An absentee father. A gambling addicted mother, who seems to show up only when she needs something—preferably money. Natalea survives her childhood and teenage years because of her best friend, Drake Harte, and his family. Even though she’s been in love with Drake for years, she refuses to let her lust come in the way of their friendship. Life without Drake is not possible and sex would certainly complicate things.
Or what? Was his firecracker of a best friend challenging him? He may have gotten off his twenty-four-hour shift at the firehouse mere minutes ago, but he was always ready to rumble with Natalea. Her honey-colored eyes gleamed with the familiar twinkle she had every single time they provoked each other. She loved it as much as he did.
He loved everything about her. She was a whole lot wrapped up in a five-foot-three package. She was beautiful—beautiful in a way that wasn’t cover model, but real. Sweet. Caring. Honest. Strong. Stronger than anyone he knew. Her life hadn’t been easy.
He exhaled a laugh before dropping the towel and placing his hands on the bar top. Having spent as much time as he had in The Misbehaved, he knew exactly how much space he had to clear before he’d be on the ground on the other side. He pushed off with his feet on the stool rungs and slammed it to the ground with a bang as he propelled himself over. He landed with a thud on the black rubber floor mat. Heads swiveled in their direction.
Natalea yelped and dropped the towel. She spun on her heels and dashed to get away from him. He swung his arm around her waist and jerked her flush against him. The feel of her softness against the rigid planes of his body made a groan bubble up in his chest. He bit it off.
He hoisted her over his shoulder and wandered out onto the floor. Her lush breasts pressed against him and made his cock twitch to life in his jeans. Her legs flailed in the air, her black work boots thudding against his abdomen. She may have been small, but she was mighty. He’d give her that. As the thought entered his mind, her teeth sank into his lower back muscles through his T-shirt.
“Ow,” he cried, surprised by her bite. “Watch it, baby girl. You know better than to walk this tough-girl path with me. It never ends well for you.”
She grunted and groaned at his words. Several of the male patrons hooted and hollered.
“Nice legs,” one of the guys standing by the pool table shouted. A few whistles followed and Drake realized what the fuss was about. Her already scant jean shorts had ridden up her legs, exposing all of her thighs, maybe more. Despite the crowd being predominantly female, the few males made themselves quite vocal.
A wave of possessiveness flowed over him. He didn’t like that the guys were gawking at her ass poised in the air, and at her tan, muscular legs draped over his shoulder. Legs he’d fantasized about encircling his hips as he buried himself inside her. That fantasy had recurred on numerous occasions over the last decade.
Yes, he pined after his best friend. Had for years. Whenever she was around, he popped a perpetual boner. He also needed to protect her, which pretty much ruined any chance she had for a relationship with anyone else. No one—and he meant no one—was good enough for her.
© Jessica Jayne