(Mermaid Note: The water’s bubbling with this spicy tale. Be warned.)
Dr. Jacob Ash peered into the evening twilight, the music from the party drifting up from the Rose Garden Terrace on a light summer breeze. There were only so many places to go on this path leading through the National Botanical Gardens and he was quickly approaching the end marked by the amphitheater and the water feature.
Piper Hill couldn’t have just vanished. She was just a girl. Although, there were times when he believed she was part fey creature and had bewitched his soul and — let’s face it — some other parts of his body located a bit farther south.
He’d watched her the entire evening, along with every other red-blooded male at the hospital’s annual fundraising gala. In the crowd of stuffed shirts and their trophy wives all dressed in various shades of black, she’d stood out in her dress of deep emerald green which emphasized the generous curves of her body and matched her sparkling eyes. Her auburn hair with its bold platinum streaks was piled in a messy style that exposed the creamy curve of her neck. She looked like an old-fashioned pin-up girl or movie star — the kind men painted on their airplanes as they flew into battle.
Pure, unadulterated sex.
And, that was his problem.
Coming to the end of the trail, he peered into the evening, thankful for the full moon illuminating the area. He’d almost reached the end of the garden and debated retracing his steps. But, he really didn’t want to go back to the party. Never good with the small-talk, these functions were tests of his endurance and patience. But, they brought money to the hospital and he could endure the occasional bouts of mandatory fun for the place he loved.
“Piper!” he called out into the darkness.
The answering silence was punctuated only by the cicadas and the flow of water from the ornamental pond.
This was crazy. But when had he ever acted sane when it came to Piper? From the moment she’d strolled into his patient’s room six months ago with her art therapy supplies and black painted fingernails, he’d been an absolute idiot around her. No longer the confident, experienced trauma surgeon but a tongue-tied, distracted, walking hard-on.
And, he’d determined at that moment to stay the hell away from her.
But, he’d broken. Lost his mind, really, and a month earlier found himself asking her out to dinner. The one meal had led to two amazing dates, the last one ending with them in a half-naked, sweaty, so-close-to-the-best-orgasm-of-their-lives tangle on her living room floor.
He couldn’t definitively say it was the best orgasm of his life because they’d never gotten to finish what they’d started.
Sighing, he shook his head and turned towards the origin of the light jazz offered by the band hired for the occasion.
The voice drifting on the breeze from somewhere over his shoulder caused him to whirl around. His eyes scanned the area, straining to see in the gloom of the foliage.
“Down here,” she said.
Looking down he blinked and took two steps forward until he stood on the edge where the paving stones met a grassy area partially obscured by some kind of bush. Piper was stretched out on the lawn, arms extended over her head, long sexy legs exposed by the tangle of her dress and ending in her tiny, bare feet. Her skin glowed in the moonlight, the highlights in her hair sparks of silver as it spilled out around her in a silky pillow.
His mouth went dry, mind went blank — the only thing working was his cock, which hardened as if on command.
“Well, you found me. What do you want?”
That was an easy one.
“You.” He cleared his throat to make sure she heard him. “I want you.”
Oh man, she was in trouble.
Jake was the one thing she couldn’t resist. She’d given up smoking — a terrible college habit picked up when she dated a musician. And she’d given up musicians when they proved to be hazardous to her sanity and her hearing. When necessary, she abstained from chocolate, expensive coffee drinks and weekly mani/pedis, but Jake was in an entirely different category.
She’d been so good this past week after he’d run out of her apartment like his ass was on fire and then avoided her. It had hurt. She wasn’t even going to try and deny it. She had it bad for Dr. Ash.
Stupid, stupid girl.
He shuffled on his feet, reminding her that he was still standing on the path, waiting for her say something.
“You can lie down if you want.” Piper gestured towards the empty lawn space to her left.
She eyed him hungrily as the fists balled up at his sides loosened and he lowered himself to the ground. His black tux draped perfectly over his long, lean muscled frame. He moved with a wolfish grace which was mirrored in the grin that seldom flashed across his face at work but she’d seen it many times when they were together. If the truth were told, it was the grin that first drew her attention to the serious surgeon who wasn’t remotely her type.
Desperate to keep from flinging herself across his sexy body, she returned her gaze to the full moon in the summer night sky. She’d escaped from the party, the DC snobs and the uncomfortable and arousing awareness of Jake across the terrace, and found a quiet spot in the garden to collect her thoughts and calm her emotions. She’d almost convinced herself that she could return to the crowd and watch all those women flirt with Jake when his unmistakable voice had penetrated her solitude.
“So, Jake. It’s your dime,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“You left all the beautiful people to find me.” She shifted to watch his profile in the moonlight. “Why?”
He turned his head to meet her eyes. “I told you. I want you.”
“It’s a little too late for a booty call. You missed your chance.”
“A booty—? This isn’t about sex.”
She huffed out a laugh as she broke their visual connection. It was doing a number on her ability to maintain her anger.
“Fair enough. I want you but it isn’t why I followed you.” His voice sounded gruff, so unlike his usual polished baritone with the hint of a southern drawl. His voice usually made her weak in the knees so she was glad she was lying down.
“I wanted to apologize.”
“For ditching me half-dressed on my living room floor or for ignoring me?” she asked.
Oh no. It wouldn’t take much of an apology for her to wind up kissing him or taking off her clothes — again. His honesty cooled her anger a little, but the hurt still remained. She held onto it like a flotation device in the roiling sea of her emotions.
“Well, thanks for the apology. You can go back to the party with a clean conscience.”
“Piper, baby. Talk to me.”
Oh, man. Not again. The first time he’d called her baby, groaning it against her skin as they grappled in his car after their first date, she’d melted into pure, liquid goo. The sexy endearment was also the reason they’d ended up in the back seat, writhing against each other like horny teenagers. It was bliss.
Until the cops showed up and knocked on the window.
“Jake. You said it yourself. We are the couple voted ‘most unlikely’. We need to let it go.”
“I don’t want to let it go.”
“And, I don’t want to borrow trouble.” She turned to look at his face, remembering how his long lashes swept along her skin as he kissed and tasted her. “You’re trouble for me, Jake.”
“I don’t think so,” he disagreed, scooting closer.
Their knees touched and she could smell his cologne mixed with the clean scent of sweat on his summer-warmed skin. She took a deep breath, trying to ignore the way his fingers were brushing against the sensitive skin on the inside of her wrist.
“What are you then?”
“I’m an asshole.”
He’d surprised her. Again. The unexpected kept her addicted to this man.
“Okay.” She rolled to her side facing him as she propped herself up on an elbow. “You’ve got five minutes.”
He performed emergency surgeries on people who clung to life by a mere thread.
This was harder.
“I shouldn’t have left you the way I did.”
“Wrong.” Her voice was sharp, a tone he’d never heard from her before. The laughter in Piper’s voice and eyes was the first thing that caught his attention. He was drawn to the joy in her every move and gesture. “You had to go to the hospital. The guy on duty was puking up his bad sushi. Work wasn’t the problem.”
“Okay. It was the other part I screwed up. The after part.”
Jacob shifted up on his side, mirroring her position while maintaining his contact with the silky soft skin of her arm. The touch kept her listening. She liked it. He could tell by the way she didn’t pull away and her soft shiver when he grazed over the spot where “strength” was tattooed in a flowery script.
When the call came in the night of their date, he was lying on her floor with his shirt gone and pants undone. She was wrapped around him, naked except for the little skirt he’d fixated on getting under all night long. He’d been drunk on the taste of Piper, the feel of her soft, creamy skin under his hungry hands, and the blatant need in her eyes. He’d almost told the hospital to call someone else.
“I considered refusing the call to come in. Almost thought about making up an excuse — saying I’d been drinking . . . something. A lie.”
Her voice was just shy of a whisper. So low he couldn’t decide if he detected censure or not. Jacob searched her green eyes to see what she was thinking. People said the eyes were the window to the soul and with Piper it was true. He’d learned quickly to make eye contact if he wanted to see the real girl behind the two-tone hair and tattoos.
“Jake.” She rewarded him with the light caress of her hand on his cheek. And it was a prize. Damn, it felt like winning the lottery. “So, why the cold shoulder?”
Oh, that was easy too.
The way she made him feel scared him shitless.
It was more than lust. Somewhere between their first date and that night he’d fallen for her. He wasn’t ready to call it love, but he didn’t rule it out either.
“I’ve never put anyone before the job. It threw me for a loop and I ran.” It wasn’t so hard to say it out loud when a slight smile softened her expression and lit up her eyes. He decided to go for broke, reaching out to drag her close until their bodies were locked together from breast to thigh. “But, I’m not running anymore.”
He leaned in and brushed his lips against hers, taking advantage of her gasp to dip in with his tongue and taste her sweetness. He kept it light, teasing, coaxing her response as he traced a path along her jaw to the sweet spot just above her fluttering pulse.
“What if I’m the one running now?” Piper asked on a moan.
“Well, then . . . I guess I’ll have to chase you.”
Come back tomorrow to read part two of The Fourth Date’s the Charm by Robin Covington.