French Kiss

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French Kiss


Lori Wilde


Chapter One

Bare buns. Slick. Masculine. Muscular. Undulating rhythmically to the hard, driving beat. Here. There. Everywhere Summer Jacobs glanced she saw them. Buns, buns and more buns cloaked in nothing but skimpy g-strings and heated mineral oil. Hunk heaven! Yee-haw. She strolled through the crowd of women chanting "Shake it, baby, shake it" at Bare Buns, an exclusive, ladies-only strip club in downtown Phoenix. Sexually, she'd hit a long dry spell and the sight of these exquisite specimens of manhood were making her feel . . . well . . . a tad bit needy. The selection was impressive. She should certainly be able to find a dancer for her sister's bachelorette party here. Just as her next-door neighbor Joe Everhart had predicted. That conversation had been a weird one. Summer had been unloading party supplies from her Mini Cooper that morning when the sack ripped, sending naughty gag gifts tumbling across the sidewalk. Glow-in-the-dark condoms, chocolate body paints, fur-lined handcuffs. Joe had come rushing over to help. Summer almost shooed him away from the racy party favors. She knew he embarrassed easily. Whenever he saw her in a string bikini lounging around the community pool, he stammered and couldn't make eye contact. And whenever she complained about her nonexistent love life, he invariably blushed beet red. He was a nice guy. Always ready to roll up his sleeves and pitch in. He was cute in a nerdy professor sort of way, even though he wore thick

glasses, shapeless clothes and his shaggy hair looked as if it was perpetually in need of a trim. But he had the most genuine smile she'd ever seen and whenever he directed it at Summer, her stomach fluttered mysteriously. The man was a diamond in the rough just waiting for some perceptive woman to polish. But she wasn't volunteering. No siree. For one thing, Joe was a total brainiac with a PhD in archeology and she was a high school dropout. Sure she'd gotten a GED and made a name for herself as a southwest artisan, but she'd never stopped feeling insecure about her lack of formal education. For another thing, Joe was a forever kind of guy. And hard experience had taught Summer that life was short. Might as well make it sweet. With her newfound live-for-today philosophy, she simply could not commit to any one person. Still, she couldn't stop fantasizing about Joe. And there in lay the problem. What she needed to take her mind off her adorable neighbor was a wild fling with a wild thing. A rebel, a challenge, an adventure. Something that Joe and his fossils most definitely were not. So when Joe had silently handed her the box of edible panties that had slid behind the tire of her car and their fingers brushed in a moment of pure electrical sparking, Summer resolutely ignored the sensation. "Just my luck," she'd moaned without meeting Joe's gaze. "First the caterer flakes out, then the stripper cancels and now my sack rips." "Stripper?" "For Devon's bachelorette party on Saturday night." "I know where you can get a stripper. A buddy of mine works at a place called Bare Buns. The Masked Monsieur. Tell him I sent you." So now here she was, Joe-sent, sexually edgy and thigh-deep in near naked men.

Chapter Two

Joe Everhart realized his plan was wicked, but he'd been having the most erotic fantasies starring his sexy next-door neighbor Summer Jacobs ever since she'd leased the upstairs apartment two months ago and it was high time he did something about it. From the first moment he'd heard Summer lugging packing crates up the steps, enthusiastically belting out an off-key rendition of "Je Ne Regrette Rien," he'd known she was special. "I regret nothing," she'd sung the cabaret torch song in fluent French and his heart thumped crazily.

Who could resist a woman without regrets? He wished he could be so confident in his life choices. And then he'd gone out side to offer his help and he'd gotten a good look at her. Long auburn hair, with chunky streaks of blonde shot throughout, that swung provocatively down her back. Her gorgeous butt cupped in those low-rise bell bottom jeans. She wore funky red cowboy boots and a skimpy little white tank top that revealed not only a flat expanse of taut tummy but also a turquoise navel ring. And that's when he knew had to have her. He just hadn't known how. He wasn't the most suave guy on earth. He was an introvert who loved fossils and artifacts and ancient history. Socializing had never come easy and he spent more time with books than with people. Plus, Summer was so full of sass and daring, pulsating with energy and life. She was far too busy piloting hot air balloons or climbing rocks or crafting her one-of-kind southwest jewelry to notice an archeology geek like him. So he'd bided his time, waiting for the right opportunity, the perfect segue into asking her out. But the longer he waited, the more she treated him like a brother. If she only knew the very unbrotherly thoughts prowling his head! Problem was, she'd already formed an image of him as the nice guy next door. A buddy, a pal, a soft place to land. What he needed was for her to view him in a completely different light. But he'd had no idea how to achieve that goal. Until this morning when she'd said she needed a stripper and he'd recklessly blurted out that the Masked Monsieur was a friend of his. Well, it wasn't a total lie. He was a friend to himself. And if tricking Summer into giving him a chance was wrong, then he didn't want to be right. "Psst, Joe," Steve, the bartender, called to him from the dressing room door. "Yeah?" Hurriedly, he tugged black pleather pants up over his sparkly gold g-string. "She's here." Steve gave him a thumb's up and scooted back to the bar. Panic punched Joe's gut. Summer was in the club. She'd be watching him strip. "We want the Masked Monsieur," the crowd of women on the other side of the curtain chanted as his theme song "You Can Leave Your Hat On" oozed from the surround sound speakers and the fog machine belched a fine white mist "We want the Mask Monsieur." He almost turned and high tailed it out the back exit. Conquer your fear. Don't blow this chance. Joe exhaled heavily, took off his glasses and set them on the dressing table. Then he reached for the black leather mask

and pulled it down over his face. It was now or never. The time had come to strut his stuff.

Chapter Three

Summer's mouth dropped. The Masked Monsieur had the most splendid butt she had ever clamped eyes on. He was mesmerizingly, stunningly, brain-foggingly stupendous. Bumping and grinding right in front of her, his butt encased in a pair of skin-tight, faux leather pants that molded to his body like plastic. And those abs! Tight and righteous. A hundred women were screaming and making swooning noises as if he were Elvis come back to life. But when the Masked Monsieur spun around to face the crowd, it was Summer's gaze he caught and held. It was to her and her alone he gave an inscrutable smile and a rakish wink. In that moment, she knew she'd found her wild fling to take her mind off good ol' Joe. "Pinch me," she murmured under her breath, convinced she was having one heck of a bang-up sex dream. Strobe flashed, bathing his body in a freeze frame of shifting colored lights. He was large, his shoulders broad, his muscled biceps as thick as her thighs. He gyrated seductively to the Tom Jones song, slowly removing the scarlet tie fastened around his bare neck, all without ever breaking eye contact with her. "You can leave your mask on," the audience shouted and waved dollar bills at him. He tossed the tie to Summer. A shier, sweeter woman would have let someone else snag the tie. But Summer was no longer sweet and shy. She'd given that up two years ago when she'd vowed to live each and every day to the fullest. She was bold now. Brazen even. And she was feeling revved up and randy. Besides, no one knew her here. If she acted like a slut puppy, no big hairy deal, right? With one hand she snatched the tie in mid-toss and draped it over her neck. Then she lifted the tip of it to her nose. The silky material smelled of pure masculine essence, raw and powerful. Her knees wobbled and her breath left her body but she never once took her gaze from the Masked Monsieur's compelling dark eyes. He unbuckled his belt. "You can leave your mask on."

The belt flew through the air straight toward her. A leggy brunette on her right made a grab for it, but Summer was quicker. She cinched the belt around her waist, a coveted prize. The Masked Monsieur's smile widened. Then he ripped off the faux leather pants that had been held together by Velcro. They made a sharp tearing sound as the Velcro separated. He dropped them onto the stage. The women went nuts. Good God, but the man was extremely well-endowed and Summer couldn't stop looking at it. Er . . . at him. She splayed a hand against her throat, felt her pulse galloping wildly out of control. This magnificent hunk was a friend of Joe Everhart's? Unbelievable. The two men had absolutely nothing in common. Then the Masked Monsieur reached out his hand to her, his gaze still pinning her to the spot. His dark eyes cloaked enigmatically behind the mask. He motioned her up onto the stage. She pointed at her chest, lifted an eyebrow and sent him the silent question. Me? He nodded, cupped his hand, pulling his fingers toward him in a come hither gesture. She shook her head. She was brave, but Summer wasn't sure she was that brave. No more holding back, remember? Life's short. Do it. He kept motioning for her, coaxing. Her face flushed. His rich lips formed a single word. "Come."

Chapter Four

She came. Right up on stage with him, lithe as a cat. He held out his hand. Summer took it. Her soft fingers curling into his. He walked her backward, twitching his hips to the beat. She followed, matching him move for move. It occurred to him that she wouldn't have taken Joe Everhart's hand so willingly. That thought rankled. If she only knew the truth. He was nothing more than a nerd in hunk's clothing, just an archeologist doing what he had to do in order to make money to fund his passion. She had bought into the Masked Monsieur fantasy hook, line and sinker and while he was glad for it, he was also oddly disappointed in her. But for now, he held Summer spellbound. She was his. Their gazes connected.

The rest of the club disappeared. In Joe's head it was just the two of them, dancing together. His eyes ate her up. She wore a simple spaghetti strap tank top. The taut poke of her perky nipples straining against her cotton top told him that she wasn't wearing a bra. His stomach pitched. If they'd been back at their apartment complex, if he wasn't wearing the mask, he wouldn't have possessed the courage to stare at her so blatantly. But the Masked Monsieur could do things Joe could not. Women went wild for his alter ego. He stroked a finger over her palm. She shuddered and her tremulous response sent an inferno of feral need burning straight through his groin. He performed a cha-cha-cha step and she mimicked his footwork, her curvy little butt bouncing enticingly. She had goddess legs, enhanced by the flirty blue and white skirt she wore that barely covered her firm, slender thighs. Her calves were shapely. Her ankles perfectly proportioned. And he loved the way her pearly pink toenails peeked from beneath the straps of her sandals. "Hi," she said breathlessly. He could barely hear her over the music. "I'm Summer." He did not answer. He was afraid she might recognize his voice and then his whole crazy deception would unravel before it ever got going. Joe nodded, wrapped an arm around her waist and dipped her so low that her loose, flowing hair grazed the stage floor. How often he'd thought about holding her in his arms like this! It felt three times as great as he'd imagined. She smelled so damned good. Her face was flushed and she was breathing hard and fast, her breasts rising and falling against his chest, her head hanging below his. Within kissing distance. Her navy-blue eyes widened until they seemed to encompass her entire face. And when she slipped out a tongue to moisten her rich, crimson lips, he almost groaned aloud. He was that far gone. "Joe, told me all about you," he murmured huskily into her ear as he righted her, disguising his voice with a bad French accent. "He did?" "He says you are a woman who regrets nothing." "That's true."

Chapter Five

The masked stranger's seductive words set something off inside Summer. Something hot and rich and hungry. His tone, the look in his eyes and the

way he held her suggested many sensual pleasures. Erotic pleasures to which only he held the key. He was a man who would dare anything. Was he suggesting an affair? The look in his eyes said yes. It was as if he totally got her. As if he knew exactly what her soul needed. Red-hot sex and nothing more complicated than that. She wanted him. Badly. But she was scared to want him too much. How could this man with his sly smile, his face cloaked behind a leather mask, his black hair slicked back with gel know her deepest needs? What on earth had Joe told him? But who was the guy? She knew nothing about him. Not even what he looked like. She trailed her gaze down those granite abs. Okay, so she could see he was a hard body. Beyond that, he was a mystery. What else was there to know? She wouldn't want him to take the mask off anyway. It was part of the illusion. Part of what was sending all her blood rushing from her head to the tender aching spot between her legs. The Tom Jones song ended and a lively hip-hop tune began. The Masked Monsieur pulled her off stage. They ducked behind the curtain just as a buff, man dressed in a cowboy costume jiggled onto the stage. If she were smart, she would leave right now. Forget all about having a stripper for Devon's bachelorette party. Because Summer realized that if she hired this man and he came to her apartment dressed like this she would sex it up with him the minute the guests departed. And from the lusty gleam in the Masked Monsieur's eyes, she could tell the same thought was on his mind. But this was impossible, outrageous. To be so attracted to a total stranger. But wasn't it much better than being attracted to the next-door neighbor she could not have? Nothing wrong with hot anonymous sex. Her nipples hardened at the thought. Run, whispered the old Summer. He's too much for you to handle. But the new Summer, the one who'd suffered through so much pain, the one who'd faced death and come out on the other side with a stark appreciation for living in the moment, knew there was only one cure for fear. No way through it, but to do it. He led her backstage, past the dressing room crawling with delicious, sweaty bare-chested men and cornered her in a darkened alcove. There was no denying his desire. His erection strained the g-string and pressed solid against her hip. She swallowed, glued by the raw look of need in his eyes. "I want you," she whispered.

"I know." She blushed. "I mean that I want to hire you for my sister's bachelorette party on Saturday night." "I know what you really mean." He traced a finger down her cheek. "You want a thrill." She gulped, nodded. Why did she long to flee at the very same time she yearned to wrap both her legs around his studly waist? Why were fear and excitement and lust and terror simultaneously coursing through her veins? "No, I… , " she started to say and that's when her world exploded.

Chapter Six

Summer's universe splattered into a kaleidoscope of sensation as the Masked Monsieur imprisoned her mouth with his own. Her legs began to quiver. The smell of him, intense and sticky and scrumptious, filled her nostrils. The roaring of blood in her ears drowned out all other sounds in the club except for their syncopated heavy breathing. She was consumed. Kissing him was everything the fantasy promised. Sweet and hot and real and rich and wet. She moaned, wondering how much more of this sensual torment she could tolerate. This was straight out of an erotic movie. Masked stranger, public place, the danger of getting caught and the peril of the unknown. She clung to his shoulders to keep from falling to her knees. Did she dare take this to the ultimate conclusion? Right here? Right now? Thump, thump, thump went her heart. Be wild. Be free. Let go. Those words had become her mantra, guiding her to live without regrets. She would take a big bite of this experience and savor it, making up for all those months she'd been stuck in bed, clinging to life by a thread. Her first fling with a total stranger. She could let herself go with him the way she could never let herself go with a man like Joe. She wanted to remember everything about this moment. Kissing a masked dancer backstage at a strip club. It was one for her adventures diary. His lips were a brand. Hot and startling. He tasted foreign and yet familiar both at the same time. He groaned low in his throat and gathered her more tightly in his arms. Summer leaned against him, the feel of his muscular chest making her go

all shivery inside. She parted her lips and thrust out her tongue, seeking to push past his teeth. Searching for more. She wanted him inside her. All of him. Everywhere. She was panting, running her fingers over his bare chest, absorbing his heat. Gently, he tugged his mouth from hers and stepped back. "Mais non, Cherie," he said in the cheesiest French accent she'd ever heard, but she forgave him because the accent stoked the fantasy. "We save zee French kiss." "Save it?" She blinked through the fog of desire. "What are we saving it for?" His smile was so sweet and genuine that for one freakish moment, she saw Joe Everhart's face transposed onto the Masked Monsieur's body and her pulse kicked strangely. "For next time." No. No. It was too much torture. She could not leave like this, hungry and aching and desperate. "Please," she begged, completely shameless. He cast one searing masculine stare down the length of her body, pausing to linger at the swell of her breasts. He ducked his head and suckled one hard nipple through the thin cotton of her tank top. "Yes." Summer threw back her head against wall, thrust her chest eagerly forward. "Yes." But the maddening man stepped away. "Leave your address with the bartender. I will be there for your sister's bachelorette party. Au revoir, Cherie. Sweet dreams." Then, with a devious laugh, the masked stranger turned and walked away.

Chapter Seven

He'd left her craving more. The man certainly knew how to drive a girl to distraction. Summer cruised home from Bare Buns scarcely aware she'd even made the trip. She couldn't stop thinking about him and how she wished she'd been bold enough to insist upon that French kiss. Now she was going to have to wait until Devon's bachelorette party to find out if he was really as good a kisser as she suspected he was. When she pulled into the driveway, her initial response was to go tell Joe what had happened with his buddy, but his car wasn't in his parking spot and the lights in his apartment were out. For a professor with early morning classes, he sure kept late hours. Maybe he moonlighted at a second job.

More likely, he has a girlfriend. Why that thought should twist a pinch of sadness in her chest, Summer had no idea. Pfftt. She wasn't sad that Joe had a girlfriend. He was a nice guy. He deserved to be happy. Still, she'd never seen a woman over at his place. Greedy, greedy, you can't have two guys. She already knew she couldn't have Joe, no matter how much she liked him. In fact, it was exactly because she did like him so much that they could never be anything more than friends. No, what she needed was a sizzling affair with a red-hot man like the Masked Monsieur. No strings, no ties, no promises, no regrets. Just fun, fun, fun. Yum. Summer was standing in her kitchen in her pajamas using a corkscrew to penetrate the pulp of a wine bottle cork, when she heard Joe's battered jalopy rumble into the parking lot. Her pulse sped up. It wasn't the same kind of lickety-split response she'd gotten when the Masked Monsieur had danced with her, but rather it was more like the soft little thrill that warmed your heart when your favorite pet jumped into your arms. She put down the wine bottle and the corkscrew and hurried out onto the landing. "Hey Joe," she waved. He was moving quickly through the shadows, headed for his front door. She couldn't really see him in the darkness. "You wanna come up for a nightcap?" she asked, leaning over the railing. It was the first time she'd ever invited him into her apartment for a drink. It was after midnight, but she just had to talk to him. "Joe?" He was at his front door. She heard him drop his keys and mutter something under his breath. "Just a minute, Summer." His voice was tense. He sounded testy. Which wasn't like easygoing Joe. He must have had a bad night. "You coming up?" "Yeah," he said. "After I take a shower. I'm all sweaty." Now why did the notion of a sweaty Joe suddenly seem erotic? Summer shook her head. She was just full of pent-up estrogen after her encounter at the club with the Masked Monsieur, that's all it was. "I'll pour us some wine. Do you drink wine, Joe?" "Wine's fine." "Okay, see you in a few." She scurried back inside, closed the door behind her and sank against the frame, feeling oddly hyped. It was only then that Summer realized she didn't know if she was still excited from her tryst with the Masked Monsieur or if the strange tingles

skipping down her spine were due to the fact that Joe was coming up.

Chapter Eight

He showered in two minutes flat, donned baggy sweats and a pair of well-worn sneakers. He didn't like showing off his body and he hated being stared at. The only way he could handle dancing at the club was by wearing the mask and assuming an anonymous identity. It was the one stipulation he'd insisted on before he took the job. What he hadn't anticipated was that the mask would morph him into the most popular dancer at Bare Buns. He winced just thinking about it. As soon as he had enough money to finance his dream dig to Belize, he was cutting out of that place and retiring his g-string for good. Joe bound up her steps, but stopped short, his bravado gone. Just what did he think he was going to do up there without his mask to hide behind? Have a conversation with the woman. It's not that hard. You can do it. He could hear her singing the song that had made him start to fall in love with her. "Je Ne Regrette Rien. Ah hell. Who was he kidding? He wasn't adventuresome enough for a woman like her. He turned and started back down the stairs. Coward. All right dammit. He would do it. He went back. His knees were knocking almost as loudly as his knuckles rapping against her door. Summer flung the door open and Joe was both relieved and disappointed to see she was wearing comfortable pajamas. What were you expecting? A sexy negligee? Well, it was what he'd been fantasizing about. Either that or her lovely bare skin. She gave him a glass of pink wine. "Zinfindel okay?" "Uh-huh." She could have handed him hemlock and he would have drained the glass. "Let's go sit in the living room." She led the way. Damn, Joe was thinking as he watched her walk. Hot damn. His gaze zeroed in on the seductive twitch of her hips. The sexy curve of the small of her back. The way her hair swayed slow and seductive. The rock hard erection she'd aroused in him at the club, was making a strong comeback. He better sit down fast or risk embarrassing himself. He plunked onto the sofa and tried to breathe normally. He'd been in her apartment before, helping her carry in her groceries,

watering her plants when she was out of town, but he'd never been here as an invited guest. Summer curled up on the couch beside him, sexily curling her legs underneath her. His gaze tracked her every sensuous move. Did she have even the vaguest clue how utterly sexy she was to him? She smiled softly. His heart melted. "Joe," she whispered, leaning in close. "Uh-huh." This was it. The moment he'd been waiting for. She moistened her lips. She was shaking her head and giving him a look like he'd been very bad indeed. "I know what you did." "You do?" "I'm afraid the jig's up," she said.

Chapter Nine

Somehow Summer must have figured out that he was the Masked Monsieur. Adrenaline flooded Joe's body. What was he going to say? How could he justify his deception? Why had he done it? He never did things like this. Desperation had driven him and now desperation was hanging him. Her head was cocked and she was studying intently. He swallowed, gathering his courage to confess. She lifted a hand to brush away a strand of hair from her cheek. What a delicate wrist. Peaches and cream complexion. Slender bones. Almost fragile. How he wished she were running that hand over him. More likely, she would soon be lifting it to slap his face for lying to her. "Summer, I can explain," he said steeling himself for the backlash, just as she said, "I figured out why you sent me to Bare Buns rather than just calling up your dancer friend for me." "You did?" He frowned. She was smiling coyly, her lips parted slightly, the tip of her tongue peeking out at him. She wagged a knowing finger. "Yes I did." And she wasn't mad? Relief washed over Joe. This was great. "You were playing matchmaker," she said. "Matchmaker?" he repeated. "It was really sweet of you." "What was sweet of me?" He wasn't following her. What was she talking about? "That's what I like most about you, Joe. You're a really kind and

considerate guy. Always thinking of other people." Kind and consider, hell. He was as devious as they came and he wasn't a bit proud of himself. "It was nice of you to take an interest in my love life." "Love life?" Now she'd lost him completely. What was she babbling about? "Yeah," she said. "Hooking me up with a to-die-for dude like your friend the Masked Monsieur. How did you know a red-hot temporary fling was exactly what I needed in my life right now?" Her grin widened. "Have you been talking to Devon?" What? He stared at her, bamboozled. He watched her face, noticing how long and thick her lashes were. Her breathing was shallow and a little too fast, her eyes lit with excitement. She was beautiful. Captivating. And all this for a man who was nothing but a figment of her imagination. "Don't tell me you guessed on your own that the Masked Monsieur and I would spark like gunpowder and flint rock." She laughed a husky little laugh that drove a shudder of desire through him. "Come on, Devon must have told you something." He shook his head. "I don't understand." "Your masked friend and I, well, let's just say the chemistry is unfriggin' believable." She fanned herself with a hand. "You think I set you up with him?" Was she really so clueless about his true feelings for her? "Didn't you?" She blinked, her big navy blue eyes darkening in surprise. "Hell no!" he exploded, bringing his fist down on the coffee table. Startled, she jumped back and looked at him as if seeing him for the very first time. "No?" "Dammit, Summer," Joe growled, frustration clouding his reason and loosing his tongue. He didn't stop to think. The words just came pouring out. "Why would I want to hook you up with another guy when I want you for myself?"

Chapter Ten

"You . . . you what?" "You heard me." The tension in the air between them was a solid thing, filled with innuendo and unspoken desire. Joe was staring at her lips with the strangest expression. Summer gulped,

lifted a hand to her mouth and wondered if her lipstick was smeared or something. He just kept looking at her mouth until she thought it was going to blister from the heat of his gaze. He was jealous. She had never thought about it from his point of view. His dark eyes were coals, burning a hole through her. Panic burst into her stomach. She couldn't explain the sensation. It was just there. Hard and scary and strangely intriguing. What in the world was Joe doing? Instilling such a delicious I-want-you-so-bad-it-scares-me feeling inside her. He was sitting on the edge of the couch, his fist knotted against his thigh, his jaw tensed as if he was clenching his teeth. Omigod, omigod, omigod. Why did she feel so utterly freaked out? Why was the chemistry surging between them suddenly ten times more powerful than what she'd felt with the Masked Monsieur? She laughed nervously. "But Joe, we're nothing more than neighbors. Just friends." "Friends can become lovers." His gaze was penetrating. She had no idea he could be so potent, so manly. She squirmed, completely taken aback by the changes in him. Summer ducked her head to sip wine and avoid his eyes. The sweet tang of the Zinfindel warmed her tongue and reminded her of what had happened backstage at Bare Buns. It's the Masked Monsieur you really want. Not Joe Everhart, she told herself. But if that was the case why did she keep wishing he would just lean over and kiss her silly? A minute passed. Then two. Finally, she dared to peek over at Joe. She had never noticed before what a big guy he was. He was always wearing shapeless clothes, hiding his body. But looking at him now, she could see his shoulders took up almost half her couch. There was no mistaking the way he was looking at her now. With desire and need. Summer was feeling those things too. What was going on with her? Was the moon full? Was she ovulating? Was the fantasy of the Masked Monsieur intruding on the reality of Joe Everhart? This couldn't be happening. Not with a guy like Joe. She could not be falling for him. But she simply couldn't look away. She was lost, swept away by the intensity of those mesmerizing dark eyes. This was the second time that night she'd been captivated by a man's chocolate gaze. What was with her and brown-eyed men? There was something different about Joe's eyes. They seemed more intense, more emotional. Normally he was good at guarding his feelings. Before now

the only time she'd ever really seen his eyes spark passionately was when he talked about archaeology. But tonight, he was looking at her in that same intense way. He wanted her. She curled her fingers into her palm. And she wanted him. Her body throbbed, ached, burned for him. She wanted to strip off his clothes and make love to him right there on the floor. But she could not. A guy like Joe deserved so much more than she could ever give. "You're way out of my league, Joe. Much too smart for high school dropout like me." "I want to make love to you, Summer," he said huskily. No, oh no. Why did he have to say it? Now she was going to have to hurt him. Summer blew out her breath and told the biggest lie of her life. "I'm sorry Joe, but I just don't feel the same."

Chapter Eleven

Her words were a dagger. The hurt tasted coppery in his mouth, metallic and bitter. He'd laid his feelings on the line and she'd shot him down because he was a nerd. Never mind she's put a positive spin on it by saying he was too smart for her. Joe knew what she really meant. And then he spied a flicker of something in her eyes and he realized she was lying. But he didn't know why. She licked her lips. An invitation? Kiss her, kiss her, kiss her, Make her acknowledge her feelings for you, his mind -- and his penis -- screamed. But he couldn't kiss her. Not yet. He didn't want to blow this thing before it ever really got started. No. First, he would have to make love to her as the Masked Monsieur. Then once she'd tasted all the joy and pleasure he could muster and she had learned he could be just as wild and reckless and adventuresome as the next guy, he would unveil himself to her. But how hard it was not to clamp his mouth over her sultry, full lips like he'd done in the club. Those lips had been stolen his breath — and his heart. He'd waited too long for this, waiting for the perfect opportunity to knock through her defenses. He was not about to screw things up at this juncture. Not when, for the very first time, she was looking at good ol' Joe in the same way she'd looked at the Masked Monsieur.

"Okay," he said. "If that's the way you feel." "It is. I'm sorry, Joe. I never wanted to hurt you." Oh, he knew for certain she was lying now. She was blinking fast and nibbling her bottom, struggling to cloak her emotions. But she was an honest, open woman by nature. Subterfuge did not come easy. "You didn't." "No hard feelings?" She extended her palm and pasted on a bright smile. "No hard feelings," he echoed and shook her slender hand. Her skin was warm and soft and he had to clench his jaw to control the volatile reaction she stirred in him. She blew out her breath, relief swimming in her eyes. "I'm so glad we got that cleared up." "Yeah," he said but he thought, Honey, it ain't nowhere near cleared up. "Well, goodnight, Joe," she said, getting to her feet, dismissing him. More than anything in the world, he wanted to haul her into his arms and brand her with his mouth but he restrained himself. Not yet. It was too soon. "Good night, Summer." He went back down to his lonely apartment. Down to his empty bed. But he could not sleep. Could not do anything except thing dream of Summer. It didn't take an Einstein to figure out she liked things loose and casual. Her sparsely furnished apartment, her filmy clothes, the way carefree she wore her hair, even her favorite song…"Je Ne Regrette Rien" said it all. The woman liked being unfettered and wouldn't let herself fall for someone who would tie her down. A regular guy like him. An anchor. Rooted. He was reliable yes. And responsible. But that didn't mean he was dull or predictable or unoriginal. Contrary to what she probably believed about him, he was creative in bed. He liked to play games and try new things. He wanted to try new things with her and indulge both of their wildest fantasies. Just because he lived in a world of books and cerebral activities didn't mean that he did not crave physical stimulation. How else would he be able to don that mask three nights a week and transform himself into the Masked Monsieur if he didn't have a streak of adventure running through him? And he couldn't think of anyone he'd rather share those stimulating new experiences with than Summer Jacobs. She figured he was an academic, dry and stuffy. Full of intellectual theory and lofty ideals. Little did she know how much he enjoyed indulging his senses. After he'd shown her all these things as the Masked Monsieur, after he'd made love to her until they were both wrung out with exhaustion, then, that was when he would peel off the mask and show her that good ol' Joe wasn't so good.

Chapter Twelve

For the next two nights leading up to Devon's bachelorette party, Summer

had the same erotically charged dream. She was back at Bare Buns. Up onstage again, dancing. With the man in the mask. His brown eyes, intense and enigmatic pinned her to the spot. In her dream Summer was unashamed to discover she was as bare-skinned as he, the two of them naked, writhing in unison to the throbbing beat. The crowd was silent, watching their every move. He reached for her. When his calloused fingers wrapped around her wrist, she hissed as if scorched. His expression was unreadable. His leather mask grazed her upper lip in a smooth caress that unleashed a sultry slither down her spine. Her skin hummed. Her nipples hardened. He made hungry animal noises deep in his throat and ground his pelvis against hers. He was suckling and lapping at her as if he would never get enough. They were a perfect fit. Ribbons of fiery hot heat gushed from his body to hers and back again. The sensation was unbearably sweet and so shockingly sinful she thrashed about in her sleep, half awakened by the eroticism of her subconscious mind. Then the dream shifted. The crowd was gone. They were all alone in the silent nightclub. The stage had become a round, black bed and he was pushing her down into the soft mattress. Down, down, down. On all fours, her face in the pillow. His hot hands stroked her bottom. "You have a magnificent ass," he crooned. Her heart thumped crazily. What a wild ride! What an erotic adventure. Why was this merely a dream? She ached for it to be real. Her fantasy lover kissed the flesh of her buttocks, kneading her gently. His big hand was cool against her heated skin. "You are so beautiful, you take my breath. You know that?" Tenderly, he cradled his massive erection against the crack of her bottom. She felt the smooth velvet head of him growing harder, larger. "You're so wet," he said. "So sweet." "For you," Summer murmured. "All for you." And she knew it was true. Even if it was a dream, she'd never felt this level of excitement for anyone except this stranger. Then without warning, he thrust into her from behind, sinking deep into the tight folds of her body. The shock of it was blindingly delicious and she found herself flung into space, catapulted to the stars. He pounded her. Again and again. Thrusting hard. Then he was filling her. Spiraling skyward. Taking them both beyond reason. They collapsed together and he drew her into his arms. Slowly they

drifted, panting back to earth. "I want you to see me," he said. "I want you to know who loved you so hard." "No!" she shouted. "I don't want to know you. I don't want to see your face." But it was too late. He'd already reached up to peel off his mask. That was when Summer jerked awake, bathed in sweat and trembling in panic.

Chapter Thirteen

Summer's apartment was packed with rowdy, high-spirited women when the Masked Monsieur arrived, portable CD player in hand. They were drinking champagne and eating chocolate and giggling over Summer's raunchy gag gifts. The guest of honor, Summer's sister Devon was seated in the middle of the room with what appeared to be a giant condom perched on top of her head. The minute he crossed the threshold, all eyes were on him. Joe hesitated. His chest was bared, Naired and greased slick with baby oil. His pants were so tight if he took too deep of a breath they would pop open. And the women were staring at him as if he was a lamb chop and they were starving wolves. He'd grown accustomed to dancing onstage even though he never enjoyed it. Most of the time he got through the sets simply by keeping his thoughts firmly fixed on archeology. Plus, he didn't wear his glasses when he danced so he couldn't really see their faces. But at this intimate venue, with Summer and her friends gathered around, he was acutely aware of his nakedness. And it was just going to get worse. Thank God for the mask. Not having to do this bare faced was the one saving grace. He glanced at Summer. She was gazing at him expectantly, waiting for the show to start. She looked stunning in a crimson dress. Her auburn hair was swept back off her neck with a clip, revealing her peaches and cream nape. He had an irresistible urge to lean over and run his tongue over her skin until she shuddered. They stared at each other. Neither speaking or moving. She looked as uncertain about this as he felt. He saw a flicker of something in her eyes and for a moment there, he thought she'd seen through him and finally recognized who he was. "Strip, strip, strip," Devon began to chant and clap her hands. Summer smiled apologetically and whispered, "She's a little drunk."

Joe finally found his tongue and laid the French accent on thick. "It is her bachelorette party, no? She deserves to let go." "Should I start the music for you?" Summer waved at the CD player. He nodded, gulped and turned to face the dozen women anticipating of his performance. Summer pressed the button on the CD player and "Je Ne Regrette Rien" filled the room. "Hey," Devon said. "That's not music to strip to." "Hiss, boo," someone else said. "We wanna see some action." Oh crap. He'd bought a compilation CD of cabaret torch songs last week and he'd been listening to them because the songs made him feel closer to Summer. Obviously, he'd picked up the wrong CD by mistake. "Sorry," he apologized. "Got my other disks in the car. Be right back." "Dontcha think it's kinda odd?" Devon mused as Joe hightailed it for the door. "He's got music that no one else on the earth listens too besides the French and my weird little sister."

Chapter Fourteen

Between the wrong CD and Devon's perceptive statement, Joe was certain Summer would soon figure out who he was. Had he blown his cover already? He stood on the landing outside Summer's door not certain what to do next. Considering her reaction when he'd declared his feeling for her the night she'd invited him upstairs, Joe knew there was no way he would ever get her into bed as himself. She didn't like studious, nerdy guys. She'd made that clear enough. The night was hot. Sweat trickled down his neck. He pushed the mask up on his head and took a deep breath. What to do? The door opened. He froze, both palms splayed against the balustrade. "Joe?" Aw hell. He hadn't wanted her to find out this way. He ducked his and briefly considered running off into the night. Joe might be a things, but he wasn't a coward. Slowly, he turned, his mask still up on his head. He was trapped with no way out except through the So much for his plan to seduce the woman of his dreams.

head lot of pushed truth.

But the woman standing on the landing wasn't Summer, but rather her sister. Devon. She was still wearing that silly oversized condom pulled

down over her head like a shower cap. Relief ran through him. "Joe Everhart." She sank her hands on her hips and eyed him speculatively. He nodded. "You're the Masked Monsieur? You're the guy my sister has been raving about?" He shrugged, lifted his palms in a you-caught-me-red-handed gesture. 'Why, that's… " "Reprehensible, I know." Devon grinned. "I was going to say wonderful." "You think it's wonderful that I'm tricking your sister?" "No, I think it's wonderful that you figured out a way to scale that wall she's erected around her heart ever since she got cancer." "Cancer?" The word struck terror in him. Summer had cancer? He clenched his fists, hardly able to wrap his mind around this revelation. "You didn't know?" He shook his head, too overwhelmed with sadness to speak. Devon must have read the desolation on his face because she reached over to touch his shoulder. "She's in remission. They caught it early. There's a ninety percent chance she's fully cured." "Oh." He was glad he was still holding onto the balustrade because his knees had gone weak. "But getting cancer changed her personality completely. She used to be quiet and shy, but afterward she said life was too short not to live it to the fullest. She learned to fly hot air balloons. Took up rock climbing. And she started hanging out with wild, undependable guys like the Masked Monsieur. She has this weird notion that a steady guy would hold her back and she's turned into the kind of woman who's got to live for today. She can't bank on the future." Joe didn't know what to say. "But you're showing her that she can have a guy who's both wild and steady at the same time." Devon smiled. "It's so great." "Now comes the hard part," he said. "Breaking the news to Summer that I've lied to her." Devon sucked in her breath. "Before you do that, Joe, there's something else you should know."

Chapter Fifteen

"Something else?" Joe echoed Devon's portentous words. "Uh-huh." She looked distressed. "There's another reason Summer makes it a policy not to get involved with marriage-minded nice guys." What reason? He was afraid to ask, but he had to know the answer. "And what is that?" Devon fidgeted, not meeting her gaze. "Summer should really be the one to tell you this." "How can I get her to tell me this stuff when she won't even date me because I'm a regular guy? It's not as if a wild fling like the Masked Monsieur can ask personal questions. He's all about a fantasy affair." "That's why I'm going to tell you, but don't let on that you know. She hates for people to feel sorry for her." "Just tell me." Devon inhaled sharply. "The cancer." "Yes?" "It made her sterile. She can never have kids, Joe." Summer's sad secret sent his head reeling. Suddenly, so much about her made a lot more sense. "There's terrible," he croaked. "She's talked to therapist and come to terms with it but she firmly believes she can't make a commitment to a man when she's unable to offer him children." "But that's ridiculous." He snorted. "She ought to let the guy decide for himself whether that's a stumbling block or not." "I agree but Summer's the one going through it, not me. I don't know how I'd feel if I were in her shoes. So Joe, before you pursue a relationship with her, you might want to ask yourself if you want to go through life without having any children of your own." "All I care about is Summer. Besides, we can always adopt. Hell, I'm adopted," he said. "Really?" Devon broke into a grin. "Really." Tears welled in her eyes and she swiped them away with the back of her hand. Joe's chest knotted. "Why are you crying? Is there something else you're not telling me?" "I'm just so happy," she said. "For my baby sister. She's suffered so much. But now it looks like she's on her way to finding love after so many years of pain and heartbreak."

"Thanks for telling me about the cancer," he said. "It makes a lot of difference. Not in the way I feel about her. But it helps me connect with her better." "Do right by her, Joe." "If she'll let me." "Make her let you. If you don't, letting go of you will end up being her biggest regret, no matter how many times she sings that damned song." "No kidding." "You better put your mask back on." Devon waved at his head. "In case Summer decides to come out." As Joe slid the mask back into place, he finally understood why Summer so often sang "Je Ne Regrette Rien." It wasn't because she didn't have concerns or misgivings, but rather it was her way of whistling in the dark. Her method for scaring off the demons that had plagued her short, bittersweet life. And he loved her all the more for her bravery.

Chapter Sixteen

The bachelorette party was over. The guests were gone. And sometime during the course of the evening the Masked Monsieur had put his pants back on. But not for long. Just after the door closed behind Devon and her designated driver, he turned the CD player back on and the sound of "Wild Thing" filled the air. And the masked man began to dance. Stripping just for her. Summer stood in the middle of the kitchen, devouring him with her eyes. God he was gorgeous. Too handsome to be true. But here he was doing his thing for an audience of one. What a fantasy! Once he was down to the g-string, he held out a hand to her. "Dance with me," he said as the C.D. player shuffled and "Je Ne Regrette Rien" took over from the stripper music. The soulful, haunting tune tugged at Summer's belly. She stepped across the floor to him. He drew her against his chest. Summer let herself go, giving over to the dance, caught in the moment when fantasy and reality merged. Lightly, he ran his lips over her forehead and she felt every last drop of self-control slip away. She surrendered to him completely.

They moved in unison, their bodies pressed, stepping in tandem with smooth fluidity. Did he make love like he danced? Summer swallowed. She certainly hoped so. His hand touched her hip in a gesture of easy ownership that made her heart flutter. He stopped dancing. The dainty toes of her sandals bumped against the tips of his black leather boots. "What is it?" she whispered. "Do you believe in romantic love?" he asked, still using the phony French accent. "What?" His question caught her off guard. Once upon a time she might have believed in such fairy tales. But now? After cancer? After discovering she was sterile? "For some people maybe it's true." "But not for you?" She shook her head. "Life's too short to tie yourself down with one person." "But what if it's the right person?" "I believe in passion," she said. "Isn't that good enough?" "Passion feeds the body, but love feeds the soul," he said. "There's many different kind of loves." "Like the love you have for a good friend?" "Yes." Summer thought of Joe. Downstairs. Alone. Probably hearing their party through the thin walls. She winced. Joe would have been so perfect for the old Summer. The woman she had once been. But the Masked Monsieur was the perfect one for her now. Or at least she'd thought he was until he started gabbing about love. "Why are you asking me about love? We are strangers you and I." "Precisely," he said. "I just wanted to make sure that we understand each other. Neither one of us wants to hurt the other. Tonight is about sex. No love. A little romance maybe." He smiled. "But no love." "No love," Summer echoed, thinking they were in complete agreement. But why then did saying those words suddenly make her feel so empty inside?"

Chapter Seventeen

Joe ran his palm along the back of her red silk dress, lingering at the sweet dip of her spine. Summer curled into him and he smiled behind his mask. He loved the way she responded to his touch. Then it hit him. Summer Jacobs made him want to be a better man.

And a better man would not lie to her or deceive her before he made love to her. He had to get out of this. He had to stop this seduction right now. He could not carry through with it on false pretenses. "Summer," he said, dropping the French accent. "We have to talk." But she wasn't hearing him, wasn't listening. Instead she was standing on her tiptoes running her tongue along his ear, rubbing her silk clad-breasts over his bare arm until his mind was mush and he couldn't even remember what he was going to say. Instinct and basic masculine need took over, chasing honorable intentions right out the door. "I'm ready," she murmured. "I've been thinking about it for three days. I'm ready for that French kiss." He spread his fingers wide, cupped her butt and pulled her flush against his pelvis. Then he lowered his head and crushed her mouth beneath his. Neither of them closed their eyes as her soft skin rubbed against his smooth leather mask. Her eyes flashed. Her cheeks flushed with sexual arousal. She pushed her body against his hard flesh as his tongue speared past her parted teeth and thrust deeply into her wet mouth. Hot. She was so damned hot. He unzipped her dress, but still kept kissing her. Frantically, she shrugged it off without breaking tongue contact and let it fall to the floor. And he was shocked and pleased to discover she wasn't wearing underwear. Oh, she'd been ready for him. "You vixen," he said and slid his fingers over the satiny curve of her hip, across the top of her thigh and down to edge of her feminine essence. She groaned, thrashed her head against his shoulder. With one hand he held her anchored tightly in place, with the other, he gently eased one thick finger in between the lips of her sex before sliding deep. She was hot and slick and ready. Clutching his upper arm with both hands, she cried out. He kissed her again. Taking her lovely mouth, pushing into her with both his tongue and his finger, his throaty groans matching her own. She was so tight, so sweet and he loved that she couldn't even gasp because she was so full of him. Her muscles gripped his finger hard, signaling to him that she wanted more. Wanted him. She was so soft, yet so incredibly strong; giving herself over to him with an eager willingness that humbled him. The woman knew how to live. His need for her kept surging through in him waves, that rose higher, hotter, washing away all reason, all sanity. So much for good old practical Joe. "More," she said greedily. "More."

He grinned at her bossiness, loving her for it and pulled his finger out of her. Slowly he began to gently rub her hard, straining ridge until she was moaning and writhing in his arms. 'Take me," she cried boldly. "Take me now, take me hard, take me on the kitchen table."

Chapter Eighteen

He took her on the kitchen table. Spread her legs and plunged in. Rough and demanding, just the way she told him she wanted it. But in reality, she wanted so much more. She was overcome with the desperate need to sheath his fiery hot sword as deep within her as it would go. To absorb the very essence of his manhood. "More," she demanded as he leaned over her body. She fisted her hands in his dark hair. "More." He pushed her farther than she'd ever been before and when her body and her mind and her soul all hung on the edge of oblivion, suspended timelessly, waiting for the orgasm — Summer realized something monumental. This man was a total stranger. And that's when she imploded. He cried out at the same time, his body going rigid. He arched his back above her and in the light from the kitchen lamp, she saw he was all bright and golden and flamelike. Burning, burning, ever burning. She had never felt anything like the intensity of this climax. She couldn't breath. Couldn't think. All she could do was feel as all her nerve endings throbbed and tingled and pulsed. He fell heavily across her, her legs wrapped around his waist, his masked face buried in her hair. They lay breathing heavily, the kitchen table hard and cold against her back as they glided down together. Then slowly, he reached out and trailed a finger along her skin, all the while his body remained firmly embedded in hers. The emptiness of separation dissolved. They were one. Lovers. If only briefly. She stroked his sensitive mouth, tracing around it. She ran her fingertips over his mask, felt his cheekbones beneath the leather. Time carried their stillness forward until a fresh urgency rose in them. The delicate swell of her inner flesh, the indiscernible sinuous transfer, griping then releasing in a rhythm of sensual awareness. Summer was awed, reborn, soaring around the room with giddiness as he flipped her over onto her tummy, her legs spread wide and this time he took her from behind. She thrashed and twitched and screamed her delight and he was right with

her. Measure for measure, stroke for stroke. Then afterward, he eased her to the floor and softly licked her raw aching flesh. Later, as they lay together on the cool tile floor, encircled in each others arms, Summer felt herself drifting peaceful and sated. Her ear was pressed against his chest and as she listened to his steady heartbeat she began to smile. She was so warm and safe and happy that it scared her. What was going on here? She didn't want to feel these kinds of emotions of him. She'd only wanted sex. And then a startling thought occurred to her. "Omigosh," she exclaimed, pushing up on her elbows, pushing him away. "We didn't use a condom." "It's okay," he murmured. "I haven't had sex in over a year and I've been tested. I'm not HIV positive." He was no longer speaking with the French accent and there was something about his voice that set off alarm bells in her head. "I could be pregnant," she lied, not really knowing why she did so. "Shh," he said. "It's all right, Summer. I know your deepest secrets. I know your darkest fears."

Chapter Nineteen

Summer's pulse skipped erratically. That voice! The Masked Monsieur reached up to peel off the disguise but she knew whose face was under there. Had probably known from the beginning on a subconscious level. Joe's dark eyes, filled with nothing but love and concern, peered at her. It was only then she realized he was holding his breath, waiting for her reaction. She reached out to stroke his bare cheek creased from the mask. "It's you." "It's always been me, Summer from the minute I laid eyes on you," he said. "And look what you've reduced me to. Lies and deception." "Joe," she breathed his name on a sigh. It couldn't be him. Her wild sexual fling was with the man she'd most wanted to avoid. "I'm sorry." "No regrets, remember?" His smile was soft and tender. "But I can't love you," she said, her heart aching. "I can't guarantee you happily ever after."

"Why? Because you had cancer?" She nodded. "So because you were sick, you don't deserve love?" Tears rolled down her cheeks. "I can't let you love me. What if I died?" "What if I died? There are no guarantees in life, Summer. There's only the present moment. Are you willing to throw away our future because you're afraid you might die one day?" "There's more," she said. "Devon told me everything. I know you can't have children." "Why would you — a man with a Mensa I.Q. — want a high school dropout who can't even give him babies?" Summer cried, mopping at her eyes with the back of her hand. "And why can't you respect that I know what I want. You're the woman for me, Summer. I don't care about your education. I don't care whether you can bear children or not. You are what I want and those things are part of what makes you who you are." Oh, how she wanted to believe him! To fall into his arms and simply accept his love. "You might change your mind in the future, decide you want babies and then you'll be stuck with a barren wife. Or worse, divorce me for some sweet young thing." Anger flashed in Joe's eyes. She'd never seen him look so fierce. He grabbed her by her shoulders, pulled her right up against his chest and stared at her hard. "Dammit, Summer. I'm not like that. I don't know what other kind of men you've been with and I don't care to know but when I make a commitment, I make a commitment. I love you dammit and if later we decided we want kids well medical technology has made a lot of advances. And if none of that works, then we can always adopt." "But it's not the same as having your own flesh and blood child." "No, it's better," he said. "I'm adopted. Did you know that? And my adoptive parents gave me so much love that I can't begin … " His voice caught and she saw unshed tears in his eyes. "Joe." She didn't know what else to say. "I love you, Summer Jacobs. And if you can't accept that, if you let your fear stand in the way of loving me, well then I feel really sorry for both of us, because it could have been so damned great." And with that, he got dressed and walked out of her apartment.

Chapter Twenty

Summer tried to sleep but couldn't. Joe wanted her. Sweet Joe she'd tried so very hard not to fall in love with because she believed he deserved so much better than what she could give. Joe loved her. Loved her so much he'd hidden his true identity from her in order to give her what she secretly craved. How could she be afraid of loving a man like that? Summer threw back the covers and padded to the phone. When Joe answered on the first ring, she took a deep breath and whispered. "I love you too, now get your buns back up here." Five minutes later, Joe was in standing in her bedroom doorway. One look and they were undressing each other in an affectionate scrambling rush. Summer snatched off his shirt, unbuttoned his pants while Joe grabbed the hem of her sleep shirt and lifted it over her head. He wriggled from his jeans, kicked them across the floor, his splendid erection bounce uninhibited. She sucked in her breath at the sight of him and shimmied right out of her panties. They stood there breathing hard, gazing at each other. Then he reached for the mask she'd left on her dressing table. Summer put out a restraining hand. "We don't need it," she said. "Are you sure you won't miss the excitement?" She nodded. "You're plenty exciting enough for me, Joe. Just the way you are." He smiled then and the look of joy on his face warmed her heat. "Besides," she whispered. "Nothing says we have to retire the Mask Monsieur for good. He can always make an encore appearance sometime in the future. Just to shake things up. But there is one thing about our masked friend I want to make sure we keep." "Oh?" Joe asked. "And what is that?" "Why zee French kiss of course." She giggled. "You mean this?" Joe took possession of her lips and thrust his tongue impishly past her parted teeth. "Mmm." He pushed her against the wall, his tongue wrecking havoc inside her mouth, igniting tingles down her throat to her stomach and beyond. The

wicked look in his eyes tightened her chest as she thrilled to the paradox of her man. Nerd. Hunk. It didn't matter. He was both mysterious and reliable. Somehow she'd managed to get it all in one magnificent package. Joe cupped his hand under her knee and yanked her leg up high, positioning it on his shoulder as his fingers dipped down to slide over her slick feminine cleft. "You're so wet and hot and soft." He groaned low. "I'm crazy for you, Summer Jacobs. I love you." "I love you too, Joe. Now take me before I scream." He speared her with his manhood, plunging deep until they pressed pelvis to pelvis and she was utterly filled with him. She curled her other leg around his waist and he pumped hard, pushing into her with the intensity she craved. His big, powerful body pinned her to the wall, rough and demanding but the expression on his face was gentle and caring. She cried out with pleasure and her soul soared. Afterwards, they collapsed in a damp, earthy heap onto the carpet. "So what do you like most about plain ol' average Joe?" he asked a few minutes later when they'd gotten their breath back. "What? You feeling insecure?" "Indulge me." "You mean beside your intellect, your kindness, your secret sense of adventure and your willingness to do whatever it takes to win the heart of the woman you love?" "Yeah," he smiled and tickled under her chin with his finger. "Besides those things." "Why babe, it's your bare buns, all the way." "That's what I figured. You just want me for my bod." Summer laughed rich and full. And as he held her tightly in his arms, Joe began to softly hum "Je Ne Regrette Rien."

The End