FYI, there are sexytimes in this section! This is NOT G-rated. Not that anything I write ever is… 😉
Nick watched Hayley laugh at an over-the-top baby monitor, which included two swiveling video cameras, multiple sound receivers, and a state-of-the-art screen on which to view anything happening in the baby’s room.
“This could only be from Will,” she said.
“I tried to stop him,” Eleanor said, laughing, “but once he saw it, he fell in love.”
Everyone laughed at Will’s expense who, to his credit Nick decided, nodded proudly. Will seemed like a pretty damn good alpha. Vigilant and possibly paranoid, but fair and still able to let loose a little bit.
Hayley smiled at Marius, who was already taking the monitor out of the box. Her blue eyes danced, but Nick wasn’t affected. Nick had been chasing a dream about Hayley. He’d built her up in his mind as his mate, but it had never been her. It couldn’t have been, because what he was feeling for the woman seated next to him was a thousand times more powerful, more intoxicating.
He wanted Becca.
She was everything, and his wolf seemed to know it, too.
While everyone was distracted with trying to assemble the high-tech baby monitor so they could play with it here in the bar, Nick tugged on Becca’s chair so that it—and she—were turned slightly toward him.
Her beautiful sea-green eyes stared at him, wide with surprise. “What are you doing?”
“Talking to you. They seem a little busy.”
She turned quickly and likely noticed that her friend, Summer, was completely distracted with the baby monitor and her mate’s attention in pointing it at her. Sighing, Becca turned back to Nick.
“This is weird,” she said.
“You mean our sudden, inexplicable and yet undeniable attraction to each other?”
A soft blush formed on her cheeks, making her eyes look even greener. “That’s not what I was going to say, no.” Then she paused and grinned. “But you’re attracted to me, huh?”
“I’m semi-hard just from sitting next to you.”
Her gaze flicked to his crotch and then quickly back up to his face. “You’re a bit too forward for my taste, sir.”
He doubted it, if the scent of her arousal was anything to go by. How much did she know about the shifter pride she was hanging out with? Was she aware of the whole concept of mates who were fated to be together? Or would he have to ease her into it slowly? He’d never dated a human before. His pack back in Wisconsin had been large enough that there were always young shifter women to date. And then he’d met Hayley and sworn off other women, believing Hayley was the one.
Ha. It would be easy to let his previous conviction shake his current conviction in Becca, but impossible. Every muscle, sinew, bone, and thought in his body was about this woman with the sea-green eyes.
“Well, my apologies, then,” he said, watching her carefully. “I don’t want to offend the person who hit me with her car.”
“I think we should let that go,” she said in a loud whisper.
“You mean the past is in the past?” he asked.
Suddenly, the table had gotten very quiet, and Nick looked over to see everyone watching him and Becca, expressions of interest on their faces.
“Soooo,” Jackson drawled, “how did you two meet, anyway?”
Becca’s cheeks flushed even more.
Nick grinned. “She ran into me. With her car.”
“What?” Summer’s alarmed gaze flicked from him to Becca, and back to him again. He could practically read the warning in her dark brown eyes: She doesn’t know.
Nodding, he said, “Yeah, I was going for a quick run. She hit me, and that was that.”
“That was that?” Becca said, sputtering. “You were naked. Who goes for naked runs in the woods?”
“People with an appreciation for being one with nature,” he shot back.
“This is insane,” she muttered.
“The best part,” Nick said, “was how she agreed to give me a ride back to town, but she made me ride in the trunk of her car.”
Marius laughed the hardest and loudest at that, but it was worth it to Nick to see the beginnings of another smile on Becca’s face. Her smile was so pretty. She had to know how gorgeous she was. Could she be seeing someone already? He looked at her hands. No wedding band. Well, that was good news.
“You know, you’re all right,” Marius said, pointing at Nick.
A witty comeback was on the tip of his tongue, something about not needing Marius’s approval, but Nick swallowed it. “Uh, thanks.”
“It’s a good thing, too. I didn’t want to have to take you up to Mount Lisle and beat your ass.”
“Oh, yeah, that trailhead,” Jackson said. “Perfect spot for a beating.”
Becca stared at them, her mouth open in shock. “What is wrong with you guys?”
“Don’t mind them, they never learned manners,” Will said, shooting disapproving looks at Marius and Jackson.
Becca settled back into her chair. She was the only human in this group of everyone else who knew what the real story was.
His thoughts skittered this way and that as he watched Becca interact with the Dark Pines Pride. She’d said something about not being as close to her best friend now. If he had to hazard a guess, he’d say it was because her best friend was now in the pride, and Becca had no idea there even was a pride. She’d be forever an outsider until they clued her in to the shifter secret. Something hit him in the chest at that thought—sympathy. He felt bad for her, and he wanted to confess everything. They were both outsiders, but at least he knew where he stood. Becca had no fucking clue, and that was hardly fair.
All the gifts had been opened, and Becca was feeling the effects of her one mojito. She gave hugs to Summer, Eleanor, and Hayley, and said her goodbyes to the others.
She couldn’t drive quite yet. Maybe another hour. What she could really use was a walk downtown, to sort through all the intense feelings flowing through her. She stepped out of The A-Hole and into the cool spring air. Stars twinkled overhead, barely visible because of the lamps lining the street. She sucked in a deep breath.
The baby shower had been fine, not the awkward ordeal she’d envisioned—at least not for the reasons she’d expected. It hadn’t really been awkward at all. More like tantalizing. Sitting so close to Nick had been a delicious torture. Every time he moved, she caught a whiff of his cologne. Every time she moved, her entire body lit up with awareness that he was close by.
“Sorcery,” she muttered. It was the only explanation. He’d gone to a magical wizard school and learned how to entrap women with some kind of spell.
Even though the idea was hilariously unreal, her heart soared at the thought that he might have wanted to entrap her. Trapped by the hottie? Certainly didn’t sound like a hardship.
“Hey! Becca!” a smooth, deep voice called from behind her.
Holy shit. He was coming after her. She didn’t even need to turn around to know it was him. She stopped walking, but kept her eyes trained ahead of her.
His presence was visceral. There was no other way to describe it. Whenever he was nearby, she could feel where he was. The sensation was uncanny. She’d never felt this way about anyone else before, and it was confusing. Was it just him? Did other people feel him the same way she did?
“Mind if I walk with you?” he asked.
“Free country,” she said, shrugging. Pretending nonchalance. She had a feeling he could see right through her charade, though.
She was shocked when he reached out and took her fingers in his. She looked down at their joined hands, and then finally to his face.
His expression was serious. Then he cracked a grin and said in a terrible rendition of a southern accent, “I aim to court you, Miss Van Housen.”
Her mouth twitched, but she refused to smile. She didn’t want to be courted; she didn’t want to fall in love. All her courting was long behind her. While a one-night stand might be a welcome distraction, things would inevitably get messy.
And yet, he walked in step with her, shortening his strides so they matched hers. His hand fit hers perfectly.
Undeterred by her lack of response, he spoke again. “I can tell you feel like an outsider with that crowd, but trust me, they really care for you.”
“Really?” She arched an eyebrow. This was news to her, and she wasn’t quite sure she trusted it.
Figured, he’d be a better expert about the Jaynes group than she would be. Irritating. Shaking her head, she said, “And how do you know them so well?”
Becca stopped walking, curious to watch him now that she’d unintentionally put him on the spot.
He gave her a sheepish grin. “Okay, I may as well humiliate myself even more. I mean, you’ve already seen me naked.”
Nothing to be embarrassed about there, she thought, biting her lip to keep from smiling.
“I chased Hayley out here,” he said. “I thought I was in love with her, and I’d been trying to get in touch with her. Things at home weren’t going so great, so last week, I decided to see if she’d come back to Huntwood—she’d mentioned it when I first met her.”
“And then you saw she’s with Marius,” Becca said. She quickly extinguished the twin flares of disappointment and jealousy that tried to burn through her. “You must have been disappointed.”
He shrugged. His brown eyes looked straight at her as he said, “Not really. More disappointed in myself. I’d been chasing something that wasn’t real. I mean, not that Hayley isn’t real, but you know what I mean. What I thought I felt for her—that wasn’t real.”
“How do you know?” Becca asked. “She and Marius aren’t married.” What was she saying—they were having a baby together and Becca had never seen two people more in love. They were as devoted to one another as Will and Eleanor, and Jackson and Summer. But she was curious whether Nick would jump on the opportunity to continue chasing after Hayley.
He shook his head. “Even if something unfortunate suddenly happened to Marius”—he paused and gave a little smile, as if enjoying the thought—“I still wouldn’t want Hayley. She’s a nice woman, but she’s not the woman for me.”
“Wow,” Becca said. He sounded so genuine, so honest.
Honesty was a huge turn-on.
“Does it make you think less of me?” he asked.
“Why would it make me think less of you?”
“That I changed my mind about Hayley so fast.”
She thought about it. “No. It takes more courage to let go of something that’s been a goal, even if it was wrong. Some people would insist they’ve been right all along, but you admitted it was a mistake, and I think that takes more strength than holding onto something that wasn’t right.”
“Actually, it was effortless,” he said. “No strength or courage required.”
He squeezed her hand and they stopped walking at the end of the block. She could sense that he was looking at her, so she returned his gaze.
“Really,” he said. “As soon as I realized Hayley wasn’t the one, I thought…well, I wondered if there might be someone else, instead. So it was easy to let go of her because I already had hope, you know?”
Someone else. If he was talking about Becca, he was getting way ahead of himself. And yet, here he was, holding her hand, walking with her.
He gave a little laugh, like he could imagine what she was thinking. “Anyway,” he said, “how about you? We got all heavy with my stuff. What’s your story, Becca?”
“Not much to tell,” she said. “I was married, and my husband died. Cancer, and it went fast, which was good for his sake.” She kept the details rote, like she usually did. “It was almost four years ago.”
“That must have been hard,” Nick said.
Suddenly, she felt very old. Losing her husband, even at a young age, made her feel old and jaded. What had Nick been through? Nothing like that, she suspected. “It was. Very hard. We didn’t get much time together. He was a wonderful man, and a great husband. I miss him all the time.”
And he’d wanted her to be happy. Was she happy? She didn’t think she had been, in a while. There’d been an absence of pain, but that didn’t mean happiness.
“You’ve been alone all this time,” Nick said. It wasn’t a question. “Except for Summer.”
Becca nodded. “Yeah. She’s been great.”
“But now she’s got new friends, too.”
Perceptive asshole. She blinked back tears and pretended to look across the street, away from him. Like the springtime decorations in the window of the bakery were captivating. “Yeah, she’s got new friends,” Becca said, her throat full. “No big deal, though.”
“Hey,” he said.
Gently putting his thumb on her chin, he turned her face toward his. “I see you,” he said, his chocolate brown eyes swirling in the darkness. “And it’s okay.”
She forced a soft laugh. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
His gaze was mesmerizing. She didn’t want to look away, even though she felt caught. Trapped. What on earth could this mean? His lips looked so kissable, and she wanted to reach up and cup his cheek, feel the stubble decorating his strong jaw.
“I see your lonesomeness,” he said, “because it mirrors my own.”
Becca inhaled sharply. He was right. She was lonely. She liked to think of herself as self-sufficient, especially after Grant’s death. And she was. Completely, utterly self-sufficient.
But she was also lonely.
“I want to kiss you,” he said, his voice quiet and dark, liquid heat. “Is that okay with you?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
He reached up with his free hand and gripped the back of her neck in his callused palm, and angled her face up toward his. She saw his eyes, dark with desire, and those lush lips surrounded by stubble that would scratch her face. As he lowered his lips to hers, she closed her eyes and breathed in the moment.
It seemed wrong to describe a kiss as perfect because nothing was perfect in this world. But if she were to take the stand tomorrow as a witness to this kiss, and she had to swear to tell the truth and the whole truth, dammit, she’d be swearing that this was one perfect kiss. It started with a press of lips, and the soft sound in her throat expressed need. As soon as she made it, he parted her lips with his and touched his tongue to hers.
She wanted more. She needed more. She kissed him back, sliding her tongue against his. Sighing into his mouth, she pressed herself against him. He kept hold of her neck, controlling the pace of the kiss, and he let go of her hand to wrap his other arm around her waist, tugging her closer.
Perfect. On this empty sidewalk outside of a small-town dive bar, kissing Nick Gaines like nothing else mattered, Becca Van Housen knew perfection.
It had taken every ounce of Nick’s willpower to say goodnight to Becca two nights ago and let her go home alone. He’d wanted nothing more than to transform that amazing kiss into an amazing lovemaking session, but he could tell she was skittish about commitment, and he didn’t want to scare her off too quickly.
He’d been in Huntwood for a week and a half now, and he wasn’t sure how long he’d be welcome. Will had said something about sticking around as long as he didn’t make trouble, but Nick didn’t want to press his luck, and he definitely didn’t want the alpha getting pissed at him over a misunderstanding.
So on Monday morning, he got up early to head over to the Jaynes property, eager to both finish painting Hayley and Marius’s place, and talk to the alpha. He swore as he folded himself into the tiny little Chevrolet Spark he’d had to rent. The car rental place hadn’t had anything else. When Jackson had first seen Nick driving the Spark, he’d about died laughing, then gave the car an affectionate pat on the hood.
These lions were crazy.
The alpha’s mate, Eleanor, was already outside when Nick arrived. She was painting the wooden border of a large gardening area that Hayley had helped her enclose in deer- and rabbit-proof fencing. He waved at her, and she waved back.
“Is Will around?” he asked. “I need to have a word.”
“Yeah, he’s puttering around inside,” she said, a smile on her face.
As he turned to knock on her front door to talk to Will, Eleanor gave a pain-filled yelp.
“What is it?” Nick asked, rushing to her side.
“Oh, it was just stupid,” she said. “I grazed my hand on a nail or something.”
The scrape looked pretty long, and she was bleeding. If she were a shifter it would be no big deal and she’d heal before they reached the bandages. But a human…he wasn’t sure what the procedure was.
“Let’s get you inside,” Nick said, helping her stand.
“It’s no big deal, it’s just…whoa.” Her knees buckled. “That’s a lot of blood.”
Nick helped her walk up to her house and inside. “Hey Will,” he called. “Your mate needs some first-aid.”
“I’m fine,” Eleanor called quickly. “Just a scrape.”
Will was already thundering downstairs. “Let me see.”
Nick watched Will fuss over her, demanding the date of her last tetanus shot, informing her that the antiseptic might sting. A pang of envy shot through Nick. He wanted a mate to take care of like this. Not just any mate. He wanted one woman in particular. Becca.
Realizing he was probably just getting in the way, he said, “I’ll come back some other time.”
Will ignored him, but Eleanor said, “No, wait. Will, Nick wanted to talk to you.”
“It can wait,” Nick said.
“Seriously, I’m okay,” Eleanor said. “My tetanus is all up to date, my bandage is fine, Will, stop fussing. You two may as well talk and leave me alone.”
Will grumbled and turned to Nick. The force of his alpha stare was a sight to behold. Good thing Nick didn’t scare easily; he’d faced worse.
“What is it?” Will asked.
“Don’t be rude,” Eleanor said.
“Ellie, if I want to—”
“Will,” Eleanor said, her voice sharp.
Will’s face softened, and Nick mused that maybe it wasn’t Will who was the alpha, but Eleanor.
“Okay, what is it?” Will asked. His voice was still gruff, but he didn’t seem pissed off anymore.
“Just wanted to check that it’s all right I’ve been sticking around,” Nick said. “I don’t want to overstay my welcome.”
“You’re fine,” Will said, waving a giant hand in the air. “I’ll give you another week. Let you finish the painting. Sound good?”
“Yeah, thanks. I mean, thank you,” Nick said. He got the sense that Will didn’t understand the formality, but where Nick came from, everything to do with the alpha and the pack was formal. Treating it any other way would feel disrespectful. And there was no faster way to getting hurt than showing disrespect to the alpha.
With another thanks and a wave, Nick let himself out of the alpha’s house and made his way to Hayley and Marius’s place.
No sooner did he have the paint cans out of the shed behind their house, than his phone buzzed in his pocket. The number was unfamiliar, but that didn’t mean anything. He didn’t have too many friends anymore. He swiped the screen to answer the call.
“Yeah? This is Nick,” he said.
“Found you, you little fucker,” a familiar voice said.
“Christian,” Nick said. “Hey buddy—”
There was a click. Christian had hung up.
“Shit,” Nick said.
He’d just asked for the chance to stay longer in the Dark Pines territory, but he might need to run. He didn’t want to run, but he needed more time to set things right with Christian.
Christian. They’d called him The Crusader in the shifters-only MMA circuit. The man was built like a fucking tank and had enough anger to fuel a nuke. Nick had been a dumbass and he’d stolen a money clip from the locker room at the underground fight club. He’d never have taken it if he’d known it was Christian’s.
He’d started running pretty soon after that.
But now, he didn’t want to run because of Becca. It was too soon to ask her to go with him. And did he really want to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life?
“Shit,” he said again. He had to solve this, but he didn’t know how.
Well, Becca had officially survived an entire week off of work, and now she was on Tuesday of the second week. Her house had never been cleaner, she’d binge-watched several episodes of NCIS and the entire first season of Midnight, Texas. Could she have been doing something more productive? Probably. But should she have?
The thing was, she never would have thought that lazing around, half-heartedly cleaning and watching too much television, could be fun. But it was the break her brain needed from the nonstop legal stuff. She’d once saw someone wearing a t-shirt that said Work hard, play hard. She disagreed. She wanted to work hard, and then play lazily.
She just wished she had someone to play with. Summer was probably busy with Jackson, or, just as likely, with Eleanor and Hayley. And Nick—she wouldn’t mind another one of those perfect kisses. But he, too, was probably already moving on. He’d texted her yesterday, saying he’d gotten her number from Summer, but Becca had ignored him. The guy’s stay was obviously temporary, and he’d only pack up and move away soon.
Why did Becca keep doing that? Pretending like hanging out with people wasn’t possible because they were too busy for her? Because they had too many friends, or that they weren’t interested?
She realized it, then. She’d been pushing people away to protect herself from getting hurt.
Why shouldn’t she call Nick? Instead of pushing him away because she was afraid of losing him and getting hurt, maybe she should call him back.
Instead of carpe diem, maybe it should be carpe hottie. Carpe hominem, if she remembered correctly from her college Latin course.
She closed her internet browser before she could tell Netflix she wanted to watch yet another episode of The Good Place, and found her phone on her nightstand. As soon as she unlocked the screen, the text message app was open to where she’d left it—Nick’s text.
Hey, Becca, this is Nick. I got your number from Summer. Wondering if I can take you out to dinner?
Her heart beat fast all over again. She was only twenty-eight, but she felt too old for these shenanigans. Still, she was going to carpe the hottie if it killed her.
She typed, Why don’t you come over, and we can order in?
Whoa—that sounded a lot saucier than she’d intended. It was more that she didn’t feel like enduring whatever scene was happening in town, or running into people she knew. She erased the last five words, then added, I was thinking of ordering a pizza and I don’t feel like getting dressed up.
Hopefully that didn’t immediately make him think this was a bootie call.
Because it wasn’t a bootie call. Was it?
She was overthinking things, so instead she watched her phone screen. Soon enough, three little dots appeared in a text bubble, and then his response appeared.
Nick: I’d love that. Can I bring beer or wine?
Becca: Maybe. You don’t think this is a bootie call, do you?
Nick: It only is if you want it to be 😉
Becca: I like white wine.
She added her address and then, determined to also reach out to her old best friend and not hide from that friendship, either, she texted Summer.
Becca: Nick’s coming over for pizza.
Summer didn’t respond right away. Probably too busy with her other friends…no. Stop that thinking. Becca didn’t always respond right away, either. Sometimes the text required thought, or sometimes she just wasn’t next to her phone.
While she waited for Summer to write back and for Nick to come over, Becca went to her closet to have a peek. She was sure Nick wouldn’t care what she wore, but she still wanted to impress him.
She just didn’t want to have to get dressed up to do it.
She had a super soft jersey skirt that she liked, and she paired it with a purple long-sleeved boyfriend tee. Comfortable. To amp up the sexiness, she added a pair of long, dangly earrings, stuck her hair up in a messy bun, and painted her toenails. Thank goodness her legs were shaved and her Brazilian wax was recent. Not that she expected things to go there, but still, it was nice to be prepared.
Just as she was about to place the pizza order, her phone buzzed with a text from Summer.
Summer: That’s great! He seems like a really nice guy.
Becca: So you approve, then?
Summer: Completely. I want to see you happy.
Summer added a kissing face emoji, and Becca sent one back. Then she placed the pizza order online, feeling a lot better about hanging out with Nick tonight. No, she hadn’t needed Summer’s blessing, but it was good to have, anyway. And maybe tomorrow, she and Summer could grab coffee during Summer’s work break at the dentist’s office, and Becca could tell her all about the date with Nick.
The doorbell rang. She gave herself one last glance in the mirror. “You got this, Becks.”
She tried to keep her breathing slow and even as she walked downstairs, but her heart sped up and tripped and flopped around in her chest like a gasping, desperate thing. She was well on her way to falling for this guy, and she’d only seen him twice before.
When she opened the door, he stood before her, holding a bottle of wine and holding a bouquet—a mix of roses in all shades of pink and red imaginable. His brown eyes twinkled as he smiled at her.
“I know you said you didn’t want romance…but you also said this wasn’t a bootie call,” he said.
She laughed, taking the flowers from him. “Make yourself comfortable while I put these in water,” she said, walking into the kitchen.
He spoke from right behind her, and she nearly jumped. “Or I could make myself useful and pour us some wine.”
“Yeah,” she said softly, turning to face him. She couldn’t look away from his beautiful mouth and those lips that had given her a perfect kiss. “You could do that.”
“Or I could kiss you again,” he whispered, taking a step closer so that they stood inches apart, “because I think that’s what we both want right now.”
“It does seem that way, doesn’t it?” she said.
She set the flowers on the kitchen table and braced herself by putting her hands on his chest. Then she stood on her tiptoes and brushed her lips against his once, twice. She wanted more. The desire building within her felt as if it had been building for years, and maybe it had. She hadn’t done more than kiss another man since Grant.
His mouth was warm. He wrapped his arms around her, wrapping his fist in her t-shirt. His pecs felt so solid beneath her hands. She wanted to see more of him, feel more of him. She ran her hands down to his waist and felt the warm skin just above his jeans.
He groaned into her mouth. “You’re killing me.”
Feeling powerful and reckless, she said, “Shirt. Off.”
“Your wish is my command.” In a quick move, he yanked her shirt over her head.
Becca screeched and pulled her arms over her breasts. “I meant your shirt!”
He gave her a slow grin. “Really? Well, you should have been more specific.”
“Your turn,” she said. She could have kept her arms over her chest, but the enjoyment in his gaze gave her more confidence. She had nothing to hide. In fact, as soon as they’d started kissing, she’d known it would go this way.
He lifted his shirt over his head. Well-defined abs, broad pectorals. She touched her lips to make sure she wasn’t drooling. Then, reaching out, she ran her hand over his chest.
“Becca,” he growled. “Give me that beautiful mouth of yours again.”
She obliged, tilting her face up to meet his.
The doorbell rang. “Oh, shit, the pizza,” Becca said, finding her t-shirt on the counter and clutching it to her naked chest.
Nick laughed. “I’ll take care of it.”
“Cash is on the little table by the door,” she said.
Shrugging his shirt back on, he went to the front door. She heard him and the delivery person exchange a few words, then the door shut and he came back in, bringing the tantalizing scents of cheese and garlicky marinara sauce.
Becca carried plates and napkins into the living room, balancing them on the pizza box. “I’ll grab the wine,” Nick said.
She had Hulu up and ready to stream on her television, but as Nick brought out two glasses of wine, he said, “So, you’re a lawyer?”
“Yeah. I argued with my parents a lot when I was a kid. My dad encouraged me to make a living at it as a joke at first. Then when I did a mock trial competition in high school, I fell in love with it.”
“Lots of school, right?” He put a piece of pizza on her plate, and then one on his own.
“Yeah,” she said. “How about you?”
“Nothing as smart as you,” he said. “I barely graduated high school.”
“That doesn’t mean you aren’t smart,” she said.
“It’s the dumb choices I made that mean I’m not smart, not the lack of school.” He took a bite of pizza.
Becca wondered what to say next. Should she pry? Hell, why not? What did she have to lose? “What kinds of choices do you mean?”
He finished chewing, then said, “My family pressured me into fighting. Like, cage matches, you know?”
She shook her head. She didn’t know.
“Mixed martial arts.”
She could feel her eyes widen. “Really?”
“Yeah. I was good at it, but I also hated getting pummeled for a living. So, one day, I took off. Haven’t looked back since.”
“Whoa.” She wasn’t sure what to say.
He grinned. “I’ve got all sorts of scars from getting kicked around, too. Wanna see them?”
At least he could joke about it. Smirking, she said, “Yeah, maybe I would.”
He’d finished his pizza, and she would’ve expected him to grab another slice, or five, but he set his plate aside and looked at her intently. “You’ve got a little bit of sauce, right…there.”
He touched the corner of her mouth.
Becca froze. They’d just been making out in her kitchen. How could one little touch ignite her like this? Desire flooded through her. She set down her half-eaten piece of pizza.
Nick stood up and grabbed their plates. “Let’s get this put away.”
“Are you going to have any more pizza?” she asked him.
“I’m not hungry for pizza.”
Becca followed him into the kitchen. The way he’d said that…whoa. She’d follow him anywhere. He made himself at home in her kitchen, opening the dish washer and putting their plates inside it. She watched, amused, while he hunted in a couple of cupboards until he found some storage containers. After boxing up the leftover pizza, he placed it in the fridge.
“Job well done,” Becca said, laughter in her voice.
“I didn’t want you to be worried about pizza or a mess when I do this,” he said, coming over to stand in front of her.
He leaned toward her and kissed her lips.
Becca kissed him back, gripping the bottom of his shirt, craving his contact. He threaded his hand into her hair, tugging her forward experimentally, as if wondering if she’d like it. She moaned in appreciation. Yeah, she liked it.
She yanked at his shirt, and he pulled away to lift it the rest of the way over his head. Then lifted her arms up over her head and pulled off her shirt, as well. He kissed her bare shoulders, then nuzzled against her neck, kissing her just below her ear until she squirmed. He held her hips in his hands and trailed kisses down to her bra-covered breasts. He sucked one nipple through the lace, and Becca couldn’t help moaning as a bolt of desire shot straight to her pussy.
“Are you doing okay?” Nick asked, his voice a low rumble against her chest.
“Better than okay.”
He knelt on the kitchen floor and touched her knee, just beneath the hemline of her jersey skirt. “I like your legs.”
His fingers were warm on her skin, just barely grazing against her. He moved his hand up the inside of her thigh. Becca leaned slightly to the side so she could hang on to the kitchen island.
“Can I take this off?” he asked, pulling at the hem of her skirt with the other hand.
“Please,” she said.
He pressed kisses against her waist even as he tugged the skirt down. The black fabric pooled at her feet.
Nick remained on his knees before her and stared up into her eyes. “I can’t wait to taste you.”
Nick looked up at Becca. “You are so fucking beautiful, do you know that?”
She gave him a shy smile.
He smiled back, then pressed his mouth against her panty-covered mound. He inhaled, pulling in the taste and scent of her. Then a long, slow lick against the lace.
She shook, so he grabbed her hips to hold her in place.
He wanted her to feel him everywhere, and he wanted to mark her with his scent, with his love, with his teeth. He wanted the entire world to know she was his. But for now, he contented himself with tasting her.
Pressing a finger along the edge of her panties, he murmured against the lace, “You’re gonna taste so good.”
“Oh, Nick,” Becca moaned, and the throaty sound went straight to his cock.
When he shoved the edge of the panties to the side, he was smiled when he saw that she was bare. “My woman’s full of surprises, isn’t she?” he said with a dark chuckle.
“How do you know I’m yours?” she asked, breathless.
“When you’re moaning my name, that’s my first clue.” He eased one of his fingers inside her and licked along her folds.
“Nick!” she cried.
“Yeah, just like that.” He reached down to work his cock out of his jeans, stroking his hand up and down its length. He couldn’t help himself; she made him that horny. Licking and sucking her, he put a second finger inside of her. Pleased with the new intensity to her moaning, he fingered her pussy until she clenched her thighs around him.
She panted, “I’m gonna—I’m gonna—”
“Go for it, baby,” he said. “Let yourself go. Come on my face and my fingers.”
Her walls spasmed around his fingers and she cried out his name again, a long, high wail that made him want to come right then and there. She smelled sexy, she tasted sexy, and she sounded sexy. And the way she looked, all flushed and shaking—well, that was damn sexy, too. And now he wanted to feel her, with all of him.
He pulled a newly-purchased condom out of his wallet. She’d told him it wasn’t a bootie call, but yeah, he’d been a hopeful asshole before he came over here, wondering if things would go beyond kissing this time. Scooting up, he sat on the edge of the couch and pulled her onto his lap so she straddled him. She leaned forward and kissed him, and he sucked her tongue into his mouth while he kneaded her ass. He could feel her wiggling closer to his cock, her entrance a hot, tight place rubbing against him.
Grabbing her hips, he jerked her closer until she was poised right over his length, and then he pulled her down, impaling her on his cock.
“Mmm, Becca,” he murmured, kissing his way down her throat and to her breasts, which were right there, the perfect height for his mouth.
He tugged one nipple between his lips and she gasped and rocked up and down on his dick. That felt fucking good, so he did the same with her other nipple, and she did it again.
“You gonna come again, beautiful?” he asked, before returning to her breasts.
“Yeah,” she said.
“Good.” He reached between them and rubbed his finger over her clit, which was slippery with her arousal.
“Oh,” she said, moving up and down on him even faster.
It wouldn’t be long before she came again, if the way her pussy was squeezing him was any indication. He pressed more sucking kisses to her nipples while keeping his hand on her clit, and suddenly she cried out and shook. He held her tight, enjoying the way she continued to move over him even while she was coming. Before she could get too sensitive, he pumped hard, just a few more times, before crushing her to his chest and emptying inside of her. “Becca,” he said as he came. “Becca.”
They sat locked like that for several minutes, before Becca whispered, “Bed. And you’re staying over.”
“Yeah?” he asked.
Nick chuckled and picked her up, kicking his jeans and boxer briefs off the rest of the way so he was naked. Cradling her to his chest, he walked upstairs. “Which room?”
“Go right. Then past the little sitting room there.”
“Damn, your house is huge.”
“I guess,” she said. “I mean, I know it is, but I try not to think about it anymore.”
He saw a door partway open at the end of the hall. “That one yours?” he asked.
“Yep.” She snuggled closer to his chest.
He carried her inside and helped her climb into bed. Her room smelled like her, with faint traces of sandalwood. It was Nick’s own personal version of paradise.
He saw a bathroom off to one side, and stepped in for a second to dispose of the condom. Then he climbed into bed next to Becca. “How come you try not to think about your house anymore?”
“Because I’m lazy. I want to sell it and get a smaller place, but I’ve just never been able to do it.”
“Why do you want a smaller place?” he asked. “I was looking around when I came over. You’ve got gorgeous views and tons of property out here, no nosy neighbors…”
“It’s too big for one person, that’s all.”
Her voice was brisk. Final. He decided to let it go. Instead, he pulled her closer, spooning her so he could press his nose against the back of her neck. She fit against him like she was born to be there.
“I gotta tell you something,” Nick whispered.
“What is it?”
“Downstairs, in your living room with you,” he said, “that was the hottest thing I’ve ever experienced.”
He didn’t expect her to agree—after all, she’d been married before. So when she said, “Same here,” and his shifter senses told him she was telling the truth, he fell asleep, holding her and smiling.
Nick had endured some pretty low moments in his life. Pain, back in his old pack ruled by a crooked alpha. Discouragement, when he hadn’t been able to find Hayley for so long. Depression, when he’d belonged to the shifters-only MMA circuit. He’d made dumb-ass mistakes, and painful mistakes, and suffered accordingly.
So it was pretty fucking hard to believe that right now, curled within his embrace, was a woman so pure and perfect for him. Becca.
She moved in his arms, snuggling closer to rest her cheek against his chest.
Never before had he felt so fucking responsible and important. He mattered. He fucking mattered. His chest felt like it was swelling to five times its size.
He could face his demons and fight, or he could be afraid for the rest of his life. In being afraid, he’d lose this intelligent, beautiful, funny woman. Nope, not a chance. He’d fight.
No running. He’d figure his shit out so he could be good enough for her.
Copyright 2018 Liza Street. All rights reserved.
Thanks for reading–I’ll have the next chapters for you next month! A few people have asked, and no, this book isn’t for sale anywhere yet. I’m still revising and editing while I work on other books for you. ❤