Hello everybody!

I’m getting so freaking excited that Firestorm comes out in less than a month, I cannot wait to share Brock and Amy’s story with you all! I thought with a month to go I would post a little excerpt from Firestorm, so that’s what I’ve done. Here’s a little look at the first chapter….


Anne Malcom 





I watched my baby girl sleep peacefully with my hand on her chest, the rise and fall of her breathing giving me a sense of calm. I was pretty sure I had the most beautiful child on the planet. Considering I had the most beautiful husband on the planet, it wasn’t a surprise. Though if Cade knew I was calling him beautiful he would have something to say about that. The sentence would most likely include profanities. To me my rough, badass biker was nothing short of beautiful. He had provided me with an amazing life, brought me back from some dark places and made me feel safe and cherished. Not to mention gave me the best orgasms I’d had in my life. Like the one he had given me an hour ago on the kitchen table…

A spluttering sound interrupted my sex flashback.

I narrowed my eyes and focused on Belle; she was still sleeping but she was making a weird sound. Was that normal? Shit, I didn’t know. Maybe my baby wasn’t sleeping peacefully; maybe that splutter was a symptom of some obscure life-threatening disorder. I pulled out my phone, almost hyperventilating.

Since I had already called Mum twice today I didn’t think I could disturb her again. Plus it was two a.m. at home. I would call her if Belle didn’t stop making that noise. It was freaking me out. I hadn’t been around babies. I didn’t know what were normal sounds and what weren’t. I put my phone to my ear, needing to be calmed down, or at least distracted.

“Hey, this is Amy. Text me. If I don’t reply it means I don’t want to talk to you.”

“Fuck,” I whispered.

Since I was desperate, I made a risky call.

“Good afternoon, Abrams residence,” a brisk voice greeted.

“Um hi, could I please speak to Amy?” I asked quietly, keeping an eagle eye on my daughter.

There was a pause. “Miss Abrams? Who may I ask is calling?”

“This is Gwen Alexandra…no wait, Fletcher. I mean, my last name used to be Alexandra, then I got married so I changed it to Fletcher. It’s a new name. I’m not used to it yet,” I babbled, my lack of sleep catching up on me.

“One moment.”

I relaxed. Well, slightly. I frowned down at Belle. She wasn’t making the noises anymore; she was quiet. Too quiet. Was that a thing? I was pretty sure babies weren’t meant to be that still.


My attention snapped back into the phone. Amy never called me by my full name; only my family and one other person called me that.

“Mrs. Abrams? So sorry to bother you, I was expecting Amy.”

I was sure I asked the maid for Amy. Maybe I didn’t. My mind was mush. Existing on coffee and orgasms was not a good long-term plan, but was necessary when you had a two-month-old daughter and a sex god for a husband.

“Oh yes, Vera informed me you were looking for Amy. I wanted to let you know she isn’t here. I haven’t seen her for months,” her cultured voice informed me.

That shocked me out of my freak-out. “Months?” I repeated. That couldn’t be right.

“Why yes, we both know Amy isn’t too fond on communicating with her mother unless she is forced. In fact, she actively changes her phone number whenever she becomes aware I have it.” Katherine’s voice dripped with disdain.

I resisted a giggle at this. It was true; Amy routinely changed her number in the past in order to avoid talking to her mother. Now she just had two separate phones; one ‘safe’ and one she specifically bought to communicate with her family. And only when she was faced with no other option. Her cold relationship with Katherine had always made me sad, which was why I had been shocked when she had told me she was staying there.

“But that’s not possible. Amy told me she was staying with you. She left for Europe right after my wedding. She got back two weeks ago, and said she was staying with you and Harold in the city,” I explained, getting a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Katherine laughed without humor. “I’m sorry, my darling, we both know my daughter has an aversion to the truth. I wouldn’t worry. She’s probably sunning herself on some pop star’s yacht and forgot she was meant to be back at home facing responsibility. Although I don’t recall her making arrangements to come here,” she added thoughtfully. “I must go, I’m late to a charity luncheon. Lovely talking to you, Gwenevere.” She rang off before I could say anything else.

My stomach churned. No matter what Amy’s vile mother said about her, Amy wasn’t irresponsible and she certainly wasn’t a liar. I automatically thought about the one and only time my best friend had kept something from me. A lance of pain ripped through my stomach.

She hadn’t told me about her and Ian. About being in love with my brother. Finding out she had kept it a secret, I took it a little bad. Okay, a lot bad since I tackled her on our front lawn. But when I got used to the idea I was happy, ecstatic for them both. Then things got complicated. Brock, the biker badass who rocked a serious man bun, got Amy twisted up enough to question her relationship with Ian. Not that I could get much out of her. But I knew Ian had been determined to get her back. I was pretty sure his decision to finish out his tour was largely to do with her.

My eyes glistened thinking about what would have been had he not been…killed. I still couldn’t say it. I could barely think it. My brother was dead. My best friend was heartbroken and she wouldn’t talk to me about it, no matter how hard I tried.

Plus, there was something going on with her and Brock. The months we had been back in Amber she refused to talk about it. They didn’t talk to each other apart from some broody alpha male looks Brock had directed at Amy when fate put them in the same room. I had been sidetracked with my reunion with Cade and my growing belly, so I didn’t give her the attention she needed. Then Belle was born in the clubhouse after I killed a man who was going to kill me and drama ensued. Life hadn’t exactly slowed down for me.

Cade had pretty much demanded we get married once I woke up in the hospital. I think he would have happily done it right then and there, but I convinced him I wouldn’t get married while wearing polyester. I managed to hold him off a month, a freaking month after Belle was born and he expected me to squeeze into a wedding dress. It was a good thing I was in love with the man or I would have been seriously pissed. Luckily, through a combination breastfeeding and being too anxious about the growth of Belle’s hair, I hadn’t had much of an appetite so I didn’t look like a beached whale at my wedding. Not that Cade made me feel like that for a second. The look he gave me when I walked down the aisle made my insecurities melt away. That and the kiss he landed on me as soon as I made it to him. I had been ready to forgo the ceremony and demand he whisk me away and ravish me.

Arms went around my middle and I jumped, being too deep in my thoughts to notice another presence.

“Baby?” Cade questioned. His deep voice was quiet, noticing the fact our daughter was sleeping.

I was about to tell him about Amy when Belle made the noise.

“Did you hear that?” I whispered, narrowing my eyes.

“What?” His body turned taut, instantly alert.

“That noise she’s making. It doesn’t sound normal. I think we should take her to the doctor,” I declared, frowning at my baby.

Cade relaxed and gently pulled me away from the crib, turning me to face him. He grasped my neck with his hands, his grey eyes meeting mine.

At any other moment I would be drooling at his hotness. His shoulder-length inky black hair, sharp and stubbled jaw and sexy gaze were a pot of male deliciousness. I appreciated it but I had bigger fish to fry. Namely making sure my baby wasn’t suffering from some kind of deadly snuffling attack.

“Gwen, she’s fine. She’s perfect—you need to take a breath. And a nap,” he said firmly.

“Are you crazy? How can I take a nap? What if something happens to her while I’m asleep? I’m her mother I need to protect her,” I replied, my voice bordering on hysterical.

“That’s what I’m here for, babe. It’s my job to take care of both of my girls. You are the most precious things on the entire fuckin’ planet—I would never let one thing hurt either of you. I’d die first,” he promised, hands tight at my neck.

My stomach plummeted. “Don’t say that,” I pleaded. “Don’t say die.”

Cade sighed and pulled me into his arms. “I’m sorry, baby, you’ve been through so much shit. You amaze me how strong you are to pull through it and still be who you are.” He grasped my hair, meeting my eyes again. “But that shit makes you aware of all the things that can go wrong. Now you know it can happen you’re convinced it’s gonna happen again. It won’t.” His words a promise, his eyes were so intense I believed him.

Suddenly I realized how neurotic I had been.

“I’m sorry honey. I’m just terrified,” I confessed. “After Ian I was so sure I’d never feel truly happy again. And now I am. I’m so happy that I’m terrified that something’s going to happen. Because no one can be this happy, not without something ruining it.” My voice broke at the end and a single tear trailed down my cheek.

My hard biker’s face softened and a callused hand stroked my cheek.

“Baby, the shit you’ve been through, the shit you’ve survived? You deserve a lifetime of happy and I’m going to make fucking sure you get it.” He finished this with a kiss.

Plastering my mouth against his, I moaned as his tongue explored my mouth, my worries about Belle fading away.

I pulled back abruptly. “Amy,” I muttered.

Cade’s face was blank. “Not too sure I’m happy you’re thinking about Amy when I’m doing that, babe.”

I shook my head, “That was great. Amazing. Obviously. But it’s Amy…I don’t know where she is. She’s missing.”

Cade’s body tightened at this and he instantly turned into the alert, macho alpha male. “Explain,” he ordered.

I recounted what Katherine had told me. “That means she’s been MIA for two weeks, Cade. I’ve talked to her since then but maybe only twice. And both times she said she was busy and had to go. I’m worried.” I chewed my lip.

Cade brought his thumb up to my mouth, lightly brushing it.

“She’ll be fine, baby. She’s probably just getting some time away from it all. I know something happened with Brock that might have had her wanting to disappear for a bit.”

I raised my eyebrow threateningly at this. My man had better not have been withholding information from me.

“I don’t know any specifics—put your claws away. I just know that he’s been a grumpy motherfucker. Not that that’s really news over the past year, but more so than usual. Something went down—maybe Amy just needed to get her head straight,” Cade said reassuringly, rubbing my arms.

I chewed on this for a moment. “But why wouldn’t she tell me? She’s my best friend and she’s going through all of this on her own.” I gazed up at him, tears welling in my eyes. She was the one who would tell me I was being a crazy person, worrying about things like snuffles and hair growth. She’d pour me a cocktail and distract me with Celine’s latest collection or some inane celebrity gossip.

“I don’t make sense without her. Where is she?”

Chapter 1


I slung back my fifth shot, savoring the burn at the back of my throat and the tingling in my fingers as the alcohol seared into my system.

“Another.” I pushed my glass at the bartender without looking up.

He didn’t say a word, nor did he raise a judgmental eyebrow that I was drinking alone in the early afternoon. I was pretty sure it was barely past lunch. This was most likely due to the kind of establishment I was currently welcoming oblivion in. It was dark, with an old wooden bar and equally old chairs and tables scattered around the place. The paint was crumbling at the walls and the clientele was as rough as the bar itself. Not that I cared. As long as they provided alcohol that let me escape into blissed numbness I did not give a shit.

“Here you go, darlin.” The bartender pushed the drink into my waiting hands and I downed it.

“Want to talk about it?” he asked in a gruff tone.

I glanced up at him. He was older, probably late fifties with dark greying hair and a greying mustache. He was wearing a plaid shirt undone with the sleeves rolled up and a wife beater underneath. Faded tattoos were scattered up his arms. I met his eyes; they were brown and crinkled at the sides. He was staring at me with a kind expression that looked out of place on his otherwise rough exterior.

“Talk about what?” I replied, managing not to slur my words.

“Whatever’s got a beautiful lady like you in a shithole like this, drinking her troubles away.” He pulled out another glass and poured the clear liquid into it before refilling mine. “Can’t let you do it alone.”

I paused, clinking my glass with his and drinking. “Guess I just felt like being anonymous for a while and this place seems like same as any to be no one,” I replied, glancing around at the patrons. There weren’t many; the few that were scattered around were keeping to themselves.

The bartender nodded, regarding me. “Fair enough, girlie. Want my advice? Best person to be is always who you are. Might not be perfect, might be hard as hell, but you ain’t got nothing if you ain’t got yourself.” With this sage wisdom he left me the bottle and walked down the bar.

I regarded the tequila bottle through blurry eyes. I wasn’t quite ready to be myself. If I was, that would mean I had to face all the issues that came with being Amy Abrams. Currently there was a shit ton of those. I didn’t feel like facing reality, like feeling the pain that had been my constant companion for almost a year. I didn’t feel like masking it through fake smiles and inappropriate jokes. I had played a part for eight months and I was exhausted. I didn’t want to feel anymore. I thought back to what brought me here, to a dive bar in the middle of New Mexico, after driving aimlessly around the country for two weeks trying to get my head straight. If I thought back I had to go way back, to the reason I wanted to be in a dive bar in the middle of New Mexico. The day that changed my life forever and that could have turned me into an alcoholic.

Two Years Ago

“Gwen!” I shouted as I slammed the door to our apartment shut, dumping all of my bags at my feet. “Hello, Gwen? I am so fucking late—I need to borrow your Jimmy Choos.”

I kicked off my shoes and yanked my dress over my head, trying to save time while I rushed towards Gwen’s bedroom. I dropped everything at my feet with the vague intention of picking it up at a later date. Gwen was anal when it came to shit like that.

“Seriously, why my mother makes me go to these stupid things I do not know. She knows I would rather chew tinfoil than go on a date with one of the trust fund assholes she always pushes on me the moment I walk through the door. If I was going to go home with anyone it would probably be the bartender, considering he’s the one I spend the most time with. Speaking of bartenders, do you remember that one…” I stopped my blabbering when I reached the living room and there was strange man standing in it.

A seriously sexy strange man with a buzz cut, strong jaw and the most amazing eyes I have ever seen. But that was neither here nor there. I definitely hadn’t left him there this morning and I didn’t order tall, dark and delicious, which meant he was an intruder.

Man, burglars had gotten sexy. This one even had the audacity to smirk at me, green eyes on my underwear-clad body. In my rush I had divested myself of my clothes.


I didn’t scream. I wasn’t a screamer, outside the bedroom at least. What I did do was grab a heavy candlestick holder from the table beside me and wave it threateningly.

“Okay pal, you have twenty seconds to get out of my apartment before I bludgeon you with this solid silver candlestick.” I gripped my weapon, willing to attempt to do as I said. I didn’t think I would be very successful, considering the pretty darned impressive muscles bulging out of the intruder’s t-shirt and the fact that disfiguring such a picture of male perfection would be a crime to humanity.

The thief continued to smirk at me as if I was some kind of amusing child. I did not appreciate the fact he didn’t consider me a worthy foe, regardless of the fact he had about two feet and one-hundred fifty pounds on me and he wasn’t only wearing heels and La Perla. I glared at him.

“I’m guessing you must be Amy,” he stated causally, shamelessly eyeing my barely clad body.

I stood straight, refusing to cover myself; this was my freaking apartment, after all. I also refused to acknowledge the flutter of desire that came with his gaze. Getting turned on by a man who had just broken into your apartment? That’s fucked up Amy, no matter how hot he is.

“How do you know my name?” I questioned.

Shit, maybe he was here to kidnap me and hold me for ransom. The hottest guy I’d laid eyes on in my life and he wasn’t around to date me, but kidnap me. Great. But then again, that accent sounded familiar. I had a feeling I was missing something.

The hunk crossed his arms and I failed not to appreciate the way his veins bulged when he did that. I mentally shook myself. Focus. Strange man in house, not good.

“Every time I talk to Gwen she mentions you at least four times. Although she failed to quite accurately describe you.” His voice was full of manly appreciation and so was his gaze, which had my nipples in danger of popping out from the seriously flimsy material encasing them.

That was not my main concern right now, considering my brain was the one in control of this situation, although my ovaries were fighting for the opportunity to rub up against him. Something flared at the edge of my mind while I battled not to have weird burglar sex fantasies.

“You’re Gwen’s brother,” I said slowly, doing a mental forehead slap. I had completely forgotten he was arriving today, regardless of the fact Gwen had informed me this morning. But in my defense I had only had one cup of coffee, which meant my brain only had control over limited motor function. It was only number three at which I processed and retained information.

Amy, don’t forget that Ian’s arriving today. I’ve left a key with the doorman so don’t be freaked if you come home to a strange man in the apartment—he is not there to rape or murder you. And try not to walk around naked either.”


“Ian.” Gwen’s seriously hot brother shocked me back into the present moment.

“What?” I asked, trying to figure out if there was anything in the immediate vicinity to cover up my nakedness. I subtly glanced around for a robe, a throw, hell, I’d settle for a rug. I was out of luck. In any other situation I would have been happy to be in such a state of undress in front of a sex god, but meeting my best friend’s brother for the first time was something that required clothing. And in his case, a chastity belt.

“The name’s Ian. I would shake your hand, but I’m figuring you might want to put away the deadly weapon and put on some clothes before we exchange pleasantries.” He nodded to my body, eyes teasing. My panties dampened at the underlying sexual hunger in his gaze. Not appropriate, Amy.

Not that I don’t appreciate the view,” he continued cheekily.

I felt my face flame. I threw the candlestick back on the side table with a clatter without breaking eye contact with Ian.

“Um yes, I think that would be wise. I’ll just, ah…” I pointed with my thumb to the direction of my room, while sidestepping there, really not wanting to share the fact I was wearing a g-string.

“You do that,” Ian responded, eyes sparkling.

I had made it to the edge of the room with Ian watching me the whole time, even though the polite thing would have been to avert his gaze or excuse himself to the corner. But no, he just kept the edge of his attractive mouth up; his green eyes had both rendered me mute and sparked a flame of desire that made me want to jump him then and there.

I am not a woman who gets rendered mute. Especially with men. I’ve always thought of it as my kind of superpower; I could flirt my ass off and pretty much use my feminine wiles to mold men into my little puppets. I don’t mean to be vain or anything but it’s the truth. Some people are math geniuses or brilliant artists; I’m a man whisperer.

But not with this one—oh no, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I spent the entirety of my journey to my bedroom slack-jawed and drooling. This guy had a presence, an air about him that screamed man. His hungry male gaze maintained eye contact with me as I edged into the hallway then rushed into my room.

In the safety of my bedroom I gathered my scrambled thoughts…the first one being that Gwen’s brother was hot. I shouldn’t be surprised, considering Gwen was a total babe and I had seen photos of him. Hotness ran in the family. But photos seemed a poor representation of the real thing.

His dark hair was shaved close to his skull in a military buzzcut, which didn’t make him look like a skinhead or a lice victim. No, it made him look like a bad ass. Think Channing Tatum in G.I Joe times a thousand. He had a square masculine jaw and freaking amazing green eyes like Gwen’s. His face was not classically handsome; it was rugged and masculine as fuck.

His body. I couldn’t get stuck on that thought for too long or I would turn into a drooling mess on the floor. He was built, like built. Broad shoulders and some crazy defined arms; it looked like he bench pressed cars for shits and giggles. His tee unfortunately didn’t give me a view of his abs, but I knew they were there. He’d probably have that amazing V that pointed to the most important part on a male. Unfortunately I hadn’t got to check out his no doubt amazing jean-clad ass, but I bet I could eat a steak off it.

My dreamy gaze wandered to the Tiffany clock on my dresser. Shit. This guy had the ability to made me completely forget about the prior engagement I was seriously late for. That was a feat in itself; the horrific night ahead of me was as easy to forget about as genital warts. I turned my thoughts to my closet and directed my body towards it, picking out an outfit on autopilot.

I slipped on a silk Calvin Klein gown that I knew looked amazing on me. I may have been trying to position my second encounter with Ian on more even ground; ground which I planned to be standing in designer footwear. Plus, designer armor was essential when going into battle with my mother. A fire-breathing dragon would be ideal, but I worked with what I had.

I hurried to my bathroom and commenced in doing a day to night transition of my makeup and hair. Luckily I was one of those women who could chuck her hair in a messy bun and make it look artfully messed. My talents, although useful in everyday life, did not really make me capable of contributing anything valuable to society, which was something my mother loved reminding me of.

After finishing I moved to my full length mirror for a quick inspection.

My soft grey metallic dress was cut on the bias and hugged my body in all the right places before falling softly to my feet. It had spaghetti straps which snaked down way low on my back. My red hair escaped from the bun artfully, falling in wisps around my face. I regarded my face in the mirror. As a natural redhead I was plagued with freckles; some days I cursed them, others I liked them. Today I had let them peek out from under my makeup, just a light dusting on my cheeks. With a subtle smoky eyeshadow and a light pink gloss on my lips I deduced I looked good. Good enough to face Ian again and hopefully regain my ability to turn a phrase.

I entered the living room to a glorious sight…a view of Ian from behind. I was right; you could totally eat a steak off that ass.

“Yeah Ace, she just arrived home about half an hour ago. I think I gave her a bit of a fright,” he chuckled.

I cleared my throat before he could recount the rest of our encounter, which Gwen would no doubt find hilarious.

Ian turned slowly, phone to his ear, smirk on his face. Did this guy have a permanent sexy grin on his face? If so, the chances of me pouncing on him increased exponentially.

When he turned to me the grin disappeared. It was replaced with a dark gaze full of lust and I struggled not to run over and hump his leg. I guess my dress had its intended effect. I mentally high-fived myself.

“Sorry Ace, didn’t quite catch that,” Ian spoke huskily, eyes still on me.

Now that I had recovered from the power of his male gaze I smirked and cocked my hip.

“Yep, that’s fine. I get you got to work late. I’m sure I can find a way to entertain myself.”

Breaking our eye contact, I moved through the living room while he spoke to gather things into my purse, feeling eyes on my naked back.

“I don’t think Amy can act as my babysitter tonight, Gwen. She looks like she’s off to some fancy ‘do,” he exclaimed, his accent seriously hot and rugged. I didn’t even care I had no idea what a ‘do’ was.

I shelved a borderline sick babysitter fantasy and had a brilliant idea. I whirled around and ignored the panty-dropping stare I was getting, snatching the phone from Ian.

“Hey Gwen, don’t worry. I’ve got Ian sorted for tonight. He can come to this charity gala with me,” I told her, watching as Ian raised his eyebrows.

“Really? Oh, thanks so much, Ames. I’m sure he’ll hate it as much as you do, but at least he won’t be sitting in an empty apartment on his first night back from a war zone. Fucking work—I can’t believe I have to stay and sort out this order. On the day my big brother arrives,” she whined, sounding pissed.

“Um, sorry to put a spanner in the works here, but I can’t go to any ‘galas’ on the account of the fact I don’t have a monkey suit stuffed in my duffel, and by the way you’re dressed I don’t think my jeans and tee will cut it,” Ian interrupted, watching me.

“You’re perfect as you are,” I replied, phone still at my ear. He seriously was, perfect. If I had the ability I would sculpt him out of marble. Maybe I would commission a miniature of him for my own personal use.

“You’re so using Ian to piss off your mum and all the stuffed shirts at this charity thing, aren’t you?” Gwen knew me too well.

“I can neither confirm nor deny that, Gwen. Got to go—we are so late already. Don’t work too hard.” I cut the call off, knowing Gwen wouldn’t actually mind I was using her brother as a pawn in my constant battle to beat the Botox in my mother’s face to get it to form a frown. Gwen would just be angry she couldn’t be there. I was kind of glad she wouldn’t, considering I’d probably be drooling over her brother the entire night.

The drool-worthy brother was watching me with a raised eyebrow. “You’re telling me that you’re going to a party dressed like that and I’ll be okay in this?” He gestured down to his attire with a skeptical gaze.

I didn’t look down, for if I did I might just pull up his shirt to inspect his abs. I needed to make sure I didn’t do things like that; he was my best friend’s brother. Off limits. Which only made him so much hotter. This was going to be a huge test on my willpower, even worse than that time I decided to do a raw food detox.

“You’ll be fine, trust me. My mother’s the one throwing the party.”

We pulled up to the party in the town car I had had waiting outside our apartment. Luckily since I was so late there were only a few photographers loitering around. I usually didn’t mind getting snapped; I shared an easy relationship with the paps. I wasn’t famous enough to get followed around or anything, but at events like this they loved me. I didn’t mind getting on page five either; it helped get me some serious designer duds. But tonight for some reason I didn’t want Ian to see that side of my life. It all seemed so silly now, with him being the sexy man who fought terrorists and saved the world for a living. The life I had been so content with hours ago now seemed superficial and shallow. I was almost embarrassed. I turned to him.

“Wanna have some fun with these stuck-up stock brokers and trophy wives to spice up the evening?” I asked with a smirk.

“Bring it on.” Ian winked at me and got out of the car, rounding it to open my door for me. I clasped his outstretched hand and almost gasped at the spark I felt touching his skin. He pulled me up and the look on his face told me he felt it too. That moment everything seemed to fade away and it was just the two of us. There was a connection, something I couldn’t explain, an attraction tethering us together. As if we hadn’t just met two hours ago.


“Miss Abrams, who are you wearing tonight?”

“Over here, Amy! Give us a pose!”

The voices of photographers shook me out of the moment, which was good. I couldn’t be having some freaking insta-lust type shit with my best friend’s brother. I needed to focus on the mission at hand.

I stepped forward to give the photographers a quick snap, but I was stopped with a hand on my back. I tried to ignore the desire that spread through my body from that touch as Ian directed us towards the doors, shielding me from the camera flashes.

“Who’s the new man, Amy?”

“Does that mean the rumors about you and the prince aren’t true?”

The questions died away as we reached the doors.

“You didn’t have to whisk me away like that—I have plenty of experience with this stuff. Heck, it’s a normal Friday night for me,” I told Ian as I presented the man at the door with the invitation. Not that I needed it; he knew who I was. He gave Ian’s attire a speculative look before nodding.

“Have a nice evening, Miss Abrams.”

Ian raised an eyebrow at the guy and gave him a casual chin lift.

“Yeah, well, if you’d been with the right man you wouldn’t have had to deal with that stuff. A real man wouldn’t let his woman get ogled like that, especially when he knew what the fuck those photos were being used for,” he bit out, directing us to the main room as if he’d been here hundreds of times.

I turned my head to look up at him. “Seriously? The only thing those photos will be used for is determining if I’m ending up on the worst-dressed list.”

I had never ended up on the worst-dressed list and I wouldn’t be starting today.

Ian glanced down at me, eyes twinkling. “Trust me, I’m a man. Those photos will be used for a fuck of a lot more than that.”

I scrunched up my nose. “Ew. I didn’t need that image.”

“Yeah, well, neither did I. It’s going to be hard enough looking at all the stuffed suits scramble over their Botox-filled dates to talk to you,” he replied stiffly, scanning the room and leading us towards the bar.

Ah, a man after my own heart.

I struggled to comprehend the meaning behind his words. They certainly seemed protective and almost angry, but that didn’t make sense. I was his kid sister’s best friend; we barely knew each other. That did not warrant this reaction. I chose not to believe he was feeling the same freaky attraction I was. Even if he wasn’t Gwen’s brother I didn’t do relationships. I knew they only caused a world of hurt. Caring, feelings…that fricking four-letter word. They all amounted to pain and heartbreak. I was in control over my heart and it would belong to no man. Apart from Karl Lagerfeld.

I scanned the people at the party and my eyes fell on my mother. The look she was giving me, and more precisely Ian, was evidence that she had spotted me far earlier. She started to make her way over to us, smiling at her society friends tightly.

I glanced up at Ian. “Can you do me a solid and grab me a martini from the bar, dirty?” I paused, gauging the expression on my mother’s face. “Make that two,” I amended.

Ian raised an eyebrow. “Sure thing, sweetheart.”

I sighed in relief as he escaped just before my mother arrived.

I took a deep breath. Katherine Abrams was a beauty; no one could dispute that. Her hair was the same red as mine, but colored to disguise any grey hairs. It was expertly coiffed into a chignon which accentuated her sharp cheekbones. Her makeup was flawless, like always, applied by her makeup artist. Her face was free from any lines, thanks to surgery and injections. She was wearing a jade green gown which accentuated her trim figure, proving the fact she counted calories and barely ate more than one meal a day.

“Amy, darling, glad to see you could finally make it. I’m sure I told you countless times to be here at seven—did your watch break? You know your father and I got that for you to remedy you inability to monitor time passing.”

Fate was a cruel mistress to make me face this creature sober.

“Mother, how lovely to see you,” I lied, giving her air kisses.

I then shook my pricey timepiece my parents had gotten me, which I wore to every event where I knew I would encounter them. “You know, these days watches have become obsolete. I merely think of this as a pretty bracelet.” I declared airily and watched my mother’s eyes narrow.

“Darling, you must let Anna do your makeup for these events. You know she would give you the perfect powder to cover up those freckles. They make you look common.” My mother eyed my cheeks in disdain.

I didn’t have time to reply as she glared at Ian’s jean-clad backside. Her face was tight and expressionless but I swear a vein in her eye twitched. This only helped cement my theory that she was a cyborg incapable of human emotion. The normal reaction of a human woman would be drooling, or at least swooning over the male specimen in front of her.

“Really, Amy? Is this your latest attempt to embarrass me?” she asked, her judgmental gaze now focused on me. “You bring some hoodlum to my event dressed like a drug dealer?”

“Oh, but he is a drug dealer, Mother. You know how hard it is to get good blow at these things. I thought I’d just cut out the middleman,” I replied seriously.

My mother raised an eyebrow; well, as much as was possible with the amount of Botox in her face. “When are you going to grow up, Amy?” she sighed.

I pretended to think about that. “If by grow up you mean buy a closet full of Burberry, play tennis, head ridiculous charities and have a stuffy banker husband, I’m going to say…never,” I told her. “And plus, I thought the idea of aging in any way, shape, or form is utterly distasteful to you, considering the amount of surgeries you’ve had to stop the evidence of time’s passing,” I added. God, I wish I had a drink. Or at least a hammer to whack myself in the head with.

Katherine scowled at me, preparing a no doubt scathing retort when Ian approached us.

He handed me my two drinks. “Here you go, Ames,” he said softly.

“I love you,” I muttered under my breath, cradling my precious drinks.

My mother’s eyes went to my multiple cocktails and she opened her mouth. Ian, the sweetheart, beat her to it.

“You must be Mrs. Abrams. I’m Ian Alexandra—it’s a pleasure to meet you. I apologize for my lack of formal attire but I just got back from deployment and Amy wasn’t expecting to have to babysit me tonight,” Ian cut in smoothly, taking my mother’s hand in his.

His rough accent and veiny arms transfixed me and I struggled not to stare. Or drool. I focused on sipping my drink.

“Oh, that’s quite alright, it isn’t your fault at all. Amy has the entire Upper East Side on speed dial—she could have wrangled you up a suit. I’m sure the thought never occurred to her though. She always has so many pressing matters on her mind, like the next club opening she has to attend.” My mother delivered that barb with a smile and continued. “Deployment? You’re in the Army? With that accent you must be Gwenevere’s brother. Your parents must be so proud to have two such successful children. I only wish Gwenevere could influence Amy a little more.”

I took a deep breath and willed myself not to react at my mother’s apparent disappoint in me and my accomplishments. It didn’t matter that I had just graduated from Columbia or that I helped facilitate one of the biggest business deals my father’s company had ever had. I was a constant disappointment. I think if I had found a cure for cancer she would have replied with, “Only cancer? You couldn’t cure something like HIV as well?”

Ian’s face turned hard and he moved to stand beside me. “Our parents are proud of us no matter what Mrs. Abrams—that’s what makes them such good parents. They would never judge or criticize Gwen and my decisions. If you’d excuse us, it was a pleasure to meet you.”

Without letting my mother get a word in Ian swept me away toward the bar. I whipped my head around to watch my mother’s frozen face staring after us. I gazed up at Ian in awe.

“That was freaking awesome. I may just promise to carry your firstborn for that,” I joked.

Ian gave me a long and serious look that wiped the smirk right off my face. The intensity behind those green eyes was scary as hell. It also made wetness pool between my legs.

“I’ll remember that, sweetheart. Your mum, she always like that?” His face was focused on mine with…concern?

“That’s damn near warm and cuddly from her. I’m surprised she didn’t eat me at birth,” I replied, going for breezy. Gwen was the only one who knew the effect my mother’s disdain had on me.

Ian raised an attractive eyebrow. “I don’t like that for you, sweetheart. Someone as beautiful and funny as you could not have come out of that,” he scowled over at my mother. “You must have had a rough fucking childhood.” He took my empty glass out of my hand.

I locked eyes with Ian. “Yeah, my life was so hard with a private chef and birthdays where I got a gifts like a BMW baby racer,” I joked.

Ian frowned at me. “That crap doesn’t mean shit when you’ve got parents who treat you like that,” he said quietly.

I stilled. How could he see through my blasé attitude towards my mother’s indifference? Or let’s face it…straight-up hostility?

“Yeah, well, I made it out alive and I didn’t turn into a designer-clad vampire, so it’s a win.”

I scanned the room, observing the usual suspects, some of whom were glancing in this direction. Well, almost all of the female population were salivating at Ian.

Back off, bitches, he’s mine.

Wow. Where did that come from? I was not a jealous person and Ian was most certainly not mine. Maybe this martini was spiked and causing me to have weird thoughts. I frowned down at my glass. Surely Ian wouldn’t roofie me; he should have known he could click his glorious fingers and I’d be his.

Those glorious fingers lightly grasped my chin while with his other hand he put my drink down.

“Look at me, beautiful. Trust me, from someone who knows how lucky he is to have two loving parents, I’m sorry you didn’t have that. And I’m fucking amazed you are who you are, having been brought up like that.”

“You don’t even know me. I could be a raging bitch, just one surgery away from becoming like them,” I whispered to him, transfixed with his stare.

“I know enough. And I know who my sister is and what she’s told me. I know you’re special. Knew it the moment I laid eyes on you.”

Okay, this was serious shit. Like defcon level five type shit.

Battle stations! Do not let the sexy soldier with the endearing accent in! At all costs, people!

“The first time you laid eyes on me I was in my underwear brandishing a candlestick. I’m sure you knew I was some kind of special,” I replied with a raised eyebrow.

Ian smiled but his eyes darkened.

The moment was charged with a sexual tension that I didn’t know was real outside of romance novels. I was so fucked.

“Amy, you love to make our mother’s blood pressure rise, don’t you? Just once could you come to one of these events and not cause some kind of stir?”

My brother’s superior tone interrupted the moment. For once I was glad for the patronizing little shit’s scolding.

“Tripp, what would be the fun in that? She’s already got her Stepford son. I’m just keeping her on her toes, making sure all that plastic surgery and hairspray doesn’t fry her brain,” I replied, giving my brother a sweet smile.

He frowned at me disapprovingly. Where I was the imprint of my mother Tripp was the imprint of my father. You would never even guess we were related. In glaring contrast to my pale skin and red hair he had olive-toned skin and nightshade locks. His eyes were dark and his jaw chiseled. Tripp was expertly groomed like always, down to suspiciously manicured eyebrows. His short hair was styled perfectly, and I knew it would have taken him longer to do than mine. The suit was of course designer and tailored expertly.

My gaze moved to the woman hanging off his shoulder and I struggled not to roll my eyes in distaste. Okay, maybe I didn’t struggle.

“Penelope, so lovely to see you,” I lied through gritted teeth.

“Amy, darling, it’s so good to see you too. You look great. I would be too nervous to wear something as revealing as that to an important event such as this, but you really make a statement.” Her voice was sickly sweet, but the thinly veiled insult was clear.

I despised this woman. I had known her since we were kids, on account of our parents being friends, which meant I unfortunately was forced to be in her presence a lot. Her only aims in life were to snag herself a well-to-do husband that daddy approved of and to make other girls feel terrible about themselves. She was a snake. A pretty one at that, with blonde hair, blue eyes and an hourglass figure, but a Gucci-clad reptile she still was. I was less than impressed she was latched onto my brother although hardly surprised. She had been after him since we were kids.

“Who’s your date Amy?” she purred, eyes roving over Ian.

“Sorry, how rude of me. Ian, this is my brother Tripp and this is Penelope.” I stopped myself from elaborating further as I was worried I might label Penelope as man-eating bitch and Ian as a sex god.

“How do you know my sister, Ian? Did she pick you up from a bar on the way here? It wouldn’t be the first time,” Tripp asked, disdain dripping from his tone.

“Of course I didn’t—he’s my bodyguard,” I interrupted sarcastically. “He’s here to make sure one of the silicone socialites doesn’t shiv me in the bathroom.” I gave Penelope a pointed look.

Ian coughed beside me; I was pretty sure he was doing it to cover up his chuckle. I was happy he was on board with my flavor of humor.

Tripp scowled at me. “Can you take anything seriously?”

I glared back at him. “Can you at least pretend you have manners and treat my guest with respect? I’m doing the same with yours, despite her being Satan’s mistress,” I bit out, ignoring Penelope’s fake gasp.

“It’s okay, Amy, I’m sure your brother is just being protective. I understand. I’m Gwen’s brother, Ian.” He held out his hand which Tripp shook.

Penelope was glaring at me. I smirked at her, daring at her to come at me. I’d been itching to bitch slap the evil little twat for years. Unfortunately she was far too image-conscious to pounce on me in front of so many well-to-do types. She was more likely to slip arsenic in my martini when I wasn’t looking. I glanced to my brother, whose small manicured hand was still encased in Ian’s large one.

Tripp’s eyes bulged slightly at Ian’s no doubt firm grip and I smirked into my glass.

“If you would excuse us there is someone I would much rather talk to, over there,” I gestured vaguely to the other side of the room, grabbing Ian’s hand.

“Having fun yet?” I asked dryly as we beat a hasty retreat.

Ian grinned. “I know some battle-hardened soldiers who would prefer to be in a gunfight than this situation,” he replied, his voice was teasing.

“You ain’t seen nothing, yet soldier boy.”

Two hours, four martinis and some nonexistent canapés later I was feeling pleasantly buzzed. Also supremely horny. Like I almost wanted to jump on Ian and beg him to take me in front of the entire party horny.

Ian and I had been having a ball all night, trying to get the masks of the image conscious attendees to slip at our risqué conversation topics.

I was finding it hard to focus on the current conversation I was having with some investment banker. No, wait. Even if I wasn’t struggling with impure thoughts over a sexy but off limits man I would be bored to death with this conversation.

“The way the economy is at the moment most people are struggling to turn a profit. Not me. It all comes down to instinct.”

I restrained a snort. More like he had daddy’s checkbook.

“Speaking of instinct, I have a certainty I must take you out for dinner tomorrow night. I own the nicest little Italian restaurant—plus we could take my jet to wine country.” His hand trailed down my arm and I inspected his manicured nails with indifference. He was like a clone of every guy in here. Money, good looks, arrogance and a certainty that the female race should drop at their feet.


“I’m going to have to go with my instinct and give you a resounding no on that one,” I informed him.

The banker was unruffled, arrogance making him unable to fathom the fact someone was saying no to him. “No one can say refuse Italian,” he urged.

“Trust me, it’s not the Italian I’m saying no to.”

“Oh, come on,” he pressed, and I was starting to get seriously irritated.

“I believe the lady said no, mate,” a rough voice declared from behind me.

I felt callused hands on my arms, gently pulling me out of the banker’s reach.

He glanced at Ian and dismissed him just as quickly, opening his mouth to no doubt spit something patronizing before trying to lure me away with a description of his stock portfolio. Thankfully I was directed away by the same callused hands that brushed my bare back. I tried to ignore the increase in my heartbeat, the flames that burned underneath his hands, the pool of desire settling between my legs but I couldn’t.

“As much fun as I’ve had tonight watching you shine like a fucking supernova amongst all these idiots, I think it’s time I took you home.” Ian’s mouth brushed my ear as he directed us towards the exit.

My breath hitched at the suggestion. Did he mean what I think he means? Was ‘take me home’ code for sex, or did he just mean escort me back to the apartment I shared with his sister? Ugh, my man whisperer powers have left the building and I seemed to have reverted to an awkward teenager incapable of speech.

“Slugger! Don’t tell me you’re running off so soon! The bar is still fully stocked and nothing’s on fire—that’s not like you.” A booming voice carried over the soft spoken socialites, who looked over their shoulders in distaste.

I grinned wide. “Uncle Garrett! I thought you were in India.” I reluctantly pulled myself away from Ian to be hauled into my uncle’s embrace.

“Oh fuck no, I got out of that shithole as soon as I could. Not my idea of a good time—dirty filthy place,” he declared into my hair.

“Good to see you are as politically incorrect as always, Uncle G,” I responded dryly.

I loved my Uncle Garrett with all my heart; he was the only reason I didn’t consider myself adopted. And he was the only reason I couldn’t say with certainty my mother was an emotionally stunted cyborg.

Garrett pulled away to hold me at arms’ length and inspect me. “You are looking stunning as always. The plastic surgery queens don’t hold a fucking candle to you, Slugger. Speaking of my sister, where is she?” Garrett asked, scanning the room with a gleam in his eye.

To say they didn’t get on would be like saying the Titanic only grazed the iceberg. But like me Garrett reveled in pissing my mother off, especially by acting decidedly uncouth at these events. We were usually partners in crime, getting drunk off the open bar. And there may have been an incident with a small fire, only teeny tiny. That woman’s eyebrows grew back I’m sure.

“Oh, I wouldn’t know. I paid my obligatory dues and caught my share of veiled insults for the night, so I guess she’s done with me,” I responded, feeling Ian’s heat at my back.

Garrett’s eyes moved from scanning the room to inspect Ian. He grinned. “Well, the fact you aren’t wearing a goddamn monkey suit makes me like you already, whoever you are. Amy didn’t drag you off the street, did you?” he asked cheekily, holding out his hand. “Garrett Lucas, the closest thing Amy has to a blood relative, on account of the rest of them being blood-sucking vampires,” he joked.

Ian shook his hand, firmly like all men seemed to do. I got distracted looking at the muscles in his arms pulse as he clenched. My mind wandered to other types of clenching, like the kind his ass would do as he pounded into me.

“Ian Alexandra. Pleased to meet you, sir. Amy did not drag me off the street, although you aren’t the first person to ask me that tonight.” Ian regarded me with a raised brow.

I tried my best to look innocent. I was afraid that didn’t work considering I had just been daydreaming about getting fucked by the man standing in front of me. While in front of my uncle. I needed to see a psychiatrist.

“It’s only happened once before,” I argued, trying to get my head in the game and away from thoughts of Ian’s penis.

Garrett raised his eyebrow.

“Okay, maybe twice,” I conceded, feeling red creep up my cheeks. I never blushed. I was beginning to worry Ian was the catalyst for some kind of medical condition. Was pheromone poisoning a thing?

“This one’s a handful, my man, but she’s worth it.” Garrett winked at me and I cringed. For some reason my favorite uncle thinking I was involved with this sexy piece of male deliciousness was a blow. Maybe it was because he actually cared about my personal life, unlike the rest of my family, and would ask about Ian the next time we talked. I would then have to correct him by telling him who Ian really was and how he was so off limits. Like carbs or refined sugar.

I opened my mouth to correct him but someone bet me to it.

“I know she is,” Ian declared, gazing down at me intensely and not at all platonically.

So maybe tonight could be my cheat night. I did it for diets; why couldn’t I do it for socially off limits men?

“As much as I would like to stick around and shoot the shit with you two, I’ve got to go and embarrass my sister. Have a good night.” Garrett winked at me again, pecked me on the cheek and then strutted off in the direction of my mother. I almost wanted to stay and watch the drama unfold.

“Time to go home.” A rough voice tickled the nape of my neck, sending shivers right down to my happy place.

I glanced up to meet Ian’s eyes yet again, about to say something when the hunger in his gaze stopped me short. I only managed to nod stupidly and let him lead me out the door.

The promise in his eyes, in his tone, the hand on my back…it all spoke a language I was fluent in. Sex. I wanted Ian more than I had ever wanted another man. I had never felt this attracted to anyone before. And that’s saying something since I’d dated a couple of seriously yummy Calvin Klein models. Ian was just so male. Not just in the way he looked but how he acted, so different than all the men I had in my sexual past. Maybe it was because he was from New Zealand; an exotic, different kind of male than I was used to. Masculinity seemed to waft off him. If that’s how they bred them in New Zealand I should seriously consider moving there.

I had to fight it though, no matter how freakishly strong our connection was. It would be a seriously uncool thing for me to do to my best friend. Ian and I would have amazing mind-blowing sex, then something would happen, we’d end it and it would be supremely awkward for the rest of time. I wouldn’t do it.

“You hungry?” I asked Ian as he opened the door for me.

“Fucking ravenous,” he answered in a gravelly voice, eyes flaring.

I gulped and tried not to picture the fact his eyes were not talking about food. Nope, I failed. The image of him in between my legs using that beautiful mouth to make me come made me knees buckle. I shook my head.

“Me too. For food. I mean, yes, food,” I stuttered, trying to find my cool.

Ian watched me with a smirk.

“There’s an awesome pizza place in Brooklyn that boasts the best pie in the city. The least I can do is buy you dinner after subjecting you to that horror. I bet you wish you were back in the war zone now,” I joked.

Ian stopped us at the curb, hand on the door to our car. “You have no idea how happy I am to be right here. All that,” he gestured to the hotel, “was worth every fucking second cause it meant I was with the most beautiful woman in the room. Every guy in there wished he was in my shoes.”

I stared up at him, unprepared for that response and unprepared for the emotions it garnered within me.

Luckily Ian didn’t wait for a verbal reply, which I was thankful for. He opened the door. “And there’s no way you’re paying a dime for the pizza.”

I couldn’t argue because the door shut behind me. I sighed and leaned back into the seat. I wondered how I wasn’t going to pounce on this guy.


“So, tell me what it’s like being a big badass alpha soldier,” I asked, munching on my second piece of pizza, enjoying the carby goodness. I was hoping that since I was binging on something off limits in the food department I would have some willpower left to resist Ian.

Ian watched me a beat then answered. “I don’t know about the ‘big badass alpha’ bit, but I enjoy the Army. I work with some decent guys who are like brothers.” He shrugged. “It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

His answer was so not satisfactory.

“Come on, you’ve got to give me more than that. Do you know how to disarm a nuke? Do you chop the blue wire or the red wire? Can you kill a man in twenty different ways by touching a specific pressure point on their body? Give me the deets.”

Ian stared at me a moment, then burst out laughing. Boy, was that a wonderful sight. I watched the cord of his neck move and started to squirm in my seat.

“Jesus Christ, you’re a laugh, woman. You’re not at all what you seem. You growing up to be who you are is like a flower growing through a crack in the sidewalk.”

I tried my hardest to ignore the power behind Ian’s gaze, the connection that seemed to be buzzing between us.

“I bet I seem a lot more interesting than I actually am due to the fact you probably haven’t seen a woman in a while,” I said awkwardly, trying to deflect the compliment. Usually I lapped up praise from the opposite sex, but it was always about my appearance; my tits, legs and hair. Ian saw past all of that. It made me uncomfortable and feel warm inside. It was dangerous.

He frowned. “Trust me, you’re nothing like any woman I’ve ever met. You’ve been an amazing friend to my sister—I’ll be forever grateful for that alone.”

I relaxed at him steering the conversation back to a safer subject, one that might douse the flames of my out of control libido.

“Gwen’s the one that saved me from suffocating in the stifling Upper East Side cult. She’s real, honest and loyal—I’m lucky to have her.”

From there the conversation seemed to flow and although there was a sexual undertone, the topics were general.

We talked for hours, talking about nothing and everything. Ian told me about having four wheeler races with Gwen on their farm back in New Zealand; I told him about the time I signed my mother up to attend a drag queen benefit without her knowledge. I talked with him like I had never talked with anyone before. It felt easy, normal, right. Dangerous.

The easy banter and extreme attraction I felt for this man did not bode well for my future. I had only been in his presence for a couple of hours; how could I stand the two weeks he was here without pouncing on him? I would just have to ovary it up and find a way to resist it. I was a grown woman, after all. I wasn’t a slave to my baser instincts.

“Fucking hell, you’re beautiful,” Ian growled while his hand traced my breast.

“No talking,” I commanded, pulling him back to my mouth.

Okay, so it had taken my resolve about five sexually charged minutes to waver on the car ride home. Ian seemed to be struggling too and as if we had reached some kind of mutual agreement, we had pounced on each other. Luckily the car had a little screen so the driver wouldn’t be getting a free amateur porn show. Not that I cared at this moment. Hell, he could pull up to Times Square and sell tickets. I didn’t give a shit.

Ian yanked me up to straddle his lap, bunching the fabric of my dress so my almost bare core rubbed against his hard length. I moaned into his mouth. Callused hands snagged against the silk of my dress, playing with my nipples as they hardened under his touch. I ground my body against his, desperate to feel closer. To meld myself against his rock hard body. I almost came from the friction of his jeans against the lace of my panties.

“You’re gonna have to stop doing that, beautiful, or I’m going to lose control and fuck you right here,” Ian bit out.

I opened my eyes and gazed at him through my lashes. “I want you to fuck me right here.”

Ian seemed to struggle for a moment and he let his forehead fall against mine.

“You’re too good to fuck in the back of a car. I want you in a bed where I can take my time, taste every inch of your body, then fuck you slow and watch your face when you come,” he hissed, palming my breast.

I grasped his hand and directed it into my soaking panties; his jaw clenched as his fingers brushed my clit. I barely restrained a scream.

“You’re testing my willpower, Amy,” he grunted, rubbing me in delightful circles.

My eyes glazed over as he brought me close to the edge. His other hand grasped my neck, pulling me to face him.

“I want to watch you come,” he declared, eyes bright.

I was about to treat him to the Abrams orgasm show when something broke the moment. “Sexy Bitch” blared from the flimsy material of my Gucci.

“Fuck,” I muttered.

I tried to scramble off him, the reminder of what I was doing like a bucket of ice water. Hands gripped my waist, keeping me in place. I frowned at them before reaching for my bag to answer my phone.

“Hey Gwennie.” I watched Ian stiffen slightly. Good, we both needed to calm this shit.

“Hey Abrams, where are you guys? I got home and I figured you would have ditched that snoozefest by now. Don’t tell me you’ve dragged Ian out clubbing,—he hates that crap. Actually I could use a drink, or ten. Can I meet you?” Gwen greeted with her usual speech.

“Um, we’re actually on our way home.” I squirmed, uncomfortable having this conversation in Ian’s lap. I felt like I was betraying Gwen somehow.

“Okay, no worries. I’d rather put on sweats and get drunk off homemade cocktails. I’ll start making them now. See you soon, bitch!” She hung up before I could say another word.

I stared at the silent phone, willing someone, anyone to call to rescue me from this situation that turned awkward with the sound of one song. Even my mother or Craig the Stage Five clinger who I was trying to shake. I’d welcome Craig right now. But alas, crazy stalkers never called when you wanted them to.

I was forced to face the music when Ian grasped my chin and gently directed my gaze to him.

“Gwen’s at home. Making cocktails as we speak,” I whispered.

He smirked. “I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

I paused. “She can’t know about this.” I gestured between us. “This can’t happen again.” It pained me to even say it; feeling in Ian’s arms felt so right. Ew, did I seriously just think that? I hated girls who said cheesy shit like that. I wanted to tit punch girls that said shit like that.

“I agree. Gwen probably shouldn’t know I pashed her best friend within hours of arriving,” he grinned.

“What does pashed mean?” I asked, wondering if it was New Zealand slang for some sort of sexual wizardry.

“It means I’ve tasted how sweet your mouth is, felt how amazing your body feels and it means I want to taste all of you. Feel what it’s like to slide inside you.”

Holy fuck. What does one say to that? Especially when one is feeling the impressive length of what could mean multiple orgasms if this guy’s kiss was anything to go by.

“I’m going to be straight up here. This is complicated. You aren’t just a fuck for me, I can tell you that already. You’re more. But I can’t give you more. I’m here for two weeks and then I’m gone. I won’t be back for another year—my job is dangerous. Who knows if I will come back.” I tensed at the thought of Ian getting hurt. I tensed even more when I realized how deeply this thought affected me. He brushed my cheek. “All of that means I should be keeping my distance, not complicating things, not putting you through this. That’s what I should be doing. But if my job’s taught me anything it’s to make the most of every day, every second. Even if it’s for one night I want the memory of your face, your body to think of when I’m in the next hellhole.” His fingertips grazed the edge of my panties. “It may be selfish as fuck but I want to remember how tight your pussy is whenever I look at you, know what it feels to have you pulse around my finger. I want you, all of you,” he murmured.

I exhaled. Wow. I wanted all of that. Hell, after that speech I’d offer to carry his firstborn child and to sell my entire Loubie collection if that’s what he wanted.

So after that night, that’s what we did. We made the most of every moment, and against my wishes I fell head over red-soled heels in love with him.

We attempted the long distance thing. We tried to keep it casual, to keep it a secret from Gwen, with stolen moments and late night rendezvous. But it wasn’t casual. It couldn’t be. Not with us. I was prepared to wait. To try. But Ian had something else in mind. Namely yanking my heart out of my chest and stomping on it.