“What the fuck happened to you?”
I don’t usually curse at my neighbors, but when one of them walks in covered in cuts, bruises, and remnants of dried blood that may or may not be his caking in various places, I’m going to take notice. Swearily.
He’s obviously been in a fight, not that he looks beaten up. Far from it. He looks triumphant. Sexy. Hot. As. Fucking. Hell.
Even on a normal, non-bloodied day, Jake is someone to notice. He’s huge, for starters. Seven foot tall at least. Or maybe not quite that tall. I’m not a walking measuring stick. All I know is that he has to duck under every doorway he encounters, and he has to put his back to the wall to let people by in the narrow, shitty halls we have in this apartment block.
Right now, it’s four in the morning. I’m just getting back from my shift at the bar. He’s coming in from… fuck knows what. Could be a riot. Could be a robbery.
“Did you get mugged? Are you okay? Do you need me to call someone?”
This is the first time I’ve talked to Jake Lister. I’ve wanted to ever since he moved in, but I’ve never dared before. It’s not safe to start a conversation with most of the guys in this apartment block. This is a place where desperate people crash land, either on their way down to rock bottom, or on their way back up. The elevator works twice a month, not that I’d ever use it because it smells like a special concoction of rancid human fluids. I know Jake’s name because I’ve seen it on his mailbox. He put a new lock on it when he moved in and it shines brightly among all the weathered, scratched, and defaced boxes out in the hall we share.
“I’m fine,” he smiles. At least, I think he smiles. It might be a grimace. One of his eyes is half closed, swollen and black. It looks nasty and painful, not that he’s showing any signs of being in pain. If I get a paper cut I make more of a fuss than he’s making.
“Who hurt you?”
“Nobody who wasn’t supposed to.”
“What do you mean? Are you some kind of…” I lower my voice, “…masochist?”
Now he’s definitely grinning, even though it looks like it has to hurt. “Now why does a girl like you know words like that?”
“Uh…” I pause. “I have a dictionary.”
“Mhm.” He steps past me and starts heading inside, toward the stairs. I follow him, wondering what happened to turn this massive beast of a man into a bloody mess.
“Seriously. You should see a doctor.” I’m bothering him, probably. After weeks of furtive glances, I just became the weird girl in the next apartment who won’t leave him be. We both step around the soggy stain on the carpet at the bottom of the stairs. It’s always wet. There’s no leak above, so I don’t even want to know why.
“It was a fight,” he says, stopping dead so fast I run into the back of him. Every part of him is hard, even the rounds of his ass, which just met my lower belly.
I back off quickly.
“Professional fight,” he clarifies.
“I didn’t know you were a professional fighter. Then, I guess, I didn’t know anything about you, so why would I know that?” I am babbling, nervous. “My name is Jazz, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Jazz,” he says, reaching out a hand to shake mine. I look at it as I grasp it. His knuckles are cracked and they look like they were bloodied before he was cleaned up and sent home like a goddamn gladiator. I wonder if the Romans gladiators got better accommodation than he does.
“You lived here long?”
He’s making conversation. Oh, god.
“Uhm, I moved in about a month before you, so about nine months?”
Eight months we’ve been neighbors. That’s a long time to check someone out but never actually talk to them. I noticed him the day he moved in. He’s pretty hard to miss, and so were his buddies. There were half a dozen of them at least, all massive ex-military dudes, covered in tattoos, but not the gangster kind I see around here a lot. Nothing on the face, nothing on the neck, just big sleeves and if I had to guess, chest and back work.
“That’s a long time in a place like this.”
“I know, right,” I smile, glancing up toward his face, but not quite daring to meet his eyes. He has nice eyes. They’re blue. I can’t see one them now, but I’ve caught flashes of them when we’ve hurried past each other in the past.
It’s not that I’ve been avoiding him. When he first moved in, I was in a relationship that was in the process of tanking. Since the breakup, I’ve been trying to hold it together as a single lady. Strong, independent, all that bullshit you tell yourself in the lonely hours of the night. My job means I get to watch people hook up all the time and wonder if that’s ever going to happen to me again. Probably not. I have the worst possible taste in men, and these days I’m always busy, trying to claw my way out of debt I managed to accumulate over several years of bad decisions. Every bit of money I earn over and above what I need to live goes to service loans that somehow get bigger no matter how much I put on them. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for making eye contact with the kind of guy I’m wildly attracted to, but have learned to be wary of. Hot guys with tats and apartments in my neighborhood are rarely good news. On weekends this place vibrates with the sound of illicit sex, drugs, and the wails of the unfortunate who are produced from it.
I tried to make friends when I moved in, Most people here think I’m a stuck-up bitch, because I won’t spot them a ten for a dime bag, or because I won’t share my nonexistent stash. And then there’s the ones who want me to give them free drinks at the bar. In the end, I just stopped socializing.
We’re walking up the stairs now, three flights between us and our apartments. I’m trying to think of something to say, because I don’t want the conversation to end.
“Do you, uh, want ice?”
“I’ve got ice,” he says. “Thanks.”
“Of course you do, silly me,” I say, feeling immediately stupid. Of course he doesn’t need anything from me. He’s a professional fighter. He’ll have all that sort of stuff.
Three flights of stairs later, I can’t think of anything to say. I’m kicking myself on the inside, racking my brains for something, but my mouth is dry and my head is empty.
He stops at his door, flashes me a smile, and cocks his head toward the interior. “Want to have a drink with me?”
“I don’t drink.”
Idiot! I berate myself immediately. Why the fuck did I say that? The hottest guy I ever met, one who I’ve wanted to get to know for months invites me into his apartment and I tell him I don’t drink. Jesus.
“I was going to make a protein shake,” he says amicably. “I can make you a hot chocolate if you want?”
“Oh. Uhm. Yes, please.”
He opens his door and I follow him in, feeling that excited numb sensation you get when something way too good to be true is happening and you don’t know how to process it.
His apartment is in the same state of disrepair as mine is. There’s only so much you can do with art when the wallpaper is stained, the paint is peeling, and mold from leaking pipes between floors turns the ceiling into a pastiche of colors. He’s cleaned his place up as much as it is really possible to do. The carpet has been pulled up and replaced with rugs, a smart move. His furniture is actually pretty nice too. He has a big, red, real leather couch right in the middle of the lounge.
“You’re too good for this place.”
“Huh?” He looks at me with a quizzical brow raised.
“I mean… you’re a fighter. You have a nice couch. Don’t fighters get paid enough to live somewhere better than this?”
“Depends,” he says, putting some water on to boil. “High level fighters, sure. But for every guy making a million-dollar payday, there are thousands cracking knuckles across skulls for less than a hundred. And the couch was a gift from my mom when she moved house.”
“She has good taste. Fighting sounds like a hard way to make a living.”
“There are harder ways.”
He says it in a tone that makes me want to ask what harder ways there are, but strongly suggests I shouldn’t.
He whips up his shake and a hot chocolate for me. I sit at the breakfast bar, grateful for the chance to rest my feet as he slides the mug over to me.
“I don’t often get served,” I quip. “I could get used to this.”
She’s adorable and hot. That’s a hard combination to pull off, but she’s doing it. She’s wearing tight black jeans, comfortable lace-up sneakers for those hours she spends on her feet, and a top with cut-outs all over it, showing stomach, that sinful curve under her breast, and of course, enough cleavage to encourage tips. I don’t blame her for that. The outfit looks damn good on her. Her dark hair is tied back in a tight ponytail. Simple, but sexy. She’s wearing just enough makeup to look put together: a red lip, dark eye that emphasizes her deep brown gaze, and the rest of her face is pale, almost goth-y, but not quite. She’s exactly my type. Before my life went to shit, I’d have been in her bar hitting on her every damn night.
I’ve stayed away from her for a couple of reasons. One, she never makes eye contact, which in my experience means a woman isn’t interested in being approached, and two, I’ve got my own shit to deal with. Tonight was different. Tonight she talked to me. And I’m in a good mood. A five thousand dollar prize might not be mainstream money, but it will pay the rent for a good while.
She sips her hot chocolate and I hear her toes tapping against the underside of the cabinets as her legs swing back and forth. She’s happy. Her eyes sparkle with the kind of mischief I like, a sexy proclivity to naughtiness that calls to me.
“So you, uh, fight a lot?”
She’s trying to make conversation, and I suddenly realize that I’ve been standing here, not drinking my shake, not saying anything, just staring at her.
“I get bouts every now and then. After tonight, I should be up for a new one in a couple weeks.”
“Wow. So when are you gonna be on the big screen, or the small screen or whatever?”
She’s thinking of the shiny MMA you see on television. What I do isn’t that kind of fighting. I’m into underground prize fighting. Fewer rules. More money, on average, but more risk too. Not that you’d know I made any money at all by the state of this place. Every dollar I earn has to go to… other responsibilities. Debts I accumulated and might never pay off morally even if I pay every cent I earn financially.
“Maybe one day,” I say, making no commitment and giving her no clarification.
“I bet soon,” she says with more enthusiasm than I deserve.
It makes me so fucking nervous. Ever since he moved in he’s been this presence in the building. I would be embarrassed to tell him, but I’ve felt safer knowing he’s next door. I’ve had some less than healthy relationships in the past, so I’m not keen to get into another, but having a guy around who knows how to handle himself and hasn’t been creepy toward me is nice. It’s even nicer to be in his place, but I guess I should be going back to mine now. I don’t want to hang around and annoy him.
“I’m going to grab a shower,” he says. My heart sinks. I guess I am annoying him.
“Stay, though. I like talking to you,” he adds casually, making me grin. He likes talking to me! I try not to beam as hard as I feel like smiling. Men usually like me for various reasons, but my conversational skills are not at the top of the list.
“I’ll be back in a couple minutes,” he says. “Get comfy.”
Just like that, he leaves me unattended in his apartment. I hear the shower go on in the next room and I imagine what’s happening in there. He’s stripping off his clothing, getting naked. I can only dream of what he must look like without clothes on. From what I’ve seen, he’s hard and rippled, ridged for my pleasure.
Jesus. I need to get my mind out of the gutter. My job gives me plenty of chances to watch women react to hot men and vice versa. From my experience, women are just as hungry as guys. Right now, I’m fucking starving. It has been months since I last got laid and Jake is so hot. He’s the kind of unobtainable hot you see in Instagram models. I never thought I’d get a chance to be with a guy like this, if that’s what’s happening and I think it is. Guys don’t invite girls to their place in the middle of the night and then take a shower for no reason.
If I’m honest with myself, I’m waiting to get fucked. At least, I hope I am. No. Maybe he just wants someone to talk to. I get that a lot too, tending bar. Sometimes guys just want someone to listen. So maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe he’s just gone through a breakup and I seem like a nice person to talk to. I’ve got one of those faces where people just tell me things.
But Jake doesn’t seem lonely. He doesn’t seem like he wants to talk. I don’t get any desperate vibes from him. I can’t imagine him being desperate. A guy like him, he could walk into any bar in this city and get his dick sucked within ten minutes.
God, I’m crude.
No. Crude isn’t the word. Trashy. That’s what my ex used to call me. Actually, that was one of the nicer things he called me. He was an asshole. A mind-fucker. By the time he left me, he’d made me think those things were true. After all, I do dress in relatively skimpy clothes and serve men alcohol all night long in a place where other girls get their bodies out. Being in proximity of strippers was enough to make him think I was the sort who would sell herself. He was wrong, much to his disappointment.
I try to forget about the ex and focus on the man of the night. I want to get to know him better, but I don’t have the confidence to burst into the shower with him. I kind of wish I could just peel my clothes off and join him in the steamy nook… but that’s the kind of move that takes more confidence than I have. He offered me hot chocolate and conversation, not shower invasion.
There aren’t a lot of personal effects in Jake’s place, but I do find some pictures of him with some guys. They’re all dressed in fatigues, so it’s not a huge leap to guess they’re people he served with.
There’s a hammer in front of the picture. It’s weird. It doesn’t look used, like it was left for construction or anything. It looks almost like a display piece, a trophy. It has a wooden handle, highly polished, and a silver head with an inscription on it. I lean in a little closer to try to read what’s written in flowery script.
“H… ammer,” I read aloud, then let out a laugh. I mean, it is a hammer, but how fucking random to have a hammer with that inscribed on it. It must be some kind of inside military joke.
I keep walking around his place. Not to be nosey. Just to see everything. Is that nosey? Maybe. I’m just so curious about him. Right now all I know is that he’s a super-hot ex-military guy who fights for money. And who makes a mean hot chocolate.
“Hey, you.” Jake surprises me from behind.
“I wasn’t touching!”
He lets out a laugh as he emerges from the bathroom, a towel around his waist. Holy. Hell. His abdomen is a work of active art, all ridges and valleys, a muscular work of art. He gives me a lazy smile, one of his bright blue eyes catching mine, the other more closed than ever, but it doesn’t matter.
“It’s not a museum, you can touch,” he winks.
“Can I touch… everything?” I bite my lower lip and eye him suggestively. Fuck. Maybe I am trashy. Maybe I don’t care. Jake is hot and it’s late and there’s something in the air, something that happens between midnight and six in the morning, when anything and everything seems possible. At two o’clock in the afternoon, what I just said would be corny. Right now, those words ignite what has been between us from the beginning.
There’s something primal about him, and the way I respond to him. It’s like from the moment we met we’ve been sniffing around each other, walking one another’s territory, getting closer and closer until tonight we collided.
“Please do…” he says, dropping the towel.
I stare. And then I speak.
“…you’re a fucking god.”
He lets out another one of those deeply sexy laughs. “You’re adorable.”
I’m not trying to be cute. He really is built like Adonis. The way he’s put together, all muscles and sinew and brawn, from the V-line that leads down to his cock hanging heavy and already half-erect, to the musculature of his thighs, and his chest and oh god his abs… he has muscles I didn’t know men even had. He’s not just hot. I’ve seen plenty of hot in my time. He’s next level. Seeing him is like getting a shot of desire delivered right to the core of me. I’m going to do things I shouldn’t with this man. I’m going to be the kind of girl I swore I wasn’t.
I’m stuck, staring. My feet won’t move, not until he raises one arm, the muscles in his forearm flexing in a way that makes me flood, looks at me with that bright blue eye set below a thick brow, and crooks his finger.
He doesn’t say a single word and I am on my way to him, crossing the floor like I’ve been hypnotized. I don’t know where to look. Every inch of him is a hot delight. I want all of him. All at once.
When I am in reach, he extends that same hand and caresses me lightly, a brief brush of fingertips across my cheek. It has been a long time since I was touched by a man, and the last time I felt anyone’s touch, it was much rougher and much less wanted.
Jake is the most attractive man I’ve ever had a chance to be with. Every night, men ply me with compliments while I supply them with alcohol. I could have any of them. Sometimes I’m tempted, but I refrain. It’s not safe to sleep with men you meet in bars, especially not the bar I work in.
“You’re beautiful,” he says softly.
That compliment has been slurred at me dozens of times tonight, but it’s different coming from him. He’s real. Real fucking hot. He’s a mistake waiting to be made.
This is usually where a man gets all up on me, pressuring me and I start getting that tight, uncomfortable feeling that I’m not going to be able to get away without having something taken from me. Jake isn’t like that. He makes me feel wanted without being overwhelmed. I almost wonder if he knows what’s happened to me in the past. He’s handling me as if he does. Or maybe he’s just a gentleman and not an asshole. It’s probably about time I met one of those.
He lets me come to him, and instead of being yanked without regard against a hard body that would fuck any wet hole it found, I am allowed the luxury of letting myself sink against his body, his big hands sliding over my back and up and down my spine in a long caress as his mouth meets mine, his kiss powerful and yet caring. We’re relative strangers to one another, but I feel a connection with him that is only growing stronger by the moment.
Is this what love feels like when you finally find it? I don’t know. Chemicals are rushing through me, bringing desire and lust and all the most dangerous feelings I can experience. I try to keep my head about me, but I can’t. I am full of him already. He consumes my thoughts as well as my body as his hands sink down to cup my ass and pull me up hard against him, my pelvis meeting his. I can feel the hard ridge of his cock against my lower belly, and the hot bare line of him presses against me. My jeans ride low, and I feel the head of his dick grinding against my belly. Fuck. I want them off.
I wrap my legs around him, letting him pull my ass against his hips. We’re dry humping like teenagers, making out with a lustful fury that makes my head spin.
Jake carries me into the bedroom, lays me down on the bed and keeps kissing me, pulling my jeans off over my hips, taking my panties with them and tipping my shoes off my feet until I am naked from the waist down. My blouse and bra don’t last much longer, ripped and pulled from me until he has me just as naked as he is.
“You’re so damn beautiful,” he growls, kissing down my neck to my collarbone, down between my breasts and then paying special attention to each of my nipples until I am arching against his massive muscular body, writhing with a filthy need only he can fulfill.
“I want to be inside you,” he breathes against my ear, his fingers sliding between my thighs to tease my lower lips. I’m soaked. Have been since he stepped out of the shower looking like a god.
“I want you,” I moan back, holding on to him, my fingers curling in his hair as he toys with my pussy lightly, teasing me with little strokes and caresses. I hump the air like a dog in heat as he gets ready to take me. Pulling a condom from the nightstand, he rips the wrapper with his teeth and jams the ring over his cock, rolling it down the thick shaft all the way to the base. I feel a wild pang of irresponsibility that I won’t feel his cock skin to skin inside me, but at least he’s not reckless.
Then he’s over me, his body arched, muscles rippling as he slides his cock to my entrance and lets it rub there for a few seconds, kissing me passionately, roaming my body with his hands, riling me up into a desperate state in which I squeal and moan against his lips. I need him. I need this release. There is so little in this world that feels good to me, but I know this will.
“Fuuuuuckk…” he moans as he starts to press inside me. It’s tight at first. I haven’t had sex in a long time, but I’m ready for him as he pushes in with a powerful surge. He splits me open. Makes me his. Gives me everything I wanted, but still I let out a wail that makes him still immediately.
“Are you okay? Did I hurt you?” He’s stroking my hair back from my head so tenderly, looking down at me with real concern.
My eyes fill with tears almost immediately.
“Nothing’s wrong,” I assure him immediately. “It’s just been a while…”
And nobody has ever given a fuck if I’m okay, I don’t add.
He holds himself inside me, his hips powerful, his shoulders bearing his weight easily. He’s basically planking with the tip of his cock inside me, displaying easy strength along with his care.
This is the most intimate encounter I’ve had in a long time. Stranger sex tends to be sordid rutting, no real connection, just working out the instinct of lust on one another. But with Jake, he holds me, he looks into my eyes, every thrust seems to mean something, an attempt to get closer to me.
And all of a sudden, it is almost too much. My pussy is wrapped around him so fucking tight and even with the condom, I feel his heat inside me, spreading me, making me whole.
His palm meets my ass once, twice, three times, jolting my pussy onto his cock and making my bottom burn. I let out a whimpering moan and grind my pelvis against him, pressing my clit against the hard ridge of his pubic bone, getting myself off on his dick with abandon.
“Fuck. Yes. Fuuccckkkk, yes!” He starts to swear and rut with even more intensity, and I feel his power. He’s so big, and so impossibly strong. Compared to him, I am utterly weak. That fact only makes me wetter as he slams his cock in and out of me, the room full of the lewd sounds of our mating.
I’ve had sex before. Lots of times. But not like this. I’ve never felt my entire body and mind be commanded so completely by a man. Usually I’m thinking about other things while I’m being fucked. Laundry. Bills. Next week’s shifts. Jake obliterates every thought that isn’t about him as he pushes my legs up toward my head and slides that thick club of male flesh in and out of my hole, fucking me with a rough power that leaves me writhing on his sheets.
He puts one hand down, covers my left breast and pins me there, his other hand on my right leg, spreading me wide, giving himself full access to every inch of my pussy. He’s not just fucking me. He’s dominating me completely. He’s claiming me for his own, and all I can do is lie there and react to him, my arching hips and clenching pussy the only contribution I can make to this hard session of love.
I am crying out incoherently. I don’t even know what I’m trying to say. My words are just one long moan that might be his name, or a prayer, I don’t know. I am so hot, so flushed as he keeps plunging in and out of me, the hand at my breast sliding down to my pussy so his thumb can strum my clit to an explosive orgasm that makes me shriek like a wild animal as I cream his cock, jerking and wriggling all over him, setting him off like a firecracker.
He swoops down on me, his lips crushing mine, his cock buried deep inside me, his hips jolting with orgasm as he comes inside me.
“Holy shit,” he swears softly, pressing a kiss to my forehead. “You were fucking amazing.”
“Back atcha,” I moan softly.
Jake stands up from the bed, his hand at the base of his dick. He goes to the bathroom to take care of the condom. I slip out of bed and start looking for my clothes. My underwear has gone missing somewhere.
“Where are you going?” He appears in the bathroom door, still completely naked.
“You don’t want me to leave?”
He raises his good brow at me. “You mean, am I kicking you out of bed? No. Unless you want to go.”
I don’t want to go. I want to be wrapped up in his arms, held against his big, powerful body.
“I mean, I guess I could stay.”
“Good,” he smiles, getting into bed and patting the mattress next to him. Nothing about this man is expected. I snuggle down next to him and I feel the kind of security I haven’t felt since I was very small. He’s so big and so muscular. He wraps an arm around my waist and snugs me in against his body.
I am asleep before I know it.