She yawned as she closed the door, more exhausted than she had expected. She fell asleep quickly and slept far better than she had the night before, then rose at the first gray light of dawn. She went in to shower and get ready for the day, dressed in a conservative dark brown skirt suit and heeled pumps, then quietly cracked open the door to the living room.
Bran was already up, standing with his back to her, one hand on his hip, the other pressing his cell phone against his ear. A pair of white cotton briefs that hugged his round behind was all he had on.
Jessie’s mouth went dry. His suntanned back was smooth, except for a jagged scar on one side, and ridged with solid muscle. Bands of muscle defined his shoulders and arms, and long sinewy legs tapered down to narrow feet.
She told herself to close the door before Bran caught her staring at him like a juicy piece of meat, but instead she just stood there, her heart pounding, her breathing a little ragged.
She was just pulling herself under control when he turned, the phone still pressed to his ear. Jessie froze. Her gaze shot to the heavy bulge at the front of his briefs and she felt a rush of heat so hot it made her dizzy. Muscular pecs and six-pack abs. A lean, hard-muscled chest and amazing biceps. Desire hit her so hard she swayed on her feet.
She didn’t move till Bran jerked the blanket off his make-shift bed and wrapped it around his waist, knocking her out of her self-imposed trance and flushing her face with embarrassment.
“Sorry,” she managed to breathlessly whisper, stepped back and slammed the door. Ohmygod, ohmygod. She hadn’t felt the least attraction to a man for so long she’d forgotten what it was like. Correction, she had never felt the jolt of desire she had felt looking at Brandon Garrett. Ohmygod.
She told herself he was probably used to that kind of reaction from a woman, or at least the women who had seen him nearly naked. Jessie sank down on the bed. What could she possibly say to him? How could she explain?
But no words of explanation popped into her head.
Since she couldn’t hide in the bedroom all day, and because Bran undoubtedly wanted to take a shower, she inhaled a deep breath, opened the door, and walked out into the living room.
“Sorry about that,” she said.
He had pulled on his jeans but the rest of him was still gloriously bare. “No problem. I should have grabbed one of those terrycloth robes in the bathroom.”
She just nodded. “Yeah.” Her fingers curled into the palms of her hands as she walked past him toward the counter where he had brewed a pot of coffee.
“Mind if I use the shower?” he asked.
“Of course not. You’re paying for the room.” When he opened his mouth, she held up a hand. “Sorry, no more talk about money.”
She took a mug down from the cabinet above the sink and filled it with coffee, her hands still a bit unsteady.
“Why don’t you order us something to eat?” Bran suggested as he crossed the room toward the bedroom. “I won’t be too long.”
“Bacon and eggs?” she asked.
“Sounds great.” As he disappeared through the door and closed it behind him, Jessie sank down on one of the chairs at the dining table, coffee mug gripped tightly in her hands. At least now she knew the abduction hadn’t completely destroyed her desire for the opposite sex.
Or at least one member of the opposite sex. She grimaced. She just wished the man who had rekindled her long-dead fire wasn’t Brandon Garrett.
Bran turned on the shower, set the nozzle to cold, and climbed in beneath the icy spray. He clenched his jaw, fighting to block a memory of the look on Jessie’s pretty face when he had spotted her in the bedroom doorway. Trying to block the erection he got every time the image reappeared in his head.
Bran knew women. He knew when a woman wanted him. He swore softly, cursing the fate that had brought the two of them together, putting them both in a situation that could only get worse.
So far he had managed to suppress the desire he’d felt from the moment Jessie had walked into his office. With her fire-touched blond hair and fine features, she was beautiful. He liked her body and admired her brain. In a softly feminine way, she was sexy as hell, and he wanted her–no doubt about it.
But aside from the erotic dream he’d had about her last night, he’d been doing an admirable job of controlling his lust.
Until this morning. When the flush in her cheeks and the heat in her eyes had made it clear that the desire he felt was returned. She wanted him. Which meant he had to be the strong one because no way could he have her and just walk away.
Jessie wasn’t the type he usually slept with, women who didn’t require exclusivity and didn’t expect to give it in return.
He was fairly sure Jessie hadn’t been with a man since she was abducted. He sure as hell didn’t want to be the first, didn’t want to deal with whatever trauma she had experienced, maybe make it worse.
Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin. More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film. Kat’s latest novel, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, was released in paperback December 29th.
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