A Gentleman in the Street

By: Alisha Rai

She ran her gaze over his naked, muscular back, his tight ass. Besides, the view was pretty good from here.

He spoke over his shoulder. “My father was married to your mother for three minutes over fourteen years ago. Doesn’t make me your brother.”

What a logical man. She delighted in twisting logic. “A year, brother. They were married a year. But can you put a time limit on the bonds of family?”

Was that a pile of crap on the ground? Ew. Distracted, she didn’t realize he had stopped until she ran smack into him. For an instant, she inhaled clean, warm male. Her hands went to his narrow hips in an automatic move to steady herself.

Before she could make contact, he pivoted and recoiled. “Don’t…touch me.”

Ice. Steel. The desire froze where it started. “Don’t flatter yourself,” she responded, every word razor sharp.

“I never do.” With that cryptic mutter, he dismissed her, his giant strides eating the distance to his cabin. His heavy boots thudded on the plank steps before he disappeared inside.

This isn’t worth it.

Akira looked around the clearing filled with nature and birds and trees and crap, and considered abandoning her mission. What was the point, really? This was a long shot, and her eyes were gritty from lack of sleep.

She’d been forced to put in a surprise-but-totally-planned appearance at her Vegas club the night before in light of some dipping numbers. An appearance, in her line of work, took a lot of fucking energy. It meant four-inch heels, a dress so short she had to keep a constant eye out for inadvertently flashing paparazzo (purposeful flashing was okay), and fake drinking shot after shot so she could ensure patrons had a good time and buzz was generated while she kept a clear head. Partying all night and hopping a flight in the wee hours of the morning had been far easier in her twenties.

She should be working right now to make up for the time she’d missed yesterday. Or better yet, curled up in front of a fire while the gloomy San Francisco fog rolled in. Or best, curled around a guy who wanted to touch her.

She didn’t need to be in the middle of fucking nowhere with a man who hated her, who had never been able to linger long in her presence. Hadn’t she endured enough of that attitude from her real family?

Well. Most of her family.

She gritted her teeth. There it was. The reason there would be no bed or fire or fiery bedmate for her, not until she’d chased down every lead in her hunt for her grandmother’s lost legacy. Uttering a vicious curse under her breath, she made her way to the porch, keeping a wary eye on the ground for surprises.

“Yoo-hoo,” she called out, putting as much annoying cheer into her greeting as she could muster. Play your role. “If you’re naked, put your pants on.” She finished on a mutter, letting the screen door shut behind her, “Or don’t.”

Maybe he was naked—the sound of running water came from the other room. Mmm. If half-naked Jacob made her lightheaded, what would the full monty do to her? She allowed herself a moment to linger over that image before shaking her head.

The cabin was tiny, with one slightly ajar door presumably leading to a bedroom and bathroom. Everything else was laid out in front of her: a bare-bones kitchen, a sagging couch, and a two-person breakfast table tucked away in the corner. No television, but a shiny, thin laptop sat on the linoleum counter.

Tall piles of newspapers sat in a corner. Who on earth read the newspaper anymore? Jacob, that’s who. She kept a twenty-four-hour news station on mute all day at work, and checked her tweet stream for the latest goings-on.

The place was clean and well-maintained, but she had to suppress a shudder. The closest she’d come to camping was when she’d organized a corporate retreat at a glamping site, which mostly consisted of creatively built structures that allowed tenants to feel like they were enjoying nature while still appreciating the comforts of home.

She loved nature. Except it had so many creepy-crawlies and animals and things that made her sneeze. Peering out at it from a fully equipped yurt was far preferable to wallowing in it. You got WiFi in the yurt.

“I like your couch,” she commented. “Orange is my favorite color.”

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