Authors: Shara Azod
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are no to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 Shara Azod
Editor: Stephanie Parent
Cover Art: Shara Azod
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews. This is a work of fiction. All references to real places, people, or events are coincidental, and if not coincidental, are used fictitiously. All trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks, and registered service marks are the property of their respective owners and are used herein for identification purposes only. eBooks are NOT transferable. Re-selling, sharing or giving eBooks is a copyright infringement.
Weddings just sucked. China gritted her teeth as she concentrated on not jerking her arm away from the hateful best man. In three days it would all be over and she would never have to see or hear from Reese Matthews ever again. Of course she had thought that once before, when she had been so much younger and dumber. What had she ever seen in this asshole? As for right now, all she had to do was get through the rehearsal, then the following dinner. A few more hours and she could tactfully say her good nights and scurry home far away from the rude, overbearing, arrogant asshole who was holding her way too tightly right now.
“I get the feeling you want to run away, China Girl,” the oversized oaf had the nerve to lean down and whisper in her ear. The last thing she wanted to do was talk to the man, so she ignored him. “Just like back in college. I’m afraid I’m not going to let that happen.”
If she could think of a smart-ass retort, she would’ve hit him right between the eyes with it. Unfortunately, that damn voice of his keep knocking her slightly off kilter whenever he spoke. The whole speaking low right against her earlobe thing only made it worse. Much, much worse. By the time they reached the front, she still hadn’t come up with anything, so she gave her arm a quick jerk and swiftly moved away from him. Unfortunately, she almost stumbled when she swore she heard him growl. Like a low, sexy rumble that should be left in the bedroom. Wait, no, she was NOT going to think of Reese and bedrooms.
Impossibly tall, built like a brick shit house and waaaaaay too handsome for a normal woman’s piece of mind, China preferred to think of Reese as a backwoods redneck, albeit one with a degree from MIT. That way she wouldn’t waste her time thinking about the drop dead gorgeous man who managed to offend her down to the roots of her all-natural ’do. Not five minutes after being back in his presence, the man had the audacity to ask her if she knew there was a very famous porn star with her name. Oh, and she was black too. Like that was a fucking compliment?
If that wasn’t bad enough, Reese had gotten it in his head Tanner was only marrying Purity, her very best friend on the world, out of some kind of obligation. She shuddered to think what the hell kind of obligation Reese could possibly think that might be. ’Cause really— WTF? Like Purity was some kind of charity case? And he says this with a straight face like China was really interesting in hearing it. Apparently, Mr. Know-It-All Matthews thought Purity Winthrop and Tanner Longford was a huge mistake. According to the man who speaks far too much, the couple had nothing in common but sex. China was willing to bet anything he was talking himself hoarse trying to get Tanner to stop this before it was too late.
Although China told herself Reese was doing this because Purity was lack and Tanner was white, she knew deep down Reese was right. She also knew Reese wasn’t really prejudiced, just stupid. Tanner and Purity rarely did anything together; hell, they barely even talked. Every chance she got, China tried to convince Purity to reconsider what she was doing. Not only had Purity thoroughly pissed off her family with this travesty, the woman was miserable. It was like once Purity had started this whole wedding business, she was terrified to end it.
That didn’t mean Reese was off the hook for being a jackass. He was what he was. And she hated him. Despised him. But holy hell he could fill out a pair of jeans.
Damn, but that woman could fill out a dress. Reese didn’t bother to hide the fact he was staring directly at the maid of honor. China was more than sexy, more than beautiful—she was the total package. And he knew he had offended the hell out of her, but that was mainly because he was stupid. Not that he considered himself the numbnuts he seemed to be whenever he was near the Lady China; it was just that she robbed his brain of all rational thought. Like telling her there was an African American porn star with her name was not the brightest move. He had just been completely floored by her at first sight.
China had been sexy as hell back in college, but damn, how the years had been kind to her. No, fuck kind—she had been blessed with each passing year. He’d been half out of his mind crazy in love with her back then, but just never had the balls to say anything about it. Never one to go for the bony, no-curve type, Reese loved his woman curvy, womanly, lush. China was all that and so much more. The woman sparked intelligence and fire, and she didn’t have to say a word for that to come through. More than once she had told him in the nicest way possible to go jump in a lake. Reese didn't know if he had ever been told to fuck off so politely before in his life. And she wasn’t even Southern. Once she had cut her eyes at him, looking at him as if he was some errant little boy and said in the sweetest voice, “You know most people are taught to mind their tongue in kindergarten.” He’d had a hard-on for two straight days, as twisted as that was. Too bad she was determined not to give him the time of day.
Not that Reese was planning on letting that stop him. There was an instant chemistry and he knew China felt it too. This time he wasn't going to run away with his tail between his legs. He was going for what he wanted. If fate didn’t want them together, then it wouldn’t have brought them back together. That was just the way he intended to look on this opportunity. She just didn’t want to. For now, he really couldn’t blame her. Not only had his opening comments been beyond idiotic, but given their collective best friends were on the fast track to making the worst mistake of their lives, China was probably preoccupied. Even though she had never openly agreed with him, when he voiced his doubts about this marriage, she hadn’t looked at him with the same disdain as she had with the unfortunate comment about the porn star. In fact, he had seen agreement in those deep brown doe eyes.
At first, Reese thought maybe to tag team the couple, with both the best man and the maid of honor discreetly stating their objections. Since China was determined to pretend to hate him, that wasn’t going to happen. Therefore, Reese was going to have to get dirty. The thing was, he needed China’s cooperation if it was going to work. The bachelor party was tonight, when his plan would take place. He needed China’s full cooperation.
However, he needed the woman more.
What a cluster fuck. Reese was determined to save his friend from making a huge mistake and ruining two loves in the process, but he was even more determined to get the girl. Purity and Tanner may be a disaster as a couple, but himself and China would be pure magic. Even if she did think he was some redneck, hillbilly idiot.
“I’m sorry, but your tonnage is in my way.” Why, why, why did the oaf have to follow her outside? China cast furtive glances around the dark parking lot outside Purity’s favorite Chinese restaurant, but there was no one to be seen. It would be better if she was afraid of him, or if she thought he might mean her harm. The only thing China feared was that he might come on to her, and if he did, Lord help her, she wasn’t sure he wouldn’t get exactly what he was after. “There are bimbos aplenty inside.”
In fact, China happened to witness more than one waitress pressing what looked like a napkin with her number on it in his eager oafish hands. It irked her that it bothered her, but there it was.
“Do I look like a man who wants or needs a bimbo?”
Why did he have to go and ask a question like that?
“Wants or needs is relative,” she snapped before she could think the better of it. “You certainly have the attention of them, so go fetch yourself one and leave me the hell alone.”
For once, Reese looked genuinely confused, which was a far cry better than that too sexy, too confident look he usually wore. It gave her the upper hand, and that was exactly what she needed right now. Pushing past him, she stalked to her car, determined to get the hell away from him, from the craziness inside the restaurant, from everything but a glass of wine and her comfy bed.
Just as China had made it to her car, she found herself caged inside incredibly thick, well-muscled arms. God, it really shouldn’t feel so good. He wasn’t even touching her, but he was close, so close she could feel the heat coming from his body. As if the summer night wasn’t hot enough.
“Will you stop trying to get away from me?” Reese growled right next to her ear, causing goose bumps to break out across her skin.
“No.” Because if she stopped she would be lost.
It wasn’t that she was adverse to a fling. As a fully grown woman of thirty-five, she had had her share of a few safe, not-quite-so-sane romps. But with this man, it wouldn’t be a fling, at least not for her. As mad as he made her, as pissed off as his asinine comments made her, China was intrigued in spite of herself. There were times when she found herself wondering just what was it that made Reese tick? What turned him on? What were his favorite foods? No, this man was bad for her mental health, and she liked what little sense she did have right where it was, thank you very much.
“Look, I just want to talk to you about Purity and Tanner. I have a plan.”
Oh, if only that plan involved the thick erection ever so slightly grazing her backside. Resisting the temptation to push back was a bitch. All she really wanted to do was rub against the man like a cat. If only he wasn’t such an unbelievable ass. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to turn, trying to forget how devastatingly handsome the man pinning her to her car was, how much she loved the fact she couldn’t break free if she tried. Lord, there was just something about a man who knew how to use his strength just enough to subdue a woman without hurting her. China would bet every dime she had he did that in bed too, making a woman feel every single inch of what he was packing.
She fixed him with her very best glare. Tried to anyway. She had no clue if she was pulling it off or not.
“Yeah, so? What’s the plan?” It was all kinds of wrong to even be entertaining this line of thought, but he was right. Purity and Tanner didn’t belong together. They didn’t even like each other much as far as China could tell.
Reese didn’t back up, didn’t so much as budge. The man was way too close for her piece of mind.
“Well, it’s more like, I want to brainstorm a plan with you.” Shooting her a crooked smile, he had the nerve to look all precious and adorable. A man who was six foot four plus and all muscle had no business looking adorable. That was just wrong. “I was hoping to get you to help me out. Like over drinks. My treat. Say, tomorrow night, around six?”
No. Hell no. This was a very bad idea.
“Don’t you have the bachelor party tomorrow night?” Because after a couple cocktails China wasn’t so sure she could say no. Okay, truthfully she wasn’t sure she would stop herself from jumping him. There was nothing wrong with a good hate fuck, right? No—no, she should not think like that. Stay away from Reese. As far away as humanly possible.
“Doesn’t start till ten.” Reese leaned forward, bending down so that their faces were dangerously close. “We’re both reasonably intelligent people. Surely we can come up with something before ten.”
What she meant to say was no. Actually something closer along the lines of “Go screw yourself” or something equally as definitive. Instead her mouth opened and China heard herself say, “Okay, but I’m still not so sure we need to stick our noses in this.”
Crap. This was so not good. The smile that split Reese’s face was like the sun coming out after a thunderstorm. Pathetic how warm that genuine expression of pleasure made her feel. Turning, she quickly pressed the button on her keychain that unlocked her car way more times than necessary. Why the hell wouldn’t the door budge? She’d heard the damn thing unlock... Oh yeah, the mouth from the South was holding the damn door closed.
“Are you going to let me get in my car?” Seriously, she hated to sound so peevish, but she needed to get away. Fast. She threw the question over her shoulder, not daring to turn around. God, why did his nearness feel so right?
“As soon as you turn around and give me a goodnight kiss,” came the deep, seductive reply immediately.
He had to be kidding. “There is no way I’m letting your paw me.”
Despite knowing what trouble this was going to lead to, her heart sped up at the possibility.
“I promise to not even move.” He was lying. God, she hoped he was lying. “I’ll just stand here—promise.”
China was in no way naive when it came to men. She’d heard so many lies, come-ons, and pick-up lines that she was confident in her ability to spot bullshit for the most part when it came from the opposite sex. What Reese had just said wasn’t unique, it wasn’t new, it was laughable on its face. And yet, she turned. Swearing to herself she would peck him on the cheek and get on her way, she lifted up on her toes even though he was leaning down. She really did aim for his cheek. Unfortunately he waited until she was just about there before turning his head slightly, causing their lips to touch. And cling. True to his word, Reese didn’t move—his body, that is—but his lips did move, coaxing her lips open for his tongue to seduce its way inside, so thoroughly battling down her defenses until her entire body was pressing against his much larger frame.
“You sure you need go?” his soft voice interrupted the sensual haze he'd so effortlessly woven around her, breaking her out of the dreamlike state she had fallen into.
Shit! Shoving against his chest with all her might, she managed to make him stumble back enough to get the car door open and slip inside. Damn, damn, damn—how could she let this happen? And the worst part was the deep chuckle that followed her as she slammed the car door closed and gunned it out of the parking lot.