The law is a lady, p.13
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       The Law is a Lady, p.13

           Nora Roberts
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  film.”

  She threw back her head and laughed with a freedom she hadn’t felt in days. “So take a home movie, Kincaid.”

  “Would you let me?” he countered immediately.

  She merely filled both glasses again. “You’re obsessed,” she told him.

  “More than’s comfortable, yes,” he murmured. He sipped, enjoying the taste but thinking of her. “I wasn’t sure you’d come.”

  “Neither was I.” She studied the wine in her glass with apparent concentration. “Another glass of this and I might admit I enjoy being with you.”

  “We’ve half a bottle left.”

  Tory lifted one shoulder in a shrug before she drank again. “One step at a time,” she told him. “But then,” she murmured, “I suppose we’ve come a few steps already, haven’t we?”

  “A few.” His fingers ran over the back of her hand. “Does it worry you?”

  She gave a quick, rueful laugh. “More than’s comfortable, yes.”

  Sitting up, he draped a casual arm around her shoulders. “I like the night best. I have the chance to think.” He sensed her complete relaxation, feeling a pleasant stir as she let her head rest on his shoulder. “During the day, with all the pressure, the demands, when I think, I think on my feet.”

  “That’s funny.” She lifted a hand across her body to lace her fingers with his. “In Albuquerque I did some of my best planning in bed the night before a court date. It’s easier to let things come and go in your head at night.” Tilting her face, Tory brushed his lips with hers. “I do enjoy being with you.”

  He returned the kiss, but with equal lightness. “I didn’t need the champagne?”

  “Well . . . it didn’t hurt.” When he chuckled, she settled her head in the crook of his shoulder again. It felt right there, as if it belonged. “I’ve always loved this spot,” Tory said quietly. “Water’s precious around here, and this has always been like a little mirage. It’s not very big, but it’s pretty deep in places. The townspeople enjoy calling it a lake.” She laughed suddenly. “When we were kids, we’d troop out here sometimes on an unbearably hot day. We’d strip and jump in. Of course, it was frowned on when we were teenagers, but we still managed.”

  “Our decadent youth.”

  “Good, clean fun, Kincaid,” she disagreed.

  “Oh, yeah? Why don’t you show me?”

  Tory turned to him with a half smile. When he only lifted a brow in challenge, she grinned. A small pulse of excitement beat deep inside her. “You’re on.” Pushing him away, she tugged off her shoes. “The name of the game is to get in first.”

  As he stripped off his shirt it occurred to him that he’d never seen her move quickly before. He was still pulling off his shoes when she was naked and racing for the water. The moonlight danced over her skin, over the hair that streamed behind her back, causing him to stop and stare after her. She was even more exquisite than he had imagined. Then she was splashing up to her waist and diving under. Shaking himself out of the trance, Phil stripped and followed her.

  The water was beautifully cool. It shocked his heated skin on contact, then caressed it. Phil gave a moan of pure pleasure as he sank to his shoulders. The small swimming hole in the middle of nowhere gave him just as much relief as his custom-made pool. More, he realized, glancing around for Tory. She surfaced, face lifted, hair slicked back. The moonlight caught the glisten of water on her face. A naiad, he thought. She opened her eyes. They glimmered green, like a cat’s.

  “You’re slow, Kincaid.”

  He struggled against an almost painful flood of desire. This wasn’t the moment to rush. They both knew this was their time, and there were hours yet to fill. “I’ve never seen you move fast before,” he commented, treading water.

  “I save it up.” The bottom was just below her toes. Tory kicked lazily to keep afloat. “Conserving energy is one of my personal campaigns.”

  “I guess that means you don’t want to race.”

  She gave him a long look. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

  “Guess you wouldn’t be too hard to beat,” he considered. “Skinny,” he added.

  “I am not.” Tory put the heel of her hand into the water, sending a spray into his face.

  “Couple of months in a good gym might build you up a bit.” He smiled, calmly wiping the water from his eyes.

  “I’m built up just fine,” she returned. “Is this amateur psychology, Kincaid?”

  “Did it work?” he countered.

  In answer she twisted and struck out, kicking up a curtain of water into his face as she headed for the far side of the pool. Phil grinned, observing that she could move like lightning when she put her mind to it, then started after her.

  She beat him by two full strokes, then waited, laughing, while she shook back her hair. “Better keep up your membership to that gym, Kincaid.”

  “You cheated,” he pointed out.

  “I won. That’s what counts.”

  He lifted a brow, amused and intrigued that she wasn’t even winded. Apparently her statement about strong energy was perfectly true. “And that from an officer of the law.”

  “I’m not wearing my badge.”

  “I noticed.”

  Tory laughed again, moving out in a gentle sidestroke toward the middle of the pool. “I guess you’re in pretty good shape . . . for a Hollywood director.”

  “Is that so?” He swam alongside of her, matching her languid movements.

  “You don’t have a paunch—yet,” she added, grinning. Gently but firmly, Phil pushed her head under. “So you want to play dirty,” she murmured when she surfaced. In a quick move she had his legs scissored between hers, then gave his chest a firm shove. Off guard, Phil went over backward and submerged. He came up, giving his head a toss to free his eyes of dripping hair. Tory was already a few yards away, treading water and chuckling.

  “Basic Self-Defense 101,” she informed him. “Though you have to make allowances for buoyancy in the water.”

  This time Phil put more effort into his strokes. Before Tory had reached the other side, he had a firm grip on her ankle. With a tug he took her under the water and back to him. Sputtering, she found herself caught in his arms.

  “Want to try a few free throws?” he invited.

  A cautious woman, Tory measured her opponent and the odds. “I’ll pass. Water isn’t my element.”

  Her arms were trapped between their bodies, but when she tried to free them, he only brought her closer. His smile faded into a look of understanding. She felt her heart begin a slow, dull thud.

  He took her mouth with infinite care, wanting to savor the moment. Her lips were wet and cool. With no hesitation her tongue sought his. The kiss deepened slowly, luxuriously while he supported her, keeping her feet just above the sandy bottom. The feeling of weightlessness aroused her and she allowed herself to float, holding on to him as though he were an anchor. Their lips warmed from an intimate heat before they began to search for new tastes.

  Without hurry they roamed each other’s faces, running moist kisses over moist skin. With quiet whispers the water lapped around them as they shifted and searched.

  Finding her arms free at last, Tory wrapped them about his neck, pressing her body against his. She heard Phil suck in his breath at the contact, felt the shudder race through him before his mouth crushed down on hers. The time had passed for slow loving. Passion too long suppressed exploded as mouth sought eager mouth. Keeping one arm firm at her waist, he began to explore her as he had longed to do. His fingers slid over her wet skin.

  Tory moved against him, weakening them both so that they submerged, locked together. Streaming wet, they surfaced with their lips still fused, then gasped for air. Her hands ran over him, drawing him closer, then away, to seek more of him. Unable to bear the hunger, she thrust her fingers into his hair and pulled his lips back to hers. With a sudden violence he bent her back until her hair streamed behind her on the surface of the water. His mouth rushed o
ver her face, refusing her efforts to halt it with hers while he found her breast with his palm.

  The throaty moan that wrenched from her evoked a new wave of passion. Phil lifted her so he could draw her hot, wet nipple into his mouth. His tongue tormented them both until her hands fell into the pool in a submission he hadn’t expected. Drunk on power, he took his mouth over her trembling skin, down to where the water separated him from her. Frustrated with the barrier, he let his mouth race up again to her breast until Tory clutched at his shoulders, shuddering.

  Her head fell back as he lowered her so that her neck was vulnerable and glistening in the moonlight. He kissed it hungrily, hearing her cry with anguished delight.

  Cool, cool water, but she was so hot that his legs nearly buckled at the feel of her. Tory was beyond all but dark, vivid sensations. To her the water felt steamy, heated by her own body. Her breathing seemed to echo in the empty night, then shudder back to her. She would have shouted for him to take her, but his name would only come as a gasp through her lips. She couldn’t bear it; the need was unreasonable. With a strength conceived in passion she locked her legs tightly around his waist and lowered herself to him.

  They swayed for a moment, equally stunned. Then he gripped her legs, letting her take him on a wild, impossible journey. There was a rushing, like the sound of the wind inside her head. Trembling, they slid down into the water.

  With some vague recollection of where they were, Phil caught Tory against him again. “We’d better get out of here,” he managed. “We’ll drown.”

  Tory let her head fall on his shoulder. “I don’t mind.”

  With a low, shaky laugh, Phil lifted her into his arms and carried her from the pond.

  Chapter 8

  He laid her down, then dropped on his back on the grass beside her. For some time the only sound in the night was their mixed breathing. The stars were brilliant now, the moon nearly full. Both of them stared up.

  “You were saying something,” Phil began in a voice that still wasn’t steady, “about water not being your element.”

  Tory gave a choke of laughter that turned into a bubble, then a burst of pure appreciation. “I guess I could be wrong.”

  Phil closed his eyes, the better to enjoy the heavy weakness that flowed through his system.

  Tory sighed and stretched. “That was wonderful.”

  He drew her closer against his side. “Cold?”

  “No.”

  “This grass—”

  “Terrible, isn’t it?” With another laugh Tory twisted so that she lay over his chest. Her wet skin slid over his. Lazily he ran a hand down the length of her back as she smiled back at him. Her hair was slicked close to her head, her skin as pale and exquisite as marble in the moonlight. A few small drops of water clung to her lashes.

  “You’re beautiful when you’re wet,” he told her, drawing her down for a slow, lingering kiss.

  “So are you.” When he grinned, she ran both thumbs from his jaw to his cheekbones. “I like your face,” she decided, tilting her head as she studied it. “That aristocratic bone structure you get from your father. It’s no wonder he was so effective playing those swashbuckling roles early in his career.” She narrowed her eyes as if seeking a different perspective. “Of course,” she continued thoughtfully, “I rather like it when yours takes on that aloof expression.”

  “Aloof?” He shifted a bit as the grass scratched his bare skin.

  “You do it very well. Your eyes have a terrific way of saying ‘I beg your pardon’ and meaning ‘Go to hell.’ I’ve noticed it, especially when you talk to that short man with the little glasses.”

  “Tremaine,” Phil muttered. “Associate producer and general pain in the neck.”

  Tory chuckled and kissed his chin. “Don’t like anyone else’s hands on your movie, do you?”

  “I’m very selfish with what belongs to me.” He took her mouth again with more fervor than he had intended. As the kiss lengthened and deepened he gave a quick sound of pleasure and pressed her closer. When their lips parted, their eyes met. Both of them knew they were heading for dangerous ground. Both of them treaded carefully. Tory lowered her head to his chest, trying to think logically.

  “I suppose we knew this was going to happen sooner or later.”

  “I suppose we did.”

  She caught her bottom lip between her teeth a moment. “The important thing is not to let it get complicated.”

  “No.” He frowned up at the stars. “We both want to avoid complications.”

  “In a few weeks we’ll both be leaving town.” They were unaware that they had tightened their holds on the other. “I have to pick up my caseload again.”

  “I have to finish the studio scenes,” he murmured.

  “It’s a good thing we understand each other right from the beginning.” She closed her eyes, drawing in his scent as though she were afraid she might forget it. “We can be together like this, knowing no one will be hurt when it’s over.”

  “Yeah.”

  They lay in silence, dealing with a mutual and unstated sense of depression and loss. We’re adults, Tory thought, struggling against the mood. Attracted to each other. It isn’t any more than that. Can’t be any more than that. But she wasn’t as sure of herself as she wanted to be.

  “Well,” she said brightly, lifting her head again. “So tell me how the filming’s going? That scene today seemed to click perfectly.”

  Phil forced himself to match her mood, ignoring the doubts forming in his own head. “You came in on the last take,” he said dryly. “It was like pulling teeth.”

  Tory reached across him for the bottle of champagne. The glass was covered with beads of sweat. “It looked to me like Marlie Summers came out on top,” she commented as she poured.

  “She’s very good.”

  Resting her arm on his chest, Tory drank. The wine still fizzled cold. “Yes, I thought so, too, but I wish she’d steer away from Merle.”

  “Worried about his virtue, Tory?” he asked dryly.

  She shot him an annoyed look. “He’s going to get hurt.”

  “Why?” he countered. “Because a beautiful woman’s interested enough to spend some time with him? Now, look,” he continued before she could retort, “you have your own view of him. It’s possible someone else might have another.”

  Frowning, she drank again. “How’s he going to feel when she leaves?”

  “That’s something he’ll have to deal with,” Phil said quietly. “He already knows she’s going to.”

  Again their eyes met in quick, almost frightened recognition. Tory looked away to study the remaining wine in her glass. It was different, she told herself. She and Phil both had certain priorities. When they parted, it would be without regret or pain. It had to be.

  “It might not be easy to accept,” she murmured, wanting to believe she still spoke of Merle.

  “On either side,” he replied after a long pause.

  Tory turned her head to find his eyes on hers, light and clear and very intense. The ground was getting shaky again. “I suppose it’ll work out for the best . . . for everyone.” Determined to lighten the mood, she smiled down at him. “You know, the whole town’s excited about those scenes you’re shooting with them as extras. The Kramer twins haven’t gotten out of line for an entire week.”

  “One of them asked me if he could have a close-up.”

  “Which one?”

  “Who the hell can tell?” Phil demanded. “This one tried to hustle a date with Marlie.”

  Tory laughed, pressing the back of her wrist to her mouth to hold in a swallow of champagne. “Had to be Zac. He’s impossible. Are you going to give him his close-up?”

  “I’ll give him a swift kick in the pants if he messes around the crane again,” Phil returned.

  “Uh-oh, I didn’t hear about that.”

  Phil shrugged. “It didn’t seem necessary to call the law on him.”

  “Tempting as it might be,” sh
e returned. “I wouldn’t have thrown him in the penitentiary. Handling the Kramers has become an art.”

  “I had one of my security guards put the fear of God into him,” Phil told her easily. “It seemed to do the trick.”

  “Listen, Phil, if any of my people need restraining, I expect to be informed.”

 
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