Midnight Fantasies(3)

By: Vicki Lewis Thompson

He crouched, rubbing his head. “Well, you scared the hell out of me, Sarah.”

Amazing. He hadn’t recognized her voice. She’d need to keep it lowered when she talked, though, or he’d know it was her. “Sorry,” she said.

“How come you didn’t say anything when I started in?”

“You scared me, too.” She discovered it wasn’t as hard to disguise her voice as she’d expected. “When I get scared my throat closes up.”

“Oh. Well, I’m sorry, then. I guess you came in to get out of the rain, too, huh?”

“Yes.” She breathed in the scent of damp male and the spicy aftershave that was Jonas’s trademark. This was more exciting than she’d imagined it would be, sort of like a masquerade ball. The cave was growing darker, she noticed, as the afternoon light grew weaker. That would keep him guessing for a little longer, anyway.

“Are you from around here?” he asked. “I don’t think I know anybody named Sarah.”

Good. He hadn’t met Sarah yet. “I just moved in.”

“That explains it. Come to think of it, I did hear about a woman who was renting the old Hawthorne place. An artist.”

“That would be me. I sculpt.” B.J. decided she might as well milk this for all it was worth. Then she’d confess the charade to Sarah when she came back. From what B.J. knew of Sarah, she’d probably get a kick out of the whole thing.

“Really? I don’t think I’ve ever known a sculptor. So you carve statues and stuff?”

B.J. thought of Sarah’s work created from discarded pieces of machinery. Fascinating, but not particularly sexy. “I love the human body,” she said, “so I sculpt mostly nudes.” She swallowed another bubble of laughter. Nude statues. That should flick his Bic.

“Really? Men or women?”

“Both, but I’m especially fond of the male physique. I’d have to say that’s my favorite subject.”

“Now that’s interesting.” He sounded plenty interested, too. His voice had become a little rougher, a little deeper.

A thrill of awareness shot through her. He’d never spoken to her in that tone of voice. No wonder women flocked to him. That voice was a killer.

She realized he couldn’t be particularly comfortable standing hunched over like that, and the polite thing would be to suggest he share the ledge with her. If he’d known who she was, that would have been no big deal. But he thought she was someone else, a new and potentially uninhibited person who sculpted nudes, mostly male nudes. She wondered what he’d do in close proximity to such a woman.

Only one way to find out. She slid over toward the wall and quietly put her flashlight on the ground at her feet. “If you’d like to sit down, there’s room for two on this ledge,” she said.

“Thank you. I’d appreciate that.” He started toward her.

Her skin flushed and her heart beat so fast she was afraid he might sense her agitation. She almost lost her nerve and told him who she was. Then she thought of her sister Keely. In this same situation, Keely would play this situation to the hilt.

“Sure is dark in here,” he said. “I can barely see you.”

“I’m right here.” She took a deep breath for courage and reached out for him. “Give me your hand. I’ll guide you over.”

In the dim light his hand found hers. Contact. And what contact. She tried to imagine why it felt so different, so electric.

She’d certainly touched Jonas before. As kids they’d thought nothing of grabbing each other in the course of a game or a fight. As adults they occasionally had to touch as part of working together on the ranch, but it had always been efficient and impersonal.

Yet here in the cave, when he thought she was an exotic stranger, his skin seemed warmer, his grasp tighter. This must be how he touched women he was attracted to.

“Come a little closer.” She drew him toward the ledge. “Okay, now turn around and sit.”

He followed her instructions, settling next to her, his thigh against hers, his shoulder brushing hers. Damn, but he smelled sexy. What’s more, he hadn’t let go of her hand.

“There’s not a lot of extra room,” he said.

Sitting this close to Jonas and pretending to be someone else was really turning her on. Things she’d never have said otherwise came easily to her. “I don’t mind the tight fit if you don’t.” She gave his hand a gentle, encouraging squeeze.

“You won’t hear me complaining.” He squeezed back. “Your fingers feel good,” he said, rubbing his thumb across hers in a subtle caress. “Soft, yet strong.”