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Authors: M. Leighton

Tags: #Fiction / Romance / Contemporary

Some Like It Wild (2 page)

BOOK: Some Like It Wild
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TWO:
Jake

Present day

T
he screen door bangs shut behind me. After having been out in the fresh air of the orchards, the sweet, fruity smell of the house is even more pronounced. My family’s farmhouse has seen too many harvest seasons
not
to smell like peaches.

It smells exactly the same as it has my whole life. In fact, very little about the house has changed at all over the years. Except for the dwindling of its occupants, of course.

First Mom, now Dad. It took a few years for it to feel like home after Mom died, but it finally did. With Dad, it’ll be different. I can already tell. Although his death was sudden and accidental (he fell off a ladder out in the orchard and hit his head on a rock), I don’t mourn him like I did Mom. Or like Jenna mourns him. She can barely come into the driveway, much less spend time indoors. Then again, she was always his favorite. But that’s understandable, all things considered.

Feeling the sting of old wounds, I walk to the fridge for a beer. I jerk the door open with much more force than what’s necessary. It feels good to get a little of my aggression out, though. It’ll do until I can get back to work, making a living at staring death in the eye. Adrenaline—it’s my drug of choice to numb the pain of the past. And of the present, if it decides to act up and give me shit.

But right now, I have to shower before the bloodsucking douche paralegal from the estate attorney’s office arrives to start cataloging all our family holdings.

I pop the top on the bottle and down half of it before I even reach the stairs. I try not to think of the good ol’ days, just a few short weeks ago, when I was living the life I chose rather than the life my father left behind when he died.

What the hell was I thinking, coming back here?

Less than half an hour later, I’m freshly washed, cleanly shaved, and dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that reads: SKYDIVING: THE GROUND IS THE LIMIT. I grab another beer from the fridge and sit in the den, waiting for the tight-ass from the attorney’s office. The only sounds are the dog, Einstein, barking at something out back, the tick of the grandfather clock in the dining room, and the wind whistling through the crack in the screen door. It takes exactly seven minutes for this quiet combination to drive me nuts. Finishing my beer, I decide to get some stuff from the garage and wash my Jeep while I wait.

And if this straightlaced asshole doesn’t like it, he can kiss my puckered ass.

Twenty minutes later, I’m rinsing soap off the Rubicon when I see the flash of sun on a windshield, drawing my eye to the far end of the driveway. A little dusty blue car is making its way slowly along the path, moving in and out of the dappled patches of shade thrown onto the pavement by the trees stretching overhead. Every now and then, the sun will shine through the glass and hit the platinum blond hair of the driver. The
long
platinum blond hair of the driver. This immediately piques my interest. I never considered they might send a female.

I continue spraying, keeping an eye on the car as it comes closer. I watch as it rolls to a stop a few feet from where I am, parking in front of the house with its rear facing in my direction. The engine shuts off, and I see the driver reach onto the seat beside her. She fiddles with something before opening the door.

The first thing that comes out is legs. Two mile-long, perfectly toned ones capped in a pair of high, high heels. I wait anxiously to see the rest. She pauses for a second before scooting out of the car.

I see her first in profile as she reaches down to tug on the rising hem of her slim black skirt and then tucks her hair behind one ear.

When she finally turns toward me, her head is down as she looks at something in her hands. That’s fine by me. It just gives me time to ogle the shit out of her without getting a nasty glare for it.

The long legs were only the beginning of the package. Narrow hips curve into a tiny waist and lead up to what looks like a nice-sized rack. Not too big, not too small, although it’s hard to be sure through her loose-fitting blouse.

She walks gracefully toward me and, when she’s a couple of feet away, she looks up.

Just as my jaw drops in surprised recognition, the spray of the water hose hits the front bumper of the Jeep and shoots water all over my chest and stomach.

“Shit!” I yelp, jumping back when the cold water makes contact.

I redirect the hose and glance at the girl standing just outside spray reach. She’s smiling down at my wet shirt.

My mouth waters when I look at the lush pink lips spread over her perfect teeth. I remember the way they taste—sweet and innocent.

Like peaches.

And like a challenge.

THREE:
Laney

I
knew going into this whose estate I’d be recording. I saw the names on the paperwork and recognized one immediately.

Jake Theopolis.

It’s been a long time since that kiss at the fair, so I didn’t think twice about taking the assignment. It gets me home for a while and that’s what I wanted most.

Space.

Distance.

Escape.

Although I’d forgotten how incredibly handsome he is, I feel perfectly in control of myself as I look at him in his soaked T-shirt.

That is, until he lays the hose to the side and peels the dripping material from his body.

My breath is suddenly stuck in my chest, my pulse is racing, and my skin feels warm and damp.

Inches and inches of glistening golden skin cover wide shoulders, a powerful chest, and rippling abs. His jeans sit low on his hips, as though they were made to fit his lean body. If all that weren’t enough to get me flustered, the cocky grin on his face would be.

He knows exactly what he’s doing to me. Might’ve even done it on purpose. I guess that’s what I get for smiling at his mishap.

Who’s laughing now?

“Something wrong?” Jake asks, his deep voice dripping with knowing amusement.

My eyes fly up to his, hoping for a break from the onslaught of his hotness. But I don’t get one. I fall headlong into those honey yellow eyes of his. I’d forgotten how disconcerting they are.

I’ve never seen honey like that before!

The movement of his hand draws my gaze downward again. Jake is wiping his wet palm on the leg of his jeans. The action causes the muscles in his chest to flex, making me feel even warmer.

I squeeze my eyes shut and pray for some composure.

Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!

“Jake Theopolis,” I hear him say. I open my lids a crack and see his hand extended toward me. Slowly, I reach out and slip my fingers into his. They curl warmly around mine. “Welcome to my lair.”

Again, I see amusement when my gaze flickers back up to his. He’s really enjoying me making a complete fool of myself.

Pulling my hand from his grasp, I clear my throat and look over at the house. “So, this is the main home on the estate?”

When Jake says nothing, I’m forced to glance back at him. He’s smiling at me, a devilishly wicked grin, as he wrings out his shirt. He’s chewing a toothpick again, reminding me of the way his mouth tasted all those years ago. “Yes, this is it. Would you like me to show you around?”

“That would be helpful, thank you,” I say stiffly, feeling mortified by my reaction to him.

He tips his head toward the house, his lips still curved in a cocky half smile. “Then come with me.”

As I follow along behind him, I wonder at his ability to make every look, every word, and every gesture seem so . . . so . . . suggestive. I have no doubt it’s intentional. He obviously knows I’m flustered and is exploiting that, which makes me mad. Unfortunately, that anger isn’t nearly enough to help me keep my head on straight, as evidenced by the fact that I watch his butt all the way on the walk to the house.

After mounting the steps, he turns at the front door to allow me to precede him. I jerk my eyes up, looking guiltily away from his backside, hoping he didn’t see what I was doing.

When he winks at me as I pass, I realize that he did. I feel my face go up in flames.

Oh my God! Just kill me now!

The house is quiet and dark, and the interior smells slightly sweet and homey. At first glance, it’s hard for me to fathom a guy like Jake Theopolis being raised here. He’s the type that I imagine landing on the scene with a loud bang, like life just spit him out, fully grown and wild as a buck. Never a sweet, innocent child.

Jake tips his head toward a sage green couch in the den. “Have a seat and I’ll get us a beer.”

“No, no thank you,” I rush to say as I make my way to the sofa. As I perch demurely on the edge of one cushion, I glance over at Jake. He’s eyeing me from the doorway leading into what I presume is the kitchen.

He shrugs. “Suit yourself.”

A few seconds later, he returns carrying a beer and a glass of some other kind of golden liquid. I look up at him, frowning as I take the proffered wineglass. “What’s this?”

“Peach wine,” he says, watching me intently. “Did you think I’d forgotten?”

My cheeks flame and I take a nervous sip of the sweet drink, any excuse to get my eyes off of his. “Thank you,” I mutter, avoiding his question.

After a tense moment, Jake plops down in an armchair across from me, crossing his legs to rest one ankle on his knee. He still hasn’t put on a shirt and, when I look up, all I can see is an ocean of flawless skin.

“Would you mind getting dressed so we can discuss what’s ahead for your family?”

With his golden eyes trained on mine, Jake rubs his hand across his bare chest. “Why? Does this bother you?”

I know he’s teasing me, but I’m trying to keep things professional. And I can’t do that with a gorgeous, half-naked man sitting a coffee table away.

“Not at all, but it’s hardly appropriate.”

One black brow shoots up. “Not at all, huh?”

I hold his gaze, hoping he doesn’t see the lie of my words. “Not. At. All.”

“Well, then I’ll just have to see what
does
bother a prim and proper woman such as yourself.”

The warning is not lost on me. However, my only option is to ignore it. I can’t very well do my job if I let Jake Theopolis strike me stupid and speechless every time he’s in the room.

Jake gets up to leave. With one foot on the bottom step, he turns toward me. “Are you ever gonna tell me your name? Or should I just call you ‘peaches’?”

“Laney,” I offer, adding another brick to the huge pile of my embarrassment. “Laney Holt.”

He nods slowly. “You from around here, Laney Holt? Or were you just working the kissing booth for pleasure that day?”

“Originally I’m from around here, yes.”

Jake starts to turn away again, but stops himself, his brow furrowing. “Holt. You’re not related to Graham Holt, are you?”

“Yes, I am. He’s my father. Why?”

Jake throws back his head and laughs heartily. “Oh, God! That’s perfect! The preacher’s daughter!”

It seems like he’s making fun of me, and I bristle. “And why is that
perfect
?” I ask sharply.

Jake lowers his head and looks me square in the eye. “Because I’ve got a thing for forbidden fruit, Laney Holt. Consider yourself warned.”

With another cocky grin tossed my way, Jake turns to mount the steps, leaving me feeling nothing short of breathless.

FOUR:
Jake

T
he following afternoon, I’m driving home, thinking to myself that this unforeseen, undesirable incarceration in Greenfield on my family’s peach farm is looking decidedly more promising. Between the part-time job I just got and the tasty little piece that’ll be wandering around my house for the next couple of weeks, I’m feeling pretty optimistic about the time I’ll be spending here. Boredom and I don’t mix, but it’s looking like I won’t have to worry about that any time in the near future.

When I turn into the driveway, I see a speck of blue through the trees. That’s bound to be Laney. She said she’d see me today, but she didn’t say when. I just assumed she’d call. Luckily, hers is the kind of unexpected visit I could get used to.

As the lane widens just in front of the house, I see Laney marching angrily toward her car. I steer the Jeep toward the garage and cut the engine, hopping out before she can leave.

“Where you off to?” I ask as I approach.

She doesn’t answer, just yanks on the car door handle. It doesn’t open on the first try, which seems to make her that much madder.

“Hey,” I say, reaching out to touch her arm and turn her toward me.

She whirls to face me, her eyes flashing furiously. “Don’t touch me!”

I hold up both hands in surrender and take a step back. “What the hell is the matter with you?”

I’m not irritated, just curious. It’s a simple question, but she gets all huffy. Which totally turns me on.

Laney takes a deep breath and pokes me in the chest with one finger. “Listen here,
Mr. Theopolis
, I didn’t come here to be trifled with. I’m here to do a job, but if you refuse to show me the most basic respect and common decency, I’ll be more than happy to turn your case over to another paralegal.”

I feel my lips twitch. “Trifled with?”

First her mouth drops open, like she can’t believe I just said that. Then she makes a growling sound and turns around so fast, her hair nearly whips me in the face.

Quicker than she is, I reach out and grab her arm again, spinning her back toward me. I pull her in close and look down into her beautiful sapphire blue eyes. They’re sparkling with irritation and indignation, and I’ve never before wanted a woman so badly.

“Hold on just a second. What have I done to show you anything less than respect and common decency?” My voice is low and reasonable, and my hold on her is light. Just enough to keep her from leaving.

“I told you I’d be back today and you didn’t even have the decency to be here.”

“If I’d known when you were coming, I’d have been here. You said you’d see me today, but you didn’t say when.”

I see the doubt flicker through her eyes. They lose a little of their heat as she relaxes in my arms.

“I told you . . . I mean, I thought I told you . . .”

I shake my head. “No, you didn’t. You didn’t give me a specific time. I figured you’d call first.”

Doubt turns to reluctant contrition right before my eyes. “Then I must apologize for getting angry. I just thought . . .”

“You thought the worst,” I finish for her. “Lucky for you, I’m used to it.”

“Mr. Theopolis, I—”

I reach up to lay one finger across her lips. “First of all, call me Jake. Secondly, don’t go apologizing too soon.”

“But I owe you an apo—”

“Not after this,” I reply as I lower my mouth to cover hers.

Her lips are just as soft as I remember and, when I slip my tongue between them, she tastes just as sweet, only without the hint of peach this time.

I caught her off guard and, for a few seconds, she responds to me, tilting her head and dragging her tongue along mine. But then, as if someone dumped a cold bucket of water on her head, she snaps out of it and pulls away.

She glares at me, all the fury back like it never left. She raises her hand to slap me, but I catch it, winding my fingers around her wrist and pulling her arm behind me. Her chest crashes into mine, and I whisper in her ear, “Now
that
was disrespectful. And I won’t do it again until you ask me to.”

With a featherlight kiss to her jaw, I lean back and let her go. For a few seconds, she stands staring at me with her mouth hanging open before she huffs once, pivots on her high heel, and flings open her car door to climb inside. I watch as she starts the engine, backs up, and speeds down the driveway without a backward glance.

Damn, this is gonna be fun!

BOOK: Some Like It Wild
13.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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