Actions & Adventure
History & Fiction
Thrillers & Crime
Romance & Love
Mystery & Detective
Actions & Adventure
History & Fiction
Thrillers & Crime
Romance & Love
Mystery & Detective
Time News Roman
Author: Jill Shalvis
She gasped and whipped her head around, losing her balance in the process and crashing to the floor.
“Christ. ” He came around the desk and crouched down at her side. “You okay?”
“I’ve got to stop doing that. ” Still in her chair, she was flat on her back on the ground, clutching her laptop, appearing annoyed until she got a good look at him and the crooked green scarf around his neck. “Aw. You’re wearing it. ”
“Yeah. ” He’d been taking shit about it from Ford and Sawyer, too. He took her computer and set it on the desk, then reached for her, holding her down when she tried to scramble to her feet. “Wait. Just lie there a minute. What hurts?”
“Besides my stupid pride? My butt. ”
Still on his knees, he lifted her out of the chair and pulled her over to him so that she was straddling his thighs in those Mrs. Santa sweats. “Cute,” he said, sliding his hands to said butt. “Better?”
“Mmm. The sweats are Chloe’s. It’s laundry day. All my clothes are in the washer. ”
“Don’t tease me with the washer, Maddie. ”
She bit her lower lip between her teeth, and he laughed softly. “You know, I’ve never been jealous of a spin cycle before. ”
She grimaced in embarrassment. “Stop. ”
“You have no idea what the thought of you on that thing does to me. ” He was hard already. And since his hands were on her ass, cupping her, he realized something else.
She wasn’t wearing any underwear.
With a groan, he slid his hands up to her breasts. No bra, either.
Oh, Christ, he was a goner. “Maddie, where’s your underwear?”
She lowered her voice to a whisper, as if imparting a state secret. “In the washer. ”
“You realize that puts you on the naughty list. ” He slid a finger into her drawstring resting just below her belly button and very slowly began to tug.
“What are you doing?”
Unwrapping you… “Checking for injuries. ”
“That’s Dr. Jax to you. ”
Her eyes lit with humor, but she put her hands over his, stopping their progress. “I feel different with you. Good different. I just wanted you to know. ” She removed her hands from his. “You can carry on now. Doctor. ”
He kissed her, then pulled back to look into her eyes. “I feel different, too. ”
“You do?” she breathed, her entire body softening for him. “What else are you feeling?”
Hot. Hungry. Devastatingly seduced by the look in her eyes, the one that said she was falling for him. “Like I want you. All of you. Wrapped around me. Lost in me. ” Having untied her bottoms, he reached for the zipper of her sweatshirt.
She held her breath as he slid it down, revealing a strip of her creamy skin from chin to belly button, and more than a hint of the curves of her breasts.
“I’m going to be cold,” she whispered.
“I’ll keep you warm. ” Leaning forward, he pressed his mouth between her warm, full breasts. Gently scraping his lips over one plumped curve, he worked his way to her nipple, which had already tightened for him.
“I don’t think I got hurt there. ” But her fingers slid into his hair to hold him in place.
“You can never be too sure. ” Slowly, he drew her nipple into his mouth and sucked.
Her head fell back, and she let out an aroused murmur that went straight through him. “But I fell on my butt. ”
“You’re right. You need some serious TLC. ” He slid his hands into her loosened sweatpants, tracing his fingers down the center of her sweet bare ass. Lingering… “Here?”
She gasped and shifted away. “No!”
With a smile, he slid his fingers lower. Wet. God, so wet.
Her arms clenched around his neck, and her breath was nothing more than little pants of hot air against his skin as he stroked her. “How about here?” he asked, slowly rubbing the pad of his callused finger over her, groaning when she spread her legs a little farther apart for him, giving him room to work. “Are you injured here?”
“N—no. ” She clutched at him, panting for breath in his ear. “Jax—Jax, please—”
He loved the sweet begging, but it wasn’t necessary. Because he was going to “please. ” He was going to please the both of them.
She rocked into him, her hands running over his chest, his abs, trying to get inside his clothes, trying to get inside him. He felt the same. He couldn’t get close enough. She was warm and curvy and whispering his name, and that worked for him, big-time. He reached down to tug off her shoes so he could get her out of the Santa sweats when red and blue lights flashed from outside, slashing into the office window.
“Sisters are the true friends who ask how
you are, and then wait to hear the answer. ”
Maddie straightened and stared at Jax, before zipping herself back up. She got to the window just as Sawyer opened the back door of his sheriff’s car.
Chloe huffed out and stormed toward the cottage.
“Oh, boy,” Maddie said, feeling Jax at her back.
“Sawyer’s pissed,” he said.
“How can you tell? He’s wearing a blank expression. ”
“That’s how you tell. He gives nothing away when he’s in that kind of mood. ”
Maddie’s gut tightened. “What do you think she did this time?”
Maddie hurried outside. “Chloe?” she called out.
Both Sawyer and Chloe turned around.
“It wasn’t my fault,” Chloe said.
Chloe tossed up her hands, whirled, and started walking again.
“You’re welcome for the ride,” Sawyer said to her back.
Chloe flipped him the bird and slammed the cottage door.
“What happened?” Maddie asked Sawyer.
“She talked Lance into taking her hang gliding by moonlight. The two of them climbed Horn Crest and flung themselves off the cliff, landing on Beaut Point with about six inches to spare before they would have plunged to their deaths. ”
At 6,700 feet, Horn Crest was the highest peak in the area. Beaut Point was the plateau overlooking Lucky Harbor, and it was about the size of a football field, sitting three hundred feet above where the Pacific Ocean smashed into a valley of rocks below. Picturing what Chloe had done, Maddie felt sick. “Is she all right?”
“Are you kidding me? She’s like a cat with nine lives. I don’t know how many she has left, though. ” Sawyer shook his head in disgust. “Lance was under the influence. I’m hauling his ass in until he sobers up. Chloe wasn’t drinking, so technically, I can’t hold her. And they didn’t actually break any law since it’s actually not illegal to be stupid, but they were trespassing, and I should have ticketed her. ” He blew out a breath. “At this point, it’s a waste of paper. ”
He rubbed his hands over his face and turned to Maddie. “She was lucky tonight, damn lucky. I’d ask you to try to talk some sense into her, but I’m not sure that’s even possible. ”
• • •
A few minutes later, after having said good night to Jax and Sawyer, Maddie walked through the cottage to the small bedroom, where she found Chloe sprawled facedown and spread-eagle across the bed, already out cold.
The Wild One…
Maddie had always secretly yearned to be the Wild One. Anything would have been better than the Mouse. Except that no longer really applied, did it? A mouse wouldn’t have given this place a shot. A mouse wouldn’t be having spectacular sex with a man who had a singular ability to obliterate her heart. A mouse wouldn’t be fighting to get to know her sisters, and herself.
Maybe what was happening with the inn was inevitable, and maybe she couldn’t save it. And maybe what she had with Jax was truly just a little snapshot in time and couldn’t be saved either.
But she could save her relationship with her sisters. And she could save herself from going back to the way she’d been before.
She could be whoever she wanted. Knowing it, she felt herself smiling and pulled out her phone. “Still close by?” she asked when Jax picked up.
Jax watched Maddie peer out the Jeep’s windshield at the unlit, unmoving Ferris wheel. “It’s closed,” she said with disappointment.
“It’s Christmas Eve. ” He had the Jeep running, the heater on full blast. The interior of the vehicle was dark except for the glowing light from the instrument panel, but he had no trouble seeing the life in her eyes or the smile on her face.
He knew if asked, she’d say he put that smile there. She’d been coming to life a little more every day, but the truth was that he’d had nothing to do with it. She’d taken on her world, and it was sexy as hell to watch.
“I guess I’ll have to find another adventure tonight,” she said and turned to him. Her hair fell around her face in soft curls, just past her shoulders. He knew what it smelled like, knew how it felt brushing over his bare skin. He knew how she tasted and how to make her moan his name. He knew she was slow to open her heart, but that once she did, she was fiercely loyal to those she cared about. He knew what foods she craved, that she had a low tolerance for alcohol and a penchant for drinking it anyway. He knew that she pretended to be annoyed by Tara’s steely resolve but really admired it, just as he knew she also admired Chloe’s spirit. He knew that after a life in Los Angeles, she thought Lucky Harbor would be heaven. He knew she was looking for more…
And that she hoped she’d found it.
She knew things about him, too, more than he’d revealed to a woman in a long time. Unable to help himself, he ran a finger along her temple, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Name it,” he said. “Tell me what you want. ”
“But we don’t have a condom. ”
He couldn’t help it, he laughed.