Tessa Bradley is a self-sufficient, take-no-bull, single mother—well, now she is. Finally rid of her abusive, alcoholic ex, she’s making a new life for herself and catching up with old friends; the ones she was forced to break ties with because of her controlling husband. When she runs into Marcus, her friend Riley’s once-adorable turned smoking-hot little brother, she has no idea how he’s about to rock her world.
You wanted me then, now you can have me. Just promise you’ll Keep Me…
I didn’t feel like such a “good girl” as I was grinding my ass into Marcus on the dance floor singing along to Robin Thicke. But the lines were certainly becoming blurred and my vision pretty hazy. This night was turning into a lot of fun. Marcus and I were having a lot of fun. Even if it was becoming that kind of will-we-regret-this-tomorrow kind of fun.
“Hey sexy, need another drink?” The two of us halted our inappropriate display to see Jenifer, the one with one ‘N’ not two as she always had to correct, taking it all in.
“Nah, Jen we’re good. Right, sexy?”
Good was one word for it. So was intoxicated, plastered and drunk-off-my-face. “Mmmhhhm. How ‘bout water?”
“Someone’s going to have a nasty hangover in the morning.” Jenifer all but sang.
Dismissing Jen and her one ‘N,’ Marcus looped his arm around my neck. “Yeah, not if I can help it. Come on, babe, let’s get you some water.” Marcus ushered me back to our table with a protective grip.
He left me there to head to the bar and when I finally sat down, things really started to spin. Like Tilt-a-Whirl at Coney Island spin. I took a napkin and patted my face, leaning forward and trying to fight the nausea that was making its way up.
“Here. Drink this. You don’t look too good.”
I glanced up, expecting to meet eyes with Marcus, but instead was greeted by Seth, a design engineer at GX. “Thank you!” I blurted out before gulping down the entire ice-cold contents of the glass and slamming it back down on the table.
“You okay, Tessa? Need a ride home?”
Did I need a ride home? Hmm, something to ponder. I hadn’t been with a man since…and come to think of it, Seth was pretty hot. Jesus, Tessa. Tame yourself. He’s trying to be a gentleman and you’re all desperate and horny.
“No, I think I’m okay. Nothing another glass of water won’t fix.”
Marcus appeared out of nowhere. “Well, then aren’t you glad I brought you another, pretty girl? Thanks, Seth. I can take if from here.”
“Can you, Marcus? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure the shots you were feeding her are what got her where she is right now.”
The two men stared at each other as if a sparring match was about to start any second—a duel, a quarrel, a showdown to prove whose goddamn water was better.
“Save it, Seth. I would never do anything to hurt Tessa. She’s a friend. I’ve known her since I was a kid.”
And there it was. That was sobering. No matter how much fun we were having out there pretending and flirting, the truth was that I was just a friend. Was I a moron to think that Marcus the Stud could really see me as anything other than his older sister’s gal pal?
“You know what, Seth. I might just take you up on that offer. Let me just grab my purse and…”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up. What just happened here?” Marcus’s eyes narrowed to slits as he appraised the situation.
“You heard her, Marcus. She’s ready to go home.”
“Shut up, Seth,” he said without taking his eyes off mine. “We were having a good time. What’s the matter? Did I do something wrong?”
“Nope, not at all. You’re my friend and friends should be allowed to have a good time together without worrying about who the other goes home with. Right, friend?” I didn’t know why I was getting so bent out of shape. I had no right to make it like we were anything more than friends, but for some reason hearing Marcus call me that to a man who seemed interested in being more than just friends. . .it just burned my ass.
“Seth? Does the offer still stand?”
Without speaking a response, Seth reached for my hand and started to lead me toward the exit.
Until Marcus’s tattooed hand clamped down on his shoulder. “Fat chance, fucko. I wouldn’t let her go home in that condition with anyone. That wouldn’t make me a good friend at all. So goodnight, Seth. She’ll see you in the office on Monday.”
“You two have issues. Hope you make it home in one piece.” Seth turned away, his interest instantly caught by the drink-toting Jenifer. And here I thought he was a gentleman. He was only looking for someone to go home with.
I spun around, slightly embarrassed. Okay. More like utterly mortified.
“What was that all about? You really wanted to go home with that douche?”
I closed my eyes in an attempt to collect my scattered thoughts, the ones that were sprinkled all around me in a mess of confusion because of the man standing in front of me. “Forget it, Marcus. I’m drunk and tired and I just want to go home. I’m calling a cab.”
“First of all, please drink this. Second of all, you’re not going home in a cab at this hour all alone. Third of all, look at me.”
Look at him? Why? So he could melt me again? Make me feel all these crazy, irrational things I wasn’t supposed to be feeling about him? Without looking at him, I politely took the water from his hands, drained the glass and then started toward the exit again. This time alone.
As I stepped outside, the fresh, crisp air of the spring night nipped at my bare shoulders and swayed in my hair. I felt his hand at my waist.
“Wait, Tessa. Please. What did I do?”
“Nothing! You did absolutely nothing!” The alcohol was really making me seem bi-polar. I was suddenly angry at all the nothing that was taking place around us. He did nothing while making me feel a whole lot of something.
Marcus just stared at me as my chest heaved. I was breathless and trying to regain some semblance of normalcy. His gaze went from concerned to heated in an instantaneous rush of something I simply couldn’t explain.
I stood with my back against the brick wall of the club as Marcus wrapped his fingers in my hair and pinned me back. Unable to move, unable to speak, I just waited. His lips crushed mine with the most intense want I ever felt from a man. Maybe I was wrong about the friend thing after all. Add blind and dumb to the list of things alcohol did to me.
It felt like time had stopped and the world ceased to spin as his tongue tasted mine and his lips worked their magic. My body became one with the wall, my mouth and limbs controlled only by Marcus’s touch. His tongue prowled inside of me, as if exploring and discovering something for the very first time. His hands roamed—my face, my arms, my chest and my hips. Our kiss grew more and more intense and the delicious flicks of his skillful tongue had me on the brink of whimpering right there on the sidewalk. Little Marcus Grayson was a fantastic kisser. Holy shit! I’m kissing Little Marcus Grayson.
“Stop. We can’t.” I pulled away, biting my lip. I didn’t exactly want to stop, but it was probably the right thing to do.
“Oh my God, Tessa. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that.” His grey eyes sparkled with satisfaction.
His finger was at my lips now, grazing the swollen flesh. “Seriously.”