Beautifully Broken: A Standalone Forbidden Second Chance Romance
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From USA Today bestselling author, comes an emotionally raw and gritty forbidden romance filled with second chances.
I KNEW HE WOULD RUIN ME FROM THE MOMENT WE MET.
Everything about the man screamed confidence. Sensuality. Intelligence. Worldliness. But it was how he saved me that ruined me most.
Through him, I learned to end my path of self-destruction. I no longer needed to numb the pain with mindless one-night-stands and drunken blackouts. He made me feel worthy. Treasured. Optimistic about my future.
Here I stand four years later, in a coffee shop a world away, still broken...but beautifully so. My scars no longer hold me back. Instead, they give me strength and enrich my appreciation for the good things in life. I have hopes and dreams...faith that anything is possible. I am no longer the lost little girl fighting for survival. I have direction. I have courage. I am not without possibility.
I'll always have Gavin to thank for that--Mr. Cooper, I remind myself. That's who he is to me now: just a former teacher. I know what you're thinking, but don't worry. I was eighteen when we first met. Legally, we did nothing wrong. Morally? Well, I guess that depends on how flexible your morals are.
My name is Kat and this is my story.
*Beautifully Broken is a standalone forbidden/second chance romance. It contains scenes that may be triggering for sensitive readers.
Release date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Lovestruck Publishing LLC
Print pages: 448
Content advisory: graphic sex, language
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Beautifully Broken: A Standalone Forbidden Second Chance Romance
The secret to getting away with a fake ID is going to a dive bar. Stay away from grocery stores and classy places—they usually have scanners that can spot a fake a mile away. The last thing I need on my eighteenth birthday is a night in county jail. Or worse, I wouldn’t get the drinks that I so desperately desired. Lucky for me, dive bars are practically my only choice here on the Central Oregon Coast. I’m legally an adult now and that’s cause for celebration. Normally, I’d call up my friend, Dylan and he’d supply the alcohol…and the orgasms. The perfect combination to make me temporarily forget about all the shit I have to deal with. But that’s not what tonight is about. Tonight, I am officially free from the system. I no longer have to go to a group home, or be fostered by someone who’s more interested in a paycheck than parenting when my mom gets arrested for solicitation or possession of a controlled substance. She’s tried getting sober over the years, hence my entire childhood being one fucked up game of ping pong, but her addiction always wins. Heroin trumps daughter. Every damn time.
I never knew my father. Neither did my mother, I suspect. Besides the night he impregnated her anyway. The only thing I know for certain is that he’s Latino. I definitely didn’t get my dark features from Mom. Cybil and I couldn’t be more opposite physically. While she’s tall, fair, and willowy—I’m short, dark, and curvy. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. My curves are in all the right places and they help me appear older than I am. In case you didn’t catch it, yes, I call my mother by her first name. She doesn’t want any of her regular clients to know that she’s old enough to have a teenage daughter. She’s only thirty-four, which isn’t old if you ask me, but she tells people she’s twenty-four. It makes her more marketable. If anyone asks, we’re roomies. They’re usually too inebriated and/or horny to question it.
“What’ll you have, pretty lady?”
I raise my head and see the bartender approaching. His bushy eyebrows lift expectantly.
“Tequila rimmed with salt,” I reply as I lean over slightly, giving him a better view of my cleavage. In my experience, the portions are pretty generous when the bartender sees something he likes.
He stares at the boobage on display and gives me a smarmy smile. He grabs a bottle of Don Julio and begins filling the oversized shot glass to the rim. “Sure thing, sweetheart.”
He continues to leer as he sets my drink on the bar. Well, look at that; I didn’t even need my ID.
“Thanks,” I say. “You got any lime?”
He opens the garnish tray and plucks out a few wedges, placing them in a bowl. With his gaze still on my chest he asks, “Anything else I can do for ya?”
He’s really asking what I can do for him…and for what price. There’s a surprising amount of illicit sex in small towns, you know. I guess that’s what I get for choosing a place next to a seedy motel that rents by the hour. Too bad for him, I don’t have a habit to support. Not that I haven’t had the chance—there’s no way you live the life I’ve lived without being exposed to everything under the sun—but I’ve seen firsthand how powerful drugs can be and I have no desire to become another sad statistic. The irony of my current scene is not lost on me but I don’t have a drinking problem, if that’s what you’re thinking. If you must know, sex is my chosen vice. The main difference between me and my mother is that I don’t use it as a form of payment or to get paid. Getting off simply helps me turn down the volume for a while. Silence truly is a beautiful thing in my crazy, chaotic world.
I down the drink in one long gulp, chase it with the lime, and bat my eyelashes. “How about another?” There’s no way I’m interested in this jerk but flirting will keep the drinks flowing. Flirting like a pro is the one useful thing my mother has taught me.
He pours another and waits for me to bring the glass to my lips again. Before I can comply, a big guy on the corner shouts, “Yo, Stan! I’m empty!” Big Guy emphasizes his statement by clanking his mug loudly on the grimy surface.
Slimy Stan, as I’ve now named him, winks at me. “I’ll be back, sweet thing. Don’t go anywhere.”
I roll my eyes as he walks away to bleed the tap. I lift my glass and say, “Happy fucking birthday to me.”
The tequila burns my throat as a deep voice rumbles behind me, “Why is such a beautiful woman drinking all alone on her birthday?”
My shoulders stiffen as I set my glass down. I turn around to fend off this douche but I’m frozen once I see how gorgeous he is. Screw the alcohol. This is what I need tonight. My eyes travel across his flawless face, highlighted by turquoise eyes, a strong jaw dusted with stubble, and full lips. He licks said lips and I shiver when I think about what that tongue could do to me. My eyes continue their descent over a pair of broad shoulders that taper to a trim waist and long legs. He’s wearing a faded Led Zeppelin tee and a pair of dark jeans. Both show off his toned physique brilliantly. He’s built, but not bulky. Ruggedly handsome too—like an old-fashioned movie star. Simply put, he’s breathtaking. Also, unquestionably out of place in this shitty establishment.
He smirks when he notices my obvious perusal. “May I have a seat?”
I gulp, feeling strange little flutters in my stomach. I nod my head toward the adjacent stool. “Please do.”
“May I buy you another drink?” he asks. “Perhaps something a little more… diluted?”
I laugh. “I’d hate to break this to you buddy, but it doesn’t work like that.”
He crinkles his brows and runs a hand through his sandy blonde hair. “Care to elaborate?”
I smile. “If you’re looking to get in my pants, the less diluted the alcohol, the better.”
Sexy little crinkles form around his eyes as he returns my smile. “Is that so?”
I nod. “Absolutely.”
He signals Slimy Stan. “Bartender, can we get another round? I’ll have a bottle of Rogue IPA, and my friend here will have...”
I trace my fingers over the rim of my shot glass. “The same.”
Stan scowls when he notices my new friend. He quickly masks his displeasure and says, “Sure thing.”
Sexy Eyes flashes his perfect grin again. “So, Birthday Girl, do you have a name?”
“I do,” I say, “but I’m not giving it to you.”
He frowns. “And why’s that?”
I tip my freshly delivered bottle to my lips. “Because I have a strict no-name policy for one-night stands.” It’s true; I do. It’s less complicated that way.
His eyes widen in surprise but I don’t miss the underlying interest. “Well, then you have no worries. I’m not interested in sleeping with you. So what’s your name?”
I laugh to cover the sting of his rejection. “So, let me get this straight. You’re telling me that if I wanted to drag you into a dark corner right now and fuck your brains out, you wouldn’t be interested?”
He nods his head slowly and places his hand over mine. “That’s exactly what I’m saying—I’m not interested in a mindless fuck. With you or anyone, for that matter.”
Jesus, my panties are soaked from just listening to his resonant voice, even if the words are toxic to my fragile self-esteem. I bite my lower lip and give him another good once-over. “You’re not tripping my gaydar—which if I may say so, is pretty damn accurate—so what gives?”
He rubs his chin thoughtfully and smiles. I can’t help but fixate on the subtle scratching sound the motion makes. “So, a man has to be gay to turn you down? I never said I wasn’t interested in getting to know you. Asking your name seems like a great way to start.”
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by this guy’s approach. “It doesn’t matter which name I give you—I could easily lie to placate you. But why bother? Let’s just call this what it is and move forward. Sound like a plan, Sparkles?”
He laughs. “Sparkles?”
“I give people nicknames,” I explain with a shrug. “Your eyes—they’re really blue…and sparkly. Hence, Sparkles. No real names. No complications.”
“You couldn’t come up with something a little more…manly?”
I wink. “Nah, I like Sparkles.”
He laughs. “As amusing as this game is, I’d like to at least know the reason behind your no-name policy.”
I slowly cross my legs as he watches with blatant interest. “I already told you; it’s less complicated that way.”
He narrows his eyes at me. “Well, that’s a cop-out if I’ve ever heard one. Could you at least give me something a little more original? Or better yet, how about the truth?”
Nope, because if you knew how fucked up I am, you’d go running for the hills. This conversation is teetering dangerously close to the edge of an abyss that I can’t afford to fall into again. I put my fake bravado in place and give an exaggerated sigh.
“Look, Sparkles. Can we forget about any games and just get on with this?”
“And what exactly is this?”
I lean forward and slowly move my hands up his powerful thighs. “I want you.” Holy hell, I really do. I can’t remember ever wanting to lose myself in someone this badly. I go a little bit further to whisper in his ear. “And I know you want me, despite your earlier denial. Do you think I can’t see your jeans tightening? Hear your breath hitch?” I lick the shell of his earlobe. “See your pulse racing as your eyes trace my every move? Why don’t you take me somewhere so we can make that happen?”
He braces his hands on my arms and shifts me back onto my stool. He assesses me briefly before asking, “Is it really your birthday?”
I smile wide, easily predicting his next question. “It is.”
He raises a single brow. “Which one? How old are you?”
“Twenty-two,” I answer without skipping a beat. “How old are you?”
His Adam’s apple bobs as he takes a pull from his bottle. “Twenty-six.” He pulls out his wallet and throws a couple bills onto the bar. He stands and reaches out to take my hand. “C’mon, Birthday Girl. Let’s get out of this shithole.”
I beam in victory. “Lead the way.”
I begin walking toward the right when we get outside.
“Where are you going?” Sparkles asks.
I nod toward the sleazy motel. “Which room is yours?”
He looks insulted. “You think I have a room there?”
I shrug. “Sure. I mean…why else would you be in that bar?”
He pulls out a set of keys and hits a button to unlock the shiny SUV five feet away. “I had a flat. I went inside to wash my hands after changing the tire.”
I fold my arms across my chest. “A flat?”
He kicks the back tire. The obvious spare tire. “Yep.” He slowly looks me over. “I’m not sure I want the answer…but what were you doing in there?”
Trying to forget. “I was waiting for you.”
I’m not the best liar but I’m a great deflector.
He laughs and opens the passenger door. “Okay, Red, I get the hint. You’re not big on personal questions.”
“I have to call you something,” he says. “Your dress and your lips…they’re red.” He gulps as his eyes lazily roam my body from head to toe. “They’re also driving me crazy.”
He nods enthusiastically. “Definitely good crazy.”
I laugh. “Well, if you don’t have a room, where are you taking me?”
“There’s an all-night diner a few miles down the road.”
“Honey, if you want pie, I’ve got something better to offer. Why don’t we just get a room?”
His eyes widen. “Red, of that I have no doubt. But I’d like to buy you a meal and talk for a while.”
I try to hide my shock that he doesn’t want to get right down to it like everyone else always does. Nobody’s been interested in me for conversation before. Doubt really starts to creep in as to whether or not I can handle this.
“That’s really not necessary.”
He nods toward the car. “Actually, it is. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d like to know a little bit about the women I’m intimate with.” He holds up a hand when he sees me smile. “I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but if you’d like to take this any further, which you’ve already implied you do, I’d like to break bread and share some conversation first.”
Damn it. I want him so much and he knows it. I have to figure out a way to take back the power before I transform into a heaping mess of vulnerability.
“Fine. We’ll eat first.” I dig my car keys out of my purse and unlock the beat-up Civic that’s parked right next to his vehicle. “But I’ll follow you.”
His lips twitch. “Whatever you want, Red.” He walks around to the driver’s side and starts his ignition.
I turn my key over as well. “Whatever you want, Red,” I mutter.
This guy had better be fucking dynamite in the sack. I can feel Pandora’s box opening in my brain and I’d rather not disturb it. All sorts of crazy comes out when that happens.
I follow him up Highway 101 to the north end of town. I knew exactly where we were going once he mentioned an all-night diner. There aren’t many options around these parts. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in the worn vinyl booths at Rose’s. I just hope that no one recognizes me. The place becomes a stoner’s paradise after midnight which means I have less than an hour to convince this guy to get naked. Not that I’m a stoner; we’ve already covered that. But there isn’t a whole helluva lot to do in this sleepy town so my friends are. Well, the two that I have anyway.
We each pull into a parking spot and exit our cars. I suddenly get nervous and think about bolting when Sparkles says, “Wow, I wasn’t sure if you were really going to follow me.”
His incredulity reminds me of why I’m here. It’s so contradictory to the confidence that seeps out of his pores. I don’t know how to explain it, but this guy is different. It’s clear that he’s a decent human being. Not that it matters when all is said and done, but it’s nice to change things up once in a while. Ya know?
I clear my throat. “Uh…yeah.” Shit. Awkward much?
He smiles and nods toward the entrance. “Shall we see if they have cake, Birthday Girl?”
I already know the answer but I play along. “Sure. Why not?”
He holds the door open for me. Huh. Clearly this guy didn’t get the memo that chivalry is dead. “Ladies first, Red.”
I step across the threshold, making sure to lightly brush against him. “Thank you.”
He shoves his hands into his pockets and rocks back on his heels, adjusting his growing hard-on. Don’t get me wrong; he’s being discreet. I just know men. I know how to read every little nuance that says they’re aroused. Sparkles is playing hard to get, for reasons I still haven’t determined, but he’s undeniably affected. He feels this crazy energy that’s bouncing between us just as much as I do. Our eyes meet and I swear it feels like the earth just came to a grinding halt. My muscles tense, my chest tightens, and I get this strange tingly sensation right beneath the surface of my skin. I’m frozen in place, staring into azure pools, the color reminding me of the Caribbean. My God, his eyes are the most beautiful pair I’ve ever seen. Have you ever heard the saying, ‘The eyes are the windows to your soul’? I’ve always thought that was a cheesy line but this guy—these eyes—make me seriously reconsider my opinion.
“You okay?” he whispers.
I straighten my shoulders to shake out of my stupor and project a confidence I surely don’t feel at the moment. “Of course, honey. I’d be better if we were ripping each other’s clothes off, but I’m being a good girl.” I press my cheek against his and add, “For now.”
His large hand wraps around my right hip. “Something tells me you’ve never been a good girl.” He takes two steps back, once again, putting too much distance between us.
I was once, but that was a lifetime ago. I push back the memory and force a smirk. “Touché.”
A curvy older woman with bright red hair steps in front of us. “Hey there. Welcome to Rose’s. Table for two?”
Sparkles takes my hand, giving me the shivers again. “Yes, please.”
I try to calm my racing pulse by discreetly taking deep breaths as we follow the hostess. Why am I so fucking anxious? Get your shit together, Kat. Sweaty palms and panic attacks are not sexy.
Ariel’s Grandma throws two menus on the table unceremoniously. “Sharon will be right over to take your orders. Can I get you a drink?”
Sparkles waits until I’m seated before sliding into the bench across the table. “Coffee okay?”
“I’ll have hot chocolate.” I know it’s totally childish, but I love the stuff. Plus, the trace amount of caffeine in it won’t dull my buzz. I really need one of those right now to counteract my damn nerves.
He nods in approval. “That sounds really good. Make it two hot chocolates, please.”
I smirk. “You seem more like a coffee man to me.”
“I am,” he says. “But I’m in the mood for something…sweet.”
I grab the dessert menu and flip through it silently until our cocoa arrives. “No cake…but they have every kind of pie imaginable.”
“I like pie.” His tone has double entendre written all over it.
“I bet you do.” So does mine. Sparkles is getting playful. That’s a good sign.
“So, Red. Are you from around here?”
I nod. “Born and raised. But you’re not. I definitely would’ve noticed.”
He smiles. “You think so?”
“Pft,” I scoff. “Please, Sparkles. Don’t pretend you don’t own a mirror.”
He releases a deep belly laugh that sends tingles to all my girly parts. “I’ll take that as a compliment.” The hostess sets our two mugs of hot chocolate on the table.
“You should,” I say as I take a drink. “So…where are you from then?”
“The Bay Area,” he says. “Sausalito to be more specific.”
I dip my finger into the whipped cream and suck it off slowly. “What the hell would possess you to move here?”
He clears his throat. “Who said I lived here?”
Sparkles watches me with rapt attention as I lick my finger again. “So you’re just passing through then?”
“I didn’t say that either.”
I roll my eyes. “All right, Mr. Evasive, I get the hint. You don’t like personal questions either.”
He shakes his head. “Not true. But I think it should be a give-and-take type of conversation.”
I pull my neckline down slightly and lean forward. “So…like tit for tat?” I pull back with a wink.
He glances hungrily at my chest before meeting my eyes. “Yeah…I like the sound of that. I’ll even start if it makes things easier. My name’s Gavin. What’s yours?”
“Hey y’all. Have you decided what you’d like to order?” Geez, this woman sounds like she’s been smoking two packs a day for the past fifty years.
I don’t need to look at her nametag to confirm that our waitress has arrived. “Hi, Sharon. I think my friend and I need another minute.”
Sharon smacks her gum. “Take your time, hon. Just holler when you’re ready.”
“So,” Sparkles, er, Gavin clears his throat. “You know my name now. What’s yours again?”
“Nice try. Why don’t we stick with Red?”
“It was worth a shot.” He rubs his chin again. Damn, that’s sexy. “Okay, how about starting with something else? Why are you celebrating your birthday all by your lonesome?”
“I’m not all by my lonesome anymore.”
“Fair enough,” he says and smirks. “Let me rephrase…since you’re not wearing a ring, I assume that means you’re unmarried. Correct?”
I wiggle my fourth finger. “Correct. Definitely not married.”
“Nope,” I answer with a pop at the end.
He smiles. “Girlfriend?”
“Not any that I get naked with.”
“Shame,” he tsks.
I laugh. “Sorry to ruin the visual for you. My turn. Are you married?”
“I was,” he says. “Until she cheated on me with my best friend of twenty years. The divorce was final a few months ago.”
“Oh,” I stammer. I’m caught off guard by his honesty and the stark pain in his eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” he assures me. “Clearly neither one of them cared about me as much as they claimed…at least I know the truth. I’ve moved on.”
Total bullshit but I let it slide because no one likes airing their dirty laundry. Lord knows I can understand that. “So…no rebound girlfriend?”
“No anything girlfriend. I’m one hundred percent single. Let’s get back to you. What do you do for a living?”
Oh, I’m about to be a high school senior. No biggie. “Too personal…I don’t want you stalking me at work.” I laugh. “Next question.”
Gavin smiles. “Okay, so our chosen professions are off limits. We’ve established that we’re single and where we’re from. What do you like to do when you’re not working?”
“I like to read.”
He looks surprised. “Reading, huh? What are some of your favorites?”
“Anything I can get my hands on really. Poetry, the classics, thrillers, mythology, dystopia…” I lick my lips suggestively and add, “romance.”
He smiles. “See, I knew there was more to you than just a pretty face. You’re smart.”
I shrug. “Reading doesn’t signify intelligence. It’s simply a great form of escapism—especially when you’re broke. My library card is well-loved.”
“Ah, Red. Don’t do that.”
“Don’t do what?”
“Downplay your intelligence. It’s obvious from the way you carry yourself. You’re observant, witty, and well-spoken.” He folds his hands behind his head. “If you ask me, it makes you even sexier, which I wouldn’t have thought was possible.”
I smile at the compliment. “Let’s get back to you. Where do you live?”
“About three blocks away.”
I smile at his willingness to divulge that information. “Hey, Gavin?”
“Are you ready to order some pie?”
He signals Sharon. “I sure am.”
Gum Smacker is back. “You two ready to order?”
Gavin nods for me to go first. “I’ll have a slice of pumpkin pie, please,” I say. “With lots of whipped cream.”
Sharon writes my order on her notepad and looks toward Gavin. “And what about you, sweetie?”
His eyes twinkle as he stares directly at me. “Pumpkin is my favorite. Load mine up with whipped cream too, please.”
She blows a hair out of her face. “Be right back with that.”
“Is pumpkin really your favorite,” I ask, “or are you just being cute to get in my pants?”
He smirks. “I thought we already established that your pants are wide open for me to jump right in.” He briefly peeks his head under the table. “Although…these pants that we speak of seem to already be missing. Sadly, I can’t take credit for that.”
“Clever,” I say. “Maybe I should’ve said panties, since I’m wearing a dress and all.”
He pouts. “Well, that answers that question.”
“Whether or not you’re wearing any panties under that dress,” he replies.
And right on cue, Sharon is back delivering our pie. Her brows reach her hairline at Gavin’s comment but she chooses to walk away without a word. We both laugh at her quick retreat.
I nudge his foot under the table. “Hey, Gavin?”
“You don’t know what kind of panties I’m wearing.” I take a big bite of pie. “Yet.”
He chokes a little on the piece he was chewing. “Wow, you really don’t have a problem with being direct, do you?”
I shrug. “Not usually, no.”
I inhale my pie at an embarrassing pace. “Damn, this is good,” I mumble through a full mouth.
Gavin eats his as well but with much better table manners. “It is. Although, my mind is now thinking about panties and not pie. That’s weird, don’t you think?”
“You sure like saying panties, don’t you?” I wink for added effect.
He swallows his bite before speaking. “Quite honestly, I never gave it a second thought until five minutes ago. At the moment, my thoughts about them seem to be bordering on obsession.”
“Panties in general?” I ask. “Or anyone’s in particular?”
He smiles. “Oh, I definitely have someone in mind. I can’t stop wondering what color they are on this particular…person.” Flirty Gavin is fun.
“Well, I don’t know who this lucky girl is,” I play along, “but one thing I can tell you is that my favorite color is red. Red lips, red dress, tiny scraps of red lingerie. I also enjoy lacy things…the way the fabric rubs against certain areas of my body feels really nice. Even if they are uncomfortably wet at the moment.”
Gavin groans in response and shifts in his seat. “Jesus,” he mutters.
He clears his throat. “Yes, Red?”
“Have we done enough talking yet?”
He stands, drops a twenty-dollar bill on the table, and offers his hand. “My place work for you?”
“That sounds perfect.”
He opens the passenger door to his Tahoe and this time, I hop in. “You’re not worried about my car getting stolen?” I joke. You’d have to be a moron to steal that piece of shit. It’s older than I am and covered in rust from prolonged exposure to the salty air.
Gavin smirks. “I’ll drive you back to get it later.”
I grab a fistful of his t-shirt and pull him inches away from my lips. “After we have hot, sweaty sex, right?”
He stares at my lips. “Right. After that.”
I release his shirt. “Alrighty then. Let’s go.”
He closes my door and walks around to climb in the driver’s seat. “You sure about this, Red?”
“Why do I get the feeling you don’t normally do this? A guy doesn’t usually give a willing girl so many chances to change her mind.”
“Because I don’t,” he says matter-of-factly. “Taking a virtual stranger home is a first for me.”
“Right,” I scoff.
He raises an eyebrow. “Which part is so hard to believe?”
“All of it,” I reply.
He puts the car in gear and reverses out of the parking spot. “Why’s that?”
I gesture toward his finely sculpted body. “Because you look like that. I’m sure you can have any woman you want.”
Sparkles flashes a blinding smile as he drives into the neighborhood behind the diner. “I’m flattered, but it’s not true.”
“So, you’re telling me that you haven’t had sex with anyone since your divorce?”
“I didn’t say that,” he chuckles. “I said never with a stranger. The last woman I was with…it was a brief friends-with-benefits type of thing right before I moved here. Before that, I was with my ex-wife, Hailey, and before her, my high school girlfriend. That’s it.”
I do the math in my head. “So, you’re saying that you’ve only slept with three women in your entire life?”
“Yep.” He pulls the car into a driveway. “Is that a problem?”
I think about how many guys I’ve been with since I lost my virginity at fifteen. I couldn’t give you an exact number, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s almost ten times that many. “Not as long as you don’t have a problem with my number.” He starts to open his mouth but I cut him off. “Before you ask, I can’t give you one. Not that I don’t want to; I can’t. But I’m always safe. Always.”
Gavin pulls his key out of the ignition and contemplates that for a moment. “No judgment, Red. We all have a past, right?”
I release a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. “Right.”
“This is it.” He nods toward the house as we both step out of the car.
I look up at the quaint cottage-style home which is pretty typical for any beach community. The porch light allows me to see a bench under the overhang with flower beds in front. The yard is perfectly manicured and lined with an honest-to-God white picket fence. Overall, the place seems to be in remarkably good condition. I can hear waves pounding against the rocky shore so I’m sure it has a great ocean view during the day too.
“Nice place. Vacation rental?” Rentals are pretty popular along the coast during the summer months.
“It used to be,” he nods. “I’ve only been here a week so I haven’t had much of a chance to put my stamp on it. It was move-in ready, though, so I’m not complaining.”
“You bought it?” Cybil and I have lived in a run-down apartment my whole life. Well, when I wasn’t bouncing around the system anyway. I couldn’t imagine being able to afford this place. Although it’s not very large, maybe fifteen hundred square feet at best, it’s well-cared for with a view. That’s not cheap real estate, even in shitty Depoe Bay. Usually places like this are owned by wealthy people who rent it out for a week or two at a time.
Gavin shrugs. “I made a nice profit on my house in Sausalito after the divorce. I wanted to stay by the water but in a much smaller town. This place fit the bill.”
“But why this town?”
“I got a job,” he replies. “I applied for several positions along the coast and this one came up first.”
“And what job is that again?”
He smirks. “What was it you do for a living, Red?”
Oh right…we’re not discussing that. “Touché.”
Opening the front door, he says, “You coming?”
I step toward him with a cheeky grin. “If you do your part right, I will be.”
So fast I can barely register the movement, he grabs a fistful of my hair and fuses his mouth to mine. Holy fuck! His lips are just as soft as I imagined but there’s nothing forgiving about this kiss. He dives into my mouth with no hesitation whatsoever. His velvety tongue caresses mine, mimicking what I hope our lower bodies will be doing shortly. His hard muscles press against me in the doorway, the frame digging into my back while his large erection grinds into my stomach. This man is pure cockiness right now. There’s no doubt about who’s in charge as he works me into a fever pitch. What kind of game is he playing? And why am I so effing turned on by the possibilities?
He pulls away, leaving me panting for breath. “Does that give you an idea of what to expect?”
I nod dumbly. “Uh huh.”
He opens the door fully and gestures for me to come in. With a boyish grin he adds, “Good.”
He leads me through the foyer, past a large dining room, into an eat-in country kitchen. I smile when I see the ceramic roosters perched atop the cabinets.
“So, you have a thing for cocks, huh?”
His eyes follow mine and he barks in laughter. “Not really my scene…but I’ve recently developed a fondness for you saying cock.” He punctuates his statement with a wink. “The roosters came with the house, I swear. They’ll be one of the first things to go. They don’t exactly scream bachelor pad. I’m afraid they’re already affecting my game.”
“Maybe just a little,” I agree.
He wags his brows. “Then I’ll just have to rectify that.”
“Oh yeah?” I ask playfully. “And how are you going to do that? Now that I think about it, they are pretty emasculating.”
He places his hands on my hips, leans into my neck, and inhales. “You smell incredible. I want to devour you.”
God bless Victoria’s Secret body splash. I rake my hands through his hair and press him into my skin. I moan when I feel his tongue trace the nape of my neck.
“Then do it.”
He lifts me onto the counter and my legs instinctively wrap around his waist. Our eyes meet and I’m stupefied by his awed expression. He brushes the back of his knuckles against my cheek with great care. “What is it about you, Red? Please tell me I’m not the only one feeling this…this connection between us.”
I gulp. “You’re not.” I tighten my grip with my legs and pull him closer. “I’d really like to make that a literal connection right now though.”
He presses his forehead against mine. “Please tell me your name.”
“No,” I whisper.
“Why not?” he groans.
His lips are so close I can’t help but lick the seam. “I already told you.”
He returns the gesture and pulls back with a little bite. Framing my face with his hands he says, “Break your stupid rule. I need to know your real name.”
I shake my head in refusal. “Sparkles, don’t ruin this.”
He scowls. “How would knowing your name ruin anything?”
Tears prick at my eyes. “I have the rules for a reason. Please don’t press the issue.”
His eyes flicker back and forth as he assesses me. “What happened to you? Why are those beautiful eyes so haunted?”
No one has been able to get through the iron mask I wear. What is it about this man? Why can he see me like no other? Am I doing something different that’s making me so transparent? I’m frustrated and a tear escapes despite my best efforts to contain it. Gavin catches the salty liquid with his thumb and leaves a chaste kiss in its place.
He pulls back to look at me again. “Red, talk to me.”
“Don’t,” I plead. “Please, just make me forget. Kiss me. Touch me.” I take his hand and place it on my breast. “I need you to touch me.”
The conflict warring inside of him is apparent. His hand is frozen at first but his hormones eventually win as his fingers absently start kneading. Light at first, then the pressure builds. I moan when he brushes his thumb over my stiff peak. The thin cotton of my sundress does nothing to hide my reaction to him. Slowly, he tests the weight of me in his palm, tracing his fingers around my curves. His other hand joins in the action and does the same with my right breast.
“You’re so perfect,” he whispers.
I’m terrified of losing control of my emotions. He’s looking at me with so much reverence it’s unnerving. He makes me feel things I’ve never felt before. I desperately need to change course before I fall down this rabbit hole any further. I jump off the counter and peel my dress over my head. Now all I’m wearing is a red strapless bra, a matching thong, and a pair of beat-up cowboy boots.
I take one boot off and throw it behind me. “Where’s your bedroom, Sparkles?”
He watches me like a starving man looking at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I know I’ve gained the upper hand when he says, “Third door on the right.”
I remove the other boot and drop it on the floor. With what I hope is a bit of flair, I reach behind my back and unclasp my bra. Once it joins my boots, he palms himself through his jeans. I don’t think he even realizes he’s doing it, but it’s hotter than fuck. I leave my panties on for now, because those don’t come off until the condom comes on. That’s another one of my hard rules. I don’t break it. Ever.
I walk backwards down the hall, never breaking eye contact. “Well, are you going to join me? Or should I get started without you?”
He scrubs a hand down his face and groans. “Woman, you are driving me crazy.”
I press my breasts together and trace my areolas with each index finger. “C’mon Sparkles, I really want to get started with you.” My lips form into a pout, drawing his gaze back up to my face. “I want to feel your cock in my mouth…my pussy…hell, even my ass if you want.” If nothing else, that last one should get him.
He briefly looks toward the ceiling as if he’s searching for some divine guidance. “Jesus Christ, a man can only take so much,” he mutters.
I smirk. “Jesus ain’t got nothing to do with this, honey. Although, I do hope you’ll have me calling out to God sooner rather than later.”
He sighs. “I’m trying to be a gentleman here, but you’re making that really damn difficult.”
I’m standing right outside his bedroom door now. “I don’t want you to be a gentleman. What I want, is a good, hard fuck until neither one of us can walk. I want to feel you inside of me for days after we’re done.” I give him a coy smile for added effect. The contrast between my words and expression now match the dichotomy between my face and body. The lines are obviously blurring on his end because he’s now less than a foot away. I go in for the kill shot. “Fuck being a gentleman, Gavin. Fuck me instead.”
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