(Click here to go to Episode 1)
I lost feeling in my body. Nothing but floating and tingles. And memories of her naked body putty in my hands.
Need. Ferocious need erupted inside. It took over my thoughts and my body at once, demanding I claim the woman across the bar.
The woman talking to my best friend.
The best friend I’d just given dating advice to.
Not sexual advice because Jeffry wanted more.
I could not imagine anything worse. A world where I never bedded Esme again was far preferable to a world where I watched my best friend have what I wanted.
Of course there was always the possibility that she and Jeffry wouldn’t last and that, perhaps when they were over, she’d need another night of rebound passion.
So maybe all hope wasn’t lost just yet.
“You okay, man?” Grant asked, looking at me with a cocked eyebrow and a frown.
John punched my arm, laughing. “You’re just as confused as we are. How in the hell is a woman like that talking to Jeff?”
The things men understood about women could be summed up in a couple of lines. Pretty girls get whatever they want. Sex is good. We need girls for sex.
Yep. That was it. When in reality it was much more interesting. Every woman was beautiful. Most men were just too stupid to see it.
Beauty had nothing to do with connection.
Connection had everything to do with good sex.
And my god was good sex a beautiful thing.
I counted myself lucky that I figured out this riddle of life when I was young, when it was easy to learn how to please a woman and in turn get all the pleasure I desired. These dumb fucks would be relegated to a life of misery, subpar sexual encounters, and loneliness.
Mores the pity.
But then again, that was why my bed was rarely cold. There were so many women who enjoyed a night with a man who understood what he had. Appreciated their beauty. And while my connections were short lived by nature, they were also meaningful. I’d take short and meaningful over long and empty every time.
I told myself that over and over as I watched Jeffry chatting with Esme, making her smile and flirt, standing close to her when I couldn’t.
Her body was every bit as killer as I remembered. Esme was all curves accentuated by pencil skirts and heels. She preferred black highlighted by bright red or blue. Her lush lips matched her outfit, her dark eyes framed by just the right amount of dramatic makeup. Her fashion suited her perfectly.
Something I quite liked about her.
But naked? Oh yes, naked she was all soft skin. Her breasts spilled out of my hands and her waves of raven hair contrasted it all.
Shit. I was hard again.
And right when Jeffry decided to bring her to the table.
“Everyone, this is Esme.” He went about introducing each one of us.
Per our agreement I pretended I’d never met her, but I also let her take the lead . . . just in case she changed her mind. But based on the shock she was clearly trying to mask, I highly doubted that would happen.
Jeffry continued. “Everyone works with me in the sequencing lab except this asshole.” He waved at me. “Leo was my college roommate.”
She blanched, blinked several times, but otherwise gave no sign of knowing me. “Asshole college roommate. Is that code for something?”
I worked my jaw while Jeffry laughed. “Only that he doesn’t work at the university. Leo’s an agent. You’ve got what? Four clients in this restaurant?”
“I’m impressed Jeffry. Yes.”
“Jeffry,” she repeated softly, like she was trying out a brand new word on her tongue.
“Yeah, Leo’s the only one who uses my full name.”
“And it will stay that way.” I preferred given names. Nicknames made me nauseous.
“Are you English?” she asked. “Your vocabulary choices and cadence aren’t specifically American but they aren’t standard for British English either.”
Was it appropriate how much I enjoyed her attention? Probably not. But I relished it anyway. Had she been dying to ask this question the night we were together? Had she been thinking about me ever since. I liked thinking it was so.
“My mother is English.”
“And your father?” Her head cocked to the side and her dark hair fell down her shoulder.
“My father is an asshole.”
She nodded slowly. “It’s not uncommon to have unusual linguistic patterns when you’re raised exclusively by a parent with an accent in a place contrary to that of their origin. Yours is fascinating though.”
Jeffry laughed. “I should probably mention Esme is an anthropologist in the research group on the floor above ours.”
An anthropologist. For some reason that bit of information was like someone handing me a gold bar and telling me to keep it. Esme, more than most, kept so much of herself hidden from me. She wanted one thing from our night together and I gave it without protest, but I was starting to wonder if part of the reason she fascinated me was how little she shared in our time together.
Most of my dates enjoyed the sharing process—even the ones who just wanted a good time. But not Esme. Our dinner was one of flirtation and banter, but no real substance.
This felt important.
“And you Grant? Other than eating pork tacos on Tuesdays, what do you do?” And just like that her attention was on another man again.
I really didn’t like that.
I hated it actually.
Aggressively so. And that confused the hell out of me. I didn’t even listen to Grant blather on about nucleotides. Instead I scanned my body and came up with a very disturbing answer.
I tried to find another.
There had to be another. I was thirty-two fucking years old and I knew what anger, sadness, frustration, and fear all felt like. I was quite aware of the intensity of lust, the drunken feeling I got from anticipation, and the dizzying affects of satisfaction. But this feeling was something new and while I had never felt it before, the words I would use to describe it only fit one damned, horrible emotion.
I was jealous.
Of everyone. Not specifically Grant or even poor Jeffry. I was jealous of anyone who had Esme’s attention. I wanted it. All of it. And not having it was a cold, empty shell of how it felt to bask in the glow of her smile.
Or, even better, the draw of her eyes.
My damned cock sprang to life again just thinking about it. I really needed to get a handle on that thing. It had never misbehaved so much. And that was another, equally disturbing thought. I had a heat-seeking missile between my legs—just like when I was a teenager. I was very proud of the fact that I mastered control of it early on. I wanted sex and I found an excellent formula of success for fulfilling my needs. My dick behaved.
My dick was no longer behaving.
It wanted Esme and it refused to listen to my brain.
* * *
The night began to wind down.
My panic began to wind up.
When would I see Esme again? Would she accept Jeffry’s date? How the fuck could I be around them as a couple without losing my mind?
I got an opportunity to find some answers when Esme went to the bar for some water. I followed her, trying to be as casual as possible as I stood beside her.
“It’s good to see you again.”
Her body stiffened and she ever so slowly craned her neck to glance up at me from the corner of her eyes. “I’m not a fuck buddy, Leo. That was a one time thing.”
“I know that. I wasn’t suggesting otherwise.”
She relaxed a little and turned, resting against her gorgeous hip. “Thank you for pretending we’d never met before. I . . . ” she sighed as she looked back at our little group. “I didn’t want to have to explain that.”
That. It was a slap in the face. “They know who I am, what I do, and why I do it.”
“Exactly,” she whispered, her attention still on them instead of me.
“They wouldn’t have thought differently of you.”
“Wouldn’t they?” She laughed, glancing my way. “Instead of Esme, the anthro from upstairs who eats tacos on Tuesdays, I’d be Esme, the girl who needed Leo to fuck her.”
“Absolutely not.” And it pissed me off that she could ever think that. “My friends aren’t like that. I’m not like that.”
She bristled. “Everyone’s like that.” Then she shook it off. “You really don’t think they’d care?”
“No. They’re friends with many of my dates. As I just said, my friends know me, what I do, and why I do it.” I might have a lot of dates, and the majority of those dates may come to me specifically for sex, but I wasn’t some scandalous sex toy.
“Why do you do it?”
I didn’t answer her immediately. I didn’t want to be emotional or give a kneejerk response to something this important. If I had any chance of getting Esme back in my bed one day I needed to lay the groundwork now.
“I believe connection between human beings is one of the most important and necessary things we need to survive, and that sex is a fundamental ingredient in creating connections. We’re passionate, physical beings. Some of us more so than others. And when you crave intimacy but can’t have it because society has decided that sex is dirty or should only be reserved for a specific place and time, it breaks down that ability to connect, it robs us of the opportunity to fulfill a basic human need for physical contact. I hate that and I decided a long, long time ago that I would be the person who a woman could come to, no questions asked, and be treated like the gorgeous, wonderful, needy being she is.”
I leaned closer because I wanted her to really hear this part. “Society has turned being needy into a bad thing. A weakness. Anyone who shows need is vulnerable and it should be exploited. We’re ruining each other with attitudes like that. Being needy is part of being human. Being needy is vulnerable but not in a bad way. It’s beautiful and we need to be able to be needy, to be physical, to be satisfied, in order to function. Plain and simple.”
Somewhere in the middle of my impassioned speech, Esme turned white as a sheet. “You’re sure you’re not an anthropologist?”
“Nope. I broker million dollar deals instead of working for pennies.” I liked money entirely too much to ever do something so selfless for society.
My contribution to our greater good was reserved for one act of service and one act alone.
“The paycheck is a problem.” She smiled again, turning her back to the bar. I appreciate your discretion, Leo.”
“It’s all part of the package you get when you spend a night with me.”
You could spend another. It was on the tip of my tongue to point out how many of my dates came back.
“I like your friends. They seem nice.”
My friends were shit assholes for interrupting my conversation without even trying, “They seem to have taken a liking to you.”
“It’s the food truck. The cafeteria in the building is good but boring. When that food truck started coming around it’s like we all remembered we could go outside. Our departments all hang out but it had been a while since we really did anything.”
“Food brings people together.” It was one of the reasons I always took my dates to dinner.
She glanced at me. I wanted to capture that gaze and hold on to it, force her to keep those eyes on me and never look away. But I didn’t move. I held still and waited for whatever it was she had to say.
Her head cocked off to the side a bit. “Do you only do these one-time dates, or do you have a girlfriend too?”
My mind went completely blank at the idea of having a girlfriend.
Esme giggled. “I’ll take that face as a no.”
For as much as I loved women, the idea of a full, deep, consistent relationship didn’t interest me. I enjoyed my freedom too much. “Please, allow me to explain. For one, I do not have a girlfriend and even if I did I cannot imagine ever wanting to do both. It contradicts the very nature of what I believe. For two,” I held up two fingers for added emphasis, “I’ve never had a night with anyone like the night I had with you.”
There. I said it.
And oh boy did she hear it. The color drained from her face again and her eyes locked onto mine. For a few moments that connection blotted out the entire universe. It was just Esme’s shock and my desire colliding in an impossible situation.
“That’s an easy thing to say,” she finally murmured. “And I’m sure we all love eating up a compliment like that. I certainly am, even though I realize there’s no truth to it.”
Oh hell no. “You’re wrong.” I started to move against her so I could whisper every dark thought I had in her ear but Jeffry and Grant interrupted.
“We’re ready to head out,” Grant said, clapping his hands together loudly and rubbing the palms.
I jumped backward, doing the exact opposite of what I wanted. It hurt, much like ripping open a fresh scab. Raw, bloody, wrong.
“It is a school night,” Esme laughed.
“I’ll walk you all out.” I waved toward the front of the restaurant. Esme shot me a funny look.
Jeffry smiled in understanding. “He’s going to stay and schmooze for a little longer. He lives a different kind of life from us.”
As if she had just now truly connected the dots, her eyes darted around the room and some sort of curtain came down, closing her off from me completely. I wanted to go to her and demand she tell me what she was thinking so I could change it but instead Jeffry grabbed my arm.
“What do I do?”
I blinked a few times? “About what?”
“Esme. What do I say?”
Fucking fuck fuck. “Ask her to join you for coffee.” Make her smile, touch her hand, tell terrible jokes until she starts to banter with you. Then you’ll know she’s ready.
Oh god. Was I really going to give Jeffry this advice? Use what I already knew to help him get the girl? I had to, didn’t I? I may want another night with Esme but that was it, wasn’t it? And that wasn’t fair to her. She deserved more. Someone like Jeffry who could discuss her work, go out with friends, enjoy movies. Not someone like me. Someone who only wanted another night in bed.
And I certainly couldn’t come between my best friend and the woman he was interested in.
This was a fucked up situation with only one solution.
I had to help Jeffry.
I just had to.
“Ask her for coffee and be sure to make her laugh. If she likes your terrible jokes, ask her to dinner.”
Thank you for reading episode 4 of Reckless Kiss! New episodes will release in my newsletter every Tuesday. If you enjoy this story please check out my free book Tease. It has a very similar style, level of heat, and types of characters and I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Some characters from my previous books will be appearing in this serial. If you haven’t already, check out When Lighting Strikes, to read Marie Bancroft Hamilton’s story, Summer Heat, Night Games, and Last Fall to meet more of the Bancroft Sports gang. (But you absolutely do not need to in order to enjoy Reckless Kiss. This book is 100% it’s own story!)