I've been perfect my whole life. Perfect grades, perfect family, perfect life.
Yeah I know, boo hoo.
Poor spoiled rich girl. That's me.
Everything on the outside. Desperately unfulfilled on the inside.
So when I fail for the first time in my life I do what any excessively privileged girl does. I abandon my perfect life, buy a van with my trust fund, and travel the country in search of my soul.
Unfortunately, my van breaks down before I can find myself and I'm stuck in Raston, a small town on the opposite end of the country. By some miracle, there happens to be a single mechanic in the entire town and of course, his name is Ezekiel and of course, he's the most ruggedly sexy thing I've ever seen.
Nova was every guy's fantasy, good girl vibes with a wildly untamed spirit. Who knew her rebellion would be my salvation.
Wild sex in the office of my garage was not how I saw my day going, but hey, who am I to tell a gorgeous girl that banging me isn't going to solve her daddy issues...
I get more than her van engine purring that day, but my night with her changes everything for me. She vanishes before morning light and it's the first time I've ever been ghosted by a girl. It kind of sucks.
But twelve weeks later, after I've cleaned up my act and got a girlfriend on my arm, Nova's back at my garage to drop a bomb on me.
I'm going to be a dad, and this is a problem I have no idea how to fix.
Wild Child is a standalone surprise pregnancy story following the youngest Stryker brother. More small-town romance, more steam, more suspense, and more secrets because those Strykers are good at attracting trouble.
Release date: May 18, 2021
Publisher: A Martin Books
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My bare shoulder blade presses into the cool glass of the window as he pins me against it with his broad frame. A sharp inhale pulls his mouth from mine, and I tip my head to let the heat of his desperate kisses trail down my neck—the short hairs on his jaw scratch along my skin as he moves.
The only thought I have on a loop is:
You’ve lost your goddamn mind.
But losing my mind in the sexy stranger is exactly what I need.
This secret. This hidden act is mine. Only mine.
I’m in control here.
He slips his knee between my legs, pinning me to the door of his office, and I let him hold me there as I melt into the rich, spicy scent of his skin.
“What is happening right now?” He rasps against my jaw, finding my mouth again before I can answer him. His thick, firm hands slip up my shirt and under my bra, and I moan into his kiss. The electric energy moves through my body, finally achieving what I was searching for since the moment I asked the man who fixed my van to see if he could get my engine running again, too.
The rush of excitement jolts through my body, and I shove him away. He stumbles, panting behind a scruff of beard and strong jaw. His brown eyes are hazy but confused. Unsure why I disconnected him from me so abruptly.
Foreign desire pools through my body, crashing against forgotten parts of me, hitting me like a cold ocean wave.
“Are you okay?” He asks with no understanding of the depth of his question. Of the severity of his question. He has no idea he’s the only person in who fucking knows how long who’s bothered to ask me this question. It surges my attraction to him, and I take the coveralls he’s wearing and grab for the zipper. He does nothing as I slowly unveil him and every sweat touched, glistening cut of his stupid fucking gorgeous body. I unwrap him like a gift. An edible gift meant to be devoured in mere moments, so I savor its beauty before I taste it.
“Who are you?” He asks, shaking the coveralls from his shoulders, and I run my hands over his bare arms.
“It doesn’t matter,” I respond, stretching to my toes to press my lips to his. “No talking.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he nips at my lips and spins me around, lifting me to the desk and shoving my skirt up over my hips.
“Are you expecting anyone?” I hum as he massages my thighs and kicks off his coveralls, leaving him in nothing but fitted boxers and the outline of his hard dick driving my need for this release.
I should stop this, but no part of me wants to. I’ve been waiting to unleash this part of me, and I’m not going to let anything get in my way. I’m going to fuck a stranger, and lucky for me, he has no issues giving me exactly what I ask for.
“No. And the glass is frosted. No one can see in here.”
“Good,” I say and hook my thumbs in my underwear and strip them from under my skirt. He blinks at me, and his dumbfounded pout on his full lips only makes me want it more. I reach into my purse perched at the end of the desk and hand him a condom. “You know how to use one of these?”
He manages to get a hold of himself, and the stunned expression gives way to a devilish grin with the power to melt the panties off every single woman on the planet, I’m sure. It was a grin saying, not only do I know how to use it, but I’m going to use it to blow your fucking mind.
That’s the kind of confidence I’m looking for.
I’m ready to have my mind blown. I’m glad to escape my thoughts and live in my body and push out everything dragging me down and holding me prisoner—every expectation.
He tears the package open and steps between my knees, forcing them apart. I barely notice the time pass, and I watch his face as he prepares, reaches for my hips to yank me to the edge of the desk, and then pressure. My head tips, and my eyes slide closed. I’m only here. I’m only in this moment holding on to the edge of the desk as he uses his thumb on my clit to direct my mind and body to him. He used his other hand to shove my shirt up and slows his thrust to taste my skin, flicking and sucking the nipple into his mouth until I’m nothing but air—big heavy breaths of otherworldly existence.
The pressure of the last few months stirs and builds and collects into one tight ball, and then a wave of pleasure washes it all away. My arms shake, and elbows give out, but he catches me. One hand hooks under my knee, the other arm wraps around me, my hair in a coil around his fist, keeping my chin angled to the sky. His grip is desperate like he needs this in the same way I do.
Through my parted lips, a small huff escapes with every thrust, and I ride out every unique sensation flooding through my body.
With his fingers still tangled in my hair, he holds me tight to him as he comes, his shoulders tensing and a low growl rippling up his throat. His forehead drops to my shoulders, and I stroke his back while he catches his breath, tracking the race of his heart beneath the muscle.
There’s a loud buzz shocking me into my body, and I jolt in surprise.
“Fuck,” he says, stepping away and pulling the condom off with a swipe of his hand. “Someone’s here.”
He tosses the condom, adjusts himself in his boxers, and pulls up his coveralls. I jump off the desk and tug my shirt, a flood of awkward energy vibrates through my limbs, and I am suddenly aware of the recklessness of this whole thing.
Whatever spell I had been under is shattered, the handsome man in front of me no longer a fantasy, but he’s real. This is real. I did this for real.
“I should go,” I say, turning my gaze to the floor, and I head to the door.
He reaches for my hand, stopping me. He whips me into his body and kisses me again, hard and desperate, and I suspect he needed this as much as I did. “Meet me. Tonight. At the pub.”
“I will.” I struggle to take my hand from his. I have to exert force to tear my eyes from his. I scoop my panties from the floor, tuck them in my coat pocket and slip out of the office into the shop.
A man in the shop appears to be a taller, leaner version of the young mechanic. A laugh threatened my composure, and I straighten out my skirt and tuck my hair behind my ear.
I can’t believe I took charge like that.
My Mom will fucking kill me if word ever gets out about this.
I push out into the bright warm sun with a sense of satisfaction.
One tiny moment of my life, and it was all mine.
But freedom only lasted a second.
Twelve Weeks Later
The warehouse is the same, but I am completely different. I duck to center the old brick building in the windshield of my van and tighten my hold on the steering wheel like the van itself is going to throw me out the door and into him.
Shaky breath tugs my nerves, and I unravel a little more with each one. My stomach rolls with insecurity. Each wave brings on a fresh new vision of how fucking uncomfortable this is going to be.
“Just go in,” I say to myself, forcing my fingers from the steering wheel and stepping out into the fresh mountain air. I welcome a deep cleansing inhale through my limbs, but it does little to help the tremor in my right hand. “Tell him.”
The door dings as I enter the mechanic's shop and the sound rips through my body, reminding me of his hands on me—his fingers through my hair and the ways he satisfied my body. My cheeks flush, and I place my palm over my belly. The only plus side to this is a new kind of wanting to barf replaces my regular morning sickness.
The office door opens, and I brace myself for him. I steel myself to the truth—the reason why I’m here. The words begin to form on my tongue, but in reality, I’ve barely said them aloud since I sat on a gas station toilet in Fairbanks, Alaska, staring at the little pink plus sign.
An old man steps behind the counter, sending my nerves crashing down from their heightened state. This rolling ocean of emotion is not great for me, and the numbness begins in my toes at the increased cortisol.
“Can I help you?” He says, rubbing his stained palms on his coveralls and peering over his glasses. White hair peppers through the dark curls, and his brown eyes are kind.
“Um, I’m looking for someone who works here. Young guy, scruffy…” I trail out because the next word I want to say is sexy. So sexy.
“Ah, Zeke. He’s off for a few days. Maybe I can help you out?” He smiles, and he’s missing a tooth on the bottom, which makes his smile all the more endearing.
“No, sorry. I need to talk to him.”
This is something you definitely can’t help me with, I think as my hands go to my stomach again, cradling the life growing in there.
“Well, I think he’s staying out at his brother’s farm—a dozen or so kilometers up the highway to Morleau. You’ll see the drive when you get there. There’s an auction sign still up with directions.” The man leans on the counter, and his gaze flickers around my face and drops to my hands, still guarding my belly as if my body isn’t doing a good enough job.
“Thank you,” I say with a pleasant smile, my Press-Smile. The one I perfected while standing behind my mother on a red carpet—quiet, compliant, pretty.
I head to my van, my mind already whirring with thoughts of driving, jumping in, and taking off down the highway to Tennessee. Why do I need to tell him? Why does he need to know how my fuck up has forever altered his existence?
He could go on living his everyday life, having no clue there’s a child out there in the world belonging to him.
I let my forehead fall to the steering wheel, jarring the thoughts loose.
Because I’m a lot of things, but I’m not that heartless. Again, my gut rolls at the betrayal of it like the little bean itself is already talking back and demanding to meet its daddy.
There’s no other option. There never was.
As I pull out onto the highway, I’m sure I’m doing the right thing. I have no idea what will come of it all, but I need to do this. Visions of those soulful brown eyes burrowing deep into me, the overflowing need my stranger poured into me with each hard kiss.
After we were together, the same fear roots itself in me again. I took off without meeting him after we hooked up, which is the same reason driving me to go to him now.
In him, something called to me on a level deeper than sex with a stranger should ever bring out.
When he shed his smug grin and opened his body to my touch, a loneliness in him latched itself onto the loneliness in myself. I haven’t been able to detach it.
I still think of her when I’m jerking off sometimes, and the second I’m done, guilt floods through me, replacing the high of orgasm. Breath pours through my nose, and I slump against the bathroom wall, tipping my chin to my chest as I do up my jeans.
Get over it, you pussy, I think.
A girl is sitting on the couch in the other room, who is my girlfriend. A kind and sweet girl who also has decided she’s waiting until marriage to make love—as she calls it. I’m totally cool with it. There’s no pressure other than the pressure that builds up in my dick every time we make out, and then she puts a hand on my torso to stop. We always stop the exact moment I can tell she’s as turned on as I am, her cheeks flushed with arousal and shyness. I admire her willpower because I often have to excuse myself and punch one out before thinking straight again.
Jess is sexy in an innocent way. The I wanna be the guy who turns her mind dirty kind of way. But tonight, like many other nights, my thoughts turn to Nova. A different kind of sexy. A girl whose mind is already dirty, she only needed a place to act it out. I was lucky enough to be that place.
“Zeke?” Jess’s voice barely carries through the solid door of my brother’s cabin. I’m staying here to feed his stupid horse while he’s off rescuing his woman. He called me out of nowhere and demanded I stay here till he got home. Typical Jethro, though. He’s not nearly as much of a controlling prick as my oldest brother, Alexander, but a close second.
“Yeah?” I answer Jess, washing my hands and shaking the sensations from the spots where thoughts of Nova still linger.
“You okay in there?” She asks, and I swing open the door to her standing right at the threshold. It startles me, and I curse under my breath.
She casts her gaze down, which is something she does that I hate. She never meets my eye when she asks me questions, and it reminds me of my mother talking to my father—the timid need to tiptoe around people. I’m not sure where Jess gets it, but I’m aware of where Mom does, so instinctively, it pisses me off.
I pull her thin frame into my body, wrapping her in a hug, and this is something about Jess I do like. The casual comfort she offers in this proximity.
“I’m fine,” I kiss her hair, and she hugs me tighter, and I think she’s shaking, but I’m not sure. “Are you okay?”
She makes a slight noise, and I can’t tell if it’s a yes or no, so I separate us and tip her chin up to force her eyes to mine.
“I’m sorry,” she says, and I frown.
Her cheeks blaze red, and she doesn’t want to say it. She never wants to say the words.
“I respect your choice, Jess. Don’t be sorry.” It’s a bit gruffer than I mean it to be because while I respect her choice—I still have my biology to contend with. “It’s just sometimes the boner goes away, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s all good. I swear.”
Her soft bottom lip lowers like she might say something, so I press a soft kiss to her mouth. I’m much more relaxed about this odd relationship I’ve found myself in once I no longer have a raging hard-on.
“Don’t worry about it. No pressure.” I state more firmly with hands on her shoulders.
I guide her to the couch, and she settles against my chest as I prepare to do tonight what I did last night and the night before: watch a god-awful movie, then sleep next to a woman I can’t fuck. Even in my thoughts, I sound like such an asshole. But according to basically everyone in my life, that’s precisely what I am.
I have no clue why Jess is the only one who doesn’t think so.
The sun blazes through the cabin window, and I sip coffee while staring at my brother’s horse. The thing just stands at the fence and stares toward the road like she’s waiting for something. Her freedom, maybe? Maybe she’s wondering what life on the other side is like, or if she could jump the fence and run, she could find something more than rooting around for food and pacing.
Jess is in the bathroom, and I hear tires on the driveway, but I’m not facing the right direction to see who it is. Probably Jet home from Alberta, thank fucking God. He said he’d be back today or tomorrow, so maybe he left early.
A knock at the door startles me because Jet wouldn’t knock. He’d barge in here like a tank, just like he does into every room and situation he gets himself into.
I move across the room, my gut sinking lower and lower with each step in this unknown terror gripping me. I have no idea why dread saturates me at a simple knock at the door. Sure, I’m in the middle of nowhere, but there are still auction items to be picked up from Jet’s sale the other week; the vet maybe is coming to check out the horse again. There could be a hundred reasons someone is here, and none of them warrant sweaty palms and a thudding chest.
But the moment I pull open the door, it all comes crashing down on me.
Nova stands on the threshold, her blue eyes wide and posture rigid. She’s as breathtakingly beautiful as the first time she barged into my life.
“Zeke?” She says, like maybe it isn’t me. Maybe I’m just some dude who vaguely resembles the guy she screwed on the desk of a mechanics shop a few months ago.
“What are you doing here?” I respond like an idiot, and I suddenly have no idea what to do with my hands. After some fumbling, they end up clasped behind my neck.
“I’m, um, back in town.”
“I see that,” I mock her, then kick myself internally. Why am I such a prick?
“I needed to talk to you. Can I come in?”
Jess appears beside me, sliding her arms around my waist in a possessive way I’ve never seen on here before, and I throw my arm over her shoulder.
All the color from Nova’s cheeks drains in an instant, and her whole body shakes. The reaction triggers my curiosity and drives realization deeper into my gut. There’s a reason she’s here. This visit is not catch-up. Or an offer of round two.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” she glances at Jess with a tilted expression and then spins around and jogs down the steps.
I pry Jess from my body and kiss her forehead. “I’ll be right back.”
I have to run to catch Nova before she reaches her van.
“Hey,” I call, lunging for her. I touch her elbow, and my universe tilts the moment my fingers touch her skin. “Wait, Nova.”
She whips around. Big tears flood the edges of her lashes, throwing my thoughts around my head as I try to figure out what’s happening.
“I’m so sorry. I should have never come here. I should have called. Or text. I should have kept going.”
“What are you talking about? Why are you here?”
The tears unleash when she blinks, and she swipes at them viciously. My body turns cold, and dread hardens in me like cement in the sun. My thoughts are the only thing moving, and my imagination runs wild as I watch the fear morph her beautiful features.
I had no idea I knew the names of as many venereal diseases as each one whips through my brain. Why else would she be afraid to be here? But we used a condom. The confusion is overwhelming, and then she places both hands on her stomach, and my brain shatters as the unspoken truth torpedoes through my consciousness.
“I’m,” she says through a heaving breath, and I start shaking my head involuntarily.
“No,” I say, cutting her off, but the way she cradles her belly and her lip trembles, it’s very much yes.
“Zeke, I’m—” Her word burns up in the sun, and I collapse in on myself, bracing myself on my knees as gravity sucks every bit of strength into the ground. Stars burst behind my eyes at the lack of oxygen. All of my systems overload and shut down in a single word.
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