WISH I MAY by Lexi Ryan
I grew up wishing on stars.
My father taught me to believe…in destiny, in magic, in happily ever after. Dreams were my scripture and the starry night sky was my temple. Then Mom stopped believing, left him, and took us with her. At the age of sixteen, I cashed in my dreams to pay the rent, pawned my destiny to keep my sisters together.
Now, seven years later, I’m returning home, grieving the death of my mother, and settling my sisters back into the life Mom threw away. I never intended to stay. I don’t want to deal with my father, who is so invested in the spiritual world he forgets the physical. I don’t want to face William Bailey, whose eyes remind me of the girl I was, the things I’ve done, and the future I lost.
This would all be easier if Will hated me. As it is, I have to hold my secrets close so they won’t hurt him more than they’ve already hurt me. But he wants to be in my life. He wants what I can’t bring myself to confess I sold. He wants me.
I find myself looking to my stars again...wondering if I dare one more wish.
For three weeks, I’ve been taking clients in my little studio and avoiding him as best I can. But between giving massages and the horrible couch I’m crashing on at Dad’s, I’m too exhausted to worry about limiting our exposure to each other tonight. The man might be a magic panty disintegrator, but the way I feel right now, he could make my panties dance the merengue against my girly bits and I still wouldn’t be interested.
“Busy day,” he says. He closes his laptop and heads toward me. He taught today and he’s still wearing the button-up Oxford, the top unbuttoned, his sleeves rolled to his elbows.
“Lizzy and Hanna had their mom tell all the women at the country club about me and my introductory prices. And I’m doing this refer-three-get-one-free deal.” I shrug. “It’s working. People are finding me.”
He rocks back on his heels. “I’m just impressed that you’ve had repeat business already. How many massages do people need in less than a month?”
I roll my head to the side so I can look at him while we talk. I’m not about to waste the energy to lift it. “‘I’m good at what I do.”
He tucks his fingers into the pockets of his jeans, his shoulders looking impossibly wide. “I remember.”
My cheeks flame to life. My mother had taught me massage when I was young, and I liked to practice on Will when we were dating. Of course, what started as my hands on his body usually ended as both of our hands and mouths everywhere. “Please don’t use my techniques at sixteen to judge my talents now,” I say. “I swear, I’ve grown remarkably more skilled over the last seven years.”
He grins and runs those hot eyes all the way from the roots of my hair to the tips of my tennis shoes. “So have I.”
I push off the couch, mentally preparing myself to find the energy for my last client of the day. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” I say as sweetly as possible. “I have a client in a few minutes.”
Will unbuttons his dress shirt and slings it over the side of the couch. Before I can ask what he’s doing, he grabs the hem of his undershirt and tugs it over his head, leaving me staring at his gorgeous, solid chest.
What was I saying? “I have a client,” I repeat, more for myself than for him.
“I know.” He shuts the door between the apartment and the gallery. He turns back to me before unsnapping the button on his jeans and exposing another half inch of that soft, golden trail that travels down his belly. “You want me to take it all off, or should I leave on my boxers?”
William. Naked. Sexy stomach. My hands on William’s stomach. My mouth. My tongue. I can’t even…. “What?”
He pushes his jeans from his hips and steps out of them. “I’m your six o’clock.”
“You’re my—” He’s wearing dark blue boxer briefs that hug his muscular thighs, and my panties might as well be dancing for as much as my girly bits are standing at attention.
“Cally, you keep looking at me like that and I’m going to find a new use for that massage table.”
My eyes snap up to his. He’s grinning that boyish grin, and I am swamped with the desire to shock him. To slide my hands down the flat of his stomach and lower until that smile falls away.
I roll my shoulders back. I am a professional. Pride myself on it and demand my clients treat me as such. That’s not going to change tonight. I clear my throat. “I’m going to step out for a minute. You may undress to your comfort level and lie on the table under the sheets.” Then I pretty much run from the apartment. Right. A professional.
Maggie is washing coffee mugs in the kitchenette, and she bites her lip when she sees me.
“You knew about this?” I hiss, crossing to her and scooping up my appointment book. “I thought my appointment was with….”
“Will’s buddy Max?” she asks with a raised brow. “I don’t think Will was going to let that happen. Guy code or something.”
Dammit. “I’ve massaged many beautiful men. William’s no different.”
“I’ve massaged William before,” I say stubbornly.
She tries to stop her grin. “How’d that turn out for you?”
Excerpt © Lexi Ryan, 2013
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/GH4IO1
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/199sHO1
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1bQRAAl
Lexi Ryan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, writes romances with humor, heat, and heart. A former college English professor, Lexi now writes full time from her home in Indiana, where she lives with her husband and two children. Please visit www.lexiryan.com
Site - http://www.lexiryan.com/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/writerlexiryan
Facebook Fan Page - https://www.facebook.com/lexiryanauthor