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Copyright © 2008 Jayne Rylon

“She’s beautiful,” he murmured reverently.

The car. He’s talking about your car. She tried to convince herself, but the rationalization rang false. While he admired the convertible, something more arced between them. Attempting to shake off the unusual reaction inflaming her senses by focusing on her vehicle, Alexa stepped a little closer.

“I’ve done a lot of work on it.”

“Can I touch her?” His implicit understanding of her dislike for people handling her vehicle made her confident he would treat it with the respect it deserved.

“Sure, go ahead.” Plus, she got to watch the way his broad finger stroked the defined contour in the flawlessly waxed side panel, which inflamed her senses nearly as much as if he’d placed the caress on her skin instead.

Before she could stop to analyze what her subconscious offered, she asked, “Would you like to take a look under the hood?”

“Hell, yeah.”

She had to laugh at the look on his face. “You look like a kid on Christmas.”

“It’s not every day I come across an opportunity like this.” The dark undercurrent of the statement and his piercing green stare made it clear he referred to more than a fancy sports car.

Oh God. He feels it, too.

Alexa should have been freaked out. Alone with a stranger, on a deserted stretch of highway, in the mountains far from the city, sounded like an unwise situation to put herself in. She should be nervous but a remarkable calm surrounded her instead. In fact, she just now realized she’d stopped on the side of the road without a second thought to safety. Today, she threw caution to the wind. The chemical reaction between them affected her like a drug.

As though he sensed her train of thought, the man backed away a few steps, displaying his non-threatening intent. He left the path clear for her to get in her car and drive away but her instincts shouted that she could trust him. She wanted to explore this attraction just a little bit further.

She leaned over the door and rested her fingertips on the hood release. The man’s gaze tracked her movement yet he didn’t encroach on her space. For a moment, the only sounds breaking the silence were the babble of the stream below, the gentle rustle of leaves from the tree branches overhead and a soft birdsong.

The air between them crackled with tension.

Then, the metallic click of the hood’s latching mechanism disengaging relayed her decision to stay. A broad smile spread across his face, raising faint dimples that heightened his attractiveness. Alexa inclined her head in a “come here” gesture as she circled around to the front of the car.

He ambled to her side with a steady gait that made her cognizant of his confidence she wouldn’t run. Reaching for the edge of the hood simultaneously, their hands met. Sparks shot up her spine and she jerked. His arm wrapped around her waist in a protective hold. The solid strength kept her from losing her physical footing, but not her emotional balance. This close she could smell the unique combination of his leather gear and subtle, earthy cologne.

“Easy.” His hand smoothed down her side and across the top of her ass as he went back to lifting the hood. The blatant touch imbued her with respect for his natural ability to handle a woman. However, she retained enough rationality to admire the gleaming chrome of the engine that she cleaned with painstaking diligence each weekend she could manage the time. Together they leaned forward, caught by the lure of a ridiculously overpowered motor.

“This is an aftermarket addition. Did you do this yourself?” His raised eyebrow conveyed his surprise.


“I’m impressed. Are you a mechanic?”

“Nope, this is just a hobby.” She smirked.

“Some hobby. I am a mechanic. This is a damn fine job.”

Alexa basked in his appreciation for details. None of her friends understood her devotion to this machine. They couldn’t comprehend why she spent the majority of her precious free time refining each tiny part until it was flawless. This man obviously did.

He ran his hand along the connections, searching with deft flicks of his fingertips for imperfections where none existed. His satisfied nod had her beaming.

“Jesus, woman. If someone told me I’d have the chance to play with a car like this today, I’d have said that nothing could distract me. But the way you’re looking at me…”

His voice trailed off as she reached up to do a little exploring of her own. Her hand moved on autopilot, following her desire, cupping the side of his stubbled face.

Is this guy for real?

The wet heat of his lips on her palm rasped against her nerves, stronger than any dream. She whimpered as he turned his head to lick the center of her palm before catching the sensitive skin between her thumb and index finger in his teeth in a gentle nip. The move set her ablaze, destroying common sense.

“Kiss me,” she demanded.

He didn’t need to be told twice. With a low groan, he closed the narrow gap between them, sealing his mouth over hers. He dropped the hood in place and put his hand to better use, wrapping it around her hip, yanking her tight against the hard plane of his chest. His height made Alexa strain on tiptoes to return his kiss. Eager to help, he tucked his other hand around her thigh, just beneath the curve of her ass, and hoisted her up higher on his body.

They fit perfectly together.

Her hands tangled in his hair, loving the way the silky strands teased the sensitive crevices between her fingers. She kneaded his scalp, urging him to take her mouth deeper. His head angled over hers, intensifying the kiss as his tongue lashed playfully against the seam of her lips. She drew it inside her mouth and sucked. He tasted like peppermint.

She moaned with regret when he pulled away.

“I’m going to set you on the hood.” He rumbled in her ear in between nibbles of her neck.

“No! Wait.”

Though he looked disappointed, he stopped without hesitation.

The heat suffusing her face highlighted her discomfort with being so brazen. “I… I don’t want to scratch the paint. Take my shorts off first.”

Strained laughter burst from his chest. It transformed his features from rugged to unbearably handsome.

“Honey, you’re my every fantasy.”