Stunned, Grace could do nothing but stare.
Julian arched a puzzled brow. Never before had a woman run away from him. Nor discarded him after she’d spoken the summons’s chant.
All the others had waited in expectation for his incarnation, then fallen instantly into his arms, demanding he pleasure them.
But not this one…
She was different.
His lips itched to smile as he swept his gaze over her. Her thick, sable hair fell to the middle of her back, and her light gray eyes looked like the sea just before a storm. Gray eyes flecked with tiny bits of silver and green that shone with intelligence and warmth.
Her smooth, pale skin was covered with little light brown freckles. She was every bit as adorable as her smooth, accented voice.
Not that it would have mattered.
Regardless of her looks, he existed only to serve her sexually. To lose himself in the savoring of her body with his, and he fully intended to do just that.
"Here," he said, taking her by her shoulders. "Let me help you up."
"You are nak*d," she whispered, looking him up and down in astonishment as they came to their feet. "You are so nak*d."
He tucked the ends of her sable hair back behind her ears. "I know."
"You are nak*d!"
"We’ve established that."
"You’re happy and nak*d."
Confused, Julian frowned. "What?"
She looked down at his arousal. "You are happy," she said with a pointed glance. "And you’re nak*d."
So, that was what they were calling it in this century. He would have to remember that.
"And this makes you uncomfortable?" he asked, amazed by the fact that a woman would mind his nudity when no one ever had before.
"Well, I know a cure," Julian said, his voice dropping an octave as he stared at her shirt, and the hardened ni**les that jutted out from the thin white material. Nipples he couldn’t wait to see.
He moved to touch her.
Grace stepped back, her heart hammering. This wasn’t real. It couldn’t be real. She was just drunk and delusional. Or she must have whacked her head on the coffee table and she was unconscious and bleeding to death.
Yes, that was it! That made sense.
At least it made a lot more sense than the deep humming throb that burned through her body. A throb that begged her to jump this guy’s bones.
And they were such nice bones, too.
When you have a fantasy, girl, you definitely go all the way. You must’ve been working too hard lately. You’re starting to take home your patients’ dreams.
He reached out for her and cupped her cheeks in his strong hands. Grace couldn’t move. All she could do was let him tilt her head up until she looked into those penetrating eyes she was sure could read her soul. They hypnotized her like those of a deadly predator lulling its prey.
She quivered in his embrace.
Then, hot, demanding lips covered her own. Grace moaned in response. She’d heard all her life about kisses that made women weak in their knees, but this was the first time she’d ever experienced one.
Oh, but he felt good, smelled good, and he tasted even better.
Of their own accord, her arms wrapped around his shoulders, broad and rock-hard. The heat of his chest seeped into hers, beckoning her with erotic, sensual promise of what was to come. And all the while, he ravished her mouth masterfully like a Viking marauder bent on total devastation.
Every inch of his magnificent body was pressed intimately against her own, rubbing hers in a manner meant to heighten her feminine awareness of him. And oh, baby, she was aware of him in a way she’d never been aware of any other man. She slid her hand down the sculpted muscles of his bare back and sighed as they bunched beneath her hand.
Grace decided right then and there that if this was a dream, she definitely didn’t want the alarm to go off.
Or the phone to ring.
His hands roamed her back before cupping her bu**ocks and pressing her h*ps closer to his as his tongue danced with hers. The smell of sandalwood filled her senses.
Her body molten, Grace explored the taut, corded muscles of his nak*d back with her palms as his long hair swept against the back of her hands in an erotic caress.
Julian’s head swam at her warm touch, at the pleasant feel of her arms wrapped tightly around him as he ran his hands over the bounty of her soft freckled skin.
How he loved the sounds she made as she responded so provocatively to him. Mmm, he couldn’t wait to hear her scream out in release. To see her head thrown back while her body spasmed around his.
It had been so very long since he’d last felt a woman’s touch. So long since he’d last had any human contact at all.
His body was white-hot with desire, and if this were anything but their first time, he’d devour her like a morsel of sweet chocolate. Lay her down and ravish her like a starving man at a banquet.
But that would have to wait until she was used to him.
He’d learned centuries ago that women always swooned from their first union. And he definitely didn’t want this one to faint.
Not yet anyway.
Still, he couldn’t wait another minute to have her.
Scooping her up in his arms, he headed for the stairs.
At first, Grace couldn’t think past the incredible feel of strong arms surrounding her with heat-of a man actually picking her up and not groaning from the effort. But as they passed the large wooden pineapple at the base of her balustrade, she woke up with a start.
"Whoa, buster!" she snapped, grabbing on to the carved mahogany pineapple like a life preserver. "Just where do you think you’re taking me?"
He paused and looked down at her curiously. In that instant, she realized that as tall and powerful as he was, he could do anything in the world he wanted with her and she would be powerless to stop him.
A tremor of fear thrummed through her body.
Yet for all the danger, some part of her wasn’t afraid. Something in her gut told her he wouldn’t intentionally hurt her.
"I’m taking you to your bedroom where we can finish what we’ve started," he said simply, as if he were discussing the weather.
"I don’t think so."
He shrugged those wonderfully broad shoulders. "You would prefer the stairs, then? Or the couch perhaps?" He paused and looked about her house as if considering his choices. "Not a bad thought, actually. It’s been a long time since I took a woman on-"
"No, no, no! The only place you’re going to take me is in your dreams. Now set me down before I really get mad."
To her shock, he complied.
Feeling a little better once her feet were safely on the ground, she ascended two steps.
Now they were eye to eye, and on a little more equal footing-that was, if a person could ever be on equal footing with a man who possessed such innate power and authority.
Suddenly the full impact of his presence slammed into her.
He was real!
Dear heaven, she and Selena had actually conjured him to life!
His eyes bored into hers, his face stoic and completely unamused. "I don’t understand why I’m here. If you don’t want me inside you, why did you call for me?"
She almost moaned at his words. Worse, the image of his golden, lean, and powerful body thrusting against hers flashed through her mind.
What would it feel like to have a man so incredibly scrumptious make love to her all night?
And he would be scrumptious in bed. There was no doubt. With the prowess and moves he’d shown her so far, there was no telling just how much better…
Grace tensed at the thought. What was it about this man?
Never in her life had she felt sexual hunger like this. Never! She could literally lay him down on the floor and devour him.
It didn’t make sense.
Over the years, she’d grown more than accustomed to sex being described in the most graphic of terms-some of her patients even purposely tried to shock or arouse her.
Never once had they elicited such a heated response from her.
But when it came to him, all she could think of was taking him into her arms and riding him into the ground.
That completely uncharacteristic thought sobered her.
Grace opened her mouth to respond to his question, then stopped. What was she going to do with this guy?
Other than that.
She shook her head in disbelief. "What am I supposed to do with you?"
His eyes darkened with lust as he again reached for her.
Oh, yes, her body begged, please touch me all over.
"Stop that!" she snapped at both herself and him, refusing to let go of her control. Rational thought would reign here, not her hormones. She’d already made that mistake and she wasn’t about to repeat it.
She jumped up another step and she stared at him. Holy guacamole, he was gorgeous. His wavy, tawny hair fell midway down his back where it was secured with a dark brown leather cord. All except for three thin braids that had beads attached to their ends-braids that swung in time with his movements.
Dark brown eyebrows slashed over eyes that were both beguiling and terrifying. Eyes that watched her with way too much heat.
And in that moment, she definitely wanted to kill Selena.
But not nearly as much as she wanted to crawl into bed with this man and sink her teeth into that golden tan.
"I don’t understand what’s going on," she said at last. She had to think through this-figure out what to do. "I need to sit down for a minute and you…" She trailed her eyes over his perfect body. "You need to cover up."
The corners of Julian’s mouth twitched. In the whole of his life, she was the first person to ever say that to him.
Indeed, all the women he’d known before the curse had done nothing except try and get him out of his clothes. As quickly as possible. And since the curse, his summoners had spent days staring at his nudity, running their hands over his body, savoring the sight of him.
"Stay here for a minute," she said, before darting up the stairs.
He watched her h*ps sway with her steps, his body instantly growing hot and hard. Clenching his teeth in an effort to ignore the burning in his loins, he forced himself to look around. Distraction was definitely the key-at least until she gave in to him.
Which wouldn’t be long. No woman could ever withhold herself from him for any length of time.
Smiling bitterly at the thought, he glanced about the house.
Just where and when was he?
He didn’t know how long he’d been trapped. All he could remember were the sounds of voices over time, the subtle shifting and changing of accents and language dialects as the years passed.
Looking up at the light above his head, he frowned. No fire burned. What was that thing? His eyes watered in protest and he looked away.
That must be the lightbulb, he decided.
Hey, I need to change the lightbulb. Do me a favor and flip the switch by the door. ‘Kay?
Remembering the shopkeeper’s words, he looked to the door and saw what he assumed was the switch. Julian left the stairs and pulled down on the tiny lever. Immediately the lights went out. He switched them back on.
In spite of himself, he smiled again. What other marvels did this time hold?
Julian looked at Grace who stood on the bottom step. She tossed him a long rectangle of dark green fabric. He caught it against his chest as a wave of disbelief consumed him.
The woman had been serious about covering him up?
How very odd. His frown deepening, he wrapped the fabric around his hips.
Grace waited until he moved away from the door before she looked at him again. Thank goodness, he was finally covered. No wonder the Victorians insisted on fig leaves. Too bad she didn’t have a few in her yard. The only thing out there was holly bushes and she doubted he’d appreciate that.
Grace headed to the living room and sat down on the couch. "So help me, Lanie," she breathed. "I’m going to get you for this."
And then he was there, sitting beside her, firing every hormone in her body with his presence.
Moving to the opposite end of the couch, Grace eyed him warily. "So, how long are you here for?"
Oh, great question, Grace. Why not ask him for the weather or his sign while you’re at it? Jeez!
"Until the next full moon." His glacial eyes melted a degree. And as he ran it over her body, his gaze turned from ice to fire in the space of about two heartbeats.
He leaned toward her, reaching to touch her face.
Grace jumped to her feet and went to stand on the other side of the coffee table. "Are you telling me that I’m stuck with you for the next month?"
Stunned, Grace rubbed her hand over her eyes. She couldn’t entertain him for a month. A whole, solid month! She had responsibilities, obligations.
She had a new hobby to learn.
"Look," she said. "Believe it or not, I have a life. One that doesn’t include you in it."
She could tell by his face that he didn’t care for her words. Not at all. "If you think I’m thrilled by being here with you, you’re sadly mistaken. I assure you I’m not here by choice."
His words stung her.
"Well, not all of you feels that way." She gave a pointed glare to the part of him that was still ramrod-stiff.
Looking down at his lap and the lump bulging under the towel, he sighed. "Unfortunately, I don’t have any more control over that than I do being here."