Mackenzie Jarvis has never slept with a woman. So why has she fallen madly in lust with Gina Volto, host of the reality cooking show Mackenzie is competing in? Mackenzie’s wild desire to live out her fantasy, battles with her conservative Wyoming values. Then Gina pours on the seduction, Mackenzie runs–home to her ranch, her horses, and her busy career as the owner and chef of a restaurant. But Gina shows up at her ranch in a snowstorm, and Mackenzie allows herself one weekend of forbidden, kinky pleasure.
When Gina admits she wants more than just a few days, can Mackenzie ignore her upbringing and her plans for a traditional life with a husband and children? Or will she give in and turn up the heat?
In her peripheral vision, Mackenzie Jarvis caught the insistent red light on the television camera. She’d been directed to stare into the lens as they announced the winner, but she couldn’t keep her eyes off the show’s host, Gina Volto. Mackenzie huffed out a breath as a shiver of lust rattled through her. This was her first crush – on a woman.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Gina purred in her slightly accented English. “The winner of ‘America’s Newest Chef’ is…”
This was it. After two grueling weeks of cooking under surveillance, holding her breath at every elimination, and fantasizing twelve times a day about kissing Gina Volto, she made it to the final two. Mackenzie smiled at Trina, her competition. They grabbed each other’s hand, both of them trembling with excitement from their white paper hats to the safety soles on their black shoes.
Gina opened the envelope. “Trina Cadence.”
Mackenzie’s heart stumbled. Damn. She’d come so close.
Trina jumped and squealed. She gave Mackenzie a quick hug.
The choke of tears caught in her throat and she willed it away. She thought for sure she’d clinched the title. Where had she gone wrong? They loved her recipes. Everything she’d created turned out perfectly. Trina out-cooked her, simple as that.
Damn. That one hundred thousand dollar first prize would have gone a long way toward renovating her rustic Seventies era steakhouse into a restaurant to be reckoned with. It wasn’t a total loss, though. The twenty-five thousand second prize money would see The Cowboy Cafe through another long Wyoming winter.
She pasted on a good-loser smile.
The judges, chefs from LA’s finest restaurants, converged on Trina and congratulated her. Mackenzie got consolation handshakes. Gina walked toward them, long, wavy brown hair, lush Mediterranean skin, coffee-brown eyes, and those legs, God, they looked incredible in her spike-heeled pink pumps.
Mackenzie’s mouth watered as the woman’s braless breasts jiggled under the black linen of her dress. The urge to cup them, to thumb Gina’s nipples into hard points, had her own breasts aching for attention. She swallowed her craving. Was it just the lure of the forbidden that had Mackenzie juiced and needy?
Oh, God. Could she be turning into a lesbian? How would she know? Had she been bisexual all along and just didn’t realize it? She wiped the sudden sheen of sweat off her forehead. A panic attack? She took deep breaths and calmed herself. She was not all-of-the-sudden switching teams. All her dreams and fantasies had been of men. At least, they had been, until Gina.
Gina shook Trina’s hand. When she turned and glanced at her, Mackenzie’s heart thumped a couple extra beats. The Italian goddess smiled at her, strolled over, and pulled her into her arms.
“My sweet Mackenzie,” her liquid-chocolate voice crooned, breathy and hot in her ear. “I think you should have won.”
Mackenzie held her arms stiffly around her friend. As Gina’s cologne blossomed like a spring patch of hyacinth, a flood of heat pooled low in her belly. Where the heck did this attraction come from? For two weeks, she’d been telling herself it was just friendship. But now, something spicier was happening.
She let herself feel Gina’s breasts pressed against her larger ones. Mackenzie’s palm pressed to the curve of her spine. The tickle of Gina’s hair against her fingers. Oh, God, this woman belonged in her arms.
Mackenzie pressed her hands tighter against her slender back.
Gina’s breath caught. “Come to my dressing room after you change,” she whispered in Mackenzie’s ear. Gina stepped back and looked at her with half-lidded eyes and a tempting smile. Sexy.
The heat in Mackenzie’s core slid lower to her pussy, causing sweet, urgent contractions. At the same time, Gina’s request confused her. Until a moment ago, Gina had never given her any sign of interest other than friendship.
Gina had a man. An actor filming a major motion picture in New York. Maybe she was just lonesome.
Mackenzie understood that feeling. She led a lonely existence back in Wyoming, living on her own little piece of her family’s ranch. Her only contact with people – outside of her family – was with her restaurant staff. She pushed them so hard during their shifts that they barely had time to chat.
Her twelve-hour days, seven days a week, had gotten her noticed. Secured her a spot on the reality show. If her temporary replacement chef back in Wyoming hadn’t done anything stupid, like burn down the place, she owned a future five-star restaurant.
Gina stared at her, waiting for a response. “You’ll come to my dressing room?”
Excitement tingled in her belly. “Sure,” she nodded. “I’ll stop in.” The two of them, alone. What would happen? Would Gina ask her to help with the zipper on the back of her dress? Would Mackenzie peel the cloth away, running her hands down Gina’s lithe back? Slide the dress off her arms and kiss her bare shoulder, ease her palms across her hips to her belly, up her ribs to her breasts.
Gina smiled, a bemused look on her face. “Mackenzie?”
She blinked to clear away the fantasy. “Ten minutes?”
“I’ll be waiting.” Gina turned and strolled back toward her mark on the stage.
She’d be waiting. Lightheaded from the rush of anticipation, Mackenzie stood frozen watching Gina’s sexy backside swing and sway and tempt.
Gina picked up her microphone as the director asked Trina to join her. They prepped for the final interview with the winner.
Alone and out of the spotlight, Mackenzie’s mood swung as disappointment returned with a vengeance. That could be her, heading off to Paris for a week of classes with two of France’s best chefs.
Trina said something nice about the contestants in general, mentioned Mackenzie by name, and gave her a little wave and a wink.
“And the loser slinks back to the locker room,” Mackenzie whispered as she left the sound stage, headed for the women’s dressing room. In the white-tiled bathroom, she washed off her heavy professional makeup and changed into jeans and a T-shirt. After packing her uniform whites and knives in her duffle, she took a last look around. Brightly lit makeup stations lined each wall, empty and silent now, waiting for another batch of eager chefs to arrive for the next round of “America’s Newest.”
Fourteen days of her life spent here. She’d really enjoyed it. The excitement, the chance to work with world-renown chefs, the warm weather. A shiver ran up her spine. Wyoming in January could get bitter cold. The snow would be heavy in Bighorn National Forest. She had three more days to wear T-shirts outside before heading home Sunday to wool sweaters and parkas.
She flicked off the light and headed down the hall, taking a last look at the lineup of celebrity photos smiling at her from the walls. Stars who’d worked in this studio over the years. “Goodbye, Hollywood.” Would she miss it?
Mackenzie glanced down the hall toward the last door, the one with the big gold star over the name “Ms. Volto.” Some things she’d miss more than others. She took a fortifying breath as she walked up to the door, raising her fist.
The breath didn’t help. She stood motionless. The nervous energy rolling through her wasn’t sexual, as it had been on the set. It was doubt. Fantasizing about Gina was one thing – naughty, but harmless. Actually touching her, kissing her, making love to her. Could she do this? From ranch stock, she’d been born and raised conservative. Before coming to Hollywood, before meeting Gina, she’d never imagined herself with a woman.
The problem was, she wanted this woman. Wanted her with an urgency that frightened her. Time was running out. She had only a few days to explore the attraction.
She took another breath, made her choice, and knocked.
“Come in,” Gina called.
Mackenzie ducked into the room and closed the door. She looked to her right and froze. Gina had her cell phone to her ear, her body draped over a puffy white chair, one leg over the arm, swinging her pink shoe off her toes. With her legs spread that way, her skirt rode up and Mackenzie caught a glimpse of pink underwear.
Perfect pink. Would Gina’s pussy lips be that color? Would they be darker, matching her olive skin? Mackenzie licked her lips. What would she taste like? Tangy, with the Italian spices Gina loved, or sweet from all the fruit she devoured. Mackenzie blinked and looked away. Oh, God, her fantasy flamed up at the mere sight of the woman.
“Dirk, I don’t have time for this,” Gina snapped. “I’ll call you tomorrow.” Seconds went by. “No, I’m not flying out there. We can discuss it on the phone.” She let out a sigh. “Okay, fine. When are you coming back?” A pause. “All right, but I won’t change my mind.”
Gina’s boyfriend. She tried to tune out the argument. Lovers’ quarrel. Gina was in a relationship. The reminder had Mackenzie’s stomach tumbling with disappointment. Whatever sexual messages she thought she’d gotten from Gina earlier had to be all in her imagination. She glanced at her friend. Didn’t they?
After finding a corner for her bag and purse, Mackenzie sat at the high chair in front of the makeup table and studied herself in the lighted mirror. Plain. From across the room, Gina’s exotic face reflected next to hers. She compared the dark beauty to her own pale face and blonde hair, pulled up into a tight ponytail. She was a washout. No color but her light blue eyes.
She squeezed her cheek. Had she gained weight? Too much gourmet food and too few opportunities for exercise in the last weeks. Crap, she didn’t need any extra weight. At five-ten, she struggled with her weight.
“I’ll call you tomorrow,” Gina said. “I’ve got to go.” She tossed aside her phone, kicked off her pumps, and stood. Without her heels she looked petite, even though she stood nearly the same height as Mackenzie. “Uhhh!” Her face showed frustration as she walked up behind her.
Gina shook her head. “He’s become so possessive lately.” She waved a dismissing hand. “I don’t want to talk about him.” She bent and aligned her face next to Mackenzie’s, her arms wrapping around under Mackenzie’s breasts. In the mirror, the reflection of their gazes met. “Tonight is your night. And look at you. You are so beautiful, Mackenzie.”
A surprised laugh bubbled from her lips as red blotches colored her cheeks. “I’m average. You’re beautiful.”
“Don’t say that. You’re gorgeous.” Gina looked back and forth between their reflections. “We’re almost exact opposites. Dark versus light. Thin versus voluptuous.” Her arms slid upward, pressing at the bottoms of Mackenzie’s D cups.
A tingle of awareness shimmied through her and her nipples puckered.
Gina’s gaze focused on the hard peaks beneath Mackenzie’s shirt then locked on hers.
What was going on? Was Mackenzie misinterpreting her actions? Maybe Gina was just a very physical person. The sensuous way Gina’s touch affected her, it was downright wicked, and her body craved more. She needed space to think. Mackenzie leaned forward and picked up a powder brush. “Do you do your own makeup?”
Gina slid her hands up Mackenzie’s arms. She broke the contact and sat in the chair next to her. “No, but let me do yours. Then you won’t have to stop at your hotel. We can go right to the party.”
The party. Socializing with hundreds of people as they awkwardly tried to find ways to console her for coming in second. Mackenzie set down the brush and sighed. “I was thinking I would skip the party.”
“No, don’t do that.” Gina laid her hand on Mackenzie’s leg. “You came in second out of ten chefs. That’s a great accomplishment. You need to celebrate.”
Under the fabric of her jeans, her thigh warmed and tingled. A desperate frisson of need shot straight to her pussy, and the sensation of wetness slipped from between her swelling lips. Mackenzie shrugged and focused away from the illicit feelings. “It’s not that I feel like a loser. I’m just not very good at small talk.”
Gina laughed. “Who is?” She stood and stepped behind Mackenzie, pulling the band from her ponytail. She laced her fingers through her hair, spreading it over her shoulders. “What if I promise to stay next to you every minute?”
Mackenzie smiled. “Maybe. Let me think about it.” All she could think about was Gina’s hands sliding through her hair, touching her again. She shook her head and fought the heaviness in her chest, the urge to purr and pant and moan with pleasure. “I can’t go dressed like this.” She pinched her T-shirt at her stomach. “I’d have to go back to the hotel and find something to wear. Can I meet you at the party?”
Gina set her hands firmly on Mackenzie’s shoulders. “Oh no you don’t. I’d never see you again.” She leaned forward. In the mirror, Mackenzie saw Gina’s breasts at the perfect level. All Mackenzie had to do was turn her head and kiss them. Her tongue did a quick flick in her mouth, wanting to tease and taste and nuzzle Gina’s nipples.
She squeezed her eyes shut. Nuzzling her breasts? Where had these decadent ideas come from?
“Don’t look so pained. It’ll be over before you know it.” Gina plugged in the curling iron. “Let me do your hair and makeup here. We’ll stop at your hotel on the way to the party.”
Gina sounded casual and chipper, exactly the way Mackenzie should be feeling. She wasn’t. She was tense and horny. Everything Gina said sounded like a double entendre. She settled back in the chair and forced her muscles to relax. “Why do I feel like I’m in middle school again? Next thing you’ll suggest is a pajama party.”
Gina picked up a brush and slid it leisurely through Mackenzie’s hair. “Is that what you call it in Wyoming?” Through their reflections, Gina’s dark, half-lidded eyes gazed deep into hers.
Mackenzie glanced away. Was Gina asking her what she thought she was asking her? Or was the question innocent, devoid of sexual content? This confused her. Gina had just been talking to her boyfriend. She definitely had a torrid thing going with him. What was happening?
When Mackenzie didn’t respond, Gina sighed and asked her if she’d heard about one of the other chefs and the production crewmember. Mackenzie had kept to herself the last two weeks, focusing on her recipes, and hadn’t noticed all the shocking activity around her.
After twenty minutes of gossip, hair arranging, and only two calls from Mackenzie’s restaurant, Gina turned Mackenzie’s chair away from the counter. “Close your eyes.” Mackenzie obeyed, and when Gina leaned in close to line her lids, Mackenzie smelled mint, as if she’d just brushed her teeth.
“Okay,” Gina said. “Open your eyes.”
Mackenzie did, finding Gina’s face just inches away. Gina stared intently into her eyes, rekindling the fire that smoldered low in her belly. Mackenzie couldn’t breathe, her body tensing with anticipation. She parted her lips slightly to suck in air. Would Gina take it as an invitation?
Gina’s gaze dropped to Mackenzie’s lips and stayed for long seconds. “Your lips…” Gina’s tongue slicked over her own lips as she backed away. “They’re a great color.” She turned to the counter and picked up a tube. “Just clear gloss, I think.”
Mackenzie swallowed, jittery with excitement and hollow with nervousness.
Gina slicked on the gloss, dabbed a little foundation, and brushed pink highlighter on her cheeks. Turning her chair so she faced the mirror, she said, “Ta-da!”
Mackenzie looked good. Really, really good. Surprising. Her eyes glowed bright blue. The contouring cheek color made her face look less chubby.
“How did you do this?” As if she’d ever recreate this look at home. Mackenzie rarely bothered with anything but waterproof mascara. In a restaurant kitchen, everything else melted off in the heat and humidity. She stood, still gawking at the strange reflection in the mirror. “Gina, you are an artist.”
Gina smiled and leaned in closer to brush her fingers over Mackenzie’s cheek. “You have beautiful skin.”
Their eyes met, and Mackenzie held her breath. Would there be a kiss now? Would Gina wrap her hand around Mackenzie’s neck and pull her close, press her lush mouth to hers, lap her with her tongue? Then what? The couch on the other end of the dressing room? Would Gina lock the door, dim the lights, and peel off her dress? Reveal those pink panties and even pinker pussy lips?
Mackenzie’s body hummed with desire as she waited, afraid to make the first move. Afraid Gina wouldn’t.
Gina only smiled and reached past her for a tube of lipstick, brushing her breast across Mackenzie’s arm.
Mackenzie shivered at the touch.
“Let’s go to your place,” Gina said, walking across the room.