He's got one shot. Better make it naughty...
Micah's new living arrangement with her best friend is quickly becoming unbearable. Not because Tomas isn't a good roommate. When they're alone, he shows her his sweet, loyal side. It's just that he shows the rest of his parts to half the women in town. If she can't scrape together the money for her own place soon, witnessing the aftermath of his late-night carousing is going to break her heart.
Then again, if it's going to break anyway, maybe she should just go ahead and make a move on the man she's loved since high school. And risk his rejection a second time.
It hasn't been easy for Tomas to share space with the one damsel he can't bear to see in distress. To have her within easy reach has been torture. His foster mother's words echo in his head: a classy girl like Micah deserves more than the likes of him. But lately Micah's been rattling his cage. If she does it one more time, she'd better be ready for the animal she awakens.
Unfortunately for him, Micah's hot little hands are already wrapped around the bars...
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Samhain Publishing, LTD
April 23, 2012
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Excerpt from Just One Night by Chloe Cole
The thwap thwap thwap of the motorcycle ricocheted off the walls of her tiny bedroom, and Micah jerked up like a shot. She turned a bleary eye to the neon-green numbers of her alarm clock. Four a.m. Charming.
The warm, solid weight on her feet and calves shifted, and she glanced down to see Martha yawning. "Aw, did that jerk wake you up too? Sorry, sweetpea."
Micah reached out to pat the bulldog's wide head and was rewarded with a cold nose sliding against her knee. Martha usually bunked with Tomas, but when he was out late, the dog came and slept with her. She refused to think about how often that seemed to happen lately.
Martha dropped her head back down a second later and started to snore. So much for misery and company. Micah considered trying to do the same, but now that she was awake and knew Tomas was home, it would be a pointless endeavor. As hard as it always was to hear about her roommate's latest fling, it would be far worse if she just lay in bed wondering. At least this way she could read his eyes, see if they softened when he said her name, whoever she was.
She swallowed the lump lodged in her throat and threw off the sheets, disentangling herself from the dog pinning her to the bed. Screw that. She was going to give him a piece of her mind. He could have at least rolled down the driveway with the engine off. Selfish prick.
She stood, glancing at her nighttime attire with a grimace. Threadbare SpongeBob T-shirt and boxers. Not that it mattered. It could've been a bustier with thigh-high boots and a thong and Tomas would never see her as more than his buddy. She let out a snort of self-disgust for feeling almost pathetically grateful she had that much. Her anger ratcheted up another notch.
The sound of tumbling locks, followed by the creak of the front door, echoed through the small house. By the time he stepped in, closing the door behind him ever so softly, she was already stationed in the hallway with one hand on her hip and a scowl firmly in place.
He jerked back in surprise when he saw her. "Hey, Mike, what are you still doing up?"
Her eyes went all buggy. "Up? Seriously? I wasn't up, you bonehead. You woke me up riding in on the world's noisiest motorcycle. Call the guys over at Guinness, because you and that hunk of junk are a shoo-in for a world record." She cringed at the shrill tone of her voice but couldn't seem to stop the tide of bitchiness. "Or how about try getting home at a decent hour like a normal person. Where were you, anyway?"
Ah, even better. Bitchy and needy. And you wonder why he doesn't want you.
Her stomach clenched as she took in his appearance. His rumpled white dress shirt hung untucked over his faded jeans. His inky hair was mussed, and her fingers itched to right it. He also looked relaxed and thoroughly sexed, which made her want to break stuff.
His brow furrowed, and he took a step toward her. "I told you I might be home late tonight. What's up, are you okay?"
Some of the anger drained out of her at the concern in his voice. Yeah, I'm okay. I just love you and you don't love me, is all. She blew out a sigh and sent the annoying curl that perpetually hung over one eye flapping. "I'm fine. Next time you know you're staying out that late, take the truck or roll up to the house, okay? I stayed up really late and finally got into a deep sleep, so the noise scared the crap out of me."
He scrubbed a hand over his handsome face. "S**t. This is the first time I've ever lived with someone during bike season. I just wasn't thinking. Sorry, babe, I won't do it again. How about I make it up to you with breakfast?" He leveled her a lethal grin then grabbed her hands, pulling her toward the kitchen. "Buttery Swiss and mushroom omelets. Rye toast. I'll even make you bacon if you want."
Her heart stuttered at the feel of his hands on her sensitive wrists. One time. If he would run those hard, calloused palms all over her body one time, she would die a happy woman. Her mind careened back to the drunken night in high school when they'd gone skinny-dipping at the lake and she'd tried to convince him to do just that.
"Please, Tomas. I want my first time to be with you. Just one night?"
Her cheeks burned and she shoved the memory back into the file marked Old and Pathetic News.
"Don't be stubborn. Come on, let me feed you."
Digging her heels into the ground, she went dead weight and tried to pull away from him. Her traitorous stomach chose that moment to let out a fierce, extended growl.
"Wow, and you thought the bike was loud? Good thing I came home when I did. You may have starved."
"Shut up," she grumbled as she allowed herself to be dragged. "And I do want bacon, so there." Why couldn't she ever stay mad at him?
Because he didn't do anything wrong, that's why.
He was a grown-ass man, and a single one at that. Just because they were roommates didn't mean he should have to curtail his lifestyle to suit her. Moreover, he was doing her a favor by letting her stay with him in the first place. Granted, she paid rent, but he could afford to live in the house without her. He'd only asked her to stay because he was a good friend and knew she had nowhere else to go. So how did she return the favor? By behaving like a shrew.
She bit her lip and prepared for an appetizer of humble pie. "You know what, I'm sorry. It's cool, the noise just startled me. Good thing we don't have close neighbors, though. I think our house would get egged."
Tomas chuckled and hooked a foot around the leg of a kitchen chair, pulling it out for her. He pressed her into the seat then started gathering what he needed for their meal. "So what'd you end up doing last night?"
She scrambled to come up with something sexier than the truth but came up empty. "Stayed home."
"Why up so late then? What, was there a Matlock marathon or something?" A sexy dimple flashed briefly before he turned back to the stove.
"Har har. No." She didn't add that it was a Golden Girls marathon that had kept her up. It wasn't like she was embarrassed or anything. It just wasn't relevant. "I had some work to catch up on. Adding new pics to my website and stuff."
She had sat with her laptop over her thighs as she'd watched Blanche, Dorothy, Rose and Sophia make mischief. How sad was it that the octogenarians' lives were more exciting than hers? "Plus I did some laundry and watched The Princess Bride."
"I haven't done laundry all week."
He rolled his eyes. "I meant that movie."
"If I'm flipping through the channels and I see it, I can't pass it up."
She tried to focus on their small talk but watched him beneath her lashes as he made his way around the kitchen with a natural grace and confidence that was totally Tomas. The crackling, sensual energy he gave off was enough to make even an ugly guy seem hot, and Tomas was nobody's ugly. He was mouthwateringly gorgeous, and the potent combination of looks and charisma made him downright lethal. She wasn't the only one who thought so, either. Seemed like every woman in the world wanted him. And worse? It seemed like he didn't want to disappoint a single one of them.
She squashed the depressing thought and strived for a casual tone. "So, what about you? What'd you end up doing?"
"Went to Adam's to watch the game then stopped by that new bar on Harstan Street. Club Heat," he said with a grimace. "Not my style. Bunch of twenty-one-year-old girls looking for drinks when what they really need is a sandwich, you know? Whoever said you can never be too rich or too thin is only half right."
She loved that about him. He liked a girl with a little junk in the trunk and some hips. She wondered if he ever noticed she had both in spades.
He broke some eggs into a bowl and paused to roll up his sleeves. Strong, brown forearms made an appearance, and again she lost her train of thought. Why did even the most innocuous part of him make her stomach flip? It was ridiculous.
He began to whisk the omelets, biceps bunching under his shirt. She tore her eyes away before she started to drool. "So no hotties, huh?"
He shook his head, and she bit back a sigh of relief. So maybe he hadn't hooked up then...
"Not at first, but right when I was about to leave, this one girl walked in and she looked as out of place as I felt. Smoking-hot body, nice face. We talked for a while and--"
She slapped a hand on the oak table, cutting him off. "Got it. Enough said."
He waggled his brows. "Don't you want to hear the details?"
As if. That ranked somewhere between death by shark and waterboarding on her list of wants. "Absolutely not. And a gentleman never kisses and tells," she reminded him primly.
"Kiss?" He screwed his face up in mock concentration then shook his head. "Nope, I don't think I kissed her. Licked, suck--"
She slammed her hands over her ears and started to hum over his muffled laughter. It was all so damned bittersweet, like everything was with Tomas. She loved when they sat around talking about their days, or cracking jokes about his nightlife and her lack thereof, but when she actually allowed herself to picture his hands in another woman's hair, his tongue tracing another woman's lips--
Pain stole the breath from her lungs, and she stopped humming. She closed her eyes and tried to think happy thoughts, only to open them a moment later as firm fingers closed over her wrists to pry her hands away from her ears.
"Okay, I'll stop. I just love messing with you. Your cheeks get all pink and you look so damn cute when you get flustered." Tomas dropped her wrists then ruffled her hair before turning back to his omelets.
She rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue at his retreating back. He whipped around to face her, and she was busted.
"I would have bet money you were doing that behind my back. That's not very nice," he tsked. "Didn't anybody ever tell you not to stick it out unless you're going to use it?"
She snapped her tongue back as if it had been burned. God, if only he meant it. Helpless to stop it, her gaze was drawn to his beautiful mouth and the juicy lower lip begging to be sucked.
She crashed back to reality and peered into his puzzled eyes. For a split second, electricity arced between them. Did he feel it too? Before she could embarrass herself by asking, the moment passed and he turned away to flip the eggs.
"Sorry, I'm all wonky from lack of sleep. Food almost done?" She'd been so hyperaware of him, she hadn't noticed the tantalizing scent of bacon frying.
"Thirty seconds to plating. Can you get the toast?"
She stood and popped the toast up then slathered each slice with butter.
"So are you going out tonight?" he asked.
"Uh, yeah. Yep. Going to Zero with Renee. You know, get my dance thing on." She executed a sad excuse for a solo bump and grind to lend credence to the lie. Lame. Why had she even told him she was going out? Now she would actually have to go. Renee would be thrilled. Her friend had been trying to drag her to the trendy club for months.
"Good. You need to get out more. Twenty-five is too young to be sitting home on the weekends watching movies by yourself."
"Yeah, I know. Money's been tight since I left Rubicon, though, and staying home is cheap."
Tomas turned his head to face her, his chocolatey eyes lit with concern. "If you need a loan, you know--"
"I don't. Need a loan. I just have to be careful, that's all."
"Mike, eventually you're going to have to face this thing. You know that, right? I'm here for you no matter what, and I love having you here, but you need to talk to your parents. You can't just cut them out of your life."
Tears pricked the backs of her eyelids, but she blinked them away, allowing anger to take center stage once again. "They cut me out of theirs. If I didn't want to fall into line, I could pack my bags and go. That's what they said. For five years before that, I tried to move out and they begged me to stay. If not in the main house, at least in the guesthouse. Then I make one decision without their say-so, a decision about my life and my career, and that's it? They're done with me?" She took a steadying breath before she could continue. "No Sunday dinner invites. I call, no one calls me back. How am I to blame for that? What kind of love is so conditional?"
"Conditional or not, you have a family that loves you. That's more than a lot of people have."
And no one knew that better than Tomas. Tears welled again, but this time they weren't for herself. Despite her own turmoil, her heart gave a squeeze at the truth of his words.
His voice was low, and he looked past her as he spoke. "Your dad was hurt, no doubt. For your whole life, he thought you'd be taking over for him. To my mind, being handed a thriving legacy from someone who believes in you is a pretty good indicator of love. Give the guy a break. His dream was totally derailed when you told him you were out."
"His dream. Not mine."
"Look, I'm not saying that you should've stayed. You're an amazing artist, and I know you're going to be successful. I just think now that it's been a few months and tempers have cooled, it's time to think about how to start mending fences."
The room was quiet but for the sizzle of bacon as she let his words sink in.
Apparently, he had said his piece and wasn't waiting for a declaration from her, which was good. She wasn't ready to make one. The hurt was as fresh as it had been the day her parents had slammed the door in her face. But damn it all, his words made all kinds of grown-up sense. Maybe her father hadn't been so much against her having a career in the arts as he was invested in her taking over his business.
Tomas clapped his hands together, breaking the tension along with the silence. "Let's eat."
Glad for the distraction, she gathered up two forks and some napkins. She turned around and slammed right into what felt like a brick wall.
"Cold!" she screeched, as icy, sticky liquid drenched her from neck to waist.
Tomas's shocked eyes met hers. He held one full glass of orange juice and one almost empty. He'd managed to catch it just before it shattered on the floor, but not before she ended up wearing most of it.
"Sorry, I--" The words died on his lips even as his mouth continued to open and close for a moment.
"Are you okay?" Putting aside her discomfort, she scanned him quickly, looking to see if maybe she was standing on his toe or something. Then she realized he was staring at her shirt. She glanced down and gasped. She might as well have been topless. SpongeBob clung to her skin tighter than a barnacle on a boat, and whatever coverage the thin, worn cotton had provided when dry had vanished in the face of eight ounces of OJ. Her nipples were clearly outlined as the cloth hugged the dusky, tight points.
His brisk tone shocked her into meeting his narrowed eyes despite her embarrassment. She'd heard it before, but he'd never aimed it at her.
She set down the napkins and utensils and crossed her arms over her chest. "You bumped into me. I don't know what you're so mad about. It was an accident."
He turned on his heel and put the glasses on the table but didn't turn back to face her. "I'm not mad, just go change while I clean this up. Hurry up before breakfast gets cold."
Geez. After the kind of night he'd had, he should be in a better mood. It wasn't like he was the one covered in juice. Hungry and too tired and wrung out from the emotional roller coaster of the past thirty minutes, she didn't argue. Maybe they'd both be in better moods once they ate and got a good night's sleep. Then again, it was kind of hard to get a good night's sleep when the man she loved was just one door away, oblivious.