Men on Fire by Susan
Lyons - a sexy romance

Too Hot to Handle
in Men On Fire



From "Too Hot to Handle" (in Men on Fire)

Warning: This excerpt contains adult content. 18 and over only, please.


[At the Raining Men bachelor auction, where Jade wanted to acquire a nice conservative guy to be her faux fiancé, her two girlfriends instead bought her the man she was drooling over, firefighter Quinn O'Malley.]

Quinn dished up the meal and sat across from me. "Okay. Why did you buy me, Jade? And why get your friend to bid for you?"

I took a quick gulp of wine for courage. "I need you to pretend to be my fiancé."

He gaped, then burst out laughing. "Seriously?"

"I need a fiancé to take to two or three work events. And I asked Kimberly to bid because my boss's wife was at the auction." He was still chuckling. "I'm glad you find this so amusing."

"Well, it's pretty weird." He picked up his fork. "Could've been worse, though. Know what my buds got bought for?"

"The two other firefighters? What?"

"One has to rent a tux and escort a woman to the opera. And he's a hockey guy."

Cautiously I tasted the food. Wow, the man really could cook. "This is wonderful. Thank you. How about your other friend?"

"Salsa lessons. She wants to take salsa lessons, and needs a partner." "That could be fun."

"She weighs a couple hundred pounds and it's definitely not muscle."

"It's wrong to discriminate against someone because they're a little heavy." I thought about my write-off date, pot-bellied Peter, and felt like a hypocrite.

"See if you say that when it's your toes she's tromping on."

"I thought you firefighters were supposed to be tough."

He chuckled and refilled our wine glasses. "Yeah, my buds'll suck it up. The children's wing's a good cause. We see kids injured every day, and the facility's really needed. When we volunteered, we knew we might get stuck with some weird stuff."

What generous men, Quinn and his friends. "Please don't tell them about our arrangement. It has to be a secret. Tell them . . . I got you to cook me dinner."

"They'll think I got off easy." He ran his fingers lightly over the back of my hand. "And I did." He stroked up my bare forearm, igniting sparks. His tone altered, took on that husky, seductive note. "It's not exactly a hardship, being with you, Jade." The heat in his dark eyes matched up with his voice, like sinfully rich and tempting dark chocolate.

As I'd figured, he was a player. All the same, his touch, his voice, those sexy eyes were so tempting that I said, "You either, Quinn," before I realized what I was doing.

He gave a satisfied grin. "If we're engaged, we need to get to know each other."

Right. Business. The man was so distracting, it was hard to keep focused. "I've typed up a biography you can study. And I'll need to know things about you, the things a fiancée would know."

His eyes danced. "She'd know if I'm a good kisser."

She'd know if I'm a good kisser? "I . . . uh . . ." I gaped at Quinn.

"And I am. But you shouldn't take my word on it. You need to check it out yourself."

A horrible suspicion crossed my mind. "I didn't buy you for sex."

He chuckled. "I know. I'm just saying, it'll be easier to pretend we're engaged if we've kissed." His lips said "kissed" but his dark, gleaming eyes suggested a whole lot more.

I jumped up and crossed the kitchen, needing distance. Yeah, I'd bet he was a good kisser. My body lusted to find out. But kissing Quinn – a kiss that, given the gleam in his eyes and my own arousal, could easily go further – didn't fit anywhere in my game plan.

Either game plan.

I had two goals, each with a distinct strategy. One was short term and work-oriented: to find a faux fiancé and win the promotion on my merits, not my marital status. The other was long term: to find my Prince Charming, get engaged and married for real, and live happily ever after. Two separate boxes on my "to do list," and I was eager to put tick-marks in both.

Quinn definitely didn't fit box number two, yet his body language said he didn't want to stick within the confines of box number one. Would it be crazy to create a third box, just for him? A box that had nothing to do with long term, and everything to do with satisfying the overpowering sexual hunger he kindled in me?

"D'you agonize this way over every decision?" He cocked an eyebrow, rose, and strode determinedly toward me.

"No." I evaded him, darting back to the table to gather plates. "Well, yes, if it's important." I walked to the counter and turned, the plates in front of me as a barrier. I needed to think clearly, and when he touched me, I couldn't.

"Man, woman, attraction. It's not that complicated."

"Isn't that what Tarzan said to Jane?" But I wasn't in a jungle inhabited by a sole male, and I'd set my priorities. "I can't waste time on a relationship that isn't going anywhere." That had been my mistake in the past.

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[con't from bottom left column]

Both brows rose. "Not that I was going to go down on one knee and propose, but out of curiosity, how did you reach the snap decision we weren't going anywhere?"

"I don't date men who have dangerous jobs. Or do crazy things like ride a motorbike."

Quinn looked a little stunned, then took the plates from me and set them on the counter. He rested his hands on the counter on either side of me, trapping me. Our bodies were only inches apart and again I felt his sizzling energy. "Jade, did I ask you on a date?"

"Uh, no."

"I said a kiss. How can we convince people we're engaged if we've never even kissed?"

"Uh . . ." There was a flaw to his logic but my brain had shut down, except to echo a kiss, a kiss, a kiss. Every cell in my body urged me to hurl myself against him, twine around him, and kiss him until I melted into a puddle.

Perhaps he read it on my face. His grin turned into something intense and knowing.

Standing in the cage of his arms, a hot surge of need and anticipation rushed through me. It wasn't that I hadn't dated sexy guys before, but never one so purely masculine, so confident. Never one who gave off that crazy energy, who made me so hungry for his touch.

His head dipped toward me and I stared, fascinated. His expression was appreciative and predatory, like the way I felt when I reached for my favorite treat, a rich chocolate Nanaimo bar.

His lips brushed mine, soft but not the least bit tentative. Leisurely, yet not casual. Almost chaste, yet definitely not innocent. His touch was skilled, deliberate, as he traced the outline of my lips with the tip of his tongue, nibbled and sucked my bottom lip. Small caresses, yet each brushed fire across my skin, darted arousal through my body, made me tremble.

Box number three was looking so appealing. Oh god, I could no more not kiss him back than I could resist a Nanaimo bar. With a moan of surrender, I returned his gentle pressure.

He made a sound in the back of his throat, a big male cat sound like a growly purr. A sound of satisfaction, not of surprise. He'd known I couldn't resist.

Fine. He was cocky. But damn, he had reason to be.

His tongue flicked against the seam of my lips and I parted, eager for more of this blissfully sensual, erotic experience. He tasted of wine and spice, his tongue was talented but willing to yield to my own explorations, and somehow, without me realizing, we'd stepped into each other's arms. He plunged his hands through my hair, holding my head at the angle he wanted, and my arms circled his powerful torso as I explored the muscular lines of his back. The fronts of our bodies were plastered together.

Under the jeans, he was unmistakably erect. Beneath my own pants, the crotch of my panties was soaked, my sex swollen and throbbing. His mouth and mine melded as if they'd been designed to mate. Now, this was what kissing should be like. Kisses were often disappointing, but with Quinn, I realized kissing could be an art form. Skilful, beautiful, passionate, emotional.

No, wait, not emotional. We were strangers. We didn't care about each other. And never would, because we'd never have a relationship.

His mouth broke from mine. "Jade? Where did you go?"

I stared up at him, realizing I'd disengaged from the kiss, and seeing the puzzlement in his dark eyes. "What are we doing?" I forced my hands to let go of him and took a step back.

"Thought that was obvious." The uncertainty in his voice belied his words.

"Okay, we've kissed. Now we know what it's like. We should . . . call it quits." I had to force the last words out.

He scrubbed his hands over his face. "The way we were kissing . . . That didn't feel like you wanted to quit."

"No, but . . ." The truth was, I didn't.

Perhaps he read it on my face. He put his arms around me, slipped his hands into the back pockets of my pants, cupped my ass, pulled me close again. "You don't want to quit."

"This doesn't make sense. It could complicate things."

"Not if we don't let it. We're grown up, know what we want. Let's go for it." His pelvis flirted with mine, the press of his arousal arguing his case.

I didn't make a practice of sleeping with guys on a first date, or even a second or third one. But I wanted to. It had been so long since a man had held me, satisfied me, and Quinn was... Smoking hot. Powerfully arousing.