While Mika carried their disposable takeout cartons to the kitchen, she threw Jackson an amused look over her shoulder. “Are we eating in more often lately so you can get a better look at Stanley when he delivers our dinner?”
Jackson grinned as he collected their used napkins and chopsticks from the dining room table. “Nah, I just think the service is better here. The dessert is sweeter, too.” He approached from behind and squeezed her supple bottom as he tossed their used items in the garbage.
“Okay, Mr. Smoothie.” She spun around from the sink and draped her arms around his neck. Their noses and lips were so close, they almost touched. “It’s been a week and you haven’t breathed a word about the murder case. Even the newscasters have been tight-lipped lately. What in the hell is going on? I’m getting nervous.”
He didn’t want to lie to her, but all information was classified. The killer had used his last victim’s cell phone to call the police. Strangling women wasn’t enough; these serial killers wanted to be the headline on every newscast, and reporting that this lunatic used the dead woman’s phone would’ve been hair-raising news. What Jackson also couldn’t share with her yet was the information they’d extracted from the victim’s computers. It was the common link they’d been looking for and their first real break. He had received word that all four divorced women had been on spanking forums, and as he pondered that, he inhaled a deep, calming breath.
“Baby, you know all the intelligence we’ve gathered so far needs to be strictly confidential. I’d love to share every update with you, but until we share our findings with the public, I can’t.”
“It’s been a week since the last murder. What are you guys doing, sitting around in a circle drinking lattes from Starbucks waiting for him to strike again?” Mika pulled away, her petite hands landing squarely on her hips.
Jackson backed up, surprised at her response. “Look, it’s frustrating for all of us, but if you think taking me to the edge is going to get you details on this case, you’re heading in the wrong direction. The only position that sarcasm will lead you to is face down with a bare, hot fanny over my lap.”
Her hands immediately fell from her hips. “I’m not usually this nervous, but knowing a crazy person is out there has turned me into a wreck. I don’t care how high-end this building’s security is.”
He pulled her into his arms, remembering where the victims lived. They all had doormen and state-of-the-art security systems that did nothing to save them. For some unknown reason, the damn predator entered their homes easily. “Here’s what I can tell you.” His demeanor was gentle as he led her to sit on the couch. “The victims’ apartments were not broken into. So either they opened their door enough for the perpetrator to force himself in, or they were expecting him.”
Mika climbed into Jackson’s lap. “I already heard that on the news. Can you tell me something I don’t know?”
“Don’t make any new friends at this point.” He threaded his fingers through her silky black hair.
“Are you talking about that spanking forum I was on? Jackson, I promised you I wouldn’t do that anymore.” She gazed down at her lap and paused. “Wait a minute, is that the common link among the women you were looking for, or don’t you trust me to stay off the computer while you spend twenty-four–seven working on your case?” Her tone shifted from serious to cheeky in an instant.
“Okay, I’ve had enough.” He took his golden opportunity to change the subject and effortlessly flipped her over his lap. “You were warned.”
Mika giggled until the first swat landed directly in the middle of her backside. “I didn’t mean the last part…” Her thought was cut short as he scrunched her dress upward.
He smiled at the sight of her luscious ivory pillows lying across his lap, and could almost visualize the handprint that would soon appear on her delicate skin. “Which section of the sentence didn’t you mean?” With a brisk, firm movement, he applied his palm to the lower part of her buttock and watched as it fluttered in response.
“I’m so sorry, Jackson. I know how hard you’re working on this case. That wasn’t fair of me to say.”
He waited for her to finish before his palm landed squarely on her other cheek. “Now your heinie has matching handprints, and just so we’re clear, I trust you implicitly.” He smoothed the pink areas of her bottom and patted her tender skin gently. “Now come up and hug your hardworking man. I probably need one as much as you do.”
Mika resumed her position on his lap and buried her nose back into his broad chest. “That wasn’t much of a punishment for such rudeness on my part. Am I truly forgiven?”
He kissed the top of her head. “If you can forgive me for being a workaholic, I can forgive you for being snarky. I swear, this job has killed more relationships. Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer a boyfriend with a normal career?”
She rearranged herself so they could look each other in the eyes. “I love that you’re my boyfriend.” Their lips came together with a brief, sensual touch.
“Is it time for dessert?” Jackson mumbled, grazing her neck with his teeth.
“How does chocolate sauce and whipped cream sound?” She loved the bristly feel of his whiskers on her delicate skin as his five o’clock shadow finally made an appearance.
“It would be too sticky for this lavishly decorated expanse. Maybe we ought to save the messy sex for my rundown apartment.”
“That’s what second bedrooms are for, silly man. We’ll play in one and sleep in the other.” She crawled off his lap and extended her hand.
Jackson’s phone rang. He looked at her sheepishly, then pulled it from his pocket. It was Simon’s cell phone number. “Sorry, it’s my partner. I have to take this.”
“I’ll give you two some privacy,” she muttered sadly as she turned to leave the room.
He rubbed the side of his rough face as he answered the phone. “What’s up?”
“Thank God you didn’t turn off your ringer yet. Listen, I know it’s Saturday night and you want to be alone with your girl…”
Jackson made a spinning motion with his finger. “Let’s get to the point, shall we? I hope you didn’t call to harass me, because I’m a little busy right now.” He raised his voice as he uttered his last four words, hoping that Mika was in earshot.
“We got another call and I thought you might want to come and hear it.” His response came quick in a serious tone.
“I’ll be right there.” He turned off his phone and slipped it in his pocket.
Mika calmly strolled into the room, hands clasped together. “I heard the bad news. Will you come back to me?”
“It might be late. Stanley won’t let me in unless you’re awake.”
“I’ll tell him you’ll be returning.” She pressed a key in his hands. “It doesn’t matter what time.”
“Let me hear what came in.” Jackson made his way into the room with deliberate footing and hovered over his partner’s shoulder.
“Mmm, I love the cologne you’re sportin’ tonight. You never wear that essence when we go out together.” Simon’s hand pressed to his forehead as he exhaled a deep, dramatic sigh.
“The last time this maniac called, he used his victim’s cell phone. I’m getting a sick feeling in my stomach.” Ignoring his partner’s witty theatrics, Jackson lowered himself in the chair and impatiently tapped his thick, strong fingers on the black desk.
“I told you to stop eatin’ that damn Thai food,” Simon responded as he turned on the recording. “Listen closely, pal. This time his call is directed to you.”
“As much as I hate to bore you with a pattern, this seems like a safe way to communicate with you, Mac. Can I call you Mac, Detective McKenna? I’ll bet some of your old friends do, and would love to be much more than an acquaintance. But since we both enjoy a good game of cat and mouse, I need to be careful with what I say. Just because these old sluts are making it easy for me, doesn’t mean I’ll do the same for you every time. Sorry, but you’re going to have to find my latest date on your own.”
“He must’ve downloaded one of those fancy voice-changin’ apps to her phone. I’d just like to know how he got a hold of your private line.” Simon turned off the recording and reached for his half-filled paper coffee cup.
“And this time, he’s not tellin’ us where he is.” Simon slowly finished his partner’s sentence.
“With all that’s been on the news, I can’t believe these women are still letting this psycho into their apartment.”
“He must be charmin’ as hell.”
Jackson skewered him with a look.
“Go back to your girl and keep her safe. I’ll be in touch when the bad news comes in.”
“Thanks, buddy, but I’m going to hang around for a while and compare the calls. This guy is doing everything he can to make this personal for me, and I need to figure out why.”
“I’m gettin’ a feeling there’s somethin’ you aren’t sharin’ with me. This can’t just be about a nickname.”
Jackson’s eyes scooted around the room, not wanting to make contact. “After her divorce, Mika spent some time on one of those spanking forums looking for a younger man.”
“Jesus. Why didn’t you say somethin’ sooner?”
“Obviously, it wasn’t news I felt comfortable divulging.”
“And here I thought we were such close friends.” Though there was sarcasm in his tone, he leaned forward, riveted.
“In the beginning, she just spent time messaging men who seemed interested in an older woman. Then she started dating someone named Rick. It lasted for about a month before he stopped calling. Remember when I first met Mika and gave her my business card?”
“Who could forget? You became much more enjoyable to be with around that time,” he joked.
“Instead of getting in touch with me, she went back onto the forum for another chat.”
“I can’t believe you kept this information from me. Go on.” Simon thoughtfully rubbed the dark stubble on his chin.
“She let him into her apartment, but their scene didn’t go as they originally planned.”
“I just have a feelin’ this story isn’t goin’ to end well.”
“He used a belt on her. She was frightened and promised not to go back to that forum again.”
“I’m assumin’ the names both men gave her weren’t real.”
“Naturally, and before you ask, her memory of their physical descriptions could match God only knows how many men in their early thirties.” Jackson shook his head.
“So, when exactly did she come lookin’ for you at Benny’s?”
“Right after her second so-called date.” Jackson looked down at the floor and smiled at the recollection of their conversation. “She remembered vanilla as being a tasty flavor, too.”
“But you aren’t…” Simon interrupted.
He raised the palms of his hands in acknowledgement.
“Please don’t tell me you’re datin’ her to get inside the head of a woman who matches the profile of our victims. That would be a little cold, even for you.”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m really falling for this woman,” Jackson said, then added fervently, “You know, Simon, I left out one little detail of her last meeting that you might find interesting.”
“I’m all ears, partner.”
“She said the man, who referred to himself as Steve, started out with a Southern drawl when he first showed up, but it twisted into a heavy Brooklyn accent by the end of the night.” He turned his head to meet Simon’s dark eyes.
“And where, pray tell, did he say he was from?”
“Atlanta. That would be in your original neck of the woods. And don’t you currently reside in Brooklyn?”
“You’re a regular riot, Jackson, but we both know I live in Astoria. Stay and compare the tapes, but don’t linger around here too long. I’m sure your woman is waitin’ and we need you fresh in the mornin’.” He stood and started to walk away, but abruptly stopped and snapped his fingers. “Just out of curiosity, do any of your friends call you Mac?”
“Yes, but only my old friends.”
Simon’s head slowly turned. “I do believe you just made a brand spankin’ new one.”
Stanley greeted Jackson in front of the building and instantly opened the door. “Good evening, Detective McKenna. Mrs. Settler was worried you might be pulling an all-nighter.”
“Thanks, Stanley. I was hoping to get back before Mika fell asleep. With all that’s been going on in the news, I didn’t want to startle her.”
“I think she’ll be very happy to see you’ve returned.” Stanley’s smile was sly as he watched him head to the elevator.
As Jackson walked down the long carpeted hall to her apartment, he thought about the diverse reactions to the obvious difference in their ages. There seemed to be a few facial expressions that people displayed, instantly giving away their opinion. The three most popular included: a straight, thin lip line of jealousy, usually demonstrated by other mature women who didn’t have, but wanted a relationship with a younger man; the silly smirk on the lips of those who were simply amused by the attraction that two people with such an age difference could possibly have with each other; and finally, his least favorite, the nasty glare accompanied by an obvious frown assuming that his girlfriend was nothing more than a wealthy slut trying to buy herself a younger man with either her divorced or dead husband’s money. At the end of the day, it was nobody’s damn business how old they were, and every time Mika brought up the subject of their May/December romance, he would try to change it. There was an eighteen-year age difference, but in his opinion, they were perfect for each other, and he wasn’t letting anyone or anything come between them.
He unlocked the door with ease and carefully pushed it open. Her apartment was dimly lit; the only illumination was in the hall outside of her bedroom. Peeking inside the ample-sized room, he watched Mika select the right moment to seductively turn over. With only a stream of soft light, his eyes immediately focused on the jutting mounds of her presented ass as the short, silky nightshirt moved upward. Now knowing she was awake and waiting for him, he couldn’t unzip his jeans fast enough. Jackson wasn’t fully erect yet, but the sight of her luscious plump ass displayed in that manner made his cock stand out boldly in front of him and it swayed a bit as he moved toward the bed. Slipping under the sheet and spooning behind her, he rubbed his hardening length up and down her backside, until it was completely erect and snuggled inside the warm crease of her ass.
“How was your evening, dear?” she teased in a light tone.
“It seems to be getting better and better all the time.” He wrapped his hands around her waist and pulled her close.
“Do you want to fuck me tonight, or are you too exhausted from playing footsie with your friend, Simon?”
“I’m never too tired to fuck or spank your impudent ass.” Knowing their games were about to begin, his eyes lit up. Reaching over to the end table, he switched on the small lamp before taking her by the hand. She pulled back in a demure manner, but as he knew she’d expected, he grabbed her by the wrist and roughly guided her off the bed.
“I want you bare-assed and bent over right now.”
Mika responded to his command with an innocent look that clearly asked, did I say something wrong?
The next sound heard was his hand cracking down the center of both cheeks. Instead of uttering a noise in protest, she immediately bent over and grabbed the sheet with white-knuckled fingers as he raised the nightshirt up to her waist. Jackson’s smile was wide at the delicious display in front of him and placed one hand on the small of her back to make sure she stayed in position while he disciplined her. He spanked her over and over again with an open palm and grinned as her bottom wobbled from the blows. While his blue eyes focused on her wiggling hips trying to get rid of the sting, Jackson’s cock remained thick and hard, knowing it wouldn’t be long before he was inside her tight, throbbing pussy. When a bright red glow began to radiate from her ass and she finally yelped, he stopped.
“Ouch! Damn it, that hurts.”
“Apologize for your rudeness.”
“I’m sorry, Jackson. I don’t know why I made fun of your work.”
“You’re going to choose this moment to lie to me?”
“Then tell me why, Mika.”
She shook her head.
“Say it.” He smacked her ass again.
“I know it gets under your skin.”
“I like to antagonize you.”
Mika’s head turned and she rolled her eyes.
“What happens when you do that?”
She lifted her shoulders.
“You’ll spank me,” she murmured with tears in her eyes.
“What else does my girl need?”
Mika was silent.
Jackson smacked the tender crease of her bottom. “Are you going to answer, or should I ask you to bring me your hairbrush?”
“I need to be fucked.” Mika’s face rubbed against the mattress as her tears started to flow. Jackson separated her legs, lifted her hips, and positioned his cock at her hot, wet entrance.
“Say it again and be polite this time.”
“Please fuck me. Please fuck me hard,” she whispered.
Jackson entered her swollen, soaking entrance with a single smooth thrust. She gasped as his cock continued to stretch her, penetrating deeper, and he savored the feel of her convulsing cunt gripping all around him. Turning her flushed face onto the cool fitted sheet, she began to meet his thrusts and pushed back into him as his wet fingers found her hard, swollen clitoris. He stroked her gently at first, but as she lifted her ass and rubbed herself up and down on him, his intensity increased.
“Please, Jackson, don’t make me wait. I need to come.”
“Do it now, Mika, come now, baby.”
His final drive went long and deep, and he smacked her ass one last time before their bodies stilled. Swirling into the pounding orgasmic vortex together, their muscles contracted violently until they finally collapsed in a heap onto the bed.
Lovingly trailing a finger down her reddened bottom, he kissed the nape of her neck and whispered, “I love you, Mika.”
“I love you too, Mac.”
A chill instantly ran through his body. “You’ve never called me that before.” He rolled Mika over, gathered her in his arms, and got comfortable with her under the covers.
“Your last name is McKenna. This can’t possibly be the first time someone’s chosen that nickname for you.” She peered up at him and saw a strange look in his eyes. “What’s wrong? Okay, if you don’t like that name, I can pick another one.” She turned on her side and wiggled her hot cheeks against his softened cock. “How about Jack? Now that would definitely be more original.” She chuckled and shook her head. “It’s been a long night, and you must be exhausted.”
He stared up at the ceiling for a brief moment and blew out a deep breath before stretching to switch off the lamp on the end table. Damn, if she only knew.
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