Amber to Ashes (The Torn Heart #1) (7 page)

BOOK: Amber to Ashes (The Torn Heart #1)
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“You taste so sweet,” he growls, nipping at my lip as his hands find their way back to my cheeks. The sticky air stirs with the sound of our heavy breathing as he pulls me closer, tighter against his chest. He licks into my mouth, his kiss reverent, skillful, one I’m sure will hold its weight against future contenders. “So fucking sweet.”

“You don’t taste too bad yourself,” I purr, twining my fingers through his hair.

He smiles against my mouth. “Do I taste better than . . . Twizzlers?”

“Now you’re pushing it, buddy,” I playfully warn. Brock chuckles as I move my lips to his jaw, teasing my tongue over his stubble. “And I want to
keep
tasting you, but you still haven’t answered my question.”

“What question?” he probes, dusting additional mind-fucking kisses along my neck as he settles his hands on my waist and squeezes. “Seeing that I’m preoccupied with something insanely delicious right now, something I plan on repeating as often as possible, I don’t recall you asking a question.”

I shiver, close to trembling in the midday heat. God, this feels so good.
He
feels so good.

“Hailey,” I remind him, smiling angelically. “You two had something?”

He rests his head on the pier, a shadow of aggravation passing over his face. “You sure know how to kill a mood, eh?”

“That’s not fair.” I frown. “I asked the question before we wound up in this position.”

With a grin, one I’m sure he’s wearing in an attempt to distract me, he cups my cheeks. “We
barely
had something.”

“Define ‘barely,’ because nothing about the way she acted made it seem like you two were a ‘barely’ kind of thing.”

Grin holding steady, he fishes his iPhone from his pocket and taps on it. After a second, his eyes light up with mischief. “Barely. It says here that it’s an adverb. It also says ‘hardly’ or ‘scarcely.’ People use it to say that someone or something only has a specified small size, age, length, etc.” He draws up a brow. “Just to make things
very
,
very
clear, I’m small in neither size, girth, nor length.
At. All
.”

Giggling, I yank the phone from him. “Did you seriously just look up the definition?” I glance down at his phone. Yep. The wiseass looked it up.

A megawatt smile twists his mouth. “You said ‘define barely,’ no?”

I set his phone on the pier, and with a mock scowl, it’s me who cups his cheeks. “Yes, I did, but I’m being serious, Brock. She was . . . weird about you. I’m gonna ask the questions, and you’re not allowed to do
anything
but answer. Got it?”

With a wink, he salutes me. “Yes, Miss Ber.”

I roll my eyes, knowing I better get used to his formal nickname. “How long did you two date?”

“We never dated,” he whispers, leaning up and slowly kissing my lips.

I pull back to look him in his eyes, mine narrowed. “You’re trying to seduce me.”

“Is it working?” He drags his lips to the hollow of my neck, letting them linger there. “Because if not, I
can
do better.”

It
is
working, my body screaming to pull down my shorts, yank his off, and take a long test-drive on what he
claims
isn’t small in size, girth, or length. However, I’m not about to let him know my thoughts, so I do what’s necessary to get the answers I seek.

I give him a proper mash to his forehead with my palm, an innocent shrug following suit.

With eyes as wide as balloons, he laughs. “Holy shit of all fucking shits. I’m making you
mine
. You know this, right?”

“Yeah, we’ll see about that.”

He grins, tightening his hold around my waist.

“Now you say you never dated, so you two just . . .
fucked
?” I ask.

“Mm. Blunt. This here Southern boy likes.” He nods, his lips twitching in amusement. “Correct. We fucked. She was a classic booty call. The
I’m drunk and feel like getting laid
hookup. The mutual this-is-going-nowhere fling.”

“Mm-hmm,” I hum, eyeing him suspiciously. “So I’m assuming that’s why you don’t care that Ryder’s hitting that now?”

It’s his turn to shrug. “Ryder can do what he wants. I’m completely cool with him tapping my seconds. Sharing
is
caring. And besides, what are friends for, right?”

“Mm-hmm,” I hum again, watching him carefully. There’s a gleam in those green eyes that I can’t quite decipher, something that’s telling me there’s more behind his statement.

Brock leans up and brushes his mouth against mine. “Do you have any more questions for me?” He snags my lower lip between his teeth, gently sucking. “Or am I still under interrogation?”

“You’re still under interrogation,” I confirm, trying to catch my breath, the ache between my legs threatening to explode as he threads his hands through my hair.

“Well, there’s no denying you’re a sexy detective.” He smirks. “Continue on, my little vixen.”

“You have secrets.” I lift my face away from his, going with my intuition. “And I think they’re the kind that can hurt me.”

“We all have secrets,” he whispers, bringing my lips back down to his.

He stares at me long and hard before kissing me deep, each stroke of his tongue unraveling everything I’ve ever known myself to be.
Without breaking the rhythm of our kiss, Brock cocoons me in his embrace, gently rolling me onto my back.

A shocked gasp fights past my throat as he hooks his arms under my knees, drawing my legs up around his waist. Scarlet heat covers me from head to toe, perspiration dripping between my breasts as Brock pulls back, slowly eye-fucking every inch of my body.

“And none of my secrets will ever hurt you.” He kisses the slope of my neck, his words muffled against my sweat-slickened skin. “I promise you that. Swear it on my life.” Hands cradling my head, he brings his gaze back to mine, his expression serious as his thumbs make a pass over my lips. “You’re gonna be mine, do you hear me? No matter what I have to do, I want you to be my girl.” He kisses my nose, cheeks, and forehead. “I won’t take no for an answer, and whether or not you want me to, I’m gonna find your pieces so I can put you back together.”

His promise steals my breath as he crashes his mouth to mine. My lips part on a moan, and I grip his shoulders, my nails clawing into his golden flesh as I writhe beneath him, ignoring the pain of the splintery wood at my back. Our flavors fuse together, an intoxicating blend of beer and urgency. I kiss him hard, his sweet, musky scent invading my nostrils like a potent aphrodisiac.

And just like that, the loud ringing of his phone jolts our attention away from each other.

Brock swipes it from the pier, glances at it, and, with frustration hardening his jaw, he groans. “I have to take this.” He swathes my lips in a quick kiss and stands. “I’ll be right back.”

I nod and push up onto my elbows, trying to cool myself down. Try as I might, I can’t escape my body’s need to fuck. On a sigh, I get to my feet and attempt to eavesdrop on Brock’s conversation. Not only has his voice disintegrated to a heated whisper, but he’s walking toward the Hummer. After a while, annoyance grabs me tight. Before I allow it to talk me into hitchhiking home, Brock pockets his phone and saunters over to me.

“I apologize.” He cups my cheeks. “I was waiting on an important call.”

“Secrets,” I mumble, looking at the pier below us.

“No,” he says softly. Lifting my chin with a gentle finger, he presses his forehead to mine, his eyes imploring. “Prior commitments. That’s all.”

Seeing pure sincerity in his expression and feeling somewhat embarrassed that I actually said that to him, I nod. “Okay. Do you have to get out of here or something?”

“I do.” He sighs, wariness all over his face. Sliding his fingertips down my arms, he pulls in a slow breath. Tingles scatter along my skin as he brings my hands to his chest and rests them over his heart. “I know my prior commitments kind of fucked up our day, but I’m hoping you’ll give me another shot at proving I’m really not an asshole.”

“I don’t think you’re an asshole.” I’ve dealt with my share of assholes over the years and, as of now, thankfully he hasn’t earned that title.

“No?” he says, somewhat shocked.

I smile as he lifts my hands to his lips. “No.”

“So since you
don’t
think I’m an asshole,” he says, still holding my hands to his lips, “I’m wondering if you’ll let me take you out on an
official
date.” He pauses, his eyes gleaming pure mischief. “I mean, considering we came close to showing each other the way we
really
feel about being together—right here on a public pier, no less—I’m thinking we can get something to eat or some shit. But, hey, it’s up to you. No pressure, Ber.”

I shake my head, my smile spreading. “I know
I’ve
said it a few times today, but has anyone
else
ever told you that you’re a wiseass?”

“Never once,” he deadpans.

“Well, then I’m happy I’m your first.”

Expression softening, Brock kisses my right then left hand. “You wanna know what I hope for?” he whispers, winding his arms around my waist.

“Sure,” I all but stutter, my concentration split between his warm fingers caressing the small of my back and the primal look in his eyes.

“I hope that you’ll become my first for a lot of things.” He dips his head, barely touching his lips to mine.

I shiver, my mind wiped clear of everything but the here and now. With his lips still teasing mine, Brock continues to seduce each of my senses in ways I never imagined possible.

“I hope that I become everything you need in your life.” He kisses my cheek, his grip tightening around my waist. “I hope there never comes a time when you think I’m an asshole. I hope that at least once a day, even if only for a second, I can make you smile.” He pulls back, and stares into my eyes, his voice a soft hum of promise. “I hope that nothing I ever do makes you cry, and most of all, I hope that some part of you eventually trusts me enough to let me into your heart.
Really
let me into it.”

From the depths of my shattered soul, I feel his words drift over me like a warm blanket on the coldest of nights. Still, an anxiety so powerful against commitment of any kind blossoms to life within my gut, reminding me where this could lead.

Where this could ultimately end.

Yet above everything, I can’t deny he’s jolted something loose inside me, cracked a few codes. I take a nervous breath, unable to ignore the voice in my head telling me he’s already captured a tiny piece of my heart. It’s whispering to me that he’s about to hold my hand, guiding me with care along a fork in a road I never intended to walk.

I just hope my warped past and the ghosts who still visit me don’t make either of us stumble down it . . .

Praying that I don’t mess up my chance at something resembling happiness, I flatten my palms against Brock’s chest, push up on my tiptoes, and seal my lips over his, dipping my tongue inside his mouth for a kiss I know
neither
of us will soon forget.

CHAPTER 5

Ryder

I
’D KNOW THAT
ass anywhere.

Sitting in my car in front of a diner in Laurel, I whip off my sunglasses and, with a chuckle, relax into the scene unfolding across the road. I’m fairly certain there is a God, and he loves me today.

Amber Moretti, clad in jean shorts that barely cover her perfect ass, is leaning over the opened hood of her shitty Honda Civic. Smoke’s billowing from the engine, mixing through a hint of a breeze. Unknowingly giving a peep show to not only me but several male commuters, Amber swipes a frustrated hand across her forehead—which is no doubt dripping with sweat.

It’s hot as hell.

That is, the weather. But I can’t deny Amber, who’s now furiously kicking the tires of her shitty car, isn’t adding to the sweat gathering on my neck. I smile a little while I wait for the air conditioner to cool down my car. Her rich ebony hair’s piled on top of her head, allowing me an unobstructed view of her tits. Her gorgeous tits, which are also most likely sweaty under her barely there pink wifebeater. I lick my lips and imagine sucking on them.

“Down, boy,” I mutter to my dick, which is currently demanding Amber’s attention.

I have a couple of options. I can let Amber suffer in the Indian summer heat, which has my balls stuck to the side of my leg, while she waits for someone to pick her up—probably Brock or a fat tow-truck driver named Harley who’ll definitely try to fuck her.

Though it’d be a shitty thing to do, I really don’t need any company.

My stomach’s full from having an early dinner with some married chick, Layla. I fucked her on the new carpets I installed throughout her mansion while her lawyer husband won a case against some degenerate. After a few mediocre fucks, we got hungry and came here. I paid the bill; she slipped me her number and took off in her Mercedes. No strings attached—just my type. I might call her. Either way, it’s been a pretty decent day, and adding Amber to the mix could flip the script on it.

My other option includes getting Amber into my vehicle by turning on my charm, which seems to throw her into a frenzy. The charm I’ve been graced with comes naturally under circumstances such as this, but convincing her won’t be easy. Besides my not having seen her since the day she visited Brock at practice nearly a week ago, as usual, Amber will fight our sexual attraction. But the air-conditioning and my concern for a damsel in distress should do the trick.

Deciding on the second option, I rip out of the parking lot, my dick twitching in anticipation as I wait at a stoplight. What can I say? She gets me going.

Amber’s sitting on top of the trunk, a towel spread under her ass. Her elbows are resting on her knees, her hands clasping her hair, which has fallen from the security of its messy bun.

Fuck. She looks even hotter with her hair completely down.

I cross the busy two-lane road and slow my car to a crawl, stopping beside hers. Rolling her eyes, Amber lets out a scornful laugh, seemingly annoyed I just might turn out to be her fucking hero.

That’s right, baby, laugh it up. I’m about to make your day so much more interesting.

“Well, well, well,” I bark, my voice pitching over the speeding vehicles clogging the road as I step out of my car. “What do we have here?”

That earns me another eye roll.

I’ve gained points.

Many.

“God, not you. I’m being punished for something today. That’s obvious.” She sighs, trying to sound like she’s genuinely disturbed.

I can’t help but smile at her lame attempt. “Come on, momma, why you gotta be like that?”

She plows her sticky hair away from her shoulder.

Christ. My teeth ache to bite that shoulder during sex, my ears crave the little pant that would follow, and my tongue tingles to lick the painful but equally pleasurable wound I’d leave.

Amber’s huff breaks me from my dick-induced thoughts. “What do you want, Ryder?”

I raise a brow. “To help, of course.”

She tears her eyes from mine. “I don’t need your help. Believe me, I don’t.”

I cluck my tongue in what I’m sure she’ll find an annoying tsk and make my way toward her. She shoots me a third eye roll.

I smirk by default. Planting my hands on the trunk on either side of her waist, I give her a wide smile. Though she rears back and her gorgeous lips curl over her teeth, her eyes tell a different story.

She wants me.

Bad.

“Are you
trying
to get smacked again?” she inquires.

“Are you
trying
to dehydrate to death?” I counter. “And I wouldn’t mind getting smacked again by you. It’s been, what? Close to three weeks since I had that privilege?”

She narrows those storytelling eyes. “Can you back up and give me my space?” Her tone’s reached the level of sexual frustration I’m aiming for.

I reward her with another smirk for being a good student. “Can you give me a kiss?”

Another sigh. “You never stop, do you?”

“I’ve never been known to,” I point out, wondering if I should just pull down my jeans, whip out my dick, and show her exactly what she’ll be missing if she keeps hanging with Brock instead of me. However, I’m in a gentlemanly mood today, so I decide to tempt her with my original plan. Cold air and my company. I cross my arms, step back, and give her the space she’s lied about needing. “Is Brock coming to get you?”

“No. Why would you assume I called him for help?”

“You two have been hanging out. Why wouldn’t I?”

“We just started hanging out. I’m not bothering him with my shit yet.” She slides off the trunk. After tossing the towel into her car and retrieving her purse, she slams the door. “I’m going to call a tow service.”

“You trust Harley?” I fish a cigarette out from behind my ear, light it, and take a long drag. “That might not be a good idea.”

Her face goes all kinds of cute with confusion. “Who’s Harley?”

“Never mind.” She looks at me suspiciously, causing my dick to jerk in response. “Why would you pay for a tow when I can drive you back to your dorm?”

“Because I don’t
wanna
get in a car with you.” She scoffs.

I’m convinced she’s lying . . . again. I debate calling her out on it.

I do.

“I’m not buying your shit, Moretti, so stop with the fucking dramatics. They’re already getting old.”

Her eyes go wide. Damn. This is getting good.

“You know you’d rather be in a car with me over some stranger.” I flick my cigarette to the ground and stub it out with the tip of my work boot.

She scowls, but it’s barely noticeable. “Technically you
are
a stranger.”

I step into her face, eliciting a little gasp from her as I look down into her eyes. “Nah, we’ve kissed already,” I whisper, twisting my lips into a grin. “I’m past the stranger-danger level.”

She swallows nervously, and it takes everything in me to not bury my hands in her hair, tilt her beautiful face to the side, and plant my mouth over her racing pulse.

Instead I turn, heading toward my Mustang. “Besides”—I open the door, get in, and roll down the passenger-side window—“believe it or not, your chances of survival are a
helluva
lot better with me than with Harley. Get in the damn car.”

She grimaces, stares hard at me for a minute, then looks off toward the road. With vigor, she bites her lip, and I can’t help but wonder if she’s going to chew it right the fuck off. I wait and watch. Wait and watch and wait and watch some more.

When she doesn’t make a move, I rev the engine, startling her. I almost laugh but manage to keep my expression placid as I stare at her gorgeous, undecided face. With an expectant eye roll, she begrudgingly swings open the door, climbs in, slams it, and crosses her arms.

She’s officially in the spider’s parlor. I mentally pat myself on the back.

“To. My. Dorm.” Insistency clings to each word as she rolls up the window. She plops her feet onto the dash, closes her eyes, and releases a soft, frustrated sigh.

I concentrate on the way she slowly moves the tips of her fingers over her forehead, removing the perspiration from her milky skin. What I wouldn’t give to shove those fingers in my mouth. I’d gratefully lick, suck, and swallow every bit of her sweat off them. My eyes shift to her nipples, which have hardened in the cooler air.

Christ. She had a better chance with Harley.

I can’t contain the groan that rumbles from my throat as I clutch the steering wheel tighter. It catches her attention.


Nowhere
else, Ryder.”

“Your wish is my command.” The lie flows from my mouth as easily as taking a piss. I’m not bringing her back to her dorm. No way in fucking hell. I didn’t work as hard as I did to spend less than thirty minutes with her. I want—no, I
need
more time with her.

Because of me, shit’s been tense the last few times we’ve been around each other. I have to right it, show her I’m not the total dick she thinks I am. My brain, the one I can always count on, conjures up a killer idea. I obediently follow it. Instead of making a left out of the parking lot in the direction of the campus, I drive straight across the highway, right back into the diner parking lot.

Exorcist
-style, Amber twists her head around. “What are you doing?” she asks, her eyes bleeding frustration. “I said to my dorm and nowhere else.”

I shrug. “I’ve suddenly become . . . starving.”

“My ass,” she hisses.

“Is absolutely spectacular,” I finish, reaching for her purse.

She gasps, and I hop out of the car with it tight in my grip. Considering I’m more than positive her purse houses her cell, I’ve left her no other option but to follow me into the diner. I give myself another mental pat on the back.

She jumps from the car, shock visible in every pissed-off line and plane of her face. I’m quite aware I’m the source of it. Still, I want to pull her into me and kiss her anger away.

“Give me my purse!” she demands, trying to rip it from my hold.

My arm shoots up, hovering the flimsy piece of knotted rainbow cloth over her tiny yet athletic frame. “Give me a kiss.”

She cracks a mirthless smirk. “What? You’re not just going to
force
one on me?” She snorts and crosses her arms. “Looks like you’re losing your touch.”

My brows jump to my hairline. “Is that a serious comment?” She knows I’m not beyond it. Considering our brief history, I find her statement brazen. It doesn’t surprise me that this also turns me on.
Still dangling her purse over her head, I step closer, forcing her back against my car. “Because if that’s what you want, you know I can deliver, and deliver
very
well.”

She angrily digs her hands into her hips. They’re the kind of hips that have just the right amount of meat on them. The kind a dude like me can grip while pounding into her sweet pussy.

I laugh silently to myself and try to maintain a serious expression. “Answer the question, Amber. A guy can only hold out for so long under pressure such as this. Is that what you want? You want me to kiss you?”

“No. That’s not what I want.” She sighs, nervously flicking her eyes to my lips. Christ, the girl really has no clue how badly she needs to sharpen her lying skills. “Just give me my purse so I can call a tow.”

I bring my hand to my chin and rub it. The move is an attempt to
appear
to look like I’m seriously pondering her suggestion. It lasts less than a second. “Yeah. I’m not feeling it, Moretti.”

She sighs again.

I turn toward the diner doors, crooking my finger over my shoulder. “Come on. I’ll give it back after you let me feed you.”

“I’m not hungry,” she says as she follows closely behind me.

I know this because I hear her irritated footsteps pouncing up the stairs. I also hear her let out a string of curses, a huff, and another sigh as I open the door. Trying to
finally
act like the gentleman my mother raised, I sweep a hand across the threshold, gesturing for her to go in. I’m beginning to think the only thing she loves doing while around me is rolling her eyes, since she does it again as she walks past. It’s all good, though. It’s her eyes—not her face, ass, or tits—that nearly mutilated my heart the first time she looked at me.

Yeah. My head was pretty much fucked sideways from that point on.

“Two?” the cheery blonde hostess asks with a confused smile. She sat me and Layla earlier, and by the looks of it, she clearly remembers me.

“Unfortunately,” Amber pipes up. “Asshole here’s holding me hostage.”

Sweet Jesus. Every time I’m around this girl, I see why Brock’s dead set on officially making her his. Though she’s completely oblivious to it, and a little off her rocker, there’s nothing about her that isn’t truly phenomenal. She’s a spitfire. My match in every way possible.

The hostess, now appearing further confused and somewhat concerned, leads us toward a booth in the back corner. After Blondie drops two menus on the table and announces that our waitress will be with us shortly, Amber slides in against the wall and rests her legs on the cushioned seat. Frustration’s leaking from her pores. I can almost hear her mentally cursing me out.

“You’re not gonna
talk
to me?” I make sure I sound offended.

Silence.

“That really hurts, Amber,” I add, this time including my best frown.

More silence.

I chuckle, loving how fucking cute she is when she’s pissed. “I bet by the time I drop you off, not
only
will I have struck up some kind of conversation with you, but I’ll get you to tell me what color panties you’re wearing.”

She scoffs.

At least I got her to make some kind of noise.

I shrug. “Whatever. You’ll see. I’m good at shit like this.”

She ignores my statement.

Deciding to prove my point, I pull a dollar from my pocket, feed it into the minijukebox hanging from the wall, and hit F5 for a little Florida Georgia Line
.
Though I also dig it, chicks can’t help but melt when they hear this song.

After a few moments . . .

BOOK: Amber to Ashes (The Torn Heart #1)
9.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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