Kitty Lazarus loved her store…when it was empty. For just a little while, she could forget that she’d become a freak of nature. For a little while, she had her mind all to herself.
Two o’clock on a Monday afternoon meant most of the weekend returns were in and the lunch-break visitors were gone. The return box was full, giving Kitty a challenge as she tugged it over the green Berber carpet to the cash wrap, but a filled box meant mucho money from rentals, so she couldn’t complain. She even found herself humming along to the theme music coming from the televisions mounted around the store. The occasional spring breeze wafting through the open door augmented her mental quiet as she scanned in the DVD returns.
Until images from an unfamiliar brain dissolved her peace.
A daydream, or perhaps a memory -- Kitty couldn’t tell which -- played like a movie in the man’s mind, and Kitty experienced it with shocking vividness as if she shared his body.
The cool smoothness of the sheets caressed his knees, and the mattress sank under his weight as he knelt over the woman on the bed. The sheets covered her bare, full breasts, and he imagined inching the fabric down to watch her nipples tighten as the cool air slid over her skin. His mouth watered as he remembered the taste of those sensitive nipples rolling on his tongue. The scent of her sex, overpowering, musky, and ripe, filled his nose, calling to him, tempting him to replay last night
More memories flooded Kitty’s vision, and she realized she was intensely turned on by this man’s thoughts. His whistling floated in on the breeze, but he remained out of sight, just beyond her view on the sidewalk.
Suddenly, he was on top of her, inside of her, thrusting with wild passion, the hot, slick pressure of her muscles against his cock practically burning him. Sweat covered his skin, dripped onto her, blended with her juices. It was salty in his mouth as he shuttled in and out of her, increasing his pace, watching her face for signs that she was right there with him
. Kitty dropped a stack of DVDs and braced herself against the counter as an overwhelming wave of desire engulfed her. She’d never received such clear images from someone’s thoughts before, especially from someone not yet in the room with her. And these were more than images -- these were intense sensations -- as if she wore his skin, but without any speech to ground her. Her face burned and her body softened, leaving her sure of only one thing -- whoever was approaching her store had way too much power over her.
The woman gazed up at him with glazed eyes and smiled briefly. Her breathy moans echoed in his ears, telling him how much she enjoyed each hard dig of his cock, and his arousal arched as he watched her breasts bounce, her tits so engorged they were almost purple. Her platinum blonde hair was splayed across his pillows, and the liquid warmth and straining muscles of her climax set off his own. He howled in completion and held himself tightly above the blonde as he emptied himself into her, trying to make their perfect connection last a little longer
The memory -- was it a memory? -- abruptly morphed back into the image of the mattress sinking beneath his knees, as he stretched out his fingers, reaching out to touch the woman’s shoulder. Should he wake her up? Was it too soon? Could he make it worth her while? The salty tang of her skin lingered in his mouth, and the thought of her breasts plump against his tongue almost made his decision for him. His cock grew heavy as he looked at her, tossed between his present need and the memory of sex
The phantom sensation of his cock filling, readying for the inevitable plunge inside his lover, heightened Kitty’s arousal, now obvious as she felt a trickle seep from her body. She clenched her thighs together in embarrassment as the man finally strolled through the open door to her store.
My God, how could he look so normal when he was having thoughts like that?
The man wore khakis and a preacher-collar shirt, and had rich, dark hair. Kitty’s fingers immediately itched to touch the silky strands. She couldn’t see his eyes yet, but his solid, clean-shaven jaw bore the hint of tan.
The moment the man focused on her, on his current surroundings, the erotic images disappeared. Kit sighed in relief, but her hands trembled as she rescued the DVDs and forced them back into a neat stack. She tried to resist looking up, preferring to concentrate on the blurb on the DVD box, but the pull was too strong. The stranger’s eyes caught her like a deer in headlights, mesmerized her, not only because of their intensity, but also because of their unusual color -- amber with flecks of brown and green.
Kitty cleared her throat, which had gone suspiciously dry. “Can I help you?” She sounded a bit terse, but that was because the stranger had sent her from zero to sixty in two seconds. Her heart still raced, and her damp panties reminded her of all the sensations she’d just experienced.
The stranger smiled, revealing a dimple in one sexy cheek. His eyes glinted with humor, and he had the longest lashes she’d ever seen on a man. “Good afternoon. I’m Haden Blackwood.” His voice had a faint brogue to it, low and yummy. He extended his hand.
Kitty stared at it, momentarily confused. Usually customers ignored her or gave her a quick nod, then dove into their movie search. When they asked her a question, it was with their hands in their pockets, thinking of her as an employee and not a person. Most importantly, customers usually gave her running mental monologues and two-dimensional thoughts, like a TV show playing in the background, not holographic, living-color experiences that left her hot and bothered.
Her brain finally clicked on the proper response, and she hoped her hand wasn’t sweaty as she reached for Haden’s palm. Their skin touched, and his nostrils flared. Kitty became aware of his thoughts once again. They were less distinct now, but still different from anyone else’s she’d ever read. He was pondering her scent, which was weird, since she never wore strong perfume, and he stood at least two feet away from her.
“I recently leased the space next door,” Haden said. Again that succulent burr in his voice, and she imagined him whispering in her ear as he settled his big, hard body between her legs. The deep sound triggered a response in her stomach and sent shivers up her arms.
“Really?” She resisted the urge to pat her hair and lick her lips. She would not preen for this guy.
“Yes, indeed.” He glanced around the video store. “Nice place you have here.” One moment he pictured the store as it was, and the next he was stepping through a demolished wall into her store space, watching that space gradually fill with booths and tables, a bigger stage, and a longer bar. “And you are?”
Kitty squared her shoulders. So he thought he could take over her store, did he? That’s what the images in his mind implied. Why did sexy men always have to be assholes? Struggling to remain polite, she replied, “I’m Kitty Lazarus. What kind of place are you opening?”
“A pub.” Images flitted through his mind of glasses of Guinness, old musicians with wrinkled smiles, and stomping feet on a sticky floor. The smells of unfamiliar food and old wood were so strong that Kitty guessed that Haden had been to the pub in his thoughts. The laughing voices had strong accents. A pub in Ireland, maybe?
Focusing back on the conversation, Kitty thought about the idea of a pub here. The downtown area sported an Irish pub, a British pub, and probably even a tavern or two, but this was a rinky-dink shopping center in the Richmond suburbs. Sports bars equipped with plasma screens and pool tables seemed more apropos. “A pub’s an interesting choice,” she said diplomatically, even as she wondered why she was trying to be tactful.
Especially since his mind kept wandering to sex. He ought to be arrested for his fantasies…honestly! In his mind, his strong hands slid over Kitty’s hips, and she was overtaken by the force of his thoughts again.
He caught the hem of her shirt and lifted it, noting the goose flesh on the side of her ribs as the air struck her. The higher the fabric lifted, the pinker her skin grew. Was she flushing from embarrassment or arousal? He breathed in and smelled the truth. Arousal. She bit her lip in nervousness, but didn’t resist as he pulled the shirt over her head slowly, blinding her for a moment. She was in his control. His hands spanned her warm waist as he lifted her onto the counter. Her scent nearly overpowered him. He knew she was wet and ready without a word being said.
Man, oh, man!
Kitty was used to sometimes picking up on obscene thoughts in her customers’ minds, but usually they didn’t center on her. Funny, in Haden’s imagination she wore a skimpy black lace bra filled by perfectly formed breasts, instead of the totally unsexy white sports bra she actually wore.
Kit licked her lips, trying to keep calm, but her nipples perked in response to his thoughts. How could he look so cool when he had this X-rated movie in his head? She was flushed from head to toe and found herself developing a little fantasy of her own. She liked the idea of sitting on the counter. She added to that the action of loosening the buttons of his shirt one by one, listening to his breath catch as her fingers brushed against his chest, and she slid her feet along the backs of his thighs. She imagined how solid his muscles would feel under her hands, how big he would feel between her legs.
His voice startled her out of her reverie. “A pub, you know, with drinks and fish and chips.” He was obviously following their stilted conversation better than she was, but then, he didn’t have the added bonus of two sets of thoughts to contend with. She only hoped he couldn’t tell how attentive her nipples had become.
“What are your hours going to be?” she managed to ask.
“Last call will be at one.”
Kit’s mouth dropped open, and she reminded herself again that she should stop fantasizing about this guy. “Linda and Kyle approved it staying open that late? It took me a year and a new Ukrops before they let me stay open until eleven.”
“You own this store? You’re too young.” In his mind, he pictured someone kicking his butt. You don’t talk about a woman’s age, asshole
. “Sorry. That didn’t come out right.”
Kit blinked. “Young, huh?” It was a compliment in a way, but she’d dealt with enough male business owners to know that you didn’t give them the slightest cause to doubt you. Unfortunately, the fact that she looked young for her age fostered doubts in men’s minds about her ability to do her job. She stared at the computer screen and tried to read what it said, when actually her hands itched to touch this gorgeous male specimen before her. Hell, they itched to touch her own body, slide down to her clit, and ease the tension she was feeling. A little time alone in the backroom would do her wonders. Then maybe she could think again and concentrate on work.
One of the most disconcerting things about her talent -- mind-reading -- was seeing herself as others saw her, like looking into a mirror, but colored by the viewer’s filter. Haden was noticing her stiff stance and the fact that she was trying to give him the brush-off, but he also noticed her pink cheeks and perky nipples, and again he thought about her scent. In fact, Kitty could smell it -- extreme arousal -- and she didn’t know if she was reading his thoughts or being overly conscious of her own body odor.
He didn’t look away for a long, embarrassing moment. Finally, he relaxed and asked, “Do you mind if I look around?” His voice made her think of molten lava and other warm, melting things.
“Feel free. Anything in particular you’re looking for?” She concentrated on steadying her hands so she could resume scanning in the returns. Look normal, act normal, stop thinking about hot sex with a stranger
. If only that hot stranger would stop thinking about it himself.
“Not really. I’ve been too busy getting things lined up for the pub to relax with movies lately.” But his thoughts weren’t on business details. They’d returned to the scene on the bed and the blonde woman’s sleeping form. This time they weren’t as vivid, and they weren’t about sex. They seemed tinged with something different, something like regret. Who was she? His wife, perhaps? If so, that was another reason to stay far away from him. He shouldn’t be visualizing sex with strangers if he had a wife to go home to.
Strange, though. When Kitty was getting ready to get the video store off the ground, her thoughts had been consumed with shipping orders, money problems, evil contractors, advertising, and the like. This man’s mind seemed oddly one tracked. Maybe it would be a while before the pub opened, or maybe he wasn’t very business oriented.
Nothing for her to worry about -- not yet, at least.