Ivy Westlake, thought to be a demure young lady, comes alive at her friend’s hacienda in Mexico when she discovers the Flamenco. Her wild side is unleashed in the sensuality of music and dancing. She will not allow her father to force her into a marriage of convenience back East, so she runs away with the dance troupe.
Jake Agee, cowboy, horse trader, loner, has carefully built a life with no commitments. That life explodes in his face when Ivy dances. He doesn’t know she’s run away until he spots her performing in a small California town. He battles his desire to have this woman against his well-honed sense of independence.
Jake and Ivy perform their own style of pas de deux throughout southern California until their passions ignite in a desert cave in the middle of a thunder storm. Jake fights his growing love as Ivy fights her craving for their erotic pursuits. Jake’s long lost brother suddenly and mysteriously surfaces. Will this appearance tear Jake and Ivy apart? Will it destroy their love?
May, 1880Rancho Montero, Mexico
"Sr. Agee, you're enjoying the fiesta, I hope."
"Sí, Sr. Montero." Jake Agee smiled, raising his whiskey glass in salute. "It sure feels good to be on my feet instead of sittin' a horse."
"Tonight we have a professional flamenco troupe who, I am told by my daughter, are very good." Sr. Montero continued, "Isabella's been away at boarding school in Philadelphia but now is back for good. This fiesta is to welcome her home." Gazing back toward the hacienda, he added, "I wonder if Isabella and her friend, Señorita Ivy, have come down yet." The two men strolled back to the center of the patio where the stage had been set up. The older man frowned. "I don't see either girl anywhere, and the dancing is about to begin."
"Don't worry about me, Sir," Jake assured. "You go attend to your other guests." The Montero hacienda offered a much needed break after a hard drive—a nice long hot bath, clean clothes, pleasurable entertainment and good whiskey. He'd arrived in the late afternoon during final preparations for the fiesta. Although at first he hadn't known why the party was being thrown, he just intended to enjoy it.
Now, as dressed up as he ever was in black trousers, white shirt, black string tie and his dusty boots cleaned as best they could be, he wandered around the patio and gardens. He brushed his fingertips over one of his little carved animals in his pocket, his other hand held a glass, the whiskey warming his insides and relaxing his hard-used muscles.
It felt good to be clean after the hot dusty trail. Pushing horses was harder than pushing cattle. Horses were spirited and independent—challenging—and that's the way he liked them. He'd done a lot of jobs in the past ten years. Some gave him more pleasure than others, but trailing beautiful blooded horses to the hacendados in Mexico was the best. A few vaqueros hired for the drive were all he needed, giving him the freedom and independence he was used to.
If he was passionate about anything, it was about his independence. Always making it a point to move on when the job was finished. He never allowed anyone—man nor woman—to get under his skin. He'd learned from an early age not to count on anyone. He guarded his heart from relationships and always left himself an escape route.
The sky darkened, daylight into dusk. Lanterns and candles dotting the patio flickered and sparkled. A fresh breeze wafted smells of flowering bushes from the garden to join with foods for the fiesta. Servants scurried about arranging platters of food on long brightly draped tables. Scents of corn tamales, spicy beans and sausages, grilled fish and beef made his stomach growl and reminded him he was starving.
Over the clinking sounds of bottles, glasses and barrels of ice chunks being set up at bars spaced around the patio, he heard birds chirping and twittering. They dove in, stole bits of food and flew their booty back to their nests. The musicians setting up on the platform in the center of the patio added to the clatter and the guitars struck their first haunting notes.
The thrumming of guitar strings, the soft breezes, sparkling candles and the whiskey combined in his heart to make him as happy and peaceful as it was possible for him to be. Enjoy it while you can, pal. You'll soon be back on the trail.
A man, not young and slim like the typical dancer, began chanting the moody quavering tones distinctive to the flamenco. The sounds saddening him, he almost turned away from the melancholy creeping through him. Then the dancers moved onto the platform, females across from males, three and three standing around very casually. The opening notes were sounded by guitar and all six performers struck dramatic poses.
He didn't know exactly why but one dancer, eyes downcast, drew his gaze. Her feet slowly tapping a pulsing rhythm, she raised her skirts above her ankles, white frothy petticoats contrasted against her deep red gown. Then she hiked her skirts further, the ruffles cascading down her side. He stared at her narrow stamping feet, her long slim legs encased in black stockings. Her free arm sinuously, gracefully waved above her head. At the same moment his gaze touched her face, her head snapped up and her dark eyes met his.
And all hell—and heaven—broke loose.
Frozen in place, his arm, whiskey glass in hand, arrested as it rose to his lips. He clenched his other hand into a tight fist. Holding his breath, aware of the heat blanketing his chest and flaring through his belly, he heard a buzzing, like dozens of bees all fighting a range war in his ears. Blinking once, slowly, and realizing his mouth was open, he closed it with a snap of teeth. Grasping the warm stone arch next to him helped recover his equilibrium.
Turning her face away, she twirled around tapping out a beat echoing in every thud of his heart. Young innocent eyes, wide eyes, locked on his again. As she moved, bending and weaving her graceful dancer's body and arms, her sensuous Madonna smile teased him. After every spinning turn, she unerringly found him in the crowd. His body, after its long deprivation of female companionship, reacted to the messages sent down by his brain. Heat radiated from his trembling middle like too much whiskey on an empty stomach. Except this feeling was a hundred times more joyous and a hundred times more terrifying—and baffling. The heat washed over him warming his cold lonely heart. Sweat broke out over his upper lip. Nothing existed except this moment—no future, no past. Just this. He had lusted before certainly. But this was more.
And he knew it. Down deep.
I want her. He hoped he hadn't said it aloud. I need her.
No! Panic-stricken, he argued with himself. Damn it. I don't need anyone.
The girl was a fine dancer. The footwork was simple enough but her arms and hands were the focus of her movements. Her long slim arms demonstrating the push-pull of the lovemaking of the flamenco hypnotized him. His lips pursed in a silent whistle. He wanted to wrap his hands around her lean supple waist and caress every inch of her. He wanted to trail his mouth all over her too—very slowly.
It was almost painful to watch her face, her amazingly changeable face. She looked sweet and innocent as a kitten one minute, the next she became sensuous and pouty, eyes flashing, hair flying. Her dark eyes and red full lips contrasted startlingly against the white of her face. His throat ached with the rapid beating of his heart and he passingly wondered why a Mexican girl's skin was so pale.
He'd seen many women. What made this one different? What made his chest tighten with pain and his cock harden with wanting this one? She was just another woman out of dozens here. But he didn't want the dozens. No other woman had ever caused this heart-pounding, gut-aching heat. Her dark long thick hair fanned wildly about her head in loose curls, some lying wetly close to her face. It was a hot night and he had a feeling it was going to get hotter.
He fantasized about her breasts encased in the tight dress, seeing them in his mind's eye even whiter than the skin above them, the nipples centering them as dark dusky rose shadows. His cock throbbed. Mm. White breasts and dark nipples. Dark suited him and he envisioned them large and delicious. They'd taste salty, sweaty from the dancing but she'd be so sweet. His eyes drooped heavy-lidded as he imagined his lips drawing the hard tips of her breasts into his mouth.
Shaking, he fought back to reality. When he thought it couldn't get any worse, or any better, she joined one of the male dancers in the classic pas de deux, the classic attraction, flirtation and finally seduction of the flamenco. She leaned into her partner, their eyes meeting, then turning away she flung her arms above her head, her breasts straining the tight cloth. The male dancer pursued, she bent toward him, he turned away. She pursued. He took her in his arms and she surrendered.
All his senses clamored at once. He'd never seen a woman quite like this one. She was just what he needed. For the night. One night only. Their eyes had met, she wanted him too, the air between them charged like a direct lightening hit. Everyone else in the patio had to be aware of it. The heat. The power. Flames still licked his insides. He wouldn't be here long. She'd be moving on, probably in the morning, but a woman with this fire and passion was just what he wanted. Now. Tonight!
It was over, the performance completed, the dancers arrogantly took their bows accepting their applause and the flowers tossed onto the stage. They backed off the platform and milled about with the guitarists along with an extremely upset looking Sr. Montero.
He needed a drink, more than one as a matter of fact. At the bar he asked for a double and downed it in one gulp. It was good whiskey and went down too easily. As he followed the dancer's every move, he downed another one, not sure if the strong liquor calmed or fired him up.
He kept an eye on the girl who seemed to be the one Sr. Montero was most angry with. She stalked off looking chastised but, somehow, victorious at the same time. He watched, heart thumping in his throat remembering her gaze on him while she danced, her face innocent one minute, seductive the next.
Pushing away from the bar, he sauntered after her. Background sounds of soft guitar, the clink of dishes and murmuring voices followed him, dwindling as he prowled around the full lush gardens like a rangy randy mountain lion stalking a young delicious doe. She was there somewhere. The night was clear, stars were bright pinpricks in the sky and a full moon shone brightly. It shouldn't be hard to spot her. When he did, his chest expanded taking in a deep but not entirely steady breath.
He silently stole upon her, her figure outlined against a low-lying yellow blooming Palo Verde tree. He paused to relish the sight of her. Tall, taller than he'd realized, willowy and graceful, she lifted her arms to raise her hair from her neck. Such a simple practical action but his cock surged fully and painfully erect. His brain registered long slim white arms tousling her hair. It registered her narrow waist and full breasts. Their eyes met, hers wide, inviting, arms still upraised, fingers woven through her hair. Teasing him.
His breath ragged, he wanted her with every fiber of his being. In his mind she'd danced just for him. Two steps and his hands circled her waist. Pulling her into his arms, he captured her mouth.
Her lips opened under his and he took that as an invitation. His tongue swept through her mouth probing the sweetness. She pushed against him, her body rigid, palms to his shoulders but her soft moans reverberated in short bursts against his lips. In the next second her body softened in his arms. She leaned heavily against him, sliding her arms around his neck. Tightening his grip around her waist, the other hand stroked her nape under the heavy strands of citrus scented hair.
"Bella," he murmured against her mouth as he passionately gentled his kiss, softening, massaging her lips, covering them completely with his own, then nipping roughly at her lower lip. He tugged her tightly against him. Taller than most women, her breasts flattened against his chest, her thighs pressed against his, their hips perfectly aligned. He rocked his cock against her belly and groaned a rough guttural sound.
Her hands on his neck clutched and rustled through his hair and pressed his head closer to hers. He heard her moan, felt her breath warm on his face. Her thick coarse hair tickled his hand as he cupped her head. Her body strained fiercely against his and her arms held his neck tightly as if overwhelmed by passion too.
He ignored his internal voice of caution, of reason, her response so warm, so fervent. He lowered her to the green full carpet of grass at their feet until they were on their knees still locked in a kiss, hard chest to soft breast, hip to hip. He slid his hand around until her breast lay squarely in his palm, his thumb brushing a hardened nipple. Circling it, burnishing it. Pressing it back into her.
"Ah." Her mouth opened under his lips, she hitched a breath, swaying into him, knees dipping. She tried to shake her head but he held fast, his lips suctioning hers, his hand cupping her nape.
The damned dress was in his way. His mouth actually watered craving the taste of her soft breast and the hard tight nipple at the center. He nibbled his way down her body, kissing her chin, licking her salty throat and chest with greedy swipes of his tongue, nudging the edge of the gown lower down her breast. An inch, just an inch more, and he'd have the taut bud in his mouth. She stiffened again. Suddenly her moans sounded frightened.
"No," she sobbed, pushing at his shoulders. Their eyes locked for a long moment, hers confused, full of panic and, yes, of desire. Scrambling up awkwardly, catching one foot in the hem of her skirt, she grasped his shoulder for balance with one hand while frantically arranging her breast back into the bodice of her gown with the other.
He dazedly watched her hand touching her breast, pushing it into place. I could taste you. Jesus, what are you doing? His long fingers overlapped his thumb when he clamped his hand around the slender wrist on his shoulder. "No," he echoed in as pained a voice as hers.
Eyes wild, hair wild, she pushed at him, twisting her arm out of his fingers, practically bending double to wrest free, her face a study in terror. Then she took off racing toward the hacienda.
He slumped heavily on the grass, knees up, his head resting dizzily on them, his chest heaving with frustration. What the hell just happened?
Not in the mood for any more fiesta, he found his way back to his room and paced while nursing another stiff drink. After falling into bed, he dreamt of chasing stampeding horses across a hard sunbaked desert floor. Tossing and turning the rest of the night, in the morning he awoke exhausted and grumpy.
What had happened the night before didn't make any more sense in the morning. He hadn't intended to fuck her in the grass. He would have taken her to his room. Depressed, he realized he'd probably never see the beautiful and sensual woman again. The troupe had probably decamped this morning.
Jake and Ivy is available here -
Jane Leopold Quinn
My Romance: Love With a Scorching Sensuality