Excerpt

Warm hands slid up her calves and gripped her knees. The man poised above her prone body spread her long limbs apart and settled his muscular body between her thighs.  The moonlight streaming through the window made his copper skin glow as if lit from within.

“Stunning,” he murmured as he clasped her hands and kept a firm hold of them on either side of her head. Soft brown eyes looked deep into hers as his long ebony hair cascaded around her face, blocking everything but the masculine features above hers.  A slow, seductive smile softened his expression as he lifted his hips and slid his erection against her moist curls.

Jasmine bit her lip as she moaned; he repeated the action.

Please…”

Releasing her hands he rested on his forearms. Jasmine’s palms skimmed his torso stroking the heated skin of his chest as he ran a finger down her cheek.  Slowly, he lowered his head and kissed her as he slid into her inch by inch, his tongue mimicking the action of his hips trapping Jasmine’s bliss-filled moan in his mouth.

Her hands clutched his shoulders as he thrust against her, nails digging into his skin as she sighed her pleasure with each long drive. Bending his head, he took her nipple, drawing the hardened flesh into his mouth, suckling her.  Jasmine moaned, arching her back and offering her body to him.  With a soft growl, he reached down and clutched her hips as he rose to his knees.

“Jazzy.” He leaned down to whisper the nickname she hadn’t heard in years against the tender flesh of her ear and increased his tempo.

She writhed beneath him as his motion shortened. Her breath came in quick bursts against his neck as she raked her nails along his back, lifting her legs to his hips.  He slid in deeper, touching her g-spot as his slamming thrusts brought her closer and closer to the edge.  Her mouth opened, gasping for air, her body bowing.  Release hers for the taking.  She reached for it.

Wanting it.

Begging for it.

Then, without warning, she was awake.

Jasmine’s eyes snapped open as she screamed, not in the release her body craved, but in frustration. She caught her breath and reached over to open the drawer to her night table, intending to grab B.O.B., her trusty Battery Operated Boyfriend, to finish what her dream had promised when she heard what must have awakened her in the first place.

Her doorbell.

She closed her eyes and silently willed the person to go away, hoping if she didn’t move they wouldn’t know she was there. She held her breath and waited.  She heard the sounds of late night New York traffic even from her apartment on the twelfth floor.  They were sounds Jasmine usually found solace in, both familiar and soothing.  Hearing it now, on the heels of her almost orgasm, just annoyed her.  Her door’s buzzer sounded again; more insistent this time and she peered over at the digital clock on her nightstand.

“Three o’clock in the frickin’ morning? Someone better be dead,” she muttered as she rolled out of bed.  The motion caused her to gasp as her still sensitized body blazed to life.  “Oh yeah, someone is definitely going to pay.”

She hit the switch in the hallway and winced when the bright light flared on. Jasmine knew she looked like hell, but didn’t care.  If you knocked on a door in the middle of the night, you shouldn’t expect Miss America to answer your summons.

The buzzer rang again. “I’m coming, dammit!” Well I’m not, but I would have if you hadn’t disturbed me, so this better be damn important, she thought to herself and felt her annoyance grow.  It had been almost a year since she’d had a real lover, and she relished any opportunity she had to get herself off, no matter how she did it.  For the last two weeks, her mind was craving what her body couldn’t seem to deliver.  She wasn’t sure if it was the fact that she was now stressing over not being able to orgasm.  All she knew was that she wanted to, badly, and it wasn’t happening for her.  So to come, she rolled her eyes at her own pun, this close grated on her nerves.

At this point, she didn’t even care her if her dream lover was a man she hadn’t seen in five years. Chayton “Falcon” Baker was the only man in her life who had ever made her realize the phrase “toe-curling orgasm” could actually happen.  Jasmine had been the recipient of them many, many times.  She grimaced as the memories flooded her mind, then pushed the man and his abilities as a lover out of her subconscious.  Right now, she didn’t want to dwell on Falcon, or why they had gone their separate ways.  No, right now she vowed to kill whoever stood on the other side of the door.

Jasmine clicked open her locks and would have loved to have been able to say there was a gorgeous man standing on the other side ready to take her into his arms and make wild, passionate love to her all night. However, no man greeted her, gorgeous or otherwise.  Instead, her eyes collided with the red-rimmed gaze of her best friend.

She’d met Carolina Santos eight years before. The two girls were freshman in the same college dorm, away from both home and families for the first time, and completely over their heads when it came to school and the men they dated.  They’d not only supported each other through midterms and finals, but were also always there for each other through heartbreaks and crushes.  They both knew they could count on the other to be there when the other needed it most.  Jasmine took one look at her friend’s tear-streaked face and knew this was one of those times.

“What did he do now?” Jasmine asked as she opened the door wide to allow her friend inside her apartment.

Jasmine rolled her eyes; she’d known from the very beginning that Carolina’s boyfriend was not the man her friend thought he was. She’d tried making Lina see it, but she’d been so infatuated with the smooth talking guitar player she wouldn’t listen, so Jasmine did the only thing she could; she’d promised herself she would be there when Felix finally broke Lina’s heart.  She just wished it hadn’t happened when she had to leave for work in five hours.

Knowing this could take a while, Jasmine left her friend and decided to put on a pot of strong Cuban coffee. When she returned, she found Lina had composed herself, slipped off her shoes and settled in for the telling.  Lina glanced around Jasmine’s small, cluttered living room frowning.

“I can hear your interior decorator gears working. Put them on hold so we can get down to business.”  Jasmine handed Lina a steaming mug, then sat across the camel colored sofa from her, “All right, so you found out he cheated and then you left your own apartment?”

Lina rolled her eyes as she cradled the mug, “I’m not an idiot, Jazz; I kicked his lying ass out first, and you really should let me fix this place up. You’ve got too much crap around here.  Do you really need all these little knick-knacks?”

“I like my knick-knacks. They’re each little memories.  See the little clown, that’s from my first visit to the circus.  The flamingo?  That is from our trip to the Keys. Oh! The little outhouse?  That one you bought me because we are ‘The Shit’.  Now, focus, Lina.  You’re here because …?”

“Because, my friend, you’re supposed to be supportive.”

“I can be just as supportive in four or five hours.”

Lina winced, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize what time it was, but when the idea hit I just had to come tell you in person. I couldn’t wait to see the expression on your face when I told you.”

A feeling of dread settled in the pit of Jasmine’s stomach and she placed a hand over the churning area. Carolina was her best friend and she would crawl over hot coals for her, but experience had taught her Lina’s ideas weren’t always good for her digestion, and more often than not had left her cleaning up some type of mess, both figuratively and literally.

“Don’t give me that look,” Lina said as she leaned over and slapped Jasmine’s knee. “It’s not that bad.”

“Look?”

Lina’s lips pursed. “The one that says, ‘Uh-oh, I wonder what kind of shit she’s going to get me into now’.”

Jasmine wiped the expression off her face and tried for a more innocent air. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Lina laughed loudly. “You’re terrible.  If you don’t want to know, I can just go back home.”

She grabbed Lina’s hand before she could stand up. “No, stay.  I don’t know how you got here without a car in the middle of the night, but I’m not going to let you get on the subway back to your gorgeous brownstone in East Harlem.  You can leave when the sun comes up.”  Jasmine’s voice brooked no argument.

“You do care about me,” Lina said and batted her eyelashes.

“You know I do. Tell me, what’s this bright idea?  And try to make it quick, I only have five hours before I have to leave for work.”

Lina shot her an annoyed glare that had left a broad smile on Jasmine’s face. She loved to tease her friend about the fact she couldn’t seem to stay on a topic long enough to tell it quickly.  “Don’t stare at me like that.  The last time you tried to tell me a story, you went off on so many tangents it took you more than a half hour to tell a five-minute story.”

“You know, I really shouldn’t give you the satisfaction of even starting it. I should just keep it to myself and let you wonder.”

“No, no tell me. At the very least, it’d get me back to sleep,” Jasmine said with humor shining in her eyes.

“You’re lucky I love you or I might be offended.” Lina shook her head, “All right, I have to start at the beginning.  Don’t groan, I promise it won’t be too long.”

“If you say so.” She drew the bright orange throw from the back of her sofa over her body and snuggled into her side of the soft leather couch to wait.

Lina sighed. “Felix is cheating and I think it’s been going on a while.  Don’t start,” she put a palm up before Jasmine could speak.  “I know you tried to tell me he was a grade-A jerk, but I didn’t listen.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything.”

“Yeah, right. Anyway, I caught him with that slut in my apartment.”

“They were in your bed?” Jasmine couldn’t keep the horror out of her voice.

“No, naked on the couch, but it’s still bad. I have to wonder if they ever…” She paused and groaned.  “Actually, I don’t want to think on it, but I am getting a new mattress first thing this morning.”  She shuddered and grimaced before she continued.  “So, there I stood watching them scramble to get clothes on, ignoring Felix’s pleas of innocence.  Can you believe he tried to make excuses as if I were blind?  Like I couldn’t see he had his hands on her ass as she rode him like some perky blonde cowgirl.”  She made a soft snorting sound. “All I could think was what a waste of time he was and what I could do to make myself feel better.  Do you know what I came up with?”

“No, what?” Jasmine’s voice was soft and dreamy as weariness crept up on her.

“I think we should go back to Rio Oro.”

Jasmine’s eyes snapped open and she sat up; all thoughts of sleep forgotten. “Oh, hell no.  We are not going back there.”

“Why not? We had so much fun the last time we were there.  Remember the men, the parties, the men, the food, the men, the drinks, the men …”

“All right! Yes, we had a good time, but we were in college back then.  We’re more mature now.”

Lina snorted, louder this time, “Your reluctance doesn’t have anything to do with a certain front desk clerk, does it?”

“Of course not.”

Jasmine shot her a resentful glare, Lina should have known better than to bring him up. Her not wanting to go had nothing to do with one Falcon Baker, the dream man who’d been between her legs a half hour ago.  He was one of the resort’s sexiest employees, an amazing man who was not only handsome, but smart as well, a deadly combination in Jasmine’s world.  Jasmine had fallen hard for him and spent almost all of her two week vacation there with him alone.  Then, when things were going really well, she’d left him without even saying goodbye.  She frowned, not wanting to dwell on the reasons why she’d done that.

“Good, because the chances of him actually still being there after five years is really low. Didn’t he want to own his own business or something?”

“Yeah,” Jasmine muttered. He told her he had come to the resort to make more money so he could finish school, start his business, and get his family out of the reservation where he’d grown up.  One night he’d confessed his biggest hope was to make something out of his life and give back to his grandmother, who had raised him, and give her a better life too.  And she didn’t doubt with his drive he’d succeed in doing just that.

“So? Come on, Jazz, this will be good for the two of us.  You can finally get laid.  Imagine nice warm men instead of good old B.O.B. making you come, and I can pick up a few guys and rebuild my self-esteem.”

“You don’t need to pick up guys. You’re going to find someone who will treat you like a queen.  Don’t lower yourself by trolling for one night stands.”

“Easy for you to say, here you sit looking better at three a.m. than I ever could, even if I spent the entire day at a spa getting pampered and prepped by professionals. You’re gorgeous, Jasmine, I’m not.”

“Yes. You are.”

“I’m fat; most guys don’t look twice at me unless they’re trying to figure out a way to get to my friends.”

“You’re not fat,” she paused at the incredulous expression on her friend’s face, then continued. “Okay, so you’re not stick thin, but some guys like a little meat on their women.”  Jasmine sat back and eyed the other woman as critically as only a best friend could.  Lina was just under five feet four inches tall and pleasantly rounded.  “If someone really wanted to put a label to you, I would say you are voluptuous in a way women pay thousands of dollars to achieve.  Your big boobs and hips emphasize your hourglass shape, and you flaunt your assets whenever you can.  That’s confidence a lot of women don’t have, and a lot of men find that incredibly sexy.  You have long, dark brown hair with a curl most women and, let’s face it, some men would pay hundreds of dollars for, and your almond shaped eyes shine like whiskey whenever you smile.  Overall, I say you’re a hottie, just not in the traditional sense.  And though you might not believe it, I’ve seen for myself, on more than one occasion, how you turn heads.”

Lina rolled her eyes with a sigh, “Good, if you think that’s true then, when we get back from the resort I will give myself over to you and you can find me a man. After all, you’re the expert.”

Jasmine grimaced; she hated working for eMatch, especially since Around the Town Magazine named it the number one personal dating service in the city.  Once anyone found out what she did for a living and for what company, they usually either tried to get her to help them or a friend and usually for free.  “You don’t need my help.”

“Ha! You were so against Felix, and I know it took everything in you to stop yourself from interfering.  You’ve been dying to set me up with a co-worker, or a client.  Now’s your chance.  Two weeks, Jasmine, that’s all I’m asking.  What’s the worst that could happen?  We spend two weeks on a beautiful Caribbean island surrounded by gorgeous men.  We’ll both have amazing sex and make great memories to recall over drinks when we’re old and arthritic and only have our cats and ourselves for company.  Besides, the only way to get over Falcon is to go there and prove to yourself the resort holds no power over you.”

“I am so over him. I have been for the last five years.”

“That’s why you still have that ridiculous photo of the two of you on your dresser?”

Jasmine smiled; someone had snapped the picture two days before she’d left. The two of them decided to take part in a talent show the resort put on and dressed up like Sonny and Cher, with him taking the part of the Diva.  They wowed the crowd with their gender swapped rendition of “I Got You Babe” and won a cozy dinner for two at one of the more expensive restaurants in the small town outside the resort.

“You’re so not over him,” Lina said softly.

“I have to be. Like you said, the chances of me running into him ever again are practically non-existent.  To harbor any feelings for him now would be pointless.”

“Do you ever think he could have been the one?” Lina asked.

Jasmine shook her head. “I only knew him two weeks, and people don’t fall in love that fast.”

“But what if you’re wrong?”

Jasmine glanced down at her lap, she didn’t want to think about it. The depth of her feelings for Falcon had taken her by surprise.  She’d been scared of them, and to this day, she wasn’t sure if she’d made the right decision that long ago night.

Lina took her hand and squeezed it. “Sorry, Jasmine, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.”

“No, it’s okay. You’re right, I am going to go to the island and prove to myself that the ghost of Falcon Baker will not affect me for the rest of my life.  It’s time to exorcise old demons, and what better place to do it than a Caribbean resort?”

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