After one too many broken hearts, Isabella has sworn off love...and men altogether. When hunky Luke shows up to remodel her house and starts coming on to her hard, she's sure he's just a player using the wrong head. With Luke, however, Isabella quickly learns there's more than meets the eye. Will she let her guard down and let him in, or will she be forever Jaded?
Luke leaped up and ran upstairs toward her bedroom. The door was ajar and he pushed it open. Isabella turned to him with a gasp, towel clutched around her.
"What's wrong? I heard you scream."
She gritted her teeth and expelled an angry groan. "Tell your stupid workers not to spy on me when I'm changing!" She pointed to the window across from her closet. "Perverts!"
"Hey, I'm sorry. I had no way of knowing. I would have stopped it if I'd seen it."
She glared at him. But Luke could hardly sympathize—if he'd been outside, he would have peeked in on her too.
"I'll punch them the minute I see them," she said through gritted teeth, knotting the towel more tightly around her chest.
"You won't have to—I'll do it for you."
She didn't say anything and turned away from him. Her long, dark hair hung limply down her back, and her breasts rounded nicely under the towel. In all her angry glory, she was irresistible. A few silent moments passed before she huffed and said, "Luke, this isn't a peep show, you know!"
The soft curve of her calf caught his eye and Luke had to blink hard. A dense fog was rapidly descending over his brain, and he could hardly think with her in front of him. He opened his mouth to respond but couldn't find any words. She turned and walked toward him, eyes blazing.
"You men are so predictable," she spat out. "Where is the respect? Like I want to be spied on in my own house."
Luke tried to respond again but all he could do was lamely open and close his mouth. She was inching closer to him now and he feared momentarily that she might hit him or otherwise lash out. He caught a whiff of her shampoo and he gulped. It was all he could do to keep his hands off her now that she was so close to him.
"Don't you have anything to say, Luke?"
His eyes slid up and down her body, despite how hard he was trying to avoid looking. In her state, that slip of willpower might cost him a limb or two. She seemed ready to pounce. He squeezed his eyes shut and took a slow breath, trying to get words—any words—to come out.
"Sorry," was all he could muster. "I feel like you, uh..."
"I what?" She narrowed her eyes at him.
"You're totally right," he said, looking anywhere but at the line formed by her breasts pushed together by the towel. "Like I said, I'll take care of it for you."
She paused, watching him with hands on hips. He could have sworn she was getting even closer to him, but he didn't know if his sexual excitement was just causing the air between them to shrink. He had a semi hard-on already and the woman hadn't even touched him. His mind was spinning and he had to get out of the bathroom before he did something he regretted.
"You sure as hell better," she said. "Luke, fucking kiss me."
It took a moment for the words to sink in. He looked at her with wide eyes, brain struggling to match the words with the woman in front of him. He was dreaming this...he had to be.
"Do it now before I change my mind."
It wasn't the line he normally got but, he'd take it. He grabbed her face in his hands and pressed his lips to hers in a greedy, passionate kiss. She received him eagerly. He suspected she'd wanted this since the beginning, but was too much of a hard-ass to admit it to herself. Pinpricks of pleasure erupted all throughout his body as they kissed deeply and urgently, and he actually felt his knees get a little weak. This woman completely intoxicated him.
They broke for air and stood panting, looking at each other.
"Just one more," she said, looking thoroughly frazzled. "But then you never bring this up or come near me again."
"Oh, so this is just a taste test?" He ran his hand down from her cheek to the dip in her neck; her eyes fluttered shut.
"Call it what you want," she said. "But this is it. Then I'm done."
He leaned in to kiss her again but she dodged it, looking him in the eye. "Deal?
"Anything you want, babe." If that was the case, he'd do it right. He guided her back toward the countertop and pinned her against it. She was watching him with eager eyes, lapping up all of it. She inhaled sharply as he took her into his arms. His heart tightened, catching him off-guard. He wanted this more than he'd thought.
Her lips were soft and just as eager to receive him; they kissed again, their kiss melting into more kisses and even more kisses. When they broke, Luke knew without a doubt that there was no way in hell he'd be satisfied with this one encounter.
"I said one kiss, not eighty," she said breathlessly.
"Sorry, babe. It must be this towel, it's driving me crazy."
She paused and then cracked a smile. "And why's that?
"Because it is hiding something I would give anything to see." His lips drifted over her collarbone. She took his chin in her hand and directed his face toward hers. She put her lips over his, kissing him hard.
Luke let down his guard and kissed her the way he'd wanted to kiss her, not the way he did when he was betting or just trying to get to sex. His kisses were slow, thorough.
He gripped her hips and set her on the countertop, pressing himself between her legs. Luke knew in that instant he wanted to have her right there. He tilted her head back and tasted her neck, her collarbone, kisses growing more urgent the lower he went. This woman was making his mind spin.
Ember Leigh has been writing erotic romance novels since she was far too young. A native of northern Ohio, she currently resides in South America with her Argentinean partner, a detail she uses to justify her Bachelor's degree in Latin American Literature. In addition to romance novels, she also writes travel articles, maintains three blogs, and continually attempts to complete a mildly-gripping short story. In her free time, she practices Ashtanga yoga, travels the world, and eats lots of vegetables.
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