Terror gripped her thundering heart. He was going to take her, use her, abuse her, then what? His devouring mouth muffled her screams, forcing her to siphon air through her nose. His long, thick, callused fingers clutched her wrists, holding them above her head; the concrete wall, cold and hard, scraped her hands.
“Is this what you wanted?” he snarled, his lips suddenly pressed against her ear. “Is this why you’re here?” His mouth dove down to suck her tender neck. “What’s wrong?” he demanded, his bristled jaw rasping her skin. “Can’t talk? Huh, can’t talk?”
“I told you not to come back,” he growled, his free hand groping her breasts, “or did you forget?”
“I warned you. I told you what would happen if you did. Is this your way of begging for my cock?”
Helpless in his steel grip, she could do nothing as he lifted her skirt and shoved his hand in her panties.
“Ha, you’re drenched.”
His sharp whiskers grazed her cheek as his roughened thumb pressed against her clit. Her mutterings of protest filled the empty space, but when his finger slid into her wet depths, her cries became a gasp. She wanted to give in. She wanted to be on the floor, his manhood thrusting, her arms pinned. Instead she lifted her foot and stabbed the stiletto heel into his toe.
“Work boots! The leather’s tough, like my hide. But that’s what you like about me.”
“You’re wrong. You’re a fucking Neanderthal.”
“Then what are you doing here?” he demanded, abruptly yanking his hand from her crotch to fist her hair and tug it back. “Look at me. Hey! I said look—at—me!”
She raised her eyes. His, crystal blue and glowering, glinted back.
“Tell me why you’re here!”
“I’m not a patient man.”
“I, uh, like empty building sites.”
He paused, the crinkles around his eyes deepening. “Stop the bullshit. What woman in stilettos walks through a dark, empty construction yard?”
“A s-stupid one?”
She wanted to suck the words back.
“Was that supposed to be funny?”
“Do I look like I’ve gotta sense of humor?”
“Let me go!”
“You came for me. You wanted this.”
“The first time, maybe it was an accident. Maybe you wandered in, but twice?”
“Dammit, you’re wrong,” she spat. “You’re so wrong.”
Suddenly jerking her forward, he stepped behind her and landed a barrage of stinging smacks on her backside. The assault lasted only seconds, but left her with a scorched behind and gasping for breath.
“Lyin’ don’t fly with me, sweetheart.”
His hand still locked in her hair, he stared down at her, a deep scowl crossing his brow.
“Keep it up and your ass will be naked when I whip it. Sit!” he barked, pushing her to the filthy concrete floor.
Wishing her racing heart would stop its wild thumping, she watched him pick up her bag. For a fleeting moment she thought he was going to give it back to her, but he opened the flap and pulled out her wallet.
“Faith Miller,” he grunted. “Nice name.”
Stuffing it back into the purse, his brawny body towered over her, his heavily muscled arms boasting his power and strength. Leaning down and gripping her arm, he pulled her to her feet and shoved the bag against her chest.
“Get the fuck out of here. If I see you again I’ll strip you bare, tan your butt ‘til it’s on fire, then fuck you into next week. Got it?”
His fingers dug into her skin. Everything about him reeked sex and power.
“Did you hear me?”
“I may be stupid, but I’m not deaf! Sorry, sorry,” she said hastily. “I just say things.”
“That smart-ass mouth of yours is gonna get you in a whole mess of trouble one day.”
“I won’t come back. I won’t. I swear.”
“I don’t make idle threats,” he snarled, shoving her through the slit in the thick plastic sheeting. “Next time I’ll nail your ass. Now run, don’t walk!”
Stumbling through the open yard, she couldn’t resist glancing back over her shoulder. Standing with his legs spread, hands on his hips, and his beefy muscles threatening to burst through his skin, he looked like a modern-day gladiator.
His unexpected shouted command made her jump, and hurrying forward, she finally reached the gate. Pausing for a moment to catch her breath, she moved onto the sidewalk.
“Hey! Are you okay, lady?”
Looking up, she found a middle-aged man wearing jeans and a New York Knicks T-shirt.
“Fine. I’m fine.”
“Want the police?”
“The police? No, no.”
“Positive. Thanks. I, uh, just had a fight with my boyfriend,” she managed, running her hand over her hair. “I’m fine. Really.”
“You don’t look fine. I’ll get you a cab.”
“No. I live just down the block, but thanks.”
The stranger may have been sincere, but she wasn’t about to take a chance, and in spite of her frazzled state she strode swiftly down the street. The short walk felt interminable, and when the canopy of her building finally came into view she quickened her pace. Thomas, the doorman, smiled as she approached.
“Evening, Miss Miller.”
“Evening, Thomas,” she said with a nod, hoping she didn’t look as disheveled as she felt.
“Everything all right?”
“Tired. Long day.”
To her relief he didn’t press, and there was no one waiting at the elevators. Stepping inside, she pushed the button for her floor, then leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. The image of the burly construction worker danced in the forefront of her mind. His chiseled features made him ridiculously handsome, and his body—
The ding snapped her back.
The quiet of the hallway soothed her soul. Unlocking her door and entering her apartment, she kicked off her shoes, dropped her bag on the dining room table, and pulling off her jacket, she let it hit the floor as she hurried into the kitchen. Her hand shook as she reached for the vodka in the freezer. Removing the cork and putting the spout to her mouth, she took a long swig. The rich, spicy liquor glided down her throat, offering a flash of calm. Sliding to the floor still holding the bottle, she raised it to her lips for a second swallow, then placing it next to her, she stretched out on the cold, tiled floor.
The hunger burning inside her was too much to bear.
Moving her fingers inside her panties, she closed her eyes, reliving his thumb on her clit, and his long, thick finger sliding inside her.
Ha. You’re drenched.
His husky words rang through her head.
You wanted this!
“Yes, I did,” she moaned, still feeling his rough jaw scraping hers. “I did, so much.”
Keep it up and your ass will be naked when I whip it.
Her orgasm swept her up. Wave after wave of tingling spasms shuddered through her body, but they ended too quickly. Her hand fell limp, and she let out a heavy sigh.
“Why did I fight him? What’s wrong with me?”
Her whispered questions hung in the air, and opening her eyes, she sat up and leaned against the cabinet. His gruffness had done nothing to undermine the intense attraction she’d felt from the moment she’d laid eyes on him.
“I’ll find a way to cross your path again,” she mumbled under her breath. “I don’t know how or where, but I will, and next time, I won’t be such a coward.”
Hunter stared at his watch. The lowlife was late. Or maybe he’d seen the woman and bailed. Either way he wasn’t going to hang around. Pulling on his motorcycle jacket, as he marched to his bike his phone rang. Retrieving it from his pocket, he glanced at the screen.
“No sign of him?”
“None, and I’m leaving.”
“Probably best. What the hell was that woman doing there?”
“I think she suffers from UGF.”
“Uptown girl frustration.”
“What the hell is that?”
“Think about it.”
“I’m not sure I want to.”
“Don’t worry, she won’t be back.”
“She was freaked out when I talked to her. That’s good, but too freaked out and she might call the cops.”
“I know what I’m doing, and we have more important things to worry about.”
“Yeah, I know. What do you think happened?”
“Could be anything, but I’m not waiting. See you later.”
Ending the call and donning his helmet, he rolled his Harley from the site, locking the gate behind him. Glancing up and down the street, he climbed on, started the powerful motor, and merged into traffic. In spite of what he’d told his brother, the visit from the auburn-haired vixen in stilettos and tight skirt had unsettled him. Was she a spoiled woman wanting a tough guy to show her who’s boss? Did she harbor dark fantasies she wanted to make real? That’s what his instincts told him, but it didn’t matter. As much as she’d titillated him, he had no interest in casual encounters. And they were risky. He lived in constant danger, and he didn’t like surprises.
From the moment she’d laid eyes on him, the hunky construction worker had captured Faith’s imagination. Walking past the building site early one morning, she’d caught sight of a burly biker climbing off his Harley. His handsome face surprised her, and slowing her step, she’d watched him remove his leather jacket. Wearing only a black tank top, his bulging biceps and ripped physique took her breath away. As if feeling her gaze, he’d turned and looked in her direction. Their eyes met, but only for an instant. Feeling her face flush red, she’d immediately dropped her gaze and hurried across the busy street to work.
But he haunted her.
She began watching the laborers from her fourth floor office window in hopes of seeing him, even buying a pair of binoculars. She knew her unhealthy interest bordered on obsession, but she couldn’t help herself. He personified her dream man. Tall, wide-shouldered, with arms so muscled she knew he’d lift her as effortlessly as he did his tool belt. His short-cropped dark hair accentuated his chiseled features, and the one time they’d actually met, she’d melted under his piercing blue eyes.
At the end of every day she’d watch the workers leave, focusing on him as he zipped up his leather jacket, pulled on his helmet, and rolled his motorbike onto the street, riding away with a roar. She’d imagine sitting behind him, the powerful machine between her legs and her arms around his waist, clinging to him as he expertly threaded his way through the traffic.
But one particular night he’d failed to leave.
Deciding to throw caution to the wind and seize the opportunity, she’d hurried from her office. Pulse racing, she’d walked as quickly as her heels allowed across the street to the open gate. Peering into the yard, she’d seen his sexy black Harley. He was still there! Though inwardly trembling, and thinking she’d truly lost her mind, she’d walked through the gate. Only seconds later he’d appeared, pushing through the plastic sheeting covering the front of the half-built ground floor.
“Looking for someone?”
“Uh, not really.”
“Why are you here?”
Bigger than life, he’d loomed over her, his brusque manner and imposing physique rendering her speechless.
“I asked why you’re here?”
“I was curious,” she’d finally managed. “Can you show me around?”
He’d paused. His eyes had narrowed. “Civilians aren’t allowed on the site.”
“Are you sure you couldn’t just—”
“Even if I could bend the rules, which I can’t, you’d last two seconds before you’d twist your ankle. High heels and rubble don’t mix. You need to leave.”
“How long do you think you’ll be?” she’d asked, trying to find a way to extend their conversation, then realizing her question could have been misunderstood, hastily added, “I mean, the building. How long will it take to finish?”
“Hey, lady, you need to leave.”
“What if I—?”
“And don’t come back,” he’d warned, leaning forward, his voice deepening. “Is that clear enough for you?”
He’d scared her.
But her fear had been tinged with excitement, and as the days passed, fantasies consumed her.
Now his long, thick fingers had touched between her legs.
He’d held her against a wall and pushed her to the ground.
He’d even landed his hard hand against her backside.
He’d frightened her.
But she wanted more.
She wanted what he’d threatened.
Showered, wrapped in a comfortable bathrobe and a glass of wine in her hand, Faith curled up on her couch. Unable to shake the memory of her intense encounter with the beefy construction worker, she thought about turning on the television, but she knew it would be a waste of time. Though he’d been far more aggressive than she’d expected, she’d loved his dominating gruffness. He oozed power, his shockingly blue eyes had looked right through her, and his brawny physique had made her heart thump like a bass drum. The entire episode had sent erotic heat coursing through every part of her, and soaked her pussy with longing.
Her small but successful public relations company ensured a busy social life, but the endless cocktail parties had become painfully boring. And the men! Every last one of them was afraid of her, and she understood why. They couldn’t afford to offend her. Mr. Hunky Construction Worker didn’t care. Not one bit!
She sipped her wine, but quickly set the glass on her coffee table. After several swigs of vodka, and nothing to eat since noon, the alcohol was going straight to her head. She needed food. With nothing in the house and too restless to order in, she decided to walk down the block to Mario’s, her home away from home. The family-owned Italian restaurant sat next to her office building, hence, directly across from the construction site. As she began to dress, she tried to convince herself she was going there because she needed a decent dinner. She did! But with any luck she’d nab the small table in the corner by the window. It offered a perfect view of the site. If her Harley-riding fantasy man was still there she might catch a glimpse of him.
Fall. Her favorite season. Leaving her building, she welcomed the refreshing chill. Summer had been too hot and too long. Thrusting her hands in her coat pockets, she walked across the street, turned down the block, and was soon approaching the restaurant. Glancing across at the dark construction site, she paused. The gate was padlocked to the chain link fence. There’d be no thirty-second sight of Mr. Hunk riding away on his motorbike, but the cold air had cleared her head, and she wondered why she’d been so reckless. Promising herself she’d never do anything like it again, she pushed open the restaurant door and walked inside. As the delicious aroma tickled her nostrils and teased her taste buds, she smiled at Anna, the hostess and daughter of the owner.
“Hi, Anna. Do you have room for me?”
“Hi, Faith. Always. How are you?”
“Fine. Starving though. Is the table by the window available? The one in the corner?”
“You don’t want your usual booth?”
“Do you need a menu?”
“Hardly. I probably know it better than you.”
“Probably,” Anna said with a grin. “Veal cutlet is the special,” she continued, leading Faith to the table. “It’s to die for.”
“Thanks for the tip.”
“I think I had enough at home, but—”
“Just one glass of your house red. I’ll have it with dinner.”
Removing her coat as Anna walked away, Faith settled into her seat, thanking the busboy who placed a dish of olive dip and basket of warm bread in front of her. Taking a piece and tearing it in half, she dunked the end and popped it in her mouth. As the familiar flavors filled her mouth, she felt the tension in her shoulders begin to ease. Anna arrived moments later with her glass of wine and the latest issue of Vogue.
“That’s perfect. Thanks, Anna,” Faith said gratefully.
“Yes, a very long day. Do I look that bad?”
“Just a bit stressed.”
“I am, but being here is helping. You can tell the waiter I’ll take that cutlet.”
“Will do. Anything else? Do you want a baked potato?”
“Yes, with that amazing chive butter.”
“I love that too. Shoot. Someone’s coming in. Excuse me.”
“No problem. Go be charming.”
Taking a small sip of her wine, Faith picked up the magazine and flipped through the pages. The cozy restaurant had soothed her frazzled soul, and reaching for another piece of bread, she happened to glance up.
Her heart leapt.
Anna was leading Mr. Hunk through the restaurant.
Dumbstruck, her eyes riveted, Faith watched him approach a booth. His back was to her, but as he slid into the bench seat, she shuffled her chair away from the table and into the shadows. The moment he was settled, she reached forward, grabbed her glass, and took a large gulp.
“Should I leave?” she muttered under her breath. “If he sees me he’ll think I’m a crazed stalker. Shit. I guess I am.”
“You know that’s the first sign of madness,” Anna said with a grin as she walked up.
“What is?” Faith asked, then took another swallow.
“Talking to yourself.”
“I have to. There’s no one else here!” she retorted, then paused and lowered her voice. “Anna, I couldn’t help but notice that guy that just came in.”
“Isn’t he dreamy?”
“Totally. Has he been in here before? Do you know who he is?”
“He’s one of the construction workers from across the street. He comes in for lunch sometimes, but he’s not like the others. He’s always reserved, kind of broody. It’s so damn sexy.”
“Yeah. Sexy is the understatement of the year, and I can see him being broody.”
“Wild guess,” Faith said quickly. “You know, the stereotypical tall, dark, and handsome with a smoldering sexuality.”
“Sounds like one of the slogans you’re famous for.”
“You’re right! Maybe I’ll use it sometime. Do you know his name?”
“I think it’s Hunter. I’m pretty sure I heard one of the guys call him that.”
“Has he ever tried to hit on you?”
“Excuse me,” the waiter said, walking past Anna carrying Faith’s dinner. “Veal cutlet, and a baked potato with extra chive butter.”
“Great. I’m starving. Could you please bring me another glass of wine?”
“Coming right up.”
“I’ll leave you to your feast,” Anna said as the waiter left. “I wish I was joining you. I’m in the mood for a natter tonight.”
“Me too. If you hit a lull, please come back.”
“I’d love that. I hope I can.”
As Anna moved away, Faith shifted her chair back to the table and darted her eyes to the booth. Hunter! She loved the name, but if he left before her, he’d almost certainly spot her on his way to the door. The waiter returned with her second glass of wine, but as he placed it on the table, she spied another waiter stopping at Hunter’s booth with the steak tartare appetizer. She let out a breath of relief. He still had to have his main course. She’d be out first.
“Can I get you anything else?”
“The check,” she replied, looking up at her waiter. “I’d like to take care of it now so I won’t have to wait when I’m done.”
“I’ll bring it right over.”
Finishing off the first glass of wine, she picked up her knife and fork and began to devour her meal, but her eyes continued to monitor the booth. She considered ambling through the restaurant to the ladies’ room. It would take her right past him, but she immediately dismissed the idea. When the waiter returned with her bill halfway through her dinner, she decided she’d pushed her luck long enough. Taking a final bite and finishing the second glass of wine, she stood up to leave, but had to place her hand on the back of her chair for support. Realizing she must have drunk too much, she slowly slipped on her coat and moved carefully to the door.
“You ate so fast,” Anna remarked as Faith approached. “I hope it was okay.”
“I have some work to finish before the morning. I need to get back.”
“I guess that’s what comes with being the boss.”
“We all have our crosses to bear. Please tell the chef the food left on the plate was no reflection on his great cooking. It was delicious.”
“Sure will. See you next time.”
“Yep. Bye, Anna.”
Stepping outside, she had a sudden rush of elation.
“I just had dinner with Hunter the Hunk!” she exclaimed, then broke into a burst of giggles. “Well, almost. I’m so glad I came out.”
Wine often made her ebullient, and still chuckling, she glanced across at the construction site.
“Hang on! If he’s in there eating dinner, his bike must still be in there. I wish I’d been braver. I wish I’d told him I was there because I think he’s the sexiest man I’ve ever seen. Hmmm… I wonder if…”
When Hunter had approached the restaurant, he’d spotted the beautiful but pushy young woman sitting at the window. He wasn’t thrilled, but it was too late to go anywhere else, and he didn’t think she’d have the nerve to bother him. Spanking her gorgeous ass wrapped in its tight skirt had given him a great deal of pleasure, and he’d be more than happy to make good on his threat to wallop her bare backside if she bothered him again. Confident he’d made his point and she’d keep her distance, he’d walked inside.
The sleazebag who had stood him up had finally called. Hunter had an hour before he needed to walk back across the street to the building site. Plenty of time to have dinner and think about what he needed to do.
It wasn’t a meeting he looked forward to.
The man in question was attempting to blackmail him.
As it turned out, Hunter was grateful the lowlife hadn’t showed. There was no telling what might have happened with Faith Miller there. The man was a junkie, and junkies were perilously unpredictable. His brother, River, had been nearby in case of trouble, and still was. They didn’t know if the blackmailer was a lone ranger, or had backup of his own. Even if he did, Hunter wasn’t concerned. He and River could tackle any number of men, and leave them bloody and groaning in a matter of minutes.
The meal had been satisfying and uneventful. Paying his bill and leaving the booth, Hunter started for the door. Glancing at the table by the window as he passed, he smiled. The young woman had left. Knowing she probably would have seen him when he’d walked to the booth, he was pleased the brave but reckless Miss Miller had heeded his warning and not bothered him. Stepping outside, he jogged across to the building site, unlocked the gate, and leaving it slightly ajar for his visitor, he marched across the yard. But he came to an abrupt stop.
His strong sense of smell had picked up a presence.
His keen eyesight scanned his surroundings. Seeing no movement, he decided it was her fragrance hanging in the air from her earlier visit. Striding forward and through the plastic sheeting, he had just turned on the battery-powered lantern when a chill suddenly pricked his skin.
A presence loitered behind him.
It was time to dispatch him to the pits of hell.
Adrenalin pumping, he curled his fingers into fists, took a breath, and spun around.
“Hi, again,” Faith said sheepishly. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“I can’t believe it! What the hell are you doing here?”
“I saw you at Mario’s and I knew you’d have to come back here to get your bike. The thing is, I couldn’t go home without telling you I lied. I wasn’t here earlier because I like building sites. I do, but not enough to wander through them. I think they’re interesting, but that’s not why I was here. I’ve seen you, and I thought maybe—”
“You’re babbling,” he said sharply, cutting her off. “I told you what I’d do if you came back, and I’ll keep my promise if you—”
“Yes, yes, I know,” she said hastily, “but before I go I have to tell you the truth. I’m sorry I lied. I wanted to meet you. More than that, I wanted—”
“I know what you want,” he growled, his voice low and menacing. “You want me to throw you on the ground, rip your clothes off, and fuck you into next week.”
Her wide eyes stared up at him. They were filled with fear, but he could smell her animal hunger. It was tinged with alcohol. The drink had made her to drop her guard and surrender to her carnal need. As much as he wanted to grab her elbow and march her out of the yard, it was a risk he couldn’t take. She could pretend to leave, then sneak back in just to watch him, and the bastard would arrive any minute. There was only one thing he could do.