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BURNING UP
by Susan Andersen

Genre: General Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Romance

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Bracing herself, Macy turned around—and nearly swallowed her tongue when she saw Gabe clad in nothing but two towels, one wrapped low around his hips and the other slung around his strong neck. She forced herself to give him a cool once-over from the top of his damp hair to his long bare feet. “Well, aren’t you the picture of big and strong. Do you always walk around half naked, Fire Chief Call-me-Gabe?”

“Difficult to shower with your clothes on.”

“And yet so easy to dry off and dress in the bathroom.”

Surrounded by his soap-and-shaving-cream scent, she took a nonchalant step back and looked up at him, taking in the freshly shaven skin on his cheeks and jaw. Against her will, her gaze was drawn to the fine cloud of black hair covering his pectorals.

“You just can’t help yourself, can you?”

A bead of water slid down his tan neck and rolled over his clavicle, heading for the fan of hair. I will not lick it, I will not lick it. “Can’t help myself from what?”

“Flirting. Wet behind the ears boys, old duffers with one foot in the grave--is there no one you won’t flirt up?”

“I don’t recall flirting with you. Is that what’s got your boxers in a twist, sugar—you don’t like being left out?” She had a pretty strong hunch this wasn’t a man to mess with. But she’d learned young never to back down. 

Reversing the backward step she’d taken, she touched her fingertip to the drop of water now clinging to his chest. 

She wasn’t prepared for the shock such simple contact sent skittering along her nerve endings. Praying its impact didn’t show, she raised the now damp finger to her lips.

His hand shot out and captured her wrist before she could lick the smear of water from it. Bringing it to his own lips, he slid her finger into his mouth. He wrapped his lips around her finger and sucked hard as he slowly pulled the digit free. 

In the next heartbeat he’d set her loose. “I’m neither a boy or an old man--you might want to rethink making me any offers, implicit or inferred, if you’re not prepared to follow through on them.” He stepped past her, spreading warmth along her entire left side when the bare skin of his arm brushed her. 

Her heart threatened to hammer its way out of her chest as she turned to watch him, all wide shoulders, long back and longer legs, stalking down the hallway. Yes, she thought hazily. I probably oughtta do that

It had been a simple little suck on one lousy finger. He hadn’t dropped his towel, pressed her up against the nearest wall and had his wicked way with her. 

Yet here she stood, rattled so hard that for perhaps the first time in her life not a single comeback popped to mind.

Because she had a bad feeling she would’ve really liked it if he had.