Authors: Sara Jane Stone
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Series, #Bdsm, #maid-of-honor, #Vegas, #sexy, #Brazen, #Military, #contemporary romance, #Erotic, #revenge, #best man, #dare, #SEAL, #wedding
One dare will bring him to his knees…
Playing best man in his teammate’s Las Vegas wedding is not U.S. Navy SEAL Jack Barnes’ idea of a vacation—especially when the maid-of-honor is the one woman who knows how to push his buttons. Now his teammates are taking bets on whether he’ll end up in the fiery bartender’s bed. Not one to turn away from a challenge, Jack vows to seduce Natalie Lewis. And he’ll do so on
terms—demanding complete control.
The tantalizing SEAL may have a hand-over-your-panties smile and a body she’d love to explore, but there’s no way Natalie’s falling into his bed. No, she’s going to get
. After bringing Jack to his knees with a series of Sin City dares, she’ll walk away. It’s the perfect plan—until it backfires. Beneath his devil-may-care attitude, Jack’s unbridled desire proves irresistible. But he also requires the one thing Natalie can’t give. Control.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 by Sara Jane Stone. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Entangled Publishing, LLC
2614 South Timberline Road
Fort Collins, CO 80525
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Brazen is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC. For more information on our titles, visit
Edited by Heather Howland and Stephen Morgan
Cover design by Heather Howland
Cover art from iStock
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition November 2015
For Heather, the editor extraordinaire who made this story shine!
our flirtatious fools. Three tipsy blondes. Two drunken sailors. If she looked in the bar’s back room, Natalie Lewis suspected she’d find a partridge in a pear tree roosting on the broken neon
“Two more days until vacation,” she murmured, scooping ice into a pint glass for Drunken Sailor Number One’s water. If a road trip to Sin City to play the maid of honor role in her little sister’s wedding was considered a vacation. Behind her, the front door to the bar swung open, and Natalie glanced over her shoulder.
She let out a low, frustrated growl. It was as if the universe had sensed that her Monday afternoon shift needed an extra something to drive her bat-shit crazy and sent her five brown-haired, blue-eyed men led by U.S. Navy SEAL Jack Barnes—Chief Barnes to his teammates. Jack stopped in front of her bar and flashed his signature hand-over-your-panties smile to Natalie.
Another woman might have obeyed, falling for the SEAL’s potent combination of muscle and charm. But she was more of a give-me-your-boxers kind of girl.
Natalie eyed the pack. “Join a new team, Jack?”
The leader of the group shook his head, locks of straight brown hair falling across his forehead. “Thankfully, no,” he said, reaching up to brush the stray hair from his face. The sleeve of his T-shirt moved down his arm, revealing his toned, oh-so impressive bicep. Not that she was looking. When it came to Jack, she found it was best to just say no. No looking. No touching. No wanting what she couldn’t have.
“Miss Natalie Lewis,” the SEAL continued. “Meet my brothers—”
“Big brothers,” the man behind Jack’s right shoulder added, hooking his thumbs into his belt beside the metal buckle shaped like the state of Texas. The motion drew her attention to the man’s protruding belly. “Just because you’re a SEAL doesn’t mean I can’t still take you down, kid.”
Not a chance
She mentally labeled Brother Number One an arrogant blowhard.
“Colton,” Jack said, pointing to Mr. Belt Buckle. “Andrew, Charles, and Patrick. Not that you need to remember their names. They’re heading out tomorrow.” Jack’s smile faded as he gestured to the pack behind him. “Some of the guys from the team are on their way. Mind if we stake out the corner tables?”
“All yours,” she said. “What can I get for you?”
“The usual for me,” Jack said.
Speaking for the pack, Colton ordered four lite beers on draft, adding a wink to the end of his request. Natalie stared blankly at Mr. Belt Buckle. She never flirted with customers. An extra buck here or there in tips wasn’t worth the aggravation of telling a sailor to take a hike at the end of the night if he got the wrong impression.
When it came to her love life, she called the shots. And she never followed the relationship path. That road led to a dead end labeled hurt and rejection. Bouncing between foster homes as a teenager, she’d had her fill of both, thank you very much.
She was done with people walking into her life, telling her how it was and how it would be, then abandoning her without any concern for the damage they’d left in their wake. The foster families, even the well-meaning ones, had seemingly stripped away her right to make decisions about her life. And then, when they’d found her wanting, they’d returned her to social services.
All of the foster families had said something similar when the social worker had come to pick up Natalie and her younger sister.
Not what we’re looking for in a daughter.
Those overheard comments still stung, like a wound she’d managed to cover with a Band-Aid, but it refused to heal.
Of course, her foster parents always waited until she’d started to trust them before they got rid of her. They didn’t send her packing until she’d finally let down her guard and hoped for some sort of permanence, for something good to happen to her and her sister. Then they took it all away, replacing her hope with hurt.
And after a handful of brief romantic flings
she’d learned that dating led to the same dead end. Even the well-meaning guys just wanted to control her “for her own good.” If happily ever after did exist, it only happened to other people. Never to her.
So she steered clear of getting close to anyone besides her sister. And that relationship had work-in-progress stamped all over it.
She glanced again at Jack and his bulging biceps, and that smile… His too charming grin made her heart stop one moment and spurred her temper the next.
“I’ll be back with your drinks.” She turned and headed for the row of taps behind the bar.
“Feisty little thang,” Mr. Belt Buckle announced in his thick Texas accent. His words carried over the flirtatious fools, tipsy blondes, and drunken sailors.
Natalie gritted her teeth and focused on pouring the blowhard’s beer.
“Leave her alone, Colton,” Jack said in the same no-nonsense tone he used when the youngest members of his SEAL team drank themselves under the table and started acting stupid.
“Don’t tell me you’re hitting that,” Colton sneered, and the pack of brothers cackled. “Kid, you wouldn’t know what to do with a wild one like her. There’s no way you’ve upped your game that much since you joined the Navy.”
Natalie set the glass down hard on the tray, sending beer spilling over the rim.
Wouldn’t know what to do?
Every time Jack walked into her bar, her imagination rioted, parading images of exactly what Jack could do with her.
He pressed her up against a wall, those powerful arms caging her in.
His eyes locked on her as she unbuttoned his pants and reached inside. And then she wrapped her hand around him, demanding that he follow
Fantasy Jack would know exactly what to do. He’d keep his mouth shut, biting back the stupid pick-up lines he tossed across the bar. And he’d listen to her instructions.
If she let down her guard, she just might join the women who walked into Bottom’s Up, took one look at Jack, and offered up their underwear. The man was a walking, talking Prince Charming. They all went home with him because they thought he was offering something more. But Natalie knew better than to fall for an illusion.
She shouldered the tray and headed for the corner table.
“Here you go, boys,” she said as she passed out the drinks. Then she turned to go, but something held her back. Literally, a tug along her waist. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Colton’s hand wrapped around her apron strings.
“Let go,” she and Jack snapped simultaneously.
Chuckling, the Texas-sized jerk released her. “Tie my baby brother up in these strings? These days he might break free. Before he joined the damn Navy, we used to do the same thing, leaving him in a field until he missed the call for dinner. You wouldn’t know it from looking at him, but he was a weakling growing up.”
“Jack, a weakling?” She moved to the side of the Navy SEAL’s wooden chair. Jack’s fairy-tale charm presented a danger to her carefully ordered life, but she refused to let this blowhard stomp all over him.
Leaning over Jack, she smashed her number one rule to pieces beside the corner table and offered him a peek down her scoop-neck tank top. Her breasts were average, hovering in the middle ground between large and small. But Jack’s eyes still widened, taking in the view before his gaze returned to her face.
She touched his bicep, running her fingers over his skin to the edge of his T-shirt. And he tensed beneath her hand. “He doesn’t feel weak,” she said, adding a sultry edge to her tone.
“You should have seen him when he was younger,” Colton said. “Arms like twigs.”
Mr. Belt Buckle’s words acted like a propellant, and her whisper of anger turned into a wild fire. The flames leaped past control. Her gaze locked with Jack’s blue eyes. Most nights, she was glad the bar stood between her and the Prince Charming of the Navy SEALs. But hearing Colton Barnes hurl insults
as if the eldest Barnes sibling had spent Jack’s entire life looking for the right words to torment his little brother
something inside her snapped.
“I try to never look back on the past.” She knew the words were a lie. The past followed her around, dictating every relationship in her life. But she pressed on, refusing to let Mr. Belt Buckle have the upper hand. “Not when the present is so enticing,” she added.
Jack raised an eyebrow, silently posing the question: Are you serious?
You bet your fancy little trident pin I am.
Without a second thought, she ran her hand up his shoulder, not stopping until her fingers wove through his hair. She lowered her lips to his, maintaining a tight hold on his head. One quick kiss. One touch. Nothing more.
But oh holy hell, the feel of his mouth, the taste of his surprise, the moment when he parted his lips, offering to claim her—
She broke the kiss and stepped away. She took a deep breath, searching for Calm and Collected Natalie as she turned away from Jack.
Behind her, Colton and company whooped and demanded another kiss. But Natalie knew better. One kiss that left her feeling as though she’d hot-wired her dormant sexual needs was a stupid mistake. A second might fully awaken wants and needs that she flat-out refused to let Prince Charming fulfill.
She threw a smirk toward Jack and the boys, then turned and walked back to the bar. Work. She needed to focus on her job, not the SEAL at the corner table.
ell must have frozen over. And Jack sure as shit knew he was occupying prime real estate in the devil’s inferno. Spending twenty-four hours in Coronado, California with his older brothers was the definition of hell. But having the feisty Bottom’s Up bartender come to his defense with an irresistible kiss, only for her to then leave him full with need as she walked into the back room?
It was heaven and hell all in one.
Most of the time, Natalie spotted him and walked away. He’d spent the past few years dreaming about her perfect ass and slim legs. But now Natalie’s breasts would play a central role in his fantasies alongside her soft lips.
And she’d just slipped away from him.
“I’ll be right back. Try not to pick a fight. Most of the men, and probably some of the women, could take you four against one.” Without waiting for his brothers’ comebacks, Jack pushed back from the table. He headed for the swinging double doors that separated the back room from the bar.
He scanned the employees-only space as the door closed behind him. Boxes, metal kegs, and an old popcorn machine filled the cramped space. Against one wall, he spotted the walk-in refrigerator. To the right was a long, narrow stainless steel table. Natalie stood with her back to him, her palms pressed against the silver surface and her chin dipped to her chest. Her long black hair fell forward, hiding her face.
She lifted one hand and smacked her palm against the table. Her hips rocked back, and when she bent at the waist, her spine formed a straight line. And all the blood in Jack’s body moved south.
“Dammit,” she muttered, hitting the table a second time. His brain processed the words, easily adding
to the end of her curse, followed by
. But even with the blood rushing to his dick, he had a feeling he’d never hear the words
Dammit Jack, harder
cross her lips. Claiming the five-foot-two spitfire would remain his number one fantasy. He knew better than to assume one kiss would melt her hostility toward him.
Jack shoved his hands in the pockets of his cargo pants and crossed the small space. “Natalie?”
She glanced over her shoulder, her dark brown eyes daring him to take another step. “You shouldn’t be back here.”
“You know I can stand up for myself.” Bypassing caution—hell, he routinely walked into volatile situations—Jack approached her. He stopped by her side, close enough to reach out and brush her long hair over her shoulder. His fingers pressed against his legs, eager for a green light. “Why’d you step in?”
“I hate bullies.” She pushed off the table, turned to face him, and tilted her chin up.
“Me too. I appreciate what you did out there.” He smiled at her, willing his feet to remain rooted to the floor while every cell in his body begged to reach for her. “Now I owe you one.”
“No.” She shook her head, black hair tumbling across her cheek. “I can stand up for myself, too. You don’t owe me anything, Jack.”
He cocked his head, studying the determined gleam in her eyes. “For a second back there, I thought you kind of liked me.”
“You were wrong,” she said firmly.
He withdrew his hands from his pockets and moved closer, half expecting her to back away. He towered over her petite frame, but she didn’t give an inch.
“Do you rush in to defend a lot of men you don’t like?” he asked, his voice soft and gentle, as though tempting a kitten out of hiding. “With a kiss?”
“I needed to shut your brothers up,” she said.
“I like your approach.” He reached out and took her hand. “Worked better than anything I tried as a kid.”
Her lips curved into a small smile. “At least you fought back instead of running away.”
“Natalie, I ran toward them. Once, I even beat Colton at his own game.”
She arched an eyebrow. “How?”
“I’ll show you.” He stepped forward. Natalie shifted away until her ass touched the table’s edge, like she was following an unwritten rule stating that she needed to maintain a certain distance from him.
Jack paused. He offered her the chance to slip away and leave him facing a metal table. But she didn’t move. He placed his hands on her bare shoulders, gliding his palms over her smooth skin. His jaw clenched, and hell if his cargo pants didn’t feel as if they’d shrunk. He wrapped his fingers around her wrists and guided her arms behind her back.
“First, I pinned his arms behind his back,” Jack murmured. He held her wrists with one hand, and he ran his fingers over her abdomen. A light, teasing touch through her clothes. Nothing more. “Then I tickled him until he begged for mercy.”