“Sir, car’s out front.”
I nodded in acknowledgement, but my feet were rooted to the cement floor of the club, my eyes transfixed by the gyrating blonde as I tried to determine if I was seeing things.
Nope. It was definitely her. And she was drunk off her ass. Of that there was little doubt. Yet she still displayed an enviable natural rhythm out on the dance floor—with that barely clothed, to-die-for body that I had found myself jerking off to in memory on more than one occasion over the past ten years. More times than was probably healthy, given the fact she was strictly off-limits.
More than off-limits. She might as well have been taboo. Maybe that’s what made her so attractive? Or maybe I was just a masochist.
Her girlfriends appeared equally inebriated. Men surrounded her like vultures. Two of them were putting their hands on her. I took a step closer without thinking. Then another.
I rationalized that I just wanted to confirm it was really her, to see her up close … make certain she was okay and that she had a safe ride home. I told myself I had only pure intentions this time.
I’d checked up on her over the years and knew that she’d completed medical school and was now finishing her residency at UCSF Hospital. And that she was engaged. A fact that came back to me in a blinding flash when she flung her arm up in the air and the enormous rock on her finger caught the flare of the strobe light.
She was engaged to some big-deal society schmuck. Silicon Valley trust fund baby trash. I’d seen their cheesy engagement photo spread all over social media seven months ago and had pegged the guy a class A douchebag at first sight.
She’d looked radiant in the photos. Better than I’d even remembered. And happy. So fucking happy. A fact I’d had conflicting feelings about at the time.
She didn’t look happy now, though. And once again, I felt conflicted over this observation.
Sure, she was grinning as if having the time of her life, throwing flirty bedroom eyes at the men dancing with her as if she hadn’t a care in the world. As if she wasn’t engaged to be married. But those eyes were red-rimmed and puffy beneath their well-applied makeup, and lined by dark circles. They looked more green than blue. She’d been crying hours earlier. I was sure of it.
My inner animal took over. Before I knew it, I’d nudged the guy at her back out of my way, my hands had encircled her tiny waist, and I was yanking her lush, round ass into the swiftly growing ache in my groin. Definitely a masochist. I delivered a mental push accompanied by a flash of yellow eyes to the asshole in front of her when he looked up to glare at me in protest. He did a double take and nearly tripped over his own feet trying to back away as quickly as possible.
I felt her body stiffen against me, a trickle of alarm tightening her muscles, a sliver of fear tainting her perfect scent. It only made her smell more edible. I groaned as my jean-encased cock swelled and lengthened against her ass, along with my canines. She attempted to pull away from me. And though it irritated me, at the same time I was quietly pleased. Impressed that even drunk she possessed strong survival instincts.
When I failed to release her, she tried to crane her head back to see who had taken hold of her and had scared off her dance partners, but I hauled her little body tighter in against mine to prevent it, my forearm crossing her chest, my palm caging her throat. I didn’t want her to recognize me.
Not yet. I wanted a moment between us where there was no history to get in the way. Where we could be two strangers dancing in a club, and I could pretend that I had a chance with her.
“Relax.” My thumb stroked back and forth over the rapid pulse beating in her neck. “One dance and I’ll let you go. Promise.”
I’d weighted my words with Alpha energy, and yet they sounded half-command, half-plea to my own ears. Regardless, they seemed to reassure her enough that the tension in her body dissipated. And soon that delicious body all but melted into mine as our hips began to move as one and my roaming hands took liberties they shouldn’t have. I couldn’t stop though. Not when I scented what it was doing to her. How wet she was getting beneath the scrap of material she was wearing.
She had one of those flimsy, strappy dresses on that looked and felt more like a form-fitting slip. Silvery pale grey in color and barely long enough to hit her upper thighs. My hands slid over the silky smooth material like they had every right to, feeling every hard ridge of muscle and soft mound of flesh that lay beneath. She wasn’t wearing a bra, and the temptation to explore her breasts—to feel those diamond-hard nipples through the thin fabric of her dress right there on the dance floor—was more than I had strength of will to resist in the moment. Not when all the blood in my brain had already rushed to my cock.
She was tall for a woman. Lean and fit but still curvy where it mattered most. And my God, those fuck-me legs! I remembered the first time I’d really noticed them. She had been fifteen and wearing a cheerleading uniform. And I’d never been able to look at her the same way since.
Those lean, muscular limbs looked about a mile long now in six-inch designer heels that she wore as comfortably as if she’d strutted out of the womb wearing them. I wanted to lick the length of those legs. I wanted to feel those toned thighs locked around my waist.
Clenching around my face.
Christ, I was a liar. There was no way I was letting her go after one dance.
She’d begun making those beautiful moan-y, breathy, I-need-to-come noises that only a woman can make, and I was close to losing my shit, debating whether to teleport us to privacy or sink my dick into her right there on the dance floor and worry about erasing the minds of onlookers later.
I looked down and saw that one of my hands was rubbing her upper thigh.
And it was wet.
Her thigh. Was. Wet.
I told myself it was only sweat from all of the dancing she’d done. And if I’d been human and unable to smell the difference, I might’ve convinced myself. But my other hand had wandered up under her dress from behind and was rhythmically squeezing and exploring the flesh of her thong-clad ass cheek, rubbing its way toward her hot, needy center—where she was dripping wet.
Fuck me, I needed to stop.
We needed to stop.
But instead, I brushed her hair aside with my chin until my mouth found her neck, kissing and sucking her perfect skin. She moaned and arched into me, and then she rubbed her ass up and down along the length of my erection.
I’d been so wrong before. The girl possessed no survival instincts whatsoever.
None at all.
Because she drew my hand that was on the front of her thigh straight up under her dress to her soaked pussy, and she came against my fingers before I had time to register what was even happening.
My mind blanked, retreating to a dark, desperate, possessive place where there was only the sound of her erratic, panting breaths, her frantic heartbeat, and the sensation of her fluttering, wet clit pressed against my fingers, her cum soaking my palm as I sank my canines into her neck.
Bloody hell, I’d bitten her!
She spun around to face me, her hand clutching the side of her neck. Pink hit her cheeks the moment her startled eyes met mine, and she gasped. “Holy baby Jesus in a filthy fucking manger.”
Despite the seriousness of the situation, my lips twitched helplessly at her outburst. “I’m so sorry.” I cleared my throat to keep from laughing. “I don’t know what came over me, Bethany.”
“Raul. Wow. Wow, oh, wow.” She shook her head continuously, staring as if she couldn’t fathom that it was me. “Holy shit. Oh, my God. Oh, my Gawwwd. Wow. I didn’t know you were you … and you … didn’t know that I was me.” She explained it aloud to herself. “I mean—obviously. Because I never would’ve—and you never would’ve—I mean—we, we never would’ve …”
Damn. She was cute all flustered, gesturing wildly with her hands as she rambled on.
“I’m sure what you experienced was a moment of shock. Panic? Exactly,” she confirmed to herself. “Panic. It was reflexive. Instinctual. A PTSD response. Yes.” She snapped her fingers as if she’d found the explanation for it all. “I read about how this happens to individuals who are orally fixated. I read it in a medical journal somewhere. I think. God, I don’t normally get myself off on strangers’ hands … in uh … ahhm … pub”—she trailed off as she watched me suck my fingers into my mouth, tasting her—“lic.”
Fuck me. That taste. Definitely not letting her go. I hummed and nodded. Her jaw fell open. I took advantage of the opportunity, pulling my fingers from my mouth and slipping them into hers before she could object. I used her moment of stunned inaction to lower my head closer to her shoulder and assess the damage I’d done to her neck, whispering, “You taste fucking delicious, Bethy,” next to her ear on the way down.
I was no expert in mating bond bites by any stretch, but her neck didn’t appear to be as bad off as I’d initially feared when I’d tasted her blood in my mouth. Certainly not the way I imagined a mating bond bite would look.
Huh. Maybe it hadn’t been deep enough to be damaging or significant? Somehow I felt disappointment at this rather than relief. I was sick.
I licked over her broken skin a few times, partially healing it with my saliva. Then I kissed the spot. “Didn’t mean to hurt you.” I pulled back to look at her. “You were just so hot. I got carried away.”
Her eyes were dazed, her pupils wide. Her lips had closed over my fingers. When her tongue moved tentatively against them, I feared I might bust a nut in my pants. I vowed that I would come in her mouth before the night was through.
“I’m afraid you’re going to have a hickey for a few days,” I advised. Or a few weeks. Or maybe a lifetime? Best guess was one of the three.
Her hand reached up and lightly grasped my wrist. Slowly, she pulled my fingers from her mouth, giving them a timid, parting suck as they passed between her plump lips. I was absolutely coming in her mouth before the night was through.
“It’s late. I should go.”
Hell to the no. “Of course. I understand. But maybe you could buy me a drink first? So I don’t go home feeling cheap and used.”
Her eyes widened and she turned so red I feared she might pass out.
“Kidding, Bethy.” I held up both palms. “A joke to lighten the mood. But I am serious that we should have a drink and catch up a bit.”
She looked unsure. And entirely too sober all of a sudden. I couldn’t have her overthinking this.
“Look, if we try and ignore what just happened, it’ll only be more awkward the next time we run into each other, don’t you think?” I reasoned. “C’mon, we’re old friends. We can handle this like two responsible adults, can’t we?”
“Hi, Bethany’s friend,” a slurred female voice broke in, bringing too much perfume with her into our personal space.
I endured introductions to several tipsy girlfriends. To my annoyance, Bethany introduced me as her “best friend’s brother.” It shouldn’t have bothered me. It’s what I was to her. It’s what I would always be to her.
Unless I’d bitten her too hard.
We got drinks and found a quieter spot tucked away from the dance floor. She was still flustered, but she put up a good front, plastered on a bright smile, and proceeded to catch me up on her life, confirming mostly facts that I already knew.
“So I’m finishing my residency, and I’ll be opening my own gynecology practice next year.”
“That’s amazing. Congratulations.” The reminder that she stuck her fingers inside of other women’s pussies for a living wasn’t helpful when I was still struggling to get my mind off of hers.
“I adopted a rescue puppy last week, I’m getting married in three months, and I just couldn’t be happier,” she concluded.
“Wonderful. Where’s the fiancé tonight?”
“Your fiancé.” My eyes slid to the giant princess cut diamond on her finger in indication.
“Oh.” Her eyes lit with understanding. “Oh, you mean Gregg? That fiancé?”
I frowned. Nodded. “There more than one?”
She broke into high-pitched, nervous laughter. “No, no, it’s just the one,” she confirmed, punching me playfully in the arm. “You were always so funny.” She sighed and took a sip of her drink. Then she took another sip that turned into a chug as she downed the remains of the glass.
“Gregg’s cheating on me,” she announced with the next release of air that escaped her. “Not that it’s an excuse for me to use your hand to masturbate myself on a dance floor or anything.”
“I see.” They were the only words I managed as conflicting emotions and a million thoughts jumbled through me. How hard had I really bitten her? Could I get away with killing Gregg without upsetting her? Would I be able to resist biting her again if she continued to make reference to coming on my hand?
“It’s just—you were touching my breasts,” she continued in a rush. “And I’m really into nipple play. And then you were rubbing my thigh … and your hands felt so good everywhere on me that I had this mad impulse to come on them. I always preach that women should follow their sexual instincts. So I did. Would you excuse me a moment?” She didn’t wait for my reply before jumping up from her seat and bolting in the direction of the bathroom.
Jesus. She was the same Bethany I remembered. Adorably quirky. Strong-willed. Unconventional. Sexy as hell.
And I was fucking her tonight. Off-limits be damned.
“It’s not okay to shag your best friend’s brother.”
“What?” Jessie’s petite, freckle-dusted nose wrinkled up in the bathroom mirror to my right. “You don’t have a brother.”
Ugh, she was too blitzed to be helpful. “No, Jessie, that’s what you’re supposed to say to me right now.” I snatched the lip balm out of her hand. Lip balm was always helpful.
“You mean that big hot guy?” Kylie squawked in the mirror to my left. “Raul? Mr. orgasm on the dance floor? Of course you’re going to fuck him. Who gives a shit who his sister is?”
The three of us were holed up inside the one large handicap-accessible stall within the women’s bathroom that contained its own sink and mirror, steadfastly ignoring the irritated remarks about us hogging the “good stall” that were coming from ladies who were waiting in line for an open one.
“You both suck. How about you remind me that I’m engaged, huh?”
Kylie snorted. “Bitch, remind yourself. You just ate an entire PocketPak of Listerine strips. If that’s not a commitment to fuck someone who isn’t your fiancé tonight, then I don’t know what is.”
“If I had a brother that sexy, I’d totally let him fuck you,” Jessie interjected.
“Okay, not helpful. That just came out creepy, Jess. You got any cheek stain or cream blush in your bag?”
“You’re as pink as a vagina already.” Kylie shook her head, studying my face in the mirror. “You don’t need cheek stain. You need to get revenge-laid tonight by a sex god and then call off your engagement tomorrow morning.”
“I am not calling off the wedding.”
“Then I’m wearing a slutty red dress, raising my hand, and objecting.”
“You will not. Marchesa doesn’t make a slutty red bridesmaid dress.”
“I can’t wear red,” Jessie spoke up. “It clashes with my skin tone.”
“No one in the bridal party is wearing red.”
“I will,” Kylie insisted, reapplying her eyeliner in the mirror. “And the minister will agree with me when I show him photos of the groom’s dick on my cell phone.”
Jessie gasped, and the mass of red hair she’d been working into a French knot fell to her shoulders. “Gregg sent you photos of his dick, too?”
It took effort not to roll my eyes. “Jess, I sent the photos of his dick this afternoon to you both from the texts I found on his phone that he’d sent to another woman.” She still looked confused. Jessie was a genius medical researcher when sober and a complete moron after a few cocktails. “Never mind. I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
“It won’t sound any better then,” Kylie told her.
“Gregg and I will work through this.”
“Mm, I dunno …” Jessie gave me an uncertain look in the mirror. “There’s really no good medical fix yet for a small penis.”
Kylie narrowly avoided stabbing herself in the eye with pencil liner when she burst out laughing.
“His penis isn’t small,” I said in defense of my cheating fiancé. “That was a bad photo. It wasn’t quite … to scale.”
“No? I thought his hand provided just the right scale, actually,” Kylie snarked.
“Couples get cold feet and have flings before they tie the knot. It happens all the time,” I argued.
“Keep telling yourself that.” Kylie swept her shoulder-length dark hair back into an oversized clip and zipped up her wristlet. “Come on, Jess, let’s dance.” To me, she said, “I better receive a high-res photo text from you of the best friend’s brother’s dick by zero eight hundred hours.”
“Ha! Right. Because that’s happening. There an ‘or else’ you were going to tack onto that ultimatum?”
“Yeah.” Her sly smile spread into a wicked grin. “Or else maybe I’ll be the one taking photos of his penis.” She wagged her brows at me in the mirror and ushered a confused Jessie out of the stall.
“Oh, come on,” a female voice complained with a noisy rap on the stall door when I remained inside, closing and locking the stall after Jessie and Kylie had departed. “I’m supposed to piss myself out here while you’re busy makeup-ing and debating whether to cheat on your cheating, small-penis-having fiancé?”
“Holding it in is great exercise for your Kegel muscles,” I responded absently, drawing closer to the sink mirror than I’d had the ability to do before when Jessie and Kylie had been sharing it with me. “Trust me, I’m a gynecologist,” I mumbled as I drew my long blonde hair to the side and inspected the fresh love bite on my neck.
It didn’t look like more than a really serious hickey, but I could’ve sworn I’d felt a strange throbbing sensation deep beneath the surface of the wounded skin when Kylie had joked about being the one to hook up with Raul. I made a mental note to inject a little antibiotic in a few days if it continued to feel tender.
“So, what are we going to do about your cheating ex?”
We? Cute. “I don’t see why my problems need be your problems, Raul. Appreciate the big brotherly concern on my behalf, though.”
“There’s nothing brotherly about it, I assure you.”
The way his eyes ran over me made my mouth run dry, even as I swallowed the burning whisky from my glass. He didn’t look like he’d aged a day, and yet he was so much hotter than he’d been the last time I’d seen him. There was a certain calmness and maturity to him now—an air of authority that hadn’t been there before.
Ten years. It’d been ten years since he had shown up out of nowhere at my parents’ front door in Santa Cruz, flanked by two equally tall, well-built hotties. They had invited me to come with them to Argentina to attend a surprise party they were throwing for my best friend Milena—Raul’s little sister. It seemed like yesterday, and yet so very long ago.
My memories of that day were still mystifying. And not simply because of how odd and abrupt Raul’s appearance and invitation had been, or even because of the bizarre and shockingly uncharacteristic way that my mother had immediately consented and even encouraged me to go with Raul and his friends to South America, of all insane motherly reactions.
No, it was the way Raul had first looked at me standing out there on my front porch that day: Like a drowning man looks at a lifeline. Like my aunt looked at limited-edition Louboutins. Like my dad still looked at my mom when she wasn’t paying attention.
In hindsight, I often wondered if I’d only imagined it.
Raul had gone on to flirt with me, gifting me with that self-assured, dashing smile that I’d seen cause dignified, married female members of the PTA to blush clear down to their toes back when he was in high school and I was still in elementary school. I knew that smile had melted the panties off of countless girls before me. But even as his mouth had casually flirted, going on about how well I looked all grown up and saying how much fun we would have in Argentina, his eyes had reflected something else. Something dark. Fearful. Some kind of desperate, internal struggle. He’d stood there with his hunky Argentinian friends and said everything he could to entice me to go with them. But his eyes had warned me not to come. Pleaded with me to say no. It hadn’t made sense.
And of course, it had only made me more determined to go. To show him what a truly great time we’d have together and erase that strange fearfulness lurking behind his imploring brown eyes. To this day, I still couldn’t reconcile how in the world my eighteen-year-old self had ultimately found the strength of will to choose the more mature, sensible course of action and decline his most exciting international party invitation. I’d often wondered (and fantasized) over the years about what might’ve happened between us if I had gone with him that day instead.
“How’s your mom?” Raul’s deep voice and change of topic pulled me back to the present.
I’d been staring at him. And it would appear that he’d been studying me right back. But while I was certain I’d been gawking at him with an empty, glassy-eyed look—and maybe drooling on myself—Raul’s brow was pinched in concentration. He seemed to be considering me as if I were a brain-bender puzzle that he was working to decipher. A complex combination lock whose code he was determined to crack. Weird.
“She’s good,” I answered automatically. “Thanks for asking.”
“Your parents still live in the same house in Santa Cruz?”
“Yep. Same one.” Oh, God. We’d regressed to polite catch-up conversation already. This was depressing.
“They’re still together then?”
“Uh-huh.” Don’t remind me. Why would he even ask that? “They just celebrated their thirty-third wedding anniversary.” I smiled brightly, like it was a wonderful thing.
He gave me a sympathetic smile in return, nodding his head. “I’m sorry. Bearing witness to unrequited love is almost as painful as engaging in it.”
Fuck. And there went my heart.
I felt it. As sure as I felt the growing chasm splitting my loyalty.
How could Milena claim that her brother was perpetually clueless, insensitive, and inherently selfish when Raul was capable of noticing something so personal about my parents’ relationship—her best friend’s parents—that no one else ever picked up on? Not even Milena.
How had Raul known? He’d never even spent much time with them that I could recall. Or any time with the two of them together, actually, now that I thought about it. Had he picked up on it solely based on my reaction? On something I’d said to him in the past?
“Shit, I’m sorry, Bethany.” He pressed a hankie into my hand just as I felt a tear escape my right eye.
What the hell, I was crying now? I quickly dabbed my eyes and pulled it together. Brilliant, Bethany. I’d steered us from boring catch-up sesh into awkward maudlin territory.
“I shouldn’t have pried. That was wrong. You’re entitled to your privacy. I’ll stop. I won’t try it again.”
What was he talking about? Why was he so apologetic? “No, no,” I assured him with a laugh, “it’s just the whisky, see? It burns my throat and then my eyes have this reaction.” I took another big gulp to further support my stupid explanation, making a show of squeezing my eyes shut and wincing as I swallowed. Oh, my God, I was acting like an ass.
I opened my eyes to catch him draining the contents of his own glass.
“Cheers to fucking emotional shields,” he muttered under his breath as he brought his empty glass down onto the tiny café-style table between us with a clatter.
Emotional shields? “What’s an emotional shield? That a new psych term?”
At first he seemed taken aback. Then he answered simply, “Yes.” His expression was hard and impassive, despite the polite smile he forced. “It’s a new theory related to protective instincts where one’s emotions are concerned,” he expounded. “It’s a good thing for a person to have strong emotional shields.”
He’d totally just made that shit up. I went along with it anyhow. “If it’s such a good thing, then why’d you toast-slash-curse emotional shields just now?”
His eyes held mine, but he didn’t answer. And behind his shuttered features I sensed that same desperate internal struggle playing out—warning me to run while begging me to come closer.
“What are we going to do about your cheating ex?” he repeated his earlier question. But this time he spoke the words slowly. Carefully. And their meaning seemed to have changed entirely. Because the question sounded sensual now. Sexual. And I knew that he was really asking what we were going to do about us.
There could never be an “us.”
Raul’s sister had been my best friend since kindergarten. Sleeping with her only brother would be in poor taste. Particularly when I knew how strained things had been between them for more than a decade.
The sad truth was things had been strained between Milena and me for nearly as long. Just not in the same way. Raul and Milena’s kind of strain was the overt, bitter Cold War kind, whereas mine and Milena’s was more the tragic growing apart, slow-death-of-a-childhood-friendship kind.
The last time I’d seen Milena, her husband Alex had given me a warmer reception than she had. As the years had passed, she and I had spoken on the phone less frequently. Half the time when I called I ended up talking to Alex longer than I did my best friend. I often felt like I was bothering her, or that she didn’t want to hear from me. She never opened up to me anymore, and I couldn’t seem to get straight answers out of her whenever I questioned her about her life.
Sometimes I got this niggling sense in the pit of my gut that Milena was mad at me for some reason. That she resented me for something that I had done. But for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what it might be. She was the one who had left me. If anything, I should’ve been resentful that she’d gotten engaged at eighteen after a whirlwind romance with an older Brazilian guy—a multi-bajillionaire businessman who had swept her off her feet in record time, prompting her to move to São Paulo and alter all of her plans for college and her future in the blink of an eye.
But I couldn’t blame her. And I would never resent her. Alex was near perfection in human form. He was everything Milena had ever needed in a partner and male figure in her life. More importantly, he adored her. Worshipped her. Hung on every word that came out of her mouth and fretted over every frown that wrinkled her brow. It would’ve been disgusting were it not so damned cute.
I was happy for her. For both of them. And because of that, I overlooked the fact that Milena’s husband Alex was probably most definitely for sure a Brazilian mob boss. Who had once been Raul’s boss, I reminded myself. Which meant that Raul might also be mixed up in the Brazilian mafia. And everyone knew it was bad form to sleep with a Brazilian mobster who was also your best friend’s brother.
I cleared my throat. “I never said Gregg was my ex.”
“Excuse me?” Raul’s eyes narrowed. His voice had dropped an octave.
Whoa. Hot when angry.
“Look, Raul, I haven’t even given Gregg a chance to explain himself yet.”
“Explain himself?” Raul’s nostrils flared, and I could’ve sworn that his irises lightened for a split second. Then a phone went off. “What’s there to explain?” He retrieved a phone from his pocket. Without so much as checking to see who was calling, he pressed a button to silence it and set the phone on the table. “He cheated. He’s fucking history.”
Protective much? God, he was getting me wet all over again. He was only Milena’s half-brother. Did sleeping with half-sibs really count?
“It’s more complicated than that,” I said, squeezing my thighs together to tamp down the pulsing in my sex.
“No, it’s not, Bethy.”
I got distracted staring at the angry line of his luscious mouth and momentarily forgot what we were talking about, because I blurted, “I like it when you call me Bethy.”
I liked it when he got all angry and protective, too.
His phone vibrated against the table. I glanced down to see a FaceTime request from “Princess Elsa” flash across the screen. He quickly declined it and flipped the phone over, screen side down to the table. He ran a hand through his hair. “Bethy, I—”
It buzzed again.
“Did you want to get that?”
He sighed and shook his head, looking annoyed. “It’s just work. It can wait.”
He had programmed his work in as Princess Elsa? “That was work? At this hour?”
“How long has he been cheating on you?”
Five months at least. “I’m not sure.”
Ouch. “Can we talk about something else?”
“Fine. Let’s start with his address.”
I groaned and downed the remains of my Johnnie Walker. “How about we start with another drink?”
“Deal,” he agreed as a man in a suit was approaching our table. “Stephen, I’m busy,” Raul said, not bothering to turn and look at him. “Go order us another round, and then go back and wait with the car.”
The man stepped forward nonetheless, extending a phone.
Raul’s jaw tightened. Slowly, he turned and leveled the man he’d addressed as Stephen with a look so cold it made me want to recoil.
“Sir, I apologize for the interruption.”
“But she’s threatening to blow cities up unless you sing the Frozen song with her. Chaos wants to talk to you about it.”
With an infuriated eye-roll, Raul stood and yanked the phone from Stephen’s hand. To me, he said, “Please don’t go anywhere. I’ll only be a minute.” I got the impression, based on the weighted glance he threw at Stephen, that it was now also this man’s job to make certain I didn’t go anywhere.
Which might’ve explained the weird manner in which Stephen just stood there watching over me after Raul was gone, like he was guarding my person.
“Hi, Stephen. I’m Bethany.” I extended my hand to him in greeting. He nodded once in acknowledgement but didn’t take my hand. “Please, have a seat,” I offered, gesturing to Raul’s vacated chair with my awkwardly outstretched hand. He kept standing. O-kay then. I gave him my biggest, brightest I-can-win-you-over smile. “How do you and Raul know each other?”
It was clear the man worked for Raul in some capacity, but I wanted him to confirm it. He didn’t. Fine then. New tactic.
“So what’s with the ‘Sir’ business?” I asked, raising my volume to a level that ensured I would be heard by as many people as possible around us. “Are you Raul’s sub? It’s all good with me if you are,” I told him when he looked momentarily stricken by my public outing. That’s right, buddy, this girl is not so easily deterred. And never ignored. “You can be his full-time bitch. I’m only planning to use him for revenge sex tonight. Possibly tomorrow morning, too, if he’s as good with his cock in reality as he is in my imagination.”
“I’m better,” Raul’s voice startled me as he abruptly returned and reclaimed the seat across from mine, passing the phone back to Stephen, his rankled sub.
Stephen walked away, leaving me alone with Raul: my best friend’s super-hot, totally off-limits older brother whose cock I’d just admitted to fantasizing about. And who was now assessing me with an intensity that made my clitoris hum. I knew I needed to stop this flirtation and steer him back into the best friend’s brother safety zone fast. But instead, I quipped, “I have a fantastically pornographic imagination.”
The corner of his mouth lifted, but the intensity of his gaze didn’t falter. His face was directly in front of mine now, although I wasn’t sure how that had happened. Nor was I certain how or at what point his hand had wedged itself between my thighs underneath the table. Yet there it was. Inching ever closer to my soaked panties. “I’m counting on it, Bethy. Why don’t we fuck all weekend and see whose imagination is dirtier?”
“I—I’m on call this weekend.”
“I’m happy to pay by the hour.”
“Being on call at the hospital doesn’t work like that. I’m in medicine, not prostitution.”
He laughed. It was a beautiful, throaty sound that somehow made me feel like whatever we were about to do was okay. Made everything that was wrong with my life and this entire situation feel less overwhelming and scary.
But God, I really didn’t want him to be in the Brazilian mafia. My hand shot down to halt his between my legs.
“I don’t like violence,” I told him. “I can’t sleep with a mobster.”
He pulled back to look at me but didn’t withdraw his hand. I couldn’t read his expression. At first it looked like confusion. Maybe regret. But then he reassured me by saying, “I’m not a mobster, Bethy.”
“Really?” It came out overly eager. Hopeful. “So what do you do for work?”
He frowned. “Lately, I ah …” His eyes flitted about, scanning the club. “Well, I guess you could say I work as a teacher.” His brows drew together. “But I’m more like a friend and mentor,” he clarified, his free hand scrubbing over his jaw. “For a special-needs child. She’s ah … a prodigy. Highly intelligent. Super-talented. But she has difficulty with … social interaction.”
Oh, fuck, there went my heart again. And my grip on the wrist of his hand between my thighs. “Wow. That’s such important, commendable work, Raul. I never even knew you’d studied special education. Is it normal for you to get calls from your students on weekends and late at night?”
“Mmmm … no, it’s a unique situation in that I more or less mentor my current student full-time.” He grimaced slightly. “I’m more like … a manny.”
“A manny. You know, as in a male nanny?”
“Oh. That’s so … progressive of you.” I sounded out of breath. It was both the shock and relief of his revelation and the fact that his fingertips had just grazed my outer pussy lips through the thin fabric of my thong underwear. I could do this. I could have revenge sex on my cheating fiancé with my best friend’s half-sib who was employed as a manny. “So sensitive of you …”
I gasped as his fingers yanked the strip of silk fabric aside to skim along my naked, drenched slit.
“That’s right, Bethy.” His breath was warm against my ear. “I’m still the same sweet, progressive, male-feminist surfer who grew up down the street from you in Santa Cruz.”
“You were never that sweet.” I was panting. “You fucked most of my babysitters.”
I felt his laughter against my neck as one of his fingers entered me.
“Caught you making out with one when I got up to get a drink of water once.” Why was I still talking? How was I still talking?
“And now you are a babysitter,” I pointed out, unable to resist taunting him over the irony. Because I loved to hear him laugh.
He didn’t disappoint. He chuckled over my earlobe caught between his teeth. The sound made me feel warm all over. Safe.
His thumb found my clit. Another finger was working its way inside me to join the first, and suddenly I felt so hot and needy. Full inside. And yet so greedy for more as he began to work his fingers. Exploring. Stretching. Moving smoothly in and out.
“And now you’re the one I’m going to fuck, Bethy.” He said it like it had already happened. “Here. Now. In the middle of this club.”
She clenched wildly around my fingers the moment I said it, confirming what I already suspected: Bethy was a closet exhibitionist.
I pressed down hard on her fluttering clit and smothered my growl against her neck.
I couldn’t pull her into my lap fast enough as she proceeded to moan-squeal and fall apart, squirming against my palm, scrabbling blindly for any piece of me that she could get her hands on.
Damn. The girl knew how to orgasm.
She soaked my hand riding out her bliss. Her fingers wound around my neck and her mouth crashed into mine, initiating our first kiss—for the second time.
I took what she offered like it was my last fleeting chance at salvation. Consumed her lips as if they were the one truth left in the world that could expunge the bottomless void of pretense, regret, and disappointment that permeated my existence.
She had no memory of the first time we had kissed. My sister Milena’s pack had seen to that. Bethany’s memories of the forty-six hours she and I had spent together in Argentina and Brazil ten years ago had been wiped out almost as soon as our time together had ended. A fact that I was both resentful of and eternally grateful for.
They were some of my worst life memories. Also my best.
And this—our second first kiss—was every bit as soul-shattering as the one we’d shared those many years ago.
Not simply because she tasted better than any woman I’d ever known. Or because having her mouth fused with mine had the bizarre effect of making me feel like I was breathing for the first time in my life. It was the utter lack of artifice in the way her tongue laid waste to mine, sucking it into her own mouth and devouring it on an unladylike moan.
What made Bethany so great—what had separated her from all other girls in my mind since that first kiss we’d shared on a dance floor in Argentina—was the same thing that still set her apart from all others: She was real. She wore her heart on her sleeve and waved it at the world. When she kissed me she threw every emotion she had into it.
I felt it. And it felt more genuine and pure than anything I’d experienced before or since that first time she’d kissed me.
My wolf felt it, too.
The urge to bite Bethany again grew stronger the more she clung to me, her soft body melding into mine, rubbing against me where I was most vulnerable … and hard as a fucking boulder. I fought the urge, asserting authority over my wolf each time her perfect scent caused my eyes to shift and my mouth to water, each time the bold thrust of her tongue against mine taunted my canines to breach the surface of my gums. She was kissing me now as if she couldn’t wait another second to have all of me inside her. Still, somehow I managed to keep my wolf’s darker, more possessive urges at bay.
Until my little exhibitionist wedged her hand down the front of my jeans and wrapped her slim fingers around my cock.
“Fuck.” I said it aloud that time as I felt my balls draw up and my canines extend down. I swiftly broke our kiss and angled my face away from hers, pressing down on her head and her shoulder with a disjointed, “In your mouth. Now.”
My words came out gruff and demanding, like a command, and I wanted to flay myself. I’d just ordered sweet, totally off-limits Bethy to get on her knees and suck my cock in a crowded dance club.
Squeezing my eyes shut, I prayed enough blood supply would make its way to my brain that I might formulate the right words of apology—the means to salvage this blessed insanity unfolding between us.
But then I heard her murmur, “Yes, Sir,” with a playful giggle, and I felt her slink down the front of my body to her knees on the floor between my thighs.
There was a God after all. And miracle of all miracles, he didn’t completely hate me.
I lost more blood supply to my giddy brain as Bethany made quick work of the button and zipper of my fly, allowing my grasp on my wolf to slip even further as more of my pack members on guard throughout the club drew stealthily closer, surrounding us. I sensed uneasiness emanating from some of them, along with the scent of Stephen’s blatant disapproval. I directed a low growl of warning at the backs of several heads—a reminder to check their opinions and keep their feelings to themselves.
I was Alpha, whether my perpetually disapproving head Beta Alcaeus thought me worthy of the title or not.
Alcaeus had likely tipped Stephen off to the danger of who Bethany was after our phone call. If he hadn’t, then Mike had surely said something to Stephen and the rest of them. I’d scented Mike’s anxiety the moment I’d stepped onto the dance floor. None of my men had any objection to public copulation, so it could only be an objection to my choice of partner.
It didn’t matter. I wasn’t stopping this.
Even though a nagging voice in my head insisted that they were right: I shouldn’t be doing this. That Bethany could never be mine … that she would hate me if she ever learned the truth of what I now was—not to mention what I had done ten years ago.
Nothing else mattered as Bethany’s perfect pink lips wrapped around the head of my cock.
Not Sloane’s tantrums. Not Alcaeus’s dire warnings. Not the fact that we were in a crowded, noisy club where someone might catch us, or the reality that I was now set on a path that would no doubt lead to the motherload of all fucking disasters.
As she swirled her tongue and moaned around my shaft, sucking me farther into her mouth, I gave in to my wolf’s fantasies, reveled in his visions of biting her repeatedly as I indulged in my own fantasies of fucking her senseless, claiming her in every way, again and again. By some miracle, I managed to keep my hold gentle on her head, willing my fingers wrapped around her blonde hair not to squeeze too tightly as she bobbed up and down, bathing me in her saliva.
When her mouth came off my dick with a pop and she babbled something or other about my “beautiful penis” before lowering her head to suck one of my balls into her mouth, I knew I’d commit murder to keep her. Go to war with my sister’s pack if they tried to take Bethany away from me.
She was mine.
And I may have growled it aloud as I pulled her by the hair from my exploding balls and back onto my cock, forcing myself between her parted lips and clear to the back of her throat as I erupted with a sudden violence.
Gentle! Be gentle, I reminded myself too late.
It registered that I had her nose pressed up against my groin, my fist locked in a death grip at the back of her head, and I’d pushed myself partway into her throat.
She needs to breathe, I reminded myself. She’s human. Fragile.
I was still coming, but I told myself I had to let go and pull away. That it was too much; I was scaring her. I might hurt her.
Then I felt her swallowing, her throat pulsing around my spurting head, milking my cum while working my cock farther down into her throat like a goddamned porn star, and I nearly lost all semblance of self-control, my hips lifting off the seat to thrust fully into her mouth to fuck her throat. “Ah, yes … fuck yes! Fuck … fuck … fuck …”
That’s it. I was marrying her.
She was perfect. We were meant to be. Amid a moment of blinding euphoria, it hit me that this was what true love must feel like.
And I might’ve said some of those things out loud, because a few of my men actually broke form to turn around and look at me.
I barked at them in Portuguese and they quickly recovered, righting themselves. But the intrusion into my blissed-out Bethany bubble served to jolt me back to reality, helping me to regain my eroding self-control.
Pulling my still mostly rigid cock from the heaven of Bethany’s throat, I swept her off the cold floor and into my arms, kissing everywhere but her mouth while she panted for air. And the moment she’d filled her lungs with sufficient oxygen, my mouth was stealing it back again until she was breathless once more.
“Your turn,” I told her.
Setting her ass down on the edge of our small café table, I eased her onto her back, keeping her spread legs hooked over my forearms to hold her up and open for me as the scrap of silk she called a dress pooled at her waist, leaving her exposed—in nothing but a thin, soaked-through thong that I was seconds away from ripping apart with my teeth.
Her glassy sky-blue eyes fluttered open, and as her dreamy, dilated pupils focused on me, a surprisingly shy smile kicked up the corner of her swollen lips. But then some sort of comprehension passed over her features, as if she was now just remembering where we were, and her eyes skated about, dazedly taking in the broad backs of my security detail surrounding us on all sides, forming a tight superhuman wall that shielded us from prying eyes.
Confused, slightly guarded blue eyes returned to me. I saw fear there. And a whisper of accusation.
I swallowed. “Friends of mine,” I reassured her. Not a complete lie.
Her brow furrowed. She glanced from the huge men encircling us back to me with a look that called bullshit. I saw the wheels turning. She was thinking they were mafia.
“It’s the truth,” I insisted. There was no way we were stopping now. “We’re all in town for an international … manny … convention …”
Eh, fuck it. I dove for her pussy.
I heard the sound of fabric rending. Hot breath fanned my bare sex, and an even hotter tongue licked up the length of my slit before ever so lightly circling my throbbing bean—like a predator toying with its prey.
Heaven have mercy.
My pelvis arched off the table and I grabbed fistfuls of Raul’s hair with both hands as his soft lips closed over my detonation button.
He sucked it into his mouth, and my whole upper body practically shot up off the table. When my shoulders crashed back down again, he was eating me in earnest, making rumbling, growling noises against my center as he rhythmically sucked at my clitoris.
Oh, God …
It sounded like a wild animal was feasting between my thighs. And somehow something about that was so hot and dirty. So utterly delicious.
I was strung so tightly already from the experience of swallowing his huge, gorgeous cock in public—surrounded by his super-built “manny convention” friends, no less—that my orgasm hit me hard and fast the moment he began fucking me with his fingers.
My head flew back over the edge of the small table, putting the taut, well-formed ass of a manny directly in my line of upside-down sight, just as the sounds of a woman screaming for her life assailed my ears.
Upside-down forms moved closer in a blur of motion. A large, masculine hand clamped over my mouth.
It wasn’t Raul’s.
When the woman’s screaming abruptly stopped, but the animalistic growling between my thighs vibrated to new heights against my overly sensitized clit, it clicked that I had been the one screaming.
I started coming all over again as more unfamiliar male hands fastened onto each of my biceps, securing my flailing upper body to the table. The stranger covering my mouth spoke hoarsely in my ear, telling me to be quiet and calm down.
Panic set in. At the same time … my arousal skyrocketed.
Raul was definitely in the mafia. They all were. These big, built “friends” of Raul’s weren’t international mannies at all.
And they were holding me down because all my squealing and freaking out was clearly causing Raul to wig out, I realized. The growling near my nether region had grown louder. Angrier.
Yet it also seemed as if Raul was freaking out because his men were touching me—judging by the harsh-sounding words now being exchanged in Portuguese over my head and vagina. His mouth had relinquished my nub to the cool club air; his fingers had ceased pumping. And despite everything else going on around me that I should’ve been more panicked over, a sad, involuntary whimper escaped the back of my throat at the loss.
“Ah, fuck, no—”
The stranger covering my mouth had an accent, I noted, seconds before I was stabbed in the inner thigh and his words faded to white noise amid the deafening ringing sound that permeated my ears.
My vision went black and my body completely rigid.
I’d been stabbed! And the pain was blinding.
How had I been stabbed? My brain function grew foggy as I attempted to process it, and my body quickly followed suit—a sense of lethargy pervading my system.
I’d been roofied and stabbed?
But … Raul had been right there—between my thighs. His huge manny-slash-mafia men had been surrounding me. How had they all failed to prevent me from getting stabbed and roofied right in front of them? It didn’t make sense.
Faintly, I heard the accented man talking in my ear. Saying nice things. Comforting things about me being fine. Safe. He was no longer covering my mouth but stroking my cheek, and my head was cradled against his shoulder.
I couldn’t get my eyes open; they were too heavy. I was too relaxed. But I told him I’d been stabbed and drugged, and that I needed to get to a hospital. My voice was so quiet I couldn’t hear it over the loud music of the club. He heard me, though, because he reassured me that I hadn’t been stabbed. “Just a love bite,” he said. “No drugs. No hospital. All better now.”
My thigh did feel better. Raul was sucking on it now. Healing the knife wound. Or … love bite. Whichever. He was making a satisfied groaning noise as he did it that was really sexy, too. The more I focused on it, the more turned on I became.
“Raul won’t hurt you,” the foreign manny-mafia-man holding my head said. “He just needed to calm down.”
Right. That made perfect sense. Raul liked to bite people when he got anxious. I remembered it now—how he was orally fixated and that I’d decided earlier it must be his go-to PTSD response to bite people.
I’d overreacted. It was just a love bite.
A love bite on the thigh was hot.
As was the sensation of Raul’s fingers as they resumed moving inside of me, and the scent of so many big, powerful men surrounding me—the notion that multiple pairs of male eyes were possibly about to watch me orgasm again on a little metal table in a crowded nightclub.
It all felt so dangerous. Yet at the same time, the unseen men around me made me feel safe. I could pretend they really were international mannies entrusted with the care of special-needs children.
Or vicious criminals entrenched in the Brazilian mafia.
Either way, I’d later claim to have been suffering bite-induced PTSD hysteria myself for taking up a breathy chant of “fuck me, Raul” when his thumb began flicking my slippery clit.
Accent-manny groaned in my ear as my dress was shredded straight down the middle. And then I was wrenched away from his hold on my head altogether as my body slid forward, my hips were lifted off the table, and my spread legs were pulled up around Raul’s waist. The fat head of his cock pushed into me without further preamble, and as slick and turned on as I was, it was still an uncomfortably tight fit.
I always told my female patients that size didn’t matter, that it all came down to skill and the right chemistry. But it did. It so fucking did.
Raul’s fingers dug into my ass cheeks, raising me higher and holding me steady as he grunted and thrust forward, pushing deeper.
I gasped at the delicious burn, and my heavy eyelids flew open.
I might’ve been delirious with lust, and this public sex situation all kinds of twisted wrong, but I wasn’t about to miss the sight of Raul Caro, my best friend’s super-hot, totally off-limits older brother, former neighborhood manwhore, and despoiler of innocent babysitters—who was presently either a really important manny or a dangerous mob boss—as he rammed the length of that huge, infamous penis of his inside me for the first time.
I just didn’t count on his eyes glowing a shade other than brown back at me when I gazed up at him. Or on seeing two long, sharp canines extend farther than the rest of his front teeth as his lips pulled back and he growled down at me.
And I definitely didn’t expect him to sink those dagger teeth straight into my left tit as that legendary cock of his penetrated me to the hilt in one fast, fluid movement.
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