Read With Strings Attached Online

Authors: Kelly Jamieson

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Erotica

With Strings Attached

BOOK: With Strings Attached
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Dedication

Thanks to my critique partner Nara Malone for your always valuable insights; to beta reader Kim for such great feedback; to Erin Nicholas for the physical therapy advice; to Claire U. for the swimming lesson input; and to editor Christa for helping make this story the best it could be.

Author Note

Although the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) is real, the tour events and schedule in this book are my own invention.

Chapter One

Corey lay on her back beside Matt in his bed and smiled up at the ceiling, her body still pulsing from an excellent orgasm. “You really should have asked that girl out, you know,” she said.

Matt turned onto his side to face her. “What girl?”

“That waitress who was coming on to you in the bar.”

He snorted. “She was not coming on to me.”

“Yes, she was.” Corey smiled at him, lifted a lazy hand to touch her fingertips to his scruffy cheek. Matt was a good-looking guy. Why wouldn’t a girl come on to him? She pushed her fingers through his thick brown hair, all wildly tousled. She’d probably done that to him, in the throes of the hot sex they’d just had.

“Whatever,” he said. “You know I’m not into dating.”

“Yeah. I know. Me either.” She stroked his hair, the strands silky against her fingers, then dragged her index finger down the slope of his nose. “You have such a nice nose. It’s perfect.”

He grinned, grabbed her hand and kissed her fingers. “Thank you. I’m very proud of my nose. I work hard to keep it in such fine shape.”

She giggled.

Matt’s phone beeped from the table beside the bed. He reached for it and read the screen. “Dylan,” he reported. “He’s in San Diego. He’s got his baggage and his rental car, and he’s just leaving the airport. Says he’ll be here in an hour.”

“I guess I should go.”

“No. Stay. I want you to meet him.”

She smiled at him. He was all excited about seeing his best friend—his other best friend, besides her. Though it was too bad Dylan was coming to visit because he’d been injured. She’d never met Matt’s old high school buddy because Dylan Schell was too busy traveling around the world surfing. Dylan had been on his way to winning the Billabong Pro competition in Australia until he’d taken a bad fall and smashed his foot up. Corey’s insides did a little roll thinking about someone in pain. The accident had ended that competition and now he was on his way home to San Amaro to visit his old friend while he recuperated.

“Okay,” she agreed. She lifted her arms above her head and did a whole-body stretch, feeling so relaxed and mellow after great sex. Mmmm. She could use a tiny little nap. She pulled the soft covers around her naked body, snuggled into Matt’s pillow, breathed in the so-familiar scent of him, his clean, spicy-herbal scent mingled with the laundry detergent he used.

“Hey, you going to sleep?” He nudged her with his bare knee.

She opened one eye and peered at him. “Maybe.”

“But I’m hungry.”

“So go eat something.”

He groaned. “I guess that means you’re not going to make me something.”

She closed her eyes and snuggled back into the bed without remorse. “Nope.”

He laughed softly, and she felt the quick brush of his lips over her cheek before he climbed out the other side of his bed.

 

 

She awoke to the sounds of deep male laughter coming from down the hall of Matt’s house. She blinked into the darkness and her stomach gave a growl of hunger. How long had she slept?

Gah! Three hours! What the…? She threw back the covers and sat on the side of the bed, pressing her hands to her cheeks. Yeah, she’d been exhausted. She’d been working like crazy lately so it was no wonder she’d crashed like that. But geez, she was at Matt’s place and holy crap, his friend Dylan was coming…no, she’d slept so long he was already there, and he and Matt were having a great time, from the sounds of their talking and laughing.

Clothes. She needed her clothes. She flicked on the lamp beside the bed, stood and stretched again, torn between wanting to climb back into bed and sleep for a week, and meeting Matt’s friend. She sighed. No choice, really. She had to get up early in the morning to make chocolate, which meant she had to sleep at her place, and besides, it would be kind of rude to ignore the guys.

She found her clothes on the chair, pulled on her panties and jeans, slipped on her bra and T-shirt. Still a little dozy, she ran her hands through her hair and shook it down her back, then wandered down the hall toward the voices she heard. She stepped into the living room, blinking a little at the bright light.

The two men sat on Matt’s couch, one at either end, each with a beer in hand, laughing again. Matt had Coldplay playing from his iPod, now docked into the speakers he’d paid a fortune for, and he looked up at her and smiled. “Hey there, sleepyhead.”

“Sorry I crashed so long,” she said, rubbing her eyes. “I guess I was tired.”

The two guys stood, which was so polite it made her smile. She looked at Matt’s friend. “Hi,” she said, moving toward him with her hand extended. “You must be Dylan. I’m Corey.”

Dylan took her hand in his, a big, strong hand with a firm grip. “Yup, I’m Dylan.”

Dylan Schell was tall, about the same height as Matt, and very muscular. Not that Matt wasn’t, he definitely had muscles, but Dylan was really muscular. He smiled, a broad charming smile that revealed white teeth, a contrast to his tanned face. His straight dark hair hung around his face and over his forehead. Although he stood, he hadn’t put weight on one leg, and her gaze dropped briefly to the plastic boot on his left foot.

“Nice to meet you, Corey,” he said. His light gray eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled. He shot a glance at Matt as if he’d been unaware she was there, down the hall, in Matt’s bed.

She knew what he was thinking but as usual, wasn’t sure what to say to tell him it wasn’t what he thought. Her relationship with Matt was a little unusual, maybe, or maybe not so much, but it worked for them. People called it “friends with benefits”, which is what they’d both agreed it would be after that night they’d ended up in bed together a couple of months ago.

“Matt mentioned you, but he didn’t tell me you were gorgeous,” Dylan said.

“He didn’t?” She expressed mock outrage and sent a glare at Matt. “I can’t believe that. He’s always going on about how gorgeous I am, sometimes I can’t shut him up.”

Both guys laughed and Matt rolled his eyes.

Dylan still held her hand in his and still smiled down at her, and the admiring way he looked her over made her tingle inside. She couldn’t help but smile back at him. Holy hotness, this was one sexy hunk of man.

“You must’ve been tired,” Matt said. She blinked and looked at him and removed her hand from Dylan’s, her cheeks heating. “You okay?”

“Of course, I’m okay.” Then she yawned. “Sorry.”

“Want a beer, candy girl?”

She smiled at his nickname for her. “Mmm. Sure. I’ll get it.” She knew her way around his kitchen and could easily find a beer in the fridge. “What are we drinking tonight?”

“Bombshell Blonde Ale.”

She stopped and looked at him over her shoulder. “Seriously?”

“Seriously.” He grinned.

Matt owned a microbrewery and alehouse and was always coming up with new and creative kinds of beer.

“It’s good,” Dylan offered, holding up his empty glass. “I wouldn’t mind another if you don’t mind bringing one.”

“I don’t mind at all.” She opened the refrigerator, full of mostly beer, big surprise, and pulled out two bottles. She found a glass and carried it and the beer back to the living room. She sat in a chair across from them, and studied the image of the buxom blonde on the label of the beer. “Nice.”

“It’s good,” Matt insisted. “Try it.”

She’d started drinking beer back in her college days, when she and Matt had met while both working at Pancho’s Bar and Grill, him as a bartender, her as a waitress. Some people were into wine and wine tasting, but Matt and his beer buddies were just as intense about their ales and lagers and stouts, and Matt’s goal had always been to open his own microbrewery. She’d learned a lot about beer from him, but hadn’t quite developed the same palate he had.

She poured the ale into her glass then tasted it. Matt watched her expectantly. “Malty,” she said. “Nicely balanced.” Truthfully, she had no clue what she was talking about. Although her taste buds were finely developed when it came to chocolate, to her all beer tasted much the same, which Matt said was sacrilege.

He laughed. “Bullshit.”

She grinned back at him. “Am I wrong?”

“No.”

“I like it. That’s what matters, right?”

“Right.”

She reached for a handful of pretzels from the bowl on the coffee table and looked at Dylan. “So, Dylan, I’m sorry about your injury. Are you going to be okay?”

He made a face and leaned back into the couch cushions with his now-full beer. “Yeah. So they tell me. I’m non-weight bearing for six to eight weeks. It’s already been three weeks, so a few more weeks. And more therapy after that.”

Corey’s forehead wrinkled. “Do you have to find a therapist here?”

“Yeah. I have a couple of names.” He stuck his booted foot out. Despite the big cast, she could see how muscular his legs were beneath the hem of his baggy green cargo shorts. “This thing comes off, but I’m supposed to wear it most of the time.”

She nodded. “That must have sucked, getting hurt in a competition.”

His seemingly perpetual smile disappeared briefly. “Yeah. Sucked big-time.”

“What happened?”

He didn’t answer right away, and she hastened to apologize. “Sorry, didn’t mean to bring it up. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay.”

He shook his head but didn’t meet her eyes. “Nah, it’s all right. Not that big a deal. I was tucked in a heaving barrel and went down, my board smashed into my foot and broke some bones. Freak thing.”

She’d never surfed in her life. Despite growing up on the west coast, she’d never led that lifestyle, had never even taken swimming lessons as a kid and was secretly afraid of the water. A single mother who was about as stable as Lindsey Lohan hadn’t exactly given her the kind of childhood that included swimming lessons or ballet classes or family outings to the beach. Matt was a good surfer and had many times asked her to try it, until she’d finally confessed her secret fear to him. She’d go to the beach to watch him and his friends, but it scared her, especially if the waves were really big.

“It was especially disappointing because I’ve been doing so well this year on the tour,” he continued, looking at his beer glass. “I’ve had a really good year, but if I miss too many events, I won’t have enough points to qualify for next year’s tour.” One corner of his mouth lifted in a glum grimace.

“That sucks,” she said.

“Yup.” He looked up at her and winked. “But it’s not going to stop me. I’ll do what I have to do to get better, working out and therapy. I’ll be back.” He glanced at Matt. “Thanks for letting me hang out here.”

“Any time. It’s great to see you. Only wish it wasn’t ’cause of this.” Matt gestured at Dylan’s foot.

“Yeah, me too.”

“Last time I saw you was in Hawaii,” Matt recalled, crossing one long leg over the other. Corey remembered Matt’s trip to Hawaii last year, probably the only vacation he’d taken from his business. He’d gone to meet up with Dylan when he’d been competing there.

“Yeah.” Dylan grinned. “We had a good time there, huh?”

They started reminiscing about the fun they’d had there, both guys entertaining her and making her laugh. They were so funny together and she could see the bond between them, how happy Matt was to see his old friend. She liked seeing him happy like that. She stifled a yawn and Matt looked over at her. “You’re tired, Cor. Wanna go crash in my bed again?”

She shook her head and stood, holding her empty bottle. “Nah. I have to go home. I have to get up early in the morning. Lots to do.”

“Okay.”

She carried her bottle out to Matt’s kitchen and set it on the counter, then found her purse and car keys. “I’m sure I’ll see you again, Dylan.”

“Count on it, babe,” he said with a sexy wink.

BOOK: With Strings Attached
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