Page 22

Things make me feel good. Not everyone gets the same happily ever after. Maybe mine is an empty bed but a closet full of shoes and handbags. So what?

I grew up without my mother—she died. My father is a preacher. That fueled my rebellion from an early age. I hated boundaries, laws, and scriptures that made me feel guilty for the thoughts I couldn’t control.

I’m a girly girl who likes all things feminine, sexy, flowery, and pink—NOT muscle-bound vegan chefs with pickup trucks and a shit ton of tattoos. Yet, in spite of his vulgarity and complete disrespect for my shirt, I can’t keep my heart from hammering into my chest as he fists my hair.

“My hair,” I whisper. He’s going to damage my hair, and that should matter more than anything right now … but it doesn’t. His added tug on it confirms that he feels the same.

“A raccoon could steal my shirt.”

He brushes his lips along my neck, not kissing, not tasting … just feeling. I shiver.

“Do we really care?” he whispers in my ear.

Normally, yes. I would care very much. But at the moment, I can’t stay focused on the shirt because there’s a large hand sliding over my ass.

“Ouch!” I jump when he squeezes it—hard.

He chuckles, fisting my hair tighter.

Fuck! He’s going to pull it out!

Double fuck! I don’t even care.

His mouth opens against my bare shoulder. His teeth tease my skin for a few seconds before his hot tongue flicks out like a whip.

I swallow hard. “I … I don’t think this is a smart idea.”

Jake lifts his head, blinking several times before cocking it to the side. “You have a better idea?”

Wetting my lips, I rub them together. I wasn’t expecting that response. “Not … necessarily.”

He nods slowly, letting his gaze slide along my body. “Clearly you’re a pain in any man’s ass. But I’d say most men would overlook that. Unless …” His eyes meet mine. A cocky grin teasing the corners of his mouth.

I squint. “Unless what?”

“Unless you’re incredibly bad at sex.”

“How dare you—”

He smashes his mouth to mine.

Wrong.

Stupid.

Impulsive.

His tongue taunts mine until I surrender. Dear sweet Jesus … he tastes better than champagne, perfectly ripe strawberries, the smoothest milk chocolate, and my favorite … everything.

He breaks the kiss. My lungs claw for air. His tongue makes a lazy stroke across his lower lip, ending with that damn grin. I’m a mess. What’s he smiling about?

“I’m not bad at sex,” I whisper between breaths.

“No?” He slides the spaghetti straps off my shoulders.

My nightie slips a few inches.

“No.” I shake my head.

“Show me what you’ve got, Ave.”

I just did that. I showed him my stuff. Well … my de-pants and run. Maybe that didn’t count as sexy in his book. My smile twitches. “Why are you calling me Ave?”

“Figured you preferred it to Diva Bitch.”

I scowl. “I still hate you.”

He chuckles. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Bastard. Sexy … delicious … irresistible … bastard.

Jake holds his hands out to his sides. “Let’s see it, Ave. Do your worst.”

What the hell? I wait, but he remains on his knees, statuesque. I slide off my nightie. His eyes follow with curiosity. Maybe … or is it disinterest? Gah! I don’t know. Men have seriously messed with my head, chipping away at my confidence. What’s left is artificial. A complete façade.

Resting my shaky hands flat on his chest, I lean in and press my lips to the corner of his mouth. He doesn’t move. Ghosting more kisses over his jaw, I wait for him to respond … join in.

Nothing.

“Aren’t you going to touch me?” I whisper, teasing my teeth across his earlobe.

“Do you want me to touch you?”

I freeze. What’s going on? My body jerks back, but his expression gives away nothing.

“Is that the best you’ve got, Ave?”

I frown, shoulders deflating, but not as much as my ego. I survey his body. The prominent outline in his briefs gives me hope that I’m making progress. My hand slides down the front of them. His Adam’s apple makes a quick dip. That’s good. Right?

“Does that feel good?”

“Sure.” He shrugs. HE. SHRUGS! “Does it feel good to you?”

“I’m doing it for you, not me.” I can’t entirely hide the frustration in my voice. I’m so damn turned on, but he’s acting like someone stepping into a lukewarm bath.

“Well then …” His hand clasps my wrist, pulling it from his briefs. “You’re doing it all fucking wrong.” Shoving both of my arms behind my back like I’m under arrest, he dips his head down and teases his tongue over the swell of my breast.

I feel chilled and ready to overheat at the same time. He dips lower. My back arches as he flirts with that invisible string that sends a thrumming pleasure right between my legs.

I seethe in a quick breath.

A soft groan rattles in his chest. That teases that invisible string too.

“You see…” he trails his lips along my chest, seeking my other breast “…the art of sex is all about selfish pleasure. You like what I’m doing…” he palms my breast, flicking his tongue over it until my legs pinch together to fight off the need to moan “…but I’m not doing it for you.”

He lets go of my hands and hovers his lips over mine. “I’m doing it because I want to taste you … because I want to hear you whimper … because I want to feel you squirm. That gives me pleasure.”

I nod slowly, but I can’t find one word that’s a suitable response.

He grabs my ass and lifts me, guiding my legs around his waist, my arms around his neck, so he can lay me down on his sleeping bag. Kissing me with an unhurried pace, he reaches behind him and unhooks my legs from his waist before tearing his mouth from mine. “And…” he sets my feet on the ground and slides off my panties “…when my tongue goes here…”

“Oh god …” My hips jerk against the two fingers he shoves inside of me.

“…it’s because I’m so fucking hungry.” His tongue goes there, and he hums like I’m the best thing he’s ever tasted. Gone … I’m gone … lost in the bliss of pleasure given by Satan himself. I curl my fingers into his coppery hair and hold him to me as I throw my head back, speaking to a god I’m certain wants nothing to do with my orgasm gratitude.

* * *

Jake

“Where are you going?” Avery lifts onto her elbows as I pull on my shorts. “We’re not having sex?”

I grin, shaking my head. “I don’t have a condom.”

“It was YOUR idea! How can you not have a condom?”

I shrug. “It was a gamble, but I felt the odds were in my favor that I wouldn’t need one.”

Her mouth falls open. “Wh-what … you thought I would fail? You felt certain that what? I’d be bad at sex?”

“I find that people who spend so much time trying to impress are usually the most unimpressive. Don’t take it personally … you have potential.” I slip out the entrance and zip it closed.

“Bastard!”

I grin.

Nearly an hour later, the zipper sounds to my back. So much for hoping she fell asleep.

“You’re just sitting out here?”

“Yep. Just sitting out here.” I slip my bottled water into the drink holder of my camping chair.

“Why?”

I did some pushups, planks, dips, and crunches … among other things that I’m not going to share with her. It’s late. I’m tired of explaining everything.

“It’s quiet.”

“And I’m too loud?”

I grunt a laugh. “You’re ‘too’ a lot of things.”

“You’re a jerk.”

“Not usually.”

“Oh, just with me?”

I glance over as she zips her pink hoodie over her short shorts, no shoes—shocking. She bends down and snags the expensive white tee off the ground, frowning at it as her hand smooths over it.

“Gah … I didn’t think I had that much spit. It’s still really wet.”

I rub my hand over my mouth and pinch my bottom lip between my fingers. “Yeah … you might want a squirt or two of hand sanitizer.”

She shrugs, folding the shirt like it’s fresh out of the dryer. “It’s my spit.”

“Yes. Some of it.”

Her nose wrinkles, forehead drawn tightly in confusion as she holds the folded shirt with one hand and rubs together the fingers of her other hand. “Sticky toothpaste.”

“It’s not toothpaste.” I scoot back in my chair, tipping my head back to admire the stars.

She stomps the ground, positioning herself right in front of my chair.

“Did you spill something and use my shirt?” She looks around. “You used it to clean your stupid windshield, didn’t you?”

“Nope.”

“Then what?” She brings the shirt to her nose.

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