Bodyguard Dearest (Bodyguard #1) (5 page)

BOOK: Bodyguard Dearest (Bodyguard #1)
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Tanner

I’m pushing her as hard as I can, button after button. A smart college girl like her always needs to feel in control and sure of herself. I’m stripping all that away bit by bit to keep the distance between us growing. I learned long ago not to get too close.

I’ve not allowed anyone to get close since Anisa died. I won’t let that happen again. Emotions lead to hesitation and he who hesitates is lost. I don’t handle loss well. It drove me into a destructive hole. I made a lot of bad decisions before I could dig myself out, including ending up as Kane’s henchman.

The old man is powerful and equally despicable, but he gave me a job when nobody else would. I was a wreck, drowning in self-pity and alcohol. Kane knew I could channel my regret before I did. He saw right through the mess I had become and offered me a helping hand. Like all successful men he has vision. He can read men.

We drive silent but I know it can’t last. Tris Kane doesn’t know how to stay quiet for long stretches. Talking is her way of coping, I guess, like booze used to be for me.

I stay ten miles below the speed limit. The weather has taken a turn for the worse. The snow gets progressively thicker. Ice forms on the road, making the tires spin and slide a little.

Tris fumbles with the radio buttons until she settles on holiday music. She lies back on her seat, closing her eyes. Could the stars be taking pity on me and she’s falling asleep?

“I’m a pure southern California breed? What does that even mean?”

I knew it was too good to be true. She’s wide awake, kicking the small compartment in front of her where I keep a gun at all times.

“Would you mind not kicking that?”

She stops, pulling her knees onto her lap. “Do you ever give a straight answer?”

It seems that if I don’t, she’ll never stop. “It’s not your fault. All that sunshine and money blinded you from all the variations outside the gates of your sheltered world and climate.”

“You say silly things,” she says. “It’s almost as if you care about people. We both know that’s not true, because if you did, you would let me leave my sheltered life so I can see these places and climates on my own terms.”

“I prefer not saying anything,” I tell her.

“I noticed that,” she says. “It’s sad. What do you think you’ll get at the end of your life? A medal for being Mr. Cool? You’re a sad little man, actually.”

“There’s nothing little about me,” I say, not quite realizing how tacky it would sound.

“There goes your Mr. Cool award,” she says with a grin that suggests she’s enjoying the conversation or at least the parts where I say stupid stuff. “So, big guy, what exactly have you seen in your unsheltered life? Was it all so wonderful?”

“New subject,” I say succinctly.

“Touchy, touchy,” she says. “Okay, new subject. You seem like you yourself are full of variations. I never could figure out whether you were white, black, native, Irish, Martian.”

“It’s part of my allure.”

“You think you have an allure?” she says and then laughs.

“It’s a joke,” I say.

“You think you have jokes?” she says but doesn’t laugh.

I chuckle. “You always had that acid tongue,” I say. “I’m not anything, really, but the result of my own will power. I get things done. I’m not colorful like all those frat boys with their Hawaiian shirts and Coachella tickets.”

She shakes her head. “You’re so stubborn. You have got to be Irish to some degree.”

That’s right, her mother is Irish so she thinks she has it all figured out. I stay focused on the road for a while before I humor her. “Some Irish blood in the mix, yes.”

“Tris knows all,” she says, proudly.

“And some African American and some French-Italian and a spot of Cherokee.”

“Cherokee? That rocks.”

“I’m just little old me,” I say to remind her of her earlier slight.

“Ah hah, but I thought there was nothing little about you?”

Tris smiles as we both see the sign for the Inn I’ve been hoping to find before we get stuck in the snow. She practically yanks the steering wheel from me and I have to twist my body to push her off of me.

“What the fuck, Tris?”

“We’re not stopping so you can have a drink. We’ve only been on the road, what? Three hours? We haven’t even crossed the border yet?”

“What’s your fucking problem?” I say as I turn off the engine. Has she gone mad? “What do you want me to do, drive all night?”

“I’d rather drive all night than spend an extra minute with you.”

Yep, she’s totally gone mad. “We can’t drive any more tonight. The weather’s not safe.”

That admission definitely cheers her up. “I told you it was a blizzard! And I also told you,
Tris knows all
.”

“Well, I’m sure they’ll have a cookie waiting for you.”

Surprisingly, she doesn’t fight me when I lead her to the reception desk, nor is she particularly upset when I ask for a double room. The more compliant she becomes, the more suspicious I get, but she’ll be unpleasantly surprised if she tries to pull a fast one on me. My patience with this long trip is running thin.

The room is larger than expected and has a rustic wood floor as well as wood paneled walls. What gets her attention right away is the fireplace with the two armchairs facing it and a tiny Christmas tree on top of the mantel. I had to pay extra money for this shit but I need to keep her as pleased as possible so she doesn’t bleed my ears with her whining. I’m sure the boss won’t mind reimbursing me anyway.

I kneel down to get a fire going if I can remember how. It’s been a while since I was a boy in Montana. It’s all here—tinder, a few logs, matchsticks.

I begin stacking some logs on top of the tinder and then strike a match. It takes a few seconds but in the end I get a spark to grow into a fire.

As I turn to get up, I come face to face with her. All her smugness is gone. She looks up into my eyes with a sweetness beyond beautiful as the light cast by the flames sparkles in her eyes.

“Please, Tanner, just let me go. Pretend you didn’t find me. You know what to say. You always know what to say. Don’t you have a heart? I want to see the world and I don’t mean at some five-star resort with bodyguards in the bushes.”

She’s trying to appeal to my good side now? I don’t have one. But there is that little soft spot I have for her, damn it. It’s always been there. I have to fight it like a motherfucker. Because as much as this girl’s life is screwed, it’s nothing compared to mine.

“I can’t do that,” I say, roughly, to cut her off once and for all.

Her face goes all gloomy as disappointment takes over. Her bottom lip trembles a little as she pushes her hair back behind her ears.

Damn her. “I am tempted,” I say in a softer tone. “Believe me, I am.”

“Tempted to let me go? Yeah, right.”

“I take no pleasure in seeing you suffer like this,” I say. “But I also happen to want you alive. Preferably, in one piece.”

“Do you always take your work so seriously?”

Once again, she recovers quickly. Her eyes are mocking me now, but there’s also something else there. Is she working an escape plan in her head as she speaks? I’d like to see her try that.

“Enough of that shit,” I say. “We’re leaving at first light.”

“First light. All right, which bed do you want?” she says, studying the two twin beds in the room.

“Yeah, in your dreams, princess. We’re sharing a bed. So you pick which one it will be.”

I like how I constantly catch her off guard. “You want me to sleep in the same bed as you? Over my dead body.”

“You fucking stripped down to your undies without even blinking. You’re not exactly the shy type so don’t give me crap. I have zero trust in you. I need to feel where you are and the only way to do that is to share a bed.”

“Oh my God, you’re so full of it. What if I wait for you to fall asleep and then sneak out? A man asleep is as good as a man in the grave.”

I laugh loudly. “Was there a threat in there? Sweetheart, you don’t survive a war by not developing a sixth sense.”

“I’m not your sweetheart. Don’t call me any chauvinistic names ever again,” she demands, pursing her perfect lips.

“Whatever you say, little sugar,” I say to immediately violate her request.

She shakes her head and picks a bed. “You’re such a nightmare.”

 

 

 

Chapter 7

Trista

H
e’s lying next to me in a white t-shirt and boxer briefs, his thigh rubbing against my sweat pants, arm against arm. He said he needs for our bodies to be in constant contact so that he instinctively knows where I am even when he’s asleep.

The truth is I couldn’t avoid touching him. His thick body is all long, strong bones and muscles, taking up like two thirds of the bed. Even if I lie on the very edge, I’m still in contact with some part of him or other.

I turn to my side, feeling his chest rise and fall abruptly behind me, a little slower every time. Is he falling asleep? Of course he is. Assholes like him don’t waste any chance for oblivion. Maybe if I can keep up this line of thinking, I won’t have to go to that place in my mind where I admit Tanner Hayes is the hottest man on Earth and I yearn to feel his weight on me just once.

“How much trouble?” I say.

“I’m sorry?” he says groggily, as if I just woke him up.

“With my father. How angry will he be, you think?”

He gives me a long sigh. “If I take you there on time, he won’t even know you’re gone, so relax and just sleep. Please.”

Excuse me, what? I spin around like I’ve been stung in the butt. “What are you talking about? Didn’t my father send you?”

Silence. And then, “Fucking hell, Tris. You made me lose focus again.”

“Come clean, Tanner. How could you be here and he not know? You’re like codependent.”

He’s fuming inside, I know that, but fuck him and his secrets.

“Okay, but you’re a god-damned hemorrhoid. Your father doesn’t know you’ve run away. He thinks you felt sick at the gathering and went home to rest.”

“Why would he think that?”

“Because that’s what I told him. He was going to San Francisco for two days. With any luck, we’ll get back before him.”

“How the hell did
you
know I was gone then?”

“You’re not that stealth, kid.”

“But you weren’t there. You had the day off. That’s precisely why I picked that day.”

He laughs happily. “The day off was to give you the opportunity. I knew you had to get this out of your system. Again.”

I’m seriously considering kicking his balls. “You’re fucking creepy, dude. Don’t you have anything better to do than to entrap a college girl? Just watching me all the time and following me up here and grabbing me under the guise of whatever bullshit code you live by… it’s totally psycho. If you saw me leave, why didn’t you stop me right away?”

He says nothing for a while. “I don’t know, Tris. Boredom, maybe. I thought if you accomplished part of your plan, you’d get it out of your system once and for all. Despite what you think, I am human. I can feel sorry for people.”

“People? Like me you mean? Screw you, Tanner. You’re a big dick.”

He blushes. I immediately get nervous. Butterflies race into my belly and explode out in every direction.

“I didn’t think you noticed,” he says.

I catch him glancing at my lips. “Oh my god, Tanner,” I say. “You’re an asshole
and
delusional.”

He cuts me short by gripping my hair, pulling my face to his. His breath is surprisingly soft and fresh as it hits my nostrils. I feel my legs tremble a little and then I try to push him away, palms against his chest.

He’s too strong, too determined. Trying to move him is like trying to move a mountain. His eyes are dark, darker than ever, as they latch onto mine mercilessly. And then he lets go. Just like that. His hands drop back onto his sides, his head falling back onto the pillow.

I don’t know what takes over me but I throw myself on top of him to close the gap between us. Every inch of me presses against him but it somehow doesn’t feel like enough. So I kiss him, gluing my lips on his, having no fucking clue what I’m doing.

His lips never part. He catches my face and holds it firmly a few inches away from his. “Hey,” he says. “Cool it down a bit.”

Oh God, please, don’t let him reject me. I’ll die of shame if he does. It will be an unbearable thing to carry for years to come—the day Tanner Hayes collected me from a small Canadian town and I came on to him like a slut in heat.

“What do you want, Tris?” he says calmly. “Is this a new trick? You can’t make me change my mind, so stop playing games.”

What the hell? He thinks I’d kiss him—offer myself to him really—in exchange for something? Like him letting me go? Is his opinion of me so low that he thinks I’d use sex as a weapon?

“Forget it,” I say. “You think you know me? You know nothing. Not a fucking thing.”

“Hey,” he says again, this time raising his voice. “Are you telling me you kissed me for real?”

I look at him defiantly. “I’m done.”

He looks away. “I’ve vowed never to get involved with a woman again.”

“Like a monk. Right. More bullshit.”

“Exactly,” he says with a reluctant nod.

I don’t know what to say to that. It’s messed up what he just said but I don’t think I want to be involved with Tanner Hayes either… it’s just… well, he’s lying next to me and he’s warm and sexy and I’m lonely and, okay, maybe a little horny, too. More than a little.

Shit, I honestly don’t know what to tell him. And then I just blurt it out because lord knows I have this tendency to blurt things out around Tanner. “Who said anything about getting involved? My father would kill us both. But he doesn’t have to find out about tonight. Like you said, he doesn’t even know we’re together.”

He leans back to get a better look at me. “You mean you want to sleep with me?”

Oh crap, only now that he spells it out do I realize what I’ve done. I lift the blanket to check out the thing in his briefs he joked about earlier. Oh, shit. As advertised. Ouch.

Well, too late to back out, plus I’m totally curious now. “Yes, and I can see you’re not entirely unwilling yourself,” I say as my hands begin to tremble.

“Fuck me,” he says, stunned.

“Yes, I would like to fuck you,” I say, barely able to hold my excited stare on his hungry eyes. “You do remember how?”

“Don’t say things you don’t mean, Tris. Maybe a good fuck is what you need to get that head of yours straight, but I doubt you’re ready for this.”

“I’ve slept with men before, you know.”

“No, you’ve slept with boys. You’ve never been with a real man.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah, really. Remember, I know everything you do.”

And there you have it—Tanner Hayes in a nutshell, ruining the moment by reminding me who he really is—the man who’s been shadowing me for years, the man who thinks of me as a problem, the man I love to hate. Has he watched me have sex? Maybe he’s right and I’m not ready for him and the whole idea would lead to more hatred between us.

I’m about to call it a night when he pulls me close one more time, resting his forehead against mine. “Fuck,” he breathes out, “you’re such a colossal pain, a fucking sweet and delicious pain in my ass.”

In a second, he rips my flannel shirt off me and I whimper helplessly.

“Tell me to stop,” he says against my shoulder.

“Don’t fucking stop,” I say between breaths.

He digs his teeth into the base of my neck a little, making me yelp with pain and anticipation.

I pull at his shirt weakly as all resistance abandons me. All I want for Christmas right now is Tanner’s ripped abs pressed against my stomach. I want the brute to devour me, to own me, to set me on fire with immeasurable passion.

He pulls his shirt off his head and, lord, I’m speechless. I never actually ever saw him totally naked before. I’ve had glimpses of his pecs and abs but looking at the entirety of his sculpted torso is a different matter altogether. The reflection from the flames and Christmas lights on his skin, the hunger in his eyes as he glances at me… too much, it’s all entirely too much.

Tanner puts a hand behind my head and another behind my waist, laying me down on the bed. He strips me of my sweat pants and underwear and then he lowers himself over me, lips on the side of my neck.

“You’re fucking beautiful, Tris,” he says as his lips move to my collarbone and then down to my breasts, grazing on the nipple he pinched earlier. “To make it better,” he says.

I’m just… there are really no words to describe what I feel. I never expected him to be so tender and soft. His lips follow my curves all the way down to my bellybutton and then to my hips. I inhale fast, letting him know I approve.

He kisses along the length of my thighs, pausing for a moment until I feel some pressure on the inside of my knees as his hand is prying them open. I resist for a single second and then let him spread me.

The muscled brute works slowly, but doesn’t stop until I’m wide open for him. I know he’s looking down there and it’s enough to make me throb. I want him badly, I’ll never tell him but he’s right, I want him to show me what it’s like to be with a real man, a man who knows what to do without needing instructions.

I gasp and whimper like crazy when he presses his tongue flat against my wetness. This is going to feel so good, I just know it will.

“Those sounds,” he says. “You like that, don’t you?”

I confirm by whimpering louder, pulling my knees up to make more room for him.

A finger goes inside me, pressing in there, hooking inside of me until it finds the angle it’s been looking for and, OMG, I swear I start seeing stars. What the hell did he just discover in there? Whatever it is, it feels so amazing I never want it to stop.

I clench and tighten and twist my body. His free hand presses against my inner thigh and then his tongue is on my clit.

That’s it, it takes seconds to become completely undone by his feverish touch. As he licks and presses slowly but assuredly, I lose control, every muscle in my body contracting, gripped by some primal force deep within in a way I’ve never experienced or imagined.

I cry out his name as I come hard and fast, my breath taken from me.

“I’ve never seen a woman come so fast,” he says, chuckling, when my body calms down a bit. “Maybe you do want me.”

“Fuck you, asshole,” I say, still panting.

He moves his face upward until he finds my breasts and licks my nipple with the tip of his tongue stained in my juices. I realize his finger is still deep inside me. I clench around his finger before I can stop myself.

His lips close around my nipple, sucking, making me moan. I can’t believe I’m ready to go again, but I want him so bad right now it almost hurts.

I throw my arms around his shoulders, pulling his face to mine to kiss him. This time he kisses me back, gasping a little against my lips before he swirls his tongue in my mouth, my taste still on him, and it’s the hottest kiss I’ve ever had, sweet and salty and demanding to be felt.

My fingers go straight to his boxer briefs. It’s only fair since he’s already ripped everything off me. He holds himself up with one hand, never leaving my eyes as he removes his finger from my depths and pulls the boxers down.

He’s hard, incredibly hard and long. Epic. My heart pounds all over the place as he drags his hardness against my thigh. I open my legs wider, preparing to take him in, if it’s even possible.

Tanner pushes inside me slowly, giving me plenty of time to adjust. For the life of me, I never thought he’d be that patient, that refined and considerate. Everything he does is to make me feel good and survive.

It’s like he reads my thoughts. “I’m not a patient man, Tris,” he whispers. “Not usually. But this is not usual. You are not usual. You are spectacular. I need you to believe this.”

I barely have time to nod before he pushes all the way in, filling me up completely. Beyond completely. He begins thrusting and I cling to him, desperate for him to touch me all over.

“I’m so little,” I whisper. “Don’t break me.”

My hips move with his, inviting him to go deeper. He keeps moving, sliding out and slamming back inside faster and harder. I close my eyes but then he catches my jaw, forcing me to open them again.

“I want you to look at me, Tris,” he growls. “I need you to be present.”

That fucking growl, so sexy. Tremors and shivers begin to build within me again and I hold onto him tighter. The climax rises and hits me and rushes through me, sending me over the edge one more time.

He barely gives me a moment to cool down after my orgasm before he pulls out and flips me over onto all fours. He takes me hard like this, one hand gripping my hip, the other hand fisting my hair, pumping faster with each thrust, pushing me forward and then pulling me back to him until an elongated groan escapes his lips. Tanner pulls out again, spraying his hot cum all over my ass and the small of my back and shoulders.

He collapses on top of me, lips on my neck, and it feels so good, I don’t care that he’s practically crushing me. His total muscle collapse makes me happy.

I wish we could go back in time and fuck every time we should have been doing this instead of going for each other’s throat. That would have made my bullshit life much easier.

“Tris,” he says, as he rolls off me to lie on his back.

BOOK: Bodyguard Dearest (Bodyguard #1)
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