Heroine Evangeline “Evie” Greene and hero Jack Deveaux each get more than they bargained for in this steamy snippet. . . .
In the space of a heartbeat, Jack had snagged my pack off my back, looped an arm around my waist—and hauled us both into the pool.
I broke the surface, sputtering, shoving water out of my face. “Have you lost your mind? Ugh! I am not skinny-dipping with you.”
In a scandalized tone, Jackson said, “Skinny-dipping? Evangeline and her dirty mind.” He glanced down. I could see he’d left on a pair of dark boxer briefs.
“Oh.” Had I sounded disappointed? “Still, I’m not all right with this. We should be—what do you call it?—watching our six.”
“So you do listen to me on occasion? Who’d-a thought . . . Look, I’m not goan to let anything happen to you. I’ll hear anyone coming in plenty of time.”
When I remained unconvinced, he said, “I told you, no one can get the drop on me. Doan you trust me?”
I didn’t have much of a choice. “You couldn’t have let me remove my boots?” I dragged them and my socks off, flinging them near his bow.
“You’re right. I should’ve let you strip.” Then he splashed me in the face.
I sputtered again, but he was grinning. Not a smirk—a real smile. As I gazed at his lips, I found my own curling in response.
I pointed behind him. “Oh, look!” Then I splashed the back of his head.
He faced me with his eyes wide. “Now you’ve done it! You mess with the bull . . .” He chased me around the shallow end until I was squealing with laughter.
Just before he caught me, I dunked under, swam around him and yanked back on his ankles. He couldn’t have known that in another lifetime, I’d been a terror in the pool.
He acted like I’d tripped him, sinking like a stone. Once he broke the surface, he looked surprised—and delighted—that I was messing around with him.
I’d never seen this playful, grinning side of Jackson before, had never seen him without his customary restlessness. I recognized then that I’d never witnessed him happy until now.
And, damn, it was a good look on him. “You’re smiling.”
“I should be.” His wet hair whipped over his cheeks. “Best day I’ve had in a long, long time.” He began edging me toward the side of the pool, and I let him. Streams of water slid down his broad chest and rock-hard torso.
I want to follow those streams with my lips. . . . Okay, so maybe Jackson wasn’t the only one strung tight. “Um, best day?” When my back met stone, he kept easing closer until I could feel the heat coming off his body. I had to crane my head up to meet his gaze.
His grin turned smug as he said, “Got me a new bike, a jolie girl who’s sweet on me, and a mansion for us to live in.”
Then I realized that I had a very real problem—add it to my tab. Jackson Deveaux was nearly irresistible like this. “Sweet on you? Please.”
“I can tell.”
“You smell like honeysuckles when you’re liking ole Jack.”
Oh my God. Just as I’d been told, I did smell like flowers. No wonder everyone had kept complimenting me.
“When you’re mad,” he added, “you smell like roses. Excited? Sweet olive. I’m still figuring out the rest.”
Even as he continued to stun me with his insight, I muttered, “Th-that’s ridiculous.” How was I going to hide my secrets all the way to North Carolina?
“Is it?” He inched even closer.
“In any case, it’s not like you are sweet on me.”
“C’est vrai.” That’s true. “But I do know that it’s slim pickings out there.”
I glared, unable to tell if he was teasing. “Melt my heart, Cajun.”
He reached forward, clasping the edge of the pool on both sides of me, boxing me in.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting ready to kiss you for the first time.”
Heart stop. Form words, Evie. “Y-you told me something like that at my party, but I didn’t fare so well that night.”
“Me neither. God, I’d wanted me a taste of you.” His smoldering gray gaze was locked on my lips.
I wetted them, just as I had then.
“Do you know how many nights I’ve thought about almost kissing you? I remember every detail about you. I couldn’t tell if your eyes were blue or green. Your lips were so red—it was sexy, but I couldn’t decide if I liked it. ’Cause it wasn’t you, not really.”
That almost-kiss hadn’t been just a trick! He’d felt the same excitement and attraction that I had.
“Evangeline, you’re like . . . like a peekôn dans ma patte.”
A thorn in my paw. How appropriate. I guess that’s my nature, Jackson.
“And I can’t quite shake it, no.” His eyes were completely mesmerizing.
For the first time in months I wanted to draw—just to capture that look forever.
“Let’s take this off, cher.” When he reached for the hem of my soaked hoodie, I found myself raising my arms so he could pull it free, leaving me in my white cami.
Which was now see-through. I might as well have been wearing nothing.
When his gaze dipped, his lids went heavy and his Adam’s apple bobbed. In a hoarse voice, he said, “Mercy me.”
I’d never been looked at like this, had never been utterly certain that a boy was gazing at my body—while imagining how he wanted to touch it. My face and chest flushed with embarrassment.
Just when I was about to duck under, he said, “Non, you let me look.” His accent was getting thicker. “Waited a long time to see you like this.”
“But we’ve only been together a couple weeks.”
He grazed the backs of his fingers along my cheekbones, as if my face was made of delicate porcelain. “Uh-huh,” he murmured as he leaned down to gently press his lips to mine. His were so firm and warm. I could just taste the bite of whiskey.
He felt perfect . . . the kiss, right.
He parted his lips, coaxing me to do the same. Once I did, he leisurely stroked his tongue against mine . . . and again. Relaxed, wicked flicks.
Energy filled me, pleasure radiating. This was addictive—nothing meh about it.
Our tongues tangled, over and over, until I couldn’t stop a moan. I wanted more of him. I wanted this never to end. I needed more.
I was losing control; why wasn’t he? His kiss was sensual, but deliberate, as if he had all the time in the world.
As if he has something to prove?
Just when that thought arose in my foggy brain, he drew back with a cocky smirk. “There. Now that’s what I’m talking about.” He rubbed his thumb over my bottom lip. “You’re not laughing now, are you—”
“More.” I reached up, tunneling my fingers through his dark hair, clutching, dragging him back to me.
He rasped, “Evie?” just before our lips met again, our tongues. . . .
I ran my hands down his back, over his flexing muscles. I couldn’t stop touching him, couldn’t keep my body from moving against his. With each sweep of my palms, he deepened the kiss. So I did it again. And again.
Soon I was gasping and he was groaning. His hands cupped my waist, descending to my wriggling hips. He squeezed them, then reached for my ass, gripping me with splayed fingers, wrenching my body even closer to him. Was he shuddering against me?
No more control for either of us.
I loved his abandoned groans, loved that I could feel them because we were pressed so tight together. Just as he’d promised, we were breathing for each other—and still I couldn’t get enough.
For me, this was the game changer, a line in the sand. Life before our kiss; life after.
He wrapped his strong arms around me, hauling me up, crushing me against his solid chest. I dimly realized my feet weren’t touching the bottom of the pool any longer.
He broke away to kiss my neck, saying against my skin, “Tu me fais tourner la tête! Ton parfum sucré, tes secrets.” You drive me mad! Your sweet scent, your secrets.
Heated licks followed. “Ah, Evie, you taste as good as you smell.”
I breathed, “Jackson . . .”
He pulled back, letting me slip back down to stand on my own. His voice was raw as he said, “If you want me to kiss you again, you call me Jack.”
I couldn’t think. I made some sound of agreement.
My head tilted back, and I whispered, “Jack.”
He cupped my face with his callused palms, so that I stared directly into his eyes. There was something possessive in his expression, something masculine and . . . older that I had absolutely no idea how to decipher—all I knew was that the intent look on his face made my heart race. “You said you wanted more?”
Of his kiss? “God, yes.”
He exhaled a pent-up breath. “Bien.” Then he lifted me again, cradling me in his arms. As he climbed the pool steps, he grazed his lips along my neck, keeping me in a haze of bliss. At my ear, he rasped, “T’chauffes mon sang comme personne d’autre.” You heat my blood like no other.
I quivered with delight, only vaguely wondering where he was taking me. And maybe why he’d swooped down to collect his jeans along with his ever-present bow—
My back met cushions. Gazebo? Reclining lounge chair for two?
Ah, more kisses! He licked my earlobe, making me cry out, my back arching. Was that my zipper?
I felt weightless for a moment, then cool air breezed over my damp legs, up to my panties.
He hissed in a breath. “Ma belle fille.” My beautiful girl. He followed me down, lying half on me, half on the chair.
When he fiddled with something in his jeans pocket, I murmured, “Jack?”
He raised himself over me with one straightened arm, flashing me that wolfish grin, so sexy he robbed me of thought. “I’m goan to take care of you, bébé.” He produced a condom in a wrapper, holding it between his white teeth as he rubbed one hot palm up my torso, rolling my cami higher.
He looked roguish and wicked and oh-dear-God-did-he-have-a-condom?