Mentoring innocent Ophelia West in the secrets of seduction is the last thing oil-well trouble-shooter Sebastian Reyne intends to do. She needs a nice man, not a rake. A patient man, not one who can't be controlled. But her clueless attempts at flirting brings out the rescuer in him, the teacher in him, even the gentleman in him. For a while.
Until Poppy West's skills start to exceed his own...
They found him in the loft.
Sprawled out, face down on one of the cots as if dead to the world.
Mal sighed. Poppy just stared.
And it wasn't just because he had no shirt on.
Sebastian Reyne was not a small man.
His feet dangled over the edge of the bed, and his shoulders seemed almost too wide for it. His jeans clung lovingly to superbly muscled thighs and his butt was taut and round and altogether perfect. And then there was his back.
Sun bronzed and magnificently proportioned to fit the rest of him, it was a study in the play of skin over musculature and the hills and valleys that came of it. Painters and sculptors would love Sebastian Reyne's back. They'd commit it to memory and drive themselves insane trying to capture every last nuance of its power and beauty .
It seemed only wise that Poppy too should commit such a study in masculine perfection to memory.
Just in case she ever decided to take up sculpting or painting.
His chest moved and from what little Poppy could see of his face beneath all that shaggy black hair his colour seemed good.
An almost empty scotch bottle lay on its side beside the bed.
Just dead drunk.
'Miss West, meet your host,' said comedian Mal as he reached down and gave the sleeping giant a nudge. 'Seb.'
Seb groaned. Muttered something about Mal going away and the words he used were not from the book of manners.
Nothing Poppy hadn't heard before.
'Oy! Seb!' bellowed Mal, and shoved him in the shoulder. 'Package for you.'
'Leave it on the floor,' murmured Seb and his voice rippled over her, darkly delicious and heavy with sleep.
'Yeah, about that,' said Mal, and turned to Poppy. 'Comprehension could take a few minutes. Maybe you should wait in the office.'
'It's okay,' said Poppy mildly. 'I have brothers.'
'Brothers who go on benders?'
'Brothers who do what they want,' she countered quietly, and put her hands to her knees and bent low so as to see Seb Reyne's face. It was quite a face, stubble aside. It put her in mind of fallen angels and very bad boys .
Wouldn't hurt to commit his face to memory too.
'Mr Reyne? I'm Ophelia West. We've spoken on the phone. I'm Tomas's business partner. I'm here to do some work.'
Long dark lashes lifted a millimetre or two before closing again, giving Poppy a brief glimpse of forest green.
'Am I dead?' he murmured.
'I'm sure.' Poppy straightened and turned to Mal. 'I'm pretty sure he's going to say "Welcome to the island" next.'
Another curse. More of a whimper.
'Give me five minutes with him,' said Mal, and hauled a protesting Seb upright and headed for the door, and then the cove, and then the ocean, dragging the altogether larger Seb along with him.
Poppy stayed on the pier and watched as the pair headed across the sand and into the water until they were both waist deep in it, at which point Commander Mal unceremoniously let the other man go.
Doubtless that would've been her older brother's solution too.
Poppy leaned against the railing as Mal dunked Seb again, maybe to wash his mouth out this time, but eventually, Mal waded back towards the beach and Seb waded into deeper water, scrubbing at his hair and disappearing beneath the surface with the sleekness of a seal.