“I think I mentioned that my father’s a preacher in a small Texas town and my mother helps with the church’s volunteer efforts. We aren’t really close, but I am their only child and they love me, just like I love them.” She cringed at her confession, one she normally wouldn’t have given, not sure why she had, and quickly moved on, “I would have gone crazy, too, not knowing if they were all right during the tsunami, or hurricane or whatever.”

He glanced at her. His gaze too knowing, too aware of what she’d shared. She expected him to push her for more detail, but surprisingly, he seemed to sense she was uncomfortable, and let it pass, saying only, “Maybe you’ll tell me more about them one day.”

His sensitivity really floored her. “Maybe I will,” she said, surprised at how much she meant it. “Tell me more about Japan and your parents.”

“There’s not a lot more to tell,” he said. “They’re fine and involved in clean-up efforts that will take years and years to complete. I went to see them right after I left the army and spent a few months helping.”

There were tiny telling cracks in his voice at several places during his story. Sam wasn’t at all what she’d assumed. “How’d you get hired at the studio?”

“My uncle, a retired SEAL, works for the studio. He hounded me for months to take the security job. I didn’t want it. I wanted back in the army.” He rubbed his right leg a bit too deeply, and she wondered just how bad his injury was, both physically and emotionally.

She opened her mouth to tell him how much she understood, and quickly snapped it shut. She didn’t talk about the past. She focused on the future, like what he seemed to be doing. And my gosh, how shallow would she sound anyway? He was talking about war and sacrifice and she was upset she wasn’t able to perform anymore.

“We’re here,” he announced, turning into a long driveway, but trees blocked her view of the house.

The ride was over and she didn’t want it to be. She had enjoyed learning about Sam, which defied the idea of sex being a path to getting him out of her system. Suddenly, she felt confused. She knew Sam was a distraction she didn’t need, knew he was the kind of man that took you by storm and took over your life. Yet, on some level he was exactly what she needed. And that absolutely terrified her. She couldn’t lose herself again. She couldn’t. Been there, done that, didn’t like it.

As soon as the truck stopped in the driveway of the two-story, towering mansion of a house, she lunged for the door handle, intending to get out as quickly as possible. She needed some distance from Sam to process her feelings.

Sam gently shackled her arm, the touch of his hand searing her skin, melting her resolve to escape him. “Hey,” he said softly. “What just happened?”

He read her too easily, which only rattled her more. “Nothing. Nothing, I just—”

“Got spooked.”

She hesitated, and then nodded. “Yes. I did.” Somehow, her ability to be honest about her feelings made him more appealing. “I got spooked.” And by the time the words were out, he was closer, still holding her arm. Still the powerful, controlling, sexy Sam, who she couldn’t seem to resist.

She could smell the spicy maleness of him, warm and taunting, calling her, warming her, burning her inside out. Thank goodness for the shadowy darkness broken only by moonlight splintering through the tree limbs above them, casting their faces in shadows, hiding the damning desire surely in her eyes.

She inhaled, trying to think straight, before she did something like kiss him, instead of getting out of the vehicle. Instead, she filled her nostrils with more of that sultry male scent that made her want to stay right where she was. “Sam, I don’t know what—”

“Me, either,” he said, and kissed her, oh God, he kissed her, and it was wonderful. She didn’t even remember him moving or how he’d become close enough to have his thigh pressed to hers. All that she knew was that his fingers were laced through her hair, his lips pressed to hers, warm and remarkably gentle—a teasing touch, following by a sweeping wash of his tongue against hers.


“Don’t talk,” she said, her fingers curled around his neck to pull him back to her, desperate to keep this just sex, knowing deep down it might be too late. “Kiss me again.”

And he did. He kissed her. No talking. No demanding things go his way, like she’d expected from him. His mouth slanted over hers, his tongue pressing past her teeth, stroking seductively against her tongue.

Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Stepping Up Romance
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