Authors: Eden Summers
He raised a brow and inclined his head. “Well then, I’m glad you didn’t get the half a mil the rock was worth. You definitely wouldn’t have drunk your cheap ass through that in this lifetime.”
She frowned up at him. Was he kidding?
Half a mil?
Half a fucking mil! She’d been wearing a ring worth five hundred thousand dollars around her neck like a trophy for the last year? That stupid son of a bitch.
“You said it was some kind of commitment ring,” she seethed. “Who wastes that much money on a damn
His jaw ticked again, and the flair of his nostrils dried her throat.
“Surprised?” His mask of indifference turned her blood to ice. “You didn’t think I’d spend that kind of money on you?”
She broke eye contact. No, she hadn’t thought he’d spend that on her. Not when he hadn’t chased after her. The more time that passed without hearing from him, the more adamant she became that their relationship was a sham. It was all a hoax. She hadn’t been herself, not entirely, and she definitely hadn’t seen a piece of the gentleman Judd was known to be. They were both playing a role in an exciting sex game. Nothing more. Nothing less.
But five hundred thousand dollars?
Her vision became flooded with him as he decimated the distance between them. He kicked her feet apart and pushed between her knees, the heat of his legs making her entire body sizzle.
“You didn’t think you were worthy of a ring worth half a million dollars?”
He was suffocating her, when all she wanted was space—to breathe, to think, to cease feeling. She pushed at his stomach and stood. “My
isn’t up for discussion. I’m just surprised at how frivolous you are with your money.”
“Frivolous?” He got in her face, clawed his hand into her hair and held her tight through a kiss that lasted seconds yet rocked her from head to toe. “That ring was—” He clamped his lips together, the addictive fire in his eyes flaring bright. “That ring was a symbol of how much you meant to me.”
“A symbol?” She didn’t back away. She kept their faces mere inches apart as she stared up at him. “I think what was more symbolic was the way you didn’t fight for us.” She dusted her palms together between their chests. “You brushed that shit off like it was any given Tuesday and never looked back.” She shrugged. “So neither did I.”
“I’ve got pride, Harper,” he snarled. “I wasn’t gonna beg, when I didn’t know why you left in the first place.”
She gave a derisive laugh. “No, Judd Hart doesn’t beg. But instead he’ll kidnap and hold hostage.”
“Let’s drop the pretense that you want to leave. We both know it’s bullshit.”
“Do you know what else is bullshit?” She ground her teeth together and increased her glare, overwhelmed with her own pride. “The fact I’ve never been exposed to the so-called gentleman you’re supposed to be. Why is that, Judd? Wasn’t I good enough?”
“Insecurity doesn’t suit you, princess.” He swung around, kicked the door shut with his foot and then moved back to smother her comfort zone. “Besides, you never seemed the type to be attracted to manners and polite conversation.”
There it was, the reality that he didn’t know a thing about her. Uncertainty and self-doubt were her constant companion. Especially around him. She would’ve begged like an over-energetic pup for a mere taste of what he gave to those worthy women.
She supposed there were different rules for people who weren’t academics or didn’t have a bank balance worth more than four figures.
“Fuck you,” she whispered. There was nothing else left to say.
“You keep saying that like it’s an insult,” he growled. “You know better than anyone how much your venom turns me on.”
“Go to hell.” Her inability to stop taunting him made her want to tear her hair out. He made her mindless with a mere look. Even the reminder of their incompatibility couldn’t dampen her need. She had to be taken over by him. Devoured. Even though he’d eventually spit her back out in a thousand tiny pieces.
“See.” He smirked. “You’re merely tempting me now.”
He was so close, the delicate caress of his breath brushing her mouth. It would be a waste to push him away. Even if the aftermath would be punishing. She’d have to hold in the multitude of endearments that had grown, festered and eventually turned to bile in her belly during the time they were together. Exposing her undiluted feelings for him would only leave her more vulnerable.
“I hate you,” she sneered. She hated him and loved him in equal measure. He killed her and invigorated her at the same time. He tore her limb from limb and was still the only man to make her feel whole.
He chuckled and the curl of his lips made her belly stop, drop and roll. “I love you, too, Harper.”
All the air left her lungs with an overly dramatic whoosh. He’d never said those words before. Never even hinted at it. “You don’t love me.”
“Yeah, I do.” He frowned at her. “How could you not know that?” He gripped her face in his palms and stared deep into her eyes. “You knew I loved you, right?”
She breathed him in and let his scent solidify her lungs. “We can’t do this again.”
“Yeah, we can.”
She shook her head. “Judd—”
He cut off her reply with his mouth. Her thoughts, too. He kissed her like the world was ending. Like life would cease to exist if their lips parted. She’d never been held so tight, so lovingly, and in that moment, she wondered if her soul would die when she walked away again. And she
walk away again…just not right now. Not when he felt like perfection in her arms.
She matched the hunger of his mouth, licking, nipping, sucking. He gripped her hips and ground into her, the hardness of his erection grating over her pubic bone. Her clit responded with a mass of tingles that tore a moan from her throat.
“Damn you, Judd.” This moment in heaven was purely temporary, and that was okay. After what they’d already been through, tomorrow would be filled with regret regardless.
She yanked off her shirt, threw it to the floor and began unbuckling her jeans. Skin to skin was where this was headed, and she couldn’t get there fast enough. Her panties were already wet, her aching pussy pulsing with the thought of what was to come.
“Underwear off,” he demanded, running his hand into her hair, holding her tight.
They shucked the rest of their clothes in between heart-fluttering kisses and gasps for breath. The passion was everything it used to be and more. The heat had increased. The heartache, too.
“Bed. Now.” She couldn’t even hear her words over the blood pulsing through her ears.
He gripped her waist and tugged her closer, evaporating the space between them. She clung to his shoulders as they collapsed onto the mattress in a mass of arms and legs and lips. He fell on top of her, his hard chest pressed deep into hers, his knees nudging her thighs apart.
“This changes nothing.” She wrapped her legs around him and chose to ignore his chuckle.
“Whatever you say, princess.”
She tugged his hair, and he responded with a grind of his hips. The head of his shaft was poised at her entrance. Tempting. Teasing. She wasn’t going to beg. She refused. But the devilish sparkle in his hazel eyes said he already knew how close she was to succumbing.
“Don’t look at me like that.” She turned her head, needing to deny him one last time before she lost the battle.
That’s when the scent filled her nose.
Perfume that was plastered to his sheets.
Perfume that wasn’t hers.
Judd sensed the moment Harper’s arousal morphed into psychotic outrage.
“You didn’t have the foresight to change the sheets?” she screeched and shrunk his balls with her glare. “I can smell other women in your bed.”
He let her scramble out from beneath him to reach the edge of the mattress before he swung his arm around her waist and dragged her back beneath him. He settled on top of her again, this time pinning her arms above her head. “Let’s discuss this like adults.”
Her eyes widened and she began to thrash. “Get off me, you son of a bitch.”
“Watch your mouth.” He loved her dirty tongue, fantasized about it, hungered for it. Just as much as he loved her angst when he bossed her around. The split second of widened eyes and flared nostrils was akin to a shot of adrenaline…straight into his dick.
“How many women have you had in here, Judd?” She was panting, her gorgeous breasts rising and falling. “I’m supposed to believe you want me back when your sheets smell like something out of the Playboy mansion?”
There’d been exactly three.
The first woman he slept with was out of anger. Mourning. He’d been drunk and angry and looking for an outlet. He wouldn’t even classify the act as sexual. It was too sterile. Merely going through the motions without pleasure or thought.
He was in a better headspace by the second. There were no inhibitors—liquid, powder, or otherwise. He’d been sober. Back to his gentlemanly ways with a shy, polite stranger. And the act was equally loathsome.
The third had quickly followed and was the result of a thought out plan.
When he’d been a teenager, his uncle had caught him smoking while his parents were at work. Punishment came in the form of tough love. His uncle took a seat and demanded Judd keep puffing until vomit spewed from his nose like a garden hose.
It took three cigarettes to eradicate all future curiosity.
It took three women to cement his lack of interest in anyone of the opposite sex other than Harper.
He deliberately slept with the third woman quickly after the second to increase his self-loathing. He strove for the compounded revulsion he’d experience when he smoked those cigarettes, and he succeeded. There hadn’t been another woman since. There was only a stronger pull toward the woman currently beneath him.
“There were a few,” he answered honestly and didn’t enjoy the front row seat to Harper’s jealousy.
She clenched her fists and struggled against his hold. “Well having the scent of whores drifting into my nose has a slightly dampening effect on my libido.” She wiggled, testing his restraint as she inevitably brushed her pubic bone against his shaft. “Get off me.”
“Why? Because you’re pissed I tried to move on?” He lowered his chest onto hers and got in her face. “You’re the one who left me.”
“I don’t appreciate rolling around in the scent of your whores.”
He chuckled, right in her face and squeezed her wrists tighter at the predictable thrashing. “That whore scent is you.”
She growled and tried to draw her knee up between them. That was it. He drew the line when his prized possession was being earmarked for assassination.
“Harper, that perfume is yours.” Not the one she was wearing today, but the one she’d obsessively worn a year ago. He’d purchased the brand online a month after she left, and slept with her scent on his pillows like a fucking homesick child ever since.
“I’m not wearing anything that smells like that,” she seethed, her gorgeous lips ruby red with vehemence.
“No. Not now, but you used to.” He narrowed his gaze, giving her a wordless warning not to pummel him as he released one of her wrists. “That whore scent is the perfume you used to wear when we were together last.”
He reached for the bedside table and riffled through the top drawer until his fingers brushed cold glass. “See.” He placed the square bottle on the mattress beside her head. “It’s
whore sent on the sheets. Not anyone else’s.”
She remained quiet, her head resting on his pillow as she eyed the perfume with a frown. “Why do you even have that?”
“Because I love your whore scent.”
She shot him a glare. “Can you stop saying
“Merely using your colorful description, princess.”
She sighed and turned her focus back to the perfume bottle. “I still don’t understand why.” Her voice was soft, hitting him with another dose of her unexpected defenselessness.
“Because I missed you, and that whor— delightful scent was the closest I could get to having you back.”
Her lips parted on silent words, her body still tense beneath him.
Yes, princess, I’m serious.
“You were the last woman in this bed.” He rested his weight against her, needing to feel more skin against skin. “I couldn’t bring anyone else in here.”
This bus was his sanctuary. Pop icons and rock gods could tour with as many women as they liked. He was a solo artist for a reason. He enjoyed his peace and the time alone while travelling to the next city.
Harper didn’t realize the last tour was unique. He probably should’ve told her how monumental it was for her to worm her way into his private space. He probably should’ve told her a lot of things. But as soon as she’d walked away, he’d been relieved he didn’t.
“I want to believe you.” The tension dissolved from her limbs.
“But?” He couldn’t take the misery in her eyes. “I’ve never lied to you. I’ve only ever wanted to make you happy.”
They’d tussled like this many times and not once had vulnerability stared back at him like it did now. Something had changed her in their months apart. He just hoped it wasn’t something that would keep her from him permanently.
“Talk to me.” He rolled to his side, giving her space. “Tell me why you walked away.”
Those precious lips parted, and he held his breath waiting for an answer that never came. She rolled onto her stomach, covering flawless parts of her body and exposing him to the smooth curves of her delectable ass.
This new, sensitive part of her awakened something different inside him. It shoved aside the adrenaline bursts and heart palpitations and replaced the excitement with an eagerness to comfort her. He’d never felt it before. Not for Harper anyway. She had a way of wordlessly saying
to emotion and had always made him second-guess if she needed those sweet nothings other women craved.
“You purchased the perfume to remind yourself of me?” Her voice was a delicate caress over his ears.