Kissing In The Rain...
Hope you enjoy this hot and wet excerpt from my newly released romance novel Valley Storm.
He lay awake listening to the rain crash down on the roof, thunder rumbled in the distance. He wondered if they’d lose power tonight. He awoke with a start sometime later when a bolt of lightning lit the room. He shot to a sitting position on the sofa—his knight’s instinct warning him something was amiss. His eyes were drawn to a pale sliver on the porch. That pale sliver was Mandy, wet and shivering as rain fell in sheets, soaking her small body to the skin.
Wearing nothing but his boxer briefs, Luke was off the couch in less than two seconds. He had the impulse to grab her around the arm and pull her into the house, away from the harsh weather. As it was, the shallow porch of the cottage lent little shelter, but when he saw the sight of her he froze. She looked utterly tormented, her face twisted with strain. She was dripping wet, her nightgown stuck to her like a second skin.
He took a step toward her. “Mandy, are you all right…?”
She turned huge haunted eyes on him. “I had another bad dream.”
If he’d been lying next to her holding her hand she would have had sweet dreams.
“Why are you standing out here in the rain after we got you all warm and dry? Aren’t you cold?”
“No, I’m so hot. The rain feels good.”
“Still, you shouldn’t be standing out in the rain. You’ll float away you’re so little.”
Gently, he took her by the arm and guided her under the eaves, their legs backed up against the clammy sandbags.
“You don’t want to go inside?”
“No, I never want to sleep again. I’ll just have more bad dreams. About him…”
The name ripped through his gut like a dagger. Part of him wanted to snatch her and hold her tight in his arms. He’d hug her bad dreams away. The other part wanted to run out into the stormy night like a madman, run until he reached that bastard’s house, where he would kill him with his bare hands.
“It was bad, Luke—it was really bad.”
He shook off his fury. This was about Mandy’s pain, not his own wrath. These were the first candid words she’d spoken about her marriage. He needed to listen, not react.
“I guess I’ve been fooling myself, downplaying it to others too. I’ve had bad seed boyfriends before, but this was different. He was my husband.”
Luke knew she was referring to a guy she’d dated her senior year from out of town, who was three years older. Lola had let it slip that he’d been a bit rough with her. He and his father had seen to it he never saw Mandy again and the subject had been closed for good.
“He promised to protect me and he hurt me instead.”
“I’m sorry,” was all Luke could get out.
“And it wasn’t always physical. It was psychological–he wore me down, made me afraid to leave. I could have asked Lola for help or gone to your parents sooner. Knowing your family has made me a strong person. And he took that all away. That’s the worst part.”
Luke couldn’t stand it another second. He gripped her by the shoulders. “He didn’t take that away, Mandy. You’re still strong. You are a hard ass. I was just joshing you before.” He tried a little humor to lighten the heavy mood. “Remember you told me you dropped him with a knee to the nuts. If that’s not hard-ass, I don’t know what is.”
“I ran for my life that night, Luke—he would have killed me.”
Luke felt like an idiot for dismissing her pain with a lame joke. “Yes, and you came straight here—you’re right where you need to be—here with us. You’ll start again—get a job, just like you said. You’ll be your own person again.”
When a sob ripped from deep within her, he had no choice but to pull her close against him. She cried against his naked chest, her breath coming in choking rasps. Her tears were hot against his heart. She was even slobbering on him too. He’d take it all—whatever it was—if she needed to let it out. He stroked her small damp head as she cried.
“You were good, just a while ago, remember?” he soothed. “You were laughing. We were having fun.”
She sniffed hard. Her sobs had slowed. “I won’t be good again until the nightmares go away.”
“We’ll get rid of the nightmares.”
He knew what keeping her bad dreams away meant. She knew too. Her lips were pressed against the smooth skin of his pectoral muscle. She brushed her mouth back and forth there, drying her tears on his flesh.
Or was she kissing him?
Had he just declared he would sleep every night next to her in bed? Luke swallowed hard as the little hands that had been bunched into fists opened wide across his chest.
“You’re the only one who can chase the bad dreams away.”
Luke’s voice cracked over the words. He had become very aware of her peaked nipples.
She pressed herself closer and her hands caressed lower, down the length of his back, her fingers skimming the waistband of his boxers.
“I thought maybe the rain could wash away the bad dreams, but it can’t. You’ve always known how to soothe me. Just being near you soothes me.”
He slammed his eyes shut, steeling himself against the sensation her body inspired, willing himself not to get one of his inappropriate erections.
“Unless you’re mad at me,” he joked weakly.
“I’m not mad at you now.”
He was certain she was kissing his chest now. Her lips were puckered up against the twitching muscles there. He leapt when he felt her tongue slip across his skin.
“Were you serious about getting me warm before?” she asked softly. “When your dad came by?”
Oh, fuck—what the fuck is she doing?
“I did get you warm. I made you take a hot shower.”
Still holding him around the waist, she disconnected her lips from his chest and leaned back in his embrace, staring up at him with wide dark eyes. “You know what I’m talking about, Luke.”
He feigned playfulness by smiling. All the while he struggled to collect himself.
“You have to do this for me.”
A command from Princess Mandy.
He knew that determined look in her eyes—knew it too well. Still, he tried to keep the mood light. “I’ll sleep next to you tonight—but there’s got to be another way to chase the nightmares away. I’m not supposed to cross the Mandy Margins, remember?”
“I’m not talking about sleeping next to me. I’m talking about sleeping with me.”
His grin widened. “Right, with you—next to you—it’s the same thing, right?”
“Quit teasing. I’ve decided I’m through with men—through with relationships and sex. I get myself into too much trouble. I’m going at life alone.”
“You’re way too young to say that, Mandy.”
“I’ve made my decision. And I don’t want Stephen to be the last man I slept with. I want it to be you.”
Luke swallowed so hard he wondered if she could hear his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down. “You’re all over the board tonight. Let’s get some sleep. Tomorrow is a new day.”
Tomorrow is a new day. What am I now—an inspirational greeting card?
He’d say anything to discourage the blood flow to his crotch. Her blatant words had caused a male stirring there. He’d think about something disgusting if it would stop the circulation down below. He wouldn’t get hard. He wouldn’t, damn it.
“I don’t want to sleep. I want to have sex.”
That did it. His cock rose to attention merely from the word sex. He took an abrupt step back. He’d just have to hope the shadows hid his erection. He wasn’t about to have it pressing up against her.
“Maybe I should go to the house—have my mom make you her tea…”
“You’re kidding, right? I don’t want tea. You know what I want.”
“Jesus Christ, Mandy,” he cursed. He couldn’t keep his gaze from dropping to her breasts, perfectly outlined by her soaking wet tissue-thin nightgown. “You don’t really want to have sex. Like I said, you’re all over the board tonight. I think your emotions will level out tomorrow.”
“This has nothing to do with my emotions,” she argued. “You have to scorch him out of my system.”
He licked his lips. “Scorch?”
“The feel of him will be erased. I’ll think of you inside me instead of him.”
As much as he liked the idea of “scorching” her and being inside her, he had to resist. Except no words came to him.
“You should have been the first and you weren’t, but you’ll be the last.”
“That’s a ridiculous statement, Mandy—come on. You’re going to stop having sex at twenty-eight?”
Her auburn brows crashed together. “Don’t tell me I’m ridiculous. It’s my choice. And what does it matter, you’re just going to leave again anyway. We’ll just do it once. It will be purely practical.”
“Purely practical, huh?”
She let loose one of her snippy huffs. “You’re a man—you understand.”
She waited a minute for him to capitulate, then blew on.
“You have to do this for me, Luke. I picked the wrong man because I couldn’t have my first choice. It’s because of you that I’m in this situation.”
Now it was his turn to frown. “Don’t try to persuade me with guilt. That’s not going to get me hot.”
The strange thing was—he was hot—hot for her, even though she’d really cracked this time. That’s the way it always was with Mandy though. She was one wild ride of emotions and he’d been hot for her brand of crazy for as long as he could remember.
She chewed her lip, switching gears. “You’re right, that was a shitty statement.”
Amanda couldn’t stay contrite for long. She lunged at him, giving him a push. “I’m not taking no for an answer!” she hollered.
“Are you kidding!” he hollered back, holding his ground. “You think you can boss me into doing this, like when we were kids? This isn’t one of Princess Mandy’s orders. This goes beyond buying you tampons or painting your fucking toenails!”
She batted her doe eyes at him, abruptly changing her approach. “Are you afraid Lola will find out? I won’t tell.”
“Fuck Lola and fuck you!”
“I’m not trying to be bossy. I just know what I want.”
He simmered down enough to speak evenly. “Find someone else to fill your request.”
“Is that really what you want?”
“If you want some cheap roll in the hay just so you can get over your asshole if a husband, then yes.”
Even as he spoke the words the thought of her being with another man made him see red. It should be him and no other, but not like this—not yet. Not when she was soaked and desperate and a little out of her mind.
“Ugh! Do you have to be so noble?”
“Did you just actually stomp your foot? You’re amazing, do you know that? You’re having a tantrum because I won’t sleep with you. You’re still married for fuck’s sake.”
“I was never married to him in my heart. And the ring is long gone—I threw it in the vineyard.”
“We’re standing out in the rain shouting at each other again. And this time I’m in my underwear. I don’t know why I take so much crap from you, Mandy.”
He knew very well why—because he loved her, not that he could do anything about that now. He wouldn’t be able to make his intentions known for a very long time. Not until the time was right and it was possible the right time would never come if she ran off and found a substitute for him.
The idea made him growl in anger. The possessiveness he’d inherited from his father had reared its ugly head. Most disturbing of all was the realization he’d never felt this base instinct with any other woman besides Mandy. He spun off the porch in agitation, heedless of the puddle he landed in. She made him crazy. Now he was pacing just like his father did when his mom made him crazy, pacing in a rainstorm half-naked. She buzzed toward him like an annoying little insect.
“Your underwear isn’t helping matters,” she snapped at him.
“What are you griping about now?”
“I mean the way you look—in your underwear especially. It gets a girl thinking you know. You’re so totally gorgeous, Luke. It’s a little hard to take.”
Luke rolled his eyes. “Don’t give me that—you’ve always been too impressed by good looks. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Easy for you to say—you’re a Langthorne!”
The air went out of her. He guessed she was through hollering for now.
“It’s not purely practical, what I feel for you,” she continued quietly. “I’ve always wanted you, you know that. I’ve thought about being with you sexually a lot over the years, even when I was married.”
Luke wouldn’t be swayed. Princess Mandy used many tactics to get her way.
“In fact…tonight when you came over with the sandbags, I was on the couch…thinking about you…and touching myself…”
Her words made his mouth feel warm and dry even though the rest of him was soaked to the skin, but he had to stay strong. He had to hold his ground.
She waited one more minute and then deflated again, realizing her final ploy had been a flop. She stared forlornly into the puddle.
“It’s no use. Who am I fooling? Who’d want me? Certainly not someone like you—I’m a bag of bones.”
The sky turned silver with distant lightening, backlighting her delicate form. Her nipples were dusky shadows against the pale gown, the fabric gathered in a V at the apex of her thighs. She was exquisitely made in her smallness. Every graceful curve (thought modest) was feminine and delectable to his eye. Even in her fraught state, she was beautiful to him.
Beautiful like a fairy…beautiful like a princess…beautiful like Mandy…
When he reached out and took her into his arms, his intention was to comfort her. He didn’t want her to feel bad about herself, but when she fell against him, the fire that had been lit between them on the porch ignited into flames.
Deep emotions converged with hot teeming lust when he smelled and felt her skin—he thought of the scarf and the scent that had lingered there. He thought of her touching herself and thinking of him.
And he was lost…
“Mandy,” he croaked and lifted her against him, burying his face in her neck. She clung to him as he carried her back to the porch. They were kissing before they made it to shelter—kissing passionately and deeply, drinking each other in as though their kiss was their only salvation.