Even the Score, Excerpt



Warning: this excerpt is NSFW!

“Forget what I said, Tess. Forget about…” He waved between them, at a loss to describe his incredibly poor behavior. “If you still want the job, it’s yours.”

Her eyes sparked in awareness: something had occurred to her, and she was pretty damn pleased about it. “You know what, Mr. Dade? How about you audition for me?”

Say what now? He shifted on the sofa to accommodate his hard-on, and was making a decent job of it when—holy shit—she straddled his lap and placed her hands on his shoulders.

“I should make you pony up a hundred K for being such a gold medal asshole.”

God, she was as light as air, a slip of a thing with all that female power. Did she have any idea how intoxicating she was, the kind of woman men fought wars over? Died for? She settled in on his thighs, the slight weight of her driving him close to insanity. Desire hummed through him, potent and dangerous.

“Now, Tess,” he said, keeping it so casual his bones practically ached with the effort, “I just told you the job is yours.”

“Oh, but haven’t you heard? I’m hiring, too. This girl’s in the market for a guy she can lead around by the dick for, oh, maybe, a weekend. Auditions start tonight.”

The surprises, hell, they just kept on coming. Staying level with Tess was going to require fast thinking, which was mighty difficult, considering all the blood he needed for said thought processes was now hurtling south.

“What would this job involve?”

“Only one task. Make. Me. Believe.”

“That I’m your fiancé?”

Cue her smile, sly and sexy. First time she’d let him in on that action, too. “That you want me more than your next breath.”

If she moved forward a couple inches, his boner would make her believe.

“I’ve worked with a lot of great actors,” she continued with a finger poke in the well of his shoulder, “so if I’m going to take this role on, I need to know you’re not going to screw it up with your amateur dramatics. Let’s see if you’ve got game.”

Oh, he had game all right. Every part of his hardening anatomy was screaming, put me in, Coach.

“I dunno,” he murmured. “I’d hate to force it.”

“Let me help you along, cowboy. I’m used to the director telling me what he wants. So what’s my motivation?”

She wanted motivation? That he could do. His hands fanned her waist, opening onto her hips, and he worked the silence for a full thirty seconds before he spoke.

“Imagine we’re in a room full of strangers, and I brush against you. You’re not completely sure it’s me, but your body knows ’cause it shivers under my touch. Maybe you’re talking to somebody, and you look up because you feel my eyes, heavy on your skin. Your nipples harden. Your panties get wet. Just soak right through.”

Negotiating deals was his forte. She didn’t stand a chance.

With every word out his mouth, her body was changing. A pulse at the base of her throat fluttered like a hummingbird. Her breaths had started to come in short tugs, and fuck yeah, he just knew from her sexy squirm that slick heat was blooming between those insane thighs.

 “We know each other so well,” he went on, keeping his voice low, the words crafted to seduce. “Every secret need, every filthy desire, every heartfelt wish. I’m the only one who can do you right, Tess. And in that room of strangers, I’m counting down the minutes to when I’m alone with you. Because I need to know.”

“Need to know what?” she whispered. Barely.

“How that freckle on your breast tastes.” His hand fisted the hem of her tank top, then yanked it down a couple inches to expose the freckle that needed his tongue on it. Now.

“I’ll also be wondering where your other freckles are because that beautiful, creamy skin of yours probably has more. Maybe in hard to reach places. And while I’m thinking about the freckle hunt, I’ll be imagining my reward for finding them.”

Those big green eyes, flecked with gold sparks, blinked owl-like. “Y-your reward?”

“I’ll be thinking about sinking my cock into your soft, wet heat. Stretching you wide while I drive in deep and true. Your greedy pussy gripping me so tight I might not be able to hold on long enough to get you off first.”

She moaned, the sound so needful that his cock punched painfully against his zipper.

He leaned in, his lips grazing her ear. “You understand your motivation now, honey?”

He had scarcely enough time to lever his head back before their mouths joined in a crush of heat and desire. Hunger for her took over, a deep-seated craving that rattled and rolled every muscle, vein, and cell. In that moment, the who, what, and why of his payback scheme was smothered under the blanket of something more dangerous and all-consuming.

Just her.

Just Tess.



Hunter’s mouth plundered and conquered, his tongue thrusting in a luxurious sweep that had Tess clutching at his shoulders and holding on for dear life. They kissed like they fought: wild, uninhibited, with bite. Maybe not healthy but she couldn’t recall ever feeling this good, and after the night she’d had, it was just what the sex doctor ordered.

No chemistry?

No freaking way.

Tess pulled back for air, a much needed oxygen influx to get her bearings. The point had been made. They could seal the deal and move forward safe in the knowledge their romantic compatibility would not be in question.

High five, universe.

But that kiss did more than turn her into a puddle of lust. It terrified her. Not because of how soul-searingly good it was, but because kisses like that don’t just happen. Kisses like that implied history and connection and bone-deep knowledge, and it made her question everything that had existed between them before. Had something lain dormant all this time, waiting for the planets to align and bring him here to this sofa?

 Mistake number.… She’d lost count. Breathless, she stared at him. “Well, that was…something.”

Those dark blues stared back, seeking access to the secrets his tongue had yet to discover. Getting lost in those pools would be so easy. So hazardous. She wanted pleasure: mindless, trouble-busting pleasure, not this heavy emotion like a dumbbell in her chest. She needed to escape, but his provocative words froze her in place, a relentless assault of dirty talk that played back in her decelerating brain.

I’ll be thinking about sinking my cock into your soft, wet heat.

She raised her body up a few inches, intending to separate from him, no, needing to, before she let this go further. The motion dragged his hands across her abdomen. That gentle touch sent a frisson of need down her spine that sparked to flame in her sex.

Stretching you wide while I drive in deep and true.

With eyes so heated she wondered how she was still solid, he watched her intently. This had to…had to stop.

Your greedy pussy gripping me so tight I might not be able to hold on long enough to get you off first.

She pressed back against his hands, a blatant invitation to…what? Both of Hunter’s magical thumbs dipped to form a V over her mound.

Oh, that’s what.

She was in way over her head here. She’d always suspected he was far too much for Jenna to handle, and this confirmed it. What did it say about her that she was so on board?

Trouble brewed in his stormy eyes, and he shook his head and gently pushed her away a few inches. “Tess, this has epically terrible idea written all over it. I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that. You’ve had a bad night, what with losing your job and all.”

And all, the details of which he had no idea. This further evidence of his protectiveness completely undid her. Making this choice, with the one man who could protect her body and destroy every last defense, made her dizzy with lust—and power. Didn’t she deserve this pleasure? The last year had been the worst of her life, looking after Gran before the bravest woman Tess knew had finally succumbed to the big C. The last month had been spent fending off visual assaults from audience members and the hands-eyes shudder combo of creepy Derek. She lived in a shithole in a crappy neighborhood.

Any second now, the moment would pass. No more kisses. No more panty-melting dirty talk. No more Hunter. She sent a plea up to the sex gods. Could she keep him for a little longer?

“Then turn it into a good night, Hunter.” And to make sure he understood she was choosing this, she leaned back and peeled off her tank top.

Male appreciation hardened his features from doubt to certainty. Boobs, the best negotiation strategy of them all. She thanked the Lord and her genetics for her great rack.

“Touch me,” she ordered.

A slight lip curl was his response, and for the briefest moment, she feared he might reject her. But then his thumb traced over her freckle, almost like he had to check if it was real. If she was real. He filled his coarse palm with the weight of her breast, the contrast between their skin textures enough to renew the wet warmth in her panties.

“Tess,” he said thickly.

“Please, Hunter.” Touch her there. Make it better. Just please. Unable to stand the suspense, she dug her fingers into his tightly-loomed shoulder muscles and covered his mouth with hers.

Oh, sweet Jesus.

Thoughts vaporized. Her spine dissolved. Her muscles went AWOL. Stellar timing because it gave her the perfect excuse to mold her boneless body to his. Every part of her strained to touch every part of him: her aching breasts, her clenching thighs, her sensitive sex.

Hunter’s large hands dug into her ass, eliminating what little space remained between them. Those deadly weapons moved over her expertly, teasing her to mindlessness, metal to her magnet. First, her ass, and then back to her waist. He was everywhere, but it was still not enough. His thumbs pushed down in the crease where her thighs met her hips. Down…down…

Usually it took her a while to reach that peak, but she knew on the first touch of his hand over her aching, fabric-covered core that she’d be gone in a few mind-melting seconds. The moment he had shown up at the theater, the foreplay had begun. Every word and gesture since, even his chocolate fish larceny, had hiked her desire higher.

One thick thumb now worked the fabric’s seam between her legs, the same talented thumb that drove her to distraction during that foot rub. His other hand held her hip steady, anchored in the here and now.

“Not. Enough,” she moaned, desperation for skin-on-skin shredding her nerves. “Please. Your fingers. Inside me.”

On a barked curse, he yanked her yoga pants halfway down her thighs, her panties with them, and plunged one—oh, God, yes, two—fingers inside her.

She needed this. She needed him.

He stilled his fingers, letting her body adjust to the pleasurable invasion. “Your gorgeous tits, Tess. Want them. In my mouth.”

She heard a negotiation in there. Those thick, orgasm-producing fingers wouldn’t be doing their job until she plated up something in return. Luckily, it was an offer she had no intention of refusing.

She slipped her breast free of one of the lacy cups, then plumped and teased his mouth with its rosy tip. Watching the desire flare in his eyes put her right on the edge; the first touch of his hot tongue to her nipple almost sent her over. “Oh, God, oh, God.”

“Ride my fingers, Tess,” he rasped against her slicked-up breast as his fingers dragged back and forth through her swollen folds. “Imagine it’s my tongue. My cock.”

The build of pleasure was so intense she almost pulled back. He sensed it, knew it before she did. Deepening the hot, wet suckle of her breast, he applied more friction where she needed it over the nerve-packed flesh of her clit.

No mercy.

“There, yes, God, yes!”

She imploded, the force of the orgasm dragging throaty moans from her mouth, and to her mortification, his name. Several times. She fell against his hand, riding long shivering pulses of pleasure, the aftershocks rocking her in sensitive twitches. Coming back to herself seemed to take forever.

They stayed that way for a few heavenly, breath-gasping moments. After what had happened back at the theater, it was so good to wrest back control—by losing it in the most delicious way possible. Her personal version of Take Back The Night.

“Well… That was something,” he said with a smile she felt curving against her neck.

Hell, yeah.

“You’ve got the job, Tex.”