“Thank you very much for helping me,” I told Hayes once they were gone, forcing myself to breathe steadily. Show no fear. “What did you want to talk about?”
“I want you at my place on Monday at three,” he said.
“We can work you into my schedule,” I said slowly. “But I don’t have my calendar with me. Can I get in touch with you tomorrow, when I’m not so tired?”
Definitely the best idea. Maybe I’d even find a way out of this, because I knew darned well going to his house by myself wouldn’t be safe. Not after seeing him like this—if anything, the man was more dangerous than all the rumors combined. He smiled at me wolfishly.
“No, I’ll see you at three on Monday. Bolt will give you the address. That’ll cover our original deal, but have you forgotten you owe me more now?”
“Huh?” I asked blankly.
“I just gave your girl a damned big pass,” he said slowly, taking a step toward me. I backed up warily. “But someone has to pay for what she did.”
Hayes took another step forward, and I felt my back hit the wall. Not good. His face was cold, eyes full of ice. He towered over me, hands coming to rest on either side of my head.
“What exactly do you mean by pay?” I whispered.
“It’s my birthday,” he said slowly, his chest grazing the tips of my breasts. My nipples hardened without permission. “And instead of getting my dick sucked by a stripper, I just cock-blocked two of my brothers for you.”
I felt myself starting to panic.
“You did get …” I cleared my throat nervously. “You did have oral sex. I mean, if you want to be technical about it. You just didn’t finish.”
His hips pushed down, demonstrating just how aware he was. I swallowed as I felt his hard length press my stomach. Heat rushed through me, twisting down between my legs, because no matter what else Reese Hayes might be, he was incredibly sexy. His mouth lowered toward mine, and then his nose brushed up and along the length of mine. I felt his warm breath whisper across my cheek. His lips hovered a fraction of an inch over mine and I closed my eyes.
“Just a taste,” he whispered. I nodded. I couldn’t help myself.
His mouth brushed mine as one of his hands slid into my hair, loosening the bandanna. His tongue traced the crack of my lips, wordlessly asking to come inside.
Sighing, I let him.
The kiss was surprisingly gentle in its intensity. His tongue reached deep, exploring in a game of hunt and chase that sent tendrils of desire all the way down to my toes and back up again. Without thinking, I pressed my breasts against his chest, startled and thrilled by just how good he felt around me. His hips moved in a slow, steady grind as he slipped a knee between mine. I felt a hand grip my rear and then he boosted me effortlessly, pinning me against the wall as my legs wrapped around him oh so naturally.
Reese Hayes’s penis nestled right up against my opening, and as my body strained toward his I realized we were perilously close to the point of no return.
I pictured Nate’s smiling face and forced myself to pull away from the kiss. Hayes released my mouth, holding my body firm, resting his forehead against mine and breathing heavily. I pushed my spine back into the wall, adrenaline surging, but there wasn’t anywhere to go. Not that the kiss had been violent or rough or even that passionate … I’d just never experienced anything quite like this man’s quiet intensity.
And I’d never wanted anyone more than I wanted Reese Hayes in that moment.
“I need to go,” I whispered. “Jessie is waiting for me.”
“Can’t. She needs me. You’re a parent—you understand. I know you do.”
“You can’t fix her,” he whispered into my ear, the heat of his mouth brushing against the lobe. “She’s a big kid and she has to make her own decisions. Sooner or later we have to let them grow up.”
“Is that what you did with your girls?” I asked. He stilled, then shook his head with a low laugh.
“Fuck no,” he admitted. “I tried everything I could to protect them and keep them safe. Didn’t do a damned bit of good in the end. Kit’s running wild, and Em’s shacked up with a bastard I’d give anything to put in the ground.”
“Then you know why I have to leave now.”
He lowered me slowly and we studied each other for long seconds, sharing a kind of understanding that I’d never have believed possible ten minutes earlier.
“I’ll walk you to the car,” he said.
A strange mixture of awareness and tension followed as we walked down the stairs and passed through the club’s main lounge. Speculative gazes touched us, which I ignored.
I could ignore the humming of my body, too—I’d accomplished my goal.
Outside, a very subdued Jessica waited next to the van in the parking lot, Banks standing near enough to watch her but not close enough to talk comfortably. He looked bored but alert, clearly determined to follow his president’s orders.
So much for young love.
I unlocked the van with my key fob and Jess slid in as I reached for my own door. Hayes caught my shoulder, turning me toward him.
“Three o’clock Monday afternoon.”
“I’ll check my schedule.”
“You do that,” he said with a slow, sly grin, because we both knew damned well I’d be there, on time and ready to work. I had a feeling he’d hunt me down if I didn’t. I opened the van door and climbed in, sliding the key into the ignition.
Jess refused to look at me, which worked out well because I really didn’t feel like dealing with her. We’d made it halfway home before she broke the silence.
“Mom would never embarrass me like that.”
After all that, she was going to throw Amber at me? Something ugly inside me snapped.
“Nope, she would’ve charged them to screw you because she never gives anything away for free.”
Jessica gasped and I immediately felt horrible. It might be true, but I had no business tearing down Amber to her daughter. I knew better …
“Fuck you,” she said, her voice cold, dark, and so full of hate I flinched. “I want to go live with her. My real mother.”
I slowed the van to pull over, because I’d messed up and I knew it. Jess turned away.
“Just drive. I don’t want to talk. You’re not my mom and you’re not my boss. I’m an adult. Fuck you …” she repeated, but this time she didn’t sound strong. Nope. It was a pained whisper. My heart tore in half, because no matter how damaged Jess was, it wasn’t her fault. From the instant of conception she’d been bathed with chemicals in her mother’s toxic womb, and now she had to live with that the rest of her life.