FIVE

TEN MINUTES LATER, RACHEL WAS CURLED AGAINST HIS SIDE, hand brushing up and down his chest. The room was still mostly dark, broken only by a nightlight coming from the bathroom and a twinkle from the silvery moon streaming through the window. He’d disposed of the condom and caught his breath. Even on the comfy mattress wrapped in soft sheets and what had to be homemade quilts, Decker couldn’t relax. His brain wouldn’t downshift to a gear other than sex. Over and over, one thought plagued his head: What the hell had happened between them?

They hadn’t just fucked. She hadn’t merely been aroused. He hadn’t simply wanted her. What they’d done here had been . . . something more.

That made no fucking sense. He didn’t really know this girl. But the very first time he’d clapped eyes on her picture had been a visceral blow to his chest. Touching her shook him even more. Filling her tight cunt had been absolutely earthshaking. Despite an orgasm that had all but fractured his restraint and sent him rocketing into a pleasure so surreal, he still felt stunned and dazed; he still hadn’t managed to unleash all the lust broiling inside him.

It didn’t add up. She wouldn’t be capable of the same sexual gymnastics as that girl from Moscow. She’d never be as freaky as those twins from Mexico City. She probably didn’t give a mind-bending blow job like the show dancer he’d hooked up with in Rio. But Rachel had something none of those women possessed, a quality he couldn’t put his finger on that made him want to bury his cock inside her again and stay for a sweet long while. She drew him in. He liked her mix of vulnerability and sweet teasing. Her intelligence probably ranked higher than most women he’d taken to bed. The soft chime of her laughter made him smile. She was truly a terrible dancer, but she cared about the people in her life. And she trusted in a way none of the jaded women he’d met could. Hell, more than he ever had. She deserved to be protected, adored, cherished.

How fucking crazy was it that he was wondering if he could be the man for the job?

One thing at a time. First, he had to keep her safe, figure out who wanted her dead, then he could decide if he was actually capable of sharing his picket fence with any woman, let alone this one.

At his side, Rachel sighed, caressing him with a leisurely sweep of her hand up and down his torso. The thought of her drifting off in his arms made him smile. On the corner of the bed, the orange tabby yawned and looked at him like an unwelcome interloper. As far as Decker could tell, the cat had remained planted on his little corner of the mattress the whole time he and Rachel had rocked it. The hairball was seemingly far less annoyed that Decker had violated his mistress than he was about having his nocturnal beauty rest disturbed.

Meow.” The cat’s tone made it clear he was registering a complaint.

Rachel smiled against Decker’s chest, then propped her chin on him to look at the cat. “Be a nice kitten, Val.”

Kitten? That thing had to weigh fifteen pounds.

“Is he possessive?” Decker sank his fingers into her plush dark hair. It was so fucking soft, not weighed down by a ton of goop or hair spray. It wasn’t coarse, and she didn’t have extensions. It was just naturally beautiful. Kind of like her.

Shit, now he sounded like some sappy jewelry commercial.

“Not really. He’s my cat, for sure. He typically doesn’t like other people. He hated Owen. It was mutual, however. And Owen swore that Florida was a little bit safer when we moved here because I’d removed the ‘beast.’ The fact that Val hasn’t attacked or run off means he’s at least willing to tolerate you. Since he’s a better judge of men than I apparently am, I take it as a good sign.” She flashed a tired but teasing grin in the shadowy room. “Isn’t that right, Valentino?”

Rachel stretched across the bed to pet the little hairball between his perky ears. The move exposed her breasts, and that’s all it took for his cock to go from half-awake to aching for action again. Wincing, he dragged in a calming breath. He had to give her pussy a break after he’d pounded her like a madman. Besides, while she was soft and sweet and sated would be a good time to ask her questions that might help him. Any information would be better than grasping in the dark.

“Valentino?” he asked. “Like the famous actor?”

“Yes. Like his namesake, Val seems to be well liked by the female felines in the neighborhood. The males . . . they turn their tails up at him. Val is also a little bit of a diva and likes his way. That’s a cat thing, but it’s even more of a Val thing. I found him as a stray when he was just a baby kitten. I was married to Owen, and he threw a fit. But I just couldn’t resist Val.”

That soft heart of hers again. Of course she’d take in a little runt with big green eyes that purred and rubbed against her leg. Rachel’s sweetness was part of her charm.

When had he last spent any time with a woman who had this kind of goodness? Probably during the Clinton administration. What did he know about family pets, nice girls, and comfortable beds? Jack squat. He needed to get his head on straight and do the job he’d come to do before he contemplated anything else. But what was there to think about? It wouldn’t be long before Xander and duty called, whisking him away. Rachel needed to fall for a great guy who would be there for her day in, day out. Not one who’d be jaunting off to another continent at a moment’s notice to stop the spread of industrial espionage or whatever shit S.I. Industries faced.

Even with all that running through his head, he couldn’t stop himself from pressing Rachel against him, kissing her forehead, then settling her face onto his shoulder. Her sigh of contentment made him harder.

“So, is Val the only friend who came with you from Florida?”

“Yes. After the divorce, Owen and I had a few ugly fights. My family lived nearby, and he tried to drag them into our dispute once. I didn’t love the principal of the school I worked for, and I couldn’t afford to stay in the house my ex-husband and I had bought together, so I started applying to schools all over the South. Lafayette Parish hired me.”

So if Owen lived in Florida, how could he have been in a bar in Lafayette yesterday, soliciting murder? It was possible. But likely?

But if he ruled the ex out, how many other suspects did he have? Zilch.

“It’s nice that you’ve made some friends here.”

She smiled. “Shonda has been great. I’m so glad that her brother is going to be all right. A couple of broken bones and a mild concussion, but he’ll heal up.”

“Good news.” He paused, brushing his fingers through her silky sable hair again. “You seem like such a kind person. I’ll bet you don’t have any enemies.”

Rachel lifted her head to look down at him and paused. “Not that I know of. I’m generally on better footing with Owen now. My family says he’s got a new girlfriend and that Carly has been good for him. I can’t think of anyone else I’ve exchanged any cross words with.”

“Know if his girlfriend’s jealous of you?”

“Why should she be?” Rachel shrugged. “I’m out of his life and have no interest in returning.”

Even if it didn’t seem likely, the sexually inept ex still remained his only suspect. Not that Decker wouldn’t love to nail his ass to the wall, but he worried that pinning this murder for hire on Owen might be a bit too easy, like saying the butler did it. If the guy lived in Florida, it would be awfully inconvenient to travel to Lafayette simply to solicit a murder. And obvious, too. Then again, maybe he’d simply called a sympathetic friend and convinced him to hire out this dirty work. Hard to know . . . Better to keep digging.

“I’ll bet you’re an expert at handling agitated parents,” he praised. “And your students must love you.”

“I’ve only been teaching here for a few months, but my interactions have been largely positive. Most of my parents are really involved in their kids’ lives, so that makes the partnering great.”

“You haven’t had any trouble with them?”

“No.”

“Like all your new neighbors?”

“The few I know, yeah. It’s a neighborhood of mostly young professionals, so everyone is busy doing their own thing.”

So unless she had some secret or silent hater, had seen something she shouldn’t have, or was the target of some random freak, Decker didn’t have any better suspects than Owen. Damn it, he had to get to a computer and find a picture of the guy, check his current whereabouts, see if that’s who’d plopped his hateful ass down on the barstool beside his and offered him mid-five figures to kill Rachel.

“What about you?” she asked, cutting into his thoughts.

Decker opened his mouth to give her a bullshit reply, but paused. He was already lying to her about his reason for being at that bar, his reason for going home with her, his reason for staying. For some damn reason, he didn’t want to lie about this, too.

“I don’t have many friends beyond Xander and Javier. A few of their local buddies are cool. I’ve spent a lot of time on tours and missions all over the world. A lot of the guys I considered friends didn’t make it home. I’ve got my share of enemies. I’ve got a ruthless streak. If anyone fucks with me or mine, we’re going to have problems.”

Rachel pulled back a bit. He drew her close again and held in a curse.

Oops, probably too much. Likely, he’d scared the hell out of her. He tried to laugh it off and hoped she bought it.

“God, that made me sound like I live in a cave, eat raw game, and beat my chest.”

She giggled, at ease once more. He let out a relieved breath.

“Maybe a little. I was trying to ask you why you’re in Lafayette. Is this a temporary stop?” she asked.

“Maybe.” He shrugged. “That depends some on the Santiago brothers. I’ve been here a few months, and I’ll be here at least another few days. That’s the longest I’ve stayed in one place since I was a kid.”

Her gaze slid away, and he didn’t have to guess that she was telling herself right now not to get attached to him, not to see any sort of future. Normally, he’d applaud that insight. Now, for some reason it absolutely pissed him off.

“But I like Lafayette well enough. Xander and Javier seem really content to cozy up to their new bride and wait for their baby to come. I don’t see them leaving her side anytime soon, and she likes it here, so I might be here a lot longer.”

“So they really share a wife?” she whispered, sounding a bit scandalized.

Crap, he’d seen shit that would shock her to her pretty pink toes. Probably done a few things that would incite the same reaction.

“Yep. They’re fairly open about it among their friends. Her mother wasn’t keen on the idea at first, but she’s come around. You probably would have thought Xander was an ass before London. Javier was a fucking train wreck. They both need her, and she’s got a heart big enough for two.”

“I’ll bet they scandalize their neighbors.”

Since Xander had been really persistent about seducing London in their backyard over the summer, and she and Javier had almost been caught fucking in the car in their driveway a few weeks ago? “No doubt.”

Rachel smiled and braced her chin on his chest again. “You’re easy to talk to.”

“You are, too,” he answered honestly. “Sorry if I got a little, um . . . demanding earlier. I promise I won’t drag you off by your hair—at least not often.”

“Did you hear me complaining?”

“Hmm . . .” He pretended to cock his head in thought. “Unless ‘please, don’t stop’ is some new code for ‘no,’ then I guess not.”

Even in the dim light, he could see a faint flush crawl up her cheeks. “In fact, it was . . . wow.”

He cupped her chin and brushed a thumb over her slightly swollen lip. “It was pretty ‘wow’ for me, too, beautiful.”

And he meant that. It wasn’t because of her spectacular technique or her deviant sexual kink. It definitely wasn’t because she dressed as scantily as a Hollywood Boulevard hooker. It wasn’t at all because she knew how to seduce a man in sixty seconds or less. It was precisely because none of those things were true about Rachel.

She had permanence stamped all over her, and he wasn’t a staying sort of man. He was going to have to be careful not to hurt her if—no, when—he left. Why lie to himself? This cozy feeling would pass, right? Probably, but . . . he didn’t want to know why the idea of parting ways with her made him somewhere between grumpy and enraged.

“Tired?” she asked with a smile.

“No.”

“Hungry or thirsty?”

“No.” He grinned. “Ask me if I’m horny.”

She wrinkled her nose. “I hate that word.”

“Ask me if I want to fuck you again.”

Rachel hesitated, then with an impish smile, she lifted the blanket covering them both and tried to peer down at his cock, but it had to be too dark for her to see. To make sure she didn’t miss even an inch of his cock throbbing for her, Decker threw back the soft sheets and handmade quilt and took himself in hand.

She gasped. “I don’t think I need to ask.”

Her voice suddenly sounded throaty, and it turned him on even more.

“I want you again, Rachel.” He lifted her hand from his chest and eased it down to his hard cock.

He died a small, shuddering death when she wrapped her fingers around him and stroked softly, down and up his sensitive length, then brushed over the tingling head. When she bent to kiss his shoulder, his chest, another tremor wracked his body.

It didn’t make sense. He’d spent three days in bed with a Victoria’s Secret model last time he’d been in Manhattan. Besides being gorgeous, Mandy was experienced, voracious, and unapologetic. She never expected anything more than an orgasm. Normally, she was his kind of girl.

The fine trembling in Rachel’s fingers told Decker that touching him meant something to her and that it was important to her to give him pleasure. And that was revving up his libido more effectively than skimpy lingerie.

Was he getting older and going traditional? Or had he crossed from sentimental right into sappy? It hadn’t escaped Decker that Rachel trusted him with her body when she hadn’t trusted any other man but her husband. He was as moved by her nervousness, her care, and her goodness as he was by her lush tits—and that was saying something. She had a great rack.

He felt . . . stuck on this woman and had every intention of staying by her side, not only to protect her, but until he could figure out why being with her smacked him with the force of a two-by-four to the forehead.

“I want you, too.” In the dark, she closed her eyes and smiled a bit shyly.

Instead of annoying him or making him wish they could just skip to the fucking, Decker found an answering smile stretching his lips. So sweet. So honest in her every response. He felt a bit guilty for lying to her about his reasons for picking her up at the bar, for being here with her now. But he couldn’t apologize for wanting to shield her from a potentially ugly fate and keep her safe. Until this played out, he’d thoroughly enjoy her goodness.

“I want to suck . . .” She glanced down and swallowed, watching her fingers slowly move over his aching dick.

His breath caught. Holy fuck! Even the hint that she wanted her mouth on him made him harder than steel-reinforced concrete.

“My cock?”

“I’m not used to that word.” Her voice trembled, and her hand shook. “But yes.”

He thrust his hands in her hair and led her down to his waiting erection. “Be my guest.”

Her back stiffened, and she tensed against him. “Don’t laugh at me, but I don’t know how.”

Dumbass Owen hadn’t ever sank in between those luscious lips? Given what Rachel had said about her ex, Decker wondered if the moron had even tried or had he found that a time-consuming waste, too? Owen’s loss was absolutely his gain.

“There’s no right or wrong way. Open wide, suck deep, and do what feels natural.”

“All right.” She looked adorably nervous, and he loved the idea that he would be the first inside her plump, pink lips. Yes, it was caveman of him. So fucking what?

Rachel didn’t hesitate or study the situation. She had a lot of gumption when she wanted to; he was learning that already. In fact, he liked her for it.

Then her lips closed around the head of his cock, and he wasn’t thinking anything anymore.

She had to stretch wide to fit her lips around the swollen mushroom head, and the sight of it sent a hot rush of blood south, engorging him even more. He’d had plenty of blow jobs in his life, but this one was different.

Because she was different. No denying that.

If he hadn’t been solicited to kill Rachel and had simply run into her in a bar, he would have taken a long look at her, licked his lips, and kept walking. She was attractive, no doubt. As well as warm and kind—two things he would have sworn he didn’t need in a sexual partner.

But at his age, maybe it was time to realize that life really was about more than the next adrenaline rush of danger and getting laid.

Hell, listen to him, all mature and shit. Decker rolled his eyes. Actually, they rolled into the back of his head as Rachel sighed, sucked back up his length with a flat, wide tongue, then opened around his girth to take him even deeper. God, she wasn’t spectacular at it, and that didn’t fucking matter at all. Knowing that she was trying, that she was trusting him, that she was giving him something she’d never given anyone . . . all of that turned him on. If she’d been insanely good at it, too, he would probably—

Oh hell, he’d thought too soon. Suddenly, she found a coordinated rhythm, a steady up-down that encompassed most of his shaft, paid extra attention to the head, then—fuck!—she cupped his balls. Now that was beyond stunning.

And if she did this for very long, he’d be totally done for.

“Rachel, beautiful . . .” He slid his fingers deeper into her hair and curled them into fists, gently tugging on her hair. “Baby, slowly. You don’t want to—Oh, shit!” He hissed in a long breath, then tensed and shuddered. She might be a novice, but she’d quickly conquered that inexpert thing. That had to be one of the shortest learning curves in history.

“I’m doing it right?” she murmured, then licked the head like a damn ice cream cone, over and over and . . .

Jesus, she was killing him.

“Oh, yeah,” he gasped. “And then some.”

She giggled. “You sound distressed.”

No shit. “That is not funny.”

“Maybe not to you . . .” Rachel flashed a coy smile at him, clearly happy with herself, before she set back to her task.

Decker closed his eyes and let the slow, burning heat of her mouth surround him. An intense suction that made him shudder came next. He jolted under her leisurely bobbing head. When her tongue lapped around the sensitive head, then a tender drag of her teeth followed, he groaned aloud and nearly hit the roof.

He’d had better in his life . . . maybe. He couldn’t really remember right now. But no woman had ever paid so much attention to his reactions, adjusted so quickly, all to so obviously please him. That reality set him ablaze.

Swallowing back another groan of pleasure clawing up from his chest, he tried to nudge her away. Of course, his hips had other ideas, thrusting up into her sweet, pouty mouth and making his cock right at home.

“Rachel, you need to stop.”

“Why?”

He focused in on her sparkling eyes and swollen lips before she engulfed him again. With a groan, he closed his eyes and indulged for a moment, shafting her lips with his steely length for a few sublime seconds. Then he tugged on her hair just enough to bring her away from his cock and sat up.

“If I have to pick where I’m coming next, it’s going to be deep inside that tight pussy again, beautiful. Lie back for me.” Decker rose to his knees and nudged her to her back. “Spread your legs.”

“But I was having fun,” she protested, not complying with his demand.

“I promise you can have more fun later.” Because there was no way he didn’t want to immerse himself between her silken lips again.

Then he didn’t give her another opportunity to talk. With his own body, he urged her back, eclipsing her. Decker looked down at her, tousled dark curls, rosy cheeks, sweet lips, pleading eyes. Christ, he wanted this woman.

When he’d first heard that some ass-hat wanted her dead, he had felt an undeniable urge to keep her alive. When he’d seen her picture, the itch to have her under him had broken out across his body like allover hives he knew he’d have to scratch away. Now that he’d seen her, met her, talked to her, fucked her . . . maybe a few nights with her might not be enough, after all.

Well, wasn’t this quite a U-turn from his attitude the previous afternoon? But damn it, he was always packing up, moving on, setting out for the next “big adventure.” Color him cynical, but adventure often wound up with him chasing trigger-happy dirtbags in third-world shitholes and either freezing his ass off, sweating to death, or picking sand out of some really uncomfortable places. At thirty-three, wasn’t it time to stop playing the grown-up version of cops and robbers and latch on to something real? Wasn’t it time to stop settling for Ms. Right-now?

Rachel was looking pretty damn real and right for him. He wanted to lay her out, fuck her, exhaust her, wake her up, and do it again until she was happily spent and clinging to him. Yeah, that sounded like an awesome version of paradise.

Tearing into a fresh condom, Decker rolled it down the desperate flesh of his cock. He didn’t waste time with niceties except to check that she was wet and ready. The pair of fingers encountered slick, swollen flesh. Oh yeah, they were a go. She wasn’t just wet, but juicy. Perfect.

Lining himself up, he pushed in one inch at a time, checking for discomfort. Her body had quickly adjusted to his size because she didn’t have any difficulty taking every bit of him on the first agonizing thrust. But slow and steady had won that race. The urge to sprint to the finish now was strong—because when didn’t coming inside a gorgeous woman feel good?—but he wanted to see her go off like a fireworks show first.

Buried in as deep as he could be, Decker flexed his hips and pushed a bit more. She hissed, then her eyes flew open and met his stare. He could happily dive into their chocolate depths and stay for a sweet, long while.

He stilled for a moment, feeling her tight walls engulf him, sucking him in deeper. He shuddered, his spine stiff, his body seized by the need to experience her in every way possible. The first time had been good. Already Decker could tell the second time was going to be even fucking better. Yee-haw!

Gathering her against his chest, Decker lifted her lush hips and eased out of her snug pussy before he stroked deep again. She felt electric around him, squeezing him as she gasped, jolting him with another sizzle of need. Jesus, what was it about this woman?

Rachel wrapped her legs around his hips and rocked with him, thrusting to his rhythm, her little cries driving him higher and higher. Frantically, she kissed her way across his shoulder, to his jaw. Then he claimed her mouth, his tongue plunging as deep as his dick. He wanted all of her every way he could get her. Her nails dug into his back, and she went wild underneath him, urging him on silently to give her every fucking thing.

After that, containing himself . . . impossible. His hips moved like they had a mind of their own, hammering her with long, rapid strokes. Tingles burned in his balls, danced through his body.

He grabbed her tighter, somehow managing to sink even farther into her body, deeper than he swore he’d ever been inside any woman. Blood raced, his heart chugged. Fuck, this was going to be good.

“Mine,” he growled.

She’d probably question that statement later. He ought to as well. But now, what they shared felt damn good. Right. Like he’d willingly fight any man to the death who wanted to touch her. That shit wasn’t happening—at all. In this moment, for this night, she was absolutely, unquestionably his.

And the thought turned him on even more. Fuck, at this rate he wasn’t going to last long, which blew his mind. Orgasm number two didn’t usually happen for a long while, and he could really lay thick pleasure on a woman while he took the time finding his own. This was completely different. Damn it, he intended to make sure she climaxed before this growing need blew off the top of his head.

As pleasure surged, his heartbeat roared, mixing with the deafening sounds of her mewls. As she screamed, arching up to him, Decker surged deep, filling her one final time. Blinding heat seared him. Her pussy constricted, pulsing, caressing the length of his cock and annihilating his restraint. As she shuddered through her orgasm, his seed spewed with the force of C4, detonating everything inside him.

Damn, at this rate, she was going to kill him. But he’d die happy.

With a groan, he stumbled from the bed, damn near dizzy, and disposed of the condom. She looked so gorgeous all flushed and damp, lying across her bed. He snagged a towel from the bathroom, ran warm water over a corner, then returned to clean her up.

“I’ll do it.” She reached for the terrycloth, still panting.

Decker edged away. “I’ll do it. You’ll lie there and look pretty so I can contemplate all the other ways I can sully you.”

With a tired laugh, Rachel rested back against the mattress. She was a bit stiff, a little self-conscious as he wiped her clean, but he was relieved to see that she trusted him enough to allow this intimacy.

Once he tossed the towel back in the bathroom, he crawled over her body and hunkered down beside her, nudging her to her side so she lay against him, her thigh tossed over his. The ceiling fan churned anemically overhead, fighting ineffectually against the humidity, sweat, and blazing sexual heat in the room.

He didn’t think he’d make it until dawn before he’d want inside her again. As she pressed against him, lips caressing his chest, her breasts cupping his ribs, he mentally revised that to an hour. Maybe less.

“So that’s what sex is supposed to be like?” she whispered.

Decker hesitated. “Really fantastic sex. This was above and beyond for me, too.”

Rachel sighed happily. “I’m glad you came over tonight.”

“Yeah.” And if she thought for one minute that he was about to get up and leave, he had a big surprise for her. With someone out to get her, he wasn’t budging. After that . . . well, he was starting to think that maybe he wouldn’t budge then, either.

•   •   •

SUNLIGHT STREAMED THROUGH the window, despite the blinds slanting up. Decker cracked an eye open and found Rachel draped across him, still completely naked, her dark hair cascading over his shoulder and down his arm. He raised his head a fraction. Her eyes remained closed, dark lashes feathering gentle half-circles on smooth cheeks. In the morning light, he saw a little spill of freckles on her nose. Her fingers splayed across his chest. Her breathing remained deep and even. So trusting.

She made him hard as hell. Again. Still.

After waking her at two and four thirty to slide into those sweet curves and possess her again, he should be sated and totally exhausted. But at just before eight a.m., even with shaky legs and an empty stomach, he was contemplating another go-round.

Yep, this woman totally flipped every switch.

And if he wanted to keep her alive long enough to see where this was leading, he needed to stop mooning over her and figure out who might be trying to kill her. Item one on the agenda: Dig up a picture of the illustrious ex and see if Owen was a match for the ass-hat in the bar. Preferably before Rachel awoke and wondered what the hell he was up to.

Slowly, he rose from bed and grimaced. He felt grimy, and couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually slept over with a woman. And he’d gotten soft since a damn toothbrush was pretty high on his list of must-haves.

Tossing on his jeans and the pistol he’d hidden beneath, he headed to the guest bathroom down the hall.

Inside, he flipped on the light. Bless Rachel. She’d thought of everything to make a guest comfortable. The vanity held a new toothbrush, fluffy towels, shampoo, and soap.

Decker made quick use of them, then wrapped the beige terrycloth around his hips. As he cracked the bathroom door, he heard a crash in the kitchen. His heartbeat kicked into high gear. Adrenaline ratcheted up, and he charged out, pistol in hand, ready to fight whoever had come for her.

As he sneaked down the hall, his back hugging the wall, he heard a feminine cry, then another crash. Fuck, what was going on?

Heart pounding, he forced himself to stay calm and crept closer, finger on the trigger, promising that any motherfucker who wanted to hurt her was going to find himself minus a head.

Fighting for calm, Decker clung to shadows until he rounded the corner and had a straight sightline into the kitchen. But he didn’t see anyone attacking Rachel. Rather, she attacked a plastic bin of flour and a couple of eggs while wrestling with a stainless steel bowl. A can of nonstick cooking spray rolled down the counter. She slammed down a wooden spoon, looking beyond frustrated.

Actually, it was kind of adorable.

Until she emerged from behind the tall counter and he realized she was wearing a frilly red apron, a pair of black stilettos—and nothing else.

He wanted to fuck her right now.

Darting back into the bathroom, he grabbed his jeans and flipped them over his pistol, hiding the piece, then sauntered down the hall and set everything down within easy reach—just in case—on the adjacent kitchen table.

“That looks mighty good,” he drawled.

She blinked up at him, flushed and flustered. “Pancakes will be ready soon.”

“I meant you, beautiful. Forget food right now. I’d rather fuck you.”

And he didn’t take no for an answer; snagging one arm around her waist and dragging her against his body, he dropped a hard kiss across her lips. Jesus, she smelled sweet. She’d brushed her teeth and pulled her artless curls into some half-up, half-down ’do that made him want to mess it up with his fingers.

He claimed her lips, sinking into her mouth and delivering a long, slow kiss of good morning. Rachel melted against him, opened wide to let him in, and gave as good as she got. Hmm, he could get used to this . . .

When he pulled back and sent her a steamy stare that suggested they get busy, she blushed a pretty pink.

With a laugh, he glanced down her body. “In fact, you look good enough to eat, beautiful. Did you dress up just for me?”

The blush deepened. “Maybe a little.”

“I like it. I’d like the shoes better if they were up around my ears, but . . .”

She rolled her eyes. “Is that supposed to be another pick-up line you found on Google?”

“Nope. That’s all me. Impressed?” He winked and found that he really liked teasing her. He adored the way she looked down demurely while giving him a flirtatious smile with a hint of the devil.

“Decker, you’re a wicked man.”

“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” he promised, then pulled her in for another kiss.

Sweet. Always so damn sweet. She didn’t taste like danger, betrayal, or another man, as the other women he’d taken to bed for the last decade did. She was warm and real and . . .

Shit, he sounded like some poetry-writing pussy. But it was all true.

With an arm around her waist, he didn’t have any trouble finding the big bow at the small of her waist and untying her apron. She barely had a chance to sputter a little protest before he yanked it over her head and tossed it to the ground, then silenced her with another kiss. A moment later, Rachel threw her arms around his neck and pressed herself close, rubbing against his nagging cock.

Decker thrust his hands in her hair, no longer giving a shit about her pretty curls arranged away from her face and all around her shoulders. “You keep doing that and you’re definitely going to get fucked.”

She gave a throaty laugh. “Promise?”

Fitting his hands around her ribs, under her arms, he lifted her onto the white tile of the kitchen counter. She gasped when her bare ass made contact with the cold surface. Rachel squirmed and tried to get comfortable. He just smiled. “Yes. Right here. Right now. Spread your legs and brace your heels on the edge of the counter.”

She blinked, looking so gratifyingly shocked, but she complied. “Just . . . like this?”

“Exactly like that,” he confirmed. “You make me ache for you every time.”

A fresh blush bloomed over her whole body.

“You ever had sex outside the bedroom?”

She shook her head, biting her lip and casting her gaze down again. “No.”

“Oh, beautiful . . . We’re going to have so much fun.” He grabbed her ankles and spread them wider, helping her anchor her heels on the edge of the counter, toes pointed down, leaving her pretty cunt completely open for his stare, his tongue, his cock.

Best breakfast ever, and he couldn’t wait to dive in. He was on his last condom, but after this, he’d somehow manage to drag himself out of her pussy long enough to feed her and run by the drugstore. After that, all bets were off.

Ready for a feast, he ran a finger down the inside of her thigh, skirting ever closer to her sensitive, swollen center. How fascinating to watch her folds grow slick and flush and pouty for his attention. Every part of her was beautiful.

He dropped his towel and took a few sidesteps over to his jeans, carefully removing the condom without disturbing the gun. Rachel watched, her breathing rapid, her lids heavy, her lips rosy and parted, her legs spread wide. When had he ever seen a sight more gorgeous? No doubt, he was a lucky son of a bitch that she was all his, at least for now.

And the thought crept back in that if he played his cards right, she could be his forever.

His teasing mien fell away. The inner caveman roared, wanting to break free, to claim, to take, to mark. He’d never, ever felt anything like this, but he wasn’t about to fight something that felt so right.

Decker stuck the condom wrapper between his teeth, ready to tear it open, roll it on, and sink so deeply inside her that she’d never think about walking away.

The thought was spinning in his head. Her heavy breaths, his pounding heart, the gravity of the moment—it was all broken by the ringing of a doorbell.

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