Unexpected temptation, p.6

Unexpected Temptation, page 6


Unexpected Temptation

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  She had to stop thinking that way. She dried off, and then dressed and lay in the huge bed, rocking with the gentle motion of the boat as they moved out into deeper water. Vanessa was wide awake. After a short while, she gave up, got out of bed, wrapped a robe around her and went out to explore. She had to do something to take her mind off her troubles and off the man down the hall—especially off him.


  LUKE’S EYES BURNED from staring at the computer screen into the wee hours of the night. Sleep didn’t come to him easily most of the time. He often found meditation a good substitute, but he decided whiskey might be more helpful. He poured a glass, leaving his seat by the computer and dropping back into a deep leather chair.

  He’d chosen this cabin specifically because it was one he hadn’t shared with Nicky. The first time she’d come on the yacht, she’d made a game out of seducing him in every room. Her favorite spots, though, were out in the open, where someone could find them.

  Luke had liked the thrill of it, too. Then.

  He wondered which cabin Vanessa had chosen.

  Garrett had offered to keep an eye on her parents himself, something Luke didn’t expect and was grateful for. Garrett was the best of the best and family meant everything to him. He wouldn’t let anything happen to the Grants. Luke would make sure Vanessa knew that in the morning.

  After finishing the drink, he was no more relaxed or sleepy. In fact, he was overly warm and decided to go for a walk out on deck. Some fresh air, and maybe some yoga or Tai Chi might be more conducive to sleep than sitting here mired in his own thoughts.

  Changing into some sweatpants, he headed out.

  The boat was silent and deserted. He’d always enjoyed a walk on deck at night when no one was around. In the middle of the ocean, you could feel like nothing else existed.

  The aft deck on the top level was open and spacious, and a cool breeze whipped around him as he stared out into the blackness. Looking down, he saw the bright trail of effervescence, the water alive with glowing, microscopic organisms that churned behind the boat.

  Shivering, he planted his bare feet on the solid deck and started to move, focusing his mind away from everything but his limbs, his balance, his motion. His breathing leveled out, his mind relaxing and zeroing in on how his body moved with his breath.

  A few minutes into it, a small noise behind him signaled that he wasn’t alone. His concentration was broken as he turned and saw Vanessa standing by the rail in a robe.

  “Vanessa,” he said, surprised.

  “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. It was wonderful to watch. Tai Chi?”

  He nodded.

  “I’m sorry to intrude.”

  “It’s fine. Why are you up in the middle of the night?”

  “Why are you?” she countered.

  Her hair blew in the breeze, and he could barely make out her features in the dark. He’d turned off most of the deck lighting before he came out, so they stood in shadow, light cast only from the inside of the main room.

  “I couldn’t sleep. I needed to unwind.”

  “Did it help?”

  “I only just started, but it usually does.”

  “Maybe it would help me. I can’t sleep, either. I keep going over everything, over and over. I’ve been walking around, trying to tire myself out, but I get more worked up. When I saw you, it was the first time I was able to stop thinking. It was peaceful to watch.”

  Luke found something humbling in her admission.

  “I used to find that, too, when I was in Tibet. I spent months watching before I started learning in any formal sense. Do you practice?”

  “No. It was something I always meant to learn. My father taught me some self-defense and enrolled me in Krav Maga classes, but those are not relaxing.”

  Luke smiled. “No, not by a long shot. Come here. I can show you some basics, if you want.”

  She hesitated and then joined him. “What do I do?”

  He led her through a few of the easiest moves, helping her stand correctly and hold herself in balance. She had natural aptitude, already knowing some martial arts, but it took everyone time to learn the deceptively simple movements.

  “The transition between the stances should be slow and easy,” he instructed. His touch was light as he guided her.

  “Wait. This robe is in the way,” she complained as she removed it.

  All of Luke’s relaxation and zen was washed away in a wave of desire. She didn’t seem to think anything of her sexy slip-like dress.

  “That’s better. Let me try again, now that I can move freely,” she said, unaware of the picture she presented.

  Luke stood back, putting some distance between them. Now he was the one watching.

  “Don’t stand so stiffly,” he said gently. “Let your spine float on your hips, rooted through your legs. Remember to keep your tongue soft on the roof of your mouth as you breathe.”

  She moved through the first five postures he’d showed her, doing well for a beginner, but forgetting to open her arms after crossing them in the White Crane movement.

  “You’re doing well, but let me help you with that last part,” he said, standing behind her. “Settle back into Basic Horse again.”

  She did, and he pushed on her shoulders lightly. “Deeper.”

  She sank a bit farther, which caused her dress to pull up higher. Luke looked past her shoulder, out toward the dark ocean, focusing his energy inward and away from his desire.

  “Okay, now go forward like this.”

  As he moved behind her, he was able to reach forward and adjust her movements, keep her in time with him. After a few more tries, with his correction, she fell into a perfect rhythm with him. They repeated the series twice more.

  Luke hadn’t experienced the sense of being so totally in sync with anyone since his days in China. As they finished a final time moving through the fifth posture, he could almost see that the tension had drained from her body, until she gasped and wrenched forward, holding her side.


  She straightened, looking down at her side, where a dark spot appeared on her dress.

  “Damn it,” Luke swore under his breath, realizing her wound had reopened and was bleeding through. “I wasn’t thinking,” he said.

  “Luke, it’s okay. I stretched a little too far that last time, that’s all.”

  “It’s not okay. I should have known that could happen.”

  She put her hand on his arm, looking up at him. Her skin appeared luminous in the silvery light, her eyes large and dark.

  “Why? You can’t think of everything. I should have eased up, but it felt good. In fact, it felt great. I completely forgot about everything except the movements, and the two of us flowing through them. It was perfect.”

  So she’d felt it, too. The symmetry they shared.

  “We should get that fixed up.”

  He turned away, resisting the urge to find that connection with her again, but in a different way.

  “Luke.” She said his name as she reached up to push his hair back from his forehead.

  An unbearably tender gesture. He bent to kiss her, and then caught himself.

  Her wound. What was wrong with him? He’d completely blanked on that twice now. This woman merely looked at him and sense went out the window. When she touched him, he forgot everything but the need to touch her in return.

  “I’m sorry, I forgot—”

  She smiled. “Me, too. But I guess I should rebandage it so I don’t bleed all over you. I might need some help with that. It’s in somewhat of an awkward spot, and I guess I didn’t do a great job the first time around.”

  Luke recognized the flirtatious tone of her voice. She was perfectly capable of reapplying the bandage on her ow
n, but she was asking him to help her for other reasons.

  Vanessa was seducing him. Very effectively, he thought.

  “I’d like to check it out, make sure there’s no infection,” he said, almost believing his own words.

  “That would be good, yes.”

  She slipped out of his arms, walking a few feet back toward the stairs that led to the lower decks. Luke stood in place, knowing he could make a different decision than to follow her.

  “You coming?” she asked, looking back over her shoulder.

  Luke groaned inwardly, his brain telling him to say no as his legs moved him in her direction.

  They made their way down to her stateroom, and she closed the door after him. She’d left her robe up on the deck, and in the light of her room, Luke was having an even harder time ignoring how sexy she was in that dress.

  He should have bought something shapeless, flannel. Not that it would have made a difference. He was pretty sure he could put Vanessa in a gunny sack, and he’d still be imagining what was underneath it.

  She walked over to the lamp, lifted the edge of her dress, inspecting the cut. The blood-soaked bandage was half-off, and she was still bleeding more than he’d thought. Desire was wiped out by his immediate concern when she sat on the side of the bed, suddenly pale.


  “Like I told you, I’m just not a big fan of the sight of blood, especially my own.”

  “Stay here. I’ll get the bandages.”

  She did, and Luke hurriedly gathered what he needed to clean and redress her wound.

  “Lie back.”

  “I don’t want to get this on the bedding—”

  “I’ll put a towel there. Lie down,” he said, refusing any argument.

  She did, sighing as she did so.

  Luke cleaned the area with a warm, wet towel, and then dried it and was relieved to see no signs of infection.

  “We’ll bandage it up more securely this time. We should check it and change the dressing each day, and we can see a doctor when we get to the island to be safe. I’ll put gauze over the butterfly bandages and that will keep it from bleeding again,” he told her, informing her clinically about what he was doing.

  As he moved the dry towel over the smooth skin of her side, taking in the flat plane of her stomach, the gentle rise of her rib cage, he felt his control slipping again. Chastising himself, he refocused on his task.

  “There, I think that will do it, though you’ll need to change your clothes.”

  Vanessa sat up on the side of the bed, nodding. “Thank you. It feels much better. I’m sorry I got all woozy. You’d think I’d be used to it. My kids are always coming in with cuts and so forth from the playground.”

  She threw him for a moment with the mention of children, and then he realized she meant her students.

  “It happens. And it’s not like that’s the only shock you’ve had to deal with in the last few days. It adds up.”

  A good thing to remember, he said to himself.

  “I guess.”

  Luke straightened. “Anyway, you should get some sleep.”

  “I’m not tired. And do you really want to leave?”

  Luke hesitated.

  “I want to kiss you, but it’s only the heat of the moment. The night,” he said, more to himself than her.

  “It’s a nice moment.” She didn’t say no. Didn’t move away.

  “Are you for real?” It was like he was in a dream. A very good one.

  “Why don’t you find out?” she invited, her tongue wetting her lips.

  He dipped down to capture her mouth with his. She shivered as the warmth from their exercise wore off. Luke pulled her in close. He was warm enough for both of them.

  Pushing his hand into the thick curtain of her hair, he held her as he deepened the kiss, searching the sweetness of her mouth like he was searching for salvation.

  Maybe he was.

  She moaned into him, the sound reverberating down through his body as she wound her arms around him, too. She pressed herself into him, into his erection, and sighed.

  “That’s definitely real,” she whispered against his mouth.

  Luke knew that he should stop, and that this was a bad decision, but she was sweet in his arms. Her kiss was as hot and insistent as his, reassuring him that she wanted this as much as he did.

  He backed away again, his breathing heavy as he tipped his forehead against hers, trying to resist.

  “Vanessa, it’s normal, in these kinds of circumstances, to want to reach out. To hold on to the closest thing, or person, to you. To want to lose yourself in it, because what’s happening is too much to think about. But it wouldn’t be smart, and I shouldn’t have let it go this far.”

  She pulled back, too. “So why did you?”

  Luke stared at her, his mind blank. He should tell her he kissed her because she reminded him of Nicky, or because he was an inconsiderate jerk, but stayed silent.

  She shook her head, as if clearing it. “Maybe it’s true, that I’m only trying to feel something good in the middle of this mess, or trying to find someone to hold on to. Is that so wrong?”

  She watched him with those gorgeous eyes and Luke swallowed as she lifted the dress she was wearing, peeling it off.

  She wore nothing underneath.

  “I should change into pajamas. I think you bought me a pair,” she said nonchalantly.

  “Vanessa.” His voice was rough, objections buried somewhere under the hot need that was taking over again as he studied the swell of her breasts, the lovely pink tips that begged for a taste.

  His mouth turned dry, his heart slamming as he gripped the doorknob tightly. Then his hand dropped to his side as he came a few steps closer.

  “We shouldn’t,” he said, trying one more time to do the right thing.

  “Luke, you’ve lost everything you had. You know what that’s like. So have I, and so much has happened today. Why not enjoy this moment while we have it?”

  She could have told him they should do this because the sky was blue and cookies were good. Luke would’ve accepted any flimsy rationale she offered, but the pain in her eyes was what gutted him.

  He wanted nothing more than to wipe that pain away, to replace it with something better, hotter and happier. There was no way he could walk away and leave her alone right now, and no way he could stay without having her.

  * * *

  VANESSA HELD HER BREATH when she saw Luke’s hand grip the doorknob. She didn’t want to be rejected again, left alone here with her doubts and her fears. She also saw the struggle in his face and knew that she had to take the lead, to draw him to her.

  If he wanted her because she looked like her sister, or because she happened to be there, throwing herself at him, she didn’t care. The second his arms came around her, his mouth on hers, any worries evaporated.

  This is what she wanted. Who she wanted. She’d known men for weeks or months who never so much as made her think about touching them. With Luke, it was all she wanted to do, though she’d known him for only a few days.

  Well, in reality, she didn’t know him at all, but she knew what mattered right now. That he set her on fire. That he was passionate, protective and that they had some kind of crazy chemistry that she’d never experienced before and that she wanted to soak herself in. Drown in.

  He didn’t know her, either. This was her chance to be whoever she wanted. To live out a fantasy, to do things that she might never normally do. And why not? She had learned that life was for the taking, because who knew when it would be taken from you?

  “I want this,” she whispered against his chest, her mouth finding the hard nub of a nipple and flicking her tongue over it. In case he had doubts, she wanted to erase them.

Luke groaned, his hands moving over her skin, his mouth doing wicked things to hers before he broke the kiss to focus on the lobe of her ear, the sensitive length of her neck.

  “I can’t get enough of touching you.”

  His words thrilled her. He made her bold.

  Lifted out of her life, she was lifted out of herself, as well. All that existed was her and Luke.

  “Careful, your side,” he cautioned against her shoulder, lowering her left arm from around his neck. “Keep your arm down.”

  He took her hand, and placed it between them where she could flatten her palm against the hard ridge of the erection bulging through the sweats he wore.

  “Okay,” she agreed, wrapping her fingers around him. “This is much better.”

  His breath caught as she stroked the velvety softness of his shaft.

  Vanessa smiled at the roughness of his voice and how his kiss became deeper and harder as she touched him. They were so hungry for each other; it was as if they were lovers back together after a long time apart.

  No other sexual experience she’d known had ever been this hot. Vanessa wanted as much of Luke as she could take. Letting her knees go soft, she started to slide down his body, but he stopped her.

  “Vanessa,” he said, pausing.

  “Shush,” she chastised with a naughty smile and sank the rest of the way to her knees, stripping his sweats down and helping him step out of them. They disposed quickly of the necessary disclosures and then she was focused only on her desires. When it came to Luke, there were a lot of them.

  “I can’t wait to taste you,” she told him, darting her tongue out to do that as she held his gaze.

  Luke clenched his jaw and his breath came out in a hiss. He fisted his hands as if holding on for dear life. Vanessa thought he should hold on to her, instead, and told him so.

  He put his hands on her head as she closed her lips fully over him and drew back, and then again, teasing him with her tongue as she went. His fingers tangled in her hair. It thrilled her, and she let him guide her, setting the pace, the depth.

  “Your mouth is heaven,” he panted.

  “But I want to know the rest of you, too.” His hands moved to slide beneath her arms as he lifted her slowly.

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