Her mouth fell open. “Wh-what?”

“Let me know. And Hayden?” He dangled her ripped panties in the air. “Later tonight, when I’m alone in my bed, stroking one out and thinking of the way you came like a freight train on my mouth, I’m going to make very good use of these.”

Chapter Four

For the third time that afternoon, Hayden hung up before her call to Brent could be completed. She dropped onto her bed and buried her head in the plush goose-feather pillow.

“Stupid, overgrown, panty-stealing fucker,” she groaned.

The situation last night had completely gotten away from her. One minute, she’d been totally in charge of the next move. She’d had Brent practically begging for anything she felt like giving him. And the next? Her very existence had seemed to depend on the whereabouts of his tongue. God, she hated him for making her feel so good. The damn nerve.

It had started as a game. To see who would cave first. Although now, if you asked her who had won, she would have no idea how to answer. He might have gotten the last word, but she’d gotten one singularly incredible orgasm during which she’d heard the faint strains of angels singing somewhere in the distance. She’d been so lost in what he was doing to her body, she’d almost made the colossal mistake of sleeping with him. On the floor in her entryway. With his hands cuffed behind his back.

When Hayden realized her breathing had become labored, she made a sound of disgust and pushed off the bed to pace toward the window. She looked out over the Hudson River and drummed her fingers against the pane of glass. Was she making a mistake? Seeing him again so soon after last night might be a terrible idea. Things had been so much easier when she looked at him and felt only intense loathing. If he came to the dinner party tonight, dressed in a suit, with a new, knowing look in his eye, she didn’t feel 100 percent certain that would still be the case. Because while she still disliked him greatly…she wanted more.

Last night, when she’d been in the process of uncuffing Brent, she’d been a little disappointed when he didn’t throw her down and have his dirty, pissed-off way with her. She’d been frustrated by her mother’s visit, frustrated by the fact that she now felt a stunning sexual attraction for her nemesis…just flat-out frustrated. But he’d walked. She suspected because she’d bruised his ego, which actually, for once, hadn’t been her intention. When the idea struck her to bring Brent along to the dinner party, she thought he’d jump at the chance to shock and mock her snooty family friends. Instead he’d seemed…hurt.

The reminder of the dinner party brought her to her next dilemma. After texting Brent for his suit size this morning, she’d made a few calls and found one that would fit his large frame. Mammoth-sized, to be exact. Now, when she should be calling him to arrange a time to drop it off, Hayden was balking. Did she really want to go down this road? First of all, showing up with an uninvited guest—a loud, filthy-joke-telling giant, no less—was considered a major faux pas in her world. Second, while she didn’t mind the image of her scandalized mother, she would embarrass her father in the process. Now that bothered her.

Where her mother was stuffy and controlling, her father had never been anything but warm and supportive. She would do anything for her father.

Well…the man she called her father, anyway. In reality, he’d never had a choice in the matter. When his younger brother’s widow had shown up with their unwanted baby, he’d saddled himself with an adopted daughter, a young wife he barely knew, and a lifetime of responsibility. All to honor the memory of his brother.

Hayden sighed and glanced back at the suit laid out on her bed. She’d been debating about the wisest course of action since it was delivered half an hour ago. She could easily cancel and tell him no one in the city kept his size off the rack. But she had a feeling he’d sense her lie through the phone. Not to mention, she really didn’t like the idea of Stuart Nevin and his grabby hands in her personal space all night. If Brent was good for one thing—okay, two things, because damn—it would have to be warding off unwanted male attention.

Decision made, she took a deep breath and hit redial on her cell phone. Brent answered on the third ring, classic rock music blaring in the background.


“Is that honestly how you answer the phone?”

A long pause. “Don’t tell me you found a suit in my size.”

Hayden let out the breath she’d been holding. “Unfortunately, yes. Someone passed on the number for a tailor who provides suits for the New York Rangers. And he still had to let out the shoulders a little bit.”

“You didn’t mind them last night when you were kneeling on them.”

“Ten seconds.” Her face flamed and she felt grateful he couldn’t see her. “It took you ten seconds to make a crude joke about last night. Don’t strain yourself trying to be original.”

“That’s what you want me for tonight, though, isn’t it?” He snorted. “My ability to offend your people. I’m just getting warmed up.”

Hayden frowned, once again confused by the tinge of hurt in his voice. She shook her head, certain she must be imagining it. “Are you working? Can I come drop it off at the precinct?”

“I’m not at the precinct,” he said quickly. “It’s my day off.”

She held on to her patience when he didn’t elaborate. “Okay. Are you home?” She checked her watch. “I can drive out to Queens. There shouldn’t be much traffic this time of day.”

“There is always traffic in this city.” Brent scoffed. “Do you even know where Queens is? When’s the last time you left Manhattan?”

No way would she tell him that she regularly left the borough to do work with her youth charity. She wouldn’t do anything intentional to alter his horrible perception of her. It would imply that she cared what he thought, which she certainly did not. “Yes, I know where Queens is, you idiot. What’s the address?” Hayden’s brow wrinkled when she heard a loud, metal clang in the background and two men yelling.

“I’m, uh…” He cleared his throat. “Look, I’m helping out a friend today at his garage in Woodside.”

“What do you mean? Like fixing cars and stuff?”

“Yeah, like fixing cars and stuff,” he mocked. “And if you drive out here, I’ll be more than happy to service you, baby.”

As he laughed, she stomped toward her desk and grabbed a pen and paper. “Just give me the damn address before I change my mind.”

After a short hesitation, he rattled off the address, then paused uncomfortably. “Listen, when you get here, call me. I’ll come out to meet you. If you think my manners suck, you won’t believe the things these guys will say if you walk in here.”

She ignored the ridiculous flutter in her belly. “Why, Brent, I believe you just paid me some sort of awkward compliment.”

“Not how I meant it. They’d probably whistle at just about anything on two legs.”

“You are an enormous dick.”

“Correction. I have an enormous—”

She hung up.

Brent checked his phone again, wondering what the hell was taking Hayden so long to get there. More than likely, she was tooling around this less-than-stellar neighborhood in her Mercedes without a care in the world. He still couldn’t believe he’d given her the address to the garage. No one knew about his second job. Not even Daniel and Matt. She hadn’t given him much of a choice, however, and now he’d have to deal with her condescension on top of everything else.

He rolled out from under a Cadillac and glanced toward the entrance. No luxury car in sight. He pushed to his feet and made for the bathroom, intending to clean some of the grease off before she showed. No reason to hand her any more insult material than she already had. When he flipped on the overhead light, he looked in the mirror and shook his head. She would have a field day seeing him like this, in stained coveralls and an ancient, backward Mets hat. He flipped on the water, watching as it filled the sink, but cut it off just as quickly.

> Fuck this. He wasn’t going to clean himself up for her. Putting on a fancy suit for tonight was one thing. After all, it would be worth it to see Hayden’s reaction when he didn’t require a lobster bib to keep it clean. But right now, he refused to hide the fact that he worked for a living. Had no reason to be ashamed of the fact that he got his hands dirty to support himself, his family.

His brother, Jordan, had just extended his tour overseas. The army only partially covered Brent’s sister-in-law’s expenses. They needed the extra money to keep both Brent’s and Laurie’s houses running while his brother was gone. His sister, Lucy, had a tuition payment coming due next week that his paycheck from the NYPD wouldn’t completely cover. Then the mortgage. The list went on.

Brent heard a series of catcalls through the thin wooden door and cursed. She couldn’t listen to him this one damn time, could she? He yanked open the door and stormed into the garage, the look on his face instantly silencing every vile thing being tossed in Hayden’s direction. One by one, each mechanic promptly went back to work. They were smarter than he’d given them credit for. Finally, he turned to find Hayden standing at the entrance, her gaze fixed on him, mouth parted in a silent O.