Riding the night, p.1
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       Riding the Night, p.1
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         Part #5 of Wild Riders series by Jaci Burton
Riding the Night
Page 1

 

  Author: Jaci Burton PROLOGUE

  TEN YEARS EARLIER

  THEY’D PARKED ON A TREE-LINED HILL OVERLOOKING THE CITY. Private. No one came up here anymore. AJ had taken his stepdad’s truck because it had the bench seat and was roomier than his car. He was gonna be in deep shit for taking the truck without permission. What else was new—he was always in trouble over something, and he didn’t give a shit about the consequences. Not today.

  Today was Teresa’s eighteenth birthday and he wanted it to be special for her. They rarely got time alone, had to sneak off whenever they got a chance because her parents didn’t approve of her seeing him. Not that he could blame them. And his fucking stepdad was on his ass all the time to make something of himself, to get a decent job and quit staying out all night long.

  He was already somebody, so the old man could kiss his ass. He was going places, making money. If it wasn’t quite legit . . . well, tough shit. He was his own man, and soon enough he wouldn’t have to answer to his asshole stepfather anymore. And his mother had never stood up for him—not once in all the years she’d been married to that dickhead. She’d always taken the old man’s side, too weak to defend her own son even though he saw the apology in her eyes. Well, screw her, too. Soon as he got enough money in his pocket, he was gone. And he’d take Teresa with him when he left.

  But tonight was all about Teresa, the beautiful raven-haired girl who made him feel clean, made him feel like he could conquer the world. For the past two years she’d been the light and soul of his life, the only reason to make him smile. What she was doing with him he could never figure out, but for some reason she liked being with him. She sat next to him on the bench seat of the old pickup and smiled at him as she opened her present.

  “It’s not much,” he said, feeling like he should apologize. “I’ll get you something better soon. ”

  She turned her emerald eyes on him and smiled. “I’m sure it’s perfect, AJ. Thank you. ”

  “You haven’t opened it yet. ”

  She leaned up to feather a kiss across his lips. “It doesn’t matter what it is. You thought of getting me a gift. That’s what matters. ”

  She carefully pulled the tissue paper apart and gasped when she saw the sterling silver chain. It had cost him a month’s worth of wages at the shop, but he knew it would look perfect against her olive skin.

  “Oh, AJ, it’s beautiful. Put it on me?”

  She handed him the necklace and half turned, raising her hair so he could do the clasp in back, then turned around to face him, fingering the necklace. “How does it look?”

  It was perfect, the pattern sexy and delicate, just like the girl who wore it. “It looks good on you. ”

  “Thank you. ” She climbed onto his lap, straddling him and placing her hands on either side of his face. “I love you, AJ. ”

  Every time she said those words, his gut clenched. He didn’t deserve her. What did he have to offer? “I love you, too, Teresa. ” He laid his hands on her hips, his cock hardening as she kissed him, moved against him, rubbing her breasts against his chest. A rush of heat enveloped him just as it always did whenever she looked at him, touched him or kissed him. He wrapped his arms around Teresa’s back, pulling her flush against him.

  She made him feel whole. The only time he felt good was when she was in his arms. He slid his hand under her T-shirt, loving the softness of her skin, the way her belly trembled when he touched her there.

  “Let me see you,” he said.

  She did, resting her back against the steering wheel. He shifted, reaching down to push the seat all the way back, giving them room before lifting her T-shirt.

  “Nice bra,” he said, smiling up at her as he fingered the see-through silk and lace and the soft flesh rising above it. She had great tits, dusky nipples visible through the fabric. His dick pounded against the denim of his jeans, demanding release.

  Yeah. Soon. He couldn’t wait to be inside her, had waited two damn years for this night. He could already imagine how tight she’d feel, how wet, how good it was going to be to come up inside her.

  She dropped her lids partway down and tilted her head to the side. “I bought it for you. ”

  He cupped his hands behind her back and brought her forward, placing his lips over her bra, feeling her nipples harden through the material. He pulled the cups down and put his mouth over one bud, needing to taste her. She threw her head back and tightened her hold on his shoulder. Teresa loved having her nipples sucked, and goddamn did he love putting his mouth on them.

  “Yes,” she whispered, her voice hoarse and broken as he pulled her nipple between his lips. “Harder, AJ. ”

  He sucked her nipple, then bit lightly with his teeth. She cried out and tangled her fingers in his hair, dragging her gaze to his. “Are you going to fuck me tonight?”

  He nearly shot off right then, the thought of burying his cock inside her slamming his balls tight against his body. “Yes, I’m going to fuck you. We’ve done every damn thing together except me being inside you, Teresa. ”

  And he’d loved doing all those things with her. Good girl though she was, Teresa was an explorer when it came to sex. There was nothing she wasn’t willing to try, and if it wasn’t for him holding out, they’d have fucked already. But he’d wanted to wait until she was eighteen, until she was an adult, at least technically. He wanted her to be sure this was what she wanted.

  But yeah, they’d done everything else. She had the mouth of a goddess and went down on him damn near every time they were together. He’d jacked off many times remembering the feel of her hot, wet mouth surrounding him, taking him in, all the way to the back of her throat, until he exploded. And he did the same to her, licking and sucking her pussy and clit. He loved the way she responded, climbing the walls and screaming out when she came with his fingers pumping inside her, feeling how hot and wet she was and knowing how goddamn good it was going to be when he fucked her.

  She kissed him, surged against him, her panties wet, moistening the crotch of his jeans. He gritted his teeth and buried his face against her neck, breathing in the sweet, cleansing innocence of her. The innocence he was about to take. He swept his hands over her ass and started to lift her skirt.

  “I know. I’ve been waiting for this for so long. I’ve waited for you for so long, AJ. We’re going to be together forever. ”

  His hands stilled. Forever. God, he wanted that so much, could see himself with Teresa for the rest of his life. She was everything he’d ever wanted.

  But that was him being selfish, wanting what was best for him—Teresa by his side. What about what was best for her? He’d just gotten hooked up with the south side crew stealing and chopping cars. He’d been lucky to get the gig. Great money, and soon enough he’d be out of his stepfather’s reach. He could get his own place—a place for him and Teresa.

  Yeah. She could live with a criminal. Great life for her. And what would her brother Joey—his best friend—say about that? Joey would kick his ass if he knew. And AJ would deserve it.

  What did he really have to offer her? He could take her virginity, and then what? Invite her to shack up with a high school dropout who stole cars for a living? He was almost nineteen and going nowhere fast except down the road to hell.

  He wouldn’t take Teresa with him.

  He smoothed her skirt down and lifted her off his lap, breathing in and out, slow and easy, trying to calm the hunger that pounded through his blood.

  Teresa laid her hand on his arm. “AJ, what’s wrong? Why did you stop?”

  “Pull your clothes together, Teresa. ” He couldn’t even look at her, at the ripe nipples showing through her bra, at her slim legs
and thighs peeking out from under her short skirt. He only had so much self-control and he was no goddamned saint.

  She adjusted her clothes and shimmied over to the other side of the seat, staring out the window.

  He’d hurt her. That couldn’t be helped.

  “I’m sorry for whatever I did, AJ. ”

  Her voice trembled. He glanced at her reflection in the side window and saw tears shimmering in her eyes.

  Ah, shit.

  “You didn’t do anything wrong, Teresa. I did. ”

  She shifted her glance to him, forcing him to see the pain and confusion on her face. He’d put it there. He was the worst kind of asshole imaginable.

  “I shouldn’t have started this tonight, shouldn’t have brought you here. ”

  Her fingers drifted up to skim across the necklace he’d gotten her. “Why not?”

  “Because this can’t work between us. Not anymore. I have . . . places to go and you can’t go with me. ” He put the truck in gear and peeled out, heading back into town.

  “I don’t understand, AJ. ”

  Her voice was the barest whisper, as if it took every ounce of energy in her body to speak. He’d crushed her. It was going to get worse before the night was over, because he was walking away from her. He was no good for her and he should have realized it before tonight. He wouldn’t do this to her. Better to hurt her now than later. He knew what he wanted and where he wanted to go, and no way was he dragging her down with him. His freedom from his family meant sacrifice, and that sacrifice had to be Teresa.

  Someday she’d understand and appreciate that he’d let her go.

  It had started to cloud over. A storm was coming. He pressed down on the accelerator, hoping he could get Teresa back home before the shit hit the fan.

  Losing her was going to kill him.

  “Where?”

  His gaze drifted to hers. Silvery tears slid down her cheeks. His stomach hurt. “Where what?”

  “You said you had places to go that I couldn’t go with you. What places?”

  He inhaled and let it out, hurting so bad he thought he might be sick. But he was right to do this. He loved her.

  “Dark places, Teresa. Really dark places. Places I have to go to alone. ”

  ONE

  PRESENT DAY

  “WE COULD ,BE WINDING THROUGH THE SMOKY MOUNTAINS BY now instead of sweating our asses off at a truck stop in the middle of nowherefuckingville, Missouri. ”

  AJ arched a brow at his best friend, Pax. “This is my hometown you’re insulting. ”

  Pax shrugged. “It’s still in the middle of fucking nowhere. And it’s August. And it’s goddamn hot here. ”

  AJ laughed. “Quit whining. We were headed this direction anyway, and I thought we’d stop by and see a few people. ”

  Pax sat on his Harley and took a swig of water, slanting AJ a dubious look. “And where did this sudden pang of homesickness come from? You’re about as dedicated to home as I am. Your parents don’t even live here anymore, do they?”

  “No. ” Thankfully. AJ could maybe tolerate his mother. Maybe. But he’d mostly given up on her after she married Dale, the man who thought AJ wasn’t good enough—for anything. And AJ had spent six years of his life proving Dale right. “My parents moved to New York to be near his family. But some of my friends might still be here. ”

  “You had friends?” Pax arched a brow.

  “Smart ass. Yeah, I had a few. A long time ago. ” People who cared about him no matter what, people he could count on. Like Joey. And Joey’s sister, Teresa.

  Though Teresa had been much more than a friend. But that wasn’t what had brought him back here. It had been ten years since he left. By now, Teresa was probably married and had three kids or something. She’d gotten over him. It wasn’t like she’d pine away for him or anything.

  But he’d like to see Joey again. He and Joey used to be tight, had shared a lot of secrets—and a lot of trouble. They were close friends, kind of like AJ and Pax were now. AJ had never thought he’d make friends as an adult, had thought himself a badass loner who didn’t need anyone. It had surprised the hell out of him when he and Pax clicked when they joined the Wild Riders. But they’d both had major chips on their shoulders, and maybe they both had been licking teenage wounds, too. Close enough in age, they gravitated toward each other and formed a bond that ten years later hadn’t yet been broken.
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