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Designer Sex

Written by Heather MacAllister

Chapter eight

Erin didn't know what possessed her and, frankly, didn't care. The more Mick visibly restrained himself, his hot gaze roaming over her body, the sexier she felt. He wanted her, but he wasn't entirely sure of her. She found the knowledge empowering.

Mick stripped off the rest of his clothes, his gaze never leaving her. Then he stretched out beside her, laced his fingers with hers and brought her knuckles to his mouth for a gentle kiss. With his other hand, he deftly slid open the drawer of the nightstand.

The man was smooth. The man would be rewarded for it.

Shifting her hand in his, Erin drew them both slowly over the velvet pillow and over her skin, then up to the silk pillow and across her neck. Turning her head, she placed an equally gentle kiss on his fingers. "You know," she said in a husky voice she didn't recognize, "slow has its moments, but there's a lot to be said for hot and fast."

And Mick proved that he could be very, very fast and very, very hot. Within moments, he had her writhing on the soft comforter, making sounds that were an awful lot like those she'd heard through the wall.

He kissed her deeply as his fingers worked magic, swallowed her gasp as he joined with her.

"Erin," he breathed.

Just Erin. Not Erin-baby, or anything else. Perfect. Perfect enough to send her over the edge, feeling a supreme satisfaction when he followed immediately after.

As they lay together, she could feel his heart racing in time with her own and decided that this was a perfect moment, too. He murmured something and nuzzled her neck, then kissed her temple. Erin sighed. This was so much better than she thought it would be. She had expected him to know all the moves, but it was his uninhibited tenderness that really got to her.

Erin drew a deep breath and wondered what to do next. Stay? Or leave? Act casual or admit that the past few minutes ranked as some of the most fabulous of her life?

Mick didn't give her the option. "Wow," he whispered. He shifted to his side, rolled her onto hers and drew her against him, fitting himself against the curve of her back, his arm around her waist. Then he wrapped them both in a cocoon of the new comforter and Erin fell asleep in his arms.

* * *

After a full night's sleep and a good part of the next morning besides, Erin emerged from the cocoon with the knowledge that if Mick had bedposts, he'd be entitled to carve another notch.

Oh, he was wonderful, and kind, and funny, and charming, and fed her a breakfast of decently scrambled eggs and strawberry Pop-Tarts, but the upshot was that she had succumbed — and moaned — just like all the others.

She'd had such a great time and from the way Mick acted, she figured there could be more great times. But she knew in her heart that she shouldn't indulge because as long as she was having temporary great times with Mick, she wouldn't be available to meet a man with whom she could have permanent great times.

* * *

As far as Mick was concerned, Erin could eat Pop-Tarts in his kitchen for as long as she wanted. He was about to tell her so when she spoke.

"Last night was great, but it's going to have to be a one-time deal."

"I don't want it to be a one-time deal." Was she kidding? Testing him?

"Look, Mick…" She brushed her hair back from her face and fastened it with the clip, transforming herself from the passionate spirit she'd been last night into the familiar repressed neighbor. "I don't share well with others."

"Others?" His jaw tensed. "You mean women?"

Erin nodded.

"There are no others. There haven't been in a long time," he admitted, exasperated.

"I heard you just last week —"

"You heard the CD! There was nobody here but me."

Erin slid off the bar stool. "Then why were you playing it?"

He hesitated, then admitted, "Pride."

"You deliberately kept me awake for hours out of pride?"

"I didn't mean to fall asleep —"

Erin held up a hand and headed for the door. "It's okay. We'll just…just go back to being neighbors and forget about it."

"I'll let you cool off," Mick called after her. "But I'm not going to let you forget anything."

* * *

Like she could forget anything with a stupid TV taking up half her living space. Mick was another story. She'd bet it took only a week before he decided she wasn't worth the effort. After all, there was no longer the thrill of the chase, was there?

Erin refused to blame herself or regret her night with him. She just set about getting over Mick. Mostly that meant ignoring all attempts he made to contact her. It also meant that she was watching a heck of a lot more television than she used to.

She was such a pushover. One Great Performances with the Boston Symphony in glorious Technicolor and surround sound on PBS, and she was hooked. She knew she should sell the TV and buy dining furniture, but, well, she didn't.

Erin also knew that she should talk to Mick, but she didn't do that either. Although she did go so far as to buy a special pay-per-view holiday sports package, thinking she could invite him over to watch it — as a neighborly gesture — but changed her mind when she caught an unexpected glimpse of him collecting his mail and nearly hyperventilated. Nope, not over him yet.

On Saturday night, Erin was thoroughly engrossed in a movie and a bowl of popcorn when there was a knock at her door.

"Go away, Mick," she said through the closed door when she saw who it was.

"I can't believe I'm about to say this, but we need to talk about our relationship. Did you hear that? I'm betraying my gender here."

Erin laughed silently. "Mick, I'm fine. I'm not angry, really. It's just that you aren't ready to have the kind of relationship I want."

"Yes, I am. And I'll prove it to you."

Erin heard him open and close the door to his apartment and she went back to her movie.

At the first thud, Erin yelped and spilled her popcorn. The next thud opened a hole in the wall.

"Mick! What are you doing — stop it!"

He ignored her. Erin ran to the bookshelves to steady the knickknacks and watched Mick enlarge the hole in the wall with disconcerting ease. Within a few minutes, he stepped through the hole in the wall and set a sledgehammer against the jagged edge.

"Hi." He brushed Sheetrock dust from his arms and shoulders. "I didn't hurt the TV, did I?"

"What do you think you're doing?"

"Committing and redecorating. Masculine, but with hints of femininity. A rare combination. You should snap me up."

"You're a nut." Erin rolled her eyes and returned to her fake-leather couch.

"Erin, we were great together. There's nobody else. I don't want anybody else. I'm staying in Houston. I even like the stupid pillows." He admired his handiwork. "And I really like our newly enlarged living room."

Erin was losing the battle, which judging by Mick's expression, he'd figured out. "What do you say?"

What could she say? No man had ever knocked a hole in the wall for her before. "I say I get to control the remote and we're watching the women's channel."

He gave an exaggerated sigh. "Those are your terms?"

"Those are my terms."

Mick hopped over the back of the couch and slid down next to her. "Pass the popcorn." He didn't even complain. What a guy.

Erin only subjected him to about fifteen seconds before punching the remote. In place of the movie, the logo for a Las Vegas casino appeared on the screen.

"The Trinidad–de la Hoya fight? No way!" He looked down at her. "I love you."

"You should."

"You love me, too, doncha?"

"I shouldn't."

"But you do." He smiled in satisfaction as he settled deeper into the couch. "Don't be so hard on yourself. I'm a lovable guy."

"Hmm. I need more of a sense of this lovableness."

"Okay." He dug into his pocket and pulled out two tickets. Orchestra seats. To the sold-out Antonio Zamora concert. "These came with them." He handed her two invitations.

"Green room passes?" Erin fingered them reverently. "But the champagne reception is only for the donors — the big donors. The patrons. How —?"

"So I'm a patron now."

"You aren't."

Mick stared at the screen where the boxers were parading into the ring. "Yeah. I kinda like violin music."

Erin studied his profile and felt a sense of rightness — of completion. And relief that she wasn't going to fight it anymore. "I love you."

"I know." He grinned. "Have some popcorn."

The End

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About the author

I live in Texas and am married to my high-school sweetheart, whom I at...

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Heather MacAllister

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