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The lovers game, p.8
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       The Lover's Game, p.8

           J. C. Reed
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  “Yeah, so am I,” I replied and wiped a hand over my eyes before the telltale moisture could give away my state of mind. His words, short and superficial as they were, touched me.

  For a few moments, silence lingered between us, but in that moment I felt as though he understood me and the pain that seemed to creep up on me again.

  “I’m sorry if I offended you,” he said eventually.

  “I’m sorry I insinuated that you are a sex worker,” I replied and stifled a giggle.

  Maybe it was the way he touched the small of my back—so tenderly, as if his hands knew how to make me feel good—but my anger faded instantly. Or it might have been the warmth of his body, but something about him seemed to calm down the storm brewing inside me.

  I leaned my head against his chest, wondering what would happen if I let him in and took him up on his offer. Would my heart be free of pain—if only for one night? I pushed my dark thoughts to the back of my mind, where they could no longer reach me. On that night, I didn’t want to be alone with my demons. I didn’t want to think about the past. I wanted to be with a stranger, with someone who would make me feel good. Then, as soon as the night ended, he could just disappear from my life.

  Gina was right. I needed something uncomplicated.

  “I want to try it,” I whispered.

  “And what would that be?”

  “You asked me what I want,” I started, choosing my words carefully. “I want you to have a drink with my place.”

  There was silence. Waiting for his answer, I held my breath.

  “You know what you should never do?” he said eventually.


  “Hook up with a random guy and let him drive you home.” His voice was still serious, but now he winked at me with a devilish grin.

  I giggled. “That’s the plan. If I have to sleep with a total stranger, I’d rather it be you.”

  “Why me?”

  My skin tingled from the magnetic pull between us.

  “Because—” I stopped, looking for the right words. Granted, I didn’t know him, so what could I possibly answer? That I felt attracted to him because he was physically attractive? That I didn’t want to be alone at home and face my inner demons? That the alcohol rushing through my veins had made me horny, and the prospect of sleeping with him was appealing?

  “Because you want me?” He raised an eyebrow at me, leaving me both wanting and fearing him.

  I nodded and whispered, “And more so because I need you.”

  And because there is no us. No chance of another heartbreak.

  As though to test my boundaries, his hand brushed my ass while the other forced my chin up. Ever so slowly, his lips neared mine. For a second, I thought he’d kiss me. I held my breath, awaiting his hungry mouth. To my dismay, his lips traveled up my neck and brushed my earlobe.

  “I’ll take you home.” His tone left no room for discussion. His grip on my arm tightened as he led me away from the booths and out the door, toward his car.

  I stopped in midstride and spun slowly to take in my surroundings. Maybe the darkness in the club had wreaked havoc on my vision, but everything shimmered bright and colorful, as if the entire night sky had captured auroras. It was so bright it hurt my eyes, and I had to close them for an instant.

  Eventually, I got into the car. As we drove home in silence, I leaned my throbbing head against the cold window, listening to the soft rain splattering against the windshield, my mind strangely devoid of thoughts. Everything—from the car seat to his cologne—smelled expensive, suggesting that he was someone who knew what he wanted, someone who liked to take charge.

  For the first time, I wondered if it was such a good idea to bring a dominant stranger into my home when I was already lost in the jungle that had become my life. I kept my eyes closed against the dreaded sleepiness threatening to creep over me. Before I fell asleep, the car stopped, and I peered into the hazy darkness.

  “We’re here,” Check said.

  I got out, waving him over. “Let’s go inside.”

  Strangely elated, I exited the car and fished for the keys in my handbag. As I tried to push them into the lock, they fell to the floor.

  “Let me get those for you,” the guy whispered and picked them up. Before I knew it, he had let us in and we were in the elevator, his strong hands pressing me against him as he steadied me.

  Alarm bells began to ring at the back of my mind, warning me of something I wasn’t seeing. It was so obvious that I could almost grasp it, yet the knowledge seemed so far away. But instead of following that worrisome train of thought, I closed my eyes to escape the dim lights and let him follow me into my apartment.

  The soft light of the street lamps streamed through the large windows, casting a golden glow on the heavy furniture and the rug that covered most of the hardwood floor. We crossed the hall and entered my bedroom in haste, the stranger stifling my giggling and the loud drumming of my heart with his hand grabbing mine. The room was bathed in darkness, but I didn’t switch on the lights. Why bother when I didn’t want to remember the stranger’s face, nor the events that would follow? No attachment, no recollection—nothing that would remind me, so the deeds were best done in the dark.

  That night, I didn’t want to be me. I wanted to be someone who was free from pain, free from the past and hopeless dreams of a future that would never be mine.

  I liked the idea of sleeping with him and, come dawn, he’d be out of my world. I liked the anonymity, the no-getting-to-know each other, the detachment of it all. It was like confiding in a random stranger, except that instead of sharing secrets I’d be sharing my body in the hopes that it would make me feel better and allow me to move on from my past and help me banish any memories of Jett—if only for a few hours.

  “Do you want a drink?” I peeled myself from the stranger’s embrace and turned to face him, my gaze hazy in the night. Ever since I had invited him to my place, he had remained quiet, and not just throughout the drive. Standing near the door, his intense gaze lingered on me as he watched me with an unreadable expression.

  His confidence made me nervous, and I lowered my eyes to the floor in the knowledge that a man like him—too assertive, too commanding—who visited that kind of club must have had many one-night stands with countless women. I was certain that was where he’d gained all his obvious experience.

  “Lie down,” he said quietly but with enough force to make me follow his command.

  Silence ensued again, and for a moment, I just stared at him, unsure of what to do.

  “So, um...Is there anything specific you want from me?” I asked when the silence became uncomfortable and the entire situation began to feel surreal. The insecure edge in my tone was evident, but I didn’t try to hide it. I had never had a one-night stand before—at least, not a real one—and I had no idea how they worked.

  Already, everything felt bizarre. The room was slightly spinning, and I felt as though I was trapped in a dream. Maybe it was a dream, because in my blurred vision, everything—from my matchbox room to the man standing before me, motionless like a statue—seemed larger, unreal. His size intimidated me, and his stare frightened me, but not to the extent of making me want to run.

  Finally, I heard his slow, muffled steps as he moved closer, stopping inches from the bed. “I have to go.”

  Even in my ears, his excuse—or lack thereof—sounded weak, dripping with hesitation and something else.



  You’re misinterpreting too much.

  “Why?” Frowning, I stared at him. In the darkness of the room, I couldn’t read his expression.

  “Because I won’t take advantage of a drunken woman. That’s why,” he whispered. “The only reason I agreed to give you a ride home was to make sure you got home safely. I didn’t want you to take a cab all by yourself or, worse, to end up going home with the wrong guy, someone without my...integrity. You never know what might happen if you go home wit
h a stranger. Some other guy might use your inebriated state to take advantage of you.”

  A man of morals. Great.

  Even though his concern touched me, I laughed bitterly. The fact that he wanted to leave so soon filled me with despair and rejection. Back at the club, he had been so sure of our interlude, shamelessly flirting with me. Now, doubt had replaced the need I had sensed in his tone.

  “I’m not drunk,” I said, certain that I couldn’t be. I hadn’t even finished two cocktails.

  “Get some rest. You don’t look too good,” he whispered.

  I was feeling a little sick, but not so much that I wanted him to leave. I couldn’t bear to be alone with my dark thoughts. My demons were too forceful, struggling to be let out.

  “Please, don’t go,” I begged. Swaying slightly, I grabbed his hand and pulled him to me. He sat down the edge of the bed, keeping a few inches between us.

  I didn’t know what else to say. How do you stop a stranger from leaving you alone in a pit of darkness? The desperation in my voice spoke more than a thousand words. Never before in my life had I been so nervous and desperate at the same time. The body I was in didn’t even feel like me. It wasn’t that crazy to sleep with a stranger. It wasn’t that desperate, or so I kept telling myself. He had to pick up on it because if he didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to stop him from leaving.

  I moistened my parched lips. “You said you like when people owe you,” I began and, suddenly remembering his name, I added, “There is something you can do for me, Check. I’d like to owe you.”

  “You already do. I brought you home,” he said.

  I shook my head slowly and frowned as the haziness intensified. “No, that’s not what I meant.”

  “What else do you need from me?” His fingers lingered over my hand, as though he couldn’t decide whether or not he should touch me.

  “I want you inside of me.” My voice came raspy, alien to my ears. Had I always sounded so vulnerable? Come to think of it, it wasn’t crazy to sleep with a stranger. It was despair. If that would keep him for the night, then so be it.

  Pushing my legs on either side, I moved onto his lap. If I played my cards well enough, maybe he would give in. So, I leaned into him and trailed my fingertips down his shirt. Under the fabric, I could feel rows and rows of hard muscles.

  “Is that a suggestion or a demand?” he asked huskily, giving up control. I liked the idea because it gave me power when I had lost control over my real life.

  “Both.” My voice sounded hoarse, matching the low rumble in his throat. Satisfied with his reaction, my hands interlocked behind his neck. As I bent forward, I smelled the faint scent of scotch and something else, and my heart began to pound in my chest. Slowly, I brushed my lips against his and sucked on his lower bottom lip as I moved my hips against his growing erection, back and forth, until his breathing grew heavy and his length hardened, straining against his pants. Below me, he was becoming as hard as a stone. I only realized he pulled back when his arms wrapped around my waist. At first, I thought it was to initiate sex, until his grip tightened, stopping my movements.

  I frowned.

  “What’s wrong?” I asked, confused. He wanted me, no doubt about that.

  “Your offer is tempting, but—” He paused to consider his words.

  “But what?”

  “You’re wasted, and as I said, I’m not comfortable taking advantage of you or your body.”

  I laughed. He just wouldn’t let it go.

  “Does it really matter? You’re here. I invited you, and I’m obviously consenting.” I sounded pissed, but I couldn’t help it. ”Or am I not sexy enough for you to fuck me?”

  “You’re sexy enough and then some. There’s no doubt about that,” he whispered. “But I can’t control myself. If we continue, I’ll feel as though I violated you in the most intimate way, and that doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to lose control and hurt you. That’s not my intention.”

  “I don’t believe you,” I said, shaking my head. “I should have known you don’t really find me attractive. There’s no reason for you to lie. You could have told me you’re not interested before you dropped me off. I would have understood.” My tone betrayed my disappointment and hurt, but I didn’t care. He was rejecting me and had wasted my time, not to mention humiliated me. Tears began to roll down my cheeks. I wiped at them angrily as I stood, feeling strangely emotional. “You can go now.”

  His footsteps thudded behind me. The door was just a few steps ahead. I reached it and opened it, planning to slam the door after him as soon as he walked out.

  I wanted him to leave—better now than later, when things became awkward and I began to analyze what was wrong with me.

  I was hardly out of the room when his hand clasped around my upper arm and he pressed me against the wall. I fought against his iron grip, but he was stronger. Faster. His lips descended on mine with a hunger that wasn’t natural. For an instant, dread filled me, but strangely, his roughness turned me on.

  “You want me inside?” he asked hoarsely. His dark voice sent a throbbing sensation between my legs. Together with his scent and the intensity of his touch, it was a heady combination.

  I was lost, bent to his will.

  Dipping his tongue into my mouth, he gripped my wrists and pulled them above my head. I moaned as our tongues met in a dangerously slow dance—circling, teasing, and testing boundaries. His hands began to move lower, past my abdomen, and cupped my ass until something hard brushed me.

  “Where do you want me to fuck you?” His hoarse tone dripped with sexiness that made my stomach quiver.

  I knew he was testing me to see if I would express second thoughts, change my mind, maybe even push him away. Even though I knew I couldn’t let his male dominance win me over so easily, my body ached for his touch. So I did what I had to do: I pushed him away and slowly pulled down the zipper of my dress. With his eyes on me, I let my clothing drop to the floor, until I was standing in front of him with nothing but my panties on. I looked up and smiled, knowing he had no choice but to honor the end of our unspoken agreement.

  “Wherever you want,” I said at last.

  “You’re giving me a choice?”

  “For once, I don’t want to be in control,” I whispered and pulled him close to me.

  Our lips connected, this time with more fervor. My mouth opened to allow him deep access. His hand moved between my legs to touch me with hard, determined moves. For a moment, my breath caught in my throat at the realization that a stranger was touching me, and I welcomed it. I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed it, but it was what my body needed. Quivering, I leaned against the wall, clawing at his shoulders, demanding that he fill the void inside me.

  “Remember, this is what you wanted. Once I start, you can’t change your mind. Is that clear?” Check asked and I nodded. “You better not complain.”

  I shook my head. “I won’t.”

  His kiss grew more demanding, his hands impatient as he lifted my ass and raised me onto the large sideboard. In one swift movement, his fingers pulled down my panties, then spread my legs before he slid between them.

  My head throbbed hard; my legs began to shake, and my heart raced in my chest—but not from his probing fingers or the hot sensations they sent through me. Maybe the cocktail Gina had bought for me had been too much in my pregnant state, but his presence intermingled with the alcohol, and the whole new body experience of not controlling myself, together with the prospect of having sex with a stranger was overwhelming, if not a hell of confusing. I felt like I was dropping from a skyscraper and floating in midair. His kiss, his touch, his hardness felt like molten lava pouring through my body. I felt like I was outside of time and space where nothing made sense, where I was walking through muddy waters, and at any moment, I would sink into a black hole of a dream if I didn’t hold on to this stranger. My core had to be raptured soon, or else I feared I would no longer be able to decide what was real and what was not.

  “I like hard floors,” he whispered. With one hand, he pushed me down until I was lying flat on the smooth wood, my naked body exposed. “The only reason we’re not in your bed is because I’m going to fuck you right here against the sideboard, then on the floor.” As though to prove his point, his fingers began to rub between my folds.

  “Oh, my God,” I whispered when his tongue swiveled around my navel, then trailed down my abdomen and settled between my legs with a precision that hardened my nipples and sent my fingers balling into fists. He was so good, and yet I couldn’t relax.

  “You want me inside you?” he asked, but he didn’t wait for my answer. “Not yet. This is what you’re going to get first.”

  He groaned and dived a long finger into me, followed by another, while his tongue circled my bud, kissing and sucking in equal measure. I arched my back to meet his knowledgeable mouth and suppressed a moan. He could have all he wanted. He could do with me whatever he wanted. Nothing would break my resolve to sleep with a stranger.

  Somewhere inside my brain, a voice urged me to stop, warning me that I was only hurting myself, but for once, I didn’t care. What could be worse than the pain I was already feeling? I wanted to be ruptured, to be penetrated, to be handled roughly—anything to divert my mind from my broken heart. The stranger fulfilled the desire just fine.

  Slowly, he pulled out his fingers. I opened my eyes in surprise when a soft breeze hit my sex, and I prepared to protest when his hard gaze stopped me.

  “You’re not wet enough, and there isn’t enough space for us both in this room. The floor will have to do,” he said, as if that explained everything.

  In another swift motion, he swooped me up in his arms, only to lower me down on the hard floor. Lying on my back with my legs spread apart, I felt like his prey, and for a second, I thought he was like a wolf, eager to devour me. The moonlight streamed through the windows, barely illuminating our features. As I stared at him in the semidarkness, I saw his eyes glinting. His lips curled into a forceful smile, and in that moment, he really looked like the wolf I had compared him to. His eyes were squinted, and his teeth sharp. His skin was unnaturally pale. Judging from the way he was leaning over me, he looked like a big creature that was about to kill me.

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