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Beautiful distraction, p.16
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       Beautiful Distraction, p.16

           J. C. Reed
 
Like, really see me.

  There’s something familiar about him. His eyes are dark in the night, but I don’t fail to notice he’s the same height as Kellan.

  Even the same build, as far as I can tell.

  I can see the resemblance.

  “Ava, this is my brother. Ryder, Ava. She’s from NYC,” Kellan says coolly. His hand grabs my ass possessively, like he has a claim on me.

  “Well, hello, Ava,” Ryder says. “I’m glad you guys were enjoying my back yard. I like my guests to come more often.”

  My face flushes with mortification.

  I don’t know what the fuck he meant by that about, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t talking about regular invitations to a barbecue party.

  Kellan laughs. “The lady definitely will. I’ll make sure of that. Thanks for not arresting us.”

  My head snaps in his direction?

  Is that supposed to be a joke?

  I take in his wink, and the penny drops.

  Oh, my fricking God.

  His brother has to be a cop.

  “My dear brother’s the deputy,” Kellan explains.

  The fricking deputy? The one everyone seems to be missing.

  “What are brothers for?” Ryder laughs.

  I swat at Kellan’s hand on my ass, the slap so hard the sound reverberates in the night.

  “I’m going home,” I mutter and rattle at the gate.

  “Let me—” Kellan starts.

  “No. I’ll find my way back. Thanks.” I shake my head and shoot him a deadly look, even though he probably can’t see it in the darkness. “It was nice meeting you…”

  “Ryder.” He stretches out his hand, and I take it.

  “Sorry about the—” My voice chokes.

  I rush past him, head held high, trying my hardest not to look back.

  It’s the walk of shame.

  I might have lost any sense of decency, but I still have my dignity, right?

  Right?

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  After returning to the bar, I make up some bullshit excuse, and Kellan drives both Mandy and me home—the silence in the car deafening in its intensity. I barely mumble something about a headache before dashing for my bedroom and barricading myself inside for the rest of the night.

  Holy shit!

  I can’t believe I let Kellan compromise me like that. Sure, I had the orgasm of my life, but…

  What. The. Fuck?

  In his brother’s back yard?

  With his brother barely a few steps away?

  Knowing his brother’s the deputy?

  The bastard knew Ryder would be back any time. He knew Ryder could hear us.

  Why the fuck would he take me there to have his wicked ways with me?

  Because I’m another conquest for his panty collection. That’s what I am. I can’t even pretend that I don’t know it. Like I can’t pretend I didn’t hear Sharon’s warning.

  And I even asked him for it.

  That’s probably the worst part.

  Practically panted his name and begged him to take me…

  In his brother’s fucking yard.

  He likes to brag about his conquests, or why else would everyone know about his damn business?

  This episode is definitely a new low since meeting Kellan Boyd.

  Stripping off my clothes, I leave them in a puddle at my feet and step into the shower, furiously washing away the memories of Kellan’s mouth on me. I lather tons of shower gel into my skin and let the hot water burn my body in the hope that Kellan’s image will disappear from my mind.

  But he’s all I can think about.

  My body’s aching for his touch. Even though I just had a release, I want more of it.

  I want all of him.

  I switch off the water and step out of the shower. Wrapping a fluffy towel around me, I head back to my bedroom.

  My mind is made up.

  Even though I can’t leave until the car’s been repaired, I will stay away from him, even if that involves living like a vampire, AKA sleeping through the day and only venturing out at night.

  It shouldn’t be too hard a task.

  The rap at the door jerks me out of my thoughts. My heart stops—hoping, praying, then hating the thought—that it’s Kellan.

  It’s probably Mandy anyway. I can’t deal with her questions right now, not in the least because it’s all her fault. She wanted me to go on this trip.

  If it weren’t for her and her stupid plan to see Mile High, I would never have Kellan seen again. I would never have been stuck here. I would never have been so embarrassed.

  Another rap, this time a little louder.

  Ignoring the urgency it seems to convey, I put on a T-shirt and pair of shorts, and slip beneath the covers, then turn off the lights.

  He or she’ll get the message.

  I’ll make sure of it.

  But, damn, keeping my raging hormones in check has never been so hard.

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  It was all a mistake. It was all a mistake. It was all a mistake.

  The way the same sentence keeps circling inside my brain, I could swear it’s some sort of mantra. Or one of those songs that, once you hear it on the radio, you simply can’t get out of your head.

  It was all a mistake.

  It’s like invisible strings keep me tied to that one memory, forcing me to watch it on replay over and over again.

  Needless to say, I’m up all night, my sleep evading me as my brain keeps replaying the same events, like a broken record.

  I’m up at dawn, staring out the window at the rising sun. Stripes of pink and purple streak the sky in the distance, the colors not matching my mood. I’m tired and yet restless from all the frustration building up inside me.

  It’s going to be a very sunny morning, yet I don’t know how to face the day.

  It depresses me to no end that I cannot be outside, taking a walk, enjoying the scenery, out of fear that I might meet Kellan.

  I’ve never been so on edge, every part of me sensitive, my body begging for release. Obviously, I don’t need a cocky, self-centered guy to do it for me.

  I know which buttons to press to make myself come.

  The trouble is that if I so much as touch myself, Kellan will be all I can think about. Consequently, I’d rather deny myself the pleasure than inflate his oversized ego even more—even though he’d most certainly never find out.

  It’s after six a.m. when I head for the kitchen. I need my morning cup of coffee, and no man can keep it from me. Secretly, I hope Kellan and Mandy are still sleeping at this ungodly hour.

  But just to be on the safe side, I’ll be quick about making the coffee, and then return to my bedroom.

  The kitchen door’s ajar, and the clinking sounds of a teaspoon stirring something inside a cup carries over. I’m about to turn around and walk back to my room when I hear the sound of a chair pulling.

  “Good morning. You’re not avoiding me, are you?” Kellan calls from inside.

  I can’t see his expression. But I can hear the amusement in his voice, and it irritates the hell out of me. Raising my head high, I step through the doorway into the kitchen and head straight for the coffee maker.

  “Avoiding you?” I laugh, squeezing as much nonchalance into my voice as I can. Though I’m pretty crap at the nonchalance part. “You wish. I slept in. I hadn’t slept in in ages, so I thought I’d use the opportunity.”

  “You call getting up at six a.m. sleeping in?”

  “I usually get up at five.” That part’s a lie. I spend so many late nights at the office that I rarely make it home before midnight and often don’t get up before ten a.m.

  I help myself to a cup of coffee, deliberately avoiding Kellan’s penetrating stare, which is burning a hole in my back.

  “Judging from the way you look, I doubt you had an ounce of sleep. You were probably too busy thinking about my dick inside you.”

  I almost jump in my skin when I feel Kellan’s breath
on my earlobe.

  Holy shit!

  Does he have to stand so close? And does he have to be so crude?

  The guy’s obviously never heard the term personal space, or why else would he keep invading it?

  “You should have asked me to help you out.” His finger traces down the nape of my neck, scorching my skin. “I’m always happy to oblige.”

  I step aside too quickly and manage to spill half of my coffee over the counter and down the front of my shirt.

  “Aaaah.” A faint yelp escapes my lips. “It’s hot.”

  “Let me help you,” Kellan says, amused. Before I can realize what’s happening, his fingers are busy undoing the buttons of my blouse and pushing it aside to reveal my bra.

  “Seriously?” I ask. “That was so not necessary.”

  “Pouring coffee over yourself can easily result in first-degree burns.”

  He grabs a napkin and is patting the liquid off my chest. His green eyes are glued to my breasts, and he licks his lips lasciviously. The way he looks at me, I feel stripped bare of my clothes, completely exposed to his gaze and touch.

  I should slap him, but instead I find myself strangely aroused.

  No one’s ever looked at me with so much want.

  No one’s made me instantly hot for him.

  Is that his thing? Making a woman feel wanted so she’ll gladly part her legs for him?

  Even if it is…oh, fuck it!

  My fingers wrap around his hand, but instead of pushing him away, I press it against my chest, holding him in place.

  Our eyes connect, and my breath hitches.

  Something passes between us.

  I don’t know what it is. I only know that it makes my head spin.

  “I’m already burned,” I whisper.

  “So am I.”

  His lips come closer to mine, until his mouth is less than an inch away. I can feel his hot breath. I’m wondering what he tastes like.

  In a bold moment, I lick across his upper lip, then pull back. A feral sound escapes his lips. His hands go roughly around my waist, pressing me against his body.

  He’s hard—just like last night.

  “I want you,” he mutters.

  He seems surprised, as though feeling that way about a woman for longer than a few days isn’t usually the case.

  “Seems like you didn’t have a good night either,” I say, a little smug.

  “I actually did. Twice.” His hands cup my ass and press me against him. His erection feels amazing against my core. I moan unwillingly. “But that was just my warm-up.”

  “Ava?” Mandy’s voice calling from the hall rattles me.

  I push Kellan aside and walk past him, my face on fire, just in time before Mandy’s head pops in.

  “I’m in here,” I say needlessly and peer up at her.

  The suspicion is written all over Mandy’s face. Heat shoots up my neck to my cheeks as I realize I’m only wearing my bra, holding my blouse in my hand.

  I turn away, but I’m pretty sure you can see my blush from a mile.

  “What were you two up to?” Mandy asks casually, like she hasn’t seen us in ages and is trying to catch up.

  I’m pretty sure she can see that I’m half naked.

  “Breakfast,” Kellan says.

  Wow, he’s the god of casual.

  I dare to peek at him. He’s leaning against a counter with his arms crossed across his chest, his biceps bulging. And there’s something else that’s bulging.

  I swallow and peel my gaze off his jeans, albeit unwillingly.

  He’s big. I saw that firsthand when he took care of his needs. I noticed it again last night, but I hadn’t realized just how huge he is until now.

  And he’s making no secret out of his erection. Apparently, he doesn’t give a damn about the fact that everyone can see it.

  “Eggs Benedict for me, please,” Mandy says and takes a seat at the table, arm outstretched, as though she’s waiting for someone to hand her a cup of coffee.

  “Those are Lila’s, my best hen.” Kellan holds up a bowl with eggs. “I don’t have a Benedict.”

  I snort and immediately press a hand against my mouth to stifle it. He has a sense of humor. I like that. Our gazes meet, and something passes between us again. Heat gathers between my legs, and the same slow throbbing sensation from last night returns with a vengeance.

  Oh, God. What is it with this guy and my chemical reactions to him?

  It’s like I’m a walking pill of female Viagra.

  “What about you, Ava?” Kellan asks softly.

  The way he says my name, I swear the temperature has just risen a few degrees.

  “I’ll take whatever you have.”

  Our gazes remain locked.

  He moistens his lower lip.

  I can see the wet trail on it and wish we were alone so I could run my tongue over it and taste him the way I’ve wanted ever since meeting him.

  His thoughts mirror mine. I can see it from the way his gaze brushes my bra and lingers there—way too long. He’s not even subtle about it.

  Under different circumstances, he’d probably say something way too inappropriate, but he won’t with Mandy present. I’m not sure whether to be grateful to her or annoyed to the point of kicking her ass out of the kitchen.

  “What happened last night? You two disappeared outside, and when you came back, you couldn’t get away fast enough,” Mandy says, drawing my attention back to her.

  I could kill her for being so direct.

  Instead of following my murderous urges, I sit down at the table and try to focus on someone other than Kellan for a change. “Nothing happened. I was tired.”

  Kellan shoots me a strange look. I grimace at him, lest he open that arrogant mouth of his and say all the wrong things, and take a sip of my coffee.

  “I think it was all a bit too much for Ava,” Kellan says. “She didn’t expect everything to be so intense.”

  I almost choke on my coffee. In an attempt to hide it, I hold my breath to stifle the scratching sensation in my throat until my eyes begin to water.

  I can’t believe the audacity.

  “You don’t have to talk about me in the third person, Kellan,” I say. “I’m right here.”

  Of course, he’d think his tongue is God’s gift to the female clitoris.

  “So, what did you do out there?” Mandy asks, her usual prying self.

  I peer at Kellan, who’s looking at me, brows still raised in amusement.

  Dammit!

  He’s letting me do all the hard work.

  “Talking,” I say.

  Kellan lets out a most irritating snort, and I shoot him a murderous look.

  Now Mandy will never believe me.

  “Hmm. I bet,” she says and stares right at me.

  I shrug and remain silent as Kellan fills our cups.

  “Anyway, guys, I have an announcement to make,” Mandy says and takes a sip of her coffee. “I’m leaving today.”

  I stare at her. “What are you talking about?”

  “Well, I wanted to talk to you last night, but you wouldn’t open the door. I wanted to tell you that Josh, his cousin—” She points to Kellan. “—is taking a trip to Helena. I want to go with him.”

  I shake my head, confused. “But that’s not where the gig takes place.”

  “I know,” Mandy says. “I’ll be back in time to see Mile High.”

  “What about…our plan?”

  And me? I want to yell.

  Mandy shrugs. “You wanted a vacation. That’s exactly what you’re getting. Kellan will take good care of you. Won’t you?” She slaps his shoulder to get his attention.

  “I’ll make sure to feed her,” Kellan says and winks at me.

  “See?” Mandy says. “Problem taken care of.”

  I stare at both of them, lost for words.

  Is it just my impression, or did he already know that Mandy was leaving, because he sure doesn’t look particularly surprised?
<
br />   “Can I talk to you?” My fingers clutch around Mandy’s upper arm, and I yank hard.

  “Sure.”

  She leads me to the privacy of her bedroom. I realize all her things are packed.

  “What’s up?” she asks as soon as the door’s closed.

  “We’ve barely been here for a day, and now you want to leave again? What happened? Why the sudden change of heart? What happened to our vacation in a five-star hotel?”

  “You said you weren’t keen on it,” Mandy says.

  “Yes, but that was back home. I never said I wanted to stay here either.”

  Mandy stares at me. “Look, this is your one opportunity to bury the past. You can’t stay single forever just because one guy let you down.”

  I let out a snort. “Kellan and I don’t have a relationship. He’s not even into relationships.”

  “Yet,” she says slowly.

  “It’s not going to happen. Ever.”

  “You can’t know that.”

  “Trust me, I know.”

  She sets her jaw. I can almost see the sappy scenes from The Notebook playing before her eyes. She wants a happy ending so desperately, it’s ridiculous. “That’s not what Josh said.”

  “What did he say?” I ask warily.

  “I think you should hear it from Kellan. I’m sorry, Ava, but I have to do this. I promise I’ll be back soon.”

  She hugs me tight and quickly lets go, dragging her suitcase behind her as she leaves. I dash for my room to grab a clean shirt before I sprint after her.

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  Through the window in the hallway, I watch Mandy get into Josh’s pickup truck and leave. I could head after her, beg, force her into staying, and yet I’m doing none of those things.

  As soon as she’s gone, I return to the kitchen.

  “You knew she was planning on leaving, didn’t you?”

  “She talked to me yesterday. You never gave her a chance to tell you.” Kellan’s leaning against the kitchen counter, his arms crossed over his chest. “Why did you leave last night?”

  “I was tired.”

  “Really?” He raises his eyebrows, amused. “So you say. However, I got a different impression. You feel a strong need to run from me.”

  “Who’s running? I’m not.” I jut my chin out and regard him through narrowed eyes. “I could have asked Mandy to take me with her, you know?”

 
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