Authors: Mimi Strong
Starfire, Peaches Monroe #3
The final novel in the Peaches Monroe Trilogy
To be read after Stardust and Starlight.
© 2013 Mimi Strong
Contemporary Romance / Erotic Romantic Comedy
Full-length novel of 98,000 words.
Due to sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 17.
Adrian Storm’s lips tasted like beer, and I wanted to know if his tongue was the same flavor. I kissed him harder.
It wasn’t easy to kiss Adrian.
First of all, we had a major height difference. I’m a curvy blonde, and I’m not exactly short, but I had to stand on my tiptoes just to reach his tasty lips.
Secondly, he was the last person in the world I should have been kissing. Even as I felt a thrill of excitement through my body because this gorgeous, smart, athletic man was kissing me back, I also got the urge to run away.
Something banged over by the dumpster. Did I mention we were standing in the alley behind a bar?
I chose to ignore the noise. Adrian’s lips were so soft and enticing, and everything about him was appealing. His hard, muscular chest was just waiting to be discovered. I slipped one hand up between us, under his shirt, enjoying the heat under my palm. His skin was smoother than I expected, with no chest hair.
He kept kissing me, unable to resist my charms. I didn’t used to be so popular with guys, but as of that summer, I’d become irresistible to them. Even the hottest guys, who you’d think would be way out of my league, were chasing me around.
Something banged again over by the dumpster.
Adrian pulled away from me, his blue eyes wide with concern. Even in the harsh light of the alley, his high cheekbones and angular face looked perfect and handsome.
“Peaches,” he said. “What was that noise?”
I poked him on the nose with one finger. “It’s just the sound of you, throwing yourself at my feet, big boy.”
He chuckled. “So that’s how it is, huh? I only came out here to check on you, because you stormed off in a big huff over a little harmless teasing from your friends.”
“I’m fine, Adrian. Sure, I’ve had a few drinks, and I might fall over, but I feel AMAZING!”
He gave me a sidelong look. “You do
amazing, I’ll admit that much.” His eyes moved, roving up and down over my body. “That dress. Your body. It just doesn’t quit. Can you please stop being so sexy around me? I’m going to have to kiss you again.”
I blinked up at him. “Why did you stop?”
He grabbed me in his arms, turned me around so my back was against the building, and leaned down to kiss me again. His mouth was hot and exciting.
I looped my arm around his neck, trying to get rid of any space between us.
He reached down to my hips, then secured his hands under my buttocks and hoisted me up. I wrapped my legs around him as he pinned me against the wall.
“Wow,” I said, breathless. Nobody had ever picked me up like that before, but Adrian was strong. He had the muscles to handle my curves, and I liked it.
We kissed some more, my pulse pounding with excitement. If kissing Adrian was wrong, I didn’t want to ever be right.
Something banged again over by the dumpster.
Adrian grunted an apology and set me down on the ground. We both turned to investigate the noise.
When I’d first come out to the alley, I thought the shapes over by the dumpster belonged to people. Looking more carefully now, I could see the shapes weren’t human.
“Oh, it’s just raccoons,” Adrian said, then he turned to kiss me again.
I pulled away from him. “
If there’s one thing that gives me the willies even worse than dragonflies, it’s raccoons. They scare me even more than cougars and bears.
Adrian called out to the raccoons, “C’mere, little guys. Come say hi.”
I turned and watched in horror as one raccoon ambled toward us, followed by two more.
My reflexes were slow from drinking, but I sure as hell wasn’t sticking around to get mauled by raccoons.
I took off running down the alley, away from danger.
“Bye, Adrian!” I yelled over my shoulder. “See you around!”
I hit the end of the alley, and instead of turning left and going back into the club to join my friends, I turned right and headed for home at a brisk walking pace.
Adrian jogged up behind me, laughing. “You’re a chicken,” he said.
“Kissing leads to trouble,” I said. “I shouldn’t have kissed you.”
He laughed again. “I meant about the raccoons. Don’t worry about the kissing. What’s the worst that can happen? You like me. I like you.”
He put his arm around my shoulders and gave me a lighthearted squeeze.
I bit my lower lip and kept walking, trying not to think about the worst that could happen. Or what his naked body would feel like on top of mine. Or how quickly we could get back to my house and into my bed, now that we were headed in the right direction.
“We were both too shy in high school,” he said. “One of us should have made a move.”
“That was a long time ago, Adrian. I don’t feel the same way about you now.”
He stopped walking and grabbed me confidently as he kissed me again. I melted in his arms, powerless at the touch of his lips and hands.
“You’re wrong,” he said, pulling away. “You still feel the same way about me. You’re wrong about this, like you were wrong about so many things with the yearbook. Remember how you wanted to include a page with everyone’s signatures scanned in?”
I scowled up at him, but didn’t pull out of his embrace. “That was a great idea. That way people wouldn’t have to get their books marked up if they didn’t want to.”
He held me tight against his lean, hard body, which made his words seem more convincing. “Peaches Monroe. I think you’re missing the whole point.”
“Shut up and kiss me.”
He flashed a grin, then leaned down and used his lips for something better than talking.
The walk back to my house took over an hour, because we kept stopping to kiss and put our hands all over each other. By the time we reached my front door, I was so hot, I was practically in a lather.
“You do like me,” he said as we stood on the porch while I fumbled around for my house keys. “I knew for sure when you sent me that photo of your nipple.”
“That was a joke. You’re the one who sent me a blurry picture of Mr. Happy.”
He laughed. “I sent you a picture of me giving you the thumbs-up gesture. Like this.” He put his thumb up close to my face, where my eyes couldn’t focus on it properly. “Get it? Thumbs up because I wanted more photos of your goodies!”
“You tricked me with a blurry photo.”
send a dick pic to a girl. She’d send it around to all her friends.”
I bit my lower lip. “I’d never do that,” I lied.
“If you want to see what I have, the offer is for in-person viewing only.”
I pushed the door open. Ahead of us lay the stairs up to my bedroom. “Show time,” I said.
“You’re drunk,” he replied.
I stepped in through the door, but he hesitated.
“You’re afraid of raccoons,” he said, chuckling.
“Yes, I am. And you’re afraid of what I might do to you in my bedroom.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Then why are you standing out there on the porch? Get in here so I can climb you like a tree again. I liked that.” I grabbed his hand and rested it on my hip. “I know you liked it, too. I could
how much you liked it.”
He grinned, looking sheepish. “You don’t actually want me, Peaches. You just want a warm body to soften your fall.”
I backed away, further into the house.
“Of course I want you.”
Adrian stepped inside and leaned in toward me. I expected him to kiss me, but he just dragged his tongue up the side of my neck. I shivered and tilted my chin up so he could do it again. He did, this time stopping to suck on my pulse point.
Close to me, he murmured, “You want to use me like a drug, to change how you feel. But you said it yourself tonight—you don’t feel the same way as you used to.”
“Adrian.” My voice was pleading.
He pulled away. His blue eyes were cold. “I should get going. It’s a long walk to my parents’ house.”
“Adrian, if you walk out that door tonight and leave me, you’ll never walk back in.”
He took an audible breath in, then he turned and let himself out. The door clicked shut.
In the silence, I sensed him standing there on the porch, just on the other side of the door.
He’d kissed me so passionately the whole walk home. His hands had been all over me, and I knew he wanted to be with me. Was he just teasing?
I pulled open the door, expecting to see him there with a big grin on his face. The porch was empty, though. Adrian was long gone.
Saturday morning, my brain featured a double matinée showing of that movie nobody wants to see:
Embarrassing Highlights From Last Night
We could call this horror film EHLN for short.
When I first woke up, EHLN was at the part where I told my friends they were being jerks for making fun of me.
That night at the bar, I realized they must have been talking about me behind my back. Maybe it was innocent enough, and just friendly teasing, but I wasn’t in on the joke, so it wasn’t funny to me.
I’d just returned to Washington State from LA, where I’d modeled for a plus-size lingerie photo shoot, and my friends were obviously jealous. Remembering that part of the previous night, I didn’t feel so bad, because they had it coming. Also, storming out is badass, so long as you don’t forget your purse and have to go back for it.
With a groan, I crawled out of bed while EHLN continued to play in my head.
As I was brushing the fuzz out of my mouth, I revisited another classic moment: drunken kisses.
If my life really was playing on the big screen, and not just in my head, I think most people would agree that Adrian had totally asked for those drunken kisses. He’d been flirting with me on and off all summer, and then he
come out to the alley just to check on me. (Ah, the sexy aphrodisiac of concern on a man’s face.)
Next, we had walked to my house, kissed some more, argued over yearbook stuff from high school, and talked about me sending him a picture of my nipple. Okay, that was all embarrassing, but not too horrible.
The horrible part came next, when he stood in my doorway and flat-out rejected me. Never mind that he had a valid point about why hooking up was a bad idea.
What was that excuse he used?
Something about cushions and falling?
Suddenly and clearly, I saw his face and heard him say, “You want to use me like a drug, to change how you feel.”
I spat out the toothpaste in my mouth and moved over to the toilet, feeling like a volcano about to purge.
The movie playing in my head paused and rewound to play the scene again in perfect focus.
Adrian had said, “You don’t even want me. You just want a warm body to soften your fall.”
As much as it hurt, I had to admit he wasn’t wrong.
I was a lousy person who used other people. Looking back, I’d used Keith Raven in LA to cushion my fall. Keith had promised our fling was mutual, but was it? Really?
Keith let me stay at his apartment, treated me with so much kindness, and drove me all around town in his van, and what had he gotten in return? Some sex and a pep talk?
There was something wrong with me. I needed to stop hurting people, and stop being such a mess.
When you’re naked and kneeling on the tiles in front of your toilet, choking on regrets, can you ever forgive yourself for your weakness?
Someone knocked gently on the bathroom door, which was odd, because Shayla rarely knocked, let alone gently.
I pulled open the door, brushing my teeth for the second time. In came a petite blonde, our friend Golden, who grunted at me on her way to the toilet.