Authors: Elijana Kindel
Bottom line was that this was his campaign and he intended to see it through to completion. Night after night after
Jake slowed his pace and ran his eyes up, then down the backside of his quarry, who was standing right where he wanted her. At her mailbox. He counted to himself: three, two,…
.She glanced over her shoulder at him and—Jake groaned inwardly—her eyes, a deep blue color, rolled suggestively from the top of his damp hair to the tips of his boots and back up. A half smile hovered around her come-and-kiss-me-now-big-boy lips. She turned her back to him and pushed her key into the mailbox.
Jake halted behind her and, since she was in front of his mailbox, slid his hand around in front of her. "Pardon me." His voice was rough to his own ears.
Her head tilted to the side and she regarded him from the corner of her eyes. "Are you always this… eager to get your mail," she asked in a soft, husky voice. She made no move to slide out of his way.
Jake stepped in closer until her back nearly touched his straining front. He bent his head close to her neck and whispered, "Only for the last two months." He shoved the key into the mailbox, turned it, then pulled the small metal door open.
She did precisely what he expected, and wanted, her to do. She backed her tight body up and into him, then glanced down at the envelopes in his box. "Pretty postcard. Jacob."
"Jake." He brought his other hand around to help pull mail out of the box and touched the mail in her hands. He moved an envelope to get a better look at her name. "You smell like peaches. Emily."
"Lee." She shifted her weight between her legs and just about destroyed his sanity. Her bottom rubbed—make that massaged—his throbbing ego. "And… thank you. Jake."
"No, sweetheart, thank you," he nearly groaned out loud. When he opened his eyes, she was looking up at him.
"Did you… get what you came for?"
His gaze dropped to her mouth. "Not by a long shot."
"Then you'll just have to keep trying." The smile she gave him would have melted Antarctica. "Excuse me. Jake."
He removed his mail and raised his arms to allow her to slip past him. "Certainly. Emily."
She turned on one heel and gazed up at him with that sultry look which made his blood hot and thick. "Have a nice evening. Jake." She slid away from him. Her heels tapped quietly against the marble floor.
Jake turned and watched her sway towards the stairs. Man o' man, the lady could move. "It can't get much nicer."
She didn't look back. Not once. She walked with the confidence of a woman who knew what she wanted and always got what she wanted. If at that particular moment she had crooked her finger at him and sent him a come-hither look, he would have been helpless to deny her.
Emily disappeared behind the stairwell door and Jake released the breath he hadn't known he'd been holding. He had to get his mind off the damned idea that had popped into his head. To run up to his place, grab a measuring cup, and knock on her door with the stupid line, "Can I borrow a cup of sugar?"
If life and Emily—he couldn't call her Lee, it was a boy's name—did things the way his mind imagined, then Emily would grab him by his shirt and drag him into her place, throw him down on the floor, then jump him.
Some things in life were unjustly cruel.
Possessing an overactive and intensely vivid imagination was one of them.
Jake took a deep breath and turned his attention to his mail. A postcard from his mother. He flipped it over and scanned the cryptic thanks for the vacation, having a great time, and don't worry got you the loudest Hawaiian shirt ever made.
His attention wavered from the postcard and drifted back to the stairwell.
Then you'll just have to keep trying
, she'd said.
Jake tapped the mail thoughtfully against his palm. He probably wouldn't see her again until next Friday.
He grinned and pushed off from the wall.
Friday. Same time. Same place.
Lee managed to make it up the stairs, down the hall, and into her condo. She closed the door behind her and slumped back against it.
"Oh God," she groaned. "I am going to die."
Lee closed her eyes and let her sexually depraved mind take over. His chest was solid and, she swallowed past the dryness in her throat, male. His arms were warm, muscular, and—gulp—male. His thighs, which had pressed against the backs of her legs, had been long, lean, hard and—she sucked in a deep, shuddering breath—male. Her body quivered against the coolness of the door and she tried, unsuccessfully, to rid herself of the feel of his arousal pressing against her—
. I am going insane."
Her body tingled and quivered with awareness. Faint traces of his shampoo had followed her up the two flights of stairs and tormented her every step. Images of his hands, with those long, capable fingers, touching her had her breasts straining to burst from her satin bra.
Lee heaved a deep soulful sigh. "The man has a voice of a libertine. A sexy, experienced libertine." She looked up at the ceiling. "He made me…
. Insane. I am insane."
How in the world was she going to make it through tonight, tomorrow, and the next day without seeing that cute butt of his in those faded jeans?
Lee pushed off from the door and kicked her shoes off. "Jeans which should be outlawed," she muttered into the empty living room. She tossed the mail onto the hallway table and picked up her shoes, then headed for the bedroom.
Lee dropped the shoes by the closet and slipped into the bathroom to start a hot, bubble bath. After today's mind numbing meetings and one incidental run-in with tall and drop dead gorgeous Jake, she needed to unwind before she gave in to her undernourished sexuality and knocked on every door in the complex looking for the scrumptious Jacob Grayden.
Lee peeled off her clothing and padded her way into the bathroom. She sank into the peach scented bubbles and stretched luxuriously. This was what she needed.
Forget this quarter's spreadsheets.
Forget profit margins.
Forget negotiations for the opening of Stafford & Co.'s newest clothing store.
Forget everything, but how good Jake would look without the cotton T-shirt covering his Adonis-like chest.
Lee re-piled her hair on top of her head and laid back against the tub. She gave in to the purely feminine grin which threatened to transform into giddy laughter.
"Oh, yeah. This is gonna be a good year." A bubble of laughter escaped her throat.
The phone rang and, with a smile curving her lips, Lee dried her hands and picked up the cordless she'd installed next to the tub. "Stafford here."
"Lee, darlin', I've been trying to reach you for hours."
"I've been in meetings all day. What's up, Marilyn?"
"I think we should try a flowery print for the—"
"Not for the show. I want everything kept in solids."
"But, Lee," Marilyn whined, "you never do any of the dresses in flowery prints. You don't even let them wear stripes. And flowers are supposed to be big this year. Didn't you see the Oscars? Everybody was wearing daisies in their hair or on their dresses or—"
"Marilyn," Lee snapped.
"Not even for the—"
"No flowers," Lee stated with absolute authority. "The designs were created for solid colors."
"Oh, all right. But I still think you ought to use some flowers."
"On which ones?"
"The Spring dress," Marilyn said quickly. "Spring and flowers are synonymous. They go hand and hand together. They are—"
"No. Not on the dress." Lee pursed her lips and mentally reviewed the sketches for the Spring dresses. "For the April dress, use a scarf with… some purple flowers. The March one you can use a… use the gold chain belt we picked up in Dublin."
"The one with the clovers?"
"Yes. Make sure that the earrings match the golden hue in the chain. I don't want it to draw unnecessary attention away from the dress."
Marilyn scribbled furiously in the background. "The gold belt will go prefect with the green dress. What about the May and June dresses?"
"The June dress is to be done in white. No jewelry. Only a matching white scarf and tortoise shell sunglasses. Have the model wear the scarf draped over her hair. Her hair should be set. Make her look like she should be on the California coast in the late fifties driving a big old Buick convertible." Lee tapped her nails on the tub. "Make the sandals Roman and… give her a white sweater. Drape the sweater over her shoulders and have one button done at the neck."
"Ooh," Marilyn crooned. "That'll look good. What about May?"
"What color did you pick for May?"
"A soft blue."
"Hmm." Lee lifted her leg and rested it on the side of the tub. "Lace small daisies in her hair. Go with the May Day theme. No shoes or stockings. Barefoot. And put the bell anklet on her."
"How about a ribbon around her throat or—"
"That'll work. I'll drop by tomorrow at lunch time. Set up the May dress and I'll take a look at it." Lee paused thoughtfully. "Make it subtle and innocent, Marilyn. These are day dresses. Make them innocent enough for a church social, but keep them—"
"I know, I know. Keep them sensual enough to hint at the molten femininity which stirs underneath."
Lee chuckled. "Now, you're catching on."
"I ought to be after ten years of listening to your fashion dribble."
"Ah, sweet Marilyn, it's that very dribble which has made us a fortune."
Marilyn snorted. "That and you're catering to the highest possible denominator. Which reminds me. The invitations have been sent out. Are there any other last minute arrangements?"
"No. You've done a great job."
Marilyn gasped. "Was that a… compliment? For me?"
"Yeah. For you."
"Lawdy, when did the ice queen melt?"
"The moment she clapped eyes on her neighbor." The moment it was out of her mouth, Lee cursed fluently. Of all the people in the world to mention her sudden bout of serious lust to, she had to tell Marilyn. Just great. Just dandy. Now, Lee would never hear the end of it.
"Neighbor? Oh, what's this. Have you been holding out on me? We're supposed to be best friends and you haven't told me about the neighbor? What's his name? How tall is he? I bet he looks like a bad boy. I can't picture you with a guy in a suit. Unless that guy is Stuart, but you don't like Stuart. Did Stuart move into your building? So, what does he look like? Come on, you can't keep me in suspense. I deserve to know what type of—"
"Well, isn't that just fine. I spend the last ten years of my life working with you, for you, and trying to set you up with a decent sort of guy and you tell me to shut up. Honey, I ain't gonna shut up."