Authors: Celia Aaron,Sloane Howell
The music grew louder, rising over the sound of diners’ conversations and the clink of silverware on china. We were cocooned, tables empty on either side, giving our dinner a much more intimate feel than I was comfortable with. I planned on having words with Nikki as soon as we left. As it was, I wasn’t able to speak with her because her tongue was busy investigating Braden’s tonsils.
I could feel Easton looking at me. I leaned forward to grab a piece of bread, though my main purpose was to let my dark hair fall into my face a little and give me somewhere to hide. It worked, my locks slipping over my shoulder and along my cheek.
“So, Kyrie, what do you do?” Easton wasn’t going to let me get away so easily, it seemed.
“I work at a magazine as an editor.” I glanced up at him.
“Oh, what magazine?” His easy smile was a lure.
His smile widened, a perfect dimple appearing in his cheek. “Sounds like fun.”
I blushed. “Not exactly. It was at first. Now I’m looking to move up to something with a bit more cachet, you know? I guess I’ve outgrown it.”
He nodded. “I do. I guess it’s sort of like being in the minors and dreaming of the majors? So what’s the majors for you?”
I took a sip of wine. “
Style and Substance
“Never heard of it, but I’ll sign up for a subscription.”
“I didn’t realize you were into fashion.” I laughed and took a bigger sip of wine, more of a gulp, really.
“I don’t know anything about fashion, honestly. My sister helps me pick out clothes and has zero problems telling me if I look like a douche.” His smile was back, easygoing and charming.
“Yeah, Kasey. She’d love you. She’s always had a thing for…” He glanced down to my chest and then, seemingly remembering himself, looked away.
What the fuck?
His tan cheeks colored the slightest bit. And then I noticed something else. “You have something on your face,” I whispered. Not that it mattered. Our dinner companions weren’t going to notice. They needed to get a room at that point.
“Right here.” I reached up and ran my fingers along his cheek, his skin soft and smooth. “There’s like a line or something.”
“Oh, shit. Kasey.” He shook his head. “She hit me.”
“Your sister hit you?” I dropped my hand from his cheek, but he caught it in his palm. His fingers were calloused, but warm.
“It’s sort of a long story. We’re roommates with a very special brand of…” He searched the ceiling for the word he wanted before bringing his gaze back down to mine. “Retribution, I guess you’d say?”
I let him hold my hand, though I shouldn’t have. He ran his thumb over my knuckles. Heat swarmed through my body, funneling down until it built up between my thighs. I was leaning closer to him, our voices lowering as we spoke. He put his other hand on my shoulder, his fingertips pressing me steadily toward him.
“What did you do that required retribution?” I made words with my mouth, but I couldn’t focus on anything but his eyes, his scent, the feel of his hands against my skin.
“I left a dirty dish in the sink. So she hit me with a whiffle ball bat.” He licked his lips. “Though I think this one across the face was actually for laying out that runner yesterday.”
The memory of his pure aggression had fueled my fantasies the previous night. I’d come moaning his name. My cheeks flushed and I took another drink, hoping the silky wine would do something to temper the heat inside me. “The fight made her mad?”
“Yeah. She knows it’s bad for business. She calls it my ‘brand’. But don’t get me wrong, she loves watching guys beat each other. She knows it’s just all part of the show.”
His words ricocheted through my mind. Someone else had used that turn of phrase. Someone who was the reason I didn’t date players. I leaned back, away from danger, away from the certain pain that getting involved with a man like Easton would bring.
He tilted his head to the side. “Wha—?”
“So, what are we doing after dinner?” Nikki had come up for air.
I took a deep breath and resolved to keep my eyes forward, even if that meant witnessing Nikki and Braden full on fucking across the table from me. If I had to remind myself every thirty seconds that Easton was a player, I would.
“A club?” Braden offered.
“Yeah, that would be fun.” Nikki pleaded with me silently, her eyebrows pinched.
I shook my head. Going to a club was not an option for me.
Before anyone could float any more bad ideas about post-dinner activities, the waiter arrived and placed our entrées before us with over-the-top flair. We dug in, the sudden silence at the table a good indicator that the food was well received. The steak melted in my mouth, the meat perfectly cooked and smothered in butter.
We drank and ate as Nikki, thankfully, changed the subject and prattled on about her job and then got into a lively discussion with both Easton and Braden about the baseball season. Her full name was actually Nokona, a brand of baseball glove. Baseball was in her blood, her father having been a minor league player and coach.
When the meal was finished, I blotted my mouth with the napkin. The waiter arrived with the bill.
“Yeah, all on him,” Easton told the waiter and pointed at Braden.
“Dick.” Braden took the check and dug his wallet out, flipping the waiter his credit card.
“So, a club?” Nikki asked.
Not a chance
. Despite avoiding Easton’s gaze through the rest of the dinner, I still felt him. I knew there was still a very real danger Easton could make me break my number one rule: never trust a player. “I think I’ll just go home. You three go out and have fun. I’m more of a homebody, anyway.”
“So, you’d rather be home than at a club?” Easton folded his napkin and placed it on the table as Braden signed the check.
“Yes, thanks for understanding.” I stood, wobbling a bit, and was about to say my goodbyes when Easton spoke again.
“Well, then let’s go to your place.” He scooted his chair back and stood next to me.
Nikki rose. “That’s a great idea. Come on, Braden. Drive me?” She made a lewd hand gesture toward her mouth and poked her tongue against the inside of her cheek.
“No, I don’t want to ruin your night. You all should go out.” I waved my hand in the air, making a bigger arc than intended and almost smacking Easton in the face.
“Whoa there, slugger.” He smiled and steadied me by putting a hand to my waist. I’d had a few—two, three, more?—glasses of wine with dinner, and I was buzzing like a freshman drinking wine coolers. Disgraceful.
His eyes twinkled as he looked down at me. “I’m so full. I don’t think a club would be a good idea right now.” He knew exactly what he was doing. Nikki played with her hair and nodded. I was being double-teamed, and not in the fun, sexy way.
“Well, my apartment isn’t ready for visitors.”
“Well, hell.” Easton shrugged. “In that case, let’s just go to my place.”
Nikki skittered over to me, her ankles wobbling from the hooker heels. “Problem solved.”
She kissed me on the cheek and twirled her hair—deviousness in every move. “Perfect. I drove, so we’ll swap up. Kyrie, you go with Easton. Come on, baby. I’ll let you drive my car.”
I wondered if I could lure her to the bathroom and choke her out before anyone noticed the struggle.
Easton pulled me into him and gave another devilish smile. I was outnumbered.
“Fine.” I allowed him to help me out into the cool night, mainly because I feared falling flat on my ass if I didn’t.
Nikki and Easton gave their tickets to the valet. Then Braden proceeded to get frisky with her as they waited. Her car drove up first, and she and Braden got in. I wondered if the seat would be sticky the next time I rode with her.
I shivered in the cool air.
“Come here.” Easton pulled me to him, his chest to my back, and opened his jacket, giving me a sudden burst of body heat.
I shouldn’t have, but I leaned back against him, loving his warmth. When I felt his erection pressing into the small of my back, a cyclone of desire whirled through me and I wanted to reach back and run my hand along his pants.
Instead of stroking him like the sex-starved drunk I was, I tried to move away. He didn’t let me. His arms tightened, pressing me to him even harder. My lips parted and a soft, high-pitched noise escaped.
“Fuck,” he bit out.
I rested my head back on his shoulder, feeling the steady beat of his heart against my back. How long had it been since I’d let someone hold me like this? He nuzzled into my hair, his breath tickling my ear.
Some people behind us were talking. There was a line for the valet. I didn’t care. I just didn’t want him to stop touching me.
My thoughts were a muddle.
There’s a rule. I have a rule. Some sort of rule?
When he kissed the shell of my ear, any well-reasoned thoughts or rules I may have had vanished. My stomach tightened and my pussy tingled. I was wet and utterly without panties.
He moved a hand inside his jacket and cupped my breast. I panted, unable to stop my heart from racing at his touch. When he grazed his thumb over my hard nipple, my knees almost went, but he held me up with his other arm.
“Jesus.” He squeezed my tight bud and kneaded my breast.
A low moan fell from my lips and I edged my hand around my hip, about to reach behind me and touch him through his pants.
A large black truck roared up to the valet station and stopped. The rumble of the engine cut through my haze of lust and reminded me I was being felt up by a strange man on a busy street while surrounded by people.
I stepped forward, pushing his arm away from me. My hand went to my throat, the panicked beat of my heart ticking against my fingertips. A chill wind blew by and I crossed my arms over my chest.
“Come on.” He strode past me and opened the passenger door, holding a hand out to help me up.
I stared at his hand. I could still call a cab, still go home.
“Kyrie?” His tone was so gentle, though edged with the same need I felt in the deepest parts of me.
Say no, say no, say no.
“Please?” His features softened even more to the point he looked boyishly cute.
No woman could resist a look like that from a man like him.
Though it was foolish, and I was certain I would regret it, I took his hand.
Y HEART THUMPED
as I helped Kyrie up into the truck. She was tipsy from the wine and my hands slid across her hips and down her thighs as she climbed into the cab.
No panties. Fuck!
I glanced down at the tent formed in my jeans and scurried around to the driver’s side, adjusting my dick down the side of my leg before climbing in. My hands on her waist had sent blood straight to my cock, as if I wasn’t hard enough from the tit grab right before.
Climbing up into the driver’s seat, I noticed she was looking out the window and, as such, unable to observe my hard-on predicament. I tried to take my mind off her—an impossibility—in order to keep my pants from strangling my dick. Any sudden movements and a cock injury would be imminent.
I hit the gas. We sped off down the road, and Kyrie wouldn’t even look at me. Street lights passed and disappeared into the inky night. She kept staring out the window, refusing to engage.
What the fuck did I do?
This girl was so hard to get a read on. One minute we were hot and heavy, a little tit action, the next it was like I didn’t exist.
“You live nearby?” I’d have said anything to get her to look at me.
I was hoping for more than two words. I glanced to her dress snug on her thighs and then up the rest of her body before returning my eyes to the road. My cock twitched. “Family nearby?” I gulped.
She sighed. “No.”
Jesus, tough crowd.
“Braden and Nikki are pretty hot and heavy, yeah?”
Fucking gossip, Easton? Jesus you are desperate.
“Everything okay? You want me to drop you at your house?” Maybe if I tried another approach it would work, though taking her to her place was the last thing I wanted to do. Every inch of my dick begged me to fuck her, but every cell in my brain pleaded with me to make the right move. For the first time in my life, my brain was trumping my cock.
She rested her chin on her palm with her elbow on the door. “No, I don’t want to be rude. I told them we’d go. I’m sorry. Just, you know?” She waggled her finger next to her temple. “Headache from wine, and—” She stopped mid-sentence with the worst fake yawn I’d ever seen in my life. “Tired. It’s past my bedtime.”
I liked this girl a lot, but I wasn’t an idiot. It was the most atrocious acting I’d seen in a long time, and frankly, I wasn’t used to women trying to blow me off.
Wrong move, Kyrie.
I was competitive and did not intend to let the shit fly without making a statement.