Excerpt from PRIMITIVE PASSION available in print
Sylvia woke and found Heath sitting cross-legged on the floor watching her. Creepy. Or was it sexy? He was shirtless, and his brown nipples grabbed her attention. It had been a long, long time since she’d been with a man. She’d had daydreams of a Mexican romance, but hadn’t put much stock in the possibility. She was too citified and too American. She dated fast talking, fast moving, upwardly-mobile men. Men who paid for the meals and the cab rides and the show tickets. But lately, she never dated the same guy twice. She hadn’t wanted to put out the effort to do the phone call thing and the meet-the-friends thing, since none of the yuppies had caused her insides to zing.
Heath caused her insides to zing and zong and explode, just by staring at her. Maybe it was the stranger danger or his wildness or the fact that he was just plain sexy. She didn’t know, but the sensations scared her.
As she sat up and stretched, she noted that he watched her chest rise and fall. Her nipples peaked in response. She wanted to strip off all of her clothes and climb on top of him. What a crazy thought. Well, stripping off her clothes might be a good idea, but only if it meant taking a shower.
“Would you mind if I use your shower?” she asked, breaking the taut silence.
“No. Would you like breakfast first?”
“No. I think a shower would bring me to life faster.”
“You’re not alive now?”
“Hell, no. I’m a total zombie.”
Heath grinned. “I see. Then by all means, take your shower.”
Sylvia traipsed outside. Muggy, even in the morning. Swarms of gnats hung out in the deep shadows. She noted a lizard blending in on the boards of the porch only after she nearly stepped on it and it scrambled away. The grass seemed to teem with life, bees, butterflies, ants and more. Maybe she was just more aware of it this morning, or maybe she’d lived in New York too long to be accustomed to nature. She hadn’t even taken the time to walk through Central Park in months.
There was no curtain around the shower. It was just a hose suspended from the side of the barn. How she longed for her pulsating showerhead and the whirlpool jets in her bathtub. She gripped the pump handle and lifted and lowered it. Nothing happened. She glared at the contraption, and then pumped it twice more. No water.
“It’s not working,” she shouted towards the cabin.
Heath stuck his head out. “You have to prime it.”
“Pump it a lot. Prime it.”
Sylvia “primed it” until her arm hurt and water finally rushed out of the hose. As warm as the morning was, she was not prepared for the frigid temperature of the water as it hit her palm. She shrieked and hopped back.
How could she bathe like this? Very, very fast. She stripped off her clothes in two movements and dashed under the water where she scrubbed her underarms and her hair and face until the grime slid away. The water slowed to a trickle. Sylvia shook her hair and squeezed it, then yanked her clothes back on.
She turned to go back to the house, and there was Heath, watching her every movement. She had no doubt that he’d watched her shower, too. Neanderthal. Certainly not a gentleman. She didn’t know any gentlemen anyway. The men who worked in her ad agency either struck her as effeminate or smarmy. The good ones had the well-worn gold bands on their fingers and kindly daddy looks on their faces.
“Did you enjoy the show?” Sylvia was shocked at her audacity. Normally she would run away in shame, but she would never see Heath again once she left here. What was the harm in a short flirtation? She bravely walked past him.
“I did.” He turned to follow Sylvia back inside.
“Shall we have breakfast?” she asked.
“Then you’ll take me into town?”
Sylvia stopped so suddenly that Heath stepped on her heel. He apologized, but she poked a finger into his chest. “What do you mean ‘no’?”
“I won’t take you into town.”
“Will you tell me how to get there? Is it nearby?”
“Either.” Poke, poke, poke.
“Ow. Stop that.” He grabbed her finger.
She yanked it free. “Why the hell won’t you take me to town? Don’t you want me out of here?”
Her eyes narrowed. “Ah, I see.”
Heath cleared his throat. “I want to strike a bargain.”
Sylvia took a step back, a big step, and put her hands on her hips. “What sort of bargain?”
“Let’s eat breakfast while I explain.”
“No, you explain right now, or I’m not setting foot back in your house.” She closed her eyes and rubbed her temple. “What about a car or bus? If I go back to the road, one’s bound to come by. Right?”
Heath advanced, and Sylvia retreated again. Did he want money? Hadn’t she already explained about the cab-driving thief?
“Your cab has been the first vehicle through here in two weeks.”
Sylvia whirled abruptly. “Breakfast then.” She chewed her lower lip, thinking hard.
Was what Heath said true? Well, she couldn’t just take his word outright. She would have to prove it to herself one way or the other, which meant after breakfast she would find her way back to the road and wait. Should she walk back the way she’d come? It was probably a day’s hike. That would be manageable, wouldn’t it? What about the other direction? Perhaps there was something just around the bend. Should she consider his bargain, though? It would be smart to hear him out. Maybe, he just wanted conversation.
Heath’s eyes scalded her as he crossed the plank floor with the bowl of fruit in his hands. He lived here all alone. It had probably been some time since he’d seen any other female. Sylvia was pretty sure he wanted something more than conversation. Hell, no. She wasn’t some hussy.
“What’s your bargain?” she finally blurted to break the strained silence.
Heath smiled. He had straight white teeth. She thought of running her tongue over them, and mentally slapped herself. Get a grip. She needed to get back to civilization, not have sex with some mountain man. The mountain man walked close enough to where Sylvia sat that his knees touched hers. He ran his fingers through her hair. She shivered as he lifted her chin with gentle pressure. He stared down at her steadily, hungrily. He was still shirtless. She imagined leaning forward far enough to place her tongue against his muscle-lined stomach and lick. He obviously had the same thought in mind, or perhaps he imagined her licking somewhere lower, since his erection strained visibly against the fabric of his pants.
He remained in the dominant position. “The bargain is you stay with me for a few days and do what I ask of you, then I will take you to the outskirts of town.”
“So, town isn’t really that far away?”
“It’s two days ride on horseback. I imagine three or more on foot, without water, and you would be sleeping unprotected on the ground.”
“I could take water with me.”
“I only have one canteen.” In other words, he didn’t plan to loan it to her.
“This is the rainforest, isn’t it? There must be plenty of water around.”
His grin turned lopsided. “Did you come across water during your walk this afternoon? And if you do find water, I cannot vouch for its sanitation. But I will not stop you. Feel free to try.”
“Only you won’t help me at all.”
“Unless you help me.”
“An eye for an eye…”
“One good turn deserves another.”
“Hah.” Sylvia chewed her lip, wishing Heath would move out of her view. His flat stomach was as tempting as chocolate truffles in a bakery window. “What if I offered to pay you once we get to town? It should be no problem to get my travelers’ checks replaced.”
“I won’t go into town.”
“Why not?” He was a murderer. There must be posters up at the local post office, or maybe the Federales would recognize him on sight. She wanted to scream and pound her fists against him. While licking him. Which was definitely illogical, and she prided herself on her logic.
“I never go into town.
“Are you a wanted man?”
“Heath, work with me here. You’re the hero, right? You don’t really want to take advantage of a stranded woman. You certainly don’t want to kick me when I’m down, right?”
“I’m no hero. My bargain doesn’t involve kicking, and I don’t need your money.”
Sylvia’s eyes widened in disbelief and gazed pointedly around the sparse room.
“I have everything I need.”
“Except a woman.”
He crouched down until his eyes were level with hers. “Except you.”
Available in print.