Authors: Candi Wall
Tags: #letting go;trust;Texas;Texan;western;big city
Nick stared at the firm line of Chloe’s back, his hand itching to touch the skin her dress revealed. What the hell was she doing wearing something so sexy, anyway? Who wore shit like that to work? And for what purpose?
He looked away, focusing on the photo shoot, or whatever this three-ring circus was supposed to be. At the moment, Cash stood to the side of a stage with a huge scene of the desert hung behind it. Lights erupted at odd intervals. People talked incessantly.
The corner where Nick stood lacked much light, but he didn’t mind. Everyone ignored him. Including Chloe. Damn her. She’d left without so much as a “thanks for a great weekend”. If he didn’t know better, he’d almost question if she’d enjoyed their time together at all. But he did know better. She’d responded to his touch at every turn. Even the picnic lunch they’d shared on her last afternoon in Texas had brought real smiles to her face. It had ended the way all their encounters did—in bed, on the table, against a tree—but he knew she’d had fun.
So why no goodbye?
Unable to keep his eyes off her, he watched her in action, in her element.
She was a shark, carving a path through numerous workers and barking out orders that somehow brought the chaotic room into order.
“Last chance to offer suggestions, ladies and gentlemen.” She waited, every eye on her.
Nick couldn’t resist. She was so stiff and severe, he had to try to bring a bit of the Chloe he met in Texas. “How ’bout a few more lights? Wouldn’t want the camera to miss a moment of my brother’s debut.”
She whipped around in his direction. So did most of the people in the room.
Chloe smiled, but it wasn’t anything close to the expression he was used to seeing. “Nick, you didn’t see the staff meeting where I pointed out that there is a difference between making helpful suggestions and creating time sucks that
That was a bit snarky. She was in rare form today. He took a step forward. “I’m guessing my suggestion landed in the time-suck category?”
“Clever cowboy,” she countered sarcastically.
“Ya’ll figure talking is a waste of time?”
“Only when it doesn’t pertain to the shoot.” She waved to indicate the entire room. “Which is costing a bundle.”
“How much is a bundle exactly?” He kept his expression blank, eyes wide, waiting for her to either blow a gasket or laugh.
“Between the photographer, staff, Cash’s contract and odds and ends, we’re looking at close to five thousand an hour.”
“Holy horse shit.” He noticed a few chuckles. Good. The room was a damn morgue. City folks took things way too seriously.
She pinched the bridge of her nose and squeezed her eyes shut. “Now, if I can get back to work?”
Their conversation had gained the attention of the entire room, but Nick couldn’t resist poking the bear. “By all means. Don’t let me stop you. Wouldn’t want to disrupt such an important task.”
“Of course you wouldn’t.” She sighed. “Anything else?”
“Well, I hate to be a pest,” he paused. “But why do you need so many lights?”
This time, she chuckled. “Are you trying to aggravate me?”
“Maybe a little.” He held his thumb and forefinger close together to indicate a smidge. “Ya’ll are so serious I think you’ve scared Cash.”
“Go stand over there in the corner and watch the magic happen, you goofball.” She shot him a half smile. “I’ll deal with you in a minute.”
He chuckled when she had words with the petite blond photographer. After a rather loud debate, Chloe threw her hands in the air and stormed away from the woman in his direction. She flipped through a small notebook as she neared, her sexy red stilettos clicking with the pace of her steps.
She stopped and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Besides trying to aggravate me, what are you doing here?”
“That’s the second time you’ve asked me that today.” He climbed off his stool and blocked her path. “I’m beginning to think you aren’t happy to see me.”
She seemed to consider a path around him before placing a hand on her hip. “Nick, don’t be so dramatic. You just caught me off guard.”
“Nice way to dodge a real answer.”
“Did you ask me a question?”
“No, I guess I didn’t.” He stepped closer until their bodies touched. As aggravating as he found her behavior, she was downright sexy in her element. “Let’s try it this way. Are you happy to see me?”
The thin fabric of her dress couldn’t hide the rigid definition of her nipples.
“Are you even wearing a bra?”
“No for the bra… And one question at a time, please.” She shook her head. “Right now, no, I’m not happy to see you.”
“You should be. Everyone can see your nipples.” He ran a thumb over one to make his point, enjoying the heaviness that creased her eyelids. “And as far as seeing me… Your body says different.”
“Nipples carve a path to getting what I want.” She swayed slightly until her breast brushed against his knuckles. “And as far as you’re concerned, I said I wasn’t happy to see you right
. At this moment I can’t do a whole lot about what my body wants.”
If nothing else, she spoke her mind. He took her invitation and slid his fingers under the curve of her breast, pushing it up before he brushed his thumb over the taut bud again. When she leaned into him, he hooked his other hand around her back and brought her body flush to his. His cock pressed between them, the warmth of her body seeping through his clothes. “It’s dark enough back here to do anything you or your body wants.”
Chloe glanced around. Nick was right. The others were still focused on Cash. His shirt draped off his taut shoulders. Every eye was riveted to him. No one cared what was going on anywhere else. She’d never be missed, and the need Nick’s touch had created inside her begged to be quenched.
She grabbed his hand. “Come on.”
He followed without a word, and she hurried across the hall to the small office used for photo arrangements. She dragged him inside. The soft click of the door behind them doused the room in darkness, shutting them off from the chaos of the shoot.
“Nice.” A commanding tug on her hand brought her close before he turned to crush her against the door with his body. “Very nice.”
“Um-hmmm.” She slipped the buttons free on his shirt with frantic fingers. She needed him. Now. “God, you smell so good.”
His rough hands moved up her thighs, dragging the soft fabric of her dress up in their wake. “Did you miss this, at least?”
His thumb curved around the tender flesh of her inner thigh to press against the damp g-string covering her. God, yes she missed it.
Tiny spirals of anticipation drenched her pussy and she bucked closer, unable to control herself. “Nick, please.”
He responded with pressure, parting her through the fabric with a harsh stroke. “Did you?”
His fingers wound into the thin string and pulled hard. It gave under his strength, scratching over her hips to bare her to the heat of his fingers. Mad now, crazed with need, she cried out softly when his hand left her. “Yes, okay. I missed this. A lot.”
“Good.” His lips smoothed over the exposed curves of her breasts as he whispered, “Just a minute, baby. I know what you want.”
And he so did. His body pressed close again, and this time the smooth length of his hard cock slid between her thighs. She whimpered, opening to him as he rubbed back and forth, the head of his cock moving over her clit with delicious rhythm. The shoulder straps of her dress fell down her arms when he pushed at them. “Are you happy to see me?”
She nodded, pressing her head back against the door to arch into his body, trying to settle on his cock. “I’d be happier if you were fucking me.”
He chuckled, the sound rumbling through her chest as the soft abrasion of his chin brushed over her cleavage. His mouth closed over her nipple through the fabric of her bra and he bit down, almost painfully. She would have cried out, but his hand covered her mouth, the other hooking hard under her ass as he drove up into her. “Better?”
Thankful for his hand over her mouth, she groaned against his skin, nodding her answer as she licked at his fingers. His hand slid lower to her throat while he continued to thrust into her body, his cock drenched with her response. Deep, powerful strokes that built an incredible need deep in her pussy, each deft plunge rocking against her clit.
The pressure of his hand increased and he stood straight. His other hand brought her leg up around his waist. She followed his lead, hooking her other leg around him, her arousal fueled by his soft groans of pleasure. His hands framed her face, holding her against the door, his cock still shifting in and out of her. “I’ve dreamt of you. Needed you every moment since you left.”
She nodded. She knew what he meant. “Don’t stop.”
He shook his head. “Don’t worry. I couldn’t if I wanted to.”
Then his lips met hers, soft at first and she tried to turn away. But he wouldn’t let her. He held her beneath his onslaught, his tongue matching the rhythm of his cock until she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think for the pleasure that coursed through her body. His thrusts became harder, his body hammering against her clit until it tingled, swelled in response. And his tongue, so sexy, so hot in her mouth.
She sucked at it, at his lips, his jaw, shocked by the intensity it built inside her. “Yes, Nick, yes. You’re going to make me come.”
His pacing increased. “Together.”
She was almost there. “Faster.”
And he did. The smooth length of his cock slid in and out until a slow burn started deep in her core. It stretched out, tightening her insides and burning up through her belly until it erupted on his harsh thrusts with tight, gripping spasms that laced her insides and raced up her spine. The hot jets of his release filled her with each vicious pump into her body.
His growl matched her own, frantic, animalistic in the silence of the small office. His lips covered hers again to swallow her cries, mingling their moans of gratification until they shuddered together on the last pulses of the shared orgasm. He stroked against the wetness of their bodies’ responses until it slicked down her thigh. “Yeah, I’m happy to see you too, doll. I’ve missed you.”
Fuck. Why did such a simple statement have to hold so much power? She didn’t want him to miss her. She didn’t want him to care at all. The last waves of pleasure shivered through her body. Damn him. She’d missed him too, but unlike him, she didn’t want to feel any of it.
New York could be a bitch, and it had taught her well. She wriggled against his cock. “I missed this, Nick.”
His body stiffened, the length of his cock still hard inside her. “And that’s all?” He shifted until he was buried completely. “Just the fucking?”
She wanted to say something. Hurting him hadn’t been the plan, and the bitch that she’d become shouldn’t be affected by it. But she was.
It didn’t matter. She’d already said the hurtful words. Now she just nodded, not quite trusting herself to speak.
He withdrew, stepping back so quickly she had to grab the door handle to keep her balance. “Then you got what you wanted.”
He fixed his clothes and walked from the room before she could think of anything else to say.
Nick shook his head. Cash stood in the middle of the dance floor, sandwiched between two gorgeous women. The combined amount of clothing covering the women didn’t amount to enough fabric for one shirt, at least not the size Nick wore.
Poor Cash was quite a ladies’ man back home, but his expression right now seemed a bit stressed. The women he usually dealt with were a different caliber, an alternate breed to the two currently running their hands over his body. Served him right. Especially after watching him paw Chloe all evening. Very similar to the guy who had her pinned in the corner at the moment.
Nick had tried to keep his eyes off her. Tried to leave the club. Damn her. He hadn’t been successful at either. So he sat at the bar, with the infernal thumping of the ridiculously loud dance music hammering through his body. A glutton for punishment he might be, after all. Why else would he subject himself to this?
Maybe because she was driving him crazy.
How could she react the way she had in the dark office only hours before and now stand across the club oblivious to him? And look so damn hot to boot?
Her hair was pinned on top of her head in a rough bun that allowed tendrils to escape down her trim neck. She’d changed into a tiny silver skirt with an equally small halter top in the same color. The top clipped behind her neck, the entire back open so the fabric merely dangled over her belly and breasts, shifting with each move she made. The sexy outfit gave him—and anyone else looking—brief flashes of the curves of her breasts. Hell, if she wore a bra, he couldn’t see any indication.
And her nipples were hard. Was she cold? Or maybe the guy she stood with turned her on? He shouldn’t care, really. She’d made it plain she wanted nothing more than his cock. Maybe that’s what she was after from this man as well. Nick winced as her arm slid over the man’s shoulder. She leaned closer to speak to him, her lips brushing the hair that hung over his ear. She swayed slightly to the music, her legs rubbing against his. The man’s hand moved down to caress the soft skin of her thigh, his knuckles brushing the hem of her skirt.
Nick looked away. Christ, he needed a drink. He called to the bartender and cringed when the piercing-laden man turned in his direction. He counted fifteen-odd jewels or spikes decorating the man by the time he neared. “Whiskey, double.”
It only took the bartender a moment to slide the drink to him, and he dropped a ten-dollar bill on the bar before gulping the warm whiskey in a single swallow. He liked the burn it created. It matched the anger Chloe’s behavior had ignited inside him.
One of Chloe’s coworkers suddenly blocked his view. “How’s it going, Nick?”
“S’been better,” he grumped.
She followed his gaze to the dance floor. “It’s her job.”
Nick scowled. She had no idea. “Her job sucks.”
“I’ll be back in a few minutes. We’ll have a drink and commiserate.”
“Sounds good,” Nick offered, not really wanting company, but needing the distraction.
When he glanced back at the dance floor, Chloe was gone. Frantic, he searched the club. It didn’t take long to find her. She stood out, even with the other women crowded around her on the dance floor. Her body moved in rhythm with the music as she made her way over to Cash with the other man’s hand firmly in hers. Cash turned to them, shaking hands with her companion before both of them started dancing with her.
She played between them, her ass rubbing against one man, while her breasts crushed to the other. The two women with his brother didn’t seem to mind Chloe’s intrusion. When the blond one wound her hand around Chloe’s midsection, her hand caressing the tight muscles across her belly, Nick groaned.
He watched, mesmerized by the erotic display. Chloe didn’t budge as the woman slid her hand higher beneath the shirt. She just smiled and turned into the touch. Sudden realization coursed through him. She was enjoying this display.
So was Cash. Even at a distance, Nick could see the thoughts in his brother’s eyes. Hell, he couldn’t blame him. Any guy would respond to Chloe. Hadn’t he? Wasn’t he now? And add another woman? Hell, a monk would have been jerking off by now.
The slow burn of the whiskey abated, and he couldn’t stand watching anymore. She could get fucked by anyone once he left, but until then, she was his. Only his.
With a distinct size advantage, he was able to push his way through the club without too much trouble. He kept his eyes riveted to Chloe, her sexy smile and lithe movements strumming every possessive string he’d never known he had. Damn woman was too hot for her own good. And the guy behind her was enjoying it way too much.
Too much for Chloe as well, or so it seemed. She turned on him, her eyes flashing angrily as she pulled his hand from under her shirt. Nick was too far away to hear what she said, but the way Cash’s shoulders straightened told him the man had gone too far.
He reached them a moment later and placed a hand on Cash’s shoulder. He raised his voice so he could be heard over the music. “Thanks for keeping an eye on her, brother.”
Chloe turned at the sound of Nick’s voice. Shit! “Nick, wait.”
It was too late. Nick’s hand flashed out so quickly Ian didn’t have a chance to duck or even know what was happening. The sick crunch of flesh and bone meeting thudded above the music, and in the next instant, Ian lay on the dance floor in a heap.
She pushed at Nick’s shoulder. “What are you doing, you idiot?”
She dropped to her knees next to Ian, ignoring the hands trying to lift her back to her feet. “Ian? Are you okay?”
He groaned then blinked several times as he rubbed his jaw. Eyes wary, he pushed himself up from the floor and looked at Nick. “This him?”
She nodded, staring at Nick as well. “Yes.”
Ian, true to the gentleman he usually was, held a hand out to Nick. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Westing. Though under better circumstances would have been nice. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to have Jimmy take care of this for me.”
“Wait, Ian.” Chloe scowled at Nick before turning to Ian. “I’m so sorry about this—”
He shrugged. “Don’t be. Imagine how well Jimmy will take care of me when I tell him I saved you from some awful brute of a cowboy, and received this black eye for my efforts.”
She laughed. “I’ll back you one hundred percent. Make sure you call me and tell me everything you tell him so I can relate the same when he asks.”
Ian glanced at Nick. “Can I get past without another attack?”
Nick’s eyebrows furrowed and he stepped aside. He watched as Ian slipped through the throngs of people and disappeared into the crowd. Then he turned back. “Did I miss something?”
“He’s gay, you ass.”
“But I thought—” he stammered, his lips going rigid.
“He’s a fashion critic, and you probably just ruined Cash’s chances at a great pre-issue write-up, you fucking gorilla,” she snapped, turning away to look at his brother. “Cash, are you ready to go or would you like a car to wait for you?”
“I’m going to hang with Shawna, thanks.”
“That’s fine. Tell Shawna I’ll call her later.” At the moment she didn’t care what any male from Texas was doing, and she stormed away. She was pissed, and there was no reason at all that she needed or wanted to talk to Nick Westing. Ridiculous knuckle-dragging caveman. She made it halfway to the door when a hand closed over her arm.
She whirled around, ready to deliver the slap Nick deserved, but instead of Nick, Seth stood behind her, a soft smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
Divine in his low-cut jeans and white shirt, he smiled. “What’s your hurry?”
Seth Hanson. Oh, how this man could give pleasure. Maybe a romp in his bed would kick the lingering traces of Nick out of her head. “No hurry, really. Just a fling that seems to think he’s got some sort of claim on me.”
“Wanna go somewhere else?” Seth chuckled, running a hand through his silky hair. One of the things she’d always enjoyed about Seth was how neat and clean he was. There were no surprises on his deliciously groomed body. No scars or tan lines, or calloused heels. “Somewhere naughtier?”
She’d been to Seth’s naughty clubs before. Right now, it sounded like a hell of a way to get her mind off Nick. “Lead the way.”
He waved a quick goodbye to someone at the small table behind him and hooked an arm around her waist. The slight pressure of his smooth fingers grazed her hip. So different from the rough skin on Nick’s hands. And Seth’s scent seemed almost feminine next to the rugged, male essence of her cowboy.
What the hell was she thinking?
Cold night air engulfed her as they exited the club. Seth spun her in a slow circle, whistling low at her sexy outfit before she pulled her coat on. “You look edible tonight, baby. Want to ride or should I call a cab?”
With a quick glance to where he pointed, Chloe smiled. His motorcycle stood next to the curb, its chrome details reflecting the lights from the clubs and bars. “A good ride is just what I need tonight.”
Somehow she knew this ride wouldn’t be as satisfying as the one she really wanted, but she climbed on the bike with Seth anyway and wrapped her arms around his waist. The engine purred to life as Nick burst through the door of the bar onto the street.
He scowled at her, his anger palpable. But Chloe ignored it. He had no claim over her, and he certainly didn’t have any reason to be angry. She’d drawn the lines for him at get-go. Too goddamn bad if he couldn’t abide by them.
“Ready?” Seth called back.
“Yes,” Chloe answered and looked away from Nick.
He was a fling. Nothing more, nothing less. Even if his gaze begged for something more. She’d purge him from her mind, one way or another. And Seth was just the way to do it.
The pins had long since come free from her hair, but she didn’t care. The dark club Seth had brought her to hid most of the occupants anyway. Filmy fabric dangled from the ceiling and dark lighting spread sporadically through the corners and over the bar.
“Want a drink?”
She dropped onto the soft leather seat Seth pointed toward. “Sure. Whatever you’re having.”
Closing her eyes as he walked away, she took a deep, calming breath. The cold night air had cleared her senses. Nick’s scent had washed away on the breeze, as did the anger she’d felt. It was actually funny, now that she really thought about it. Ian was probably at home by now, with Jimmy taking extra special care of all his pains.
But it was her fault. Kind of.
Nick shouldn’t have hit him. But Miya had warned her Nick’s heart was too big. Even if she’d made it plain to him that there was nothing more between them than sex, he obviously couldn’t play that way. While she couldn’t help it if he thought he owned her, she could have been more careful with his feelings.
Some guys couldn’t distinguish between sex and a relationship. Nick was one of those guys. She’d have to speak to him tomorrow, and until he left, she’d stay away from other men for their safety.
Seth came back then and she chuckled. After Seth.
she’d stay away from other men. For tonight, he was going to cleanse her of the Nick addiction with some good old-fashioned raunchy sex.
He slid onto the seat with her, stirring a deep red drink with a little straw. She watched as he sucked through the straw before holding his finger over the end and holding it just over her lips. Soft moans and the sexy rhythm of music filled her ears. Anyone with a brain could assume what was happening around the club. It was uninhibited here. Free.
She smiled, opening her lips as he poured the fruity drink from the straw. It dribbled down her lips and over her chin. The cool liquid spilled down her neck and farther to trace a path between her breasts. Seth laughed. “Oops.”
Then his mouth descended. She thought he might kiss her, but at the last moment, his lips covered her chin, moving lower to suck at the juice on her throat. He knew better than to kiss her.
She’d been with Seth before, but this time, she wished he would kiss her. She wanted to feel the difference. Maybe, just maybe it wasn’t Nick at all, and kissing would become a new, enticing favorite.
But he didn’t.
Seth knew her very well. They’d been one another’s toy on more occasions than she could count. They’d been official booty-call slash rescuers-from-bad-nights for over a year. He accepted her sex and no ties, and she accepted his—interesting—tastes. Knew too the pleasure she would receive under his experienced hands. Her body warmed with the knowledge, tingles of anticipation erupting in her belly. His mouth moved lower, following the liquid path down into her shirt even as his other hand worked in slow, massaging circles up her thigh. She spread her legs, giving him more access as her body warmed. When his mouth brushed near her nipple it jolted her, his hot breath searing her sensitive skin.
“Ummm. You taste delicious as always.” His hand moved higher, gripping at the inside of her thigh. “What’s your flavor for the night? Rough and immediate, or am I going to enjoy one of your marathon sessions?”
“For the first time, I have no idea what I need,” she admitted.
His eyebrow arched. She could imagine his thoughts.
Chloe? Unsure of what she wants? Call in the end-worlders, Armageddon is imminent.
But like any good friend-slash-fuck-buddy, he didn’t ask. “How about this? I start by touching, and you let me know what feels right.”
The hot words burned into her mind’s eye. She could almost see his long fingers, so close to her heated flesh, exposed to any who dared to look close enough beneath the tables. The slightest brush over her bare curls sent her head back against the soft cushion of the seat, but he teased a bit more before actually touching.
When the warm press of his finger slid between her folds, she jerked violently, Nick’s image slashing through her mind as Seth centered on her clit with unequivocal ease. His tongue drew along the curve of her breast, close to her nipple but not quite touching.
She shuddered beneath his touch.
No. Seth. Damn it. Seth knew pleasure. He moved in erotic circles outside her comfort zone. Having him as a lover, until now, had never been matched. And she wasn’t going to let Nick ruin her enjoyment.