I sipped at the drink, my gaze sweeping over the dim interior of the bar before I set the glass back on the polished bar top with a soft clink. It was relatively empty for a Saturday night, but I knew it would pick up in just a few hours. At barely nine o’clock, the night was still young.
My thumb automatically strayed to the base of my third finger. Instead of meeting the familiar, cool metal it found only flesh. I dropped my gaze to my hand and studied the pale line left behind by my wedding band. I felt naked without it, as if I’d been stripped completely bare. A strange feeling welled up in my chest, but I pushed it down as I picked up the martini again.
In my peripheral vision, I watched a dark bulk move onto the stool next to me. His scent reached me first, tickling my nose and making my girl parts stand at attention. I set my glass down again and slowly—so slowly—turned his way.
If he smelled incredible, it was nothing compared to the sight of him. My brain misfired as he threw a sexy grin my way. “Hey.”
Smooth, Charlotte. Real smooth. I cleared my throat. “What brings you here tonight?”
I almost cringed at the way my question came off like a cheesy pick-up line. Instead of laughing, the man took it in stride. “Here to unwind a little.”
His voice was smooth and deep, and it wound around me like a warm caress. I watched as he lifted a hand to signal the bartender. No surprise, she appeared within seconds, much more quickly than it’d taken her to take my order when I’d sat down twenty minutes ago.
The bartender obviously appreciated the way he looked, too, because her gaze slid over his broad shoulders and thick biceps before giving a brief nod. A little pang of jealousy ricocheted through my heart, and I swallowed it down.
The man turned his attention back to me. “And what brings you here?”
I shrugged. “Needed a night out.”
“Alone?” One dark brow lifted, sending my heart pattering against my ribs.
Was he coming on to me? God, it’d been so long since I’d flirted, I wasn’t even sure I knew how to do it anymore. Not that I’d been particularly good at it in the first place. Eight years ago I’d been the mousy, studious girl in the coffee shop who stuttered and stammered my way through a conversation with the hot guy. The guy who charmed me with sweet words and kisses. The one who’d swept me off my feet, proposed, promised me everything—
My cheeks burned at the memory, and I immediately cut off the train of thought. I gave a jerky nod. “I’m alone.”
Dark eyes studied me. “Good.”
He didn’t even glance the bartender’s way as she slid the drink in front of him. Eyes still locked on me, he pulled a ten from his pocket and set it on the bar, then picked up the glass.
My heart raced as I watched him, watching me. He was so smooth, so sure of himself. God, he was gorgeous. Fire raced through my veins as I caught a whiff of that intoxicating scent again. I wanted to crawl into his lap, rub my face into the crook of his neck, draw his very essence into my lungs.
He sipped at his drink, never taking his eyes off me. “What’s your name?”
I blinked. What the hell was my name again? “Ch-Charlotte.”
His mouth curled up at the corner. “Anyone ever call you Charlee?”
My eyes flicked to my left hand before meeting his gaze again. I shook my head. “Nope.”
He followed my stare, and I fought the urge to clench my hand into a fist, to hide the thin line encircling my finger. His eyes slowly rose to mine again. For several seconds he just sipped his drink, still staring at me. I shifted, heart racing under the intense scrutiny.
Suddenly, his glass was empty. He set it on the bar and my heart dropped as he pushed it away, then slipped off the stool. I sat rooted in place, every muscle wrought with tension. Was he leaving? The martini glass trembled in my fingers, and I had to set it down before I either snapped the stem or spilled the sticky liquid all over myself.
He extended one hand my way, palm up, and I watched with a weird sense of detachment as my left hand moved of its own volition and settled in his. The connection was searing, and my nerve endings crackled at the feel of his rough skin against mine. His thumb swept over my bare ring finger, his eyes still locked on mine. “Dance with me.”
Whoever said dancing equated to sex was dead on. And judging from the way this woman moved, she would be dynamite in bed.
I sent up a silent thank-you to whoever the hell had invented dancing. Now I knew why it was so popular hundreds of years ago. The feel of a woman pressed against you, moving fluidly, teasing and turning was almost as good as sex—almost.
I settled my hands on the woman’s hips and pulled her even closer. She had the kind of hips a man loved to hold onto in the bedroom, just enough curve to soften her, round her out. She felt like perfection in my arms. She leaned into me, pressing her full bottom against my groin. I swelled at the feel of her and slid my right hand from her waist to her belly. Using the slight pressure of my fingers, I pressed her backward, sealing us together, leaving not even a breath of space between us.
Our bodies moved fluidly to the rapid tempo, swaying together as if we’d done it a thousand times. Finally, the DJ slowed it down, and I spun Charlotte in my arms so she was facing me. I wanted to see her face, see those pretty brown eyes.
“You like to dance?”
She tipped her head up to see me better, eyes bright. “I do.”
“Good.” I grinned. “Let me show you how a Marine does it.”
She tossed her head back on a laugh. “Does that work for you?”
I shrugged unrepentantly. “It has in the past.”
Years ago that very same line had reeled in a woman hook, line, and sinker. The very same woman who shortly after became my wife. The woman who—
No. I wasn’t going there. Tonight wasn’t about reminiscing on the past; it was for now, with Charlotte, feeling every inch of her against every inch of me.
She gave a little snort and shook her head. “Cocky much?”
At that, I grinned. “I was a Marine, baby. We call that confidence.”
I nodded. “Been out for a few years now.”
I couldn’t tell what she thought about that. Didn’t matter. We weren’t here to discuss work or personal lives. I pulled her even closer and slid one knee between her legs as I turned her. Her hands clung to my shoulders, and I took advantage of our positions, running one hand down her spine, seducing her with every little touch.
Her chest rose and fell rapidly, so close that I could feel every laboring breath. I dipped my head low and teased the soft skin of her temple with a feather-light kiss. “Another drink?”
She shook her head, and her silky hair brushed my chin. Her scent rose up, filling my nostrils, making me hard as a rock. Goddamn, she smelled so good. “Let’s get out of here.”
I waited a split second, just long enough for her to meet my eyes and nod. Then I laced my fingers with hers and pulled her across the dance floor toward the front door. The warm night air enveloped us as we stepped outside, and I fought to control my reaction to her.
It was too much; she was too much. And I couldn’t wait another second to have her.
I had no idea how it happened. One second we were leaving the bar, walking down the sidewalk. The next, his lips were on mine, my back pressed up against the rough brick building. And holy hell could that man kiss.
His lips were soft yet firm and his tongue darted out, penetrating the seam of my mouth before slipping inside. He tasted faintly of the whiskey he’d been sipping at the bar and I drank it in, intoxicated by the taste. I swore I could get drunk on his kisses alone.
His hand slid into mine and laced our fingers together. “Come on.”
I was helpless to resist as he pulled me along in a daze. I followed behind him like my body was connected to his by some invisible tether—wherever he went, I had to go too. Because no way was I walking away from this man now. Hand locked around mine, he tugged me toward a large black truck then urged me into the back of the crew cab. He climbed in behind me and slammed the door before pulling me into his arms.
“God, you’re so gorgeous.”
I barely had time to suck in another breath before his lips were on mine again. Two huge hands slid under my thighs and lifted me so I sat straddled over his lap. His mouth never lifted from mine as his hands roamed over my body. In my hair, up my legs, along the curves of my waist and up to my breasts. He cupped them in his palms, his thumbs expertly brushing over the sensitive tips. I let out a soft moan as a sharp bolt of pleasure the shot through my body straight to my core.
He broke the kiss, breathing hard. “This what you need, pretty girl? Need me to make you feel good tonight?”
“God, yes.” I was almost beyond words as he attacked my neck, licking and sucking. I hissed in a breath as his mouth fastened to my sensitive skin, hard enough to leave a mark behind. Long after tonight, his touch would be branded onto my skin. Though the thought secretly thrilled me, I threw up a weak protest. “Everyone’s going to see.”
“Good.” He lightly bit down in the same spot. “I want them to know you’re mine.”
His words sent a little shiver through me, and I curled into him. I wanted anything—everything—I could get. I shifted on his lap, delighting in the feel of his still-hard erection pressing into me.
He grasped my hand and guided it to his groin. “See what you do to me?”
I licked my lips, not quite brave enough to do the same to him. Thankfully, I didn’t have to. As if reading my mind, his hand lifted from where it covered mine and skimmed up the flesh of my thigh and under the hem of my dress. Intense eyes bored into mine as he crept closer to my center with every passing second. His touch was light, almost teasing, and my breath caught in my lungs as he brushed the silky fabric of my underwear. His finger slid along the crease of skin where my thigh met my pelvis, then deftly slipped under the edge of the fabric. My pulse galloped as he delved lower and dipped inside my slick heat. Automatically, I tensed and I curled my fingers into his shoulders as pleasure swept over me. His digit was thick and hard, but it wasn’t enough.
“More,” I whispered.
His eyes glinted with feral need in the dim light, hand his left hand curled into my hair as he thrust up harder into me. A little gasp left my throat as he added a second finger, scissoring them inside me and stretching my tender flesh. His thumb shoved my panties aside then moved to my clit, and I rocked shamelessly on top of him. Heat curled through my stomach as he drove me closer and closer to the edge with each pass of his fingers over the sensitive bundle of nerves.
“That’s it, baby,” he encouraged me. “I want to feel you.”
He worked me harder and faster, whispering dirty words in my ear and urging me to come. All at once, it was too much. A moan welled up and out of my throat as my inner muscles contracted in a burst of ecstasy. I felt as if I was splintering into a thousand pieces as I came undone around him. He pumped slowly in and out, drawing out the orgasm until I shattered in his arms.
“Holy shit.” I dropped my head into the crook of his neck, and his chest rumbled beneath me on a chuckle.
“That’s one, beautiful.” Gently easing his fingers out of me, he nipped the shell of my ear. “But I’m not nearly done with you yet.”
The glow of her tail lights cut off as I pulled into the driveway and parked beside her. I climbed from the driver seat, and she threw a little smile my way as I rounded the cars and followed her up the two wide steps and onto the front porch. The keys jingled in her hand and she fumbled them nervously, her teeth cutting into her bottom lip. She paused then and glanced over her shoulder at me.
Before she could utter a word, I slipped the key ring from her fingers. “Let me.”
I was going to have to be in charge tonight. It was obvious that she had never done this before, and I mentally applauded her bravery. I found the correct key and slid it into the lock, and the door opened with a soft click. I ushered her inside, using one hand to close and lock the door behind me. Not bothering to fumble for light switch, I grabbed her hips and pinned her to the wall. My mouth came down hard on hers, a little premonition of the night to come. I was going to make this good for her, better than she’d ever dreamed.
I slid my tongue against hers, drawing the taste of her into my mouth. She was sweet and a little salty, just like the margarita she’d been sipping on at the bar. Every inch of her was delicious, and I couldn’t wait for more. I broke away from her mouth, then kissed my way up her jaw to the little spot right beneath her ear. She shuddered at the contact, and I gently nipped her ear lobe. “Bedroom.”
Her chest rose, brushing mine, and I felt the stark outline of her nipples through the thin fabric of the dress she wore. Her hands moved to my chest, sliding over my pecs, and I ached to do the same to her. My groin swelled as I waited with anticipation for her acquiescence. Finally, she gave a shaky nod. I fell back a step and slid my hand into hers, allowing her to guide me deeper into the house.
A lamp had been left on the living room, and I ignored the pictures lining the walls as we made our way up the stairs. Reality would come knocking soon enough. I didn’t want to think about daily life, or work, or anything else. Tonight was just about her and me. Instead, I focused on the gentle sway of her hips as she moved. I wanted to grab that perfect round ass, knead the soft flesh with my fingers… But there would be time for all that later. We crested the landing, and she led me into the room at the very end of the hallway.
I took in the clothes discarded in a heap on the floor, and a little smile cracked my mouth. The room was slightly messy like she hadn’t expected this to happen. It turned me on all the more. In the middle of the room, she stopped and turned to me, that nervous expression still on her face. A strange feeling welled up inside me. We’d come this far; there was no way I was letting her pump the brakes now. I wanted her with every fiber of my being—and I was going to get her.
I stepped forward and took her by the hips, pulling her roughly against me. Her hands flew up to grab onto my arms as I kissed her hard—primal and possessive. A second later, she melted into my embrace, winding her body around mine. I couldn’t get enough of her—her taste, her smell, the way she felt beneath my hands.
I trailed kisses down her throat, nipping and licking the sensitive flesh before moving over her collarbone and onto her shoulder. Sliding one hand up, I found the zipper at the back of her dress and slowly worked it down. Using my teeth, I nudged one strap off her shoulder, exposing her tanned skin. Inch by inch I worked the fabric down her body until she was bared to the waist. She was clad in a black bra, the gorgeous mounds of her breasts plumped up by the lacy material. I dipped my head and kissed the swell of one, teasing the edge of the fabric with my tongue.
She clung to my shoulders and her head dropped back as her lips parted and she let out a sweet little sigh. The dress caught and clung to her hips, and I gave it a gentle nudge to send it pooling on the floor, leaving her in only her underwear and sexy black heels.
I stepped back to look at her, my gaze sweeping over her from head to toe. “God, you’re gorgeous.”
Her cheeks flared pink at the compliment, sending me over the tipping point.
Charlotte was mine.