The heavy drumming in her chest was crazy considering she had no idea who he was or what he was doing there. The soft-sided briefcase he’d dropped beside the desk and the expensive suit and tie he wore gave her some indication, however. He was a sales rep of some kind. He probably had some new fancy equipment to show her.
She felt her face heat as she thought about how that would sound out loud. Then she almost laughed. She’d just bet he had some nice equipment.
Brooke did, however, acknowledge the crazy thumping of her heart, rational or not, for what it was—sexual awareness. Her mama had always said that the women in their family were hotblooded. It was an instinctual, physical reaction Brooke could neither control nor explain. It wasn’t, thank the good Lord, like it happened with every man. But it happened more than she liked and each time it hit her—hard.
Of course, the last few times it happened she hadn’t done anything about it—
Brooke jumped slightly as he addressed her. She also hadn’t been called Miss in years.
“Do you have some ice somewhere? For your knee.”
Ice—anything cool, in fact—seemed like a really good idea.
“Freezer,” she said, gesturing toward the door leading to the break room. She figured she was going to have to work on saying more than one word at a time. But dammit, she was distracted.
He removed his hands and shrugged out of his suit jacket as he stood.
She watched the muscles bunching under the light fabric of his dress shirt, but with some distance between them, her brain slowly kicked on again. “What’s your name?” she asked.
He disappeared through the swinging door to the back room and she concentrated on breathing but he returned before she got any good oxygen to her brain. Or so it seemed.
He had an ice pack—kept in the freezer for patients with just this sort of injury—wrapped in a dishtowel. He pulled the knot in his tie loose as he came toward her.
“What can I do for you, Jack?” she asked as he squatted next to her. She sucked in a quick breath as he applied the cold pack to her knee.
“I’m hoping you can tell me how to get a hold of your boss,” he said, holding the ice in place as he picked up her shoe and stretched her leg out, propping her foot on his thigh. “I need to talk to her about something.”
She opened her mouth to tell him that she didn’t have a boss, thank you very much, when a brilliant realization struck. He didn’t know who she was. He thought she was— Well, she wasn’t really sure, but it didn’t matter.
She stared at the big hand holding ice against her knee.
He didn’t know who she was. He was a complete stranger. Not from here.
And she wanted to kiss him.
It was a thought completely contrary to what she was used to allowing herself to think. It wasn’t that she never had crazy, it’s-a-really-bad-idea-but-wouldn’t-it-be-great thoughts and impulses. But she was very good at resisting them. She’d had years of practice.
At the moment, however, it was very, very tempting to give in to it and worry about the consequences later.
It had been so long since she’d been spontaneous. So long since she’d had a chance to be. And it would be a long time before she had another chance. That fact reared its ugly head almost daily as she manned the clinic that her late husband had stuck her with in the last place on earth she wanted to be.
The moments were rare when she could crank up the music, put on her comfy clothes and let go. She always did so at the risk of someone finding out and disapproving.
But this guy was a salesman, passing through, on to the next town and the next potential sale by dinnertime. No one would know if she kissed him. Sure, he might talk about it to his buddies at the gym tomorrow or the next day, but no one in Honey Creek would know.
It gave her a little adrenaline rush just thinking about it.
She could French kiss the big, good-looking stranger right here in the clinic, right at the front desk. Just imagining the shocked look on the faces of people in town made her want to do it. She knew the rebellious streak she’d inherited from her mother was some of her trouble here in Honey Creek, but just like telling a dieter they had to avoid cheesecake at all costs, the more forbidden it was, the more tempting she found it.
Just to test the waters, Brooke put her hands behind her on the seat of the chair and leaned back slightly, keeping her elbows straight.
“My boss won’t be back for a while,” she said. And it was true. The level-headed, do-the-right-thing Brooke she’d turned into over the past few years seemed to have stepped out for the time being.
He glanced up, and she was gratified to see that his eyes didn’t immediately make it past her breasts, which were thrust forward against the soft cotton of her tank top. And, in the spirit of really letting go, she wasn’t wearing a bra.
She watched him swallow hard and noticed that the hand on her knee seemed to have forgotten its job as the ice pack slipped to one side.
This was exactly the kind of thing she usually worked so hard to avoid. She’d inherited her mama’s looks, body and love of men. She could only assume that her self-control came from her father. She’d never met any of the three men that could have supplied the other half of her DNA, but Brooke sure as hell hadn’t gotten any modesty or sense of appropriateness from Dixie. Still, it did do a woman’s ego some good to have a man—especially one like Jack Silver, who no doubt had women clamoring and strutting for his attention all the time—give her some good old fashioned lookin’-good-honey attention.
“My knee is feeling a lot better. You have the touch,” she said, her voice a little throaty without even trying. Flirting and teasing were natural for her—another Donovan trait. It was resisting it that had always been the challenge.
His eyes found her face and he gave her a half grin. “So I’ve been told.”
Oh, I just bet you have, she thought, as a little tingle in her stomach responded to that cocky grin.
“Are you married?” she asked. If he’d been around as many blocks as she was guessing, he’d know where that question came from.
He definitely didn’t react as if the question was odd. “Nope.” His hand remembered her knee then, but he let the ice pack slip to the floor and let his palm begin warming the skin as he kneaded the joint gently.
She didn’t ask about a girlfriend. She wasn’t planning on keeping him, after all, or even compromising him too much. It was just a little kissing. But she most definitely drew the line at married men, no matter how they made her knee feel.
Her skin was quickly regaining its ability to sense heat.
She pulled her foot from where it rested on his thigh, sitting forward on the chair seat.
He seemed reluctant to stop touching her and his hand slid down and around to the back of her calf where it began a slow, seductive stroking up and down.
“Gay?” she asked. Not that she cared. She was going to kiss him anyway. He just might not enjoy it as much as she would.
He laughed and stroked his fingers into the dip behind her bent knee, pressing gently and making heat zing through her.
She leaned forward until her elbows rested on her knees and her face was less than an inch from his.
“You do this kind of thing a lot?” she whispered.
His eyes dropped to her lips and she felt anticipation and awareness shimmy through her. He knew exactly what kind of thing she was talking about.
His breath was hot on her mouth as he whispered back, “Does it really matter?”
Then he kissed her.