Chapter OneSprawled out flat on his stomach, his big body stretched end to end on the full-sized bed. Two women loomed over him, touching him, quietly oohing and ahhing. They were so absorbed in their scrutiny, they didn't even notice Luna's entrance, hadn't heard her knocks. She shook her head, but she understood, indeed, she did.
After all, Joe was buck naked.
And he had a ... tattoo on his ass?
Huh. Luna squinted to read the ornate script wrapped around a three-dimensional heart. It looked like it said I Love/am. She frowned. Now what was that about? She knew without a single doubt Joe Winston was into women, not men-as witnessed by the two Barbie dolls presently pampering him.
One of those women whispered with longing, "I do wish he'd wake up."
The other sighed. "I've been trying for haft an hour. No luck."
Luna cleared her throat, and when the women looked up, startled and somewhat guilty, she explained, "The front door wasn't locked."
Rather than question her sudden presence or order her out, as Luna expected, the women shared a glance and flushed. The breasty blonde even dropped her hands from Joe's back where she'd been petting him.
The redhead bit her lip in nervousness. "Ummm ... Who are you?"
Seeing that Joe hadn't moved, was apparently, in fact, sound asleep just as they'd said, Luna seized her opportunity. She stared with contrived contempt at both women, raised her chin in disdain, and uttered with complete absurdity and unrivaled fiction, "I'm his wife. Get out."
That they didn't question her told Luna all she needed to know. These women weren't important to Joe or they'd have already learned all about his aversion to marriage. She almost smiled as the women tripped past her-until she saw the bottle of pills on Joe's nightstand.
Striding forward, Luna read the label and saw that they were rather powerful pain pills. She frowned and set them aside. No wonder he was out cold. But what had happened to him? Why was he medicated?
He didn't move, but he did give a slight, snuffling snore and shifted the tiniest bit. His shoulders, as wide as a tank and just as sturdy, drew her hand. Luna touched him, felt the hot silk of his taut flesh-and realized she was trembling. Not that she was nervous about her mission. Nope. But hey, Joe was naked, and if that wasn't enough to make any red-blooded female shake, then what could?
She hadn't seen him in three long months. The last time he'd asked her out, he'd told her if she refused him, he wouldn't ask again.
His thick blue-black hair lay in disarray, a sharp contrast to the rumpled, snowy white pillowcase. His heavily whiskered jaw appeared clenched, and as Luna looked closer, she saw a purplish shadowing around his eye. A bruise?
Sitting on the side of the bed, Luna shook his shoulder. "Joe, wake up."
At her nearness, his nose twitched; then with a slight frown, he drew a slow, deep inhalation of breath. With exaggerated effort, he got one thickly lashed eye to open. The seconds ticked by while they stared at each other.
Abruptly his other eye snapped open and Luna got snared in his flinty, dark blue gaze. In a voice deep and rough from sleep, he said, "I thought I recognized that scent."
Bemused, Luna pulled back. "Sorry, champ, but I'm not wearing perfume-"
Her statement strangled in her throat when Joe rolled to his back with a rumbling groan of agony. His new position gave her a shocking display of his battered ribs along with a variety of bruises and scrapes on his chest, face and abdomen.
Someone had hurt him.
Outrage blossomed, but the outrage was tempered by awareness because he also provided her with a full frontal view of his gloriously naked body-and wow, what a view it was.
Joe Winston might be a bonified jerk, a sexist pig in fact, but Luna had no complaints with his physique. He was all bulky strength, long bones, dark hair and sinew. And sex appeal, the man had it in spades.
She was trying to convince herself to look away when Joe snagged her upper arms and dragged her over him.
"You don't need perfume," he purred in what could only be a tone of seduction.
Alarm shot up her spine. "Oh, no, big boy. Hang on there ..."
Even weak and apparently drugged, Joe had no problem overpowering her, big overgrown lug that he was. She ended up with her breasts crushed to his massive hairy chest, her legs caught between his. He grunted in pain, then growled in appreciation.
"Joe," she started to object-and his mouth covered hers.
Luna recognized the danger of the moment even as she thrilled at the strength of his thick arms circling her, the press of his groin into her belly, the damp heat and gentle hunger of his mouth. The summer temperatures outside had nothing on Joe. The man was too hot. It had always been like this with him. He touched her, and common sense fled.
Without her conscious permission, Luna's eyes drifted shut and for only a moment, a single moment, she gave in, kissing him back, taking his taste and giving him her own.
He made a sound of hunger as his big, hard hand opened on her back, mostly bared by her halter top. His fingertips were rough, warm, and before she could assimilate that, they slid low to her bottom to enclose an entire cheek. He gently squeezed.
Like a shot, Luna sprang from the bed to glare down at him. She was breathless and annoyed and damn it, he still looked good enough to eat.