Sweet little lies, p.21
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       Sweet Little Lies, p.21

         Part #1 of Heartbreaker Bay series by Jill Shalvis
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  panic because he gave a slight head shake. “You’ve lost it.”

  “Yes, now you fully understand! I’ve completely lost it, but to be honest, I lost it a long time ago!”

  “I meant me, babe,” he said. “I’ve lost it to even be melted by those eyes of yours, enough that I’ll do just about anything for you.”

  “Good,” she said quickly. “Go with that. Please, I can’t explain right now, but I need you to hide, for just a minute, I promise.”

  He shook his head again, muttered some more, something that sounded like “you’re a complete dumbass, O’Riley,” but then God bless him, he folded up his rangy form in the dumbwaiter.

  “Just for a minute,” she repeated and slammed the door shut on his gorgeous but annoyed face and turned back to the kitchen—where Finn’s shirt and shoes were lying scattered on the floor. Shit! She snagged everything up, ran back to the dumbwaiter, opened the door and shoved them at Finn and then slammed the door.

  Just as Jake rolled into her kitchen.

  Finn sat there in the dumbwaiter, somewhere between pissed off and bemused. And maybe a little turned on, which showed just how messed up in the head he really was.

  No one handled him. Ever. And yet Pru just had, like a pro.

  Which meant he sat here squished into the dumbwaiter in only his unbuttoned jeans, his shirt in one hand, his shoes in his other, wondering—What. The. Fuck.

  He tried to come up with a single reason why, if Pru and Jake were not a thing, that he had to be a dirty little secret. But he couldn’t.

  And his amusement faded.

  Because that’s exactly what he was at the moment. Pru’s dirty little secret, and while the thought of that might have appealed in fantasy, it absolutely did not hold up in reality.

  Not even close.

  Leaning in, he tried to catch whatever was going on in Pru’s kitchen.

  “Why are you breathing like a lunatic?” Jake asked. “And you’re all flushed. You sick?”

  Try as he might, Finn couldn’t catch Pru’s response.

  But he had no problem catching Jake’s next line. “Why is there a pair of men’s socks on your floor?”

  And that’s when the dumbwaiter jerked and went on the move, taking Finn southward.

  Chapter 22

  #SillyRabbit

  “Shit!” Finn had no choice but to hold on as the dumbwaiter began to move, taking him past the second floor, and then the first . . . all the way to the basement. It was a bad flashback to the last time this had happened.

  Before he could catch his breath, the dumbwaiter door opened, and yep, he was in the basement. He had an audience too. Luis the janitor, Trudy the head of building cleaning services, Old Guy Eddie, Elle, Spence, and Spence’s two buddies Joe and Caleb all sat around a poker table smoking cigars and playing what looked like five-card stud.

  They stared at Finn—still in only his jeans, still holding his shirt and shoes—with various degrees of surprise and shock.

  Luis didn’t even blink, but then again the guy had lost a leg in Vietnam so not much rattled him. He just shook his head. “Some people never learn.”

  Trudy had been married to Luis—three times. They’d recently celebrated their third divorce, which meant they were already sleeping together again and probably thinking about their fourth wedding. Trudy took in Finn’s state of dress—or in this case undress—and her cigar fell out of her mouth.

  “Hot damn,” she said in a been-smoking-for-three-decades voice. “I didn’t even know they made real men that look like that!”

  Joe, the youngest one here at twenty-four, who’d MMA-ed his way through college for cash, lifted up his shirt to look down at his eight-pack. “Hey, I’m made like that too.”

  Spence snorted.

  “You’re drooling,” Elle told Trudy and tossed some money into the pot without giving Finn a second glance.

  Finn didn’t take this personally. Everyone knew Elle had a thing for Archer. Well, except for Elle herself. And also Archer . . .

  Eddie looked at Finn and then pulled the cigar out of his mouth. “You got your wallet on ya somewhere, kid?”

  “Yeah,” Finn said. Minus his emergency condom . . .

  “Well then get over here,” Eddie said. “We’ll deal ya in on the next round.”

  Finn looked down at himself. He thought about the night he’d had, how it had started out about as amazing as a night could get, how it’d ended up going south.

  Literally.

  “I’m raising thirty,” Elle said, mind on the game. Not much distracted Elle from her poker game.

  “You sure?” Spence asked her.

  She narrowed her eyes. “Why wouldn’t I be sure?”

  Spence just looked at her. He didn’t like to waste words but as one of the smartest guys Finn had ever met, he didn’t often need them.

  Caleb didn’t mind using his words. “Do you remember the last time we played?”

  Elle sighed. “Yeah, yeah, the last time I raised, I ended up signing over my firstborn to Spence. Good thing I’m not planning on having kids.” She blew out a breath and folded. “You’re right.”

  “What?” Spence asked, a hand curved around his ear.

  “I said you’re right!” Elle snapped.

  Spence gave a slow smile. “I heard you. I just wanted to hear it again. Can I get it in writing for posterity?”

  Elle flipped him off.

  This only made Spence grin. “Sticks and stones . . .”

  “How about a big, fat loss,” Elle griped. “Will that hurt you?” She looked around. “What the hell does a girl have to do to get a drink refill and to keep the game moving?”

  Joe scrambled to pour her a drink, infatuation in his gaze. Elle absently patted him on the head and went back to her cards. “You coming or not?” she demanded of Finn.

  That was Elle, always on a schedule. With a shrug, he tossed aside his shirt and shoes. What the hell. “Deal me in.”

  It was three in the morning before Finn staggered home and into bed, where he lay staring at the ceiling.

  He’d lost his ass in poker—damn Elle, she had balls of steel—and afterward he’d dragged himself to the pub to check in and help close. It’d been a busy night, too busy to keep one eye on the door for a certain brown-eyed beauty.

  Not that she’d shown up.

  Neither had Jake.

  Which meant that Finn had ground his back teeth into powder wondering if he’d been played. Or if he was overreacting. Or if he was a complete idiot . . .

  It’s just that he couldn’t stop thinking about how he’d felt buried deep inside Pru, so deep that he couldn’t feel regret or pain. Could feel nothing but her soft body wrapped around him, her wet heat milking him dry, her mouth clinging to his like she’d never had anyone like him, ever.

  “Shit,” he muttered and flopped over, forcing his eyes closed. So she’d wanted to hide what they’d done. So what. He’d had a hell of an incredible time with her and that had been all he’d needed.

  Now it was back to the real world.

  He’d halfway convinced himself that he believed it when someone knocked on his door.

  In Finn’s experience, a middle-of-the-night knock on the door never equaled anything good. In the past, it’d meant his dad was dead. Or Sean needed bail money. Or there was a kitchen fire at the pub.

  Kicking off his covers, he shoved himself into the jeans he’d left on the floor. As he padded to the door, he shrugged into a shirt, looking out the peephole to brace himself.

  It wasn’t what he expected.

  Instead of a cop, it was a woman. The one woman who had the ability to turn him upside down and inside out. She was in jeans and a tee now, looking unsettled and anxious. Dammit. He pulled back and stared at the door.

  “Don’t make me beg,” Pru said through the wood.

  Resisting the urge to thunk his head against the door, he unlocked and opened up.

  Pru stared up at him, squinting through t
he long bangs that hadn’t been contained and were in her face. “You left,” she said.

  “You shoved me in the dumbwaiter.”

  “You left,” she repeated.

  He crossed his arms over his chest and refused to repeat himself. She’d stuffed him into the dumbwaiter so she didn’t have to reveal to Jake what they’d been up to on her kitchen table. He’d talked himself into filing that away in his head, in a file drawer labeled STUFF THAT SUCKS. He’d thrown away the key.

  But apparently he’d forgotten to lock it.

  She closed her eyes. “Can I come in?”

  “For?”

  She opened her eyes and leveled him with those warm brown eyes. “I wanted to apologize.”

  “Okay. Anything else?”

  “Yes.” She sighed. “I know this looks bad, Finn, but it’s not what you think.”

  He leaned against the doorjamb. “And what do I think, Pru?”

  She put her hands to his chest and gave a little push. A complete sucker, he let her squeeze in past him, taking some sick delight in the fact that she smelled like him.

  She strode straight into his bedroom and he followed because he was Pavlov’s dog at this point.

  She checked out his room, the unmade bed, the moonlight slanting in through his window, casting his mattress in grays and blues. When he came in behind her, she turned to face him and kicked off her shoes.

  “We both know what you thought,” she said. “But Jake and I aren’t a thing. I wasn’t hiding you, at least not like that.”

  “Then like what?”

  She held his gaze for a long beat. “I don’t always act with my brain. Sometimes I act with my heart, without thinking about the consequences. Jake is my boss and my friend, and he looks out for me.”

  “He thinks I’d hurt you?”

  “No,” she said and looked away. “Actually, he thinks I’ll hurt you. And he’s probably right.”

  “You going to break my heart, Pru?” he asked softly, only half joking because what he knew—and she didn’t—was that she could absolutely do it if she wanted. She could slay him.

  “Actually,” she said very quietly. “I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the other way around.” She reached for him and pushed his still unbuttoned shirt off his shoulders, assisting it back to the floor.

  “What are you doing?” he asked.

  “What does it look like?” Her fingers drifted down his chest and abs to play with the top button on his jeans.

  “You’re trying to get me naked.”

  “Yes,” she said. “You going to help?”

  Good question. First things first though. He gathered her hands in one of his and cupped her face with the other, tilting it up to his. “You and Jake are—”

  “No,” she said without hesitation, eyes clear.

  He might regret this later but he believed her. “No more hiding, Pru. I won’t be anyone’s dirty secret, not even yours.”

  “I know,” she said and freed her hands to caress his chest. “We weren’t done with each other.”

  “No?”

  She gave a small head shake and let her fingers drift southbound. “Unless . . . you were done with me?”

  Not by a long shot. “You’re wearing too many clothes,” he said and then proceeded to get her out of them. He tugged her T-shirt from the waistband of her jeans and yanked it over her head. Her bra followed the same path and her breasts spilled into his hand, warm and soft, tugging a groan from the back of his throat.

  Her hands and mouth were just as busy, landing on whatever they could reach, which at the moment meant she was nibbling at his collarbone, her fingers unbuttoning his Levi’s.

  Quickly losing control, he crouched in front of her, taking her jeans and panties down with one hard tug. With his face level with one of his favorite parts of hers, he clasped her hips in his hands and tugged her a step closer.

  “Oh,” she gasped, off balance, sliding her fingers into his hair to steady herself.

  But he had her. He had her and he wasn’t going to let her fall. He’d had no such luck for himself. He’d already fallen and hard. And feeling his heart squeeze at the thought, he leaned in and put his mouth on her.

  Another gasp escaped her lips and his fingers tightened on his hair. “Finn—”

  He licked. He nuzzled. He sucked. All while her soft pants and helpless moans and wordless entreaties wormed their way in his ears and through his veins until he didn’t know where he ended and she began.

  When she came, she came hard and with his name on her tongue. Satisfaction and triumph surged through him at that. When her knees buckled, he rose and scooped her up at the same time, feeling like a superhero as he tossed her down to his bed.

  She bounced once and then he was on her. Maybe a little rougher than she expected because she blinked up at him in surprise as he pinned her to the mattress.

  “What are you doing?” she asked, her voice a little hoarse, for which he took full credit.

  “Giving you what you showed up here for.”

  “What if I wanted to be in the driver’s seat?” she asked.

  “Dumbwaiter,” he said.

  “So . . . this is payback?”

  He gathered both of her wandering hands and pinned them to the pillow on either side of her head. “Yes.” He nudged her thighs open with one of his and made himself at home between them. “But you can do whatever you want to me in return. Later.” He bowed his head and licked his way down her neck. Christ, she tasted good. “Much later.”

  He’d planned on going slow and savoring all the naked skin against him but as she softened beneath him, wrapping her legs around his waist, he suddenly wasn’t interested in slow. He could feel her, hot and wet and ready, and when he slid in deep, they both gasped and instantly combusted with his first hard thrust.

  Chapter 23

  #CaffeineRequired

  That day at work, Pru was going over the schedule for the day when Nick poked his head in from the docks. “Hey,” he said. “Got a minute?”

  She’d gotten him the job here working for Jake, but they were both always so busy, they didn’t often get a chance to talk. “I’ve got exactly a minute,” she said, glancing at the clock and then smiling at Nick. “What’s up? How’s your mom? How’s Tim? I talked to him about a week or so ago.”

  “Mom’s fine,” Nick said. “And Tim got that apartment.” He smiled. “Thanks to you. Does Jake know he has a saint working for him?”

  “Believe me,” she said on an uncomfortable laugh. “I’m no saint. And Jake doesn’t need to be told otherwise.”

  “Why? Maybe he’d give you a raise.”

  “For being a saint? No. Now if I figured out how to clone myself,” she said. “He might be so inclined.”

  Nick gave her a quick, hard hug.

 
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