At that Samantha laughed, and Mike, his face full of anger at thinking she was laughing at him, started to move away from the wall, but Samantha leaned toward him. She’d had too much to drink, first at Blair’s apartment and now here, and her slightly inebriated state made her dare to do things that she would not do otherwise.
Almost as though to tease her, his shirt was open halfway to his waist, and now she put her hands inside it, touching his skin. Mike was angry, seriously angry, she knew that, and he didn’t respond to her touch, but kept his hands against the wall as he watched her.
“You don’t understand, Mike,” she said softly.
“Then why don’t you explain it to me.” There was no softness in his voice.
Since she’d first met him, Samantha’d had a nearly uncontrollable desire to touch him. Now, sliding her hands inside his shirt, she felt the sculptured muscle across his chest. Some women looked at the bodybuilders on TV or on a beach and thought they were too muscular, but not Samantha. When she was in Santa Fe and leading her aerobics classes, there were times when the men in the free-weight side of the room so distracted her that she missed her rhythm. One evening a man named Tim, who had performed in bodybuilding competitions, was squatting five hundred pounds. With two men at either end of the bar, which bowed under the weight of the plates, Tim did a deep knee bend with the full five hundred pounds. After he’d completed his squat, the women in Samantha’s class had burst into laughter, because Samantha had been so engrossed in Tim that she’d forgotten to lead the exercises. Embarrassed, Samantha had given her attention back to the women.
Now, she was touching one of those muscled men, one of those godlike creatures who looked as though he could lift buildings with his hands.
“How much do you squat, Mike?” she whispered.
“Six fifty,” he answered, having no idea why she should ask something like that now. His friends, the ones who’d been to college, pretended that Mike’s power lifting didn’t exist. Their attitude was, Mike’s got a brain in spite of the fact that he’s got some muscle.
“Bench press?” She was running her hands over his chest, around toward his back, feeling his lats, the muscles that made his back so very wide, made it curve.
Mike didn’t move from the wall, nor did he make any motion to touch her, for he didn’t want to scare her away. If his acquiescence was what she needed to get her to touch him, then he would remain in one position if it killed him. “Four fifty,” he answered.
His shirt was old and soft and the buttonholes were loose, and when she touched the buttons, they slipped out of the holes, opening the shirt to his waist. Samantha’s hands slipped lower, down to his stomach, his hard, rippled stomach.
“Dead lift?” she whispered, meaning the lift where he picked up a weight from the floor to his waist.
“Seven hundred. Strength has to do with bone density and the bones of the people in my family are a bit more dense than the average Joe’s. Look, Sam, if you want stats—”
She kept rubbing her hands over his skin. How long had it been since she had really touched a man? For that matter, had she ever really touched one? She had certainly never wanted to touch one as much as she had wanted to touch Mike since the first day she’d looked into his dark eyes, since she’d first felt his lips next to her own. “I want to explain to you.”
“Yeah, well, I’m listening.” His voice was ragged, as though he were under great strain, but he still had his hands up, away from her. Had anyone seen them, they would have seen what looked to be a man being held at gunpoint by a woman.
“It’s me, not you. Don’t you understand that? At first I was afraid of you.” Her hands were at his waist, moving toward his back, moving over all that muscle that had not an ounce of fat over it. “Well, maybe not afraid, but I didn’t want anything to do with another man.”
“You’ve made that abundantly clear. Sam, you want to say what you have to say? I don’t know how much more of this I can stand.”
“I don’t want to ruin what we have between us.” Sliding her hands up his chest to his shoulders, she moved down over the tops of his arms. In another minute she would have the shirt completely off him. His skin felt so very good, so warm, so smooth, so strong, skin that was tightly draped over yards of heavy muscle. She would have liked to put her lips to his skin, to taste it. Was it salty from the sweat of dancing?
“What do we have between us?” His voice was harsh, strained, and he closed his eyes for a moment. All his life girls had been easy for him, but the girl he’d most wanted, Sam, seemed to be impossible. She made him think appalling thoughts of taking her out on a lonely road and forcing her, but he knew he’d never be able to live with himself afterward—but, more importantly, neither would she.
“All the sweetness,” she said. “We have kindness and talk and friendship. We laugh together. Do things together. We—”
Abruptly, Mike moved his hands down from the wall and put them on her shoulders as he looked into her eyes, searching them. “You think all that will end if we go to bed together?”
She liked him when he stood still and allowed her to touch him, but she wasn’t drunk enough to not know the truth. “Mike, if you went to bed with me, it would end,” she said in disgust. “I’m rotten at sex.”
For a moment Mike stood still, not at first understanding what she’d just said, then the first bud of enlightenment came to him. “Yeah, I bet you are,” he said softly, then slipped her arm through his. “Too bad they don’t have a piece of software to teach sex, then you could learn all the right moves and positions.” For the first time in a week he felt good because he understood now, knew what her problem was—but, best of all, he knew how to fix the problem. Never in his life, through many years of mathematics, had he looked forward to a solution more than he did now.
Leading her toward the street, he put up his hand for a cab.
Samantha giggled. “That’s a great idea, Mike. Who can we get to write the software program?”
When a taxi stopped, Mike opened the door for her. “I might have some ideas of what could be put in your software.”
“Do you, Mike? What research books did you read?”
“I made up my own positions,” he said companionably. “My own positions, my own motions, even my own feelings. I’ve never read one book on sex.”
As Samantha got into the cab, she moved to the far side of the seat. “I have. I’ve read many, many books on the subject.”
“Oh? And who asked you to read these books?”