Heart's Paradise – Excerpt

"So what do you do for fun, Phoebe?" Jonathon asked while they waited for their food to cook.

"I don't know, read I guess. I don't have a lot of free time to spare." She hugged her knees to her chest, staring at the fire.

"You're obviously into this survivalist thing, how long have you done it?"

The getting-to-know-you session made her uncomfortable, and a part of her wanted to scream at him. How do you not remember me? You took my virginity and got me pregnant all in the same night! She bit her tongue to stem the coming storm of words until she felt some control.

"A long time," she finally answered. Shortly after dropping out of college and moving across the country where I could raise my daughter in peace.

She took a stick and rolled several of the crabs off the stone, letting them cool in the sand before collecting them in her palm. Jonathon followed suit as she bit into one. Though small, and gritty, it didn't taste half-bad. Perhaps tomorrow she'd search for sea urchins, and weave a lobster trap. With the few needed calories in her belly, Phoebe felt a bit better about Paradise. Even if she had to share it with the last man on the planet she'd expected.

As the sun set before them, and the sky turned from blue to soft reds and orange, Jonathon tried to draw her into conversation again.

"Tell me about your life, angel," he said.

She frowned at the pet name. He'd used it before—long, long ago.

"Not much to tell," she said. "Work, my daughter, more work."

"You have a daughter? What's her name?"

She fidgeted, not knowing quite what to do with her hands, so she drew circles in the sand with a fingertip. "Sarah. She's eleven."

"I have an adorable niece that age." Jonathon stretched his long legs before him and rested back on his hands. Phoebe noticed welts left by sand flea bites on the tops of his feet.

Sarah has a cousin she'll never know. Sadness flowed into her heart, as did the sense of helplessness she'd carried for so long. There he was, only two feet away, and she still couldn't break the silence. Sarah was too important to risk on a stranger's whims. If Jonathon did show interest, then his interest may quickly wane, leaving Sarah with emotional scars.

"It'll be rather cozy in our hut tonight, don't you think?" Jonathon asked in a low timbre, interrupting her thoughts. His eyes rested on her, catching the light of the flickering campfire. Beyond him, the water blazed beneath the sun's last throes of life, setting fire to the crystalline blue. Staining it dark orange, blending ocean into sky.

A cool breeze washed over them, sending a rush of goose pimples over her skin. Or maybe it was the way Jonathon's deep voice rasped her nerve endings, the way his gaze seduced. Both held a masculine power that reached into the most feminine parts of her.

In that moment she realized how strong her weakness was when it came to Jonathon. Whatever magical control drew those supermodels to him, left her just as powerless. A whispered request from his sensual lips and she'd melt into him and beg for more. Her heart pounded in her chest as she stared into his eyes. His hand came up and his knuckles brushed her cheek, stroking back a loose strand of hair. She trembled with the touch, ached for more.

"Phoebe, angel…" His fingers trailed above her ear, and it took a moment to realize he'd turned off her camera. He slipped it over her head, before he reached up and did the same with his. "I'd rather it be only us right now."

No, no, no, I can't do this. She couldn't catch her breath as he scooted closer. The tips of his fingers traced over her cheek, light as butterfly wings, before his palm settled there. The warmth of it sent a shockwave of desire through her, and she sucked in a hard breath. "Please…" No.

Jonathon leaned in, his lips hovered over hers. "There's something about you, angel," he whispered. "Something I can't quite put my finger on."