This is an excerpt from the upcoming novel Firecracker by Lucy Lennox and May Archer.
Could I trust him? Thirty years of past experience suggested no.
Did I want to? I pressed my nose to JT’s neck and inhaled a breath of his cologne—clean summer sweat layered over something smoky and no doubt expensive—and felt my gut tighten with need.
Yeah. Yeah, I definitely wanted to.
“Let me take you to bed, Firecracker.” His voice was low and easy, as if he had no reservations or stress about the decision.
How nice for him.
“We shouldn’t.” Those two whispered words were as close to a denial as I could muster, and even as I said them, my fingers dug into the muscles beneath his t-shirt and my hand clenched his more tightly, begging him silently not to listen.
All hail Flynn Honeycutt, the king of mixed signals.
But JT only chuckled lightly, like he understood my struggle. “Flynn, baby, stop thinking so hard.” His lips moved against my temple and I fought a full-body shudder.
“Not your baby,” I insisted, dragging my nose up the tendon in his neck. His muscles tightened around me, clasping me against him as he shuddered, too.
“But you could be,” he murmured, his hand moving lower until it hovered just over the curve of my ass. “For tonight.”
Christ, the man was temptation incarnate. Always had been. Regardless of how much he provoked me, he also turned me on more than any other man had in my life. He was at the very top of Flynn Honeycutt’s Personal List of Sexy Humans, far above any celebrity or local guy I’d dated.
The last thing I wanted was a repeat of what had happened three years ago, but I was a different person now. Stronger. No matter how good it was between us, I wouldn’t delude myself into thinking it could be anything more than physical, or anything longer than one night.
I closed my eyes and took another deep breath of him, stalling for time. I hoped like hell he hadn’t put on that cologne for the spoiled asshole who’d been here with him earlier. The very idea was absolutely infuriating… and fury made me reckless.
I licked a broad, claiming stripe up his neck and bit lightly on his earlobe.
“Fuck,” he whimpered. JT dropped all pretense of dancing, and the hand that wasn’t on my ass immediately moved to the nape of my neck, holding my mouth exactly where it was.
“I don’t want you to think this means anything,” I murmured, my breath coasting over his ear. “It’s just sex.”
“I know,” he whispered.
“Because it doesn’t. And it never will.”
“And you’d better not feel smug because you—”
With a frustrated, needy growl, JT grabbed my head with both hands and smashed his mouth against mine, shutting me up very effectively.
I made a mpfh sound against his lips and then let it turn into a drawn-out groan.
God, he felt good. Water-in-the desert good. Coffee-in-the-morning good. Sunshine-on-your-face good. The kind of good that could make a man ignore a whole lot of past wrongs, at least temporarily, because it felt so damn right.
His warm hands moved down to span my back as he held me close. One of his legs shifted between mine, and he used it to keep us rocking back and forth to the music, though we both knew it was just an excuse to stay pressed close against each other.
We kissed and kissed and kissed as the songs changed one after the other. I lost myself in the feel of his hands, the smell of his skin, and the taste of his mouth.
JT Wellbridge was overwhelming to the senses. Without even trying, the man had me on total overload. Complete meltdown.
“Where’s the music player?” he asked.
I blinked at him in confusion until he smiled softly. Affectionately.
“The music. I want to turn it off.” His voice went low and rough. “We’re going to your bed.”
I bristled at his bossy tone, but my dick betrayed me. It liked the tone just fine, and since it was leading the charge right now, I kept my biting back-talk to myself. Instead, I mumbled something about high-handed Wellbridges as I moved to turn off the music.
The low rumble of his laughter didn’t make my dick harder, but only because it wasn’t possible for my dick to get any harder.
When I finished turning everything off, I looked up to find him watching me with patient intensity. He held out his hand to me for the second time that night, and my eyes caught on the tattooed skin peeking out from under his watch strap, stark black against his honey-gold tan.
This is just sex, I reminded myself, gritting my teeth. Just sex. Use him for tension release. You deserve one night to let off steam.
I ignored the hand he offered and grabbed his wrist instead, towing him toward the back door. I didn’t want affection or tenderness. Not patience and polite manners. If we were doing this—and we sure the fuck were—someone needed to set the right tone from the outset.
Once I’d locked the back door to the Tavern, I grabbed his wrist again and marched him across the back lot to my little house. If my hands shook a little while opening the door, it was only because I was so horny. It had nothing to do with nerves. It was not because I cared.
But when I locked the door behind us, flipped on the lamp, and turned to JT, time went wonky and the air around us felt strange. All the urgency of a moment ago seemed to dissipate as we stared at each other.
He was so damned perfect. The beautiful heir to the Wellbridge family dynasty. The golden boy Patricia and Trent had lorded over our community for decades as if there’d been such a thing as Honeybridge royalty and JT was the future king.
At times, I’d suspected JT himself didn’t feel that way, but he’d gone all-in with it anyway to make his parents proud—fancy schools and designer clothes, rich friends and elitist hobbies, his move to New York after college to carve out a high-powered job in the corporate world, and even the ridiculously pretentious, ridiculously sexy tattoo of a crown on his wrist. I’d told myself that going along with his parents’ idea of him as royalty was just as bad as believing it himself.
Now, in the muted lamplight, I looked at him more closely, and I couldn’t help but see the things that didn’t add up. One of his tidy fingernails was ragged and bitten, like his week hanging around Honeybridge hadn’t been particularly relaxing. The faded T-shirt he wore boasted of a New York City Parks volunteer event instead of some high-brow sailing race. A small scar at the edge of his jaw reminded me of the time he’d fallen on the corner of a display rack while helping Pop sweep up the General Store back in elementary school.
I frowned, staring at that scar. Why had a Wellbridge been helping out at Pop’s store in the first place?
“Why did you work at the General Store in fourth grade?” I blurted.
JT’s perfectly smooth forehead creased in confusion. “Is this a test? Or some kind of strange Honeybridge foreplay?”
I ignored him. “You didn’t need the money. And Pop sure as heck didn’t need a random kid when he had all of us Honeycutts. So… why?”
And why had I never thought to ask before? Not about this. Not about the science fair. Not about the mortifying not-a-date. I was suddenly afraid I’d made a serious error somewhere along the way. Or maybe I was making one now.
JT firmed his stubbled jaw. “Because Pop asked me to. That’s why.”
“Did you want to spend tonight talking?” he interrupted. “Because you said just sex. And discussing your grandfather while I’m trying to get us off is kind of a dealbreaker.”
“Yeah, but—” He was right, of course, but the inconsistencies still bugged me. Now that I’d noticed them, I couldn’t unnotice them.
“But nothing.” JT took a big step forward until his chest brushed against mine. His hands gripped my hips. “Tonight, my plan is to figure out where you keep a bed in this shoebox…” He glanced around my tiny house, his eyes glowing with amusement and lust, the headiest combination in the world. “Then, I’m going to shove you down on it, strip you bare, and pound your hole until we don’t remember our own names, let alone anything that happened in fourth grade.”
I was dizzy from his words. I sucked in a breath to try and steady myself and licked my lips before replying. “Who said I was bottoming?”
JT’s eyes darkened. The intensity almost made me drop to my knees right then and there. “I say it.”
My legs wobbled a little and JT’s hands tightened on my hips. I could argue with him and pretend I didn’t want his fat dick inside of me or I could take him up to my bed and let him fulfill years worth of fantasies.
There was no choice to be made here.
“Y-yeah,” I breathed, trying and failing to sound casual. “Fine.” I turned and stepped to the slim ladder that functioned as a staircase. “Follow me.”
As I began to climb, JT took the opportunity to run a hand up the inside of my thigh and into my shorts. My heart thumped harder as my lungs struggled to take in enough oxygen. When his fingers brushed my sac, I almost fell off the damned stairs.
“Steady,” he murmured, moving his hands up to my hips. One of his thumbs snuck under my shirt to rub a gentle circle on the skin above my waistband. Why was he such a magical fucking sex master? The man could touch me lightly with one finger and I already wanted to come all over myself.
“Yeah, fine,” I said again. Because I was on fire with the words.
When I got up to my bedroom loft, I was relieved to see I’d left it fairly tidy that morning. The bedding was thrown into place and there weren’t any dirty clothes on the floor.
Not that I cared. Not that I was trying to impress anyone.