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Authors: M. Leighton

Tags: #Fiction / Romance / Contemporary

Some Like It Wild (8 page)

BOOK: Some Like It Wild
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My hands are shaking by the time we get to my car. “Here,” Jake says, taking the keys from my fingers. “I’ll drive.” He opens the passenger-side door for me then walks around and slides in behind the wheel. “I knew we should’ve brought the Jeep. What are you, an elf?” He has to scoot the seat back as far as it will go just to accommodate his long legs.

I don’t respond. I’m still too shaken by that run-in with my dad. I’ve never stood up to him that way, and I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with it. I don’t want him to think badly of me, but I also don’t want him meddling in my life so much. He’s got to let me go eventually.

I’m also embarrassed by the things he said to and about Jake. I know I should apologize or something, but I don’t even know where to start.

When Jake has started the car and pulled onto the main road, I give it a shot. “Jake, I—”

“Don’t worry about it,” he says abruptly.

“But I
am
worrying about it. I never wanted—”

“I know you didn’t. I get it. You think your dad is the first father to disapprove of me? Hell, my own father hated me. Why should yours be any different?”

His voice drips with bitterness, but something tells me that there’s more than that just below the surface, that somewhere deep down, he’s hurting because of it. But what am I supposed to do? Or say? I hardly know him. How can I comfort someone I don’t know? Over a situation I know nothing about?

“I’m sure that’s not true,” I assert weakly.

Jake’s only response is a single harsh bark of laughter.

TWELVE:
Jake

L
aney’s worked quietly all day. And I’ve let her. She’s got some shit to sort out on her own. She doesn’t need my help. And I wouldn’t know how to help her anyway. I suck at family issues. Actually, I suck at family
period
. Whatever part of me that might’ve been good at being in a relationship of any kind died with my mother a long, long time ago. I’ve learned since then that “stick and move” doesn’t just keep you from getting punched in boxing; it’s a philosophy that can help you survive real life, too.

Besides, I wouldn’t want to give Laney the wrong idea. That’s not what this is about it. It’s not what
we
are about. I don’t want her getting attached to me. Have some fun, yeah. Have some sex, hell yeah. But get attached? Not a good idea. I’m not the kind of guy she needs.

It’s getting close to dinnertime now, though, and I’ve got a mission to tend to—get Laney back in my bed tonight. And under me.

I figure it’s just a matter of time before she says it wouldn’t be right for us to share a room. What do I say? Bullshit! That’s a cop-out. If she wants to stop being a good girl, she can start with me. I’m about as good at bringing out the bad in a girl as a man can be.

And bringing it out in a woman like Laney will be the sweetest of all.

My phone rings as I cross the yard to the back door of the house. I glance at the Caller ID and see the department’s main number on the screen. I stop and hit the green button. After a few short sentences exchanged, I hang up and slide the phone into my pocket.

Just like that, in a single act as simple as answering the phone, my plans to seduce Laney tonight are shot all to hell. With a sigh, I continue on to the house, detouring toward the dining room where Laney works.

Her head is bent over the table, her eyes focused on some papers. When I lean against the doorjamb, it creaks, giving me away. Her head snaps up. When she sees me, her lips curve into a welcoming smile.

“I didn’t hear you. How long have you been standing there?”

“Just a few seconds. Didn’t mean to scare you.” I push away from the doorway and move to bend casually over Laney’s shoulder, as if to see what she’s working on. Her light scent teases my nose, and I heard her catch her breath when my chest brushes her arm. “What are you working on now?”

“Um, just the contents of the safe. There’s a lot of paperwork in there to go over.”

I can practically hear her pulse jumping around. I know she wants me. And I know it makes her uncomfortable. She doesn’t quite know what to do with it. But that makes only one of us, because I know
exactly
what to do with it! Just not tonight.

With a sigh, I straighten away from her. No sense getting both of us all excited when I have to leave.

Dammit!

“One of the other firemen called in sick. Seems like all the shit work is gonna go to the new guy. You know how that goes.”

Laney turns toward me. “Oh,” she says, disappointment clearly written across her face. Perversely, I’m satisfied to see it. “Okay. I’ll feed the dog until you get back.”

“No need. There are food and water dispensers for him out in the barn. He knows how to work them.”

“I wondered why he wasn’t very interested in the food I was giving him.”

“You fed the dog?”

“Of course! I bought some cans of food at the store. I thought you’d just left him here to starve.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Sort of. At first, I really did think that. But then, when he wouldn’t eat the food I put out, I thought maybe you’d made arrangements for someone to feed him elsewhere, like at a neighboring farm or something. I mean, he disappears for hours during the day. I figured he had to be eating
somewhere
.”

“I appreciate your confidence in me, but—”

“I only thought it for a second . . .”

“Uh-huh. Sure.”

“Really. I don’t think you’re that kind of person. Not really.”

“Good to know,” I reply tersely. I’m a little irritated that she could think so little of me, even for a second.

When the silence stretches on, she speaks. “Well, when will you be home?”

For the space of a few accelerated heartbeats, I feel a wave of panic suffocate me. Hearing her say it that way—“When will you be home?”—makes it sound like I’m answerable to her. Like I’m in a relationship. Responsible for not breaking her heart. Or hurting her. Like I’m something to her that I could never be.

But then it’s gone. It ebbs once I remind myself that we aren’t playing house, and she’s not mine to care for. I remind myself that there’s no obligation. She’s staying in my home for a reason, one that has nothing to do with me.

“I’m not sure. I guess you’ll know when I show up,” I say nonchalantly, hoping to subtly drive my point home. To her as much as to myself.

She doesn’t react.

“I guess so,” she agrees quietly. “I hope it, uh, goes well then. And safe. Luckily there aren’t a lot of fires in Greenfield.”

“Yeah, but that makes for an incredibly boring shift.”

“Probably still better than hanging around here, though. I’m sure I’m terrible company.” Her tone is full of melancholy.

This is undoubtedly a bad time for me to be leaving. I mean, she did just have a big-ass fight with her dad. In public, no less. And partly over me. If it were me, I’d want to be alone. But with Laney, I bet she’d rather
not
be. She wouldn’t want too much time to think, I bet.

“You could always come and visit. Break up the monotony. I could show you around the station. You know, they’re pretty impressive places. Second only to the International Space Station.”

She grins. “Oh, I’m sure. All that mind-boggling technology, like . . . water hoses and big red trucks.”

“Don’t underestimate. Getting things wet is one of my favorite pastimes.”

Her cheeks pinken and she looks away, although I can see her lips twitch. She seems to be getting a little less defensive with every comment I make. And I like that she’s loosening up. It just further assures me that I’ll have her right where I want her in no time.

“Well, the offer stands if you get cabin fever being stuck out here. When I get back, I’ll take you out into the orchard. Didn’t you say you needed to tour the property?”

“Yes. It’ll be formally surveyed and appraised, but I need to get a lay of the land to put in my final report.”

“Oh, I can give you a lay of the land.”

Her cheeks flame a little brighter, making me feel very proud of myself for some reason. It’s fascinating to see how she reacts to me. Although I could see where it could be habit-forming—teasing her—I’m not worried. I’m not the kind of guy to get wrapped up in a chick that way. I’ve lived without love for too long to go back now. I like things just the way they are.

But still, I can see how it could happen . . .

To someone else . . .

Someone better suited to loving and being loved.

But not me.

Definitely not me.

“I’ll plan for it then.”

“For me to give you the lay of the land?” I ask, quirking one brow suggestively. She’s so much fun to taunt.

“Well, not
that kind
of lay,” she replies, making me raise my other brow.

“Very nice! Well done. Maybe you’ve got some potential after all.”

At my words, her expression slowly falls into one that’s sullen and pensive. Her sigh is deep and long. “I don’t know. Sometimes I think whoever loves me will just have to love me the way I am. Whatever way that is.”

In an uncharacteristic moment of empathy, I feel bad for Laney. I know what it’s like to worry about being loved. I did it for years. Until I learned to stop. Until I learned to stop caring and stop trying. But for Laney, I don’t think she ever will. It’s obviously part of who she is.

As gently as I can, I tweak her chin and reply. “And someone will, Laney. Someone will.”

Her smile is small and a little sad.

“I’ll have my cell with me. Call if you need anything. Not that I can really do anything about it, but if you’re burning the house down, I’ll know which truck to bring.”

She laughs. It’s a good note to leave things on.

THIRTEEN:
Laney

M
y phone rings. It’s Tori. Again. For a few seconds, I hover over the green button to answer the call. But after a crystal clear image of her in bed with Shane flashes through my mind, I go straight toward the red decline button.

I get up and move away from the dining room table. With Jake gone, it’s lonely around the house. Not that I’m used to him being there or anything. But I’m liking his company more and more as time goes on. Besides, with Tori and I on the outs, and my parents and I on the outs, it’s a pretty lonely world right now. I could use the companionship I’ve found in Jake.

You can tell yourself that’s all it is all day long, but you know there’s more to it.

I push aside that voice. More than ever, I don’t want to think too much, to overanalyze things. I just want to have some fun. To forget about life and pain and trouble and responsibility as much as I can. I’m here to do a job, but there’s nothing that says I can’t have a little fun on the side.

If I’m even capable of doing something like having a little fun.

Frustrated, I walk to the fridge. My eyes move over the peach preserves and the butter, and the milk and the pack of ham, but nothing strikes my interest.

Until I see the peach wine.

It’s Saturday night. There would be nothing wrong with me having a glass of peach wine. Nothing at all. But thoughts of having one alone make it much less appealing.

I glance out the kitchen window, the sun now barely visible on the horizon. It’ll be dark soon. Another night alone. Another night without Jake.

Everything in me pauses on a gasp, it seems.

Unless I pay him a visit.

As soon as the thought enters my head, I instantly think of at least ten reasons why I should
not
go visit him. But, still wrestling with getting rid of the girl I’ve always been, I stand in front of the open fridge until the bottle of peach wine and my desire to test the flames of attraction overwhelm my reservations and mute them into silence.

Impulsively, before I can change my mind, I take the stairs two at a time. When I walk into Jake’s room, I think absently about how I probably should’ve moved into another room already. But rather than exploring the reasons why I haven’t, I focus on picking out a change of clothes instead. That’s much more fun and much less stressful.

I’m glad I hadn’t unpacked at my parents’ house yet. My exit the night they dropped Shane on me would’ve been much less dramatic if I’d had to spend half an hour packing up in my room. But as it was, I just tossed a few things in my smaller bag, zipped all my belongings into my bigger one, and took off. At least I have everything I need and no reason that I
have to
go back if I don’t want to. Because I don’t. At least not yet.

Speeding through a quick shower, I slather on some scented lotion and slip into a little white, summery skirt and a peach-colored top with spaghetti straps. After I slide my feet into white platforms that make me look taller and my legs look longer, I step back to appraise myself.

My hair is still in a messy updo from the shower, something that actually goes quite well with this particular outfit. My makeup could use some freshening, so after a quick swipe here and there, I’m ready to go.

Downstairs, I grab the peach wine from the fridge along with a couple of leftover chocolate cupcakes, toss a bone on the back porch for when Einstein shows up, and hit the door running.

I’m still trying to outdistance my better judgment. My cautious self. I’ve had enough of her for a while and would rather she just shush and let me get on with some semblance of a life.

It’s not until I turn into the lot of the fire station several minutes later that I begin to get nervous.

What the hell were you thinking?

With the engine still running, I sit in the parking lot, staring at the closed bay door, debating the wisdom of what I’m about do. The wine bottle in the seat beside me draws my attention. Reaching for it, I unscrew the cap and take a sip as I think. I take several sips actually. Enough to calm my jangling nerves and give me the courage to turn off the engine and get out of the car.

I straighten my clothes and make my way to the main door. It’s locked, of course, but there’s a lighted red buzzer to the left that says PUSH HERE FOR ASSISTANCE. So I do.

Within a few seconds, I see a shadow through the frosted glass. It appears at the top of some steps. After a few seconds, I see it move lower, coming down the stairs.

My stomach twists into a sick knot.

Just before I can bolt, the door opens. And Jake is standing there. Smiling.

“Damn if you’re not a sight for sore eyes! Did you know I was leaving?”

I stare at him, gape-mouthed, for a few seconds. “You’re leaving?”

“Yeah. Ronnie just came in to relieve me. He wanted the overtime. I was heading home.”

“Oh, well in that case . . .” I say, feeling like a complete idiot. “I guess I’ll see you there.”

I start to turn away, but he grabs my upper arm. “Hold on, what’s this?” he asks.

It takes me a minute to figure out what he’s referring to. “Oh, it’s, uh, it’s peach wine. From your house.”

“You brought wine? To a fire station?”

His grin isn’t meant to make me feel small. No, I’m managing that quite well on my own.

I dig out the strong woman, the person in control, from way down deep. I’m not sure how much she’s ever in control, but at least she puts on a good front. “I guess that was pretty silly. It was an impulsive thing. I was bored. And I thought it would be nice to share a little of your hard work.”

Jake takes the bottle from my hand then wraps his fingers around mine and pulls me inside. “See, it would be a crying shame for such a gesture to be wasted. Let me show you around, and then we’ll get into this wine the right way.”

I don’t ask what that means. I simply go along, silently. I’ve already made enough of a fool of myself for one night. Best to just keep the mouth shut and hope I don’t make matters worse.

We ascend a set of grated steps painted an austere yet spotless pale gray. At the top are two doors, also painted a drab gray. Jake takes me through the first one. It opens onto a long hall with doors on either side. “This is where the living quarters are, as well as the office.”

I nod, looking around. “Everything is very clean. And . . . gray.”

We pass a couple of doors, both shut, both clearly marked who they belong to. The third door has a window in it. A blast of mouthwatering air hits me in the face when Jake opens it.

I peek around his shoulder to see three guys sitting at a round table pushed off to one side of the combo room. Opposite the table is a small kitchen, in front of that is a pool table, and in front of that is a couch and two chairs, all facing a television.

“Hey, I’m gonna take a friend of mine for a quick tour before I go. See you dicks in a few days.”

Three heads turn toward the door, eyeing me curiously. “You sure you don’t wanna hang around?” This from a thirties-looking short guy.

“With you apes? Nah, I think I’m good.”

“I meant her, dumbass. ’Course, if you’re afraid I’d steal her from you, I’d understand.”

“She’s not a lesbian, Johnson,” Jake says acerbically. “Oh wait, you’re supposed to be a dude, right?”

The other two start laughing, and Johnson just shakes his head. “That’s just wrong, man,” he says woefully. The others laugh that much harder.

Without another word, Jake, grinning, backs me out the door, and we continue down the hall.

“Seems like you’re all getting along well.”

“Yeah, they’re pretty good guys.”

We pass two open doors, one on either side of the hall. Jake pauses, and I scan the insides. Both rooms are identical.

“These are the sleeping quarters.”

There are two twin beds in each room. All four are made up with plain white sheets and depressing brown blankets. Very utilitarian.

“Not very homey,” I murmur.

“I’ll tell the guys to pick something flowery next time,” Jake teases.

“It’s not that. I just think they could’ve made the beds a little more appealing.”

“I know exactly what you could do to make
my
bed more ap-pealing.”

I slide my eyes over to Jake, where he’s looming at my side. He’s standing perfectly still, his chest brushing my shoulder. His honey gaze is fixed on me, and it’s scorching. There’s nothing lighthearted about him now. He’s all intensity and heat. Predatory.

Suddenly the hall seems narrow. The air has disappeared along with my ability to breathe it. I feel stalked. Ensnared, like helpless prey that can’t get away. Only, I’m not sure that I want to. And I think Jake knows that.

“What’s that?” I ask softly.

“Do you want me to describe it to you in graphic detail?” he asks.

I say nothing, only nod.

He steps forward.

Instinctively, I step back.

Again and again we do this—he steps forward, I step back—until I feel the press of the wall, firm against my spine. I have nowhere else to go. Nowhere else to run.

“You could let me watch you strip this little thing from your body,” he says, his breath fanning my cheek as he runs his finger back and forth under the thin strap of my top. “You could cup those perfect breasts of yours, pretending that it’s me, until your nipples are hard and your panties are wet.” He eases up closer to me, flattening me against the cool concrete blocks. He bends his knee, sliding it between mine. The denim of his jeans is rough against the bare skin of my thighs. “You could wiggle out of this tiny skirt and that damp cotton underneath, then go stand on the bed. With your high heels on. And nothing else.” He leans in closer, his lips grazing the shell of my ear as he speaks. “Then you could whisper that you want to feel me inside you. My fingers. My tongue. My cock. That’s what you could do to make my bed more appealing.”

My heart is beating so loudly I can barely hear him. But I can hear enough.

He’s so close I can feel heat radiating from his body, warming my entire front. It pulls me to him, drawing me in. Drawing me closer.

After a few seconds, he pulls away. “Come on. Let me show you my pole.”

With a wicked gleam in his eye, Jake takes my hand and leads me on. Not into one of the rooms, but farther down the hall to another door.

He opens it and steps through. Blindly, anxiously, I follow.

It’s a small room with a thin shelf of catwalk around an open center, dominated by a shiny pole that disappears into the darkness below.

“Since you’re wearing a skirt and heels, I’ll go down with you so you don’t hurt yourself. I’d hate for you to tear the skin on those pretty thighs of yours,” he says, his eyes dropping to my legs. Instantly, they feel warm, as if he’d actually touched them.

And oh, how I wish he would. This heat, this anticipation is quickly becoming unbearable.

“Here, you hold this,” he says, tucking the wine bottle into the curve of my arm. I gasp when he grabs me around the waist and pulls me toward him, my legs slipping over one of his. With his eyes on mine, he gives me one quick squeeze, forcing me up on his thigh a little more. The friction is delicious. And wicked. “Can’t have you sliding down a metal pole in a skirt.”

Turning his body slightly, angling me toward his hip, Jake leans forward and grips the pole then swings carefully forward, holding me against his side. I clamp him with my legs as he lets us slide slowly down the pole.

When we reach the bottom, Jake whirls me around and presses my back to the pole. His lips are on mine. His tongue is in my mouth, teasing me, making me promises of unspoken delight.

The wine bottle vanishes and then my hands are free to grip his wide shoulders, delve into his thick, spiky hair. Hold him close. Pull him closer.

“Do you know how crazy you make me?” Jake whispers. I crack my lids to look at him. His eyes sparkle in the shadows. The only light is the dim cone that pours down on us from above. Everything else is pitch-black. “Coming in here with your shy smile and your sexy skirt. I bet you’re sweeter than that wine you brought. And damn you, tonight I’m gonna find out. Tonight, I’m gonna taste you.”

With a growl he takes my lips again, his hands roaming my sides, searing me through my clothes.

And then there’s nothing between his warm palms and my skin. I feel them gliding up the backs of my legs, slipping under the hem of my skirt, sinking into the flesh of my butt. He squeezes, pulling me tight against him, rubbing his hard length against me.

“Tell me I can taste you. Tell me you want me to. Right here. Right now.”

I can’t think. I can’t breathe. I can only feel. And I know I want more. I want all Jake can give me.

“Yes. I want you to taste me.” My voice is husky and breathless, even to my own ears. “Right now.”

Like taking a tiger off the leash, Jake becomes fierce. He drags his hands into my hair and tugs until it tumbles free around my shoulders. Then he’s kissing a hot trail down my throat. His hands are cupping my breasts, pinching my nipples through the thin material of my shirt, driving me crazy with want.

I feel his lips against my stomach. Then his tongue in my navel. His hands are under my skirt, then they’re on my thighs, nudging them apart.

Willingly, I spread them, leaning back against the pole for support, closing my eyes as I gasp for breath, aware of nothing more than Jake and what he makes me feel.

He presses his lips against me through my panties. All I can think is that I want more. I want it all.

I feel him push them to the side. And then his fingers are inside me, moving deep and slow.

I moan aloud.

“Shhh,” he whispers against me, causing my knees to nearly buckle. “Be quiet or they’ll hear you.”

Warmth gushes through me, knowing what Jake is doing to me while those men are upstairs. That all they’d have to do is look down the pole to see me being ravaged by his lips and tongue.

And then his hot mouth moves down to replace his fingers. His lips move against me, like he’s kissing me as his tongue swirls around over my most sensitive part, pushing me higher and higher. “Oh my God, you taste so good,” he moans against me, the vibrations sending chills down my legs. Faster and faster, he penetrates me with his fingers until I can’t contain it anymore. I reach up to clamp one hand over my mouth as my body bursts into wet flames, pouring over Jake where he kneels between my legs.

BOOK: Some Like It Wild
12.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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