Authors: Mari Carr & Jayne Rylon
Ordinarily skinny-dipping was Jade’s idea and she would have been the first one in the water. However, despite the fact they’d cleared the air, he sensed her hesitation. Finally, the heat won.
She lifted her long blonde hair away from her neck in an attempt to cool off. “Daniel’s right. It’s going to be hot in that tent. Race you?”
He sprinted off the log, gaining a two-step lead before she’d even managed to stand.
“Cheater!” she yelled from behind him.
He kicked off his shoes and pulled off his T-shirt as he ran, tossing it on the path. Then he started tackling the button on his jeans. Shucking them and his boxers at the shore, he jumped into the chilly water without bothering to look back.
He expected Jade to be hot on his heels, but when he didn’t hear her, he turned to look for her.
The others had swum out further and were currently engaging in an all-out splash war.
He scanned the darkness, then found her. Jade remained by the shore, struggling with her jean shorts.
“Problem?” he called out.
“The damn zipper is stuck. Oh, there. Got it.” She tugged the shorts down. She was completely naked. Though the moon was covered with a thin veil of clouds, enough light escaped to allow him to see her clearly. They weren’t strangers to skinny-dipping and Jade had never been modest. In the past, he’d averted his eyes because it seemed like the right thing to do.
Now he couldn’t look away as she walked deeper into the water. And closer to him.
By the time she reached his side, the water was to her shoulders, her bare body hidden from view beneath the murky surface.
Every drop of moisture in his mouth evaporated. He swallowed heavily. Despite the cold lake water, his cock was hard as steel.
Jade smirked, and he wondered what she saw in his face. Whatever it was, he didn’t doubt for a minute he’d given himself away. “There aren’t any buckle bunnies around now.”
Figured. She was trying to prove a point. And damn him if she hadn’t.
Even so, he had as much pride as the next guy. “So?”
“So take a picture next time. It’ll last longer.”
He wanted to deny how much the sight of her naked body affected him, but considering the fact all the blood needed to operate his brain was in his cock, he was finding it difficult to speak at all.
“Listen, Jade. Obviously things got out of hand the other night and some lines got blurry.”
She nodded. “Yeah. I guess they did.”
“Probably doesn’t help that neither one of us has gotten laid in a while.” There were very few secrets between him and Jade. It wasn’t unusual for her to fill him in on her sexual escapades. Plus she was usually manning the bar at Spurs and had a front-row seat when it came to watching him slip away with his Friday-night hookups, not that he’d indulged in any of those lately.
“You losing your touch with the local ladies?”
Jade might be knocked back by her confusion, but she never fell down. They’d been skirting the edge as they tried to get things back on track tonight. God bless her, Jade kept returning for more, feisty as ever, ready to put things to right.
He flicked a handful of water at her. “You don’t have to worry about my abilities. I can handle myself just fine.”
Jade never turned down the opportunity for some roughhousing. She returned his splash with interest. For several moments, they continued to pummel each other with giant handfuls of water, the game a familiar one.
Then Liam dove under for a sneak attack, swimming toward her as she tried to escape. He managed to get a grip on her ankle, tugging her under with him, while Jade squirmed, trying to break his hold. They came up for air at the same time, Jade laughing loudly.
Not finished with the battle, she pushed herself up on his shoulders in an attempt to jostle him under the water once more. It was a move she’d used countless times in the past, as they often wrestled and fought while swimming.
This time, it wasn’t the action that caught him off-guard, but the way it made him feel. Her bare breasts grazed his chest as she shoved him down. Then his face was there, inches from her tight nipples. The cool water did nothing to calm his lust. His cock was hard and given Jade’s close proximity, that fact was going to be impossible to hide.
He gripped her waist in an attempt to push her away, but Jade misread his intent, taking it as a dare to continue. She followed him, tried to drag him under the water again as her laughter and squeals continued. She was oblivious to the effect she was having on him. Why wouldn’t she be? He’d never felt this way during their earlier encounters.
Before he could think better of it, Liam pulled her bare body against his. Her nipples poked at his chest as his cock rested against her stomach.
His strong hold and undeniable arousal shocked Jade into stillness. She panted, winded from their exertions, and her face flushed.
He didn’t reply. Common sense reared its ugly head, screaming at him to let her go, but a wrecking ball couldn’t have moved him away from her at that moment. It felt too good to hold her. Too right.
Jade’s hands rested, unmoving, on his bare chest. “You’re not helping to refocus the lines right now.”
He knew that. “Sorry.”
“No, you’re not. But this has to stop, Liam. I’m not sure what’s going on between us, but I think we need to take a big step back. We’ve been friends for a long time and neither one of us has had a relationship in years. We’re both feeling a little lonesome, so it’s probably normal for us to think we’re attracted to each other.”
he wanted her. He
He also knew she was dangerous. To his lifestyle. To his peace of mind. Jade Compton was a handful on a good day. On bad days…watch out. Any man who thought he could take on a wild filly like her needed to have his head examined.
Despite all of that, he still didn’t release her. “I’m not lonely, Jade.” He wasn’t. “Are you?”
She considered his question. “No. I don’t think I am.”
He released her and moved away. Something was changing inside him and if he didn’t get away from her soon, he was going to do something they may both end up regretting.
He glanced toward the campsite. “I’m getting out of the water.”
She nodded but remained where she was as he started walking toward the shore.
Distance. All he needed was space. And time to figure this out. Jade was high-strung, opinionated, wild as a summer storm. While there was a chance she might bend her will to his in the dark of night, he had no illusions that she’d march to anyone’s beat but her own in the bright light of day.
What man in his right mind would sign on for something like that? He sure as hell couldn’t.
He bent down to pull his jeans on, feeling her eyes on his backside. His cock thickened even more.
Fuck. He didn’t need time
his head examined.
Danger be damned.
It was already too late for him.
Look out, Jade Compton.
He was about to give new meaning to the term
Jade made no move to leave the water. She’d give Liam a chance to put his clothes on and return to the campsite. If she stalled long enough, maybe he’d be in his tent by the time she walked back.
Things were too crazy between them right now. It was as if her world had been turned on its ear. She’d never felt a sexual attraction to Liam before that damn kiss, but she’d spent every night this week with her vibrator, driving herself to orgasm after orgasm while imagining his face. It had lit a fire inside her that wouldn’t be quenched, no matter how many times she masturbated. Maybe it was time to find a ranch hand, some hot stud to help her fuck Liam out of her system.
Problem was the only man she wanted was Liam.
What the hell was she supposed to do with that? She wasn’t going to indulge in an affair with Liam. That would be stupid. And strange. And wrong. Wouldn’t it?
“Hey. What are you doing over here by yourself?” Sterling swam up to her.
“I wasn’t alone. Liam was with me. He just got out.”
“What’s up with you two today?”
Leave it to Sterling to notice. Her cousin was far too observant. Always had been. Sterling had an amazing talent for reading people’s faces or body language and knowing how they felt—whether they were scared or sad or nervous.
Jade started to say nothing, but changed her mind. Maybe Sterling could help her understand what was going on. “We kissed last weekend.”
Sterling’s eyes widened. “Like kiss-kissed?”
Jade nodded. “Open mouth, tongues, roaming hands, hard cock pressed against my stomach. The works.”
Jade sighed. “Yeah.”
“I mean, I guess it’s not that surprising. I’ve noticed the sexual sparks between you two.”
Jade felt as if her cousin had knocked her to the ground. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Sterling tilted her head. “There’s always been sexual tension there, but neither one of you ever seemed to notice it. Plus, let’s face it, the two of you fight like cats and dogs. I just figured you were happy with the status quo and not looking to mess up an awesome friendship. Was it a good kiss?”
Jade bit her lip. “It was incredible. I can’t stop thinking about it.”
Sterling grinned. “Well, hot damn.”
Jade raised her hand to halt where she could see Sterling’s X-rated mind taking her. “I’m not having sex with Liam.”
“Because it’s Liam.”
Sterling rolled her eyes and made a buzzer sound like Jade was on a game show. “Errrr. Lame excuse. Try again.”
Jade fell silent for a few seconds before admitting the truth. “That’s the only reason I have. It’s exactly what you said. I would never risk losing Liam’s friendship for a few minutes in the sack.”
“I’ve heard rumors about Liam in the bedroom and I can promise you it would be a hell of a lot longer than that.”
“You know what I mean.”
Sterling gave her a strange look that Jade couldn’t begin to interpret. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you show this kind of restraint.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re acting so out of character. You never think things through, never hesitate, never act like…forgive me…a girl.”
Jade narrowed her eyes, feeling foolish, but offended nonetheless. “I’m not acting like a girl.”
Sterling laughed. “Of course you are. You just said the kiss was great. Let’s face it. If this were any other guy in the world, you wouldn’t have stopped there last weekend. You’d have dragged the man home and fucked him until the sun came up. And I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be standing in this lake, naked and alone, if it wasn’t Liam who’d managed to get your panties in a twist.”
“I’m not wearing any.”
Sterling shot her an annoyed look.
Jade couldn’t argue with her cousin. Sterling was right. Jade wasn’t exactly known for curbing her desires. If she wanted something, she took it. Thinking didn’t usually come into play. Yet all she’d done this past week was think. And think. And think.
It was driving her batty.
“So I’m just supposed to throw away eight years of friendship and fuck Liam’s brains out until we get tired of each other. You said it yourself. We fight all the time. We wouldn’t make it a day and a half before we were at each other’s throats.”
“Oh, Jade. You’re always such a pessimist. What if the two of you hooked up and it was so great, you fell in love and lived happily ever after?”
Jade scowled. “You’re drunk. You know perfectly well I have no plans to ever get married.”
Sterling giggled. “I’m sober as stone, you grumpy bitch. You know what could cure this bad mood of yours? Sex. Sweaty, sleeping-bag sex.”
“I’m sharing a tent with
“You have no imagination.”
Jade rubbed her forehead. “I’m getting a headache. I think I’ll turn in early.”
Sterling glanced over Jade’s shoulder. “Okay. I’ll come with you. Looks like everyone’s getting out now anyway.”
Jade noticed the others heading back to the campground. Jade climbed out of the lake, tugged on her shorts and T-shirt, then walked with Sterling. Liam was sitting on the same log they’d occupied earlier, gazing at the fire.
Jade skirted the circle and headed straight for her tent. She said her goodnights, then before she climbed in, she glanced back at Liam.
He was staring directly at her. His face reminded her of the way he’d looked after their kiss at Spurs. It scared the shit out of her. And turned her on so much, she physically
Time to get a grip. She gave him a dirty look before unzipping the two-man tent and crawling in. She’d been an idiot for talking to Sterling about Liam. Clearly she had picked the wrong cousin to confide in. Sterling’s view of life was completely warped, so now Jade was even more confused.