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Beautiful distraction, p.32
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       Beautiful Distraction, p.32

           J. C. Reed

  Jett made no secret of the fact he wanted nothing but a sexual relationship. Since my relationship with Sean had just ended and I wasn’t the kind to jump head on into dating, Jett’s proposition didn’t offend me. In fact, the idea of no emotional involvement seemed quite intriguing. Men had meaningless sex all the time and they seemed happier for it. They didn’t have their hearts broken and their plans for the future shattered. Lots of women were content with just the carnal side of a relationship. For once, I wanted a piece of that carefree living, of having my needs fulfilled without any sort of emotional involvement. It was just a bit of safe fun and nothing else. No harm in giving it a try because I knew right from the beginning what I was getting myself into.

  I chewed my lip as I kept going back and forth between my arguments. Jett was my boss, meaning there was a bit of a conflict there. Could I accept him as my superior during working hours and get down and dirty with him at night? The thought sent a delicious shiver down my spine. It was a challenge that was hard to resist.

  Get your mind out of the gutter, Stewart.

  Sylvie’s relationship with her boss turned sour, but this was different. First, Jett wasn’t married. Second, we had a contract, so there would never be any sort of confusion. And last, Sylvie had assumed she was having a romantic relationship and that Ryan loved her. Jett and I had nothing but a sexual arrangement that was tailored to our needs and suited the both of us.

  The pro points began to dominate, or maybe it was the way I subconsciously wanted to progress. Somehow I knew I’d accept Jett’s offer before I admitted it to myself.

  The screen of my smartphone lit up with a text message from Sylvie. I skimmed its contents about an important looking letter that had arrived on the day of my departure. Deciding it wasn’t important, I made a mental note to call her later. My stomach grumbled, and I realized not only had I wasted my afternoon obsessing over a decision that had been made the moment Jett entered The Black Rose, but I had also skipped lunch.

  Night was slowly falling, and a million stars dotted the black skyline. The air had noticeably cooled down, making me shiver in my thin shirt and skirt. I changed into a pair of blue jeans and a red snugly pullover, and made my way downstairs to find something to eat.


  The scent of pasta, fresh pesto, and seafood hit my nostrils the moment I descended the stairs and turned right, following the narrow hall to the kitchen. Was Jett cooking? Hardly likely. I had yet to meet a man who could do more than warm up macaroni and cheese. He probably had a chef at his beck and call, and good for him. And me, because I was famished.

  Through the open door I heard the clanking sound of pots and pans being hazardously moved around. Whoever was cooking had a hard time not breaking anything in the process. I gently knocked on the door, then pushed it open and froze to the spot as I took in the picture before me. Jett, dressed in blue jeans and a white tee, was standing in the middle of a cream-colored state of the art kitchen that looked like it cost more than I had made at Sunrise Properties in a year. The place was a mess—with dirty pots piling up in the sink, dishes, chopping boards, kitchen utensils, and flour littering the work surfaces.

  “Hey.” He barely looked up as he dove his fingers into a pot of hot water and fished out a thin green Fettuccine band and popped it into his mouth. I stared at him as he chewed slowly, his brows furrowed as though he couldn’t decide whether the pasta was boiled to perfection or needed another minute. In the end he nodded, satisfied, and emptied the pot into a stainless steel colander.

  “Need help?” I inched forward, then stopped in mid-stride, my breath catching in my throat as he turned to me with a dazzling smile that made me want to throw myself into his arms and beg him to do whatever he wanted to do to me. Moistening my lips, I took a step back but didn’t avert my gaze. His feet were bare; his blue jeans hung low on his hips. His hair was damp from the heat, and the muscles of his torso were clearly visible beneath the white snug cotton of his tee. But what drew my immediate attention was the tattoo covering his upper left arm. I hadn’t noticed it the morning I woke up with him in my room, maybe because his left side had been turned away from me and there were so many other things that had captured my attention, like his barely covered modesty.

  I inched closer to peer at it, but didn’t dare touch him. The solid black curves ended in points and interlocked in a complex pattern that looked like your usual tribal tattoo, only there was something about it that seemed odd. Right in the middle of it, the swirls combined to resemble a face surrounded by tiny leaves. For some reason it seemed strange that Jett had a tattoo. Judging from his business reputation and the fact that he had no problem signing a sex contract, I figured him as your usual I-don’t-love-just-fuck type, but the tattoo made it seem as though he had a past people didn’t know about. I wondered whether his confidence was the result of once being a bad boy. Maybe his assertiveness wasn’t just cockiness. Maybe he dared take what he wanted because his past had taught him he could.


  Jett’s voice jolted me out of my thoughts. I peered up into his deep eyes the color of green marble, only now realizing he had been speaking to me.

  “Sorry, what?”

  “I asked whether you liked seafood.”

  “Seafood’s great, thanks.”

  Something shimmered in his gaze. He regarded me in silence for a moment, his expression indecipherable. And then his mysterious mood shifted, and a lazy smile lit up his face. “I gave the chef the evening off.”

  “Why?” I leaned against the counter and watched him decorate the plates by pouring a thin layer of cream sauce onto the white china and then drawing thin, concentric circles with a teaspoon.

  “Why not?” He shrugged, as though no further explanation was necessary. “We’re in Italy.”

  “Ah.” I nodded. “It smells amazing.”

  Jett finished his concoction while I decked the table and steered the conversation toward the history of the house, which was the safest topic I could think of. Eventually Jett ordered me to sit down as he opened a bottle of white wine and poured two glasses, handing me one.

  “Here’s to a new business venture.” Jett raised his glass to mine, and we chinked.

  “And to a new job.” I took a sip. Although I couldn’t usually tell the difference between one wine brand and the other, even my inconsequential taste buds picked up a hint of gooseberry and apple. “This is good.” I took a generous sip and forced myself to put down the glass before I ended up drunk and generous, like the last time I mixed alcohol with Jett.

  “It’s a Fume Blanc,” Jett said. “My favorite with fish. Dive right in.”

  He gestured at the plate before me. I plunged my fork into the fish trimmings, tiny shrimps, scallops, and clams atop a pasta nest, and rolled a few bands with the help of my spoon, then pushed them into my mouth, chewing slowly. The aroma of fresh pesto spreading over my tongue almost made me moan with pleasure.

  “It’s delicious,” I said, licking my lips.

  Jett’s eyes wandered to my mouth and his gaze turned a shade darker. Self-consciously, I wiped my fingers across my lips, and then put my fork down, my appetite slowly dissipating at the lust in his eyes.

  “Do you have any idea how hungry I am, Brooke?” he said so low I had difficulties hearing him. He wasn’t talking about the food and we both knew it. I swallowed hard and took a gulp of wine to moisten my dry mouth. It didn’t help.


  Holy cow, the guy knew how to turn up the heat. My whole body was on fire, and he hadn’t even touched me yet. Well, not physically. His eyes were doing all the work. I should be playing hard to get. But for once in my life I didn’t want to. I was in a different country, stuck in a beautiful villa with a bottle of wine and a hot guy who knew how to make a woman feel special. Sylvie always said a bit of danger never hurt anyone. Well, why not have it all? Life’s too short and I had nothing to lose anyway.

  Jett’s gaze moved down my neck to
my chest, then back up again, lingering on my mouth.

  “More wine?” he asked hoarsely. At my nod, he stood to refill our glasses. His fingers touched my hand, sending delicious electric impulses down my spine. I gasped and bit my lip to stifle the sudden need pooling between my legs. In one swift motion Jett captured my face in his hands and pressed his mouth against mine. His lips melted into mine, and then his tongue slipped inside my mouth, pushing, probing, circling my tongue in a slow and erotic dance. Fire spread through my body and gathered in my abdomen, waiting to erupt like a volcano. I pressed my thighs together to intensify the aching sensation that could take me over the edge.

  “Brooke,” Jett moaned into my mouth. The tone of his deep voice with the slightest hint of a sexy Southern accent vibrated inside of me, tugging at the right cords. His palm moved to my neck as our tongues entangled one more time before he let go. Leaving us both breathing heavy, he returned to his seat, his eyes fogged over with lust.

  Don’t stop.

  If there wasn’t a table between us, I would have clung to him, begging him to finish what he started. But there was the table. And reality.

  Thank goodness for reality.

  It kicked in pretty hard and fast. Drawing a long breath, I folded my shaky hands in my lap and gazed up at him. His burning eyes were shaded by long lashes that brushed his tan skin as he closed them for a second.

  “We should eat. Dinner’s getting cold.” As though to demonstrate his point, he retrieved his fork. I watched him take a bite, and then wash it all down with half a glass of wine. “Aren’t you eating?” he asked, not looking at me. His voice seemed slightly detached, as though he didn’t know how to deal with the situation, which was strange coming from someone who had presented me with a no strings sex agreement.

  I wasn’t hungry, at least not for food, and yet I nodded. It was rude to leave the food untouched when he had made the effort to prepare it.

  Taking a bite I forced myself to chew slowly. “Where did you learn to cook like this?”

  “You mean where did I learn to prepare more than the contents of a can?” He looked up with a strange glint in his eyes. “Let’s just say I wasn’t always who I am now.”

  “You weren’t always rich?” The question slipped past my lips before I could hold it back. Luckily, my directness didn’t seem to irritate him.

  “No, I wasn’t.”

  Thinking he’d elaborate I waited a few seconds, but he remained silent. His reticence didn’t come as a surprise. There were only two types of guys: the ones who talked about their childhood to get sympathy and cheat their way into a woman’s panties, and the ones who bottled up because talking about the past, be it good or bad, required them to open up more than they wanted. While Jett didn’t look uncomfortable, he definitely belonged in the second category.

  I thought back to everything I knew about Mayfield Realties. The company had been a major player in the real estate market for over fifty years, with a profit margin of several hundred million. Jett’s family had been rich long before he was even born, so his statement made no sense to me. But I knew enough about men not to press the issue. For one, it wasn’t really my place as Jett’s employee. And then there was also the fact that most men find questions prying. We hadn’t yet reached that particular level of intimacy that sanctions curiosity.

  “Did you take a look at the contract?” Jett asked.

  Oh, boy.

  Heat immediately rushed to my cheeks. I put my fork down and drained my wine glass. He hurried to refill it. “As a matter of fact, I did.”

  “And what do you think?” His voice was nonchalant and his expression non-descript. If he felt the least bit embarrassed talking about a sex contract, he showed no signs of it.

  Damn him and his overinflated confidence. I bet he got at least a dozen women to sign contracts like this. The thought sent a bolt of jealousy straight to my heart, which should have made me reconsider my decision. Yet it didn’t. I wanted this just as badly as he did, maybe even more.

  “It looks well-drafted. You put much thought into it.” I gritted my teeth at my own words. Yep, he put much thought into it the first time around with the first woman he wanted. Now it had probably become nothing but standard procedure.

  “Actually, my lawyers did all the work.” He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in his chair with a devilish grin. “Will you sign?”

  I laughed. No pressure there. “I don’t usually sleep with my boss.”

  “I know. James is gay.”

  “That’s not what—”

  “Brooke,” he cut me off. “I’ll have to be honest. When I first saw you, I felt an instant attraction. I told you I wanted you and still do, more than ever.... but I can’t make mistakes. Not in my position.”

  He was rich and successful, and that’s what rich and successful people do to protect themselves. “No need to explain.” I moistened my lips nervously, unable to peel my gaze off him as he continued.

  “You can’t deny the attraction. And,” he paused briefly, as though to prepare his words, “I think we’re fooling ourselves in thinking we’ll be able to get over it. There’s no way this constant sexual tension won’t make working together hard, if not impossible.”

  His eyes searched mine as his fingers slid over the table to caress my cheek. “I want to get to know you. You can stop any time; get out any time you want. I just don’t want things to be awkward between us just because we have those needs.”

  He was right. Once more, I was reminded of the fact that desire would probably render us unable to work together. I was a grown woman with needs, living in a sexually liberated world. Guys do it all the time, so why not women too? Where’s the equality in that? Sylvie liked to mention the same argument whenever she engaged in sexual activity outside of a relationship.

  I was all for equality. I just had values. Was that so wrong? Maybe it was time to push my old-fashioned values aside.

  Jett stood and pulled me up, wrapping his arms around my waist. We were so close his hot breath lingered an inch away from my mouth, singing my skin. “What are you afraid of?” he whispered.

  You. This.

  The fact that I had never felt this much lust for anyone in my entire life. Sure I got horny like everyone else, but the want currently consuming me wasn’t natural. It was sinful, naughty, scary.

  “Let me show you what real sex is like,” Jett whispered, tucking a stray strand of hair behind my ear. “Let me make you come like you’ve never come before.”

  Oh, god.

  I opened my mouth to speak and in my head there was this long list of points that needed negotiation. My imaginary speech was elaborate and articulate, yet the only word that made it out was a simple and choked, “Yes.”


  I don’t know how I made it through the ‘talk’ without fainting from sheer mortification and growing arousal, as Jett started negotiating the things he wanted to do to me and some of which he expected in return. The expectations were pretty sketchy because, to put it in his own words, he left them to my imagination which, to be honest, was already running wild. I had never met someone who could talk about sex so openly and in such a controlled yet sexy manner. Maybe it was his deep, rumbling voice, or the details he seemed so happy to discuss, but by the time we finished the ‘talk’ I was so turned on, I couldn’t wait to get started.

  In the end I picked up the contract on my way back from the restroom, and we talked some more until we decided to give it a two-month trial run, see how it went, and take it from there. By the time we had eaten our dessert, a delicious tiramisu Jett said was bought at a pannetteria, we had also finished the wine bottle and had drunk our way through half of the second. The kitchen was spinning, the cabinets had become a big white blur, and my glass seemed to be constantly empty while his never seemed to empty at all.

  “I think I’m drunk.” I giggled as I tried to stand and miserably failed, falling back into my chair. How much time had pas
sed? It seemed as though we had been talking for hours.

  Jett smiled, though I couldn’t really tell with all the spinning. It might have just as well been a smirk. “You’re not much of a drinker, huh?”

  I tried to shake my head, signaling that I wasn’t indeed, but the motion didn’t bode well with my stomach.

  “I think I’m going to be sick,” I said, shame burning through me. I didn’t mean to drink the whole bottle. It must have been my nerves.

  Seriously, Steward, how can you get that drunk in front of your boss…twice?

  Maybe it was that seafood. It was a bit salty and made me thirsty, but that I wouldn’t tell him. He was the first man who cooked for me. He deserved my respect and praise.

  “Let’s get you some fresh air,” Jett said. His arms traveled around my waist to steady me as he guided me through the hall and out onto the balcony.

  The night sky was pitch black with a million stars sparkling like tiny diamonds. He sat onto a recliner and pulled me onto his lap. My ass settled against his crotch and I instantly froze. The drunken bubble around me lifted, maybe from the cold air that rustled the leaves and stirred the water shimmering in the moonlight. Or maybe it was his hot and heavy breath on my neck that made me realize this was it. We had signed the contract and now he wanted to seal it.

  Jett’s hand moved up my abdomen but instead of the fondling I expected, he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me back against his chest until his heat seeped into my clothes, warming me up.

  “Feeling better?” he whispered.

  I nodded.

  “Then relax.”

  His words were a sharp command, which I didn’t dare ignore. Taking a mouthful of fresh air, I ordered my muscles to relax and my mind to clear.

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