Sexy as Sin

Meg Lacey

Chastity Goodwin glanced toward the window behind the antique writing desk expecting to see her very late appointment come dashing up the street like a white knight riding a charger, never expecting she'd see the devil dressed in black and riding a Harley instead.

At the moment, however, the street was empty.

"Where is the best man?" she muttered as she flipped the pages of her Daytimer¨ to confirm she'd not made a scheduling error. Looking up from the detailed pages that neatly catalogued each day of her life, Chastity checked the delicate gold watch encircling her wrist and sighed. Two-thirty. She rubbed her forehead. Obviously he wasn't coming this time either.

Today would make the third appointment he'd missed. If he didn't show up soon, he was going to the wedding in his birthday suit. Chastity grinned as she imagined the wedding guests' reactions. Even at a Renaissance Festival wedding, where the attire of the guests ranged from bishops to court ladies to jailers to jesters, a best man as naked as the day he was born would cause some comment.

Especially in Gloriana, New York.

Chastity placed her appointment book on the elegant desk and walked closer to the mullion-paned window and glanced out. Still no sign of activity, foreign or otherwise, disturbed the mid-day quiet of the old neighborhood. Here, life moved at it's accustomed pace as the summer weather zapped the energy level of her many elderly neighbors, keeping them inside to nap through the steamy July afternoon. She cast another glance up and down the silent street. Same as usual. Although, Chastity had to admit, that was one of the things she liked about the small town--its serenity and lack of surprises. There was a sense of history here, of continuity.

Chastity started to turn away from the window when a hum of sound, like the angry buzzing of bees caught her attention. Pulling back the lace curtain, she peered outside and gasped. A big, black motorcycle roared down the street, looking like the chariot to hell. The bike skidded to a stop in front of her house and abruptly quieted, leaving the aggressive echo of the engine's noise behind still breaking the silence. The man astride the black metal monster glanced quickly at her house, then swung his leg over to step upon the sidewalk.

Startled at the sight of this unexpected visitor, Chastity leaned closer to the window until her nose touched the glass. If the bike was the chariot to hell, surely the man riding it was the perfect driver. Even in the heat, he was all in black, a black leather jacket, black jeans, black boots. Only a hint of white was visible at his throat, a T-shirt perhaps? As he swooped upon her sidewalk like a huge bird of prey, Chastity suddenly regretted the solitude of the peaceful neighborhood.

She stepped back from the window and wondered what to do when the bell rang--an impatient ring, as if the ringer had little time to waste on manners. Biting her lip, she darted a glance toward her appointment book. The best man? No. This guy couldn't possibly be Harrison O'Connor's brother...not Harrison of the infinitely polite manners. Harrison was the kind of man who would apologize smoothly to a mugger for not having enough money on him. No, this couldn't be Harrison's brother.

So who was he?

With a deep breath, Chastity turned to face the hallway. She exhaled and forced herself to move. Stomach churning, she carefully put one foot in front of the other and walked to the door. She pulled it ajar, taking care to open it only far enough for a brief conversation.

The man upon her porch stood insolently, knee cocked, hip out thrust and looked her over. "I'm Sin," he said.

Chastity grabbed her throat. "Of course you are," she said, so taken aback by his announcement that her voice barely whispered through the air to reach his ears. It had finally happened. All those years of studying medieval literature had driven her mad!

"Sin O'Connor."

"Sin...O'Connor?" Had Harrison even mentioned his brother's name? This wedding was happening so fast, Chastity wasn't sure.

Impatiently, Sin thrust one slender hand through his black hair, smoothing back the lock falling onto his brow. "I've got an appointment for two o'clock."

Chastity stared at him, taking in his bad-boy good looks, which reminded her of the newest actor playing Agent 007 at the movies. Her eyes lingered on the collar-length, black hair blown back by the wind, except for one thick lock that slashed over his forehead. With a sense of shock, she met the heat of his golden eyes as they bored into her. Except for her black cat, Squash, she'd never seen eyes that color before. Chastity couldn't remember having made a date with the devil. And this guy had the look of him...all fire and seduction. Lord help me. One look at him and she started thinking of scarlet sheets and strawberries dipped in rich, dark chocolate.

* * *

Reaching toward the table, she yanked a long measuring tape from under a pile of lace. Then she stepped toward the long dressing mirror and the hanging rack, indicating a hanger with fabric neatly draped over it. "Would you mind stepping over here so I can do a double check before I give them to you to try on."

She bit back a chuckle as he trod across the room toward her. You would have thought her tape measure was a bullwhip from his approach. He stopped close to the mirror, leaving her enough room to stand directly in front of it. "I tried to use your brother for a guide but--"

"Then you don't really need me to--"

"He said he was a bit taller, so I do need to make sure--" She lifted her skirt a bit and dropped to her knees in front of him, bringing her face eye level with his hips.

"What the hell are you doing?"

Suddenly that was exactly what she was asking herself as she stared at the slim body, tightly encased in soft black jeans facing her. She tried not to focus on his most interesting angle, jerking her stare to the side of his hip instead. "Re...research," she stumbled as she said the word. "I mean measurements, not re-- Taking your measurements." Her position certainly wasn't conducive to dignity, and definitely not to scholarly research, come to that. Gingerly she extended the tape to the outside of his hips and measured from his waist to his ankle. She kept her eyes firmly on the numbers, afraid if she glanced anywhere else she'd be unable to finish the job. That didn't stop her from wanting to blow on her fingers to cool them off though. She was all too aware of the heat of his body as she pressed the tape against him.

Idiot. You've done this with any number of people. It's no different with this man.

That wasn't strictly true. She wasn't sure why this was different, but it was. Maybe it was because, for the first time, she had more interest in the inside leg measurement than the outside. She'd had never met a man like this in her entire life. Her taste tended to run to the familiar--to the academic and overly well-bred men she could control. Those whose libido's were more turned on by their next research article than the woman by their side. No, Chastity had never been attracted to the sort of man who seemed to know more about sin than even his name implied. Until now of course. As she stared at the rock hard muscles in front of her and imagined their strength, she was suddenly aware of what she'd been missing.

Chastity felt her face burst into flame. Her hand trembled as she toyed with the tape measure. The room was so silent she could hear a stray dove cooing under the eaves of the old house. The clock on her desk clicked, changing minutes so loudly it sounded like thunder to her. In slow motion, it seemed, her hand moved to the inside of his thigh. Hesitantly she took the head of the tape measure and raised it higher, trying to keep her breathing under control as she approached the target.

That's when she made a big mistake. Her eyes jerked upward and collided with his burning gold gaze. She was unable to look away. His eyes widened, then narrowed abruptly to consider her.

She didn't understand what was happening. This man was a stranger to her. She couldn't remember having felt this awareness, this anticipation, this longing before. Not even with Jeremy, the man she'd been dating for some time. They had an understanding... of sorts. At the moment, however, she couldn't exactly remember what they'd understood. How odd!

Chastity studied the exciting face above her, her imagination caught by the stubbly beard which lightly shadowed the bold line of his jaw and framed his firm lips. What would that feel like against my skin? Would it be as rough as Squash's cat's tongue? Or would his beard have a different effect? Would it make her nerves jump as much as they were jumping now?

One of us better exhale before we both keel over, she thought frantically. The image of both of them slumping down, then tangling on the floor together, didn't help her ability to breathe at all. Instead her eyes blurred, making Sin O'Connor's golden gaze expand until it filled the universe. Finally, Chastity gasped, gulping in air like a greedy glutton. Her mind worked at top speed. Searching for an explanation, she decided the faintness was probably hunger. She hadn't eaten lunch, had she? That was it. Low blood sugar. The obvious source for her odd reaction.

"I'm hungry."

Oh my god, I didn't say that aloud, did I?

Judging by the look on his face, she had. She felt his hands drop onto her shoulders. His fingers tightened. She couldn't move.

March 1999
Harlequin Temptation
ISBN: 0-373-25834-8