Most infuriating of all, a cocky, knowing smile played around his lips like he expected her to back out at any minute. If she admitted to bluffing him now, he would never let her

live it down. She’d be doomed to see that shit-eating grin every time they met. Nope. Couldn’t let it happen. One way or another, the big guy was going down.

He eased his SUV to a stop outside Hayden’s town house and she pushed open the passenger-side door. “Are you coming in? Or are you afraid of losing he-man status by being cuffed by a girl?”

Brent’s forearm brushed her thighs as he reached for the glove compartment and popped it open. Hayden felt a simultaneous surge of arousal and panic when a silver pair of handcuffs were revealed. “One question. Is flash photography allowed on this ride?”

“Not unless you want a bloody stump for a hand.”

An amused smile lit his face. “I think in a matter of minutes, you’re going to be very glad I still have both hands. You might even change your mind about using those handcuffs.”

Her first instinct dictated she throw herself out of the vehicle and run screaming toward her house. Lock herself inside and watch reruns of The Facts of Life. But then an image of a shirtless Brent kneeling, hands cuffed behind his back, materialized in her mind. She felt another jolt of surprise when lust, hot and insistent, pooled in her tummy. In addition to shocking her, the heady response bred irritation. She hadn’t experienced the feeling in a long time, and the fact that her nemesis provoked it in her chafed.

Too late to turn back now.

“I won’t be changing my mind.” Hayden stuffed the handcuffs into her purse. “It’s too bad the NYPD doesn’t issue ball gags in addition to handcuffs,” she said, smiling brightly. “Not that your voice isn’t a seductive lullaby.”

“I haven’t had any complaints.”

“Then consider this your first.” Hayden exited the SUV, her heels tapping along the sidewalk. As she ascended the stone stairs leading to her front door, she felt him following behind her. She scanned the surrounding area, looking for her parents, who lived in the same neighborhood. If they saw her entering her town house with this swaggering hulk of a male, they would surely have some questions.

“Worried about being seen with me?” His jaw tightened and flexed. “Don’t worry, I’m sure your little lesson won’t take long.”

The jerk still thought she would back down from her own challenge. “It’s going to be over that fast, huh? Don’t worry, champ. It’s a very common problem among men. Happens to the best of them.”

She could practically feel the steam shooting from his ears. Smiling to herself, Hayden pushed the front door open and entered the dark foyer. The second the door closed behind her, Brent pushed her up against it, bracing himself with both arms on the door. Never having been this close to him before, she took a moment to absorb the jarring differences between them. His body, so incredibly hard and well-built, pressed against her softer, smaller frame. At least a foot taller than her, he would have to bend his knees to kiss her…or pick her up for their mouths to meet. Something needy shivered through her at the thought of him using all that strength on her. Even more tempting was the thought of leashing that power. Tempting it out of him.

“You’re testing my patience here, duchess,” he growled. “If you have any doubt about my ability to fuck the ever-loving sarcasm right out of you, I’ll be more than happy to clear it up.”

Hayden sucked in a breath. Until now, they’d been dancing around any talk of the main event, but he’d just put it in black-and-white terms. Was she willing to let it get that far? This wouldn’t be the kind of one-night stand you walked away from unscathed. If they took it to that level, she would be forced to see the knowledge of what they’d done written all over his arrogant face every time they were wrangled into spending time together.

“What’s wrong? Is this lesson you’re attempting to teach me over before it even began?” Patronizing laughter rumbled in his big chest. His hips pressed closer and she could feel his thick arousal. “Too bad. I thought I was finally going to solve the mystery tonight.”

“What mystery is that?” she asked against her better judgment.

“I’ve been wondering what it’ll take to wipe that self-satisfied expression off your face.” He bent down, let his mouth hover an inch above hers. “What gets you off, rich girl? Besides a shoe sale.”

with their bodies molded together, she ached for something she couldn’t name, his words burrowed even further under her skin. He found her vapid. Trivial. He thought she took her wealth for granted, when in reality, she spent every day of her life trying to deserve it. Prove herself worthy. And oftentimes…coming up short. He didn’t think she had the ability to feel anything? The need to prove him wrong, right then and there, shook Hayden to the soles of her feet. Her purse hit the floor with a thud.

She pushed higher on her toes, fusing her mouth to his. Brent’s body jerked, making her feel exultant. She’d caught him off guard. Her fingers wove their way through his hair and tugged hard to bring him closer. They nipped at each other’s lips, testing, seeking. He grazed her jaw with his teeth before returning to her mouth to taste her with thorough licks of his tongue, spiking heat through Hayden. Her hands dropped to his waist and urged him forward, wordlessly begging him to rub his erection against her belly. When he did so, once, twice, they both broke away on a groan. For a single second, they locked eyes, as if to say oh shit. Involuntarily, her attention dropped to his arousal, heavy and insistent between them.

Brent kept his gaze on her face as he worked himself against her. “I’ll let you ride it, duchess. And I’m going to keep your tongue busy in my mouth the whole time.” With one hand, he stripped his shirt off over his head, revealing his massive chest and rock-hard muscles. “That ought to keep the sarcasm at bay for a couple hours.”

Hayden shoved against him, but he didn’t budge. “What’s going to keep your ego at bay?” she asked through clenched teeth. “One more crack like that and you can go home to your bachelor pad and self-satisfy until the sun comes—”

He claimed her mouth once again on a growl. A single forearm curled under her bottom and lifted with so little effort, her thoughts went fuzzy, blurring her indignation into nothingness. His mouth moved, rough and demanding over hers, forcing her lips wide to receive rhythmic thrusts from his tongue. Hayden could only twine her arms around his neck and hold on as white-hot need poured through her in waves. She made a sound of protest in his mouth when she couldn’t get her lower body close enough. A throb drummed between her thighs and she ached to feel pressure there. When she communicated her desire for friction with a twist of her hips, he tried to wedge his hips between her thighs, but the tight material of her skirt wouldn’t allow it.

“Take it off, Hayden, or I rip it off.”

Brent’s rasped command at her neck brought her back down to earth. Just a little. If she took off her skirt, he would take her against the door. Wham-bam, Grand Theft Auto, ma’am. He’d whistle his way out the door, knowing exactly who had handled whom. Next time she saw him, he’d give her one of his signature winks and tell her to call him next time she needed a ride. She couldn’t let that happen. She’d instigated this for a reason. To show him how little he actually knew about her. To put a dent in his overblown ego. She needed to get the upper hand back. Now.

Hayden broke their kiss, let the corners of her lips edge into a sensual smile. “I think it’s about time we broke out those handcuffs.”

Brent’s hands moved down her back to mold her bottom with rough palms. “Patience, duchess. I haven’t gotten my fill of touching you yet.” He boosted her higher against the door. “Before I let you restrain me, I’m going to make damn sure you’re too revved up to stop.”

His mouth seized hers once more. This time, she could feel more urgency behind the kiss, reflected in the rigid lines of his body. It only drove her need higher. Clinging to his shoulders, she let his frenzied mouth slant over hers several times. She broke away with a moan, her resolve slipping drastically under the onslaught of sensations. If she could just get the handcuffs on him, she could stop him from overwhelming her.


?You’re right,” she whispered. “We should have some fun first.” She dropped to her knees. Let her hands wander up those muscular thighs.

Above her, Brent’s breathing deepened, kicked up into a faster pace. “Only for a little while. Then I find out what’s beneath that skirt.”

With a dutiful nod, she unbuttoned his fly. Even nuzzled her cheek against his rigid erection and smiled when he sucked in a quick breath. He laced his fingers through her hair and tilted his hips toward her mouth. “Uh-uh,” she admonished. “No touching.”

“Sure, baby.” He put his hands behind his back and closed his eyes. “If that’s the way you like it.”

As soon as his hands crossed behind him, she carefully slipped the handcuffs from her purse and slapped them onto his wrists. Hearing his low curse, she gained her feet, taking a moment to savor the sight of him, all that commanding power harnessed. By her. “Looks like somebody just got handled.”

“Take them off,” he ground out. “I’m not done with you yet.”

Hayden pretended to consider the idea. “Hmm. No.”

Brent cursed under his breath. “So what’s your evil plan? Take blackmail photos to amuse your simpering friends at your next themed tea party?”

“Tea parties are very last season. Try to keep up.” She sauntered forward, walking him backward with gentle nudges of her hand until he fell back onto the cushioned bench placed along the far wall of the foyer. He gave her a look of warning, one she’d never seen on his face before. It gave her momentary pause, but did nothing to sway her intentions. Using his broad shoulders for balance, she straddled him on the bench, remaining standing on her knees and putting her breasts at eye level.

Hayden could see his anger battling with arousal. But he kept his pissed-off gaze resolutely on her face. Until she started unbuttoning her blouse. Picking up where she’d left off at the bar, she popped each button out slowly, methodically, until she had his rapt attention. His throat worked as he swallowed heavily, tongue licking out to wet his lips with each inch of skin she revealed. Power surged through Hayden. She had two hundred and fifty pounds of rugged male between her legs. And she had complete control. She drew her unbuttoned blouse over her shoulders and let it fall to the floor, leaving her in a crimson lace bra.