Harlequin Spice Brief
On Sale: August 1, 2009
One year ago, Marcus healed Janie’s broken heart with his love. Now she has returned to Jamaica to see if their passion is as strong as before. Then Marcus’s friend Cade shows up, too. Janie never really liked Cade, but when Marcus asks her to take them both to her bedroom, Janie soon learns that the two men know exactly what she needs….
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
A gust of rain-soaked wind at my back pushed me through the heavy teak doors into the hotel lobby. I stood, dripping onto the carpet, feeling as dispirited as I ever had in my life.
I’d made a gamble and lost. Flying to Jamaica in the eye of a storm, I’d hoped to find the part of me I’d left behind a year ago.
So many regrets swirled inside my head. I’d waited too long to come back. I’d been a coward—afraid to grab for the brass ring when it had hung within my grasp.
“Miss Smith, you need a towel?”
I glanced at the desk clerk, whose dark solemn face told me he knew how unhappy I was. Okay, add to my list of woes, I was also pathetic. “Thanks, Bob,” I said, twisting my lips into a parody of a smile.
He passed me a stack of towels, and I began to rub my sodden hair. My clothes were beyond hope—my jeans and short tee clung to my skin.
“Da hurricane party jus’ started,” he said, his tone gentle. “You can get yourself a rum toddy at da bar. Warm you to yer bones.”
I started to shake my head, wanting only to flee to my room and lick my wounds in private, and then thought better of it. I’d spent a wad of hard-earned cash to get here in the middle of a storm—why not live a little? Or at least get really, really drunk. “How’d you get so smart, Bob?”
“Seen a lot in my years,” he said, pointing to his old, rheumy eyes.
“I can’t believe you remembered me,” I murmured. “I was only here for five days, and you must have met thousands of guests in your time.” Although I hadn’t forgotten him either. I hadn’t forgotten a single moment of my previous visit.
“Knew you’d be back.” He gave me a wink. “Don’t give up just yet.”
I gave him another false smile and headed toward the bar, automatically smoothing back my wet hair although I really didn’t care what I looked like. The one person who mattered wouldn’t be there.
Gray daylight spilled into the lobby through the small ice-block windows high up under the eaves, but it didn’t reach very far inside the bar due to the boarded up windows. I hesitated until my sight adjusted. The interior was as dark as a cavern, the bar lit only by a line of hurricane lamps because the electricity had gone out.
I hadn’t stepped three feet inside the room when a hand snagged my wrist. I closed my eyes, a sweet trembling starting deep inside my core.
“Hello, Janie.” That voice—a deep, rusty baritone—elicited a delicious shiver.
“Marcus…” I whispered, leaning back against him and allowing him to surround me with his brawny arms. “I thought—”
“That I wasn’t coming?” He snorted, his breath warming my cheek.
“It’s been a year,” I said softly. “A lot could have happened since then. I thought you’d changed your mind.” I didn’t tell him that I’d cried when I’d found his small office near the wharf boarded closed.
“How could I miss your birthday?” His lips glanced against my cheek.
I turned in his arms and reached up to slide mine around his neck. His dreadlocks were longer than they’d been, but his warm gray eyes and beautiful, broad face were the same. I leaned closer as his lush, juicy lips met mine. This was what I’d returned for—his arms enfolding me, holding me so tightly I felt cherished.
His head rotated, drawing my lips along with his, and I opened, sighing as his tongue slid inside to caress mine. He tasted of rum and mint, and his lips were incredibly soft, suctioning at mine, until I felt the tug all the way to my pussy and clenched my thighs tightly.
The man could kiss! Or was it just us—together—that made this so damn good? So special.
Was I reading too much into the fact he was here? We’d agreed not to call, not to exchange letters. Marcus had kissed me that last day of my vacation just before I boarded my plane to return home. He’d said to think about us. If I didn’t come back, he’d understand.
I’d arrived on the island shattered after being dumped by my fiancé days before my birthday. Marcus had healed my pride with his sweet loving and rich laughter. When I’d gotten home, I’d almost convinced myself that he’d been right about waiting. That our short time had been what I needed—at that moment. That I’d wanted to latch onto the possibility of a new love to fill my drowning heart. That maybe, he’d only been a vacation fling.
However, the closer my next birthday drew, the more urgent the feeling grew inside me that I had to see him again. I had to know whether he still had feelings for me, because time hadn’t dimmed my memory of what we’d shared.
The sound of a voice clearing behind him brought me back. I opened my eyes and looked beyond Marcus’s shoulder to another set of familiar broad shoulders, a head of curly blonde hair, and pale piercing eyes.
I stiffened and drew back from Marcus’s embrace. “Hello Cade,” I said, my voice tightening.
Marcus’s friend and business partner gave me a small, lop-sided smile. The smile did nothing to soften the brutal contours of his handsome face. His pale blue gaze held mine for a long moment.
I remembered that about him. He liked to stare. His gaze had followed me always, unblinking. His expression shuttered and so remote I couldn’t help but do little things to prick him to try to get a reaction.
When Marcus and I had swum like fish beside the anchored boat in a deserted inlet, he’d watched from the deck, his gaze never straying from us. Once, annoyed with his silent presence, I’d tossed the top of my bathing suit at him, daring him to look away. But he hadn’t.
Later, when Marcus had made love to me inside the cabin, I’d thought about Cade staring at my bared breasts, and shamefully, I cried out at the moment of my climax—just a little louder than I should have—as punishment to Cade for his intrusion into my blossoming relationship with Marcus.
I took a deep breath, forcing my gaze away from Cade and gave Marcus a questioning glance.
“We sailed our boat to shelter on the other side of the island ‘til the storm passes. We drove back together.”
“Why don’t you have a drink at the bar, Cade?” I said, lifting my chin. “I need to get changed. Marcus?”
Marcus’s lips twitched. “I don’ think she’s warmed up to you yet, Cade. What are we going to do about dat?”
Cade shrugged, but his glance darkened as it locked with mine.
For a reason I wasn’t yet willing to admit, his continued silence provoked me. “Marcus, are you coming up with me?”
Marcus’s hands bracketed my face and leaned down. “You know what dis is about, don’ you?” he asked, his gaze searching mine.
I shook my head, my lips opening to respond, but the promise lurking in his eyes stole away my breath. My mind leapt to the dark, sensual possibilities, and although I’d never admit it—especially to myself—I’d thought about every decadent one of them over the last months.
“Invite us both up, sweetheart,” he whispered, then leaned the last inches to rub his soft lips over mine.