Say You Want Me
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I couldn’t help gaping at the tall, tanned, and dripping wet hunk of man flesh before me. Cesar’s broad shoulders filled the doorway as he looked at me, wearing nothing but a smile and a skimpy towel draped low around his waist.
“Can I help you, bella?”
Ugh. Why did he have to call me that? I thought it was Spanish for pretty girl, or maybe it was a term of endearment. He hadn’t called me his bella since last week, when I told him to stop. No surprise he refused to listen. Cesar was persistent.
I averted my gaze, trying hard not to stare at the glistening water on his taut stomach or the tattoo on his shoulder. “You really should put some clothes on.”
“Sorry.” He ran a hand through his thick, dripping hair. “I was in the hot tub.”
My jaw dropped. “You have a hot tub?” It was only last weekend I’d had to sneak into his backyard to retrieve my wayward dog. I didn’t remember seeing anything other than a few lawn chairs, a punching bag, and a grill.
“I had it installed two days ago.” His wicked grin stretched nearly ear-to-ear. “I’m disappointed you haven’t been peeking over my fence.”
I scowled. “Why would I want to peek over your fence?”
“Same reason I want to peek over yours.” He laughed, a deep throaty chuckle that sent a jolt of lust straight to my lady parts. My poor vibrator would be working overtime tonight.
I tried to deepen my scowl, but it might have come out as a smile instead.
Get a grip, Savannah. Do not let this man have control over you.
Truthfully, I had intentionally spied over Cesar’s fence a few times when he hit his punching bag. He was usually shirtless, with his back to me. His skin was drenched in sweat, and his backside was ripped with tanned muscles. Now all those muscles were in my face, tempting me like a tall glass of iced tea on a hot summer day. One taste, I kept telling myself, was all I needed to quench my thirst.
Ever since I’d been old enough to take an interest in the opposite sex, I’d denied myself their forbidden fruit, all because I didn’t want to give my father an excuse to call me a whore. That asshole had my mind so twisted, I’d been terrified of even looking at boys. I’d missed my senior prom, not only because I couldn’t afford a gown, but because I knew my dad would accuse me of having sex with my date. I’d refused to give him the satisfaction of comparing me to my dead mother.
But Bud Boudreau was dead now, too. I’d cut him out of my life five years ago. Why was I still terrified of men? How had I managed to let that sick fuck wield so much control over my life when he was no longer a part of it?
Gah! My brain hurt too much from thinking about him. What I needed was a tall drink and a soak in the tub. Cesar’s hot tub came to mind, but no, I had to clear my mind, not muddle it even more.
“Look.” My shoulders caved inward with the weight of my depression, “I’m tired. Can I just get my dog?”
“Sure.” He threw open the door and stepped back.
I crossed under his broad arm, warily eyeing him as I stepped over the threshold.
“You look like you need to relax. Maybe a glass of wine and a soak in my tub?”
I stumbled, tripping over my own two feet.
He grabbed me, clutching my waist with a strong hand, preventing me from falling face-first onto his floor. I clung to his shoulder while righting myself.
“Easy there,” he said with a wink.
I turned into his embrace, gaping up at him as if I’d been struck mute. Was he a mind reader? How did he know I needed a drink and a soak? I looked at him through narrowed eyes as I pulled out of his embrace. “You don’t give up, do you?”
He shrugged, stepping back as he unwrapped the towel from around his waist. “I want to show you something.”
Dear God, was he going to show me his penis? I should have shielded my eyes, but I couldn’t move. Only after the towel had fallen, revealing a pair of black swimming trunks, did I breathe a sigh of relief, or maybe it was disappointment.
“W-What?” I asked, my voice sounding surprisingly small.
He slung the towel over his shoulder and wordlessly grabbed my hand, pulling me toward the sliding door leading to his backyard. “Just look,” he whispered.
My mind was too preoccupied with the feel of his warm hand cradling mine, and the way his breath tickled the exposed skin of my neck, to process what I was looking at. My gaze skimmed over the big square tub with steam rising from the top that sat on the patio. My eyes widened when I saw Nacho chasing Macy. She barked and wagged her tail, ducking under a lawn chair before tearing up the grass, zooming around the yard as if she had a rocket wedged up her furry butt. Nacho caught her, and she turned on him, chasing him across the patio. It was the funniest sight, especially since Macy weighed only ten pounds and Nacho, a yellow Lab, was easily ten times her size.
No wonder my dog was always sneaking over here. It was clear they were the best of friends. I felt bad for stealing her away from Nacho every night. She was happier when she was with him.
My throat constricted as I looked at Cesar through cloudy eyes. “They are really having fun, aren’t they?”
He softly smiled, brushing a strand of hair behind my ear. “Animals need companionship, just like people. It’s no fun being alone.”
I repressed the urge to shudder at his touch. I involuntarily swayed toward him, drawn toward his masculine heat like a moth toward flame. “No, it isn’t.”