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Beautiful distraction, p.9
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       Beautiful Distraction, p.9

           J. C. Reed

  He hasn’t answered a single one of my questions.

  However, he doesn’t need to. It’s not like I’m interested in his life story or in his job. He’s looking for fun. That part’s pretty obvious. And as much as I’m trying to deny it, the truth is I’m into a bit of fun, too.

  We might just have something in common.

  Except I’m single and he is not. That’s never a good basis for anything.

  To get involved with someone like him, someone to whom I feel an intense attraction, even if on a purely physical level, could mean that I might get attached along the way.

  While people fuck, they also fall in love.

  My world never splits its color into white and black. I always get trapped somewhere in between.

  I can easily imagine myself falling in love with him.

  And then what?

  I’m not sure I want to take the risk of having to face that question.

  In the silence of the room, Kellan busies himself around the kitchen. His sexy back is turned on me as he grabs the coffee pot and a tray with waffles, and then returns to the table, placing them in the middle together with a bottle of syrup.

  When he sits down again, I can’t bear it any longer.

  I need to know.

  “How can you flirt with me so openly?” I ask. “You’re in a relationship.”

  “I am?” He looks up, surprised. “Wow. I had no idea.”

  My eyes narrow on him. “Well, are you?”

  “It depends.” He tops up our coffee mugs, taking his sweet time, which annoys me to no end. “If you plan on marrying me, then yes, I’m already in a relationship for life. But if you’re just down for fucking, no, I’m not. Don’t get me wrong. I love relationships, as long as they don’t involve me, or kids. Or to put it another way, the only relationship I have is with my cock. I nurture it. I take good care of it. I teach women like you to have fun.”


  He sounds like a player, which was pretty much my first impression of him.

  It shouldn’t come as a surprise, and yet it does.

  The news that he’s single is a relief, but it also leaves a burning question in its wake.

  “What about the woman in the pic?”

  “Which one?” He tilts his head, thinking.

  “The one in the living room.” I frown. “Why? Do you have more than one?”

  “Guilty as charged. I have keepsakes of all of my trophies,” he says smoothly, one brow raised. “But if we’re talking about the one in the living room, that’s my sister. I’m on the market today, happy to oblige.”

  “Today?” I let out a laugh.

  Who says that?

  “And tomorrow,” he adds. “Obviously I want you to know what you’re getting into, considering that your friend and I talked about you after you went to bed last night.”

  A whooshing sound bursts into my head, making it spin.

  “Yeah, you keep mentioning that.” A long moment passes during which I consider my next words. “So, what exactly did Mandy say?”

  “That you talked about me.”

  I swallow hard to get rid of the hot rush surging up my neck. “Yeah, in case you were a creep, which I think I’ve mentioned already.”

  He inclines his head in mock agreement. “Or I got under your skin and you wanted her to hear all about it. It’s a preconception that women don’t talk about their sexscapades. In fact, they do it just as much as men.”

  Of course he’d think that.

  I smile sweetly. “Well, I won’t argue with you on that one because you seem to be the expert. But I can assure you in my case, it’s not true.”

  “You don’t talk about your sexscapades?” His brows shoot up in amusement.

  I sigh patiently.

  What is it with this guy and his tendency to mangle my words?

  “That’s not what I was trying to say.”

  “So you do,” he says.

  “No, I was referring to you getting under my—” I break off as I realize he’s messing with me and shake my head.

  “You regretted not having slept with me.”

  I roll my eyes, even though I know the gesture is so immature a guy like him will see right through it. “No. And no.” And before I can stop myself, I add, “No!”

  “Strange, because she says you regret it,” Kellan says softly.

  I stare at him.

  Oh, my god.

  I’m going to kill Mandy.

  “She did?” I jump to my feet. “Where’s the phone?”

  “In the living room. Not working.” He stands but doesn’t move from the spot. “Relax. It was a lie. She didn’t actually say that.”

  I cross my arms over my chest as I regard him coldly. “Why would you lie?”

  “I wanted to see your reaction.”

  “Right.” I’m not a fan of confrontation. The entire situation has my mind racing. The last thing I need is for him to think I harbor regrets about not having spent the night with him.

  “Please sit down, Ava,” Kellan says and walks around the table. Even though I don’t take shit from men, I find myself following his order. I can feel his presence behind me a moment before he leans over me, so close his breath brushes my earlobe and sends a shiver down my spine. “But you have to admit it’s something she could have said because it’s the truth.”

  “You know nothing about me.” My voice comes out slightly choked.


  His proximity does strange things to my body, and the fact that I’ve seen him naked doesn’t exactly help.

  “On the contrary. You’re quite the open book.” With that, he returns to his seat and pours what looks like half a syrup bottle over his waffles.

  “Wow.” I stare at him mesmerized as he starts eating. For the life of me, I can’t understand how anyone can shovel down that much sugar. “Do you always eat so much for breakfast?”

  “Always.” He looks up, amused. “What can I say? I’m generally a hungry person who likes to eat out.”

  He’s not talking about dining at restaurants. I can tell that from the naughty glint in his eyes.

  My skin prickles at the implication and my heart races.

  Kellan dips his finger into the puddle of syrup on his plate and holds it up to my mouth. “What about you?”

  His gaze pierces mine, waiting.

  The challenge is there.

  I gingerly wrap my lips around his fingertip and let my tongue glide over it, then pull back.

  Kellan’s eyes remain glued to my lips as my tongue flicks over them to lick off the sticky syrup.

  “As far as I see it, we’re adults,” he says, his voice slightly hoarse. “Consenting, sexually active adults who should have a bit of fun.”

  Wicked fun sounds about what I’d like to have with him. If it just weren’t for the fact that I’m way too into him, and I get easily involved. Too easily, which makes for a dangerous combination.

  He laughs at my gloomy expression. “I was talking about having a bit of fun outside. The livestock? Remember?”


  “Of course.”

  He points to my shoes. “You cannot wear those.”

  I look down at my boots. “Why not?” Okay, so they have heels, but they’re not stilettos.

  “Tell me, Ava, have you ever been on a farm or climbed a mountain?”

  “No,” I admit. “But they’re way more comfortable than you think, and I’m willing to learn.”

  And I didn’t have time to pack sneakers.

  His gaze is quizzical as he regards me and points to the food on the table. “Dig in. You’ll need the energy.”

  “Why? A horse isn’t exactly hard work.”

  He cocks his head, and slowly, a grin breaks across his face. “Who said anything about horses?”


  Last night’s rain has stopped, but a strong gale is still blowing. Mud cakes my boots and sticks to my jeans as I trudge after Kellan for what feels like mil
es. The ground is one giant bucket of sludge that seems to slow down my pace and make my usual walks around Central Park seem like an afternoon stroll through the backyard to water the plants.

  My legs have never hurt so much in my life. In fact, my thighs are burning, and I consistently feel like I won’t be able to take another step. But somehow my groans and huffs keep me going.

  Or is it my ego that just doesn’t want to admit defeat?

  Or is it the fact that he warned me my boots weren’t suitable for hiking, yet I wanted to prove him wrong?

  Sure as hell, Kellan doesn’t seem to break a sweat. It’s frigging cold outside, but he’s adamant he doesn’t need a jacket. From behind, his shoulders look magnificent—broad and strong, the muscles barely contained by his shirt. His thighs are built like tree trunks, and for a careless moment, I imagine myself sitting on his lap, my legs wrapped around his narrow waist, his green gaze piercing mine as he cradles me against him.

  But the sexiest thing about him is his tight ass. I wonder if it’s as hard as his biceps. It sure looks like it’s been carved out of stone.

  “Ava?” His voice pulls me back to reality. I clear my throat, thankful that his back’s still turned on me and he can’t see the telltale heat of a major blush creeping up my face.

  “Yeah? What did you say?” I manage to croak.

  “I asked whether you’re from NYC, too, or just your friend.” He seems to be having a great time, all cheerful and buoyant as he strikes up a conversation.

  “Yep.” My voice sounds so strangled, I might just be on the verge of having an asthma attack.

  “What really brings you to this part of the world?” He says it like Montana’s the Antarctic.

  “A road trip,” I say because that’s about all I can squeeze out through my taxed lungs.

  Kellan shoots me an amused look over his shoulder. “Just finished college?”

  As if.

  I’ve worked my ass off since I turned sixteen.

  I roll my eyes. “No, I finished college two years ago. Like I said, just a road trip.”

  His laughter rings through the air, taking me by surprise. It’s so deep and rich and full, I trip over my feet and barely manage to avoid taking a tumble facedown into the mud—which I’m sure he’d very much enjoy.

  “Okay, if you must know, we’re here to see Mile High.” He stops and turns around, waiting until I catch up to him.

  “Really?” he asks, resuming his walk.

  “Yeah, really,” I say in the most bored tone I can muster.

  “You don’t sound excited.”

  “Sorry, I can’t help myself. I’m not really a fan.” I shrug, feeling the need to apologize. “I just don’t get all the hype about this band.” I peer at him sideways, surprised to find that he’s listening intently, holding my breath as I try to catch his expression. There’s nothing on his face.

  “So I gather the trip wasn’t your idea.”

  I shake my head, more out of irritation with Mandy for coming up with her grand plan than out of need to confirm Kellan’s statement. “I’m just doing my best friend a favor. If it were up to me, I would have sold the tickets and enjoyed this road trip, but Mandy is a big fan. She’s like a sister to me. And then there’s my job.” He glances at me, and I feel the need to clarify. “I’ve been offered an investigative position with a business magazine. That’s been my dream for ages. But it’s demanding work. There won’t be much time left for friends and family. Mandy had it all sorted out, you know, see a bit of the world before we get stuck behind a desk for the rest of our lives, so I went along with her plan.”

  “Sounds like an optimistic outlook. What happened?”

  I grimace. “She took a shortcut.”

  “In the middle of a storm? In your old car?” He sounds incredulous, which is an understandable reaction, given that he doesn’t know Mandy, or how durable my car was…before we entered Montana and the engine failed.

  “In her defense, I’ll have to stress that it wasn’t raining when she decided to cut through God knows where. But she definitely knew that a storm was on the way.” I cannot help but feel a bit defensive of her.

  “Now you’re stuck here.” Kellan stops and turns to regard me. To my surprise, I find that his smile is genuine, maybe even kind, as though he understands that the trip hasn’t been a pleasant experience so far.

  It’s been scary and dangerous and pretty unpredictable.

  Just like him.

  Kellan reaches out and brushes a strand of hair from my face. The gesture is slow and innocent, but because he’s standing so close, it almost feels intimate.

  “I’m glad we met again,” he says.

  “Yeah?” I frown. My voice is low and slightly hoarse, probably from the cold wind that’s left a cotton ball sensation in my mouth.

  “You don’t sound convinced.”

  “I’m just surprised. After all, you didn’t seem particularly happy to see me.”

  “I might have overreacted a bit.”

  “Well, I put a dent in your precious Lamborghini.”

  He lets out a laugh. “Yeah, you did, but it’s just a car. I guess I’ll survive the shock.” Another gust of wind. It’s so strong, it almost knocks me over. Kellan wraps his hands around my waist to steady me.

  The gesture is too intimate.

  I take a step back to put some distance between us. “What are you doing here, Kellan?”

  He frowns. “I grew up here. I enjoy the countryside. Don’t you?”

  “It’s not so bad.”

  “No?” The skin around his beautiful green eyes crinkles, and his expression softens even more. “So you’re not such a big city girl after all.”

  Which is kind of not true.

  I am a city girl. I love shops. For the life of me, I cannot imagine living far away from civilization.

  However, my mouth clamps shut.

  It’s the nicest thing he’s ever said to me. His words please me, probably because he’s been a jerk so far.

  He’s warming up to me. For the first time, I’m enjoying our conversation. He sounds like a decent guy when he’s not trying to rip off my clothes with his spectacular eyes or verbally bring me to orgasm.

  Or so I think…until he turns around and starts walking, calling over his shoulder, “Well, let’s see how much you can handle. It’ll be interesting to see if you still think the same once the farm work begins. Now, let’s hurry, woman, before the next storm catches us and we have to spend the night in the barn, naked and huddled together for warmth.”

  “You didn’t just say that.” I lunge forward to smack his shoulder, but he’s faster, almost two steps ahead of me. “Speaking of farm work, where are we going?”

  He throws me a glance over his shoulder. “Why are you asking? Are your feet hurting? Do you already need me to carry you?”

  My chin juts out defiantly. “No. I can perfectly carry myself. Thank you.”

  That’s so not true.

  “It’s not too far. We’re almost there.” He grins and then we walk some more.

  He remains silent as we ascend the hill. Once we stop, I see what he’s so excited about.

  At the foot of the hill is a huge barn with open fields to either side. A tall fence stretches around it. The red-painted wood panels build a beautiful contrast to the gray-blue sky and the dark woods behind it.

  Woods the color of a storm intermingled with magic.

  Just like Kellan’s eyes.

  A tingle shoots through my abdomen, settling in a delicious pull between my legs. Suddenly I’m reminded that I haven’t been laid in way too long, and all I want is for him to touch me.

  Oh, fuck, what is it with this guy and my sexual attraction to him?

  It’s not like I haven’t been attracted to others before. It must be the setting—cut off from the world with what looks like a guy who knows how to survive out here. It’s all so primeval, it probably talks to me on a primitive level.

  I roll my eyes at
the strange direction my imagination’s taking and recall the chick-magnet sports car he drove back in NYC.

  Primeval, my ass.

  Kellan is a player who’s probably had more dips in the dating pool than there are fish in the sea.

  That’s what attracts me to him. He’s standoffish, bordering on rude.

  Taming the bad boy is probably every woman’s secret fantasy, and I’m most certainly no exception. But my head’s screwed on pretty tightly. He’s more Mandy’s caliber anyway.

  Whatever happens, I’m not going to let him sink his hook into me—even though I know I might have trouble stopping myself from thinking about it whenever he’s around—particularly after three months of obsessing over him and seeing him taking care of himself.

  “Still want to help?” Kellan asks as we reach the barn.

  I stare at the bright, red-painted building with white trim. Up on the hill, the barn looked big, but standing in front of it, it looks huge—much larger than his house, almost as large as an airplane hangar. I definitely know now what he meant when he said I’d need extra energy.

  The hike has already drained me, and we haven’t even started work yet—whatever that may entail.

  God, a waffle would be delicious.

  In spite of the mud caking my boots and my aching muscles, I set my jaw and peer all the way up into his striking green eyes. “What do you think?”

  A soft smile tugs at his lips, and his brows shoot up with what I know is the slightest hint of admiration. The knowledge makes me smile, proud of myself. Kellan’s still looking at me, and for a moment, he opens his mouth, as though to say something, but swiftly changes his mind.

  “We’ll have to inspect the damage first,” he says casually, turning away from me. “Storms around here aren’t particularly kind.”

  I nod, even though this is news to me.

  He continues, “Do you really want to help?” I nod my head, and his gorgeous smile widens a little. “Okay. Then stay close to me and don’t do anything rash.”

  I frown because I’ve no idea what the hell he’s talking about. What could I possibly do rashly?

  But there’s no time for asking because Kellan takes off. I follow behind, watching him as he opens the main door to the barn, the muscles straining his shirt. The tendons in his forearms flex and stretch while a sexy groan swooshes past his lips.

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