Tools of Engagement

Page 41

“You have a few sips at your meeting tonight, baby?”

Her nose and mouth nuzzled the skin behind his ear and he pulled her higher, tighter, so she’d give him more. “Not enough to impair my judgment.”

Wes caught their reflection in the top half of the mirror, watched himself breathing in this woman, and knew his life was here. In this room. In this town. All roads had led here—and to her. “How did you get here? Don’t tell me you walked in the dark.”

“Rosie dropped me off.” She seemed to brace herself, tension stiffening her back. “I, um . . . told the club about us.”

His heart grew ten sizes that day.

Couldn’t she feel it testing the confines of his rib cage?

“If that bothers you, I’ll tell them I had too much champagne,” she said quickly. “People say silly things all the time at meetings—”

“What exactly did you say?”

Her swallow was audible. “That my man hiatus was over.”

“I don’t like the sound of that.”

“You don’t?” she wheezed, looking up at him.

“It makes me sound like the opening ceremonies to the man Olympics.” He snuck his hand up the back of her dress and palmed her tight ass. “But I’ll be the only one competing in the events from here on out.”

She tucked her fingers into the waistband of his jeans, tugging just enough to make his life flash in front of his eyes. “Well. Your . . . javelin is definitely ready.” She trailed a single finger down his distended fly and then danced away. “But like I said, this isn’t a booty call.”

He followed in her tracks like a hungry dog, tugging her hips back up against his lap and growling into her neck. “If that’s true, it was evil to show up here looking so beautiful.”

“Don’t blame me,” she murmured, rubbing her butt side to side against his groin. “You haven’t even put sex back on the table yet.”

Wait. What? Huh? Surely they’d moved past that initial agreement they’d made outside Project Doomsday. Felt like he’d laid down that regrettable gauntlet a decade ago. “What were my conditions for putting it back on the table?”

“When I stopped doubting your honorable intentions.”

“Right.” He traveled his open mouth up the side of her exposed neck. “You thought I Zellweger’d so we could sleep together.”

“Yes,” she rasped. “I did.”

“And now?”

“I . . . don’t.”

Victory tunneling through his bloodstream—she trusts me—Wes bunched the hem of her dress in his hands and groaned over the arousing picture she made, her thong-bedecked ass pressed to his bulge. “It’s back on the table, Bethany.”

She wiggled away. “Good to know.” His low growl of frustration was followed by her tinkling laugh. And hell, the lightness in her tonight was kind of worth the pain, wasn’t it? Who would have ever thought he’d have this incredible woman showing up at his window without shoes in the middle of the night, primed to tease him into begging? Not him. He sure as shit wasn’t going to let a little—okay, a lot—of sexual frustration take away from how far they’d come. How far . . . she’d come.

Wes adjusted his erection and took a seat on the corner of the bed. “What else happened at your meeting tonight?”

She sauntered past, slowly plowing her fingers into his hair and taking them out. Fuck, Bethany was a queen every day of her life, but tonight she’d been transformed into a goddess, almost defying description with her sexual confidence. The last time they’d been intimate, she’d tried to run off before he could satisfy her. He couldn’t see this woman trying to do the same. Naw, she looked ready to relish whatever came her way. “I let the tag on my throw pillow show. And . . . I just let the flowers fall however they wanted. I let everyone go into my closet without me there to make sure they got the optimal effect. This probably all sounds totally ridiculous to you.”

His heart turned over. “It doesn’t,” he said firmly. “But I want to know where this started, baby. What made you think everything you touched had to turn to gold?”

Bethany let a breath out. “It’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t operate this way. Stephen was the carrier of the legacy, but he made mistakes. Normal kid mistakes. I guess I thought that in these small ways, like dressing impeccably, getting straight As, or having my room organized, I could excel where he couldn’t. He was top dog of everything else. Dad’s affection. Mom’s first-born.” She paused, hands wringing at her waist. “It was always a competition, but I couldn’t win at sports—I don’t do sports. Or construction, because he was always learning at Dad’s knee and I was never included. I just overcompensated more and more over time and it got out of control. It spread to everything.”

He could see her as a young girl, studying late into the night, hoping a good grade would buy her more attention. Stressing until she got the test back. How easily that might have become a pattern if it wasn’t corrected. “I did the opposite. Everything I did was an attempt to prove I didn’t care if I got attention from my foster parents. Or anyone. I could go out and get it on the back of a bull. It only ever left me empty, though. Or landed me in the ER.”

She dropped her hands. “I have great parents. I was so fortunate. I’m sure I sound so whiny to you—”

“Bethany, stop worrying how you sound or how you’re coming across to me. If you’re being honest, it’s always good.”

“That sounds so nice. Someone just knowing you mean well at all times.”

“You can always assume that with me.” He let that sink in. “And I’m proud of you for fucking with your pillows.”

She huffed a bemused laugh. “I notice you didn’t deny my whininess.”

“You’re not whiny, baby.”

Pink stained her cheeks, her attention sliding toward the open laptop. “If you were watching porn, it’s seriously going to detract from the poignancy of this conversation.”

Wes reached for the computer and closed the lid, knowing full well he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything but her for the rest of the night. He slid it under the bed, assured his browser tabs would be ready and waiting for him tomorrow. “Becky called me during the week. She’s agreed to let me become Laura’s guardian.”

Her hands flew to her face. “Wes. Oh my God. That’s wonderful.”

He nodded, a little flustered by the wringing sensation in his sternum. “It’s going to be a process. I don’t even know if I can make it happen. She’s selling the house right when I need to prove I can provide a stable environment. It’s—” He cut himself off with a blown-out breath. “She’s worth the trouble.”

“Of course she is.” A line formed between her brows. “Why didn’t you tell me Becky had agreed to the guardianship?”

Truth was, he didn’t want to overload her now, when everything between them was so new. But he kept that to himself, worried his reasons might hurt her feelings. “I just wanted to sound like I knew what the hell I was talking about first.”

Bethany seemed happy but not quite convinced by his explanation. “I’ll help. I’ll help any way I can.”

His lips ticked up at the corner. “You’re going to be my Zellweger now?”

“It’s my turn.” She swayed closer until she was standing between his outstretched thighs, her fingernails scratching slow paths into his hair. “You’re a good man, Wes. Every time I think I’m finally giving you enough credit, you go beyond it.”

This was heaven. Right here. This woman playing with his hair, his mouth on level with her lush tits. Listening to her say words he’d been totally unaware of craving. Even with so much hanging in the balance, he’d never been more whole in his life. He leaned in and kissed the slopes of her cleavage, whispering, “How do I make you stay the night with me, Bethany?”

A shudder traveled through her body. “Oh, I don’t think I’ll need that much convincing.”

Wes massaged his way up the backs of her thighs until they disappeared beneath her dress and clutched her butt, urging her closer until she climbed onto the bed. Straddling him. Their mouths clung during the whole maneuver, not kissing, just accepting and gifting breaths to each other until her pussy pressed down in agonizing degrees onto his erection and they moaned brokenly.


He drew her into a breathless kiss, rocking her on his lap with shaking hands. “Anything, baby.”

“I want you to make hard, messy love to me. I don’t want to think.”

She’d hardly finished issuing the request when Wes turned and threw her down onto the bed with enough force to make her gasp. Was he forceful because she’d asked him to be? Or because hearing the L word on her lips had been like shock paddles to his entire being? He didn’t know. But her excited eyes stopped him from asking if she was all right. She was more than all right and wanted more.

“Our first time was always going to be hard and messy, darlin’.” He reached up under her dress and ripped the thong down her legs, leaving the skirt bunched up around her waist—and God help him, he almost came seeing her pussy for the first time. It was blond and groomed like the rest of her, like he’d known it would be. But her obvious wetness was what made him hot. “Kind of assumed when we finally got here, it would be hate-fucking at its finest, but that’s not what this is at all, is it, baby?” He gripped her sex and squeezed, making her back arch. “What I feel for you is the furthest thing from hate. But you might have a hard time believing that when I’m holding you down pumping like I blame you for this hurting dick.”

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