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«Copyright © 2014 J. Kenner The right of J. Kenner to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the ...»

-- [ Page 9 ] --

My body was doing exactly what he said, and between my thighs, my sex was clenching, too, wanting his touch even though he wasn’t even in the room.

“Tell me about your panties.” “Cotton. Bikini. Boring.” “Not boring. I can picture you in them. You naked and aroused in your boring cotton panties—innocent, and yet not,” he added before I could protest. “Tell me something, Kat. Are they damp?” “Yes. Oh, yes.” “Are you sure?” “I—” “Slide your hand down and let me see. Let me paint that picture in my mind. You, arched back, your T-shirt pulled taut across your breasts, and your fingers inside your panties as you touch yourself. As I touch you.” “Cole...” “She protests?” he asked, his voice light with amusement. “You’re the one who offered this, Kat.” “The hell I did,” I countered, but there was laughter in my voice, too.

“Anything I want,” he said, and this time when he spoke there was no amusement. There was just heat and need and demand.

“Touch yourself, baby. Touch yourself, and think of me.” “I—” But I didn’t finish the thought. Primarily because I had no thoughts.

My mind was in a haze, filled only with the promise of pleasure and the sweet temptation of Cole’s hands upon me, even if only in fantasy.

Slowly, because I wanted to draw out the pleasure, I placed my palm over my lower belly. I eased my hand down, slipping my fingertips under the cotton waistband, then gasping a little as I did.

Because that wasn’t my hand I felt, but Cole’s. Not my desire I was breathing in, but his.

“That’s right,” he murmured. “Don’t stop. I want to feel how wet you are.

I want to watch you open for me in the sunlight, all hot and wet and wild. Lower, Kat.

Slide your hand lower, then tell me what you feel.” “I’m wet,” I said, which was the understatement to end all understatements. I was soaked. I was desperate. I was nothing but carnal desire and wild, wicked heat. “I’m so wet, and I want this to be your hand. Your fingers.” “But it is. Well, not yet.

Do you feel that? The slight tickle up your inner thigh? Do you know what that is?” I couldn’t speak, so I just shook my head. He must have understood, though, because he continued. “That’s my brush, the bristles stroking and teasing all the way to your cunt, then dancing over your clit, so soft, so sensual.” I gasped, realizing suddenly that I’d forgotten to breathe.

“Light touches, baby.

Tease yourself like my brush.

A light finger over your clit.

Then slide a finger inside yourself. Imagine it’s my finger, then the tip of my brush, because I will claim you that way, baby. I’m going to claim you every way possible.” I was whimpering now, wanting what he described, naughty and wild and so unexpected, and yet so personal to him—to us—that it turned me on more than I would have ever thought possible.

“It’s time to come for me, baby. Is your clit hard?

Sensitive?” “God, yes.” “Then softly at first, harder if you need to. It’s my mouth on you now. My tongue tasting you. My tongue flicking over that sweet nub. Do you know how good you taste? I could eat you all day, all night.” “Please,” I murmured as my hand teased my clit, faster then slower, as the world seemed to spin and I seemed to float, carried away on the swell of Cole’s deep, caramel voice. The sensation was wonderful—passion and pleasure that had such incredible potential.

I didn’t expect to fulfill that potential, though. But that was okay. Just the journey with Cole was amazing. Just the knowledge that he was the one who made me feel this way, like my skin was sparking with electricity.

Like I could fly if just given the chance.

“That’s it, baby. You’re so wet. You’re so hot. Just a little more. Just a little bit higher and then I want you to come for me. Come on, baby.

Explode with me right now.” I cried out, then arched up in surprise and amazement and pure, golden pleasure.

The orgasm rocked through me, hard and fast and all the more violent because I wasn’t expecting it and had no defense against it. I tried to breathe, tried to bring my body back down to earth, but all I could do was ride it out until, finally, I found myself curled into a ball on the wooden floor, my arms around my knees, and my body still trembling with the aftershocks of ultimate satisfaction.

“Katrina,” he murmured.

“Cole.” I rolled to my side so that I could see the phone and tried to imagine that it was Cole beside me, touching me, stroking me. That he’d brought me to orgasm—a feat that amazed me—then held me tight. And that he was holding on to me still.

“Hear me, baby,” he said.

His tone, more serious than the moment called for, brought me to full attention.

“I don’t see what isn’t there, and I don’t paint what I don’t see.” I frowned, not understanding what we were talking about.





“You say that’s not you on my canvases and sketches, but you’re wrong. You’ve filled my days and occupied my nights. I know you, Katrina Laron, and you’re more innocent than you think.

I’ve claimed you, baby, and that makes you mine. But maybe not in the way you think.” “I don’t understand.” “I know. But you will.

Right now, I just want you to know that I will do whatever it takes to protect you. Even if that means protecting you from me.” seven “To husbands and houses,” Sloane said, lifting her Manhattan so that Angie and I could clink glasses with her.

“Just a few more weeks, and you’ll each have one.” Angie shot me a wry glance. “I’m claiming the husband,” she said, making both Sloane and me laugh.

“Not a problem,” I said.

“I’m content with the house.” At the moment, I was very content with the house. And with the man. But I didn’t feel the need to share with my friends the fact that I’d just had phone sex in my soon-tobe living room. Especially not since I was still enjoying the glow.

“For now you’re content with a house,” Sloane said.

“But soon you’ll want a man for changing lightbulbs and mowing the front yard. That’s just the way the world works.” “Is that why you’re so keen on Tyler?” Angie teased. “His excellent lightbulb-changing skill?” “That’s one of the benefits of living in a suite at The Drake,” Sloane said archly.

“We don’t have a front yard, and maintenance takes care of the bulbs. Which frees up our schedule nicely for sex.” And since neither Angie nor I could argue with an answer like that, we all clinked glasses and took yet another sip.

We’d been in Coq d’Or, the historic bar inside The Drake hotel, for over two hours now. I was on my third Manhattan, and was enjoying the kind of pleasant buzz that comes from a mixture of good alcohol and great friends.

Angie propped her elbow on the bar, then rested her chin on her fist as she looked past Sloane to me. “It occurs to me that your house is going to need more than a few fresh lightbulbs and a neatly trimmed yard. I imagine Cole’s pretty handy with a toolkit.” She caught Sloane’s eye, and they both snorted with laughter.

I just shook my head in mock reproach.

“Aren’t you going to tell us what happened?” Sloane asked. “You were both at the gala, and then you both disappeared.” “A woman doesn’t kiss and tell,” I said archly.

“At least there was kissing,” Angie said.

I held up my hand. “Stop the madness.” I wasn’t inclined to discuss the strange development of my relationship with Cole, but I grinned and let some laughter into my voice, just so that my friends wouldn’t pick up on my hesitancy. “We’re running out of time and we need to talk about the wedding. Just a few more weeks,” I said to Angie. “Are you nervous?” “About what?” she asked, so sincerely that I knew she wasn’t joking.

“Aren’t brides supposed to be nervous?” I asked.

She lifted a shoulder. “If they are, I’m not sure why they get married. How could I be nervous about spending my life with Evan?” “I think it’s the wedding more than the husband that stresses out most brides,” Sloane said.

“Fortunately, we both have my mother for that,” Angie said, looking pointedly at me.

“And for which I am completely grateful.” When Angie had asked me to be her maid of honor, I’d told her that I would be happy to take on the role, but if she wanted a sane and stress-free wedding, she probably didn’t want someone as clueless as me handling all the traditional wedding-y things that the bride’s right-hand gal usually took care of.

Since Angie’s mother was a senator’s wife with very particular ideas about what her little girl’s wedding should look like—not to mention a huge and energetic staff to help pull it all together—my utter lack of resourcefulness was not a problem.

My role had been limited to drinking with the bride, calming wedding day jitters, and organizing the bachelorette party with Sloane.

Maybe not traditional, but it worked for us.

“Speaking of,” I said, glancing at my watch.

“Aren’t you supposed to be doing something incredibly important and wedding planning-ish this afternoon?

Your mom told me that Sloane and I could only have you for three hours, and since I was late getting here...” I might not have the traditional maid of honor job, but I figured if I could keep the bride on schedule and her mother happy, then I was more than earning my keep.

She pulled out her phone to check the time herself, then cursed. “Okay, then,” she said, before downing the last of her drink in one long swallow. “Don’t have too much fun without me.” “Damn,” Sloane said with a quick glance in my direction. “That kills our plans for the afternoon.” Angie rolled her eyes, then left. As soon as she was out the door, Sloane held up her hand to signal the bartender for another round.

“Are you crazy?” I asked.

“A little,” she admitted.

“And we’ll be here at least another hour or two, so you have plenty of time to sober up. You’re not working tonight, are you?” “Tomorrow morning,” I said, then made a face. When I’d first taken the job at Perk Up, it had been because the coffee shop was close to the Northwestern campus, and I’d been targeting a certain senator’s daughter who I thought might be gullible enough and bored enough to get pulled into a scheme I’d been concocting around a fake multilevel marketing operation.

I’d tabled the plan once I’d actually gotten to know that senator’s daughter, and to this day, Angie doesn’t know that a plan for larceny was the instigating factor in what became a BFF kind of relationship.

The point being that I had never intended to remain at the coffee shop. But once the sheen of my cons had worn off, I needed a way to earn money. The hours were decent even if the pay was crappy, and I liked having the freedom to do my own thing when most people were pulling a nine-to-five.

Besides, I was already on the payroll, and the idea of looking for another job made my head ache.

For years, I’d been telling my dad that he should get out of the grift. That he was getting too old and that there was no point in taking the risk when he should have more than enough cash stockpiled from his various successes over the years to allow him to live comfortably in Palm Beach or someplace equally retirement friendly.

So it was particularly ironic that I became the one to get out of the business first —more or less, anyway. But the “less” side of that equation was growing more every day, and once I closed on the house I was going to have to schedule a serious talk with myself about my life, my future, and everything.

Because once I had roots, I couldn’t continue to run cons—even loose, easy ones that I set up primarily for my own amusement and to keep myself on my game.

Like my dad always said, only fish poop where they live. Maybe not the most classy of statements, but he was right. And that was the reason we never stayed in one place when I was a kid.

“Where did you go?” Sloane asked, and I turned my attention toward her, only to find her peering intently into my face. “I asked about the coffee shop and you took off for someplace a million miles away.” “Sorry. I’ve just been less than satisfied with my job lately.” “I could talk to Tyler. We might be able to use you.” The bartender brought our drinks, and I took a long sip of mine before answering. “I think what you do is exceptionally cool,” I said.

“But it’s not me. And I’d end up resenting you because I’d be doing filing and correspondence and you’d be out taking surveillance photos while hanging upside down from lampposts.” As a former cop, Sloane was well qualified to work in the knights’ high-end investigation and security company. Me, not so much.

Not unless I wanted to be a consultant on the fine art of fraud. Which, of course, I didn’t.

“I rarely hang upside down,” Sloane said. “But I get what you’re saying. Got anything in mind?” “Maybe,” I said. The truth was I’d been toying with a possible new career option, pulling the idea out from time to time and taking it on a mental spin around the block.



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