Body Heat

Body Heat

Katherine Garbera

May 2014 $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-1-150

Book 1 of the O'Rourkes

When it’s hot, it’s hot. She can take the heat of a five-alarm fire.

But can she fight the sizzling passion when she meets the man of her dreams?


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Raised in an all-male family of firefighters, Andi O’Roarke has the right stuff to be a fire chief—one of only a few women who’ve overcome grueling odds to earn the job. Her brawny, tough-guy firemen respect her and treat her like one of the boys. That’s fine with Andi. She’s totally inside her comfort zone when barking orders and hoisting fire gear.

Outside the job, however, she’s clueless about dealing with men.

Which means arson investigator Tucker Fields is going to turn up the heat on a flame she can’t control.

Forget about the easy boy’s-club friendship she has with her firemen; with Tucker the vibes are pure sex, desire, and temptation. He recognizes how hard she’s fought to downplay every aspect of her femininity in the macho world of firefighting.

When he and Andi are thrown together night and day on an investigation, Tucker entices her to lose every inhibition, to give all control, to explore the scorching passion that can change their lives forever—and destroy Andi’s career.

As Andi hides their relationship from her men, she fears that falling in love will leave her heart in ashes.



Coming soon!





Chapter 1

ANDI O’ROARKE knew trouble came in many different sizes. Sometimes trouble came in the form of a cop who caught her speeding when she was late for work. Sometimes it was a wildfire blazing out of control that she just couldn’t get ahead of. Other times it was a group of subordinates bored from sitting too long in the fire station.

Andi leaned back in her chair and propped her booted feet on the edge of her desk. The three men standing before her had been at Station Two for almost five years: Johnson, McMillan, and Powell. She’d fought fires side by side with these men, cried with them when they had responded to their first child fatality due to parents not using a car seat, and drank them under the table on St. Paddy’s Day. So she knew these guys.

And she knew they were up to no good. Mick Palmer, her second in command, arched one eyebrow at her. He sensed the same thing she did. No one who hadn’t been a firefighter could understand the kind of boredom that going almost a week without a blaze entailed.

The station house sparkled from top to bottom, every engine had been washed and waxed, and they were all bored from too many games of pool.

"What can I do for you boys?” she asked, crossing her arms over her T-shirt-clad stomach.

"We got a bone to pick, Cap,” Johnson said as they entered her office. On the wall were certificates she’d received over the course of her fifteen-year career and one picture of her family—taken last year at Easter.

"I’m all ears.”

They shuffled farther into her office. Johnson stood in the doorway; McMillan and Powell leaned against the credenza. They were all in their twenties and in good shape.

"Well, we want to know why these boys in Hillsborough got a couple of strippers in the firehouse, and all we ever get are kindergartners,” McMillan said, holding a newspaper out to her.

Andi took the paper from McMillan, opened it, and read the article—not that the story was news to her. Word had spread quickly through the entire Florida firefighting community.

A fire chief had abused his rank to keep his subordinates quiet about having a couple of strippers act out his sexual fantasies at work. The accompanying photo showed a stripper wearing turnout gear, red spiked heels, and, well, nothing up top. Pretending to study the photo, she wondered how many male fire captains were having this exact same discussion.

She folded the paper in half and handed it back to McMillan. There was no way she’d ever jeopardize her career or the careers of her men the way that captain had in Hillsborough.

Andi hadn’t been a firefighter for fifteen years for nothing. She was willing to play along. "Okay, if that’s what you guys want.”

"Really?” Johnson asked. McMillan and Powell both straightened from the credenza. She saw anticipation and excitement on their faces. Some days she really loved her job.

Mick sat up straighter in his chair, and she knew he wasn’t sure where she was going with this. She was as by-the-book as they came.

"Are you sure you guys want to do this?” she asked them, careful to keep her voice neutral.

"Oh, yeah,” McMillan said.

"Hell, yeah,” Johnson added.

She nodded, then put her booted feet on the floor and leaned forward on her desk. "Just checking. My brothers have always sworn that they’d go blind if they ever saw another man naked.”

"What are you talking about, Cap?” asked Powell. "We want strippers.”

"I know. Male strippers.”

"Cap, that’s wrong. Why would we want to see naked men?” McMillan asked.

Johnson turned three shades of red. "Well, damn, Cap, that’s just mean. You knew what we were thinking.”

"I know that you weren’t thinking too well. Why would I want to see naked women?”

"Maybe they forgot you were a woman,” said Rodney Coltrane from behind Johnson.

Rodney had been giving her a hard time since they’d met nearly sixteen years ago. While her crew accepted her because of the job she did, Rodney had a burr under his saddle about women in any unit. It didn’t help their relationship any that whenever the two of them had come head-to-head in any competition for a job or for fun, Andi had always come out the winner.

"Ah, that’s not it, Cap. We were just joshing you, hoping to ruffle your feathers,” Powell said.

"Shoulda known it wouldn’t work,” Johnson added.

"What can I do for you, Rodney?” she asked as her men filed out. Mick lingered in the room, but Andi tilted her head at him until he sighed and left as well.

Mick had been her best friend for too long, and there were times when he still wanted to fight her battles for her, despite the fact that she’d never needed him to do so. It had always made her feel good deep inside where she’d never admit she needed it—the fact that Mick sometimes tried to protect her.

There was another man standing by Rodney. Someone whom Andi had never met.

He was tall, at least four inches taller than her five-foot-eight frame. His hair was dark brown, and his eyes were deep dark green, the color of the grass on that first spring morning after winter let go of the landscape: bright and brilliant. Oh, hell, no. She wasn’t attracted to one of Rodney’s pals.

"Actually, I was just helping out Tucker here. He’s the arson investigator you had to call in.”

She didn’t respond to that. Their only option was to call in an outside arson investigator. They were a rural firehouse and didn’t have a full-time arson specialist on staff. Tucker must be the state guy she’d sent for due to the three warehouse fires they’d had over the last month.

"Tucker Fields, ma’am,” he said, holding out his hand. His breath was scented with mint, and his aftershave was a clean, crisp one that made her want to breathe deeper.

"Andrea O’Roarke,” she said, taking his hand. His palm was big and callused. He shook her hand the way she suspected he would shake another man’s hand. And that gesture showed her a measure of respect that Rodney had never offered.

When she tried to pull her hand free, he held it for an extra second before releasing her. And when she glanced up at him, she noticed his gaze was on her face. Nervously, she licked her suddenly dry lips.

"I don’t think anyone could mistake you for anything other than a woman.”

"Careful, Tucker. Andi’s not like other girls; she bites,” Rodney said as he turned on his heel and walked out the door.

"My favorite kind,” Tucker said, letting her hand slip from his grasp. "But I’m here for business, not pleasure.”

"And arson is your business?” she asked, moving away from him. She had an untouchable aura about her. She was open and friendly, but only to a certain extent. Since he’d seen her with her men, Tuck realized he wasn’t getting genuine warmth from her now.

He was a stranger, and clearly she didn’t know if he was going to be a jerk like Rodney Coltrane or not. He knew she had to have worked hard to be the fire chief at this firehouse. But how many times had she been forced to prove herself to get the job?

Tucker admired the way Andrea regained her composure and took a minute to gather his own. He was used to seeing women in the firehouses he visited; gone were the fire stations of the past that were solely the domain of men.

He just wasn’t used to being turned on by them. His job usually came first. She wasn’t model beautiful, but there was a clean-cut, athletic grace to her that showed in every movement she made.

"What can I say? I like the heat,” he said, wishing for a moment that his legendary charm hadn’t deserted him.

But it had. He couldn’t help himself. Everything about Andrea O’Roarke got to him. It wasn’t anything overt that she was doing, just the entire package she presented. He’d always been drawn to strength: something she had in spades.

Her eyes were deep and dark, guarding her secrets in that enigmatic way that only women had. Her lips were full—her mouth lush, beckoning him forward. If that ass Rodney hadn’t been in the office with them, Tuck would have been tempted to pull her closer and taste her lips when he’d shaken her hand.

She had a mouth made for kissing. He realized she was speaking to him, but didn’t hear a damn thing she said. She tipped her head to the side and stopped talking.

"Sorry about that; my mind wasn’t here. What were you saying?” he asked. Get it together, man. Your reputation is on the line.

"Where do you want to start?” she asked while offering him a chair across from her desk.

"Who was the first on the scene?” he asked, trying to prove his mind was on the suspected arsonist, when in reality, it was on her confident movements as she took her own seat.

"Johnson and Powell responded. But they had to wait for a second unit before they could go inside.”


"We have the two-in, two-out rule here.”

He nodded. The two-in, two-out rule meant there had to be two guys waiting outside in case the two who went in got into trouble and needed assistance. In bigger firehouses they had a special crew that just waited outside as backup.

"Most firehouses do. So what’d they find?” he asked, taking notes on a small pad.

"Gas cans. The blaze took us a while to put out. The men were tired, but we went over the site carefully.”

He’d read the report she’d written and knew that her men had done everything by the book. She was a rule-follower, and that worked in her favor. "You know your stuff.”

"Of course I do. Don’t believe what Rodney says. I got this job the same way everyone else does.”

"With hard work?” he asked, but he knew that was what she meant. He’d heard about Andi O’Roarke long before he’d come here. Everyone in the state knew her by reputation. She was a damn fine firefighter, despite her sex.

"Damn straight.”

He narrowed his eyes, watching her carefully. He was walking the kind of fine line he’d rarely had to with the opposite sex. But the stakes seemed higher with her. "You know, you’ve got a chip on your shoulder.”

She arched one eyebrow at him. "Only for men who ogle me and think a woman can’t do this job.”

He fought to keep from grinning at her. She was so sassy, it was hard to believe that the men who worked with her forgot she was a woman. "Ogling you doesn’t equal a disbelief in your abilities.”

"Really?” she asked, as if she didn’t believe a man could be attracted to her and still admit she was very competent at her job.

"Really,” he said. He leaned back in his chair, pretending to study the papers she’d handed to him, but he felt that business was out of the way. He already had the information he needed to start his arson investigation. Now he wanted to start another, more personal inquiry.

"Do you want something to drink?” She fiddled with the papers on her desk. She had long fingers, and her nails were short, functional. She was totally feminine to him, yet not fragile.

"A Coke would be nice.”

She walked to the credenza and bent over to open one of the doors. She had the kind of hips that made a man’s hands tingle wondering what they’d feel like in his hands.

She straightened and caught him staring. He shrugged. He was attracted to her and wasn’t even going to pretend he wasn’t. Everything about her turned him on.

Suddenly all the confidence he’d seen seemed to drain away. She held the can out to him and hurried behind her standard-issue desk. There was something different in her body language now. This wasn’t the same woman who’d joked with her men about strippers.

He hooked his ankle over his knee. Popping the tab on the top of the can, he took a long drag, hoping the icy beverage would cool the heat of his body: the heat that was being generated by the woman sitting across from him—eyeing him warily.

He held the Coke can loosely in one hand, trying to look as nonthreatening as possible. But he wanted her, and he knew himself well enough to know that he wasn’t going to back away without a fight. Watching her, he waited for everything to click into place.

As an arson investigator he had to be intimately aware of human behavior. The subject had always intrigued him. He’d never met a person whom he hadn’t wanted to figure out, find out why they behaved the way they did. Those were the same techniques he used to find the arsonists he was responsible for catching.

He just had to figure out what the turn-on was, why they were drawn to fire, and what they hoped to get out of it.

Shamelessly he used the same techniques with women. And nine times out of ten it worked. Of course, that one time when it didn’t work had served to keep him humble. He knew on one level that he wasn’t privy to everything about women or about human nature, but he was willing to turn failure into success.

"Why are you staring at me?” she asked, her voice dropping an octave.

"I like the way your mouth looks,” he said, his own voice sounding deeper and huskier than normal. Damn, this woman made him hotter than he’d been in a long time. And, honestly, she wasn’t doing anything other than being herself. He didn’t understand this attraction to her, but he didn’t question it.

"You are making me uncomfortable,” she said, chewing on her lower lip. "And I don’t like it.”

"Your mouth is making me uncomfortable.” She wasn’t helping him get his mind back on business. "And I do like it.”

"I can’t be responsible for your wayward fantasies,” she said, in a way that made him realize this was a woman at home in the business world but not in a one-on-one with a man.

"Yes, you can.” She was solely responsible for those fantasies. He’d never had this problem on the job before. But if she nibbled on her lower lip one more time, he was coming across the desk and tasting her mouth for himself.

"Why? If I was a guy sitting here, you wouldn’t be having those fantasies, would you?” She sat up straighter in her chair, and that fire he’d seen earlier was back.

It was there in her eyes. She had the kind of passion that most women were afraid of. And he sensed she was afraid of it, too, but when she felt threatened, it came out with her temper.

"No, but neither of us can change the fact that you are a woman, a fact I can’t help but notice.”

She opened one of the files on her desk. "Well, stop. Let’s talk about the case.”

He let her change the subject and listened to her voice as she read him the initial incident reports. He liked her voice. It was throaty and husky, making it all too easy for him to picture the two of them in bed on a long, lazy afternoon.

"You’re doing it again,” she said, without looking up. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, but a few strands escaped to curl enticingly along the back of her neck, which was long and slim, seemingly fragile.

"Doing what?” he asked. After he finished with her mouth he was going to spend a lot of time nibbling on her neck.

"Staring,” she said, glancing up at him.

"I think we’re going to have to just go with it. I can’t seem to help myself.”

She closed the folder and leaned back in her chair again. "I heard you were one of the best.”

"I am the best.”

"Then prove it. Because all I see is a hound dog who can’t keep his tongue in his mouth.”


"It’s nothing personal. I just don’t want the men to suddenly start looking at me... the way you do.”

"How do I look at you?”

"You know.”

"Do I?”

"You’re a pain in the ass, right? Someone, sometime, told you it was charming, and you’ve clung to that.”

He laughed for the sheer joy of it. "You’re the first woman to mention it.”

"Maybe I’m the first woman to see through your facade.”

"I have a facade?”

"You know you do,” she said, leaning forward and resting her elbows on her desk. "Does it work?”

He shifted, setting the papers and the Coke at his feet, and leaned his arms on the desk so that only a few inches separated them. Her eyes were really several different shades of hazel and brown. They were beautiful up close.

"Have dinner with me and find out for yourself.”

She flushed and pushed back away from him. "Uh... no, thanks.”

Staying where he was, Tuck sorted through the possibilities. Either she didn’t want to go out with him or she was scared to go out with him. His ego, and his money, were on the latter.

"Chicken?” he asked, playing a hunch.

"I’m not afraid of you.”

"Prove it. I’m only asking you for dinner.”



Chapter 2

"AND THEN HE left,” Andi said, taking a deep swig of her beer. She was kicked back on a patio lounge chair at her best friend’s house. "So what does that mean, Sara?”

"I have no idea. I don’t know why you think I understand men.”

"Because you’re married. You must have done something to figure out at least one guy.”

"Ah, but Mick’s not like other guys.”

"That’s right, I’m better.”

"Define better,” Sara said.

"Me,” he said, bending down to kiss her.

Andi watched her friends, envious and a little jealous of what they had. She’d resigned herself to being single for the rest of her life. Lots of firefighters were. The job was too hard on relationships, and it didn’t bother her. But ever since Tucker had invited her to dinner three days ago, it had been all she’d thought of.

"What did it mean, Mick?”

"Hell, I don’t know. I wouldn’t have asked you out like that.”

"Why not?”

"Because Sara would have killed me.”

Sara flexed her muscles from where she stood at the grill. "He’s scared of me.”

Andi realized her friends were going to be little help. Or maybe they didn’t realize she was serious about wanting to understand Tucker. She hadn’t been able to sleep for the last few days from thinking about him. There was something about that man that wouldn’t let her go.

He was in her dreams and in her mind as she ran her five miles each morning, his words echoing in her head: that watching her didn’t mean he thought she was incompetent. It had been a long time since any man had looked at her the way he had.

Sure, she dated and had sex with guys, but they were always kind of... not as strong as she was. She’d always set the tone for her relationships, and men always backed down when she confronted them. Why hadn’t he?

"You okay, Andi?”

She glanced at Mick. He’d set the table and brought over the tray of burgers that Sara had grilled. Mick couldn’t cook, something that everyone in the firehouse had learned the hard way.

"Yeah, fine.”

"Tell me again about this guy,” Sara said.

"Never mind. I’m sure he was just having fun at my expense.”

"I don’t know about that. How many men ask you out at work?”

She frowned, taking a huge bite of her burger to keep from having to answer. Why the hell had she brought this up? No man at work ever noticed she was a woman unless she accidentally walked into the sleeping area when they were changing, and even then they usually didn’t think anything of dropping their trousers and changing in front of her.

She just wasn’t a girly girl. She’d always known it. Growing up with her four brothers and a strict father had reinforced that. But unless she missed her guess, Tucker Fields had noticed she was a woman.

Too bad, because she wouldn’t mind seeing him drop his pants.

"Are you going to answer the question?”

"What do you think? No one asks me out at work. Unless you count that one Fourth of July picnic when Joe Zenwicki got drunk and told everyone in the park that someday I’d be his bride.”

"No one counts that. He asked every woman there to be his bride.”

Just as she’d thought. She’d never really been special to any man, not in a womanly way. The men whose homes she’d saved from burning to the ground thanked her. The men whose kids she’d taught to stop, drop, and roll thanked her. But usually men didn’t look at her the way Tucker had, as though she was his favorite flavor of ice cream and he couldn’t wait to lick her up.

"What are you going to do about it?”

"I don’t know. The man called me a chicken. I can’t let that pass.”

"No, you can’t,” Mick said around a bite of pickle. "That kind of word gets out and you’ll lose your reputation as a tough-ass.”

"Funny, Mick, really funny. I don’t think he’s going to tell anyone he said I was a chicken.”


"Yeah, he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who was going to talk about me.”

"Maybe you should go out with him, then,” Sara said.

But she couldn’t. Too much time had passed. How was she going to bring up the subject and not be embarrassed? And that was the problem. She would be embarrassed, especially if he’d changed his mind. What if he hadn’t meant to ask her out?


"Uh-oh, I think I should be going. I’ll wait for our other guest up front,” Mick said, taking his beer and leaving the table.

"What other guest?”

"We can’t play Risk with only three people. Mick invited some new guy over to even things out. He’s so paranoid that you and I are going to team up against him.”

Mick had probably invited Danny Brown, their newest recruit. He was fresh from training. She glanced around for her T-shirt. She should probably put that on before he got here.

"Tell me more about this guy,” Sara said.

Andi wrapped her arms around herself, forgetting her T-shirt for a minute. "What’s to tell?”

Sara smiled across the table at her. "Remember when Mick asked me out?”

"Yes, what a nightmare. He was a basket case until you finally said yes.”

"Well, maybe this guy is a basket case waiting for you.”

She swallowed. There was no way any man would be that crazy for her. She had nothing that Sara did. That was no slam against herself; it was just that she wasn’t a woman that men went crazy for. She was a woman whom they called when they needed advice on how to fix things up with their wives or girlfriends.

But still, the man had called her a chicken. Maybe he didn’t know what he was letting himself in for. Maybe that rat Rodney had said something to make him think she’d be easy game. But there had been something charming about him.

"I’m going to call him on his dare.”

"What if it wasn’t really a dare?” Sara said.

But Andi ignored that. She tried to concentrate on her food, but the only thing she hungered for was more knowledge of Tucker Fields.

TUCKER WASN’T sure why he’d accepted Mick Palmer’s invitation to drinks on Thursday night. But he had. It had been obvious from the time Tucker had spent around the station house that Mick and Andi were friends. And Tuck knew Andi would be there. Considering she’d avoided him for the last few days, he wasn’t sure how she’d react to his being in her friend’s home.

He couldn’t figure her out. He gave her space, but she still hadn’t responded. Maybe that was the problem; he was being too cautious. She needed a man to storm her defenses and take control.

He raised his hand to knock on the door of the modern ranch house. Tuck hadn’t spent a lot of time in Polk County, Florida, but the area was rural and remote. Most residents lived a quiet life reflective of old Florida. Mainly ranchers and citrus growers, they were called Florida Crackers: small-town folks who still lived by the morals that were slowly fading from the fabric of American life.

Mick opened the door. "Hey, you’re just in time to grab a burger.”

"Thanks,” Tuck said, handing the pack of Coronas to Mick as he followed the other man into his house.

The sound of Jimmy Buffett played on the patio, and he heard two women talking. His body tightened, and his blood flowed heavier through his veins as he recognized Andi’s voice.

Jimmy was singing about coastal connections, a warm breeze blew through the open glass sliding door, and Tuck felt a kind of settling deep inside where he was always restless. Why he’d find it here in this rural community with these people he really didn’t know; he had no clue.

"I hope you brought your game with you.”


"Because I have a feeling it’s going to be men versus women, and Andi plays to win.”

"What about your wife?”

"She can hold her own. But can you?”

Tuck stopped him in the doorway before they stepped through. "What do you mean? Of course I can hold my own against a couple of women.”

"Ah, but you have to forget they are women. They can be tricky and ruthless. Don’t forget that.”

Mick stepped through the doorway, and Tuck followed him. "Look who’s here.”

Andi glanced up and choked on a bite of her burger. Mick casually reached over and smacked her several times on the back. Both women wore bikini tops and shorts. They had their hair pulled back in ponytails, but that was where the similarities ended. Mick’s wife was petite, a curvy little redhead with warm cinnamon brown eyes.

And Andi... well, she was an Amazon goddess with some of her wild brown hair escaping the elastic to curl around her neck.

"Sara, this is Tucker Fields. Tuck, this is my better half, Sara. You know Andi.”

The casual introduction belied the fact that both women were glaring at Mick. Tuck had the feeling that he was a surprise addition to what was clearly a ritual event between them. He smiled at Sara, hoping to ease the tension.

"Help yourself to a burger, Tuck, while my husband and I get something in the kitchen.”

"What do we need from the kitchen?” Mick asked.

Sara glared at him until he nodded at her. "Oh, I’m going to put your beer on ice and help Sara,” he said to Tuck.

The other couple left the patio, and Tuck sat down next to Andi. Time hadn’t diminished the attraction he felt for her. He’d been concentrating on his job, wanting to apprehend the arsonist before he focused on her, but it had been hard.

"How’s the investigation coming?” she asked her plate.

He made his burger and then just sat back and waited. Eventually she lifted her head and met his gaze. She had the kind of eyes he could drown in.

"Did you hear me?”

"Of course. I was waiting for you to ask me and not your plate.”

"Why do you care?”

"Because I know that you are hiding from me,” he said.

"That’s the second time you’ve inferred that I’m some kind of coward. It’s not true. I’m not afraid of any man.”

"I know that. You’re an Amazon goddess, and woe to the man who doesn’t notice that.”

"Stop making fun of me. I knew you were one of those guys.”

"What guys? I don’t really fit in any one category well.”

"The type who think I’m some kind of freak,” she said, then flushed and pushed away from the table.

He followed her the short distance to the porch railing. She had braced her hands on the wrought iron that surrounded the cement pad. He stood behind her and then slowly lowered his hands on either side of hers so that his body completely enfolded hers.

He kept a small inch of space between them so they weren’t actually touching. He leaned closer to her, barely resisting the temptation that her long, slim neck represented. "I don’t think you are a freak.”

She turned her head, glancing over her shoulder at him, her eyes wide with confusion and a trace of fear. "Then what do you think?”

"That you are a woman I’ll never be able to forget.”

He canted his body farther into hers and lowered his head to kiss her.

His mouth moved over hers, not a tentative asking for permission, but a bold taking of what he wanted. Andi was used to men being intimidated by her, both in and out of bed. There was something about her strength that kept them at bay. But not Tuck. He took what he wanted.

That made her feel... She didn’t know. Couldn’t think when his mouth moved over hers like that. She turned in his arms, putting her hands on his slim hips and leaning up into him.

He tasted of minty gum and something else. Something different and deeper. He tasted like adventure and daring, and she realized that she’d let him shock her into forgetting that she backed down for no man.

She slid her hands up his sides and around his neck. She tunneled her fingers through his hair and went up on tiptoe to take control of the kiss. She thrust her tongue deeper into his mouth and massaged the back of his head as she tasted him.

He moaned deep in his throat, the sound making her squirm with excitement. But then he slowly turned the tables on her. His hands swept up and down her back in languid caresses that made her skin so sensitized that she was anticipating each of his touches.

His thumbs slipped under the sides of her bikini top. Not touching her breasts, but so close that her nipples immediately tightened. She shifted in his arms, trying to put some space between them, trying to readjust the balance of power.

But he held her firmly. Slipping her fingers under the collar of his shirt, she scraped her nails against his neck and felt the reaction in him as his erection nudged her stomach.

She rubbed her hands over his chest and reached between them to touch him. But he captured her wrists, gently pulling her arms behind her back and anchoring them with one of his hands. The position of her arms forced her breasts forward against his chest.

She pulled her mouth from his, staring up at him. He watched her, and she knew the vulnerability she felt in that moment was clear to him. But instead of triumph or gloating, she saw a tenderness in his eyes that made her want to cry. No one had ever looked at her that way.

"Kiss me again,” he said.

She nodded and leaned up toward him. His mouth came down on hers, but the embrace and tone were controlled by her. He let her set the pace and take her time. This time she explored his mouth carefully, dropping several soft kisses on his lips and nibbling at his lower one. She sucked it into her mouth and teased him with soft touches of her tongue.

Her breasts were cushioned on his chest. They felt full and needy. She tried to rotate her shoulders so that she could rub the tips against his chest, but he held her too securely.

She pulled back. She felt his erection between them, knew he wanted more. "Why?”

"I want to know your mouth completely before we move on to anything else.”

"I don’t know if we’re going to move on,” she said honestly. He overwhelmed her in a way that she’d never experienced with anyone before.

"We will be. Kiss me again.”

Mick cleared his throat from the doorway. "I thought we were going to play Risk.”

"Hell, kissing this lady is risky.”

Mick laughed. "Five-minute warning. Sara and I are making margaritas for the ladies, and then we’ll be right out.”

Andi fought to control her body’s reaction to the interruption. Damn, Mick was the last person she wanted to see her and Tuck together. She wanted more time alone with Tuck. She wished they were anywhere but here. But she knew that if Mick hadn’t invited Tuck over, Andi wouldn’t have decided to accept Tuck’s dinner invitation.

Her body was already telling her that her mind had been right. This man was dangerous.

"I’ll show you risky,” she said, damning the husky sound of her own voice. She tried to pull her arms free, but he continued to hold them securely. She didn’t want to make a scene, and it was important to Andi to bring the situation back to normal as quickly as possible.

"I like danger,” Tuck said, looking right at her.

"I’m not dangerous,” she assured him.

"Oh, I think you are.”

She wasn’t going to argue with him. "Let go of my arms.”

"Not yet.”

"Not now, Tucker. Mick and Sara are going to be here any second.”

"We’re not finished.”

"I kissed you,” she said.

"Now it’s my turn.”

He lowered his head one more time, and Andi forgot to breathe. His lips were firm and commanding, yet all the time careful of her. He slipped one of his hands to the back of her head and angled his mouth over hers, tipping her head in a way that made her totally open and vulnerable to him.

He had complete control over her. She couldn’t do anything but submit to him and to his will. She shivered in his embrace, wishing her hands were free so she could wrap her arms around him.

She stretched up on her toes, leaning into his body while he set her soul on fire with his mouth on hers. His chest pressed to her aching breasts. His cock was hot and hard next to her stomach. She felt him through the layer of his pants, right against the skin of her stomach that was left bare by her low-riding shorts.

When he lifted his head, his lips were wet and his eyes narrowed. He wanted her. She tipped her head to the side to study him, but there was no time. He let go of her wrists.

Placing his hand at the small of her back, his heat burning into her skin, searing her with his touch, he led her to the table and seated her. He acted so calm when every inch of her felt as if it was on fire.

Calmly he picked up his burger and took a huge bite. Her heart was racing, and her skin was so sensitive that the slight breeze blowing through the night made her every nerve pulse.

She stared at him, realizing that something was changing inside her and that she was powerless to stop it.



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