A darkened room . . . hurried breaths . . . frenzied touches . . . impulsive decisions . . .
Wanting her on sight, he manipulated a tryst. Angry and betrayed by another, she let him. Mutual desire leaves no room for rationale.
After all, there's something to be said for a good . . . rebound.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Rebound by Ann Bruce
A whisper of cloth against cloth. Her eyes flew open and she froze. Her heart leapt. Ice clinked. She whirled around and a shadow detached itself from a recessed doorway. Large and looming, and oddly familiar. She stumbled back a step, tried another but the stone railing halted her retreat.
"Here." The voice was male, low and rough like it hadn't been used in a while. There was the faintest hint of a drawl. He was a long way from home. More ice clinking. "You look like you need this more than I do."
A breeze molded the shift dress to her body, making her realize just how thin the silk was. She crossed her arms over her chest, swallowed. He started to move closer. When she edged sideways, slowly because sudden movements didn't seem smart, he stopped.
"If you want to be alone, I can leave," he offered, even though she'd been the one to intrude on his privacy. He reached for the door behind him, turned the knob.
"Wait." Her heart was suddenly pounding as if it was trying to break through bone and flesh. Hearing the breathless quality of her voice, she told herself it was the brisk walk from the ballroom. She took a breath. "I'm the one who should leave. You were here first."
He cocked his head, silent. She felt his scrutiny and suddenly hoped for another breeze to cool her skin.
"If you promise no inane chatter," he said finally, "we can share the space."
She nodded, not trusting her voice. He took a step toward her and meager light from the rooms above fell over him. White shirt, worn blue jeans and cowboy boots. A switch flipped on in her brain.
"Do I pass muster?"
"Sorry." Her cheeks heated and she yanked her gaze up. She remembered that mouth. Tight, hard, it had held her attention when she'd seen him in the lobby. Now, though, a corner of that mouth lifted, amusement and knowledge in that faint half-smile, and she didn't want to look away.
She spun around, stared blindly at the garden, leaned against the railing and shifted her arms lower, hoping to still the coiling sensation in her middle and failing. She sensed movement, her skin prickling, then he was beside her. Even though he was careful to not block her escape, the delicate wings in her stomach kept fluttering. The soft material of his shirt skimmed her bare arm. A hot shiver skipped down her spine but she didn't move away.
He put the rocks glass on the wide railing and pushed it toward her. Without a word, she picked it up and took a swallow. And inhaled sharply and shivered some more when fire burned down her throat and pooled in her stomach. He chuckled, the sound low and dark. Her skin tightened and she had to close her eyes for a moment, glad for the railing's support.
Female laughter, rich and suggestive, drifted from an open window, dragging her back to her senses. Stupid, she thought. Standing here in the dark with a stranger. No matter how hot he is. She exhaled, set the rocks glass down. No matter how much I need to reconfirm my femininity. "I...I have to go." She turned.
A hand shot out and clasped her wrist.