Authors: Carly Michaels
“Oh yeah?” He crooked a finger at York, smirking when he got up and walked toward the bar.
“I don’t give a shit what either one of you say. I’m riding the bike.” Normally I would have been apprehensive about riding
on slick pavement, but my brother had just convinced me it was worth the risk.
“Would you mind giving my sister a ride home, York?” Ash asked. “I would, but I’ve got another hour or so of work and she has to teach a class in the morning.”
“Sure,” he said, pulling his keys out of pocket. “You ready, Lace?”
“Thanks for the offer,” I said, reminding myself it was my brother’s fault he’d made it in the first place. “But you don’t have to do that. I have my bike here.”
He glanced out the front windows, frowning. “Uh, you can’t ride your bike in this. I’ll take you home.”
“I can, and I will,” I said, reaching under the counter for my purse and helmet. Who the hell were these thugs to tell me what I could and couldn’t do? I’d do whatever the fuck I wanted to, and they’d stand back and keep their mouths shut if they knew what was good for them.
“I got this,” York said to Ash when my brother grabbed my wrist.
“You got this?” I asked, glaring at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
York sighed heavily while Ash rolled his eyes and walked away. “You can’t ride your bike in weather like this, and you know it.”
I bit the inside of my cheek before glancing outside. Any other night, I would have agreed with him, but if I backed down now, it would seem as though I was submissive, and I was anything but that. “What do you know about it?”
“I’ve been riding for years, beautiful.” The look he gave me implied he was talking about more than just motorcycles.
The sexy bastard was trying to wear me down, and I was ashamed to admit it was working. “Is that so?” I folded my arms under my breasts. “That makes you an expert?”
He stepped closer, totally invading my personal space, while he backed me against the corner of the bar. “Yeah, I’d say that makes me an expert.”
“Why do you care so much what I do?”
He seemed to consider the question for a minute before he said, “No idea.”
At least he was being honest. “I really don’t mind riding the bike home,” I said, thinking it was worth one more shot before I caved.
“Yeah, well, I mind.” He grabbed the helmet from me, grinning to melt my resolve.
It was those damn dimples that finally did me in. If not for them, I would have told him where to shove that helmet. “Fine. I guess I can hitch a ride with my roommate in the morning.”
“You have a roommate?” he asked, threading his hand through mine as we walked to the door.
It was weird for me to feel safe and protected with a man. Probably because most of the guys I dated were only tough when they were packing, but York’s hands were lethal weapons. While most women would object to the violence in his sport, I thought seeing two big, strong guys beat each other senseless was hot.
“Yeah, we work together at the kickboxing studio.”
“Male or female?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow at me before opening the door so I could precede him through it.
“She works the front desk at the club,” I explained. “That’s how we met. She was dating my brother Ash for a while, but that didn’t work out. I warned her it wouldn’t. I love my brother, but he’s a real man-whore.” I didn’t know why I was confiding in him. I only knew that I wanted to get to know him better, which meant letting him get to know me.
He opened the passenger door of his shiny black Hummer and waited until I had my seat belt fastened.
“Your mother raised you right,” I said, smiling. “I didn’t expect you to be such a gentleman.” Something flashed in his eyes, and I immediately wished I could retract those words. “Sorry.”
“No worries.” He tossed my helmet into the backseat. “My mother didn’t really raise me though. My dad did.”
“She wasn’t a deadbeat like my old man, was she?” His jaw tightened, and I realized I’d put my foot in my mouth again. Suddenly my size six shoe felt like a ten.
“No, she died.”
“I’m sorry, York.” I touched his cheek, savoring the feel of his stubble against my palm. “I didn’t mean—”
He leaned in and grabbed the back of my head while sweeping his tongue inside my mouth. He didn’t hesitate or ask permission. He just saw what he wanted and went for it. Definitely my kind of man.
I wrapped my free arm around his neck, pulling him closer as I moaned into his mouth. Damn. If one kiss got me this hot, I’d been relying on my plastic partner for too long.
“Damn, girl,” he said, resting his forehead against mine while we both caught our breath. “One more kiss like that, and I’ll have to take you back to my place instead.”
I wouldn’t object either, which was exactly why I should hold out. I wasn’t looking for a relationship, but I wanted a little more than a pump-and-dump with this guy. I patted his muscular chest, smiling. “Let’s save that for another night. Assuming there will be another night?”
“You better believe there will be, baby. You and me, we’re just getting started.”
After another scorching kiss and promise to call, York left me wanting more, which I was sure had been his intent. I wasn’t the type of girl to sit by the phone, wondering whether a guy would call, but I had turned the ringer up on my cell before I left the apartment. Just in case.
“I still can’t believe you met York,” Rachel screeched as she slammed on the brakes to avoid running a red light.
That was the reason I hated driving with her. She got too easily distracted.
“Is he as hot in person as he is on TV?”
When I met Rachel, she was looking for a BFF and I was looking for a roommate. I’d agreed to share an apartment with her as long as she didn’t expect me to share my feelings and shit. I wasn’t into that. I suspected it was because I’d grown up with two brothers who told me to suck it up every time I cried.
“You gonna do him?” she asked, glancing my way.
“I don’t know,” I said, reaching into my bag for one of the bottled waters I’d stashed there that morning. “Maybe. We’ll see how it goes.”
For all I knew, he could have moved on already. Maybe he had been expecting me to invite him up last night, and when I didn’t, he decided to write me off. I told myself I didn’t care. But I did care. More than I wanted to.
“Does he know you’re working for your brother again tonight?” Rachel asked, pulling into the parking lot of our workplace. “Maybe he’ll stop by and bring some of his friends.”
I wasn’t the only one who liked pro fighters. Rachel did too, but she wasn’t as careful about guarding her heart as I was. Every time she banged one, she was convinced he was
and ended up crying in her Corn Flakes at breakfast, making us both wish she’d learn her goddamn lesson.
“He didn’t ask what I was doing tonight, and I didn’t tell him.”
Rachel was prone to over-sharing, thinking that because a guy wanted to get in her panties, he also wanted to know every move she made. I kept telling her that if she held back a little more, they might stick around longer. At least that had been my experience.
“Why not?” she asked, trying twice to back the car into a spot before she gave up and pulled in. “Don’t you want to see him again?”
“Sure, but if I don’t, it won’t be the end of the world.” I got a little knot in my stomach when I thought about never seeing York again, which was crazy, since I didn’t break down over guys. Not anymore.
“Liar,” Rachel said, getting out of the car.
My cell phone rang, prompting Rachel to duck her head back in to sneak a peek at the screen before I answered it.
“Oh, it’s him. I wanna hear!”
“You’re gonna be late,” I said, glancing at the time. Since I didn’t have a class for thirty minutes, I could afford to kill some time.
After a bit of grumbling, Rachel stomped off, leaving me to answer York’s call in peace.
“Hey,” I said, waving to a couple of guys crossing the parking lot, headed for the studio.
“Morning, sexy. Just wanted to make sure you didn’t need a lift to work.”
Damn, that was sweet. I didn’t want him to be sweet. I wanted him to be an ass so I wouldn’t like him so much. “No, thanks, I hitched a ride with Rachel. Sitting here in the parking lot, in fact, getting ready to go in.”
“I’ve got a few classes. How about you?”
“I’m just taking it easy. I still work out, but the hard-core training won’t start until next week.”
I knew a lot of MMA fighters had jobs outside of fighting and had to fit in their training when they could. But since York was the heavyweight champion, his fights earned him more than most, allowing him to work at training full-time. That definitely gave him an edge over his competition.
“What have you got goin’ on tonight?” he asked.
“Working for Ash.”
“I figured as much.” He sounded disappointed. “You work for him every weekend?”
“Yup, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.” If I wanted to hook up with anyone, which I hadn’t lately, it had to be Sunday through Wednesday night.
“You mind if I stop by with a few buddies?”
I wouldn’t mind seeing that sweet ass of yours again.
“What time do you start?” he asked.
“You need a ride home from work? Maybe we could grab a bite before you have to head in tonight?”
I wanted to see him again, but I didn’t know if I should. I usually preferred late-night hook-ups, not real dates. Too many of those could start to feel like a relationship. “Uh…”
“What’s wrong? You don’t wanna see me again?”
If I blew him off now, I’d never see him again. York wasn’t the kind of man who had to beg a woman for anything. “I do.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
I could tell he was pissed I wasn’t jumping at the chance to spend more time with him. Probably because he usually had girls lining up to suck him off. That was one line I didn’t intend to join. “I meant what I said, York. I don’t do relationships.”
He chuckled. “Is that what you think I want?”
“So you just want sex?” Normally I’d be okay with that. But this time, for reasons I didn’t want to dissect, it made me feel kind of dirty.
“I didn’t say that.”
“Then what the hell do you want?” He was confusing me, and I didn’t like it. I preferred to lay my cards on the table and liked men who weren’t afraid to do the same.
“I don’t know. I’m still figuring that out.”
“Well, until you do figure it out, maybe we just should keep our distance?” I waited for a response, but when none came, I slid my finger across the screen, disconnecting the call.
Well, that’s the end of that.
So why didn’t I feel relieved?
I shouldn’t even be here.
That was what I kept telling myself after Lacy’s stance on the phone that morning. Yet there I sat, with four of my buddies—two of them already hammered and the others well on their way—while stealing a glance at her every chance I got.
I hadn’t told them why we were there, only that I’d found a new club worth checking out, so when my buddy Ace said, “I gotta tap that,” in reference to Lacy, I nearly lunged across the table.
“Shut the fuck up, dumbass.”
Ace looked shocked. But like all of my friends, he was a pro fighter and would never back down from a challenge, even when common sense told him he should. “What’s your problem, man? You got a thing goin’ with that hot little bartender? All you had to do was say so. But since when do you mind sharing?”
He was right. I rarely cared whether the chick I was doing was banging other guys, but Lacy was different. The way I felt about her was different. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, which was seriously fucked up and way out of character for me. “Since now.”
The waitress returned to refill our drinks, saving me from having to answer any more stupid questions.
“Do me a favor?” I asked her.
She smiled, resting her hand on my shoulder. “All you have to do is ask, handsome.”
“Ask Lacy to come over here when she gets a break?”
She pouted. “What do you want with her when you can have me? I’m a sure thing. Lacy’s far from it.”
Which meant Lacy wasn’t promiscuous. I liked that. I knew it was a double standard, but I couldn’t help the way I felt. Knowing that she was selective about the men she slept with only made me want her more.
“No offense, but she kind of ruined me for all other women,” I said, low enough so only she could hear me. I meant it as a joke to soften the sting of rejection, but it felt too true for me to be able to laugh it off.
She fanned her face, grinning. “I’ll never understand you guys. You chase that girl around like her honey pot’s sweeter than all the rest. Don’t get me wrong, I know she’s hot. I’d do her if she was into girls, but if you get her for even one night, you’re one damn lucky man.”
That just reinforced what Lacy had told me. One night, maybe two, and she’d have had her fill of me. The odds weren’t in my favor, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to take my chances.
I stood, stepped away from the table, and inclined my head so she would do the same. “You said lots of guys are after her?”
She rolled her eyes. “You wouldn’t believe some of the shit they pull to try to get her attention. Buy her drinks, send her flowers, leave their numbers with the waitresses. Some even wait for her in the parking lot.”
I didn’t like the sound of that. “She ever bite?”
“She seems pretty stand-offish with most of them. But she did go out with some car salesman after she broke up with her last boyfriend.”
I stole a glance at Lacy, who was shooting daggers at me. She probably thought I was hitting on the waitress just to piss her off. I was willing to do just about anything, but I wasn’t sure if flirting with another girl was on the list yet. “So what do you think it would take to get her attention?”
“She seems to like guys who don’t come on too strong. She’s pretty skittish, from what I can tell.”