Read Sensual Stranger Online

Authors: Tina Donahue

Sensual Stranger (4 page)

Wild was a man risking his heart, falling so hard there’d be
no chance of him recovering, holding her close every night, loving her to
distraction…standing at her side, giving her a family and home.

Struggling to keep yearning from her voice, she said, “You
tell me.”

Zach’s steps slowed to a stop. A series of cars came down
the street. Bells tinkled on doors as shop owners swung them open. Voices
lifted in greeting.

Toni looked at Zach.

His full attention was already on her, his gaze dipping to
her mouth, his expression growing increasingly distracted, the same as his
voice. “Whatever you want.”

Toni didn’t understand. For one crazy moment, she wondered
if he’d read her thoughts. “What do you mean?”

He met her eyes. “I said I’m buying.”

She glanced past his shoulder at the storefront, seeing
they’d reached the Last Chance Diner that the deejay had talked about.

“So you are.” Pushing embarrassment aside at her foolish
musings, she cocked her head and arched one brow. “Tell you what, hire me and
I’ll buy you breakfast.”

He regarded her without comment, then unexpectedly slid his
hand to her wrist, folding Toni’s arm behind her back, pulling her into him.

Her head snapped down at their thighs and bellies touching.
Too much warmth flushed her skin.

Eyes darting to the right, she saw a group of middle-aged
tourists barreling past, interrupting each other as they discussed today’s
plans, not watching where they were going.

Even with Zach pulling her out of their way, one of the men
managed to elbow her arm.

Toni barely noticed the jab. Her limbs grew heavy at the
scent of Zach’s clean skin, the power of his body against hers, the promise of
his thickened cock. She stared at his Adam’s apple bouncing with his swallow,
the short, dark hairs on his throat.

“We better go inside,” he said, his voice deepened and
rough.

Eyes lifting to his, she didn’t move. Neither did he.

 

What in the fuck are you doing?

Zach had no idea how to answer himself. He had no strength
to resist the moment.

He looked down at Toni, held captive by her eyes and
expression. So opened to him, it seemed he could reach whatever was in her soul
when what he wanted to do was crawl all over her.

There it was—the unvarnished truth. He wanted to fuck her
like he hadn’t needed to fuck a woman in nearly two years. Zach knew it should
have bothered him, shamed him somehow or brought a measure of guilt because of
Meg.

For the moment, it did not. Animal instinct and raw male
need erased everything else. Not only because of the powerful sensuality Toni
exuded, but because Zach sensed how alone she was…as alone as him.

Yesterday his solitude had hurt, though time had taken away
a bit of the pain. Today, the isolation seemed unbearable, urging him to move
on, to live, to take whatever he could—whatever she offered.

He couldn’t. Not here. Certainly not with a woman who was a
stranger and would soon be on her way.

With great effort, he released her wrist and moved back to
open the diner door. Its bell tinkled. The aroma of strong coffee, sugar-cured
bacon and rich baked goods poured from inside, along with an old Kenny Rogers
tune and customers’ voices.

At the sounds or the scents, Toni glanced up.

Fevered and restless, Zach stared at her throat. His gaze
travelled her milky skin to the edge of her tank top. Blood rushed to his
groin, pooling in his cock at the sight of her tightened nipples pushing
against the stretchy fabric.

Her stomach growled, loud and long.

They both glanced down at it. Inclining his head toward the
door, he spoke first, his tone sharper than he’d intended. “Go on. Get inside.”

Her eyes shifted to him. “Are you always this bossy?”

His smile happened before he could stop it. “You have no
idea how bossy I can be, Toni.”

She murmured, “Hire me, Zach, and I will.”

His smile died. “I can’t.”

“You won’t,” she corrected.

Her voice affirmed quiet resignation, not anger, which would
have been easier for Zach to take.

Moving past him, she entered the diner.

Its beige-and-brown décor, along with wagon wheel light
fixtures, fit the town’s Old West theme. Even the souvenirs matched, with Betty
Boop and other cartoon characters dressed in a marketer’s version of western
wear.

Men of varying ages sat shoulder to shoulder on the few
stools at the counter, their battered jeans, dusty cowboy boots and Fruit of
the Loom tees identifying them as locals. The tourists, dressed in more
colorful garb, chattered at their Formica-and-chrome tables.

“Well, hey there,” a female voice called out over the rising
din.

Glancing past a table of elderly men from the retirement
village, Zach saw Emma Torres. A hefty woman of thirty-five, Em liked her jeans
tight, her checkered blouse snug, her brown hair worn short and her pretty face
absent of makeup. Right hand lifted above her head, she waved at him wildly.

He smiled in greeting. With her husband, Hector, Em owned
and ran this place.

As she worked her way past tables, she patted several of the
women’s shoulders, smiled at the men and winked at the kids.

Reaching Zach, Em pushed to her toes and pecked his stubbled
cheek before giving a warm smile to Toni. “Be with you in a sec, hon, soon as I
seat him.”

“We’re together,” Zach said.

Em’s skinny brows jumped up. “Table for two?”

He nodded, thinking her surprise wasn’t any greater than his
own.

This time, Em allowed herself a really good look at Toni,
lingering on her leather pants and biker boots before glancing at the fringed
saddlebag he carried.

With a loaded expression, Em said, “This way.” She directed
them to a booth at the far end of the diner, away from the rest of the crowd.
“Best seat in the house,” she announced.

It was certainly the most secluded. What did she think they
planned to do back here? Hold hands? Whisper sweet nothings? Neck?

Zach’s head snapped to Toni as she ran her fingers over his.
He fought a pleasurable shiver at her featherlight touch, noticing finally that
she wanted to take her saddlebag. Without too much of a delay, he gave it up.

Her gaze moved from him to Em. “Where’s the ladies’ room?”

“Back there.” She pointed. “Take an immediate left by the
cash register and the souvenir stand.”

“Thanks.” Without a backward glance, Toni headed in its
direction.

Zach stared at the leather hugging her plush ass. With each
step she took, her rounded cheeks bounced, begging for a man’s hands to hold them.
To separate her succulent flesh, then run his fingers down the moist furrow to
the tight pink ring of her anus and lower, her damp cunt.

With a hard swallow, he wiped his sweaty palm against his
jeans, watching Toni pass the table of elderly men. Several of the old guys
swung their heads, following her with their eyes.

Once she’d disappeared around the corner, Zach gritted his
teeth at the expected pain in his leg, slid into his side of the booth and let
out a sigh, trying to relax.

Em wasn’t about to allow it. She plopped onto the padded
seat across from him, clasped her hands on top of the table and leaned forward.
“Who is that?” She’d lowered her voice to a conspiratorial murmur. “Is she a
tourist? Did you fix her car? Are you two going to be seeing each other?”

With his elbow on the table, Zach propped his head in his
palm and sighed. “No, no and no.”

Em’s frown intensified the deep grooves above her nose.
“What’s that supposed to mean? You don’t want to talk about it?”

Exactly. “There’s nothing to talk about,” Zach said as
nicely as he could. “I’m just answering your questions—no, no and no.”

“Wait a sec—what did I ask? Now quit it,” she scolded,
unclasping her hands so she could slap his arm.

It didn’t stop Zach’s laughter.

“Who is she?” Em asked again.

“A mechanic.”

Em’s laughter rang louder than his. “On what planet?”

Exactly. “She does seem to know about engines.” She’d
surprised the hell out of him by picking the right tool and knowing a car
actually had plugs.

Lucky taught me.

The memory of Toni’s smoky voice filled Zach’s mind,
thickening his blood, accelerating his heart, making him too curious again
about who the fuck Lucky was and what else he had taught her. Had it been his
idea for her to dress in toe to neck leather? Had it been his choice for her to
wear lavender, a deceptively innocent scent?

“Hey.” Em slapped his arm again. “I’m over here.”

Zach turned his head from the direction Toni had taken, not
even realizing he’d been looking for her. Meeting Em’s gaze, he pretended
nonchalance in spite of his hammering heart. “You haven’t left yet?” He cocked
one brow. “Don’t you have other guests to bother?”

“Nina can annoy them. How do you know she knows about
engines?”

“Nina?”

Em rolled her eyes. “The girl you brought in. What’s her
name?”

He grinned at how Toni had made him search for it. “It’s on
the back of her jacket.”

“Huh?”

“Starr,” Zach said, testing the sound of it. “Toni Starr.”

“Sounds like a stripper.”

He couldn’t argue with that. In a wistful voice he couldn’t
quite tame, Zach answered Em’s earlier question about Toni’s knowledge of
engines. “We talked shop back at the shop.”

“She came by just to talk to you?”

“She wants a job.”

“Oh.” Em gave him a sly grin. “And you’re going to—”

“No. I’m buying her breakfast and then I’m giving her a few
bucks so she can continue to eat while she looks for work.”

“If she’s that broke, why not just hire her? From what I can
see, you could use the help.”

Zach readjusted his weight on the seat. His gaze drifted
past Em to the window, what he could see of the town. Knots of tourists
gathered in front of several shops to examine the offered goods. Kids bounced
up and down next to their parents, wanting to move on, already tired of
shopping. “I have all the staff I need. I work on the vehicles after the guys
go home.”

“If you hired Ms. Starr, maybe you wouldn’t have to work
after hours. Maybe you could have a life.”

Zach’s gaze drifted back to Em.

She lifted her hands in surrender. “Just saying.”

“I know, but I’m fine with the way things are.”

“You mean hooking up with a woman for the night.”

Good god. “I am of age.”

“You’re lonely,” she argued.

Better than being hurt again. “I am fine.”

For the next several minutes, she offered her opinion on how
wrong he was, making him sound like the town recluse that the kids would
someday whisper about, telling stories of how he hid under automobiles to scare
children.

Zach endured her lecture without comment.

His polite silence finally got the best of her. Wound down,
Em slid out of her seat with a defeated sigh. “Guess I’m through here.” Leaning
toward him, she spoke in a lowered voice not meant to be overheard. “Look out,
here she comes.”

Like Pavlov’s dog hearing the bell, Zach twisted his torso
and glanced behind himself.

Instantly, his heart stalled, then picked up so much speed
his throat constricted.

Toni had changed from her leather pants and biker boots to
black flip-flops and cutoff shorts the color of charcoal. Several strings on
the shorts dangled down her milky thighs.

Mouth watering, Zach’s gaze trickled lower. His cock
responded immediately, stiffening in his briefs. Her feet were narrow, her toes
long, her nails polished a deep red. God help him, but all Zach could think
about was lifting her foot to his lips, licking her sweet arch, running his
tongue over the silver toe ring he now noticed on her right foot.

Just short of her reaching their booth, Zach slid out of his
side and stood. The quick pain in his leg stopped him for a moment. He forced
his jaw to unclench to hide his discomfort.

Toni’s gaze jumped from his leg to his eyes, her concerned
expression telling him she’d noticed.

“Well hey there, welcome back!” Em gushed, her forced
cheeriness pulling Toni’s attention away from Zach. “Bet you’re hungry.”
Backing up, Em grabbed two laminated menus from a wooden holder attached to the
wall. “Here you go.” She handed the first to Toni, the next to him.

“Thanks.” Toni placed her saddlebag on the seat and slid in
next to it.

Zach remained standing.

Looking like the third wheel at a blind date, Em took a step
away from the booth. “Be back in a sec to take your orders.”

“Bring some water right away,” Zach said. “The whole
pitcher, all right?”

Em snuck a look at Toni. “Sure. Coming right up.”

Toni watched the woman leave, then tilted her head to the
menu, keeping her attention on it, not him, as Zach finally took his seat.

She allowed him enough time to get comfortable before
asking, “Whatever I want?”

He teased, “Within reason.”

Toni looked at him from beneath her lashes. “Define reason,
Zach.”

He hadn’t thought it possible, but her voice was throatier
than he recalled, her guileless expression more provocative than the most
blatant come-on. Not for the first time in her presence, Zach had trouble
pulling in a full breath. What little air he did manage to take bore her
unmistakable lavender scent.

She must have sprayed more of the fragrance on her throat
and wrists while she’d been in the ladies’ room. Mixed with the heat of her
skin, the scent brought to mind a field of flowers caressed by the summer sun,
mist rising from the fragrant earth, naked flesh stretched out on a blanket,
tongues meeting, legs entwined, a cock nestled within a juicy, heated sheath.

Define reason,
she’d said.

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