Authors: Jami Alden
Tags: #steamy romance, #sexy romance, #alpha hero, #reunion romance, #high school sweethearts, #sexy contemporary
KISS ME TWICE
Kiss Me Twice
First published by Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2006
Copyright Jami Alden 2007
Ebook copyright Jami Alden 2015
Ebook published by Jami Alden 2015
Cover Design by Seductive Musings
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,without permission in writing from the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products or the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Karen Sullivan slid onto a seat at the bar of Cleo's Lounge. The martini bar sported a decent crowd, but the bartender noticed her right away.
"What will you have?"
She crossed her leg so the slit up the side of her white mini slid open along her right leg, no doubt offering a nice glimpse of thigh, and she shifted her leg so it wasn't pressed too tightly against the vinyl, ensuring the flesh stayed smooth. It sucked that even the leanest thigh could look lumpy and cottage cheesy if the flesh was pressed too tight.
Karen smiled up at him through her lashes, leaning forward so he could appreciate the draped neckline of her coral and white flower-print sleeveless top. "How about a lemon drop. With extra sugar."
The bartender cast an appreciative smile. "Coming right up." He made a big show of pouring the vodka, flipping the bottle and swirling it as he poured. Lemon juice and ice followed it into a shaker, which he shook with a vigor that would have done a paint mixer proud. He poured it into a sugar-rimmed martini glass with a flourish and set her drink in front of her.
"How is it?" he said, eyes riveted on her mouth.
Karen raised the glass and deliberately swiped her tongue along the rim and took a generous swig. "Delicious."
The bartender's eyes glazed over, and his mouth went slightly slack.
"Hey, dude, can we get some beers over here?" a deep voice boomed.
"I think you have some other customers," she said, gesturing her glass in the man's direction as she idly stroked her collarbone.
"Uh, right." He reluctantly backed away.
Karen rolled her eyes. Men. They were so freakin' easy. Another ten seconds and she would be drinking for free all night.
Mentally she scolded herself. Hadn't she vowed to stop using her looks to attract guys with no potential? Even if the guy was a potential source of free alcohol. Or, at the very least, focus her attentions on good men with good relationship potential instead of assholes who wanted nothing more than a hot piece of ass.
Not that her strategy had gotten her very far tonight. Here she was, drinking alone on a Saturday night in a lame club in Caesar's Lake Tahoe. Staying in her room definitely would have been the wiser choice, but she couldn't stand her own company. And call her shallow, but the admiring glances she'd received from the male patrons were a superficial balm for her badly bruised ego.
It could be worse. Caesar's definitely had its cheese factor, but it was a hell of a lot better than Circus Circus, where Brad had taken her.
Brad. What a dick. It should have been a tip-off when he'd planned their weekend trip around gambling in Reno. He'd said he wanted to do something fun that was close to Sacramento, so she'd given him the benefit of the doubt.
At the end of the day, Brad had chosen the hotel because it had the cheapest rooms and a complimentary prime rib buffet.
Which wouldn't have been such a big deal if he'd been a typically clueless man and had honestly tried to plan a nice weekend for them.
But just like every man in her past, all he wanted was to get laid.
She took another gulp of her lemon drop, surprised to see it was already nearly gone. But the liquor did little to cool her fury as her conversation with Brad echoed through her head.
"Maybe next week we could have a barbecue and I could meet some of your family," she'd said. They'd been sitting on the lumpy love seat in their hotel room. Brad had leaned in to kiss her, the smell of prime rib laced with beer almost enough to knock her over.
He had jerked back at her words. "Why would we want to do that?"
"We've been dating for over a month, and I just thought it would be good to meet your family since you spend so much time with them."
Warning bells had gone off in her head at the uncomfortable expression that crossed his face.
"Karen, come on, we're not exactly at the parent-meeting stage. It's not as though this is all that serious..." That last word had trailed off as he'd realized her elevated expectations.
"What do you mean?" She had a sinking feeling she already knew the answer.
"Well, you're, you"" he'd stammered.
"You're a, ah, a woman a guy has fun with, you know""
"A slut?" She stood before him, hands on her hips. "Fast? Loose? Trashy?" All terms she had heard applied to her since high school.
Brad had held his hands up as if to ward off the anger radiating from every pore of her body. "No, not that. Just not..." He'd paused, hands dropping limply in his lap and head drooping forward. "Just not the kind of woman I could imagine bringing home to my mother."
"So you've just been biding your time for the last month and a half, wanting to fuck me for a while before you settle down with a nice girl?"
"Yeah, I guess," he had replied, his tone belligerent. "What do you expect? The way you dress, the way you act? We have mutual friends, Karen. I hear things. I know you're not exactly Snow White."
It had been on the tip of her tongue to tell him flat out that she hadn't been with a guy for almost two years, ever since she realized that she was never going to be happy if she didn't stop sleeping with guys who didn't even like her. But she'd be damned if she'd give Brad the satisfaction of knowing she'd chosen him as the best candidate to end her dry spell.
She snapped back to reality as the bartender whisked her empty glass away, replacing it with a full drink in one move. "This one's on me," he said with a wink.
He was sort of cute, she mused, in an overgrown, beefy frat boy sort of way. A little young for her, but she probably would have given him a toss a few years ago. If she hadn't had anything — or anyone"better to do.
But not now, she reminded herself firmly. Brad, the bartender, they were all the same. Was it too much to ask for a guy who actually liked her for who she was and not just because she gave a good blow job?
So what if she dressed provocatively, used her beauty to get things she wanted? There was more to her than that. She wasn't Mother Teresa, but deep down she was a good person.
A fact she'd been trying to convince herself of for the past two years and was pretty close to believing.
She'd actually thought Brad was the guy who saw beyond the surface and really liked her.
What an idiot. She finished her second drink with an unladylike slurp. Apparently she was so out of practice looking for nice guys she was no longer capable of identifying one.
Not that she'd ever been able to find one. The last time she'd thought she'd managed to snag a good, upstanding guy, he ended up worse than all the rest. And she'd been paying for it ever since.
Mike Donovan wound his way through the casino on his way back to Club Nero. The cavernous, smoky room echoed with the ringing of slot machines, groans of disappointment, and hoots of victory as patrons won or lost.
Too bad he hated gambling. A few hands at the blackjack table would be the perfect excuse to delay rejoining Day 2 of his brother's bachelor party in full swing at the biggest nightclub Caesar's Lake Tahoe had to offer.
Mike politely brushed off a cocktail waitress dressed in a mini toga and continued across the casino floor. As much as he dreaded going back to the noisy club full of drunken, sweaty bodies, he knew he couldn't avoid it. His baby brother was marrying Kelly Sullivan in two weeks. Pretending to enjoy the celebration of Nick's last few days of freedom was the least he could do.
As he passed the bars and restaurants on his way to the club, he heard the remarkably pleasant sound of a blues band spilling out of the hotel's martini bar. Mike paused and poked his head inside. Unlike at Club Nero, the crowd here was big but not overwhelming. The band played at a level that provided a nice backdrop but didn't eliminate all possibility of intelligible conversation.
And, he noticed as he looked at bottles lining the shelves of the back bar, he bet he could get a decent glass of cabernet here.
It was unlikely his brothers would miss him for one drink, he decided. When he'd left, Tony had been flirting with a stacked redhead and Jake was helping the groom-to-be fend off the advances of all the women Tony sent over to harass him.
Mike scanned the room. Though the crowd wasn't huge, all the tables were taken. The only empty seat was at the bar, next to a petite blonde.
Even though Mike tended to go for brunettes, he couldn't deny that, from what he could see, she was a hot piece of ass. Her dark gold hair was tousled into one of those styles that was supposed to make a woman look like she just rolled out of bed, but it probably took an hour to achieve. He raked an admiring glance down the rest of her. Her body was sleek, tight, showcased nicely by her sleeveless top and a skirt so short it could be a belt. Long, tan legs begged him to trail his fingers up to where that slit ended to see if her skin could possibly feel as silky as it looked.
His gaze moved down to take in dainty feet encased in white stiletto sandals. Little white fuck-me shoes on her tiny little feet.
Mike felt an immediate and surprising tightening in his groin as he imagined those feet, in those shoes, propped up on his shoulders.
I might be longer than one drink getting back to the party
, he thought with a grin as he slid onto the stool beside her.
He leaned forward onto the bar and waved to get the bartender's attention. "Can I get a glass of that, please?" Mike said, indicating very good Sonoma Valley cabernet displayed on the wine shelf.
"You have great taste," the woman next to him said. Jesus, even her voice was sexy. Low and slightly raspy, like she had just woken up after a night of hard loving.
"Thanks," he said, smiling as he turned to face her fully. The smile morphed into a baring of teeth when he recognized the woman next to him.
For a split second, her expression mirrored his shock, but she recovered quickly. Her deceptively angelic blue eyes widened, then crinkled at the corners as her full, pink lips slid into a smile. Jesus, no wonder he'd gotten so turned on so quickly. He tried to ignore the surge of heat that shot through him as she placed a hand on his forearm, bare where he'd rolled up the sleeve of his button-front shirt.
"Mike, how funny seeing you here," she said.
Though her tone was friendly he detected a slight strain underneath. Good. He made her nervous. Small payback for the way she'd twisted him into knots and tossed him away eleven years ago.
"Funny's one word you could use," he said as he accepted his glass of wine, his cool tone in direct contrast to the heat coursing through his veins. What the hell was it about this woman? One whiff and he was like a dog after a bitch in heat, any shred of common sense overcome by the need to rut until his dick was limp and his balls wrung dry.
She must have picked up on his tension, because her tone was more mocking than teasing as she said, "Wine? Isn't that a sissy drink for a big, macho man like you?"
His eyes narrowed to slits and his lips tightened in a feral smile. "You, of all people, should know how much of a sissy I'm not."
She sat back a little and leaned one elbow on the bar as she twisted on her seat to fully face him. Her index finger traced the rim of her martini glass, and her lips tilted up in a sly half smile.
She appeared unfazed and unruffled by his simmering hostility. But Mike detected her pulse beating frantically against the fragile skin of her throat and knew she felt the throbbing, seething tension that coiled and hissed around them.
She had her game face on, no doubt. But Mike knew all of her games, and he knew better than to play. Which was why he should just get up and walk away right now.
Instead he took a sip of his drink, savoring the rich flavor of the wine as it washed over his tongue. Leaning his right elbow on the bar in a mimic of Karen's pseudo-casual pose, he said, "You look good, Karen."