The last thing Randy Hammond expected to barge into his New Year’s Eve was the irrepressible Lucy Duncan. But she’s got a rough customer on her heels, and Randy’s not the kind of guy to let that pass. When she agrees to go home with him for a private but platonic celebration, he’s amused, charmed, and a little bit hesitant. After all, the last woman he trusted gutted him with a rusty knife.
Lucy Duncan has buried herself in her art, a safe refuge from the nightmare she endured in high school. She’ll never go back to that kind of vulnerability even if the risk comes in the gorgeous form of Randy Hammond. After he proves to be irresistible, she decides a bit of dabbling won’t hurt, since she knows he’s close friends and business partners with the Cannons.
Neither of these two lonely people are prepared for the challenges they’ll face as fate draws them closer.
Is it worth the risk to try again?
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…This was a new day, and a woman he really admired wanted to sketch his body, and he was going to enjoy the hell out of it. Even if it killed him.
She busied herself with dragging a stool from his bar then laying out some pencils on the mantel and opening a big sketch pad to a blank page. With a last glance at her, he shoved his jeans down and then his boxers, letting his erection bob free. Heat rushed up his chest, and he knew his face was red.
“Sorry,” he said hoarsely. “This happens to be your fault,” he added, motioning toward his looming arousal.
“Oh, please. That big guy is nothing to apologize about. I admit I’m flattered,” she said mildly.
He thought maybe her mild tone belied the truth of her reaction, since her cheeks had blushed red. Damn awkward, this art business.
“You said you’d sketched nudes before,” he said, his jaw clenching as he imagined hunky naked men lounging around a room while she sketched. “How do they do get away with that?”
She waved her hand, setting the sketch pad onto the stool and taking a couple of steps toward him. “It’s part of arts education. Models get paid, and it’s a decent amount, so art instructors have no problem getting models. They don’t necessarily have the perfect body, but it doesn’t matter when you’re trying to capture the human form. So here,” she said, intent on her pursuit. “I want you on your side, propped on one elbow…”
She was standing over him, pointing, and he caught a whiff of her scent and knew she was wet. That just about did him in, but he swallowed a groan and stretched out on the couch and tried to position himself as she described. She just stood there, looking at him, angling her head to one side then the other.
“That couch is too soft,” she said, chewing her lip. “Your hip and elbow are sinking. Damn it.”
He watched, amused, as she stalked around the room, muttering to herself. He watched the shift of her breasts as she moved in that yellow blouse that caressed her torso with every move, and the play of movement was wreaking havoc on his self-control. He could solve both their problems by simply dragging her to the bedroom, peeling off her clothes, and having his way with that epicurean feast of a body.
He could, but he couldn’t. This get together wasn’t supposed to be about sex. He needed get that out of his mind.
Yeah, tell that to his dick, all out there and ready. A renewed flush of embarrassment heated his face.
“Would you be okay with lying on the carpet, like maybe on a sheet or blanket?”
It took another fifteen minutes for her to settle on his position. He now lay on a sheet spread artistically over the carpet in front of the couch, which they had moved away from the spot where she insisted he must be in order to capture the best light—something about sharp shadows. His head rested on his right fist, his right arm propped on elbow. They had started with his legs straight out but now she wanted his left knee bent and raised. His cock had relented slightly in the process, but now that she had resumed her seat on the bar stool to study him, a fresh surge of interest had him embarrassed all over again.
“This isn’t the right position,” she said, standing to move the stool. Several more iterations of that process resulted in her sitting on the floor, an angle that finally satisfied her, and she took up the sketch pad to start making lines.
An hour later, Randy’s right arm burned and quivered, and his whole body felt like he’d been assaulted with rubber hoses. At first, Lucy had been working furiously, her curls tossing and trembling as her hand flew back and forth across the paper. Then her movements became more concentrated. She frowned as she worked, her tongue darting out to skim her lips. Her fine white teeth nibbled and tugged on her bottom lip. He resisted the urge to talk, afraid to disrupt her intense concentration.
He wanted to talk, wanted to explain why things between them could never work out, why she needed to forget about him, why she’d be better off without him. But that would be incredibly presumptuous. She’d never said she wanted a ‘thing’ between them. She’d picked him up, and they’d had a great New Year’s Eve, and then there had been some shared concerns about the Ames job. She’d invited him to see her art, and they’d fallen into bed together. That did not constitute a relationship.