Author: Jill Shalvis


“People usually add points for doctors,” Mallory said.


“Not me,” Grace said. “I was raised by a few of them, remember? Trust me, they don’t make good relationship material.”


Mallory squeezed her hand. “Honey, Josh isn’t like your family. He’s warm and loving.”


“Not to mention hot as hell,” Amy added.


Grace shook her head. “Sorry, the points are already deducted. And taking into account his schedule, and then the standard deviation from the average man’s schedule, I figure ninety percent of his time would go elsewhere. I’d never get uninterrupted coitus.”


“Penis math,” Amy said. “Impressive.” She looked at Mallory. “See, this is why a guy shouldn’t date an accountant.”


“I’m not an accountant,” Grace corrected. “I’m a floral-delivery-girl-slash-model-slash-babysitter.”


“Slash doctor’s sort-of girlfriend?” Amy asked.


Both she and Mallory cracked up.


Grace grabbed a cupcake, stood, and headed to the door.


“Aw,” Amy called after her. “At least grab a second one for Josh. Chocolate is the next best thing to sex…”


Chapter 16


If at first you don’t succeed,


have chocolate and try again.


Much later that night, Grace was lying in the bed of the guesthouse. The sheets were soft, and she could tell they’d been washed in the same detergent as Josh’s because her nipples got hard at the scent. When she found herself pressing her face to them instead of sleeping, she got out of bed and strode to the windows.


The night was hot. Muggy. The lights in the big house had been off when she’d gotten back from the diner. She knew Toby had gone to a friend’s house to sleep for the night. She had no idea where Josh was; either he was out or he was sleeping.


Anna could be anywhere.


Just in front of her, the pool gleamed, the water looking dark and inviting. Grace stripped out of her camisole and panties and pulled on a bathing suit. She’d just go cool off, and maybe then she could sleep. To help with that, she grabbed the bottle of wine Lucille had given her the other day. She found a corkscrew in the kitchen but couldn’t locate a wineglass. No problem. She simply took the entire bottle with her and headed outside, where she sat on the edge of the pool and let her feet dangle in the water.


Heaven.


She watched the moon and stars and sipped wine for a while, wondering if this counted as fun. It felt decadent and different. But fun?


Maybe if she wasn’t alone.


Maybe if Josh was with her…


That was a disconcerting thought, so she took another sip of the wine, set the bottle at her hip, and slipped into the pool with hardly a ripple.


It felt so good that she dived deep. The deliciously cool water rushed over her body, instantly bringing down her body temp. She swam a few laps, then lazily floated to the far side of the pool. She leaned on the edge, kicking gently, looking out at the rising moon, sipping more wine. Eventually she realized that some time had gone by and that there was now a light on in the big house. Her dreamy haze was interrupted by a disturbance in the water at the other end of the pool, and suddenly Josh was there, emerging at her side.


Her heart stopped, then started again when he leaned close, the heat of his body instantly enveloping her even as the chlorine-scented water rushed off his face and shoulders. He could stand up here where she couldn’t, the water hitting him midchest.


Their eyes met. His lashes were wet and spiky, his eyes dark and deep and intense. He didn’t speak, and neither did she. Reaching out, he stroked the wet hair at her temple, drawing his finger slowly down her cheek to the corner of her mouth, his gaze following the movement.


Suddenly the cool water felt as heated as the air around them, and she shivered. “Josh—”


He put a finger over her lips, then paused for a beat before lowering his face to hers. Replacing his finger with his mouth, his tongue traced the line of her lower lip.


She heard a moan. Hers, of course, low and throaty as Josh’s hands slid up her back. Using the water’s momentum to curl her into his chest, she fell into him willingly. He nuzzled her neck, his lips warm against her now-chilled skin, and she sucked in a breath.


Lifting his head, he met her gaze. His fingers cradled her head so he could run his lips along her jawline to the soft skin of her neck. Oh, God. His tongue there, right there on the vulnerable spot beneath her ear, and just like that, he had her.


Whatever he wanted…anything. Because she wanted it too.


He kissed her, slow and hungry and powerful, and the night, the moon, the stars, everything spun all around her. He deepened the kiss, turning it into a second one and then a third, and then so many more she lost count, his warm hands brushing her breasts and then her bare nipples.


He’d untied and removed her bikini top.


He raised his head, and she arched in the moonlight, wanting him to touch her some more, wanting his mouth on her.


But he just looked at her, and she couldn’t tell what he was thinking. Needing some more liquid courage, she reached for the wine bottle, but he took it gently from her fingers. Watching her intently, he took a sip from the bottle, and then another, drinking more deeply. Catching up.


She couldn’t take her eyes off him.


He set the bottle down and kissed her. His mouth was chilled from the wine, but fiery desire flamed through her, through him, too, if the groan that rumbled up from his chest meant anything. He offered her another sip from the bottle, then drank again himself. Lifting her up, he put his lips to her nipple, his fingers dancing down her spine, making her shiver. Everything he did felt so sensual, so slow and dreamlike.


Erotic.


She nearly went over the edge right then and there. With one more touch she might have, but his eyes met hers. They were dark, showing nothing but a reflection of the moon.


Nothing of the man.


She slid her hands up his delicious abs and up to his chest, humming in pleasure at the feel of all the firm muscle at her disposal. It wasn’t enough. She needed more. “Josh—”


He kissed her throat, her collarbone, her shoulders as his fingers trailed down her belly, caressing her through the fabric of her bikini bottom. It didn’t deter him. He merely slid the material aside and then his fingers touched her, knowingly caressing, then dipping inside her as he kissed her deeply, his tongue mirroring his hand’s motion.


Grace pressed tight to him, loving the feel of his hard, wet body against hers, and he was hard. Everywhere. She palmed him gently, using her thumb to tease him, and his hips jerked into her touch. Fisting a hand in her hair, he kissed her harder, his mouth searing and very serious. “Out of the pool,” he finally said, his voice low and commanding. And then he lent his hands to the cause, vaulting himself out in one easy economical movement that had all his muscles bunching. Reaching back for her, he pulled her out with no effort at all. “Come on.”


She had no idea where to, and she didn’t care. She willingly followed.


Josh pulled her wet bod in close. Her skin was deliciously chilled against his and her breath warm against his throat. They ground against each other, and he wasn’t sure what she was thinking, but he was sure of one thing.


They were finally doing this.


He kissed her again, swift and rough, and she moaned and clutched at him eagerly.


“Now, Josh,” she whispered. “Please now.”


Hell yeah. He pulled back and eyed their surroundings. There was the patio table, but one of the legs was faulty. He had two plush lounge chairs only a few feet away, just beneath the terrace, protected by the bushes he’d yet to prune back for the year.


Perfect.


He pulled Grace over to one, nudged her onto it, and followed her down. Her mouth caught his attention first, and he kissed it long and hard, leaving it swollen and wet as he shifted down toward her breasts. He laved at one gorgeously pebbled nipple, loving how that made her gasp. She was making little panting whimpering sounds that were fueling his lust and need to the point of no return. He should stop this and get them inside, but he didn’t want to move. The cool air, her hot body squirming beneath his, her hands running over him everywhere she could reach, it all felt so good. He slid a hand to the small of her back, then to her ass, tilting her so that her sweet spot caught his thigh as she rocked her hips. They were still learning about each other, but he was starting to know her body now, and what she needed. Mouth on hers, he set a rhythm, and her legs tightened on him like a vise.


“Josh.”


“I know.”


Her nails dug into his biceps as she squirmed some more, her breathing gone heavy. Close, he thought, so close, and then she tore her mouth from his. “Oh, God. I’m going to—”


“Come. Do it.”


She burst into wild shudders in his arms. Absorbing her cry, Josh held her to him and watched as she rode out the waves of pleasure.


She was the sexiest thing he’d ever seen.


When she finally sagged back onto the lounge, she tugged him down over the top of her. “Tell me you have a condom. You’d better have a condom!”


“In my pocket.”


This caused some trouble since his shorts were still drenched from the pool, but she managed to get her fingers on the packet when he sat up a little. Slapping his hands away, she insisted on doing the honors herself, which meant that by the time she’d painstakingly rolled the condom down his length, he was quivering, vibrating with need.


“Now,” she said, and guided him home.


Nothing had ever felt so good. Then she arched her hips and he saw fireworks. “Grace,” he whispered hoarsely, nipping at her jaw. “We’ve got to slow down.”


“Later.”


She was completely out of control, he thought. And she wasn’t alone. Already breathing crazily, he set his forehead to hers with a little groan as she continued to rock up against him as he moved within her, trying to get him to speed up.


“Please,” she whispered sweetly, her fingers in his hair, her body straining and moving with his in a way that took him straight to the edge. He could feel everything tightening within him as he barreled like a freight train to the end of the line. “Grace, Christ. Don’t move.”

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