Authors: Jami Davenport
Tags: #Friends to Lovers, #Seattle Sockeyes, #Sports Romance, #Contemporary, #Sports, #Romance, #Hockey Romance, #Genre Fiction, #Contemporary Romance, #Literature & Fiction
“Well, horse lady, I’ll be back to return the rope.” He headed down the aisle with the dog grumbling at his heels. Pausing, he called over his shoulder, “I’m looking forward to getting closer to my neighbors.” With that last salvo, he was gone.
Avery stared after him, mouth hanging open, and her cheek tingling from his touch. Dang, he was hot, hotter than any man had a right to be, and he wet her panties faster than any man she’d ever met, and she’d met plenty in her former part-time job as a professional party crasher. But that was all she’d ever done. Met them. Danced with them. Flirted with them. She’d never been tempted to take one of them home, though she’d had plenty of offers.
Avery preferred the company of horses. She didn’t need a man to complete her; she never had, she never would. But maybe Bella was on to something. Maybe engaging in some recreational sex would loosen her up—purely for the sake of her horses, of course. Hell, even if it didn’t, it’d be fun trying.
She wouldn’t mind a roll in the hay with her dark and dangerous neighbor. A girl did have her needs, and Avery had denied hers for too long. No wonder the first gorgeous stranger to walk into her barn turned her on in fifty different ways and had her imagining all kinds of fun they could have together.
Isaac was a fine man, and Avery could use a fine man who wouldn’t ask for anything but sex, but she couldn’t let him know that. He’d have to work for it if he wanted to get her horizontal—or vertical.
Avery groaned at the thought of being pushed up against a wall by that man and lifted onto his hard erection. Vertical definitely had its appeal as much as horizontal.
She wasn’t a prude, but she didn’t sleep around much either. Her last casual fling had started with a French horse trainer in the tack room of his horse trailer almost two years ago at the championships. Since he lived south of Portland, they’d met up a few times last year, purely for sex, nothing serious, because otherwise the guy was a dick.
Isaac, too, radiated dick-itude, as her wild child sister Bella called it, an attitude common in strong and cocky men who believed they owned the world and everything in it, especially women. Avery didn’t mind a little ownership in the bedroom from a strong man, as long as it never extended outside the bedroom door.
Maybe, just maybe, Isaac was just what she needed to start the New Year off right.
* * * *
Isaac wanted horse lady, whatever the hell her name was. As soon as he got home, he put away the groceries, and fed Cranky Pants. He looked up the name of the barn online and did a little cyber stalking. He’d never cared enough about a woman before to cyber stalk her or even ask her name, but he wanted to know the gorgeous blonde horse lady’s name.
The barn had a website. Cedrona Farms, owned by Sam Reynolds, had an assistant trainer and instructor, Avery Maxwell. Isaac wiped drool off his face as he studied pictures of Avery riding horses. He’d give his left nut if she’d ride him like that. One picture showed her standing next to a huge horse. She wore this incredible outfit that showed off her body without showing a thing. It was the sexiest thing he’d ever seen, sexier than a woman in a miniscule bikini, despite this picture showing no skin. In fact, Avery was dressed in a black jacket, white shirt, those tight, white riding pants, and polished black boots. He indulged himself for a few minutes with an image of her riding him hard in that outfit, sans breeches, brandishing a riding whip, while he lay flat on his back in a bed of hay.
He grinned as he picked up the lead rope and headed back down the narrow gravel road for round two with Avery the horse lady. He lengthened his stride, one-hundred-percent focused on how to get her underneath him tonight.
This time he found her riding a horse in the huge arena, and he slipped onto a bench to watch. As she rode by, she scowled at him, and he grinned back. There was nothing he loved more than a surly woman because he didn’t need to worry about hurting her feelings or pissing her off—she was already pissed off, and pissed-off sex often was the best kind.
Isaac should know.
Chapter 3—Sorry Replacement
Avery sighed when she saw Isaac sitting on the bench near the arena gate, while every female hormone she possessed stood up and cheered. He held the lead rope in his big hands. She’d only met him earlier today, and he’d been occupying her mind ever since, along with Bella’s words of advice.
“You can just leave the rope over there,” she said as she rode by.
He didn’t move. Instead he leaned back against the wall, crossed his arms over his broad chest, and didn’t look like he was in a hurry to go anywhere soon. Her heartrate sped up as she put Dexter through his paces, thoroughly distracted by the man watching her as if he wanted to eat her up for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
Finally, after fifteen minutes of torture, she halted Dex in the middle of the arena and dismounted. Isaac stood, all male strength and virility wrapped up one enticing package.
He was a stranger, and Avery never slept with strangers. She was too careful for that. Yet, he was renting from Brad, which altered the stranger classification somewhat. She knew Brad, Brad knew Isaac. Besides, Brad wouldn’t let just anyone rent his place.
Isaac fell into step with her and the horse as she walked past him, keeping a wary eye on the horse. Avery went out the gate and into the aisle wedged between Dex and a hot man. She put Dexter in cross ties and began to groom him, while Isaac leaned casually against the wall and watched.
“What’s his name?” he asked after a long silence.
Avery jumped, not expecting him to talk. “Dexter. Dex for short.”
“Like the serial killer?” he joked lamely, as if he didn’t joke often and the idea was foreign to him.
“No, nothing like that.”
“Hmmm. He’d be a formidable serial killer. Look at the size of those feet.” Tentatively, he approached the horse, and she pegged him as a city boy who’d never been up close and personal with a horse before.
“He’s very sweet. Belongs to a teenager who’s been through some tough times.”
“That same one from earlier? The one I scared the shit out of?”
She nodded, not sure why she was telling him anything.
“I’m sorry about that. I tried to be nice.” He looked genuinely regretful if not a little confused. She didn’t enlighten him. Tiff’s emotional state wasn’t something she was willing to discuss with him.
“I’m sure you did. She’s very sensitive.” Avery tried to smooth things over, and relief washed over his handsome face. She liked making him feel better, and she liked this less-cocky side of him. “Are you a friend of Brad’s?”
He shrugged one shoulder as his blue eyes surveyed her from head to toe and back again. “More like business associates.”
She frowned, finding that hard to believe, but Isaac had no reason to lie. “Oh, you know his brother and sister-in-law own this farm then?”
“Sure do.” He wasn’t giving her much to work with. He reached out and touched the horse’s neck, stroking it, and his arm brushed against hers. Avery’s knees almost buckled from this crazy rush of desire. She never reacted to a man like this. Never. Never. Ever. This was so not her. Yeah, well, tell that to her body.
“He’s soft.” He seemed surprised, almost in awe.
“Yes, we take good care of our horses’ coats.” Avery’s lame response echoed in her ears.
He moved a step closer so their hips bumped and met her gaze with those intense blue eyes. “I bet he’s not as soft as you are.” A slow, suggestive smile spread across his face, as he returned to the cocky bastard of earlier.
“There’s nothing soft about me,” Avery shot back refusing to give an inch, even as her heart beat wildly in her chest and her wet panties revealed just how interested she was. Just being this close to him did things to her, things she’d never imagined any man could do without getting her naked first. Oh, and how she wanted this man to get her naked. It was crazy. She didn’t even know him, but did she ever what to know him, at least his body.
Bella would be proud of her.
“Hmmm, I bet there are soft parts of you.” Isaac leaned in until his breath tickled her face. He ran a rough finger across her cheek, down her neck to her collarbone.
A shiver ran through her, and she completely forgot what they were arguing about, even as she shook her head. She should’ve run, should’ve saved herself and her sanity, but she didn’t want to run, and sanity was highly overrated. Crazy people had more fun, or so Bella claimed.
Avery wanted to have fun, and she wanted it with him. He clearly wanted her, and he knew Brad so he met her criteria when it came to never sleeping with a stranger.
She shook her head, trying to clear it. Instead the fog thickened, and reason sank into the depths of his smoldering blue eyes. He was like a drug, and she was high on him, his scent, his closeness, his intensity, his rugged good looks, his body. All of him. Everything about him heightened her senses and destroyed any self-preservation she might have had. Any remaining morsel of an argument against casual encounters with near strangers ceased to exist in her brain, which crashed like a bad hard drive and refused to reboot.
“I’d like to find out.” His mouth found the lobe of her ear and tugged, biting down just enough to give her pleasurable pain. A whimper escaped from her. Damn, but he’d be incredible in bed.
“Fi-find out what,” she stuttered.
“Where you’re soft.”
“Oh,” she gasped, unable to manage a clever comeback.
“Avery,” he whispered in her ear, his voice raspy.
“You—you know my name?” she stood completely still, afraid if she moved she’d break the spell, and these heady sensations would disappear in a moment.
“I did a little investigating; wasn’t hard to figure out who you were.”
“Oh,” she croaked, turning slightly so they were face to face and his mouth was mere inches from hers. He cupped her cheeks in his rough hands and brushed his mouth across hers. After a sharp intake of breath, she whimpered, completely turned on by a simple kiss that barely qualified as one.
“You do things to me. You have from the first moment I saw you. Now let me do things to you.” He hypnotized her with his voice.
Avery gasped, complete, absolute putty in his big hands. Her brain couldn’t form words, but her body answered for her. She leaned into him and licked her lips. His blue eyes darkened as he focused his gaze on her mouth. He kissed one corner and ran the tip of his tongue torturously across the seam to the other corner. She opened for him, but he didn’t accept the invitation.
Isaac slid those strong hands down her body and rested them on her ass. He squeezed her butt, and Avery sank against him, her legs no longer holding her up. His hard chest pressed against her soft one. If he was the devil, she’d gladly follow him to hell, but judging by how he made her body feel, he was more likely a fallen angel who’d take her to heaven. She wanted that heaven. She didn’t care about the consequences. Twenty-two years of playing it safe with men and always being in control of her sexual desires deserted her faster than a runaway horse. Whatever he wanted from her, she’d give it to him. Saying no was not an option.
He was a stranger who didn’t feel like a stranger. Not according to her body. Her body knew him and so did her soul, as if she’d been waiting for this man her entire life, and he’d finally found her. She’d never been one for such ridiculous romantic notions. She left that to Emma. Yet, right now, she couldn’t muster one rational thought, one practical argument, one reason why he wasn’t her destiny.
“Avery?” he said against her lips. She knew he was asking permission, permission to continue, to do all kinds of naughty things to her, to take her to his heaven.
“Yes,” she answered even though he hadn’t exactly asked a question. They didn’t seem to need words. They understood each other and their needs.
He growled, a purely male sound of pleasure and pulled her against his hardness. And he was hard. Really, really hard. Avery dropped the brush she’d been holding in one hand to the ground and raised her arms to loop them around his neck. His eyes held hers captive, and the last of her feeble resistance sizzled and evaporated in the heat of his gaze. Nothing about what she was about to do made sense, yet it made perfect sense.
This man was the one
She couldn’t explain something that defied explanation, nor could she deny the incredible sexual chemistry shorting out all brain function and leaving her body to do the thinking.
And she knew what her body thought.
Holding Isaac tightly, she ran her tongue across his stubbled jaw, loving how the little hairs felt rough against her tongue, and up to his well-shaped mouth. It was his turn to groan. He gripped her butt tighter and pulled her harder against him.
“You’re killing me, Avery,” he muttered.
“Then it’ll be a double murder because you’re killing me too.”
“I want to be inside you,” he said in a husky whisper.
“I want that too.” The words tumbled from her mouth, and she’d be damned if she’d take them back because it was the truth; besides she’d already made her decision and no turning back.
Avery pressed her lips to his. He growled and took control, deepening the kiss until they were making crazy, wild love to each other with every part of their mouths. Avery dug her fingers into his scalp, while loving the long, hard feel of him against her crotch.
“Avery!” came a shout from nearby. “What the hell are you doing?”
Avery jumped back, flustered and embarrassed to see her twin sister standing a few feet away, gawking at them. Of course, with her lousy luck, it had to be straight-laced Emma, not anything-goes Bella who caught them.
Isaac kept his cool—damn him—even as he apparently processed the reality of her having an identical twin.
Emma, sweet, innocent Emma, kept shaking her head, obviously disappointed in her sister. Avery would be the first to admit it didn’t look good, especially since the two girls told each other everything so Emma knew this man hadn’t been on Avery’s radar as of a couple hours ago.
Avery wrung her hands and stuttered a few unintelligible words while Isaac smirked, thoroughly entertained by the awkward situation—the bastard.