Home > Some like It Wild (The Wild Ones #2)(6)

Some like It Wild (The Wild Ones #2)(6)
Author: M. Leighton

I walk out of the kitchen before he can respond. I’m sure he’ll have some valuable bit of wisdom for me. No doubt it’ll be true, too. But right now, at this point in my life, I’m not looking for wisdom. I’m not looking for prudent or safe or reasonable, any of the things I once attributed to Shane.

In fact, I think to myself as I head up the stairs, I might just be looking for the exact opposite.

* * *

Having cut short my morning at the house in order to avoid my parents, I arrive at the turn to the Theopolis orchard twenty minutes early. I figure I’ll just sit in the car and start on my paperwork before knocking, just in case Jake is still asleep.

He seems like one of those up-all-night-partying-sleep-all-day-afterward types.

The thought has barely had a chance to make it through my head when I see a lean, tan, shirtless jogger just up ahead. Even if the guy wasn’t running on the long, winding Theopolis driveway I’d have no trouble identifying him—Jake. His physique and dark good looks are unmistakable, even from behind.

And my stomach reacts accordingly.

I ease my foot onto the brake, debating what to do. Go forward, turn around, stop and wait? What’s the right thing here?

Jake takes the decision out of my hands, however, when he slows to a stop and turns to look down the road at me. His eyes meet mine, and he smiles. Even from a distance, he makes me feel breathless.

For one second, I get the feeling I should turn and run. But it’s gone almost as quickly as it came when Jake starts to jog in my direction.

My foot presses harder on the brake as I watch him approach. His skin is slick with sweat and his muscles move and shift beneath it. He stops at my window and bends, laying his forearms along the opening, his face but a few inches from mine. He’s winded and his breath tickles my cheek.

“You’re early.”

“I know. I was going to do some paperwork before I woke you.”

“Woke me? I’ve been up for hours. But if you’d prefer to wake me, I’m sure I can arrange to still be in bed when you get here.” His wink tells me that he means exactly what I think he means. I want to curse my light complexion when I feel my cheeks heat up at his insinuation.

“I hardly think that will be necessary,” I reply, trying to sound unflustered, but likely doing a poor job of it. “Continue your run. I’ll just meet you at the house when you’re done. If you don’t mind me waiting there, that is.”

“I can’t think of anyone I’d rather stumble upon when I’m hot and sweaty and headed for the shower.”

Giving me his trademark cocky grin, Jake straightens and jogs off before I can respond. And it’s a good thing. I don’t even know what to say to that. For a few seconds, I watch the way his shorts cling to his tight butt as he moves. But he shakes me out of my dumbstruck state when he turns and jogs backward for a few seconds, openly laughing at me.

Ohmigod, he knows I was looking at his butt!

And, of course, I’m mortified. I push on the accelerator and swerve far away from Jake when I pass him. I keep my eyes glued on the road ahead.

When I reach the house, I park and pull my briefcase from the backseat. I take out the folder labeled Theopolis Estate and flip it open in my lap, but that’s as far as I get. My eyes keep straying to the rearview mirror, waiting for Jake to appear in it. It’s like my brain is stuck and won’t move forward until he does.

A flash of red catches my eye. Jake’s shorts. Moving at a steady pace, he jogs into my frame of view, moving closer and closer. Again, I admire the way he glistens in the sunlight, like a champion thoroughbred in peak physical condition.

I force my eyes back to my folder when Jake gets near the rear of my car. From the corner of my eye, I glance at the sideview mirror as he passes. He doesn’t even look down, just jogs right on by. He takes the steps two at a time and opens the unlocked front door.

I’m watching him, expecting him to disappear indoors, when he turns. He meets my eyes and tips his head toward the inside of the house before he crosses the threshold, leaving the door ajar for me.

“I guess that’s my cue,” I mumble to myself.

I gather my things, trying to keep my mind off the image of Jake stripping off those red shorts to get in the shower. Absently, I wonder if his skin is tan all over, or if he has a tan line.

Holy crap! Laney, you’ve got to stop this! I warn myself. I won’t be able to concentrate at all if I don’t get a grip.

I focus on the list of things I need to get done and in what order as I get out and walk up the steps. Once inside, I listen for Jake. I hear nothing but muffled sounds coming from upstairs. Thankful for the short respite in which I can attempt to reset my wayward brain, I make my way into the dining room and begin spreading out my things onto the table.

Firmly back in work mode, I’m making mental lists and dividing up areas to inventory together when I hear a throat clear behind me. I whirl to find Jake lounging in the doorway, smiling as he watches me.

“I didn’t want to scare you. You looked deep in thought,” he observes.

“Thank you. I was.”

“So,” he begins, straightening away from the doorjamb, “what do I need to do?”

I can’t help but notice the way his pale yellow T-shirt clings to his still-damp skin, or the way his thick eyelashes look spiky and wet.

“Uh . . . well . . .” I stammer, struggling to get my mind back on the task at hand. I squeeze my eyes shut and then turn them to the documents spread out in front of me. “Actually, there’s nothing I really need from you at this point. It’s a matter of going through each room and inventorying what’s here. If I have any questions, I’ll make a note and ask you later.”

Now that I’ve managed a coherent sentence, I look back at Jake.

“All right, I guess I’ll just check back with you after a while then.”

“No need,” I assure him. “I’ll be fine.”

He grins, a wicked gleam lighting his amber eyes. “Regardless, I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”

There’s no point in arguing. I feel like the more I protest, the more it will give away my discomfort with his close proximity. Instead, I nod and give him a tight smile. “Okay. See you then.”

I pick up some random papers and study them as if they’re important when, in reality, I don’t even process what I’m looking at. It’s not until, from the corner of my eye, I see Jake leave that it registers that I’m holding them upside down.

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