Seduced, p.6

Seduced, page 6

 part  #3 of  Surrender Series

 

Seduced



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  This was a beginning and he was taking full advantage of it. Thank you for my in, Great-Great-Whatever-Grandpa, he thought silently.

  Chapter Eight

  Rachel

  Rachel Palazzo dived into the water, reaching down farther and farther until her fingers touched the silken sand on the bottom. She’d been practically born in the water and had frightened her family many times over by showing off how long she could hold her breath.

  Rafe had accused her on more than one occasion of being a mermaid, more suited for living underneath the sea than on dry land. Yes, she liked the sea, and she’d never had a problem before, so she would allow herself to indulge in her mermaid fantasies now.

  Just as she was feeling the first stirrings of discomfort in her lungs, and she changed direction to begin her ascent, she suddenly felt thick arms wrap around her waist and torpedo her body to the surface of the water.

  Her surprised gasp allowed water to enter her lungs, making her begin to choke as they reached air. The person gripping her didn’t let go, but swam strong and sure toward the beach.

  Too shocked to think about screaming or trying to fight the man, Rachel was stuck being pulled to shore. As soon as they reached dry land, he gently laid her on the sun-warmed sand, and then his head was descending.

  She had about one second to choose whether to allow him to attempt CPR on her when she clearly didn’t need it. Just as his mouth reached hers, she began laughing. Yes, she could see why he’d thought she’d been drowning. If he’d seen her go in, he would think she was hurt, since a normal person couldn’t last so long beneath the ocean waves.

  “I’m fine, really,” she managed to gasp as the man pulled back.

  That was when she got her first good glimpse of her rescuer. Damn! Her breath was knocked out of her again as she gazed into his nearly black eyes. Looking at his soaked black hair, and tanned olive complexion, chiseled cheekbones, and full mouth had her body instantly responding.

  “You were under too long…”

  Oh, his voice matched his features to perfection. Deep baritone with a slight accent. Rachel was in instant lust.

  “Yeah, I’ve been swimming since before I could walk. Thanks for the rescue, though,” she said, giving him her most flirtatious smile. “Now, about that CPR…” she added, then giggled when his eyes widened.

  She could see that he was trying to figure out whether to be incredulous or laugh with her. Finally, his eyes crinkled at the corners, and a beautiful, deep-throated chuckle emerged. Yes, she was definitely in lust!

  “I guess I reacted too hastily,” he admitted as he placed his strong hand beneath her shoulders and helped her up.

  Dang! She’d been hoping for some lip action first. She shouldn’t have stopped him from his attempted resuscitation.

  “Nah. I’ve always wanted Prince Charming to rescue me from certain death. Isn’t that the fantasy of most girls?”

  For just the briefest of moments, he tensed while looking around. “What is your name?”

  “Rachel. ”

  “Do you have a last name?”

  She almost answered his commanding voice before she stopped herself.

  “Nope. Just Rachel for now. ” She felt bold and daring, and decided she needed a vacation, and she could certainly see herself having a great time with Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome. Never before had she even thought of having a fling with a stranger, but as she looked into his intense gaze, it was all she could think about. She wanted to be lying beneath this man in the worst possible way. Or the best possible way…

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  “Well, Just Rachel, my name is. . . Ian. ”

  “And do you have a last name?” she asked, hoping his answer would be the same as hers.

  He gazed at her for several heart-stopping moments before his full lips turned up. “No. Not today. ”

  This was good, so very good. It seemed he wanted to play just as much as she did. “How long are you here for, Ian?” Please don’t say you’re leaving today, she added silently.

  “Only a week. Then I must return home. ” He didn’t seem happy about that.

  “And where is home?”

  “It doesn’t matter. I want to forget about duty for the moment. Since I did ‘rescue’ you, may I escort you to dinner?”

  “Yes. ” Rachel didn’t even pretend to hesitate. She was on vacation in Florida, renting a perfect little beach house, and if she was lucky, having a weeklong affair. She needed this badly, because next week she began employment back home in Italy.

  It was time for her to grow up, and to do that, she needed to work. She now had a great internship at the American embassy in Rome. It was boring, but she didn’t want to work for her big brother. She was too much under his thumb as it was. She had to prove that she was capable of making it on her own — though she had doubts that she could actually do it.

  Being the baby of the family, she knew she was spoiled and had never before thought that was a bad thing. But Lia was now working for Rafe and Shane and was out of the country for a while. Rachel’s parents were on a six-month cruise around the world, and even Ari was teaching at a community college.

  Rachel felt like a spoiled brat for the first time ever, and she’d decided that it was time she proved herself. However, she didn’t see anything wrong with having a smoking-hot affair before she became distressingly responsible. This man seemed the perfect person to devour for an entire week.

  “Good. May I escort you home to change?”

  Whoa! She didn’t think that was a great idea. An affair was one thing, but she didn’t need to lead this guy to her place, where she was staying all by herself. Hot men could certainly be killers, too.

  “No. You name the place and I’ll meet you there,” she suggested.

  Assessing her for a minute, he turned up the corners of his mouth as he leaned back, pulling that delectable body farther from her gasp. She barely held in her groan of disapproval. Too many years with her siblings had taught her to be cautious, but she didn’t want to be cautious right now. Still, she had her mother’s voice in her head telling her to tread carefully.

  Rachel didn’t get any “serial killer” vibes off the man, but still…

  “You are a smart woman, Rachel, but I assure you I mean no harm. ”

  “I’m sure that’s what all the nice womanizing murderers say before they cut their victims’ hearts out and boil them up,” she said with a grin. When he burst out laughing, she felt her thighs quiver. To hell with her last vestiges of caution. She wanted this man.

  “Ah, then. I guess you will never know if I’m a hunter or a lover…”

  Oh, my goodness, his accent was melting her. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t join you for dinner. I simply said I don’t want to bring you to my place,” she replied as she leaned toward him and ran her short fingernail down his arm.

  Feeling like a sex goddess when he shivered, Rachel licked her lips as she gazed at his full mouth. She had a feeling the man could take her to the farthest reaches of heaven and then back over and over again. Maybe she’d never drop back down to earth after a night, or hopefully a week, with the man.

  “Let’s have dinner at my hotel, the Mandarin Oriental. Do you know how to get there? I would feel better to send my driver for you. ”

  As Rachel tore her gaze from his lips up to his eyes, she decided in a split second to be a fool. “Yes, I know where the hotel is located, and I will arrive on my own. ”

  His eyes narrowed the slightest bit. She had a feeling that Ian was rarely refused. The added danger brought on more excitement for her. What was she thinking?

  “Fine. I hope to see you tonight, then,” he said and held out his hand.

  Rachel took his offered hand, only to find her breath forced from her lungs as he pulled her against his chest. Without pausing, he bent down and captured her lips, barely giving her a chance to inhale a bit of
needed oxygen.

  She should be furious at his assumption, but since she’d been flirting openly, that would be hypocritical. Besides, who was she fooling? She wanted his kiss from the second she’d opened her eyes.

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  As flashes of heat invaded her core, her shock wore off; Rachel was consumed by pleasure as he teased her willing lips. His tongue quickly pushed past the barrier of her teeth and she sucked him deep inside her mouth to taste his exotic flavor.

  Just when she was ready to wrap herself fully around him, he pulled back, his dark eyes black with hunger. “Until tonight,” he whispered before turning and walking down the beach.

  Unable to move, Rachel stood, shivering on the warm sand. There was nothing cold about her; she was just in terrible need of what she knew he could give. OK, maybe she didn’t know, but from that kiss, she was pretty dang sure.

  When he was out of sight, Rachel was finally able to pull herself together. Desperate to expend some of the energy built up inside her, she began jogging toward the trail that led to her rented home.

  The jog didn’t help. She was still agitated as she threw off her skimpy bikini and jumped into the shower. Only then did she realize that they’d never set a time for dinner. Well, she didn’t want to wait too long.

  Even knowing a lady should make a man wait didn’t help her to slow down. They both knew how this night would end, and she was in a hurry to get it started.

  Chapter Nine

  Lia

  It was just too hot.

  Lia nearly panicked as she woke, burning up. She started moving around, her hands flinging the covers away, when she came into contact with virtually smoldering flesh. Her legs were wrapped around solid calf muscles that were lighting her toes on fire. Her stomach trembled, and her body turned stiff as reality came crashing into her conscious brain.

  “Good morning. ”

  She froze once her hand came into contact with something delectably hard. Only her neck moved, barely, and she found herself looking into Shane’s dark chocolate eyes.

  With a gasp she realized she was holding onto his thick manhood, and it took a second before she was able to get her fist to unclench and then she released him while she quickly tried to scoot backward.

  “Where are you going? I thought things were just starting to heat up,” he said lazily as he turned, not releasing her from his arms.

  “Uh, sorry about that,” she muttered, not daring to connect their eyes again. It wouldn’t take much to send her over the ledge she was on. They were lying nearly na**d together and she was one second away from saying to hell with it and climbing on top of him.

  She couldn’t do that.

  They’d never crawl from the tent if that were to happen.

  “No need to apologize. I love your hands on me. I can remember your touch like it was yesterday,” he said in a low, smooth voice that was melting her from the inside out.

  “I need to go outside. ”

  “No need. We have all we could ever want right in here,” he told her as his lips nuzzled her neck. Oh, that was good, very, very good.

  “No. I really need to go outside,” she said and wiggled uncomfortably.

  Shane finally realized what she needed and chuckled.

  “Well, that will dampen the mood. I guess I need to find a bush myself, now that you’ve put the thought in my mind. ”

  Lia was horrified that he would say such a thing. It was just something you didn’t talk about — not ever.

  Shane lay back and looked at her; she clutched the thin blanket to her chest and wondered how the heck it had not only kept them warm, but also overheated her. Well, it wasn’t the blanket; it was his scorching body that was turning up the temperature in the tiny tent.

  “You can at least be a gentleman and turn around,” she snapped when he didn’t appear to have the slightest inclination to do so.

  “Nah. I’m comfortable just as I am,” he answered with a wicked grin — the same grin that had made her chase after him for so long.

  “Fine,” she huffed. If he wanted a show, then he was going to get one. He’d better enjoy it because looking was all he was going to do.

  Seeing her clothes lying in the corner, she sat up, exposing her backside to him as she snatched up her own shirt, which was thankfully dry. She pulled off the borrowed shirt from him, giving him a nice long glimpse of her smooth back. Right before she got it over her head, Shane’s finger trailed from her neck, all the way down the length of her spine, then slid over the curve of her soft derrière.

  A chill rushed through her as she moved away, unzipping the tent with one hand and grabbing her pants with the other. She darted out, no thought crossing her mind that someone might be out there. They were on a deserted island, after all.

  Luck was with her when no one spotted her streaking outside. That was a good thing, since she was half naked. Struggling into her still damp pants, she moved into the trees a short way and made sure not to be gone too long.

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  The area creeped her out. She’d never been anywhere where she was this alone. As much as she was afraid of her reaction to Shane, she was glad he was there. She wouldn’t do well by herself — she was terrified of the slightest sound.

  When she heard the bushes move near her, she let out a loud gasp, and went running back toward the tent.

  “It’s only me, Lia. Don’t worry,” Shane called.

  It still took several moments before her heart slowed its frantic beating.

  Shane returned and climbed back into the tent. Lia decided it wouldn’t be wise to go back inside with him. The space was just too small. Besides, they should be looking for a way out of this mess. Maybe they’d build one of those rafts like the one Tom Hanks had made in the film Cast Away, and someone would rescue them in the middle of the ocean.

  OK, that wasn’t the brightest idea, but she was desperate here.

  “Are you hungry?” Shane asked as he stepped back outside, the sight of him in his low-slung pants and nothing else causing near cardiac arrest. He was muscled and dark and beyond scrumptious looking. She could seriously dine off his abs alone. Chomp.

  “Yes,” she replied, hoping he had something and wasn’t just taunting her.

  “We have a few supplies, but they will only last a couple of days. We need to conserve what we can. There should be fruit and possibly nuts on this island, so we’ll have to go on a hunt,” he said as he cut open a bag and passed it to her.

  Lia was elated when she looked inside and found a large amount of trail mix. This would be plenty for the both of them for a good breakfast. Next he pulled out a water bottle. Water had never looked more beautiful.

  “We only have three bottles, but I have water purification tablets, so this isn’t our limit. Still, we need to take it easy. Hopefully, we can find a fresh-water supply deeper inside the island. I don’t want to go too far and risk getting lost, though. We also need to keep our belongings with us. This tent is the only thing that will keep us protected from the weather at night. ”

  “It sounds like you’ve been stranded before,” she murmured after she chewed and swallowed, being careful to take only small sips of water.

  “I haven’t ever been shipwrecked, but I’ve…” he trailed off.

  “You’ve what?”

  “It doesn’t matter,” he said, clearly wanting to change the subject.

  Now Lia had to know. She couldn’t stand mysteries; she refused to read anything that had suspense in it. If she did accidentally pick up a book like that, then she’d flip to the last chapter to find how it ended before going back and reading it from the beginning.

  The stress of suspense was just too much for her. It wasn’t pleasant in the least.

  “Please tell me. ” See, she could ask nicely.

  “Maybe sometime,” he said.

  She kne
w that was all she was going to get out of him for now. Dang it!

  “Let me pack this up and then we’ll be on our way,” he said and began taking down the tent.

  “Why are you taking it down?”

  “We don’t want a creature taking off with it, or a freak wave dragging it into the ocean. This is our bedroom for the next day or so. Hopefully only that long,” he said, looking out across the water. Not a boat in sight.

  “I’m glad I’m with you, Shane. I would never think of any of this,” she said. Their eyes connected as he stuffed the tent into the pack and hefted it onto his shoulders.

  “I’m glad to be here with you,” he replied, grateful that she’d forgotten that it was his fault they were stuck on the island in the first place.

  The heat in his eyes had her stomach tensing. Why did he have to decide to give her his full charm now? She’d wanted him forever without it being reciprocal, and now when she’d decided to not have him be a part of her life, he was giving her his full arsenal of charm.

  Men!

  “We’re losing daylight, Grayson,” she said as she began moving, having no idea where she was supposed to go.

  “We just woke up, Lia. There’s plenty of light left,” he said with a laugh, but he didn’t complain as she began moving.

  She must have been on the right path because Shane pushed ahead of her with a long stick as he moved bushes and they wove their way a bit deeper into the island. If she had to be trapped, at least she had a fantastic view, she thought as she watched the muscles in his butt flex with each step he took, and the twist of his upper torso while he worked on the brush.

  “The good news is that this island isn’t too big or too dense. I think it would be very difficult for us to get lost,” he said as they moved along. After walking for about an hour, they both heard a noise and stopped.

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  “Is that a…?”

  “Yes, I think it is,” he said with a smile as he moved forward.

  Now elated, both of them quickened their pace. Coming over a small rise, Lia stopped, her breath being taken from her.

  “That’s stunning,” she whispered.

  In front of them stood a pristine body of water with a twenty-foot waterfall flowing into it. Lia rushed forward, excited at the thought of washing the layer of salt water from her skin. She had no thoughts of safety, just pure refreshment.

 

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