Authors: Sierra Kincade
Titles by Sierra Kincade
The Body Work Trilogy
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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Copyright Â© 2015 by Sierra Kincade.
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eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-18282-0
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The distraction / Sierra Kincade. â Heat trade paperback edition.
p. ; cm.â(The body work trilogy ; 2)
Heat trade paperback edition / February 2015
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For Jason, always
A huge thank-you to my agents Joanna MacKenzie, Danielle Egan Miller, and Abby Saul. I am doing what I love because of you and I am so proud to have you standing by my side. I am ever grateful for the kindness and support of Leis Pederson, editor extraordinaire, and Jessica Brock, my super-cool publicist. Go Team Masseuse! Cupcakes all around!
A special thank-you to my most excellent beta readers: Deanna, who nicely lets me know when she trips in plot holes so that I can fix them; Courtney, who gives Alec the best legal advice; and Katie, who is the master of backing up a “this doesn't work” with a “but this does!” I love you guys.
And always, thank you to my husband, who knows me better than anyone and likes me anyway. I love you.
closed my eyes, swaying my hips to the hard hit of the bass. The music flowed through me, a stimulant, urging my heart to keep time. My hips swung right, paused, and I reached down one sweat-slicked leg to drag my fingers seductively up my calf. Arching my back, my pelvis made one slow, tempting circle that defied the fast rhythm, and I placed both open hands on my stomach. I was already drenched, and the thin fabric dragged across my skin as I pulled it up.
“Slower,” commanded Jayne. Her voice was raspy, like a moan. Everything about that woman oozed sex. I did as she said because I wanted her approval. I wanted to
My hips made a figure eight as I inched my shirt up to my bra line. My stomach was hard and flat, conditioned by weeks of workouts, but my legs were already trembling.
“Good,” she said. “One hand on the pole. Easy. Grab it like a cock.”
I bit my lower lip to stifle the giggle, but the way she said
made my groin ache. It had been too long since I'd had what I wanted, what I needed. The hard, insistent pressure pushing into me, filling me, bringing me to the edge of my sanity with powerful thrusts.
I'd had to find another way to keep my desire under control.
Slowly, without opening my eyes, I felt for the erect pole and gripped it with just enough pressure, just as she'd taught me. It was slick, too wide for me to close my fingers around.
“Show me what you're going to do to me,” Jayne said. She was farther away now, behind me, evaluating my every move.
I spread my legs wide and bent my knees. Holding on with only one hand, I dropped nearly to the floor, the pole sliding through my grasp. I rose then, feeling the cool metal brush high on my inside thighs.
“Make me want you,” said Jayne. “Make me so hot I can't keep my hands off you.”
Dark eyes appeared behind my closed lids. A flash of broad, muscular shoulders. A drop of perspiration sliding down the ridges of hard, washboard abs. Desire pooled deep inside me, lapping against the surface of my womb with each swivel of my hips.
“Come for me.”
I could still hear his voice.
I hooked one knee around the pole, feeling a wave of self-consciousness as I pushed off with my opposite foot, spinning in a slow circle to my knees.
“There are some hot bitches in this room tonight!” shouted Jayne, suddenly enthusiastic.
Cheers erupted around me. I opened my eyes, a huge grin spreading across my face as Jayne shut down the stereo. Beside me, a woman in her forties with some brand-new silicone laughed hysterically as her friend, easily twice her weight, tried to pull herself out of the splits. Near the front, two college girls pulled their tank tops back on over their sports bras. A woman who was easily sixty was still dancing around one of the ten poles that had been evenly spaced around the room.
Strip-aerobics had become my new Missing Alec Management Plan. It didn't make me feel half as sexy as he could, but it worked to take some of the edge off.
I stood, and jolted upright as someone slapped my ass.
“Girl, you should seriously consider a dancing career.” Jayne planted her fist on one cocked hip and grinned. She looked like a stripper: fake eyelashes, heels that could have been murder weapons, and boobs the size of my head. It was impossible to tell how old she was under all that makeup. She was wearing a purple pleather bodysuit tonight, one of her many exciting wardrobe choices for the pole dancing class she taught twice a week at the gym.
My face lit up. I twisted my rib-length black hair into a wet knot at the back of my head with a band from around my wrist.
“Totally,” she said. “I can get you an audition if you're interested.” Her brows wiggled.
I laughed. “Thanks, but that's okay. I'm not sure my boyfriend would love the idea of other men watching me take off my clothes.”
My smile faltered. I still called Alec my boyfriend, but I hadn't seen him in almost three months. Eleven weeks and four days to be exact. I'd written to him, but he hadn't written back. He hadn't called either. My dad's friend on the Tampa Police Force had said this was because he couldn't, that the FBI had locked down his communications with the outside until they could build a case against Maxim Stein. I hoped this was true. All that I had to hold on to was a promise I'd made the night before his arrest. That I'd wait for him, no matter what.
Jayne rolled her eyes. “Dance with me, and you'd have a new lover every night.”
I giggled as she hiked a leg up my thigh and attempted to treat me like the pole I'd spent the last hour grinding against.
“Fine,” she pouted. “If you change your mindÂ .Â .Â .”
“I know where to find you,” I said. “Thanks for the class, Jayne.”
A couple of ladies gave me high fives on our way out the door. I loved this class, one of the many perks the gym owner had offered me after I'd started offering massages here six weeks ago. I'd signed up after trying to burn off my sexual frustration on the elliptical trainer, and I hadn't been sorry. Now I was toned, hot, and had moves. I hoped they were appreciated when Alec got out of jail.
“I still don't see why they black out the windows.”
I smirked and turned toward the frustrated voice originating behind me. Trevor Marshall may have worked in advertising, but he was built like a runner, which is exactly what he'd spent the last hour doing in the main equipment room of the gym. He was tall and lean, with long pronounced muscles that I had the privilege of digging my thumbs into every other Wednesday, in the massage room at the gym. He ran a towel over his sweaty face, revealing a light smattering of freckles across his nose, and scrubbed at his blond hair that had turned dark with sweat. He was handsome, there was no denying it, and the attraction stirred inside of me as it always did when I saw him.
Attraction, but not lust.
“Because freaks like you would fall off their treadmills trying to watch,” I told him. “It's a liability issue.”
“Seems more like a killer marketing strategy.” He smiled, and his gleaming green eyes dipped, just for a flash, to check out the damp tank top and shorts that clung to my curves. “And as an aside, I'm not sure you're allowed to call paying customers
“On the job,” I specified. “We're not in session, so I'm allowed to call you whatever I want.”
His gaze narrowed. One of his hands slid down his sweat-soaked T-shirt, making it stick to his chest. It wasn't all together a terrible sight.
“My mind is literally racing with possibilities,” he said.
I pushed him back with a snort. “Freak.”
We began walking toward the locker rooms on the gym's lower level. The bottom floor was lined with weight machines, and the pop music piped in over the speakers was accented with the clank of metal. At the top of the staircase was a cart with a stack of towels, and he passed one to me.
“I had to move my session up to eleven this Wednesday,” he said. “If you've got a break after, we should grab lunch.”
Trevor had started signing up for massages here about a month after Alec had gone to jail for his association with Maxim Stein's white-collar crimesâcrimes he had tried to make right by reporting to the FBI. We'd hit it off immediately. He'd come right when I needed a friend, someone who didn't know that Maxim Stein's nephew Bobby had tried to kill me, or about Charlotte MacAfee's death, or about how hard it was without Alec, the only person who I could really talk to about any of it. Trevor was fun and interesting, and a perfectly good distraction from the chaos that had become my life.
“Can't,” I said. “I'm busy Wednesday.” The nerves jolted to life in my belly, and I grabbed the handrail so I didn't accidently backflip down the stairs.
“Oh,” said Trevor knowingly. “Loverboy comes home this week, I forgot.”
I hadn't. I
. The countdown to Alec's return had been permanently seared in my memory. I practically had a clock ticking down the seconds transposed over my vision. A month ago the Department of Corrections had sent a letter to Alec's father informing him of his son's release date. Alec hadn't confirmed his arrival, but I was going to be prepared nonetheless.
“Three days,” I said, my throat suddenly dry. “Two, if you consider that today is practically over. Well, the workday anyway. If you work a nine-to-fiveÂ .Â .Â .” I trailed off.
Trevor refrained from rolling his eyes, but I could tell this was difficult.
“Where was he again?” he asked, scratching his chin to hide the frown. “Seattle?”
My eyes flicked to the floor. “Yeah. Seattle.”
“He left you alone a long time.” He threw his towel into a laundry basket. “I guess you gotta go where the work is.”
“Right,” I agreed. It wasn't that I was embarrassed Alec was in jail, but it really wasn't anyone's business.
“What's he do again?”
“Security,” I said, quickly changing the subject. “I'd love to stay and chat, but I've got some stuff to get ready before he comes home.”
“Sure,” said Trevor, looking a little dejected. “I'll see you Wednesday.”
I smiled, and made my way to the locker room. After changing, I saw that I'd missed a call from Amy. The gym was downtown, just a few blocks away from Alec's high-rise apartment, and after stepping into the warm June evening, I called her back.
“I am giving up men,” Amy announced. “For real this time. It's all women, all the time.”
“That sounds great,” I said.
“It is. It's awesome. You know why? Because women aren't dicks.”
“I feel like there's a joke somewhere in thereÂ .Â .Â .”
“A fruit arrangement, Anna,” Amy said. “I told David about Paisley and he sent me a we're-not-working-out note on a fruit arrangement. One of those stupid fucking cantaloupe and strawberry flower things.”
I cringed, inside and out. Amy was constantly dating men that rejected her, and there had been a string of them lately that had checked out when she'd told them she had a daughter who'd just turned six. Because of that, she stopped introducing Paisley to anyone who hadn't passed the three-date mark.
No one had passed the three-date mark in two years.
“Did you eat the flowers?” I asked tentatively, waiting until the pedestrian sign lit up so I could look both ways and cross the street.
“Of course I did, but that's not the point. Who breaks up with someone with a fruit arrangement? It's like the tackiest thing in the world.”
“Agreed,” I said. “I'm so sorry. You'll find someone better, I promise.”
She groaned. Then sighed. “I'm ruining your birthday.”
I paused outside the French bakery that stood between the gym and Alec's place. Pink and white cakes were showcased in the neatly framed window, and they pulled me closer like they were made of magnets. Damn this place for still being open. It was clearly out to sabotage my life.
I went inside. Instantly, my mouth was watering. Croissants, French bread, and cupcakes. Enough cupcakes to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Or at least a moderately sized hot tub.
My gaze honed in on the red velvet with cream cheese frosting. It was the sexiest of all the cupcakes. And it was calling to me in its little cupcake voice.
“You're not ruining anything,” I told Amy. “I had a fabulous weekend with you, Dad, and Paisley. Today's just another day.”
It wasn't really. It was the day before the day before Alec came home. I'd spent most of the weekend with my father, assuring him that everything was going great and downplaying how nervous I was for Alec's return. I'd taken him to the airport this morning before going in to the salon, and since then, I'd been all jitters.
Thank goodness for pole dancing.
“Well, if Pais and I didn't have this stargazing thing for her school tonight, we'd totally subject you to more cake.”
“Don't worry,” I said, pointing out the cupcake to the skinny emo kid behind the counter. “I've got it covered.”
After another rendition of the Birthday song, I hung up with Amy and, fancy cupcake box in hand, made the trek across the street to Alec's place. I kept a small apartment on the south side of town nowâthat was where I stayed when my father was visitingâbut I spent a lot more time here. It made me feel closer to Alec, even when we couldn't talk.
As I entered the main foyer, impressive with its gray-green marble floors and black leather couches, an athletic man wearing a white dress shirt and slacks greeted me with a smile. His skin was the color of milk chocolate, and his eyes were bright amberâgorgeous, and impossible not to notice.
“Hey sweet girl,” he said. “How many days we got left?”
“Two and a half,” I answered. “How are you, Mike?”
“Better now,” he said, reaching to pull me into a suffocating embrace. “Tell Alec to stay where he is so I can keep you for myself.”
I laughed. Mike and Alec had been friends in high school. When Maxim Stein bought the building, Alec had hired Mike as the head of security. A blush crept up my neck as I considered some of the things Mike may have seen on the building's security cameras.
“I'll tell him, but I don't know if he's going to go for it.” I hoped he couldn't see how thin my confidence was.
“He will when he sees these,” Mike quipped, rolling up his sleeve to reveal a massive flexing biceps.
I fanned myself, moving toward the elevator. “Is it hot in here or is it just me?”
Mike laughed as I stepped into an open car, and pressed the button for the thirty-fifth floor. When I was hidden I sighed, and rubbed the heel of my hand over my eyebrows. Things were going to be fine with Alec. What we had was real, unbreakable. A few months apart couldn't change that.