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What you need, p.30
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       What You Need, p.30

         Part #1 of Need You series by Lorelei James
 

  “Come here.”

  The sassy woman put an extra sway in her hips as she crossed the room.

  I ran the backs of my knuckles across her jaw and down her throat, between her breasts and over her belly. Then I slid my hand down and cupped her. “Take your clothes off for me, Lennox.”

  She didn’t ask if I wanted it done fast or slow. She circled my wrists and flattened my palms on her breasts without saying a word.

  I hissed in a breath at her hardened nipples stabbing into my palms as I sank my fingers into the soft flesh of her unencumbered breasts.

  She kicked off her snow boots. Then she hooked her fingers in the sides of her yoga pants and peeled them down her legs to the floor.

  No underwear gave me a peekaboo glimpse of the pale curls covering her sex before her flannel shirt fell forward.

  “I’ve got it from here,” I said, snaring her mouth in a teasing kiss as I unbuttoned her shirt. Once I had that done, I tossed it on the floor and lifted her camisole over her head. Then she was utterly, gloriously naked.

  “Beautiful,” I said, starting the kiss at her mouth right on that temptingly sexy lip ring. I kissed her and let my hands roam, mapping the dips and curves and sweetly feminine grooves of her body.

  I’d started out wanting to devour her and ended up slowing things down so I could savor her.

  Every inch.

  Then I realized there was such a thing as too slow.

  As I nuzzled her breasts, I grabbed her hips and settled her on the edge of the bed. I dropped to my knees and trailed my fingertips up and down the tops of her thighs.

  Lennox made a soft groan when I planted kisses down the center of her body.

  As my mouth connected with her skin, I watched her head fall back and she arched, automatically parting her thighs wider to accommodate me.

  My heart raced when I breached that barrier of curls with my tongue and found the sweet flesh nestled inside. I’d intended to take this slow and explore. Build her up and up and up and then send her soaring.

  But I was too greedy. The taste of her too intoxicating. The sounds of her pleasure too addictive that I became obsessed with hearing her cry out over and over.

  Twice.

  Before I’d had my fill of her—I’d started to suspect I never would—she tugged on my hair and pulled me away from my new favorite part of her.

  “Brady.”

  I looked up.

  “My turn.” She pulled my T-shirt over my head. She tugged on the waistband of my athletic shorts until I stood.

  In the next moment she’d dragged my shorts down to my ankles and slid her wet mouth over the entire length of me.

  “Christ, Lennox. That’s—” Incredible, amazing, god yes, use your teeth, baby. My other head prevailed and I curled my hands around her face. “That’s not what I want.” I smiled and traced the fullness of her lips. “This time.”

  “What do you want?”

  You. Looking at me like this. As often as possible.

  And the weird thing about that silent proclamation was, it didn’t feel weird. It felt right.

  “Scoot up into the middle of the bed and I’ll show you.”

  As I started to follow her across the mattress, I realized I still had my shoes on. I stepped out of them and reached for the box of condoms.

  Lennox wore a sexy smirk as she watched me roll on protection.

  “What?”

  “I can’t believe I’m here with you. It feels a little surreal.”

  “For me too.” I crawled over the top of her, making sure as much of our skin touched as possible—her softness to my hardness. “So how about if I make us both feel good.”

  I started to move inside her and she closed her eyes. I stopped. “Lennox.”

  She slowly opened her eyes and the raw emotion I saw there went straight to the heart of me.

  “Don’t hide that from me, baby. If being with me brings that beautiful light to your eyes, I want to see it. I need to see it.”

  “Brady . . .”

  “Let me in. Move with me. See how you move me.”

  Lennox twined her arms around my neck and wrapped her legs around my hips.

  I rested my forehead to hers, breathing her air, watching her eyes as I slid home.

  “That feels amazing,” she whispered against my lips.

  “That it does.”

  “Is this time going to be slow and sweet?”

  “Yes.” I smiled and bit down on her lip ring. “Until it gets wild.”

  *

  Lennox had her head on my shoulder and she was playing with my chest hair.

  We’d fallen asleep but then the little nymph had woken me up with her mouth. So I was feeling very loose. Relaxed. And like the luckiest guy on the planet.

  “Tell me what you did in Chicago and Charlotte besides attend meetings.”

  I wondered if this would be Lennox’s thing—grilling me after every trip. I liked it. It gave me a sense of peace. “Like what?”

  “Like . . . did you eat a Chicago dog?”

  “No.”

  “Did you eat Carolina barbecue?”

  “I might have—I was too preoccupied both times to remember the food.”

  Lennox got quiet.

  I swept her hair back from her face. “I did do something a little . . . impulsive in Chicago.”

  “Tell me!”

  “I bought a motorcycle.”

  She raised her head and looked at me. “You’re serious.”

  “Yes.”

  “I’ll bet it’s a Beemer, isn’t it?”

  “No, baby, it’s a hog.” I chuckled. “Harley-Davidson all the way. It’s the newest model. They’ll deliver it to the dealership here in the spring.”

  “You. Bought. A. Bike.”

  “And I’ll probably get one of those badass leather jackets. Leather chaps. Biker boots. I’ll put my wallet on a chain and attach it to a loop and shove it in the back pocket of my Levi’s. You might get off work next summer and see me waiting for you, resting against the bike, in my leathers, sunglasses on, face unshaven, smoking a cigar. If you saw me like that, would you let me take you for a ride?”

  Lennox rolled on top of me. “I’m thinking you could take me for a ride right now.”

  I laughed. “So me being a biker dude does it for you?”

  “Brady. You do it for me in a bad way.”

  “Does it scare you that I’ve admitted I’m thinking long term with you?”

  Her body stiffened. She stared at me for several silent moments. “No, it doesn’t scare me.” She paused. “And that terrifies me.”

  My eyes searched hers. “Why?”

  “We haven’t been together long. And neither of us has been in a long-term relationship.”

  “Do you want to slow down?”

  She shook her head. “But I don’t want to go any faster than this right now either.”

  I banked my disappointment.

  She noticed it and kissed me. “I see your confusion. I feel the same way, so I can’t explain it. I’ve never felt like this. I shouldn’t trust it. But I do. I trust you.”

  “That’s all I need to know, Lennox.”

  She stretched out on her belly with a sigh. “I love this big bed.”

  “I love having you in it.” I swept the hair from her shoulder and let my knuckles follow the birds tattooed down the back of her neck. She’d told me they were starlings, not blackbirds, which had intrigued me enough to do a little research. “Did you know a flock of starlings in flight is called a ‘murmuration’?”

  “Yes, I did know that. Have you seen the footage of them? It’s an aerial ballet as they shift and move as one, as if they’re of a single mind instead of thousands.”

  I kissed the bird right below her hairline. “What do starlings mean to you, Lennox?”

  “Adaptability,” she said softly. “Starlings exist all over the world, but they’re unique to where they live. They’re monogamous—most pairs mate for life, w
hich I found highly romantic at age eighteen when I got the tattoo. They’re mimics, which goes back to their adaptability. And they’re not sexually dimorphic, which means the males and the females have the same color of plumage. I saw a special on them when I was a kid and the images stuck with me.”

  I brushed my mouth across the next tat, strangely touched by her practical and yet oddly sentimental reasoning, mostly because it fit who she was so perfectly. “And yet you have the tattoos in a place where you can’t see them and enjoy them.” I traced the largest one with the tip of my tongue. “So perhaps enjoying them and admiring them should be my job.” I nipped the nape of her neck and was rewarded with a deep body shudder. “You know how seriously I take my job. So relax, because this will take a while.”

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Lennox

  ‡

  Usually, whenever I have a bad day, I get the urge to ask the universe what else could go wrong? Bad idea today.

  Bad, bad idea.

  It wasn’t even a Monday.

  When I arrived at work thirty minutes late, I got stuck with phone duty again, but this time at the security desk on the first floor. Working in the main reception area meant everything was amplified. Shoes clicking and squeaking across the tile. The constant ding-ding from the bank of elevators. Conversations were loud and carried up the set of escalators to the second floor.

  So far it wasn’t noon and I’d already had ten people yell at me.

  One woman spilled her coffee on the reception desk and chewed me out for it because I’d asked to see her ID.

  When I called upstairs to talk to Sydney to see if I’d somehow pissed Lola off, Sydney told me that Lola had been in meetings all morning.

  For lunch I grabbed a quick bite at the deli around the corner and checked my messages to see if Brady had tried to get in touch with me.

  Nothing.

  But two missed calls from Maxie.

  That wasn’t like her. I ducked around the concrete pillar and called her.

  She picked up on the second ring. “Lenni? I’m sorry. It’s not my fault. We got to drinking and—”

  “Whoa. Slow down. What’s not your fault?”

  “Lisa is on her way to your office.”

  I froze. “My mother is here?”

  “That’s why I’ve been trying to get ahold of you. She told me two weeks ago she was coming, but she didn’t know when and she needed a place to stay since you wouldn’t let her crash with you.”

  “When did she get here?”

  “Friday night.”

  At least she hadn’t ruined my weekend.

  Not nice, Lennox.

  “Did she come with Billy Ray?”

  “No. She said she might be done with him. Anyway, she had a crazy Friday night. She got totally hammered. Then she did the same thing Saturday and Sunday nights.”

  I closed my eyes. “Not fun for you, Maxie.”

  “When she’s shitfaced she acts like the Lisa I used to know. So, ah, I sorta told her some stuff I shouldn’t have. And I’m sorry, Lenni.”

  “Stop calling me Lenni—my name is Lennox.” I inhaled but couldn’t manage a deep exhale as I was dangerously close to hyperventilating. “What stuff did you tell her?” It couldn’t have been too bad, because I hadn’t confided in Maxie for a long time—not since before I’d taken the job with LI.

  “Remember that night you were in and danced on the bar? I asked if you knew the guy who’d caught you, since one of the guys he was with is a semi-regular.”

  “Who?”

  “He’s a hot blond with a beard and is built like a lumberjack. He comes in a couple of times a month. I found out his name is Walker Lund.”

  I felt the blood drain from my face.

  “And I knew you were lying to me Lenni—Lennox—about knowing the slick-looking dude who’d caught you after you’d biffed it off the bar. So the next time Walker came in, I chatted him up. He told me all about you being involved with his brother, who is one of the head honchos over at Lund Industries. Guy in charge of all the money. That’s a big deal. And damn, girl, I was proud for you getting you a piece of that, porking the boss.”

  “I’m not porking the boss. Brady is not my boss. And Jesus, Maxie, no one says ‘porking’ anymore.”

  “There it is, that bitchy ‘I’m better than everyone’ attitude.”

  Don’t take the bait. It was obvious she’d been hanging around with Lisa since she channeled her way of speaking.

  “I’m sure you have to get back to work, but I might’ve told your mom about you landing a rich one. Then late this morning when I got up, she was already high and making plans to see you at work. Her exact words were ‘make that ungrateful little bitch notice me.’”

  I could feel my throat tighten, my eyes pulse and my lungs shrink from the impending panic attack.

  “I just wanted to warn you.”

  “She hasn’t been here.”

  “I hate to hope she got sidetracked looking for another score.”

  “What’d she take?”

  “Pretty sure it was oxy. Pistol said she was asking around for some.”

  “Maxie, if she shows up here and causes a scene when she’s freakin’ high—”

  “Call me and I’ll deal with it,” she pleaded. “Don’t call the cops. Please. We both know your mom doesn’t do well in jail.”

  “I can’t promise—”

  “You have to. I know you have issues with her, but if you call me I’ll make sure she leaves you alone.”

  I recognized it as an empty promise. Neither one of us could control Lisa Greene Hamline Gruber Dunwoody and only Maxie had cared enough to try.

  “Lennox. Please.”

  “Fine. If she shows up here—if she’s not already in jail because she went looking for drugs—I’ll call you.”

  “Thank you. And I’m sorry. I just really—”

 
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