The word galloped through Darcy Williams’ head.
Idiot stupid. Moronic stupid.
How many hours had she spent in self-defense classes, kicking and punching the over-sized mannequins? She never would have dreamed all her knowledge and training would vacate her brain faster than high school algebra. No heel strike to the throat, no knee to the groin, not even a piddling stomp to the instep. She’d forgotten the cardinal rule, the Holy Grail of martial arts: Be aware of your surroundings.
Consumed with running late, she’d barely seen the man crouching by a dumpster with this back to her, under the light of a single incandescent light bulb. But once she did see him, she liked what she saw. A lot.
Since he wore a Magic Men t-shirt, she assumed it was Spencer Watt, the male stripper she was thinking of hiring for Jen’s bachelorette party. Her pulse skittered at how his shirt pulled snug across his broad shoulders. Even in the dim light, she could make out the bulging muscles of his upper back. Scooting down the badly lit alley toward him, she wondered if the classic rumor was true, that male strippers were gay. Too bad if it was.
Besides the t-shirt, he wore firefighter’s turnout pants and a large, yellow helmet sat on the ground beside him. Tacky costume, considering the rash of recent wildfires around Carson City. The taste of soot and ash hung heavy in the twilight Nevada air.
The hottie-hot fighter knelt beside someone on the ground, partially concealed by the dumpster. And he was rifling through a wallet. Before confusion knitted her brow, Hottie had Darcy pressed tighter to his body than the scent of smoke which clung to his tall frame.
Realization dawned like sunlight through a clean window. Spencer wasn’t the guy kneeling, but the guy on the ground.
What the hell?
Pinned by one of Hottie’s arms, her breasts squished against his cast iron chest, his other hand preventing her from screaming bloody murder, she knew struggling was futile. But struggle she did.
What had she been thinking to insist Jen’s party to be at a strip club? Not to mention a dive like the Quarry Pit located in a seediest part of town? Adventure, that’s what. Darcy inwardly cringed. What did is say about her life if going to a male strip show was the sum-all, be-all of adventure?
If she hadn’t been rushing toward the rear entrance, she might have taken better notice of the vicinity which now included a person, lying motionless on the litter-strewed asphalt. Darcy redoubled her efforts to break free. Breaking a steel band would have been easier.
“Settle down,” Hottie grumbled, his arm squeezing the air from her lungs, effectively ending her fight.
A twinge, an actual twinge, of excitement quivered in her gut at his deep, voice. It brought to mind chocolate. Dark, rich chocolate.
Okay. She wasn’t just stupid. She was dumb.
She couldn’t be drawn to this guy who just cold-cocked an unsuspecting stripper and might do who-knew-what to her. It must be the adrenaline of the situation. That, and the reality she’d never before been this up close and personal to such a muscled chest. Ever.
She glared at him. She had a good mad on, as her grandmother would say, and didn’t want to lose it. Fear had the power to paralyze her while anger just made her, well, angry.
The faint lighting prevented her from getting a good look at his face. His eyes, though, were two hot coals burning into her. Panic stole her breath, but she refused to be cowed. She stiffened and continued to glower, when drunken voices filtered over from the street.
Darcy felt her eyes widen and she strained to look past his shoulder. Hottie cast a quick glance to the approaching voices as well before lifting his hand from her mouth.
And replaced it with his lips.
It wasn’t a kiss. Far from it. While it was neither angry nor punishing, the contact had zero passion. Just a meeting of lips.
The voices grew louder, now catcall whistles and lewd remarks. The group stopped several feet from them. From the angle of their approach, the Dumpster hid Spencer’s body. Plus they were too busy eying what Hottie was doing to her to care about anything else.
“Yo, dude. Wanna share?”
“Yeah, man. We could help you plug all her holes.”
Raucous laughter broke out. Hottie’s hold changed. His grip became less domineering and more protective. He turned Darcy so his back was completely to the alley and raised his head a half a millimeter from hers, his body tense, like he was preparing for a fight.
Logic dictated that she scream her bloody head off. Instinct told her to keep her mouth shut. The guy holding her might be bad, but those others would be worse.
The revelers soon tired of the game and continued on their way. She waited for Hottie to back away. He didn’t. Rather, his large hands cradled her face, tilting her head, and he kissed her again. Really kissed her.
For the second time, Darcy did nothing. She didn’t turn her head. Didn’t ram her knee into his groin. Didn’t do anything except allow him to caress his lips against hers. In the stupid section of her brain, she wondered if the police would be interested in her description of Hottie’s lips. Firm and sensual. Slightly moist, tasting a bit like a s’more…
END OF EXCERPT
So, what’d you think? I’d love to hear your opinion. Thanks again to Jill for letting me hang out today!
Thanks, Lynda, for being here today. I am wondering why Hottie tastes like a s’more? Readers, if you want to find out more about Lynda, go to www.lyndabailey.net. While we wait for Battle-Tested Love to come out, have a look at Battle-Born Love.