Authors: Nicole Austin & Allie Standifer
Tags: #Erotic Romance
Karen jerked upright and shot from the bed with the husky masculine voice still reverberating around in her head. Heart pounding, she yanked her dress into place before turning to face the sheer male perfection that greeted her. Tall, at least six-three, with long dark hair, his face half covered by a worn cowboy hat. She almost swallowed her tongue when their gazes finally met.
He had the most beautiful eyes she’d ever seen on a human being. The thought that he might be wearing colored contacts was quickly dismissed. Everything she’d seen and heard from Ice and Jagger assured her vanity in the looks department wasn’t part of the SEAL’s make-up.
Chiseled cheekbones, a long Roman nose with a bump in the middle and full lips completed her inspection of the stranger she only knew from the other guys’ stories.
“I’m guessing that’s a no,” her wet dream come to life drawled in a thick Texas accent. Of course, he had a drool worthy accent, one of her biggest weaknesses.
“That’d be a hell no,” she snapped. She was ninety-nine percent sure this man was Garrett “Trip” Trippington, Ice’s and Jagger’s teammate, but the remaining one percent demanded caution when dealing with the unknown man. “I don’t have a clue who you are or how you got in here.”
The hat came off in a move of practiced ease as a self-deprecating smile curved his way too tempting lips. “Damn, I’m sorry, darlin’. I got caught up in watching you and forgot my manners at such a sexy sight.” Wicked heat and humor radiated from those gorgeous eyes. “I’m Trip,” he explained before setting his hat back on his dark hair. “Jagger and Ice’s buddy. Syndra said I could grab some shut eye here before the insanity starts.”
“Tell me why I shouldn’t call the police and have your water-loving ass tossed in jail? Syn might have offered you the use of the other apartment, but somehow I doubt her invitation included spying on me in the studio.”
“‘Cause I’m a too handsome to survive a jail cell boyfriend,” he declared in that thick drawl, which had her nipples drawing up tight. Damn, had a Texas accent always sounded so sexy? How had she never noticed? “I’m delicate and fragile that way. As for spying on you? Darlin’, no red-blooded man with a pulse would have been able to walk away from such a beautiful sight.”
“Do you need a separate parachute for your ego, or do you just wrap your arms tightly around its massive weight and hold on?” Where were these words coming from? Who opened her mouth and poured the words in? No way would she ever spout off like a mad woman to this hunk of perfection. What the hell was wrong with her? “I can’t believe you get away with using lines that corny on women.”
Never in a million years would she ever have enough courage to be herself with a guy like this. Hot men with eight-pack abs and faces perfect enough to make a sculptor cry did not stop to converse with her. Hell, the most she ever got was a mild once over before men’s gazes always turned to her prettier, slimmer, and less shy friends. Now this man with the crooked smile and easy grace actually stopped to play word games thick with sensual intent. With her. Talk about throwing a girl for a loop.
“Darlin’, if anything needs an extra chute it’s not my ego. Think a little further south.” The wink he sent her caused a pulse of pleasure to gather between her thighs. “And I never say things I don’t mean.”
“That’s both sick and pretty damn funny.” Karen couldn’t resist the smile tugging at her lips. The man did know his way around verbal foreplay, something she hadn’t known she enjoyed.
“Nothing sick about perfection of God’s design, or at least that’s what my dearly departed Southern Baptist grandmother would say. Besides, it’s not nice to laugh at a man when he’s trying to seduce you.”
What the hell? Had the man taken one too many hits as a test dummy? Did he need glasses? Did jetlag affect mental capabilities?
“I wonder if there’s a twelve step program for idiots? Maybe you can get a group discount for you and your ego?”
“Ouch!” His husky chuckle filled the room as he met her stare, laughter causing his light blue eyes to sparkle underneath the brim of his hat. “Not that this verbal foreplay lacks entertainment value, but I do need to a little information from you. And since Ice’s getting hitched tomorrow, we need to decide if we’re gonna play nice. Or maybe you’ll give into your animalistic desires and take advantage of my rockin’ nubile body.”
“Do you take anything seriously?” Why did this man continue to toy with her? Did he have some type of bet going on with his buddies to see who could nail the fat chick? And curse him for actually affecting her.
Karen didn’t have issues with her body. She accepted who she was and what she looked like. She’d never be the perfect skinny chick, not unless she removed a rib or two. The women in her family were all generously curved and the men they married seemed to worship that aspect of their spouses. Too bad she hadn’t found a man like that yet. Maybe she needed to expand her circle of friends?
“Darlin’, in my line of work, I have to take things very serious ‘cause it generally boils down to life or death. I’ve learned life is way too short to play by someone else’s idea of right and wrong. I speak my mind, and I’ll have few regrets when I’m face to face with Saint Peter.”
His slow confident smile twisted her stomach as hot arousal flushed her face. Damn the man and his outlook on life. Reluctantly, even to herself, Karen admitted she admired him for his sane view of an insane world.
“Well, I admire your attitude, but that doesn’t mean I’ll drop my underwear and bend over for your pleasure.” Her voice came out firm even as an image of doing just that sent a shiver of lust racing down her spine.
Two long strides closed the distance between them, and Trip cupped her jaw in his rough palm. “What if it was for
Her brain cells refused to fire as she stared into his ice blue eyes. Had she ever seen a man with such unusual and unique colored eyes? “What’s for my pleasure?” she managed to ask.
“You getting naked and bending over.” His low sensual voice and the sudden heat in those stunning eyes did funny things to her libido. “I can make it all about your pleasure.”
His words slammed her back to reality like nothing else could. Yeah, right. No way in hell did she believe him. Men always made promises of great pleasure and multiple O’s but were never able to provide. Generally, it ended up with her screaming and moaning a fake orgasm just to get the guy off and out of her. Nothing was worse than a man who couldn’t follow through.
When she tried to step back, to increase the too slim distance between their bodies, her knees bumped into the back of the staged bed. Shit, right where she didn’t need to be. A bed and Trip would lead to things better left for her fantasies.
Taking a deep breath, she looked over his shoulder while she spoke calmly. “Trip, nothing’s going to happen between us. Just because our friends are hooked up doesn’t mean we have to do the same. Besides, I’d rather get a Brazilian wax sober than put up with your halfhearted groping.”
Damn, Karen thought miserably, even as she listened to the words leave her mouth. She came off like a bitter, mistrustful bitch. Granted, she was a mistrustful bitch, but did she have to sound so hostile?
“My groping is never halfhearted, darlin’,” he assured smoothly. “If I grope a beautiful lady, I put my whole heart into it.”
Despite her fierce desire to keep frowning, Karen couldn’t resist the smile curving her lips. Nothing fazed the man, and he had a quick retort for everything. “Look, I’ve got to finish staging for this shoot. Let me get the keys for the apartment, and you can get settled in.”
“Thanks, I’d appreciate that. It’s been a long day.” Even as he said the words, Karen could see the weariness in his eyes when she looked close.
“Sure thing.” Retreating from the tempting hunk, Karen hurried over to Syndra’s desk, grabbed the keys, and handed them over with a silent sigh of relief. “Stairs to the apartments are around back. Have a good night.” She waved him to the door in a broad hint to leave.
“Thanks, Karen. If you change your mind, you know where to find me.” He winked and flashed a sexy smile before grabbing his bag and leaving her to finish her work. Of course, work was now the last thing on her mind.
The urge to knock on the door overwhelmed Karen but fear of rejection kept her hands by her side. What the hell had she been thinking to come over here? That Trip would answer the door, be overcome with lust at the sight of her dressed in nothing but a man’s shirt and angry bunny socks, and sweep her off to bed for some mind-blowing sex?
Nice fantasy, but in reality, she knew none of those things would happen. Most likely, he’d answer the door, grumpy from being woken up, and demand to know what she wanted. Then, when she couldn’t come up with a reasonable answer, Trip would slam the door in her face.
Even worse, what if he had another woman in there? The man had a body every female dreamed of touching and claiming, at least for a night, so what made her think he’d spend his first night off duty alone? A man with Trip’s looks and personality must have a black book the size of Webster’s dictionary.
“Shit, this is a mistake,” she muttered as she paced back and forth in front of Trip’s door. “He’s probably not alone, and even if he is, he’s asleep and sure as hell won’t like me waking him up to ask if he was serious.”
And that’s where the trouble lay. How could she know if he meant the words or if he was such a flirt that anyone with breasts would have drawn the same rhetoric? Damn him and his sex appeal. Thanks to Trip’s husky proposition, Karen had been unable to satisfy her carnal lust no matter how much she tried. She just never quite reached the point of satiation. Oh, she’d made the climb okay. Large amounts of money spent on top of the line pleasure toys assured that. But even as a climax had her crying out something had been missing.
Tired, fed up, on edge, and in desperate need of relief, Karen’s common sense deserted her long enough to drag on a man’s white dress shirt, her favorite socks, and park herself in front of his door.
Could she? Should she? If he turned her down or laughed at her, she’d never be able to face him again. They were supposed to spend the remaining time before the wedding together. She’d promised Syn and Alexa to keep Trip entertained so he wouldn’t feel left out. Somehow, she didn’t think screwing Trip’s brains out was exactly what the two women had in mind when they suggested Karen keep him busy.
“I can’t do this. It’s a mistake,” she declared, pacing in front of the thick oak door, her feet almost sliding on the light bamboo floor. “But it’s his damn fault I can’t sleep.”
Oh, screw it.
Taking a deep breath for courage, Karen raised her hand and tapped on the door as softly as possible. “There, he’s not—”
The door swung open before her hand dropped, and her mouth hung open. Trip stood before her looking mouthwatering in nothing but a pair of loose cotton sleep pants and a wicked smile. Her mouth snapped shut with a painful jarring of teeth.
“It took you long enough, darlin’” he drawled. “Please tell me you’re here to put me out of my misery?”
She swallowed hard, trying to add moisture to her suddenly dry mouth as her gaze travelled over the tanned feast of roped muscles in front of her eyes. “Misery,” she questioned, absently licking her lips.
“Oh, Karen, don’t tempt my already shaky control,” he warned in a husky tone. “I want you, badly. So either come in and let me have you or walk away so I can go back to jacking off.”
“You really want me,” she asked, still hesitant to believe him. “I mean you want me for sex?”
“You have no idea.” His gaze latched on to the taut nubs of her nipples pressing against the thin cotton material. “I want to take you hard and fast against the wall, shove my cock so deep inside your pussy you feel me at the back of your throat. I want to feel you clamping down on my dick when you come, to hear you scream my name and feel your nails digging into my skin.”
“Oh, shit,” she whispered. Mental images of them doing just that flashed through her mind and heated her blood.
He stepped closer until she felt the warmth of his body. “Tell me, Karen. Yes or no. Yes, I can take you, have you and fuck you until neither one of us can walk tomorrow. Or no, and we part ways here and now.”
Sanity demanded she walk away. Why risk possible rejection and humiliation from a man she didn’t know? Hadn’t she already been there done that with the last ex, Will? Except Will never seduced her with words. His every action had been calculated for effect, but not Trip.
The man standing in front of her seemed to be holding onto his control by a narrow thread. If she said no, Karen knew he’d let her walk away without a mean look or derogatory remark behind her back. But if she said yes, he just might give her the pleasure she couldn’t find on her own.
And hadn’t Trip already told her life was too short for regrets? Yeah, this might be a mistake, she might regret it. But she’d regret it even more if she walked away a coward.
“Yes,” she forced out before giving her brain a chance to talk her out of it. Finally lifting her eyes to meet his gaze, she gasped at the fiery desire burning there. Clear, undiluted desire
. Damn, that was hot.
He moved fast, one hand sliding behind her neck, fingers tangling in her hair, the other grasped her hip. Before she knew what had happened, she was inside the apartment, pressed against the wall, the sound of the door slamming shut echoing in her head. A determined look glimmered in his intense blue gaze as he descended on her like an animal that had gone without food for way too long. Yet, his full lips skimmed hers in a soft, almost reverent caress that made her knees feel weak.
Trip took his time, seeming to savor the tender touch, pressing soft kisses to the corners of her mouth before tracing the curves of first her upper lip and then the lower with his warm, damp tongue. As he glided over the seam of her lips, she gasped at the electrical surge of need that tingled in her trembling lips and spread outward to each nerve ending, making her entire body extremely sensitive. Alive. She felt vital and alive.