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Johnny (Connelly Cousins #2)(8)

Abbie Zanders

When the room began to darken, Stacey hit CTRL+S to save her work and lifted her arms, giving her back and neck a much-needed stretch. She’d just completed a particularly intricate scene, an emotional clash that ended in an epically hot sex scene (if she did say so herself). A quick glance at the wood-and-brass clock on the far wall told her she’d been at it for a good twelve hours, give or take. Not too shabby for a woman who, a week ago, was struggling with a gargantuan case of writer’s block.

Time was flying by, the words bubbling up and flowing from her like water from a mountain spring. Everything about Lina’s cabin was conducive to creating a world of idealized romantic escapes. Forget inspirational jaunts to exotic locales; she was going to talk to Lina about booking this cabin at least once every season. As gorgeous as it was in summer, she could imagine how beautiful it would be in autumn, when the leaves turned brilliant shades of red and flaming oranges. And in winter, with everything covered in a pristine blanket of sparkling white. And of course spring, when the redbuds, lilacs, forsythia, and flowering pears, cherries, and dogwoods painted the entire canvas with a wash of fresh, vibrant color.

Stacey leaned back, re-reading the last few pages with a smile. This stuff was gold! Smoking-hot, slide right off your chair gold. She knew it was good when she felt heat building between her own legs. Her agent – and hopefully her fans – were going to love this new piece.

For tonight, though, she was typed out. Her muscles were achy and stiff from sitting in one place for too long, her eyes blurry from staring at the screen. She was quite pleased with what she’d accomplished, and could only hope that the rest of the week would be just as satisfying and productive.

Her stomach rumbled, reminding her that she hadn’t eaten a decent meal since breakfast. It hadn’t bothered her until then; she’d been so absorbed in writing that she hadn’t wanted to stop, and the little snack bags of dried fruit and nuts had kept her energy levels sufficiently up.

Hungry, but not wanting to make a mess, Stacey opted for making herself a sandwich. Lina had stocked the fridge with no less than five different varieties of cold cuts and at least as many cheeses. Besides, Lina had warned her that the fresh hard rolls from the Birch Falls bakery wouldn’t last for more than a few days, and there was no way Stacey was going to allow those delectable goodies to go to waste.

Grabbing the remote from the counter top, Stacey turned on the stereo. Speakers mounted in strategic places around the walls came to life, surrounding her with the perfect blend of bass and treble. Humming along with the soft rock, she skillfully sliced up a tomato to add to her creation, then added some crisp lettuce and a few bread-and-butter pickle slices.

That first bite was nearly orgasmic. Stacey closed her eyes and savored the flavors. It was so much better than the frozen, nutritionally balanced crap she was used to eating. Since she wasn’t as physically active as she used to be, watching her diet was a necessity. Though she was adamant about keeping herself in decent shape (her personal trainer/physical therapist was the quintessential sadist), the last few years had turned her lean, athletic curves admittedly lush.

Indulging in her favorites a few times a year was definitely do-able, though. She added a mandatory stop at the Birch Falls deli and bakery to her list of must-do’s when staying at the cabin from now on.

With her hunger assuaged and her inner author taking a much-needed break, Stacey did a quick clean-up of the kitchen and headed for the hot tub. It was a big, gorgeous thing, filled with hot, fragrant water. Lina had been worried about her using it while she was alone at the cabin, but Stacey assured her she would be just fine. After five years of physical therapy, she’d become adept at getting herself in and out of pools, whirlpools and Jacuzzis, and swimming was an integral part of her program.

Like the sunken living room, the enclosed deck containing the hot tub had one wall consisting primarily of windows. What made this room even better were the massive skylights above, providing an unimpeded view of the night sky. A brilliant array of stars winked down at her, the inky black backdrop awash with silver from the unusually large full moon.

Inside, dark hardwood flooring extended in a geometric pattern outward from the sunken tub. A small bar took up the far corner, with a flat screen mounted above it. In the other corner was a small changing room, framed by shelves of large, fluffy towels and a few hooks holding terry-cloth robes. Modest indoor palm trees and large ferns in neutral-colored ceramic pots were artfully arranged with colorful, blooming plants, lending a tropical atmosphere.

Stacey dialed the recessed lighting down low and breathed in a lungful of the hot, humid air. She briefly considered changing into her swimsuit, but then dismissed the idea. Why bother when she had the place to herself? It wasn’t like anyone would see her, except for possibly a few curious woodland creatures, and she didn’t think they’d be offended.


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