Also by this author: His to Love (Fireside, #1)
His to Seduce (Fireside, #4) by Stacey Lynn
Published by Loveswept (Penguin Random House) on March 21, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Buy on Amazon
An honorable man who’s lost his way . . . A career woman who hides behind her button-up suits . . . Unexpected romance is the specialty at the Fireside Grill as Stacey Lynn’s captivating series comes full circle.
Becoming an ER doctor had been David McGregor’s mission ever since he could remember. But after tragedy strikes at his hospital in Chicago, David runs away from the guilt—all the way back to Latham Hills, Michigan, where he takes a job tending bar at his childhood friend’s restaurant. That’s how he meets Camden Reed, and the way Camden refuses to give him the time of day should be a turnoff. Instead, he’s drawn to her tough, tightly wound exterior, and soon David realizes that he has a new mission: to see her tightly wound beneath him.
Camden’s fighting tooth and nail to resist the desire she feels for David. Growing up dirt-poor, raised by a single mother, she worked twice as hard to get where she is today, and she doesn’t have any patience for the kind of guy who’d give up a decent paycheck to sling drinks. But when the sexual tension finally combusts between the sheets, Camden discovers that people aren’t always what they seem. As David pushes her past her limits, Camden begins to loosen up—and to trust that, when she falls, there will be someone waiting to catch her.
My back hit the metal shelf behind me and I cringed.
“David.” I gripped his shoulders tighter. His hands squeezed my backside as he moved us.
“Fuck, sorry.” In the darkness it was almost impossible to see, but my eyes slowly adjusted as he pushed aside a stack of tablecloths and placed me on a table. “Better?” His hand gently brushed down my cheek and goosebumps popped on my arms.
What was I doing?
The salty Jamaican air had scrambled my senses.
Or I was tired of being alone. Tired of being the outsider among all my friends who had recently found the loves of their lives. I was thrilled for them, especially Tyson and Blue, whose marriage we had celebrated earlier on the beach of a Jamaican resort. In the last year, I’d watched three of my closest friends fall in love and ﬁnd the men of their dreams, along with their happily ever afters. I was genuinely happy for them, but I was also tired of being the one who always went home alone.
This . . . whatever it was with David . . . gave me a break, if only for a moment.
“Please,” I whispered, and leaned into his palm now cupping my cheek. His hands were strong. Long, tanned ﬁngers that had made me think of naughty things like this for months.
In the darkness, I saw a ﬂash of his white teeth. “I like it when you beg. When you need me.”
Tonight’s need was selﬁsh. A moment to forget the loneliness. A moment to take what I’d been too chicken to go after for months even though it was right in front of me.
He’d been right before my eyes, ﬂirting relentlessly and trying to break me down. Tonight, I was tired of ﬁghting the pull I’d felt for him despite how wrong I knew he was for me. This was one night. A moment of wildness I didn’t usually indulge in, but who didn’t enjoy getting laid at a friend’s wedding? It was almost a requirement.
His hands dropped to my knees, spreading them wide so he could step in between them.
His ﬁngers teased my thighs, running up and down my bare ﬂesh until I shivered from the softness of his touch.
My eyes were half-lidded when I forced myself to look at him. I saw only his lust for me, and my heart rioted against my rib cage.
Damn . . . he wanted me. It was as thrilling as it was terrifying.
One of his hands left my leg and cupped the back of my neck. He pulled me to him until our foreheads touched.
“I want this,” he said, his voice thick and gruff. “Tell me you want this.” “I want it.”
“Tell me you want me.”
I couldn’t. A long time ago I swore to myself I’d never be vulnerable again. I certainly wasn’t about to make that admission when all I currently wanted was a night of pretending and forgetting.
“Camden, I want you to know that when I sink into you, when I push your panties to the side and run my ﬁngers through your wetness, this isn’t a one-time thing for us. This is the beginning.”
I shivered again. From his words, his promise—something I so desperately craved but was too terriﬁed to take hold of.
I shifted my hips, pulling him to me until his erection brushed against my center.
“Tonight.” I gasped as he rubbed against me in the perfect spot. “It’s all I can promise.”
He chuckled, moving his mouth against my cheek, down to my jaw and my throat. “We’ll see about that.”
My breathing was still erratic as I pushed down my gray silk dress, the same dress everyone in the bridal party had worn for the wedding.
“You okay?” David asked.
I couldn’t look at him. My pulse pounded and my ﬁngers were trembling when they went to my hair to smooth it back. It was no use.
“I look like a mess,” I said, unable to see myself in the darkened closet where we’d just had sex. But I knew I did, based on the hair that had escaped my clips and pins. God. I’d just let David, a man I’d avoided for months despite my physical attraction to him, sweep me into a darkened supply closet and screw me senseless during a wedding.
A wedding! My friend’s wedding!
Panic rolled through me and I ﬂashed my eyes to David.
He was calm as a cucumber, tucking his white linen shirt back into the waistband of his gray dress pants.
“What did we do?” I asked. I pressed my hand to my chest to calm my heart rate, but it was useless. “They’re going to know. And—”
He curved his arms around my shoulders and slid his lips against mine. It did nothing to quell the stampede I felt inside me. Instead, everything increased . . . the heat ﬂooding my veins, the pounding in my ears.
“We did what I’ve been wanting to do ever since I ﬁrst saw you. That’s what happened.” He pulled back to whisper in my ear, “It was incredible, and I want more of you. On my bed, in the light so I can see you.”
I shook my head. “We can’t.”
“Oh. We can.”
I squeezed my eyes closed before forcing myself to look at him. David was gorgeous. Lean and handsome, with short sandy-blond hair that was cropped in a professionally styled cut. His blue eyes were beautiful, even though I couldn’t see them clearly at the moment. When he’d ﬁrst showed up at Fireside Grill months ago, I’d barely been able to pull my eyes off him. It was still difﬁcult, but months of practice had helped me at least act like I wasn’t affected by him. He wasn’t only sexy, but calm and laid back. He laughed easily and often. He’d shown up in Latham Hills after his friend Aidan’s son died in a skateboarding accident and then made himself at home behind the bar at our friend Declan’s Fireside Grill restaurant. For months now, he’d made it clear he wanted me. My resolve to stay away was dwindling by the day, especially after this.
He was my complete opposite. And absolutely wrong for me.
“David,” I sighed. “That was a—”
He pressed two ﬁngers against my lips. “Don’t say mistake. It wasn’t. It was wonderful. And besides,” his lips lifted into a grin, “you promised me the night and it’s not nearly over yet.”
“Everyone will know.” This wasn’t me, and everyone knew it. I didn’t succumb to temptation, despite how good the promise of it was. My life was controlled and ordered. Planned out to the letter. I couldn’t afford to let myself get swept away in the silliness like the rest of my friends. I didn’t have that luxury. It was my lists and organization and neurotic planning that had kept me sane for the last sixteen years.
“I don’t care.” His ﬁngers slid to my jaw and then to my neck before sliding around to the back. I shivered from his gentle touch. From the way he made me feel. “Turn around.”
“Your hair’s a mess and I want to ﬁx it.”
“Oh.” My hands went back to my hair but he stopped me, taking my hands in his and tugging them to my side. “I can do it.”
“I know, but I want to.”
Turning me around, his hands glided up my arms to my hair and I began to relax. My auburn hair was long and thick and held back with dozens of pins, half of it up and the other half curled in a way that would have taken me hours to do had I done it myself.
Fortunately, Blue had covered the cost for all of us at a salon at the resort where she and Tyson had swept us away for their last-minute wedding. Not having much family, and a small circle of friends, they’d decided to forgo a typical wedding and whisked everyone to Jamaica for a long weekend. We’d arrived yesterday but hadn’t had much time to relax. Most of the day and night and then this morning had been busy with wedding preparations.
“That feels good.” I sighed as David began releasing pins and gathering them in his hands. I relaxed, leaning forward and holding on to the table in front of me. The table where I’d sat minutes ago and had sex. I inhaled a deep breath, calming myself before I panicked again. “Thank you for helping me with this.”
“My pleasure,” he whispered, as if now he cared about anyone hearing us. “We’ll get this done and then say our good nights. Think anyone missed us?”
I laughed awkwardly. “If they noticed we were gone at all . . .”
The only reason I’d allowed David to take me away from the reception was because it had been just the two of us. He’d walked up to me at the bar, bought me a drink, and then before I knew it, after ﬂirting like he’d been doing for months, he was tugging me down a hallway. I’d thought maybe we were going for a walk when he asked me if I wanted to get away for a moment; I hadn’t expected him to guide me into a closet and kiss me.
But what a kiss it had been.
“They noticed. They’re probably thrilled.”
“I’m not sure I can talk about this.” He slid his hands into my hair and I groaned. My head fell forward as he massaged my scalp with his strong ﬁngers. I didn’t typically like having my hair touched and played with. His sure and conﬁdent touch made me forget why for a moment.
“I like that what we just did makes you nervous. I bet when I pull you back into the hallway and take you to my room for round two, your chest will be bright pink.”
I was stuck on the thought of going back to his room for round two and it took me a moment to realize what else he’d said. “Don’t tease me.” I pressed my hand to my chest to hide the heated skin. Splotchy wasn’t attractive.
“Hey.” He turned me around again and cupped my cheeks with his palms. All the lightness evaporated from his tone as he moved close to me. “I’m not teasing you. I think it’s sexy as hell when you blush. When it starts at your cheeks and spreads to your neck.” A ﬁnger trailed down my skin as he spoke, making me shiver . . . and yes . . . blush.
“We should go back to the wedding.”
“We’ll wave to them as we leave.” He licked his lips and grinned. One of his hands moved back until the doorknob clicked, the door opened, and light from the hall ﬂooded in. “I need you.”
Need. No one needed me. No one had ever needed me. He might have been saying he just wanted my body, but I didn’t care.
I liked the way the admission rolled off his lips.
I grinned then, unable to stop it as he pulled the door open and his eyes dropped to my chest. He winked when he looked at me and tugged me into the hall.
“Tonight,” I reminded him. “I promised you tonight.”
“Sure, Camden. For tonight.”
He might as well have called me a liar.
We walked down the hall, back to the reception area, and I clung to his hand holding mine. I ducked my head, embarrassed to see anyone, but when we got back to the restaurant, it was empty.
My head snapped to him and he laughed, throwing his head back. “Looks like everyone had the same idea we did.”
He winked at me again, and darn it. He was so cute when he was playful, which he generally was. Strong jaw and cheekbones, perfectly straight nose, David could have been a model, admired by millions on a billboard if he wanted to be with his long and lean but ﬁnely formed frame.
“Well.” I grinned and shook my head in disbelief. “I guess I don’t have to worry about them seeing us together.”
The humor evaporated from his eyes and I wanted to kick myself. I’d made it clear to my friends for months that I wouldn’t date David. I craved ﬁnancial stability and safe men. A bartender who swooped into town could just as easily ﬂee whenever the mood struck.
In that moment, I wasn’t thinking about David’s job or his lack of money or anything except the fact that I’d done something outside my comfort zone and my friends would think it was hilarious.
I was twenty-nine years old and just had my ﬁrst taste of wedding sex in a closet that could potentially lead to my ﬁrst one-night stand. In my mind, I heard Suzanne and Chelsea’s unending, gleeful laughter.
Before I could explain that it was my behavior I was embarrassed about, he turned and tugged me forward. “I can take you back to your room, Camden. I don’t want to pressure you into this. If that’s all that was for, just a way to get off with someone while you were at a wedding and feeling emotional, I get it. But I’m telling you now that I want more.” He dropped his hand from mine and stepped back. “Your choice.”
In for a penny, in for a pound. I’d agreed to this, and not only that, I wanted it. I wanted to see David’s body like he wanted to see mine. I wanted to throw away my lists and my carefully planned life, if only for a night.
I felt something with David, something I had tried to ignore. It felt like freedom and fun and a wildness I had never experienced before. As he stood in front of me, waiting, there was no choice.
For the night, I was letting go of everything and taking what I was tired of denying myself.
I sucked my bottom lip between my teeth and stepped forward, pressing my palm to his chest. It tightened beneath me, and David peered down at me with beautiful blue eyes brighter than the Caribbean Sea.
“Take me to your room, David. And show me what else you have planned for me.”