Dirty Secrets
Christopher clenched his jaw. “She’s a first-year grad student, six months out of the undergrad program, but she’s always seemed so much older. More mature. She’d never just up and leave, especially knowing how much we’d worry.”
    Emma laid her head on his shoulder. “You shouldn’t have come up here to get me,” she said softly. “I could have flown down on my own.”
    He looked down at her, at the bruise on her cheek left by some thug looking for something someone had already killed for. At least once. “I know you could have. But I needed to see you with my own eyes. To know you’re safe.”
    Her eyes were sober. “I’m fine, Christopher. Let’s make sure the other people in your life stay that way.”
    * * *
    St. Pete, Monday, March 1, 2:30 p.m.
    “It’s not much, but it’s home,” Christopher said, setting her small suitcase on a ceramic tiled entryway. But Emma wasn’t looking at the house. With a delighted smile she walked to the back wall, which was all glass, and looked out onto a narrow channel that flowed at the back of his property. A small two-person fishing boat bobbed in the current, tied up to a weathered dock on which rested a fat pelican. The sky was blue, the air warm, without a hint of the winter she’d left behind.
    “You’re right on the bay,” she exclaimed. “How lovely.”
    He stood behind her, his hands on her shoulders, and an involuntary shiver raced down her back. For the first time since Saturday night on the beach, they were truly alone. His thumbs brushed lightly, rhythmically across the curve of her neck. “It’s technically on the channel,” he said, his voice husky, and she gave in to the need to lean back into him. “Even a shack on the beach is well out of my price range.”
    “It’s still water,” she murmured. “I always found the water to be soothing.” His arms settled around her waist, his hands loosely linked on her stomach. Rocking her gently. Soothing her in a different way. Then his lips brushed the sensitive curve of her neck and she drew in a startled breath as her nerves scrambled.
    “Should I stop?” he whispered and she shook her head.
    “No,” she whispered back. “It’s just still so unexpected. How you make me feel.”
    His lips trailed a warm path up the side of her face, pressing a kiss against her temple. “How do I make you feel?”
    Another shiver shook her. “Alive.” She swallowed hard, tilted her head to one side to give him better access. “Like a woman should feel.”
    “Hmm.” His hum of appreciation tickled her skin and he turned her in his arms, his hands cupping her face, his lips taking hers in a hot, sensual kiss that left her senses reeling. “I can’t take any credit for that, Emma. You’re all a woman should be. I’ve been wanting to really kiss you since I left you at the airport yesterday morning.” His hands rested lightly at the small of her back, undemanding.
    She lifted on her toes, her arms around his neck. “So what’s stopping you?”
    His eyes heated. “I was afraid you were too sore.”
    “Just my ribs, and only a little.” She nibbled at the corner of his mouth, desperately wanting to feel the force of his passion again, as she had on the beach when he’d pressed the hardness of his erection against the softness between her legs. It had been so tempting. Tantalizing. “Kiss me, Christopher.” She pulled herself an inch higher on her toes and felt his body shudder. Felt that tempting ridge once again, but pocketed against her stomach, still not low enough to feel relief. With a growl he cupped her behind and lifted her, bracing her against the wall of glass, and he thrust, drawing a whimper from her throat. His hands slid lower, lifting her thighs so that she gripped his hips, enabling her to grind hard against him, to feel him pulsing against her even through the double denim barrier of their jeans. And he kissed her like he’d kissed her on the beach, open-mouthed and totally

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