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Authors: 3 Brides for 3 Bad Boys (mf)

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BOOK: 3 Brides for 3 Bad Boys
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C h a p t e r F o u r

R
and made a primitive noise deep in his throat he didn't even recognize as his own. Damn if he didn't sound more like an animal preparing to devour its prey than mate, but she made him crazy.

Take me.
The words spun through his mind, breaking the last barrier of resistance as his mouth did exactly that. This wasn't just giving in to the need to taste, but a full-out claim staking that he didn't want to analyze. He captured her lips, asserting sexual rights with primal instincts no modern man should admit to.

They were soft. Soft and sweet and sexy. She didn't seem to know what to do with them though, so he licked the seam of her mouth with the tip of his tongue.

She moaned faintly, and her lips parted. He took possession of the inside of her mouth, tasting her, making her taste him.

Her fingers curled into the fine fabric of his shirt, her body pressed against his, and her mouth molded to his own.

She didn't suck on his tongue, but she let him suck on hers and made an ageless sound of feminine need when he did it.

His hands moved around to her back, finding the zipper for her dress and sliding it down with ease. He pressed her away from him slightly so he could get the dress off of her, but she shook her head, her eyes unfocused and wild.

"No, I…"

"I want you naked."

She stopped fighting to get back in his arms and stared at him, hazel eyes glinting gold and rounded with shock.

"Contrary to what your aunt probably told you, honey, you have to take off your clothes to make love."

Her cheeks went pink, and her hands flew to the bodice of her dress as if it were at risk of falling down. Which it had been.

He stepped closer and bent down to kiss her again, his fingers tugging at the fabric held so tightly in her hands. "Come on," he said against her lips, "let it go. I want to feel your skin against me."

He deepened the kiss, and her grip went slack, giving him a heady sense of power. She responded to him like no other woman ever had. He reveled in the knowledge as he pulled on the dress until it fell in a pool of moss green chiffon and satin at her feet. He teased himself by trying to imagine what she looked like without actually letting himself see her. He skimmed the curve of her waist with his fingertips, and what he felt there paralyzed him. Boning. Satin.

Oh, man. No way.

He pulled back and looked. And looked. And looked some more. It was…

A corselette and stockings. Her small breasts plumped up from the ivory satin cups, their top edges barely concealing her nipples.

Her panties were stretchy lace in the same color, the see-through pattern giving him a perfect view of honey gold curls.

"I thought you were a virgin." His voice came out a croak, but shock was a mild word for what he was feeling right now.

She chewed on the bottom lip he'd been kissing seconds before. "I am."

"You sure as hell don't dress like a woman who doesn't have a lover."

She blushed again. "I like to read the Victoria's Secret catalogue."

"Honey, you're not reading it, you're wearing it."

"It's dumb. I know. Nobody sees it but me—"

He had to interrupt there. "And me."

If anything, her face turned redder. "And you. Anyway, it's a total waste of money, but I like the way sexy lingerie makes me feel."

He could not hold back from touching her one more second. He reached out and brushed the upper swell of her breast. "Tell me how it makes you feel."

She shivered, her breath quickening. "Like a woman. Feminine."

"Don't you feel like a woman all the time?" She was everything female to him.

She surprised him when she shook her head. "For a while, I felt like a robot who wore skirts. That's when I started wearing the lingerie. It reminded me that I was a woman, not just an automaton."

He didn't want them to, but her words touched something deep inside him. He couldn't let that happen.

He yanked her toward him, not hard, but with purpose she could not mistake.

His lips hovered a breath above hers. "I guarantee you are going to feel like a woman tonight."

Then he kissed her, and this time, he made no allowances for her innocence. He took her mouth like the marauding shark he was. She needed to know she could not build sand castles and dreams around him. He was never going down that route again.

He could give her sex and plenty of it, but nothing else.

He showed her with the merciless touch of his lips, the ruthless way he bared her breasts to his touch. Her nipples were hard, and he made them harder.

Playing with them. Pinching them. Rolling them between his thumb and forefinger.

She didn't fight him. Not even for a second.

She just melted into him and kissed him back.

His sex was so hard, he wasn't sure they'd make it into the bedroom for their first time.

He scooped her up with his arm under her bottom and fit her feminine core against him.

She was hot, humid.

Her arms wrapped around his neck, and she hugged his face to hers, kissing him with the same feverish need he felt.

A small ding registered dimly, then the whoosh of elevator doors. He was whipping his tuxedo coat off and around her almost nude body when he heard his half brother's voice from behind them.

"I've got to hand it to you, Rand. You don't lose any time closing a deal, do you?"

Rand spun around, shoving Phoebe behind him.

Carter's blue eyes glinted with what appeared to be humor, and they weren't looking at him. "With legs like those, Phoebe, honey, a man has to wonder why you hide them in long skirts and slacks all the time."

She squeaked in distress from her hiding place at Rand's back, and it was all he could do not to shove his fist into Carter's pretty-boy face. But in order to take a swing at his brother, he'd have to move away from Phoebe, and she now had a death grip on the back of his shirt with one fist.

"How the hell did you get up here?"

"Security keyed me up. I'm family, don't you know?"

"You're a pain in the ass."

"But you don't deny I'm family."

The lack of mockery in his brother's voice bothered Rand. It was almost as if Carter wanted to acknowledge their relationship in some concrete way. Not likely.

"What are you doing here?"

"Did you really expect me to let you get away with kidnapping Phoebe from the reception?"

Rand shrugged. "No. You want the island too much, but I didn't expect security to let you up."

It was Carter's turn to shrug. "Being a Sloane still has some clout in this town.

But I didn't come just because of the island. I'm also Phoebe's friend."

"And you were worried about her?" Rand wasn't buying it.

"She's not exactly in your league."

Phoebe leaned around Rand, the hand not attached to the back of his shirt holding the tuxedo coat tightly around her. She looked damn cute.

"Let's get a couple things straight. What I do with my personal life is no one else's business but mine. Furthermore, I left the reception of my own free will.

Rand did not
kidnap
me."

"Your aunt is convinced he did."

"My aunt is prejudiced."

Carter's lips tilted in a half smile. "I did notice that, but she's also worried that if Rand isn't there to give his speech and present the award, the gossip will ruin you."

Rand stiffened and muttered a favorite four-letter word that had Phoebe smacking him in the back. He'd forgotten the award, and he had no desire to see her the center of scandalous gossip. He was much more interested in seeing her naked in the center of his big bed.

He flicked the cuff of his shirt back and looked at the time. He was due to present the award in thirty minutes. It was a fifteen-minute drive to the hotel. "I'll be there."

Carter nodded. "I figured you would, but Phoebe had better be there, too, if you don't want her aunt to be your next visitor tonight."

"I'll have a word with security about keying unwelcome visitors of any kind to the penthouse level."

Carter shrugged. "Do you really think that will work in keeping Mz. Emmaline from reaching her niece if she wants to?"

"Hell. Probably not. Phoebe will be with me. Now that you've done your good deed … get out."

Instead of looking offended by his dismissal, Carter looked damned amused.

"You're not very hospitable, Rand."

"Sorry, I wasn't raised in the blue-blooded environment you were. Social niceties aren't my thing."

Carter's jaw tightened at the reference to their separate upbringings, but then he sighed. "No. You weren't. I'm not sure which one of us paid the higher price for it, though."

"It's a little late to be worrying about that now."

"Maybe. If I were the one who screwed up, but neither of us is responsible for the stupidity of our father."

What was going on? "Do you think I'll share mineral rights with you if you attempt a replay of Happy Families?" He'd learned a long time ago not to trust anyone with the last name Sloane, and that included his father.

A small fist landed against his right shoulder blade. "That was uncalled for, Rand. Carter's your brother, and I, for one, am glad somebody is finally waking up to that fact in a meaningful way."

"Stay out of this, Phoebe. It's none of your business." He knew he sounded harsh and figured his words probably hurt her feelings.

The way she let go of his shirt and stepped away from him said as much.

"Why don't you put your dress back on and I'll take you back to the reception?"

Carter fairly oozed concerned charm, and Rand took a step toward him, his hand curling into a fist.

"Phoebe's not going anywhere with you."

Phoebe glared at Rand's back, hurt by his brutal dismissal of her opinion a moment ago and angry that he thought he had the right to dictate to her after it.

Sure, he'd been talking to Carter, but the effect had been the same. Bossing her around. "I can speak for myself."

Rand turned around to face her, his expression hard and accusing. "Are you saying you want to leave with him?"

She pulled his coat more tightly around her as if that could protect her from the heat of his anger. "I'm saying that it is my decision to make."

"Then make it. Either you go with him, or you stay with me."

Did he have to make it sound as though the choice had so little import to him?

But then what did she expect? He'd been fighting any move in a more personal direction in their relationship for the past hour. Maybe he saw this as an easy way out of what they'd almost done.

She glared at him, as much for what she was thinking as for what he'd said.

He spun on his heel and headed toward the bedroom. "I'm going to change into another shirt and dinner jacket. If you're here when I come out, I'll assume you decided to stay with me."

And it didn't matter one way or another to him either. "Don't you believe it."

She'd muttered it under her breath, but Carter had heard.

"He's mad, and when he gets mad, he says stupid stuff. He's in there right now wanting to kick himself for leaving the field open to me so easily."

She'd love to believe that was true; even more she'd like to believe it was because of her and not Luna Island. She wasn't that much of a dreamer. "What makes you so sure?"

"We're a lot alike. That's how I know he's too proud to come back out and ask you to stay, even if that's what he wants to do."

"Do you want me to stay with him?" She couldn't make out what was motivating Carter right now.

He grimaced. "I don't know. The Phoebe I left behind four years ago would be no match for my older brother, but you've changed, and I'm just beginning to realize how much. Maybe you don't need my protection from him."

"I don't, but what about the lithium?"

"I want it. I won't lie about that, but it's pretty obvious there's something between you and Rand, and I figure I owe you both enough, I shouldn't try too hard to screw it up."

Was she hearing what she thought she was hearing? Carter cared about Rand.

"You did come back to renew family ties."

Carter was right. He and Rand were a lot alike. The way he went stonelike and stoic was very reminiscent of his brother to her.

"I came back for a lot of reasons. Not least of which was to tell you I'm sorry."

She was no longer interested in apologies from her ex-fiancé. That part of her life had been over for a long time. She was much more concerned with whether or not Rand was going to follow through on his promise to make her feel like a woman.

Nevertheless, she said, "You were right. We weren't ready to make that kind of commitment. It took me a while to get there, but in the end I was grateful you backed out of our wedding."

"I'm glad."

"Still here?"

Phoebe couldn't tell if Rand was speaking to her or his brother.

"You changed pretty fast," Carter mocked.

Rand didn't reply, but his molten gaze settled on Phoebe. "Maybe you'd like to put
your
clothes on, unless you enjoy entertaining my brother while you're practically naked."

If she didn't know better, she'd think he was jealous.

Carter laughed. "You'd better put your dress on before the green-eyed monster eats my brother alive."

Rand swept her dress up off the floor and handed it to her. "Get dressed. As it is, we're cutting it to the wire on time."

"You could go ahead and I could follow with Carter." Even as she made the suggestion, she realized it wasn't a good one. If she let Rand go now, would he change his mind about making love to her? Had he already?

BOOK: 3 Brides for 3 Bad Boys
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