The blonde peering into his bedroom window never heard him approach.
“Can I help you?” he asked mildly when he was within pouncing distance.
Shrieking, she whirled to face him, backing up at the same time. Her hands came up to balance herself, but it was too late. He made no move to rescue her even though he could have. Her momentum toppled her over the railing and into the soggy grass below. She landed flat on her back.
From the edge of the porch, he stared down at her not feeling the least bit sorry for startling her. What did a man have to do to get privacy?
Her wheat colored hair covered her face and the rain slowly soaked her clothes. She seemed too startled to move. Finally, she eased up on her elbows. Her breasts heaved and fell as if she might start crying. The last thing he wanted was a crying woman. Or a lawsuit.
“You all right?”
With a perfectly polished hand, she flicked her hair out of her face and glared up at him. The blue eyes that locked with his couldn’t have surprised him more if there’d been eight of them.
Amanda St. James. Alive and in his yard.
Couldn’t be. He narrowed his gaze and took in her features. Same cute pixie nose. Same rosy, heart-shaped mouth he’d longed to kiss. Same delicious curves that his hands itched to caress.
Suddenly he was transported a decade ago when they’d all been hanging out on a hot summer day. It had been August. Suffocatingly humid. Then Amanda had grabbed the hose and proceeded to drench him and his brothers to the bone. Her kissable mouth had laughed and smiled as they’d chased her. When they’d finally caught her, turning the hose on her, the water had plastered her clothes to her sweet young body.It had taken all his willpower not to carry her off that very afternoon. To kiss her all over—from that adorable nose, to those delicious berry pink lips, to her hot pink toenails.
The clap of thunder brought him back to the present. His eyes didn’t fool him. He sniffed the air and her scent filled his lungs. She smelled so sweet, so familiar, and so wonderful that he almost closed his eyes to savor it. Instead, he took in her pitiful form. She looked like a drowned cat. He watched as the rain molded her shirt to her breasts. Either from cold or, heaven help him, desire, her nipples beaded beneath the fabric and stood out like pebbles.
He clenched his fists. Long dormant need surged upward startling him with its intensity. Its rawness. He hadn’t seen or heard from her in nine long years but he’d never stopped wanting her. It was the reason he dated a long stream of women, never settling down. He’d never felt this kind of urgency with anyone else. Although he’d tried to wipe away her memory, none of them could compare to Manda. His Manda.
But her presence now reminded him of how she’d fled all those years ago. She’d gone off to Yankee country for school. Then she’d gone on to work for one of the biggest broadcast companies in the country. Never looked back. Never called. Simply fled. Ran from him.
His inner beast had been too proud to let him chase. Had been sure she’d come back in a week or two. Weeks had turned into years and now almost a decade. Now the beast growled deep inside, for the years he’d lost, for making him want her so, making him wait. It lay coiled, anxious and ready to spring to life and take what it wanted.
He crossed his arms over his chest, trying to keep the dangerous animal inside on a tight leash.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t Amanda St. James.” He couldn’t keep the disdain from his voice. He hoped to hell she couldn’t hear the hurt, the yearning… “Did the Yanks kick you out? Get too cold for ya up north?”
“What a mean thing to say.” For a moment, she looked genuinely wounded. But he told himself that was part of her game. The network probably sent her.
“Then what are ya doin’ here?” Probably snooping for a story, he thought. Figured she’d use her looks, her connections, to get it. Like hell, she was going to get her story.
Her tongue slipped between her glossy pink lips to lick a raindrop. That simple movement reminded him of all the times she’d licked her lips, stuck out her tongue at him—reminded him of everything he really wanted in life.
And just how much he wanted to kiss her.
Once again, he took in her sad wet form and saw everything he’d wanted for hundreds of years. Everything he’d been denied and had denied himself.
Sebastian knew he couldn’t be angry; she was worth the wait. He couldn’t let her get away again. This was a sign from the Gods. She was meant to be his. He’d known it all those years ago when he’d watched her blossom in front of his eyes. While he’d waited for her to grow up. Waited for her to come to him.
He still knew it. Nothing had changed, he reasoned. Except that he wanted her more now than he had nine years ago.
And she was well over eighteen now. He would finally make her his.
With the effortless grace his kind was known for, he leapt over the railing and landed at her feet. Oblivious to the rain, he glared down at her.
“Get up,” he ordered. She started to crab crawl backwards but she couldn’t get away fast enough. In a lightning fast move, he hoisted her over his shoulder. She barely weighed more than a sack or two of sugar.
“What are you doing?” she cried.
“Taking what’s mine.”
He knew the instant she comprehended his words. She squirmed and wiggled like a bunny in a trap, but it didn’t matter. He had her where he wanted her.