Picking Art [Rock Hard Seduction 2] [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Tonya Ramagos
eBook Category: Erotica/Romance
eBook Description: Garrett Henry is accustomed to people recognizing him as the guitarist for the band Facade. But the cute little blonde stealing glances from across the bar catches his attention like no other. One look down her petite curvy body and he knows she's way out of his league. Still, he finds himself drawn to her like a magnet. For twenty-five years, Suzanne Cassidy has saved herself. Not necessarily for marriage but for the right man. Garrett Henry is far from her usual type, but he has an innate beauty she can't ignore. A short time with him and she knows she'll give him her most prized possession--her virginity. But Garrett is a heavy metal star, a man with whom forever is not an option and forever is exactly what she wants. Will Garrett be willing to give up the band for her? Can Garrett find a way to have both the band and Suzanne? [Erotic Contemporary Romance: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./Siren Classic, Published: 2009, 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2009
This eBook is part of the following series:
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19 Reader Ratings:
"5 Angels, Recommended Read: This is the second book in this series, and it does not disappoint. I am even little surprised to say this, but it is even better then the first book. Picking Art is a very sweet love story, with dashes of ultra lava blazing sex. I recommend this story for breaking out of stereotypes, and showing that you can write a true romantic love story with very sexy scenes without disappointing the reader. I cannot wait for the third installment of this series to come out!"--Anita, Fallen Angel Reviews
"5 Stars: When their eyes met I knew this story was going to be hot! I was not disappointed with the pulsating sizzling sex. The secondary characters provide great comic relief and round out the book. The plot moves at a great pace with the emotions being at the forefront of the story. It was a privilege to read this wonderful love story with electrifying sex."--Just Erotic Romance Reviews
"5 Angels: "Picking Art is a wonderful continuation of this series about the members of a heavy metal band. This poignant story of two people who are cautious yet hopeful in their search for love will lift your spirits while at the same time get your motor running! I enjoyed these characters who, at first glance, seem very different from each other. But as the story progresses, you find that underneath it all, they're both vulnerable people who are trying to protect themselves. Ms. Ramagos portrays their personalities very well. Suzanne is the proper, shy young artist who is saving herself for the right man. I think she was just as surprised as Garrett when she chose him as that man! But he handles himself with gentleness and care that comes to signify the man that is Garrett. I think I fell in love with him a little bit myself?the big, strong heavy metal guitarist who's gentle enough to worry about the woman who offers herself to him. But their relationship isn't all sweetness and light. They're both young and healthy and the sex is frequent and hot, hot, hot! Enjoy these two and their journey to find out if they're cut out for a long-term relationship. I know I did!"--Trang, Fallen Angel Reviews
"4.5 Cupids: Picking Art is a wonderful second book in Ms Ramagos' series. What I enjoyed most about Picking Art was how Garrett was aware of the differences between him and Suzanne yet he could not resist her and took his time in introducing her to the intimacies between two people. The fact that he showed her oodles and oodles of respect and love made him a wonderful hero. The ending has a couple of surprises that keeps the story memorable and establishes how 'right' the two are. Ms. Ramagos has done a fabulous job of intertwining the first book's storyline with this story and also give little hints as to what to expect in the upcoming book. Her writing and storytelling is top notch and this book, as with the first book, is quite entertaining. Picking Art is the perfect mix of steamy erotica with an interesting storyline about two people you cannot help but love. I found myself breathless one moment and sighing the next while reading this novel. Very nicely done and I am anxious to see the next installment!"--Cupid's Library Reviews
"4 Stars: Picking Art is a look into what makes some people step out of their "class" to find love, and why. The facts are plain, that when it comes right down to it, love makes no distinctions, and Garrett and Susanne are no different. Picking Art takes you on their journey into love, but will it be enough for them, or are they in for disappointment? Tonya is skillfully building a series of books around a special band, and it very special men. Picking Art will keep you riveted, and turning pages as Garrett and Susanne find their way through the world of heavy metal rock and sophisticated art."--Romance at Heart
"4 Cups: The slow paced love affair that the hero insisted on made this story sweet and romantic, as well as hot, when the action finally did start. The heroine caught on quickly, and then the sparks flew. This story was full of raw, real emotion. The rock star and the society girl, a case of opposites attracting is always interesting. Ms. Ramagos gave each character a lot of heart."--Jen, Coffeetime Romance Reviews
"4 Stars: Ms. Ramagos has a wonderful talent for creating a story that can easily have been any young woman's wet dream and any mature woman's delight. Even if contemporaries are not your cup of tea, this series is one that you should try. Ms. Ramagos blew me away with her first in this series, Voices and Lies, and she has just upped the ante with Picking Art. I believe it is safe to say this is one series with staying power. My only question...'When can we expect the next one? Please say it is soon.'"--Keely, eCata Romance Reviews
"Picking Art is the second book in the this series and I have to say that I enjoyed it even more than the first. Suzanne and Garrett quickly endeared themselves to me, making me want them to have their happy ending. Alicia and Derek from the first book Voices and Lies, play a part in Suzanne and Garrett's story. There are also hints at possible upcoming stories. Picking Art is what romance readers are looking for sensuality, true emotion and a happy ending!"--Melissa, Joyfully Reviewed
"Tonya Ramagos has given us a pair of very realistic characters, and charged the atmosphere with in ineffable attraction between two people of disparate backgrounds. Rock Hard Seductions 2: Picking Art is a delightful romp in total miscommunications that come in the bucketfuls when Suzanne allows her shy nature to overcome common sense and provide some simple communications. Rock Hard Seductions 2: Picking Art is the second book in the Rock Hard Seductions Series, and I can't wait to read the next. Tonya continues to bring her readers humor, tension, fun, and the hot steamy love scenes that blend the whole together in a most delightfully hot and sexy way. Tonya's Rock Hard Seductions Series is now at Siren Publishing, so if you want a good story told with realism, romantic tension, and a lot of fun, it is available now, so get a copy of Rock Hard Seductions 2: Picking Art."--Rose, Romance at Heart
Suzanne Cassidy hated crowds. More, she hated being alone in a crowd. Yet, here she sat in a darkened booth, a lone body in a swarm of unfamiliar faces and blaring music. She'd been in Philadelphia for all of an hour--forty-five minutes of which she'd spent in this same middle-class bar observing people from all walks of life, none of which being the one she'd come all this way to meet. And for the last forty-three minutes of those forty-five she'd found herself longing for home.
Sighing hopelessly, she checked her wristwatch and frowned when she saw only another five minutes had passed. She was torturing herself, keeping such a close eye on the time. Worse, wishing for home was only depressing her. This trip was supposed to be good for her, a jumpstart to extend her career out of the moderately small Florida city of St. Petersburg, a chance for her to grow as both a person and an artist. At least, that was what her parents had said.
They meant well. Truly they did. She propped her temple on one balled fist and frowned into her glass of white wine as she reminded herself of her parents' good intentions. They only wanted the best for her. Too bad for all involved, the best for her was so obviously not sending her away from her comfort zone, from the familiar, from her home. Last summer spent in Paris as part of her studies at the University of South Florida should have been proof enough of that. Hadn't she spent nearly every waking hour unable to enjoy the sheer beauty of France due to her almost sickening desire to be home?
No doubt about it, she had chosen the wrong profession. Artists were supposed to enjoy traveling the world, taking in new sights, meeting new people. Maybe she'd been born with the talent to paint, to sketch and create. Still, she fell lacking in other attributes. What happened to the traits of a fun-loving people person? Where was her lust for adventure and taste for travel?
When no answer came to the questions she'd asked herself most of her life, she stole yet another glace at her watch. Only two more minutes down. Eeek! Did time really have to creep to a stop when you least wanted it to?
She should've stayed at the hotel, locked herself in the silence and solitude of her suite of rooms until mere minutes before she was slated to meet Georgiana. She might have if she'd known how long it would take her to make it across the city to the bar and café where the gallery owner had wanted to meet. Obviously, it hadn't taken long enough.
Determined to stick it out, Suzanne pulled a sketchpad and pencil from her bag, and then scanned the barroom for something to occupy her mind. The place wasn't packed, but a nice size crowd gathered around the scatter of tables while others took advantage of the spacious dance floor. It was a motley group, she mused, some dressed in business suits, others in conservative blue jeans and T-shirts, and even a few decked in black leather and silver jewelry. No wonder she felt so out of place! Everyone seemed to have someone. Was she really the only one here alone?
She fought the urge to cringe at that and opened the sketchpad, took a tentative sip of her wine, and continued to scan the room. No matter where she was, if she gave art her complete attention, she would feel more at ease. What she needed was a focal point, a visual, something to sketch.
Her gaze landed on a table of two men several feet away, both with long dark hair. The one with his back to her had hair longer than hers! The other man's was a bit shorter, just reaching his shoulders with the sides cut to form to his jaw line.
A strong jaw line, she noted, tilting her head for a better look as she studied him. She rarely found long-haired men attractive but this one, well, even in the dim light of the bar his masculine beauty was apparent. He didn't need to stand for her to get a good sense of his height. Tall. Yes, given the length of leg she could see there was likely beneath that table, she'd guess he had to be as lest six foot tall. He would surely tower over her five-foot-four frame. While she may not find long hair to her typical taste, long legs definitely did it for her. There was just something truly romantic about having to look up at a man. And his body ... Sweet baby Jesus, move over Stephen Segal!
Suzanne actually felt a bit faint as her gaze slid over the wide expanse of his shoulders, the well-defined ripples of muscle beneath his green and tan camouflage shirt. Short sleeves stretched over strong-looking biceps. Wow! He could probably bench-press her weight--barely breaking one hundred pounds--with the ease of a feather. She wondered fleetingly how those impressive arms would feel wrapped around her tiny waist and the faintness in her head intensified even as a warmth spread through her.
His face was long, not too slim and not too fat. Given the distance and lack of lighting, she couldn't tell the color of his eyes under his dark eyebrows, but she guessed they were dark as well. Brown or green, maybe. He had a well-groomed mustache and thin beard and when he turned his head, she caught a sparkle under his bottom lip. A piercing?
No, this was definitely not the sort of man she usually found attractive. Still, she felt drawn to him. It was the oddest feeling! Never before had she experienced such a reaction to a man. Her stomach tingled, a spur of sensations that darted out in all directions like sparks of electricity until every pulse point beneath her skin sizzled.
Art. She'd intended to give her attention to art, to find a focal point, a visual. Oh yeah, she'd found one all right. Ignoring the rush of heat to her cheeks--geez, it infuriated her to blush so easily--she positioned her charcoal pencil above the paper and with quick, fluid strokes, began to sketch him. Scenery was more her thing, landscapes, buildings and beautiful skies though she'd been told her talent lay in human life sketching as well.
She started with his face, glancing up often to be sure she captured its exact shape. The long, slightly rounded outline of his cheeks, the wide jaw, the narrow bridge of his nose that expanded somewhat as it reached a rounded point, the lines that formed around his mouth when he spoke. As he began to take form on her paper, she looked up again and her gaze collided with his. He was looking straight at her!
Her cheeks burned, the heat rushing from her face in a direct flaming line to her center. Thank God for the lack of light in the room! He smiled, a lazy curve of his lips that instantly transformed his features from merely beautiful to nearly godlike, and her mental camera quickly took a snapshot. She returned his smile, and then hurriedly added the curve to the full lips she had sketched. It was a warm smile, a friendly smile, with a touch of a seductive nature, she noted as she sketched from memory. It was a smile she knew for certain would stay in her mind long after tonight.
Garrett Henry chuckled to himself, his smile widening as the blonde across the bar quickly averted her gaze. She'd been watching him off and on for a while now. He'd felt her gaze on him and instinctively ignored it. It was nothing new. People often darted glares in his direction, sometimes even staring at him, recognizing him as the guitarist for the heavy metal band Façade. He just happened to glance up at the same moment she'd been shooting him one of those looks, met her gaze, and smiled.
She had a hell of a smile. Timid and soft, yet radiant and innocently seductive enough to have him feeling the effects of that quick curve of her lips all the way to his cock. She was absolutely stunning! And blushing, he mused with another soft chuckle. Her angelic face had turned so pink it nearly lit the darkened barroom.
It was that blush, the purity of it that sparked his interest. Who was she? She didn't look like a fan. Not that all fans of heavy metal music fell into the stereotypical leather and studs category. Derek's girlfriend Alicia Addison was a prime example of that. And wasn't she a stark contrast to the band's vocalist? She came from money, and lots of it. An up and coming author, she frequently dressed to the nines in outfits worthy of many people's weekly paycheck when making public appearances. This woman--the spectacular little blonde currently sporting a red face--looked to be from the same class as Alicia.
Garrett found himself only half listening to Trey Langston as the bassist talked of remodeling a bedroom for his unborn child. He glanced at Trey, nodded at what must have been the right moment, then looked back at the blonde and wondered. What was she doing in this bar alone? Was she waiting for someone? Instinctively, his gaze dropped to the small fingers curled around the notebook she held. No wedding ring. Not that the absence of a ring meant she wasn't waiting for a man.
What did he care, anyway? Apparent interest and bashfulness aside, the woman was way out of his league. She was all ritzy and elegant, diamonds and gold. As if to add further proof to that observation, a sparkle of gold and diamonds at her wrist caught his eye. A watch, he noted, and no doubt a very expensive one. And the gold and diamonds didn't stop there. Her silky looking hair was pulled back on the sides, fastened in the back by an elegant gold clip while glistening diamond studs decorated her ears. She wore red, stoplight red that was both arresting as hell and stylish in its simplicity. The bodice formed to her chest, exhibiting a pair of medium-sized, shapely breasts. Yeah, though he'd never cared for the song, this woman defined Chris De Burgh's Lady in Red clearly enough for the Webster's dictionary.
Minutes passed, long and excruciating seconds spent trying to drag his gaze away and being completely unable to do so, before she glanced up again, but when she did, it was directly at him. She looked startled, embarrassed, her face again turning as red as the dress she wore. She smiled sheepishly, once again returning her attention to the table, to the notebook she held.
Garrett watched as the paper captured her complete focus, the redness of her cheeks slowly fading as concentration took hold. Her expression became so intense, so serious and, oh man, so beautiful. His cock stiffened behind the zipper of his slacks and he shifted in his seat in an attempt to relieve a bit of the pressure. It didn't help. All he could think was please don't let her be waiting for someone. Out of his league or not, he wasn't sure he could stand to see another man with her right now.
"Not bad." Trey clicked his tongue, the sound splintering through Garrett's thoughts. "She seems a bit young and too classy, but certainly not hard on the eyes."
"What are you talking about?" Garrett focused on his friend as he picked up his glass of Jack Daniels and soda and took a long swig.
"Not what, my friend, but who." Trey's expression was all-knowing. "And I was referring to the blonde in that booth over there you can't seem to keep your eyes off of."
"I was trying to figure out what she's doing. She keeps looking this way and then writing something in that notebook."
"So go ask her."
Garrett shrugged. "Maybe I will." But what would be the point? He'd already deemed her out of his league. No way was a woman like her attracted to him. Yet, if it wasn't attraction then what brought on the constant looks, the dick-teasing blushes? And what the hell was she writing in that notebook?
She could be a reporter. If that was the case, he should keep his seat, let her come to him. He didn't mind impromptu interviews but he wasn't about to go looking for one. Maybe she was a fan, he mused and then almost immediately dismissed the thought. He just couldn't see it. Ms. Exquisite Diamond and Gold a fan? No way. Women like that went for the preppy, clean-cut boy bands like the Backstreet Boys or the soft rock icons like Michael Bolton or Bryan Adams.
Once again, he was reminded of Alicia Addison and he silently reconsidered his assessment. Derek was far from the preppy suit type, and yet she was head over stiletto heels in love with the vocalist. She was what he and his other band mates had jokingly come to term as a metal head in disguise. Though he doubted the same would hold true for the blonde across the bar, it was that thought in combination with his growing curiosity and arousal that compelled him to rise from the table.
Trey stood, too. "I have to get home. Let me know what happens with the blonde." He tossed a few bills on the tabletop, slapped Garrett's shoulder, and walked away.
Garrett kept his gaze on the blonde as he made his way through the small crowd across the bar. He was only a step away from the booth she occupied when she finally looked up. * * * *
Suzanne's heart stopped, her breath catching in her throat as she met the eyes of the man she had so easily captured on paper in her sketchbook. Her stomach flip-flopped as a slow, lazy grin unfolded across his full lips. The smile was super-sexy, and she felt her body react to it in ways so exotic and foreign to her it blew her mind.
"Can I buy you another drink?" The mere sound of his voice was so shockingly intimate that it swept over her like a physical caress.
A part of her deep inside melted. Unable to speak, she nodded.
"Do you mind if I join you?"
She gulped and shook her head. He slid into the booth across from her and held up a hand to signal the cocktail waitress. He had beautiful hands, large and confident with long, wide fingers. Artist's hands, she decided, and wondered fleetingly how they would feel against her bare flesh.
The thought startled her, making her blush ... again. Ugg! What in God's name was wrong with her? In the span of twenty or so minutes she had wondered what it would feel like to be in this man's arms, to have his hands on her body, and she didn't even know his name!
The cocktail waitress arrived and he ordered their drinks before returning his attention to her. "I'm Garrett Henry."
He didn't reach for her, didn't extend his hand for her to shake. Instead, he laced those long fingers together and laid them on the table before him.
Okay, so now she knew his name. Still, that didn't make her body's reaction to this man any less shocking. She wasn't a woman who was easily turned on by a man. More often than not, she found men to be intimidating, sex-hungry, overpowering individuals. She never had the hot, heavy fantasies that many women did. Oh, she dreamed, but it was of romance and everlasting love, of marriage and of children, rather than the intimacies between a man and a woman. Yet, as she stared at this man, all she could think about was being with him in the most unspeakable ways. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, she felt like a woman possessed. Who was this seemingly sex-starved being that had taken over her thoughts?
"And you are?" He tilted his head and lifted one brow.
Snap out of it! "Suzanne," she answered quickly.
"Suzanne Cassidy?" the cocktail waitress asked as she set their drinks on the table.
"Yes." Startled and confused, Suzanne looked up at the bushy redhead.
"You had a phone call." The waitress smacked a wad of gum with each word. "Some woman named Georgiana. She said to tell you something came up and she won't be able to meet you tonight. She said she was sorry and she would get in touch with you tomorrow."
Garrett waited until the waitress walked away before he spoke. "A friend of yours?"
"Georgiana? Actually, I've never met her." But she owed her big. Suzanne hoped whatever was keeping the gallery owner away was nothing serious. Still, as she met the mesmerizing gaze of Garrett Henry, she knew she'd have to thank Georgiana for this forced opportunity to meet this man. "We've talked, of course, but tonight would have been our first face-to-face meeting."
"So you came here on some sort of business, then?"
"Mind if I ask what kind? I don't mean to pry, just making conversation." His broad shoulders rose and fell in a slight shrug.
Suzanne smiled, warming to him in a way she had only been able to do with few men. Handsome, polite, easy to talk to, it was a pleasant surprise that comforted her even as the alien stirrings of what she could only define as arousal set her hormones on end.
"Georgiana works at the Philadelphia Gallery of Modern Art. She wants to display my work in the gallery."
"You're an artist." It was more of a surprised statement than a question. "What kind of work do you do?"
"Paintings, sketches." She paused and sipped her wine. The chilled sweet taste did little to quench the fire that merely looking at this man ignited inside her. "Landscapes and nature scenes, mostly, but I do some people as well."
"Is that what you were doing?" His gaze pointedly darted to the sketchbook that now lay closed on the table in front of her.
Darn if she didn't feel her cheeks reddening again! She had long passed the nervous, embarrassed stage of allowing people to see her work, but this sketch ... "I was just doodling." Don't ask to see it. Please don't ask. No such luck.
"Can I look?" Even as he spoke, his hand was slowly inching toward the sketchbook. When she didn't stop him, he pulled the sketchbook to him and flipped open the cover. It was a new sketchbook, one she'd purchased especially for her trip before leaving Florida, and his was the first sketch. "Wow!" He gasped, tilting the notebook up slightly to get a better view in the dim light. "You're good."
"Thank you. It's just a rough sketch. The lighting in here is terrible."
"It's amazing. The sketch, it's like..." He paused, his gaze moving over the paper, as if searching for the right words. "It's like looking into a mirror and seeing my reflection in black and white."
"The eyes aren't quite right," she said, more to herself than him. "It was hard to capture the true essence of your eyes from the distance and darkness."
He looked at her. No, she'd definitely hadn't gotten the eyes right. The shape was slightly off and the color, not even her best pastels could fully imitate the green of his eyes. They were the color of grass in an open field on a hot summer day and she felt her temperature rise to her very core.
"You have great eyes." Ohmigod! Had she really said that aloud?
His smile heated to the intensity of molten lava. He closed the sketchbook and slid it back across the table to her. "Would you like to dance?"
"I ... um..." It's okay, a small angelic voice said in her mind. Live a little, came another voice, this one more devious and mischievous. At least they both agreed. That didn't happen often. "I would love to," she finally answered and heard the echo of applause in her head.
They slid out of the booth together and she placed her hand in his. An electric jolt shot through her fingers, traveling up her arm. She looked up at him, surprised by the warmth and softness of his skin and the sensual effect it had on her. He gently squeezed her hand before leading her to the dance floor.
The song that played was a slow one, a bit harder than Suzanne's usual choice of music, and she knew she wouldn't recognize the artist. She preferred the soft easy sounds of classic bands like Chicago or Journey to the hard-hitting drums and heavy guitar of most of the music she had heard played on the bar's jukebox this night. Still, she attempted to focus on it rather than the man who was pulling her into his arms. Her endeavor failed miserably. She had wondered what those thick forearms would feel like wrapped around her. Now she knew and, oh God, what a feeling! * * * *
Garrett drew her closer as they began to move in time with the music. Even in heels, she was a good three inches shorter than he. She felt like a Barbie Doll against his large frame. He was afraid to hold her too tightly for fear she might break.
She looked up at him, drawing her bottom lip between her teeth. It was a nervous gesture. He could feel the slight tremor of her body in his arms. But, nervous or not, the gesture was so unconsciously sexual he felt its effect in his groin. He fought not to push his lower body against hers, knowing she would feel his erection if he did, and fearing it would scare her away. The urge to capture that oh-so-kissable bottom lip between his teeth and steal a nibble only managed to aid in the fierceness of his arousal.
A smile played at the corners of her mouth, and he wondered if she could read his thoughts. She was an artist and that meant she had a trained eye for detail and observation. If his eyes did betray his thoughts, she didn't seem to mind. By her own accord, she stepped even closer into him, laying her cheek on his chest. He rested his chin on the top of her head, closing his eyes as her unmistakably enticing Chanel scent drifted to his nostrils, fueling his desire. He was doing his damnedest to get a handle on his control, to somehow soften the erection that was becoming increasingly painful, but the scent of her combined with the feel of her small, fragile body pressed to his made it nearly impossible.
They moved in silence, and when the song faded into another slow ballad, they continued to dance. As the hour grew late, the barroom began to fill, the dance floor becoming more cramped, fusing the dancing couples to one another, and he knew he could dance like this forever. * * * *
"I don't think I've danced this much since my senior prom," Suzanne said later in the evening as they walked back to the booth.
"That couldn't have been too long ago." Garrett flashed a smile and her world seemed to shift.
She felt as though she had been riding a Tilt-A-Whirl all night. Each time he smiled at her, each time he pulled her into his firm muscular arms, each time he caressed her hair with his palm, the ground moved beneath her feet. When he gazed at her with those green eyes so full of intensity and desire, the world spun out of control. Never before had she sensed such heat radiating from a man, such a searing longing to be with her.
"It's been almost ten years. Well, eight, actually." She picked up her wine glass and sipped. It had grown warm while they were on the dance floor and she winced from the tartness.
"Do you want another one?"
"I better not. It's getting late. I should probably be heading for the hotel." She didn't want her night with this man to end, but she had a growing sensation in her most secret places that was telling her if she didn't get away soon, she might end up doing things she had no business doing.
Like going to bed with a man she had just met.
The devious, mischievous voice in her head booed and chided her while the angel applauded. Her heart tripped at the thought, then stilled at the realization that she wanted to tie the little angel's hands behind her back, blindfold and gag her, and give the little devil the entertainment he wanted.
It was the wine, she decided, the alcohol impairing her judgment. Never mind the fact that she only had three glasses all night. She felt the desire within her to do things she never would have considered before. She wanted to say to hell with etiquette, with responsibility, with morals, with twenty-five years of waiting and ask this man to make love to her. But even if she were able to completely let go, she would never have the courage to make such a request. She couldn't believe the thought even crossed her mind!
It was the little devil's fault. Throwing away twenty-five years of celibacy for one night between the sheets! Did the little red freak with the devious grin and spiky horns think she had lost her ever-lovin' mind?
Garrett placed a wad of bills on the table and stood. He walked her outside. "Do you have a car?"
"No, I took a cab."
"Need a taxi, Miss?" a man leaning against a yellow car parked at the curb asked at the same time Garrett asked, "Can I give you a ride?"
Suzanne hesitated, her gaze darting between the two men. Her imaginary companions appeared on her shoulders. The angel on her right told her to take the cab, while the devil on her left whispered wickedly for her to allow Garrett to take her back to the hotel. She yearned to listen to the devil. He was so cute, and his beady little eyes were offering so much fun. She felt his power, felt the longing pull at her resolve. But she couldn't. She shouldn't. She knew she should listen to the angel instead.
"I better take the cab," she finally said, albeit reluctantly.
Garrett nodded, understanding evident in his eyes. "How long will you be in town?" He walked with her to the taxi. The driver got behind the wheel and waited.
"I'm not really sure, a few weeks, probably."
"Can I see you again?" His arms moved around her waist as he spoke. He pulled her to him and she went willingly.
"I--I have a suite at Loews until Friday." The excitement of the possibility of seeing him again surged through her veins. "After that, I'll be staying with a friend."
"I'll call you." His voice lowered, growing so husky it took her breath away.
Unable to speak, she looked up at him and nodded. When he brought a hand to her face in a tender caress, she leaned her cheek into his slightly callused palm.
"I want to kiss you," he whispered. "I've wanted to kiss you all night."
When she still said nothing, his hand moved to her chin. With a gentle tug of his thumb, her mouth parted for him as his lips neared hers.
Like everything else about the man, his kiss was soft and light, and when his tongue swept into her mouth, she felt it all the way to her toes. She sighed into his mouth as her tongue met his stroke for stroke. Sensations she hadn't known were possible exploded inside her. His arms tightened around her waist as he pulled her closer still, and not for the first time that night, she felt his growing erection against her stomach.
All too soon, he ended the kiss and slowly pulled away. "You better go."
Though it was the last thing she wanted, she knew he was right. She couldn't explain the magnetic attraction between them, but sensed that if she didn't watch herself, she could easily become welded to this man.
"Thanks for a wonderful evening." She slid into the backseat of the taxi. "I had a great time."
"So did I." He leaned through the door to brush a quick kiss on her forehead. "I'll call you." He pulled back and shut the door.
As the taxi drove away, Suzanne wondered if she really would ever see Garrett Henry again. She wanted to. Every fiber of her being wanted to see him again, to be held by him, to be kissed by him, to do so much more. But in the course of a few short hours, he had awakened things inside her she hadn't known existed, made her feel things she hadn't thought possible. If she never saw him again, she would forever have fond memories of her first night in Philadelphia.
Who would have thought? She rested her head against the back of the seat and closed her eyes, a small smile toying with her lips. The little devil crossed his arms and scowled. The angel beamed, and muttered comforting words of praise.