We are getting a sexy new standalone from Scott Hildreth—part of the Misadventures collection of spicy stories, each written or co-written by some of the best names in romance—and I have the cover for you, as well as a little sneak peek.
The workday was nearly over. I’d spent most of it watching Devin talk on the phone and trying to catch glimpses of him each time he walked to the bathroom. What time wasn’t spent drooling over his bravado gait was spent daydreaming of what I wanted him to do to me.
I regretted not apologizing to him for the way I acted. Doing it now would require talking to him face-to-face. Talking to him made me nervous. Avoidance was the only way for me to maintain any level of sanity.
The sound of fingers snapping brought me out of my semiconscious state. I blinked my eyes into focus.
Kate was leaning against my office door. “Wake up,” she said. “It’s almost time to go.”
“I’m awake, I was just thinking. When did you get back?”
“How’d it go?”
“I sent you a text.” She took a few steps toward me. “Got the listing. Seven point two.”
“Congratulations,” I said. “That’s a nice home.”
“Thank you.” She gave me a funny look. “What were you thinking about?”
“Oh, nothing. Why?”
She gestured toward my face with her finger. “You’ve kind of got a little slobbery thing going on. You might want to wipe it off.”
Embarrassed, I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. “I was just daydreaming.”
“What?” I gasped. “Seriously? No.”
Grinning, she gave me a look of opposition. “Are you sure?”
She’d been gone in meetings all day and had no idea of the mental turmoil I’d faced. Even so, I wasn’t about to admit I’d spent the majority of the day hoping he’d get up and walk around the office. I needed to pull it together. Swimming in self-pity about Margaret’s home and using Devin as my mental means of resolve wasn’t healthy.
I cleared my mind of lingering thoughts and gave her an innocent look. “Why would you say something like that?”
“I see how you look at him.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I could see the way you look at him.”
I was looking at him like any sex-starved woman would look at a hardened biker who had a cock the size of a can of Pringles. I’d deny it until I either believed it or until Kate called me out on it enough.
“I look at him like I’m scared for my life,” I insisted. “Did you see how he looked at me in that meeting the other day? He was glaring at me like he wanted to carve out my heart and eat it.”
She scowled. “He was not.”
“How do you know?” I asked. “You were on his side of the table. You couldn’t see his face.”
She looked at me the same way my mother did when she knew I was lying. I tried to muster a serious look but doubted I accomplished much.
“I could see you,” she said. “And your face said it all.”
“I didn’t look scared?”
“No, you didn’t look scared.” She sat down across from me and laughed. “You looked hopeful. The last time I saw you look at someone like that was when… You know when it was.”
“Don’t mention his name,” I said. “I mean it.”
“I won’t. But”—she raised her brows and lowered her chin—“you looked at him the same way you looked at Devin.”
I was afraid of that. I needed to find a way to conceal my feelings or I was going to end up in trouble. If I was wearing my sexual thoughts like a jeweled crown, the women I worked with wouldn’t be the only ones who’d be able to see it. It would only be a matter of time until Mister Sexy would peer right through my translucent mask.
“I did not,” I insisted. I situated a few things on my desk. The distraction did little to cleanse my filthy mind. It had been way too long since I’d been in a real man’s presence. Dumbfounded as to why I had a stuffed pink starfish on my desk, I raised it in wonder. “Do you know where this came from?”
“Stop changing the subject.”
I tossed it into the trash. “Other than the meeting, I really haven’t spoken to him. You two seem to talk a lot. What’s he like?”
“He’s nice. He’s respectful.” She picked some lint from her blouse. “His dad used to own a construction company in town. That’s where he got his experience. He lives with that old man, Herb.” She looked up. “I guess he was friends with Devin’s dad.”
“He makes me nervous,” I said. “Not Herb. Devin.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Why?”
I wished I hadn’t mentioned it. The only thing that made me nervous was that I knew I had zero ability to resist Devin if he made any sexual advances toward me. Rugged alpha males, homemade cookies, and sweet wine were my weaknesses. Only one of them would cause my life to spiral downward until I hit rock bottom.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I think it’s just the way he looks at me. It’s like I’m made of glass.”
“Listen to this.” She leaned onto the front edge of my desk. “Devin and I went to lunch at that new hamburger place in Mercato the other day and Paul Trevotti came in. He was wearing flip-flops, a pair of faded shorts, and a crappy Rolling Stones concert tee. Devin watched him sit down and said, ‘See that guy. He’s got money. Serious money.’ I asked how he knew. He said, ‘I can just tell by how he walks.’ Maybe he learned how to read people when he was…umm…” She wrung her hands together.
“When he was what?” I asked. “You can’t just stop like that, Kate. You always do that.”
“When he was in the motorcycle club.”
Visions of Jax Teller from the Sons of Anarchy came to mind. My entire body began to tingle. I swallowed against a lump of desire as it slowly rose in my throat.
“He was in a motorcycle club?” I murmured.
“He was.” She began picking at her blouse again. “He’s not now.”
It was time we change the subject. If not, Kate would continue discussing Devin just to watch me squirm. She was a wonderful person—and my best friend—but she derived tremendous pleasure by living vicariously through others. It wasn’t uncommon for her to suggest men—who she would never personally date—to clients, coworkers, and friends. She would then press them for information about their relationship, leaving nothing off-limits.
She was far too sensible to venture away from her vanilla lifestyle. Having others do it was as close as she’d ever get. I wasn’t interested in becoming one of her guinea pigs. If we continued discussing Devin, I’d be a complete wreck. I simply needed to avoid him until I built up a hatred toward his mere existence. It would come in time. It always did, eventually.
“Enough about him,” I said, mentally shaking my head to clear it of impure thoughts. “What else is going on?”
Her eyes danced around my office playfully while she thought of something to say. She lifted a blown glass paperweight off my desk and studied it. “Do you know anyone who is single and leans toward the freaky side of sex?”
My eyes bulged. “What?”
She set the sphere down and glared. “Shhh.” She glanced toward the door. “Your door is open.”
“You’re the one asking questions about freaky sex,” I whispered. “What are you talking about?”
“This conversation is between you and me,” she said. “You’re not going to use it against anyone. Promise?”
I sighed. “I’m not a child.”
She gave me a side-eyed look. “Promise?”
“Okay,” I whined. “I promise.”
Her mouth twisted into a guilty grin. “Now I’m not sure if I should say anything.”
“You can’t ask a question like that and then not elaborate,” I said. “Spill it.”
She sighed. “Devin likes rough sex. Really rough sex. He said it’s all but impossible to find someone who can…”
My ears began to ring, drowning out everything she said after rough sex. Kate knew me well enough to know I was the type of woman she was asking about. She also realized I wasn’t interested in a relationship. I hoped she knew I wasn’t willing to fuck an employee. Especially after the last catastrophe.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
Still babbling about Devin’s sexual preferences, she paused. “Huh?”
“I’m not interested in him,” I said. “If that’s what you’re trying to—”
“Oh. Not at all,” she said, shaking her head. Her mouth curled into a mischievous grin. “I’m just asking for a friend.”
She raised her hands in surrender. “I’m serious.”
I tapped a pen against the edge of my desk. “He’s sexy. He’s a freak. He’s handsome. He’s alpha as hell. He’s handsome. He’s also exactly what I don’t need in my life. I’m not interested. I can’t take that chance. Not again.”
“You said handsome twice.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“You did,” she insisted. “Twice.”