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Choose Me

Book One of the Banger Trilogy


By Donya Lynne  


Choose Me©

Banger Trilogy

Copyright 2016 Donya Lynne

ISBN: 978-1-938991-38-7


This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment and may not be resold or distributed without the author’s express consent. Contact the author at donya@donyalynne.com.


References to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, persons, or locales, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Licensed material is being used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted in the licensed material is a model.


Contents

Author Note

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Did You Enjoy the Book?

Excerpt from Covet Me

Books By Donya Lynne

About the Author

Connect With Donya


Author Note

The Banger Trilogy is a rebrand of my former work published as the seven-book Banger Serialized Novel under the pen name Dick Hertz. If you've read those books, this is the same story, just with a new look.


There are several reasons I decided to rebrand this series as a trilogy, but it boils down to the fact that in today's publishing environment, authors experiment with new ideas. Some work, some don't. This was a case where the story itself was a success, but the experiment of how I branded it wasn’t, for reasons that were both out of my control and within it.


A word about the story itself:


The Banger Trilogy is a funny, sexy, twisting (and often blisteringly hot) tale filled with startling family secrets, jaw-dropping surprises, and one or two shocking revelations. There are cheating exes, emotional turmoil, and hard decisions to be made if a happy ending is in the cards for our hero and heroine.


I also wanted to turn the “big dick” trope on its head with the Banger Series. In romance books, we find a lot of heroes who are endowed with massive members, yet their “virginal” heroines can still manage to enjoy (often with multiple orgasms) those super shlongs the first time they have sex. Let's face it, real life doesn’t work that way. In real life, big dicks hurt, and a virginal maiden is more likely to be glad the ordeal is over than thrilled with all the orgasms she had. So I wanted to explore the concept of a big dick as a detriment, not a gift from God to make women swoon with arousal. In the Banger Trilogy, you’ll find a bit of comedy in the results of my big-dick turnabout, as well as some emotional mayhem.


Another literary device I wanted to play with in the Banger books was something called “Easter eggs,” which are subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) references made to other works, usually another book. But the reference can also be to a movie or song. Easter eggs are popular literary devices used more often than you might think, and they do not infringe on copyrights or licenses. I won't reveal the two popular romance stories I Easter egged in the Banger Trilogy, but readers of romance shouldn't have any trouble identifying them. And once you do, have as much fun finding all the Easter eggs as I did hiding them. Trust me, there are some you’re going to have to look for.


I hope you enjoy the new Banger rebrand. I’ve learned my lesson. From now on, I’ll stick to what I do best. No more experimenting for me.


Thank you for reading,

Donya




Banger

An unconventional love story for an unconventional couple.


The average human male penis reaches its mature size by the age of seventeen and has an average erect length of 5.1 inches and an average erect circumference of 4.8 inches.

This is the story of an above-average man.

A very above-average man . . .

. . . and the above-average woman who will change his life.


Chapter 1

Friday, April 7

Greyson

“Who jumps out of a perfectly good airplane?”

I turn from the window to glance at the thirtysomething brunette sitting beside me. She appears nervous, so I smile. My father always told me that smiles calm people down, and she looks like she needs a heavy dose of calm.

I lean toward her. “Apparently, we do.” I have to shout to be heard over the plane’s engines. “First time?”

She laughs nervously and nods. “First time solo. I’ve tandem jumped, though.”

She’s a local, and she has a strong accent. After two weeks in New Zealand, I’m starting to get used to it.

“Ah, so you’re a solo virgin.” I lift my chin and pop my eyebrows, remembering she was one of the few who raised their hands back at the base when the instructors asked who the first-timers were.

She sputters out a crisp laugh. “Yeah, that’s me, a solo virgin.” She presses her lips into a tight line then asks, “How many solo jumps have you done?” It’s obvious she’s trying to distract herself with small talk.

“This makes twenty-nine for me.”

Her eyes bulge. “Shit, mate, that’s a lot.”

I shrug indifferently. “I’ve been skydiving for eighteen years.”

“Does it get any easier?”

“Not really.” A person might get used to the nervous buildup and even come to appreciate the experience, but jumping out of a plane never gets easier. “Do it enough, though, and you might get addicted to the rush.” That’s certainly the truth for me.

She offers a polite, resigned smile, and I gaze back out the window.

We’re at fifteen thousand feet. Noah Logan, our Lake Taupo Skydiving instructor, told the group in our preflight briefing that the brain stops processing distance at two thousand feet, which is less than half a mile. At fifteen thousand feet, we’re almost three miles up. I squint at the ground. Does my brain really not comprehend how much farther that is than two thousand feet?

The propeller plane is loud enough to drown out the nervous laughter of those on board, some first-timers, most not. But everyone has tandem jumped. However, jumping solo versus jumping tandem is a whole different beast. When you’re solo, it’s all on you. There’s no one else to blame if you fuck up.

And if you fuck up at this distance, whether it looks like two thousand feet or fifteen thousand, it won’t matter. You’ll be nothing but a red splat on the grass.

Danger aside, nothing beats the tingling, electrifying adrenaline rush of freefalling at 125 miles per hour. Nothing except for maybe scorching hot sex.

But I wouldn’t know about that. I can’t honestly say I’ve ever experienced scorching hot sex. I can’t even say I’ve had boiling hot sex or even just hot sex. When you’re equipped with an erect dick that’s the equivalent of a baby elephant’s trunk, it limits what you can do in the bedroom. Hell, it limits not just what you can do, but who you can do, and how hard you can do it to them.

So, yeah, whoever said bigger is better can suck my dick.

That is, if they can get it inside their mouth.

And if they can, praise Jesus, because then I might actually get to have some fun with something other than my hand.

The brunette is nervously twisting her fingers together.

I lean into her, brushing her arm with mine. “You’ll be fine.” I give her a reassuring wink.

A fragile, slightly terrified laugh breaks from her throat before she drops her gaze to her knotted hands in her lap. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

I lay my hand over both of hers, gently squeezing. “Sure you can. Just think that you’re tandem jumping.”

This time, her laugh is more caustic. “But with tandem jumping, someone else is doing the actual jumping. I’m just along for the ride.”

“Touché.” I pull my hand away. “But hey, once you get through the actual jump, it’s all pretty much the same. You just have to remember to pull your rip cord. Other than that, enjoy the view.” I flash her another warm smile, trying to help her through her fear. She looks so vulnerable, as if she doesn’t want to let herself down. As if there is some deeper purpose to her insane desire to leap into thin air and plummet thousands of feet to the ground.

I shift in my seat and inch closer to her, leaning my head toward hers, which is about all I can do given how strapped in I am. I gently nudge her shoulder with mine and wait half a beat for her to look at me. “Do you mind me asking why you’re doing this if it scares you so much?”

People do things for all sorts of reasons, and, call it a hunch, but I’m starting to sense she’s got a personal agenda behind being here today. Maybe if I can get her thinking about why she’s doing this, she’ll find the courage to see it through.

Her face falls as her shoulders droop. She briefly closes her eyes and expels a heavy sigh. “I got divorced last year.” She says it like this is her reason for everything, not just the jump.

I immediately think of my father and stiffen. “I see.”

“My ex said I didn’t excite him anymore. That I was boring.” Her expression flattens. “I’m the same person he married four years ago, but now I’m boring. Can you believe that?”

I offer a weak smile. I barely know her, but any woman who jumps out of an airplane is anything but boring. “You’re going a long way to prove a point, don’t you think?” It’s an attempt at humor, and I hope she sees it that way.

She utters a short, bitter laugh. “Yeah, well, I’ve got a long way to go to prove to myself that I’m not what he says I am.”

“Why?”

“Because . . .” A shamed, hurt expression takes over her face. It’s the same look everyone who’s been cheated on wears at some point.

I rear back, my adrenaline spiking for a whole other reason that has nothing to do with jumping out of an airplane. “He didn’t . . .? Did he . . .?” I can’t even think the end of my question let alone say it.

She briefly closes her eyes, as if a great weight she’s been carrying far too long has grown even heavier, and then her gaze slides to mine as she nods. “He did.”

I swallow thickly, turn toward the window, and then clear my throat as I look down at my hands. They’ve curled into fists in my lap. “I’m sorry that happened to you.”

“It’s okay, I’ll get over—”

“No, it’s not okay.” I lock gazes with her again. “Cheating is never okay.”

The chivalrous knight residing inside my soul wants nothing more than to take this woman back to my hotel room and make love to her until she can no longer distinguish night from day. Until she can’t fathom what she ever saw in her lousy ex. But I’m not that cruel. The last thing she needs is my mammoth dick scarring her for life when she’s already in such a fragile state. And the last thing I need is another blow to my ego.

She sheepishly tilts her head to one side. “Pathetic, isn’t it? Thinking I could jump out of a plane and make all my problems disappear?”

“It’s not pathetic at all.” I take her hand and squeeze. “You’re daring to change your life’s course midstream. That’s incredibly courageous. Most people would give up.” I think of my father again. “They’d sink into depression and suffer, maybe even for the rest of their lives.” I force myself to brighten and push thoughts of my father aside. “But you . . .” My gaze dances over her face. “Look at you. You’re daring to be something else. You’re daring to defy your past and your ex-husband by going out and doing something completely new. Something totally insane. Something interesting.” I give her a wink. “Something like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.”

She lets out a brittle but modest laugh, her lashes fluttering. “You really think so?”

“Hell yeah. That’s gutsy. That’s exciting. Not even in the same zip code as boring.” This time her laugh is more honest and refreshing. “At the end of the day, the only person you have to face in the mirror is you, and all it takes is one step in a new direction to begin a journey toward new discoveries about yourself.”

Hope glitters in her green eyes as she nods more enthusiastically and tightens her fingers around mine. “You have no idea how badly I needed to hear that. Thank you.” She takes a deep breath and sits a little straighter, her shoulders back. “I needed to be reminded of why I’m doing this.”

“Glad I could help . . .” I leave the sentence suspended in the way people do when they’re looking for a name.

She tips her head to the side in acknowledgement. “Gail. My name’s Gail.” Her gaze darts to mine then coquettishly looks away.

“Nice to meet you, Gail. I’m Greyson.”

If only I weren’t such a nice guy, I could take her back to the Hilton for a quiet dinner . . . and then a nightcap in my room . . . and then I could leave New Zealand tomorrow morning with a big fat smile on my face. But, like I said, I’m not that cruel.

As the instructors tell us to get ready, I glance toward the front of the plane then back at her. “So, are you ready to do this?”

She lets out a shaky exhale but nods. “Yeah, I think so. Thanks to you.”

Gail is still holding my hand, and she’s got a death grip on it, but she no longer looks scared. Anxious and nervous, but not scared. More like she’s ready to do this so she can start the new journey she’s decided to embark on and see where it leads.

We’re approaching the drop zone and everyone’s adrenaline is pushing toward overflowing. One guy a few seats up from me throws up inside an airsickness bag. A woman in the front of the plane is laughing almost hysterically, her nerves finding an outlet in her laughter. Even I feel the anxious surge of chemicals in my blood.

No one is immune to the rush. I’ve made more jumps than anyone else on the plane—except for maybe Noah and the other instructors—and I still get caught up with adrenaline like everyone else.

Inherent danger keeps even the most seasoned jumper frosty. Every jump could be your last. Every trip from plane to earth could end in disaster. Until your feet hit the ground and your jump is safely over, anything can happen.

But that’s why I do this. I’ve got to get my kicks somewhere.

We’re over the drop zone, and Gail and I are moving forward in line as those in front of us fall away from the plane.

The line moves quickly, and before I know it, it’s our turn.

Gail goes first.

“Go get ’em, tiger,” I say.

She smiles, gives me a thumbs-up, closes her eyes as if she’s saying a quick prayer, and then lets out a startled scream followed by quickly fading manic laughter as gravity pulls her away from the plane.

My turn.

I crouch, lean forward, and gravity, along with the vacuum-like pull of air, does the rest.

I’m bathed in the dusky light of the late afternoon sun as I freefall toward the ground.

Euphoria explodes throughout my body as the adrenaline dumps by the bucketful into my blood. This is porn for adrenaline junkies, and I’m riding the mental hard-on like John Holmes.

I vaguely and irrationally wonder if the brain stops registering dick size at two-thousand feet, too.

_________

After returning to the five-star Hilton, I shower and pack for tomorrow morning’s flight then head down to the bar for one last nightcap. The lounge is all mahogany and dim lighting, with brown leather seating in front of the fireplace. A cozy fire flickers behind the glass grate.

I’m still high on adrenaline and not looking forward to the long flight home. Hopefully I can sleep through some of it. That’ll make it go faster.

Adjusting to the time difference is going to be a bitch once I get back to Denver. It’s currently five in the morning there. As in, five o’clock this morning. In a few hours, it will be Saturday in New Zealand. It won’t be Saturday in Denver for sixteen hours.

“Good evening, Mr. James,” purrs the pretty blond behind the bar as I take my seat at the end the way I’ve done every night for the past two weeks, at least on the nights I was here and not camping in the wilderness.

“Good evening, Rhian.” She’s worked all but one night I’ve been here. “You look like you got some sun.” The apples of her cheeks are pink, her skin rosier.

“I did.” Her eyes sparkle as if she’s happy I noticed. “Armagnac?” Rhian lifts the circular-shaped bottle and twists off the cap.

“Yes, please.”

She places a snifter in front of me and pours a portion of the honey-brown liquid into it. “Is this your last night in New Zealand?”

“That’s right.” I lift the snifter and swirl the liquid before taking a sip.

“That’s too bad.” She pouts flirtatiously. “You’re leaving just when we’re getting to know one another.”

I love the New Zealand accent. I especially like Rhian’s. She’s a lovely woman. Even prettier than Gail, my seat mate on the plane. Younger, perhaps twenty-five, with hair so blond it’s platinum, high cheekbones, and a pale-pink, heart-shaped mouth. Tonight, her hair is pulled back in a ponytail that extends to the small of her back and swishes side to side as she strolls away from me to wait on another customer.

I’d love to pull that ponytail while I fuck her. Just grab it and wrap it around my fist and crank her head back as I impale myself on her.

Jesus, can I even go ten minutes without thinking about sex?

An article in this month’s Men’s Health said that, contrary to what people have been saying for decades about men thinking about sex once every seven seconds, men only think about sex an average of thirty-four times a day, which is less than twice an hour.

Yeah, maybe if he’s getting lots of sweaty, satisfying sex. Me? Sex seems to be all I’ve got on the brain. I thought about boning Gail for half the flight. And then again once we got back on the ground. And then again right after I told her good-bye and wished her luck. Now I’m thinking about fucking Rhian.

Twice an hour my ass.

But hell, my fantasies are about the only action I’ve gotten for the past year. Not that I haven’t tried, and not that I haven’t had willing partners. I just haven’t had much luck finding a woman able to sheath the beast.

Rhian glances over her shoulder, catching me staring at her. She smiles.

I like her mouth. She has straight teeth, and it’s almost as enjoyable to watch her talk as it is to listen to her.

I’m going to miss Rhian.

She glides back to me like a graceful dancer and leans over the counter, clasping her hands and putting her weight on her forearms. Her breasts press together between her upper arms, revealing ample cleavage under a crisp, white button-up shirt with the top three buttons undone. “You know, I’m going to miss you,” she says, her voice low.

My inner hedonist perks up. “Funny, but I was just thinking the same thing about you.”

Her pale eyebrows rise. “You were?”

My gaze falls to her mouth. “Uh-huh.”

She glances toward the other bartender as if making sure he’s out of earshot then presses closer. “I get off in thirty minutes if you want to say a proper good-bye in private.”

My dick perks up, plumping behind the zipper of my slacks.

Rhian winks as she pushes away and sashays toward another customer, swishing her hips with a little more flair, because she knows I’m staring at her perfectly formed ass.

I hadn’t intended on doing anything reckless tonight. Something fraught with peril. Something like inviting a woman back to my room and taking yet another leap into the realm of potential carnal disappointment. But I can’t help myself. Like the rush I get from jumping out of a plane, I get off on the rush of the possibility that maybe this time I’ll find a woman who loves big dick and can handle it.

What’s more, Rhian is coming onto me. Heavily. As in, her eyes are reading all kinds of fuck me. And that shit’s overriding every rational thought warning me to return to my room alone. But I’m weak. It’s been too long since I’ve gotten properly laid—come to think of it, I’ve never been properly laid, given my enormous size—and I’m too much of an adrenaline junkie to say no.

Hell, if Gail had come on to me half as strong as Rhian, I’d already be taking the plunge inside her rapturous depths right now, fragile frame of mind or not, instead of sitting here at the bar, sipping my drink, and pondering Rhian’s odds of being up to the task.

A hundred says she won’t be able to take me.

I’ll take that bet, because what have I got to lose?

You know a man’s sex life is in pathetic shape when he starts taking bets against himself before he’s even made it to first base. Hell, before he’s even gone up to bat! But twenty years of enduring what I can only describe as mild PTSD after countless rejections over the size of my dick have turned me into one of Pavlov’s dogs. I’ve been conditioned to think defensively about sex. To create a contingency plan for failure, even while I’m still formulating my seduction.

Bigger is not always better. In fact, bigger is rarely better.

Bigger is a fast track to either going back to my room alone to jack off to fantasies of Rhian’s pretty pink mouth and straight teeth working up and down my cock or . . . making the same bad decision I’ve always made in hopes that the result will be different.

And what do you know? It looks like I’ll be opening door number two. Like someone who watches Titanic over and over in hopes that the ship won’t actually hit the iceberg and sink to the bottom of the ocean, I wait around until the end of Rhian’s shift then invite her back to my room.

The moment the door closes, she’s on me, and her mouth is as perfect as I imagined it would be, her tongue soft and warm as it slides over mine.

She helps me out of my shirt.

I help her out of hers.

All the while, we’re lip-locked and making our way, stumble-stepping and shuffling around furniture, to the bedroom.

She kicks off her shoes and wriggles out of her painted-on pants somewhere along the way, and she pulls me down on top of her as we fall onto the bed.

She’s wearing nothing but her matching pink and grey bra and panties. Women who match their underwear are classy, and Rhian’s stock just tripled. If she can manage to take all eleven inches of me without complaint, I might have to sell my company and move to New Zealand.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this.” She giggles seductively as I roll to a sitting position and pull her onto my lap. “I never sleep with the guests.”

I reach around and unsnap her bra with a flick of my fingers, toss it aside, and then pull the elastic band from her hair, letting it spill over her shoulders. “Is it against the rules?” I find those precious pale-pink lips with mine as her taut nipples tease my chest.

A breathy laugh spills from her throat. “No, but . . .” She lets me kiss her again. “I just don’t do this.”

Lying back on the bed, I pull her down on top of me, worrying that she still might not do this once she sees what’s waiting for her below my waist. I push her hair back so I can see her face. “So why are you doing it with me?”

She shrugs shyly. “I don’t know. You seem different. Nice.” Her teeth close over her bottom lip before she adds, “And you’re sexy as hell.” Her eyes twinkle as she takes in my face.

Nice is usually the kiss of death for a guy. Men cringe when women tell them they’re nice, because there’s always a nut-busting “but” that follows. “You’re a nice guy, but . . . I don’t want to see you anymore,” or “You’re a handsome guy, but . . . I just don’t like you that way,” or my personal favorite, “I like you, Greyson. You’re a nice guy, but . . . your dick is just too big.” I’ve heard one derivative or another of that letdown more times than I want to count, and, to be honest, I’m fucking fed up with it.

Yeah, nine times out of ten, I hate the word “nice.”

However, when a woman adds something as ego bolstering as “And you’re sexy as hell” behind her nice statement like Rhian just did, it has a whole different effect on a man.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a nice guy. I’m polite, say please and thank you, hold the door open to let the lady pass through first. My father raised me to treat women a certain way, and women respond in droves.

My problem isn’t in attracting women or turning them on, it’s in keeping them attracted and turned on once they get a load of my fifth appendage, which could qualify for its own zip code.

Which is why I’m really hoping this goes well with Rhian.

We kiss some more, all tongues and mouths, and I slip my hand inside her panties. She’s waxed smooth. She claims she doesn’t sleep with the guests, but with a bare pussy, she certainly seems ready for sex with someone, guest or not.

“Jesus, that’s sexy.” I don’t care if she’s telling the truth about not sleeping with the clientele. All I care about right now is her ability to take all of me whole, and I don’t care which orifice she can do it with.

Of course, just to be safe, I’ll be using the one lone condom that’s been in my wallet since the last time I tried to get with a woman. I know it’s not good to carry a condom around in my wallet, but I put it in there five months ago and forgot about it. Now it’s all that stands between me taking the plunge or using my fist to find my pleasure again. I just hope the damn thing doesn’t break.

I unfasten my belt and roll off the bed. It’s time for the big reveal. Time to find out whether Rhian can beat the odds.

I retrieve my wallet from the dresser. I pull out the condom and say a silent prayer. Undoing the snap and zipper, I let my pants drop to the floor and push down my undershorts, freeing my heavy cock.

Here goes.

I turn around, holding my breath.

Rhian’s eyes bulge. “Holy shit.” Her mouth falls open.

The familiar ache of disappointment slams into the back of my sternum, and I’m about to resign myself to another night of fisting it when I take a closer look at her face. It’s not fear in her eyes.

It’s hunger.

The tip of her tongue peeks out to wet the seam of her mouth. “You have porn cock.”

“Porn cock?” Hope stirs inside me at her reaction, and I tear open the cellophane packet and pull out the extra-large condom. It’s almost impossible to find condoms that fit me, but I’ve found a brand that works. It’s just been awhile since I’ve needed one, so I’m hoping the latex is still pliable enough not to split as I roll it on.

Rhian stretches into an inviting display of tantalizing breasts and bent legs, staring like a lust-drunk whore at what’s working between my legs. “Yeah. Porn cock. It’s long . . . and thick.” She bites her bottom lip, giving me a Cheshire grin.

Things are looking up.

“Have you ever had porn cock?” If she has and enjoyed it, that would be another good sign.

She bites her bottom lip. “Once.”

“And . . .?”

She’s practically panting. “It took a little getting used to, but once I did, oh my God! It was soooo good.” Her eyes open wide and roll back as she lets out a heavy, heated exhale.

This is going a lot better than I thought it would, and my whole body feels alive and tingly, just as it did when I leaped out of the plane earlier. I’m so excited I’m not sure I’m going to make it through the next sixty seconds without blowing my load. I’ve never been with a woman who looked at my dick the way Rhian is looking at it now. She doesn’t fear it. She wants it. If I hold out on her, I’m sure I could make her beg for it.

But I’m not in the mood to wait, even though I’d love to see a woman beg for my dick for a change. Talk about a novelty.

By some miracle, I get the condom on without breaking it—or coming—and I join her on the bed.

On the surface, I try to look like this sort of thing happens to me all the time, but on the inside, I’m about to boil over. In one defining moment, the night has gone from cautious defensiveness to all-out full-court press.

Her long legs lock around my hips as her right hand guides me inside her. She’s tight, and I have to take it slow, but holy hell to Jesus, after a few stops and starts and slow, gentle thrusts, I’m in. Not quite all the way, but farther than I’ve ever been before.

And we’re fucking.

Hell yes, we’re fucking.

And she likes it. She’s telling me to fuck her, fuck her harder.

I’m not going to last long, and what a shame that is. When you’ve waited all your life to eat a perfectly cooked beef wellington, you don’t want to be rushed to finish after enjoying only a couple small bites.

Rhian stops me, breathless and panting. “Fuck me from behind.”

I don’t want to fuck her from behind. I always fuck from behind, because it’s easier to get the deed done when I don’t have to see the woman grimace in pain, tears moistening her lashes, as she appears to be praying for the act to be over sooner rather than later. Tonight, I was hoping to fuck face-to-face for once, but Rhian is already turning over beneath me.

I’m still just so shocked this is even happening that all I can do is let her flip to her stomach and keep hammering my hips into her.

She’s crying out, but not in pain, and she’s really getting into it when she throws her head forward and slaps her palms against the brown leather headboard to give her leverage to press her ass back to meet my thrusts.

I was joking earlier about moving to New Zealand, but now I might have to reconsider.

I’m pounding away at her, my muscles growing tight in that way I know means I’m going to come soon, when I notice the band of pale skin that circles the base of her left ring finger.

No.

Please God, no.

I’m on the verge of coming, but I go stark still.

Her head snaps up as she ruts against me. “Don’t stop.” She’s breathing hard, her voice filled with desperation. “Why are you stopping?”

As badly as my body wants oxygen, I can’t breathe. “Are you . . .” I swallow bile. “Are you married?”

She freezes and sucks in her breath as she drops her left hand to the mattress and stares at it for a second before shoving it under a pillow, which is more than enough confirmation for me.

My cock instantly begins to wither, and I pull out of her.

“It’s not what you think,” she says, spinning around to protest.

I’m already climbing off the bed. “Are you married or not?”

“Yes, but—”

“Then it is what I think.” I toss her bra and panties at her. “I’m not going to fuck another man’s wife, Rhian.” Blue balls be damned.

She huffs but starts pulling on her panties. “You already were.”

“Not by choice. If I’d known, I never would have invited you to my room.” Not once in two weeks have I seen a wedding band on her finger or heard her mention a husband.

After what happened to my father, I refuse to be a party in destroying a marriage. For Rhian to take advantage of me like that—for her to trick me into thinking she was single so I would sleep with her—pisses me off. My stomach roils, and I feel like I might throw up. With each passing second, I grow angrier.

She pulls on her bra. “It doesn’t change the fact that you were, in fact, fucking me, Greyson. We could have at least finished.” Her voice has gone from coy and playful to haughty and contemptuous. She snatches her shirt off the floor as I head to the bathroom. “You could have at least postponed your trip to moral high ground until after you got me off.”

I roll the condom off my cock and slam dunk it in the trash can. What a waste of a good condom. Damn things are hard to find in my size, so they’re like gold. I don’t know what makes me angrier: that she’s married and fucking around on her husband, that she just made me waste one of my precious rubbers, or that I finally found a woman who could handle my monstrous member only to learn that it was all just lies and deceit.

Up until the moment I saw the tan line from her wedding band, this was the most intensely exciting sexual experience I’ve ever had.

“Is this some kind of game for you?” I pull on a pair of flannel pajama pants while she finishes getting dressed amid an invisible cloud of frustration. “Some kind of fuck-the-guests competition between you and the other bartenders?” My blood boils, and I’m beyond giving a shit if I hurt her feelings. “Do you just sit around waiting for someone like me to come in to take advantage of?”

She glares at me but doesn’t say anything.

“Do you take off your wedding ring every night and play with men’s emotions like that? Like they mean nothing to you? Or is it just to get bigger tips?”

She frowns and looks at the floor. “I told you, I don’t normally do things like this.” At least she’s starting to look remorseful.

“So it’s the tips. If your intention isn’t to fuck the men you come on to, then it’s to ply more money out of them. Except tonight I got to be the exception. How special for me and your husband.” I take off my watch and toss it on the nightstand, turning away from her.

Neither of us says anything, and I refuse to look at her. The heart-shaped lips I couldn’t get enough of less than an hour ago are a poisonous trap full of gut-twisting lies. I don’t want to look at those lips and be reminded yet again of how much of a failure I am in all things love and relationships.

To her, tonight was probably all about having fun. But for me, it was so much more, because I’d finally found a woman who liked big dick. And not only liked it, but craved it. For once, my dick hadn’t felt like a curse, and I’m more devastated by finding out she’s married than I want to admit.

After a long, silent moment, she sighs. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would matter.” Her voice is small and fragile. At least she’s ditched her accusatory tone. Small consolation in light of the pain gnawing at the inside of my chest.

I scowl over my shoulder at her. “Maybe it didn’t matter to you, but it mattered to me. Did you ever stop to think about that?”

Her mouth falls open.

“And if it doesn’t matter,” I continue, “why take off your wedding ring at all. At least let the guys you go after know who you are. At least be honest about that much.”

She looks like a chastised little girl. Tears glisten in her eyes. “Look, I said I’m sorry.”

“Just go.” I turn away.

Her eyes meet mine in the mirror and hold for a long, silent moment, and then without another word she turns and leaves the bedroom. A few seconds later, I hear the door to the suite open then close with a quiet click. Only then do I let out the breath I’ve been holding and allow myself to fall ass-first onto the bed. I drop my face into my hands, shaking my head.

Anguish rips out my heart, and anger pisses in the cavity left behind by the gaping hole.

There’s only one thing I hate more than hurting a woman during sex, and that’s finding out that the woman coming onto me or in my bed is married, engaged, or has a boyfriend. That’s a total dick killer. I promised ages ago, after what happened between my parents, that the one thing I would never do was sleep with another man’s woman. Just the thought makes my stomach turn.

I lie back and stare up at the ceiling, my sac throbbing with one hell of a case of blue balls. Lucky me.

Will my luck ever change?

Not tonight.

And, at this rate, maybe never.


Chapter 2

Thursday, June 1

Katherine

Something’s wrong with the company’s sales numbers. According to the quarterly reports, Freedom’s sales have gone up in the Southwest region, but profits have gone down. Not a lot, but enough for me to notice. Since I don’t recall an abnormal rise in expenses, this doesn’t make sense. Then again, I’m not the CFO. And since Elliott hasn’t warned me about anything out of the ordinary, I’m left to wonder if someone’s made an accounting error.

I start to shoot Elliott an e-mail only to be interrupted by my ex-husband’s signature knuckle rap on my door. Without waiting for me to invite him into my office, he strolls inside.

“Dad!” Christian and Rose leap from the round conference table in the corner where they’ve been reading, coloring, and playing video games all morning, waiting for their dad to arrive.

“Hey, guys!” Phil crouches and hugs them each in turn. “You ready to spend summer in California?”

Christian nods. “I get to surf this year!”

I told Christian he wasn’t allowed to surf until he was twelve. He turned twelve this past January, so it’s been all things surfing ever since. He’s been snowboarding, skateboarding, and skiing since he could walk, so he and I both hope the transition from land to water won’t be too difficult. I just don’t like the idea of him in the ocean. That has more to do with me than him. As much as I love looking at the ocean, the idea of being in it or on it dredges up an irrational fear inside me that turns my knees to mush and my heart into a racing engine.

“I’m hungry!” Rose’s eyes dazzle in that way they do when she’s pouring on the charm in hopes of getting ice cream.

Phil issues me a scornful glance, arching one eyebrow. “You two haven’t eaten lunch, yet?” He says it as if I’m to blame.

“You’re two hours late, Phil,” I remind him, pointedly glancing at the clock. “You were supposed to be here at eleven so you could take them to lunch, remember?” I frown as I catch the scent of his cologne. It’s something new, something I’ve never smelled on him before, and it’s a little disgusting—a little too fruity or floral—but if he likes the way it smells, it’s Mia’s nose that gets to wrinkle when he sprays it on, not mine. Thank God.

“Yes, I remember, Kate.” He snaps my name like he’s shooting a gun with a silencer attached to it. “But when I was late, you should have fed them.”

I stand and press my palms against the cool, polished wood of my desk. “If you would have called to let me know you were running late, I would have.”

Phil’s jaw tenses. “I—”

“Stop fighting.” Christian mopes back to the table and starts halfheartedly shoving his things into his backpack. “You’re always fighting.”

I hate that my kids have to see me like this. I don’t like arguing with Phil in front of them, but he brings out the worst in me.

It wasn’t always this way between us, but finding out he had a lover—or was that lovers?—while we were married destroyed any semblance of trust and compassion I once felt for him. I doubt I’ll ever know the extent of his cheating, but I’m certain Mia wasn’t the only woman he cheated on me with.

I’d love to find a way to fire Phil, but he’s one of Freedom’s best salesmen, and my dad has made me promise not to fire him just because our marriage fell apart. But Dad retires tomorrow, and as of Monday, I’ll officially take over as CEO of Freedom Cycle. Decisions about personnel will be my call, and even though I’ve promised not to boot Phil without good cause, it doesn’t mean I won’t find good cause once I’m running the ship. Then all bets are off.

My father has always been a lot more understanding of my ex than I am. His patience with Phil was—and still is—enough for both of us. Then again, I got my mom’s temperament, which carried more fire than my dad’s.

At least Phil rarely visits the office now that he lives in California with the woman—one of the women—he cheated on me with, which makes dealing with him a little easier. He only finds his way back to Denver three or four times a year.

Today is one of those times.

I glare at Phil then force a smile as I join Christian and Rose at the table and help them load up their backpacks. Then I hand Christian the keys to my car. He’s the older of the two and usually gets the task of watching over his little sister. “Why don’t you and your sister go out and grab your things from my car while I talk to your dad for a couple of minutes? Okay?”

“You’re not going to fight again, are you?” he asks.

“No, honey. I just want to talk to him alone. Work stuff. Now go on and look after your sister while I finish up in here.”

It’s not all a lie. I do want to talk to Phil about his sales figures, but I can’t promise we won’t get into another argument.

The kids don’t know the truth about their dad. I’ve made it a point not to talk about his infidelity around them, and I told Phil not to, either, but I think Christian is beginning to suspect the truth. He’s a pretty smart kid, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s putting two and two together. Damn Phil for making my kids grow up so fast. I’d hoped to keep them innocent longer than this.

Once Christian and Rose leave my office, Phil closes the door.

“You look good, Kaykay.”

Kaykay was his nickname for me while we were married because of my initials. Katherine Kelley. But I finally changed back to my maiden name, Clayton, two weeks ago, and he knows that. No doubt he’s trying to get a rise out of me.

He sits in one of the two wing chairs on the other side of my desk and rests his ankle over his knee. His gaze rakes me from head to breasts to waist and back up.

He’s definitely trying to get a rise out of me.

“Cut the crap, Phil. And don’t call me Kaykay anymore. It’s K.C. or Kate to you, but not Kaykay.”

“Whatever. You still look good. Can’t I compliment my ex-wife?”

“No.” Sick bastard.

We’ve been divorced almost six years, but he still comes on to me like we’re married. Does he really think I’m going to sleep with him given our history? Or is this just his way of trying to intimidate and exercise control over me. He always did enjoy using sex as a weapon. Something I didn’t realize until after our divorce, when I opened my naïve eyes and took a good, long look at our marriage.

He sighs and relaxes into the chair, folding his hands over his stomach, looking at me like I’m as much a bane to his existence as he is to mine.

I sit back down and toss the hard copy of the latest quarterly report across the desk for him to look at. “What’s going on in your territory?”

He picks up the report and scans it, frowning. “What’s this?”

“The numbers for the last quarter.”

He scowls at the report like it’s written in a foreign language then tosses it back onto my desk. “I’m in sales, not finance. What exactly is your point?”

“The numbers are off for your region, Phil. Sales are up, profits are down.”

“So?”

“So? I need to know what’s going on.”

“How am I supposed to know? Ask Elliott.” He scowls contemptuously at me, and I can almost hear his thoughts. He’s not used to being questioned and doesn’t understand why I’m all up in his business.

While my dad is a brilliant businessman, numbers aren’t his forte. He preferred glad-handing and visiting customers to reviewing financial reports, so he left all the accounting to Elliott’s department. I’m more of a numbers person, which means not only will Elliott get to see a lot more of me than he did of my father when I officially take over next week, but Phil and the other salespeople will, too, if their numbers fall off the way Phil’s have.

I huff out a heavy sigh and lean back in my chair. Questioning Phil directly about his sales probably just let the cat out of the bag that Dad’s going to be stepping down soon, but I’m angry, so I’m taking my frustration over the numbers out on Phil.

“I will ask Elliott, you can count on it.” I swipe the report back and drop it to the side.

“Is that it? Is that all you’ve got for me?” Phil pushes forward in his seat, poised to rise. “Can I go now?” He says it like I’m a prison warden and he’s just been released from jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

I don’t answer him. “Christian and Rose are probably waiting, and all they’ve eaten since breakfast is a banana and some yogurt I scrounged from the refrigerator in the break room, so make sure they eat a good lunch. No ice cream until after they’ve eaten.”

He rolls his eyes. “Jesus, Kate, I know how to feed my own goddamn kids. You act as though I’m completely incapable of taking care of them.”

“Just make sure they eat something good, Phil.” I know if I don’t stress this, he’ll probably just pump them full of whatever they ask for, and I don’t want them boarding a jet in a few hours hopped up on greasy fast food and hot fudge sundaes.

He curses and clenches his fists on the arms of the chair then pushes himself to a standing position. “If you’re so goddamn concerned about my parenting skills, why do you even let the kids come stay with me during their summer vacation?” He marches toward the door then stops with his hand on the doorknob, growing violently quiet. “Oh that’s right,” he hisses, turning blazing, narrowed eyes on me. “You want the kids out of your hair for the summer so you can whore yourself all over Denver while they’re gone.”

I explode out of my chair. “Excuse me!” I think I just ruptured a blood vessel.

He spins to face me. “Don’t deny it, Kate. I’ve heard what you do during your summers without the kids. About the men you date while the kids are gone.” He says the word date like he’s slapping me in the face with it. “How every summer, you hook up with some random guy, spend the summer fucking him, and then break it off when the kids come home so they don’t find out what a slut you are.”

I don’t know how he knows all this, but I circle my desk like a one-woman stampede and slap him across the cheek before he knows what hit him. “They are not random guys, and I do not spend the summer fucking them.” That’s a little white lie, but what I do or don’t do—whether sexual or not—stopped being any of Phil’s concern the day our divorce was finalized. “And even if I were, it’s none of your business, you hypocrite. How dare you judge me! You. The one who cheated on me all over California, Arizona, and God knows where else. I still don’t know how many women you fucked around with while you were supposed to be married to me.” I slap my open palm on my chest. “But I know it was more than just Mia.” Mia Dawson. His live-in girlfriend. The tramp he had an affair with. No wonder he insisted on visiting the California territory as often as he did during the last two years of our marriage. “So don’t you dare preach to me about who I can and can’t sleep with, Phil. At least I’m not doing it in front of the kids.”

“And that’s supposed to makes you a saint? I don’t want that shit around my children, Kate.” He always refers to them as his kids when we argue, as if I had nothing to do with their birth or their upbringing.

“Well, I didn’t want infidelity around our kids, either, Phil, but that didn’t stop you from bringing it into our home, shattering my trust, and destroying my life, so fuck you and what you do or don’t want! You don’t have a say in my life anymore. If I want to fuck every man in Colorado, that’s my business, not yours, so fuck off.”

Guilty menace simmers inside Phil’s burning gaze the way it always does when I hit him with the truth of what he did and how it affected me. I think there is a grain of remorse hidden deep inside him somewhere, or maybe he just knows he’s a complete and unredeemable asshole and wishes he weren’t. It doesn’t really matter. We’ve hit a stalemate in our argument and are glaring silently at each other.

Finally, he yanks open the door. It slams against the wall. “Do whatever you want, Kate. I don’t give a shit.” He storms out without another word.

My assistant stares wide-eyed and pale-faced as he passes her desk. It’s apparent she heard the whole argument. Every awful word.

Raw anger rises within me, but I force it down as I follow him. I’m not going to let him leave with Christian and Rose before I’ve said good-bye to them, and I can’t say good-bye when angry adrenaline is raging like the bulls of Pamplona through my body.

Outside, the kids are waiting next to my car, their faces buried in one of their video games. When Christian looks up, he frowns sadly.

“You guys fought again, didn’t you? You told me you weren’t going to fight.” He scowls at me, and guilt rankles the skin on my back. I’m sure my red-mottled face is the dead giveaway to what happened between Phil and me while he and Rose waited out here in the parking lot. I always get blotchy with hives when I’m pissed off. Like I’m allergic to anger or something.

“I’m sorry, honey.” I sigh and pick up his and Rose’s suitcases while Phil retrieves his rental car. “I didn’t mean to. But just because your dad and I have a hard time getting along doesn’t mean we both don’t love you and that you’re not going to have a great time in California this summer.”

“Will she be there?” Rose asks, wrinkling her nose.

Neither Christian nor Rose are particularly fond of Mia, either, but not because of anything I’ve said to them.

“Yes, Mia will be there. She lives with your dad, remember? And I want you to be nice to her.” Just because I can’t stand the woman doesn’t mean my kids can behave like they weren’t raised with good manners.

“Are they going to get married?” Christian does the nose-wrinkling thing, too.

“I don’t know, honey. Maybe.” I’m surprised they’re not married after being together for six years. Eight years, actually, counting the two-year affair they had before our divorce. Then again, maybe that’s how they both like it. This way, they’re both free and clear to screw around with whomever they want without having to go through a nasty divorce if things don’t work out.

Phil pulls his rental car up behind my red Audi A4 and pops the trunk. A Dodge Charger? Really? I should have known. He always rents muscle cars. Chargers, Challengers, Camaros, Mustangs. His company car is a Chevy Impala, so he uses car rentals as an excuse to have a little fun. I swear to God, if Phil’s dick wasn’t as big as it is, I’d think he was compensating for a small weenie.

He clambers out from the driver’s seat and wordlessly helps me load the kids’ luggage into the trunk.

“Is that everything?” Phil asks, glancing between Christian and Rose, avoiding my gaze.

I check the trunk and back seat of my car again just to be sure we didn’t miss anything. “That’s all of it.”

“Good, then let’s go.” Phil opens the back passenger door for Rose.

She starts to climb inside but I rush forward. “Hey, wait. Not before I hug you good-bye.”

Rose stops and turns back around, holding out her arms. I swoop in and give her a tight squeeze.

“I’m gonna miss you guys.” And I will. Despite my less than matronly plans for the summer, I’m going to miss my kids like crazy.

I hug Christian, marveling at how big he’s getting. By the time he comes home, he’ll probably have grown another two inches.

“You be careful out there surfing,” I say, kissing his cheek. “And send me lots of pictures, okay?”

He nods. “Okay.”

“Promise?”

He smiles sheepishly and nods. “Yeah, Mom, I promise.”

As they climb into the car, I stand back and hug myself. Those are my babies, and even though I’ve said good-bye to them this way every summer for the past six years, it doesn’t get any easier.

“I love you,” I say, leaning down and peering inside the open windows, blowing them kisses.

“Love you, Mom!” they both call back, waving, as Phil begins to pull away.

I straighten and fight back tears, watching them go.

They’ve driven less than twenty feet when I hear Phil shout, “Who wants ice cream?”

He’s such an asshole.

I know he’s watching me in the rearview mirror, but I won’t give him the satisfaction of reacting. I bite my tongue, suck it up, and smile. Because I know that he’s the one who’s going to have to deal with the tummy aches, hyperactivity, and grouchy sugar crash on the plane in a few hours. He’ll learn. One way or another, he will.

When the Charger pulls out of sight a few seconds later, I spin for the door.

I’m still holding in a lot of pissed-off frustration, and I need to talk to Elliott about those sales numbers.

And who the hell told Phil how I spend my summers?

I haven’t exactly made my summer affairs a secret. The men I’ve dated have shown up at the office. They’ve attended our company picnics. And then they stop coming around as soon as my kids return at the end of summer—because I break up with them the week before my kids come home. It’s not hard to guess how someone might have deduced what I’ve been up to every summer since the divorce, but I don’t go around bragging about how much sex I’m having. For all my coworkers know, I’m dating and that’s it. Who would blab to Phil about that?

I return to my office, snatch the financial reports from the front edge of the desk where Phil dropped them, and march in the direction of Elliott’s office.

I wanted someone to take my frustration out on regarding these numbers, and poor Elliott’s the one who’s going to feel it. I’ll try not to be too hard on him, because he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, and his wife is battling ovarian cancer and isn’t handling the treatment well. I can certainly relate to how it feels to watch a family member suffer from cancer, but Elliott is the CFO, and I need answers. If he can’t get them for me, no one can.

But more than anything, I need to keep moving, and I need to keep my mind busy. Between my dad’s retirement, my changing role in the company, Phil’s insults, the idea of my kids being out of my sight for two months, and the fact that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to go through with my summer fling this year, it’s a wonder I’m still able to stand.

I’m an overwhelmed mess, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

Unbeknownst to me, I don’t realize how much worse, but by the end of summer, my world is going to be turned on its head.



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