Authors: Nicola Marsh
But it all came flooding back now. His expertise. His skill. His goddamn sexiness.
She moaned as his tongue swept into her mouth, teasing her to match him. And she did. Touch for touch. Body to body. Until his deep, slow, soul drugging kisses were all she could feel.
Jack filled her senses. He tasted like bourbon. He smelt like heaven. He felt like sin.
It wasn’t enough. Not nearly enough. But unless she planned on getting arrested for indecent exposure in the middle of the club, they needed to take this somewhere more private.
She tore her mouth from his with reluctance, not giving him time to second guess as she grabbed his hand.
“Come on. Let’s get out of here.”
She tugged hard, expecting him to baulk. When he matched her step for step she didn’t hesitate, weaving through the dense crowd, heading for the door.
“What about your friend?”
“She’ll know I’ve left with you.” They’d reached the door and Jess nodded at the bouncer who removed the rope so they could exit.
“Because I told her I would be as soon as I saw you.”
He picked up the pace until they were a block from the long, snaking line of patrons outside the nightclub, turned a corner and stopped, forcing her to do the same. “Why?”
Jess didn’t like his sudden stillness, the tamped tension making his neck muscles stand to rigid attention. She wanted to tell him the truth, that the moment she’d seen him everyone else in the club had faded into insignificance. That even after all these years all it took was one glance across a crowded room and she wanted him.
But Jack didn’t handle the truth well. She’d told him the truth a decade earlier and he’d pushed her away regardless.
This time she wouldn’t make the same mistake.
“Don’t make me spell it out again.” She laid her free hand on his chest, toyed with a button. “I’m cutting loose.”
“So if I hadn’t been there, any guy would do?”
His flat, eerie monotone raised goosebumps on her bare arms.
“What’s wrong? Your ego wounded?”
Her flippant response made his eyes glow with warning as he brushed her hand off his chest and released the other.
“Guess I never picked you as the type to head to a nightclub to score.”
“Guess I never picked you as the type to care one way or the other.”
His lips compressed at her quick answer. “This isn’t you, Jess. You need more than a quick fuck—”
“Spoken by the guy who’s a master at them.”
She stared him down, hating how even now, when they’d been on their way to a sizzling one night stand—or more nights if she’d had her way—he’d gone all righteous on her.
“You don’t know the first thing about me—”
“Could say the same about you,” she said, stabbing a finger in his direction. “The difference between you and me? I’ve been honest with you. I told you what I want. You? You’re sitting up there on your judgmental high horse, trying to dredge up every excuse you can to justify wanting me as badly as I want you but not doing one damn thing about it.”
He turned away, his muttered “fuck” echoing in the narrow alley to their right.
“This is wrong on so many levels—”
“Bullshit,” she said, stepping in close so they were toe-to-toe. “We’re both single. We’re not related. We’re consenting adults. What’s the problem?”
He glared at her, radiating disapproval and heat and lust. A potent combination that empowered her like nothing else could.
Summoning a courage she never knew she possessed until this moment, she sucked in a deep breath, grabbed his lapels and shoved him into the alley.
“What the f—”
She silenced him with a kiss, devouring him with open-mouthed kisses he had no choice but to return.
The dumbass could refute their attraction with pompous words all he liked but his body couldn’t lie and the feel of his hard-on pushing against her pelvis made her writhe in victory.
Dampness spread as she rubbed against him, her clit needing little stimulation to spark waves of pleasure.
His hands spanned her waist and slid to her hips, where he anticipated exactly what she needed. Him pressing against her, hard.
With a move that left her head spinning, he flipped her around without breaking their lip-lock, her back against the wall with Jack against her front.
He trailed butterfly kisses along her jaw as his pelvis rocked against hers, slow, undulating rotations that made her crave him inside her with every teasing touch.
Her pleading fell on deaf ears as he buried his face in the crook of her neck and nipped hard, sending shards of pleasure and pain shooting through her at the same moment he angled his hard-on to fit her clit exactly.
With exquisitely deliberate strokes he rubbed against her. Once. Twice. Her muscles tightened in anticipation. Her skin overloaded by his touch. Her core throbbed, an insistent pulse that built and peaked and crescendoed as he gripped her hips and rocked one last time, devouring her with his mouth simultaneously.
He swallowed her scream as she convulsed, spiraling over the edge into an orgasm she’d only ever dreamed about. A whole body experience that left her feeling flayed and exposed and exhilarated.
Her first thought as the sensual fog cleared was ‘
fuck you, Max
,’ and his frigid bullshit.
Her second? ‘
Fuck me, Jack
Jack had the worse frigging case of blue balls.
How could he not, when he’d had a mega make-out session with a rampant Jess who wouldn’t take no for an answer?
He’d had his fair share of wild sex in public places with women who had fewer inhibitions than a posse of strippers.
But this was Jess. The only woman he’d ever truly connected with on a deeper level than
thanks for a great night, there’s the door, babe
. The only woman he’d deliberately said no to. His best mate’s sister.
He eased away, making sure she could stand before he released her.
He didn’t like the way she looked: sated and smug and sexy. Tousled and flushed. And staring at him with a dreaded mix of wonder and thanks and greed.
Dammit, she wanted him, her hunger matching his, and that’s what prompted him to do what he should’ve done the moment he’d seen her in that smoky nightclub.
He turned and started walking.
He ignored her plea and kept walking. Until she laid a hand on his sleeve and jerked him to a stop.
Her strength surprised him but not as much as her fury pinning him like red-hot lasers.
“I pegged you for many things. A coward isn’t one of them.”
Her chest heaved with outrage and he hated that even at this moment, when he had to distance himself from her once and for all, his libido couldn’t be quelled.
“I’m not scared. I’m doing what I should’ve done from the start. Walk away from an untenable situation.”
“Listen to yourself.
An untenable situation
.” She scoffed, her haughty expression almost comical if it wasn’t for the seriousness of the situation. “Who the hell do you think you are?”
Regret ricocheted through Jack. Regret he’d have to push this magnificent woman away. Regret he’d never get to slake his hunger for her. Regret they’d never get to finish what they started ten years ago.
“Who am I?” He grabbed her upper arms so hard she winced and he eased off a little. “I’m the selfish bastard who just dry humped you in a dingy alley off the Vegas Strip. I’m the type of arrogant prick who could’ve taken it further and fucked you in public. I’m—”
“But you didn’t,” she said, so softly he had to lean forward a fraction to hear her.
“You didn’t fuck me in public.” She broke his hold, her chin tilted in defiance, her expression mutinous. “Even if I wanted it so badly I could easily drag you back there right now and continue, you wouldn’t, because I know you, Jack McVeigh.”
She touched a fingertip to his chest directly over his heart and he leaped back as if he’d been electrocuted. “I know what’s in there because you showed me ten years ago and nothing you say now can convince me otherwise.”
She disarmed him, just like that, with her insight and wisdom and quiet words, and he couldn’t think of one logical thing to say.
“Face it, Cookie. There’s nothing you can do or say that’ll stop the inevitable.” She patted his cheek and he gritted his teeth against the inane urge to lean into her hand. “What happened in that alley?”
She stood on tiptoe and whispered in his ear. “Consider it a preview for the real performance. With several rousing encores to follow.”
Burlesque Bombshell Basics
Wardrobe essentials: sparkly pasties, satin thong, silk stockings, lace garter, opera length gloves and feathers
Back home in Craye Canyon, when Jess was pissed about something she’d channel her bottled up resentment into a very sedate, very dignified activity like Pilates. Or yoga.
None of those crappy outlets would do tonight. Tonight, she needed to blow off some serious steam. Only one place to do it.
After leaving Jack gawking near that alley, she bolted for her car and headed for Burlesque Bombshell. The dancers would be on stage, leaving her free use of the rehearsal studio. She could shimmy and jive and swing off poles to her heart’s content.
She’d been a fool, thinking that after one session with the Bombshells she’d be ready to tackle Jack. Uh-uh, bringing the bad boy Aussie to his knees would require more than a few choice words and a few flaming kisses.
He still had that annoying holier-than-thou attitude when it came to her being Reid’s sister. He couldn’t get past it ten years ago and she’d be damned if she’d put up with it now.
He could refute her all he liked but his body didn’t lie. He wanted her. Big time. And if that little performance in the alley had been any indication, the next time she screamed his name would be with him buried deep inside her.
Her cheeks flushed at the thought and she pressed her palms against them, doing little to cool the residual heat. She made a beeline for the rehearsal studio, and didn’t see someone coming around the corner until they collided.
“Crap. You okay?” Adele, Burlesque Bombshell’s accountant reached out to steady her.
“Yeah.” Jess winced and rubbed her shoulder, which had taken the brunt of the impact. “I’ll send you my physical therapy bill in the morning.”
Adele chuckled. “Sorry, I’m in a hurry.”
“I wish.” Adele gestured at her workout gear. “Heading to a zumba class. Want to join me?”
Jess shook her head. “Thanks, but I’m going to work out here.”
Adele’s eyebrows rose in surprise, as if she couldn’t fathom how a Plain Jane like her could remotely cope with sexy Bombshell moves.
“It’s something I want to do for fun,” Jess rushed on, embarrassed that she felt compelled to justify herself. “To loosen up a little.”
“I get it.”
What Jess didn’t get was the almost fearful glance Adele darted toward the rehearsal studio, as if it held bad memories or demons she’d rather not face.
“Have you ever tried it?” Jess did a pathetic hip swivel to lighten the mood. “You look super fit. Bet you’d be great.”
If the statuesque redhead had looked uncomfortable a few moments ago, she appeared ready to bolt now.
“Not my thing,” Adele said, her tone brusque and clipped. “See you round.”
“Yeah, see you,” Jess said to Adele’s rapidly retreating back as the accountant practically ran down the corridor.
Jess had spent a fair bit of time at the club over the last month, planning Zazz’s wedding, so she’d got to know the women who worked here pretty well. Adele always seemed cool and controlled, at complete odds with the fearful woman who’d run out of here.
Jess didn’t know what had spooked the accountant but she sure knew a thing or two about running away from demons. She could empathize one hundred percent.
She’d spent her whole life running away from anything uncomfortable. The brasher and bolder Pam had been, the more Jess had retreated into her studies during high school.
The more outlandish the clothes Pam wore, the more Jess dressed down, adding elegant, timeless pieces to her conservative wardrobe. Cashmere twinsets and plain shift dresses in navy or black. Low heeled pumps to match.
The more Craye Canyon laughed along with Pam and held her up as some crazy, local icon, the more Jess strived to become invisible, hiding out in the library, surrounded by dusty books that couldn’t embarrass her or chastise her for being dowdy or hassle her to
shake things up a little
The ultimate irony? That she’d spent most of her life flying under the radar. And now? She wanted to flaunt and forget and fizz things up a lot.
Her mom would be so proud. Not that she had any intention of letting Pam know her newfound action plan. Let her mom think she was playing the dutiful daughter, stepping in to organize this wedding when she was needed most, when in fact Jess had plans to play in an entirely different way.
The memories of the way Jack had rubbed against her, how turned on she’d been, how wet…she hurried toward the studio and flung open the double doors, needing to unwind ASAP.
She didn’t care that she had no gear with her. The girls always left clean, spare outfits lying around to practice in, so she grabbed the first thing that was handy—a turquoise lycra crop top and matching bike shorts—ducked behind a screen and swapped her LBD for the garish exercise ensemble.
Snagging her hair into a low-lying ponytail and twisting it into a loose knot at the nape of her neck, she caught sight of herself in the floor to ceiling surround mirrors and laughed.
Bright blue was as far from her navy twinsets as she could get. If only the inhabitants of Craye Canyon could see her now.
She’d accepted Max’s frigid tag, had believed herself to be inadequate sexually, had blamed herself. Maybe the outer persona she wore like a badge of honor had infiltrated all aspects of her life?