Authors: Jaci Burton
“I think he's having a cigar outside with some of the guys to celebrate being a married man. Or maybe a shot of tequila. One or the other. Quite possibly both. All I know is I'll be the one driving us home tonight.”
Megan laughed. Then Chelsea got pulled away by Jane, who mumbled something about dancing, so Megan made
her way back to her table. By then the music had started up, so they all watched Chelsea and Bashâwho was inside nowâdance together.
She was so happy for the two of them, and Chelsea really did look like she was floating on a cloud.
Once the bride and groom dance was over, the DJ told everyone to get up and dance. Megan turned to Brady.
“I'm going to get a refill on my wine. Do you want another beer?”
“I'm good right now. Thanks.”
She headed over to the bar. While waiting in line, she turned to see Brady in deep conversation with Deacon and Zach. For some reason, that made her smile.
For someone who not too long ago kept mainly to himself above Carter and Molly's shop, Brady was coming out of his shell.
That was a good thing. A very good thing. And if he could break that cycle of being unsociable, then maybe there was hope for other things as well.
While Brady congregated with the guys, she found herself at a table with her core group of friends, along with Loretta, who had become a good friend of theirs as well.
“Where's your little girl tonight, Loretta?” Emma asked.
“She's with my parents, who will no doubt spoil her endlessly, feed her too much sugar, and let her stay up all night long. Which means I'll get her back tomorrow overtired and cranky.”
Des laughed. “Grandparents' prerogative, I suppose.”
“Sure. Which then will make me miserable. And Hazel, too.”
Megan noticed Loretta's gaze shifting occasionally to where the guys were crowded by the bar. She didn't know a whole lot about Loretta and Deacon, other than that they were high school sweethearts who had broken up not long after they graduated. And then Loretta had gotten married to some other guy and had moved to Texas until her divorce.
“So how are you and Deacon getting along now that you're back in town?” Chelsea asked.
Leave it to Chelsea to dig right in.
“Oh, we're fine, I guess. I don't really see him much other than the occasional run-in at the grocery store or through town.”
“So it's not awkward between the two of you?” Emma asked.
Loretta gave a sigh. “Define
. I mean, we were together for four years in high school. We thought we'd end up together forever. Until we didn't. And it ended badly. So I'd say there's awkwardness.”
“Maybe you both need some closure,” Jane said.
“Maybe. Or maybe the opportunity for closure passed a long time ago. I don't think he even wants to speak to me anymore.”
“Have you tried talking to him?” Megan asked.
“Not really. I mean, it's in the past. Why reopen old wounds?”
“So you can close them and move on,” Molly said. “Trust meâI left a lingering hole in my relationship with Carter for years. And it festered for a long time with neither of us being able to move on. Which was fine when I was gone, but once I was back in Hope, our past needed to be addressed.”
“And look at them now,” Megan said with a smile.
Loretta looked horrified. “I just got out of a relationship. I'm not looking to start another one. Or reopen an old one.”
Chelsea shrugged. “You never know what might happen until you and Deacon have an actual conversation. And no one's saying you're looking for anything, honey. Only that it might be time to bury the past and look toward your future.”
Loretta's gaze drifted over toward Deacon again, and Megan could swear she saw a slight look of longing on Loretta's face. Then again, Megan wanted all her friends to be happy, so she might have imagined it.
“You might be right about that,” Loretta said. “Putting
the past to bed once and for all is a good idea.” She pulled her focus back on the women and smiled. “But not tonight. Tonight is a night of fun and partying and celebrating Chelsea and Bash.”
Chelsea grinned. “Well, I'll drink to that. If I was drinking, which I'm not, except for sparkling water.”
Megan lifted her glass of wine. “To Chelsea and Bash.”
They all toasted.
BRADY HAD TO
admit that weddings or any type of mass social event just weren't his thing.
But he was having a good time. The music was kicking it hard, the food had been great, and he was enjoying the company of people he now thought of as his friends.
All in all, not a bad night. Plus, he had a beautiful woman by his side. Or, at least, mostly by his side. Since Deacon and Zach had come solo, they took the opportunity to grab all the women and take them out onto the dance floor. Which meant Megan as well, who didn't seem to mind, since she'd told him she loved to dance.
Right now she was arms-up on the dance floor, swaying her hips to a hard, driving beat with Deacon. And as long as those guys knew to stay hands-off with her, he didn't mind her dancing with them, especially since dancing wasn't his thing.
But he did notice that every once in a while she'd look over at him and smile. So he knew her attention was on him. And that worked for him.
Sam plopped down in the chair next to his. “So why are other dudes dancing with your woman?”
“I'm not much of a dancer.”
“Neither is Reid. Doesn't stop him from getting up there and shaking his groove thing with me. Or with anyone else. Look at him up there dancing with Des right now. He's a total doofus.”
Brady searched the dance floor until he found Reid. Sam was right. Dude did not know how to dance. In fact, he kind of looked like he was having a stroke up there.
“Yeah, well, he's a braver man than I am, then.”
“Uh-huh. And at some point Megan is going to have some random guy's hands all over her.”
“Nah. I trust Deacon and Zach. And Megan.”
“Sure you do. But she loves to dance. And I wasn't talking about Deacon or Zach or any of the guys we know and trust. I meant some random drunken dipshit who's not in our trust circle is going to notice she's alone and available and maybe not be so trustworthy.” Sam patted his shoulder. “Food for thought, Brady.”
He studied Megan out on the dance floor. So far, nothing had happened. But maybeÂ .Â .Â .
He finally got out of his seat where his butt had been warming the chair for the better part of an hour. He shed his suit jacket, loosened his tie, and made his way through the throng of dancers.
Deacon at least had some rhythm. He tapped him on the shoulder.
Deacon grinned and wiped the sweat from his brow. “Perfect timing. I need a beer and some air.”
Deacon grabbed Megan's hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it. “Thanks for the dances, honey.”
Megan grinned. “Anytime.”
Brady stepped in front of her, and Megan arched a brow. “You sure you're up for this?”
“You sure your feet aren't sore yet?”
She wound her hand around the back of his neck. “I could do this all night.”
“Okay, then, dancing queen. Let's do this.”
He did his best to keep up, but the woman had moves, and he had four left feet. But Megan didn't seem to notice. She danced around him, nestled up next to him, and seemingly had a great time just being with him.
So maybe he'd just been an asshole and too self-conscious, because Megan apparently didn't care that he couldn't dance for shit. And when the music slowed to something romantic, he pulled her close.
Now this part he could do. He swept his hand down her rib cage and over her hip, letting his fingers rest just above her butt.
Megan tilted her head back to look up at him. “Taking liberties, Mr. Conners?”
“You bet your gorgeous ass I am, Ms. Lee.”
“You know, I have had quite a bit of wine to drink, and while I've danced some of it off, it's entirely possible I might be slightly inebriated.”
His lips curved. “Fortunately for you, I've only had a couple of beers, am stone-cold sober, and intend to take full advantage of your inebriated state. Once I make sure you get home safely.”
“How gallant of you. In a fairly self-serving way, of course.”
“Of course.” He let his hand drift lower, and since the dance floor was crowded, no one noticed when his hand drifted over her butt and drew her closer to what was fast becoming a serious erection problem.
Her brow arched up. “Hmm, a preview for later?”
“You could say that.”
“You have my full attention.”
He decided it would probably be a good idea to give himself some distance from Megan's hot body before the dance ended, so he stepped back and made the dance a lot less intimate. By the time the music switched to something
fast-paced, Megan said she was ready to cool off and get something to drink.
“More wine?” he asked after he walked her back to their table.
She shook her head. “I think I've had more than enough wine. Some sparkling water would be great.”
“I'll be right back.” He leaned down and brushed his lips over hers.
She tasted so good, and when she lifted up as if she wanted more, he thought about letting the kiss linger.
But now wasn't the time or the place, so he reluctantly created some distance between them.
But soon enough, this wedding would be over. He'd take her home and remove that damned enticing dress she wore, and then he'd have her naked and underneath him. Or over him. He didn't much care, as long as the two of them were alone and he was inside of her.
He filed that visual away for later.
IT HAD BEEN
a stellar night. Megan's friends had gotten married, she had been there to witness it, and she'd had one of the hottest dates thereâin her opinion.
And best of all, the cake had turned out perfectly. Chelsea had raved about it and Bash had pronounced it delicious, and as long as the bride and groom loved it, she was happy.
Though she also noticed that Brady had eaten two pieces. She was beginning to suspect he had a demon sweet tooth, especially when he shrugged out of his suit coat when they got back to her place and immediately grabbed one of the pieces of croquembouche pastry and popped it into his mouth as he took Roxie out back.
She laughed, then kicked her shoes off and stepped into the kitchen to grab the open bottle of wine. She poured herself a glass and took a sip. When Brady came back in with Roxie, she asked him if he wanted a glass of wine or something else to drink.
“Just water for me. Thanks.”
She poured water into the glass she'd filled with ice, then handed it to him.
“These things are good,” he said, grabbing another pastry ball from the tower. “Also, it looks really hard to make. They're like cream puffs, right?”
“Sort of. And I'm glad you like them.”
He swallowed, then took a sip of water. “I like everything you bake.”
“That's quite a compliment to a baker.”
“Just being honest.”
She leaned against the counter and sipped her wine, unable to keep herself from staring at him. He'd loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. He'd also rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt.
She was so used to seeing him in jeans and T-shirts. He was sexy enough in those. But in a white button-down shirt and a tie? The man was devastating.
And the way he looked at her, with that incredibly direct, I'm-going-to-eat-you-alive kind of smoldering gaze, made every female part of her quiver in anticipation.
“Something on your mind?” he asked.
“Several things, actually.”
He swept his finger down the outside of the glass.
“Have I ever mentioned how much I like your hands?” she asked.
“Uh, no. But go on.”
“You have elegant fingers. Still, extremely masculine. But the art you create with your hands is magical. And the things you can do to my body with those hands is also quite magical.”
He laid the glass on the island and came around it. Despite the fact that this wasn't the first time they'd been alone together, she noted the way her heart rate sped up, the dizzying breathlessness that came over her whenever he got close to her. Brady had a way about him that simply wired her up and made her neurons fire hot for him.
Just him. It had never been hot and passionate and so incredibly sexual for her with anyone but Brady.
And yet, when he brushed her hair away from her face, there was also a tenderness, an emotional yearning that
had a lot more to do with her heart and a lot less to do with her sexual cravings.
She was in so deep with this man that it was dizzying, overwhelming, intense. She felt like she was stepping too close to an extremely dangerous fire. And yet all she wanted to do was let it consume her, especially when his lips touched hers.
Like wildfire, an explosion of heat enveloped her in a passion that was out of control.
And suddenly, she couldn't get enough of his mouth, his tongue, the touch of his hand along her back. She leaned into Brady, raking her nails along his arms, moaning with her need to have him.
He crushed her to him and deepened the kiss. It was sweet torment, to feel this close to him, to have what she wanted, but it only served to ratchet up the blinding tension that made her crave that fulfillment she so desperately needed.
He kissed her jaw, then blazed a trail of hot kisses along her throat and toward her shoulder. When he drew the strap of her dress off her shoulder and nipped that area with his teeth, she felt dizzy with the effects of the spell he wove over her.
“I've thought about getting you out of this dress all night long,” he murmured against her skin. “About what you might have on underneath it.”
With a low growl, he swept her into his arms and carried her into the bedroom, then stood her next to the bed. He turned her around so he could draw the zipper down on her dress.
It pooled into a heap at her feet and Brady held her hands while she stepped out of it.
“Holy shit,” he said.
When she'd bought the dress, she'd known none of her everyday underwear could go with it. The copper metallic dress needed something special, so she'd found dark
copperâcolored underwear, but it sure was barely thereâit was just a demi bra and thong panties.
“Stand right there and don't move. I need to justÂ .Â .Â . look at you for a few minutes.”
Under normal circumstances she'd feel ridiculous standing there in her underwear modeling for him, but as he watched her, he began to unbutton his shirt. She had to admit, she didn't mind watching the reveal of his skin button by button.
She finally stepped up and undid the last few buttons herself. She had to get close to him, had to feel that blast of heat that always seemed to emanate from his skin. She breathed in the masculine scent of him, then spread her palms over his shoulders and drew the shirt down his arms.
“I might want you to wear my shirt later,” he whispered, bending down to draw his tongue across her neck. “While I have you bent over the sofa.”
She shivered at the visual. “I think we can arrange that.”
He undid the buckle of his belt, then unzipped his pants and let those fall. His boxer briefs followed, and he was gloriously, beautifully nude.
“But for now,” he said, pushing her back on the bed. “I need to worship this new underwear of yours.”
She scooted to the center of the bed. “I'd rather you take it off.”
“Yeah, we'll get there.” He skimmed his fingers over the tiny scraps of lace at her hips. “You bought these to torture me, didn't you?”
“To please you. I thought you might like them.”
He nipped at her hip bone, pulling the strap up with his teeth before letting it fall back in place. “Oh, I like them.”
He made his way up her body, sliding his tongue around her belly button, then kissing her rib cage and shoulders before teasing the swell of her breasts with his tongue. He put his mouth around her nipple, silk fabric and all, and suckedâhard.
She let out a yelp of pure unadulterated pleasure as he
kept sucking her nipple until she thought she might have an actual orgasm from him doing that.
And when he stopped, he teased the bud with his fingers while she fought to catch her breathâand her sanity.
He pulled the cup back. “Such a flimsy little piece of fabric. If I'd known you were wearing these while we were at the wedding, I'd have taken you outside, lifted your dress, and had you right on the balcony.”
Her sex quivered. “I'd have enjoyed that.”
His brows arched. “Filing that piece of information away for some other time.”
She was aching for him, and as she swept her hand across his jaw, he took one of her fingers in his mouth and sucked. She quaked, inside and out.
“I need you.”
“What do you need? My mouth on you like this?” He bent and dragged his tongue across her nipple, then drew it into his mouth, slowly sucking on her until she whimpered.
He dropped down beside her, letting his fingers map a trail from between her breasts over her stomach. “Or do you need my hands on you, like this?”
He slipped his hand inside her underwear to cup her sex.
“You're so hot and wet down here. Do you need me to make you come, Megan?”
“Yes.” She needed that more than anything. She was so in tune to him, to the way his hand moved over her, the sound of his voice, that this wasn't going to take long. Like, probably in an embarrassing way, she'd go off in a matter of seconds.
And as she suspected, he'd no more than brushed his hand over her a few times, using his expert fingers to find her clit and rub it as if he'd known her hot button like a best friend, and she was going over the top with a wild cry. She quivered against him while he murmured hot and sexy words against her ear, prolonging the exquisite pleasure.
While she was recovering from that blast of euphoria, Brady pulled off her bra and panties, licking her breasts and her sex, making her feel warm and languid and ready for more.
He kissed her, and she rolled over on top of him, needing him to feel that same passion he coaxed out of her every single time.
She leaned over on the nightstand and grabbed a condom. “Ready for a ride?”
His lips ticked up. “Saddle me up, babe, and let's go.”
She put the condom on him, and then slid down on his shaft, her nerve endings still on fire after that amazing orgasm he'd given her. Her sex gripped him tightly and she took a few seconds to enjoy the feel of that, watching Brady's eyes darken.
“Yeah. I like that, too,” he said, sweeping his hands over her thighs.
She rocked forward, an explosion of sweet sensation threatening to make her topple into yet another climax.
She stilled, waiting. This time she'd make him come with her. She leaned forward, lifting off him just enough to tease him a little before sliding back down on him again.
He tangled his fingers in her hair and brought her forward for a blistering-hot kiss that sent her tumbling over the edge. She moaned against his lips as she came, firing even hotter and faster with her climax as she took in his answering groans. She held on to his shoulders as he thrust into her and released, shuddering against her.
She settled against his shoulder, coming down off that incredible high while listening to the sound of his breathing. She could stay like this all night, just lying on top of him, letting his hands tenderly roam over her back.
They finally disengaged and cleaned up. Brady went to check on Roxie, while Megan got water for both of them.
“Is she okay?”
“Sound asleep on her blanket. With her chicken under her chin.”
Megan handed him a glass of water. He took two long gulps, then set the glass on the coaster on the nightstand.
He pulled her against him and Megan settled in next to him.
“Don't forget about round two in my shirt.”
“Trust meâI haven't forgotten about it.”
They both fell asleep before round two.