Ava Claire is a sucker for Alpha males and happily ever afters. When not putting pen to paper or glued to her e-reader, Ava likes road tripping, karaoke, vintage fashion, and fantasizing about her favorite book boyfriends.
Natalee Madison's New Year's isn't off to a great start. Still reeling from a breakup and abandoned by her best friend with thirty minutes to go until midnight, she's ready to call the evening a bust when a sexy stranger saddles up beside her.
Maybe she won't be kissing the rim of her glass when the clock strikes 12...
It was thirty minutes until midnight…and I wasn’t nearly drunk enough.
Before you arch your brows or pass judgment, labeling me as some sort of alcoholic, let me paint the scene.
New Year’s Eve—I’m in the Galt Ballroom, at one of the most exclusive parties in the city. I wish I could say it was due to the fact that my catering business was kicking ass and taking names and I was working the event. Hell, I’d even take my presence being due to the fact that I was one of the socialite beauties that flitted around like butterflies, decked out in sequins and diamond chandelier earrings that swayed in time with the music. Not because I secretly want to be one of the cool kids, taking perfect, Instagram-able shots on the first try…I was jealous of the fact that all they had to worry about was looking beautiful, and how many likes they got on their picture—not how they’d make the rent.
Or if they’d spend the next year regretting the two and a half years they put into a dead end relationship.
I’d foolishly thought that a cute dress, perfect hair, and some makeup beyond my usual Chapstick would help usher in an awesome year. The year where everything would fall in place. Where all my hard work would pay off professionally. And maybe I’d even find a keeper among all the frogs I would inevitably swipe right on.
It was becoming undeniable that attending this soiree was a mistake, and it wasn’t because everyone reeked of money and pretension. It was because my date, my usually dependable best friend, Tamara, had abandoned me. She’d sworn that she wouldn’t ditch me for the first hot guy that winked in her direction, and I’d believed her, sure I wouldn’t be flying solo since she snagged our invite because her latest conquest was deejaying the event. She’d honored her vow to make this a girls night until a tall, dark, and shiny new man had thrown a weak line her way, telling her that her eyes were the prettiest in the room.
Never one for pick up lines or the Rico Suaves of the world, I’d rolled my eyes, then dropped my jaw to the bar when she accepted the man’s invitation to dance.
And that was an hour ago.
I perched my chin on my palm and took another salty sip of my saccharine sweet cocktail. I was surrounded by people who were having the night of their lives. Couples who weren’t even waiting until the clock struck midnight to eat each other’s face.
It was annoying.
It was depressing.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous of all the lovey dovey, ass grabbing, champagne tinged love that hung in the air like smoke, because I thought I’d be one of them tonight. Filled with hope. Looking towards a future that was bright and filled with the chime of wedding bells.
I glanced down at my bare left finger and my heart clenched in my chest. This was supposed to be our last New Year’s Eve before we spent every New Year’s together.
Before we made it official. Before we lived happily ever after.
Fighting to hold back the tears, I signaled for another drink. The dismissive finger that the ponytailed bartender held up for me was enough to make my sadness evaporate, quickly replaced by anger.
“Well, there goes your tip,” I muttered under my breath, turning my attention back to my empty glass.
I caught my reflection on the bar top and almost had to pinch myself, not believing that was me. Over the last month, still reeling from the break up, I’d stopped giving a damn about pretty much everything. When your fiancé reveals that you were right to be worried about all those late nights at the office and the emotional distance that left you feeling alone wasn’t all in your head, it kinda turns your world upside down.
Looking cute was the last thing on my mind when the hits kept on coming. He confessed that he’d fallen out of love with me. That he’d fought the attraction tooth and nail, but was now ‘deeply’ (his word) in love with his company’s new hire, a woman who was exotic, curvy, and had legs that went on for days.
Legs that she probably had wrapped around Scott right now, ringing in the new year in the bed that we bought together.
A few weeks ago, that thought would have crippled me. The dam, already tenuously held together by empowering songs by Beyoncé and Alanis Morisette, would be demolished instantly. I would have drowned my sorrows in a bag of Reese’s and an entire bottle of sangria.
Tonight, I just stared at the bar, still in disbelief about how good I looked.
I was no runner up for the crown tonight. I had this in the bag.
I’d washed my ebony locks for the first time in days and by some magic, my stringy chocolate colored strands actually held the curls that Tamara had crafted. My makeup accented all of my assets: my big, olive colored eyes, the lush curves of my sweetheart mouth, my high cheekbones. And my dress, a itty bitty, sterling silver colored number, made me shine as bright as every other woman in the room. Basically, I looked damn good.
Not that the bartender noticed, because he was too busy fawning over a busty blonde at the end of the bar.
Since there was no way I’d ever see any of these wealthy, dignified people ever again, I decided against being polite and went all in, waving both arms like a woman who didn’t even know what the word ‘etiquette’ meant. “Excuse me!”
The chummy duo, along with a couple of people beside me, scowled in my direction, then went back to their conversation.
I glumly munched on my cherry garnish, considering texting Tamara on my way outside to grab an Uber.
“If you were trying to catch my attention, all you’d have to do is exist.”
The voice flowed like honey, low enough that the music and conversation around us should have made me frown and either ignore it or grunt, “I’m sorry, what?”
But there was a heat behind the words, an authority in the voice that made my skin ripple with goosebumps. An allure that made everything else go quiet.
Well, almost everything.
A heat I hadn’t felt in months shot to that hungry, needy place between my thighs.
Enough awkward silence had passed since the stranger’s statement that I had no choice but to acknowledge him. To look at him. I almost didn’t want to. With my luck, I’d glance over my shoulder and come face to face with a man blessed with the sexiest voice I’d ever heard…and the most unfortunate face I’d ever seen.
He took all of the guesswork out of the equation, easing into the space beside me. My hand that was gripping my drink rattled because he was definitely invading my personal space…and I liked it.
I twisted my head to the left, deciding to just roll with it. Worst case scenario, a guy who was so not my type was hitting on me, I’d smile, then send him on his way.
Luckily for me, fate finally decided to throw me a curve ball that I wanted to catch.
Taking in the stranger, I gulped down the rest of my cherry a little too vigorously and started coughing, the maraschino flavoring filling my mouth and burning my throat. Tears pricked my eyes as I tried to gather myself, pouring salt in the wound because I didn’t want to take my eyes off him.
Even blurred, he was hands down the hottest man I’d ever seen. I’m not talking the kinda hot that makes you blush and stammer a little. I’m talking, ‘there’s no way you’re real and talking to me because you’re like, movie star sexy’ hot.
He towered above me, but the look in his eyes brought me in close, like I was the only woman in the room. His eyes were the kind of beautiful that made me want to repeat the cheesy line that had been used on Tamara. Eyes weren’t supposed to be that beautiful in real life. They weren’t supposed to strip you down. Make you want to apologize for inconveniencing them by wearing clothes at all.
Blushing so hard that I was thankful for the dim light, I moved on to what should have been un-arousing territory. Instead, his golden brown locks made me lick my lips. I generally didn’t like the shaggy, surfer look on dudes, but he made me a believer. I wanted to run my fingers through those strands. Feel his body pressed against my body.
I was staring at him, but I couldn’t help myself. Not when my eyes swept over his face. Every angle was right where it was supposed to be and when he smiled, clearly used to be gaped at and loving every minute, his dimples winked at me. A shadow of stubble sprinkled his strong jawline, but it didn’t make him look unkempt or out of sorts since his delicious, athletic body was wrapped in a suit and tie. It made him look dangerous. Like a spy. Or an assassin.
A man who was the best kind of trouble.
“Happy to see that the admiration is mutual,” he teased.
His voice was just the right amount of husky to keep my mind in the gutter. Wondering what laid behind the fly of his pants. If it would hurt a little when he thrust it inside me.
I blinked, heat scalding my cheeks. Who was he? I’d never had such a visceral reaction to a guy before. I could count the number of boyfriends I’d had in my 22 years on this Earth on one hand and the falling process had been a logical one.
Good major with prospects for the future?
Gets along with my friends and tolerates my high maintenance parents?
It all seemed so technical in the wake of this man. Like my process was tantamount to picking a dependable car instead of a partner. If Scott was a car, he’d be a Prius. Practical. Fuel efficient.
This man…he’d be a Alfa Romeo. Sleek. Edgy. Sexy as hell.
The kind of car you rode in commando, so when you got the urge, all you’d have to do is hike up your skirt.
I tried to wrangle my common sense, almost glad the bartender was so crappy at his job because clearly, the alcohol I had gotten down my throat had gone right to my head. The last thing I needed right now was some drop dead gorgeous guy who would toss me aside when he was done with me. And that ‘hit it and quit it’ attitude was my best friend’s M.O., not mine.
This stranger was definitely making me with it was.
Like he wasn’t delicious enough, he leaned in close enough that I could inhale him. He smelled of mint, cedar, and something masculine and fuckable. He hadn’t even touched them yet and my nipples were at full attention, already skipping to the part in the book with the sex.
“I’m Jason,” he breathed, close enough that the word rippled over my body.
I already knew that tonight, when I was home and sure my roommate was out cold, me and my vibrator would have a name to groan while we took care of some business.
“And you are?” he asked, like he was actually interested in the answer.
I was sober enough to end this thing while we were still ahead. “Me? Not interested.”
It was a lie.
A bad one, considering my voice wouldn’t stop shaking. And even though there was room for me to scoot down a bit and demonstrate how uninterested I was, I didn’t move a muscle.
“Ah, I see,” he mused, raking thick, powerful fingers through his hair. A smile danced in his pale eyes as the locks drifted back in place. “My mistake then. Because I was hoping that if I said hello, I’d be the lucky guy to kiss you at midnight.”
I peered at him, my face scrunched in equal parts surprise and skepticism. “You want to kiss me?”
He didn’t repeat himself, but the look in his eye, as hungry and rife with want as the look I was trying to suppress, did the repeating for him.
As badly as my body wanted to say, ‘let’s do it!’ I couldn’t quiet the much louder voice that whispered doubts. Why me? He could have any woman in this room. Any woman in this city. So I tried to rebuff him again, pretending that kissing him at midnight wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do.
“Clearly you’ve been told you’re the shit one too many times,” I huffed, wishing I had an actual drink to sip nonchalantly. I settled for stroking the stem of my glass. “Not sure why you think I’d let some strange man kiss me on the mouth. Do I look that desperate?”
If he’d seen me a few hours ago, with tangled and limp hair, in velvet leggings and an oversized CSU t-shirt, bingeing on The Vampire Diaries and reminiscing about a happier, simpler time, the answer would have probably been yes. But he didn’t know my history. He didn’t know that Tamara had to ply me with alcohol to get me here or that I was still nursing a broken heart.
I was just a stranger to him, too. And strangers, technically, could do strange things.
Like kiss sexy ass men they didn’t even know on New Year’s Eve.
“Desperate?” He was so smooth that I didn’t stop him when he swept my hair behind my ear, fingertips lingering on that tender spot at the nape of my neck.
God, he didn’t even know my name and he’d already found my spot.
“I think you look horny, which is why you’re flush and giving your glass quite the handjob.”
I went rigid, my eyes bulging from my skull. When I get nervous, I kinda fixate…and I realized that I was definitely stroking the stem of my glass like a woman in heat. I was in heat. The room had become unbearably hot, like I had to take off all my clothes ASAP and…
He was smiling again, like he had backdoor access to the naughty thoughts that were racing through my head. Like how good it would feel to have his lips trace that spot he’d triggered earlier.
I wanted to blame it on the alcohol but I’d only had a couple of drinks since I was stuck with a bartender who barely tended the bar at all. I couldn’t chalk this up to a lack of liquid courage. That rash of stupidity and invincibility that follows a couple of shots.
This was real.
And I wanted Jason so bad it hurt.
I tried to catch my breath, putting all the reasons this was a bad idea on the back burner. “So if I said yes-”
“When you say yes,” he corrected with a smirk that made me debate whether I wanted to smack or kiss him. “Then I’ll take care of the rest.”
I held his gaze just long enough to give him time to laugh and say this was a joke. Or to change gears and get nauseatingly pushy and just throw me over his shoulder like a caveman.
Which, if I was being honest, wouldn’t have been all that nauseating.
Not one bit.
I almost looked out to the floor to check in with Tamara, then decided against it. She’d ghosted me over an hour ago and it was clear she was preoccupied herself.
One of my resolutions was to take more chances. To not spend so much time focusing on the what if’s and to go with ‘why not?’.
You only live once, right?
I tossed a few bills on the bar, fingers rattling, but when I spoke, I was impressed by how confident I sounded. “Lead the way.”
Pleasure shot through me like a rocket when he reached for me, his fingers interlacing with mine. Regret came swiftly because I was already drawing his name with penciled hearts in my mind and I knew that wherever we were headed, it wasn’t down the aisle. This wasn’t about romance or love.
This was lust.
We left the ballroom, the noisemakers already hooting since midnight was so close we could touch it. The lobby I’d marveled at when Tamara and I arrived was a sea of gold and marble, the luxury the last thing on my mind. I’d never seen hands as sexual things or anything erotic but the feel of him had my body humming. Just the gentle stroke of his thumb over my skin had my heart pounding in my chest.
He hadn’t even touched me, really touched me, and I was already putty in his hands. Clay to mold as he saw fit.
We stepped into the elevator and he fished out his room key, waving it over the panel. He hit the golden button at the top.
The Penthouse? I’d never been to the-
I gasped as his hand shot out again and he yanked the emergency stop. He’d let go of my hand, which was probably a good thing because I may have crushed a bone or two.
He faced me, a wolfish grin teasing his mouth as he devoured me with those eyes. “You really are beautiful.”
His choice of words, while he was literally fucking me with his eyes, made me giggle nervously. “T-Thanks. You too.”
I tried to cover my awkwardness. “I-I mean-”
“Shh,” he said softly, his fingers matching the gentleness of his tone as he skimmed my waist. “I wanted you from the moment I saw you walk through the door.”
I arched my brow. He noticed me? I didn’t remember him at all because I would have probably done something really sexy like trip over my own feet.
But his touch, coupled with his gaze, had me trembling. Wondering if he was about to do what I thought he was about to do.
In the elevator.
He dropped to his knees, his fingers still exploring. Stroking the line of my calves. Dancing over the curve of my hips. Skating towards my inner thigh.
The hunger inside me had taken over and I hiked up my hem until it pooled just above my hips. Trading the slinky fabric for the chill of the air, kissing my bare skin.
“God,” he groaned, feasting on me, on my body like he couldn’t believe that I was his.
And I was the one losing my mind because the last time a man was this close to touching me down there with his mouth, it was on my birthday.
A special occasion.
Jason was looking at me like he could do this every day and twice on Sunday…and it still wouldn’t be enough.
I adjusted breathlessly trying not to think about the fact that he knew the angle, knew just what to do to the point where it was clear this wasn’t his first rodeo. And when I felt his tongue, teasing my erotic flesh, bringing my body alive, all rational thought ceased and I became the electricity that fired through my body as he made love to me with his mouth.
His tongue caressed every part of me, sliding inside my wetness…then he went to work. I was gripping his hair, trying to grip my sanity until I finally stopped trying to control this and let go. Let him possess my body, exploding in a sea of profanity and pleasure when I realized that when he said he wanted to kiss me at midnight, he didn’t mean the lips on my face.
He rose to his feet, my lust covering his mouth. Licking his lips, he braced himself, placing his palms on the wall behind me. He gazed at me like he was seeing me for the first time. Like he couldn’t take his eyes off me. When I smiled and opened my mouth to say something that would make the moment last, he whirled back to the control panel and disengaged the emergency brake.
“I hope you didn’t mind, I just couldn’t wait to have you.”
I was a mess, my skirt still up, my legs still quaking. “No…you…oh my…”
“You’re quite delicious,” he said demurely, his eyes flashing with the allure of a night filled with pleasures beyond my wildest dreams.
And then he leaned in and gave me the chastest kiss I’d ever had.
Right on my forehead.
“I’m going up for a bit,” he said abruptly, standing in front of me like we were complete strangers.
It took my mind a minute to catch up to his meaning.
As in, not us.
As in, we’re done?!
I had too much pride to ask him to verify, so I forced a smile onto my lips, like that was totally cool. Like hadn’t just made me feel like the sexiest and most disposable woman he’d ever met, all in under thirty minutes.
“That’s cool,” I eked out, steeling my spine for the rest of the ride.
He was either oblivious or just cruel because he barely even waited for the doors to part before he bounded out of the elevator, tossing a ‘Happy New Year!’ over his shoulder.
Shell shocked, I blinked at the chrome doors as they slid closed, tears turning them into molten silver.
“Happy New Year,” I whispered to no one at all.
Sticky, rejected, used, and alone on New Year’s Eve.
By the time I stepped out of the elevator, I had a new resolution.
No more jerks.
I hope you enjoyed this first look at my upcoming release, The Sweetest Jerk (#1), coming soon! Happy New Year! :)
Recent college grad Leila Montgomery has her sights set on Whitmore and Creighton, a public relations agency for the rich and famous. She's determined to get her foot in the door by any means necessary--but she doesn't count on accidentally mouthing off to the enigmatic billionaire at the helm of the company, Jacob Whitmore.After a hot tryst in the stairwell, Jacob makes Leila a proposition: be his personal assistant and private submissive. Saying no could cost her dream job and a place among the wealthy and elite. But saying yes will cost her heart...From stairwells and private jets to Europe and proposals, The His Submissive Series Complete Collection includes all twelve parts of the best-selling His Submissive series in one single e-book:
The Billionaire's Contract (Part One)The Billionaire's Touch (Part Two)The Billionaire's Passion (Part Three)The Billionaire's Heart (Part Four)The Billionaire's Girlfriend (Part Five)The Billionaire's Secret (Part Six)The Billionaire's Lust (Part Seven)The Billionaire's Promise (Part Eight)The Billionaire's Desire (Part Nine)The Billionaire's Past (Part Ten)The Billionaire's Trust (Part Eleven)The Billionaire's Forever (Part Twelve)
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