Page 23

Author: Jill Shalvis

And not just any man, either.

She knew exactly which one she wanted. Ty. She sighed again, picturing lying on her back on a deserted beach at sunset, Ty leaning over her in a pair of low-slung jeans and nothing else, his big hands all over her bikini-clad body.

No, scratch that.

No bikini. And Ty in board shorts. Yeah, board shorts that fell disturbingly low on his hips, his eyes creased in that way he had of showing his feelings without moving his mouth. Mmm, that was a much better image, and she sighed dreamily.

He was aroused. She could feel him when he leaned over her. Big. Hard. She smiled up at him.

Instead of smiling back, he flipped her over, face down on her towel, leaving her to gasp in shock, waiting breathlessly for him to touch her. When his lips brushed her shoulder, she wriggled for more.

“Lie still.” His voice was a thrillingly rough command that she didn’t obey, making him groan. He said her name in a warning whisper, running a finger down her spine, then between her legs until she was writhing with a moan of arousal.

He did it again.

And then again, until she was oscillating her hips in small, mindless circles, trying to get more of his fingers. He pushed a thigh between hers to spread her legs, and then pulled her up to her knees and entered her.

She came hard, her cries swallowed when she pressed her face to the forearm he had braced on the towel beneath her. He was right behind her, shuddering in pleasure as he collapsed on top of her—

A rap on her window had her jerking straight up and banging her head on her sun guard.

Mouth quirking, Ty waited patiently while she fumbled to roll down the window.

“Hi,” she said breathlessly. “I was just…” God. Dreaming about you making me come.

“Sleeping?” he asked.

Or that. Which was far less embarrassing. She nodded and swiped at her sweaty temple with her arm. “Guess I’m tired.”

“You look all flushed; you okay?”

She pressed her thighs together. She was more than flushed. “Yeah.”

“Try starting it now.”

She realized that not only had she slept through him parking next to her, he’d popped both their hoods and had hooked her car up to a set of cables.

Some nap. At least she hadn’t screamed out his name. She turned the key, and her car started.

Ty turned and bent over her front end, his head buried beneath her hood. Absolutely not noticing how very fine his ass looked from that position, she pushed out of the car and stood next to him.

“You’re going to need a new alternator sooner than later,” he said.

She stared into the engine compartment, completely clueless about where the alternator might be. “Is that expensive?”

“Not for the part.” He was still fiddling around. “The labor’s expensive, but it shouldn’t be. It’s an easy thing to replace.”

“So you are a mechanic.”

He was still messing with…something. He pulled out her dip stick and checked the oil. “Always been pretty good with taking things apart and putting them back together again,” he said.

She could vouch for that. A week ago, he’d certainly taken her apart and put her back together again. The ease with which she’d come for him in the storage attic still fueled her fantasies. She’d had sex before, even some pretty good sex, but she’d never gone off like that. “I don’t think that was much of an answer,” she said.

He looked at her. “You don’t think so?”


His mouth curved. “Anyone ever tell you that you’re a little—”

“Stubborn? Determined? Annoying?” She nodded. “Yep. Trust me, I’ve heard it all.”

“You need oil. And I work for a government contractor doing the same sort of stuff I did in the military.”

“Stuff?” Her inner slut drooled over the sleek back muscles bunching, stretching the material of his shirt taut as he replaced the dip stick. “Like I’d-tell-you-but-I’d-have-to-kill-you stuff?”

He actually turned his head her way and smiled, knocking off a few million of her brain cells. This wasn’t good. She needed those brain cells.

“Something like that,” he said.

Classified, she thought. Interesting. Disconcerting. But it certainly explained the always-ready air he had and the fact that he looked like a military recruitment poster, only better. She could see him in hot zones all over the world, working on machinery. Tanks. Subs. Missiles. Or maybe his mechanical talents were ship-oriented. He’d said Navy…Her stomach knotted at the thought of how dangerous his life must be. “You patched up Amy at the diner. That was nice of you.”

This yielded her a shrug.

She waited for more information, anything, which of course was not forthcoming. “It’s a good thing you look good in jeans.”

Still beneath the hood, he turned his head and flashed her a quick smile.

“You’re a conundrum, you know,” she told him. “I mean you’ve got this whole hands-off thing going about you, and yet you have no problem putting your hands all over me.”

“And mouth,” he added helpfully. “I like my mouth on you.”

Her entire body quivered. “What is it about me that you’re attracted to?”

“For starters, the sexy underwear you put on beneath your clothes.”

“You’ve only seen my underwear once.”

“Twice,” he said. “I looked down your top at the pier.”

“You did not.”

“Pink-and-white polka-dot bra.”

“Oh my God.”

“That’s what I was thinking.” He straightened out from beneath her hood. “And also, while we’re on the subject, I like the noises you make when you—”

She covered his mouth with her hand.

He nipped at her fingers, and her knees wobbled. Stupid knees.

“I like your eyes,” he said.


“Yeah, I like the way they soften when you look at me.”

She stared at him, wondering if he was just giving her a line, but he held her gaze evenly. “Keep going,” she said slowly.

“I like the way you’d dive into a freak snowstorm to help a perfect stranger. I like how you treat everyone as if they’re important, including a homeless drug addict. I like that you give one-hundred percent to every part of your life. You don’t hold back, Mallory.”

“You…you like all that about me?”

“And also that you like me.” He smiled again. “I really like that.”

“How about the fact that you’re pretty cocky? Do you like that?”

“Mmm-hmm. And I especially like when you use the word cock in a sentence.”

She pushed him, and he laughed, so she added another push, and of course, he didn’t budge, the lout. Instead, he stepped into her, backing her to the car. “What do you like about me?” he asked.


He grinned. “That’s not true. You like it when I—”

“Don’t you say it.”

“That’s okay,” he said. “I’m better with showing, not telling, anyway.” And he covered her mouth with his. And then his hands got into the fray, and she heard a low, desperate moan.


His big palm cupped the back of her head as he changed the kiss from sweet and friendly-like to demanding and firm and…God. Hungry. His hand fisted in her hair then, and he kissed her like he was starving for the connection.

Mallory was right there with him. By the time the kiss was over, neither of them were breathing steadily. “Wow,” she said and shook her head to clear it. “You ought to be careful with those. A girl might forget herself.”

Thoroughly challenged, he reached for her again, but she jumped back. “Oh, no,” she said on a laugh. “You’re lethal, you know that?”

“Am I still on your list?”

“Well, let’s see. It is a list of Mr. Wrongs, and you’re just biding your time until you’re gone, which pretty much means you define Mr. Wrong.” She narrowed her eyes and studied him. “But then you show up at the town meeting—after avoiding everyone for months, I might add—and stick up for me.” She shook her head. “Who are you, Ty Garrison?”

Apparently he didn’t have an answer for that because he was back beneath her hood. “When’s the last time you had anyone look at this poor baby?”


He shook his head and kept fiddling, muttering something about “the lack of respect for the vehicle, even if it is a piece of shit.”

“Where did you learn respect for your vehicles?” she asked, teasing.

“My dad. He was a mechanic in the Navy.”

“Ah. So it runs in the family.”

“Yeah. And my mom was Air Force.”

She smiled at that. “A military brat through and through, huh?”

“All I ever knew,” he agreed, tightening some part or another.

“Which is why you’re interested in a Vet program at the HSC,” she guessed. And personal experience. And he’d made good on his promise too. She’d gotten a nice check, earmarked for what would be a damn good program by the time she was finished with it. Ty had asked her to make sure to get a good counselor involved, one who could help people like Ryan, and she would do just that. “What are they doing now, your parents?”

“My dad died in Desert Storm. My mom a couple of years ago from pneumonia.”

Her heart stopped, and her smiled faded as she watched him continue to inspect…whatever he was inspecting. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly, knowing better than most how inadequate the words were.

“Everything else looks okay for now.” He straightened. “I’ll follow you home to make sure.”

“There you go again,” she said softly, still unbearably touched by his losses. “Wanting to be on my list of Mr. Wrongs but acting like…” A Mr. Right.