“I hate Miami!”
With my head sticking out the window of my car, screaming at the top of my lungs, even in traffic people probably thought I was nuts. What I’d learned from being in the overcrowded, oversexed, and over-opinionated city was that everyone was a little crazy. They had to be to put up with the nasty, horrible people who lived here.
Huffing, I thumped back in my seat, honking on my horn like at least ten other drivers were doing. Although we weren’t going anywhere quickly. Even the timing of the traffic lights made life miserable. Okay, I’d had the worst week of my life, so I was obviously jaded, but after the last job interview, I was fed up with assholes who thought they were all that and a bag of chips.
I’d been forced to parade around in front of four men in the required cocktail uniform, pretending to serve them drinks. The entire time they’d studied my ass, not my ability as a cocktail waitress. No. They’d ogled my ass with their tongues hanging out. And who the hell forced their waitresses to wear five-inch heels? Hissing, as the traffic started moving again, I had an instinct to slam my foot on the accelerator, stopping myself at the last second.
Adding a wreck to the toxic mixture of events certainly wouldn’t put me in a better mood. At this point, only a bottle of red wine and a pint of chocolate ice cream would. Pint? Try a gallon. When the traffic came to another screeching halt four car lengths from where I’d been, steam was rolling from my ears. At least I was first in line at the obligatory traffic light. I could zoom out with glee, maybe making it through the next light before it turned red.
I tapped my index finger on the steering wheel, remembering the last nasty barb I’d heard after finishing my walk of shame.
“Honey, you have the coordination of a moose. Maybe you should consider another profession.”
At least the backhanded comment wasn’t as embarrassing as my ass being compared to two gigantic pumpkins stuck together. I should sue the bastards for sexual harassment. Yeah, that would work. With the three hundred and forty-two dollars I had in my dwindling bank account, I could only imagine the attorney I’d manage to hire.
So I wasn’t a skinny-minny like more than half the women in the city. So what? I had healthy curves, a place for a man to grab onto while he fucked my brains out. How would I know? I couldn’t remember the first, only, and last time I’d had sex. I shuddered even thinking about the fumbling turkey I’d allowed to take my virginity.
Nine interviews and not one bite. At this rate, I’d be forced to go home to Montana with my tail between my legs and I refused to do that. Thank God, I was living with my cousin for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t get very far living on the streets.
Huffing, when the light turned green, I became a driver in the Indy 500, peeling out with just enough oomph my tires squealed. I’d never had one of those life-altering moments when time barely crawled, allowing you to see danger heading your way. I did at that moment, glancing quickly to the right before some asshole plowed through the intersection.
My entire world jerked to a halt, the sound of shattering glass all I heard. As my car was spun three hundred and sixty degrees, my mind spiraled to the silliness of why I was laughing. When the hunk of metal came to a solid jerking halt, I gasped for air, amazed my poor ole clunker of a car had survived the impact. The slow motion continued as I looked toward the other vehicle involved. All I could see was a stunning red sports car shimmering in the late afternoon sun, the guy sitting behind the wheel dressed like a movie star.
Or a gangster. It was tough to tell the difference in the city.
“Great. I bet he has fantastic insurance.” After taking a deep breath and checking myself, I realized I couldn’t go off on the asshole like I wanted to. Oh, hell, yes, I would. He caused the accident. An adrenaline rush jetted into my veins, anger placing a close second. I opened the door, determined to give him a piece of my mind. When my car suddenly jerked, I threw my head over my shoulder.
Hold. The. Fuck. On.
The asshole had backed up. Now he was turning his wheel. Wait a minute. Was the ass-wipe really going to flee the scene? Oh, no, he was not. Without thinking clearly, I barged into the intersection, positioned with my legs spread wide open and my arm thrown out, palm up. The bastard was going nowhere.
Yet he kept driving.
He was coming closer.
Traffic wasn’t moving to allow him to get through.
There was only one way to go.
Directly through me.
Fuck that. I refused to play games, glaring at his cracked windshield.
The second I smiled in my bitchy little way, I knew I’d made a mistake. The dude behind the wheel had no intentions of stopping. And I was suddenly frozen on the spot.
I expected pain tearing through me like a blasting furnace as my mangled body was slammed onto the pavement.
Instead, I felt the warmth of a hard body pressed against mine, my feet lifted off the ground until it almost seemed as if I was flying. If this was what heaven felt like, I was all in.
All I could hear at first was the rapid thudding of my heart. Was this the angel sent to guide me through heaven? Then I could swear people were clapping. What? Maybe I wasn’t in heaven after all.
That’s when I realized two important things. One, I wasn’t dead. And two, I’d been whisked off my feet by what could only be described as a mountain man on steroids. When I was gently placed on the ground, the carved god stared into my eyes, and I thought for certain I’d melt into a huge puddle right there. Even the embarrassment would be worth being caught by him again.
Lord have mercy. The three words were the only thing that crossed my mind. My hormones were going wild. Now all sound stopped except the rapid beating of my heart colliding with my exploding core.
With a chiseled face and steel-gray eyes rimmed with flecks of amethyst, I could swear I was peering into the man’s soul. This had to be a delicious dream. For a few spectacular seconds, my mind rushed to dark and filthy things. His hands all over my naked body. His tongue tasting every inch of skin. His cock spreading my pussy wide open.
Dear lord, the savior’s cock was rock hard.
Exhaling, I swallowed the lump in my throat and blinked to try to focus. Then the beautiful haze that had surrounded me faded, faces popping from everywhere.
My savior eased me back by a few inches, forced to lower his head to keep looking in my eyes. He was gigantic, a solid foot taller than me, built like a Greek god. Unfortunately, the stern expression on his face dragged me all the way back to reality.
“Are you alright?” the stranger asked, his tone so husky goosebumps popped across every inch of naked skin, the sound gravelly and dominating.
“Uh-huh.” Really? I was in the hands of a god and all I could say was uh-huh?
“You’re not hurt? Not even a scratch?” he pressed.
“Can you stand on your own?”
I licked my lips, trying to form a decent coherent sentence. “Sure.” Oh, my God. I’d never acted this way around any man, but with his thick hair I longed to run my fingers through, muscles that his jacket couldn’t hide, and luscious lips meant for kissing for hours on end, I was a goner.
My breath hitched. Electricity soared through me like rocket fuel, igniting every single one of my senses. Wow. That was the only word to adequately describe the moment that seemed locked in time, spiraling to a dark and deliciously dangerous place. I allowed my gaze to roll over the man, his massive shoulders and long legs creating a wave of desire. The entire universe stopped at that moment, my mind caught in a capsule of lust and need that was so overwhelming I was lost. His heated gaze was forceful, his eyes stripping me bare.
“Did you hear me?” The question oozed from his lips, forcing me to acknowledge him with something other than carnal desires.
The stranger forced me to demonstrate I was able to stay upright. Then he exhaled, the sound exaggerated.
“I’m glad you seem to be okay. Now, what the fuck were you doing standing in the middle of a busy intersection? Did you know you could have gotten yourself killed? Did you have any inkling that driver had no intention of stopping?”
Nothing ever flabbergasted me.
Except for this man.
He stood with his arms crossed over his barrel-sized chest, antagonizing me. Chastising me like I was a bad little girl who’d misbehaved.
“I… No. I mean maybe. I didn’t think.” I gave myself another mental high five for sounding like an idiot.
“That’s what I thought. You. Didn’t. Think. I should turn you over my knee right here, right now and give you a spanking you won’t forget.”
And just like that, the fantasy was tossed out the window.
“Excuse me?” The girl with a death wish threw me a nasty look, the glimmer of sun unable to hide her fury.
Her two words were laced with venom. She had no idea how close she’d come to being run over by the asshole determined to drive away from the scene of an accident he caused, and she was glaring at me with her hands on her hips.
“You heard what I said. You need a hard spanking,” I retorted, uncertain where my snappy reply had come from. The fact I’d jumped from my car, which was four lengths behind hers, sprinting so I could grab her before she became pavement art hadn’t fazed her in the least. “I think I’m going to make certain that happens.”
“Like hell you will.”
“I won’t mind adding washing your mouth out with soap if necessary. You need to understand that risky behavior has direct and often brutal circumstances.” While her hateful glare remained, I sensed she knew I was right, her mouth twisting as she tried to figure out how to counter my proclamation. There was no suitable reply. “Good. We’ll take care of that when we sort through this mess.” I still couldn’t believe she’d risked her life doing something so stupid.
“Well, aren’t you an asshole, just like everyone else in this wretched town. I’ll have you know I was doing just fine taking care of myself until the big he-man jumped in my way.” She was exasperated, ready to throw a tantrum.
“To save your life in case you’ve forgotten.” Holding her close had been like grasping a stick of dynamite in my hand. The instant attraction was unusual if not disturbing. I’d caught a whiff of strawberry I’d thought was the scent of her shampoo, but I’d realized the fragrance was from whatever she’d used on her lips. Which were naturally rosy. I’d fought the urge to crush my mouth over hers to find out if the taste was just as tantalizing.
“Bullshit,” she huffed, raking her fingers through her long blonde hair. Suddenly, my mind went to several filthy places, which was totally inappropriate.
They all involved shackling her to my bed. I squinted from the sun, trying to pull my mind out of the gutter.
“Way to go,” a bystander said from behind me.
“You’re a regular hero,” some lady chirped, although her tone was as caustic as the girl standing in front of me.
“Give the guy a medal.” The third comment brought a smirk to the mysterious girl’s face.
Grimacing, I glanced toward her wrecked vehicle. The heap of junk had definitely seen better days, but the accident had likely totaled it. When I pulled out my phone, she wrapped her hand around my wrist and a bolt of electricity slammed into my system.
“Who are you calling?” Her eyes opened wide in acknowledgement of the current tearing through both of us. When she jerked her hand away, fisting her fingers, it was all I could do not to smile.
“The police, to report the accident.”
“There’s no time. I need to go after the scumbag.” She pulled away, trying to shove her way around me. I stopped her cold, grabbing her wrist as she’d done with mine.
“You’re not going anywhere.”
“You can’t tell me what to do.”
As I took a step closer, she sucked in her breath. “Maybe that’s what you need in your life, someone to control you.” When she opened her mouth to issue what I knew would be a nasty retort, I pointed to her car. “It’s not drivable. Two tires are blown, the axle and the frame likely bent.”
She slowly turned her head with a ragged moan. “Oh, shit. I need my car. God, this week sucks donkey turds.”
At least the girl still had a sense of humor. “After we deal with the police, I’ll give you a ride to your home. I know a body shop. My buddy will have your vehicle towed there.”
“First of all,” she snapped, jerking her arm away. “I don’t know you. You could be a serial killer or rapist in cahoots with the crazy driver. Second, I don’t need anyone’s help. And third…”
“Yes?” I crowded her space, ignoring the honks that blasted all around us. “You were saying?”
Her face flushed and she looked down, but not before I noticed her bottom lip was quivering. With her breathing still ragged, I was drawn to her taut nipples poking through the thin tee shirt she was wearing. I wanted to wrap my lips around one, pulling the tender flesh between my teeth. Jesus Christ. She was half my age. What was I doing thinking about sex at a time like this?
“Like I said. You could be a monster for all I know.”
“While the jury is still out on whether or not I’m a monster, if I’d wanted you hurt, why bother saving your life?”
She chewed on her inner cheek, debating my answer. “What do I do about the dude who hit my car?”
I continued the call. “Don’t worry, princess. I managed to get his license plate number. I also happen to know the chief of police.” I turned away from her, dialing the number, Manuel Gonzalez answering on the first ring.
“Hey, buddy,” he answered. “How’ve you been?”
“No too bad, my man. I haven’t seen you at the club lately.”
“Work. I’m chained to my desk. An upturn in cartel shipments. It’s keeping me busy, but I’ll make a point to drop by. I need some TLC bad. What can I do for you?”
“I have a situation with an accident I witnessed, the son of a bitch driver taking off.”
Manuel laughed. We went back to the first days after I’d opened the club. He wasn’t chief of police then, just an officer told to keep an eye on the kinky club. Somehow, we’d become friends after a half dozen arguments. “Let me guess. Mr. Eagle Eyes got his license plate?”
“I did.” As I relayed the number, I watched her pacing near her car. Then I noticed the Montana plates. She was a long way from home. My body remained tense, a heavy dose of adrenaline still trickling through my veins but only partially from my impulsive reactions. Shit. The girl was stunning, her cornflower blue eyes and blonde hair accentuated by a voluptuous body. It was the kind a man could sink his teeth into.
Or his cock.
There I went again, my mind dragging me off in unwanted places. There was too much on my agenda to be fantasizing about some wayward girl with a bad attitude.
“You there, buddy?” Manuel huffed, yanking me away from the delicious image.
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“The plate came back immediately.”
“Let me guess. Stolen.”
“Not stolen,” he answered. “Owned by Diego Santiago.”
“The fucking cartel leader?”
“The very one. This accident will be testy to handle. Even if we do a report, it’s doubtful I can do anything about it. I’ll get shut down by the bastard’s attorney in less than thirty minutes. Whoever this victim is, I’m not sure you want to put him or her through a nightmare. I won’t tell you what happened to the last guy who challenged Santiago.”
“Girl,” I said absently. “And she’s from Montana.” If I had to guess, I’d say new to the city. I hated the fucking cartels ravaging the city, acting as if they owned every square inch of Miami. It wasn’t like the old days where the bad guys were tracked down and sent to prison. Santiago had a team of lawyers, the man never serving a day behind bars or even connected to a traffic offense. He was virtually untouchable.
“Ah… Well, then.”
Exhaling, I ran my hand through my hair. “You do your job and I’ll figure out what to do with her. Have an officer take a report.”
I ended the call, immediately contacting my buddy at the garage. At least he would prove more helpful than law enforcement. “Hey, Jake. I need a favor.”
Alexandra Kingston sat with her arms folded, staring out the passenger window of my car, a scowl on her face. She was shoved so far against the door that if it wasn’t locked, I’d be fearful she’d fall out. I’d only learned her name from overhearing her telling the police officer. She’d said almost nothing to me except grumbling one more time she could take care of herself.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
I almost laughed. The Perigon was one of the most expensive, luxurious residences in the city. I quickly glanced at her torn jeans and tennis shoes, the scuffed purse she was clutching against her chest. While looks could be deceiving, in a town where opulence and pretense meant everything, she was either hiding her true identity or she’d found herself embroiled in a love affair with a wealthy sugar daddy.
When I didn’t say anything, she turned her head in my direction. “What?”
“You’d had plenty to say up until now. Are you making fun of me?”
Her haughty attitude continued, the thick suit of armor she wore becoming impenetrable. “Expensive location.”
“So what? Are you saying I can’t afford it?”
“Well, no, but that’s all I’ve seen since arriving in this lousy town. Skyscrapers for the rich and famous. I’m neither. Satisfied?”
“Why is it so lousy?” The girl had a boulder on her shoulder, not a chip.
She shrugged. “The people are holier than thou. They act like I’m some hick who couldn’t possibly offer them anything worthwhile. Bastards.”
Every word that slipped past her luscious lips was laced with acid. Her behavior was reckless. The unruly girl definitely needed control in her life, rules that she would be required to follow. The dom in me hungered to wrap her in chains to keep her from hurting herself. “What happened?”
“Why do you care?”
“Maybe because you’re sitting in my car.”
Her laugh was bitter, yet the lilting sound tightened my balls. “Well, since you asked oh-so nicely, I’ve had several interviews this week and every time I was treated like shit.”
“You went to an interview dressed like that?”
“Oh, please.” She acted offended then pressed her hand against her leg, but the way she was tapping her foot on the floorboard meant she was nervous. I couldn’t blame her. “Every interview required me to put on a costume, parading myself like some whore. I’m not a whore. I just… I just need a job. No one will give me a chance.”
Sighing, I tried to think of something to say that wouldn’t cause her to lash out as she’d done before. “What kind of job?”
“Cocktail waitress. A lousy fucking cocktail waitress job and I’ve been told I’m fat and ugly.”
“Whoa. Hold on. Some asshole said that to you?”
“Not in so many words, but several pompous men implied it. They sat in their expensive suits and their TAG Heuer watches, their manicured nails screaming they’d never done a hard day’s labor in their precious lives, watching me walk in front of them like a trained seal.”
As I headed onto the freeway, I shook my head, anger furrowing inside. Miami was a tough town, especially for a young girl as beautiful as she was. Granted, there were thousands of gorgeous women, but so many were created by wealthy surgeons. This girl was the real deal, innocent and vulnerable. Shit. I had to get my mind out of the gutter. I was furious she’d been treated with such disrespect, but I knew far too many men exactly as she described. Hell, the majority of members of my exclusive club could be shoved into the same category.
“Why move to Miami if you hate it so much?”
Snorting, she immediately pressed her hand against her lips, unable to keep from laughing. “I’m sorry. I make noises when I’m nervous.”
“You have nothing to be sorry about, except your ridiculous behavior,” I told her, the twitch in my cock because of her anxiousness.
“Funny. You’re a real comedian.” She shook her head several times. “My parents are going through a nasty divorce. I couldn’t take their constant bickering. Plus, they kicked me out of the house. My cousin offered me a chance to get away even for a few months. I thought a change of scenery would do me some good. I’m staying with her until I get settled, although at this rate, I might be forced to return home. I don’t like failure. But that’s what I feel like. One big, fat failure. At least I regrouped and told the last group of pigs off. I stood right in front of them and told them exactly what I thought about them and their interview.”
Whew. This girl had balls, her chutzpa not only keeping me intrigued but aroused as well. “What exactly did you tell them?”
“That the reason they were acting like dicks was to compensate for their itsy-bitsy cocks and that they could shove their interview up their tight butts.”
Jesus. Christ. The girl’s mouth was going to get her into a hell of a lot of trouble. By the flicker in her eyes, I could tell how much their comments had hurt and embarrassed her. Men were pigs. What the girl needed other than discipline was someone who could help her see how special she was.
“Alexandra. I realize you don’t know me and have every right to be afraid of sitting next to a stranger in a city that hasn’t welcomed you like they should with open arms, but you need to listen to me. You are not a failure. You’re also not fat and ugly. In fact, you’re probably the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. You can do anything you want with your life. Never allow anyone to take that away from you, especially pompous men who treat women like possessions. Do you understand?”
The silence prickled my senses. I casually glanced over my shoulder. Seeing a shimmer of tears in her eyes pulled at the protector inside of me. She wasn’t used to praise, only condemnation. Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to be the controlling, nurturing factor in her life, a man who could guide the budding flower into its moment of brilliance.
I wanted to be the man who provided her with compliments when applicable, discipline when necessary, and the man she’d eventually call Master.