Mistletoe Not Required(4)

By: Anne Oliver


‘Oh, yes, why didn’t I think of that?’

She walked to the bottom of the spiral stairs and peered up, one slender hand on the rail. Sun-kissed skin. Neat unvarnished nails. A nice flash of abundant cleavage. Man, he had to stop staring like some pre-pubescent teenager—

‘Did you sneak a peek?’

‘What?’ His guilty gaze shot somewhere over her shoulder, then he realised she was talking about telescopes. ‘Ah...no.’

She cast him an unreadable look then started up. ‘Why not?’

‘Because— Hey, you won’t want to go up like that.’ In one stride he was there, his fingers closing firmly over hers. The contact sent a zing up his forearm. All that static build-up discharged in one hit.

She must have felt it too because her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. ‘Like...what?’

He yanked his hand away. ‘Those heels—you’ll break your neck.’

‘Only if I—’ On cue, one stiletto slipped and caught in the iron lace doyley tread. She yanked it free. ‘Cripes. I see your point.’

He shook his head. ‘Why don’t you—?’

‘Okay...’ On the third tread, she toed off her shoes. And groaned lustily—a sound that did dangerous things to his already wide-awake libido. ‘Relief at last. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?’ She handed them to him over the rail, avoiding skin contact. ‘Hold these till I get back.’

‘I...’ Siren-red patent, they were warm from her feet and smelled of new leather. Dangling them from one hand, he watched her climb, toenails painted to match, strong toned calves. Smooth, golden thighs disappeared beneath the shadows of her dress’s short hemline. She moved fast and without effort, as if she worked out a lot. A yachtie’s woman?

If Jett were the skipper, he’d keep her below decks and all to himself for the entire journey. Yep, naked and barefoot—he could get creative with feet, a little warm brandy and sweet ripe apricots—

Hell. He shook his head to clear it. Now was not the time to be coming up with new recipes.

He wasn’t looking for a woman, dammit. He had to remind himself again because his mind seemed to have forgotten. He was waiting for Breanna, half-sister, who was doing whatever, with whomever. Everything, it seemed, except checking in with him. He should go back to the hotel, catch up on some sleep. Away from trouble in a red dress.

But he had her shoes. He could hardly just abandon them here. And he didn’t want to leave without one more glimpse of her. Which wasn’t quite true because he wanted more than a glimpse. A lot more.

He placed one foot on the bottom step and made an instant decision. Forget Breanna; she hadn’t answered his call. Instead, a little up-close and personal might just be on the menu for tonight. No trouble, he assured himself; he didn’t want or need to know who she was. A hot lick of anticipation stroked down his body and his steps quickened while his stomach tightened and his mouth watered. One sweet taste. The perfect dessert to end the evening.

* * *

Olivia hoped the sound of her heart pounding its way out of her chest wasn’t audible. Hearing his footsteps on the metal treads, she turned as the guy appeared on the platform behind her. And was blown away again by the sight of all that blatant masculinity. Which was unsettling because she’d relegated men to the bottom of her list of priorities a long time ago.

Determined not to let him see how much he was affecting her, she moved to the larger telescope and adjusted it for a view of the party-goers milling around Circular Quay to distract herself and give her time to think what to do next.

She could feel his gaze stroking heat down her spine and the backs of her thighs. His musky masculine scent wafted her way. As diversions went, the impromptu viewing idea was an epic fail—she had no idea if the lens was in focus or not. As for coming up with what to do next, heck, all she could think was how his lips would taste... ‘Amazing,’ she murmured.

‘Have to agree with you there.’

She turned to him but he wasn’t looking at the twinkling carpet of lights on the harbour, he was watching her and screwing with her equilibrium again. She deflected with, ‘Are you sailing in the race?’

‘Not me.’

She noticed he didn’t ask the same of her. No doubt the women he associated with were willowy, fragile types who were afraid of breaking a fingernail or a sweat. ‘Sailing’s not your thing?’

He shrugged, his hands in his trouser pockets. ‘In case you’re wondering, I’m here for the free food.’

She laughed spontaneously. ‘Ah, it was you who demolished all the prawns.’ She gestured to the crowd on the dance floor below who were swaying their hips and waving their little gold bells to ‘Jingle Bell Rock’. ‘So, were you getting your groove on down there on the dance floor tonight?’

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