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Wild for you, p.18
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       Wild For You, p.18

           J. C. Reed
 
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  “Aren’t you going to pick up?” I ask.

  He shakes his head, his lips traveling down my neck, his breath hot and heavy on my skin. “It’s not important.”

  It might not be, but the distraction’s just made me realize I need to use the restroom.

  “How would you know if you’re not answering?” I push him away gently to stand.

  “Good point.” He pulls his phone out of his pocket and peers at the caller ID, frowning. I wait for him to pick up, but Cash just smiles at me, waiting.

  Waiting for what?

  That’s when it dawns on me. He’s waiting for me to leave.

  “I’ll be right back,” I say and head back inside, giving him the privacy he needs.

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Erin

  Something’s going on.

  I can’t pinpoint what it is, but the bad feeling has been building deep inside my gut ever since I caught Cash’s tense stare at his phone. He kept his distance throughout the following therapy session, working hard but barely acknowledging my attempts at lightening up the mood.

  I don’t know what the sudden change means, but I don’t like it.

  Maybe Cash is just pushing his own boundaries, his initial hesitation replaced with a stubbornness that is almost frightening. Maybe he’s being too hard on himself, and it’s taking a mental toll on him. Doing physical therapy three hours a day, sometimes twice a day, is bound to backfire at some point. I’ve tried to slow him down, but he keeps assuring me that he doesn’t feel the pain, that he’s okay. And then he continues pushing as though he’s running out of time.

  For some reason, I know his sudden obsession has nothing to do with me.

  Something is wrong, yet at the same time, I feel like I’m being overly suspicious.

  It’s not helping that Shannon called in to ask in a not so subtle way if Cash had mentioned anything about bull riding. He hasn’t so far, but I can’t shake off the feeling that she doesn’t believe it. I hung up with the promise to watch out for him and report back to her in case he behaved strange, which apparently he always does after an accident, right before he returns to that passion of his.

  Her words have only amplified my worry. As much as I want to pretend nothing’s happening with him, I can’t shake off the feeling that he’s not being completely honest, neither with his family nor with me. I can’t help but think that he’s doubled his efforts during physical therapy to get back in the saddle.

  By the end of the week, I’ve had enough. I have to get to the bottom of this.

  After the evening therapy session, I follow him into the kitchen. His back is drenched in sweat, the shirt clinging to his sexy body.

  Fighting the urge to touch him, I rest my elbows on the counter and proceed to watch him as he prepares his usual protein shake. “Ever intend to show me your secret room?”

  He doesn’t have to show me anything, but I hope he’ll open up to me, I only to scatter my doubts. A room tells only so much about a person, but with some luck, I might find a hint as to what he’s up to.

  Cash downs his drink before nodding. “I’ll show you. There’s nothing much to see though.” He places his glass in the sink and heads out, calling over his shoulder, “Are you coming?”

  “Now?”

  “Why not? Do you have other plans?”

  “No. I—”

  “Let’s go, then.”

  I let Cash lead the way, following a step behind. Excitement pulses through me as we cross his bedroom.

  I’ve been in his bedroom countless times, but I never noticed anything out of the ordinary. I glance around the room, unsure what we’re doing in here. “So, where is it exactly?”

  His hand on the low of my back, the gesture intimate. My breath hitches, and I fight the urge to wrap my arms around his neck and draw his mouth into a deep kiss.

  “I’ll show you.”

  We enter his walk-in closet. I frown as I scan the male clothes and rows of shoes.

  There’s also a suitcase and a black bag.

  This isn’t the secret room I spied in the blueprints, the one that leads to the backyard. Either he has a second one, or he doesn’t want to show me that particular space after all.

  He shoves the shirts aside to reveal a large mirror on the wall.

  “Look closer.” He places himself behind me, his gaze fixed on the image of us.

  “What am I supposed to see?” I narrow my eyes. It looks like an ordinary mirror.

  He reaches past my shoulder, his lips brushing my earlobe as he whispers, “This.”

  It takes me a few seconds to see what he’s pointing at, but it’s there. The transparent circle looks like a logo or a flat screen button—faint and easy to miss. Cash touches it, and the circle lights up blue the same time the bulbs above the mirror switch on. Another press of his finger and the lights go off again. He keeps his finger pressed on the circle for a few seconds after which the mirror slowly slides inward, like a door.

  “Not bad,” I say laughing.

  I peer through the open space at what turns out to be a stairway to the basement. The light is switched on, bathing the stairs in brightness. Cash leads me downstairs into a vast room, and a small gasp escapes my lips.

  The place looks like an underground party room with a bar on the east side. The entire ceiling is made of soft blue LED spots that resemble sparkling stars. It’s all so familiar. I’ve seen this before—maybe in a spa magazine and advert for a luxury home. The design is so stunning it takes my breath away.

  “What is this?” I ask, unable to tear my gaze away.

  “My very own panic room.”

  “You call this a panic room?”

  “There’s more.” Cash smiles at me and flips a switch. The walls start to gleam blue, revealing a shimmering, ornamental tapestry.

  “Is this where you were hiding every time you wanted to avoid me? No wonder you wouldn’t come out. This is beautiful.”

  “It wasn’t personal.”

  I glare at him, but I can’t quite be angry. “It wasn’t personal that you avoided me or that you wouldn’t leave this place?”

  “Both.” The corners of his lips turn upward. “This is my refuge. Call it my man cave if you will.”

  “Your refuge?” I roll my eyes playfully. “You live alone and your house is huge.” My fingers brush over the tapestry. It feels warm to the touch, probably from the light bulbs behind it.

  “This is where it all started,” Cash whispers.

  “What?”

  “The concept for my clubs.”

  I turn to regard him. His eyes shimmer dark and as deep as an ocean. I can see his enthusiasm for his work, but there’s something else, too. “You know I own a string of night clubs, right?”

  “Your aunt mentioned it.”

  He nods. “Good. Then I don’t have to tell you that Club 69…”

  Club 69.

  Oh, wait.

  I scan the open space, taking it in with new eyes. That’s why it looks so familiar. I recognize the lights, the design, everything. Club 69 is a brand with a website and merchandise. I remember reading something about each club making millions a year, and there are a whole lot of them.

  Which would make Cash at least a multi-millionaire. Maybe even a billionaire, but that’s too much money to think about.

  “You look shocked,” Cash says casually.

  “I thought…you meant…”

  “A low profile club? A bar?” He laughs. “No, sweetheart. I own the Club 69 brand which consists of thirty-eight clubs.”

  And some of them have been featured in various magazines, which is why I feel like I’ve seen this before.

  “Is that why you’re so driven suddenly? Why you’ve been pushing so hard lately? To get back to work?”

  His eyes narrow. “Why else would I work hard? I need to get back to business. Being stuck in Montana isn’t exactly infusing confidence in my investors. Why are you asking?”

  I stare at the hardw
ood floor as heat floods my cheeks. “Because I hope your sudden motivation isn’t stemming from a need to resume your bull riding activities. Shannon said you’d had various accidents before and yet you keep riding.” I lift my glance to meet his hard stare. “Is it true?”

  His face betrays no emotions. “What do you want to hear?”

  “That you’re not thinking of going back to bull riding. You hit your head and survived it. Next time you might not be so lucky.”

  He shrugs. “That was a long time ago.”

  “Not long enough, Cash. Your doctors warned you, yet you did it again, and here you are.” I point at his leg, then add softly, “You need to find yourself a sports activity that doesn’t involve you breaking your neck.”

  His lips twitch. “I’m very much into physical contact. You know anything that involves a lot of stroking, and plenty of touching.”

  “I’m serious, Cash. You could have been killed.”

  “My family’s being dramatic.” He catches my scowl, and his expression softens a little. “Look, I’m not going back to bull riding, if that’s what you want to hear.”

  “Are you sure?” I cringe inwardly at how hopeful I sound. This is none of my business, and yet it is because I care for him…more than I’m ready to admit to myself.

  “No, but it’s what you want to hear, right?”

  I groan with frustration. He’s not taking anything seriously. He doesn’t care that his risk-taking is hurting the people he loves. “Everyone’s worried about you. Everyone including me. I’ve read your health report countless times. You can’t ever ride again. You need to understand that, but you don’t seem to. And now you’ve started to be weird again, just like before. People say it’s a pattern, and it’s been making me nervous.”

  I know I’m rambling, but I can’t help myself. His unwillingness to realize that he’s risking his life is making me more upset than I should be.

  “Relax, sweetheart. I’m…” He’s struggling for words, but something flashes in his eyes. “…under a lot of pressure right now. Bull riding has always been my outlet. It’s always helped me take my mind off of things. You can tell Shannon to mind her own business, and that I can take care of myself. I know what I’m doing.” He reaches out his hand to touch my cheek gently. “But if it means so much to you, I won’t do it again.”

  I bite my lip as I regard him. Did he just say what I think he said? It’s so unlike me to get emotional, but I can’t help myself. “You’ll stop?” My voice is quivering.

  “Not a fan of bull riding, huh?”

  “It’s not that.” I hesitate, unsure how to put it so I won’t hurt his feelings. “It’s dangerous, and unfair to the poor animals.”

  “The animals?” He sounds surprised.

  “Yes. It’s cruel. No one asked them if they wanted to take part. They’re forced to act aggressively.”

  His sexy smile stretches into a grin. “You’re an animal activist. You didn’t strike me as one.”

  “Why? Because I’m not running around waving banners and shouting for the whole world to hear that I’m a vegan?”

  “It’s not like that, Erin. I can assure you they treat the bulls with as much respect as they treat the rider. The animals are well groomed, get health inspections, a special blend of food, and they never buck more than twice at a single event. Speaking of food—” He cocks his head. “Did you chuck out your steak last night?”

  My cheeks heat up. “I thought you wouldn’t notice.”

  “I didn’t, at first.” His thumb brushes my chin, lifting it up. “But Margaret asked me why I’d throw away a perfect steak. She offered to feed it to her dogs. It didn’t make sense to me. Until now.”

  “I’m sorry.” I grimace, realizing I should have just eaten it because you don’t throw away food when people cook it for you.

  “Why didn’t you tell me, Erin? You’ve been here for weeks, and you didn’t once mention that you were a vegetarian.”

  “I didn’t want to be rude.” I shrug. “Besides, I’m not a vegetarian. I just don’t eat some animals, like the kind that recognizes you as their owner. Or the kind that is capable of loving you back. That’s all. It’s the same reason why I don’t like bull riding or any sport that involves torturing animals for fun.” I stop, wondering whether I’ve said too much. This might be the moment he’ll decide that we don’t have much in common, but I don’t care. I need him to know who I am as a person.

  Cash stares at me for a few seconds. And then he smiles, and I know while we might not have everything in common, at least he respects my viewpoint.

  “You promise?” I whisper.

  It takes him a while to reply, but when he does his tone is soft. “I promise. Now, let’s watch a movie.”

  He pulls out his cell phone and opens what looks like an app. I want to say more, to thank him for being agreeable, but I sense that might not be a word he might want to hear. So I just keep my mouth shut. A moment later, the lights go out, and the wall before us turns into a white screen.

  “Wow. An indoor cinema.” I laugh, impressed. “You really know how to take relaxation to a whole new level.”

  “We haven’t even started yet.” He leads me to the most incredible high-tech sofa I’ve ever seen—an oversized circle in the middle of the room, decorated with countless pillows.

  “I wouldn’t be surprised to find it can spin,” I mutter.

  “Actually, it can.” He laughs at my expression. “Take a seat. I’ll be back in a second.”

  “Where are you going?”

  “To make us popcorn.” He cocks his eyebrow. “Why? Are you scared I might lock you in here and hold you captive?”

  I smirk. “That would suck. No one would ever find me.”

  “You sure you don’t want to leave now, as long as the door’s open?”

  I drop on the sofa and sigh with delight at how comfortable it is. “I’ll take my chances.”

  He laughs out loud. “You trust me.”

  I actually do, I realize. Too much, too soon.

  “Make it fast, Cash. I want to see that movie.” Lying back against the pillows, I close my eyes. Everything smells of him. The pillows, the air. I inhale deeply as my muscles slowly begin to relax.

  A content sigh escapes my chest.

  The sofa feels silky against my skin. I imagine myself naked, waiting for Cash to get back. My body begins to tingle, urging me to stop dreaming and start doing. While watching a movie might sound like a great way to spend the evening, engaging in some sexy activity with Cash is the more tempting option.

  “Having fun without me?” A low voice says—too low, too close.

  My eyes snap open.

  Cash is standing at the foot of the sofa, his shirt unbuttoned, revealing rows and rows of hard muscles. My tongue flicks across my suddenly parched lips as my gaze roams over his body, drinking him in. He’s carrying a tray while balancing on one crutch, which is amazing.

  I want to comment on it, but decide not to because I don’t want to make a big deal out of it and hinder his progress. I want him to act on his instincts, listen to his body, and just keep pushing himself without overthinking it.

  I crane my neck, but before I can glimpse what’s on the tray, he raises it higher, out of my view.

  His eyes are hooded, dark with desire.

  “What are you doing?” I ask, breathless.

  “I’m working on the setting.” He jiggles a pair of handcuffs. “You’re going to be tied to my bedpost.”

  “I don’t see a bedpost.” He points at what looks like two silver hooks on either side of me. “Oh.” The image of me naked, my thighs spread open for him, enters my mind and my core pulses to life as lust courses through my body.

  “Want to know what happens next?” Under heavy lids, his eyes glow with an insatiable hunger for me. “I’ll lick every part of your body until you’re begging me to take you. And then I’ll make you fall in love with me.”

  “I’m already in love with you, Cas
h. Remember?” I squeeze my hands under my shirt and pull it over my head, ready to give him what he wants.

  Slowly, he begins to peel off his clothes, revealing his ripped torso and strong shoulders. As I watch his jeans and pants drop to the floor, I realize I’m not just in love with him. I’m falling for him over and over again.

  Slowly, I get up from the sofa and begin to take my clothes off, my body burning under his hooded gaze.

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Erin

  I don’t know what I’m doing, only that I can’t stop myself.

  Heat at the prospect of getting intimate with him courses through me. As I slowly begin to undress, the memory of Sam is forgotten, replaced with a need to succumb to the lust that seems to consume me whenever I’m in Cash’s presence.

  I’m addicted to his kisses, his touch, his smile. There’s something about his soft, deep voice that draws me to him, and then there’s the curiosity whether he’ll make our next sex session as good as the ones before.

  My pulse thuds so hard I can barely breathe. Peeling my clothes off seems to take forever. When I’m finally standing before him naked in all my glory, I sit on the edge of the sofa and motion for him to come closer.

  He’s already hard, his shaft thick and long, gleaming with a drop of moisture. Suddenly, I want to taste him the way he’s tasted me.

  Cash hesitates, but eventually does as I instruct. I place my hands on his hips and peer up into his green eyes a moment before I lower my mouth and suck him between my lips. He wraps his hand around the back of my head, but doesn’t force himself deeper into my mouth.

  I run my fingers up and down his slick shaft and lean in, trailing my tongue along the tip. He tastes just I imagined it—masculine and heady. I glide him back into my mouth as far as I can, my lips tightening to give him more friction.

  “Erin.” He sucks in his breath and lets out an appreciative groan.

  As I start to rock back and forth in a slow rhythm, his groans intensify. He’s so big and hard, a trembling mass of tension, that it’s only a matter of time until he comes.

 
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