Continuing with her perusal, she realized she was eye level with his crotch. If she leaned forward an inch and a half, her mouth would be on his fly.
Blushing wildly, she scrambled to her feet and wiped her hands on the legs of her jeans. “I’m fine, t-thank you. My purse broke, but I found everything, I think.”
“Are you sure? I don’t mind helping you look.”
The velvety smoothness of his voice set her nerves tingling. She took a breath in and caught the scent of cologne and something else, something purely him. Her nipples tightened, liquid pooling between her legs. Stunned by her reaction, she took a step back and bumped up against her car.
His hand shot out to steady her, and the feel of his skin against her arm sent a shockwave through her body. It was difficult to breathe, let alone think, and she knew she had to get out of there before she did something stupid. Reaching for the handle, she managed to open the door and slip behind it, effectively putting a barrier between them. “Thank you again for offering to help. That was very nice of you. I need to get home now, and start dinner for my husband.”
She slid behind the wheel, desperately trying to gain control of her senses and doing a half-assed job of it. It didn’t help that Derek picked that moment to shut her door, smiling at her through the window. Her heart stopped. His smile wasn’t perfect after all. One tooth was just a little crooked, and it was sexy as hell.
Her hand shaking, it took two attempts before she managed to get the key into the ignition and start the car. Stepping back, Derek raised his hand in farewell. She returned the wave and backed out of her spot, her eyes glued to the rearview mirror. Almost running over the curb, she finally tore her eyes from him. “Get a grip, woman!”
Pulling out onto the highway, she headed home, forcing herself to concentrate on the traffic in front of her. If she’d looked back, she would’ve seen him reach down and pick an item off the ground in the spot where her car had been just moments before.
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