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What you need, p.24
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       What You Need, p.24

         Part #1 of Need You series by Lorelei James
 

  I was hungry but I hadn’t been grocery shopping in ages, so my choices were a) starve, b) eat Kiley’s food, c) call for carryout.

  Then I remembered I’d stashed a candy bar in the glove compartment. That would tide me over until I could grab a breakfast burrito in the morning.

  I slipped on my coat and opened the door.

  Brady froze as he reached the top step. “Hey. I was just about to ring the doorbell.”

  Hey? All I got was . . . hey? Where was my hug? Where was my kiss hello? Where was my I missed you, baby?

  “Why?”

  “Why what?”

  “Why were you going to ring the doorbell? Because it doesn’t look to me that you’re too thrilled to be here.”

  His eyes narrowed. Then his gaze moved over me in my long coat, snow boots and keys in my hand. “And it looks to me like you’re going somewhere.”

  I would not admit my pathetic plans to this man who thought I had a wild streak as wide as the Mississippi River. So I did what any self-respecting wild woman would do: I lied my ass off.

  “I was just about to hit the gun range.”

  Brady laughed.

  His laugh pissed me off. “I’d be careful—you’re laughing at an armed woman who has had one shitshow of a day.”

  His smile slipped. “You’re seriously going to the gun range? Right now?”

  “Yes. Why?”

  “I’ve had a shitshow of a day myself and I’d like to tag along.”

  Crap. This was exactly why I didn’t lie. “Oh. I can’t promise you range time, since you’re not on the schedule, but if you don’t mind just standing around watching me enjoying my bullet therapy, then it’d probably be okay.” Bullet therapy? God. Next I’d be bragging about busting a cap in a paper target’s ass.

  “Sounds good.” Then Brady moved in, lowered his head and fused his mouth to mine.

  I leaned into him, grabbing on to his lapels, losing myself in his kiss.

  He curled his hand over my cheek and pulled back. “I missed you today.”

  “Same.”

  “Let’s go.”

  Time to stall. “Come inside for a minute. Right before you got here I realized I don’t have a gun. I usually borrow Kiley’s, but she has hers in her car, so I have to call the range and see what they’ve got for me to rent.” I gave him a smacking kiss on the mouth and said, “Be right back,” and ran upstairs.

  Maxie had called me Saturday night but hadn’t left a message, so I hoped she picked up.

  The phone rang four times before she answered. “Damn, girl, I’m glad it wasn’t an emergency with as long as it took you to return my call.”

  “I was at a cabin up in the North Woods with no cell service. Look, Maxie, I need a huge favor.”

  “What?”

  “Does Pistol still work at that gun range?”

  “Yeah. He’s there tonight. Why?”

  “I need range time tonight. And a handgun. And ammo.”

  “Need someone to aim and shoot for you too?” she said snottily.

  “Hilarious.”

  “Lenni, what’s going on?”

  “It has to do with my job.” Another lie. I was on a roll. “I have to show I have some self-defense skills to get an additional monthly discount for my health insurance. And I just found out today that the option expires tomorrow.”

  “Those HMO bastards have too damn much power.”

  “I agree. But it isn’t something I want to argue with. I just want to get signed off on it.”

  “Pistol mentioned he was closing tonight, so I’ll call him and let him know you’re on your way.”

  “Thank you, Maxie. So, so much.”

  “Any chance you can swing by the bar when you’re done?”

  “I can’t, because my boss will be with me at the range. To, uh, make sure I’m not falsifying the claim. So could you ask Pistol to play it cool when he sees me?”

  Maxie laughed. “Never a dull moment with you, Lenni. I miss your crazy ways. But, darlin’ girl, you gotta make time for me, because we have to talk. Soon.”

  Just as I hung up I heard the stairs creak. Then Brady filled the doorframe. “Is everything all right?”

  “Yes. They put me on hold but we’re good to go.”

  His focus wasn’t on me, but on the bed behind me. “So this is your room.”

  I waited for him to continue.

  “Does the bed creak as loudly as the floors?” He started toward me.

  “What?”

  He loomed over me. “Your bed. Does it make noise?”

  Totally flummoxed by his nearness and the intensity in his eyes, I just stared at him.

  “Only one way to find out, isn’t there?” He picked me up and tossed me onto the bed. Then he crawled over me on all fours until his knees were by my hips and his palms were above my head. “Touch me, Lennox. Put your hands on my shoulders.”

  I didn’t think about it; I just did what he told me.

  Brady’s face was inches from mine. He rolled his body forward, without really moving anything but the mattress and the bed frame.

  The bed frame creaked loudly, followed by a bang as the headboard hit the wall.

  Another roll of his hips and the entire bed moved again.

  And again.

  If it had been any other man, I might’ve laughed at the way he rocked above me in a parody of making love. But it wasn’t funny; it was hot as hell.

  Creak, creak, bang.

  Creak, creak, bang.

  Creak, creak, bang.

  The only place we touched was where my hands gripped his shoulders. Our eyes were locked, our breath mingled.

  But with the steady rhythm he built, I felt as if he was moving on me, in me.

  “I’m the first man you’ve had in this bed.”

  “Yes.”

  Something feral—like triumph—flashed in his eyes. Then he buried his face in my neck and sighed.

  He rolled off the bed and I scrambled upright, sitting on the opposite side, trying to find my sanity. We were both fully clothed. We hadn’t done anything.

  Yet . . . somehow we’d just been as intimate as if we had been naked.

  This whole thing freaked me out. I was letting Brady call all the shots.

  At the cabin this weekend.

  At the football game.

  Just now.

  Enough.

  I had to regain some ground. I had to do more than talk the talk about doing the unexpected; I had to walk the walk.

  I whipped off my shirt and opened my top dresser drawer. Reaching behind me, I unhooked my bra.

  “Lennox. What are you doing?”

  I spun around to face him and his eyes went nowhere near my face for several long moments. “That bra digs into the underside of my breast when I’m shooting, so I’m changing into a sports bra. Why? It’s not like you haven’t seen my bare chest before.” Feeling ornery, I cupped my breasts and caressed them. “Going braless is so much better. I wish I could get away with it all the time.”

  “Uhh.”

  I snagged a workout shirt with a built-in bra and pulled it over my head. I eyed his clothing. A snappy suit, of course. That’s when I knew I couldn’t share range time with him. Wielding a gun, he’d look all sexy and badass like James Bond, and my hormones could handle only so much in a day.

  He said, “What’s the plan?”

  “You can follow me to the gun range.”

  “Why don’t we ride together?”

  “It’ll be easier this way. If you get bored, you can leave.”

  His eyes glittered. “I doubt watching you waving a gun when you’re not wearing a bra will be boring, baby.”

  “I guess we’ll see, won’t we?”

  *

  Brady

  I’d been hard since the moment Lennox wrapped her fingers around that cold metal.

  She’d tested the weight and heft of three handguns before she’d chosen a Smith & Wesson 1911.

  Her friend Pistol
tried to load her clips, but she’d done it herself.

  How many women did I know who could shove nine-millimeter bullets in a clip and hold a conversation about ever changing HMO requirements?

  Just one. And I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

  Lennox’s first target looked like Swiss cheese.

  Her second target had been markedly better.

  She discussed groupings with Pistol before she set up her third target range.

  I watched her from the gallery the entire time. Her shoulders were back, her arms slightly bent at the elbow. Her stance looked relaxed, but I knew it was a difficult position to hold for any length of time.

  Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.

  Shell casings flew as she fired.

  She dropped her head from side to side, stretching her muscles and giving me a glimpse of that sexy tattoo on her neck. I wanted to run my tongue over it, tasting her sweat. I’d rest my hands on her hips as she fired, feeling the power of the gun and the strength in her arms.

  She turned and looked at me. The raw lust I witnessed in her gaze blew my mind.

  Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.

  I had to squint, but I could just make out that she’d aimed high on the paper target at the shoulder.

  More shrugging and twisting of her lush body as she readied herself.

  Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.

  She ejected the clip, set the gun on the counter and reeled the target back to check out her handiwork. Then she turned to me and grinned, giving me two thumbs up, looking so damn cute in her oversized pink ear protectors that I couldn’t stand it.

  The second she walked off the range, I was on her. “That”—I pecked her on the mouth—“was”—another kiss—“so”—a longer smooch—“cool.”

  “Thanks. I had fun.” She passed over her last paper target. “A souvenir for you.”

  “As a warning to tread lightly if I ever piss you off?”

  “No. It’s supposed to assure you that if we do run into bears on our next biathlon, I can fire away at Smokey and protect you.”

  “I’m so crazy about you, Lennox.”

  “Same here.”

  “What now?”

  She cocked her head. “Do you trust me?”

  “Yes. Unless you want to play William Tell, and then . . . hell no.”

  “Maybe next time. They do have an archery range here.” She took my hand and led me out of the building. But instead of going to the parking lot, she towed me around the corner and pushed me against the bricks.

  I touched her face reverently, because she touched me on so many levels.

  She reached up and loosened my tie. “How many times did you run your hand through your hair? Because—no offense, but it is kind of out of control.”

  “I had month-end reports to do and they’re always hell on my hairstyle.”

  Lennox unbuttoned my shirt as we spoke. Then she pressed kisses down the center of my chest. She opened her mouth over my left nipple and began to suck on it through my T-shirt. That felt so damn good it didn’t register that she’d unzipped my pants until I felt cold air hit my boxers.

  “What are you—?”

  “I’m touching you, like you touched me yesterday.” She stroked my length over the fabric, and that was more erotic somehow than her bare hand.

  She bit down on my nipple and I arched back with a soft groan.

  I clenched my hands into fists at my sides, my knuckles scraping the rough bricks, in shock and awe at how this woman had known what I needed, when I hadn’t known myself.

  Soft lips moved down my jawline. She flicked her tongue over the pulse pounding in my throat, her hand sliding up and down as her thumb rubbed across the wet tip. Fast. Slow. Her grip perfectly tight, but perfectly tender.

  “Don’t hold back,” she warned in a husky voice that made me harder yet.

  This . . . interlude had caught me by surprise, and was such an epic turn-on, the way she knew just how to touch me—not only with her hand, but with the little nuzzles, the openmouthed kisses and hot breath across my damp skin—that I didn’t have a prayer of holding back.

  I whispered her name and tacked on a drawn-out “Yes” when she pulled me over the edge.

  Her mouth was hungry on mine, sharing her breath with me, because I’d forgotten how to breathe.

  When I finally came back down from that rocket ride into pleasure, I felt her smile against my throat.

  She tucked me in, zipped me up and rebuttoned my shirt, while I was helpless to do anything but watch her ministrations.

  “You okay?”

  “Better than okay.” I forced my fingers to unclench and I touched her cheek. “Are you okay?”

  “Yes. Because now we’re even.”

  “Lennox. Baby, I’m not keeping score.”

  “Neither am I. I wanted to touch you and I did.” She turned her head and kissed the base of my palm. “I’ve let go with you once; you’ve let go with me once. Next time, I want all of you. I’ll give you all of me.”

  I murmured, “We’ll see,” just to watch the fire flash in her eyes.

  “Yes, maybe we will. Maybe I’ll show up in your office wearing just a trench coat and a smile. Since we are officially out as a couple.”

  “Did you have a difficult day because of that?”

  “No, but I was pretty isolated. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.” She opened her mouth. Closed it.

  “What?”

  “No PDA at work, okay? I don’t want what’s between us to cause more gossip than it already has.” She leaned in and rested her cheek against my chest. “We’re both private people. Let’s not let anyone change that for us.”

  “Deal.” I tilted her head back to get at her mouth. The kiss we
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