Mistletoe Not Required(3)

By: Anne Oliver


Except Brie wasn’t answering her phone—but she’d texted a winky face.

Did that mean she’d forgotten their arrangement to be there for each other at the end of the evening or what? Pushing up from her plastic party chair, she considered texting a response to say she was leaving but they’d made a promise to watch out for each other years ago and that had never changed.

Then, as if fate stepped in, her eyes snagged on the lower half of a man descending a pretty spiral staircase that she’d not noticed earlier. Even if men weren’t a priority for Olivia, a little blip of pleasure registered on her radar. Black trousers covered legs that went all the way up—and up—the fabric lovingly clasped around muscled thighs, a firm, rounded, superhero-in-tights butt. Nice. A girl deserved a little lust blip every now and then and this blip was brightening by the second.

He reached the bottom step and the full-frontal, full impact hit with a wow. It was as if a flashbulb went off and Olivia blinked. There he was. A fully formed, three-dimensional, reach-out-with-both-hands-and-touch example of prime masculinity.

The stranger she’d not promised Brie she’d stay away from.

A mouth-watering stranger with bronzed olive skin that tempted any woman with a pulse to lick her way across that shadowed chin and linger awhile at the perfectly sculpted mouth.

His gaze met hers as if she’d summoned him to look her way. And he didn’t look pleased about that. His eyebrows lowered, his mouth firmed and a muscle clenched in his jaw.

He looked kind of familiar but she’d totally have remembered a guy like him. She’d revelled in that initial instant of feminine power but now somehow he’d reversed the situation and that cool control she could always count on, and was so proud of, was disappearing like ice on a barbecue grill.

Steely black eyes with the power to tempt. To persuade. A shiver rippled down her spine. The power to take her will and flex it between his long slender fingers like so much overcooked spaghetti.

And Olivia felt hot, as she did when standing on the steaming deck of her yacht on a midsummer’s day in Barbados. In the eye of a tropical storm even, because her usually strong sea legs were wobbly.

She was still looking at him and he was still looking at her and she swore she saw him mouth, ‘Trouble’.

Oh yeah, absolutely. Double trouble in flashing neon lights. She’d never met a man who’d affected her this way—this hot, itchy, melty way. Not that they’d met... Had they?

Her pulse took off and her heart raced to catch up. He’d moved so subtly she hadn’t noticed that he stood between her and the only route to the lower levels via the marble staircase. Intentional or not—she couldn’t be sure and the anticipation hummed through her body like a build-up of static electricity.

Fight or flight? In yachting there was only one option. Unexpected and dangerous situations were dealt with in a calm, rational manner. Dealing with men was no different. Whatever happened, she would not run away.

With feigned indifference, she tossed her bedraggled twist of feathers over one shoulder, a silky strand catching on her lip as she drew in a wheezy breath to say, ‘Hi.’

* * *

Jett knew it was time to leave when Trouble with the most eye-catching, reddest hair he’d ever seen spoke to him in that husky, breathless voice. But he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the feather stuck to her pouty lower lip as she made little puh-puh noises to try and blow it off. He had the weirdest image of her blowing those little noises on his belly while her fingernails raked over his nipples and her hands swirled over his chest, his hips. Lower.

Damn.

Just say hi back and walk away. Fast. But his feet obeyed only that rapidly hardening part of his anatomy, and before he knew it he’d crossed the space between them, reached out and plucked the feather from what was a very pretty mouth. He felt a sensation of warm static before he snatched his fingers back.

‘Thanks.’ Eyes the colour of his signature Blue Mint Lagoon cocktail sparkled.

He curled tingling fingers into a fist. Another damn. Trouble with a sense of humour.

He saw...something...behind the fun and she looked away quickly, as if she hadn’t meant to share. Her gaze flicked upwards and behind him. ‘Anything interesting up there?’

There could be—if you want. ‘Nope.’

‘There has to be something, or why the staircase?’

He shrugged at her logic, stuck his hands in his trouser pockets. ‘Just a couple of telescopes.’

‘Really? I love stargazing.’

Even in the dimness he could see the fairy lines fanning out from the corners of her eyes and a splash of freckles over her nose. She enjoyed the outdoors whereas he rarely had the time for such indulgence. No doubt another spoiled socialite with plenty of time to waste. ‘Too much light pollution in the city,’ he told her, rocking back on his heels. ‘I’d say they’re for watching the harbour.’

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