Claimed by a Stranger (Craved Series #2) (4 page)

BOOK: Claimed by a Stranger (Craved Series #2)
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7: Jack



I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had such a gorgeous woman on
the back of my bike. Most of the hook ups I’d enjoyed over the last few years
were with girls I’d met out with Jin, and our adventures were limited to
walking back to the closest bed.

However, it was thrilling to have Audrey on the back of my bike,
her fingers sunk into my sides and her legs squeezed around me. I tried not to
go too fast because I wasn’t sure how confident she was on the bike- or in me
yet. But by the way she hugged her tits against me, it didn’t seem like she was
having a bad time.

And I was so excited for the surprise. I knew she was going to
be blown away and that it would be the coolest show anyone had ever taken her
to, which was good because she deserved to have a good time. Especially after
the way I’d abandoned her last night.

I pulled the bike up next to a tree at the edge of the dense
forest and turned off the ignition.

“We’re here,” I said, knocking the kickstand down and waiting
for her to hop off.

“This is not
what I thought you had in mind,” she said, stepping off the bike.


“What did you
think I had in mind?” I asked, swinging my leg over my seat.


“I don’t know.
Something less-”




she said. “I mean, this is the middle of nowhere.”


“That’s part
of the charm,” I said. “Not many tourists ever get to see this show.”


She crinkled
her nose.


“And don’t assume
that’s because it’s no good,” I said. “I assure you, you’re going to remember
tonight for the rest of your life.”


She looked
like she didn’t know whether to be excited or frightened.


I unclipped
her helmet and hung it on the bike. “How’s your butt?”


“A bit numb to
be honest.”


Much to my
disappointment, I couldn’t think of a charming way to suggest I help her get
the blood flowing back there.


“I don’t do
much motorcycle riding at home.”


“Did you like


“Yeah,” she
said, shaking her helmet hair out with her fingers. “It was fun.”


“Good.” I
opened the bike seat and pulled out a plastic bag from 7/11 and a folded
blanket. “This way,” I said, removing my glasses and sticking them in the
pocket of my loose shirt.


“Is it safe to
be out here?” she asked.


“Safest place
I know,” I said, leading the way.


The forest was
dark around us, but I knew my way by memory and took my time so she wouldn’t
have to work too hard to keep up. Finally, some light seeped through the thick
foliage ahead, and I followed it until we broke through to the edge of a large
clearing surrounded by dark trees like the ones we’d passed to get there.


I stopped and waited
for Audrey to reach my side. When she caught up, she looked past the treeline at
the night sky.


“Wow,” she
said. “This feels so far away.”


“In a good
way?” I asked, leading her to a corner of the field.


“Yeah. It’s so
peaceful out here. I mean, it’s loud from the insects, but it feels sort of Zen.”


I smiled. I
was glad she could see what a special place it was, glad I hadn’t kept it to
myself for the first time.


I guess I felt
like most of the women I met were into flashier types of entertainment, that
they weren’t as down to Earth. But the fact that she was from Seattle gave me
hope that she might be a little more interested in nature.


So far, my gut
instinct hadn’t let me down. Still, nightfall was fast approaching and I wanted
to have some time to relax before the show. So as soon as we reached a spot
that had a good view of the jagged rocks cloaked in tangled foliage overhead, I
laid down the blanket.


“Have a seat,”
I said, gesturing with an open palm


“Thanks,” she
said, getting down on the ground and kicking her ankles out to the side.


I dropped to
my knees with the plastic bag across from her. “I put together a little picnic
because, as you can see, there aren’t many food stalls out here.” 


“Good thinking.” 


“But if it’s
any consolation, I can assure you that you’ll be more impressed with the show
than you are with dinner.”


“If you say


I reached in
the bag and pulled out my spoils. “I’ve got some Chang beers,” I said, setting
them down on the blanket. “Still nice and cold.”


Her wide eyes
watched as I reached back in the bag.


“I’ve got some
potato chips and some roasted broad beans to help make sure we drink the beers
before they get warm.”


She smiled.


“And I didn’t
know if you would prefer a ham and cheese sandwich or just cheese so I got


laughed. “You really know how to spoil a girl.”


“Well, I
didn’t think a seafood feast like we had last night would travel very well.”


“No,” she
said. “You’re probably right.”


Audrey looked around,
extending her thin neck as her eyes traveled along the tree tops.


I couldn’t
tell what she was thinking so I grabbed a cheese sandwich and ripped it slowly
down the center. “I think they play it too safe with the seasoning,” I said, handing
her half of it. “But the toasting is perfection.”


She reached
for the sandwich. “I think I read somewhere that there are more 7/11’s in
Bangkok than there are in the entire U.S?” 


“I’m not
surprised. They’re on every corner here.”


“That’s an
understatement,” she said. “But they are handy.”


“Yes, they


“They’re perfect
for when you want a snack but can’t stomach a hot curry in the middle of the


I shrugged. “I
mostly go there to impress women.” 


She tilted her
head at me. “How’s that working out for you?” 


“You tell me.”


“Oh I’m
impressed,” she said. “Though I must admit, I’m also slightly terrified.”


I furrowed my
brow. “Terrified?”


“Yeah,” she
said, breaking a piece off her sandwich. “I’m starting to worry that the
surprise show is going to be you doing some weird jungle striptease.”


I laughed.
“Would that be so bad?”


“Meh,” she
said, blushing.


I smiled. If a
striptease was what she wanted, I would be more than happy to oblige. In fact,
it would probably only be fair. After all, I’d been picturing her naked since
our kiss the night before.


“So how much longer
do I have to wait to see the goods then?”


My eyebrows
shot up.


“Sorry- the
show- I mean the show,” she said, glancing down at the blanket between us.


I checked my
watch. “The official show’s probably not for another twenty minutes.”


She nodded.


“But I’m happy
to get naked anytime.”


She rolled her


“For the


“I’ll let you


“Please do,” I
said, tearing open the broad beans.


“I haven’t
tried those yet,” she said. “But I’ve seen them everywhere.”


I held out the
bag. “They’re my favorite.”


She put her
hands out and I shook some out for her, watching as she put one in her mouth
and crunched.


She raised her
eyebrows. “They’re nice.”


“I know,” I
said. “I buy them by the bag full at the market.”


A few more
passed her lips, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous.


“I’ve got a
lady there who hooks me up.”


She laughed. “You
have a broad bean dealer?”


I shrugged. “I
guess you could say that.”


She tilted her
head at me and licked some salt off her lips. “So how long have you been living
out here anyway?”


“On and off
for about three years.” I tossed a few more beans into my mouth.


“Don’t you
miss the States?”


question,” I said, cracking open a beer.


“I mean, I
know you said you miss treating patients, but that can’t be the only thing.”


I squinted at
the sky. “I do miss American sandwiches.”


“How do you


“Well, in my
opinion, a good sandwich should have enough filling that you don’t have to
separate the bread to see what’s inside it.”


She nodded. “I
agree one hundred percent.”


“And in my
experience, I’ve never been to a country that did sandwiches better than


“What about
your weight loss book?”


I shrugged.
“All things in moderation,” I said, though I was beginning to think she might
be the exception.


“What else do
you miss?” she asked, tapping her nails along the top of a can of beer.


“I miss my
favorite classic rock radio station.”


“What else?”
she asked, cracking her beer open and taking a sip.


I watched as a
drop escaped her mouth and dripped down her chin until she reached up and wiped
it away with the back of her hand.


“Well?” she


I looked into
her sparkling eyes. “I’ll miss you when you go home.”

8: Audrey



I shook my head. His eyes were serious and he was looking at me
in a way that made me feel like I had nowhere to hide, like he could see right
through me. Like he was already inside me.

I looked down at the gold can in my hands before looking back at
him. Then I exhaled the breath I was holding. “Well, I’m honored to be counted
among sandwiches and your favorite radio station.”

Jack lifted my
feet and put them across his lap. “What can I say?” he asked. “You’re a pretty
big deal.”


Normally, I’d
be put off by a man getting so close to my feet in less than forty eight hours,
but I reminded myself that he’d already been up close and personal with them.
Plus, it was a relief to be touching him again after being so close on the
bike. Like my personal space was no longer sacred where he was concerned.


I looked down
at my tangerine toenails. “Any plans to go back?”


“To the States?”


“Yeah,” I
said. “Or do you think you’ll live here forever?” I was afraid for the answer,
but I had to know. The last thing I needed was to fall for a guy on the other
side of the world as hard as I might fall for Jack if I stopped paying


He sighed. “I
guess that depends.”


“On what?”


“On whether I get
sick of all the sunshine and gorging myself on fresh seafood every night.”


“It could
happen,” I said, sounding more hopeful than I’d intended.


He shrugged. “True.
I suppose if I had a good enough reason, I would go back. But there would have
to be something I was really excited about or something I needed.”


“Or something
you liked more than seafood and sunshine?”


He nodded.


“Good luck
with that,” I said, feeling a totally inappropriate sense of loss over
something I never had in the first place.


He smiled at
me. “I haven’t ruled it out anyway,” he said, taking a long sip of his beer
before leaning back on his elbows. “What’s your favorite place?”


“In the whole




restaurant we went to last night’s a contender.”


Jack laughed. “Tell
me about it. I’m pretty sure I’m their best customer.”


“I like Southern
France, too.” I let my head drop back and looked at the sky. “Or at least, I
remember liking it when I went there as a teenager.”


“What was it
that you liked?”


“I think it
was all the fields of lavender and sunflowers.” I inhaled deeply as if I might
be able to smell them.


“Yeah, that’s
pretty tough scenery to beat.”


“That’s one of
the places I go in my mind on rainy Monday mornings in Seattle,” I said. “But
there’s so many other places I’d like to visit. It’s just hard to get away when
you’re working.”


“Have you
thought about what you’re going to do when you get back?”


“Not really.”
I said. “Not specifically anyway.”


“Just a
general sense of impending doom?”


I laughed.
“Pretty much.”


“Have you ever
considered working for yourself?”


“You mean freelancing?”




“Not really,”
I said. “My Dad always taught me that there’s nothing more important than a
consistent paycheck.”


Jack’s eyes


“I know it’s
not the most open minded philosophy, and I’m not even sure I agree with it now
that I’m old enough to question him, but it is how I was raised.” I thought of
my Dad sitting in his wheelchair at home, unable to work for the first time in
his life, and felt an ache in my chest.


“Well, I don’t
think freelancing and inconsistent pay necessarily have to be mutually


“I think in
the beginning they probably are though, and I’m not sure I’m a risk taker by


“Sure you are.”


I shook my head.
“No, I’m definitely not.”


“I have to
disagree.” He sat up and straightened his arms behind him. “You were very brave
to go snorkeling on your own with zero experience in a new place.”


I rolled my


“And then you
took a pretty big risk coming out here with me.”


“You’re not
that dangerous though, are you?”


He gave a
wolfish smile. “Depends on your definition of danger.”


I squinted at
him. “I think I’ll take my chances.”


“All I’m
saying is that if there’s a demand, it might be something to think about. Even
if it’s just while you look for something more permanent.”


“Am I being
charged by the hour for this career advice or…?”


“Sorry,” he
said. “I know it’s none of my business.”


“It’s okay,” I
said. “It’s nice of you to care without acting like my current unemployment is
some kind of incurable disease.”


“Your Mom?”


“How did you


“Cause I have
one of my own.”


“Of course you
do,” I said. “And is she where you get your good looks?”


Jack laughed.
“She would definitely take the credit, yeah.”


I pulled my
feet off his lap and scooted next to him so our shoulders were touching. “I’m
glad I met you, Jack,” I said. “Even if you do take me to fake shows in the


“The show is
real. You’ll see.”


I trailed a
finger down the buttons of his front shirt. “Should I expect any previews?”


Jack reached
over and pulled my face towards his until I was close enough that he could
press his lips against mine. His warm kiss tasted like Thai beer and he moved
his tongue so slowly around mine I thought he might be trying to hypnotize me.


pulling away, I moved my leg so I was straddling him and rested my hands along
his chiseled jaw line. Then I pushed them up into his hair as I tasted him more


And every time
his tongue twirled around mine, I felt my panties getting wetter and wetter,
and I knew. It wasn’t just a kiss. It was the kind of kiss that started things.
And if the way my stomach felt was any indication, he’d ignited a fire in me
that I wasn’t going to be able to put out on my own.


Jack slid his
hands around my ass and I groaned into his mouth, forgetting where I was and
who I was and everything besides the fact that I wanted this guy as deep inside
me as he could go. And from the swelling I could feel below me, I knew we were
on the same page.


He hooked his
fingers around the top of my pants and I decided right then that if he wanted
to slip them off and have me in that clearing, I wouldn’t stop him. In fact,
with every finger of his that he dragged along my skin, I became more
determined to have him under that dusky Thai sky until the sun had set and we
were under a blanket of stars.


And then I
heard a cough.


Jack’s eyes
popped open at the same time as mine, and I almost laughed from the startled
expression on his face.


But then I
looked over his head. “Uh oh.”


“Tell whoever
it is to fuck off,” he said softly, keeping his eyes on me.


“I’m afraid I
can’t do that. Believe me, I would if it were anybody else but-”


Jack turned
his head around and looked at the large party of monks in the middle of the
field. “Damn.”


I scooted off
his lap and sat down beside him, smoothing my hair away from my face. 


“They don’t
know how lucky they are,” he said. “If they’d come five minutes later they
would’ve been traumatized by what they would’ve seen me doing to you.”


I swallowed,
daring not to ask what he’d had in mind while knowing it didn’t matter. I never
would’ve stopped him.




BOOK: Claimed by a Stranger (Craved Series #2)
4.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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