Slow Fever
removed the second pastry from her mouth, placing it aside. “You’re working too hard. You’ve got circles under your eyes, and you’re not eating right.”
    “Same to you. You don’t look any better.” Kylie plopped two plates and silverware onto her mother’s kitchen table where many serious life decisions had been made. “Take off your coat and sit down. I’m running this show. Gwyneth, Tanner’s wife, told me about his little chat with you and the rest of his friends—my friends, who are on my schedule right now and good paying customers. My brother takes his position seriously, but I am capable of making my own decisions. There’s gossip already about you and me—”
    Michael sat slowly, unpacking the food from the sack. The lock of his jaw, the stiff set of his shoulders, the methodical unpeeling and folding of the tinfoil covering the dishes spoke of his thoughtful mood. “Does it bother you?”
    “Of course not. I know that nothing is happening between us. But sharing the same building, we need to establish basic rules. Do not glare at my men customers.”
    He leveled a dark look at her. “Maybe I’ve got a reason.”
    “Maybe you don’t—oh, yum! Willa’s shrimp alfredo and salad. Yummy, yummy, yummy.” On impulse, because right then her life was full and good—she had a good start on a business she loved, she had good food to eat, and because she had Michael across the dinner table from her—Kylie leaned over to kiss him. “Thanks.”
    “Is that all it takes—food?” he asked warily as she ate. A sensual quiver played around him and he tried not to stare as she licked her lips and closed her eyes in delight. He wanted her eyes open the first time they made love, filling with him….
    “Yum,” was all Kylie could say gratefully, looking at him as she ate a sugarcoated donut. With his dark shaggy hair tousled by the wind and a maroon sweater and jeans, he looked delicious. She noted that his jaw was gleaming, as though recently shaven. The morning on the mountain when he was grumpy, his jaw had been dark with stubble, his expression stormy. Either way, she wanted to place her hand on his cheek and soothe whatever ran dark and troubled inside him. “Thanks.”
    “Sure. Anytime.” Then he leaned over to lick her bottom lip. He smiled as the jolt shot through her, the need to leap upon him. “You had powdered sugar on your lips. Do you always dive into everything, racing through it, like you just did dinner?”
    The underlying question could have been anything, but at the moment, kissing Michael was on Kylie’s mind. The past few relaxed moments were blasted away by the electricity charging through her. “What’s happening, Michael?”
    His dark simmering look had frightened her. “Leon didn’t like sexually aggressive women. Do you?” she blurted out and wondered why. She wondered what he would do if she kissed him as she wanted, put her hands on him as she wanted…tore his sweater off as she wanted and his jeans and—but she wouldn’t.
    “An active woman is preferred.” Michael continued to study her. “Come here,” he whispered, taking her hand to draw her onto his lap. “Afraid?” he asked when she resisted, perching stiffly on his lap.
    “I ache in every muscle possible,” she whispered as he nuzzled her throat, those hard lips warm and open upon her skin. She arched when his big warm hand found and kneaded the knots on her shoulders.
    “You’re working too hard.” Michael loved how she fitted his hands, how her body flowed to his stroke. He’d given ease to the women he’d been with, but he’d remained detached, giving only enough for relief. Now, with Kylie, he wondered what it would be like to touch her every day like this, to tend her, to listen to those long, pleasured sighs. He swallowed roughly, unfamiliar with those tender emotions, uncertain and awash in them. He’d kept himself apart for years and the incredible tearing sensation of his heart

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