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The Girl from Summer Hill

By:Jude Deveraux

There was a naked man on Casey’s back porch. She would have called the police or, at the very least, screamed if he hadn’t been so damned beautiful.

Instead, without so much as a blink, she fumbled for the electric kettle and poured boiling water over the loose tea leaves in the silver strainer. Quite a bit of water missed the mug, went onto the granite countertop, and ran down to the tile floor, but she didn’t notice.

It was so early that it wasn’t yet daylight, and she hadn’t bothered to turn on the kitchen lights. But then he’d turned on the porch lights, and in the misty morning, as she looked through the screen door, it was almost as though he were on a stage.

He’d dropped his T-shirt and sweatpants on the stone path, then, totally nude and facing Casey, he walked up the three steps, his full male glory in view. He came straight toward her, as though he meant to enter the house.

Casey had just woken up, and when she first saw him, she thought she was still asleep and having the best dream of her life. Not only was his body beautiful, but so was his face. Hair, eyes, beard stubble, truly luscious lips. His skin was a dark golden color all over, and he had long, sleek muscles. His hair was long, down his neck, and in the overhead light it was so black that it seemed to glisten almost blue.

When he got to the porch, he didn’t open the screen door and come inside. Instead, he turned so she had a glorious view of his side.

Lord! Pecs. Abs. The curve of his backside, thighs like an Olympic skater’s.

Casey managed to blink a few times. Surely she was asleep. Surely he couldn’t be real.

He seemed to be doing something to the wall, and seconds later it started raining. That made sense. The deity who controlled the heavens should look like this man.

But, no, it was an outdoor shower that seemed to be attached to her little guesthouse. She hadn’t noticed that it was there—for the few months she’d been in town, it had been winter. But yesterday had been so warm that she’d opened every door and window to let out the heat of her cooking. When she at last went to bed, the kitchen had been so hot that she’d just hooked the screen door and left the room open to the breezes.

She picked up her mug of tea and sipped it while she watched him lather himself with soap.

There was a tall stool near her, and without taking her eyes off him, she felt for it and sat down. As he ran his hands over his body, she was even more sure that she was dreaming. And she was just as sure that if she took her eyes off him she’d wake up.

She watched him soap his legs, and between them, then he moved upward. He had such trouble reaching the entire width of his back that Casey had thoughts of slipping out of her pajamas and joining him.

“Could I help?” she’d ask. He wouldn’t say a word. He’d just hand her the soap and she’d get busy.

Of course, she could use some cleaning too, so he would do her back. Or front. Or wherever he wanted to.

Maybe it was the way it was dark where she was sitting and so very light where he was that made it all seem like a movie. She sipped her tea and watched him, dreamily smiling at the scene.

She’d been working in the kitchen until midnight and it was very early now. Kit said he wanted the food at the playhouse by eight, and she took that to mean he wanted it set up and ready to serve. Last night she’d called her brother Josh to ask if he’d please, please find some tables for her. “Use sawhorses or tree stumps, whatever your great manliness can find,” she’d said in the voicemail she left for him. “Just so I have a place to put all this food. Kit said he’s expecting half the town to show up for the auditions. Double please? I’ll save you some of those cream-filled doughnut holes you like so much.” She said the last in a voice as cajoling as she could make it. Considering that she’d been on her feet for fourteen hours, she wondered if she sounded more pathetic than persuasive.

But looking at the beautiful naked man was making up for yesterday. He was rinsing off now. He reached up to the showerhead on the wall, pulled it down, and began spraying water over his entire gorgeous body.

Casey held the mug of tea to her lips, frozen in place. All she could do was stare. His long hair was wet, plastered to his skull. His profile showed his strong features—and something about it seemed familiar.

He turned off the water, then looked around for something.

He needs a towel, she thought, and it ran through her mind that she could open the door and hand him one.

When he stepped toward the house as though he meant to enter, her heart seemed to stop. She was more fully awake now and she was aware that she’d just spied on a man taking a shower. Not exactly a polite thing to do. She certainly wouldn’t like it done to her!