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       Chaser, p.1

           Staci Hart
 
Chaser


  Hearts and Arrows

  Deer in Headlights (Hearts and Arrows 1)

  Snake in the Grass (Hearts and Arrows 2)

  What the Heart Wants (Hearts and Arrows 2.5 Novella)

  Doe Eyes (Hearts and Arrows 3)

  Fool’s Gold (Hearts and Arrows 3.5 Novella)

  Hearts and Arrows Box Set

  Hardcore (Erotic Suspense Serials)

  Volume 1

  Volume 2

  Volume 3

  Box Set

  Bad Habits

  With a Twist

  Chaser - Fall 2015

  Last Call - Winter 2016

  Nailed - Erotic Shorts

  FREE with newsletter subscription

  Once

  Short story on Amazon

  Copyright © 2015 Staci Hart

  All rights reserved.

  stacihartnovels.com

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

  Cover by Quirky Bird

  Photography by Perrywinkle Photography

  Extra Chaser Goodies

  Playlist

  Pin Board

  Table of Contents

  Charming Bastard

  Strings

  The Life

  Grown-Ass Woman

  Boss

  Hypnodick

  Positions

  Mr. M

  Starving

  The Surface

  Truth or Dare

  Sore Loser

  Not-Date

  The Rules

  Fly

  Stay

  Pieces of Me

  Gravity

  Give and Take

  Born to Run

  Chances

  Split

  Raspberry Chip

  Measures

  Limitless

  Home

  Breathe

  Epilogue - Cooper

  Epilogue - Maggie

  To Brooke.

  You’re welcome.

  CHARMING BASTARD

  Maggie

  COOPER GRABBED ME BY THE hips and dragged me to the end of the bed where he knelt. I gasped — somehow, I was completely naked, but he was fully clothed, smiling up the line of my body, that crooked smile of his that made my insides turn into mush. My thighs rested against his shoulders, and his eyes were smoldering hot, locked onto mine as he closed his lips over me and sucked. Hard.

  “Whoamygod.”

  That’s what I tried to say, at least, but I think it sounded more like Humuguh. Not that Cooper needed clarification. His eyes closed, dark lashes against his cheeks, fingers digging into my hips as he licked and sucked, sending tremors up my thighs when he moaned softly against me.

  My eyes slammed shut, and my chin pointed at the ceiling as my fingers twisted in his dark hair. Within seconds, I was rocking against him with my heart doing its best to escape my ribs and the rest of my body begging him to keep going.

  He broke away. I cracked my lids, which weighed about seven pounds each, and glanced down at him. His face was turned toward the closed bedroom door, with alarm written in every angle.

  And then I heard the front door close.

  Lily.

  Cooper looked back at me, blue eyes wide, and we stared at each other for one stunned second before bursting into action. I rolled out of bed with wobbly knees, and he stood, scanning the room for a place to hide.

  Here’s the problem: No one knew Cooper and I were hooking up.

  Here’s the bigger problem: My brother, West, might actually kill Cooper if he found out.

  It wasn’t because Cooper was one of West’s best friends. I mean, I guess that was part of it — calling West overprotective was like calling a great white shark ‘cuddly.’ The real issue was this.

  Cooper was a player.

  I don’t mean he dated around. I don’t even mean that he slept around. What I mean is that his level of hookup was beyond my ability to comprehend. Cooper was heir to a billion-dollar fortune, though that money required nothing to maintain. No job, no responsibility, which meant he partied nonstop. He’d dated — read: banged — every model and socialite in the New York major metropolitan area. I knew because I’d seen the details splattered all over gossip magazines in nearly every grocery store I’d ever been in.

  No one would approve of the affair, particularly not my brother. God only knew what West had seen when they were roommates at Columbia — enough that West had sworn me off of Cooper for eternity. If he found out, he might ship me back to Jackson. And I’d have a hard time keeping it from West if his girlfriend found out. His girlfriend who had just dropped her keys in the dish by the door.

  “Hide,” I hissed, as I pulled on my flowery bathrobe, and Cooper blinked at me as I spun toward the door.

  I bolted out of the bedroom and closed the door behind me, smiling at Lily with what I was positive were crazy eyes.

  “Hey, Lily.” My voice was a little too high, and I smoothed my crazy blond curls.

  “Hey, Maggie.” She didn’t seem to notice I was acting squirrelly, just strode into the kitchen to fill up her water. Her legs were a mile long and lean, dancer’s legs, and she had the nicest butt ever. Rewards for being a professional ballerina with the New York City Ballet.

  “You’re home early today. I thought you had a show?” My face seriously felt like a plastic mask as my heart jackhammered and my brain scrambled through places Cooper might have hidden. There was no space under my bed — that area was strictly reserved for my shoes, of which I had many — and the closet was about big enough for a mop.

  I hoped to God Lily would leave to go meet my brother without needing anything from our room. And then I died inside because there was no way in hell that was an actual possibility.

  She twisted her long, blond hair and threw it over her shoulder. “No show tonight. Maybe you were thinking about tomorrow?”

  I let out an awkward laugh. “Oh, maybe I was.”

  Lily finally glanced up as she screwed the lid on her water bottle, and her eyes narrowed the second she really saw me. She looked me over. “Why are you in your bathrobe?”

  “Oh … well, I just got out of the shower.” My cheeks were on fire.

  “How come your hair isn’t wet?” Her brows shot up, and her mouth fell open in a gaping smile when she figured it out. “Oh, my God, is Mr. M in there?”

  “No,” I blustered, but she looked at me like she knew exactly what I’d been doing seconds before she walked in the door.

  “You liar.” She laughed and bounded past me to throw open our bedroom door. Her face fell as she scanned the room, and I stepped into the doorway behind her.

  Cooper was nowhere to be seen.

  I let out the breath I’d been holding. “See? Not lying. I was just masturbating.”

  A laugh bubbled out of Lily. “I love you. Sorry to interrupt. Let me just grab some stuff and I’ll leave you to it.”

  I smiled, but it was half-assed as I scanned the room for any sign of him. There was nothing, just my rumpled, fluffy bedding and my clothes in a pile at the foot of the bed. I was all of a sudden very glad he’d kept his clothes on.

  And then I saw the closet door. It was only open a crack, but we rarely went in there — it just wasn’t big enough to use for anything useful. I knew for a fact that it was closed before I’d left the room.

  My heart went nuts again as I took a seat on my bed as far as I could get from the closet in the hopes it would divert Lily. “How was work?”

  She set her bag on her neatly made bed and
turned for her dresser. “Long and difficult and amazing, as usual.” She dug through her drawer. “What’d you do today?”

  Cooper. I threaded my fingers in my lap and squeezed to help me focus. “I made some headway on jobs, have a few leads. I decided my vacation is over. I’ve been in New York for three weeks and haven’t done anything but sightsee and sleep.”

  “And Mr. M. You’ve been doing a lot of him.” She snickered.

  I blushed, thinking about him hiding in the closet. “Yes, and him.”

  “I’m happy for you, though. After everything that happened with Jimmy, I’m sure this is a welcome change of pace. No commitment, and all that.” She tossed some clothes into her open bag.

  The last thing I needed was commitment after breaking up with my fiancé. On our wedding day. After I caught him porking my maid of honor. “Definitely,” I said with a smile and swiftly changed the subject. “What are you guys up to tonight?”

  “Dinner, then Habits. You should meet up with us.”

  “Maybe I will.”

  She held up some lingerie and waggled her eyebrows at me before stuffing it in her bag.

  I wrinkled my nose and laughed. “He’s still my brother, you know.”

  “Which is why I won’t tell you what I’m going to do to him when I put these on.”

  “Thanks for sparing me the visual,” I added flatly.

  She laughed as she zipped up her bag and slung it on. “Well, I’m off. Hope you’re next. You know where the batteries are.”

  I blushed again. “I’m good, thanks.”

  Lily waved as she passed by. “Bye, Mags. I’ll text you when we get to Habits.”

  “All right. Have fun.” I called after her, not moving until I heard the door close. I let out a thousand-pound breath and hopped off the bed.

  When I pulled open the closet door, I busted out laughing. Cooper was almost sideways in the closet, his long body bent like the saddest version of Tetris I’d ever seen around a stack of shoeboxes, a pair of snow boots, a small suitcase, and a few dresses that hung mostly in his face.

  Somehow, he didn’t look affected, just smiled crookedly at me, his dark hair mussed and hanging a little in his face. “You found me.”

  “You look ridiculous,” I said with a laugh. “Come here.”

  He hauled himself out of the closet and stepped into me in almost a single motion, slipping his hand around my waist. “I wasn’t through with you.”

  My body was pressed against his once more, and I smiled up at him. “That was too close.”

  “I know. But I can’t say I didn’t enjoy listening to you and Lily talk about me like I wasn’t hiding in your closet.”

  My hands slipped up his chest and around his neck. “I bet.”

  “So,” he pulled me a little closer, “you call me Mr. M?”

  “Well, it was Mystery Man, but that ended up shortened to Mr. M, which I think is funnier anyway, given that’s your actual initial.”

  “Maybe I should come up with one for you so I can talk to your brother about us.”

  “Ew.” I laughed and batted at his chest.

  “Mystery Woman. Miss W. Works both ways.” He backed me up, smiling when I hit the bed. I hung onto his neck as he lowered me onto the mattress. “So what else have you told Lily about me?” His fingers found the tie of my bathrobe and tugged.

  My heart fluttered as I watched his hand slip under the fabric and up to my breast. “Oh, just that you’re a rocket in the sack.”

  He smirked and opened my robe slowly, deliberately, exposing my naked torso. “Is that so?”

  Our legs tangled together, and I smiled at him innocently, even though I was already aching for him. “Mmhmm. I like to make everyone jealous with tales of your prowess. Well, except Lily. I’ve gotta be careful or she’ll start talking about her sex life, which involves my brother.”

  He laughed and trailed his fingers down my stomach.

  “We can’t do this here again,” I said, needing to make the point before I lost my ability to form coherent thoughts.

  His hand skimmed lower, sending a riot of goosebumps across my skin. “Agreed. But in my defense, I only came over to give you back the panties you left over at my place. Although I can’t say I wasn’t enjoying the thought of you walking around Manhattan with no panties on.”

  I giggled, breathless. “I’m sure that’s the only reason why you came over.”

  Cooper chuckled, eyes on my lips. “You think you’ve got me figured out, don’t you?”

  The butterflies in my chest took off, and I waved them away. “Isn’t it that simple, though? No strings. And anyway, we’ve only got two more weeks before time’s up.”

  His eyes were still fixed on my mouth, and I tried to read his reaction, but he gave away nothing. “You and your rules.”

  The rules were everything — they were the only way I could guarantee I wouldn’t get hurt again. I smiled to cover the reminder. “Two weeks. So show me what you’ve got while you can.”

  His blue eyes met mine. “Oh, I plan to.”

  Something about his words, about the way he was looking at me held me still. He was like a snake charmer — when he looked at me like that, like he could see me, I swear I’d do whatever he asked. I was sort of helpless in that way. And as his eyes burned a shade darker, he pressed his lips to mine and showed me plenty indeed.

  STRINGS

  Cooper

  AN HOUR AND CHANGE LATER, I trotted down the stairs of Maggie’s building with my hands in my pockets and my heart skipping. I hadn’t wanted to leave, but I’d kissed her goodbye anyway, appreciating the feeling of her body against mine. I shot her The Smile — the one that made her cheeks flush, the one that got me what I wanted and served as a mask, when I needed one — and then I snuck out of the apartment in the hopes I wouldn’t run into any more of our friends, since the majority of them lived in that building.

  I smiled to myself as I stepped out into the crisp Manhattan night, thinking about her, picturing her stretched out on her bed with her eyes closed, curly hair a mess, imagining the feeling of her fingers in my hair and her hot skin against mine. Making her feel good had become my new favorite hobby.

  No one could say I wasn’t successful when I put my mind to something.

  The affair had been going on happily for two weeks, though only under a myriad of ground rules, all set by Maggie. No commitment, no expectations. No dates or gifts. Four weeks, and we’d go our separate ways. The biggest rule — we had to keep it a secret. Because of West, she’d said, and she was right. If he ever found out, he might never speak to me again. That is, if he let me live. And he was the best friend I’d ever had.

  I’d agreed to her terms without thinking twice.

  I’d been doing the ‘no strings’ thing my entire life, but I should have known it wouldn’t be easy with Maggie.

  “Cooper?”

  It was nearly dark, and I looked up to find Lily and West arm in arm-in-front of me — West, tall and dark, hair tied in a knot, smiling at me from behind his beard, and Lily, tall and fair, eyeing me suspiciously.

  I smiled back to cover my surprise. “What’s up, guys?”

  “Hey,” West said. “We’re just heading to Habits.”

  Lily’s eyes narrowed. “What are you doing over here?”

  I shrugged and lied. “I was on my way to see if you guys were home—”

  “Then why are you going the wrong way?”

  “You didn’t let me finish. You weren’t at West’s, so I left. Was just about to text.”

  West started walking and clapped me on the shoulder when he approached. “Well, now you don’t have to.”

  Lily was still maddogging me. “Who doesn’t text first?”

  “Me.” I smirked at her and winked as we walked toward the bar. “What are you guys doing tonight?”

  West pulled Lily a little closer. “Probably just Habits for a bit, then home.”

  I made a face. “But it’s Saturday night.”
r />
  He chuckled. “Yeah, well, not everyone parties every weekend like rock stars.”

  “What do you mean? That’s exactly what everyone our age does on the weekend, rock stars or not.”

  Lily leaned into West. “I’ve got to work tomorrow at ten-thirty. West can go out though.”

  I shook my head. “She gave you permission, man.”

  He laughed. “No, thanks. She’s been at the theater almost every night, and tonight I’ve got her to myself. You’re on your own, pal.”

  I smiled, wondering if I could get Maggie to come over just as my phone buzzed in my pocket. It was a text from Jules, my assistant. She’d been organizing my life for me since I was seven.

  Hey, just a reminder about the photo shoot with W Magazine. They said they’d meet you at the marina at 4:30 tomorrow to set up on Midnight Caller.

  I sighed. I hadn’t told anyone about my nomination for W’s twenty-five most eligible bachelors, mostly because West would never let me hear the end of it once he found out. I wasn’t even sure why I’d agreed. I think I’d been so surprised that I didn’t even consider turning it down. Although if I’d have known they wanted to shoot on my sailboat, I might have refused.

  I texted her back. Thanks for keeping me honest.

  Somebody has to. I emailed you a list of their requirements. Sure you don’t want me to come with you?

  Nah, I can handle it.

  All right. The journalist is Elena. The stylist will have all the clothes, so just show up in whatever.

  Naked, then. Got it.

  I’m sure the photographer will be pleased. Really, though. Try to keep your pants on.

  No promises.

  Ha, ha. Let me know if you need anything.

  Will do.

  I hesitated with my phone in my hand. West and Lily were chatting, which meant they weren’t paying attention to me. I stared at my screen for a moment before pulling up Maggie’s name.

  I found myself smirking as I typed a message. Just ran into West and Lily.

 
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