Authors: Mari Carr & Jayne Rylon
He didn’t hesitate, didn’t see any point in hedging. “Sex.”
Jade laughed and tried to dodge under his arm. He lowered it just in time, holding her firmly in place. She tried to struggle, but she was no match for him.
“You’re manhandling me again.”
“I’m trying to have a serious conversation with you, Jade.”
“This is ridiculous. Did you fall off a horse and hit your head? This is me you’re talking to. Jade. We’re friends. We don’t fuck. You have the bimbos at Spurs for that.”
“This isn’t just about sex. Do you want to hear my idea or are you going to keep playing the coward? For someone who claims to want to go wild and be impulsive, you’re acting awful skittish.”
The taunt had the desired effect. If there was one thing Jade couldn’t resist it was a dare…or an insult to her courage.
“Fine.” She stopped trying to escape, dropping her arms. She was pretending to humor him, but her body was too tense, a live wire ready to spark. He was getting to her. “Let’s hear it.”
He lowered his hands until they rested on her waist, then he tightened his grip, hoping the hold would remind her of their kiss in the parking lot. “You said you feel like you’re coming out of your skin, tired of the same-old, same-old. I think I have the remedy.”
She placed her hands on his wrists. He thought she’d try to pry his hands off, but instead, she loosely clasped them. It was a defensive movement plain and simple. She’d allow the hold…but nothing more. “And your answer is sex? Wow. Typical male response. Fucking cures everything, right?”
“You’ve been pushing the limits lately, Jade. Driving your motorcycle too fast. Picking that fight at the bar. Daniel told me about your spin on that wild horse of his. The one he’s fighting like the devil to break. He said you got thrown pretty hard and you were lucky you weren’t hurt.”
“That was over a month ago. And Daniel acts like an old woman, gossiping and making stories sound twenty times worse than they really were.”
“You’re hell-bent on putting yourself in danger, all in the pursuit of excitement. And none of it has worked, has it?”
Jade didn’t respond, but she was definitely listening.
“You’re still depressed, floundering for a way to break free. So I propose you try something different. There’s a better way to change up the daily routine, to get your motor revving.”
She shook her head. “I can’t believe you’re suggesting this. You don’t seriously expect me to have sex. With you? Just because I’m bored?”
He nodded. “Actually, I do.”
“And after those five minutes are over, what do you advise I try next?”
He laughed at her insult, then moved closer. “It wouldn’t be just sex.”
She frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m offering you something more intense than just vanilla sex. Something I think you’d like to try.”
Her eyes darted to the door once more. Yep. She was in panic mode. “I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”
“You like it rough, don’t you? You like your pleasure laced with pain.”
Jade’s chest rose and fell rapidly as her breathing increased. “Don’t be silly.”
“I can give you that. And more.”
Liam struggled not to grin at her question. While she was feigning disinterest, her body was betraying her.
“I’m going to take over in the bedroom. Dominate you. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
She shook her head, but her eyes didn’t meet his. She was careful to look anywhere besides his face. “I’d kill any man who tried to tell me what to do. You included.”
He was tempted to call her a liar, but it was obvious she wasn’t ready to give in just yet. He’d have to peel back a lot of layers before Jade would accept her true nature. And his. He’d never bothered to drop the shield, to show her the man aching to get out because he’d bought her tough-girl act and decided there wasn’t a submissive bone in her body. Now…he was starting to think he’d been wrong.
Actions were more potent than words. Liam cupped her face, leaning down to kiss her. Jade didn’t bother to pull away. Instead, she met him halfway, her lips accepting his.
For several moments, he kept his kiss slow and gentle, amused by Jade’s efforts to control it. She tugged at his hair, pressed her lips harder against his, stroked her tongue along the inside of his mouth.
There was no doubt about it. He had definitely freaked her out and now Jade was determined to regain the upper hand. Prove to herself—and him—that she wasn’t what he thought.
She was grasping at straws. He let her direct the kiss for a few minutes, then he gripped her face between his hands and pushed her away. She tried to draw him back toward her, but he resisted easily.
She blinked rapidly a few times. “I thought this was what you were after.”
“I want you, Jade. And believe me, no one’s more shocked by that fact than me. You’re nervous about what I’m offering and I understand why. There’s a lot at stake here. So what if we take some of the pressure off it?”
“What’s the biggest reason stopping you from sleeping with me?”
Jade’s response came so quickly, he didn’t doubt for a minute it was sincere. It was also the answer he’d been expecting. “I don’t want to lose you. My sexual relationships tend to implode pretty quickly.”
Liam chuckled. “You can say that again. Have you ever dated a guy for longer than a month?”
“Careful, pot. I don’t think you wanna call this kettle black. I’ve never seen you take the same girl out more than a handful of times.”
She had a point. For a long time, he’d compared every woman he dated to Celia and he’d never found anyone who measured up. So he’d indulged in meaningless sex with women who didn’t mind exploring the facets of BDSM with him. While those nights had helped him uncover a part of him he’d resisted, they hadn’t filled the part of him that longed for companionship. He hadn’t met anyone who held his interest or challenged him.
Jade did. She’d captured his attention in the cemetery years ago and he’d yet to become bored by her antics or her smart-talking ways.
Luckily he’d anticipated her concern and had come up with a way to buy himself some time to alleviate her fears while drawing her closer to him, giving her time to recognize what was all-too-clear to him now. “We’ll put limits on the affair. We’ll go into this knowing when it will end.”
A crease formed in Jade’s forehead. “That sounds logical, but I’m sure there’s a hornet’s nest in there somewhere.”
“Neither of us is dating anyone. And I know for a fact you want me.”
Jade tilted her head. “God, you’re a cocky bastard.”
He gave her a knowing grin. “Need me to prove it?”
She shook her head quickly. “No. I have no idea how you’d try to confirm something like that and I don’t wanna know.”
“I’m in a rut too, Jade. Kissing you was the most exciting thing I’ve done in months.”
“You realize how pathetic that sounds, right?”
She released a long breath. “But if we’re being entirely honest, the same holds true for me.”
“Here’s what I want you to do. Anytime you experience that antsy feeling, that desire to do something reckless or crazy, call me. Or better yet, come to my house.”
“Why would I do that?”
Liam didn’t bother to answer. Instead, he tugged her T-shirt over her breasts, then dragged her bra down until he’d exposed her. If her uncles and dad ventured out to the porch, he was a dead man, but his brain was having trouble convincing the rest of him that mattered.
She fought to cover herself. “Liam. My family is—”
Her words died abruptly when he bent over and sucked one of her nipples into his mouth roughly. He didn’t bother to hold back. It was time to draw the real Jade out of hiding.
He nipped at the tight nub, enjoying her gasp of pleasure, the way her hands tangled in his hair. Then he repeated the same forceful sucking, alternated with sharp bites, on the other breast.
“Oh my God,” she whispered. “Liam. That feels so…” Her words drifted away as he continued to suckle her.
Her hands held him firmly to her, not that she needed to bother. He had no intention of releasing her. He would continue this assault until she agreed to his offer. He wanted Jade in his bed and he was prepared to fight dirty if necessary.
He continued to play with her breasts for several minutes, driven to rougher touches, firmer squeezes, harder bites by Jade’s soft cries and pleas for more.
When he sensed she was reaching a precipice, he pulled away and tugged her clothing back in place. He had to be careful not to overplay his hand. “That’s why you’ll call me. That’s what I’m offering. Sex without strings. The chance to dip your toe in the water of bondage, submission and anything else you want to try.”
He sensed the word
hovering on her lips. Her desire for what he was offering was almost palpable. Unfortunately, she wasn’t finished digging her heels in. She shook her head—though he wasn’t immediately sure if she was denying him or trying to shake herself back to awareness. “We’re friends, Liam. I don’t want that to change.”
“That’s solid. We’re putting boundaries on the affair to protect it.”
Jade blinked rapidly, her sharp mind finally managing to emerge from the haze of arousal. “For how long?”
Jade was sincerely concerned. He’d never known his impulsive, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants friend to resist something she wanted. For now, he needed to make her believe this was just a brief affair, a way to scratch the itch, without endangering the friendship.
Liam wanted to lay it all out on the line, to tell her he wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than forever, but that would be tantamount to pounding the nails in his own coffin. Jade would never embark on a sexual relationship with him if she knew exactly how much he wanted. He’d have to ease her into that realization.
So, for now, he’d try to win her heart and convince her they fit together while offering her a safe haven called casual sex and experimentation. “End of the summer. Our last night together will be the evening of Sienna and Daniel’s wedding.”
Jade grinned. “A summer fling?”
Liam wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. He sensed she was wavering. Time to move in for the kill. “The hottest fling ever. What do you say?”
She fell silent for several moments as Liam held his breath, praying for the answer that would put him—and his cock—out of his misery. “Can I think about it?”
He frowned, wanting to push her for an answer now, but pressure wouldn’t work with Jade. Her concern was genuine. And he was touched she would put her own desires aside to protect their friendship. In fact, he understood her fear because he shared it.
Liam couldn’t imagine a life without Jade in it. She’d been scarce these past two weeks and the time had dragged by at a snail’s pace. He’d been miserable without her loud laughter, her boundless energy, her over-the-top enthusiasm for just about anything and everything that happened at Circle H Ranch.
“Fine. Yeah. Take a couple days to consider it. But don’t wait too long.”
She scowled at what must’ve sounded like an ultimatum on his part. He didn’t mean it that way, but his libido was seriously fucking with his brain.
“That’s not a threat, Jade.” He grasped her hand and pulled it to the front placket of his jeans. She didn’t resist when he pressed her palm against his covered erection. “It’s a plea.”
He expected her to make a joke, to tease him. Liam was surprised when she added more pressure to her touch, stroking his dick through the denim with enough strength to make his eyes drift shut, cause his jaw to lock. Christ, he was horny. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d wanted a woman this much.
For several quiet moments, she merely stroked him. Then her hand disappeared.
He opened his eyes to find her studying his face. He wasn’t sure what she saw there, but the anxiousness in her gaze lifted, a small smile covering her face.
“You promise me that no matter what happens this summer, after Sienna’s wedding, things will go back to normal?”
He nodded, the lie tasting bad on his lips. “Sure.”
“I’ll give you my answer soon.”
This time when she pushed against his chest, he gave way, allowing her to return to the house. Rather than follow, he walked over to the screen door and stared out into the night. He needed a few minutes to sort out his thoughts…and to coax his cock back into down-boy mode. Returning to the house with Jade—and a hard-on—while her father and uncles were around was the equivalent of waving a red flag in front of a herd of raging bulls.
He was pretty damn sure Sawyer wouldn’t approve of the proposition he’d just offered his only daughter. Hell, he didn’t feel all that great about it himself. When he’d come up with the idea this afternoon, it had seemed like the perfect solution to his dilemma. He’d offer Jade the security of a casual affair, while slowly showing her exactly why they should embark on a longer engagement.