Authors: Serena Akeroyd
Tags: #romance, #erotica, #chick lit, #menage, #international, #love triangle, #wealthy
Zane’s smile is wicked incarnate as he turns
to me and says in an exaggerated drawl, “Y’all might be from
Georgia, but I’m a Louisiana boy. Are there any places
hereabouts that do justice to a Po’boy?”
Amused, I wink up at him. As soon as I
make the gesture, I wonder what the hell is going on with me, but I
quickly reject the thought and tell him, “Yeah. I know just
Then lead me there,
He raises his arm for me
to rest my hand on his wrist and I comply, settling my palm on the
bony joint. The gesture’s so old fashioned that I feel swept
away into bygone days. But I’m no lady. I left behind
my family’s dictates: I swear and curse
sweat. The mortal sin of
southern belles. Tonight can be my charade and I’ll make the
most out of it.
He makes the move to set off, but I dig my
fingers into his wrist and say, “I’ll take you there on one
Okay. I lied.
Two conditions. Firstly, my mama is the ma’am in my
family. Just call me Mona, everyone else does.
Secondly, I’m buying.”
His grimace makes me
smile. “You’re making me go against the teachings of
mama, Mona. You
wouldn’t want me to get a slug around the ear next time I go home,
No. This is a
special occasion, though, so I’ll make the request. If
there’s a problem, I’ll give you my number. She can call me
if she takes exception.”
Well, that gives me an excuse to make sure
we don’t part without him having my contact details.
Score one for me!
Okay. Just this
once,” he mutters, his reluctance audible.
Man, you just
In the half-shadowed
garden, I can feel his eyes on me; even as we move away from the
direct light and toward the garden’s exit. Seconds later, we come
to a gradual halt and in the murky grimness beneath the verdant
glowing ‘Exit’ sign, I still can’t really see where he’s
looking. He could be staring at my boobs or deep into my
eyes. Either way, I don’t know, but I can feel his gaze on
A part of me realizes what’s going to happen
a second before it actually does. As I feel a slight gust of
air brush my lips, I suck in a breath as his mouth gently rubs my
The move is so subtle that I can’t help but
stand on tiptoe to edge a little closer to him. My height, as
insubstantial as it is, isn’t important because within a minute,
his arm is wrapped around my waist and I’m lifted up, raised
against him. My back brushes against the nearest wall and
it’s my turn to wrap myself around him. Clasping his neck
with my hands, I press my lips harder against his and drag my
tongue along the line of his mouth. When it opens, I
immediately accept his invitation and whimper as all control is
taken from my grasp and his tongue begins to twine around my
I’m too far gone to feel
embarrassed. I can feel the subtle pulse of my hips as I rock
against him and know that I’m mortifyingly close to cupping his
waist with my thighs, settling the notch of my sex against his
hopefully ridged one and rocking myself to an
I can’t breathe; he’s stolen all my
breath. Every single oxygen-drenched gulp of it. My
lungs are burning but I don’t give a damn. All I know is that
this is a kiss to end all kisses and if I die, it will have been
with a bang.
I didn’t die.
And as I sit opposite Zane
in the minute Matthesons’ Deli on 42
munching on a French-dipped, roast beef Po’boy, I know that
this is the appetizer for an upcoming event. Call me
bigheaded, but I can tell.
Or at least, I think I can.
The excitement pumping through my veins at
the prospect is indescribable.
This is definitely a top-of-the-world kind
I’m so relieved that I went to the club with
Marina and Eddie. I could so easily have refused, so easily
have stayed in. Instead, I met this hunk of a guy, who is
going to knock me off the celibacy path.
I could be wrong. He
could be on the brink of taking me home without an orgasm as a
thank you for a pretty decent sandwich. But I doubt it.
That kiss, that scorching, panty-wetter of a kiss was a
message. It said,
soon. Don’t worry. I’ll make good with my
And damn, I can’t wait for that moment.
I’m not even hungry. I don’t want to
eat. But I’m conserving my calories for the bout of exercise
I’m on the brink of undertaking.
I made sure there’s not even a whiff of raw
onion on my roast beef Po’boy and considering Zane did as well, I
know we’re both on the same page.
In the harsh, overhead lighting of the
rundown yet popular diner, beneath a scarred and scratched table,
my legs are slightly separated and one of his rests neatly between
Another message of intent.
I’m out of practice; hell, I never had all
that much in the first place, but I can’t be totally wrong
here? I can’t be misreading the signals, can I?
I hope to God I’m not and even though it’s
an inappropriate use, I run through the Lord’s Prayer, hoping that
divine intervention will get me laid tonight.
What are you thinking
My blush gives me away and his chuckle has
me blushing all the harder. His laugh is light and
carefree, and that’s something I can tell isn’t common for
him. He’s as brooding in the light as he is in the
darkness. He looks like a gangster. All hard muscles
and stubbled jaw with grim eyes that rarely light up… unless
they’re glancing over me. Then, a strange heat appears, and I
feel as though I can bask in the warmth they emit.
And I thought you were a
good southern girl.”
I’m not as good as I ought to be, but in comparison to my friends,
I am,” I admit with a wry grimace. “
good. It’s about time I
Then I’m one lucky
bastard,” he retorts with a twist to his own lips. “Good
girls always make the best bad girls.”
I’m not sure I get the
When you let go, you’ll
be dynamite. All that pent-up energy has to go
The surety in his voice has me
frowning. I’ve never been dynamite before! I can only hope I
will be now.
I hope I don’t
disappoint.” I totally fail at trying to be light-hearted. My
attempt at levity sinks to the ground like a sack of
I doubt it, honey.
I doubt it.” As he reaches for his coffee, the rolled up
sleeves of his shirt jerk up a little.
Spotting a symbol I’ve seen before, I ask,
“Were you a Marine?”
How did you know
Reaching over, I trail my finger over the
ink. It’s half-covered by his shirt, but still, I recognize
it. “It’s a long time since I’ve seen the symbol, but I’d
know it anywhere. My grandpa had the exact same ink.
Not that mother or grandmother approved of it. He always had
to wear shirts to cover it, but to me, it was proof he was a hero.”
Without knowing it, my top lip curls. “The only man
I’ve ever met who deserved the title.”
I flinch as his finger trails over my
snarled lip and my eyes flicker toward him. “Most people
aren’t appreciative of what a soldier does.”
That’s why you cover it
up?” I ask, my eyes tracing over the tattoo of the US Marine Corps
logo. An eagle proudly astride a globe, scored through the
center with a rope-entwined anchor. It isn’t colored, just
stark black and white. It suits him and I have the feeling
that there are similar tattoos all over his form.
Hardly the usual uniform of a southern gent,
but who said they can’t be modernized?
I don’t like to remember.”
Where did you
East. First, second
third tour of duty. That was a long while
The briskness of his answers gives me a clue
about that brooding quality of his. Memories can be a real
How many times did I watch my father slap my
mother for breaking some religious dictate he’d laid down?
How many times was I careful to watch my
words where my ex was concerned, so he’d never have the excuse to
do the same to me?
Vicious cycles… and sometimes there’s no
You finished?” he asks
me, his voice rough.
It sickens me that I’ve upset him and once
again, his hand comes up to tug at my lower lip.
Hey, no biting!” He
grins. The quick shift in his mood has my heart
seesawing. “That’s for me to do. Later on.”
The promise sets me alight
and I can’t deny I’m relieved. I hadn’t intended to broach a
mood-killer of a conversation topic. I’d just seen the tattoo
and been reminded of the only
man I’ve ever
It’s early days to say that this is a
potential candidate for that role.
But I have a good gut
feeling going on.
And God help me, but what a story to tell
our grandkids. That granddad saved grandma, when she nearly
broke her back in a nightclub. A unique first meeting, or
Eek! I shouldn’t be thinking so far ahead
and this is the main reason I’ve never partaken in one-night
stands. I sink too deeply, too quickly into thinking
something exists, where it doesn’t. Differentiating between
sex and feeling is nigh on impossible for me; another reason for my
celibate state. Not just my latent guilt over
That sounds like a
promise,” I murmur, trying to remember what we were talking about
and getting hot and bothered at the same time.
Might be because it’s
Just?” Pretending to be
put out, I pout.
Honest to God pucker up.
I’m not a pouter, have never been one
either. If anyone in my little trio of friends is likely to
pucker up, it’s Marina. She has that whole sulky, sultriness
that men go crazy for, down cold. But for me, that kind of
thing has never worked. I’m way too much the
girl-next-door. The girl that gets ignored, that gets
looked over and then finally, if she’s lucky, gets seen and snapped
up. In my experience that rarely happens.
So why, if I am the girl-next-door type, am
I have no idea. From
the glint in his eye, he likes this newly discovered side of
Just?” I repeat, waiting
to see how he’ll answer.
He grins at me, eyes sparkling and says,
“Well, the reason I managed to save you, was because I was studying
your butt all night. The minute it moved an inch, I did
As soon as those words escape his mouth,
relief fills me. Not one part of me wants to mess this up and
now, I know I can’t. He wants me like I want
This isn’t some coyote-ugly situation.
Ah, so you weren’t my
knight in shining armor,” I tease, tongue in cheek. “But a
The richness of his chuckle surprises even
him. I can tell. He looks almost shocked that he can be
amused. As though he can’t believe it’s possible for him to
Such engrained sorrow disturbs me. What made
him like that? The war? Life? I don’t know… I’d like to find
This man of few words has me on the edge of
my seat, wanting to know more.
I’m in dangerous territory, but who can
resist a brooding hunk?
I know I can’t.
Well, I wouldn’t class
myself as a stalker, honey. But you never know. I guess
it depends on how deep you hook your claws into me.”
Tapping my nails against
the scratched and scarred tabletop, I curl my fingers, lifting them
to my mouth and blow along my nails as though I’ve just painted
them. Then, proffering them to him, say, “I doubt they can do much
My nails are short. Practical.
And un-lacquered. Unlike Marina and Eddie who seem to change
the color of their nails every day of the week. I only bother
to paint my toes.
If I could ask why he’d been watching me,
why his eyes had been on me and not them, without sounding needy or
insecure, I would have. Instead, I keep quiet and stop myself
from messing up a good thing.
The more I see him in
unflattering or flattering light—either way works just fine for
Zane—the more attractive I realize he is. It’s also more
astounding that he’s settled for little old me, but in light of
this new information, he hasn’t
. I’ve been chosen by
And suddenly, my
self-esteem shoots up another ten notches. I hate the fact
that a guy has done that. Twenty-first century or not, a
woman should not be relying on a man to feel good. But
dammit, when a man looks this fine, how can I not be
Hell, how can I not gloat?!
Where are you staying?” I
ask, hoping he’ll make an invitation of his own.