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The lovers game, p.9
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       The Lover's Game, p.9

           J. C. Reed
 
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  Come on, Stewart. A wolf? Seriously?

  I frowned.

  But how? Was this a dream? Was I so drunk that I couldn’t discern reality from fantasy? Peering up at the ceiling, I could see small spots, like stars, and they looked like they were falling, more proof that I was trapped in a dream. The thought pleased me.

  Yes, I could deal with it all being just a dream.

  A dream was the only explanation for the picture in front of me. I had to be still asleep in his car, or maybe the day hadn’t really happened at all. My gut feeling told me there was more to the fantasy than I was grasping. Sure enough, he shifted from wolf to human being again. Focusing on him was impossible though. The room remained as dark as a big, black hole, spinning, twisting, and turning like a hypnosis picture. Even the stranger looked skewed.

  Somewhere, I heard the sound of foil tearing, but I didn’t lift my gaze to look at him. Deep down, I knew I was still afraid of what was to come and that I’d change my mind. I was afraid of his penetrating gaze and of letting myself fall into whatever he had to offer.

  The realization that I wasn’t ready flickered at the back of my mind. I took a sharp breath and let it out slowly. It was too late to change my mind, not after I had asked him to join me. In my mind, all I could see was Jett—the way he had smiled at me, the way he had touched me.

  Damn it!

  I smiled bitterly. That sneaky bastard was already creeping back into my head, consuming me, and my foolish heart just wouldn’t stop loving him. In a distant memory I could still feel the pain of his betrayal, the betrayal of my heart, and a hint of remorse, all intermingled with the knowledge that revenge would never repair the damage he had caused. Because of him, I was sleeping with a stranger. But I had to do it even if it was just a dream.

  Banish it. Forget him. Don’t linger.

  It was too much. Too painful.

  I had to prove to myself that I was strong enough to move on from him, or else I would always compare every man to him, and no one would ever be good enough for me. I had to stop feeling and seeing Jett in every breath I took and in every stranger’s face.

  It was no longer about love. It was about releasing the physical pain inside me. It was about freeing myself from my addiction so I could feel alive again.

  “You’re pretty,” he whispered, his hand touching my face. I didn’t look up at the stranger, not even when he spread my legs and lifted them until they were almost up to my chin. As he lay down, his hard erection brushed my entry, and his hand rested inches from my face. I shuddered and turned away. The knowledge that he was about to enter me choked me to silence, and yet I still didn’t see it coming.

  As he dived in, I gasped.

  Holy crap!

  He was big and hard. My muscles instantly cramped around his thick, pulsing length, eager to both let him in and push him away.

  “Oh God.” I winced and squirmed as I tried to wriggle out from under him, but his hand stopped me.

  “Don’t.” It was just a word, but there was something sexy about his tone.

  I fidgeted to accommodate his size, and then forced out the breath I had been holding. Slowly, he eased into me, filling me, stretching me, burying himself until I could feel him pulsating deep within my core. I whimpered in protest when he pulled back, only to dive in again, repeating the friction while sending equal jolts of pleasure and pain through me.

  “Does it hurt?” His voice was strained with desire and concern.

  “Not anymore,” I lied.

  “Good.” He wrapped my legs around his hips and eased into me carefully, as if he was afraid he might break me. I doubted he could do more damage when everything was already broken.

  His movements of withdrawing and thrusting, each time going a little deeper, sent a jolt of heat through me. Something began to pulsate, strong and hard. I lifted up on my elbows, my mouth finding his in the darkness.

  Somewhere in the back of my mind, the thought registered that my body belonged to another man, but I didn’t pursue it. I didn’t think about the implications or the fact that, in spite of my physical lust for him, every fiber of my heart screamed in protest, because the stranger wasn’t the man I wanted—not for the night and not even in that dream. He was simply someone who filled the emptiness within me.

  Without my permission, a tear trickled down my cheek. Even though it was dark enough, I turned my head away so he wouldn’t glimpse it. At least Check wasn’t a psycho, and he had been kind enough to ask if I was okay. How often do you find that kind of attitude? He wasn’t that bad.

  “I want to reach every inch of you,” Check whispered as he plunged into my sheath, hard and fast, again and again until my skin was entrenched in sweat. My body began to tremble from lust—not because of him, but from the image that kept flashing before my eyes: Jett’s face, his sinfully green eyes, his full lips, his sexy, tan body. They were past memories of Jett, but even in that moment, with another man inside me, my mind wouldn’t stop wishing it was him taking me, spreading the moisture deep inside me. Come to think of it, the way Check touched me, the way he moved, the way he moaned, even the way he was holding and kissing me reminded me too much of Jett. I wanted to scream with frustration.

  Just sick. Even now, you keep thinking about Jett.

  What was wrong with me? Why was I so turned on by the images in my head?

  It was too much to bear. I pressed my eyes tightly shut until white spots appeared in my vision.

  “Fuck me harder,” I demanded.

  Do anything that will dissolve this image; take me away from this craziness.

  “As you wish.”

  Pinning my wrists above my head, he thrust in and out, stretching me, entering me deeper and faster, until the tiny movements became as hot as fire. He was so raw, so primitive, that I could feel my insides quivering in both fear and delight. He cupped my ass and lifted my hips, inviting me to meet his thrusts, and I did so willingly, surrendering to the wildfire spreading inside me and the new sensations washing through me.

  At least, I felt like I was still alive.

  The way he filled me and circled his hips was intense and powerful. Lifting my legs higher, he entered a new level of depth, all while the image of Jett continued to haunt me, turning me on. As Check slammed into my willing body one more time, a moan fled my mouth, and I could feel myself tightening around his erection. A cry escaped my lips seconds before I came, falling apart around him.

  “Fuck, Brooke.” He groaned seconds before he found his own climax, releasing my wrists and letting me go as he moved aside, freeing me from his weight.

  My heart skipped a beat.

  Brooke?

  Wait. How did he know?

  I froze.

  What a stupid, crappy dream! What a load of shit! But what if it wasn’t just a dream at all?

  My brain struggled to fit the pieces of the puzzle, and as it did, I realized something more awful, something that hadn’t crossed my blurry mind until then. How did he know where I lived? I had mentioned Brooklyn—that much I remembered—but I never told him the exact address. I was sure of that. So how did he know where my apartment was situated? How did he know my real name?

  My heart spluttered in my chest. I opened my eyes, clutching at the floor for support. But before I could ask any of the questions burning inside my mind, the sickening spinning started again, amplified by the blood rushing from my orgasm. As I rose to my knees, everything faded to black, and I could feel myself falling, welcoming the darkness with a last fleeting thought: Who was the blue-eyed stranger I had brought home?

  The next morning, I awoke to a throbbing sensation inside my head. The soft light of the early-morning sun illuminated the bedroom, sending jolts of pain through my body. Everything was hurting: my legs, my head, even my eyes, which felt heavy, as if they were glued together. Blinded by the glaring brightness, I closed my lids again. In spite of the sunny weather, a cold breeze crept up my naked legs, and the aroma of rain invaded my nostrils.
I shuddered and pulled the covers over my head. Did someone open the window on a cold New York autumn day?

  In that instant, the faint memories of a dream in which I had slept with a stranger came to me with full force. My stomach made a nervous flip.

  What a stupid dream!

  The mere possibility of sleeping with someone I didn’t know made me wince. I’d never do that. Not in reality. It had to be a dream, because I wasn’t the one-night-stand type.

  A car honked right outside my window.

  I flinched and tried to sit up when a wave of nausea hit me.

  Damn!

  My head felt as though it had been hit with a sledgehammer. In fact, I had never realized a body could hurt in so many places. Someone had definitely left the windows open, because, while New York City wasn’t exactly a place of quietness and serenity, it wasn’t usually that loud. Groaning, I rolled onto one side and finally pried my eyes open, readying myself to stand and face the noise.

  I froze, and for a second, my heart gave out.

  Holy shit!

  Jett was standing by the open window. My mouth dropped open as I scanned my surroundings. It was definitely my room. And it was definitely him standing there. His gorgeous back was turned to me, and his were hands crossed over his chest as he stared out of the window at the street below. He looked still and reminiscent, but his muscles were tense and matched the emotional undercurrents wafting from him. The light emphasized his naked broad shoulders and rippling muscles. I wondered how long he had been there.

  Next to my bed was a bucket that had been cleaned and still glimmered with moisture. Someone had used it, and that someone might have been me. My nausea returned with a vengeance; I was sick to the core at the realization that my lips were swollen, and my abdomen felt deliciously sore. I felt sick as I realized I was naked, and that I might have slept with the stranger. Had I really brought someone home? If so, what was Jett doing in my room, wearing nothing but a pair of dark blue shorts, which praised the fact he was well endowed? I pulled my gaze away from him to my naked breasts.

  Oh, God.

  Suppressing a groan, I slumped back, fighting the urge to pull the covers back over my head and pray for Earth to swallow me whole. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the stranger hadn’t been a stranger at all. Somehow, I had brought my ex back home, even though I had never wanted to sleep with him again—not after he had cheated on me with someone from his past while visiting his brother, who had tried to kill me.

  As if sensing my stare, Jett turned around, and my heart skipped a beat. In spite of all the ugly things he had done to me, he was still the most beautiful man I had ever seen. My heart fluttered from his mere presence; all it took was a single glance from him. I stared at his perfect features, inwardly praying for the entire situation to be nothing but a bad dream. But it was indeed Jett: the man who had broken my heart twice. From his green eyes, to his chiseled chest and bulging biceps, to the tribal tattoo covering his left arm and shoulder, he looked like a deadly temptation—an inescapable trap my foolish heart would fall into forever and never escape.

  With love comes pain.

  “What are you doing here?” I was so shocked that my voice cracked.

  “Are you feeling better?” His soft tone reflected his concern. He stepped toward me.

  I jumped out of the bed, pressing the cover against my naked body.

  “Answer my question, Jett,” I hissed. “What are you doing here?”

  For a brief moment, confusion crossed his face, and then it turned into a self-assured smile. “We hooked up last night, remember?” He cocked a brow in amusement, and for a second, I could almost feel the pictures flickering before his eyes.

  “What do you mean, we hooked up?” I asked, mortified. It was a stupid question, but I had to ask nonetheless, if only to buy myself time to process the obvious.

  Seconds ticked by.

  “Jett?” Please say you didn’t sleep with me. Please. Please!

  Peering into his face, I knew I was kidding myself; his smile told the entire story.

  Just look at his twitching lips, Stewart. He slept with you...and you enjoyed it.

  “You asked me to give you a ride home.” His voice dripped with insinuation as he regarded me with amusement.

  I shook my head. I knew I was in denial, and yet I had to give it a try.

  “Does that mean we fucked?” I asked calmly.

  The corner of his lips twitched again at my choice of words, and his eyes sparkled with trouble.

  “Yes, you could say that.” He nodded and inched closer. “You kept calling me your wolf or something. You even begged me for it.”

  My cheeks caught fire.

  “I did what?” I drew a sharp breath and moistened my lips as I tried to make sense of the situation and my strong reaction to him.

  His grin widened. “In case you don’t remember, I’m happy to refresh your memory. We hooked up, we fucked, and then...we fucked some more.” His gaze bored into mine as his lips curled into another heart-dropping smile. “Want to owe me again, Jenna?”

  Crap. Crap. Crappity crap.

  It was official. I had slept with my ex, and I couldn’t even blame it on him, because I had begged him to take me. For the first time since meeting Jett, I wished he’d just tell me more lies. And there I had thought I’d be able to move on from him and his hot body without further incident. Then again, he was my first love. No one had ever made me fall so hard or turned me so stupid. No one had made me feel so starved for sex and him. I had returned to him before, which was proof that I couldn’t trust my own judgment. The fact that I had brought him home again, when I didn’t want to, told me that love had made me her bitch and that the only reason I had even considered sleeping with a stranger was because, deep down, I had been looking for a man as attractive as Jett Mayfield. For some reason, I wanted him no matter what. The possibility that I would never be free of my desire to be with him had me fuming.

  Anger gripped me—at being so weak, at my heart’s fluttering because Jett was in close proximity, at him smelling so good, and at having to force my lips to stop smiling whenever my gaze brushed his hard body.

  My blood began to boil in my veins. The attraction to him had to stop. I was so enraged that I grabbed anything I could find, and it so happened to be my high heel. With a cry of frustration, I hurled it at him, but he dodged it, and it hit the wall.

  “Why did you say your name was Check?” I shouted, barely able to contain the wrath in my tone.

  If he noticed it, he didn’t show it. Instead, he let out an amused laugh.

  “I thought it was fun that we were playing a game,” he said, still wearing that irritating grin of his. “You’ve always been a sore loser.”

  “So it was all a game to you? You’re so sick and bored of me that you need role play?” I hissed.

  His grin disappeared in an instant. He opened his mouth, then closed it again, and a frown began to darken his features.

  “You know that’s not true, Brooke,” he said at last. “You like playing games just as much as I do. It has nothing to do with being bored.”

  “It has everything to do with it.” Inside, I felt like a dam was breaking and at any moment water would slush down and flood me. I balled my hands into fists, unable to contain my anger any longer. “I want you out of my life.” I grabbed his shirt from the floor and threw it at him. He caught it in midair. “Get out. Get the fuck out of my life.”

  More confusion crossed his face, followed by dismay, as I took a menacing pace toward him, and shoved him hard.

  “It was just a game, Brooke. I was only kidding about you being a sore loser. There’s no need to get upset about it.”

  “It’s not about the game. I want you to get out.” I pointed to the door in case I hadn’t made my point clear enough. “Get out of my life.”

  It wasn’t the elaborate speech I had prepared in my mind, and I sure as hell I didn’t mean to shout, but everything inside
me was shaking—my voice, my hands, my limbs. At any moment, I was going to explode.

  “Brooke...” His tone was gentle and soothing, as though he was talking to a child. “What’s going on?” Instead of putting on his damn clothes, he took a step forward.

  I flinched. “Stay away from me, Jett.”

  I held up a hand to prove my point. Jett stared at it with a hard, defiant expression, but he seemed to respect my need for private space.

  “Calm down, baby,” he said.

  Before I could stop him, he stepped toward me and touched my shoulders. I shrugged off his hands, recoiling at the physical contact, even angrier that I wanted him to draw me to him and tell me that we’d be all right.

  “Don’t you tell me to calm down,” I hissed. “I have every right to be angry at you. You played me. If I had known last night that it was you, I never would have slept with you.”

  He drew in a sharp breath. Shock registered on his face, then disbelief. He looked as if I had just slapped him. In a way, I felt the sharpness of my own words, and it pained me as much as it pained him.

  “You thought I was someone else?” he asked in a low tone, his brows drawn in disbelief.

  The way he said it, I felt almost threatened.

  “Yes,” I said through clenched teeth.

  “What the fuck, Brooke!”

  He released me. Hurt and betrayal shimmered in his eyes. For a second, I felt stunned that I had hit him where it hurt. My heart ached at his pain...until I remembered his betrayal with all its consequences.

  “What did you expect, Jett?” I whispered, my voice almost choking me. And there I had been thinking a stranger could make love to me the way Jett had, when it had been him all along, all gorgeous and out of this world. Only, I had forgotten that beauty was an illusion we built inside our heads. The sooner I grasped that and acknowledged it, the faster I’d be able to get away from him.

 
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