Hero: Ethan Booker. Town sheriff. Rich family. Sexy alpha. Always knew Laurie was the one for him, he just had to give her some time to grow up. When her bakery burns down, he comes to her with a proposition that will benefit them both.
Heroine: Laurie Peterson. Owns the bakery -Babycakes. Terrible childhood. Has always crushed on Ethan but he makes it clear years ago she was way too young. Now she’s all grown-up and ready to take a chance for her livelihood and herself.
Scene: New Years Eve. Laurie’s apartment. Large party. Ethan makes his claim. Laurie is on the phone with her bestie when Ethan comes looking for her.
While she watched, those keen eyes scanned the room. For her.
Someone killed the music, and people started cheering.
Ten… The walls of her apartment shook as revelers broke into the countdown. “Ten lousy seconds and the party will be over anyway. What’s the point of barging in now, except to be a hard-ass?”
Nine… “Maybe he wants to wish you a happy New Year?”
Eight… “Yeah, right. From a jail cell.”
Seven… Booker’s attention locked on her. Her stomach took a free fall, as usual. She realized she was worrying the corner of her thumbnail and made herself cut it out.
Six… “Uh-oh. He spotted me.” His gaze turned oddly…purposeful. No other word fit the lowered brows and tractor-beam stare. The man was clearly on a mission, and the determination in his expression raised the tiny hairs on her arm. Whatever he wanted, it had nothing to do with a noise complaint. Booker’s voice echoed through her mind from a full decade ago. We can revisit the topic in ten years.
Five… “Don’t assume the worst.”
Four… She downed her champagne and set the glass on an end table while he shouldered his way through her small, packed living room. Her rapid pulse rushed the bubbles straight to her head.
Three… “I better go.”
Two… “Happy New Year. Call me tomorrow, okay?”
One… “I may only get one phone call. Happy New Year’s, Chels.”
Booker took her phone, hit disconnect, and slipped it into his back pocket at the same time confetti went flying and the room erupted into shouts of “Happy New Year!”
“Hey, give me my pho—”
His mouth crashed down on hers. Strong fingers sank into her hair, and…holy hell. However many years she’d had to envision this moment, one thing became startlingly apparent. She’d failed to adequately prepare for it. Waves of excitement and alarm rolled through her at the realization.Then again, how could she have prepared for Booker’s kiss? How could she prepare for this much intensity, and all this hunger?
His mouth moved on hers, parting her lips wider, then wider still, and just when she’d gotten a grip on his shoulders and started to make a move of her own, he swept in with long, deep strokes she couldn’t resist. Didn’t want to resist. And he was so sure she wouldn’t he didn’t even hurry, simply kept up the slow, commanding slide of his tongue. She didn’t consider herself the kind of woman who obeyed commands, but he was dragging them somewhere she desperately wanted to go. A place she’d fantasized about for too long. Though it wasn’t smart, or particularly sane, she took two fistfuls of his very nice, very expensive sweater, and held on.
From somewhere nearby, a voice yelled, “Take it to the pub, yanks. First round’s on me.”
In a vague recess of her mind, she registered people leaving, calling their thanks as they squeezed past, but she didn’t respond. More urgent priorities demanded her attention. Priorities like the scrape of his rough jaw against her skin, and whisper-soft cashmere covering hard muscles. Her hands found a route under his sweater and raced along his warm, smooth, withstand-anything back.
“Aaand we’re out. Cheers to you. Happy New Year.” The door closed, and she sensed without looking they had the apartment to themselves. Apparently he sensed it too, because the next thing she knew, he’d backed her up against the hallway wall. He pulled his mouth away long enough to level a serious look at her. “Ground rules.”
“Uh-uh.” Rules would require negotiation, and negotiation implied they had more at stake here than rampant lust. In other words, negotiation would ruin this. She wrapped her arms around his neck, came up on her toes, and sank her teeth into his upper lip. He groaned, and slammed his hips into hers. The position pinned her to the wall, and gave her a forceful preview of what he had in store for her. Her body responded with a rush of anticipation guaranteed to send her silk shorts to the dry cleaners along with her champagne-splashed top.
Against the lip she’d just abused, she murmured, “Booker, don’t confuse me with one of your well-bred, easily-shocked, country-club girls. I’m not well-bred and nothing shocks me. My only rules are fast, hard, and so filthy dirty it leaves a stain on your soul.”