Read The Sweetest Taboo Online

Authors: Alison Kent

Tags: #Romance

The Sweetest Taboo

BOOK: The Sweetest Taboo
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The Sweetest Taboo
by Alison Kent

Contents

Chapter

1

Chapter

2

Chapter

3

Chapter

4

Chapter

5

Chapter

6

Chapter

7

Chapter

8

Chapter

9

Chapter

10

Chapter

11

Chapter

12

Epilogue

1

HE WAS PLAYING THE blues again.

The melancholy and menacing low-down sounds wound their way through her bedroom’s open window, conjuring wild and reckless images in her wandering mind. Feet tucked beneath her in the bedroom’s overstuffed reading chair, Erin Thatcher placed the open copy of Anïs Nin’s
Little Birds
facedown on the quilted throw covering her lap.

With her hands resting on the chair’s padded arms, her head sinking into the cushioned back, she closed her eyes and listened. The rhythm worked the magic she’d come to expect from the sultry sounds, arousing the parts of her body the erotica had wickedly stirred to life.

She wanted to indulge in the sensations, to let the music take her places she hadn’t visited in far too long, to offer her experiences rich with the sensual encounters and adventures her reading of late reminded her she was missing.

The guitar strings stroked velvet fingers the length of her neck, caressing her skin from her chin to the hollow of her throat. The singer’s voice filled her ears with dirty words and sweet nothings, whispered suggestions of bodies belonging together and loving long into the night. Hearing so much in the music said a lot about the silence in her life.

Oh, the crowd at Paddington’s On Main was noisy enough, but the downtown Houston, Texas, wine and tobacco bar was her career. A career she loved. A career she’d been destined for since first visiting the UK with her parents, standing but knee-high to her Granddad Rory behind the counter in his quayside pub deep in Devon’s lush countryside.

But it was not a career that met her personal needs and desires. Neither her regular customers nor her co-workers—no matter how much she enjoyed the interaction with both—touched that part of her soul that knew there was more to life than the endless hours she devoted to work.

Hours she knew Rory would never have wanted her to spend, but how could she do any less? Paddington’s was her legacy from the granddad she’d already lost. And she would do everything in her power to keep the bar afloat.

After all the years he’d devoted to her upbringing, the sacrifices he’d made on her behalf, the remorse of letting him down would be too much to bear. She couldn’t chance losing his dream, not when she wasn’t certain she’d ever recover from losing him.

Right now, however, at this moment, the one thing of which she was selfishly feeling the loss, the one thing her life was missing above all else, was intimacy of the most basic sort. One man and one woman. Simple and to the point.

She had friends galore, both here in town and in cyberspace. It was, in fact, the literary erotica her online reading group had chosen to read this month that had her so restless, furthering her discontent with this one part of her life—the only part of her life—

in which she felt lacking.

And now he was playing the blues again.

She wanted to know who
he
was.

He’d lived in the loft above hers since, several months before, she’d moved into the newly-converted, one-hundred-year-old hotel on the edge of Houston’s theater district.

They crossed paths in the mail room, the tomblike space too small for the two of them and the mutual attraction which hovered like a heavy cloud of bone-soaking rain.

They ran into one another in the garage. His classic black GTO lurked at the end of the row where she parked her Toyota Camry, a darkly menacing presence lying in wait.

They passed each other coming in and out of the elevator on the ground floor. Neither gave the other wide berth. Instead, each seemed to have the need to test unspoken limits, to brush clothing, to breathe the same air, to measure the fit of bodies…

Enough already!

Pushing her way up out of the chair and dragging the quilt behind her, Erin padded across the hardwood floor of her bedroom, her socks slip-sliding on the smoothly grained surface. She pulled back the simple muslin panel along the antique brass rod and climbed into the window seat, tugging her sleep shirt over her updrawn knees and cocooning herself in the warm cotton knit and the quilt.

It was dark here, away from the single lamp she’d left on for reading. Here in the very corner of her room, far from the hallway door and the rest of the pitch-black loft, six stories above the ground. It was dark and it was cold and the clock was ticking its way toward 3:00 a.m.

But from here she could hear the muted noises of the traffic below, watch the brake lights and blinkers of the cars leaving the city’s nightlife behind. And she could smell the smoke curling from the end of the cigar he inevitably smoked while the blues made love to the night.

She could so easily picture him, leaning on the window ledge, elbows bracing his weight, hand holding the dangling cigar, thumb flicking ashes from the end. He always wore dark colors—navy, burgundy, black and pine. Tonight, unseasonably cool for early October, her imagination dressed him in a crew-neck cashmere sweater.

He’d wear it loose, rather than tucking it into his jeans. The hem would bunch loosely around his hips, inviting her hands to explore the tempting skin beneath. He’d have on expensive black leather boots and his hair, cut short only on the sides and the back, left overly, rebelliously long on top, would fall over his forehead, to his darkly slashed brows and starburst lashes, skimming eyes an incongruously light shade of green.

Why she was playing fantasy dress-up, she had no idea. Except, perhaps, for the possibility that she’d never been easily intimidated. And that single personality quirk inspired her to figure out why the idea of actually sharing the building’s tiny, slowmoving elevator with the man set her temperature on the same upward climb.

Or why she checked his parking space each time she pulled into hers, the skin on the back of her neck prickling hot at the thought of being caught alone with him in the ominously gloomy garage. Or why the click of his key in his mailbox, echoing in the small basement, resounded through her body like a shot to the heart.

Okay. Now she was exaggerating. He had to have at least one or two redeeming qualities or he’d wouldn’t be living where he lived. She knew exactly the type of invasive background checks mortgage companies and tenant associations put a body through…unless that body had paid cash, another possibility that had occurred to her as the man hadn’t kept any sort of regular hours since she’d known him.

Except she didn’t know him. And so she shouldn’t be noticing his comings and goings.

She was noticing both and far more. Things that a sane and practical woman would have the sense to ignore. Or at least to pass off as surface attraction. Shoulders accentuated beneath dark fabric. Legs confident in their long, rangy stride. Hands large enough and strong enough to palm a basketball. Or a woman’s throat.

Erin shuddered. She had to be at least six degrees of sick to find his formidable aura intriguing. Her sex drive might be steering her thought processes but she’d be damned before her brain forgot how to apply the brakes. Brooding good looks did not serious boink material make.

For all she knew, he could be a thug of the highest order. The possibility of bodies beneath the floorboards wasn’t much of a concern considering he lived on the seventh floor and she lived underneath on the sixth. Trafficking in narcotics or currency or plutonium, however, wasn’t so easily ruled out.

Okay. Now she was borrowing libelous trouble. But wasn’t trouble par for the Erin Thatcher course. If math and memory served her correctly, curiosity had already snatched away at least four of her nine lives.

Those were relationships, Erin. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

What was she talking about? Sex with an improper stranger? Ha! If
that
wouldn’t make a perfect
Cosmo
headline, she didn’t know what would.
Wait a minute
. A flash of memory flickered over her head and ruined the moody ambience. Throwing off the quilt, the music and her imagination, she jumped to her feet, sock-shushing her way back across the room. Hadn’t she just seen another article…

She flopped belly first onto her bed, flipping through the pages of the magazine she’d picked up earlier today. The magazine with the article that had caught her eye. The article about finding a Man To Do before saying, “I do!” Not that she planned to say any such thing any time soon.

But she did like the “go for it” sentiment behind the article. How cool it would be to ignore practicalities. To make entertaining conquests. To collect raunchy stories to share with her girlfriends. Not to mention having a hell of a lot of healthy naked fun.

And, thinking further, she knew two other single and sexually frustrated females who could benefit from a little living it up with a scandalously inappropriate man. Tess and Samantha both deserved to take a tumble with their own highly desirable Mr. Wrong.

Along with Erin, both women belonged to Eve’s Apple, an online reading group devoted to literary temptation, from sensory enticement to intellectual appeal to the most basic and provocative exploration of adventurous sex.

Sex that not a one of the three of them were having.

Erin reached across to her bedside table where she’d left her laptop last night after spending too many hours in her office working on the budget for Paddington’s upcoming anniversary celebration.

Settling back into the pillows propped against her headboard, she began composing an e-mail that she knew would raise at least one eyebrow in both Chicago and New York City.

From: Erin Thatcher

Sent:

Wednesday

To: Samantha Tyler; Tess Norton

Subject: Magazine Article on Doing Men

Considering the reading group’s recent fixation with literary erotica, I decided a themed and attention-grabbing subject line appropriate. ::snort::

Speaking of the group (and don’t get me wrong—I adore the diversity of the Eve’s Apple membership), whose idea was it
anyway
to spend an entire month reading Anaïs Nin? Did we need another reminder of the sad state of our sex lives? I can’t believe I’ve let myself become so consumed with work, especially when Rory taught me better. And now with this door-die anniversary celebration for Paddington’s…

Figures, doesn’t it? The one time I could use a man to help me shag off a bit of this frustration I don’t have one. Which brings me back to my subject line.

Here, girls, we have a veritable smorgasbord of unsuitable men. (“Rascals, rakes and rapscallions!”) The type of man no girl in her right mind would settle down with but, hey, we’re talking about a fling. At least
I’m
talking about a fling.

BOOK: The Sweetest Taboo
6.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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