Reilly Jamison was a widow trying to find love again with an assortment of Internet dates, when she stopped for gas one night and met Aryan Khan. Owner of the gas station and an Afghan ex-patriot, he sparked her interest and seemed to recognize a kindred spirit within her despite their seemingly polar differences. He was handsome and enigmatic, and she was tired of boring, predictable dates who did nothing for her libido and actually annoyed her to no end.
Reilly awakened from the chrysalis of stagnation that had been her life since her husband, Jamie’s death. Suddenly her art gallery was thriving with vibrant artists again, and her heart was alive with hope and the prospect of true love. Aryan was the soul mate she had been waiting for, and when they connected, passions flew and love was kindled in the hearts of two people who’d thought that love was lost to them forever.
As her desire for the handsome Afghan scholar deepened, she realized that although he was a stranger from a faraway land, he shared many of the same traits as her beloved Jamie. Both men were professors of ancient studies, both were fit and athletic and both shared the same proclivity -- spanking their beloved when they deemed it necessary.
Reilly didn’t know if she was blessed or cursed at finding love with her perfect stranger...
Mature subject matter for adults only. 40,035 words
She was driving up Route 35 when she realized that her damn car was on empty.
Shit. She swung into the Exxon that she usually used on her way to the gallery. She noticed the tall man right away; her normal guy wasn’t working that night, and she lowered her window, waiting. As he moved among the cars, hooking up the gas nozzle and collecting credit cards, she studied him surreptitiously. He was gorgeous. His blue shirt fit him like a glove, and his sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, showing off the most magnificent forearms. The late fall air was chilly, and she wondered why he wasn’t wearing a coat or something. But she was happy to enjoy his arms. Forearms were a big thing with her. She felt a flutter in her stomach as she watched him. His beard and mustache were full but neatly trimmed. She loved beards. His longish hair was the color of mahogany, curling up just above his shoulders.
“Yes?” he was leaning his face into the passenger side window, staring at her.
“Uh, fill it up with regular, I think,” she said stupidly.
“You think? Maybe you should decide,” he laughed, his richly accented voice creating another flutter.
God, he was beautiful.
“I mean, yes, fill it up with regular.”
“Cashacredit,” he told her.
She stared at him blankly. Was he introducing himself? It was a long name.
“I’m Reilly,” she said, extending her hand.
He reached into her car and shook her hand with a tanned, strong hand.
“Will that be cash or credit, Reilly?” he asked.
She blushed like the idiot she was. Numbly, she handed him her credit card and watched him move toward the pump and slide her card into the slot. She watched those amazing forearms in the side view mirror as he latched the hose into her car.
No way, Reilly, she told herself. You just stop it right there.
Ten dates with men in various professional arenas – men who appreciated the arts and the finer things in life and nothing happened. No spark. No fluttering. And here she was at the gas station almost reduced to a babbling mess because of one gas station attendant. A very tall, dark, handsome and foreign gas station attendant. She tried to read his nameplate when he walked past her car to another customer, but she could only get an A.
He definitely was not an Alan or an Andrew. Maybe Ali or Ahmed. He was definitely some kind of Middle Eastern.
When she heard the clink of the pump that signified her tank was full, she glanced at the screen and noticed happily that the cost of gas was continuing to go down.
He approached her car and unhooked the hose, reaching one deft hand up to retrieve the credit card and receipt from the machine. He had great hands, she decided, to match his awesome forearms. No wedding ring.
He reached in the window and lowered his head to smile at her, as he handed her the card and receipt.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Have a nice night, Reilly,” he said in that intriguing accent.
She blushed, as she remembered her complete faux pas, her eyes darting to his nametag.
“You too, Aryan,” she said self-consciously.
“Very good,” he laughed. “You pronounced it perfectly.”
She laughed, too, relieved that he was being so nice.
She drove out of the station, her legs weak and her heart tripping in excitement. When she finally turned into her driveway, she had managed to calm down and talk herself out of her insane fantasies.