Misadventures of a Backup Bride by Shayla Black


  Maybe I should. But end this delicious game because I’m currently losing? “It’s not over yet.”

  “I would have never guessed this, but I think you like living dangerously.”

  I never imagined that to be true. I’m rethinking myself now. He makes me wild. He makes me dare to let the woman inside me free.

  “You think you have me all figured out? Did you know I’m stubborn, too?” Into his silence, I nod. “Incredibly. If I can’t undo you with my toes”—I wiggle them for effect and work my way up to the head of his thick crest trying to poke out of his slacks, eliciting a low, gratifying groan—“then I’ll do my best to take you apart with my words.”

  “Will you?”

  I nod. “Want to know what I thought the first time I saw you? Kissing you, absolutely. But that’s the least of what went through my head. I wanted to climb your body, taking my clothes off as I made my way up and wrapped my legs around you. I wanted to drag my tongue up the tendons of your neck and kiss my way across your chest as I stripped off your shirt to see if you’re really as broad and muscled as you look. Then I wanted to tear off your pants and fall into your eyes as you thrust inside my body.”

  I let the words hang there for a long moment, gratified by his harsh, audible breathing.

  “My second thought was that you might be more man than I’m able to handle…but I wanted to try.”

  “Do you still want to?”

  I could be less than honest and end this verbal foreplay here, but why? “I’m desperate to.”

  Carson doesn’t move for a long moment. Our waiter drops something off two tables away, then passes by. Suddenly, my boss/boyfriend snaps his fingers to get Shen’s attention.

  “Yes, sir?” He keeps his dark eyes fixed on Carson’s face, but somehow I think he’s aware of what’s going on under the table. He’s probably seen it all and I doubt he misses much.

  “I’d like the check and our food to go. We need to be out of here in five minutes.”

  I repress a tremor. Oh, yeah. I’m getting to him.

  The question is…what am I going to do about it?

  If Carson’s request is unusual, Shen doesn’t show it. “Of course. I’ll have the kitchen pack up everything for you right away.”

  The waiter disappears, and Carson tosses back the last of his wine, then pours us each more, finishing off the bottle. “If you’re so inclined, drink fast. We’re leaving ASAP.”

  “Already?”

  He sends me a smile that could singe me alive. “You started this, so you’re going to pay the consequence.”

  Oh, goody. “I’m not worried.”

  “That’s your first mistake, Ella. But I’m glad to hear it. That will make the moans and screams of surrender I wring from you when we get to my place even sweeter.”

  I drag my foot across his crotch one more time just to make sure I have his attention. Yep. I do. No doubt. He’s still as big and hard as ever. I’m baiting the sexy bear. I might regret this later. Right now, I don’t care one whit.

  Lifting my lips into a smile, I flirt his way. “We’re supposed to be getting to know each other. Shouldn’t we focus on that?”

  “Oh, we will,” he vows, pressing his thumbs into the tight arch of my foot before working his way up my calf. “By morning, I’m hoping we know each other really fucking well.”

  My heart kicks into high gear. My entire body tenses. None of this is logical or even helpful to the cause, but the devil on my shoulder—the one that insists this man is way too delicious to pass up for a two-week fling—says that always being the dutiful good girl is both boring and overrated. If Carson Frost wants to take me to bed, smart or not, I’m going to let him curl my toes and unravel my body.

  “Here you are, sir.” Shen hands Carson the check, then sets down several bags emblazoned with the steakhouse’s name and logo.

  Heat emanates from them, and the aromas make my mouth water. I can’t even remember the last time I indulged in red meat and cheesy potatoes. Everything smells magnificent. But my aching pussy has an agenda all its own: letting Carson do his worst to me—fast.

  “Thanks.” He slaps his napkin on the table, regretfully releases my foot, and reaches into his wallet to withdraw his credit card. “There’s an extra ten percent for you if you’re able to close my tab out in under two minutes.”

  Shen smiles. “Of course, sir.”

  “Excellent.” Carson watches the waiter hustle away, then stands, buttoning his coat over his erection while giving a subtle glance to Gregory Shaw’s watchful pals. “That gives me at least a minute to kiss the hell out of you. Stand up, Ella.”

  As I wedge my foot back into my shoe, my stomach knots into a tight ball. As uncomfortable as that is, it’s got nothing on the ache throbbing between my legs as I wobble upright and rest my palm on the back of the booth so I can find balance. I drag in a steadying breath.

  Carson doesn’t bother with pretty words or preamble. He grabs me around the waist and aligns our bodies. He’s so close, I feel the press of every rigid inch of him. I look my way up the long line of his muscled torso until our stares collide. His piercing blue eyes steal my breath. Maybe that sounds cheesy, but I have never met a man who can unwind all my thoughts and resistance so quickly and with so little effort.

  He winds his free hand around my nape and positions my face under his—exactly where he wants it. As he swoops down toward me, the restaurant fades away. My ears hear only my own frantic heartbeat and his rough breaths. My blood sizzles. My thoughts race. I’m no longer aware of the air-conditioned breeze chilling my skin or the group of gossipy men watching us. I’m zeroed in on Carson Frost and feeling his mouth cover mine.

  “Want to stop me?” he murmurs as his lips hover just over mine.

  I don’t think at all about my reply. “No.”

  “Then give me your mouth, Ella. Don’t hold anything back. I’m not going to.”

  That’s all the warning I get before he wraps his fingers in my hair and takes possession. He nudges my lips open and steals inside as if he has every right to be there. Then he thrusts in to sample my depths, mingle our breaths…and steal my soul.

  I lift myself on tiptoes to allow him deeper access. I grab his lapels to steady myself. And I rub against him. His kiss is everything I suspected—demanding, powerful, arousing on a level I’ve never experienced. I’m dizzy. I’m delirious. I’m loving it.

  I don’t want to think about the future.

  I know this is a job, and I shouldn’t be so hot to go to bed with the man who’s hired me. This is a line I never thought I would cross with any employer, for any role.

  Carson—and the way he touches me—robs me of my ability to refuse him anything.

  I moan into his mouth. He grabs my dress in his fist and tries futilely to pull me closer still. The thought that whatever happens with this man between the sheets is going to surpass everything I’ve ever felt and ruin me for any other man streaks across my brain. Even that doesn’t stop me from tossing myself headlong into this staggering passion.

  I want him now.

  Nearby, a man clears his throat. Carson lifts his head and snaps around to the sound. I blink in the general direction of the intrusion, hazy and off-balance and deeply resentful that I no longer have his lips on mine.

  Shen is standing there, leather billfold in hand. “I apologize for interrupting. You indicated time was of the essence.”

  “Absolutely. Thank you.” Carson grabs his credit card, dashes the pen over the slip of paper, then shoves it back at Shen as he lifts both big bags with one sweep of his long fingers. He clutches my hand with the other and gives me a stare that assures me I’m about to experience pleasure like I’ve never imagined.

  I yank him toward the door. “Let’s go.”

  Carson sends me a sharp nod, and we’re off. I spare one last glance for his rival’s upper-crust friends. They’re staring at us as they fiddle with their phones. “I think one of those suits may have snapped a
picture of us kissing and sent it to Shaw.”

  “Great.” He reaches around me and shoves the door open. His voice sounds as if he couldn’t give a damn what his competitor’s cronies might have done. He merely wants to be away from this restaurant and find someplace private so he can finish dismantling what’s left of my defenses. He wants to conquer me. Heaven help me, I want to let him.

  This is so not what I planned on happening when I boarded the plane at quarter before ten this morning in sunny Los Angeles. But this is so much better.

  As we exit the restaurant, the evening humidity envelops me. Since I’m a West Coast girl, I’m not used to that. Traffic noise on the road nearby and the faint song of cicadas competes with the sound of Carson’s rapid footsteps eating up the blacktop and the gong of my racing heart. When we reach the car, he unlocks it, slides the food into the backseat, then slams the door. Then he pins me against his sleek black vehicle. His wide palms cover the space around me. He sucks away all the available air between us simply by being.

  “Carson…”

  “Are you protesting now that we’re alone?”

  “No.” I assure with a shake of my head. “I was going to tell you to hurry up.”

  “I intend to.” He grimaces as if he’s reluctant to admit what he’s going to say next. “But I can’t not taste your mouth right now.”

  I don’t even have time to gasp before he seizes my lips again, forcing his way inside my mouth and sweeping every inch. His breath is harsh, his kiss reckless. But his touch skimming down my body is so gentle that I sigh into him and work my arms around his neck to pull him closer.

  We kiss forever, it seems. Every time I think he’s going to back off and drive us out of this parking lot, away from the cars honking at our PDA, he fuses our lips together again and delves even deeper than before. I don’t merely melt against him this time, I become one with him, remolded to him by the heat of our bodies and our growing need.

  Finally, he wrenches away with a curse, raking his hand through his hair. “If we don’t leave now, I’ll do something to you right here that we could get arrested for.”

  I wipe away the traces of my lipstick from his mouth as he opens my car door and ushers me into my seat. A moment later, he’s tossing himself into the vehicle beside me, revving the engine, and peeling out onto the street. The aroma of dinner fills the car, but that’s not the hunger twisting me up inside.

  “How long until we reach your place?” I murmur, dropping a hand on his thigh.

  For some reason, I can’t bring myself to stop touching this man.

  He grimaces. “Usually ten minutes. I’ll try to make it in five.”

  The last of the rush-hour traffic seems to be clearing out, so I’m hopeful he can make that happen.

  “Once we hit the door, everything you’re wearing better evaporate quickly or I’ll rip it off your body. Do you hear me, Ella? Unless you’re saying no. If you intend to stop me, now’s the time, sweetheart.”

  It’s awesome that he keeps trying to give me an out. He wants full consent, and I respect that. I should probably take the exit he’s repeatedly offered me. It would be smarter.

  But when it comes to Carson Frost, I’m losing IQ points by the minute.

  “I could say the same to you.”

  “What do you mean?” He sends me a sharp stare.

  “When we get behind your closed door, those clothes better come off fast, mister.”

  Despite the arousal pouring off his big body, a faint smile creases his lips. “You’re an unpredictable woman.”

  “Don’t you forget it.”

  As he speeds toward his place, I’m looking for something to focus on besides how badly I want him. If I don’t distract myself, I’ll likely speak or act in some way to put a dent in his focus and compromise our safety.

  Thankfully, Carson fills the void. “In case we don’t come up for air again until we meet Shaw and his daughter on Friday night, my middle name is Alexander. I was born in Northridge. I graduated from Reseda High School, did my undergrad at UC Irvine, and got my MBA from USC. Give me your details.”

  I watch him steer the speeding car steadily and wonder how he’s managing it. I don’t think I can retain a word of what he said. I’m not even sure I can spit out my own personal information. All I can think about is how amazing it will feel when I have this man’s naked body pressing into mine. Did he say we wouldn’t come up for air for two days?

  “Um… My middle name is Cooper. It’s a family name. I-I was born in Simi Valley. I went to Simi Valley High. Go Pioneers…” The stupid joke slips off my tongue. “And I graduated from UCLA. How much longer before we can get naked?”

  The car lurches forward as he steps on the gas a bit harder. “I’m trying to get there as fast as I can and still stay in one piece. Are you really ready for what’s about to happen?”

  If I don’t have this man inside me soon, I’ll freaking fall apart.

  “Absolutely.”

  Chapter Four

  CARSON

  Dinner took a totally unexpected turn—and I love where this is heading. When I greeted her at the office earlier, I thought this would be the longest two and a half weeks of my life. I couldn’t imagine being close to Ella every waking moment yet not succumbing to the urge to seduce her. At least not without losing my mind. Now, I’m pretty sure the second we cross the threshold of my pad and shut the door behind us, we’re going to be naked, entwined, and busy.

  Hallelujah!

  It sounds odd, but from the moment I saw her again, I’ve felt as if my to-do list would never be complete if I didn’t get the chance to do Ella Hope. Over the phone, I had the impression she was prim, maybe even a bit shy sexually. I could call the woman who felt up my hard cock with her wriggling toes under the table in a restaurant a lot of things, but I’m scratching shy off the list. God knows I can’t look at her flushing cheeks, gleaming eyes, and the outline of her hard nipples through that silky blouse for much longer without stripping her down and tasting her all over.

  She’s gripping the armrest of her door, foot tapping the floorboard, as I make the last few turns and lurch into the complex I’ve been renting an apartment at until I get Sweet Darlin’ in order. Then I’ll focus on putting down roots and buying a house.

  For now, I careen into the nearest parking spot and throw the car into park. “We’re here.”

  But she’s already out the door. Ella seems almost as eager as I am. I love the fact that she coyly teased me through our abruptly shortened dinner. But now that the moment is here, she’s not toying with me at all.

  She slams her car door. I reach in and grab the food, then lock up the car behind me. “I’ll get your suitcase later.”

  After I’ve had an hour or two inside her, I might be able to leave her for a few minutes without the craving for her hitting me so hard I can’t function. Maybe.

  “Much later.” Ella gives me an impatient glance, silently asking me to lead the way.

  I envelop her hand in mine and all but drag her toward the building on the right, then up a flight of stairs. At my front door, I shove the key into the lock and turn it. “Get ready. This is going to be fast.”

  “I hope so,” she mutters, relief all over her face when the door gives way and admits us into the silent, shadowy apartment.

  With a hand on the small of her back, I guide her inside and shut the door behind me, locking it. I pocket the keys and take a handful of ground-eating steps to the kitchen. I shove the bags of food in the refrigerator, then turn back to her as the door swings shut. I’m already tearing off my tie, stripping out of my shirt.

  Ella stands at the threshold of my kitchen, watching, breathless.

  “Come here, little girl.”

  She raises her chin. “I’m a grown woman.”

 
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