But, try as he might, Blake couldn’t pull his gaze from the delicate part of her lips or stop his thumb from tracing her scars. But he’d be damned before he’d let his fascination with the woman seduce him, or let his lust dictate whom he slept with—

Jax rose up on her toes and placed her mouth on his lips.

Paralyzed, Blake fought the need to crush her supple body against his, concentrating on the taste of caramel. The smell of citrus from her hair. The soft skin now gripped firmly in his hand, covering the tattoo that was wholly inappropriate.

Because there was nothing virginal about the way Jax was kissing him. It was the kiss of a woman who knew what she was doing. And knew what she wanted, as well.

His heart pounded harder as she moved her mouth with a purpose, parting her lips just enough to tease him with the promise of more heat. The teasing hint of her tongue. Kisses that were warm and moist and soft and steeped in the unique flavor of Jax. His body craved more, and he slanted his head a bit, allowing her slightly better access.

Jax melted against him, full breasts plastered against his chest as her tongue took a bolder taste of his, demanding he reciprocate.

Pulse throbbing, he grew hard, making restraint difficult to maintain as he indulged in a mind-boggling erotic fantasy. Blake’s brain swirled with images of him walking her backward into the cabin of his boat, stripping her out of her clothes, pinning her tattoo-adorned arm over her head and burying himself between those toned, tanned legs. Consuming her in every way imaginable.

She wouldn’t say no, but would embrace the act of making love just like she embraced everything else about life. Wholeheartedly. Without reservation. And with a passion that would be impossible to forget.

Her lips moved against his in an act that grew more insistent, more impossible to resist as time wore on, calling to him. Weakening his good sense. Until he knew if he didn’t put an end to the kiss, he would make love to her. Right here.

And right now...

FIVE

With a silent curse and a loud protest from his raging libido, Blake gripped Jax’s shoulders and gently but firmly set her back.

Whoops and cheers and a shout of “Go, Ms. Lee” came from the distance, and Blake glanced up to see the two guitar students watching them from the pool deck, clearly delighted by the scene.

Chest still heaving, Jax stared up at him, gaze hot, and said, “Did I scare you, Suit?”

Her sassy words shoved him closer to the edge.

“No,” he said, his voice disconcertingly gruff.

If he were smart, he’d be afraid. But fear wasn’t the reason for the adrenaline careening through his veins. No, the current wild surge of blood was in response to a need that threatened to be his undoing. And despite the desire that still raged, his brow crinkled in resigned amusement.

“But I hope that demonstration wasn’t another one of those life lessons for your students,” he said, and she narrowed her eyes at him.

Lips pressed in a determined line, fighting both a smile and the urge to take her feisty, luscious mouth again, Blake turned back to the rail and picked up his brush.

* * *

She’d kissed him.

A week later and her mind still churned from the interlude, so Jax leaned back against the chaise longue and tried to relax. The turquoise waters of the pool stretched out at her feet, the waterfall gurgling nearby. And beyond the deck on the far side, the surface of the bay sparkled in the sun. Nikki was sitting at a patio table reading while her mother fixed sandwiches for lunch and prepared a homemade apple pie—a new recipe Abigail Bennington wanted to try after her week away at a cooking institute. The smell was unusual. Nikki had warned Jax to insist on a small slice, and Abigail had feigned outrage at the indirect insult. Jax found the two women endearing.

So she should feel at ease and relaxed. But she wasn’t. Because she’d kissed Blake and he hadn’t kissed her back. Okay, so he hadn’t pushed her away exactly, but his participation had been minimal. And if that wasn’t enough of an ego thrasher, he’d been avoiding her ever since.

In the past week, only twice had he made it home from the office in time for dinner.

Jax had stayed busy with Nikki, the brunette helping her kick-start a phone campaign searching for donors for the club. They’d also managed a short shopping excursion and an afternoon at the beach, Nikki’s red bikini matching her dragon cast tattoo. Today Jax had driven Nikki to the doctor, who’d declared she had at least three more weeks in the cast. But even one more day spent being avoided by Blake felt like torture.

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