Authors: Jess Dee
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520
Macon GA 31201
A Question of Trust
Copyright © 2008 by Jess Dee
Edited by Angela James
Cover by Scott Carpenter
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
electronic publication: September 2008
A Question of Trust
To D, who finds it impossible to think inside the box.
To Angie, for giving me this incredible opportunity.
“Dump him,” Connor Regan told her. “I’ll make you happy in ways you never thought possible.” He grinned as he said it, but his eyes held a gleam of something serious, something that gave Maddie gooseflesh.
She slapped him lightly on the arm. “You have got to be kidding me. There’s more chance of me scaling Everest in a bikini than dumping Gabe.” Maddie was having the best sex she’d had in years, possibly even in her whole life. Hell, just thinking about physical therapist, Gabriel Carter’s touch made her skin prickle with a lust she’d never experienced before.
She might not be crazy head-over-heels in love with Gabe—yet—but they were having a brilliant time together, and who knew where things might lead? No way could she consider calling an end to things now—especially not for Gabe’s best friend.
Connor’s appreciative gaze settled briefly on her breasts—breasts that had tightened with wanton desire at the thought of Gabe’s touch—before returning to her face. “You have to. It’s the only way to save my sanity. Do you have any idea how long I’ve waited to meet someone like you, the woman of my dreams?”
Maddie smiled, unable to take him seriously. She knew Gabe trusted Connor, he’d told her so. He trusted Connor with his life, so it stood to reason he trusted him with his woman as well. “No. Why not fill me in?”
With his looks and slim, athletic build, she doubted Connor’d waited more than a week at most. No doubt women were flinging themselves at his feet on a daily basis. But cute as he was—with his unshaven whiskers, and longish blond hair—slim and trim didn’t work for her. She liked big and ripped. Like Gabe. She had a thing for bulging biceps and huge, hard chests. She had a thing for men who could make her feel dainty, and with Gabe she felt as petite as a doll.
Connor sighed dramatically. “Longer than I can remember. The only women who seem to like me are too thin and too shallow for my…needs. I like voluptuous, with more to the personality than an empty smile and blank eyes.” He grinned wolfishly. “Someone more like you.” Slowly he drew his gaze down the length of her body and then back up again. “Someone exactly like you.”
She liked that Gabe’s friend thought she had some depth to her character, but still Maddie shifted from one leg to the other. His gaze was hungry, and while it didn’t make her uncomfortable, it made her…something. Something she did not want to explore too deeply. “Someone exactly like your friend’s girlfriend, you mean.”
Amusement danced in his eyes. “You think I’m a bad person.”
“I’m trying to,” she confessed, “but it’s hard to think badly of you when you can’t seem to find one single woman to satisfy your needs. Poor thing. How you must have suffered.”
With a dramatic gesture, he placed a closed fist over his heart. “Oh, I have suffered. Enormously.” He looked at her with a soulful gaze. “Make it better. Take me in your arms and comfort me. Please?”
She shook her head. “I’m sorry, sweetie. My arms are reserved for Gabe.”
The look he flashed her was delightfully evil. “Trust me,” he said, “if you held me in your arms, the last thing you’d call me is sweet.”
Maddie looked at him suspiciously and harrumphed. “What happened to the charming man I met at dinner last night? To the perfect gentleman who is staying at Gabe’s flat for the weekend? Who are you and what did you do with him?” Charming was a perfect word to describe Connor. In the two hours she’d sat beside him at dinner, he’d utterly bewitched her. Drawn her into his world with humor and wit, fascinating conversation and eyes that made her feel like the only other person alive.
“He met a girl.” Connor sighed. “At dinner last night. The girl of his dreams. And he fantasized about her right through to the wee hours of the morning.”
Maddie couldn’t help herself. She gave a snort of laughter. “You’ve known me what? Less than a day and you’re fantasizing about me?”
“Just one look, Maddie. That’s all it took.” His tone teased, but his eyes told her he spoke nothing but the truth.
“Connor, you hardly know me.” Okay, so they’d spent a long time chatting the night before. They’d clicked immediately, laughing and talking about anything and everything. Still, what he said now bordered on preposterous, even if it was all spoken in jest. “How could you possibly think I’m the girl of your dreams?”
He shrugged. “I’m thirty. I’ve been around long enough to instinctively know who’s right.”
“That so, huh?” Maddie raised an eyebrow. “Well then, let me let you in on a secret, a little something women know instinctively themselves.” She summoned him closer and whispered in his ear. “Simple rule of thumb: The right woman can never be your best friend’s lover.”
Connor pulled his head back and gave her a smile so wicked it made her heart skip a beat. “I guess that would depend on whose rules you’re playing by.”
She gaped at him, at a loss for an appropriate response.
A muscle ticked in his cheek. “Close your mouth, Madeline Jones. Otherwise I might be tempted to put something in it you’re not at all prepared for.”
She snapped her jaws shut, then opened them again tentatively to speak. “And by that I’m assuming you mean a cigarette or something equally unpleasant?”
“Not even close, sweetheart, and you know it.”
It was her turn to sigh. “I miss the man I met last night. I would have liked to get to know him better.”
“The man would like to get to know the woman he met last night better too.” His smile was devilish. “Infinitely better.”
She shook her head and laughed. “Even though said woman is sleeping with his best friend?”
“Especially because said woman is sleeping with his best friend.”
Pardon? “You realize, of course when I say sleeping, it’s just a euphemism? We don’t really sleep much at all.” Oh, Lord. Was she honestly saying these things? How could she be bantering like this with him? Surely it wasn’t appropriate, being that Connor was her new boyfriend’s mate and all?
His eyes danced. “You’re kidding me. Really? Dang, and here I was getting my pajamas ready to come and join you for a sleep over.”
She chuckled. Their repartee didn’t feel inappropriate. It just felt like a little innocuous fun, a little harmless flirting. Of course Connor knew she was sleeping with Gabe. It was hardly a state secret. “Sorry, mate. No pajamas at this party.”
“No worries,” was his immediate reply. “I’d be happier without.”
Connor, she was quickly learning, was incorrigible. “No Connors at the party either,” she clarified. Then she shrugged and added conciliatorily, “The bed’s too small.”
Connor tsked. “The bed? Gabe’s restricting your pajama party to the bed? Not a good sign.” He shook his head in sympathy. “Once again, dump him. I’ll make you happy in ways you’ve never imagined possible.”
“Once again, I’m sorry, but Gabe makes me happy in ways I’d never imagined possible.” Oh, okay, she’d imagined them—but only when she was alone, and only when she let her mind drift to the naughtiest, most secret parts of her imagination.
“Come to my room with me,” a voice said from behind. “I’ll make you even happier.” Gabe’s hand came to rest possessively on her shoulder. The warmth of his touch scorched her skin, sending tingles racing down her spine.
She twisted her neck around to look at him and couldn’t stop the smile that burst onto her face. “I would love to,” she told Gabe. “Unfortunately, I can’t just yet. I’m trying to explain to Connor that it’s not cool to hit on your best mate’s girl.”
“Even if your best mate says it’s okay?” Gabe asked innocently.
It was hard to gawk at him when the play of his fingers on the back of her neck sent warm flurries whistling through her belly. “Pardon me?” she spluttered. “You told Connor to hit on me?”
“I told him to give it his best shot.” Gabe’s voice filled with an amused I-told-you-so tone. “But he never stood a chance, did he?” Gabe leaned in and kissed the sensitive spot just below her ear, shooting her powers of concentration straight to hell. “Because this is what you really want. From me.”
Oh, sweet Lord, yes she wanted that. That and so much more. “Gabe…” His teeth grazed her skin and she forgot what she’d wanted to say anyway.
He pressed up close behind her, fitting his groin against her ass. “Am I right?”
She barely heard him. With that single move he’d hurtled her thoughts away from Connor, out of the living room and back to Gabe’s bedroom last night. The same bedroom where Gabe held her against the wall, dropped to his knees and kissed her slick folds with his hot, wet mouth until she’d almost passed out from the pleasure. Even now, just thinking about it, moisture pooled between her legs and the low hum of desire buzzed in her stomach.
“Right, baby?” Gabe chuckled in her ear.
“I…yes. Of course, yes.” She focused on Connor’s eyes, eyes that looked straight through her, into her soul. God, did he know what she was thinking? Could he read her lust and her passion?
“Did he ask you to share?” Gabe asked, startling her out of her thoughts. He shifted minutely, making Maddie aware of the way his rigid cock pressed against her bottom, teasing, arousing.
“Share?” she repeated, confused. What on earth was Gabe talking about? Honestly, she could hardly function when he was around. Her head became all foggy, her body so awash with desire she could not even comprehend basic questions. But how did he expect her to concentrate when the promise of pleasure pressed into her like that. “Share what?”
Connor’s lips parted and his light blue eyes dilated. A lock of wheaten hair fell over one eye. “Us.”
From nowhere, her heart skipped a beat. Since she’d met Connor all of sixteen-odd hours ago, she had not given his physical allure a second thought. Sure, she appreciated his boyish charms and sculpted good looks. What woman wouldn’t? Her thoughts however, were so full of the massive, dark-haired, dark-eyed Gabe it was virtually impossible to consider another man sexually.