THIRTY-FIVE

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As Mark put some space between them, he realized his plan hadn't worked. There wasn't one ounce of fear on Virginia's face, only hunger—a blatant, sexual hunger. He took a few deep swallows as a battle raged in his head. He had a strong protective instinct when it came to this woman, and it was screaming for him to stop. But it was lust that was winning, its end game all too obvious given the hard-on in his pants. Plus the anger was still there, making its alliance known, egging him on with its silent command: Fuck her. She deserves what she's about to get.

As he stared into eyes that were heavy and filled with need, lust ran its victory lap. He was going to satiate that need. Here. Now.

"Jesus Christ," he managed to utter before claiming her lips again. With her legs still wrapped around him, he yanked her hips into his, showing her exactly where he wanted to go and what he intended to do when he got there. She tightened her legs in approval and grabbed at his shoulders, pulling him closer.

Unable to wait any longer, he brought his hand up to her breast. Even through clothing, there was no mistaking that sweet, hardened tip. He teased it with his thumb before pinching it between his fingers. As she arched into his touch with a moan, all gentleness was pushed aside. His palm got its fill of the underlying fullness while it squeezed.

The tiny glimmer of rational thinking he had left told him that what he was doing was wrong. Holding back on removing the irritating layers of material that were keeping his hands off bare skin, he left her lips to travel down her neck with small kisses. In a voice husky with desire, he uttered, "Tell me to stop, Ginny."

He didn't make it easy, though. While his sense of right and wrong was offering her a choice, his hand contravened, providing its own persuasion as it slid down between their bodies to find the spot between her thighs that he knew would drive her crazy. He applied pressure through her jeans, his fingers stroking in small circular motions.

"Don't stop," she breathed, tilting her head to give his mouth better access.

Hell, yeah. That was exactly what he wanted to hear. His hands shot to her waist and tugged at her T-shirt, removing it from the confines of her jeans. As he reached underneath to glide his palm over the smooth skin of her abdomen, he had some vague thought about what kind of a bra she would be wearing: lace, satin, or knowing her, the more likely comfy cotton. Didn't really matter—it was about to come off regardless. He drew back and straightened, grabbed the shirt's hem with both hands as their eyes locked with an unspoken acknowledgement, and—

A door slammed shut just as a young, excited voice called out, "Mommy, there's a motorcycle in the driveway!"

They broke apart as if a bucket of ice water had been thrown over them.

) l (

Virginia's focus went straight to the clock. The large numbers on its face seemed to stare down at her with disdain—it was four-thirty, the exact time Janine arrived home from her summer day camp.

Spinelli backed up, looking a little stunned.

"Oh, God." She jumped down from the counter, tucking her shirt back into her jeans.

Janine was making noise out in the foyer, probably taking off shoes or fighting an unruly backpack in her effort to get to them and tell them about her discovery.

Spinelli did some straightening of his own, then picked his jacket up off the floor and held it in front of his hips.

That bundle of energy came bounding into the kitchen, and were it not for her youth, she likely would have guessed why they were both standing there as if they had been struck by lightning. "Mark!" she squealed, running over to encircle his waist in a hug. "Is that your motorcycle?" She spotted the helmet on the table. "Wow!" She went over to it, her hand hovering above it as if it were a magic ball.

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