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by Karen Erickson
Description: When tragedy strikes their fledgling relationship, Jacob has to convince Dana that pushing him away isn't the answer. He wants to be in her life forever. And some things are worth fighting for.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2009
eBookwise Release Date: February 2009
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [157 KB]
Reading time: 93-130 min.
Tanner's hands shook as he poured each of them a glass of vodka, adding a splash of cranberry in Maddie's per her request. He set the bottle on the counter of the custom bar situated in the corner of the suite, grimacing. What the fuck--was he actually nervous? He couldn't remember the last time he had felt like such a bundle of nerves. Especially right before what promised to be an exciting bout of sex.
He glanced towards the seating area where Maddie the beautiful bridesmaid sat perched on the edge of the loveseat. If he was nervous she was even more so. She wrung her hands in her lap, had long since chewed off all the lipstick from her lush pink mouth. Her foot tapped impatiently on the floor, and she kept crossing and uncrossing her legs.
No wonder he was nervous. The woman sitting on a couch was a giant ball of jitters. Her hectic vibe had to be rubbing off on him.
She certainly was a gorgeous jittery woman. All of that thick dark red hair piled on top of her head, her pale creamy skin, her curvy body. The women he was used to dating in L.A. were blonde, tanned stick figures. No meat on their bones and they looked the same. Plastic, like one manufactured Barbie Doll after another.
This one was different, a far cry from his usual women, an even further cry from his ex. Just what he needed.
Tanner grabbed the glasses of liquor and headed over to the couch, sitting next to her and handing her a glass. "Here you go."
"Thank you." She took it from him and gulped the entire glass down, then set it on the side table. Her lips were damp from the liquid and her little pink tongue swiped out to lick at it.
He repressed the groan that threatened to give way and drank from his own glass, hoping the liquor would kick in and soothe his nerves. Wished like hell he would've poured himself a bigger glass.
"Do you go back home tomorrow?"
"What? Oh, yeah, I head back to L.A. tomorrow. I have an album due soon, and I've been working on that pretty heavily lately. In fact, it's all I've been doing for the last three months."
He noticed her hands clutched at the gold fabric of her dress and he wanted to touch her, calm her seemingly frayed nerves. He restrained himself, though, not wanting to startle her with too fast of a move. Yet.
"Oh, more love songs? Your last two albums have been filled with them. They're beautiful."
Tanner fought against the bitterness that wanted to spew out of his mouth. Best he not put forth the venom he felt towards Paula the cheating sudden lesbian. He shook his head.
He needed to get over this shit.
"I've gone a totally different direction with this album, I'm afraid. It's a little funkier, infused with blues, some jazz. Lots of piano. I wrote every song."
"I'm sure they're wonderful."
If you're against love and relationships, they're fucking fabulous. "They're okay. My producer hasn't told me I suck so that's a good thing. Tell me." He scooted closer to her on the couch, ready to change the topic of conversation. "What do you do? For a living?"
Maddie shrugged and reached for her glass, realized it was empty and set it back down. "I work for an employment placement agency. I'm the office manager. My mother owns the place so it's sort of a family operation."
He nodded, noticed that she didn't look thrilled. Maybe she hated her job. "Boring?"
She burst out laughing and the sound of it went straight to his dick. She had a wonderful laugh, joyful and loud. As if she didn't hold anything back. It contrasted sharply with how he had perceived her so far.
"It's the worst job I've ever had. Pretty much the only job I've ever had," she finally admitted.
"You don't leave because you don't want to disappoint your mother?"
"Yes, that's exactly it." She sighed, her fingers plucking at the fabric on the couch. Those slender fingers so close to his leg, he wanted her to touch him. Just once, on her own, to see if she had the nerve. To see if she wanted him as badly as he wanted her.
"You're a good girl then."
Her head turned sharply, her big brown eyes staring into his. "I guess you could say that."
Normally he wouldn't touch a good girl with a ten-foot pole. He preferred them bad. Bad girls knew what he wanted, which was absolutely nothing but mindless sex for one night. Good girls hoped for everything--a relationship, words of love, a commitment. He couldn't give any of that to a woman right now. No woman would want him, hell he didn't really want to deal with himself.
He was too much of a fucked up mess to bestow that on an innocent woman looking for relationship material.
"Are you a good girl looking to be bad?" He rested his arm on the back of the loveseat, his fingers coming round to tug on one of her dangling curls.
Her eyes grew wider and her cheeks flushed a faint pink. She nibbled on that damn sexy lower lip of hers again and he wanted to nibble on it instead. Lick and suck at it, nip it with his teeth before he soothed it with his tongue.
His cock grew harder imagining it.
"Are you offering to corrupt me?"
Her words startled him, and he couldn't help the chuckle that escaped him. She was full of surprises. "Do you want to be corrupted?"
"I thought so." Maddie stood abruptly and headed towards the door. "I'm not sure if I'm what you wanted, though, Tanner. Maybe I should go."
"Wait." Tanner scrambled off the couch, followed her as she walked towards the door. His hand shot out and grabbed her by the wrist, stopping her from reaching for the handle.
Maddie turned around to face him, her wrist still captured by his fingers. "Is something wrong?"
He shook his head, tugged on her so that she took a couple of steps closer. "You sure you don't want to have another drink?"
"I don't think so, but thank you." She tried to smile, but the intense look in his eyes made her go still, her mouth drop open slightly.
His thumb brushed the delicate skin on the inside of her wrist, across her pulse, making it quicken. "Are you always this polite?"
"Yes. Yes, actually I am." She suddenly felt foolish, wondering again why she was in this man's hotel room. The minute he had started talking about bad girls she'd become uncomfortable, even more nervous than she'd already been. She had a feeling he sensed that.
"You need to relax." Tanner pulled her closer, released his grip on her wrist to curve his big hands around her shoulders. He turned her slowly to face the mirror that hung over the table close to the front door, and her breath caught in her throat at their reflection.