Lieutenant Joe Rossini knows everything about his city. He's not a hero. He's just a regular guy who happens to like helping people. And when he meets the beautiful, mysterious Lily Keene— with her long, long legs— the one thing he knows for sure about her is that she needs him. If he can only persuade her to let him into her life and into her secrets, maybe he can help her. And maybe she's just the woman he's been looking for.
Lily has only known one way of life — as a dancer. It's all she's ever wanted and all she's ever been able to do. But at twenty two she's fallen into a rut and gotten stuck there. Dancing just isn't fulfilling her needs the way it once did. Can a white hot, reckless affair with one sexy, down-to-earth firefighter get her parts oiled again? Or will it get her tangled up in that messy, dangerous, unpredictable real life that she's avoided for so long?
Regular Joe is all about honesty and "whatcha see is whatcha get", but Lily hides from reality in a world of painted scenery, where cutthroat envy is masked by a smile and nothing is ever what it seems on the surface. At first glance they're just two strangers on the city street, but Lily and Joe are about to collide on one chilly winter's day, after which nothing will ever be the same for them again.
New York City in winter has never been hotter.
He couldn't tell with her. She had a dry sense of humor and one of those deadpan faces.
"You're kidding me, right?"
"About being a goddamned virgin, Princess."
She sipped her juice. "I didn't say I was a Virgin Princess. Just a virgin." There was a little twitch of a smile and she blinked, her dark lashes flickering sensuously against her cheeks.
Joe shifted on the vinyl seat, feeling his prick get hard. On a Sunday morning? His ma would never forgive him for an erection on Sunday.
"I've been busy," Lily added quietly. "As you know, I don't date. The opportunity to lose my virginity, therefore, never arose."
He didn't know what to say. For the first time, possibly, in thirty fucking years, he had no words. She was the only person he knew who said things like "therefore" and "arose" and "circuitous" in sentences.
She was wiping up a spilled drop of his hot chocolate from the table top with her neatly folded napkin. "Since you appear to be interested, Lieutenant Rossini, and if you have nothing else on your schedule this morning, perhaps we could do it now."
"Once you've digested your breakfast, of course."
Joe looked over both shoulders, just to be sure his brother and the guys from the firehouse weren't sitting in the booth behind, laughing their asses off. "You got this all planned, Lily Keene?"
"No. Actually I hadn't planned it at all. But the thought just occurred to me. I have no class this morning, no rehearsal until this afternoon. Perhaps this is an opportunity I should take."
"Great." He threw out his arms. "Ain't I lucky? So you can fit me in."
She hesitated. "Is that a pun?"
He didn't know what the hell to do. It was true he did want her. But it wasn't supposed to be like this, was it? In the old days, Joe would probably have taken her up on the offer, no questions asked. She was hot— damn hot— and he was primed at the pump. Why not?
Trouble was, he'd never had a virgin before.
This would be a first for him too.
"How old did you say you were?" he asked. She looked young. Her face, as far as he could tell, was free of make-up, and despite her poise there was a certain naiveté in her satiny gaze, an innocent wonder. Hey, it might not be polite to ask a lady her age outright, but since she was being blunt...
"And never been fucked?"
He hesitated, screwing the napkin tighter in his fist, looking out at the snow. "But you just decided on me. Why? We've established that I'm attracted to you, but I thought you didn't even like me. You said you were humoring me."
She seemed to consider this for a moment, stirring her yoghurt. "But I like your hands," she said finally, almost shyly.
Joe wanted to laugh. He wanted to laugh loud and long. It was all so weird.
Yet he knew, as soon as he saw her in the street in her splashed coat, that she was something special. That he wanted her in his life, and he wanted to be in hers. Most of all, he wanted to take the tears out of her blue eyes and make her smile.
He leaned over the table. "You'd better admit you like me, Princess. C'mon, there's something about me that turns you on, right?"
"I told you. Your hands. I want to feel your hands," she paused to lick her lips again, "on me. All over me. As soon as possible."
Little miss prissy-pants was playing with him. She had to be. So he'd call her bluff.
He finished chewing his last bite of bagel. "Okay. Let's go now."
"I can't go there," she exclaimed hurriedly. "I have a roommate. And it's a really small place with thin walls."
Uh huh. Just as he thought. "Okay. Then come back to Staten Island with me."
"Too far. I might change my mind before we get there."
He laughed curtly. "You might change your mind?"
"The journey will take too long."
He shook his head. "I don't wanna sleep with a woman who's not sure about what she wants."
"That's okay, because we're not going to sleep," she said firmly. "Let's get a hotel room."
Not only was she blunt, she was taking charge. Maybe that was why he felt so unsure about this. Joe had never given over control to a woman before, and he wasn't about to start now.
But she had him knotted up like a pretzel and he couldn't get unknotted.