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Book 4 in the Quantum Series
“…It was brilliant. I loved the story line, the characters, the hot sex lol (who doesn’t), the writing was spot on because I felt it all! Every emotion was there and you can feel it.”-4 star review of RAPTUROUS from Sanaa’s Book Blog
“This book was so so so good and it was an absolute joy for me to read this and to see the whole Quantum family come together was nothing short of bliss for me. I didn’t think that I would actually love Hayden. Like yes. Love no. But I did! Gosh did I love his character so much!”—4.5 star review of RAPTUROUS from New Chicks on the Blog
“Wow, this fourth book in the Quantum series, Addie and Hayden’s story, is hot, hot, hot!!! I was turning pages and losing sleep. I kept thinking that I was a very happy reader with M. S. Force venturing into writing this darker series…..with more hopefully on the way…”—5 star review of RAPTUROUS from Luv My Books’ Reviews
The story begun in the initial Quantum Trilogy picks up on Oscar night after Academy Award-winning director Hayden Roth kisses the woman he desires above all others, even though he knows she can never be his. Addison York craves her boss’s best friend, Hayden, but he has never given her an ounce of encouragement—until tonight when he kissed her after winning the Oscar. Was that kiss the start of something or another in a long line of frustrations where Hayden is concerned? Something is keeping him from acting on the attraction that simmers between them, and Addie is determined to find out what it is. But when she stumbles upon the secret that Hayden, Flynn and her other close friends have kept from her, will she allow hurt feelings to get in the way of true love? When Hayden won’t share his BDSM lifestyle with her, Addie decides to conduct her own research. Will she be intrigued or repulsed? And what will Hayden do when he finds out how she’s been spending her evenings?
Warning: If you hate foul-mouthed heroes who like it a little rough and dirty, this might not be the book for you…. Contains hot and sexy BDSM scenes among other things that might not appeal to the faint of heart. Enter at your own risk and enjoy the sensual indulgence of Hayden and Addie’s steamy story!
Camouflage cleaned up at the Oscars, and Hayden Roth kissed me. I’m not sure which is a bigger deal. We’re surrounded by Oscar gold. Hayden won for Best Director, Flynn for Best Actor, Jasper for cinematography and all the Quantum principals for producing the year’s Best Picture. They’re euphoric as they celebrate at one party after another. But all I can think about is that when Hayden won, he kissed me—and he kissed me like he meant it.
He kissed me the way I’ve wanted him to for almost as long as I’ve known him, which is going on ten years now. That’s how long I’ve wanted him. At times, and never more so than when he kissed me earlier, I’ve suspected he wants me, too, but neither of us has ever given in to the attraction that simmers between us.
It could be because I work for Flynn, Hayden’s best friend and business partner, as well as Hayden and the other Quantum principals. Or maybe he thinks I’m too young for him, although six years isn’t that big of a deal. It’s not like I’m seventeen. I’m twenty-seven and fully grown, but I fear he thinks of me as the little girl I once was and not the woman I’ve become.
Flynn’s wife, Natalie, puts her arm around my shoulders and gives me a squeeze. “Having fun?”
“Best night ever. They’re so happy.”
“Flynn is flying high because you’re here, not because of the Oscars.” The two of them are wildly in love, and though I’m thrilled for my friend and boss, I’m envious, too. I want that. I want the connection they have, and I want it with a man who is perpetually unavailable to me.
“I’m so glad he won,” Natalie says. “He deserves it.”
“Yes, he does.” Flynn’s fearless, gutsy performance as a severely injured veteran has been the talk of the award season this year, with a clean sweep at the Golden Globes, SAGs, BAFTAs and now the Oscars.
Hayden deserves a big chunk of the credit as the director who’d coaxed that gutsy performance from his best friend. The two of them are gold together, as evidenced tonight and over the last couple of months.
We’re crammed into a booth at the Vanity Fair party. Hayden is on one side of me, Natalie on the other. The heat of his leg pressed against mine has my full attention, whereas Natalie’s leg on the other side doesn’t do a thing for me, as much as I adore her.
No, Hayden is the one I want, in all his complicated, maddening, sexy, frustrating glory. It has occurred to me often during the years I’ve nursed this impossible crush that I could’ve chosen a far simpler man to worship from afar. I could’ve chosen a man who isn’t my boss’s best friend and business partner, two things that put me more or less off-limits to him. I could’ve chosen a man with fewer sharp angles and rough edges.
I’m a smart woman, and I’m well aware this fixation I have on such a difficult man isn’t healthy for me. Tell that to the heart that does backflips and handsprings any time he’s in the room, let alone wedged up against me, radiating the kind of heat that has me fantasizing about being naked in a bed with him.
I don’t care if it’s not in my best interest to want him. I don’t care that Flynn probably wouldn’t approve or that Hayden is more secretive than the CIA when it comes to his private life. I don’t care that my dad can’t stand him or that many of the people who work for him live in fear of his unpredictable rages. I don’t care that his family is one of Hollywood’s most dysfunctional—and that’s saying something in this town.
None of that matters. I want him, and after the way he kissed me tonight, I’m on fire with desire and determination. Tonight is the night. When he takes me home later, I’m going to make my move and to hell with the fallout. I’m sick and tired of wishing for something and not doing a damned thing to get what I want. It’s time to put up or shut up.
I groan at my own cliché-ridden thoughts, but this situation has become one giant, ridiculous cliché. If he doesn’t want me the way I want him, then why would he kiss me like a lover when he won the Oscar?
As if he can read my thoughts, Hayden turns away from the conversation he’s been having with Jasper to smile at me. Although, to call the subtle movement of his lips a smile is giving it far too much credit. It’s more like a cocky smirk than an actual smile.
“You okay?” he asks, his usually cold blue eyes gone warm with what might be affection.
I have to resist the urge to sigh with the pleasure of having his undivided attention. “I am. You?”
“Never better,” he says with an honest, genuine smile, so rare and so fleeting that I wish I could get a photo of it before it disappears.
“I’m so thrilled for you guys. I know how hard you worked on Camouflage. You deserve all the awards and accolades.”
“Thank you. I’m rather thrilled myself.”
Hayden is a complicated mix of brilliant and moody, driven and ambitious, ruthless and loyal. To see euphoria creep into that mix of intense qualities fills me with an unreasonable amount of happiness on his behalf. He works so hard and rarely takes the time to enjoy his success.
In the tight confines of the booth, he somehow manages to raise his arm and lay it across the back of the banquette. One small move, and that arm could be around me.
I squirm slightly, enough to press against him, jarring his arm. It falls to my shoulders, and I venture a glance at him, surprised to see heat and desire in his eyes that only add to my determination.
The poor bastard has no idea what he’s in for.
I’m dying a slow, miserable, painful death jammed into this fucking booth with Addie’s sweet body squeezed against me, my cock as hard as a freaking rock for her and not a goddamned thing I can do about it. I can’t believe I kissed her when my name was called earlier. I didn’t plan to do that. In fact, I actively planned not to do anything inappropriate where she’s concerned tonight.
Flynn asked me to bring her as my date so she could share in the celebration we expected for Camouflage. I agreed because he’s right—she deserves to be here after the way she supported our entire team during the grueling shoot.
If I’m being honest, I wanted her here for me, too. I like to look at her. I love to breathe in her sexy, alluring scent and fantasize about burying my face in her thick blond hair while I fuck her. I want to lose myself in her and never come up for air.
But I won’t. I won’t lay a finger on her, as much as it kills me to resist an urge that seems to multiply exponentially every time I’m around her.
I avoid complications the way some people avoid germs. Everything about my obsession with Addison York is complicated. Other than the fact that Flynn would fucking kill me if I so much as look at her cross-eyed—and that’s not an insignificant other than—she deserves much better than me.
She should be cherished, not tied in my web of ropes and fucked to within an inch of her life, which is exactly what would happen if I ever let my inner beast run free with her. That’s not going to happen.
Now if only my fucking cock would get the message and stand the hell down, I might actually be able to enjoy this incredible night. It’s not happening with her, no matter how badly I might wish otherwise. I repeat this refrain to myself over and over again, but when she snuggles into my embrace, laying her head on my chest, my cock tells me to fuck off.
I look to my left to find Flynn eyeing me with an astute look that tells me I’m not fooling him by trying to act like I don’t care that Addie is lying all over me. I care. I fucking care way more than I should, and Flynn knows it, even if I’ve never fully owned up to his suspicions about my feelings for her.
He called me out on it recently, going so far as to insinuate that I’m in love with her. I did what I always do when my name and Addie’s are mentioned in the same sentence—I denied it. What else can I do? Everyone loves Addie, and the last thing I need is my closest friends and business partners turning against me when I fuck things up and hurt her.
Because I would fuck it up—and I would hurt her. I have no doubt at all about that, which is one of the many reasons I keep my distance. Or I usually keep my distance. With her body pressed against mine, I allow my hand to curl around her shoulder, enjoying the rare lack of distance.
I instantly realize I’ve made a huge mistake by touching her.
Holy fuck. Her skin is like silk, soft and smooth. One touch will never be enough. And was that… Fucking hell, she moaned. I have to get out of here. I have to get away from her and the wicked temptation she represents. Except I can’t move a fucking muscle with our whole crew crammed into this goddamned booth.
Not to mention, I’m so hard there’s no way to escape without giving myself away to Addie and everyone else in the room. FUCK! I break out in a cold sweat. Then her hand lands on my abdomen, and I nearly lose my shit.
“Move,” I growl to Jasper, who’s next to me.
“What?” he yells over the loud music and voices.
“I need to take a leak.”
“Oh, okay. Let Hayden out, you guys,” he says to Kristian and Marlowe.
“Be right back,” I mutter to Addie. Jarred by my sudden movement, she sits up, a stunned expression on her face—as if she just realized she was lying on me. Not that I minded. I didn’t mind. In fact, I loved it a little too much. As I slide out of the booth, I remove my tuxedo jacket and fold it over my arm, hoping it will hide my raging “problem.”
I’m reminded of eighth-grade science class, when I popped a boner for my lab partner, Jamie, when we were presenting our findings in front of the class. She had the best rack of any girl in our grade, and I was hard for her for a solid year. I thought everyone must’ve noticed, but no one ever said anything—and they would have if they’d seen it. I’ve never forgotten how humiliating it was to discover that I had absolutely no control over what—or who—my dick chose to get hard over.
As an adult, I’ve devoted a lot of time and energy to the concept of control. So it’s galling, to say the least, to lose control the way I have twice tonight.
I can’t remember the last time any woman made me sweat just by sitting next to me. I’m a fucking Dom, for Christ’s sake. My control is legendary. Except, apparently, when Addison York is pressed against me.
With my jacket still strategically positioned, I make my way through the crowded room, accepting handshakes and congratulations from colleagues on the way to the men’s room. Once there, I lock myself in a stall, hang the jacket from the hook on the back of the door and lean my head against the cool tile on the wall.
Get it together, will you?
I want to pound the shit out of something. Anything to rid myself of the frustration and desire that possess me like a demon I can’t shake no matter how hard I try. What the fuck was I thinking when I kissed her? I wasn’t thinking. I just acted. In the biggest moment of my career, I took what I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. I took her. I took Addie.
I fumble with my belt and the irritating buttons and hooks on my tuxedo pants, nearly swearing out loud at how cumbersome the process is. Then my cock springs free, hot and hard. I take myself in hand, looking for relief from the most painful desire I’ve ever experienced.
I cannot have her. I will not have her. I cannot have her. I will not have her.
The thoughts parade through my mind as I relive that kiss, that one fleeting, magical moment in which I had absolutely everything I ever wanted—the ultimate career success and the woman I love. Fuck.
Hearing voices outside the stall, I bite back a moan. I’ve never admitted to anyone—even myself—that I love her. Motherfucking hell, I can’t love her. I cannot. I will not. I grip my cock so hard that it hurts. Part of me can’t believe I’m actually doing this here, a heartbeat away from colleagues and paparazzi, but I can’t stop what she started in that booth.
I can’t control that which cannot be controlled. I love her. I want her. I need her. I can’t have her. From deep within my sex-addled brain, I have the foresight to reach for my handkerchief in the seconds before I come. Every muscle in my body participates in the soul-cleansing release. The relief is immediate and overwhelming.
Breathing hard, I close my eyes and stay perfectly still, letting the oxygen feed my starving muscles. I stand there until my cock begins to finally retreat, satisfied for now. With shaking hands, I clean myself up and knot the soiled cloth into a tight wad that I store in the pocket of my jacket.
I know better than to dispose of a cloth full of my DNA that also bears my initials in a public restroom at a Hollywood event. Such is the life of a celebrity. “Leave nothing behind” is one of our mottos.
I give myself another five minutes to calm down before I take the leak I came in here for. I restore my clothes and inhale a series of deep breaths, determined to get through the rest of this night, to get her home and then head for Club Quantum, where I’ll find someone who can help slake the need she stirs in me.
I emerge from the stall to a room that’s empty except for an attendant. Thank God for small favors. I wash my hands and splash cold water on my face, mopping it up with the towel the attendant hands me. I suspect he knows exactly what I just did.
Whatever. With the evidence tucked away in my pocket, let him try to prove it.
I’m heading for the door when Flynn comes in, placing a hand on my chest to move me backward into the room.
“We need to talk.”
“No, we don’t.”
“Yes, we do!” Thankfully, he keeps his voice down. “So this thing with Addie… It’s happening?”
“No, it’s not happening.”
“We all saw you kiss her. We saw her eyes light up with surprise and joy that you finally did something.”
“It was just a kiss.” I keep my tone intentionally nonchalant, even though I feel anything but. “Nothing to go crazy over.”
“Except she is going crazy because you gave her hope! I swear to God, Hayden, if you hurt her, I’ll kill you.”
Flynn is one of the few people in this world who I genuinely love. But right now, I want to pummel his movie-star face. “Thanks for the warning. Can I go now?”
“Hayden… If you aren’t in this, really in it, you can’t. You absolutely cannot.”
I keep my voice down, lest Flynn and I be all over the tabloids tomorrow for “fighting” at the Vanity Fair party. “Do you think I need you to tell me that?”
“Either go all in or hands off,” he says through gritted teeth. “I mean it.”
“You’re a fucking hypocrite, you know that?”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Remember when I told you that you had no business getting involved with Natalie?”
“That’s not the same thing.”
“Isn’t it? Isn’t it exactly the same thing? A nice girl who deserves better than us?”
With industry people and press in and out of the room, we can’t afford to let this get out of hand. So as much as we might like to let loose and go at it, we know better.
“It’s not the same. Addie is—”
I raise a brow in inquiry. “Special? Is that what you were going to say? And Natalie isn’t?” It’s never a good idea to drag a man’s wife into an argument, but I need Flynn to acknowledge his own double standard. Before he can pounce, I do. “Leave me alone, Flynn. I’m not going to touch her—and I’m certainly not going to hurt her. Why do you think I’ve kept my distance all this time? I don’t want to hurt her.”
I start to walk away, but he grabs my arm, spinning me around to face him. “Give me your word.”
I look into the eyes of my oldest and closest friend, my business partner, one of those few people I truly love. “Fuck you.” I rip my arm free of his hold and leave the room before I make the huge mistake of punching him.
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