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A Reluctant Hero

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JD willingly handed me control in his kitchen, apologizing for its less spacious and more modest appliances. I rolled my eyes and shook my head. “If I was into you for your kitchen, JD, I’d still be into you.” I opened the fridge and took stock of what he had. Not much, but some basics that I could work with for the night, and maybe the morning. “We might have to order some groceries, though.” He showed me the places he kept the shelf stable ingredients and I made a list as I went for what else we’d need for a few days at least. He took the list as soon as I said I thought I was finished, and started the order. “You know, I could pa-” He glared at me and I stopped talking. OK. “Or not.” I went back to fixing our dinner, another shake of my head at how irritated he seemed by my offer. A rarity from the men I dated, the idea that they would pay for anything. Which made my dad far more correct than I cared to admit.

I was putting the finishing touches when he wrapped his arms around me from behind. “I really wish we were naked right now, Ani,” his whisper against my ear made my eyes flutter closed.

I felt the heat from him against my back, but it was the heat of the stove that reminded me why I was dressed. “Yeah, but I’d really rather my nipples not be burnt by steam piping off the pots, or God forbid from leaning in to get anything out of the oven.” His chuckle vibrated through me. “And what a damn shame it would be if your ‘low hanging fruit’ if you know what I mean, should get singed.”

I felt him shiver from the thought. Maybe it was a cringe, but he got the idea. “OK, clothing optional every part of the day except meals.” I smiled and shook my head again. “Are you denying that being naked constantly with me isn’t something you’d like, Ani?” A flush of heat that had NOTHING to do with the oven flowed through me.

Turning around, I grinned up at him. “Are you trying to tempt me with your body, JD Richter?” His arms were still around me so he was hunched down so my arms wrapped around his neck without me having to stretch. His smile was infectious, and I was staring into his eyes thinking about how fucking tempting he was with his clothes ON, and then the timer told me that dinner was finished. “There we go, slowing down again-” I winked and he let me go so I could pull dinner out and we could dish it all up.


Sitting at his table, I caught myself staring at him more than usual. How was he real? I mean, seriously, I write for a living and my novels and series have plenty of romance in them, but this, what JD and I were experiencing, how was it REAL? This shit doesn’t happen in real life, does it?

“What are you thinking about?” He had just swallowed his last bite of dinner and sat back to study me.

Biting my lip, I looked down at my almost empty plate. “Is this real?” He looked confused. “The two of us, meeting like we did, and having Roger the moron toss a wrench in, and now-” I stopped and took a drink from my glass. “You have to admit, rom-com writers would think this was a hard sell.”

He laughed, grinning at me even as I kept staring at him. “It’s real, I promise.” He stood up to take his plate to the dishwasher. “If you’re lucky, I’ll even let you pinch me to prove it.”

“Don’t I have to pinch myself to prove it?” I asked, following him with my own plate. “I mean, pinching you doesn’t prove that I’M awake-” He turned, taking my plate from me and putting it on the counter behind him. Then I was in his arms, and his lips met mine. I felt it, that rush of want and need building.

“Don’t you dare pinch your perfect fucking skin, Ani,” he growled against my lips. “The only marks you wear are ones you get from me.” Dear Lord, the twist of lust that hit at that warning nearly made me crumble. “And they won’t be where the world can see.” Shit.


We were wrapped up in a blanket in front of his wood stove, our naked skin pressed together while the flames danced. “So nudity all the time?” I confirmed, as his lips met my shoulder again. “I think I’m seeing the appeal-” And then I was under him and he showed me just how appealing constant nudity, except during meal times, was more than fucking appealing.