Author: Robyn Carr

“Maybe we shouldn’t get any more worked up,” she said in a whisper.

“Whatever you say,” he replied, but he was agonizingly unable to lift his head. He was busy putting small kisses on her breast, her neck, her shoulder. He ran a hand down her back, over her bum, down her thigh. He accidentally found that slit in her dress and before he knew it, his hand was inside. “Oh God, Nikki. I’m a dead man.”

“You’re not doing too bad for a corpse,” she said.

“Nikki, you have no panties on, and I’m a dead, dead man.”

“Then take your hand out of there,” she advised breathlessly.

“I. Can’t.”

He put his lips back on hers for a long, deep, wet kiss that lasted two minutes at least. But, he proudly thought, he was somehow able to keep his hand from wandering any farther than her naked bum. One large hand on one small, round, perfect cheek. He had cast a mental image of Crazy Glue holding him there, because if he slid it any farther south all the blood would drain from his brain and he would faint. And then came the danger zone. She pressed against him, rubbed against him. She gyrated her hips a little and moaned softly. She knew he was hard and ready to burst. She knew he knew she knew. He lifted his head. “Nikki. Let’s,” he said.

“Oh God,” she said. “We shouldn’t.”

“Let’s make love.”

“How tacky is that? The maid of honor having sex with a marine on the deck?”

He chuckled in spite of himself. “I’ll take you somewhere.”

“By that time, I will have come to my senses,” she said.

“It’s not far. I drag my bedroom around with me.”

“Wow. Talk about always being prepared…”

He kissed her again. Hot and hard kisses that lasted forever. “It’s not really mine. I borrowed it from Paul. There aren’t exactly rooms to rent around here.…”

“That funny little trailer?” she asked him.

“The door locks,” he said against her lips. “It’s very comfortable.”

“Listen,” she said, pushing him away a little bit. “I haven’t ever—I mean, I’m no nun, but I’ve never done anything like this. This one-night stand thing. Never.”

“It’s not, I don’t think,” he said.

“Hmm?” she said, yielding to his lips again.

He wasn’t going to bother saying something that was just going to sound like a line, even if it seemed entirely true. He felt something. He’d been feeling it since the moment he saw her in the bar with Vanni a while back, felt it again the second time he saw her, had been feeling it all day today and he had absolutely no idea what it was. But it sure didn’t feel as if he was going to be cured of it in one night. “It’s just the first night,” he said.

“Talk me into it,” she pleaded.

“No. No way,” he answered, pulling away a little. “It’s up to you. If you want me to, I’ll make love to you. If you don’t, I can step away right now.” He kissed her again. “It wouldn’t be easy, but I could let go of you.”

“But what will people think—”

“Shh, people don’t have to know if you don’t want them to. This—it’s just about you and me. It only matters what you think, what you want. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.” He made a derisive sound deep in his throat. “That was really hard advice to give, by the way.”

She answered by kissing him deeply, pressing her body up against his, and he was only further weakened. Or maybe he was further strengthened, because he was feeling more and more sure that he had to have this woman next to him, in his arms, in his life. There was some terrible curse on this place that turned fine, upstanding, confirmed bachelors into ridiculous, desperate men who tripped over a pretty girl and began to instantly think life would not go on if they didn’t have her forever. They hadn’t even been intimate and he already couldn’t imagine letting her go. He tried to tell himself that by morning that feeling, that compulsion would be gone, but he doubted it. He’d wanted before, but he couldn’t remember wanting like this. Like he was drugged. Like he was glazed over and totally out of his mind for this one person.

She pulled away. “I want to,” she said.


“Sure.” She drew a ragged breath. “I’m really sure.”

He smiled down at her, took her hand in his, and they walked down the steps into the yard and around the house, stopping every few feet to embrace, to kiss and fondle. And then he opened the door to that funny little trailer.

It was a little awkward at first, stepping up into that tiny trailer, because Joe was tearing the place apart looking for a condom. And she asked him, hadn’t he brought any? And he told her he never expected something like this to come up while he was in Virgin River. “We usually just hunt. Play poker. Drink a little too much.” And then he found a box of condoms in the drawer under the microwave and said, “Ah! God bless Paul.”

After that discovery, the awkwardness passed as he began to seduce her and became seduced by her. There was nothing under that pink dress but Nikki, and she was exquisite—tiny, firm, beautiful, sensual. Despite his condition, which was one of being so worked up and turned on he was afraid he might embarrass himself, he managed to make a decent study of her body and make long, slow, delicious love to her. Love that he was sure was completely satisfying to her as well as him.

Then they lay in each other’s arms and talked for a while. “Don’t tell me about him, I don’t want to know. But tell me more about you. Where you came from, what you like to do, how you want to spend the rest of your life.”

He learned that she had grown up in the city, gone to private schools, disappointed her parents by choosing to fly as a cabin attendant rather than becoming a neurosurgeon or astronaut or something. She liked to travel, ride horses, read. She was a good cook. What she wanted was to have a family, which was why she ended up with this guy who finally made it clear he was completely opposed to that idea. She had no idea it was really going to come to that. “Whoops,” she said. “I think that might’ve been about him.”

“That’s okay,” he forgave. “Let’s put him away for now.” And he made love to her again.

There was something about loving her that surpassed the sex. He could easily move her around, she was so light, and as he did so, he forgot that he had been dying to experience her. The only important thing became her pleasure, giving her everything he had. Working her up, getting her so hot she was begging. Long, slow, deep strokes that made her sigh and moan. And when she let him know it was time, deep and strong thrusts that made her gasp and hold him tightly to her. When her orgasm came, he felt proud, as if he’d taken good care of her. Maybe it was her response to him, the way she was swept away, her release leaving her breathless and gasping. If he had anything to say about it, this would go on forever and she would never be disappointed in his arms, in his life.

What he hadn’t been prepared for was how loving and sexual she was toward him, acting as if his pleasure was the most important thing as well. Unwilling to lie back and receive his lovemaking, he felt her lips on every inch of his body; she pushed him back on that small bed and tortured him so beautifully it almost brought tears to his eyes. She was a woman who could give as good as she got and it filled him up with emotion so strong, he was sure he’d never felt that way before.

And again they talked—this time about Joe and his small town up north, the houses he designed, the Marine Corps and the friends for life he’d made. He told her all about his Virgin River experiences, including the first time Jack called on the boys to help him clear the woods of dangerous men, to the time they’d come together to help Paul lay his best friend to final rest.

Then more love. Deeply satisfying, wondrous, phenomenal love. Joe honestly didn’t know if he’d suddenly become better at making love than he realized or if this woman, Nikki, was simply so astonishing, she made him look good. So responsive, so sweet. It didn’t matter to him—he was sublimely grateful for every orgasm she had, and more grateful that he was able to give her more than he took for himself.

“Nikki,” he whispered. “I think finding you was the luckiest day of my life.”

Then they talked about the others. Not the one who was making her cry, because Joe didn’t want any more crying. Since stepping into that funky little trailer, there hadn’t been any tears. Soft laughter, whispers, deep sighs, no tears. They talked about the other ones that just didn’t work out, starting with his year-long marriage at the age of twenty-five. “She left you?” Nikki asked, as though stunned.

“Yeah,” he said. “It killed me.”

Joe told her he’d always been kind of prepped for marriage and family, given his parents’ long marriage, the successful marriages of two brothers and one sister. And maybe he was gun-shy, that he hadn’t fallen in love again after that. He was surprised to find himself this old and still unattached; he thought he’d be settled and have a couple of kids by now. Once he saw some of his buddies find it late, he had renewed hope that maybe it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility for him.

Nikki, it turned out, had had an affair or two go south before the one who made her cry. She dated an airline captain for a while without realizing he was actually married. And then, to her supreme embarrassment, she continued with him for a while after knowing. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” she said, but she’d been really young then. “I regretted that, you can’t imagine how much. He’s been with quite a few single women since, though still married.”

Lots of intimate talk, lots of wonderful, sweet but powerful sex. The sun was starting to peek over the mountains when Joe nodded off with Nikki close in his arms. It was high up when he heard the sound of an engine and bolted upright, finding the bed beside him empty. He couldn’t believe she’d sneak away without saying goodbye. Then it occurred to him she might’ve escaped into the house, into her guest room, to keep her private life private from her hosts.

He dressed, shaved, ran a comb through his hair and hoped to meet her at the coffeepot in the general’s kitchen. He had to get with her one more time to plan their next meeting, to tell her he wanted to call her, talk to her, find out when she would allow him to come to the Bay Area. He was already missing the sound of her voice. The smell of her skin.

When he got into the house, he found Vanni in the kitchen, the baby in his bouncy seat on the table. “Morning,” he said, headed for the coffeepot. When he got back to the table and sat, he was met by her glare. “What?” he asked, perplexed.

“I cannot believe you did that,” she said.

“Did what?” he asked.

“My best friend. You know she’s been through a hard time.”

He looked around a little frantically. “Vanni, what? Where’s Nikki?”

“Gone,” she said flatly.

“Gone?” he asked, rising out of his chair. “Gone?”

“Yes,” she affirmed. “What were you thinking?”

He gave a huff of unhappy laughter. “I was thinking I’d just found the woman of my dreams,” he said. “She left?”

“In tears,” Vanni said, her mouth set in a grim line.

“Tears? Vanni, I did not make her cry!”

“Didn’t you have sex with her all night long in that little fifth wheel?” she asked, anger in her tone.

Hoo-boy. You don’t talk about that, especially when it’s meaningful. “Vanni, I swear to you, I didn’t do anything to hurt her.”

“Didn’t you find her on the deck, crying, and kiss her and seduce her and take her to that little trailer?”