Outrageous Excerpt Ch 1-5

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Outrageous, Quantum Series, Book 7

Chapter 1

Leah

I want to lick him. I want to strip him naked and lick every hill and valley of his muscular body. I want to know if all his muscles are as big as the ones on his arms. I want to ride him like a cowgirl. And then I want to ride him like a reverse cowgirl.

My obsession with Emmett Burke began on my first day at Quantum Productions, where I work as assistant to megastar Marlowe Sloane, a Quantum partner and overall amazing, badass woman. On day one, Emmett was charged with reviewing the company’s nondisclosure agreement with me. Even with Flynn Godfrey’s assistant, Addie, sitting with us, I didn’t hear a word Emmett said about the NDA because I was so fixated on his obscenely sexy mouth. Right there in the Quantum office, I had visions of all the places I’d like to feel that mouth.

Then he mentioned how I could be sued for discussing Quantum business or the partners outside of work, and that got my attention off his mouth, for a second or two, long enough to sign the NDA. I would never blow the amazing opportunity my friend Natalie secured for me after she fell in love with Flynn the superstar and ran away to Hollywood to marry him. But I sure would love the opportunity to blow Flynn’s attorney.

At her wedding, Natalie hooked me up with Marlowe, who hired me on the spot and bought out my contract with the charter school I’d worked for in New York—unhappily, I might add. Teaching wasn’t for me. Being the assistant to one of the top movie stars in the world? Hell to the yes, that’s for me. Marlowe paid for my move to LA, and now that I’m here, doing a job I truly love, I’m the envy of everyone I know.

Telling tales out of school—no pun intended—is not going to happen. I’d never do anything to screw up this sweet deal and the amazing opportunity I’ve been given to have a career I couldn’t have dreamed up for myself.

But me and Emmett Burke? That is so going to happen. If I can just figure out a way to break through his uptight, always-professional demeanor to find the hot-blooded man under the three-thousand-dollar suits that have to be handmade for him because no off-the-rack suit would fit those biceps.

In the meantime, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about licking him and trying to come up with reasons to talk to him. I wish I had the balls to come right out and tell him I want to suck his dick until he explodes down my throat, but something tells me that wouldn’t be the best career move I could make.

While Emmett isn’t one of the Quantum principals—and let me tell you, the word principal in this business is a whole lot different than it was in the school business—he is best friends and chief legal counsel to Flynn, Hayden, Marlowe, Jasper and Kristian, otherwise known as the bosses. That means I need to tread lightly and keep my drooling and licking to a minimum.

But God help that man if I ever get him alone in a bedroom—or any room that isn’t an office in the building where we both work. I have to laugh at how ridiculous this obsession has become, because it’s truly out of character for me. Before now, before Emmett, my interest in men has been more along the lines of wham-bam-thank-you-sir. I’ve never actually given a shit about any of them. But this one… This one is different, and I knew it right away. Every time I’ve been with him since that first day, and I’m “with him” just about every day, between work and play—these people love to party—I only want him more than I did the day before. It’s insanity. I willingly admit that, but I have no desire to make it stop. No, my desire is entirely focused on making it start.

Sometimes, when I’m home alone at night with my trusty rabbit, I allow my wildest fantasies to take flight. I picture myself with Emmett in every conceivable position, as well as a few that haven’t been invented yet. I’ve begun to anticipate rabbit time a little too eagerly, which is worrisome. I’ve never been the kind of girl to run from a challenge, but I suspect Emmett thinks I’m too young and immature for him.

There’s really no one I can talk to about my “dilemma,” since my closest friends here also work for Quantum or are married or engaged to the partners. Of course, they’re the ones whose opinions I most want because they know him better than I ever will at this frustrating rate.

I’m going to have three whole days with him when we head up to Napa at the end of this coming week for Hayden and Addie’s wedding. I’ve been counting the days with plans to implement Operation Nail Emmett Burke while we’re there. I figure I only need to get Marlowe and Sebastian out of the way, because other than Emmett and me, they’re the only ones who aren’t in relationships. With lovebirds circling all around us, I expect the four of us to end up on our own quite a bit and will fully exploit any opportunities that present themselves without humiliating myself in front of Marlowe.

Fine line that’ll be…

I’ve made up my mind that the weekend in Napa is go time. Enough fantasizing about what I’d do if I had a night with him. It’s time to make those fantasies a reality. The thought of being naked and horizontal with him makes me wish I’d thought to bring my rabbit to work.

I’m supposed to be planning Marlowe’s trip to Paris the week after Napa, but so far, I’ve only managed to accomplish making a list of things that have to be done. My obsession with Emmett is interfering with my dream job, and I can’t let that happen. It’s time to buckle down and plow through my to-do list so I can present Marlowe with a full itinerary when she returns from lunch with her agent.

I’m working on booking first-class plane tickets when the extension on my desk rings with a call from Addie’s number. I take the call on speaker. “What’s up, buttercup?” I adore Addie and aim to be just like her when I grow up into a world-class Hollywood assistant. She’s endlessly generous with advice and counsel as I continue to get comfortable with my new job, and she’s madly in love with Hayden Roth, the sexy, surly Academy Award-winning director who is the heart and soul of Quantum.

“Can you come to the conference room for a quick meeting?”

“Yep. What do I need to bring?”

“Your laptop. Five minutes?”

“I’ll be there.” I’d do anything Addie asked of me. She’s been instrumental in helping me to make the transition from fourth grade teacher in New York to assistant to a movie star in Hollywood. Sometimes I still can’t believe I actually made that transition, but all I have to do is look out the window at the palm trees that line the Quantum parking lot to realize I’m not in the Big Apple anymore, Toto.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved New York. I hated being a teacher, though. I have mad, crazy respect for people who can spend their days in rooms full of kids. I am not one of those people. I thought I was until I actually had to do it every day, and realizing I had made a grave error in my life plan was jarring, to say the least. I worked with some truly amazing teachers, and their passion for the job helped me to see that I lacked what it took to give the kids the dedication they deserved.

I’d already decided I was leaving the job at the end of the school year when Natalie came up with the brilliant idea for Marlowe to hire me. Now that I’ve made the move, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for the people here at Quantum, which is one reason I try to keep my massive crush on Emmett under control at work. I don’t want to cause any trouble or embarrassment for Natalie, who went out on a limb to get me this amazing job, or Marlowe, who took a chance on a total noob for an assistant.

I gather up my laptop, a notebook and my phone and head into the conference room for the meeting. Who do you think is the only other person in the hallway? Yep, you guessed it. The object of my obsession, and oh my, he looks particularly lickable today in a navy pinstripe suit with an ice-blue tie and a white dress shirt that shows off a deep year-round tan that comes from surfing.

How do I know that? What don’t I know about him? I’m obsessed, remember? Right now, I require all my wits to conduct an actual conversation with the man of my dreams.

“Emmett.” Excellent opening salvo. I love the way his name sounds as it rolls off my tongue. Did someone say tongue? No licking at work, Leah.

“Leah.”

Sigh. He said my name. “How are you today?”

“Fine, you?”

“Very, very good.” Does he notice the suggestive way I say that or how my new two-hundred-dollar bra from La Perla makes my small boobs look a little more spectacular than they actually are? Never let it be said that I don’t know how to properly invest my much larger LA salary.

“No legal dilemmas today?” he asks, his lips forming an expression that might be amusement. Dare I hope?

“Not yet, but you’ll be the first to know if that should change.”

“Oh goody,” he says, his sarcasm making him even more attractive to me.

I absolutely adore sarcastic people. I wrote the book on sarcasm, and a sarcastic sense of humor is right at the top of my list of attractive qualities. With Emmett, sarcasm is number five on my list after sexy lips, sexy ass, sexy biceps and sexy, cut abs. You can see how sarcasm might take a distant fifth place to those things.

Ask him out after work.

I’m not sure where that thought comes from, but the words are falling from my mouth before I can decide if I should say them. “Do you want to get a drink after work? I’m buying to thank you for the legal advice.”

“Oh, um, I can’t, but thanks anyway.” He moves past without so much as brushing against me. I mourn the missed opportunity for body contact. “Got to get back to it. Talk to you later.”

“Bye.” Okay, so that didn’t go as well as it could have, but I didn’t give him much advance notice. And he said he couldn’t, not that he didn’t want to. I take this as a positive sign and continue on my way to the conference room where Addie is waiting for me along with Ellie Godfrey’s assistant, Dax, Kristian’s assistant, Lori, and Aileen, our receptionist-slash-administrative assistant who also happens to be engaged to Kristian.

I take a seat across from Aileen, who offers a warm, welcoming smile. She’s the sweetest person, always happy and willing to lend a hand where needed. We all love her, but no one more so than Kristian, who is positively gone over her—and her kids. The love circulating in the air around here has given me hope that it might happen for me someday. Hopefully, long after I get to take a spin or two around the bedroom of a hot-as-fuck lawyer who doesn’t realize yet that I’m exactly what he needs to lighten up a bit.

“Thanks for coming in, you guys,” Addie says.

I immediately notice that the always-unflappable Addie seems seriously flapped.

“What’s wrong?” Dax asks.

“I’m freaking out,” Addie confesses. “I told Hayden I didn’t want a wedding planner overseeing our big day, and I’ve seen to everything myself, but I keep waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and riddled with anxiety that I’ve missed something critical, like food or booze or something. I was hoping you guys could go over everything and double-check me.”

The most organized human being on the planet—hell, in the universe—wants my help? I’m in.

She hands out packets that contain detailed plans for the wedding that will take place at the Napa Valley winery owned by the Quantum partners. Pushing aside all thoughts of Emmett and licking, I focus exclusively on the information on the page, reading every word as the others do the same.

While we read, Addie paces.

Food, check. Booze, check. Flowers, check. Tent, check. Arbor built from grapevines for the ceremony, check. Tables and chairs and linens and centerpieces, check, check, check and check. Lodging for the entire Quantum group, check, including room assignments that I don’t look at too closely, but I will later. You can bet on that.

“Music,” I say, breaking the long silence. “Where’s the music?”

Addie stops pacing to stare at me. “It’s in there.”

“Where?”

She comes to me, leans over my shoulder and sifts through the papers twice before letting out a shriek. “I forgot the fucking music?

My first impulse is to try to calm her, but she’s already around the bend from freaked out and is heading toward nuclear meltdown. The others realize it, too, and immediately spring into action.

“Who do we know?” Lori asks.

“Um, everyone?” Aileen says, her tone calm and controlled, which is what we need. “Who do you want, Addie? We are rather well-connected around here.”

Addie is like a deer in high beams. “I, um, I don’t even know who to ask.”

“Let us take care of it,” I say, as the others nod in agreement. “Tell us what kind of music you want, we’ll figure it out for you and get someone great.”

“It’s next weekend.”

“It’s Hayden Roth,” I remind her, as if she needs a reminder of who she’s marrying or that he’s the most celebrated director of his generation. I’m counting on the fact that just about anyone would kill to play at his wedding.

“Um, I’m almost afraid to ask,” Aileen says, “but you do have a dress, right?”

“Yes, Tenley has taken care of that,” she says, referring to her maid of honor, a top stylist to the stars.

“Oh phew,” Aileen says, smiling. “Hayden already owns a tux and so do his groomsmen, so you’re good there. What about gifts for the wedding party?”

Addie’s eyes bug again, and I realize it’s going to be a long day.

 

Emmett

She’s driving me crazy. Does she think I don’t notice her staring at me or how she has a different legal question every day, none of which have anything to do with her job as Marlowe’s assistant? Two days ago, she wanted lease advice for a “friend” in New York with a landlord from hell. I’m an entertainment and corporate lawyer. What the hell do I know about leases in New York? Of course, she knows what my specialty is, but that doesn’t stop her from finding a reason to ask me some stupid daily legal question.

It doesn’t help that I want to toss her across my desk and fuck the sass right out of her. Maybe if I do that, she’ll leave me alone.

But that can’t and won’t happen for many reasons, not the least of which is the ten-year age difference between us. We celebrated her twenty-fourth birthday with a cake in the office last week, and I swear she looked right at me as she licked frosting off her finger, completely oblivious to the fact that we were in the fucking office surrounded by our fucking coworkers, including the partners who fucking employ me to keep them out of the kind of trouble I want to get into with her.

She’s twenty-four. I keep telling myself that puts her firmly off limits. She’s young, naïve, inexperienced, vanilla and thoroughly out of her league with the likes of me.

Her best salvo yet came yesterday when she brought in the company handbook and asked for a clarification on the fraternization policy. Does she think I can’t see right through her game? She came around my desk and leaned over me to point out the area that had her confused: Employees must seek the written approval of their supervisor before embarking on a romantic relationship with a fellow employee, and no employee shall date or otherwise fraternize with an employee under their direct supervision.

“Does that mean I need Marlowe’s approval before I date someone from the office?”

“Yes,” I’d said through gritted teeth, trying to ignore the press of her breast into my shoulder. “That’s what it means. And your potential date needs to do the same. Now can I get back to work?” Who the hell is she thinking about dating anyway? And why the fuck do I care? Whoever it is, I pity the fool. She’d be a handful for the most patient of men.

“Is there a form or something we have to fill out before we embark on our relationship?”

“An email will suffice,” I told her, my patience nonexistent where she’s concerned. I had fourteen million things to see to on behalf of the five people who pay me a king’s ransom to oversee their legal matters, and all I wanted to do was strip Marlowe’s assistant naked and have my wicked way with her right there on my desk.

That’s not how I roll. I’m a consummate professional. I value my job and friendships with my employers, both of which are the most important things in my life.

In this era of enhanced scrutiny on workplace behavior, I have no time or tolerance for a twenty-four-year-old troublemaker who wants to walk on the wild side. She can find someone else to go wild with.

Except… I no sooner have that thought than I’m filled with unreasonable rage at the idea of any other man’s hands on her sweet, lithe body. When I first met her, I wasn’t immediately attracted. No, that special treat came later, when I saw her in a bikini at Flynn’s house and realized she was hiding a smoking body under conservative work clothes that don’t begin to do her justice. Since then, I’ve made an effort to keep my mind—and my eyes—from wandering in directions they shouldn’t go.

But when she was leaning over me, pressing a small but plump breast to my shoulder as she pointed out “inconsistencies” in the policy I drafted myself, it was damned hard to ignore her.

She’s baiting me intentionally. I get it. She’s set her sights on me because I’m one of two guys in our group who’re still single after the love bug set off an epidemic of happily ever afters among our friends. Sebastian would squash her like a proverbial bug, so she probably sees me as the “safer” alternative to big, dark, broody Sebastian.

Little does she know that I have a wild side of my own, and if I ever let it loose on her, she’d run screaming for her young life. Part of me would enjoy that. A lot. But it’s not going to happen.

Yesterday, it was the fraternization policy. Today, it was an invite for after-work drinks. What will tomorrow bring? As much as I wish she’d go away and leave me alone, I find myself wondering what she’s got planned for me next.

 

Chapter 2

Leah

I watch a lot of Judge Judy these days, trolling for things I can bring to Emmett for legal advice. I’m not proud of this strategy, but as I watch a former couple duke it out over who gets custody of their poodle, I begin to formulate my next plan. A guy I dated in New York borrowed my original copy of Abbey Road and never gave it back to me. The album belonged to my grandfather, who gave it to me before he died. I want it back. I’m going to ask Emmett to write a letter on scary-looking lawyer letterhead and send it to the guy for me.

From my sofa after work, I make a few calls on behalf of Addie’s last-minute search for a wedding band. I’m thinking about what to make for dinner when Natalie calls.

“What’s up?” I ask my former roommate, who has become one of my closest friends despite the fact that we’re as different as two people can be.

“We’re throwing together a last-minute cookout, if you’re interested.”

“That sounds fun. What can I bring?”

“I could use some more white wine, but I have everything else.”

“I’m on it.”

“Bring your suit to swim. It’s still seventy-five.”

“Be there shortly. Thanks for the invite.”

“See you soon.”

Another thing I love about living in LA and being part of the Quantum family are the regular gatherings that are always so much fun. For reasons I prefer not to think about, I had complicated relationships with my peers growing up and even into college, so I’ve never been part of a group like this one. Being friends with these people is a whole other level of cool. They’re all so accomplished and smart and talented. I often feel like a wannabe in their midst, but that hasn’t stopped me from gleefully joining their group, and I’m especially gleeful at the thought of seeing Emmett. Maybe he’ll be shirtless. Drool.

Natalie has been incredibly generous and supportive of me as I made the move to LA and started a whole new life. I’ve never once felt alone or lonely in my new city thanks to her and Flynn and their amazing friends, who made me feel right at home from the beginning. Marlowe has also been so good to me, making sure I’m included in everything that goes on.

She doesn’t have to do that. I mean, I’m her employee, after all, but she treats me more like a girlfriend, and I really appreciate that. Sometimes I still can’t believe that the woman whose movies I’ve adored since I was a teenager is now my boss and my friend. For someone who hasn’t had a lot of girlfriends in her life, I feel like I’ve hit the girlfriend jackpot with my new friends. I hope every mean-girl bitch who tortured me in high school has heard about my fantastic new job. Fuckers.

I pack a bag with a swim suit, towel and sweatshirt, grab the big bottle of Chardonnay I bought last week, and head out of the Santa Monica condo the Quantum team made available to me after Addie moved in with Hayden. Because I do a lot of running around on Marlowe’s behalf, they even leased me a car, a red Volkswagen Beetle convertible that I absolutely love. When I say that mine is a sweet deal, I wasn’t kidding. And I haven’t even mentioned the six-figure salary and benefits that came with the job, thus my newfound affection for La Perla bras and thongs, which were way out of reach on a teacher’s salary while paying rent in New York.

Life in LA is very, very good, to say the least.

I was thrilled for Natalie when she met and fell for Flynn, but I couldn’t have begun to imagine how my life would also change along with hers. Things got crazy for Flynn and Nat—and me by extension—after she met him, and the media found out about a past she’d gone to great lengths to bury. We were surrounded by reporters and photographers at home and work, and quickly discovered that being “famous” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Thankfully, Flynn, his security team and his hot-as-fuck lawyer swooped in to protect us both, but it had been pretty damned insane for a few weeks. After Natalie moved to LA to live with Flynn, I’d missed her and her bitchy little dog, Fluff. New York wasn’t the same without them. Then I came out to LA for their wedding, met Marlowe, and the rest, as they say in Hollywood, is right out of a movie.

The late-day traffic is daunting as I make my way to the Hollywood Hills home Natalie shares with Flynn and Fluff. She’s expecting her first child, and everyone is so excited about her baby as well as the one Ellie and Jasper are expecting. Natalie and Ellie will be great moms, but I’m so not ready for anything like babies or forever. I’ve got a lot of fun left to have before I’ll want to settle down and nest. Although, if I could nest with Emmett Burke, I might be convinced to move my timeline along.

I laugh to myself, because nesting is the least of what I want to do with him. I’d be satisfied with some hot, sweaty sex. I’m certainly not looking for anything complicated or long-term. I figure a night with him will scratch the itch I seem to have for him, and then we can both move on. The thought of shackling myself to one guy at my age is preposterous, even if I can plainly see how thrilled my friend is to be shackled to her movie-star husband. What they have is special. Anyone who knows them can see that. I hope I find that for myself someday in the far-off future. For now, I’ve set my sights on a lesser goal—one night with Emmett.

I weave through traffic, listening to Metallica at my usual earsplitting volume. I’ve never outgrown my love of metal bands, and Metallica is my all-time favorite.

When I arrive at Nat’s twenty minutes later and see Emmett’s silver Mercedes AMG among the collection of fabulous cars owned by the Quantum family, I’m giddy with excitement to know he’s here. The brand-new AMG is almost as hot as its owner with its black wheels and sleek lines. As I walk by, I let my hand brush up against it and feel a charge of power go through me that makes me shiver. If touching his car makes me shiver, I wonder what it’d be like to touch him.

I really, really want to find out.

Everything female in me gets tight and needy at the thought of sex with Emmett. I’m honestly not like this most of the time. I’ve had my share of fun with guys, but I’m never the dog in heat that I am around him. And yes, I just called myself a dog in heat, and I can’t even argue with my own description of the situation. That’s what it’s come to: pant, pant, pant. Oh, and don’t forget lick.

Knowing everyone is out back by the pool, I let myself in and walk through the kitchen on the way to the pool area. I’m a frequent visitor to Flynn Godfrey’s home—and yes, that still cracks me up nearly nine months after Natalie met him—so I know my way around. I’m close personal friends with celebrities who used to exist in some fake dream world before I got to know them as the real people they are. As I cut through the kitchen, Fluff comes running, barking and snarling until she sees it’s me.

I bend to pick her up and get hit in the face with dog breath as well as a wet, sloppy tongue. That’s what I get for all my thoughts about licking, I suppose.

“Hello, to you, too, Fluff.” I carry her outside where I put her down on the patio. She takes off running toward Natalie.

Emmett is in the pool with Flynn’s nephews, who are all over him like monkeys. I’d like to be all over him like a monkey, and it’s all I can do to tear my hungry gaze off his muscular body. From the looks of it, if he’s not at work or asleep, he must be in the gym, because the guy is built like a brick shithouse. Am I drooling? I think I might be. The sun is hitting him just right, highlighting the gold tones in his brown hair. As Flynn’s nephew Connor hits Emmett in the head with a beach ball, Emmett cracks up laughing and spins around, his melted-chocolate brown eyes connecting with mine in a moment of hyperawareness that I feel everywhere.

I’m dumbstruck, speechless and definitely drooling.

Natalie waves her hand in front of my face. “Earth to Leah.”

Dear God, did I just get caught gawking at Emmett in front of everyone? I take a tentative glance around to find that only Natalie—and Emmett, of course—seem to have noticed the gawking. The others are fully engaged in conversation around the bar that Flynn is tending.

“Are you okay?” Natalie asked. “You’re looking a little flushed.”

Sexual frustration will do that to a girl, not that Natalie would remember what that’s like. She’s got a perpetual freshly fucked look to her these days that would fill me with envy if I didn’t love her so much. No one deserves to be happy more than Natalie Godfrey does, and I mean that sincerely. The girl lived through hell on earth to get her happily ever after with Flynn. “I’m fine,” I respond, noticing my tongue feels too big for my mouth. Is it possible for a tongue to get a hard-on? If so, my tongue is hard for Emmett, which takes me right back to inappropriate thoughts of licking.

“Come with me.” Natalie hooks her arm through mine and leads me into the house, which is cool in comparison to the warm patio. “What did I just witness out there? And don’t say it’s nothing. I know you too well.”

Living and working closely together for months in New York had bonded us in an unlikely friendship. Though we have almost nothing in common, I had recognized a quality friend in her from the beginning. But I can’t forget that she’s now married to one of the bosses, and if it comes down to him or me—

“Whatever it is, just tell me. I’d never tell Flynn.”

God, I want to tell someone. I need to tell someone before I do something stupid that gets me in trouble at work. “I want to lick Emmett.”

Natalie bursts into laughter. She laughs so hard that tears fill her eyes, and her face turns red. “You have such a way with words,” she says when she’s recovered enough to speak.

“I’m serious, Nat. I look at him, and all I can think about is licking him, among other things.”

“He is a rather sexy specimen.”

The thought of other women, even my very married friend, finding him sexy makes me murderous, which is also a first for me. I’ve never cared enough about any guy to be murderous on his behalf. “You’ve got your own sexy specimen.”

“Doesn’t mean I can’t spot another when I see one, and Emmett definitely qualifies.” She crosses her arms over the gentle swell of her abdomen and leans back against the massive island in her state-of-the-art kitchen. “How long has this licking situation been going on?”

I hesitate for a second, not sure how much I should say, but then I figure what the hell. This is Nat, and I desperately need a friend to talk me down on this topic. “Since the day I started at Quantum?”

“Leah! That was months ago!”

“Um, yes, thank you. I’m aware of that and so is my rabbit. He’s been getting one hell of a workout.”

Natalie covers her ears. “TMI.”

“Oh please. You’re the queen of TMI with the way you and your husband carry on.”

“We do not carry on.”

“Yes, you do. You eye-fuck each other like a couple of bunnies.”

She loses it laughing again, bending at the waist until she recovers. “Oh my God, I love you so much, and I’m so glad you live here with us now. No one makes me laugh the way you do.”

“Flynn does.”

“He makes me laugh in different ways. You are in a class all your own, my friend.”

“I do what I can for you.”

She gives me a calculating look. “Whatever shall we do about this massive thing you have for Emmett?”

“I bet he has a massive thing. Can you even imagine? With all those muscles… Mmmm.” As she laughs again, I shake my head because I can’t let myself go there when there’re hours between me and time with Roger Rabbit. “I need a drink.” Using a corkscrew I find on the counter, I open the bottle of wine I brought and pour a healthy glass. “Sorry to drink in front of you.”

“No worries. I don’t want it anyway. Everything I eat and drink makes me nauseated, except for water and crackers.”

“Still? That sounds awful.”

She nods. “It is. I hear I should turn the corner soon. Any time now. But back to you and Emmett…”

“There is no me and Emmett. He thinks of me as a much-too-young minor annoyance that he has to tolerate because I’m your friend and Marlowe’s assistant. That is all I am to him.”

Natalie strokes her chin and gives me a calculating look that makes me squirm ever so slightly.

“What?”

“I’m thinking,” she says, picking up Fluff when she comes wandering inside looking for her favorite person.

“Don’t do anything. I’m not asking you to get involved. I just needed to tell someone. We’re not like you and Flynn. This isn’t that.”

“Who says it couldn’t be?”

I roll my eyes as dramatically as possible. “I don’t want to fall madly in love with him. I just want to fuck him.”

“Who?” Flynn asks as he comes into the kitchen holding a platter that he puts in the sink.

I’m going to die. Right here on the spot, I’m going to pass away. I feel my face turn every shade of red there is.

As I say, “No one you know,” Natalie, that bitch, starts to laugh uncontrollably again.

“Why do I feel like I walked in on something here?”

Natalie laughs so hard, she can’t breathe, which amuses her husband. He thinks everything she does is adorable and amusing.

“I’m out.” I give Natalie a don’t-you-dare-tell-him-who-I-was-talking-about glare as I go into the bathroom to change into my suit. Emmett is half-naked in the pool. You can bet your ass I’m going to join him. As I change, I try not to think about the fact that someone now knows about my secret obsession, which is no longer a secret.

I hope I didn’t make a big mistake telling Nat.

 

Emmett

She’s fucking sexy as hell in a barely there teal bikini that could almost be called indecent at a gathering of close friends and children. Even Flynn’s nephews, who are still in grade school, notice the way her tits nearly fall out of the cups. Thankfully, most of me is underwater so they can’t see that I’m hard for her.

I do not want to be hard for her. She’s a baby compared to me, and I’ve got no business noticing her tits or any of the many other parts of her left bare by a swim suit that is nothing more than a couple of strategically placed scraps. She reclines on the stairs in the shallow end, propped on her elbows as she watches me horse around with the kids.

And yes, I can feel her watching my every move, thus the throbbing in my groin.

“Are we going play or what?” I ask Connor and his younger brother, Mason, who is wearing blow-up floaties on his arms. I’ve had to redirect the little fish from the deep end several times.

“I wanna play,” their youngest brother, Garrett, says from the side of the pool.

I go over to fetch him and seat him on my shoulders.

He squeals with delight at his newfound height.

“Look out, boys,” I tell his brothers. “Garrett is gonna get you.”

The other two shriek as they charge at us. I take my gaze off them for only a second to glance at Leah, who is licking her lips as she watches me. As I fixate on the movement of her tongue on her lip and contend with a surge of heat in my groin, two hyper-amped boys come barreling into me, one of them catching me in the hard cock with a firmly placed foot. I gasp from the shot of pain that travels like a bolt of lightning through my entire system and struggle to maintain my hold on Garrett as my knees buckle under me.

“Emmett!”

I hear Leah’s cry of distress, but I’m in so much pain, I can barely breathe, let alone speak. I’ve been completely unmanned, and I blame her. It’s one thousand percent her fault—and her tongue’s.

 

Chapter 3

Emmett

“I’m so, so sorry, Emmett,” Flynn’s sister Annie says as she hovers over me. She should be sorry. Her wild-animal sons have completely broken me. I may never have sex again thanks to them. But I don’t blame them. Oh no. It’s not their fault. It’s her fault.

While she hovers nearby, Natalie hands me a fresh ice pack.

I change out the ice pack, handing her the used one. Ice on the package, even over boardshorts, is about as pleasant as you’d might expect, but frozen numbness beats vicious pain any day.

Flynn, Hayden, Sebastian, Jasper, Kristian and Annie’s husband, Hugh, stand on the periphery of disaster, their faces pale and their eyes big. An injury to my junk hurts us all.

Then Leah moves into view in all her sexy glory, and my poor, injured cock surges with interest. Agonizing pain permeates the numbness. “Get the fuck out of my sight,” I say to her in a low, sinister-sounding growl. I immediately regret my sharp words, especially when I catch her wounded expression. It’s not her fault that I can’t control my cock when she’s around. But he’s in no condition to be hard right now—or any time in the foreseeable future, for that matter.

I shift positions and immediately feel like I’m going to throw up, so I put my head back against the lounge chair and pray for mercy to the god of injured cocks.

“Dude.” Flynn squats next to my chair and takes a tentative look at the scene of the crime, not that he or anyone else can actually see anything. “What can we do?”

“Nothing,” I say, gritting my teeth.

“Do you need medical attention?” Natalie asks.

“God, I hope not.” The thought of my cock being broken is more than I can bear to consider.

“One of us should take a look,” Hayden says, his tone making it clear that it’s not going to be him who does the looking.

“Get the hell out of his face and go about your business,” Marlowe says to the other men. “Emmett, let me see it.”

If the poor guy hadn’t already sustained a dreadful injury, he’d roll up into himself, another thought that nearly makes me puke. “I…” I swallow the bile that burns my throat. “I don’t think that’s necessary.”

“Don’t be such a baby,” Marlowe says. “If you’ve seen one dick, you’ve seen them all.” She comes over to the chair and removes the ice pack. “Open up and say ahhh.”

“Glad you find this so funny.” I untie my boardshorts and tear open the Velcro so she can see inside.

Her eyes go wide and then she grimaces. “Yeah, that needs to be looked at by a doctor.”

I venture a glance in the direction of disaster, and when I see black and blue, I nearly pass out. My cock is actually broken! Panic overtakes me. My heartrate skyrockets, and my blood pressure has to be well into the danger zone.

“Leah can take him,” Natalie says.

What? “No need. I can take myself.”

“She’s heading in that direction anyway,” Natalie continues as if I hadn’t said anything. “Let’s get him to the car.”

I want to whimper like a baby and beg them not to touch me. But before I can say a word, Flynn, Hayden, Kristian and Sebastian surround and lift me, tripping over themselves as they bump and jostle me through the house while I try not to cry like a wounded bitch. I hope they never quit their day jobs to join the rescue service. By the time we reach the driveway, I want to ask one of them to stick an ice pick in my jugular, because that would surely be preferable to whatever is ahead for me and my poor dick.

They deposit me, painfully, into the passenger seat of my own car, chosen probably because it is closer than hers. Leah. Ugh. I wish I had the strength to say she’s the last person I want driving me anywhere, because she already drives me fucking crazy.

She and Natalie come out of the house, locked in a full-on argument. I’m thankful for small favors, such as the dress that now covers the bikini. But then she comes toward me, visibly pissed and full of attitude, shoulder-length brownish-gold hair fluttering in the breeze and breasts bouncing with every step, and the blood in my southern hemisphere surges toward my cock once again, making me nearly scream from the pain.

She gets in the car and slams the door.

Even that hurts.

“This is not my idea,” she says.

“I was there. I know.”

“Keys?”

“Hit the button. And if you crash my car, I’ll sue you for everything you’ve got.”

“You won’t be able to go to McDonald’s on what I’ve got, but knock yourself out.” She puts the car into Reverse and backs out of the driveway, hitting the brakes a little too hard before throwing it into Drive and heading down the hill to town.

“Go easy, will you? On me and the car.”

“Where’re we going?”

I direct her to Cedars-Sinai’s emergency department, where she brings the car to a squealing stop twenty agonizing minutes later. She gets out and runs inside, looking for help, and returns with a woman in scrubs pushing a wheelchair.

Has it come to that? I open the door, turn to put my legs outside and nearly pass out from pain that makes the wheelchair look really good to me.

“Be careful with him,” Leah says. “He’s in agony.”

“What happened?” the nurse asks.

“He got kicked in the junk by a little kid in a pool.”

“Ouch,” the nurse replies.

Do you think?

As she wheels me away, Leah says, “I’m going to park. I’ll be right in.”

“You don’t have to stay. I’m fine.”

“I’m not leaving you here alone,” she says.

I don’t have the wherewithal to argue with her, not when I’m in a full-on, sweaty panic over what’s about to happen here. I picture a little shop of horrors, full of needles pointed at my poor wounded cock. What if there’s permanent damage? The thought of that is so debilitating, I can’t work up the fortitude to get pissed when Leah ends up in the exam room with me. The nurse checks me in and says the doctor will be with me shortly. Tell him to take his time, I want to say.

“Can I do anything?” Leah is fidgety and paces the small cubicle like a nuclear reactor full of energy with nowhere to expend it.

“Haven’t you done enough?”

She spins to face me, eyes flashing. God, she’s sexy, and I don’t think she even knows it. “What the hell is that supposed to mean? I’m not the one who kicked you.”

“You may as well have been.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Painfully, I lift myself onto my elbows, mocking her pose in the pool, and run my tongue over my bottom lip as slowly and seductively as I possibly can. “Bring back any memories?”

At first, she stares at me in confusion, and then her eyes widen as her lips part. “Are you saying that when I did that, you…”

“I got hard, then Connor kicked me and here we are. So yes, it is your fault.”

Her eyes flash with fire and passion that spark a new wave of desire in a place that can’t handle anything resembling desire at the moment. “That’s the biggest load of bullshit I’ve ever heard. How is the fact that you can’t control yourself my fault?”

“It just is.” I sit back against the pillows, folding my arms and silently congratulating myself for winning this round.

And then she begins to laugh. She laughs so hard that tears fill her eyes and run down her cheeks.

“What the hell is so funny?”

“All this time,” she says, gasping for air as she mops up the tears, “I’m thinking I don’t stand a chance with you because you probably think I’m too young for you, and it turns out I’m making you hard.” She loses it again, and suddenly, I’m not feeling as victorious as I did a moment ago.

“You don’t stand a chance with me.”

“Your dick seems to like me.”

“Don’t be complimented by that. He’s easy.”

If she could breathe fire in my direction, she would, and for some strange reason, that does it for me, and the beast comes back to life with an aching, agonizing surge that leaves me breathless from the pain.

Through gritted teeth, I say, “Go home and leave me alone.”

“Why? Is it happening again?” She leans in for a closer look, and when she sees the small tent in my hospital gown, she busts up laughing again.

“It’s not funny.” I’m all but growling at her now.

“Oh, yes, it is.”

“You won’t be laughing when I put you over a spanking bench and turn your ass pink.”

Leaning on the bed rail, she’s the picture of avid enthusiasm. “When can we do that?”

Groaning, I almost pass out from the pain when my dick flares to full hard-on status. She wants me to spank her? Christ have mercy.

I’m spared from one hell but presented with another when the doctor comes in, apologizing for making me wait.

He introduces himself as Dr. Lowell, a surgical resident in urology. “What happened?”

“I took a foot to the junk,” I tell him, trying not to overreact to the word “surgical” in his title.

“While he was hard,” Leah adds in a helpful tone.

I’m going to spank her until she can’t sit for a week. And then… God, stop. It hurts!

“I see that you’ve maintained an erection since the injury,” the doc says, gesturing to the tent in my gown.

“Oh, that’s a new one,” Leah says smugly. “He can’t help himself when I’m around.”

I send the fiercest look I own in her direction, but she only smiles and waves at me.

“Did you hear any kind of popping or cracking noise when the injury occurred?” the doctor asks.

“Uh, no, not that I recall.” I swallow hard. Penises can crack and pop? That’s information I’d rather not have.

“Any bleeding or other discharge?”

I want to ask if precum counts, but I have a feeling that’s not what he’s after. “No.”

“Let me take a look,” the doctor says.

Before I can tell him she’s not my girlfriend and shouldn’t be in here, he’s raising my gown to reveal my hard cock, which sports a huge black bruise smack in the middle of it.

The sight of that bruise makes me lightheaded, and for a second, I fear I might pass out. And then he touches it, and I’m lights out.

 

Leah

Holy shit, he’s fucking huge. And by huge, I mean e-nor-mous. Easily nine inches. Maybe ten and thick, too. Dear God. I stare at his badly bruised penis and try not to drool at the thought of the things I’d like to do with that monster cock. Am I drooling?

And then the doctor touches the injured area, and Emmett passes out.

I rush to his bedside, and before I can question the wisdom of what I’m doing or why, I’m caressing his face and hair and pleading with him to wake up.

His eyes open, and he looks up at me in confusion for a second before confusion turns to anger or maybe desire. I can’t tell yet. The anger intimidates me, but the desire has me staying close, continuing to stroke his face and hair as the doctor messes with his cock.

“The good news is,” the doctor says, “I don’t think it’s broken and shouldn’t require surgery.”

Whoa… Surgery? Holy shit.

Emmett gives me a wild look that indicates his feelings about penis surgery.

“If that’s the good news, what’s the bad news?” Emmett asks.

“We’re going to need blood work and a urinalysis to start with. Then we’ll run a few other tests to make sure you don’t have a fracture, including what’s called a cavernosography.”

I wince and rest my hand on his shoulder. Whatever that is sounds horrible.

“Wh-what the hell is that?”

“We inject a dye solution into the glans so we can check to see if there are tears.”

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Emmett says.

The doctor quickly hands him a pink plastic bowl thing that’s shaped like a lima bean. “We numb you up first so it’s one quick pinch and then you shouldn’t feel a thing. Trust me, you want us to be thorough here so you don’t lose any functionality.”

I nod in agreement. After learning the want runs both ways between us, loss of functionality at this critical juncture in our relationship would be tragic indeed. Does that make me a selfish cow? Call me what you will. If you’d seen that huge, beautiful penis fully erect because of you, you’d want to do all you could to protect its health, too.

But poor Emmett is a mess.

“You should definitely be thorough,” I say to the doctor.

That earns me another filthy look from the object of my desire.

“What?” I ask him. “Do you want permanent damage?”

“I’ll have the nurse come back to prep you. We’ll get you in and out, and if everything looks good, we’ll send you home with antibiotics just to be safe.”

“What if…” The words die on his lips. He swallows and breaks into a sweat. “What if it doesn’t look good?”

“We’ll perform surgery to sew up any tears.”

The word “tears” leaches all remaining color from his face. Even his lips are white.

“Based on my initial examination, I don’t think surgery will be necessary in this case, but this is one of those better-safe-than-sorry situations. Try not to worry.” He pats Emmett’s arm. “I’ll see you in the radiology suite.”

“I think I might be having a heart attack,” he says when we’re alone, his hand flat against his chest.

“You’re not having a heart attack.”

“You heard what he said! They’re going to put needles, multiple needles, in my dick!”

“He said it’ll be a quick pinch and then you won’t feel anything.”

“It’s a needle. In my dick.

It takes everything I have not to laugh at this unhinged version of Emmett, who is normally the picture of cool composure. But because he’s truly freaked out, and with good reason, I don’t laugh. Rather, I put my arms around him to the best of my ability with the bed in the way. “Breathe,” I tell him. “Just breathe.”

I’m startled when he leans into me and takes a deep breath, seeming to relax somewhat. Being the shameless opportunist that I am, I take full advantage, running my fingers through his hair in an attempt to soothe him. I’ve wanted to touch his hair since the day I met him, and as the silky strands slide through my fingers, I decide it was well worth the wait.

As he leans against me—the closest I’ve ever been to him—I discover to my surprise that I’m not thinking about licking or nine-inch penises or anything other than calming him and offering comfort. In those charged minutes, the obsession I’ve nursed for him morphs into something far more significant.

I don’t just want to fuck him. I actually care about him.

Huh. When did that happen?

“You don’t have to stick around,” he mutters some time later.

I’m so busy stroking his hair that I nearly don’t hear his softly spoken words. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“I’m sorry if I was a jerk to you earlier. It wasn’t your fault. Exactly.”

“That sounds like a backhanded apology to me,” I say, amused.

“The tongue thing was one hundred percent your fault. My reaction to it and Connor’s foot weren’t your fault.”

“Always the attorney.”

“You can break my penis, but you can’t take away my law degree.”

The humor is reassuring. Seeing him unglued was unsettling. I realize that I count on him to be rational while I’m losing my mind over him. “I like you, Emmett.”

“I’ve noticed that, Leah.”

“Is there any chance you might, you know, like me, too?”

“I believe the fact that we’re currently in the emergency room with my possibly broken penis is proof that there’s a chance I might like you, too,” he says with a deep sigh.

“Why do you not sound happy about it?”

“Other than you being ten years younger than me and a coworker?”

“Yeah, other than that.”

Before he can reply, a nurse comes bustling in with a tray of tools that have him shrinking into himself. I have no choice but to release him, but I really don’t want to.

 

Emmett

The next two hours are like something out of a horror movie, beginning with the nurse who comes to collect the required urine specimen, otherwise known as peeing through razor blades. She says the pain is due to swelling—and not the good kind. I nearly faint from the effort it takes to stand and give her enough pee to test for blood. I take it as a good sign that I don’t see anything sinister in the output, but she says we won’t know for sure until the lab analyzes it.

She’s a buzzkill.

Turns out, peeing was the fun part of an evening that went downhill fast when I was taken to a freezing-cold room full of equipment, put on a table and told to spread my legs while they went to work on my poor dick.

The “pinch” to numb it up will go down in my personal history as the worst thirty seconds of my life. I’m not even ashamed that I scream and cry like a baby, which is saying something because I never scream or cry like a baby. But then again, I’ve never had a needle in the dick before, which is fucking hell on earth.

As I wait for the promised numbness to set in, I begin to bargain with God, who I haven’t spoken with in a while. I tell him if he gets me and my cock through this with no permanent damage, I’ll be forever thankful. I’ll even be nice to Leah, who has been exceptionally nice to me during this ordeal.

In a blissful state of penile numbness, I stare up at the ceiling and try very hard to not pay any attention to what’s happening below. Our conversation from before runs through my mind.

Why do you not sound happy about it?

Other than you being ten years younger than me and a coworker?

Yeah, other than that.

I didn’t get the chance to answer the question before the nurse showed up demanding pee, but if I had gotten the chance, what would I have said? I don’t know. Am I happy about the fact that I want her? No, not at all. Would I not want her if I had my druthers? Absolutely. She’s trouble with a capital T in more ways than one. It’s not just the fact that we work together or that I’m older than her. There’s a recklessness about her that flies in the face of everything I believe in as a professional, an attorney and an adult. I don’t do reckless.

I’m all about control, especially in my dealings with women.

I can’t for the life of me imagine Leah allowing me or any man to control her. It’s just not how’s she wired. From what I’ve observed in the months since she came to work for us, she’s a free spirit who writes her own rules as she goes along, which makes her my polar opposite.

If we weren’t work colleagues, I might consider a one-night stand to scratch the itch. I’d even entertain a vanilla encounter for the first time in years, just to swat at the fly of attraction buzzing around us. But even one night with her has complicated written all over it, not the least of which is because of who she is to Natalie, Flynn and Marlowe. I value my relationships with each of them too much to risk fucking them up by fucking her.

So, I shall keep my numb, battered cock in my pants when Leah is nearby, even as the fly continues to buzz around my head with its incessant made-up legal questions, perky tits and big blue eyes that look at me like I’m the last man on earth after the apocalypse. I experience a moment of amusement when I think of the litany of legal issues she has presented to me. She’s nothing if not persistent.

Which presents a secondary problem. What if she doesn’t get the hint to back off and continues to make a spectacle of herself—and me by extension—around our colleagues, who are also my closest friends? I release a deep sigh when it becomes clear to me that I made a huge mistake earlier by admitting I’m attracted to her. Blame it on the vulnerability that comes with staring down needles in the cock. That’s the only possible excuse for dropping my game face when it comes to her.

But I did like the way her fingers felt in my hair and the cushion of her breasts under my head…

“You’re all set, Mr. Burke,” the chipper urologist says. Of course he’s chipper. No one is sticking needles in his dick.

“Is it broken?”

“We’ll have to wait for the radiologist to read the films before we know for sure if surgery is required. We should know more within the hour.”

The medical personnel help me up off the table, get me into a wheelchair and roll me back to the cubicle where Leah is waiting for me. She jumps up when she sees me coming and rushes to help get me settled back on the bed, pulling a blanket over me without letting it drop on my injured groin.

I’m drained from the ordeal, but damned if my cock doesn’t give a happy—and painful lurch—at the sight of her sweet, concerned face.

I’m fucked in more ways than one.

 

Chapter 4

Leah

The news is good. No fracture, no blood in the urine. Emmett is given antibiotics to ward off any potential infection and strict orders to take it easy for a couple of days. No lifting or straining and no sexual activity until the pain subsides. That will put him back in business by Napa, which is excellent news for my game plan. I send a quick text to the others, who’ve been awaiting word, and am overwhelmed with responses expressing relief.

No one is more relieved than Emmett, who seems completely exhausted as we walk slowly out of the ER.

“Do you want me to get the car?” I point to where it’s parked.

“I can walk.”

His walk is more like a hobble.

I hold the passenger door for him until he’s settled and then go around to the driver’s side. Emmett doesn’t live far from me in Santa Monica, and don’t ask how I know that. I’ll never admit to having snooped in places I have no business snooping to find out where he lives. It’s the only time I’ve ever crossed the line at work in pursuit of my crush, and I live in mortal fear of someone finding out I did it.

“Where to?” I ask him in a breezy how-would-I-know-where-you-live tone.

He recites the address, and even though I know exactly where it is, I ask him to direct me anyway.

“It’s not far from your place.”

“Oh really?” God, I’m good. Maybe I should talk to Hayden about a role in one of Quantum’s upcoming films. I could play an industrious assistant to one of the top stars in Hollywood or something like that. I’m uniquely qualified to play that part.

“You say that like you don’t know exactly where I live.”

Drop the mic. Maybe I’m not as great of an actress as I think I am. “How would I know that?”

“The same way you know everything else about me. Have you got my social security number memorized?”

“No, because that would be creepy. I’m obsessed, not creepy.”

“What’s my birthday?”

“I don’t know.”

“Liar. You already admitted you want in my pants. Why start lying now?”

“I’m not lying.” Much. July eighteenth. “And P.S., I don’t want in your pants when your junk is busted.”

“My junk is down but not out. He’ll be back to fighting form in a few days.”

“Why would you be telling me that when I’m the last woman in the world you’d ever let your precious junk play with?”

“Not the last woman…”

“Okay, then second to last.”

“It’s complicated, Leah,” he says with another of those deep sighs I seem to draw from him on a regular basis. “I take my work and my friendships seriously. The Quantum partners don’t pay me to expose them to liability. They pay me to protect them from it.”

I force myself to keep my eyes on the road when all I want to do is look at him. “You think I’d be a liability?”

He snorts with laughter that makes me want to punch him in his busted junk. Not that I’d ever do anything to further injure the magnificence of his junk. Now that I’ve seen it up close and personal and witnessed vulnerable, injured Emmett, I only want him more than I did before, which is rather frightening.

“You, my dear, are the reason the word liability was invented.”

“That’s rather insulting,” I say, even as I glow from being called his dear. I want to be his dear and everything else, and after tonight, I’m more determined than I’ve ever been to make something happen between us. Although, after seeing the magnificence of his junk, which is magnificent even when wounded, and realizing I actually care about him, one night won’t be enough. That’s a scary thought for someone who considers herself far too young to be entertaining any sort of significance with a man.

“Whatever,” he says with amused disdain. “What’s it going to take to convince you that this would never work?”

“A chance to prove otherwise.” I tighten my grip on the wheel, needing to hold on to something as I take a face-first plunge into the truth.

“Sweetheart, you’re a nice girl.”

“Woman. I’m actually a grown-ass woman.”

“You’re a sweet, sexy, adorable grown-ass woman.”

My heart! The compliments! My rabbit and I will live off them for weeks. “You’re not exactly talking me out of wanting you by being nice to me.”

“I’m not the right guy for you. Somewhere out there is a guy who will celebrate all the ways you’re amazing. I’m not that guy.”

“As a grown-ass woman, do I get any say in deciding what kind of man I want?”

“Of course you do, but—”

“Good. I want you.”

“You don’t even know me.”

“I know enough.”

No, you don’t.” He directs me into a parking garage at the deluxe condo building where he lives and points to his spot.

I park the car and press the button to turn off the engine, but I don’t move to get out of the car and neither does he. “What else do I need to know?”

“A lot.”

“I might be younger than you, but I’m not a child or an inexperienced virgin or someone who needs to be protected. As previously mentioned, I’m a grown-ass woman fully capable of deciding for herself who she wants to be with.”

“Why me?”

I take a minute to form my reply because it’s quite possible that nothing I’ve ever said is more important than this. Still staring straight ahead at the drab concrete wall of the parking garage, I take a second to gather my thoughts. “From the first time I saw you at Flynn and Nat’s wedding, I was intrigued. After I talked to you my first day at Quantum, I wanted to know you. I wanted to know everything about you. I’ve never had that reaction to any man ever.” Mustering my courage, I venture a glance in his direction. “I look at you, and I want you. Have I tried to tell myself it’s not a good idea? Many times. Am I aware that I only seem to annoy you when I want to attract you? Absolutely.”

“I’m not always annoyed by you.”

How one sentence could generate such hope amazes and astounds me. “No?” My voice is squeaky and high, which is the last thing I want it to be when I’m trying to convince him I’m an actual adult.

“I believe I’ve proven otherwise on several occasions tonight.” Laughing softly, he shakes his head. “And by the way, I wish I were only ever annoyed by you.”

Now this is getting interesting. I turn in my seat to face him. “What else are you?”

“Attracted.”

“Are you on some sort of drugs that I didn’t see them give you? Is that where these confessions are coming from?”

He smiles, and it’s positively lethal. “The things I’d like to do with that fresh mouth of yours…”

“Like what?” If he doesn’t tell me, I’ll die right here on the spot. I’m already afraid I’m going to leave a wet spot on his plush leather seat.

“Use your imagination.”

“Oh, believe me, I do. I have a very vivid imagination where you’re concerned.”

His gorgeous eyes shift to my mouth and heat with obvious desire. Then he winces. “I can’t do this right now. My dick is sprained.”

Which means his dick is participating in this conversation. More hope. I’m so filled with hope, I could burst from it. “Let’s get you settled.”

“I can take it from here.”

“Don’t send me away, Emmett. Let me take care of you.”

“I don’t know if I can handle your kind of caretaking right now.”

“I’ll be on my very best behavior. I promise.”

“Fine,” he says, sounding defeated and worn down.

That’s okay. I can work with defeated and worn down, but only if I’m allowed into his home to tend to him while I try to convince him to give us a chance. That’s all I want—a chance to show him that we could be incredible together—short term, of course. But first we have to get him healed up. If I can convince him to give me that chance, we’re going to need his battered equipment in full working order.

Just the thought of what I saw in that hospital room is enough to nearly make me come. I’ve never been with a guy that big before, and I can’t wait to find out if size truly matters. As he limps toward the elevator, I remind myself that promises have been made and best behavior is required. “What floor?” I ask, even though I know.

He rolls his eyes. I love that he’s so totally on to me. “Four.”

I press the button and then stick to my own side of the elevator car so there’s no chance I’ll trip or crash into him or do anything to make his situation worse. I only want to make it better. All better. I’d even be willing to kiss it better, if that would help. I’m nothing if not a giver that way. I swallow hard to keep the drool in my mouth from spilling over and running down my chin.

When we arrive on the fourth floor, I follow him as he moves gingerly down the hallway to the unit at the far end on the ocean side. Of course, I know which one is his. It’s the one with the teak deck furniture and the tan-and-red-striped pads. Stylish but masculine, I’d thought the first time I checked out his place from the street below when I knew he was at an off-site meeting with Hayden. And now I’m about to be a guest in his home. It’s all I can do to contain the giddy joy that wants to spring forth like a hyena on helium.

Decorum, Leah. You told him you’re a grown-ass adult, so now act like one.

“Home sweet home.” He unlocks the door to an awesome contemporary space that fully maximizes what must be a stunning daytime view of the Pacific and the Santa Monica Pier. “No snooping. You hear me?”

“I would never do that.” I lie so bad.

“Whatever you say, pit bull.”

“Awww, you’re giving me cute little nicknames. Does that mean we’re a couple?”

“It absolutely does not mean we’re a couple, and being compared to a pit bull shouldn’t please you.”

“Why not? They’re known for being tenacious, tough, scrappy and determined. I can live with that comparison.”

He groans. “You drive me insane.”

Choosing to ignore that, I decide if I’m going to drive him crazy, I may as well go all in. “Since we’re talking about nicknames, I’ve given significant thought to what our couple name should be. Em-ah is kind of girly sounding for a brawny guy like you, so I prefer Lemmett.”

The positively feral look he gives me makes me want to howl with laughter. I have no idea how I manage to hold it in.

“We are not a couple, and if you ever call me any of those names, I’ll get a restraining order.”

I shiver dramatically. “It makes me so hot when you get all lawyerly. Your big brain is almost as hot as your big—”

Leah! Is this you on your best behavior?”

“I was going to say biceps. What were you thinking?”

“I’m thinking I need to go to bed before I either give in to the urge to spank your ass or keel over and further injure myself.”

Two references to spanking in the same night? Shut. The. Front. Door. Where do I sign up for that? Suppressing an urgent need to pant like a dog in heat, I say, “Lead the way. I’ll help you get settled and crash on the couch.”

“If you insist on staying, you’re sleeping right next to me, so I can keep an eye on you. I don’t trust you not to snoop.”

“Oh bummer. We have to sleep together? God, that sucks.” Even with a trip to the ER thrown into the mix, I’ve never had a better time in my life with any guy than I’m having as I needle him. I would tell him that, but I suspect he’s still sensitive to the word needle after this evening’s events.

“It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Whatever you say, stud.” I follow him into his bedroom, which also faces the pier and ocean. I can’t wait to see the view in the morning—and not just outside. I’m going to get to see Emmett in bed, in the morning… The endorphins surging through me make me lightheaded.

While he’s in the bathroom, I take a seat on his massive king-sized bed. My phone buzzes with a text from Nat. Where are you?

Taking care of my patient. Taking very GOOD care of him.

OMG, are you at his place?

Maybe…

Shriek!

Shhhh, you’ll wake up Flynn.

I love this so hard.

I want to love him so hard. Speaking of hard, I got a good look at the equipment in the ER. Oh. My. God. I add the fire emoji in case I haven’t adequately made my point.

Go easy on the poor guy. He’s injured.

I know. No fun for a few days. Sad face emoji. That should be enough time to fully infiltrate his life.

LOL. I almost feel sorry for poor Emmett.

Poor Emmett will be giving thanks to Saint Leah before much longer.

I can’t believe you kept this from me for all this time.

It’s been weird. Technically, I work for your husband.

That does NOT make you more loyal to him than you are to me.

Have I mentioned that I love her so much? Yes, ma’am.

A groan from inside the bathroom has me rushing to the door. “Are you okay?”

“Trying to pee, and it fucking kills.”

“Do you need my help?” I ask, always the opportunist.

“No, I do not need your help with peeing.”

I cover my mouth so I won’t laugh out loud. I don’t think it’s funny that he’s hurting, but everything else about this situation cracks me up. Not that I can ever let him see that. Because I’m leaning against the bathroom door, I nearly fall into him when he suddenly opens the door. Thankfully, I stop my trajectory before I collide with his injured parts.

He gives me that feral look I’m coming to expect. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Waiting to see if you need anything.”

“I don’t.”

“Great. Do you mind if I use the facilities?”

“No, I don’t mind, but don’t go through my drawers or medicine cabinet.”

“Why? What’re you afraid I might find?”

“Go to the bathroom, Leah, and don’t touch anything but the toilet and the sink.”

“Jeez, so suspicious. I bet there’s something good to find, like lube.”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Yes, I actually would like to know.”

“I’m going to bed now.”

“I’ll be right in, dear. Don’t start without me.” I shut the door in his face, gratified by his hesitant expression that tells me he absolutely does not trust me to be alone in his bathroom. Even though I’m on fire with curiosity, I stick to the areas I’m allowed to touch and only borrow a dab of toothpaste to finger-brush my teeth. I wish I had a change of clothes or something to sleep in besides the dress I put on over my bikini earlier, but I don’t dare ask him if I can borrow anything.

He’s already about to kick me to the curb. I suspect the only reason I’m still here is because it was more trouble to argue with me than it was to let me stay. I’m well aware of my tendency to be annoyingly difficult at times. My mother used to say that when I wanted something a certain way, there was no arguing with me.

God, I miss her. Why’d she have to die before I was done needing her?

Don’t think depressing thoughts when you’re standing in Emmett Burke’s bathroom about to share his bed! I fixate on the mirrored doors of the medicine cabinet. I could take one tiny little peek, couldn’t I? What’s the worst thing that could happen? I picture the door coming off its hinges and smashing to the vanity. With things going so well between us, the last thing I need is the seven years of bad luck that come with a broken mirror.

I resist the temptation, but God, it’s hard. That medicine cabinet calls to me like a lover, full of information that will add to what I already know about him.

“What’re you doing in there?” he calls. “Get out of my medicine cabinet!”

I emerge from the bathroom, full of indignation, leaving a light on so I can find my way in the dark. “I’m not in your medicine cabinet, you paranoid freak.”

“Right,” he says, grunting out a laugh. “I’m totally paranoid to think you might be snooping into my life.”

“Yes, you are. And you’re rather full of yourself, too. I said I want to fuck you, not get a PhD in Emmett Burke.” So what if I want both. He doesn’t need to know that.

“Don’t talk about fucking when I’m injured.”

“Why? Does it give you a little stiffy? Or should I say a big stiffy?”

“Will you please get in bed, shut your mouth and go to sleep?”

“And here I thought you might ask me to kiss it better. I’m so disappointed.”

“I’m going to suffocate you in your sleep. Maybe that’ll shut you up.”

I slide into the other side of the big bed and turn to face him. “You won’t suffocate me. You’ll be too busy dreaming about me kissing it better. Did I ever tell you I learned how to deep throat in high school?”

Groaning, he rests a hand over his crotch and closes his eyes. “I’m begging you to stop talking.”

As if he hadn’t spoken, I say, “I’m not sure I could do it with that thing of yours. It’s rather formidable. But, mmm, I’d sure like to try.”

“There must be something around here I could use to gag you.”

I laugh at the way he says that. He’s so sexy, even when he’s annoyed. Maybe especially when he’s annoyed, since he’s annoyed most of the time when I’m around. “You’d love that, wouldn’t you?”

“You have no idea.”

I scoot across the wide expanse of bed until I’m right next to him.

His entire body tightens with tension. “What’re you doing?”

“I can’t make sure you’re okay from all the way over there, and that’s why I’m here. What if you need something during the night and I can’t hear you, because I’m all the way over there?”

“Letting you into my house was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.”

“Duh. You’re just figuring that out?” I reach out to stroke his hair, and he startles from my touch. “Don’t be jumpy. Relax.” I brush my hand over his eyes, hoping he’ll close them. “Get some rest. You’ll feel better in the morning.”

“Go back over there where I can’t smell you.”

“Why? Do I stink?” I sniff my pits, but don’t smell anything foul.

“No, you don’t stink, and that’s the problem.”

Awareness dawns on me slowly, and a smile stretches across my face. “Oh, so you think I smell good?”

“Go away, Leah.”

“I’m kinda comfy right here.” I plump up a pillow and make myself at home right next to him, his body heat making me tingly in all the right places. I bet he throws off some major heat when he’s worked up. “I’m sorry you got hurt,” I tell him, and I am. I really am. But damn if this day didn’t turn out rather spectacularly well. I’m in Emmett’s bed, sleeping next to him. If only his penis wasn’t injured. Oh the places we could go!

“Thank you for…”

I wait breathlessly to hear what he’ll say.

“Taking me to the hospital and sticking around.”

“It’s my pleasure.” I can’t help myself. He’s close enough to lick. So I raise myself up and lean in to kiss his shoulder, dabbing just a little touch of tongue in there for good measure.

I’ve now officially licked Emmett Burke. A very good day indeed.

 

Chapter 5

Emmett

I’m dying over here. I’ve been excruciatingly hard since she uttered the words “deep throat.” And what the hell was she doing learning such a thing in high school? I desperately want to ask, but I’m even more desperately afraid of encouraging her. Hmm, maybe you should’ve thought about that before you invited her into your bed?

I want to tell my subconscious to shut the fuck up, even if it’s right. What the hell was I thinking bringing her up here? She’s outrageous, completely uninhibited and funny. She’s funny as hell and endlessly entertaining. When she’s not annoying the fuck out of me.

Then she kisses my shoulder and is that… I bite back a groan at the feel of her tongue against my skin, which travels like an electrical current connected directly to my poor, abused cock. He can’t take much more of this day.

I sleep fitfully, aware of her beside me the entire night, especially since she mumbles nonsense in her sleep, which is kind of cute. Everything about her is kind of cute, if I’m being honest with myself—and I try to always be honest with myself because what’s the point of lying to yourself? She’s cute, sexy and annoying as all hell. And funny. Don’t forget that. She might be the funniest person I’ve ever met. When she’s not annoying me, that is. My thoughts go round and round in this endless circle that has Leah in all her annoying sexiness squarely in the middle of it.

As dawn brings the first dim light, I find myself watching her sleep and marveling at how sweet and innocent she looks. There’s no comparison between sleeping Leah and awake Leah, and watching her lips move as she talks in her sleep touches something inside me that had been resistant to her.

I still have all the same reservations. She’s too young for me. She’s a coworker. She’s a troublemaker. But there’s something about her that gets to me, even if I want to resist her. It’s her persistence as much as her straightforward honesty. If she wants something—in this case, me—she puts it right out there. Despite her relative youth, she doesn’t play the games that other women seem to revel in, and there’s something so damned refreshing about that even as she drives me mad.

I begin to resign myself to whatever it is she thinks is happening between us.

While I work for all the Quantum partners, I answer to Kristian, the managing partner. If I want to date her, all I’d have to do, per the fraternization policy I drew up, is request his permission. She would have to ask Marlowe.

Neither of them would deny the requests. I’m quite certain of that, but I hesitate nonetheless. I’ve made a habit out of avoiding messy entanglements, especially those that might impact the career I’ve busted my ass to have. I’ve never once allowed anything to threaten my professional standing at Quantum, and getting involved with her would pose a threat.

People at work would know about it.

Our office is too small and too tightly knit for secrets, and besides, I have no illusions that Leah would keep it to herself. That’s not how she’s wired. Her expressive face gives away her every thought and emotion. For example, I’ve known for months that she’d set her sights on me, and everyone else has probably figured it out, too.

The little pain in the ass.

I’d love to get her in a playroom, bend her over a spanking bench and show her what happens to girls who play with fire. The thought of her sweet supple ass and the things I could do to it float through my mind like the most erotic movie I’ve ever seen. My cock rises from the ashes of disaster, painfully coming to life to express its approval of the erotic movie playing in my brain. While the rest of me has been slower to catch on, my cock loves Leah and has for some time now.

If she’s in the room, I’m hard. It’s that simple and that frustrating. A staff meeting is now something to be endured in stiff arousal rather than the professional interaction it used to be before she showed up. Cookouts at Flynn’s, parties at Hayden’s, nights out on the town with my friends—everything now includes her and my hard cock.

Maybe if I have a go with her, I could work the madness out of my system. Perhaps once she gets a taste of how demanding I am in bed, she won’t want anything more to do with me. A woman like Leah won’t want to be dominated. She’s the least submissive human being I’ve ever met. If she finds out that’s what turns me on, I might solve my Leah problem.

The more I roll this idea around in my mind, the more I like it. And my cock wholeheartedly approves as well. In fact, he’s a little too enthusiastic in light of our ordeal last night. I grit my teeth and get up to use the bathroom. If there’s any good news, peeing hurts a little less than it did last night.

In nine years as chief counsel to Quantum Productions, I’ve never once taken a sick day, but there’s no way I can jam my bruised junk into suit pants for the next eight to ten hours. The thought of it hurts, and I won’t go to the office in sweats. That’s so not my style.

I text Kristian. Going to work from home today if that’s okay. And I need to talk to you about a personal matter when you get a chance.

He responds immediately. No problem. How are you and your boys feeling? I’ll call you after I drop the kids at school.

I marvel at how Kristian, one of the most confirmed bachelors I’ve ever met, has adapted so completely to family life since he moved into a new house in Calabasas with Aileen and her kids over the summer. Me and my boys have been better. Talk to you then.

Kristian replies with the grimace emoji. That about sums it up.

I brush my teeth, return to the bedroom and get back in bed to wait for Leah to wake up. While I wait, I plot my strategy. The more I think about this idea, the more I love it. She won’t know what hit her when she takes a spin with me. I’ll go easy on her, of course, because I’d never want to scare or traumatize her in any way, and there’s no way I’m having the “hey, I’m actually a sexual dominant” conversation with her if we’re only going to be a one-night thing. I can give her a taste of what I’m about without revealing the entire menu.

One night. That’s all it will be. Just enough to silence the fly buzzing around my ear and quell her interest in me, which would be better for both of us in the long run.

I let my mind wander to how I would use that one night. I’d ask her if she has any hard limits, anything she can’t or won’t do, and I’d make her choose a safe word so she can stop everything if she needs to. And then I’d have my wicked way with her.

I’d start with a spanking because she seemed to like the idea of it when I joked about it—and she needs to know from the get-go who and what she’s dealing with. I would be in charge. She would be along for the ride. The thought of dominating her has all the blood in my body heading for the southern hemisphere once again.

The good news is the erection doesn’t hurt quite as badly as it did last night. It still hurts enough for me to wish I could control the beast, but my mind and body are not collaborating at the moment. My mind is having a freaking field day imagining Leah at my disposal, which isn’t very supportive of the injured soldier below who’s beholden to the whims of my imagination. And my imagination is fertile when it comes to her. I’d fuck the living sass right out of her.

“Is that for me, or is this a private party?”

Her sexy, husky voice gives me goose bumps. That’s what she sounds like in the morning? I glance at her to find her gaze firmly fixed on my hard cock, which is plainly visible through the blanket.

“I’ll give you one night.”

She rolls her full bottom lip between her teeth.

“But I have conditions.”

“What conditions?”

“We do it my way or not at all. I’m in charge. And you don’t tell anyone. It’ll happen once, and that’ll be the end of this little fixation you have on me. We’re never going to be a couple or live happily ever after. We’re going to fuck and be done with it.”

She licks her lip, and my dick gets harder imagining her practicing her deep-throat skills on me. Damn me to hell, but I want to see if she can really do it.

“Do we have a deal?”

“When will this single night transpire?”

“Next weekend.”

“That’ll be during the wedding. If you don’t want anyone to know, that might not be the time to do it with everyone we know underfoot.”

“Let me worry about logistics and everything else. Your job will be to do exactly what you’re told.”

“What’s with the bossy shit?”

“It’s how I like it.”

“So you’re…”

“Dominant in bed? Yep.” Um, remember five seconds ago when you weren’t going to tell her that?

She swallows. Hard. Her eyes go wide, her lips part, and goddamn, I want to devour her.

“You got a problem with that?”

“N-no, no problem.”

“And you agree to tell no one about this?”

“Not even Marlowe? I thought I had to clear it with my supervisor.”

“It’s only going to happen once, so there’s no need to discuss it with her. It’ll be over before it begins.”

She does this cute thing with her mouth with her lips curled to the side, as if she’s thinking it through and trying to decide.

“Do we have a deal?”

“I’m not sure about the dominance thing. Will I know ahead of time what’s going to happen?”

“We’ll fully discuss it as we go. That’s how it works. And you’ll need a safe word that you can use to stop everything at any time. That is nonnegotiable.”

She takes a deep breath and releases it slowly. “I had no idea that you were…”

“Kinky? There’re a lot of things you’ll never know about me. You want to have sex. We’ll have sex, and then we’ll move on.”

“And it won’t be weird when we’re hanging with our mutual friends?”

“I can be an adult about it. Can you?”

“Of course I can.” Her eyes flash with indignation that’s so fucking adorable—and arousing.

“Then we shouldn’t have a problem.”

“What if, after we do this, you want more than one night?” she asks.

“I won’t.”

“But what if you do?”

“I’m offering one night, Leah. That’s all I’ve got to give.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you only have one night to give? Why can’t it be more?”

Lying on my bed with her hands under her face, she looks so sweet and young and innocent. I feel oddly protective toward her. I want to protect her from things that can hurt her, including me. “It’s not what I want.”

“At all or it’s not what you want with me?”

“I don’t want it in general. I’m not like my friends. I didn’t get the family-man gene. I like being free to do what I want when I want. It works for me.”

“What about love? Don’t you want to love someone and be loved in return?”

“I loved my grandmother, and she loved me. I love my friends. They love me. I’m good.”

“I never knew you were so cynical.”

“I’m not cynical.”

“Yes, you are. Don’t you want what Flynn has with Natalie, what Hayden has with Addie, what Jasper has with Ellie, what Kristian has—”

I stop her with a finger to her lips. “No, I don’t want what they have. I’ve never wanted that. When I tell you I’m not capable of being what you want, I need you to believe me. I’ll never deny that I find you sexy and the thought of fucking you is extremely arousing. But that’s all it’ll ever be between us, Leah. And if you can’t accept that, say no to my offer. Don’t go into it thinking you’re going to change me or change my mind. When I tell you who I am, listen to me.”

“I need to think about it.”

I have to be honest. I didn’t expect her to say that. Based on the vibes she’s been putting out and the things she’s said to me, I expected her to jump at my offer of one night. “No problem. Let me know when you decide.” I check my watch. “Don’t you have to get going to work?”

“I told Marlowe I was taking the day off to take care of you.”

“When did you tell her that?”

“Last night. She said I should totally do that and there’s no need to take a vacation day. My job today is taking care of you.”

“I don’t need anyone to take care of me.”

“So you said, but it seems you’re stuck with me anyway.” She gets up and stretches, the short dress rising to reveal sexy ass cheeks. I swear she puts some extra writhe into her stretch because she knows I’m watching her. “I’m going to run home to shower and change. I’ll bring back breakfast. You want coffee?”

Resigned to my fate, I say, “Yeah. With cream and—”

“Two sugars,” she says, winking as she heads for the door. “I know.”

I hope I get the chance to fuck the brattiness right out of her.

 

Leah

I take the elevator from Emmett’s apartment to the lobby, where it occurs to me that I don’t have a way back into the building. If I leave, will he let me back in? I text him to ask that question—and no, he didn’t give me his number. I acquired it. Don’t ask how.

It’s Leah. Will you let me back in if I leave?

After a full minute passes, I see that he’s responding. Yeah. Buzz 4D on the keypad outside.

He doesn’t ask how I got his number. If he asks, I’ll say Addie told me the assistants are encouraged to have the personal cell number of every member of the Quantum team, since we never know what might be needed by those we serve.

I smile to myself. I’m good at this. But then I remember his offer of one night, his revelation that he’s dominant in bed, and that we—he and I—will never be more than one night. I’m a mixed-up mess of thoughts and emotions where he is concerned. Yes, I have a massive crush on him and the thought of one minute with him does it for me, so the idea of an entire night in which to gorge on him… I wanted to say hell, yes to that. Yes, yes, yes!

So what’s stopping me from jumping on that monster cock and taking it for the ride of my life? I can’t say it. Even to myself. If I say it, then I’ll have to own it and I can’t. I just can’t want more with him. But I do. There. I said it. I don’t just want him. I like him. I like him a lot, and I’m not sure I can do just one night without wanting more.

As much as I want that one night—and oh my God, do I want it—I don’t want to be devastated afterward, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I will be. Who would willingly subject themselves to that? And the worst part is I’m not allowed to talk to anyone about it. I have to make this decision for myself without consulting with Natalie or Addie or Aileen, the women who’ve become my closest friends since I moved to LA. Hell, who am I kidding? They’re the closest friends I’ve ever had, and the only ones I’d consider discussing something like this with.

It doesn’t occur to me to go against his wishes and reach out to Nat, because I want him to think of me as an adult, not a little girl who runs to her friend—the same friend who happens to be married to one of his bosses. I trust Nat with my life, but I refrain from calling her because he told me not to.

Rock meet hard place. Speaking of hard places… He’d been hugely hard this morning, and I can’t help but think that was for me since he proposed his one-and-done offer shortly after I woke up. Which meant he’d been thinking about me that way, and the thought of me makes him hard. I can work with that.

I walk the short distance to my place, and when I get there, I go immediately to my bedside table, where I retrieve Roger Rabbit. I have so much to tell him since we last met. I spent the night with Emmett, I saw his hard cock, he offered me a one-night stand. The orgasm is quick and cataclysmic. I come harder than I ever have in my entire life. For minutes afterward, I lie panting on my bed, staring up at the ceiling. If the possibility of him can make me come like that, what might the reality of him do for me?

Even the likelihood of utter devastation can’t drown out the desire to experience the reality, to have that one night with him. If that’s all he’s offering, wouldn’t that be better than nothing?

No. It would not be better!

The aftershocks of the epic orgasm say otherwise. I squirm at the thought of that big cock and what he would do to me. He’s hinted at spanking. What else might he do? I probably ought to know that before I decide anything. I’m so worked up thinking about what might happen with Emmett that I have another go with Roger. The second orgasm is bigger than the first, if that’s possible. I come so hard, I think I black out for a second. I’m tempted to spend the day with Roger, but Emmett is waiting for me, so I take Roger in the shower, give us both a good scrubbing, change my clothes and pack a bag, just in case Emmett needs me to stay over tonight, too.

A girl can never be too prepared, and as a hot-shot Hollywood assistant, being prepared is my groove. I toss in an outfit for work tomorrow and since Addie dropped off my car for me last night, I text Emmett to ask if I can bring my car over there. He responds with the garage code and tells me to park next to him.

If you use that code without my permission, I’ll spank you until you can’t sit down for a week.

Don’t be paranoid.

What possible reason would I have to be paranoid where you’re concerned?

Very good question.

Hurry up, I’m hungry and I need coffee.

Aw, is he grumpy in the morning before he has coffee? I add that detail to the list of things I know about him. That list grew exponentially since yesterday, which will go down in my personal history as one of the best days ever, even if it was a no good very bad day for him and his poor cock. Yes, sir. I’m coming.

I bite back a laugh at the thought of him receiving that last reply. I hope he gets the double meaning. I saw the movies. I know what I’m in for if I agree to be dominated by Emmett, and while kink has never appealed to me, he appeals to me like no guy ever has. So I’m willing to consider it with him, but it’s not something I’d go looking for with someone else.

I hit the coffee shop on my block, pick up coffee and breakfast sandwiches for both of us, and then drive to his building so I’ll have my car if something comes up that I need to do for Marlowe.

Back at his building, I punch in the code he gave me that I’ve already memorized—duh, of course I memorized it—and take the elevator to the fourth floor. I knock on his door and wait for him to let me in. And then he’s there, standing in the doorway, shirtless, hair standing on end, jaw covered in whiskers. With all those muscles on full display, he looks nothing at all like the well put together attorney I see every day at the office.

“You’re staring,” he says.

“You’re gorgeous.”

He steps aside to let me in. “Does every thought in your head come out of your mouth, or does it just seem that way?”

“Are you complaining that someone finds you gorgeous?” I put the tray of coffee and the bag of breakfast sandwiches on the bar that separates the kitchen and living area.

“Most people don’t blurt out things like that.”

Over my shoulder, I meet his gaze. “I’m not most people.”

“No kidding, really?”

Oh, the sarcasm. I love the sarcasm. “I don’t pull punches. If I think it, I say it. No one ever has to wonder, gee, what does Leah think of me, because Leah lets you know. Does that make you uncomfortable?”

“Nope.”

“Hmm, could’ve fooled me.” I hand him a coffee and push one of the wrapped sandwiches across the counter to him, like I’m feeding a starving tiger and am afraid he’ll pounce. Not that I’m “afraid” of him pouncing, per se… “Maybe you’ll sweeten up after you eat.”

His scowl is priceless—and strangely sexy.

My phone rings with a call from a number I don’t recognize. “This is Leah.”

“You called about a band for a wedding next weekend?”

“Yes, thanks for getting back to me. Which one are you?”

He gives me the name of the swing band that was referred by a friend of Addie’s. “We’re playing Friday and Sunday, and we don’t normally do three gigs in a weekend, but you said this is Hayden Roth’s wedding?”

“That’s right, and their band had a death in the family, which is why it’s so last-minute.” I’m going to hell for the lies I’ve told on Addie’s behalf.

“We’ll do it.”

“You will? Oh my God! Thank you so much. The bride and groom will be thrilled.”

“Where do we need to be and what time?”

“The wedding is at the Quantum vineyard in Napa. If you’ll send over your contract, I’ll arrange for transportation and lodging.”

We exchange email addresses, and I end the call with a fist pump and a gleeful squeal. “How do you feel about reviewing a band contract today?”

“Isn’t it kind of late in the game to be hiring a band?”

“Don’t ask. Just give thanks that we found someone.”

“They’ll need to sign an NDA, too,” he says.

“I told them that when I made the first call. I know the drill by now.” I place a call to Addie. “I have good news,” I tell her when she answers. “Timeless is in.”

“Oh, thank God.”

Her relief is so profound that I laugh. “Told you there was nothing to worry about.”

“Right. Nothing to worry about. One week before my wedding and I didn’t have a band. What the hell is wrong with me?”

“Nothing is wrong with you.”

“I’m not like this. I don’t forget important things.”

She sounds so undone that my heart goes out to her. “The only thing that truly matters next weekend is you and Hayden. Keep your focus there, and everything will be fine. I promise.”

“Thank you so much, Leah,” she says, sniffling. “You’re a great friend.”

I’m unreasonably complimented. “Tenley, Marlowe and Natalie are all set for dresses?”

“They decided to wear black cocktail length, which makes it easier than having to pick something they all agree on. And Hayden and I picked out gifts for the wedding party last night and put a rush on them.”

“See? Everything is fine. Just keep breathing.”

“I’m trying.”

“Where’s Hayden? Is he with you?”

“He had an early meeting at one of the studios, and I’m on my way to the office.”

“Be careful driving. We can’t let anything happen to the bride on her big week.”

“It’s really happening,” she says softly. “Sometimes I still can’t believe it. I’ve loved him for such a long time.”

Her sweet words bring tears to my eyes. “I think it’s safe to believe it’s going to happen. Call me later and let me know what else I can do.”

“I will. Thanks again, Leah.”

“Happy to help.” I end the call and text Natalie. Have you talked to Addie? She’s super emotional. Kinda worried…

While I wait to hear back from her, I take a sip of my coffee and glance at Emmett, who’s watching me intently. “What?” I swipe a napkin over my face in case there’s egg on it. Wouldn’t be the first time.

“You were very sweet to her.”

“You sound so surprised,” I say with a laugh. “I can be sweet when I want to be.”

“Good to know.”

“What does that mean?”

“Nothing other than it’s good to know you can be sweet when you want to be.”

I prop my chin on my upturned arm. “Why? Do you like it sweet?”

“Hardly,” he says, scoffing.

Oh, hello. “What does that mean?”

“Eat your breakfast and go to work. I’ve got stuff to do.”

“But things are just getting interesting here. Why would I want to leave?”

“Because I have work to do, and I assume you do, too.”

“I told Marlowe I was taking care of you today.”

“I’m bruised, not sick. I can take care of myself.”

“Why would you want to when I can do it for you?”

“Because,” he says, his voice dropping to a lower octave that makes my panties damp. “Being around you doesn’t help with my recovery. It hinders it.”

I slide off my stool and move around the counter to take a good long look at the tent pole in his sweats, taking perverse pleasure in knowing he’s so easily aroused around me.

“Quit your grinning,” he snaps. “And get the fuck out of here.”

“You know,” I say, licking my lips as I continue to stare, “it might be a good idea to see if everything still works the way it should. I mean, after that kind of injury, you can’t be too careful.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” he asks, sounding a bit… strangled.

“I could, you know, help you out with your… situation.” Marshaling all the courage I can find, I move behind him and place my hands on his shoulders, massaging the tension from his tight muscles. I keep waiting for him to shake me off, but he doesn’t. I can’t believe I’m actually touching and caressing him, and he’s allowing it. Emboldened, I lean forward and press my lips to his back, drawing a gasp from him that becomes a moan when I bite him gently.

Hearing him moan like that because of something I did makes me crazy.

“Leah…”

“Hmm?” I slide my hands around him and flatten my palms over the rippling muscles of his abdomen.

“I don’t think we ought to…”

I’m careful—very, very careful—when I slide my right hand into the waistband of his sweats and run my fingertips gently over his hard cock.

He hisses and lets his head fall back to rest on my shoulder. “Fucking hell,” he whispers.

“Does it hurt?”

Since I’m so close to him, I hear him swallow hard before he gives a small shake of his head.

“You want me to stop?”

“No,” he says through gritted teeth.

And victory is mine! I press my breasts to his back while I continue to drag my fingertips lightly over his steely length. Good God, he’s big and hard. My mouth waters at the thought of the one night he’s promised me. “Could I do this a different way?” I’m afraid of doing or saying anything that will take us out of this moment to remind him he wasn’t going to allow me to get close.

“What way?”

“This way.” I run my tongue over the outer shell of his ear, and his cock surges, getting even bigger and harder.

Did he just whimper? Knowing I’m getting to him makes me giddy.

“What do you say?”

He grabs the hand that’s stroking him, pulls it out of his pants and tugs me along behind him as we relocate to the sofa. Before he sits, I untie his sweats and watch as they slide down over his hips, hanging up on the rigid erection. I’m careful with him as I free his sweats to reveal his badly bruised appendage. Maybe this isn’t such a great idea.

“Emmett…”

“If you stop now, I’ll never forgive you.” His voice is hoarse and sexy, his instructions clear.

I grab a pillow off the sofa and drop to my knees in front of him, using the pillow as a cushion. After seeing the bruises, I’m almost afraid to touch him. The worst of it is about halfway down, so I focus my attention on the wide crown, dabbing my tongue into the tip.

He sucks in a sharp deep breath.

“Tell me if it hurts,” I whisper. “I don’t want to hurt you.” I run my tongue around in circles, going with gentle over seductive, or at least that’s the goal. Judging by the way he gets bigger and harder, the seduction is happening despite my intentions.

His fingers sink into my hair, grasping my skull in his grip.

I take more of him into my mouth. There’s a lot to work with between the top and the bruised area, so I take as much as I can until the tip bumps up against my throat. I flip my eyes up to gauge how he’s doing and find him watching me intently. Our gazes collide, and the feeling that whips through me is like a wildfire of need and want and something else altogether, something I’ve never experienced before. Not like this anyway.

Unnerved by it, I lower my gaze to focus on his rippling abs. I’ve never been with a guy who was in the kind of shape Emmett is in. Before him, washboard abs were something to be revered from afar. I pull back from his thick cock, stroking him with my tongue as I go, and shift my attention to those cut abs, making my licking fantasy a reality as I trace each muscle with the tip of my tongue while his cock pulses and leaks all over. I lick that up, too.

“Leah,” he gasps, tightening his grip on my hair. “Suck it.”

Hell yes, I’ll suck it. I give him what he wants—and what I want, too. I suck him hard and take him in as far as I can, controlling the urge to gag as my throat closes around the tip.

And then he’s coming, his entire body seizing from the powerful release.

I swallow every drop and then bring him back down with gentle strokes of my tongue.

When I venture a look at him, I find his eyes closed, his lips parted and his chest heaving from deep breaths.

“Well, it still works,” I announce when I can speak again.

This is very good news, indeed.

Copyright 2018. HTJB, Inc. All rights reserved.

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