Hope awoke the next morning with a terrible, gnawing kink in her neck from sleeping upright in the lounger. “Oh God. Ouch. Oh, hell.” “Did you sleep there all night?” Alex walked up the beach toward her. Surprised, she darted her eyes to him, causing her neck to spasm again. “Ow—goddammit! Yes, apparently. Though I didn’t mean to.” She rolled her neck, and it began to loosen up. Pale pink streaked the sky to the east and a soft light grew around them. “I woke up early and was heading into the dive shop when I noticed someone in the chair, so I came over to make sure everything was ok.” He stopped in front of her. “Is everything ok?” “Except for my broken neck, yes.” She was still rubbing it. “I can come back later if you’d prefer. When you’re not cussing at me.” He was smiling, and she couldn’t help but return it. “I can’t believe I slept all night like this.” “I can. You must have been exhausted after yesterday.” That brought it all back, and she turned to sit sideways on the lounger. “I’m sorry I bolted off the boat when we returned to the dock—that wasn’t fair to you. I needed some time alone.” Alex sat down next to her and pressed his leg against hers. Her stomach tightened, and she shifted her eyes to him, but there was no sign of teasing or flirting. He was simply offering comfort. Hope relaxed and leaned against him as Alex put his arm around her shoulders. “Don’t apologize,” he said. “Sometimes I need to go off by myself too. And I meant what I said yesterday—you did great down there.” A warm light spread inside her at his closeness. “Thank you. I’m determined not to let this beat me.” “No one would expect you to get over something like that in a day, but I’ve got an idea. There’s an afternoon trip scheduled for today, but why don’t we dive the house reef here tomorrow afternoon? Just you and me. You had a great time when we dove it on your check-out.” Hope drank in his face. His morning stubble was much darker than the hair on his head. She focused on his chin—there was gray mixed in, too. Alex wasn’t some boy pretending to be a man. He was so different. “I’d like that.” “Good. I’ll keep you safe.” He pressed his leg tighter against hers. “Do you trust me?” “Yes.” Their eyes locked and held, and Hope became aware of everywhere their bodies touched, even more so than when they were on the boat yesterday. She dropped her gaze to his mouth, yearning for his kiss, and aching for his touch. Stunned senseless at her intense response to him. His lips were full and slightly parted as he moved them toward her. Time seemed to slow as she leaned toward him, their lips only inches apart.
Excerpt #2 (Steamy) ~740 words
Slowly, Alex lowered his mouth until his lips brushed against hers, barely touching. Hope reached up a hand and pressed the back of his head toward her as she opened her mouth and brushed her tongue lightly across his lower lip. The effect on Alex was electric. He groaned and crushed her to him. Hope kissed him back, her hands firm across his back, feeling the hard muscle underneath his skin. He loosened his hold, lips still firm against her. One hand ran down her spine, while the other reached around to cup her breast, gooseflesh rising on her skin in their wake. The warm water swirled around her, competing with his touch. As his hand reached under her swim top, Hope inhaled sharply then pushed against him, feeling the rigidness between them. Alex pulled away, water beading on his face as he grasped her face in both hands. “I really need to hear you say you want this.” She whispered in his ear, “I’m done running away. I want you so much.” He grabbed a handful of her wet hair, pulling her mouth back to his. Another big wave picked them up and set them back down, unbalancing them both. Alex broke the contact and turned around. He led her back to the beach, drawing her down onto the blanket with him. As he removed her bikini top, she couldn’t distinguish the sound of the ocean over the blood rushing in her head. His mouth tasted of champagne and salt—she couldn’t get enough of him. After brushing her lips one more time, he continued down her neck then lower, his mouth circling her breasts until she moaned. Alex lifted up on one elbow. “God, you are so beautiful.” Hope didn’t trust herself to respond to that, so she pulled him down to kiss him again, running her hands across his chest and pausing to enjoy the contrast of soft skin with firm muscle underneath. Finally, she traced her fingers lower and squeezed softly. His breath caught at that, and he smiled against his lips. He broke off their kiss and sat up, pulling off her bikini bottoms. He shrugged out of his trunks and lay down again, the full length of their naked bodies touching as she pulled his mouth back to hers, immersed in the feel of it all as he slid his hand over her hip. Alex closed his eyes and kissed her before she could respond. He moved his hand over her hip, finally stopping between her legs. Hope heaved a breath, giving herself over to the sensations, her pulse pounding in her ears as his touch sent jagged sparks through her. Kissing him deeply, she drew her nails down his chest. Hope slowed her hand as it continued down and across his abdomen, softly now, the muscles underneath rippled at her touch. Moving on, she slowly caressed down his side, tracing a light touch against his hot skin. Alex rolled over onto his back, taking her with him as their mouths remained locked together. Feeling the soft breeze cooling the hot skin on the back of her body, Hope moved her hips from side to side, grinding against him. He rumbled deep in his chest and rolled them back over. They were both breathing hard now, sharing the same air between them as their mouths devoured each other. “Alex, I want you. Now,” she breathed into his ear. He moved on top of her, and she inhaled deeply as he entered her, every nerve calling out. His eyes were full and brilliant, and he looked at her as if she were the only thing in his world. They maintained eye contact as they began moving together, first very slowly, and then faster. Alex grasped both her arms and lifted them above her head as their fingers intertwined. She was immobilized by his body. Lost in his eyes, full of desire and trust, she was safe with him. Alex gasped, closing his eyes and burying his face in her neck as their movement increased. “Oh God, Hope.” Everywhere their bodies touched became slick with sweat. Glancing at the blue sky, Hope tightened her grip on his hands, breathing ever faster as the sensations within her built, wave after wave, as she closed her eyes and locked her mouth onto his shoulder. Alex gripped her hands tighter in return, crying out with her.