Evie Latham dropped her keys on the kitchen table before poking her head around the living room door. Besides the single pool of warmth created by the standing lamp, there was no sign of Ross. He had to be home, though. There was no way Mr. Energy Conservationist would ever be caught leaving the lights on all day. She’d only just trained him out of unplugging the kettle after every cup of tea.
Upstairs, the exotic scent of his herbal shower gel suffused the corridor. Evie glanced at her watch. It wasn’t like Ross to dive in the shower the moment he got home. He knew she liked the smell of him, all musky and hot, with a hint of the chemicals he used at work blended into the mix, and the powdery smears from the latex gloves still fresh on his fingertips. She loved to press her nose up tight to him, snuggle into the crook of his arm and breathe in his wonderful scent. Clearly, today had been gruelling. Possibly, he’d lost one. It sometimes happened. Animals he just couldn’t save. Ross wasn’t the sort to get all teary-eyed, but she could always tell how his day had gone from the timbre of his voice when he spoke. Too low and dry, and he was obviously choked up. Eight years as a vet and losses still bruised him.
Cheering up tactics would obviously be necessary.
Having shed her shoes at the bedroom door, Evie pressed on towards the bathroom, unbuttoning her white blouse as she went. Some things never failed. Just thinking of how delight would transform Ross’s expression as she stepped into the shower with him fully clothed gave her butterflies.
Little transgressions. That pretty much summed him up. Wet clothes that clung to the skin and turned transparent being his number one thing. A curious one as kinks went, but far preferable to him admitting a love of spanking or borrowing her underwear. Each to his own, of course, but she thought she’d have a much harder time accepting either of those things.
Ross loved water. He loved being caught in the rain. While everyone else was hurrying by, he’d be the one dancing in the puddles or sauntering along sans coat and umbrella without a care in the world.
They’d met in the rain, in a thunderstorm, only a few yards from their current doorstep. She’d been wearing a floaty white dress that had turned transparent at the first touch of water and clung to her skin, accentuating every curve. She had a fair few of those, not all in the right places either. Ross had seen it all before they’d even exchanged names.
In her fantasy replays of that event, Evie liked to imagine their meeting had been an explosive coming together of yin and yang, a passionate melding of minds and bodies. The truth was that she’d gone arse over tit on the wet grass and slipped a disc. Ross had kindly called an ambulance and held her hand on the way to hospital while she screamed in pain.
The wet scent hit her like a blast of steam as she ploughed through the bathroom door. The normally shiny surfaces were reduced to fuzzy blurs by the wall of fog. Instinctively, she reached for the fan cord, and as the gentle whir began, the overhead light flickered on too. Even then, she could only just discern his outline through the steamed up glass bricks that screened the shower. Strong shoulders, dark hair, his cute tight-as-a-button arse. Her Ross. They’d been sharing a place with friends for so long it was good to think that, now they had their own place, he was entirely hers.
Evie dropped her jewellery and mobile on the edge of the sink. The final button of her shirt undone to display her admirable cleavage, nicely framed by her new polka dot bra, she stepped under the shower spray behind him, and wrapped her arms around his waist. “How’s this for a welcome home?”
There was something wrong.
Even before her hands closed upon his flesh, she knew it. His scent… Even masked by the citrus and wood of the shower gel, his underlying scent was different, as was the way their bodies folded together.
As if scalded, Evie jerked back, unleashing a blizzard of ungodly oaths. She scrambled out of the shower and pulled her wet clothes tight around her. “Who the fuck are you?”
He turned slowly. “Erm… Evie?”
She stared at him, all ripped smooth muscle and not a speck of hair on him anywhere besides his head, and failed to find any hint of familiarity. His two perfect penny-like nipples were all perked up and excited. “Start talking, mister. You’ve thirty seconds before I call the police.” Assuming the local station didn’t just laugh when she complained of having a gorgeous man in her shower.
Her fingers nervously twitched as she stretched her hand towards the washbasin and the phone, still blindly backing up.
“Evie,” he said again.
Water droplets clung to his eyelashes, while his dark eyes—so dark she couldn’t really tell what colour they were—smiled down at her. How did he know her name?
Cheeky bastard didn’t even have the grace to look embarrassed.
Her phone exploded with sound. Evie made a grab for it, only for it to shoot from her hand like a bar of soap. It hit the wet tiles and skidded to a halt between the stranger’s feet. With a squeal of alarm and frustration, she hopped back a little farther towards the bathroom door.
The stranger stepped from the shower and wrapped the skimpiest towel the bathroom had to offer around his hips. He bent and retrieved her phone. He glanced at the face before lifting it to his ear. “You’re too late, mate,” he said into it. His voice rich and smooth like honey. “We’ve already met.” He held out the phone to her. “It’s Ross. He’d like a word.”
Evie snatched the cell from him and clamped it to her ear. “What in the blazes is going on?”
“Yeah…er… Hi, Evie.” Ross’s semi-apologetic tone washed a sense of calm into her ear. “Sorry to spring this on you, but, you remember my friend, Kit? I’m sure I’ve mentioned him before. Well, he’s back in the country and I said it would be okay for him to crash with us until he sorts his place out. That’s all right, isn’t it?”
All right! Like hell it was. How could he even contemplate destroying their privacy after only two weeks? They’d been waiting months to get this place. They were barely settled. There were still boxes in the spare room they hadn’t unpacked. Speechless, she just glared at the naked intruder.
“Evie? You all right?” Ross asked, an apprehensive edge creeping into his voice.
“I thought we moved so we could have some us time,” she said.
There was a long pause on the other end of the line. “I know… It won’t be for long, okay. I promise. Just a month or so.”
“Evie, I did try to reach you at work. Your phone’s been off. Look, it is okay, isn’t it? He’s not a scruffy lout or anything, and we go way back.”
“I can see that.” Not that they went way back, obviously, but that he wasn’t scruffy. He’d started drying his hair with another skimpy hand towel as she talked, so that the muscles in his torso rippled with the movement. A lock of thick black hair flopped forward over his brow.
“We’ll talk when I get in,” said Ross.
Yes, they would. Not that there actually seemed all that much to negotiate. Kit was already here. She risked another glance at him. Yep, quite definitely here. Still mostly naked and making himself at home. He sniffed at a bottle of Ross’s aftershave, but discarded it unused.
“Love you,” Ross managed to squeeze in before she hung up.
Yeah, love you too she thought, still bitter but no longer quite so cross.
“That’s some welcome technique you have.” Kit glanced at the shower cubicle and smiled, so that the corners of his eyes crinkled and his lips parted to reveal slightly crooked teeth. “I’m sorry I shocked you. It is lovely to meet you at last.” He offered her a hand.
“Kit?” she said, accepting it.
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