He’s the first person I look for as I walk into the crowded room.
I don’t want it to be true, but it is.
Chad Fellows. The cute, nice guy I’d deemed harmless and not my type when I
first met him has turned into my biggest nightmare. And he’s still not my type. At all.
I just can’t stop thinking about him.
Chad is a responsible, employed IT manager, a stark contrast to my normal guy. I like my men with an edge. Artistic rocker types, with songs running through their
heads, mattresses on their floor, and Peter Pan complexes.
Walking disasters are an acquired taste.
Since I was fifteen years old my preference has not deviated, much to my family’s and friends’ disgust, but that all changed eight weeks ago on Valentine’s Day at our friend Brandon Townsend III’s new club The Lair. Instinct had warned me not to go that night, but I hadn’t listened and now my perception of Chad had shifted around
me and I’m not happy about it.
Thankfully, I haven’t seen him since.
I don’t want to see him tonight.
Only, I can’t stop searching the crowded room for him.
While I’ve thought of him plenty, I’ve successfully avoided him since that night, when I’d made such a fool of myself. When I’d somehow ended up crying helplessly on his shoulder, distraught and emotional. When I’d let him see me as I never let anyone see me, vulnerable and lost. I cringe, remembering how I’d turned my face up to his, silently pleading to lose myself in him so I could avoid all that was wrong with me. I
hadn’t offered outright, but it had hung there in the air between us.
He’d sent me home in a cab. Untouched. Except for the imprint of his palm on
The next morning I’d woken up hung over, humiliated, and thankful.
If I could avoid the evening’s celebration I would, but I can’t. It’s my best friend Layla’s engagement party. I’m her maid of honor. I’m duty bound, and I love Layla so much I wouldn’t miss it for the world. She’s been through hell and back and I will do anything in my power to help her build a road to happiness. I’m also compelled to make up for the petty jealousy I experienced, and kept hidden from her, on Valentine’s
night that started this whole mess.
My hope is Chad won’t be here, but deep down I know that’s a long shot. He’ll
be here. And my avoidance will be over.
After that disastrous night, the next day, he’d contacted me to make sure I was okay. Because that’s the kind of man he is. There’d been something in the air, crackling over the line that hadn’t been there in all the times I’d talked to him before. Something I didn’t want to acknowledge. So I’d been polite, appreciative, but made it clear I didn’t
want him to contact me again.
Supposedly he’s a dominant. A trait that’s become familiar to me watching Layla and her husband-to-be over the last year, and was on full display at the club that night. A trait I don’t like but somehow can’t stop being fascinated by. But there’s not one thing
bossy about Chad. In fact, he’s exceedingly respectful of my wishes.
I can’t figure out if I’m happy or disappointed about that.
All I want is for him to stop occupying my thoughts.
So I’d done the only thing I could think of and brought a date to the party. I’m hoping it ends my strange connection to Chad. Which is probably one-sided anyway. Since guys like him are supposed to go after what they want, and he’s been radio silent.
I glance at my date standing next to me. Two months ago Tommy was my dream guy—wait—scratch that. He is my dream guy. A dark, scraggly haired man-child with moody chocolate eyes, a pouty mouth, and slim hips that move like the devil when he plays guitar. I was pining for him something fierce before but couldn’t snag his
In true bad-boy fashion, he’d asked me out once my infatuation moved
elsewhere. We’d gone out a couple of times, usually after one of his shows where I’ve had a few drinks to convince myself I want him. After all, he’s exactly my type. But I find I’m not able to get lost in the rocker boy angst of him like I normally would. I haven’t slept with him—in fact, I’ve kind of avoided physical contact with him—and I
have excuses for why that is.
Trying to believe it has nothing to do with my last conversation with Chad
where I’d confessed the dirty little secrets I’d never planned on sharing with anyone.
Which is why I had to bring Tommy with me.
I need the illusion that I’ve forgotten all about what happened between Chad
and me. That I’ve moved on. That I never told him anything important and private.
I’m good at illusion. It’s my specialty. I’m convinced if I can make it through this
night, my smile in place, my date by my side, it will be like Valentine’s never happened.
Once he’s out of my head, I can get back to the life where I belong. Singing in my bluesy club, hanging out with unemployed musicians, and making art for my favorite bands. Going to my day job to grind out a living before I can go slip into the night and
get lost in lyrics and melodies.
Eventually I’ll forget Chad knows things about me that nobody else does.
Tommy puts his hand on my hip, encased in a black pencil skirt that matches my black fitted top, with tiny white skulls where polka dots should be. I look very retroglam. My dark hair is shiny and sleek, curling over my shoulders like Lauren Bacall. My eye makeup is a smoky cat eye that plays up the bright blue of my eyes. I’ve also slicked
my lips with a crimson gloss that highlights my already naturally red lips.
I look good. Evidenced by the hungry appreciation in Tommy’s gaze, but all I care about is it provides me with much needed armor against the man I don’t want to
My best friend, and bride-to-be, Layla comes running over to me, a huge smile
on her beautiful face. “You’re finally here.”
I hug her and lean back, giving her a long once over, before I whistle. “You look
She does. She’s beaming with happiness, her dark chestnut hair a tumble around her shoulders, her blue eyes brilliant. She’s wearing a white V-neck dress that ends demurely at her knees but hugs every one of her curves. She looks beautiful,
sophisticated, and sexy.
“Thank you,” she says, kissing me on the cheek. “So do you.”
After a terrible tragedy that almost killed her, she’s made her way back to life and has never been happier. I can’t begrudge her that. Even if I experience unwelcome stabs of envy over the love she shares with her fiancé. Those are my problems, not hers. It’s not her fault that, unlike me, she has excellent taste in men.
Her future husband, homicide detective Michael Banks slides up next to her, putting his big hand on her hip. Like Layla he’s dark haired, but with unusual hazel eyes that stare right into you and make you want to fidget. He’s also six-five and
stunningly masculine. The kind of guy you can’t help but look at on the street.
Together they make quite the pair.
Michael kisses me on the cheek and says, “Glad you could make it.”
I beam at him, so wide my cheeks ache. “I wouldn’t miss it. I’m the maid of
“That you are,” he says before holding out his hand to my date.
I quickly make introductions. “This is Tommy.” Tommy shakes Michael’s hand. “Thanks for having me.”
At least he’s polite.
Michael nods. “Thanks for coming.”
“Congrats.” Tommy shakes Layla’s hand too and nods at her appreciatively.
“Nice job, man.”
Never mind. I cringe and immediately hate him.
Layla gives me a little grimace. She’s not a fan of my choice in men.
Michael’s palm slides possessively over Layla’s hip and he smiles. “I’m not sure I
can take credit for her genetics.”
Tommy laughs. “Killer place you’ve got here.”
“It’s my parents.” Michael juts his head toward where the crowd is already
growing. “Can we get you something to drink?”
“You got any Jack?” Tommy asks, rubbing his ridiculously flat stomach.
Why did I think this was a good idea? Tommy seems like a child in this crowd. Which, in fairness, he kind of is. Something that wouldn’t have bothered me before, but now grates across my nerves like sandpaper. Before I would have liked that about him. It would have made him special in some twisted way.
At thirty-one, I’ve always been a free spirit and have no desire to settle down. I lived that life growing up and I have no desire to go back. I’m a minister’s daughter, raised in a loving but traditional family, that has never walked the wild side a day in their lives. Unlike my brother and sister who seemed to thrive in that environment, I was stifled by all that propriety. Every time I was required to go to another church event, shaking hands and smiling in my perfect preacher’s daughter dress, I would
swear this would never become me.
I left the second I had a chance and have never looked back. I want to be free. Free of mortgages and responsibilities and five-year plans. I don’t want to change. But it
seems like I am, despite my best intentions.
Layla grabs my wrist. “You guys go on, we’ll be there soon.”
Michael squeezes her hip, kisses her lips and murmurs something in Layla’s ear
that has her sucking in a little breath.
Michael is also of the dominant persuasion, as is his best friend and future brother-in-law, Leo Santoro, and their other friend, Brandon Townsend III. A persuasion I knew very little about before Layla started dating Michael and now can’t
seem to get away from.
I’ve been watching them for months. The way they all prowl around their women, possessive and commanding. I know that’s what Layla and Jillian, Leo’s
fiancée, want, but I can’t see the appeal. Which is yet another reason to stay away from Chad.
The two men walk away. Tommy looks like a stiff wind will blow him over he’s
so slight. Like a boy next to Michael’s man.
Layla grins at me. “So that’s the guy, right? The one you’ve been after?”
Had it only been two months since I was desperate for Tommy’s attention?
A waiter passed with a tray of Champagne, and Layla stops him and grabs us
I take a sip. “That’s the one.”
“He’s cute.” She lies.
While he’s not her type, he is cute and girls go crazy for him. If you like
musicians, Tommy’s a catch. But I can't quite get excited about him anymore.
Unable to help myself I glance around the room but don’t spot him.
I shrug. “He plays a mean bass.”
“As long as he treats you the way you deserve, I’m happy.” Layla waves at someone and takes a drink. “It’s going to get crazy in a few, and I’m going to have to socialize, but I wanted to see how you were. I feel like we haven’t talked since I got
We hadn’t. I blame myself. She’s been busy with her engagement but she’s still
made time to call me. I’ve been avoiding her.
I’m jealous, of what I’m not sure, because I don’t want to get married and settle down, but it’s been eating away at me. I hate myself for it and don’t want her ever to
guess while I’m desperately figuring out how to stop the feeling.
I bite my lip. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault.”
Layla’s brow furrows. “You don’t have to be sorry, but you seem like something
is bothering you, and I don’t know why you won’t talk to me.”
I don’t want to bother her with my petty problems and hang-ups. Layla has been through so much and she’s finally happy, I’m not willing to ruin that. I put on a bright smile. “I’m fine. I promise. Don’t worry about me. You just concentrate on being happy,
Layla’s blue eyes narrow on me and her suspicion is etched in the corners of her
mouth. “Can we do dinner next week? Just the two of us?”
“Yes, let’s do that.” I hug her, distracting her away from studying my expression.
“All we need is some girl time to cut through the crazy.”
She laughs. “Probably. And it is crazy. So dinner.”
She steps back and squeezes my hand, before winking at me. “And, girl, you
look hot as hell.”
I laugh and shake my head. “Thanks.”
“I have no idea how you pull off that look, but it’s envy worthy.”
I know she means it. I even know it’s true. I’m just having a hard time feeling it right now. Somewhere along the way I have lost my mojo, and I don’t know how to get
So I fake it, like I fake everything else.
Layla sighs. “Duty calls. My future mother-in-law is signaling.”
I give her a quick hug. “Go. We’ll catch up later.”
She takes off, leaving me alone.
And that’s when I see him.
He’s in the back corner of the room talking to Ashley, a friend we sometimes hang out with, who’s been after him since the second she laid eyes on him. Ashley is everything I’m not. Blonde, cute, sexy, and a huge flirt. She adores men. But more
important, she adores the chase.
She’d been chasing a guy named Trevor since college. Desperately in love with him, she’d let him use her for casual hook ups whenever he’d been in the mood for easy sex. This summer, a week after Ashley went home with Trevor and convinced herself this was going to be the time she snare him for good, he’d met a “dancer”, fallen
instantly in love, and kicked Ashley to the curb forever.
Devastated, Ashley has been on the prowl for a replacement ever since, and every time she sees Chad she becomes like a dog in heat. Throwing herself at him
mercilessly. Before Valentine’s Day it had amused me. Now it doesn’t.
Over her head, our eyes lock.
I can’t really tell you what it is about Chad Fellows that has captured my undivided attention when he’s everything I never wanted in a man. Yes, he’s a good guy. He’s stable, dependable, and compassionate. He’s also gorgeous, if you like the allAmerican type, with high cheekbones, messy brown hair and direct blue eyes. He’s tall
and has a great body that defies his computer-geek status.
Sounds like a dream guy, right? He is.
He’s just not my dream guy, including the fact that he’s into the whole
domination thing. A thing I definitely don’t want anything to do with.
Gaze still intent on mine, he takes a drink out of a rocks glass. He slowly lowers the beverage and even from across the room I can feel his slow once over as he takes me
Goose bumps break out over my skin. The hair along my neck prickles and a
tingle races over my spine as the air crackles, connecting us from across the room.
As much as he’s not my type, I’m not his either. Girls like Ashley are his type.
But since Valentine’s night there’s something between us.
Something I need to break.
At that moment Tony slides up next to me. “Hey, babe.”
I want to kill him. Bash him over the head with his stupid guitar.
Chad cocks a brow then returns his attention to Ashley.
I’ve been dismissed. I grit my teeth. Well, good.
I keep my eye on Ruby Stiles, even though I want to forget that night where I’d held her in my arms while she cried. I have a lot going on right now, work’s crazy, I just got a promotion and my competition for the job now works for, and hates, me. I’ve got building development going on—a little side project I started with one of my friends— that’s now taken on a life of its own. I’m putting everything I have into business right
now and Ruby is not something I want to distract me.
It’s why I didn’t press after I called her the day after Valentine’s and she gave me the brush off, even though I wanted to. I’d hung up the phone and sighed in relief, because when I’d called I’d been half afraid she’d want to follow up on what had gone down between us the night before. Most guys in my situation wouldn’t have called Ruby at all, but I’m unfailingly responsible, especially when it comes to women. I’d done the right thing, ensured she was okay, and asked if she needed to talk. She’d said
Responsibility absolved. That should have been the end of it.
Only, I haven’t been able to get her out of my mind since that night. That strange, perception-altering night, where nothing played out as I’d been expecting. Before then, I’d always viewed Layla Hunter’s best friend as a pretty rocker girl with whom I have nothing in common. She’s beautiful and has a body that won’t quit, but she didn’t interest me that way I need a woman to interest me.
Then Valentine’s happened and—I don’t know—something changed between us.
I can still feel her quivering, trembling body in my arms. The stain of tears on her cheeks as she looked up at me with her blue, watery, desperate gaze. Still remember the
sound of her voice as she spilled her secrets.
She is nothing I need in my life right now. And even though I don’t want
anything to do with the complications she presents, I can’t take my eyes off her.
As Ashley drones on and on about a subject I can’t even remember, I watch Ruby and that ridiculous excuse for a man she brought with her tonight. She might not be my type, but she looks gorgeous. Her code of dress seems to vacillate from retro rocker to
pinup girl with an edge. Like a rebel Snow White.
She pulls it off very, very well.
Tonight she’s decked out in an outfit right out of the nineteen forties, that slimfitted skirt and black-and-white top hugging every curve to perfection. She’s curled her shiny black, shoulder-length hair into sleek waves and even from across the room I can see the brilliance in her blue eyes. And then there’s her mouth, full and ruby red,
matching her name.
She looks different from every other woman in the room, and when her date
slides a hand over her hip, I experience an inappropriate surge of possession.
As soon as he settles in next to her she darts a nervous glance in my direction. Our eyes lock, the air pulses, and she jerks her attention away from me. Right then I
know her date is about me. That she’s brought him as a diversion.
“So what do you think?” Ashley says, ripping me from my thoughts.
I stare down at the cute little blonde who, in theory, is exactly what I need right now. She’s lush, pretty, and has a set of tits I could spend hours torturing. Best of all she’s not mentally taxing. I’m pretty sure she’s been discussing makeup for at least thirty minutes. She’s the kind of girl you take to dinner and don’t have to say a word because she talks a mile a minute.
I’ve clearly missed some sort of question. I give her my most winning smile. “I’m sorry, what did you ask?” I raise my hand to my ear and say in a too loud tone, “It’s
kind of loud in here.”
She grins up at me, her expression brilliant and tinged around the very edges with desperateness. I’ve heard all about her trials and tribulations with the guy she
used to hook up with. She’s on the rebound and I’m her prey.
She hasn’t seemed to cue into the fact that I’m not interested. What Ashley wants, I have no interest in giving her, and the truth is, I feel bad for her. She’s been screwed over enough. Only I don’t know her well enough to give her a much-needed
lecture about men who don’t treat her the way she deserves.
Her lashes flutter and bat up at me in an exaggerated way. “I said I have tickets
to the Bulls from work and I was wondering if you wanted to go with me.”
Oh hell. Now I’m going to have to hurt her feelings and I really don’t want to do that. But my lack of attention is not getting through to her, so I’m forced to be direct. I put my hand on her arm and her skin is cold. “Thank you, that’s very sweet, but I’m
going to have to pass.”
Her expression falls but I trudge on. Ashley doesn’t realize this, but I’m doing her a favor by not wasting her time, and squashing any hope she might have for us. I
want to give her the work excuse, but based off her history, that won’t cut it.
I rub my hand over her arm and smile. “I’m not an option for you, Ashley. I’m sorry about that, but you deserve a guy that is going to give you the time and energy
you deserve, and I’m not that guy.”
She jerks a little under my touch. Her face twists for a moment before it surges
I repress my sigh.
She puts her hand on my waist and I immediately drop my hand from her. She shakes her head and laughs a little. “That’s cute. But you’ve misunderstood; I’m not looking for anything serious. I’m not looking for commitment. I’m looking for fun. That’s all.”
All bullshit, but I’m more than happy to let her save face. She’s looking for the loophole most guys would fall into, but I’m not that easily manipulated. Most women confuse good guy with push over, thinking that I am not wise to their games, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I shrug. “I apologize if I misunderstood. But I’m not
Her attention drops to my mouth, turning hungry. Annoyed, I glance over her head and see Ruby talking to Jillian Banks and Leo Santoro, she laughs at something
they say and then her gaze catches mine.
She frowns, and then it disappears almost as though she’s caught herself. Which she probably has. I’ve noticed that about her. She filters everything. Reveals a glimpse
of her true emotions before covering it up with what she believes she should feel.
“What about for fucking? Are you available for that?” Ashley’s words rip me back to her. She’s wearing a seductive expression and her hand has curled into the
waistband of my pants. “We could go upstairs right now and I could blow your mind.”
I resist the urge to express my exasperation with her. In her defense, this approach would work on ninety-eight percent of guys, so it’s her misfortune I fall into the two percent. I contemplate my options. I could go stern, but she’d probably like that. I could continue being nice but assertive, but that doesn’t seem to be working. I
run through a couple other choices but decide on the truth.
I wrap my fingers around her wrist and forcibly pull her off me. Then I look deep into her eyes and say with complete sincerity. “I am not an option for you. We are
friends and that’s where you and I will stay.”
Her expression falls again and her chin quivers the tiniest bit.
While I’m sympathetic, I don’t relent. I release her hand and reach up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear. “You’ve been hurt, Ashley. I’m sorry about that. But as a friend, let me tell you, this isn’t the way to mend your broken heart. A man won’t fix
what’s broken inside you. You have to do that all on your own.”
Over her head I see Ruby climb the steps leading to the second floor.
I smile at Ashley. “I wish you luck. You deserve to be happy and I hope you find
- But I’m not your guy.”
Her eyes brighten. “Okay.”
I chuck Ashley under the chin. “You okay?”
She nods and points to a group of girls hovering around the kitchen island. “I
should get back to my friends.”
I smile at her. “Sounds like a good plan.”
Ashley walks away, leaving me alone. I drain the rest of my drink and narrow
my eyes on the stairs.
The last thing I should do is go upstairs.
I put my drink down on a small bar table.
But I’m going anyway.
I am not jealous.
I stare at my reflection in the mirror in the upstairs bathroom of Michael’s
parents’ house and repeat the words out loud. “I am not jealous.”
I don’t believe me.
There’s a knot in the pit of my stomach that’s been there ever since Chad’s hand gripped Ashley’s arm. A knot that grew when Ashley clung to the waistband of his
pants and stared up at him in that way she had.
I was across the room, I couldn’t hear what transpired, but I know Ashley. She’s
been using the same expression to proposition guys since college.
She’s not the kind of girl men say no to when sex is on the table.
I swallow hard and flip on the faucet, letting the cool water trickle over my hot
All right then, I’ve solved my problem.
I brought a date that will put Chad off any ideas my drunken confessions and
clutching meant anything.
He followed it up by hooking up with Ashley.
Things can get back to normal now. We can go back to being friends and it will
be like that whole night never happened.
Eventually I’ll forget he knows my secrets.
I turn off the water and dry my hands before touching my fingertips to my
cheeks to cool my skin.
I close my eyes.
Why did I tell him my secrets? I’m not like that. In fact, I play things too close to the chest. So why did I tell him something I have never told a living soul? I have no
I just hate that he knows.
I blow out a breath. He’ll never say anything. He’s a good guy, unfailingly responsible. He’ll know, but the secret will be safe with him. I’ll pretend, and eventually
it will disappear like it never happened.
I open the bathroom door; step out into the hallway, jerking back in surprise.
Chad’s leaning against the wall, and while his stance is casual; his expression is
intent and focused.
I gulp. On me.
I blink and manage to quell the gasp that rises to my lips. I need to be casual. To pretend he doesn’t affect me. I give him a little wave of my fingers. “Hey, you scared
“Sorry.” His voice sends a shiver down my spine.
I gesture to the bathroom. “It’s all yours.”
His blue eyes narrow. “I’m here for you.”
Surprised pleasure bursts through me and I hate myself for it. I work to keep my expression completely neutral. I open my mouth to ask why that might be, but those aren’t the words that come from my lips. “I feel duty bound to warn you Ashley’s a bit
clingy, so watch out.”
No. Why? What is it about him that makes it impossible to hide my true feelings.
His expression flashes.
Tension tightening my muscles, I wait for him to call me out on my jealousy. He crosses his arms over his chest. “Since I have no intention of going home with Ashley,
that’s a moot point.”
Instantly the knot in my stomach unravels. I’ll think about why later, but now I need to remove myself from his presence before I give anything else away. I shrug. “It’s
not my business anyway.”
He cocks a brow. “Don’t pretend you’re not relieved.”
The tone of his voice makes my belly quiver. I tilt my head as the first stirrings of defensiveness rears its ugly head. “What you do, or don’t do, has nothing to do with
“Maybe not.” He straightens and closes the distance between us. “But you’re still
He’s close enough I can see the shards of white in his blue eyes, feel the heat of his body. The strange desire that swept through me that night when he’d held me
surges. But this time I’m not safe. Unlike then, he’s not in a comforting mood.
Heart a wild, untamed beat, I resist the urge to step back.
Chad is not the harmless guy I once thought he was. Underestimating him had been a mistake on my part, one I won’t make again. Since I am apparently incapable of
lying to him, I try diversion instead. “What can I help you with, Chad?”
His attention snags on my mouth before he meets my eyes. “I haven’t been able
to stop thinking about you since that night.”
My breath kicks up as my pulse starts to pound. I mean to say it meant nothing, that we were drunk, that nothing happened between us, but those aren’t the words that
come. “You haven’t?”
“No.” His hand slides around my neck and I have to repress the urge to jerk at the contact. He puts his hand on my hip, and steps forward, forcing me to move back.
He does it again, and then again until I’m pressed against the wall.
I’m not going to lie. It’s thrilling. The kick of desire I feel is so strong it actually
surprises me. It must be all the time I’ve spent thinking about him. Some sort of
extended, silent foreplay.
He kicks my leg out, forcing my stance wider before he presses against me.
“What are you doing?” My voice is breathless.
He leans down and whispers in my ear, “Showing you.”
The frantic beat of my heart sounds in my ears and when I speak, I tremble. “Showing me what?”
“That what you’re feeling isn’t one sided.” His fingers tangle in my hair, tugging until my head tilts and my jaw rises. I can feel his breath against my skin and I swallow
I want him. More than I’ve wanted anyone ever. I’ve been infatuated over guys, angsty, giddy and longing, but this desire is new. Demanding. It terrifies me, because I
know the truth. Which is bad enough, but he knows the truth too, which is worse.
I can’t deliver on all this heat and tension between us.
When it comes down to it I’ll freeze, which is what always happens. Chad knows I’m a fake. Pretending isn’t an option. I put a hand on his stomach, intent on pushing
him away, but don’t. “That night was a mistake.”
“Maybe so.” He raises his head to look at me and when our gazes meet
something electric crackles between us. “Tell me you haven’t thought of me.”
I want to deny, but I can’t. “I have.”
He grips my jaw, forcing me to maintain eye contact with him. “Have you
slipped your fingers into your panties and come thinking about me?”
Say no. “Yes.”
His fingers release my jaw and travel down the curve of my neck.
I’m hypnotized by him. Wanting to say no, to tell him to stop this madness, but the words never come.
He strokes over my collarbone. “There’s one small step from thinking to doing. To it being my fingers. My cock.”
I want so bad to believe in it, but I can’t. I lick my lips and shake my head. “You
know I can’t.”
I can’t come with a guy. I’m defective that way. And no matter how much I want
him it won’t work.
“I know that’s what you believe. But it’s not the truth.”
It’s Valentine’s Day all over again. Like we’ve picked up exactly where we left
off. “And you think you’ll be the guy to change it?”
“Yeah, I do.” There’s no hesitation in his voice. Only utter surety.
Hope flutters in my chest and I hate it. There is no hope for me. “And why’s
“Because you can’t hide from me.” He runs his thumb over my bottom lip and
my belly dips and heats. “But even more important, I won’t let you.”
This, right here, right now is why I need to stay away from him. Appropriate responses slide through my head, but I don’t want to say any of them. All I want is to
melt into him.
He makes me want to believe. And that’s dangerous because it’s not true.
He can’t fix me.
I shake my head.
“I’m going to kiss you now.” “Okay.” The word is a harsh whisper.
His lips brush mine, soft. Sweet even.
My breath catches and holds.
Another brush of his mouth over mine. Back and forth. He doesn’t deliver the contact I desire. I stay motionless, barely breathing as he teases me, makes me want him even more desperately than I already do.
The tip of his tongue strokes across my lower lip and my nipples pull into hard, almost painful buds. I clutch at his shirt, fisting the material in my hands while I’m
suspended in this time and space by the sensation of his mouth barely touching mine.
His teeth scrape over my flesh and I let out a gasp, bowing to force greater contact. In answer, he slides his hands down my arms and encircles my wrists, his
fingers tightening around the fine bones, he raises them over my head.
Trapping me. Reminding me of his true nature and what that means for me. The
protest flits through my mind but evaporates as his mouth flirts over mine.
He’s relentless. Brushing. Stroking. Nipping. Licking. Over and over, endlessly,
until my whole body buzzes with him, all my senses consumed, my thoughts emptied.
He’s not even kissing me. Not really.
He’s playing with me. Like a cat toys with a mouse.
My nails dig into my palms as I clench my hands into frustrated fists, moaning
helplessly when he captures my lower lip between his teeth and licks.
I arch, needing some sort of friction.
He inserts his thigh between my legs. My skirt is stretchy but it still doesn’t accommodate. He grips my wrists in one hand, while the other skims down my body,
before bunching my skirt high enough for his thigh to slide against my swollen center.
I have no idea how he’s doing this but I don’t ever want it to end.
Never has anyone taken this kind of time with me.
He presses his thigh where I need him the most, at the same time brushes over
Against my lips he whispers, “I can feel the heat of your pussy through my
His words only increase my arousal.
“Can feel your body straining against the desire to grind against me and relieve
My hips jerk in response and I’m practically panting.
“But I’m not going to deliver.” The pressure between my thighs releases as he
moves his leg. “I’m going to make you want it.”
He bites my lip. “Beg.”
I can’t repress the sound that emerges from my throat.
His lips cover mine, hot and commanding, taking absolute control as his tongue
plunges into my mouth.
I’m so crazy I lose myself immediately.
And then he’s gone.
I chase him, but he releases my hands. For a second I’m free but then he grips me by the throat and holds me to the wall. Lust, so powerful my knees actually quake, storms away inside me. Instead of pushing him away, I clutch at his shirt and try and
pull him closer.
He works his fingers under my skirt and into my panties.
Shock rolls through me and I freeze. But he doesn’t seem thwarted by my
sudden tensing. He slides over my skin, before circling my clit, featherlight.
Nothing more than a tease. And I want more. My god do I want.
He meets my gaze, which I’m sure looks like a deer in headlights. “I want you to
remember this, how you feel right now, and know I haven’t even started.”
He releases his hold on my neck, and I sag against the wall. His fingers leave my clit and hook into the cotton of my underwear. Before I can process what’s happening they are sliding down my legs. I can’t think of anything but the fact that I’m limp against the wall, trembling with desire.
“Step out.” His voice holds that edge I’ve heard in both Layla’s and Jillian’s
I should say no, but I’ve somehow already stepped out. He rubs his thumb over
the fabric and he slips them into his pocket.
All I can do is stand there, open mouthed, stunned, and more turned on than I’ve
ever been in my life.
He smooths my skirt down my legs before straightening. “Ruby.”
I blink. “Yes?”
“Lose the guy.”
I might hyperventilate.
He steps forward, cups my jaw and raises my chin. “And later, when you’re in
bed, remember who you’re coming for.”
And with that, he walks away, leaving me confused, terrified and needy.
Walking away wasn’t easy. But it needed to be done.
I slip out of the party and into the tail end of the Chicago winter, letting the cold
night air work its magic.
Michael’s parents live in the wealthy part of Evanston pressed up against the lakefront. The street is stately, filled with old neoclassic architecture and mature trees.
I walk down the block until I hit the lake, stopping to watch the waves crash onto the shore. Without a jacket the wind should be enough to cool me down, but with the
imprint of Ruby’s panties in my pocket, I’m struggling.
I reach for them, my thumb circling the damp center. She’d been so fucking wet when I touched her it had worked on every last ounce of my self-control. I could have dragged her into a bedroom and taken her right then and there, but that would have defeated my end game. While I’d flipped her switch, turned her on, and made damn sure she was desperate for me to touch her, she would have frozen as soon as I turned
Even that brief moment I’d played with her pussy every muscle in her body had
tensed, and, despite her arousal, if I’d continued she would have started thinking.
I breathed in the lake air, listening to the waves in an effort to think about
anything other than slamming my cock inside her.
Because I wasn’t sure this was the smartest thing I’d ever done.
Pursuing Ruby will take work. Effort. Patience. And for what? We are not really
compatible. We live different lives and have different goals.
But, Christ, I want to see her come. Want to be the one to make it happen for her.
Of course, the one thing we do have in common she won’t even acknowledge.
I may not have been interested in her, but I’d kept an eye on her since I’d met her. After a blind date with Layla, Ruby’s best friend, we’d parted ways only for me to run into her and Michael when I was out with a girl I’d been dating about six months
ago. The girl didn’t last, but to my surprise, my friendship with Layla and Michael had.
Ruby has intrigued me from the start—the lone innocent in her group of kinky friends. The exact opposite of my regular group, which is probably why I’d started hanging out with Michael, Leo and Brandon more and more. I still see my friends, guys
I’d grown up with, but they no longer quite felt like my people.
As soon as I’d met Ruby I recognized the signs in her. Not that the other guys in the group, all dominants themselves, hadn’t noticed too. We’d talked about it a few times, or mainly Layla had, with Michael telling her to leave it alone, but it had been a
topic of discussion.
It’s pretty clear if you know what to look for.
Despite her obvious tells, Ruby is hardcore insistent she wants nothing to do with being dominated, claiming to anyone who will listen she doesn’t understand why anyone would want such a thing. But she can’t quite hide her fascination, even though
she believes every word she says with her whole heart.
I don’t doubt Ruby believes it. I also don’t doubt she doesn’t understand why a
woman would want to be dominated.
The problem is Ruby doesn’t understand how submissive she really is. And the scene in the hallway only confirmed that. She’s completely unaware she’d just submitted to my will. Sure, I hadn’t pushed her, or made demands, because that would be unethical and wrong, but once I’d touched her she’d surrendered to what I wanted
I could see the struggle in her eyes. The inability to lie to me when I asked her a direct question. Her easy agreement when I told her to ditch the guy. The shudder of
desire when I’d called her a good girl.
I had zero doubts by the time that guy, her date, dropped her off he’d be gone. That even if sanity prevailed, and she processed she’d agreed to my demand without protest, she wouldn’t be able to let him touch her. I was equally sure Ruby would come tonight and think about what happened between us in the hallway when she climaxed. And that when she was close and not filtering her emotions, she’d think of how I’d held
her by the throat and squeezed while I rubbed her clit.
The tricky part came with what to do about it. Because these weren’t things Ruby was remotely ready to hear. She has a laundry list of issues, and asking her to accept her submissive nature now was the equivalent of telling her she needed to go run a
marathon tomorrow morning with no preparation.
But I can help her.
There’s something between us. Something hot and tangible, and after eight weeks of going out on dates with girls I couldn’t even remember and forgot the second
they were out of sight, it’s not going away.
I want Ruby and at some point she’s going to be under me. Despite her protests
and her disbelief, she will come for me. I’ve already started and there’s no stopping us.
I just have to be very conscious of getting her consent on every single thing I do to her. So that when she comes face-to-face with her nature, with what she fears the most, I can remind her it had been her choice all along.
Series: Undone #3
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Average rating on Goodreads: 4.29 stars
Number of Reviews: 67 (on Goodreads)Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Kobo|iTunes|Google Play
One night in a moment of sheer madness I confessed my secrets to him. All my life I’ve been pretending. Pretending to be the woman I thought I should be instead of the woman I really am. I’ve been faking it and I am good. No one has ever guessed. Except him. He just looked at me and knew.
Chad Fellows is not the man I want, but he’s fast becoming the man I need.
One night in a moment of sheer madness I held her in my arms and let her cry. I did the right thing, letting her walk away, no matter how much she calls to the part of me that wants to rescue her. We are nothing alike, and she’s a mess of complications in a life I’m trying to keep simple. But then I touched her and made her tremble and now I can’t turn away.
Ruby Stiles is not the woman I want, but she’s fast becoming the woman I need.
I hope you enjoy Chad and Ruby's story in DEBAUCHED!