Authors: Jennifer Colgan
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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
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The Rebound Guy
Copyright © 2007 by Jennifer Colgan
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
The Rebound Guy
To the Romance Divas for all your support and encouragement. Divas rock!
Lauren’s hand shook as she reached up to ring Eric’s doorbell. The faint tremor should have served as a warning, a yellow light of sorts, to slow down and rethink her headlong leap into a whole new set of problems, but it didn’t. In fact, the frisson of fear and uncertainty coursing through her body only seemed to make her more determined to get what she wanted tonight.
She took a deep breath of humid night air. As her chest expanded, her half-unbuttoned silk blouse rubbed against her scandalously braless breasts. She remembered why she’d come here and that gave her the courage to thrust her finger the final two inches and stab at the glowing button on the doorframe.
So much for heeding a warning. Lauren didn’t believe in fate anyway—or signs from above, or below, or anywhere else. If she had, she certainly wouldn’t be here at her best friend’s front door, naked beneath her tight black jeans and ready to plunge into moral bankruptcy.
The bell chimed somewhere in the depths of Eric’s apartment, and Lauren’s nerve wavered once again. What if he turned her down?
Her heart fled to a tight spot just below her rib cage when the door flew open. She hadn’t counted on him looking this good. Maybe the useless tears she’d shed over Mark’s betrayal had heightened her senses.
Of course Eric Reynolds was attractive, but tonight his dark blue eyes seemed more intense, his black hair darker. He wore faded jeans and a blue, button-down shirt open at the collar to reveal a triangle of smooth, tanned chest. He was barefoot, and he looked sexy and sleepy, like she’d woken him from dozing in front of the TV. She bit her lower lip and tossed her hair, hoping the move made her look alluring rather than spastic.
“Hi.” Did her voice sound husky and sensual, or would he think she had a case of laryngitis?
Lauren hooked her thumbs in her belt loops and tugged a little so the waistband of her jeans dropped just enough to reveal some skin beneath the hem of her blouse. Would Eric notice?
“Hey.” He gave her a quizzical stare, one eyebrow up, a half-smile curving his suddenly very kissable lips.
“I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”
At half-past eight on a Tuesday
night? Not likely.
Eric squinted at her as though he didn’t quite understand the question. His gaze traveled over her shoulder as if he expected to find her posse of girlfriends hiding in the bushes. Tara and Roxy would kill her if they knew she’d come here after ducking out of the pity party they’d thrown in her honor. Being cheated on by Mark, her boyfriend of eight months, was supposed to make her depressed, resolute perhaps, and mad as hell, not lusty and reckless and hot for the only man on the face of the planet she could trust not to lie to her.
“Good.” Relief made her lightheaded. What would she have done if Eric had been with someone?
“Are you all right?” His smile faded, replaced with grim concern. The only time she’d showed up at his place without calling first was the day her parents announced their impending divorce. At twenty-five, she should have taken the news with maturity and aplomb. Instead, she’d run to Eric to cry on his shoulder because her family was breaking up.
“I’m fine,” she replied, taking a bold step forward. The move put her directly into his personal space. Warmth radiated from his chest when she placed her hands there. When she leaned close, the tempting vanilla spice scent of his aftershave tickled her nose. “I need a favor.”
He seemed to gulp for air, but to his credit, he held his ground. He didn’t step back to put distance between them. “You know I’d…do anything for you.”
Lauren stifled a giggle at the brief hesitation in his response. Eric’s bad-boy good looks and his athlete’s physique hid the soul of an altar boy. He meant he’d do anything that wasn’t illegal or dishonest. That’s what she loved about him. Eric was straight up. He didn’t lie and he would never cheat on his girlfriend the way Mark had.
he was currently single.
?” Lauren licked her lips as she traced the line of his jaw with her finger.
“What’s going on, Laur? Are you sure you’re all right?” He put his hands on her shoulders and the heat of his touch sent her spiraling into desire for sweaty sex and sweet, sweet revenge.
She wanted revenge against Mark for letting her find him this afternoon cock-deep in a blonde bimbette. She wanted to feel important to someone, cherished and sexy and safe. Eric could do that for her. She needed him to do that for her.
Fear of rejection lasted all of two seconds. Her tumultuous thoughts conjured a particularly vivid memory of last summer’s Fourth of July beach party. Brilliant fireworks over the bay, an oyster bar and an extra large beach towel spread on the coarse sand had led to a moment of soul searching she still hadn’t forgotten.
A single kiss from Eric had sent her senses rocketing up among the roman candles bursting overhead. For a moment, as she’d absorbed the sweet taste of saltwater taffy from his lips, she’d wanted him inside her.
It never happened. The moment fled too soon. Their friends, marching down from the rented beach house in a drunken conga line, had shattered the spell with an off key rendition of Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are”.
The next morning, Eric had feigned amnesia about the whole evening.
Lauren, ever the self-analyst, realized it was his way of letting her know, without embarrassing either of them, that the kiss had meant nothing. It had been just a sweet moment between two friends, nothing more.
Until now. Now she drew on that memory to give her courage. It had sustained her during the long cab ride to his apartment from the restaurant where she’d left her two best girlfriends. She turned that memory into the full-fledged belief that she needed Eric now. Tonight. All the way.
“I want you. I want you to make love to me, right now.”
Wet dreams don’t get much better than this
, Eric thought as he lowered his arms and brought Lauren’s sumptuous body close to his.
She kicked his front door shut, and the sound galvanized him, waking the skeptical part of his brain.
Lauren wanted him. Lauren James. His best friend. Had the world turned upside down when he wasn’t looking?
Lauren dropped her purse on the floor and pressed her body against him. Together they stumbled back a step. She gazed up at him, her luminous green eyes dilated to huge pools of endless black. Her plump lower lip beckoned him and he leaned in close. His gaze plunged into the deep valley of her cleavage visible in the open neckline of her blouse and his mouth went dry.
She smelled like sultry sex perfume and strawberry shampoo. Would she taste like peach lip gloss and coconut rum the way she had that one reckless moment last July when he’d kissed her and indulged in the fantasy they might be good together as more than just friends?
“Don’t say no, Eric. I know you want me. Don’t you?” Did she look hopeful, or desperate? God, did it matter?
“A favor…” He repeated the words as he dipped his head into the space between her neck and shoulder. He took in the alluring scent of her skin and thought about planting his lips on the pulse point below her jaw.
“I need you, Eric. I need you to make love to me tonight.”
“You’re a little drunk, aren’t you?” asked the good Eric Reynolds, the corporate security consultant who spent his days building computer firewalls and tweaking virus protection software.
Drunk and horny
, thought the bad Eric, the one who hated being the guy all the women turned to for moral support because he was always honest and trustworthy.
Women liked bad boys. He’d been reminded of that time and time again when his girlfriends left him for ex-cons, compulsive gamblers and rock musicians with coke habits.
Good guys finished last. That was his motto.
“I had one frozen margarita with the girls. I’m not drunk, but I took a cab here since Tara was driving.” As she spoke, Lauren lowered her lips to his chest, to that little hollow at the base of his throat, and licked him there. He groaned as his balls went tight.
Instant hard-on. Bad Eric grabbed her ass and squeezed, pushing her pelvis against the growing bulge of his erection.
Lauren smiled up at him, letting him know she had him right where she wanted him.
The good Eric demanded to know what brought this on. Lauren James was one of those nice girls. She wasn’t loose or slutty. She didn’t bang every guy she met just for kicks. Therefore there had to be a reason for her sudden…attack.
They’d met at one of Roxy’s legendary Christmas parties four years ago and, like ninety percent of the women Eric met, she’d immediately turned to him for advice on how to deal with her current boyfriend. The Neanderthal hadn’t wanted her to have any friends he hadn’t picked.
She’d dumped the guy on Eric’s advice, and they’d been friends ever since. Up until this moment, that meant Sunday afternoon matinees, lunch when his job took him to see clients in her office building, and all the requisite birthday, holiday and what-the-hell-it’s-Friday parties thrown by their large circle of mutual friends. Except for that Fourth of July kiss, they’d never even considered…well, that wasn’t true. He’d considered quite a lot of things.
“Have you got condoms?” Her breathy question came with an expert flick of her wrist that caused a button to pop off his shirt. She giggled.
“No problem.” “Condoms?” she asked again.
“As in, more than one?”
She gave him a wicked grin and spread his shirt open down to his navel. Her hot tongue branded a line of fire down his sternum. She licked her lips and when she looked up at him, her eyes smoldered. “How many have you got?”
A mental inventory told him he could dig up at least four. “Laur, are you sure you—” The good Eric’s question was lost in a heart-stopping kiss. She drew his tongue into her mouth, playfully at first, then with a sensual determination. She held herself to him with one hand, fingers laced through his hair. Her other hand eased down and popped the final button of his shirt, then grazed naughtily into his jeans to tease at the waistband of his briefs.
When she broke the kiss, good Eric was a memory. Bad Eric was ready to give her everything she wanted and then some.
what friends are for.
She should have chickened out by now. She should have come to her senses and apologized for making a fool of herself, then asked Eric to make her some coffee and call her a cab.
Instead, she tore open his fly, reached into his Jockeys and curled her trembling fingers around his erection.
Thank God he had one! What if she hadn’t been able to get him hot for her?
After all, she wasn’t his type. Eric liked blondes, and her naturally brown hair looked better with an auburn rinse. His girlfriends ran to the tall side, and Lauren had to stand on her toes to kiss him. Maybe that was a plus, though. It felt so good, sliding her body up over his, feeling the toned ridges of his abs under her eager hands. Maybe she wasn’t his dream girl, but she was enough to get him going. He’d told her once she was cute—not beautiful, not sexy as hell like she wanted to be now—but cute. Was that enough?
Right now she wanted to be fuckable, as fuckable to Eric as that blonde had been to Mark.
. The word came back to her as she moved her hand along the silky skin of his cock. When she tightened her grip on his hot shaft, he made no move to stop her. Encouraged, she wrapped herself around his lean body and pulled him toward the couch.
This was about getting back at Mark. Tit for tat. Not that it would matter to him. If Mark knew she was seducing Eric only hours after catching him in the act with someone else, he probably wouldn’t care.
The bastard had seemed so shocked when she’d walked in on him and his Tuesday afternoon hump buddy going at it on his couch. Why had he given her a key to his apartment if he hadn’t thought she might show up unannounced once in a while?