Totally immersed in painting the cupboard, I freeze mid–paint stroke at the sound of Jake’s deep voice behind me.
“What? Am I doing something wrong?”
He closes the distance between us and runs his finger along the back waistband of my gym pants, sending delicious tingles up my spine. Then he slides his hands around my waist, bared by the rise of my T-shirt as I stretch to reach the top of the cupboard with my paintbrush.
“Yes. You look too damn sexy. Do you know what it does to a man when he catches a glimpse of something he isn’t meant to see?”
“I hope it makes him tell the woman she can call off the panic attack and drop her arm,” I mutter as I do just that. “I also hope it makes him decide his hands might be of better use somewhere other than around her waist.”
Jake slides his fingers around to my stomach, resting them just over my mound and his voice drops to a low growl. “I could make use of them here.”
“So says the man who turned down a good offer just the other night at Redemption.” I remove his hands and turn to face him, putting on a brave face while inside I seethe. Who does he think he is coming on to me after brushing me off?
“No games, Jake. You made your position clear. I got that. I’m not interested in being screwed around.”
He presses his hands against the cupboard on either side of my head, caging me with his body. “What are you interested in?”
“Moving on,” I say honestly.
His pulse throbs in his neck and his eyes harden. “With whom?”
“No one right now.”
He gives a satisfied grunt as if I had just cleared up a question in his mind. “Everyone is out back having a good time. You should be there too.”
“There’s a lot of work to do. I want to get it done. The faster I open shop, the faster I can start my lawsuit against Farnsworth.” I slip under his arm and edge along the counter.
“You’ve been working since this morning.”
Grabbing a clean cloth from the counter, I make an effort to wipe the grease off my face. “I’m used to working twenty-hour days. I’m not afraid of hard work.” But I am afraid of mercurial fighters who run hot one minute and cold the next.
His face softens, and he takes the cloth from my hand and holds it under the tap. The pipes gurgle when he turns the rusty faucet and water gushes out, skimming over the cloth and trickling into the sink below. Without warning, he lifts me and settles me on the counter.
“You don’t have to work like that anymore.” His voice is calm, soothing. I am momentarily lulled out of work mode and into heat mode as he eases his hips between my legs and reaches to turn off the faucet. “It’s night. Time to relax and have fun.” With a firm hand, he cups my jaw and then wipes the cloth gently over my nose, forehead, and cheeks.
His gentle touch, the warmth of his hand, his breath, minty and sweet, and his hard body nestled between my thighs all converge in an unbearable rush of sensation. I grab his wrist, forcing his hand away.
“Jake…I’m good. Really. There’s so much to do. I’ll come out when I’m done and I’ve cleaned myself up.”
“I like you this way,” he murmurs. “You look…cute. Real.”
He brushes his thumb over my cheek. “Amanda without the armor. Your clothes, hair, makeup…nothing is perfect. It’s just the real you. I never got to see the real you before.”
Torn between being mortified and pleased, I reach for another cloth. “Real Amanda is covered in dirt and has holes in her sweats.”
He traces a finger down my throat to rest in the hollow at the base of my neck. The room heats to one hundred degrees, and if I’m not mistaken, I hear the sound of my blood boiling.
“I like holes in sweats.” His voice drops, husky and low, and his finger continues its downward journey into the vee of my shirt.
He traces lightly over the crescent of my breast. “I like dirty girls,” he whispers, his voice thick with desire. “I can’t stay away.”
Oh God. Every bit of warmth rushes to my center as his deep, sensual voice ignites one of my dark fantasies. Jake, straddling my bound body, growling commands, telling me what he’s going to do to me in the filthiest language I know. A soft moan escapes my lips and we’re back on the roller coaster again.
“This game you’re playing confuses me.” His heart beats strong against my palm when I lay my hand over his chest.
“Then what are you doing?”
His eyes take on a feral gleam and my breasts tingle.
“Playing dirty,” he growls. Tangling his hand in my hair, he tugs my head back, exposing my throat to the heated slide of his lips. “Sometimes you have to stop thinking too much and just go with it.”
My breath comes in short pants as he sucks gently on the pulse at the base of my throat. Barely able to form a coherent thought for the pounding of blood in my temples, I scramble for sanity. “There’s too much between us to just go with it. We need to talk…”
His hand closes in my hair, twisting roughly. “Lawyers talk. You don’t look like a lawyer now. You look fucking sexy, and your mouth is all lush and pink and needing to be kissed. You want to talk, Amanda, or you want that kiss?” He nips the hollow at the base of my neck.
Pleasure and pain meld together and I whimper as a heated rush of sensation floods my veins. “Kiss.”
Jake smiles. “My dirty girl wants a dirty kiss.” Holding my face, he slants his mouth over mine and kisses me.
Soft kiss. Sweet kiss. Warm, firm lips tasting faintly of coffee. His shadow brushes my chin as his tongue eases my lips open to stroke against mine. My body melts against him as he explores my mouth, leaving nothing untouched. Tongues wind and tangle. Two years of fantasies coalesce in a single rasping breath.
“’S not so dirty,” I mumble against his lips.
“Oh, you don’t know how dirty I can be.” Jake grips my hair and tugs my head back with a firm, hard yank, sending little bolts of lightning straight to my core. Then he kisses me hard and fast. Rough. His teeth scrape my bottom lip as his tongue dives deep, filling me, taking what I have to give and demanding more. The pounding of my heart shifts from lust to fear as he consumes me, and for a moment I worry he has forgotten I need to breathe.
When he breaks the kiss, I draw in a long, ragged breath. “You never kissed me like that before.”
“You were never like this before,” he murmurs, his fingers easing up my shirt, his thumb tracing over the crescent of my breasts. “Raw and open, vulnerable, needing my help. So fucking real.”
My breath catches in my throat as he explores, cupping and squeezing my breasts and then teasing my nipples through my lace bra until they are tight, aching peaks.
“My clothes. Take them off.”
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Sarah Castille, worked and traveled abroad before trading her briefcase and stilettos for a handful of magic beans and a home near the Canadian Rockies. She writes erotic contemporary romance and romantic suspense featuring blazingly hot alpha heroes and the women who tame them.
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