Authors: Kirsty Dallas
Bradley’s door was still closed, so I poured myself a glass of water and waited . . . and waited and waited. Finally, when the door to his room swung open and a devilishly handsome Bradley stepped out, I decided the waiting was worth it. Wearing a pair of soft denim jeans and a button-down navy shirt rolled to his elbows, he was beyond gorgeous. His dirty blond hair was still wet from the shower, and he had shaved away the stubble, which I had fantasied about leaving beard burn between my thighs more than once.
I sighed. I was the worst born again virgin in history.
“Ummm, sorry,” he said rather sheepishly as he finger combed his hair. “I forgot your clothes are in my room. Do you need anything out of there? You should have just come in.”
“And risk seeing you in all your naked glory . . .” I tapped my finger against my lower lip as my eyes ran up and down his body. “I’m totally just coming in next time.”
Bradley grinned. “You look good, too, pussycat. Are you ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.”
I followed him out of the apartment, down the elevator, and into the basement parking garage. He drove with a quiet confidence that I found strangely erotic. Was there anything this man could do that didn’t turn me into a quivering mess of hormones? The memory of his not so sweet words, assuming that he could “fuck” his need for me away, yeah, there was that, and my lust dimmed under that memory.
We drove in silence—I took in the grey brick landscape, and Bradley drove like a Formula One pro. He soon pulled into a vacant parking space in front of a quaint restaurant on a narrow street. I peered through the windows of the establishment but couldn’t see much. I startled when my door suddenly popped open, Bradley standing before me. He held out a hand, and I chuckled.
“What did you do?” He gave me a quizzical look as he shut the car door. “Men only behave like this when they’ve done something wrong. So, what did you do? Did you accidentally wash my colors with my whites?”
Bradley had surprised the hell out of me when I came home the day before to discover my laundry done and neatly folded on top of my suitcase. The thought of him sorting through my bras and panties made me blush for half a second before an illicit grin worked its way to my face. I hoped he had a severe case of blue-balls after the sight of my Victoria’s Secret matching sets. This man who thought he could work me out of his system with just one night between the sheets. Not possible. I got under people’s skin like a lovable parasite. Besides, if he tasted me, he’d be hooked, and I didn’t need that complication. I could certainly fantasize about it, though, repeatedly.
“What do you mean colors with whites?”
I gasped. “Bradley, you can’t wash colors with whites. It will ruin the whites.”
“Oh,” he looked guilty as hell, “then I guess I’m buying you dinner because I might have ruined your whites.”
We stared at each other, Bradley almost expecting me to smack him over the head. Instead, I burst out laughing, and soon enough, he was smiling right along with me.
“You’re not angry?”
“Lord no, the fact you washed my clothes gives you free reign to ruin everything I own for a few months, at the very least.”
Bradley’s smile fell. “Well, you won’t be here that long, so you have nothing to fear.”
Now my smile dimmed, too. The thought of going home was clouded with mixed emotions. I missed my apartment, my friends, and my family, even though they weren’t speaking to me, but strangely enough, I enjoyed being around Bradley, even if he was sullen and brooding most the time.
Dating the painfully secretive Kasper Karish proved I was a glutton for punishment. Bradley Emerson was no exception. I was also enjoying the small amount of privacy the UK had offered that the US had been unable to. I hadn’t had another run-in with the paparazzi since the day Bradley had stepped in to rescue me. Oh, I had seen them and they had snapped a few photos from afar, but I didn’t leave the apartment without Lionel or Casey, so the cameras stayed back, and they were quickly becoming bored with my infrequent comings and goings. Facing the whiplash of gossip that surely awaited me back home made me feel anxious.
Bradley pushed open the door to the restaurant. “I didn’t screw up your clothes . . . I think. I just like to treat women as they should be treated. My woman is always well fed and treated like a lady. A woman is the reflection of the man who stands behind her,” Bradley murmured, and I raised a brow.
“Really? Did you read that in a Hallmark card or something?”
He chuckled. “No, but if I treat my woman like a lady, she’ll feel like a lady. Now, in the bedroom is a whole other matter; sometimes I prefer to treat her a little dirty when we’re in there.” He winked at me, and my pulse throbbed, and not the pulse in my wrist or neck. I didn’t actually realize I had a pulse in my vagina until meeting Bradley.
I moved in a thick haze of horn-bag lust as I entered the restaurant, and thankfully, someone led us to a booth near the front. My brain couldn’t function on anything but the basics right now. I glanced around the humble restaurant and found a certain amount of relief in the fact it wasn’t fancy or ostentatious, like Kasper preferred; not that we went out to dinner more than twice in our entire relationship. This place was quiet, dimly lit with a warm ambiance that screamed comfort rather than pretentious snobbery. Bradley ordered himself a stout and me a Pepsi. The stout had my eyeballs pop because it looked nothing like the amber beers from home. It was dark and heavy looking with a cappuccino style froth.
“You want to try it?” Bradley asked.
“Hell no,” I mumbled.
“Why don’t you drink alcohol?”
I was asked this question constantly, because apparently, being a twenty something pretty blonde living in New York, who liked to party but didn’t actually partake in the part that most people viewed as ‘the party’, was odd.
“I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder when I was seven. I was medicated, but the meds didn’t agree with me, and eventually, after a number of years of experimenting, my doctor and family discovered a low dosage medication I could tolerate, and combined with a healthy diet I’m able to control the problem. I avoid alcohol. It just doesn’t seem to agree with me, and it makes me go a little fruity. I decided when I got to college that maybe I had outgrown it and could possibly tolerate a drop. I mean, I was in college, and it seemed sacrilegious
to drink or get stoned.” I snorted at that memory. “I still couldn’t handle liquor.”
“What happened?” Bradley asked with a frown when I didn’t elaborate.
“I didn’t drink much, I swear.” I pinned him with a pointed look. “But I ended up disappearing from the bar my friends and I had gone to, and when they couldn’t find me, they sent out a search party. I had somehow managed to bypass campus security and made my way to one of the dorm’s rooftops with Mal and Cora. We were performing a star dance . . . and when I say we, I mean me . . . and I might have been a little naked.”
It seemed to take Bradley a moment to put his thoughts together. “Okay, backtrack with me here. How much did you drink?”
“One beer and a shot of tequila.” Bradley waited for me to continue.
“That was it?” He scoffed.
“That’s all it took,” I huffed indignantly.
“Fair enough. How did you bypass campus security?”
“I set a trash can on fire, and when they abandoned their post, it was enough time for me to get past them. Then a sweet young man let me, Mal, and Cora into the dorms, and we used the fire escape to get up to the roof.”
“Who are Mal and Cora?”
I sighed at the fond memories of the lovely couple who had quickly become my college besties. “Mal and Cora were a homeless couple who lived behind the Krispy Kreme a few blocks from campus.”
“And they joined you on the roof . . . to dance . . . naked?”
“They were really just going with the flow to keep an eye on me; they were worried I’d get into some sort of trouble. And it was a star dance, it was very important to me, so Mal and Cora were happy to let me indulge myself.”
“And you were naked?”
“I felt closer to Mother Nature without my clothes on.”
“Were Mal and Cora naked, too?”
“Good Lord, no, that’s just gross, Bradley. They were like second parents to me.”
“Totally gross but not illegal, even if they were your parents. So, what the hell is a star dance?”
“It was a contemporary personal interpretation of the stars, a dedication to their beauty.” Annnndddd he was staring at me again. I shrugged. “I was feeling the creative beauty that night. I might not be a prima ballerina like my mom, but I like to dance and I have some skills.” My eyes dropped to Bradley’s beer, and I wondered if I were to have just a sip if I would become Queen of Cray Cray.
Bradley pulled his glass away from me. “Uh-huh, just keep your hyperactive, lightweight fingers off my drink, woman, unless you are feeling the music and want to become one with Mother Nature, which, of course, requires nudity, then we can talk.” He said it with a waggle of his eyebrows that had me erupt into a fit of laughter. When I finally settled, it was to find him staring at me,
“What now? Do I have MAC on my teeth?”
“Mac and cheese?”
“No, MAC lipstick,” I explained.
“No, your teeth are just fine. I just like the sound of your laughter. I don’t hear it very often, though.”
“How on earth would you hear it when you’re too busy hiding in your office? I could always leave you a sticky note with the words ‘ha, ha, ha’ written on it, but I don’t think it would be the same.”
“Touché,” he murmured.
“So, are you going to tell me this big secret job of yours?” I asked as I sipped on my Pepsi. Bradley shook his head slowly from side to side. “Really, I’m a porn star for Pete’s sake. Surely it can’t be more convoluted than that!”
He raised a brow and took a long drink from the muddy liquid he called beer.
“Are you a hitman?”
He grinned and shook his head.
He chuckled, followed by another shake.
“I’ve got it!” I said, snapping my fingers and pointing at him. “You are a thief, but you only do high end stuff. Art, jewelry, missiles, stuff like that.”
He laughed, a loud, bold sound that had that pulse in my groin throbbing again. It was the first time I had heard him laugh so open and freely. It was a sound I wanted to bottle and keep.
“Not even close.”
“I will figure you out, Mr. Emerson,” I whispered defiantly.
“And I’ll enjoy you trying, Miss James,” he replied.
I wanted to be immune to the charming porn star. I wanted to look at her and feel nothing. Truth was she had me wrapped around her damn cute pinky, and she didn’t even know it. If she said jump, I would ask how high . . . if she said roll over, I would have done so and hoped she rubbed my fucking belly, and something else in the southern region. I wanted her, and a small part of me realized I wanted more than just her body. I wanted her goddamn beautiful heart. I didn’t
to want it, but I was quickly coming to realize it was completely out of my control. Each time she smiled, I swooned. FUCKING SWOONED! Like a lovesick, pimple faced virgin. Shit, someone just dress me in a pink knit sweater and a pair of white leather loafers. I was doomed.
“Why do you live in the UK?” she asked as she played with the straw in her soda.
“I needed to for my work.”
“Your mysterious job,” she mused with a smile.
My lips began to curve into their own dreamy smile. SEE, SWOONING!
“What about your job? What are you going to do when you get back home? You going back to work for Kink Harder?” I feigned a smile, the idea of her returning to her job making my good mood plummet.
Wiska shrugged. “I’m not sure. I really want to finish my degree in nursing, but I have a lot of trouble with studying for long periods of time. I could probably pick up work in a bar or waitressing; I’ve done that before. Ryder said I’m welcome to come back to Kink Harder any time. I’ve also had interest from Brutal Babes; they are offering to pay a lot more money, but I’ve heard a few bad things about them.”
I cringed. I hadn’t told her the name Kasper Karish meant a hell of a lot more to me than a cheesy celebrity story. I knew he was Willie Bianco’s nephew from his brother’s wife’s previous marriage. Ever since Wiska had told me what happened with Kasper, I had begun to plot revenge on her behalf. I knew Willie would be happy to take care of the mess. He wasn’t Kasper’s biggest fan and a little public humiliation wouldn’t bother the man in the least. The connection between Willie and Kasper suddenly had me wondering, though. Was Kasper working to get Wiska over to Brutal Babes? I shook off the idea. It was far too crazy a plot for real life, so I racked it up to coincidence.
I was glad Wiska hadn’t caved to the pressure to work for Brutal Babes. Where Ryder demanded regular medical tests of his stars and ran a tight ship that left no room for abuse or drugs, Willie’s company thrived on producing more violent scenes and encouraged drug use to enhance his stars’ performance. The thought of sweet, innocent Wiska being lured into that environment almost made me fly into a panic.
“What do you recommend?” Her voice broke through my minor freak out.
“Food. I’m starving.” She pointed to the menu.
My eyes lifted from the menu and settled, seemingly, as if with a mind of their own, on her breasts. When she lifted the menu to cover them, I grinned, and thankfully, she did, too.
“Eye’s up here, pervert. I need food, so feed me.”
“Personally, I’m a big fan of the Sunday roast.”
Her brow crinkled and her nose twitched. It was . . . cute. “But it isn’t Sunday.”
“That’s cool. They’ll still serve it.”
“But . . . it isn’t Sunday. Why is it called a Sunday roast if they serve it any day?”
At that moment, I was saved by a waitress who sidled up to our table.
“What about fish and chips?” I suggested, and her brow furrowed and her nose twitched again.
“That doesn’t seem like an appealing combination to me.”
“You’ve been in the UK almost a month, and you haven’t figured out what chips are yet?”
“I know what chips are. They are crispy, you buy them in bags at the corner store, and I don’t think I want them served with fish.”
I glanced at the waitress who was trying hard to repress a smile. “I’ll have a Sunday roast, even though it’s Friday, and she’ll have fish and chips with a salad, even though she doesn’t think she wants chips.”
Wiska huffed, but before she had a chance to argue, the waitress disappeared. We fell into an awkward silence; I fiddled with the salt and pepper shakers while Wiska’s eyes flitted around the restaurant, coming to rest on a family sitting in a booth. The father was tickling the little girl whose contagious giggle had Wiska smiling before she turned to face me, a more serious look in place.
“Why can’t you tickle yourself?”
I didn’t answer. How could I? Her question completely and utterly floored me.
Her hands rose to her waist, and she began to tickle herself, a thoughtful look on her face. “See, nothing. If you were to do it, I’d be a laughing, crying mess.”
I looked at my hands and imagined them on her body, and before I could stop it, a wicked grin slipped into place. Oh, yeah, I could imagine
“And why do we wash towels? I mean, when we step out of the shower, we’re clean. We’re really just wiping away clean water, so why do we need to wash the towels?” I opened my mouth to speak, but she just kept right on with the oddball questions. “And why the heck does Wile E. Coyote put all that effort into catching the Road Runner? He had all that money to buy all that crap to try and catch him, so why didn’t he just get takeout?”
I laughed, there was really no other option. It was either that, or stare at her like she had just lost her goddamn mind.
She leaned forward, her serious expression still in place. “I’ve always wondered about people with nose rings. If they take the piercing out and blow their nose, do boogers come out the hole?”
“Pussycat, I really think you spend far too much time thinking.”
Her tirade of questions were brought to a halt when our meals came only ten minutes later. I could almost feel the tension in her body as the meal was placed before her. Seeing the sagging relief in her shoulders when she realized chips were, in fact, fries was priceless.
She raised a brow in my direction. “You could have told me they were fries.”
“They’re not, they’re chips.”
She snorted. “Uh-huh, I thought I was going to have a plate of yummy fish with a side of Doritos.”
I grinned at her. “I know. I wish I had photographed the look on your face; it was priceless.”
We ate. She sampled my Sunday roast and agreed that, even though it wasn’t Sunday, it was good. I pinched chips from her plate and decided it had been too long since I had simply enjoyed the company of a woman. Even with Leah, we had never really enjoyed a simple date. We had eaten together, but it was usually in her apartment and usually interrupted by bouts of sex. When I glanced up, I caught Wiska licking a finger, and suddenly a bout of sex seemed like a great idea. I sighed. If my fucking dick wanted this woman, who was I to stand in his way?
We paid the bill and wandered out onto the street. The sun had set, and the night was coming to life. Music spilled into the street from a pub a few doors down, and I didn’t miss Wiska’s eyes light up as her gaze turned in that direction.
“You want to take a look?”
She nodded, and I automatically took her hand and pulled her in that direction. For a moment, I felt awkward about the hand holding; I’d never held the hand of someone who wasn’t anything more than a friend. Was she a friend? It was kind of presumptuous of me to assume we were; it’s not like I had been friendly to her since her arrival. Hell, I had ignored her like a consummate professional asshole. Other than the occasional dirty sticky note, which had been a vague attempt at literary flirting, I hadn’t really talked to her. I knew little about her other than she was a porn star from the States with a spontaneous nature and a penchant for overthinking trivial matters. A tug on my hand caught my attention, and for a split moment, I thought she was trying to let go of my ridiculously tight grip. I wouldn’t blame her. My palm was disgustingly sweaty.
I followed her pointed finger to the bridge arching over the River Thames. Her eyes had caught the padlocks attached to the fencing. We made our way across the road, and she finally let go of my hand and admired the large array of padlocks secured to the bridge.
“Love locks. Couples buy their own lock and attach it to the bridge as a symbol of their love for each other.”
She peered closer to make out the names and initials inscribed into each lock. “That’s so sweet,” she whispered. Her excited mood turned somber, and I found myself frowning. I didn’t like pensive Wiska; it didn’t suit her. She was far too vibrant to feel sad.
“How ’bout you show me some of those dance skills you claim to have.”
When her gaze finally left the padlocks, she smiled. She made a move to head towards the bar whose music spilled into the night, but I pulled on her hand to stop her from walking away.
“Aren’t we going to dance?”
“Sure are,” I said with a wink, pulling her into my body.
I could hear Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous” pumping from the pub down the road. I didn’t mean for the song to be so apt; it’s not like I looked at Wiska and thought of her as a promiscuous girl, even though she was a porn star, but it just fit. The lyrics were hot. It was the kind of song that strangers lost themselves in while in the dark privacy of bars and clubs, and right now, I wanted to get lost with Wiska.
I began to sway and move around the footpath at the end of the bridge. Wiska only hesitated a moment before her body began to move with mine. She moved like silk, lithe and smooth. Her hands glided over my body, I pulled her hips in close to mine, and we danced like nobody was watching. Hell, nobody was watching. An impromptu dance on the end of the Millennium Bridge was new to me, but I wasn’t passing up the opportunity to dance with Wiska. She might not have been a prima ballerina like her mother, but damn, she could move.
“We’re dancing on a bridge.”
“To be fair, we are dancing at the
of the bridge, more on the footpath.”
She giggled, and I wanted to rub my cheek against hers like some sort of cat marking its mate. I really needed to stop watching the National Geographic channel.
“So, what does Bradley Emerson do when he’s not working himself into an early grave at some top secret job?”
I spun her around and enjoyed her arms tightening around me. “Well, I run,” I gave her a pointed stare, “and avoid swans.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m really not that much of a party animal. I like to work out, I read, I like Sudoku, and I play poker with the lads once a month.”
“Lads?” she blurted out, followed by an adorable giggle.
“I love your weird accent and wacky words,” she sighed.
“I love your free spirit. You’re not like other girls I know.” Wiska gave me a shy glance, and I suddenly felt awkward. All this throwing the ‘L’ word around was making me feel nervous. “What about Wiska James? What does she do when she’s not . . . on camera.”
On camera sounded so much better than on her back, or knees. Dammit, now I was thinking of Wiska on her knees in that sexy lingerie that spilled from her suitcase. I tried to move my hips back a fraction to avoid my hardening whistle from reaching its target.
“Well, I like to run, too, and I’ve recently been educated on the danger of swans, so I avoid them like the plague. I don’t mind working out, but I prefer yoga.”
“You’re flexible,” I said with a grin, moving my agreeable cock further away from her body.
“I guess . . . it’s a dancer thing.”
“Maybe it’s a Wiska thing.”
“Maybe,” she said with a small grin. “I like Fancy Dress Fridays and movie marathons. I also like poker, but I’m not very good at it. I like dancing, drawing—”
“Not very well, but yeah, I like to draw. I love shopping,” she said with a grin.
“What woman doesn’t?”
She slapped my chest. “Casey loves shopping.”
“Casey is more of a woman than some women I know.”
She slapped my chest again, and this time I caught her hand beneath mine. Then the brain in my head obviously shut down, and the one in my pants lurched into action. I kissed her . . . hard. My tongue entered her mouth caressing hers, demanding more, and for some reason, she responded in kind. Her tongue didn’t press deep, it simply dipped and tasted, almost shyly. Her lips were soft and warm, and when our mouths finally slipped apart, we were both breathing hard. I’d kissed plenty of women; in-the-moment kisses, shut-her-up kisses, forced kisses, sloppy and unpracticed kisses, but I had never experienced a kiss like this. This was a kiss that meant something, but I had no idea what that something was.
“Get a room!” A drunken shout from the direction of the pub forced a little more room between us.
“Get a room indeed,” I whispered in an accent with far too much British lilt to it.
“I like that,” Wiska murmured.
“Which part? The kiss, the drunken idiot in the background, or the get a room part? Because I’m partial to the get a room part.”
“I was actually referring to the twisted American British accent you rock, but the kiss wasn’t half bad.”