Layer by layer, Talia peeled away his resistance.
Sean has spent five years cleaning up his life. He’s shoved his past behind him and built a profitable business in the town’s most popular dance club. Falling in love with a college sophomore wasn’t in his plans. But, from the moment he rescued Talia, she brings out his every protective instinct. He tries to resist getting involved on a personal level. Talia’s persistence, however, is stronger than his will.
Despite just ending an abusive relationship, Talia finds an instant connection with a man unlike any she’s dated before. Older, tattooed, and totally inappropriate for her, Talia couldn’t keep Sean off her mind, especially once he calls her “sweetheart” in that deep drawl of his.
When Talia is in danger, they discover just how strong their relationship is. Can Sean and his sweetheart make things last when horrors from their pasts come back to haunt them and family seems determined to keep them apart?
With his hand on the small of her back as a guide, he directed her out the back door to the service alley. He led her over to a big black Harley and held a helmet out to her.
“Uh…” A motorcycle? Why couldn’t he have a sports car or a truck? Of course a tattooed bartender would drive a motorcycle.
The smug look on his face made her want to prove his assumptions wrong. Prove to him she wasn’t a goody-goody, scared shitless to climb on top of a motor with wheels and fly down the road under someone else’s control.
“It’s this or you call someone.”
She snatched the helmet from his hand. Talia gave him the address and fiddled with the strap, trying to figure out how to adjust it. His hands came up to tighten it for her and their fingers brushed. She sucked in a deep breath at his touch. His low chuckle took that spark of anger and kindled it into a blaze of desire. With the street lamps behind him, she couldn’t read his expression. His hand closed over hers for a brief second before he jerked it away. He straddled the bike and pulled his own helmet on.
She climbed on behind him and he started the motor. Talia jumped at the sudden roar of the engine and clung tight to his broad back. His chest shook with laughter beneath her hands. Talia relaxed a bit as the bike moved and they didn’t crash. She slid her arms around his waist and started to enjoy the ride, to enjoy the feel of holding a man.
She’d never been on a motorcycle before. Had never wrapped her arms around a complete stranger like this, either. She didn’t know his name, but she knew the strength in his muscles and the rhythm of his breathing. When she hugged him tighter, her fingers slipped through the button placket on his shirt. Instead of removing her hand, she combed through the tangle of hair on his chest, surprising herself with her boldness. His hand dropped back to squeeze hers for a moment, but he didn’t pull her hand away.
The ride ended too soon when he rolled the bike to a stop in front of her house. She stumbled getting off the bike, but he caught her before she face-planted on the sidewalk. He even walked her up to the door and waited behind her on the porch while she tried to unlock it. Her trembling hand dropped the keys and he bent to grab them before she could react.
“My name’s Sean, by the way.” He unlocked the door for her and handed her keys back.
“Sean. That’s a very nice name. It fits you. I’m Talia.” Did he expect to come in? They had just met and she still had a boyfriend, at least until she could find the nerve to dump the jerk. She’d never been the cheating type.
He leaned one broad shoulder against the wall next to the door and stared down at her. Shadows hid part of his face from her, but his eyes glittered in the dim light.
Sean’s chest rumbled with a deep chuckle. “Would you’ve said the same thing if I’d told you that my name was Bruno?”
A giggle snuck out. Bruno? Not a chance Bruno would fit him.
Sean let Talia clasp his hand in her small soft one as she led him across the parking lot. He shouldn’t encourage her like this, but he couldn’t bear to dim her eyes with disappointment whenever he pulled his hand away. Her brother and father stood looking over the loaded pickup. They caught the tail end of an argument between Zane and his dad as they walked up.
Her father grunted. “That couch is damn heavy and once we go up and down those stairs twenty times with all those little boxes, we’re gonna be too tired to carry that couch upstairs. I swear the darn thing is made of lead.”
Releasing his hand, Talia wrapped her arms around her dad from behind in greeting. “Would it make you feel better if I said I brought someone to help with the heavy lifting, Daddy?”
The older man glared in response as Sean shook hands with Zane. He reminded the older man of his name and stuck his hand out in greeting. Her dad’s eyebrow rose, but didn’t offer his own hand in return. Well, alrighty then. Would it kill him to be polite?
The older man scowled at him and said simply, “Sam Richmond.” The overprotective father crap was getting old.
Zane broke the tension. “Okay, Dad, we will do it your way. Sean, you think you can handle one end of the couch while Dad and I get the other? It’s really heavy. I didn’t realize how heavy, until Dad and I were loading it by ourselves. I, for one, am glad you are here.”
He nodded and the three of them pulled the couch off the truck. Talia tried to help, but Sean told her to just grab a box, he didn’t need her underfoot when they went up the stairs. Zane snickered at the glare on her face, but didn’t comment on it until Talia stomped up the stairs ahead of them.
“You are a brave man, Sean. Brave, I say. You haven’t seen her temper yet, have you? She acts all sweet and shy, but she’s a little hellion when you piss her off. And I think you may have done just that.”
Sam chuckled at Zane’s words, but didn’t say anything as they carried the weighty couch up, pausing at each landing to angle it around the support posts in the breezeway.
Once they got it to the landing of the third floor, Sean could see Talia standing with her arms crossed outside the locked door of her brother’s apartment. She looked angry. Crap, Zane was right. He was in trouble. Where’d that spirit go when she was dating that asshat?
They eased the couch down next to the door and Zane dug the keys out of his pocket to unlock the door. Shoving past her brother, Talia snatched up her box and stomped inside. Sam laughed out loud. “Yup, she’s mad.”
Sean sighed and shook his head. Well, at least he’d made her dad laugh even if it was because he’d pissed Talia off. The heavy couch put up a hell of a fight going through the door. They finally battled it through and had to take a minute to catch their breath. The crashes and bangs coming from the kitchen made Sam and Zane both snicker.
Zane elbowed Sean, mock-whispering, “Good luck.”
When the other men started back down the stairs to get more boxes, Sean followed the noise to Talia. With her back to him, he watched as she slammed the cabinet door with such force it rattled.
“Hey, I didn’t mean to upset you out there,” he murmured. As he laid his hand on the small of her back, she tensed at his touch.
“You said I was in your way. Do I look like a child? Or maybe you think I am too stupid to get out of the way?” Her eyes flashed in anger as she spun to face him.
“Now, I never said that. I just didn’t want you to get hurt, that’s all.”
“I thought you were different, Sean. Caleb always treated me like I was too stupid to breathe on my own, and I won’t go through that again. I can’t.”
“I really didn’t mean it like that. I should have phrased it differently, I can see that now. I’m sorry.” He didn’t get how he’d called her stupid, but he enjoyed seeing this side of her. He’d have to piss her off more often if she’d look at him like that. It was a heck of a turn-on for her to be confident enough to stand up to him. He liked his women to have some spunk. Damn, she’s gorgeous when all worked up. He wondered if her eyes filled with such fire when she made love.
He moved closer and she retreated in response until she bumped into the counter. Tilting forward and placing his hands on the granite next to her hips, he surrounded Talia with his arms. He whispered low in her ear, “Anyone ever tell you how stunning you are when you are mad? Your eyes are sparkling and so damn expressive. Sweetheart, you’re really making me forget that we need to be just friends.”
He nuzzled her throat, inhaling her sweet scent. Her hands reached up to fiddle with the button placket on his shirt. When she leaned toward him, he knew she’d forgiven him. She shuddered and he pulled back to look at her. When she licked her lips, he couldn’t take it anymore. Fuck being just friends. He needed to taste her again. Groaning, he bent his head toward hers. A mere second before his lips touched hers Zane kicked the door open and walked in with another box.
Biggest cock-block ever.
As a busy mother of five, Allie sneaks time to write between breakfast and tickles. Always a Kentucky girl at heart, she currently makes her home near Nashville.
Gator Girl Extraordinaire