Amber I’m sitting here this afternoon with Jonathan Alexander III and Grace Dupont, the stars of Kiss Me Slowly. Thanks for meeting me. I know it wasn’t easy getting here.
Grace: If it were easy, then it’d be boring, right?
Jonathan: And we’re definitely not boring.
Amber That’s an understatement. (Laughter all around as the waitress brings us another round of rum punch.) Tell me, Grace, what was it like seeing Jonathan again for the first time after he broke your heart years ago?
Grace: Ooo...you’re going there, huh? Okay. Well, it was like a sucker punch to the gut. A part of me enjoyed seeing him desperate and in trouble...on your knees, boy, beg for my help--
Jonathan: I never begged, by the way. She likes saying I begged, but that never happened. I asked. Politely.
Grace: He begged...I should have made him crawl, but I didn’t think about that until afterward. Anyway, there was another part of me that wanted to lash out, hit him maybe, have an all out argument and then spend the rest of the night making up. (She smiles and pokes the ice in her glass with a straw.) What’s that cliche? There’s a thin line between love and hate?
Amber What made you go to her, Jon? I’m sure you knew she’d feel that way.
Jonathan: I didn’t trust anyone around me. I felt trapped. Grace is and always has been the best at whatever she does, whether it’s sailing or forensic accounting. I had faith she’d put our history aside and prove my innocence.
Grace: For a pessimist, that was an awfully optimistic thing to do.
Jonathan: I guess it was, wasn’t it? How unlike me. (He laughs as he links his fingers through hers on the table.)
Amber Grace, did you ever consider the possibility that he wasn’t as innocent as he seemed?
Grace: Who is? We’re all liars in one way or another. There are more gray areas than not in life. At least that’s how I see it.
Jonathan: (rolling his eyes) Please, don’t get her started about justice and gray areas...she’ll get all worked up and not in a good way.
Grace: What’s that supposed to mean? Are you suggesting I have a problem with justice?
Jonathan: Not suggesting...stating.
Grace: Yeah, well, thankfully for you I question the black and white and believe in gray areas. It’s what I do...look beyond the obvious to what lies beneath.
Jonathan. Yeah...I’m thankful for that and many, many other things about you. (He smiles at her and squeezes her hand.) I would have crawled...if you’d have asked, I would have crawled.
Grace: I’ll keep that in mind for the future.
Jonathan: (Looks at me with raised eyebrows.) See what I’m dealing with? The Dupont ego is legendary.
Grace: You like my ego just fine. (She laughs.) And, for the record, I like it when you’re on your knees.
Jonathan: Oh, I know you do, babe. I know. Likewise.
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Excerpt from the book:
She concentrated at the waves lapping the shore only a few feet away. Her heartbeat thumped in her ears and lodged in her throat.
“You were my first love,” he admitted.
“I used to live for those weekends when I’d get to see you, hear you taunting me from that ugly boat of yours, and when we got more serious I thought you were the one. I never got over you. A guy never forgets his first love.”
“Are you sure you aren’t still drugged?”
“Maybe I feel like a dying man on his deathbed. Give me a break. I’m telling the truth.”
“Truth or not, you walked away.” She rested her chin on her knee. “You walked. Remember that.”
“I’ll never forget.”
“I’ve thought about you over the years, too. Always wondered about you, hoped you were miserable and lonely.” She glanced up at the clouds dotting an otherwise flawless sky. “You were the first boy I ever went all the way with, in case you ever wondered.”
“Me, too.” He touched her shoulder, a light touch, but enough to burn her skin. “I had no idea what the hell I was doing.”
“Yeah, well, we were only seventeen. High school. What did we know about anything? Everything was so intense.” She looked over her shoulder at him.
The sea breeze had dried his hair in crazy disarray. The color of his eyes matched the sea. His various bandages, from his shoulder to his ripped up feet encased in water shoes, only made him more endearing. She refused to look at the scratches on his chest.
“It’s pretty intense right now, too,” he whispered. “I don’t give a damn about what’s right or wrong and I don’t think you really do either.”
“Don’t start thinking you know me or what I’m thinking.”
“Sunday night when you kissed me—”
“We kissed each other.”
“Whatever. I can’t stop thinking about it. And then yesterday morning on the boat. I could have kissed you all day. Wish I would have.” His finger stroked a line down her bare back.
Her gaze focused on his mouth. Her skin shivered where his fingers touched. Sun warmed the back of her neck. And she decided to be honest.
“It would be so easy to say to hell with it all and wrap myself around you.”
“Easy. What a concept,” he said, his gaze locking with hers.
“There are things you don’t understand. Jerry—”
“What does Jerry have to do with whether or not we kiss each other? He’s not here.”
“No.” He put his finger over her lips. “Don’t call me Jonathan. Call me Jon Ryan or sailor boy. Don’t call me Jonathan.”
“You’re bad for me. Very bad for me.”
“You said we had a free day, so let’s just pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Just for today.” His hand curved over her hip, a finger strayed beneath the fabric of the bikini bottom. “And you always liked being bad. Still do, if I’m right.”
“Jon, don’t.” She smoothed her hands down his biceps.
“I know this is wrong. I know I shouldn’t want you so badly. I know we should be working, thinking, keeping our distance, feeling guilty for things out of our control”—his hands moved over the sides of her waist—“yet I cannot stop wanting to be inside you.”
“Don’t say that.”
“It’s true. You want me, too. Deny it.”
“Jon.” This wanting burned inside her chest like a hot branding iron. “I want you, too. I want you so badly, but this is insane.”
“What are you really afraid of?” He kissed her shoulder as he untied the strings of the top. “Me? Jerry? The smugglers chasing us? The cops looking for me? All of the above?”
“No.” She kissed the side of his face.
“Then what?” His mouth slid over hers.
Hands fisted in his hair, she opened her mouth to his. Hot. Moist. She knew it was wrong, realized she would miss him, understood they could never last beyond the next two days. Knowing all of that, she no longer gave a damn.
He pushed her to her back, one hand on her breast and the other propped above her head. Their mouths merged in a sweet dance of longing and savoring.
She needed his hands on her body, his mouth on her skin, and him inside of her. His mouth tugged on her breast. Teeth grazed her skin. Passion obliterated thought.