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Excerpt for Caught (Prequel to Hawk) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


CAUGHT

(Prequel to HAWK)

By Jo Raven





The moment I met HAWK, I was CAUGHT.

That was the night my boyfriend called me frigid in front of everyone at my favorite restaurant, and Jamie Hawk Fleming came to the rescue. Casually as you please, he proposed an arrangement: no attachments, no feelings. Only hot, awesome sex.

That’s fine with me. I want to get over the humiliation my ex-boyfriend caused me, prove to myself I’m not frigid, and—let’s be serious, who can say no to a mouthwateringly handsome young millionaire? It’s surely an experience, right? Even if he doesn’t want to be my boyfriend, just my fuckbuddy.

I’m perfectly fine with that.

If only my head—and my heart—didn’t have other ideas…



Read on and find out what happens next in HAWK (Sex and Bullets #2).





CAUGHT (Prequel to HAWK)

Jo Raven

Copyright Jo Raven 2016

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author. The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, events, is coincidental and not intended by the author.



Cover art: Jo Raven







Chapter One





Chance Connor is the greatest asshole alive.

Also, as of now, he’s my very EX-boyfriend.

And good riddance. He cheated on me, has been cheating on me for a while, in fact, and I have only just found out—tonight, at our two year first date anniversary, in my favorite Italian restaurant.

Did he sit down and quietly tell me what was bothering him? Did he explain to me that our relationship wasn’t working for him anymore?

No. But his other girlfriend showed up and so he decided that it was a good time to break up with me. A good time to explain how he can’t be with me because I am such a lousy lay.

In front of everyone.

“Sorry, Layla,” he says, without a single hint of contrition on his suddenly loathsome face, “but I can’t waste my time teaching you how to act in bed. You’re frigid. Good sex is important to me. I’m done.”

I’m in too much shock to cry, or scream, let alone string words together and reply with anything resembling coherence. Hands curled into aching fists in my lap, I’m still sitting right where I was when the skank he has been dating arrived and grabbed Chance’s arm, then told me how he’s been with her for a year now, and that it’s for real.

That I should give him up because his heart belongs to her.

A year. The thought he left my arms to slip into hers day after day for all this time makes me want to puke.

Finally, Chance stops talking, and there’s a ringing silence in the restaurant. I feel the eyes of the customers on me, burning small question marks and pity holes through my flesh.

God, I don’t think I’ve ever hated a guy so much in my life.

My knees are knocking together, but I brace my hands on the table and stand up. “Go,” I say, not sure what I should be saying, what smartass reply I could have given. “Go away. Now. Leave.”

He gives me a pitying look, like he just realized how much worse I am than he originally thought. “Come on, Layla, don’t take it so hard.”

“Hard?” I laugh, and it sounds crazed, so I stop. “You freaking two-timing bastard. Get out!”

I start toward him around the table, not sure if I want to scratch my nails down his face or beat him up with my fists, or maybe start on the skank beside him—when a shadow falls over us.

Quite literally. Because the guy who has just approached our table has to be six foot five, give or take an inch. I have no idea what he thinks he’s doing, so I glance toward him and open my mouth to tell him to get lost, too.

And I go completely still.

I can’t help it. He’s easily the most handsome man I’ve ever seen, in real life or in magazines, with his short, blond hair, those sharp cheekbones and steely eyes, and the body of a line-backer, tall and broad-chested.

He’s dressed in a sleek, expensive gray suit that shimmers where the light catches it, like silver. His pale stubble glints like gold dust. He narrows his eyes at me, then his full mouth lifts in a smirk and he turns to Chance.

“Man, I wanna thank you,” he drawls, shoving his big hands in the pockets of his dress pants. “This was awesome.”

Chance stares at him.

I gape. His words are like a dash of cold water.

Oh my God. He approves of what Chance did? Of how he broke up with me, and of the things he said… holy crap, did he hear what Chance said about me being frigid?

I want the earth to open up and swallow me.

I want to put Chance and this guy together and kick them in the nuts.

I want to run away.

“Who the hell are you?” Chance mutters, glancing at the skank and back at the guy.

“Oh, did I forget to introduce myself? My name is Hawk. Jamie Hawk Fleming.” The guy lifts a pale brow, and God, that name is familiar, but I can’t place it right now, with my heart racing and the scorching burn of humiliation traveling up my neck. “And like I said, I wanna thank you for breaking up with this girl tonight, in this restaurant, because I’ve been watching her since she arrived and wishing she’d be free to have dinner with me.”

“What the fuck?” Chance’s face has gone red. A thick vein is pulsing at his neck, like it does whenever he gets mad.

The noise of the restaurant fades away. The room recedes, leaving only the beautiful, tall stranger and his unexpected words.

He turns to me and leans over the table, offering me his hand. “Shall we, then?”

“Are you serious?”

He hums and nods, those blue-gray eyes twinkling. I put my hand in his, mesmerized by the way his fingers engulf mine, and let him pull me to his side.

“Hey man, you can’t do this,” Chance is saying, taking two steps toward us, dragging the still unnamed girl behind him. “Layla? You can’t just let a fucking stranger take you—”

“It’s just dinner,” the man says, his hand still wrapped around mine, his palm rough and hot. “And you broke up with her.” He pauses, gives Chance a condescending look. “Not that she ever belonged to you, or with you. Not a girl like her.”

My jaw has officially hit the floor. Who is this guy?

His arrogant confidence stops Chance like a physical barrier, like a punch to the chest. I can see how Chance struggles with indecision, with anger, and I wonder what his issue is. Like this man just said—this Hawk Fleming or whatever—Chance broke up with me. Why isn’t he just walking away?

It’s as if he’s suddenly jealous at any man showing any token interest in me. Or maybe at this man, who’s so obviously rich and better-looking.

It’s disgusting, and I make a sound of distress before I can help it. I feel sick. Sick that Chance would throw me away, slander me publicly, and then think he has any claim on me.

“You look beautiful,” Hawk tells me, lifting my hand to his lips, and even if it’s just for show, I shiver at the brush of his soft lips over my fingers.

And I’m also glad, because Chance’s face darkens so much he may well stroke out, and then he turns on his heel and leaves, the woman whose name I’ve yet to catch giving me a baleful glare before stalking after him.

Leaving me alone with this guy, and with the eyes of everyone in the restaurant still on us—curious, judging, pondering.

I hope it was fun for them, because honestly, I’m pretty shaken right now as the pieces of the evening fall around me like raindrops, revealing holes—in my life, in my plans for the future.

Because I’d somehow thought Chance and I would move in together soon. That I’d finally meet his parents. Build a life together.

I don’t know for him, but for me two years is a big deal.

Was. Was a big deal.

Oh my God, we’re done, and he was freaking awful, and that woman…

The air is stuck in my throat, and my vision is all blurry, so when Hawk grips my chin and turns my face toward him, I barely see him. He’s a hazy, beautiful outline of a man, until I blink and his bright gaze becomes clear once more.

“Okay?” he says. Only that, and waits for my reply.

I nod. I mean, what else can I do? He salvaged as much of my pride as possible, salvaged my night, and no matter how scattered and hollow I’m feeling, the thought of sitting close to this guy is making my face warm.

“Then this way, please,” he murmurs and leads me away to a table by one of the bay windows overlooking the harbor. His steps are heavy, his gait powerful, his grip on my hand just shy of painful. “I was about to order.”

And I was about to die of shame and anger and the shards of my life falling around me, and he saved me.

My heart trips over as he takes a seat across from me.

A waiter comes to bring me a leather-bound menu, and bows to Hawk with a murmured, “Mr. Fleming.”

That’s when it hits me and I know who he is, turning the evening from weird to surreal.

My head spinning, I open the menu blindly. “No way,” I whisper.

Jamie Hawk Fleming. Heir to the Fleming Empire.

Is this for real? Is he playing a prank? Am I dreaming? Oh my God, nobody pinch me, okay? If it’s a dream, I want it to last.



***



“So… you like artichokes?”

“What?” I’ve been staring at his hands. They’re resting on the table. Big, strong, with blunt fingernails.

“Artichokes.” He tilts his head to the side and one side of his mouth tips up. “That what you ordered, right? Spaghetti alla chitarra con carciofi e bottarga.” At my clearly confused look, his smile goes up a notch. “Pasta with artichokes and fish roe.”

Oh God. Of course he’d know Italian. I wonder how many languages he speaks. How many sports he excels at.

So I just nod frantically. “Yeah, that’s right.”

That what you wanted?”

Crap, no. But I paste a smile on my face. “Oh yes.”

I can’t even remember ordering, let alone what I picked out.

He chuckles, and rolls his eyes a little, and it’s… sexy. How on earth is that possible? He scratches at his stubbled chin and I want to beg for the job.

Please, let me help you scratch that golden stubble… Let me stroke down that long, corded neck to the powerful shoulders that look out of place encased in that tailored suit, the narrow waist and those long legs…

I was just making sure.” God, that chuckle, that grin is setting my panties on fire. Isn’t that wrong, five minutes after my boyfriend broke up with me?

Then Hawk shrugs off his jacket, draping it over the back of his chair, and holy crap, Hawk in a tailored shirt is so much better.

Not as good as he has to be without any clothes on, but it’s an improvement. And God, I’m staring.

At the Fleming Empire heir, who did me a kindness and brought me to his table so that I didn’t walk out of here with my face on fire and my pride in shambles.

“I, um. I wanted to thank you.” I fiddle with the coaster of my water glass. “For this. You didn’t have to step in and rescue me, but I do appreciate it.”

His gaze slides over me, hot, stopping at my mouth. “I’ll admit, I’m selfish. I really wanted to have dinner with you. I was fucking glad when I realized he was out of the picture.”

And now I am half outraged and half pleased.

Because he didn’t do it to save me, or so he claims.

But he wanted to have dinner with me, and I can’t help the rush of heat at the thought he was really observing me from afar, wishing I sat down with him.

“Well, I’m here now.”

“You sure are.” He holds my gaze as the waiter approaches us with an ice bucket. He places it beside us, takes out a chilled bottle of wine and presents it to Hawk who nods. “Right here.”

His voice is warm, and strangely it makes me shiver.

He is offered a drop of wine to taste it and he just waves at the waiter who hurries to pour us two full glasses, replaces the bottle in the ice bucket, and walks away.

I barely notice him go.

“To tonight?” Hawk suggests, lifting his glass, and I raise mine, on autopilot. “To meeting you.”

“To tonight,” I whisper and swallow down my wine like water.

And whoa, it tastes good.

“Thirsty?” He raises a brow and reaches for the bottle. “I’m kinda thirsty myself.”

My face flames. He pours more wine for both of us, and I order myself not to take another sip, even if I’m so frigging nervous my fingers are tap-dancing on the table.

What am I doing? What are we doing? Is he flirting with me? Seriously flirting, or just passing his time? Maybe he does that with any girl who crosses paths with him.

Maybe his date stood him up?

“You eat here alone?” I blurt out, before I decide I shouldn’t ask. “I mean, you came here alone? I—”

“It was supposed to be a business dinner,” he says, glancing down at his shirt and pants with what looks like distaste. “My partner canceled.”

“Partner?”

“Business partner.” He winks at me over the rim of his glass. “Business meeting.”

Why does the way he says all this make me hot?

Okay, scratch that. Anything he says makes me hot. The guy’s a god. What the hell am I doing, sitting here with him?

“You work?” He puts his glass down, reaches up and undoes the top button of his shirt. Yeah… is it too warm in here? “Or study?”

“Study.” I drag my tongue over my lips, desperate for moisture, and tear my gaze away. “Publishing.”

“Sounds interesting,” he says, but when I turn back toward him, I find that his gaze is fixed on me. “Publishing novels or nonfiction?”

“Both.”

In fact, his gaze is fixed on my cleavage, I discovered when I follow it. I’ve dressed in a dress I bought a few months ago in New York, when I was visiting my mom. It’s a vintage cut, knee-length, with a deep cleavage showing off my boobs. I don’t have a great ass, like my friend Dorothy, but my boobs are good-sized. I used to like them, before Chance said one day that they were too big.

I wonder what Hawk is thinking, and crap, my nipples are tightening under his scrutiny. I like that he’s looking at me like that, especially when he glances up, meeting my eyes for a fleeting second, and gives me a wolfish grin.

“God, you’re sexy,” Hawk rasps, and hey, can I have him for dessert, please? No need to wrap him, I’ll take him to go.

“So are you,” I admit, though it costs. I swear the skin on my cheeks is blistering.

His gaze dips to my boobs again, then does a slow slide up my neck to my flaming face and he licks his lips.

Holy crap.

Never felt this way with a guy before. This insta-lust, this heat between my legs just from staring at this bulging biceps in that fine shirt, the small dimple in his chin, the long, pale lashes and thick brows over those ice-blue eyes.

“How badly do you want those artichokes?” he asks, and I blink at him, lost. “Is it like, a craving you need to fulfill no matter the cost, or…?”

What?

“I don’t like artichokes,” I blurt, and clap a hand over my mouth, because holy crap, Lay, exerting some control over your mouth might be a good thing. “I mean, I can go without.”

“Good. I’m not that hungry after all.” He’s looking at me, at my face, as if trying to read me. “I’d much rather taste you.”

Silence stretches between us. I try to swallow, but my throat is closed up.

Taste me? “You want to kiss me?”

His eyes glitter. “Yeah. And not only on the mouth.”

Oh boy, I think I’m finally catching on, and I squirm on the seat, the heat returning between my legs, coupled with an urgent pressure and a pulse that feels like my heartbeat.

“I, um.” I glance at the other tables, wondering if they can hear any of this. “You want…?”

“I want lots of things with you,” he says, his voice low and deep. “I was watching you, watching as you crossed your legs and uncrossed them, as you put your hand over your tits.” He nods at my boobs and my nipples wave back at him, hard and aching. “Goddammit, girl. You’re so hot I’m in danger of shooting my load right here and now, just from looking at you.”

Wow. Nobody has ever said anything like that to me. And maybe I should be running away from this guy who has no trouble telling me all this, but I find myself leaning toward him.

“Chance said I’m frigid,” I whisper, and God, what’s wrong with me tonight? It’s as if every random thought I have has to come out of my big mouth.

“He’s a goddam idiot,” Hawk mutters. “You’re anything but frigid. You’re hot like all hell, Doll. And I can prove it to you. Would a frigid woman come four times within an hour as I pleasure her?”

Ohgod, ohgod. I’ve never… never even come once with Chance.

Hawk must read my thoughts on my face, because his brows draw together in a frown. “Tell me he at least made sure you came when you had sex,” he growls, and the fine hairs on my arms lift.

“He tried,” I say, remembering how Chance often complained it took me too long to show any signs of pleasure.

“That motherfucker,” Hawk mutters, and it’s all so weird, hearing a guy like him, in a suit like that, swear like a sailor. He reaches for my hand and strokes his thumb over my knuckles, sending a great shudder through my body. “Let me show you, Gorgeous. Show you what it can be like. What you can be like, with the right guy.”

And he’s the right guy?

“What do you want from me?” I whisper, kind of frightened at his intensity even as I’m curious as hell and turned on like nobody’s business.

“I want…” He glances to the side, sighs. He keeps his gaze averted as he says. “I want to show you how hot you are. I want to have a good time with you. I want you. My dick hasn’t deflated since I saw you. But you need to know who I am. I—”

“I know who you are,” I say.

He looks startled. “Good. Awesome. Well, a man in my position can’t offer you anything more.” At my confused look, he says. “I can’t have a relationship. Can’t date you. So if you want a boyfriend, then you can walk away from this table right now. No hard feelings. Too much is at stake.”

His money, I guess. He doesn’t want to get involved with any girl and then face a scandal.

“I understand,” I begin, but he stops me, squeezing my hand.

“No, you don’t, because it’s not that simple. Believe me. But it’s the way things are. There are bigger issues than my personal pleasure at stake here. So if you come with me to the hotel where I’ve booked a room, and we have great sex together, that’s it. That’s all I can offer you.”

I ponder this. He’s honest, I’ll give him that. Doesn’t try to lure me with promises and sweet words. He’s straight with me, and I won’t deny what he promises for tonight is already good.

If nothing else, it will take my mind off Chance and the ugliness he caused.

“I understand,” I say again and squeeze his hand back. “I’ll take your offer, Jamie Fleming.”

His grin turns boyish, and his gray eyes soften. “Call me Hawk.”













Chapter Two





The hotel he’s booked into is a block away, and we walk, hand in hand. It’s not dating, but then why does it feel so much like it?

“So… you don’t live here in Baltimore?” I ask, when the silence becomes too much as we cross the street.

“I do.”

“So why the hotel room?”

He glances at me, his mouth curling up in that easy smile that sends bolts of heat through me. “I called and booked a room when I saw you sitting at the restaurant. Just in case.”

I huff. “Confident, much?”

And he hasn’t answered my question, not really.

He shrugs. “It was a wishful thought. Besides, in my line of work, you have to be bold.”

I bet you do. And through the sting of annoyance, the heat flares stronger than ever.

He hoped to get into bed with me. He wished for it.

Holy crap, Batman.

His hand is tight around mine, and a good thing too, as my heels are too high to be walking down the street. Hey, I was only supposed to walk from the car into the restaurant and back, but they are the perfect heels—matching my lilac dress in tone and sheen, its hem peeking under my black coat. I wanted to be pretty for Chance, and then I was glad I did when he dumped me.

Better look pretty when your boyfriend of two years dumps you for a tramp and another man invites you over to his table, right? Look at all the things I learned tonight.

Right this moment, though, I am thrilled that the hotel is right in front of us, with the promise of taking the shoes off at last.

The shoes, among other things…

Glancing up at the tall man beside me, I lick my lips and warmth floods my face when I realize I’m doing it. But how can I help it? This feels unreal. He’s just too gorgeous with his powerful built and those gray eyes… That arrogant air when he stops in front of the reception desk and asks for the key to the room, then sends a smirk my way, his eyes half-closing, a speculative gleam in them.

A gleam that says he’s already undressing me in his mind, and that is so damn sexy my whole body tightens with excitement.

Can’t recall any man looking at me that way. Certainly no Chance. Chance who announced publicly that I’m frigid in bed.

Hawk makes me feel all kinds of hot, inside and out. His gaze makes me lift my head, push my shoulders back and my boobs out. Makes me feel pretty and desirable.

Naughty.

“Come on.” He takes the room key and starts toward the elevator, forcing me to run in my heels, and I want to hiss at him to slow down, but at the same time I like that.

I like how much bigger than me he is, how much longer his strides are. That he pulls at my hand, sure I’ll follow. That he gives me another once-over while waiting for the elevator, and my skin tingles and heat spreads down my belly.

The elevator doors close behind us, and he yanks me to him suddenly, without warning, his hand splayed on the small of my back, our bodies melding together. His face dips, and his mouth brushes mine, a searing kiss. Something long and hard presses into my hip.

“Feel me,” he murmurs against my lips. “Feel how much I want you. How you turn me on. Even from the distance, as you sat at your table, I could feel your heat.”

The elevators door open, and I barely notice, caught up in him, his spicy taste, his spicy scent, his cool gaze with its sparks of fire, his tall body dwarfing mine.

I lift my hand to his face, needing to touch his hard jaw, to touch his hair and see if it’s as soft as it looks.

He marches me backward before I manage, out of the elevator cage, over velvet carpet that muffles our steps.

He pushes me against a door and crowds me in again, his hot mouth skimming over my cheek, pressing to my neck, sucking. He’s panting, I realize, as zings of pleasure travel down my spine and my hands clutch at his muscular arms through the suit jacket he’s put back on when we left the restaurant. He’s aroused and kind of out of control.

Because of me.

That’s a heady thought, and when his hands close around my waist and his thigh nudges between my legs, I don’t stop to think we’re still in plain view of anyone passing by, my eyes closing, my body shuddering with pleasure.

Dry-humping Jamie Fleming’s muscular, strong leg.

Oh God.

Thankfully, he presses his mouth to mine as the pleasure spirals and my body jerks with the first orgasm I’ve had in a long while, my cry muffled.

Holy crapballs. There’s a ringing in my ears. The dim lights of the corridor blink in my vision as my senses slowly return and I find myself slumped against the door, Hawk’s leg still between mine, and his handsome face creased in a pleased grin.

“That was so hot,” he whispers, his voice a sexy rasp, and strokes his thumb over my lips. “Can’t wait to hear the sounds you make in the bedroom.”

Suddenly I’m overheated, self-conscious and kind of sick to my stomach. “I, um. Look—”

“You’re so sexy,” he says, and leans in again. The proximity of his eyes, his mouth, his straight jaw, the golden stubble, it’s all too much for my poor brain. It short-circuits again when he smiles that devastating smile and can’t process anything else while he inserts the key into the lock and pushes the door open. “Come on.”

Coming is the one thing I’ll certainly be doing with him, that’s for sure.



***



The room is big. It’s a suite, I realize after taking in the space with the sofa and armchairs, and the separate space for the huge bed.

It’s covered in a white bedspread and has… rose petals strewn over it? I blink, sure I’m hallucinating. This doesn’t happen in real life, does it? Not in any of the hotels I have visited in my lifetime, and this hotel had a very unassuming air, from the outside, at least.

I walk toward the bed, running one fingertip along the wall. There’s a framed drawing of a naked woman hanging by the bed, and a tall crystal vase with red roses on the bed stand.

Definitely not common. I touch the satiny petals of the roses and inhale their scent.

Smiling, I turn around—and find myself face to face with Hawk whose gaze has turned sharp. Fierce.

Predatory.

“I’m going to strip you bare,” he says, his voice that same low rasp that sends heat through my body, a fiery path down my core. “Eat you out. Stroke you so deep you’ll feel it for days. And fuck you until you can’t walk straight. Are you ready, Hot Stuff?”

“It’s Layla,” I breathe, barely audible, all the air sucked from my lungs at his words and the heat in his voice.

“Trust me,” he goes on, prodding me until I fall on the bed, bouncing a little, “soon you will forget your own name.”

“Cocky, much?” I manage even as he puts a knee between my legs and shoves my coat off my shoulders, then pushes my dress up my thighs.

“I’m only stating facts.” He winks at me and in record time he has my panties off and his face between my legs.

Holy shit.

His breath is warm on my shaved pussy—shaved because Dorothy insisted I should, this being a two-year anniversary and all—and his stubble scratches against my inner thighs, jolting me. His hands land on my legs, rough and big, and spread my thighs a bit more.

Opening me up. Spreading my pussy wide.

Crap. “Hawk, I…”

He looks up at me and stills, waiting for me to say more. “This okay?” he finally asks, when no words come to my mind, and his question sends a different kind of warmth through me.

Aggressive and yet careful, pushy and yet ready to stop.

I barely nod when he licks his lips and puts his mouth on me. Unable to hold back a moan, I fists my hands on the white bed cover, my legs trembling. His tongue circles my clit, flicks back and forth lashing at it, then licks lower, into the core of me.

“Oh God!” A shockwave of need blasts through me, zinging up all the way to my head. My nipples are so tight they ache and I need… need to come. Need to relieve the pressure between my legs that’s only growing with every twist of his tongue.

Then he adds his fingers, and they’re thick and long and oh Lord… A keening noise leaves my throat and my head falls back, my body arching into him as he strokes me, like he promised—deep and hard, stretching me, ramping up the pressure until I’m ready to beg for release.

“Please, Hawk… Please…”

Yep. Begging.

As I’m fucking his face. And so turned on I can’t even find it in me to care. I’ve never felt so good in my life, never felt such need. It’s burning in my veins, deep inside my core, and his movements only make me burn hotter.

He licks my clit, swirls his tongue around it, thrusting two fingers inside me. Then he sucks on my clit, and I’m gone.

I shatter into a million pieces as the pressure breaks. Pleasure races up my spine, and I arch almost off the bed as I come in his mouth, a cry leaving my mouth.

Oh shit. God. What was that?

This time when I come to my senses, I’m staring at the white stucco of the ceiling, my thoughts empty and swimming above me like glass fish in a sky of white.

Boom.

That’s my heart, banging against my ribcage.

Hawk slides up my body, braces himself on his hands on either side of me and looks down at me.

God, that’s hot. Everything he does is smooth and sexy. He looks pleased with himself.

He has every right to be.

Then something hard and hot bumps against my thigh and I jump.

He chuckles, a dark, come-fuck-me sound that steals the breath from my lungs. “Just wanted to feel you against my cock.”

He’s naked. The realization dawns slowly and in stages. He undressed while I was zoned out, staring at the ceiling, and is now holding himself over me in all his muscular, naked glory.

I scoot back to see him better, and he grins at me.

Tanned in the way only pale people who spend a lot of time outdoors can be—playing tennis and golf, I suppose, sunning himself on the deck of his dad’s yacht, swimming in private coves—he’s made of gold and silver, a living statue of a man, all rolling muscles and fantastical proportions.

Broad shoulders, sculpted chest, tight abs, narrow hips—then thick thighs and long legs, but my gaze glances off them, snagged by his cock, stiff and flushed, thick and long, pointing up.

Metal is sticking out of the head—metal barbells. He’s pierced.

“Okay?” he asks, and something passes through his eyes, an expression I haven’t seen before. A flash of vulnerability and nervousness.

Is he seriously asking me if I think him good enough? Or maybe big enough? Is he nervous because of the piercing?

“You’re beautiful,” I say in all honesty, and his cocky grin returns.

“You’re the beautiful one,” he says. “I’m just cocky.”

Very cocky, I decide, glancing at his big cock again. Never has the word described a man better. I lick my lips, a surge of confidence shocking me. “Are you going to use that, or what?”

“That?” He looks down, his grin widening. “Are you referring to my dick?”

I shrug, and can’t help smiling. “Guess so.”

“I’m sure gonna fucking use it. I follow through on all my promises.” He pauses, fumbles on the night stand and lifts a condom. He pulls it on.

“Turn over, Doll,” he murmurs, “and let me show you what that can do.” I squeal when he grabs my hips and rolls me over, on my belly. “And one last thing: you like roses, right?”



***



He half-lies over me, brushing my hair off my back and pressing his mouth there, on my bared neck, awakening nerve endings I didn’t know existed. Somehow, it seems my neck is directly linked to my boobs and my pussy, because I clench everywhere with each kiss, moaning into my folded arms.

He presses down more, letting more of his weight on top of me, and his hot, hard cock slides on my ass, leaving a wet trail, the barbells hard points that make me squirm.

I’m doing this to him. Make him hard. Make his dick drip with desire. Make a groan rumble in his chest when I push my ass up and rub against this cock.

“You’re killing me,” he whispers, his teeth catch on my earlobe, tugging on my pearl earring. “I thought I had more self-control.”

It thrills me, that he’s admitting it. Admitting he can’t help himself with me.

Then do it, I want to say. Put your cock in me.

But he starts kissing a path down my spine and I gasp as the pressure, and the pleasure, intensifies. I never knew my back was an erogenous zone. My back, my neck, my earlobe—and now his hand trails down the crease of my ass, stroking, pressing lightly. Brushing lower, against my pussy, then moving back up.

I writhe on the bed, suddenly so close to coming again I panic, hovering on the sharp edge of another mind-shattering orgasm.

His hand moves away before that happens, and I draw gasping breaths in the quiet, my ass lifting, trying to follow his touch.

He groans again, and shifts. I turn my head, trying to see what he’s doing, but he pushes me back down with a firm hand between my shoulder blades.

“The thorns were stripped,” he says, and what the heck? “Maybe next time we can leave some on. If you like it.”

I have absolutely no clue what he’s talking about.

Then my breath catches as something cool and soft brushes over my back, trailing low, over my ass. A sweet scent spills in the air.

Roses.

What is he…? Why?

He lifts the bunch of roses off my back.

He brings it back down, a light slap that releases more scent—and a ripple of sensation down my back, to my ass. He does it again—lifts the roses, brings them down, and the impact sends heat pooling in my belly, and between my legs.

God. What is he doing to me? Why do I like it so much?

The blows come faster now—some harder than others, and each hit jolts me and unfurls more heat inside me, until I’m moaning loudly.

Moaning his name.

“Like this?” he pants, stopping and trailing the roses up to my shoulders, then along my spine down, between my ass cheeks, making them clench, then down my thighs. “You’re so wet, babe. Fuck, I need to be inside you.”

“Please,” I sob the word. “Yes.”

“I knew it,” he gasps, letting the roses fall on the bed and pushing his cock into me, drawing a cry from my throat as he stretches me wide, “from the moment I saw you. I knew you’d like me to touch you that way.”

I can’t dwell on what he’s saying—mostly because he’s filling me up, his cock so hot and hard, and the barbells brush over all the right places inside me, and I’m so close to coming I can’t even breathe.

His weight settles on top of me, and it feels so good. I realize he’s holding himself mostly off, his arms flexing at my sides, and his breath washes over my super-sensitized neck.

“You smell good,” he says, and I push back, taking him deeper, making him gasp for a change. “Oh fuck, yes. Do that again.”

Pushy. Hot. He feels amazing inside me, behind me, around me.

I shove my ass back once more, and he goes nuts. His hips flex, and he starts thrusting inside me, long, powerful shoves that have me coming with a shout, shaking where I’m pressed into the bed. My pussy tightens around his cock in sharp waves, and he curses, stilling, letting me milk his hard-on until the pleasure ebbs.

“Fuck.” He suddenly sits back, hauling me up with him, his cock pushing even deeper inside me, the pressure of this piercing making me moan helplessly. His hands move over my boobs, tugging on my nipples, stoking the last ember of desire left inside me as my mind whirls. “So pretty. Need you, need to feel you… Damn.”

He thrusts up inside me, his cock impossibly hard, and my pussy clenches again. I moan with another mini-orgasm, burning in his hold, trembling—and he grunts as he comes, hard, filling the condom. I can feel the heat of his cum through the thin rubber.

When he’s done, he pulls me down on the bed with him and wraps his arms around me. “Did I keep my promise?”

I’m too wiped out to speak, so I nod.

He chuckles. “You can now tell that asshole of an ex of yours that the F word doesn’t apply to you.”

“F-word?”

“Frigid?” I hear a grin in his voice. “Yeah, I don’t think so. Hot like hell, that’s how you are, babe.”

I laugh quietly, pleased. Happy. Exhausted and sated. “That’s all you,” I whisper, because that’s the truth, and yet, deep inside me, I can’t help the new wave of warmth his words bring.

Jamie Hawk Fleming thinks I’m hot. That’s any girl’s wet dream.

But the dream will soon be over and I need to wake up.







Chapter Three





We don’t stay the night in the hotel. That’s the first wake up call. Hawk rolls over, gets up, showers and pulls on his clothes, telling me he’s had a great time.

He’s smiling, and he’s nice and polite, but it’s obvious for him the night is over, and I feel like a cheap hook-up.

Which I am. Though the price of this suite sure isn’t cheap, but still. Dinner, a few compliments, and I jumped into bed with a stranger. A wealthy, handsome, sexy stranger, but you see where I’m going with this.

Sure, the sex was amazing. Like, for real. I’m even walking funny when I get off the bed to use the bathroom, and I thought it was just a myth. Whose guy’s junk can do that to you, right?

Hawk’s, that’s whose. His cock and the four orgasms he gave me tonight.

I clean myself, pee, come out and get dressed, too, my clothes wrinkled in a heap on the floor. I smooth them out as best I can, and then it gets more awkward when he shoves his hands into his pant pockets and tilts his head toward the door.

“I should be on my way. Long day at work tomorrow.”

Oh God. Seriously? “No need to make excuses,” I tell him coolly, gathering my purse and coat and storming past him.

“Excuses?” He sounds amused, and as he closes the room door and ambles beside me to the elevator door, he gives me a smirk. “It’s the truth. Dad wants me at an important meeting with the other shareholders, at seven in the fucking morning in Washington. We’re flying at five.”

Oh. And now, according to my cell phone time is one in the morning. Where did time go?

I ride with him down, trying not to look at his sexy mouth, or stubbled jaw, or pale hair. The broad shoulders I clawed at as I came.

He hails a cab for me, and I climb inside. I turn to take one last look at him as we speed away. He’s still standing outside the hotel, hands still in his pockets, a new expression on his face, one that has me puzzled as we drive out of view.

It looks a lot like regret.



***



Days pass. Nights, too. I feel an emptiness that’s only partly explained by the lack of Chance in my life.

Turns out he was easy to cut out of my routine. I miss watching thrillers with him and eating together at the college cafeteria, but apart from that, I’m curiously fine without him.

And I miss Hawk.

Okay, that’s obviously not possible. I only met him once, spent less than a night with him, and no matter how many orgasms he gave me, I can’t miss a guy I only spent a couple of hours with, most of them spent on his bed in a hotel room, right?

Yet I do. I miss the way he looked at me like I’m the most desirable woman in the world. The way he told me I’m hot, and pretty, the way his body hardened against mine, the way he kissed me and held me.

Like I’m unique. Like he’s never met anyone like me.

Which is bullcrap. It’s all in my mind, it’s all I wanted to believe. Maybe what he wanted me to believe, too—that he felt something. That it wasn’t all a charade to help me get over the break-up.

And why should he care how I felt? He didn’t have to do any of it. Also, he had sex with me, and he was hard. He wanted me.

Or he wanted it. Wanted sex. A man like him probably has rough, marathon sex on a regular basis. He found me in a vulnerable position and took advantage. It’s what rich, arrogant men like him do.

That’s what they do, Layla.

Questions spin in my mind, questions I hadn’t posed myself in the insanity of the evening’s rote—like, does he do this often, pick unknown women from restaurants and bars and take them to anonymous hotel rooms to fuck?

I mean… he’s obviously a playboy. Even if his life isn’t splashed all over the tabloids as much as one would have expected, I kind of recall a couple of scandalous photos of him with pretty girls hanging on his arms, at some gala or other. He can’t be over twenty-five—in fact I’m quite sure I read he’s even younger than that somewhere, or else my friend Dorothy told me—and guys of his age, his looks and his money are expected to sleep around.

I doubt I’ll ever hear from him again—and I guess now I know how he managed to avoid scandals: he keeps his conquests quiet, out of the spotlight. If I told anyone I spent a steamy night with Jamie Fleming, who would believe me? No photos, no proof.

Nobody knows, except Dorothy, and the memory will remain in my mind, a bright light and snapshots of touches, glimpses of pleasure unlike anything I’ve ever felt.

A desire unlike any I’ve ever experienced. God, the roses… and his touch. His cock inside me.

Somehow even though I know he won’t call me again, won’t come around to see me, won’t have dinner with me again… It was worth it. I can’t regret it.

Did he regret me?

A noise from the room next to mine draws me from my thoughts. Speaking of Dorothy… My roommate walks through my door, her dark hair a ratty nest around her head. Let’s just say she has restless sleep—which I blame on the tons of caffeine she consumes every day.

She’s holding a steaming mug right now. “Did you know,” she says, “that the suite he bedded you in is the honeymoon suite of the exclusive Pearl Buck Hotel?”

“Bedded? Seriously, Dodo?” But this little piece of news floors me, when it shouldn’t. “It was probably the best room he could get on short notice, or something. That’s all.”

It means nothing.

Dorothy shrugs and sits uninvited on my bed. She slurps noisily at her coffee. “So, any signs of life from Tall, Blond and Mysterious?”

“He’s not mysterious,” I mutter irritably. “We know who he is.”

“But his motives are mysterious.”

“Nothing mysterious about a guy wanting to dip his wick in a random girl.”

“You’re not random.”

“But your comments are.”

She tsks. “You still haven’t given me the details of your night.”

“And I won’t.”

“It was that good, huh?” She grins at me, flashing me a crooked front tooth, and I think about that.

She’s right. But it’s more. It’s how… violent is was, and sensual, intense and perfect at the same time. The kiss against the door, his mouth on me, the roses on my back, his arm around my chest as he rocked inside me…

Intimate. Far more intimate and personal than anything I ever tried with Chance.

“What’s up?” Dorothy’s gaze has sharpened. “Why the frown? I thought you had a good time.”

“I did.”

And that’s the problem. It was an amazing time. It was more than that, it was an unforgettable night, and Hawk swept through my life like a hurricane, so how am I supposed to forget all about him now and pretend that night never happened?

“He doesn’t want a repeat,” I hear myself say and wish I could swallow the words back. I sigh as I fuss with my bed covers, pulling them from under Dorothy’s ass to make my bed. “I should head to class.”

“Not so fast.” Dorothy manages a hard grip on the hem of my sweater, and hauls me down beside her. “What doesn’t he want?”

I rub a hand over my eyes. “To see me again.”

She gives me a long, serious stare. “Did he say that?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. That’s asshole-y of him. But you just broke up with Chance. And you barely know Tall, Blond and Non Mysterious. Right?”

“Right.” I manage a smile. “Let me go to class, Dodo.”

“Yeah. Me too.” She taps my nose. “I hate seeing you sad, Laylay. Don’t set your heart on a guy who told you from the start he won’t be with you. He gave you a good night. And he’s a millionaire, right? You can’t trust a millionaire. That’s common knowledge.”

“Nobody told me,” I mutter, more irritated at myself by the second. “You’re right, it was a good night, and everything’s fine.” I make my smile brighter, even if it’s strained. “A new experience. Maybe someday in my memoirs I’ll mention it and become a bestseller.”

“I thought you wanted to be a publisher, not a writer.”

I thought many things, too. I thought I knew myself, my body, my desires. I thought I was safe and happy with Chance—and look. Just like mom and dad, we broke up.

Broke apart.

And then a blond Nordic god gave me in one brief evening what I’ve been missing. A glimpse of a lifetime.



***



The week passes way too slowly as I try to focus on my classes and assignments for college. The weekend is a drag. I don’t want to go out, so I stay in and do my best to study.

The next week rolls in, and then out, and it’s as unbearable as the previous one. Mom has been calling me, too, as if sensing the funk I’m in, insisting I visit her in New York, trying to lure me with promises of awesome shopping, theater plays and author signing events.

Sounds good. I should go.

But something’s keeping me back. And it can’t be Hawk. That would be absurd. He’s not going to be part of my life in any form, so why am I still thinking about him?

It’s the sex, I tell myself as I save my notes from today’s marketing lecture and close my laptop, shoving it into my bag. The awesome sex.

And my general and regrettable lack thereof.

Maybe it’s time to get my head out of my ass and start looking. Looking at guys of my age and status—students—instead of millionaire playboys who travel halfway around the world to watch an opera in Sydney or eat at their favorite sushi restaurant in Tokyo.

Normal guys. Even if they aren’t so godlike in bed, or out of it.

Norman from my English class has asked me, like, a hundred times already this semester if I want to catch a movie with him, and Jaxon from my economics class mentioned three times in the past ten days that we should study together for the upcoming history test.

Jaxon is cute. And come on, Hawk’s not all that much older than me and Jaxon. I’m nineteen. Hawk is—as my googling him successfully revealed—twenty-two.

But going out with Jaxon… No. Just, no.

I snap my bag shut and close my eyes. Hawk. It’s normal to be thinking about him, I remind myself. He saved me the night of the break-up—swept in and made me forget the pain, made me feel good about myself, gave me lots of mind-blowing orgasms and turned the night into a sexy fairytale.

It’s over. It’s over now, Layla. Move on.

Still, I don’t call Jaxon, or Norman, and I don’t look at the boys as I walk out of the auditorium toward my car.

I don’t need boys, I decide. Not now. It’s good to take a break after being with Chance for two years. Concentrate on my studies, spend time with Dorothy, maybe visit Mom.

Let the memory of Hawk fade. Then maybe I’ll see his pic in the newspaper, in the entertainment section, or in Mom’s gossipy magazines, and smile fondly.

One day.

I head home, mulling over this, trying to decide if traveling to New York in the middle of the semester is a good idea, when my cell phone rings.

Parking my car, I pull out the cell. “Dorothy? I’m almost home.” Because who else might be calling me tonight? “Is everything okay?”

The silence at the other end of the line stretches.

Then comes a dark chuckle that trickles over my skin like melted caramel. “Everything’s okay, yeah. Depending on how you are, Hot Body.”

Heat spills in my chest, spreading up my neck. “I’m, um, fine.” I clear my throat. “What’s up?”

“Something’s definitely up and hardening.” I can hear the wolfish grin in his voice. “I’d send you a pic but pulling my pants down is a challenge where I’m at right now.”

The heat seeps into my cheeks. Oh God. “Where are you?” I didn’t mean for my voice to go all breathy, but I can picture him in my mind and…

“On my bike.”

I bite my lip. “So no pics possible, huh?”

I know he rides a motorcycle. A big, mean-looking one. I’ve read much more than I should have about him these past few days, despite my resolve not to think about him.

“I could show you. Up and personal.”

I’m holding my breath, I realize, and let it out in a whoosh. “Is that so?”

Because I thought he’d never call me. That I’d never hear his voice again, or see his face across from mine.

“I’m not far from the restaurant where we met,” he says, his voice soft.” Come.”

I almost do. Holy crap, I’ll see him again. “And then?”

“I wanna take you for a ride.”

I swallow hard, my throat tight. “On your bike?”

“That, too.”

“I’m on my way.”









Chapter Four





He’s sitting astride his bike. I see him as I park my car at the curb and kill the engine.

God. He’s gorgeous. Even better looking in his leather pants and jacket, if possible, than he was in his expensive designer suit.

His grin flashes bright from across the street.

Right. Okay. My palms are sweaty as I grab my purse and step out of my car, hitting the lock button and crossing over to him.

He said he follows through on all his promises, and he did promise not to date me. Not to stay with me. Not to be with me as a boyfriend would.

So why is he back?

As I approach and he towers over me even when sitting on his badass bike, self-consciousness belatedly hits and I tug on the hem of my sweater and smooth down my skirt. I wasn’t planning on anything sexier than watching Arrow on TV for tonight, so my skirt is knee-length, and I have my leather boots on. My hair is pinned to the back of my head with a pencil, and I have no make-up on.

Classy, Layla. Perfect for seducing a millionaire hunk, and… wait, what am I doing? This is the guy who stated upfront he’ll never want a relationship with me.

But aren’t relationships overrated? I think again of mom and dad and their painful divorce as I come to stand right in front of Hawk and shiver.

Maybe I don’t want a relationship, either. As long as I can see this man, inhale his spicy scent. Touch him.

Or maybe I’m going crazy. Lust sure is a powerful drug, and when he lifts a bunch of flowers—roses, I realize dimly—and runs the blossoms over my arm, releasing their scent, it hits me hard.

Roses. Memory of tiny lashes hitting my back, my ass. His fingers touching me. His cock filling me.

A gasp escapes me.

Then he puts a rough hand on my cheek, then slides it to the back of my neck and draws me closer to him, and I’m falling.

Nestled against his thigh, pressed between his warmth and his bike, with his hand cradling my head, I feel high. His warm breath washes over my mouth, smelling of mint and a hint of Scotch.

“I thought,” I try to keep the words in but they come anyway, “that I wouldn’t see you again.”

“I thought that, too,” he whispers, pulling me even closer, his eyes narrowed, “but fuck that. I wanted to see you.”

Me, too, oh God, me too, I think as his mouth covers mine and the kiss turns hot within seconds—his tongue twisting with mine, his teeth biting at my lower lip. He’s eating up my mouth like a starving man, his hand traveling down to my back, hauling me until I’m riding his muscular thigh.

Pleasure zings down my nerve endings, pools low in my belly. I’m in real danger of coming right here, right now, on the street, dry-humping his leg.

This kind of thing keeps happening when I’m around him. Normally I’m not much for public displays, even less for public orgasms.

I pull back, breaking the kiss, and his hand clenches against my back. He blinks, the gray of his eyes gone dark. “Wanna come with me tonight?”

I lick my lips. “And tomorrow?”

“My promise remains the same,” he says, his voice not faltering. The roses are resting in front of him, on the bike, their scent mingling with his and with the fumes of the passing cars. “Nothing has changed.”

Nothing?

But I want this too much. With him. I want him to show me how it can be. I want him filling me, I want to feel his heartbeat slamming against my back, against my chest. I need him in my arms.

So I lift my skirt and climb on the bike behind him, linking my arms around his hard middle. “Let’s go.”





***





He’s given me a helmet to wear, and it sits heavy on my head. I also can’t rest my cheek on his back, as I’d have liked to do. It’s my first time on a bike, and I’m stressed that I’m going to fall off, especially on the turns.

However, I still notice that he manages to keep the bunch of roses—red roses, almost crimson, like blood—in front of him as he weaves through the city streets, and that he seems to know what he’s doing, like he’s been riding a bike for ages.

Urban cowboy, I think and snicker as I imagine him with a black Stetson and one of those tasseled leather vests, the sound lost in the wind as we speed down an avenue.

An incognito millionaire slash bad boy driving through, crossing the lives of ordinary people, and they don’t even know. When we stop at a traffic light, I catch a girl my age watching us. She smiles, and I guess she’s seen the roses.

She thinks she knows what’s going on here. A romantic escapade.

She doesn’t know what the roses signify—hard sex with no feelings attached, offered by a guy who otherwise spends his days in the offices of his family company, directing the rise and fall of commercial empires.

I cling to his strong back as he speeds down unknown streets, until he parks at the gate of an illuminated building. The street is flanked with trees, and the buildings are shiny, brand new and clearly high scale.

A guard appears from a side building, takes one look at Hawk and opens the gate with a press of a button on a small control device.


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