Excerpt from Star-Spangled Kiss

Star-Spangled Kiss
Chapter One

Son of a bitch, he wanted to fuck her. Now. The provocative images running through his mind went beyond wicked. His carnal appetite demanded satiation. Taking her to his bed became his number one priority. This beautiful siren enticing him to disaster, sunbathed on a pool float only a few feet away. She lay there with her eyes closed, lips parted and one knee bent. The mesmerizing sight lured him to an imminent ruin and he didn’t care if he succumbed.

She drifted on the smooth surface of the water, coming closer to the deck where he sat. He made a half-hearted attempt to look away, but he failed. His gaze returned again and again, drawn to the irresistible, tantalizing display. Riveted to her languid movement, he watched as her fingertips dipped into the sparkling pool water. Fingers splayed, she trailed them along the rippling waves. Lifting her hand, she brought it to hover a few inches above her. Tiny beads of water snaked along each slender finger to cling to the tips of manicured nails. The droplets fell, landing upon her lovely tanned chest. He envied the lucky drops of water and followed their paths as they slid into the hollow between her breasts, gathering in the space just below the line of her bikini.

He wanted to follow the same route with his tongue, maybe add a little detour, pull away the silky white bathing suit and trace his way around a tightly puckered nipple. He bet she’d taste like ambrosia: warm and sweet, a feast for him to indulge every single taste bud. Lazily, she moved her leg and let it dangle before dipping her toes into the water. The movement spread her thighs wider, allowing him the most delicious view. God, he could see the outline of her sex, cupped lovingly by the skimpy fabric. The tips of his fingers tingled, itching to slide under the elastic and feel what lay behind the material.

He grabbed his drink and held it in a tight fist. Holy shit, he was shaking like an eager teenager about to screw for the first time. What had come over him? For years, he’d prided himself on being calm, cool and collected. He never reacted out of character, especially not over a woman. Even the gorgeous show floating before him shouldn’t topple his restraint. Plus, it wasn’t as if she’d ever shown any interest in him. On several occasions, he had tried drawing her notice, and her continual refusal to acknowledge him grated on his nerves.

Every time he went to the Department of Children and Family Services where she worked, he expected the female employees to crowd around him, attempting to flirt. He never left the place without being propositioned. A few of the women had offered to do whatever he’d like in the way of sexual favors. Uninterested, he’d refused them all. He only wanted one woman from DCFS to provide him sexual favors, and that was the bathing beauty in the pool, one Sophie Perez, the object of his growing lust. Her present state of undress inflamed his desire and took it to a completely new level. Ty needed a diversion before he lost all control. Hell, he was fully erect now, and the dull throb in his balls warned him that he was on the verge of doing something stupid. He resisted the impulse to dive in next to Sophie and haul her into his arms. Like that would go over well. Not.

He glanced at her again. God, what was it about her that kept him coming back for more torture…and, he’d admit it, the potential for another rejection? Maybe some latent masochistic tendencies had surfaced or something.
Soaking up the sun, Sophie lay there lost in repose. Sunshine glinted off her sunglasses. The dark lenses hid her eyes from him. His memory painted in the picture of wide, almond-shaped, chocolate brown eyes framed by thick, nearly black, lashes. They gave her a memorizing, exotic air. But it was all that golden-brown skin that really drew Ty’s gaze even against his will. He wanted to rub her body with coconut-scented oil, paying special attention to her taut belly, and the space below.

Shifting in his seat, he cleared his throat and eyed his Pepsi. Hell, he needed a Budweiser, or five. He was working a special-detail later on, which sucked, especially on a holiday, but it meant he had to keep a clear head. Right now, an ice-cold, frosty beer would hit the spot and act to dull his senses. Without the numbing affects of alcohol, his mind conjured sinful, hot desires that prodded him to enjoy every single inch of Sophie. He’d practically stripped her bare and already begun an intense seduction any romance novel hero would be proud to claim.

Whoa, hold the phone! Romance? He didn’t do romance. He never had to exert the effort to woo a woman. Being an L.A. County Sheriff’s detective gave him all sorts of advantages in the hot-date department. Flash the badge, show a glimpse of his Beretta, flex a couple of well-honed muscles, and he’d have his pick of the herd for the night, week, or month. He’d indulge for however long it took, until he got bored and moved on. Broken hearts formed a long trail behind him. The idea of settling down and finding a wife gave him hives. He didn’t need a woman at home riding his ass about mundane bullshit. He already had a lieutenant for that kind of grief.
And what about Sophie? His intent gaze moved over the alluring picture she presented. She was the kind you took to an upscale restaurant for dinner, and afterward to meet your parents. A good girl. A lifetime girl. Unattainable, and forbidden, in more ways than one.

“You know, Ty, staring isn’t going to get you anywhere.”

Ty didn’t bother to look at Gavin, his partner in the Narcotics Bureau. The fucking traitor had found his woman and thought Ty should be chained to one as well. Gavin thought it would give them even more in common than they already had. Sometimes, Tyler thought Gavin was brainwashed, probably from all the lovey-dovey vibes Cassidy sent him. But Ty kept his mouth shut, not wanting to revisit the disagreement over his sexually nomadic lifestyle. Instead, he sucked down a swig of his warm soda and then set it on the little plastic side-table.

When Gavin shot him an I-know-you-too-well look, he decided to go on the attack, hoping to avoid the lecture he knew his friend was itching to give. “Slow your roll, slick. Ever since you hooked up with Cassidy and the Domestic-Fairy sprinkled you with settle-down dust, you have been on a mission to drag all the rest of us happily contented singles down with you. You are so whipped, man. You didn’t even put up all that much of a resistance.”

Gavin flipped a steak over on the barbeque, the meat sizzled, a spicy smell wafted on the smoky air. “Why resist?”

“Why?” Ty returned. “The whole ball-and-chain, collared-and-leashed, cramping-my-independence thing for starters.”

Ty dragged a hand through his hair. His partner could be such an asshole some days. Tyler was sick of the constant commitment crap Gavin preached. For the thousandth time, he’d have to tell his partner to butt out of his affairs. Looking back, Tyler figured he never should have told Gavin about his growing desire for Sophie. Gavin had taken his continued interest as something more than just lust to have the hot social worker in his bed.

“Man, when you face three badass gang-bangers in a dark alley you’re tough as hell, but when it comes to a girl like Sophie you are a little pussy.” Gavin smirked as he reached over and grabbed the industrial-sized seasoning salt, which he used to vigorously douse the corn on the cob.

Ty itched to slap the smug grin off his friend’s face. “Bastard.”

“Yes, but I’m a happy and well-satisfied bastard. Ty, face it, the more you resist, the harder you’re going to fall.” Gavin put the seasoning down and wrapped the corn in foil. He gripped a pair of long-handled tongs to pull open the lid on the barbeque, and then he set the dozen foil-wrapped corn-cobs on the raised metal shelf above the cooking grate. Twirling the utensil between his fingers, he cast Ty an amused glance. “Someday the right woman’s going to get under your skin, and you won’t want her to leave.” Gavin pointedly looked at Sophie still floating in the pool.

“Not me.” Ty kept his face forward, eyes fixed on Gavin and not Sophie. He was not playing into his friend’s fantasies for him. Tyler considered settling down with the ole ball and chain, synonymous with neutering. The idea made him break out in a cold sweat. He only wanted to bang Sophie, not have a relationship. After cracking his knuckles, he braced his head against his interlaced fingers and leaned back in his chair. “Just because your weak-ass couldn’t resist doesn’t mean I can’t. I don’t see me on the fast track to the altar. Not happening, man. Ever.”

Gavin, the patronizing asshole, picked up a fresh Budweiser, popped the cap and let it fizz over the long neck. Ty’s soon-to-be ex-friend tipped the brew back and took a long swig. Gavin caught his eye, then slowly turned and skimmed a look over the deep-end of the pool. Ty couldn’t help but follow his line of sight. His partner was staring at Sophie, who was blessedly oblivious to their discussion.

“Don’t be such a dick. Letting that one get away will be a serious mistake.” Gavin made the pronouncement as if he were some fricking seer.

“Do you even have a dick anymore?” Tyler countered, not bothering to hide his annoyance.

“Oh yes! He certainly does!” Two pale arms wrapped around Gavin’s midsection, embracing him from behind. Cassidy’s fair skin stood out against Gavin’s naturally dark tan. A raven-black pony tail of cascading ringlets came into view as Cassidy slid to Gavin’s side. She stood on her tiptoes and pressed her lips to Gavin’s throat. Then, she sidled in front of the barbeque-island and shot Ty a mischievous look. She bit down into her pert bottom lip and let her gaze travel back to her man. She fixed her stare right at the fly of Gavin’s red and black striped board-shorts. “And, trust me, he sure knows how to use it.” Her mouth curved up into a bright smile. “Lucky me!”

Gavin gripped her chin, tilting her head back. “Better watch it, baby, or I might have to spank you for telling secrets.”

The tip of her tongue snaked out and wet her lips. “Promise?”

Gavin’s masculine groan of need followed that seductive little teasing. He leaned over and feathered kisses across Cassidy’s cheek. He whispered something in her ear that made her moan. Ty felt like a voyeur and didn’t know whether he should be irritated or disturbed at their blatant display of sexual flirting.

“Please spare me the dog and pony show. If I want some tail, it sure isn’t gonna be cutesy little promises of tame vanilla spankings, and it sure as hell doesn’t have to be in a relationship.” He could get all sorts of sex, vanilla and more, without shackling himself to one woman. Now, he was determined to resist looking at Sophie again. He’d paint a bull’s eye on his chest and run through gang territory before he gave his friend the satisfaction of even a peek in her general direction.

Gavin inhaled through his nose, and his gaze pierced Ty. The detective in him was hot on the trail, apparently. “Don’t tell me you’re into all those leather and whip fetishes. Worried some woman will get you on your knees so you can lick her boots? Never thought you’d be the submissive type, bro. Maybe you’ve ingested too much sea-water while surfing.”

Cassidy snickered. “Or bashed your head on the rocks when you fell off the board?”

Tyler threw his half-empty Pepsi can straight at Gavin’s head. Fucker ducked right in time. The can banged against the stucco wall and rolled behind a potted dwarf-palm tree. “Me, a submissive? Nah, I’m always the one in charge. I’m in it for the pleasure. My pleasure. Any subsequent fun we have is simply dessert.” He leaned against the back of the Adirondack chair and crossed his arms over his chest. Against his will, he looked over at the pool. A bolt of heat sizzled its way along his spine, settling at the base of his cock. He silently groaned. He had to get the woman out of his system. She was driving him fricking nuts. God damn, she had the finest body around and once he took her to his bed, he’d get over her just like all the others in his past.
Right?

Sophie slid off the inflatable float. Her purple and pink polka-dotted lounger was snatched up by a pair of rambunctious kids. Their boisterous kicking splashed water all over her, but she didn’t seem bothered by their carousing. Instead, she laughed and warned them to be careful. She moved through the shallow-end with effortless grace and stepped onto the first stair leading from the pool. The next one brought her out of the water and gave Ty a wonderful view of her backside. White material hardly covered the perfect curves of toned muscle. Gold bows held the scrap in place at her hips. Ty wanted to yank the ribbons open with his teeth. He ground his molars together at the thought of totally baring her to his eyes.

His greedy gaze moved to the upper swell of her ass. The material covered it like a second skin and had some gold embroidery; it spelled out the word Juicy, taunting him with images of licking the sweet, hot skin hidden beneath the bikini bottom.

Hell, he was heading into dangerous territory. His cock throbbed, a constant reverberation reminiscent of a toothache. Employing restraint when it came to women was not his strong suit. His routine entailed a little flirting with a bit of strategic petting and voila, he swung for the fences and hit a home run. Not that he was a total prick or anything. A few of his more prolific skills had brought him many female accolades and pleas for an encore.

Sophie incited a whole other set of needs and desires. Ones that he had not wanted to entertain before. Impulses he normally dismissed as a waste of time took root in his head and grew with each passing minute. He contemplated specifics, like what he’d do if he and Sophie found themselves alone, together, in a confined space. Say the mud-room. A little wrist action to lock the door, followed by a sensual swimsuit removal would be the precursor for a lot of touching. Oh yeah, lots and lots of touching. All that beautiful, tanned, Latina skin called to every base sexual need in him.

Ty sighed. He had to admit it, if not to his friends, at least to himself: it was too damn late. Sophie was under his skin unlike any other woman. If he managed to get her alone — and he would soon — he’d indulge every single fantasy plaguing him. Once he had her, he was sure his sanity would return and he could go back to his carefree bachelor life.

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