ulia looked so beautiful sleeping, Stephen hated to wake her. Yet he didn’t feel right leaving without saying good-bye to her.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, he slipped his hand between the sheets and touched her back. Her skin felt warm and smooth beneath his palm. He ran his hand down her spine and over her ass, then repeated the journey to her shoulder blade. Her eyebrows drew together in a frown as she stirred.
“Good morning,” he said softly.
She blinked a couple of times before rolling to her back. Her movement caused his hand to shift on her body to her breast. He palmed the firm mound, dragged his thumb over the tip. He smiled when she arched her back as if asking for him to keep touching her.
“Wha’ time ’zit?”
“Almost seven. I’m sorry to wake you, but I have to go.”
“ ’K. I unnerstand.” She rubbed her hands over her face before opening her eyes. “Are you working today?”
“No, but I have something planned.” He rubbed her nipple with his thumb again. Damn, he hated to leave her. “I’ll call you later, okay?”
Stephen unlocked his cell phone, flipped to his contacts list. “What’s your cell number?”
She rattled off the ten digits. He pointed the phone at her, intending to take a picture, but she quickly covered her face.
snap that camera!”
Stephen grinned. He liked teasing her. “How about if I take a picture of you tonight while we’re at O’Sullivan’s?”
“We’re going to O’Sullivan’s?”
“Yeah, I’d like to take you there. There’s a dart tournament every Saturday night, along with all-you-can-eat fish and chips. I thought you might enjoy it.”
Her eyes turned sultry. She laid her hand over the top of his that still caressed her breast. “What I’d enjoy is for you to get naked and come back to bed.”
Stephen’s cock responded to her sexy invitation. One phone call and he could postpone his plans for the day. However, he’d be messing up the plans of several guys. He didn’t want to do that. Plus, his heart drummed heavily in anticipation of what he’d be doing in a short while. He’d looked forward to it all week. “No more condoms, remember?”
She frowned. “Damn it.”
He chuckled at her obvious frustration. “Could I have a rain check?”
Her smile reached her eyes, so he knew turning her down didn’t make her angry at him. He leaned over and gave her a soft kiss. “I’ll call you this afternoon.”
He made it halfway to the door before she spoke again. “Better buy a big box of condoms.”
Stephen looked at her over his shoulder. She sat up in bed, the covers bunched at her waist to expose her beautiful breasts.
You’re an idiot to leave instead of playing with that gorgeous body all day.
“I’ll buy the super jumbo size.”
She flashed him that sultry look again. “Are you talking about the size of the
of condoms, or the condoms?”
“Both,” he said with a grin.
She licked the tip of her forefinger, rubbed it over her nipple. “Better make it
Groaning, Stephen pressed his hand against his burgeoning cock. “You’re cruel, do you know that?”
The sultry look disappeared, to be replaced with laughter. “Go. I have things to do today, too.”
He winked at her. “See you later.”
Stephen hurried out of the house and to his car. He barely had enough time to get home, shower, and grab something to eat before he had to leave to meet the other guys. He tightened his hands on the steering wheel as he peeled out of Dolly’s driveway. Racing today and Julia in his arms tonight.
It would be a great day.
Julia nibbled on the sugar cookie that Dolly had removed from the oven barely ten minutes ago. Soft and moist with just the right amount of sugar on top, it almost melted in her mouth. “This is soooo good.”
Dolly smiled as she set two glasses of iced tea on the kitchen table. “I’m glad you think so.” She sat in the chair opposite Julia and selected a cookie for herself. “Sugar cookies are my favorite to make and to eat.”
Julia finished her cookie and took another one from the plate between her and Dolly. “I’m a brownie nut. I could eat them every day. I have to discipline myself not to buy the mixes or I’d always have brownies in the house and then I’d be as big as a barn.”
“You’re built like your mom, and she’s gorgeous.”
“I agree she’s gorgeous, but we have the body type that could quickly blow up if we aren’t careful.”
“I told you, men like curves.” A mischievous light appeared in Dolly’s eyes. “Stephen likes your curves, doesn’t he?”
Her supposedly innocent question didn’t fool Julia for a moment. “Is that a subtle way of asking me if Stephen and I made love last night?”
“I don’t have to ask. I saw his car when I got home. And I found two wineglasses in the sink.”
“I probably should’ve asked you for permission before letting him spend the night.”
Dolly waved a hand as if dismissing Julia’s apology. “Don’t be silly. I told you I want you to consider this your home.” She leaned forward, her expression as eager as a woman’s in a chocolate store. “So, is he good?”
Dolly grinned. “I expected he would be. He has that sexy swagger that shouts he’d be great in bed.”
“You shouldn’t be looking at young men’s swaggers,” she playfully admonished.
“I’m fifty-six, not dead. I
looking at men’s asses.”
Julia giggled, and Dolly joined her. She couldn’t believe how easily she could talk to this woman, almost as easily as talking to her mother. It made her miss her mom a little less.
Julia’s cell phone rang. She glanced at it lying on the table. She didn’t recognize the phone number, but did recognize the local area code. The burst of excitement that coursed through her body told her it had to be Stephen. She held up the phone so Dolly could see the number. “Is this Stephen?”
Another spark shot through her. It ended at her clit, making it throb. She pressed the button to accept the call. “Hello?”
“Hey, sexy lady,” he said in his slow Texas drawl. “What are you doin’?”
She looked across the kitchen table at Dolly, who grinned broadly. “Having tea and cookies with Dolly.”
“Are we on for O’Sullivan’s tonight?”
“Great.” She could hear the smile in his voice. “I’ll pick you up about six. Is that okay?”
“Sure. How should I dress?”
“Naked works for me,” he said, his voice low.
Heat crept into her cheeks. She glanced at Dolly, who still grinned. “I think a different outfit would be better for O’Sullivan’s.”
“You’re right. I don’t want anyone looking at your beautiful body but me.”
His compliment moved the heat from her face all the way down her torso to settle between her thighs.
“Casual is good. It’s a fun place, like Boot Scootin’. Ask Dolly. She’ll tell you about it.”
“I’ll do that.”
“Then I’ll see you in about three hours. Bye.”
She disconnected the call and laid her cell on the table. Her heart shouldn’t beat so hard, her blood shouldn’t run so hot, for a man she met two days ago. It didn’t make sense for her to feel such a strong attraction for Stephen.
“Stephen’s taking you to O’Sullivan’s tonight?” Dolly asked.
Her question snapped Julia from her thoughts. She nodded. “He said it’s a fun place.”
“It is. There are always several people there on Saturday night for the darts tournament. Whoever wins gets their meal comped and free drinks for the rest of the night.” She took a sip of her iced tea. “Sometimes I’ll schedule myself off on a Saturday night and play in the tournament.” Her grin returned. “I’ve won twice.”
The mental image of the petite Dolly beating all those tall men in darts made Julia laugh. She’d love to see that.
“Stephen will be hard to beat tonight if he won his race today.”
Julia paused with her glass raised halfway to her mouth. A sudden chill chased away all the warmth she’d felt after talking with Stephen. “Race?”
“Stephen and four or five other guys race their motorcycles the first Saturday of every month. They each put one hundred dollars into the pot. Stephen usually wins.”
Slowly, she lowered her glass back to the table. “Stephen races motorcycles?”
“Oh, yeah. He’s good at it, too. Like I said, he usually wins that race every month.” She glanced at the clock on the wall. “I’d better clean up in here and shower if I’m going to make it to work by five.”
“I’ll take care of the kitchen.”
Smiling, Dolly reached across the table and squeezed Julia’s hand. “Thank you, sweetie.”
Julia’s mind whirled while she emptied the dishwasher and loaded it with the dirty dishes and utensils from Dolly’s baking spree. Stephen raced motorcycles. That didn’t mean he was an adrenaline junky like Cole. Dolly said the race occurred once a month. Julia didn’t know if someone hooked on adrenaline could wait a whole month for a “fix.” Cole certainly hadn’t. He’d done something to make his blood thunder through his body every few days.
The more she thought about Stephen’s racing, the more she realized she had no right to question anything he chose to do. They barely knew each other. It would be a long time—if ever—that she could call what they had a relationship. They were still in that getting-to-know-each-other stage. Perhaps she’d fallen in bed with him too quickly, yet she’d wanted to make love with him as much as he seemed to want her. As long as they desired each other, she saw no reason for them not to be together sexually.
She added detergent to the dishwasher and started the wash cycle. For now, she planned to enjoy her time with Stephen and not worry about anything but deciding what she would wear on her date tonight.
The way Stephen’s eyes lit up when she opened the front door showed her he approved of her choice of white capris, a pale lilac tank top, and a short-sleeved, dark lilac blouse that she left unbuttoned. His gaze swept all the way down to her white sandals and back to her face. “I’ve changed my mind about going to O’Sullivan’s. Let’s order a pizza, stay here, and make out.”
Julia laughed at the hopeful expression on his face. “No.”
“Damn it. I never get nothing.”
She reached up and patted his cheek. “You poor baby.” Grabbing her keys and purse from the accent table by the door, she pushed him back and stepped over the threshold. “My mouth has been watering all day for fish and chips. You aren’t getting out of taking me to O’Sullivan’s now.”
He slipped his arms around her waist from behind as she locked the door. “I hope you have something in mind for later to make up for my suffering.”
She looked at him over her shoulder. “Did you buy the condoms?”
“Two large boxes, just like you told me to.” He took her hand, led her toward his Mustang. “Of course, I had to put up with the ribbing from James at Caldwell Apothecary when he said I must have big plans for the weekend.”
He opened the passenger side door for her. “You could have told him you were simply restocking,” she said after sliding onto the seat.
“A small box is restocking. Two large boxes means plans.”
“Is that part of the guy code?”
“I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you ’cause you aren’t a guy.” He tapped the end of her nose. “And I’m very glad about that.”
Several cars filled spaces in the parking lot of O’Sullivan’s. Julia felt as if she’d walked into a family reunion with so many people greeting Stephen when they entered the pub. He kept one hand on the small of her back, waved to the people with the other.
An impression of friendliness and warmth struck her as she glanced around the spacious room. Three dart boards hung on the wall to her left with customers playing a game at all of them. A stone fireplace occupied part of the space by the dart boards, now dark and unlit due to the warm weather. A large, lighted bar with an impressive display of different liquor bottles occupied the place to her right. Tall padded stools surrounded the bar, covered in the same dark leather as the chairs and booths placed throughout the room. The scent of cooking food filled the air, enticing a person to sit down for something to eat and a cold drink to wash it down.
She felt as if she’d stepped into a pub in the United Kingdom.
Stephen led her to a table for four close to the back. A very pregnant woman sat there, drinking a glass of iced tea. Her face lit up with a smile as they approached. “Hey, handsome.”
“Hey, gorgeous.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek, then playfully rubbed her rounded tummy. “How’s my little cousin doing?”
“Kicking up a storm. He’s either going to be a punter or a soccer player.” She turned her gaze to Julia. “Hi.”
“Hannah, this is Julia Woods. She’s new to Lanville. Julia, Hannah McGettis, Dusty’s wife.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Hannah.”
“Nice to meet you, too. Dusty’s told me about you.”
The calculating gleam in Hannah’s eyes made Julia wonder exactly what Dusty had said.
She sat in the chair Stephen held for her. “I’ll go to the bar and get us a drink. What’ll you have?”
“Okay.” He motioned toward Hannah’s half-empty glass. “Want another tea?”
She sighed dramatically. “Yes, since I can’t have a Guinness.”
Stephen chuckled. “You can make up for the lack of liquor once the baby is born.”
Before Stephen could leave the table, Dusty walked up and slapped his cousin on the back. “So? Did you win?”
A wide grin spread across Stephen’s lips. “What do you think?”
Dusty grinned, too, then let out an ear-piercing whistle. Once everyone stopped talking and looked his direction, he yelled out, “Stephen won today. Next round’s on him.”