Authors: Naima Simone
“Rion, please,” she murmured, cringing at the plea that crept into her voice.
“Sasha, would you mind escorting her safely to her car?” He turned, again disregarding her without hearing her out.
Anger shoved the hurt aside, surging hot and hard inside her. She’d been dismissed, shelved, or patronized too often in her life. She’d also been mute, opting to remain silent, not rock the boat. Not voice her needs, her wants…her desires. Years ago, he’d been the first person to teach that confessing what—or who—you needed resulted in rejection, humiliation. Terrance had solidified that lesson. Well, that time had passed.
She was tired of living—no, existing—in a cocoon that was supposed to be safe but was really suffocating.
And he didn’t get to push her back into that cocoon.
Aiming a dark scowl at Rion, Sasha stepped forward, his hand extended toward her. “Sorry, sweetheart—”
“Wait a minute,” she snarled, skirting past Sasha and latching onto Rion’s arm, ignoring the sexy flex of muscle beneath her fingers and palm. Rion froze, probably in surprise rather than from her hold. “We were friends for a long time. Too long for you to just toss me aside like a stranger. Okay it’s been five years since we’ve seen one another. You can at least give me five seconds.”
Slowly, Rion pivoted, dislodging her hand. Staring up into his lean face with its stark lines and stormy eyes, she shivered. Fear had picked a fine time to remind her of the absolute stupidity of stirring a predator.
Cradling her hand to her chest, she rubbed a thumb over her tingling palm. The palm that had gripped the steel of his arm.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured.
“Five seconds.” He slid his hands in his pants pockets.
“Thank you.” She sighed, relieved. “If we could just—”
“Three,” he stated, his tone past bored and veering into catatonic.
“I need you,” she blurted.
. Oh God. Just…
His eyes narrowed. “What do you need me for?”
“I can’t—” Panic crawling up her throat, she shot a glance at Sasha who didn’t even pretend not to be absorbed with the scene playing out before him. “Rion,” she whispered.
“Damn it. Sex. I need you for sex.”
For the first time, Rion lost his stoicism, shock widening his eyes and parting his lips. Beside him, Sasha sounded as if he were being strangled, and her? She squeezed her eyes shut, flames bursting inside her, consuming her in a conflagration of humiliation.
. Was death by mortification possible?
“Oh fuck,” she groaned.
“Yeah,” Rion drawled. “I got that.”
Yes. Definitely possible.
Puppies wrestling. Swan boats floating on a lake. Multi-colored kites swaying in a perfect summer sky.
Rion played the wholesome, innocent images through his mind on an endless loop as he strode into his office, tossing in pictures of frolicking kittens for good measure. Anything to keep his dick from punching a hole through his pants.
Clenching his jaw, he resisted the urge to slam his fists over and over into the nearest wall, instead thrusting his hands into his pockets. Right now, he’d willingly bust up his hands rather than have his chest and gut shredded with the anger and fucking
that had no outlet. Unwanted need. Resented need. Five years since he’d last seen her.
She still shouldn’t be able to elicit this aching, clawing hunger inside him.
Shouldn’t be able to stir memories like old restless ghosts—memories he’d convinced himself were long dead and buried.
Harper Shaw—not Daly; he’d never call her by another man’s name—wasn’t the one that got away… He’d never had her. She’d offered herself to him, but she’d never truly been his, had always been beyond his reach.
. The snarl reverberated against the walls of his skull, gaining speed and volume with each pass.
. For strolling back into his life. For reminding him of what he’d allowed himself to foolishly want, hope for. Dream of. People like him—the son of a mob hitman, a former thief, thug, and worse—didn’t dream.
Logically, he acknowledged it had been him who’d inserted the distance between them all those years ago. He should’ve never gone to her house and tapped on her bedroom window that night. Not with blood on his hands—literally. It should’ve been a simple collection assignment. But it had gone to hell quick, the guy who’d owed money whipping out a knife and lunging for Rion. But he’d been faster, better. Deadlier. Desperate, Rion had gone to Harper, needing the one pure thing in his life to wash away the dirtiness, the guilt. But she’d taken one look at his face and the crimson stains and freaked, demanding he leave the gang. God, she’d been so innocent. No one just
the O’Bannon gang. And he couldn’t abandon Killian and Sasha. Not even when she’d kissed him, and he’d taken it, for the first time tasting the sweetness that had been taunting him since high school.
So he’d pushed her away. The hands that had committed acts he was too ashamed to tell her about hadn’t been worthy enough to touch her. What she’d wanted from him—a relationship—he couldn’t give. What had he known of relationships? Quick fucks in a backseat or alley? Hell, he’d lost his virginity to a prostitute his father had bought and proudly gifted Rion with for his fifteenth birthday.
She’d deserved someone who could give her the white picket fence, the life in suburbia…safety. The gang life would have used her up, stolen the light from her eyes, replaced innocence with a world-weariness she should never wear. That’s what he could have offered her at the time.
And when she’d come to him and told him she’d accepted her boyfriend of six months’ proposal, he hadn’t stopped her. No matter how much those doe eyes had begged him to.
No matter how much it had killed him inside.
He turned at the soft click of his office door closing, deliberately schooling his features into a cold mask. Harper hovered on the top of the two steps that led to his office, her hand still wrapped around the doorknob. As if unsure whether to run or flee. He smothered a snort. Too late for that.
Sex. I need you for sex
His cock thumped against his zipper as her admission slid through his mind, stroked down his chest, stomach, and fisted his dick. Much too late for that. She should’ve left when he’d given her the chance. Now she wasn’t leaving without giving him an explanation. Mainly why didn’t she go to her husband for sex. Still, no mistake.
She would be leaving.
“You wanted to talk privately,” he said, leaning back against his desk and curling his fingers around the edge. That, or surrender to the urge to bury his hands into the thick mass of hair framing her face and covering the thrust of her breasts. “Don’t have second thoughts now,” he murmured, detesting the hoarseness creeping into his voice.
“I’m not having second thoughts,” she objected, carefully descending the steps and pausing several feet away from him.
He waited for her to look at him, and when she finally did, he aimed a pointed stare at the fingers she twisted in front of her belly. A wince crossed her face. Lowering her hands to the sides of the black dress, which revealed slender legs that seemed much too long for a woman with her petite stature, she straightened her shoulders, her gaze unwavering. Still stubborn. Regardless of the names her parents had called him—or even what he’d said about himself—she’d defied them all to be his friend. When no one else had seen the good in him, she had, never failing to tell him he was better than the life he’d been born into.
“The photographs,” she murmured, studying several of his, which were mounted and enlarged on his office walls. “They’re yours. The ones downstairs, too.”
“Yes.” It was all he was willing to say on the subject. “Maybe you should reconsider this,” he growled. “I think your husband would appreciate it.”
She flinched, a spasm of pain twisting her face. “Terrance died,” she whispered after several long seconds. “I’m a widow.”
“I’m sorry, Harper.” And he was. Yes, he hated that she’d given herself to another man, but he wouldn’t wish the agony of losing a loved one on anyone. Least of all her. “How long ago?”
“Two years.” She glanced away from him. “An aneurysm.”
“I’m sorry, baby,” he repeated. Her head jerked back, the same surprise cascading through him at his slip widening her eyes.
. He didn’t use pet names, endearments. Ever. But this woman seemed capable of making him break his rules. “Yet that doesn’t explain why you’re here.”
She lifted a shoulder, holding her hands out, palms up. “I already did. I—”
“Need me; I heard you. Sex,” he murmured. A flush darkened her patrician cheekbones, those lush, carnal lips parting. His fingers itched with the urge to press a thumb to the plump curve, watch it indent under the pressure before he slid it forward and into her mouth, over her tongue. God, he wanted that. Which was why he couldn’t have it. “What were you thinking? I lay you down on a bed? Or no, you probably want something more”
he twisted his lips into a smile
“exotic. Maybe my desk? Yeah, you want me to lay you down on the desk and, what? Flip your skirt up and get down to it? Sorry, baby. What I do isn’t gentle, clean, or quick. You have no idea what I call sex, and you don’t want to know. You’re not
She’d lifted her velvet gaze to him again. He’d expected anxiety, maybe even fear. But no. No fear. Arousal. Hot need glazed her eyes, darkening them to near black. Damn, he needed his camera. Needed to capture that look, immortalize it. That photo he would hang in his bedroom so when he fell asleep, it would be with her hunger for what he could give her in his mind, imprinting his dreams.
“That make you wet?” he murmured, a part of him knowing the answer. “Does the thought of me getting you messy and sweaty have your thighs squeezing?”
She stared at him, silent. Then…she nodded.
He narrowed his eyes at her. “Is it me? Is it the thought of my cock that has your pussy hot? Or would any do?”
“You,” she whispered. But something flickered in her eyes. There and gone before he could decipher it. “I want you.”
“Why?” he demanded. “Why me, and after this long?”
She crossed her arms, and the gesture reeked of defiance. “Once, you turned down what I offered you, even though you had no problem taking the same thing from other women. I want what you so willingly gave them.”
“So you’re slumming it now. Now you’re looking for those quick screws in bathrooms and basements?”
“You said you don’t do quick,” she softly reminded him.
“But you’re okay with slumming,” he sneered.
Her eyes widened. “No, I didn’t—”
“Forget it,” he snapped, slashing a hand through the air as if he could cut off the conversation. What the hell was he doing? Not just taunting her and tormenting himself with the fact that she had lowered herself to come to him, but he tortured himself with what he couldn’t have. With what wasn’t his. Didn’t matter that Terrance was gone; she still didn’t belong with him. Didn’t belong
, in Lick. She was too…untried. Again the word “innocent” tickled his mind. Yeah, she was too innocent for this place. For him.
“You don’t know what you’re asking for. What you
you want. How could you? What? Sex for you most likely consisted of years of missionary position with the lights out, nightgown pushed up around your waist.” She emitted a helpless whimper, pressing her fingertips to her lips. Even imagining her and Terrance having such pathetic sex put a blow torch to his gut. “I’m close, aren’t I?” He slowly pushed to his feet. “Come here.”
Surprise flared in her dark eyes, but after a small hesitation, she moved toward him. He studied the subtle, but sexy, sway of her hips, and his fingers throbbed with the need to capture the swell of flesh between his palms and jerk her forward. Cradle and stroke his aching dick against her stomach. Instead he shifted to the side and jerked his chin.
“Go to the desk,” he ordered, his fingers curling at his sides. She slid a questioning glance his way, but did as he demanded, coming to a halt in front of the piece of furniture. “Turn around and pull up your dress. And bend over.”
Her shoulders stiffened, and he caught her low, sharp gasp. Her lips parted, her wide eyes searching his face. He didn’t speak, just waited for her to push past him and run the hell out of his office and club. He’d warned her. She couldn’t even obey a simple, relatively tame command. No way was she prepared…
Slowly, she pivoted on those ridiculously hot heels, presenting the slim line of her spine to him. Her fingers clutched the sides of her dress and inched the skirt high…higher…higher…
. Lust pummeled the air from his lungs. Black lace molded soft-looking, smooth flesh. Her ass. Goddamn, a work of erotic art. Moisture fled his mouth at his first look at the curves he’d fantasized about since he’d been a teenager. All the blood in his body rushed to his cock, pounding and demanding he thrust against the dark crease he could glimpse through the delicate material.
A lesson. This was a lesson.
The reminder did nothing to calm the hunger to touch, to shape, to fucking take.
“Bend over,” he murmured, approaching her. “Palms flat on the desk, ass in the air.” Easing to her side, he dragged a finger up the back of her thigh, and ruthlessly lassoed the shudder that wanted to work its way through his body at his first, sensual touch.
Harper didn’t bother. He didn’t miss the shiver that lightly shook her frame as she complied with his request.
“You hesitated. You think you can handle being here, handle fucking me when you pause with this.” He trailed a caress up the inside of her thigh, teasing the edge of her panties, skirting the panel that covered her sex. “What are you going to do when I tell you to bend over, spread your legs…” He moved behind her, gently kicked her feet farther apart. “And don’t move as I finger this sweet, little pussy in a room full of people?”
Without hesitation, he slipped beneath the strip of cloth shielding her from him and slid into hot, wet—so fucking
—flesh. Smothering a groan, he stroked her slit, coating his finger in moisture he just knew would be sweet on his tongue. Sweet and addictive.
A lesson, damn it
Firming his resolve, his determination, he palmed her waist, holding her steady as he circled her clit, strumming it. Her whimper reached his ears, and he tightened his grip, controlling the seductive, hungry roll of her hips. The nub at the top of her sex flexed and pulsed beneath his fingertip, and he growled as she widened her stance, silently begging for more. And he gave it to her; nothing could stop him from giving it to her. He rubbed her clit harder, polishing the bundle of nerves with a firmer stroke, pushing her. She bucked against his fingers, her fingers curling into the top of the desk.
Leaning over her arched back, he brushed her hair aside with his free hand. “You’ve probably never surrendered total control to a man,” he growled in her ear. “Probably never sucked a man off, had him hold your head still while he shoots off down your throat. Never kneeled before him, wrists bound behind you, face to the sheets, ass in the air, pussy wet and open for him like you are now. I’d bet my left nut you don’t know the pleasure/pain of having that same ass taken, fucked. Smuggled porn videos and YouTube clips can’t prepare you for all that you’re naively asking me to show you.” He removed his hand from her panties, even as everything in him cursed him to hell and back. Gritting his teeth, he backed away from her, curling his drenched fingers into a fist as if he could capture the evidence of her desire in his skin. Keep it as a sensory memory. He forced himself to retreat another step from her shuddering form. “Go back home to your safe suburbs, baby.”
Silence loomed between them like a dark specter, the only sound in the office her soft pants as she remained bent over the furniture. Lust pounded in his flesh, thickening it, sensitizing it so the press of his zipper was just about too much to bear. One touch. One squeeze. That’s all it would take for him to explode, come so hard, it would damn near blind him.
Slowly, maybe as the realization that he wouldn’t be finishing what he’d started dawned, she straightened, shock gradually replacing the lust stamped on her lovely features.
“You bastard,” she whispered, jerking down her dress. Hiding herself from him.
He folded his arms across his chest. Arched an eyebrow. “You’re not ready for it. Not even almost.”
“I want it,” she insisted, pressing her palms to her belly, as if the request—the demand—had come straight from there. “Everything you described. I want it, Rion.” Pause. “More. Give it to me.”