Authors: Lissa Matthews
Tags: #Romance, #Adult, #Fiction, #Contemporary, #General
|Samhain Publishing (2011)|
|Tags:||Romance, Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, General|
One rope. Three days. And two hearts on the line.
Justin has had enough. Ella, the woman who healed his broken heart, has been cancelling on him for two months straight. Sure, she’s busy with her job, which has her traveling far and wide. But that never stopped her from sharing nights of trivia, long conversations and blazing hot sex—until now. Truth to tell, he misses their easy friendship, the way her sighs fill his ear as he fills her body.
What he can’t figure out is, what’s changed?
At work, Ella finds it easy to talk to rooms full of strangers. Once back at her lonely apartment, though, she’s back to her painfully shy self—until Justin. Their chance meeting grew over the months into a year-long affair, but she can’t shake the feeling that rejection and pain are just around the corner. Best thing to do? End it now, before their intimacy digs too deep.
Suddenly he’s at her door with a length of neon-green rope and a naughty proposition, daring her to say no. Just how good could it be? There’s only one way to find out…
Warning: The sheets are tangled, the hat is crumpled, and the jeans are worn low on the hips. The cowboy is hot, determined, and helpless in the face of bunny slippers. Readers may need extra batteries to get this one out of their system.
To the real Cowboy Justin, for all the inspiration and love you long to share. To Graylin for daily bowls of coffee. To N.D. for bunny slippers and laughter when I think too hard. And to my readers for being patient, for being honest, for helping me get through the wall, brick by brick. Thank you.
“Justin?” Ella gasped. “What are you doing here?”
Justin grinned at his pretty, albeit surprised, lover. “I’m here to get you, Ella.”
“Yep. I’m tired of this long-distance, once-every-few-weeks shit. I’m tired of you canceling on me. This nonsense of you not giving us a chance has to stop.” He hadn’t meant to say it quite like that before he ever got in the door, but the words just kind of jumped out. He wouldn’t take them back.
“It’s not nonsense, and I’ve had to cancel because of work. I told you that. Life has just gotten in the way, that’s all.”
Did she really believe that? Did she really expect him to believe it? He might have if her gaze hadn’t shifted from side to side instead of looking straight at him. “I might be younger than you, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I call bullshit.”
The blush that stained her cheeks in the early afternoon sun touched him as did the uncertain look in her eyes. He didn’t want to make her feel bad, but he wanted her, damn it, and he was going to have her. He’d even come prepared for her resistance, and he was afraid he’d have to pull out all the stops.
“Justin, please, what are you really doing here? And while I’m asking questions, how’d you find out my address?”
“I told you why I’m here. How I got your address, well…” He shrugged, not a bit apologetic. “I called the hotel’s home office.”
Ella nodded knowingly, finally pinning him with her stare. “And sweet-talked whomever answered the phone into giving you my address, no doubt. Some of those girls hear a sexy twang and would give away their firstborn if asked.”
“Sexy twang, huh?” She was the most adorable thing when irritated. “You going to invite me in?” He didn’t wait for an answer. He just took a step forward over the threshold and she took a step back.
“I don’t guess I have to since you’re already in.”
Justin bit back a grin this time as he gazed at her. He couldn’t help the urge. He wanted to let it split his mouth from ear to ear. She was full of fire, spit and vinegar, and had the sweetest, purest heart he’d ever known. All he wanted was for her to remember how good it had been and wanted to show her it could be that good again, even better long term and more often.
He nudged the door shut with the heel of his boot and looked around, trying to ignore the fidgeting she was doing beside him. Then he zeroed in on the suitcase sitting beside a small white table in the entryway. “Where’re you goin’?”
“What? They didn’t tell you that when you called the office? They’ll give you my address but not my schedule?” She sighed. “Business trip. You really should have called, Justin. We could have arranged something when I got back.”
“You mean like the last few times I’ve called and gotten the run around? You didn’t leave me any other choice.” He shook his head. He wasn’t falling for that again. “Things have been different with you the last couple of months. You’re pulling away and I don’t understand why. We rarely talk for any length of time. You tell me about the places you’ve been and your work, but I want to know about you, how you’re doin’. I’m tired of you pushing me away.” And he sounded like a goddamn whiny little girl. God help him, but the woman was enough to drive a man insane.
“We talk, Justin.”
He slanted a narrow gaze in her direction. “Not like we used to. We meet for the hottest damn sex on the planet, and sometimes we’ll talk for a few days after, but it doesn’t last. You pull away, put work in front of you as a shield until I have to practically beg you to meet me again. I want more than that, Ella. I’ve wanted more than that for a long fucking time.”
“You don’t like our weekends together?”
“You know I do. I love them.” He started to tell her he loved more than their weekends, but she wasn’t ready to hear it.. “I want more though, and I’m here to work on it. Unless of course you tell me you don’t want more than a few hot weekends of sex with me.”
“Here to work on it?” Arms crossed over her chest, she cocked one hip out to the side. “You giving me an ultimatum, cowboy?” She called him cowboy. That was a damn good sign. “Not at all.”
“How are you planning to, as you say, work on it? I’m leaving. You going to camp out in my apartment until I get back?”
Her defiance and sassiness and smart mouth he could handle. It was her silence and her excuses he couldn’t deal with. “Nope. And just for the record, I don’t think you can do it.”
She leveled a confused look at him. “Do what?”
“Tell me you don’t want more from me than sex every few weekends.”
“I can so,” she scoffed with a tilt of her chin.
Justin gave no outward reaction, he just waited. Sometimes having a little brother paid off in ways one might never expect. Such as staring contests with the woman you want more than your next breath. He stared her down until she blinked. He grinned. “You’d be lying.” Leaning down until his face was level with hers, he asked softly, “Are you going to start lying to me now, Ella?” Her gaze darted away and she started nibbling on her lower lip. He knew then he had her. He took a few steps until he was standing so close he could feel the heat coming off her body, see the pulse pounding in her neck. “Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me you don’t want more, tell me you get everything you want and need from these little weekend meetings. Tell me…”
“Tell me, Ella. Tell me and I’ll go.” Like hell. He’d driven ten hours from Dallas to Birmingham to get to her. No way was he leaving without her. He had a plan, and he was going to stick to it. He’d only leave if she meant it, and her eyes would tell him if her words were sincere and true.
He’d promised himself he wouldn’t put his heart out there again since his ex had cheated on him. He swore he’d never allow himself to get so hooked on anyone, but Ella had wormed her way inside him with little more than a smile, and the early conversations they’d had during trivia nights in the downtown Birmingham bar where they’d met last year. Add in the daily emails, hours of instant messages, text messages and phone calls… Hooked didn’t even begin to cover it.
She shook her head and pressed herself against him as he stood up straight again. She rubbed her face against his chest and sighed. “I can’t”
For a moment, he stood stock still, but then wrapped his arms around her body and pulled her as close as he could. He brushed his lips against the top of her soft-as-silk hair before threading one hand into it. He tugged and she lifted her head. There were questions and even a few tears swimming in her eyes. He didn’t want to see that, didn’t want to be the cause of any pain, only the most intense pleasure.
He lowered his head, intent on a soft, small kiss, but was surprised when she threw her hands up to grip his hair and stood on tiptoe, crushing her mouth to his. Her tongue was between his lips and her fists were yanking at him before letting go and slipping to the buttons on his black button-down. He didn’t make any move to stop her. If she wanted to undress him, he was more than willing to let her.
Once she had his shirt undone, he dropped his arms from around her and let her open it across his chest. She scraped her fingernails down his torso, just the way he liked, tender with a little bit of bite. She didn’t stop there though. No, she kept going, right on to the button on his jeans, followed by the zipper going down at the insistence of her fingers. He watched her gain access to his body, felt the keen pleasure at her touch, wanted nothing more than to put her on the floor and rut with her until they were both exhausted, but he didn’t. He gave her the freedom to do whatever she wanted, waited to see what she was after.
Ella pushed his jeans to his hips, letting his cock spring free before backing away and inching up her bright floral knee-length skirt. She kicked off her little sandals as she bared herself. All that separated him from being inside her was about three feet of distance and a pair of lime-green lace panties.
Once she’d backed herself against one of the entryway walls, he closed the three feet and reached for the lace.
“You wantin’somethin’, Ella?” He’d give her the fucking moon if she asked for it.
She pushed her hips toward him and he snagged the crotch of her lace panties in his fist. She let out a little hiss and nodded her head. “You. Inside me.”
He’d always loved that she would voice exactly what she wanted when it came to sex. That was just it though. Sex was the only area she wasn’t shy about. It was such a turn on too. She liked him in control, he’d learned that early on, but she knew exactly what she wanted and needed in order to get aroused and get off. She was a confusing minx, and one he had loved figuring out. With the standoffish ways she’d been acting, though… It was time to change things up a bit. It was time to get into her mind, her soul, her heart. “Change of heart from a few minutes ago when I walked in the door. You couldn’t wait to get rid of me.”
She groaned in frustration. “Still want you gone, Justin. I have a plane to catch, but dammit you know I can’t stop wanting when you’re around.”
“That’s what I’m counting on, baby, but I’m not going anywhere. Not again. Not without you.” He fisted the lace in his palm and rubbed the back of his knuckles against her very smooth, very hot and very wet slit. She braced herself against the wall and spread her legs for him. “You’re still such a good girl for me,” he murmured. “Now why don’t you tell me why you want me gone?”
“Won’t…work. This… Us. Too needy…”
The breathlessness of her voice, the panting, the slickness coating his hand told of her need, but to hear her say it, to hear the words drove him on. “Yes, it will. Needy is very good, baby. You just have to let me in. You just have to trust me.”
She hitched her skirt higher, and with her other hand, started working on the buttons of her own button-down. “No, no it can’t. Lust. Hot. Need. Please, Justin.”
“Lust is good. We can work with lust, I promise.” Hell, he’d take all the lust she had to give and then some.
The first time they’d been alone together it was all he could do to get a breath in, get a word in because her mouth was constantly attached to his or to some other part of his body. Not that he was complaining. Then or now. He’d never been with a woman so full of fire and hunger. Insatiable didn’t even come close to describing their encounter.
“Too much sex.”
Justin nipped at her chin. “Never too much sex.”
Ella nodded and pulled the sides of her shirt open, revealing the soft curve of her belly, the full curves of her breasts. Damn, they were still enough to drive him to his knees. She was a little smaller than the last time he’d seen her, but she still filled his hands and that’s all he wanted, all he craved.
He pulled down one cup of her pink with lime-green lace-trim bra until he could get at her nipple, rock hard in the cool air of the room. Rasping his thumb over it, and then leaning in to scrape his two-day-old scruff over it, he was able to pull a moan from her.
“Please, Justin, please,” she whimpered, at once pushing back into the wall and pushing herself into him.
He curled his tongue around her nipple and tugged it into his mouth as he pushed his hand upward, parting the lips of her sex with his knuckles. She sighed and ground her clit on him. Her hands were in his hair, on his shoulders, his arms. She was restless, unnerved, hungry and just the way he wanted her, just the way he planned to keep her. He wanted that moment of arousal, that one precious moment where nothing and no one else mattered but being kept on the edge.