Mentally she chanted, I'm a size two...I'm a size two...
It didn't work. She was becoming one with the wall, when Mr. Excuse me turned around yelling obscenities to the woman he was running from, smashing her into the man behind her. She turned towards whoever caught her to tell him I'm sorry, when she noticed a large defined chest before her. Muscular biceps wrapped around her and she felt the need to swoon.
Miss I never swoon over anything was shell-shocked. Mr. Excuse Me had knocked her into every woman's fantasy. She groaned when fantasy man grabbed her butt, because who would object to his hands cupping their bottom even if it's only to catch his balance?
Somehow his thigh ended up in between her legs and her nose buried in his chest. Damn. He even smells good, all male with a hint of Obsession cologne.
Daren knew he should grab the jerk that just knocked the woman into him, but he couldn't get his hands off of her ass. She has a perfect ass, he thought. His thigh was right against her mound and he could feel her heat. Involuntarily, he squeezed her ass and nudged her closer.
He heard a groan, but couldn't tell if it was from her or him. He could feel her nipples against him and his dick jumped to attention.
Leaning down he gently whispered in her ear, "Nice to meet you."
Her throaty giggle gave him a raging hard-on that pressed against her hip. Her hands clutched his shirt and she groaned, "Why and how does this happen to me?"
He smiled, "Baby, I'm not complaining."
She looked up at him in surprise, her big chocolate brown eyes rounded in disbelief.
No, she wasn't the usual blonde that he favored with long legs, in fact she was a brunette with a very pretty round face and full lips. Her long hair was wavy and reached the middle of her back. His gaze travelled to her impressive cleavage, double D's, no doubt about it. She was a short little thing stacked with a woman's curvy body. Daren couldn't help but think about touching each and every inch of her.
She jerked in his arms as someone yelled, "Steph!"
That's when he realized that the line had moved and there was a large gap in between them and the people in front of them. Quickly she stepped away from him and walked towards the woman who called out to her.
Daren reached out and grabbed her hand, "Ride this one with me."
He couldn't explain it, but he knew he wanted her more than he'd wanted anything in a long time. She glanced at his hand that clutched her and looked into his eyes.
Oh shit, was all Stephanie could think. His ice blue eyes mesmerized her. His dark brown hair was short, cut almost like he was in the military. She just couldn't get over how sexy he was and he's holding my hand. She blushed crimson when he smiled at her and a dimple marked his cheek.
He brought her out of her stupor when he asked, "Please?"
"My friend would have to ride alone then." She stammered, "I-I couldn't do that to her."
He nodded towards the guy behind him, "Jake will ride with her."
She looked down at his hand that still held hers, "But, I don't even know you."
He ran his hand up her arm, dropping his voice, "I promise...I don't bite."
Daren waited with baited breath. A sexy smile covered her face when she laughed, "Maybe I want you to."
Looking her up and down, "I aim to please, baby girl."
The blush that covered her face about did him in. She turned to her friend, "Jessica? Do you mind riding this one with that guy?" She pointed at Jake.
Her friend looked at Daren skeptically, "What about you?"
She told her, "It seems I'll be riding with him."
Her friend hesitated, "If you're sure?"
Her eyes met his and Daren heard her say, "We'll see."
Jake laughed behind him, "Dare, only you'd find a way to pick up a chick...literally."
As Jake walked past her, Daren pulled her against him, "I'm Daren Michaels, by the way."
She gasped at the contact, "S-Stephanie Barnes."
Quickly he placed a gently kiss on the corner of her lips, "Hi, Stephanie."
He could feel her shiver and smiled when she said, "Hi, Daren."
For the next twenty minutes they moved along in line, her back to his front and his arms wrapped around her waist, as though they were a couple. Never had a woman felt so right to him. When she leaned back against him, resting her head against his chest and covered his hands with her own, he vowed to have her in his bed tonight.
They were next in line when she gripped his forearm and admitted, "Is this a bad time to mention that I'm terrified of heights?"
He bent down and kissed her neck, "I'll take your mind off of the ride."
The ride was a long water ride that started by going up a steep incline. It glided through the tree tops for about five minutes then ended by dropping you over a hill to plummet into a spray of water. Daren smiled as he thought of ways to keep her occupied when going up the hill.
Finally, it was their turn to get inside the log looking canoe. He climbed in and straddled the padded bench. Daren smiled and patted the space in between his legs. She looked apprehensive, but climbed in straddling the bench.
He wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her flush against his body. Nuzzling her neck he asked, "How should I distract you?"
Nervously she laughed, "That would be one way."
She felt his hands slide up her thighs and squeeze. He asked, "This helping?"
She laughed, "Yes and no, hon." She closed her eyes, lost in the feeling that Daren was stirring inside her body. This is insane! She could not hold back the moan that escaped her lips as he nuzzled her neck.
Daren had turned thirty-four years old two days ago and couldn't remember a time when he wanted a woman as much as he wanted Stephanie. She smelled like raspberries and a hint a vanilla and it was driving him nuts. He wanted to take her back to his hotel room and spend the weekend making her moan and gasp while he claimed her body.
He could hear her breathe deeply in and out as he slid his hands to her inner thighs. He knew he was rushing her and never in a million years would he have thought about feeling a woman up this quickly, but he couldn't stop.
He growled in her ear, "Do you have any idea how much I want you, Stephanie?"
He reveled in her reaction. Goose bumps travelled up and down her arms, "I-I want you, too."
He almost demanded, "Stay with me this weekend."
She whimpered, "I don't know. This is crazy, Daren."
He kissed her ear and neck, admitting to both of them, "I know it's crazy. I just need to be with you."
He felt her indecision as she bit her bottom lip. He couldn't keep the smile from breaking across his face as she said, "I'll have to let my friend's know." She shook her head, "I'm thirty years old and can't believe I'm doing this!"
He knew the drop off was coming and wrapped his arms around her tightly, "We'll stay with our friends for a few more hours, but I want you all to myself after that."
She turned her head towards him and said, "OK."
He kissed her full lips briefly and asked, "Ready to get wet, baby?"
She winked at him, "I've been wet the whole time." Daren wanted to find out for himself, but the canoe dropped off over the crest.
Daren couldn't control his laughter as they got off of the ride. Stephanie was drenched. It looked like someone had just pulled her out of a lake. Where she had sat in front of him, he barely got wet at all.
Stephanie had covered her face with her hands and it looked like she was about to cry. Daren rushed to her, "Oh, baby...I should have warned you. I'm sorry."
Wrapping her arms around him, she smiled as she saw Jessica open a bottle of water behind him. Before Jake could warm him, Jessica commenced to pour the entire bottle over him.
Daren jumped and Stephanie busted out laughing. Mockingly she told him, "Oh, baby...I should have warned you!"
With and evil smirk on his face, Daren stalked towards her, "I'll get even for that."
She was backing away from him, "Ooh...promises...promises." Her eyes widened when she realized she was cornered.
She gasped when Daren picked her up and kissed her. One arm wrapped around her waist suspending her in air as his other hand cupped the back of her neck. Her arms held onto him as his mouth devoured hers.
Stephanie felt tiny in his arms. His lips ate away at hers and she moaned into his mouth. When did I become a moaner? She wondered. She was about to wrap her legs around his waist when she heard a man ask, "Who's Dare molesting?"
She stiffened in his arms, Oh my God! Daren chuckled against her lips and squeezed her one more time before putting her back on the ground. She was grateful that he kept his arms around her, because her knees felt like jello.
Daren tilted her chin up and she could see the banked desire in his eyes. His thumb brushed her slightly swollen bottom lip as he gruffly asked, "Should I apologize?"
Even though she was embarrassed, she loved every second of what he did. She was afraid to speak, so she shook her head. Her whole body felt like it was on sensory overload. Everywhere he touched seemed to scream, more!
Stephanie had always frowned at the thought of PDAs, but for the first time she understood the appeal. I never thought I'd be willing to jump some man I just met either. As she turned around, her mortification was complete. Five big gorgeous men were standing by her friends dwarfing them. Jessica, Erin and Sarah seemed to be equally amazed. Following Daren, he walked her towards the group watching them.
"Stephanie, meet the guys." He pulled her in front of him as each of his friends introduced themselves. Beau was the first. He had a full sleeve of tattoos. Drake came next. He flirted outrageously and had piercing green eyes. Mark had a southern accent. Chase had a jagged scar that cut through his right eyebrow. And last but not least, was Jake. He had sandy blonde hair and dark brown eyes.
Jokingly Jake asked, "Why couldn't you have fallen into my arms?"
She laughed when Daren growled at him. Her friends walked up and she introduced them. Jessica continued to eye them wearily. Erin flirted with each guy, ogling them openly. Sarah smiled and laughed at each of them.
Daren asked, "Want to grab something to drink?"
As they headed towards a snack stand, she poked him in the ribs as he grabbed her butt. He winked at her and said, "I can't help it."
Jake chimed in, "Can't blame him, honey. You have a rockin' ass!"
Daren smacked Jake on the back of his head, "Quit looking at my woman's ass!"
"Uh oh, boys, watch out! Dare is the jealous type!" Jake heckled.
For the next couple of hours they walked around with their friends laughing and having a great time. Stephanie couldn't believe that the big group of imposing men could be so much fun. If she'd have met them on her own, under normal circumstances, she'd have run the other way.
She felt a wave of self-doubt wash through her for the first time that day as Daren slid his arms around her. Being the heftiest of her friends, it managed to give a girl a complex. At only five foot two inches and wearing a size fourteen in clothes made her feel dumpy, especially when her friends wore a size eight on a bad day. Daren nuzzled her neck and she stiffened as more doubts crept in. Why would he want me? He's gorgeous!
Daren was confused. He had been touching her and kissing her off and on since the second he met her, and now suddenly, she seemed uncomfortable with it. They were waiting to watch Jake and Erin bungee-jump, so he turned her to face him. He tilted her chin towards him asking, "What is it?"
When she wouldn't meet his gaze and shrugged, he tugged her towards a bench. He sat down and pulled her to stand in between his legs, facing him, "Spill it, Stephanie. What's wrong?"
When her brown eyes looked at him, it felt like she was searching for something. Softly she asked, "Are you sure," she gestured from her to him, "about this?"
"Am I sure?" He repeated her question, cupping her ass in his hands, pulling her closer, "Baby, there's not a doubt in my mind."
He felt her hands settle behind his neck, her fingers brushing his hair and kissed her softly. She melted into him. He knew her mind was having doubts, even if her body wasn't. He tried to keep the kiss light and lazy, but quickly it turned into way more. Breaking the kiss abruptly and catching their breaths, they stared at each other for a moment.
Gruffly he asked, "Where are you all staying?"
"Umm...at the Marriot on the boardwalk."
He couldn't stop the grin that broke out across his face, "So are we."
She stammered, "Y-you're joking!"
He shook his head, "Do you have a cell phone on you?" When she nodded, he told her, "Let your friends know that you'll check in with them later."
She hesitated briefly, "What's your cell phone number? Jess will throw a fit if she doesn't have it. Oh, and umm..."
He laughed, "What, baby?"
"What do you do for a living?" She bit her bottom lip shyly.
"Kind of rushed past a few things, didn't we?" Standing up, he pulled out his wallet from his back pocket. He handed her his driver's license and military identification.
Her mouth fell open in shock, "You're a SEAL???" Quickly she recovered and looked at him, "That explains it."
Quirking an eyebrow at her, "Explains what?"
"The names you all call each other. Beau is 'Dragon'. Drake is 'Snipe'. Mark is 'Croc'. Chase is 'Cougar'. Jake is 'Black'."
Amused, he asked, "And I am?"
Daren caged her against him, "I don't remember us calling each other those names."
She shrugged her shoulders, "You didn't, but the only said them a couple of times. Plus, it makes sense."
He had to know, "Why's that?"
Nonchalantly, she pointed out, "You all are always watching things really close, looking out for each other. Plus, you all are intimidating as all get out and too sexy for your own good."
Watching her closely, "And what do you do for a living?"
She winked at him, "I'm an elementary school teacher."
Daren was stunned. Stephanie was something else. He was watching her talk to Sarah when Beau nudged him, "Can you believe she's a teacher, man?"
Beau looked thoughtful for a moment, "I would have made sure I was in trouble all of the time."
Daren smiled, "Fuckin-A."
Being their CO, Daren knew Beau had something to say, so he waited. Finally, Beau told him, "We all like her."
He growled, "Your point, Dragon?"
Keeping his expression calm, "She's nothing like the usual women we gravitate to between missions. I don't like the thought of someone hurting her." Beau pinned Daren with a look, "Not even you."
Daren knew that Beau wasn't purposely threatening him, so he chose his words carefully. He faced his second in command, "Listen, what happens between me and Stephanie will be between me and her. Honestly, she's a surprise to me and I don't know where it will go. I do know that I plan to find out, though."
Beau pointed out, "She's the marrying type, Dare. Hell, she makes even me feel like I'm her family. Look at her."
Daren watched as his men were gathered around her and saw the admiration in their eyes as she captivated their attention. Even Chase, who kept everyone at arms length, had his arm on her shoulders laughing with her. Bemused, he chuckled when she elbowed Chase in the ribs for something.
With his attention on Stephanie, he was shocked at what Beau said next, "Even if you don't see it, she's one of us. We've all claimed her. Erin mentioned that she's throwing a surprise birthday party for Stephanie next Saturday. All of us are going." Beau paused, "They head back to Kentucky tomorrow." Beau grimaced when he saw his CO's face.
Daren scowled, "Fuck!" He stormed over to Stephanie, grabbing her arm, "You fucking leave tomorrow?"
Every one of his guys flanked her when she stiffened at his tone. The glare she gave him set him back. Immediately he wanted to take the words back. He tried, but she held up her hand, her icy tone shocked him, "Who do you think you are talking to?"
Towering over her, he couldn't help it, he tried to intimidate her, "I'm talking to you."
She didn't even blink. Chase tugged her behind his body. Looking at Daren, he calmly stated, "You are causing a scene, Dare."
Facing one of his brothers, though not by blood, Dare hissed, "Back off, Cougar."
Chase challenged, "You know I won't."
Stephanie inserted herself in between the two men. Affectionately she touched Chase's arm, "Thank you, Chase, but I can handle this."
Chase shrugged, "I'll be right here if you need me."
Erin and Jake had just walked up and Erin asked, "What's wrong with Steph?"
Jake cupped Daren's arm, "What's going on, Dare?"
Sarcastically Stephanie stated, "He opened his mouth without thinking."
Jake backed away, holding up his hands and asked Erin, "Does Steph have a temper?"
"Hell, yes, especially if someone tries to intimidate her." Erin whispered.
Daren clenched and unclenched his jaw, counting to ten in his head. Rolling his shoulders to relax, he blew out a deep breath. More calmly this time, he asked albeit through gritted teeth, "Are you leaving tomorrow?"
Erin, Jessica and Sarah nodded their heads, but Stephanie spoke up, "No."
Her three friends look confused and Erin said, "Uh, Steph? Classes start the day after tomorrow."
Stephanie smiled, "Well, I'm leaving right now." With that being said, she turned and walked away.
Erin muttered, "What in the hell did you say to her?"
To be continued...