AJ Lott halted mid-tunnel on his way to the field, pushing his helmet up so it rested on top of his head. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary at first. Photographers and journalists, his fellow teammates bashing each other on the back as they hustled toward the second half. AJ should have been following suit…but that voice. Where had it come from?
There it was again, coming from much further below, which fit, considering that musical, feminine tone moved something deep in his belly. As if the voice’s owner was speaking directly to his middle. Who—
AJ dropped his head forward…and a sudden lack of gravity almost pulled him the rest of the way down. Behind a pair of tortoise shell-rimmed glasses, green eyes stared back…in sheer terror. And maybe it was stupid, but he thought removing his helmet might calm the voice owner down. So he took it off…and promptly dropped it with a loud thunk onto the concrete floor, sending Green Eyes leaping backwards. The exact opposite of what he’d intended. It was too confusing to explain, but he needed the girl to come closer. Needed it kind of bad.
He held out his hands. “I’m sorry.”
“Why? Okay. It’s okay.” Green Eyes shook her head as if frustrated, allowing a few strands of chocolate brown hair to escape her low ponytail. Holy hell, she was pretty. In a please-ignore-the-pretty kind of way. “Are you AJ Lott?”
“Only if I’m not in trouble.”
One corner of her mouth lifted, but her eyebrows dipped, like she was trying to solve a puzzle. “Um…great.” She held out a football and a Sharpie, which muscle memory had him reaching for without hesitation. “Would you please sign this?”
“Of course.” He uncapped the Sharpie with his teeth…and then realized that was both rude and disgusting. Unfortunately, with both hands full, removing the cap required some juggling. Or it would have if Green Eyes didn’t reach up and tug it from between his teeth. Just the tip of her thumb brushed his lower lip and—oh God—his groin stiffened. Not good. Not good at all in tight football pants. This was so not a typical halftime. “I hope you don’t mind if I ask…how did you get in here? Not that I mind. I do not mind.” Lord, why couldn’t he talk to women? Especially now, when—unexplainably—it seemed to matter like hell. Mostly, he was just curious why someone who hadn’t even recognized him wanted a ball signed. Something the players usually did before the game, not during.
Green Eyes shifted in her knee-high galoshes. “I just kind of…slipped in. Behind someone carrying an orange barrel full of Gatorade,” she whispered, a flush creeping up her neck. “They didn’t even notice me.”
Damn, he liked them having a secret together. “I’m noticing you now.” Her soft expulsion of breath made him replay his words, followed by a rough shove of the football against his forehead. “That sounded creepier than I intended.”
“It’s fine.” Somehow, the girl looked uncomfortable when he was the one making a giant ass out of himself. “I-I…you’re so big, I bet you never just slip in anywhere. Unnoticed, I mean. Oh God. That sounded…”
And AJ couldn’t help but throw his head back on a booming laugh. One that quieted the reporters and trainers stomping down the hallway, turning their heads in his direction. “You just said that so I’d feel better about being creepy, right?”
“No,” she said, squeezing her eyes closed. “I’m not that smooth.”
I’ll bet you would be smooth. Smooth under my palms. Against my thighs.
Football pants, man.
In the distance, a buzzer pealed, reminding him he had a football game to win. Reminded? When had he ever managed to forget his responsibilities? His coach was probably about ready to send out a search party, but AJ couldn’t just walk away from this girl. Get her information, ordered his brain. “Who is the autograph for?”
“My grandfather is a big fan. This is going to mean so much to him. Thank you.” She stepped forward and took the football from AJ’s hands, giving him a nose full of heaven. What did she smell like? Warm, pink sugar or something. And wow, he was actually losing his mind. He lost it a little further when she gave him a grateful smile and started to walk away. Just like that?
“Wait,” AJ shouted. Then quieter, “Just…please, wait.”
Some kind of shadow moved across her eyes as she glanced back, something that told him she knew what he wanted. And wasn’t prepared to give it.
“Lott, what the fuck?” AJ sighed at the eloquent intrusion via their defensive coordinator. He held out a staying hand to Green Eyes—wait—and turned to address the man sent to bring him out onto the field.
“One minute. I just need one minute.”
But when he turned back, she was gone. Vanished. His bellow of denial would be captured by an ESPN camera and speculated on throughout the following week. Not that AJ cared. He only cared about the uncapped Sharpie still clutched in his hand, an address label stuck to the body, beneath the words, “Lizzy Dixon: Mobile Vet.”
Battling the urge to go after Green Eyes—Lizzy—despite having a way of finding her, AJ stuffed the implement into his sock and jogged toward the field, suddenly anxious for tomorrow.
Lizzy Dixon set down her aluminum box of medical tools on the hall entry table, but paused halfway through removing her rain jacket. Male laughter. The loud, rollicking-good-time kind, very unlike her elderly grandfather’s thin chuckle. Although, his was there, too. It collided with the cannon fire of the first laugh and blasted out to greet her.
Before Lizzy stepped through the archway, she knew AJ Lott would be in her home. One didn’t forget the potency of that rich, masculine sound. Or the way it spread goose bumps along her neck and tightened her nipples. What she couldn’t fathom was why. Or how. But those questions faded into thin air when Lizzy observed the scene taking place in her living room.
Her grandfather sat in his usual easy chair, remote control in hand. Familiar, old black-and-white game film played on the television, the only evidence of his beloved college football career. AJ took up the couch—like, the entire damn couch. But that’s not what had Lizzy’s hands pressing to her cheeks. No, it was the rapt expression on the massive athlete’s face, which she could see in profile. The huge grin. The way he leaned over and fist bumped her grandfather after he made a good play, sixty years in the past.
A joyful little hiccup tripped past her lips, and the whole room seemed to shift, mainly because AJ stood up. His left leg bumped the coffee table—and upended the entire piece of heavy, wooden furniture, spewing coasters across the carpeted floor. “Oh…God.” He seemed unsure of whether to greet her or fix the table, so he performed an awkward, ropeless tug of war for a few seconds, before crouching down to right it. “Well, that happened exactly as I planned it,” he muttered, before straightening back to his full height, red beginning to appear on his granite-carved face.
“Hey there, Lizzy.”
“Hey,” she whispered.
Her grandfather, finally having made it to his feet, gestured to the mountainous football player. “Lizzy, would you look who’s in our living room!”
“Yes,” Lizzy responded, aiming for bright, but landing on breathless instead. “He’s hard to miss.”
Cringe. It was official. Something about this man—who couldn’t be further from her type—turned her into a simpering bozo. She’d never been tongue-tied in front of the opposite sex before. Why would she, when she hadn’t had use for men in years? No, she stated her business, rebuffed advances and moved on. Easy. There was nothing easy about staring up at this veritable Everest—who’d probably just made her grandfather’s life—and behaving with her usual aplomb. Not when she could actually see the pulse in his big neck racing as he stared, waiting for her to talk. Racing for…her.
Lizzy mentally shook herself and pushed her glasses higher up the bridge of her nose. “AJ, can I speak with you please?” She backed up into the foyer. “I-in my office?”
Good Lord, the man had to duck to get through the archway. His shadow engulfed her as they creaked down the hallway toward her office. Under her breath, she practiced her speech. I appreciate you spending time with my grandfather. Thank you for coming, but I’m not interested. Yes, that was perfect. Polite but cool. That was how she rolled now. AJ entered the office behind Lizzy and she closed the door, taking a deep breath, ready to launch into her speech. But AJ spoke first.
“I know this isn’t…the conventional way of doing things.” He made that same I-mean-no-harm hand gesture from the stadium tunnel but let them drop on a frustrated sigh. “I don’t think so, anyway—”
She jumped him. There really was no other description for getting a three-step running start and leaping just high enough to hook both legs around his tree trunk waist. And there might have been the tiniest scrap of common sense left in her head, but it vanished when their lips interlocked…and he let out a single, jungle-style, rumbling groan into her mouth. Powerful arms banded around her, cradling Lizzy’s body in a way that reminded her of King Kong holding his tiny blonde heroine. And wow…wow. They hadn’t even really kissed yet, simply trading breaths, Lizzy aligning her curves with his packed ranges of muscle. Before reality could intrude, she tangled her fingers in his hair and kissed the hell out of his rough, masculine mouth. And oh boy, AJ responded. His tongue licked into Lizzy’s mouth, a rush of air panting out through his nose. Like a primed bull who’d been let out of his pen.
Lizzy sensed them turning a split second before her back slammed against the wall, making her gasp into the kiss. AJ pulled away. “I’m sorry, sweetheart,” he panted. “I train for bursts of speed and—”
She yanked his mouth back down, enjoying the sensation of being flattened between two unforgiving barriers, the vibration of godlike strength, clearly capable of hours of endurance, bearing her weight with no effort. His mouth was ravenous, slanting over hers as if he might die if she walked away unsatisfied. Lizzy was reaching the point of no return, visions of panty removal dancing in her head. He’d rip them, she thought. Right off her. And then he’d apologize. And then…oh, he’d be aggressive.
Wow. This had to stop before she did something she regretted. Or her past caused something unfortunate to happen. And it would. It was inevitable. “Thank you,” she breathed, ripping her mouth away. “For coming here. Doing what you did.” She laid her forehead against his collarbone and closed her eyes. “But I really need you to go now, AJ.”
Had Lizzy just told him to…go?
That couldn’t be right, though. She was wrapped around him like a wet blanket. Heck, AJ was pretty sure her little feet were tucked in the back pockets of his jeans, which kind of made him want to fall asleep with her under an apple tree. Or something. Where did these thoughts keep coming from?
“Where do you want me to go, Lizzy? Hell?” Their lips made the barest contact, but red-hot pressure flooded his cock. “Hell is where I’m going if I stop kissing you.”
“Ooh.” Her fingers curled into his shirt collar. “Stop saying things like that.”
“I don’t know how to stop anything I’m doing right now.” Honesty poured out in the form of a rasp. “Pressing as close as I can without hurting you…French kissing that blush out of you. How am I going to stop all that?”
Her green eyes slayed him right where he stood. “Please?” she murmured.
That did it. AJ’s instincts might have been wailing like a fire alarm, telling him to beg and plead for a few minutes more of Lizzy’s sugar-sweet mouth, but by all that was holy, he’d been taught manners. A respect for women he took seriously. So when he eased back and let Lizzy drop to her feet, his lower body ached like it was on fire, but at least he could look his mother in the eye at Thanksgiving.
Lizzy slipped out from beneath AJ, her absence making his hands ball into fists against the wall. “Setting you down when you were cradling my—God, that was hard enough, sweetheart.” It sounded as if he’d just sprinted a hundred yards. “I can’t leave without some kind of explanation, though. Did I…come on too strong? That tends to be a problem for me with most things.”
He turned from the wall to see Lizzy leaning against her desk. Two fingers were pressed to her mouth, but she quickly removed them when she saw him watching.
“This week in the newspaper…it was everywhere. AJ Lott is looking for a girlfriend.” She shook her head. “If you’re thinking it’s me…it’s not. It can’t be.”
Okay, she was right about the articles. But she didn’t know he’d been misquoted. In actuality, he’d said, “I’m searching for a girl.” Namely, Lizzy, who had—unfortunately—relocated since sticking that address label to the Sharpie she’d left behind. Being six foot five, three hundred pounds didn’t make discreetly questioning her former neighbors about her new location easy. He’d been set back a couple days during the search, mostly by little kids who’d asked him to play touch football in the street. And kids tended to get whatever they wanted on his watch.
Too bad he couldn’t tell any of this to Lizzy. She already didn’t want to be his girlfriend. Cluing her into his days-long quest for the green-eyed goddess who’d crawled beneath his skin? Well, it seemed like an all-around bad idea. For now.
“Okay, I can see the girlfriend thing has you spooked, so let’s start over.” He scratched the back of his neck, wishing he’d just kept his big mouth shut around the media. “I’d be honored if you’d go on a date with me. We can just be AJ and Lizzy. Eating steak.”
Her lips twitched. “I’m a vegetarian. Kind of par for the course when you work with farm animals all day.”
“Well, it’s been good knowing you, Lizzy,” AJ joked, pretending to head out the door. When he turned back, she looked so stricken, he covered the distance between them in two giant steps and grasped her shoulders, knocking over a cup of pencils in the process. “Hey, I was kidding, sweetheart. Ask anyone. I don’t go away so easily.” He winked. “Maybe you can order a steak and I can just eat them both.”
She laughed, but it sounded kind of dazed. “I’m sorry this can’t work,” she said on a headshake. “You’re kind of great.”
Gravity descended, rooting him to the ground. The time for jokes had ended. Something was wrong here and fixing it was the only option, seeing as walking out of Lizzy’s life made him feel like lying down and never getting up again. “Tell me why it can’t work out.” Taking a chance, he leaned in and kissed her forehead. “I was booed on draft day by everyone in Texas, Lizzy. I’m built for challenges.”
His heart flip-flopped when she scowled over him being booed on draft day. She sighed and the frown faded away, but his heart just kept on flip-flopping. “I’m not the girl your family…or your fans…want for you.”
“Okay,” AJ responded carefully. “Let’s pretend for a second this is about anyone but you and me. Which it isn’t.” He almost got distracted simply by having her rapt attention but forced himself to focus on fixing the problem. “Why wouldn’t everyone see what I see? A girl who loves her grandfather so much she trespasses to get a ball autographed. A girl who helps sick animals all day, even if she gets called out in the middle of the night. Who wouldn’t love that girl?”
“How did you know I get called in the middle of the night?”
AJ felt red creep over his ears. “Might have asked your grandfather one or…ten things about you. In between game films.” When a smile slipped onto her lips, he breathed out a sigh. “Spend the day with me tomorrow, Lizzy. I don’t have to travel for an away game until next week.”
“My nephew’s birthday party is tomorrow,” she said absently, but the fact she hadn’t answered with an outright ‘no’ not only gave him hope…
It gave him a win. “Is he a Texans fan?”
“Y-yes.” Her chin dropped in an adorable way. “You would just show up—”
“Yes, I would. And give me one good reason why I shouldn’t do everything I can to take out the girl who’s had my stomach in big old knots for days?” He couldn’t help it another second. He eased closer, brushing his thumb over her bottom lip. “The girl who’s got it in even worse knots right now?”
Her lids concealed the green of her eyes for a few seconds before they lifted. She sucked in a breath. “My parents left me with my grandfather when I was seventeen, and I…had a couple of bad years. Acting out. Getting into…trouble. With the wrong people.” She reached over and took something off her desk, holding it out to him. A pin? “I’m six years sober this month.”
AJ didn’t know what he’d been expecting, but that hadn’t been it. When he thought of people attending those kinds of meetings, he didn’t picture young, beautiful wide-eyed veterinarians who cared for their grandfather full time. Maybe he should have been more open-minded. Starting now, he would be, if for no other reason than to keep this girl from pushing him away. His reaction was important as hell to her. AJ could see that screwing up his one chance to reassure her would mean a wall between them. And he couldn’t abide that. No way in hell.
Taking the sides of Lizzy’s face in his hands, he kissed her parted mouth, pulling away before lust clobbered him over the head again. Then he leaned over and kissed her pin, lingering there a few seconds. “I’ll see you tomorrow at that party, Lizzy Dixon.”
Clearly, AJ didn’t understand why she couldn’t just give in. Lizzy didn’t blame him. Who wouldn’t want to be this gentle giant’s love-struck lady, cheering him on from the sidelines, draped in the number ninety-nine? If things were different…maybe it could be her. But if the media—who hunted down all things AJ Lott like bloodhounds—didn’t dig up her past, the past would dig itself up. And this man, the one pretending to be knocked off his size nine-hundred feet by her tiny nephew, while little kids in party hats lined up to take their turn? Yeah, she couldn’t force him into a corner or hurt his image. Not a chance.
From his sprawled-out position in the grass, AJ met Lizzy’s eyes through the kitchen window, prompting her—rather ridiculously—to pretend she’d actually been shucking corn. But the jig was up a few minutes later when he entered the otherwise empty kitchen, bracketing her in with both hands braced on the counter.
When he spoke, his warm breath hugged the nape of her neck. “You going to stand there watching me all day or come out and take a turn?”
Her answering laugh came dangerously close to being a giggle. “Would you take it easy on me, too?”
“In the backyard, maybe.” A massive arm snaked around her waist, lifting her body unexpectedly, the hot press of male arousal pushing the cheeks of her bottom apart through the floaty material of her dress. “But if I’ve given you the impression I go easy in the bedroom, allow me to clear that up.”
Lizzy couldn’t catch her breath. “I-I think it’s clear—”
“You think?” His gravelly voice made her nerve endings writhe. “That’s not good enough. I need you to know.”
She opened her trembling lips to ask how they would accomplish such a thing, but didn’t bother when AJ tossed her over his shoulder and strode toward the back of the house. Her mouth remained in an upside down gape until they cleared the doorway to a guest bedroom, the door snapping shut behind them. Intending to ask what had brought on the caveman act, Lizzy’s inquiry turned to a moan instead when AJ let her slide down the front of his outrageously muscled body and backed her toward the bed…
…On to which she promptly fell, her head tipped all the way back to maintain eye contact with a towering, suddenly formidable AJ. And when he framed her jaw in a hand capable of crushing a concrete block, every single brain cell Lizzy possessed fell south of her waist. “This big body of mine…” His chest shuddered like an earthquake. “It wants to fuck yours. Rough and rude. Don’t let my good manners give you the wrong impression of that.”
Moisture gathered between Lizzy’s thighs, such a potent rush that they pressed together reflexively. “Now?” she breathed. “I don’t think—”
“Not now.” His thumb dragged her lower lip down. “This isn’t the time or place for screaming, sweetheart. And you’re going to scream the rafters down.” Without looking, he reached over and locked the door, choking the breath from her lungs. “Lie back if you want a preview.”
Oh my God. Where had this side of her gentle giant come from? She didn’t like it. Oh no. Because she loved it. Or her body loved it, rather, because she was flat on her back before he’d finished issuing the clear challenge. “Count me in,” she managed.
The bed dipped and groaned beneath AJ’s planted knee, the springs protesting as he crawled over Lizzy, perusing her heaving tits, the fingers she’d curled into the comforter. When his meaty palm dragged over her hip, lifting the dress past her waist to her stomach, Lizzy whimpered, twisting the bedspread in her hands. “I’m going to look inside your panties now,” AJ rasped. “You want to feel my eyes on your pussy, Lizzy? You want me to judge how hard I’ll be able to fuck into it. Don’t you?”
Something about the P- and F-words coming from this man’s usually ‘yes ma’am’ing mouth almost shot her into the world’s fastest orgasm, but she managed to maintain her state of cataclysmic arousal instead. “Yes. I want that.”
AJ hooked the tip of his thick index finger into the front of Lizzy’s low, pink thong, tugging it down one inch, two inches. And the defensive end’s growl of approval literally shook the bed. “Ah, God. I was just going to give it a lick, but damn—” He broke off on a groan, dropping his hips into the cradle of her thighs, rocking forward. “I need to ride this little strip of pink a while. You going to let me, sweetheart? I promise I won’t hurt you.”
Lizzy’s legs scrambled on either side of AJ’s mile-wide hips, trying to spread enough to accommodate his size, which they had no choice but to do a moment later when he pressed Lizzy down into the bed. AJ dropped his head down, watching himself dry-fuck her barely covered womanhood, his tongue wetting and rewetting his lips, speed increasing until the bed was bashing up against the opposite wall.
“Could you take this kind of impact if I was inside you, sweetheart? Answer me.”
Oh my God. Who was this man? “Yes. Yes.”
His harsh grunts were the most erotic sounds she’d ever heard. Man slaking lust, like Goliath might have done with a willing peasant woman before going into battle. What? Her brain had left the building…and the rest of her followed when the stiff denim fly of AJ’s jeans found her clit, pumping up and back, his beastly sounds assaulting her ears. Just before she came, AJ reached down and covered her mouth, watching her come apart through heavy-lidded eyes, his palm absorbing her hoarse screams.
When she stopped shaking, AJ rolled off her, onto his back, making the bed dip. His pants were tented at the fly in what had to be the world’s biggest, most uncomfortable erection, that massive chest swelling up and down like an ocean. “I just needed you to know. I’m not some pushover just because I’m a nice guy.” His gaze found her across the bed. “I fight for what I want. I want to date you. I want to make you a permanent, sweating fixture in my bed. And I want to take on anything you think might come our way. Am I getting through, Lizzy?”
Even with doubts still swirling in her head, she had no choice but to nod. And because it felt right, she reached out and entwined their fingers, melting when the tips of AJ’s ears turned red. He seemed as if he had more to say, but a knock on the door had them both sitting up and shifting clothing back into place.
“Lizzy,” came her sister’s voice through the door. “Your emergency cellphone was ringing, so I answered. A horse farmer named Lonnie. Said to pass on the message that one of his mares is sick and he needs a vet.”
Disappointment that she had to leave AJ was tempered by the anxious feeling that came with knowing an animal was under the weather. She turned to the man beside her. “I’m sorry—”
“Don’t be sorry,” AJ said, planting a kiss on her mouth. “Bring me with you.”
Her mouth lifted into a grin. “Okay.”
AJ was trying not to freak Lizzy out. But honestly, he just loved watching her do things. All of them. Her pick-up truck was damn near the size of his, so when she’d climbed into the driver’s side, he’d almost killed himself lunging forward to give her a boost. Turned out she hadn’t needed him, so he’d just stood there like a jackass, observing the way she started the engine, adjusting mirrors and popping a stick of blue gum into her mouth. All of it while still blushing from what they’d gotten up to in that guest bedroom.
Hell. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about the fly of your jeans being a little damp from her come. Think about…losing the Super Bowl in overtime.
“Do you…” Lizzy ducked her head, sending him a sidelong glance beneath her eyelashes. “Do you still want to go with me?”
“Of course.” Oh God, how long had he been standing there, watching her fiddle with the radio? “Sorry, I was watching…I love the way your hands move. Especially when you don’t really know what to do with them.”
Good. That was real good, AJ. Always point out a woman’s nervous habits.
“I love the bump on your nose,” Lizzy breathed in a big rush before dropping her head onto the steering wheel, causing the horn to beep. When she looked up again, he must have been grinning like an idiot, because the tension evaporated around her eyes. “I think it’s nice when people like other people because of their flaws, not in spite of them. Nervous hands, bumpy noses…”
“I’d like to take a nap someday with my head in your lap,” AJ murmured, without thinking it through. But crazy enough, he didn’t feel the slightest bit of embarrassment over making such a silly statement. Not in front of Lizzy.
Especially when she smiled, face lighting up like sunshine. “I’d like that, too. Someday.”
Someday would be coming real soon, if AJ had anything to say about it. Best not to push too hard, though, and remember how much progress he’d made since their first meeting. When she’d run away on him. That memory opened a pit in his stomach as he rounded the truck and climbed into the passenger side, but he filled it in with a vision of her smile. They drove to the farm, which was around ten minutes away, parked outside the barn and headed inside, AJ carrying Lizzy’s medical kit on his right shoulder. When they cleared the entrance, an older gentleman who was standing in one of the stalls, performed a double take when he saw AJ.
“What in the devil…” The man slapped his leg. “AJ Lott. I hope you didn’t come here looking for a game. My back isn’t what it used to be.”
AJ laughed and shook the man’s extended hand. “No game, just helping Lizzy out. She’s my quarterback today.” He caught Lizzy’s grin as she disappeared into the stall. Before following her, AJ lowered his voice and turned to the farmer. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mention my being here, just until we’re gone.”
“You got it, AJ.”
Then it was only him and Lizzy left in the barn. Over the top of the stall, he marveled as she worked, delicate hands moving between the supply box and the ailing horse. She spoke gently in the animal’s ear, trailing soft hands down her brown coat. Lord, he could have watched Lizzy work for a month straight and never gotten tired of it. Rain began to patter on the barn’s roof, evening rolling in, and still he stared, learning her patterns and mannerisms. Tucking them away.
“I need to stay a while,” Lizzy husked, coming out of the stall. “Might be the whole night. If you want to drive back in my truck, I can get a ride home in the morning.”
AJ shook his head. “I won’t be passing up a chance to spend the night with you.”
She exhaled, green eyes tracking down his chest. His abdomen. The pretty, round tits he’d been deprived of seeing—so far—lifted and fell softly. But when she spoke, it wasn’t what he expected. “I heard you ask Lonnie—the farmer—not to tell anyone you’re here.” Her fingers traced a pattern over the ridges of his stomach, and the outside rainstorm thickened along with his pulse. “What would happen if he did?”
“I don’t know, sweetheart. People get curious sometimes.” He fit a hand against the back of Lizzy’s head, pulling her up against his chest, wishing he could simply enjoy holding her in the near-darkness but too worried to do so fully. “They’ll want to know about you as much as I do. But I play defense for a living. No one can get through me if I’m prepared. Just talk to me.”
Thunder rumbled into the silence, colliding with his heartbeat when her touch trailed lower, to the waistband of his jeans. “Soon, okay?” She flicked open the button and slowly lowered his zipper. While he tried to maintain some degree of brainpower, she slipped her hand inside his jeans and flattened a palm beneath his bellybutton. “I want to talk. Just not tonight.”
AJ’s growl competed with the thunder. He was aware she was intentionally distracting him, but after that afternoon, he was too desperate to resist temptation. “That’s not playing fair.”
“No, it isn’t,” she whispered, sliding her hand lower, inside the material of his boxers. “It’s not fair you weren’t taken care of earlier either. You took care of me so good with that rough body, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” he heaved, blood rushing to south to his cock. “That’s my job now. Mine. Just try and stop me doing it again.”
Lizzy gripped his thickening flesh and stroked, firmly enough that it hurt just a little. The perfect damn amount. The way he did it when he was alone. “Can it be my job to take this ache away for you, AJ?"
“Please,” he groaned, vowing to make her talk afterward. Immediately afterward. Soon as the agony went away. “Where can I take you?”
“There’s an office—”
He was striding toward the back of the barn, Lizzy in his arms, before she finished speaking. There might have been a sense of dread settling on his shoulders, but the lust was roaring louder than the storm outside, drowning it out…
Oh God. Oh wow. Lizzy firmly believed in women being able to enjoy sex without all the wooky love feelings that came along with it. This was definitely not one of those times. AJ might as well be carrying her on a fishing line, dangling from a hook, because she was good and caught. How could she not believe a man like AJ when he said, make your problems into our problems? Let’s battle them out? He was worthy of that kind of trust and more, but was she strong enough to leap?
Making major decisions while being carried by an aroused giant was not advisable, however, so Lizzy put her troubles on the back burner, focusing on the man whose gusty exhales were battering her like the gale winds wailing outside. AJ kicked open the barn’s office door, striding inside to set Lizzy on her feet. And yeah, she backed away from all that intimidating muscle, her back smacking the wall. It was like her brain had shouted regroup!
Oh, but then he had to go and hold up his hands. In that I-mean-no-harm gesture. But those hands were shaking, so with a whimper she shot forward, grabbing one baseball mitt-sized paw. Then she dragged her tongue up the center of the palm. “I only get jumpy around you sometimes because there’s so much awesome to take in. Okay? You’re like a big powder keg waiting to go off. I just want a good view.”
His mouth fell open with a sound of awed relief. “Thank Christ.” He closed in tight on Lizzy, gripping her ass cheeks in both hands, dragging her up the front of his rippled body. “Set me off, sweetheart.”
With her toes dangling a few inches off the ground, her stomach bottoming out, Lizzy was honest about what she wanted. “I need you in my mouth. Please.”
AJ loosed a muffled roar from behind stiff lips, nostrils flaring, eyes riveted on her mouth. Entranced by his reaction, Lizzy nonetheless tried to wiggle free of his grip to kneel on the floor, but AJ wouldn’t allow it, catching her by the elbow. “You want my needs to be your responsibility? That makes you my woman. And my woman doesn’t kneel in the dirt.”
What AJ did next made Lizzy so wildly hot, she knew it would be her go-to fantasy for the rest of time. He sauntered toward the bare, metal desk, removing his T-shirt as he went, putting all that otherworldly power on display. He climbed onto the sturdy—thank God—surface, lying face-up. Then he smacked a hand against his chest. “This is where you sit from now on, sweetheart. You’re not the only one who wants a good view.”
In a state of near-debilitating arousal, Lizzy hesitated only a moment before removing her dress and joining AJ at the desk. She planted a knee on the only available patch of surface, then climbed up to straddle his chest, facing away. Facing his lap and the thick erection lying against his belly. Eager to touch, to experience him, she ran greedy hands down his corrugated stomach, which made it necessary for her to bend forward, lifting her backside.
AJ’s hands weren’t gentle when they grasped her cheeks, massaging the flesh of her bottom with hands capable of destruction. “Changed my mind,” he growled. “Get back here with those spread legs and sit on my jaw.”
Holy shit. “No, I need you like this,” Lizzy whispered, bending forward even more to reach his erection, taking the meaty girth of him in two fists and polishing the head with her tongue. AJ’s body jolted and shook beneath Lizzy, her name breathed like a command. His legs fell wide, feet dropping onto either side of the desk, hips lifting in tight bucks. Wordless prayers for more.
But just as she bent her head, intending to slide her lips down as far as she could manage, AJ’s fingers tangled in the silk of Lizzy’s thong, jerking her back. “Can’t. Can’t look at that primed pussy and not taste it. Get back here now.”
The man was as strong as ten oxen, so he succeeded in dragging Lizzy back, devastating her by sliding his tongue beneath the strip of her thong, ending at her swollen clit. “Oh!” There was a feminine pride battling to the surface that wouldn’t allow her to give in, though. Refusing to give in to pleasure without giving it first. So she latched onto his muscular knees, battling the resistance, and pulled herself toward AJ’s lap again, closing her mouth around his shaft and sucking until her cheeks went hollow.
“Fuck!” He jerked her thong down to mid-thigh. “You think I’m too polite to give you a nice, big mouthful, sweetheart? Keep making those little sucking noises and I’ll prove you wrong.” God, she wanted that. She did. Until his thumb entered her body from behind, teasing her G-spot with swift, ruthless strokes. Because then…then she wanted all of him. Filling her. Her perked-up backside and throaty whimpers must have clued AJ in, because his hands were on his jutting arousal in seconds, applying a condom he’d dug from his pocket. “Only if you’re ready, Lizzy.”
His words emerged strangled, but caught up in her own state of desperate longing, Lizzy was speaking his language. She slid forward on AJ’s ridged abdomen, went up on her knees and allowed his big hand to guide his erection close…so close to where she needed. And then she sank down, down, for what seemed like forever. “Oh. My…God!” she cried out through clenched teeth, thighs already starting to quake.
Behind her, AJ sat up, pressing against her back, his hot, wheezing breaths finding her ear. “I know, sweetheart. I know it’s a lot.” His fingers made themselves known between Lizzy’s legs, strumming her clit like a guitar string. “Thank you,” he rasped. “For taking me into this body. Been needing you so bad…I can’t remember when I didn’t.”
“Me either,” Lizzy gasped, truth escaping. No way to stop it. Or the roll of her body, the slick lifting of her hips, the grind and backward pop on the way back down. “So good,” she moaned, but it got lost in AJ’s coarse pleasure sounds. Sounds that only made her move faster, made the rising tide in her middle lift, lift…
“No one rides me but this woman,” AJ growled into her hair, that thick part of him thickening beyond what she’d thought possible, stretching the flesh between her legs, his fingers picking up their pace on her neediest spot. “No one pets my woman but me. No one talks to her like me.”
“No, nobody,” Lizzy whimpered, throwing an arm back to hook around his sweaty neck. Something about that stretch of nerve endings buckled her defenses, crashing them down under the weight of her climax. But her scream was cut off when AJ surged forward, forcing her palms down onto the desk, taking her from behind while the orgasm continued to power through her system. “Yes, AJ, please.”
Her body must have been stronger than she’d ever thought, because it withstood the daunting force of muscle slamming up against her buttocks and thighs, that giant part of him staking uncharted territory deep inside her. “I’m almost done, Lizzy. It’s just…fuck, fuck, you keep putting that ass up higher and I have to keep taking.” His roar echoed in the small office. “That’s my dripping wet pussy, isn’t it?”
“Yes!” Lizzy screamed, her fingers curling around the desk’s edge.
“Going to come soon…now…”
Her mouth fell open on a silent shout with those final few thrusts, the impact of them brutal and beautiful at the same time. The sensation of warmth found her core and then they were slumping together, harsh breaths and heartbeats in sync. They only remained that way a moment before AJ turned Lizzy around, pulling her into a bear hug, laying kisses all over her face until she started laughing.
“My manners are trying to make me apologize for speaking to you like that, Lizzy, but I can’t. Meant it all.” He jerked her closer. “Mine. We on the same page?”
Made even more breathless by his possessiveness, she nodded.
Pulling herself away from AJ was difficult, but eventually she pulled her dress back on and went to go check on the mare. On shaky legs, she approached the animal, relief pervading when she appeared to be doing much better. Needing to retrieve a piece of equipment from her truck, Lizzy slid open the barn door—
And pandemonium broke loose. Flashes went off, blinding her instantly. Cameras? Voices shouted, male and female. Asking for her name. Asking for AJ. Asking what they’d been doing in the barn. Heart hammering in her throat, Lizzy stood paralyzed, until a familiar presence stormed up behind her, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her backwards into the barn. The door slammed, cutting off most of the noise, everything except her racing pulse.
“Dammit,” AJ ground out, turning Lizzy to face him and bracing both hands on her shoulders. “Look at me.” She attempted to focus on him as he spoke, dimly registering the farmer must have had a loose tongue. “It was going to happen sooner or later. And hell, a part of me likes knowing we’ll be public knowledge. I won’t lie about that. I want people to say our names in the same breath.”
Lizzy shook her head, couldn’t seem to stop. “You don’t understand.”
“I understand we’re together now, no matter what happens. AJ and Lizzy.”
Because she’d fallen for this man, because denial in the face of such incredible, earnest sincerity was impossible, Lizzy nodded. She would savor every moment of him…while it lasted.
If he winks at me one more time, I’m going to introduce his nuts to my size seven stiletto.
Hayden Winstead circled her ankle slowly underneath the bo...