Maddie stood inside the entrance to Hegarty’s, scanning the cool interior as the door closed behind her.
At this late hour there were a few dozen people filling the tables scattered around the room, with several more sitting on stools at the bar. The raucous conversation taking place between four young guys in the corner competed with the rock music flowing from the chrome and glass jukebox. A drunken woman stumbled alone to the beat, her high heels clacking across the wood floor.
Maddie smiled at the sight and turned her attention to Dean Hegarty, who stood behind the bar pouring a beer. Caught up in conversation with the older guy seated on the stool in front, he hadn’t noticed her arrival yet. She let out the breath she’d been holding and took the time to enjoy the view before his gaze swung her way.
His short dark hair was fashioned in its usual scruffy style, matching the permanent stubble on his jaw. He wore a grey t-shirt over his broad chest, and she didn’t need to look behind the bar to know a pair of worn jeans would be covering the lower half of his body. His strong hands were quick and capable as he worked, his attention flicking between his customer and the rapidly filling glass.
She wanted those hands on her. It was the only reason she ever came here anymore.
He slid the beer into the man’s outstretched palm and glanced up as if he’d sensed her presence. When his brown eyes met her grey ones, Maddie watched the change come over him.
A frown marred that gorgeous face of his, then he checked her out with a cursory glance and returned his attention to his customer. If she didn’t know better she would have been under the impression he hadn’t noticed the effort she’d put into her appearance tonight, but that flare of heat she saw in his eyes just before he turned his head gave him away.
Her light brown curls flowed loosely down her back and her long legs were bare, ending in a pair of silver stilettos that displayed bright pink toenails. She wore a black mini-dress that dipped low in the front, with just a pair of black lace panties underneath. When she strolled toward him Maddie felt the subtle sway of her breasts with each step.
She took her place on the barstool two seats down from the next occupied one, watching as Dean said a few parting words to the other man, then made his way over to her.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, looking her over. He didn’t sigh but the tone of his voice suggested he might as well have. “Wait—scratch that, I know what exactly you’re doing here. I don’t have time for this, Maddie.”
She fought the urge to roll her eyes, knowing it wouldn’t do anything to help her cause. With her elbows resting on the bar she leaned forward just enough to have her dress gaping at the front. “Sure about that?” she asked, giving him an eyeful.
His attention lingered on her cleavage a little longer than necessary for someone who was trying to give the impression he wasn’t interested. He met her eyes again and shook his head, huffing out a reluctant laugh. ”Really
subtle. Nice work.”
She grinned despite his moodiness. “Thanks. Just out of interest, why do we have to keep going through this same routine?”
Maddie couldn’t decide if she wanted it to be different or if the challenge had become a big part of what turned her on. The only thing that bothered her now was that each new seduction took more effort from her with further resistance from him. His apparent loss of interest in this game they’d been playing for the last seven months had begun to concern her lately.
“I show up here,” she said, “you pretend you don’t want anything to do with me anymore then we go upstairs to your apartment. Can’t we just skip to the fucking part?”
The man sitting nearby let out a guffaw. Maddie shot him a look then returned her attention to Dean.
She waited while he considered her for a few long, uncomfortable moments. Any previous signs of amusement disappeared and the muscle ticking in his jaw made her heart thump. She opened her mouth to fill the uncomfortable silence but the expression on his face stopped her. The tension built between them until she felt the need to brace herself, then he finally put her out of her misery. “You’ve gotta go,” he said.
Surprise came over her and her eyes widened. “Why?” She tried to ignore the twinge of desperation in her stomach.
“I’m done. The last time… that was it for me. I’m tired of being your personal sex toy.”
Her pulse fluttered in her throat. Maddie stared at him, not sure where to go from here. He’d never mentioned anything when they were last together. They’d spent their usual couple of hours fulfilling each other’s physical needs while touching on none of the emotional ones, then she’d left his apartment while he slept to avoid the awkward goodbyes—just like every other time.
“What? So… that’s it?” she asked. It felt like a door had been slammed in her face. She wanted to crumple before him but forced herself to keep it together.
He met her eyes and nodded.
“You can’t. We—I… ” Emotion welled up inside her, her confusion only making things worse. She glanced around in a futile effort to find something to anchor to but it only left her feeling more alone. Why did she care? There had never been anything between them beyond the physical. They’d made no promises to each other or discussed the idea of turning this casual connection into something more permanent. In the back of her mind she’d known it would have to end at some point. She’d just hoped it would be later rather than sooner.
Maddie swallowed and forced herself to remain calm, but she couldn’t stop herself from wanting to inflict a little hurt on him in the hope it might lessen some of hers. “I’ll find someone else,” she said, then it hit her all of a sudden that there would never be
anyone quite like him.
His gaze remained locked with hers. “I know.”
She twisted the strap on the small handbag tucked under her arm, wondering how it had come to this.
They’d first met when she worked at her previous job in an office building just a block from here. The staff had come in to Hegarty’s every Friday night to wind down at the end of the busy work week. Even though three Fridays had passed before she and Dean finally got together, there had been something between them right from the beginning.
She still remembered the way he’d held her gaze, his mouth kicking up at one corner while she tried her best to hide her flustered reaction. He’d made her heart thump faster just being near him, but when he’d touched her that first time… God
, he’d filled her body with a jumble of sensations she could still clearly remember now.
Maddie had stopped coming here on Fridays, and now her only visits were whenever she experienced the craving that only Dean seemed able to fill. She’d been under the impression the arrangement worked for both of them but his expression had a look of finality about it that made her want to beg him for just a little more time.
It occurred to her that she may have been replaced. The idea stung, and she struggled to keep the hurt from her voice. “So… which one of the bar staff are you seeing?” she asked, glancing at the young redhead currently flirting with a customer at the other end of the bar. Maddie knew there was a pretty blonde, too, but she didn’t appear to be working tonight. A guy she’d never seen before had taken her place.
Dean let out a controlled breath. “None of them.”
“So… you have a girlfriend. Anyone I know?”
“That falls under the category of none of your business.”
“Maddie.” He gave her a look filled with such patience it made her feel petty and small.
If she wanted to keep her pride intact, Maddie knew she had to let it go for now, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave because he’d think she was running away. Since she’d done nothing wrong, she raised her eyes and blinked a few times while she took a calming breath. “All right,” she said, meeting his gaze again. “Are you going to frogmarch me out of here or can I stay for a drink?”
His lips moved with a barely noticeable quirk. “Stay if you want. We’re closing in an hour-and-a-half.”
He turned away from her and went about serving up her regular drink as if she was just another customer, one who’d never shared all those intimate moments with him. She watched his back as he worked, wanting to ask why he’d had a change of heart—or mind
since there’d obviously been no heart involved from the outset—but there didn’t seem to be any point.
He came back and placed her drink in front of her. A look came over him that made him appear as if he had something more to say, then he seemed to think better of it and tapped the counter with his fingertips. He gave her a quick, closed-mouthed smile then moved down the bar to serve another customer.
Maddie let out a long sigh and rubbed her thumb over the condensation already forming on the glass. She couldn’t figure out why it bothered her so much that he didn’t want her anymore. She loved men, she enjoyed their company… the pleasure they gave her, but she never got attached to them.
Her fingers wrapped around the glass, and she raised it to take a couple of deep gulps. When she discovered how strong he’d made the concoction, Maddie couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.
Her gaze drifted around the room, taking in the rowdy guys in the corner. The dancing drunk woman had now draped herself over a seated man who looked as if he couldn’t figure out if he welcomed the attention. She watched the woman trace the shell of the man’s ear with her fingertip and him squirm in response. Maddie smiled absently and turned back to the bar, searching for Dean.
She found him laughing with a male customer and the female bar attendant. The young woman was in her early twenties at most, with her red hair pulled into a ponytail and a belly ring glimmering from the pale skin revealed by the hem of her too-tight t-shirt. She touched Dean’s arm and sent him a look that appeared much more intimate than one an employee would normally give her boss.
Maddie had never felt the quick stab of jealousy before when it came to men... or one man in particular. She realised what it meant, and the thought made her heart pound. She watched Dean for a while longer then glanced away and took another long drink, surprised to find that the next mouthful left her glass empty. She set it on the counter and gestured for another. * * * * *
Dean called last drinks
to the remaining crowd and began tidying up behind the bar, glad for the night to be almost over. Everything had gone well up until Maddie’s appearance, then it all turned to shit and he couldn’t think straight anymore.
He grabbed a couple of empty glasses from the counter and flicked another glance in her direction. He’d expected her to take his rejection in stride but the way she’d reacted made him think he’d hurt her.
She’d spent the last two songs dancing with a tall blonde guy whose wandering hands made Dean want to loosen a few of his teeth. Watching her with someone new brought home just how much she meant to him. Funny, since she’d always been oblivious to his feelings and made it obvious the only thing she wanted from him was sex.
He watched her move, thankful she’d ditched the handsy asshole now. She stood alone on the dance floor, her eyes closed and her lithe body swaying. Her arms rose above her head, her small bag hanging from one shoulder as she twirled her fingers in the air.
Dean took in the swing of her hips, the way her head tilted back and her hair flowed over her bare shoulders. Despite what had happened between them he still wanted to slip in behind her, wrap his arms around her waist and pull her against him.
Her eyes opened and her gaze settled on him. He felt the shock of the connection, the steady thump of his heart as they watched each other. Need churned inside him the way it always did when he had her within his sights.
He refused to look away; he couldn’t stop himself from taking in every detail while he still had the chance.
She smiled at him, just the barest movement of her mouth before she turned in a slow circle and met his eyes again. Although they were too far apart to touch, he could almost feel the heat of her body against him.
Her hands dropped to her sides and her tongue slipped out to moisten her lower lip. He watched her eyes dart to rear of the bar, to the door that led up to his apartment. That one brief glance let him know exactly what she wanted. No matter how much he’d tried to make her think he didn’t care, he wanted it, too.
If she’d been cocky about it he would have found it easy to turn away from her and forget about this connection of theirs, because then he’d finally know for sure it was all just a game—but she didn’t look like a woman who only wanted to win a meaningless challenge.
She kept her steady gaze on him, the hopeful expression on her face finally pushing him over the edge.
He let out a resigned breath and fired instructions at Carrie and Brett, the two staff members who were working for him tonight. When he felt confident enough leaving them alone to close up for the night, his gaze swung back to Maddie.
One more time, he thought, then he was done. * * * * *
Dean shoved Maddie against the closed door of his one bedroom apartment, his mouth pressing to hers, hard and demanding as it took control. They’d already spent a while on the stairs, neither of them able to finish the ascent because they couldn’t keep their hands off each other long enough to take the steps.
With a couple of jerky movements she rid herself of her shoes, making the height difference between them more obvious. One of her hands sank into his hair and gripped the dark strands, her lips responding to his punishing kiss with a fierceness of their own. She grabbed his other hand and directed it under her dress, just as forward as she’d always been in letting him know what she needed.
He cupped her pussy and rubbed her through her panties, his groan muffled against her mouth. She pulled her lips free and let out a strangled cry as her hips rocked to meet his massaging fingers.
“Tell me what you want from me,” he said, hearing the huskiness in his voice.
Her fingers loosened in his hair and her breaths grew heavier. “An orgasm.”
Her response would have made him smile at any other time. He wasn’t in the mood right now, though. He nipped her jaw and rubbed her pussy, take pleasure in the way she twisted against him. “What else?”
“I don’t… I can’t think.”
She moved her hips toward him, meeting the slow glide of his fingers. Her wetness seeped through her panties, coating his hand in a musky sheen. “Stop thinking,” he said, pressing his thumb against her clit. “Say what you feel.”
Her palms slid down from his hair to clasp his jaw. She pressed her lips to his, her tongue taking on a life of its own and driving him wild with need. Her soft whimpers made him want to tear her panties off her. He sank his hand under hair and clutched her curls in his fist, pulling her mouth off his. “Talk to me,” he said.
A guttural sound he’d never heard before came from her. She suddenly pushed off the door and propelled him backward, shoving him against the opposite wall hard enough to make the picture above his head rattle.
Dean growled and dragged her in for another long kiss, keeping her close with his arms wrapped around her. He wanted to turn her around, shove her panties down and fuck her right here; his need for her almost consumed him. When he finally pulled away from her they were both breathless.
“I feel… out of control,” she said.
“Yeah? Tell me something I don’t know.” He tugged her dress over her body and pulled it free from her hair, dropping it beside him. His gaze wandered over her as she stood before him in only her panties. The view made his pulse quicken and his erection strain against his pants. Her mouth was pink, swollen from their kisses. Her stomach tightened with her quick breaths and her nipples hardened under his appraisal.
He couldn't wait. He needed her now. Dean stripped off his t-shirt and flung it away. He pulled her to him, groaning at the feel of bare breasts against bare chest. One hand swept over her ass while the other slipped between her legs, curling over her pussy. His gaze remained on hers while he manipulated her sensitive flesh through her panties.
“You tell me
something first.” She appeared to be trying to keep it together but she shuddered as his thumb pressed against her clit. Her body rocked toward him as if chasing the release only he could give her. Maddie gasped at his touch, holding his face in her hands. “Why did you change your mind?”
He leaned in and kissed her, gentling his lips as he worked his fingers inside the leg of her panties to touch her directly. She whimpered in response, almost making him lose it. “Couldn’t help it,” he said as his fingers encountered wet, warm skin.
, Dean.” She bit his lower lip then flicked her tongue over him to soothe him. “Why
He kissed her hard, feeling arousal, need and frustration, collide inside him. When their mouths parted he rested his forehead against hers and decided to just give in to it all. “Because I feel something for you,” he said. “I want more from you than sex.”
She let out a squeak. He wondered if the reaction meant something good or bad but then she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him with more enthusiasm than he’d ever felt from her before. Her tongue dipped into his mouth, her body plastered against him, her hands were in his hair. It was like she couldn’t get close enough.
While he held her and their mouths moved together, he brought her off with his hand. She kept letting out these little moans that made him want to fuck her and cuddle her at the same time. His fingers slid back and forth over her slippery clit, pushing her, teasing her, until he felt her shudder and cry out against his mouth.
Warmth unfurled in the pit of his stomach, and he groaned. She still clutched him to her as her hand slipped between their bodies to curve over his erection. Dean thrust his tongue into her mouth and pulled his hand from her panties. He placed it over hers and squeezed, rubbing his cock with her.
Maddie broke the kiss and breathed against his lips. “Let me… God, I need to—” She nudged his hand away and worked on the zipper of his jeans, yanking it open and pushing the denim over his hips.
He loved her urgency. She’d always been this way with him, desperate to get him inside her, excited over every touch. He remembered how they used to fuck hard and fast the first time just so they could take it easy the second time around.
She worked his boxer briefs over his cock and released him. Her gaze dropped to check out what she’d revealed, and when her eyes came back to meet his, the look in them made him snap.
Dean kissed her hard one final time then grabbed her upper arms and reversed their positions, pressing her face first against the wall. He shoved his jeans over his thighs and almost tore her panties from her as he lowered them over the cheeks of her round little ass.
He grabbed hold of his dick and pressed it into the crevice created by her parted thighs, rubbing it along her smooth, wet channel.
“Don’t tease me, Dean. I can’t wait. Fuck me
,” Maddie pleaded.
He leaned in and grazed his teeth over her throat, easing inside her with a slow thrust. She sighed and pushed back against him to deepen the connection. He kissed her ear, nibbled the lobe. She was so tight the urge came over him to start thrusting and never stop.
Once he’d filled her completely, her head turned and her eyes met his. She had a dazed look about her that made him want to smile. Dean gave her a kiss on her mouth, then without another word pulled back and plunged inside her again.
She held on, leaning her cheek against the wall while her hands reached back to touch him. He felt the dig of her fingertips in the muscles of his thighs, the clench of her buttocks as her pussy squeezed around him. He smelled the musky scent of her arousal.
He wedged a hand between her body and the wall, reaching for her opposite breast and grabbing her firm flesh. He pumped his cock inside her, using his other hand to pull her hair from her neck and kiss the nape. A wet sheen of perspiration coated her skin, and he felt her straining against him, trying to get closer. She met every one of his thrusts with a movement of her own, moaning and grunting with the effort.
He’d never seen her like this before. The need was nothing new but the rawness of her sounds, the roughness of her touch… it was like she’d decided to hold nothing back.
He fucked her hard, letting out all of the frustrations of the past months, each one of his thrusts forcing a short, sharp breath from her.
She slipped her fingers between her legs and began rubbing her pussy. He groaned and moved his hand from her breast to her throat, curving his fingers around the base while he kept up his hard, deep strokes. His other hand gripped her hip, pulling her back against him.
“I want to stay after this,” she said, her voice husky and breathless. “Let me stay and sleep next to you so we can do it again in the morning.”
“I want that, too.” He kissed her flushed cheek, her suggestion making him pick up his pace. Her fingertips brushed his cock as he moved in and out of her. Her ass slapped against his groin. It reached the point where he couldn’t hold on any longer. “I’m gonna come, Mads,” he said, gripping her hip tighter.
“Oh, God, yes.” She ground her pussy against him, squeezing him with her inner muscles as she rubbed her clit. Her breaths came quicker and she pulsed around him as her body trembled and an orgasm rippled through her.
Dean groaned and rested his chin on her shoulder. He turned his face against her neck, his heavy breaths stirring her hair while he thrust hard once, twice, losing it on the third stroke. His cock erupted, a rasping groan tearing from him as his cum spurted into her wet, warm depths.
He didn’t want to move but he couldn’t if he’d tried. His arms were still wrapped around her and the hand he’d had at her throat moved to her breast. Dean felt her heart hammering against his palm, and her breathing still hadn’t slowed. She hadn’t said a word but the way she stroked his thigh softly with her fingertips felt promising.
“Did you mean what you said about staying?” he asked, pulling back to place a kiss on her bare shoulder.
She stirred before him and pushed off the wall, turning in his arms to stare up at him. Her mascara had smudged and her hair was all tangled. She looked a mess but he’d never thought of her as more beautiful than right in this moment. Her teeth worked on her lower lip as she nodded, appearing hesitant for the first time since he’d met her.
“No more coming and going?” he asked, raising his brows as he yanked up his boxers and jeans.
She seemed to catch onto his meaning because she laughed and shook her head. “No. I’m staying.”
He grabbed her and pulled her to him. “Thank God for that,” he said. “Let’s go to bed. That wall thing nearly killed me.” He interlocked his fingers with hers and hurried down the hall with her before she could change her mind.* * * * *
In the morning when she woke, Maddie took a moment to get her bearings. She discovered she'd snuggled in beside Dean during the night and her cheek now rested against his chest. The sun streamed through the window since they'd forgotten to close the blinds last night. He trailed his fingertips over her forehead, and she shifted against him making soft sounds of contentment.
She'd never been with anyone like this before, all relaxed and quiet, heavy limbs tangled in tousled sheets. It made her feel vulnerable in one way but safe in another. She traced his lower belly with her fingertip, building the courage to lift her head and look up at him. When she met his dark eyes, everything she felt for him rose to the surface and filled her with warmth.
"You okay?" he asked, squeezing her nose.
She laughed then, sending him a look filled with affection. "Yes. It's all good."
"All of it?" he asked.
Maddie stared up at him, taken with the view of his rumpled hair, stubbled jaw and warm, dark eyes. Now she'd spent this time with him, she couldn't imagine wanting to wake up any other way. "All of it," she said, climbing on top of him to straddle his body.
He smiled and pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her to keep her right where she belonged.
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