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What you need, p.13
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       What You Need, p.13

         Part #1 of Need You series by Lorelei James
 

  I rested my hand at the base of her throat. My thumb pressed into the skin beneath her jawbone; my middle finger pressed the other side. I felt her pulse leap. I’d always been a passive guy when it came to taking the lead with women. But that was about to change with her. “You asked for one kiss. I gave it to you. The next kiss is mine to take. Whenever I want.”

  Her lips parted and she expelled a soft “Oh.”

  “Come on.” I kept my hand in the small of her back as we walked to the entrance.

  Normally doorways to the various businesses served by the skywalk system in downtown Minneapolis were nondescript. But this one had been created for maximum impact. The exterior was pure white and looked like a snow cave with gigantic icicles hanging above it. Two separate doors marked the entrances. Bouncers manned both doors and music thumped out. I eyed the long line that snaked down the corridor and directed Lennox to the smaller door on the left. A notice beside the door read:

  VIP ACCESS ONLY

  Don’t waste our time asking if you’re on the VIP list! Any clubgoers who attempt to gain admission through the VIP access who are not on the list will be banned from the club. No exceptions! Ask if you’re on the list at your own peril!

  “That’s a serious warning,” Lennox said.

  “It must work because there’s no one in line,” I said, steering her toward the VIP entrance.

  “Are you sure about this?” she asked.

  “No. We’ll see if Nolan followed through.”

  The bouncer—a thick wall of a man, massive enough to play on the Vikings offensive line—gave me a bored once-over. “Help you with something?” he asked gruffly.

  “My name is on the list. Lund.”

  He raised his hand—the size of a baseball mitt—to forestall any additional conversation and spoke into his mouthpiece. Then he said, “Club manager will be out to verify.”

  Verify . . . what?

  Lennox snagged my hand and tugged. “Move over here,” she hissed in my ear. “Don’t piss off the bouncer.”

  “How would I do that? I’m just standing here.”

  “Exactly. You’re in his line of sight. Trust me, I’ve worked at enough clubs to know this stuff.”

  Just as I was about to ask where else she’d worked, a man in a sharp-looking black suit headed toward us. He thrust out his hand. “I’m Benjamin Larken, VIP coordinator for Flurry. And you are . . . ?”

  I took his hand. “Brady Lund. My cousin Nolan called to let you know I’d be here tonight.”

  “Ah. Nolan. He’s not one to give recommendations for the VIP section. I can see why he’d make an exception.” He flashed a smile at Lennox, then looked at me. “Is your cousin still seeing Sela?”

  “No idea. It’s too hard to keep up with Nolan’s stream of women.”

  The man looked at me suspiciously.

  I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my wallet. “I imagine you need ID that proves who I am?” I pushed my driver’s license out of the plastic sleeve and handed it over.

  He scrutinized it. “You don’t look anything like Nolan. Or his brother Ryan.”

  “Nolan doesn’t have a brother named Ryan.” I laughed and the VIP coordinator glanced up at me. “I understand you’re just doing your job, attempting to trip me up with personal questions about my cousin, to see if I’m trying to sneak into the club with a bogus ID.”

  “Stranger things have happened.” He handed back my ID. “So Ash is your . . . ?”

  “Other cousin. I’m sure you’ve heard of my brother—Jensen Lund.”

  His eyes widened. “The Rocket is your brother?” He grinned. “Then why didn’t you say so? We’re happy to have you here, Mr. Lund. It’s open seating in the VIP section. And if you decide to become a VIP member, come see me and I’ll go over the details. Including guest passes. We’d love to see The Rocket here.”

  I just bet you would. I smiled. “Thank you.” I put my hand on the small of Lennox’s back and directed her inside what looked to be a short tunnel. Hip-hop blasted out.

  Lennox stopped and spun to face me, her eyes searching. “Does that happen a lot?”

  “Getting grilled when I attempt to enter a club? No. But not because I normally have automatic access due to my last name. I’m not the club type. Why?”

  “Not that. People asking about your brother.”

  “Yes. People would use me to get connected to him—if I let that happen.”

  “Protective of him?”

  “Someone has to be.”

  “And as the oldest the role falls to you?”

  “Yes.” I helped her off with her jacket and passed her coat to the coat check girl.

  After we found a place to sit overlooking the lowest dance floor, the cocktail waitress stopped by to take our order.

  Lennox looked over at the bar before she placed her order. “I’ll have a lemon drop martini. And a glass of water.”

  “For you, sir?” the waitress cooed, moving in closer.

  “What Leinenkugel do you have on tap?”

  “Sunset Wheat and Red.”

  “Red is fine.”

  “Got it. Would you like to start a tab, Mr. . . . ?”

  “No. I’ll pay cash.”

  After she strolled away, Lennox leaned in. “Cash? Is that a finance-guy thing?”

  I shrugged. “I’m not in the practice of handing my credit card over to someone I don’t know in a place I’ve never been. So maybe that does qualify as a finance-guy thing.”

  “Smart move. Our waitress was a little put out that you didn’t give her your name.”

  “Another reason to pay cash.” I reached for her hand. “You used to work at Maxie’s? How’d that come about?”

  The question made her nervous. She tried to hide it. But ever since I’d placed the kiss on the side of her neck, I’d become obsessed with that graceful arch. So I noticed when her pulse jumped beneath that smooth white skin.

  “Maxie is a friend of my mom’s. She gave me a job when I came back here and decided to go to school.”

  “Nepotism at work.”

  She looked away. “Something like that. The weekend hours didn’t conflict with my class schedule. The money was decent.”

  I ran my thumb across her knuckles. “Do you mind if I ask how old you are?”

  “Twenty-eight. Why?”

  “I would’ve guessed younger.”

  “I’m just glad you didn’t guess older. God knows I feel it most days.”

  Silence stretched out between us.

  Lennox focused on the dance floor and I focused on her. She was a delicate beauty, from the long arch of her neck to her angular jawline. Even my Nordic mother would envy her high cheekbones. Her nose turned up slightly at the end, giving her an aristocratic look. Her eyebrows were several shades darker than her blond hair, making her eyes the most prominent feature on her face.

  She turned her head and those caramel-colored eyes bored into me. “Do I pass your inspection?”

  “You know you do.”

  “Then why are you staring at me?”

  “Because you’re beautiful. You’d think I was a pervert if you caught me staring at you during working hours. And earlier today I didn’t have much of a chance to look at your face since you had your back to the basketball court. But I did get a pretty good look at your ass.”

  “And?”

  I lifted her hand to my mouth to kiss the center of her palm. “World-class, baby.”

  She laughed. “Is this a practiced charm, Mr. Lund?”

  “No. Why? Does it seem as if I’m feeding you a line?”

  “Honestly? No. But I’m still a little confused by all of this, if you want to know the truth.” Her eyes searched mine. “You’re not the kind of guy I usually date.”

  “How so? What makes me different?”

  “First of all, you have a steady job. That’s a plus.”

  “And?” I’d kept ahold of her hand and I brushed my mouth over the pulse point on her w
rist.

  “And we’ve established that you’re a boss, but not my boss, yet it feels like I’m not supposed to be out with you.”

  “And?”

  “And when you kissed me, I know if we were alone I would have been naked in less than four seconds and you’d have your hands all over me . . . and then I wouldn’t care less about your job or mine or anything else.”

  “More like two seconds before I’d have you stripped with my hands and mouth all over you,” I half growled.

  Lennox turned her head and touched her lips to the corner of my jaw. “Is it too truthful if I say I’m out of my league with you?”

  “No, but you couldn’t be more wrong. I like that you are hot, and sexy and wild. In fact, I want you to teach me how to cut loose and unleash my inner wild man.”

  “Seriously?”

  “Yes. Remember earlier today when you said you’d heard I work seven days a week? It’s true. But my family has intervened and is trying to get me to change that.”

  “Ah, so that’s what last night at Maxie’s was about. A Lund family intervention.”

  I snapped my mouth shut. Maybe this wasn’t something I was supposed to admit.

  The waitress returned, giving me a chance to regroup. She set down the drinks and said, “That’ll be twenty-two dollars.”

  I pulled out my wallet and dropped thirty bucks on her tray. “Keep it.”

  “Thank you, sir.” She took off.

  Lennox sipped her martini. Even over the loud music I heard her soft, sexy groan of approval.

  “Good?”

  “It should be, for what you paid for it.”

  I shrugged and took a swig of my beer. I watched the action on the dance floor. Bodies gyrating to hip-hop really made me feel out of my element. It was doubtful that the dance classes my mother had inflicted on me would come in handy since stripper moves hadn’t been part of the curriculum. Maybe I should’ve watched Magic Mike.

  “Brady?”

  “Yeah?” I said, still taking stock of what was happening on the dance floor.

  “Do you want to change?”

  My gaze snapped back to Lennox.

  “Or are you just going along with your family’s ‘intervention’ to keep them off your back?”

  How had she picked up on that? I could’ve lied to her, but it felt wrong. “I probably need to change some things. I do work too much. I don’t have much of a life. But what bugs me about the whole intervention thing is my family assumes I’ve got an inner wild man. What if I don’t?”

  “What if you do?” she countered.

  “Then you’re exactly the type of woman I need to help me set that inner wild man free.”

  “Sure, I’ll do it. But I do have a couple of conditions.”

  “Name them.”

  “You have to meet me halfway. I don’t know you well enough just to create a bucket list for you and enforce it.”

  This woman impressed the hell out of me. “Agreed.”

  “And your list can’t only be sexual positions you haven’t tried.”

  Watching her eyes, I sank my teeth into the fleshy skin at the base of her thumb. “That’s one area where I don’t need help getting wild, baby.”

  Her eyes darkened with heat as she casually sipped her martini. Then she asked, “Did we come here to dance? Or just to eye-fuck each other all night?”

  Mr. Larken stopped by our table. “Mr. Lund. How is everything?”

  “Good. I have a question. Does your DJ take requests?”

  “For you? Of course.”

  “Do you have a pen?”

  He passed it over and I moved the beer mug off the cocktail napkin. I wrote down my selection, folded a twenty inside the napkin and handed it to him.

  “If he could play it in the next half hour, I’d appreciate it.”

  He nodded and backed away.

  “Now, you want to get back to the eye-fucking? Or shall we return to the ‘getting to know you’ small talk that I suck at?”

  “Small talk.”

  “Fine. What did you mean when you said you came back to the Twin Cities? When did you leave?”

  Lennox tried to extricate her hand from mine, but I held on. “Anything you tell me stays between us. Anything,” I emphasized.

  She sipped her drink. “My home situation was a nightmare, so I dropped out of high school and went on the road with a rock band for a few years. Then I bounced around, Omaha, Kansas City, Quad Cities, other places. I mostly worked in bars and the food service industry. And when yet another sorority girl puked all over me, I’d had enough of that life. Once I found out the business practices and clerical support program had openings for nontraditional students, I applied to the vocational school here and got accepted into the two-year program. After I graduated, I had a hard time finding a job—as I told you before. Then I went to work for LI.”

  She’d lived a wilder life than I’d imagined—and I knew she’d just skimmed the surface. “Were you in the band?”

  “No. My best friend Taylar’s brother Travis was the lead guitarist and singer. She dated—and eventually married—the drummer. I got tired of chasing someone else’s dream.”

  “You were involved with Travis?”

  “Yeah. Travis was a great guy. Just not the guy for me.” She gave me a wry smile. “What about you?”

  “I never toured with a rock band, but I did kick my brother Walker’s ass at the video game a bunch of times.”

  Lennox laughed. “That’s not what I mean, smart-ass.”

  “My life has gone according to plan. I just want to spice it up.”

  “I imagine you’ve got a very sweet life.”

  “Most days. Doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon.” I glanced down and saw I’d finished most of my beer. Then I noticed Lennox had shoved her empty martini glass aside and was drinking water.

  The waitress returned. “Another round?”

  “I’m good for now. Lennox?”

  “Same here.”

  The opening notes of my requested song started. I stood and held my hand out. “Come on. They’re playing our song.”

  “You requested ‘Smooth?’”

  “It’s a great tango tune.”

  She froze. “Brady. I don’t know how to tango.”

  I brushed my lips over hers. “Tango is all about knowing how to move your body. And you had no problem doing that on top of the bar.”

  “But it’s not the same thing as a formal dance.”

  “Follow my lead and trust me.”

  Chapter Eleven

  Lennox

 
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