Penny realized this guy was okay away from the therapy group. He was completely oblivious to the crowded hotel bar; just watching her. She hadn’t had so much attention in years. Not since college days and frat parties. But it had been downhill since then. Too many sleepovers – not that there’s anything wrong with plenty of sex – but not enough love. In fact, no love. Even her ex hadn’t loved her. But she admitted she loved the trappings that came with him, especially the Mercedes, the unlimited credit cards, the memberships, the clothes – yes, the clothes. She could walk Rodeo Drive with her eyes closed and never miss a shop. But somehow, she’d missed out on the love and attention part. But not from this Jason guy. It was exhilarating to have a young hunk paying attention to her. He seemed kind. Confident. Intelligent. With a quiet strength. But he was sad. Hell, why wouldn’t he be, he was thirty-something, alone and dying. It was in his face, a gray underlay beneath the skin, marring his youthful spirit. She wanted to hug him, pass some energy to him, make him feel good, blow away the gray with some sunshine. Maybe some sex? Bet he’d like that. Some sunshine and sex. Wonder if he’s into cougars?

“I’m serious Jason. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve shopped in a supermarket, and I know nothing about meat. Hate shopping – for food, not clothes. My ex had someone do the shopping. He liked good food, was a bit of a chef at home – more pomp and ceremony than taste. He had Lucy, our maid, buy everything, according to king chef’s orders. He was long on the orders, short on the meat … if you get my drift.” She laughed.

He smiled.

“At least short on the meat with me … not with other women.” Her eyes dropped, her smile stopped, and the margarita disappeared. “That’s the only good thing that came out of the cancer, he left – and left me a lot of perks and benefits. I shouldn’t have stayed with the asshole as long as I did but … well, hard to leave all things money can buy.” She shrugged. She wasn’t sad, just contemplative. “Funny, how it took death to make me realize how important living was. That’s why personal energy is so critical.”

He asked. “How long has it been?”

“I assume you mean how long since my ex? Or did you mean the cancer? Or my last sex?” She saw his surprise. “Actually, they’re about the same.”

So fucking open. Maybe that’s what you get with cougars? No bullshit or beating around the bush about sex. He liked the honesty and saw the vulnerability. Behind the sparkle was a lonely woman. An intriguing woman … a dying woman. A sexy woman. He couldn’t fathom how California Penny, with so much energy, could be dying? Maybe because she didn’t believe it. She was so positive, so up … so hot. “I meant your ex. But I’m interested in everything about you. The energy stuff too.”

“The sex stuff too?”

“Ah … sure. Whatever you want to talk about?”

She had to make another decision – she’d already decided to have sex with this young hunk – and stop with the margaritas because they dulled the senses. And right now her senses where dancing. She was alive, her breasts were alive. Hope he doesn’t like big breasts? She put her hand on his leg, just above the knee. Why does sex have to be such a convoluted dance? That’s it, I’ll get him to dance. She took his hand. “Dance?”

“Uh?” He heard her, but he didn’t like to dance – anymore. He did, before Dr. Jete announced his life’s dance card would never be filled. But as she slipped off the bar stool and stood in front of him, he was Justin Timberlake, and sexy was back.

The first steps were two business associates enjoying a dance, then she moved into him. Her body needed to be one with his. Two bodies, one movement. One wish. It wasn’t two people dancing, it was two desires needing. Life flowed through her as she slipped underneath his skin, burning off the dead-gray underlay. She was giving him life, letting her heat be the sunshine. For that dance, in that moment, they were very much alive. His spirit might be low, but his strength wasn’t, so she pressed into him. The power in his chest, the assurance in his arms and the strength in his thighs took control of the dancing, and his arousal fed her fantasy.

He would have been embarrassed, except the urgency in her body and the need in her eyes were demanding. She declared what she wanted. As her head rested on his chest and her thighs molded around his leg, his hand settled into the small of her back, fingers touching the crest of her buttock.

She didn’t think she could get any closer until he twirled, his leg riding up between her thighs. Her core responded, pressing into his brawn.

He twirled again, separating slightly, then drawing her close.

This guy can dance. His hardness pushed against her tummy. She went moist.

He kissed the top of her head. The smell of her hair heightened his urgency. He needed the dance to end, the flirting to end, the engorged ache to end. He needed her.

The music stopped. She was still floating, arms around his neck, legs around his thigh, heat surging. As he eased her away, the space between them screamed to be filled. She took his arm and led him to the bar. “Bartender … check please.”

“I’ll get that,” he said.

She smiled and kissed his cheek, “The only thing you’re getting is me.”

“Seriously, Penny, let me pay. I want –”

“You’re going to pay – with all that want.” As she turned to get the check, she pressed her butt into his groin. She signed. “Let’s go.”

She’s unbelievable. So fucking ready. He tugged on her arm, leaned down and whispered, “I’m coming.”

“Many times Handsome, many times.” She kissed his ear and whispered. “I’m on the pill, and all clear – no sexual partners for a long time.”

“Me too.”

The time between the elevator doors opening and closing was an eternity. He consumed her lips, her mouth, her tongue.

She grabbed his hardness.

He pushed her against the wall, one hand clamping her buttock, the other rushing under her dress, lifting her in a forceful grip. Long fingers slipped inside …

• • •

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