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What you need, p.12
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       What You Need, p.12

         Part #1 of Need You series by Lorelei James
 

  Off that sexy fucking lip ring.

  Off that sexy fucking laugh.

  Off that sexy fucking tattoo.

  Off that sexy fucking way she walked.

  Everything about that woman hit the right notes for me, which made zero sense analytically since I’d never been attracted to a woman like her before.

  I’d dated women at various points in my life—none I’d ever call girlfriends. The closest I’d come to a steady relationship was in college. I had a fling with the college adviser for my master’s, who taught me so much more than economics. The rest of my encounters were one-night stands. Although I rarely took advantage of it, I knew if I went to a bar looking to get laid, I wouldn’t go home alone.

  But all that changed two years ago when I reached the rung on the ladder I’d spent my entire life climbing toward. And I’d been holding on so tightly, with both hands, because I feared it would all slip away.

  I backed up all my data and shut down my computer. After I locked my office, I called Nolan.

  He answered, “I know, I know, I’m so damn much fun that you’re calling to ask if I want to hang out with you tonight too.”

  I punched the down button on the elevator. “I had enough of you last night.”

  “Dammit, Brady, I recognize that elevator ding. Are you at the office? Are you working? You’re supposed to be—”

  “I needed something that I’d left here,” I interrupted with a lie instead of snapping at him and asking who the hell he was to tell me when I could and couldn’t work. “And for future reference? I don’t see the allure of strip clubs, so we can skip that next time.”

  “As if we couldn’t tell when you were on your phone instead of admiring all that beautiful naked female flesh. Anyway, why are you calling me?”

  “You bragged that you could get into any club in town.”

  “Yeah, so?”

  “Prove it. I’ve got a date tonight and I want to take her to Flurry.”

  “A date? Already?”

  “Shocking, isn’t it?”

  “Completely. But seriously . . . Flurry? That doesn’t seem like your scene.”

  “It’s probably not, but I won’t know unless I give it a shot. So can you get me in?”

  “Not only can I get you in, I can get you into the VIP section.”

  I stepped into the elevator and hit the button for the garage level. “Is it that much different?”

  “You wouldn’t be asking for access to Flurry if you weren’t trying to impress this woman. VIP passes guarantee you’ll get laid.”

  “Like I need your help with that. Just get me and a guest on the list, okay?”

  “Done.” He paused. “So what are you gonna wear tonight?”

  “A loincloth. God, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it.”

  Nolan laughed. “You should think about it. Don’t show up looking like an accountant. Maybe I ought to come over and help you pick out an outfit.”

  “Piss. Off.” I hung up and used the remote to open my car. Just as I climbed inside, my phone rang. I answered it without looking at the caller ID. “For the last time, I don’t need your help picking out clothing.”

  “Well, I should hope not,” my sister answered. “And I really don’t want to know who you were talking to.”

  “Nolan.”

  “Ah. That explains it.”

  “So what’s going on?”

  “I know how much you love small talk”—she snorted—“so I’ll cut to the chase. I need you to back out of going to Mom and Dad’s tomorrow afternoon for the football game.”

  I nestled my head into the headrest. “Can I ask why?”

  When Annika stayed quiet for about ten seconds, I waited to hear what excuse she’d fabricated off the cuff.

  “It’s a work-related issue. I dropped the ball big time and I need tomorrow to fix it. And it’s one of those things that if I don’t get it handled, it’ll steamroll, and I don’t need to blow this.”

  “What project?”

  “Secret shopper. And don’t get mad. I know I was supposed to have all the data done last week; I just got sidetracked. You, of all people, should understand that work comes first, Brady.”

  “Nice one. I, of all people, do understand that work comes first, which means I suspect you didn’t prioritize this project and that’s why you’re scrambling.”

  She sighed. “As project manager I know my opinion holds a lot of weight, so I can’t very well admit I hadn’t stepped foot in any of the restaurants. So now I’ll spend ten hours tomorrow eating.”

  “I agree that your personal input is necessary since I’ll be tasked with making the final financial decision about the restaurants’ future.”

  “Thank you. You can see that I’m in a bind. So can you call Mom and Dad? They’re used to you bailing out on family day. Then it won’t be such a big deal if I back out.”

  That stung, but mostly because it was true. “Yes, I’ll call them. But you do realize Walker will be pissed if he’s the only one there?”

  Annika laughed. “Right. Like Mom won’t call him and ask if he’s going to back out like you and I did, which gives him an excuse not to go either.”

  “You’re right. See you at the track Monday, since you’ll need to run off all of those sweets you have to eat tomorrow.” I hung up before she let loose and cursed me with a barrage of names.

  It’d be best to just get this over with. I dialed my mother’s cell number, instead of going the chickenshit route and calling their house phone.

  She picked up on the fourth ring. “My darling boy. You’re just in time for dinner. Come over and you can tell me in person what’s on your mind.”

  Mom felt it was her duty to feed me. But since she gave the cook weekends off, I couldn’t guess what oddball Swedish “fusion” she would concoct and pass off as a home-cooked meal. “I’ll take a rain check. I’m calling to let you know I’ll have to miss family game day tomorrow.”

  Silence.

  I hated the silent treatment.

  “Because you are working,” she said flatly.

  “Working” sounded like whore-king and I bit back a laugh. “No, actually I have a date tonight and it might end up being a late one. Since the Vikings are playing the early game, I just wanted to err on the side of caution.”

  “Well. That is . . . promising. You should bring her for brunch. I’ll cook.”

  “I’m not bringing her home after one date, Mom. Especially not after you were partially responsible for that fiasco with Siobhan.”

  “Maggie had her own agenda, of which I did not want to be a party with.”

  “A party to,” I corrected without thinking.

  “Whatever. So where did you meet this mystery date?”

  I laughed. “Nice try. I have to go. I’ll talk to you this week.”

  “You better. Jag älskar dig.”

  “Love you too.”

  I put my car in gear and headed home.

  *

  I’m always early. I ended up driving around the block four times before I pulled up in front of Lennox’s house.

  Lennox must’ve been anxious, because she opened the door immediately after I knocked.

  Not that I could even say hello when I got my first look at her.

  She wore a leather skirt the color of cabernet with a sleeveless black silk shirt that dipped low, and the fabric moved sinuously across her chest. Her lips were dark red, her eye makeup smoky, her blond hair half up/half down.

  No trace remained of the Stepford secretary.

  I was looking at the ultimate bad girl, prepped and ready for a wild night out.

  My gaze met hers but I still couldn’t speak.

  “Hang on one second. I need to grab my purse.”

  When she spun around, I had to brace myself in the doorframe to keep from falling over. Her shirt was backless, except for thin silver chains that held the material on the front in strategic places. And she had more tattoos back there, with one
that looked like a Celtic knot—a tramp stamp—above the low-hanging waistband of her skirt. And that ass. Although I was a mathematician, the perfection of her ass practically inspired me to write a sonnet where I described every beautiful curve and how my hands and mouth would feel worshipping every inch.

  When she whirled around and caught me looking with a feral expression of lust, she smirked. “I take it my club attire meets with your approval, Mr. Lund.”

  “You are beyond stunning, Miss Greene.”

  “Thank you. You don’t clean up too badly yourself.” Then her gaze wandered over me, taking in the lightweight black cashmere V-neck sweater and gray jeans, ending at the black loafers. When her gaze met mine again, she didn’t bother to bank the heat in her eyes. “Casual suits you.”

  “Thank you.”

  “But not as well as a suit suits you.” She grinned and snagged a shiny black coat off the newel post.

  “May I?” I said, and took it from her hands to help her put it on.

  She murmured her thanks again and faced me. Those hazel eyes of hers were hotly assessing. “I feel the need to warn you that we won’t be going at it on those stairs like you mentioned earlier today.”

  “Seems a shame, but I’ll survive.” We stepped outside and she locked the door. “Although I did cancel plans with my family tomorrow just in case you and I ended up naked, sated and lazing in bed together in the morning.”

  Lennox whirled around. “Tell me you’re joking.”

  “Of course I’m joking. About the naked part. I did cancel family plans and I did blame it on our date. But I had an ulterior motive, covering for my sister who wanted me to be the first one to back out.”

  “So she wouldn’t feel guilty canceling after you did?”

  “Exactly. Now I’ll just have to deal with my brother Walker being pissed he’ll be the lone Lund child in attendance.” I opened her car door and closed it after she climbed in. Then I got in and hit start on the GPS.

  “Is your family get-together a weekly thing?” she asked.

  “During football season? Yes, when Jensen has away games. If he’s home, then we’re in the dome cheering him on. ‘We’ meaning the entire Lund family—cousins, uncles, aunts . . .”

  When she reached down to set her purse on the floor, her hair brushed against my wrist and my fist clenched voluntarily.

  “I’ll bet there’s a ton of pride in your family for Jensen making it to the pros and the Vikings in particular. Hometown boy makes good and all that.”

  “He’s living his dream. It’s been great to watch him play and improve over the years. But yes, our mother would still demand nightly family dinners if she had her way.”

  “I see pictures of your mother all over the place. I’ve seen her at LI a few times. She’s very beautiful.”

  I smiled. “That she is. Drives my poor father crazy that Annika looks just like her. He would’ve preferred to lock her in her princess bedroom until she turned thirty because, in addition to looking like our mother, she has that same fire and stubbornness.”

  Lennox stretched out her legs. “Do you mind me asking about your family?”

  “No. I wondered if you’d worked with any of them.”

  “I temped in Annika’s department for three weeks. I admire her energy.”

  “When she said she needed to work tomorrow, I know she wasn’t bullshitting me.”

  “You’re close to her?”

  “Yes. I’m close to Walker and Jensen too.”

  “Must be nice. I’m an only child. I’d say that I’m the only hell my mama ever raised, but I wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t a hell-raiser of the first order.”

  “Speaking of raising hell, have you been to Flurry?”

  She shook her head.

  “I hope it lives up to the hype.”

  Flurry was located in downtown Minneapolis. It wasn’t a place that had valet parking, but the area did have a parking garage close by, which helped explain its popularity. Standing inside where it was warm while waiting for admission to a club was preferable to shivering outside in the cold Minnesota winter.

  “Looks like it’ll be a trek from the parking garage. Would you rather I dropped you off so you don’t kill your feet in those sexy heels?”

  “I’m capable of walking.” Lennox looked at me. “You like the shoes?”

  “Not as much as I like the leather skirt,” I murmured.

  She gave me a throaty laugh. “You, Brady Lund, aren’t what I expected. By that I mean better than I’d hoped for.”

  “Same goes, Lennox Greene.”

  She exited the car before I could cross to her side to help her out.

  This was where I’d get confused. Did I reach for her hand? Drape my arm over her shoulder? Slide my arm around her waist?

  Then Lennox was right in my face. “Kiss me.”

  “Pardon?”

  She pressed her palms on my chest and said, “Kiss me. You know you want to. The first time we kiss I don’t want a thousand strangers looking on.”

  Like a total dumbass, I said, “I kissed you at the park today.”

  “That little peck on my neck you gave me for the benefit of the kids? Doesn’t count.”

  Not exactly spontaneous, but that worked for me. Now I knew exactly what to do with my hands. I curled one around the nape of her neck and the other beneath her jaw. I brushed my lips over hers, starting at the right corner and moving to the left, then gliding back before parting her lips with my tongue and urging her to open her mouth for me.

  The softest, sexiest sigh accompanied her surrender.

  I dove into that succulent mouth, hungry for her taste, but forced myself to not devour her. A low rumble drifted out when I felt her lips clinging to mine as my tongue rubbed and stroked against hers.

  When the intensity got to be too much, I held her head in place as I backed off, switching it up to soft kisses. The exchange of heated breath between us. I circled her lip ring with the tip of my tongue and gently tugged on it with my teeth. Fucking thing made me hard. I imagined that bit of metal scraping down my throat, across my chest and moving south toward my groin. I kissed her harder, needing her to feel exactly how much I desired her.

  She trembled and pressed herself against me.

  I knew if I didn’t stop right then, I’d lose the ability to do so at all. I pressed a lingering kiss on both corners of her mouth and then the center. “You sure staircase sex isn’t in the cards for tonight?”

  She laughed softly. “Maybe I was too hasty earlier.”

  “You were waiting to see if I made an idiot of myself on the dance floor? Or if I kissed like a cold wet fish?”

  Her eyes—full of heat and surprise—locked on to mine. “Some hot guys don’t bother to learn how to kiss. I wasn’t sure if you were that type.”

  I resisted the urge to pump my fist in victory that Lennox thought I fell into “hot guy” territory.

  “So I’m glad you’re not that type.” She licked her lips as she stared at mine. “But just to make sure, I need another kiss.”

  “No.”

  She blinked at me. “What?”

 
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