NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE
“Charlie, what the fuck are we doing here?”
Tobias Bennett’s twin didn’t spare him a glance as he continued filling out the form on the clipboard in his hands. “Speed dating,” he said, as if the answer were obvious.
With so many bodies crammed inside, the heat in the pub was stifling. Toby popped another button open at his throat and drew in a steadying breath. “I thought speed dating went the way of the dinosaurs. Isn’t everything online now?”
“It’s making a comeback,” said the kid behind the bar with the overly coiffed hair and excessively groomed beard. Making a show of whatever strange concoction he was pouring into a martini glass, he added, “People have finally figured out they’re less likely to get catfished in person.”
Toby stared blankly at the hipster. “Catfished?”
“Fake online profiles luring people into fake online relationships for the purpose of defrauding them,” Charlie said matter-of-factly, handing him the pen. “Sign here.”
Toby frowned at the clipboard. “What am I signing?”
Charlie, always the more dramatic of the pair, groaned like he was the most put-upon man in human existence. “Just sign it.”
With a raised brow and a resigned sigh, Toby scribbled his name on the bottom of the form and handed the clipboard to the kid behind the bar.
“Okay, since you’re first-timers, I’ll give you a quick rundown of the rules. One, there is a two-drink limit. If you drink more than two drinks, you will not be allowed to continue. Two, men stay in one place and the ladies come to you. Each ‘date’,” the kid said, using honest-to-God air quotes, “lasts five minutes. At the end of five minutes, a bell will chime, and the ladies move on to the next ‘date’. If you hit it off with someone and wish to continue talking, you can either exchange numbers and hook up later, or you can leave the dating pool. If you choose to leave the dating pool, you will not be allowed back in for the rest of the night. Three, harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. Got it?”
Toby and Charlie exchanged a look. “I think we got it,” Charlie replied, grinning like an idiot.
“Excellent. Can I get you guys a drink?”
“We don’t drink,” they said together, then walked towards the back of the pub.
“Check out the honeys,” Charlie whispered, a noticeable bounce in his step.
Toby cocked one brow, his gaze sliding sideways to stare at his brother. “What is with you tonight?”
“Besides the fact that I can’t remember the last time I had sex?” At Toby’s continuing stare, he said, “What? I’ve been busy.”
“And I haven’t? I’ve been working seven days a week since Rebecca quit.”
“Yeah, but you don’t take it home with you, do you? I feel like all I do these days is work,” he said, noticeably irritated. “And when I’m not working, I have the girls. So excuse me for being a responsible parent by not having sex with random women when I’m looking after my impressionable teenage daughters.”
Sighing quietly, Toby said, “Fine. I’ll endure an evening of torture so you can get laid.”
Charlie flashed him one of his signature grins, the one that made women trip over their panties and fall at his feet. “You never know, little bro. You might get lucky too. It’s not like you couldn’t use a good fuck. You’ve been twitchy all week.”
Toby snorted. Twitchy. That was an understatement if ever he’d heard one. He’d jerked off so many times in the past week he was amazed his dick hadn’t fallen off. And since the woman he was lusting after was off limits, maybe finding a partner for the night wasn’t such a bad idea. Fuck. At the very least, he could use a distraction from the fantasies that had played on an endless loop in his mind’s eye since Monday afternoon.
But then he scanned the group of women milling about at the rear of the pub and nixed the idea immediately. Some of them looked like contenders—tall women with shapely backsides—until he glanced at their fancy footwear and calculated their actual heights. Without their shoes, he guessed most of them would be lucky if they were anything more than five feet and maybe five inches tall. In other words, they were small. And he knew from experience that even if these women found him attractive enough to go home with, he still wasn’t getting laid. He stood at six feet and eight inches in height, weighing in at 120 kilograms, and most smaller women were too afraid to even flirt with him, let alone take their clothes off and let him fuck them.
Especially the way Toby liked to fuck.
Charlie reckoned it had more to do with his attitude than his altitude, but Toby had seen the fear in too many women’s eyes not to recognise it now.
The fear he’d tear them in half, break them somehow.
His twin was a different matter. A different man. Standing only two inches shorter, Charlie was still a big bastard, but he had charm on his side. He knew how to talk to women, how to engage them in conversation and put them at ease with his size. He knew how to make women want him. Try as he might, Toby just couldn’t do it. He didn’t know how to flatter and cajole, and the Dominant in him didn’t want to.
His Dominant side wanted to cut through the bullshit and get on with it, longed to hear the sound of tearing fabric as he ripped a woman’s clothes off. Craved the sight of a soft body bound to his bed and spread open for his pleasure. The cracking of his palm as it connected with a pliant arse, the feel of supple lips wrapped around his hard cock as he thrust deep down a throat. A woman’s screams as her orgasm took hold, the soft panting breaths that tickled his side and chest as he lay beside a lover and held her close after a good, hard fuck.
But another quick scan of the dating pool left Toby with no illusions.
He’d be going home alone tonight.
Charlie leaned over, whispered, “Hey, if one of us does get lucky tonight, you wanna share?”
Lips twitching into a grin at his brother’s eagerness, Toby said, “Sure. As long as she’s into it.”
“We’re twins,” Charlie said, shrugging. “They’re always into it.”
He was right. Toby had never understood why, but the twin thing was a definite draw card for certain women, and he and Charlie were usually more than happy to oblige them. But at the age of forty, they were both getting pretty sick and tired of the single life, of nothing but work, work, the occasional one-night stand, more work….
The thought of sharing a woman relieved Toby’s tension though, took away the mild panic he always felt when he was forced to participate in small talk with random strangers. If Charlie hooked up with someone first, then they could all leave together and the torture would end. Toby didn’t even care if the woman didn’t go for the sharing idea. Not that he’d knock back sex if it was on offer—Charlie wasn’t the only one suffering a chronic case of blue balls—but he was just as happy to go home, read a book, and rub one out if it meant not talking to people.
“How long does this go for?” he said.
“One to two hours, depending on how many people show up.”
Here’s hoping it’s one, he thought as a tall, slender woman with dirty-blonde hair brushed past him. The brief contact sent a jolt of electricity through every nerve in his body, every muscle, every bone. Toby couldn’t move, could only stare, transfixed by the sway of her hips as she sashayed to the rear of the pub.
“Fuck. Me,” Charlie breathed. “Could those jeans get any tighter?”
“Shit.” Toby knew those shapely hips. That colour hair. Those long legs and elegant gait.
That fan-fucking-tastic arse….
“What?” Charlie said, still staring at the woman’s backside.
“I think….” Toby narrowed his gaze and studied the woman again. “I think that’s Lucy Barton.”
“My new office manager.” He swallowed hard. “I hired her this week. She starts work on Monday.”
Charlie threw back his head and laughed, the full-bodied sound drawing the attention of pretty much everyone as they walked through the pub. Then he stopped and squeezed Toby’s shoulder. “Wait,” he said, dropping his voice to a near whisper. “Is this chick the reason you’ve been so twitchy? I’m thinking she has to be, judging by your reaction.” Then, grinning like the pain in the arse he was, he added, “Is she cute?”
Toby shrugged Charlie off and took a step back. Lucy Barton was an employee and was therefore off limits.
The fact she was temptation incarnate was irrelevant.
Gaze glued to Lucy’s arse, he took another step back and shook his head. He needed to remove himself from the situation before he did something stupid, like proposition his new hire and get himself slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit.
But what if she says yes? a little voice whispered in his head.
Toby ground his teeth together. No. Not going to happen. Safer to leave. “I’m outta here.”
But before he could retreat any farther, Charlie caught his wrist. Pulling him close, his brother hissed, “Tobias Ulysses Bennett, if you don’t take a chance on this woman, I swear to God I will go out of my way to pick her up and fuck her every which way come Sunday.”
Toby’s eyes narrowed on his twin as a sudden possessive need gripped his spine and held on tight. He peeled Charlie’s fingers away from where they encircled his wrist. “You even look at her funny and I’ll tell Abby what really happened to Mr Poochie.”
Charlie went very still, undoubtedly calculating the pleasure he’d find between Lucy’s thighs and weighing it against the hell his life would become if their little sister discovered the truth about the day her beloved childhood teddy bear disappeared.
“I really hate you right now.”
Toby grinned. “No you don’t.” Then he flicked his gaze towards Lucy again and said, “Mine.”
He didn’t even have to wonder at the unmistakable desire he felt as he sought her out in the crowd. It was the same emotion he’d felt when she’d strode into his office Monday afternoon to interview for the office manager position at Bennett’s Gardens and Landscaping. The same emotion he’d been fighting all week.
The one to which he longed to surrender.
In the name of due diligence, he’d done a quick internet search on Sunday afternoon and found nothing outwardly concerning about Miss Barton. No criminal record, no nude selfies, and oddly, no social media presence. According to her résumé, she was forty years old, same as him, and her hobbies included reading, rock climbing, pancake art—whatever the fuck that was—and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
He’d liked her before she’d even set foot in his office.
The fact that Lucy had also worked as the office manager for a private security firm for the better part of a decade was just the icing on the cake. She had more experience than the other five candidates combined and was a shoo-in for the job. Interviewing her was more of a formality than anything else.
But when she’d entered his office and shot out her hand to shake his like she was executing a military manoeuvre, he’d almost swallowed his tongue. Then he’d almost hired the second most qualified candidate because holy fuck!
Toby had never met a woman more in need of a good spanking than Lucy Barton. Not because she deserved to be punished, though if push came to shove, he was certain he could find something to punish her for—there had to be at least one spelling error on her résumé—but because he’d never met a woman so tightly wound and in need of release.
His hands had itched to pull her into his lap and bend her over his knee, to feel the softness of her arse against the callused skin of his palm.
To mark her flesh and make her his.
Dressed in a dark blue suit and high-necked blouse, her hair pulled up in a tight knot on the back of her head, the woman had given off a prim schoolmarm vibe, completely at odds with the quiet, quirky yet kinda cool woman he’d envisioned when he’d read her résumé. Adding to her overall air of stick-up-her-arse-edness was the fact she’d sat ramrod straight in the chair opposite him with her hands folded neatly in her lap and a challenging expression on her face.
His carefully controlled Dominant side had come to life at that challenge, sliding through him like liquid heat, making his cock jerk to life. He’d had to swallow down a moan at the thought of forgoing the job interview in favour of bending her over his desk, hiking her skirt up her gloriously long legs, and fucking her senseless.
Her direct stare, the stubborn jut of her chin, and the way she’d tilted her face towards him, prominently displaying the wealth of scars covering the right side of her face and neck…. She’d practically dared him to insult her, as though she was used to people making a fuss about them, used to people judging her based on something as arbitrary as her looks, and she was feeling him out. Testing him.
He’d smiled at that. At her… not courage exactly, but ballsy-ness. It had felt like she was saying “This is me. Take it or leave it”, and dear God, had he wanted to take it.
She was chaotically beautiful.
And Toby had thanked his inappropriately timed erection, certain it was the only thing stopping him from vaulting over his desk, fisting his hand in Lucy’s hair, and shoving his tongue down her throat.
To distract them both, he’d said, “So tell me about pancake art. What’s that all about?”
For a second her eyes had widened, but then her whole body had relaxed and an almost-smile had danced at the corners of her very kissable mouth, never lifting her lips too far, never giving him what he’d quickly come to believe would be a prize of uncalculatable value. Never giving him a true smile, but definitely showing signs of the woman he’d believed her to be before she’d entered the room.
By the time she’d walked out of his office—giving him a delicious view of the nicely rounded arse she’d generously poured into her pencil skirt—he’d made up his mind to win that smile.
And as much as he’d fantasised about all the wicked ways he’d like to make her smile, in reality he’d envisioned leaving her a surprise welcome gift on her desk on Monday morning—a dwarf cactus in a pretty pot, or a flowering bonsai, perhaps. He hadn’t figured on running into her at the Redland Bay pub on speed dating night less than a week after meeting her. But when he remembered his body’s visceral reaction to her presence—both in the office and the pub—he realised Charlie was right. Besides his very own stick-up-his-arse-edness, there really was no reason why he couldn’t fuck Lucy Barton and give her miniature plants.
Charlie grinned at him. “So much for enduring an evening of torture, eh?” he said, pulling Toby from his wandering thoughts.
“Shut up, Charlie.” He craned his neck, trying to see the woman from a different angle, making sure it was actually Lucy he was perving on, but her hair fell down around her in waves that hid her identity from him. He blew out a frustrated breath.
Please be her.
“And you never answered my question,” his brother whispered as they listened to the woman in charge give another rundown of the rules. “Is she cute?”
Toby sighed, knowing his brother wouldn’t let it go until he got an answer. “Remember what Dad always says about beauty?”
“The most beautiful things in life are often the most useless?”
Toby smacked Charlie up the backside of his head. “No, you twat. A woman’s beauty isn’t seen, it’s discovered.”
“So that’s a no on the cute. Got it.”
Glancing sideways, he caught sight of his brother’s broad grin. Charlie never could resist teasing him, and Toby took the bait every time.
“You’re an arse,” he said, chuckling quietly.
“You love it,” Charlie replied, then leaned closer and whispered, “I guess this means sharing is off the table.”
Lips twitching into a lazy smile, Toby said, “We’ll see.”
Don’t freak out.
Don’t freak out.
Do not. Freak. Out.
Lucy repeated the words over and over in her head as she tried—and failed—to ignore the enormous man standing at the rear of the local Friday night meat market.
Her new boss.
Her new so-fucking-fuckable-it-should-be-illegal boss.
Oh how she wished the floor would open up and swallow her whole, because mortified didn’t even being to describe how she was feeling at that particular moment in time.
Dressed in her tightest jeans, her favourite blouse, and the sluttiest shoes she owned, she’d gone out with only one purpose in mind.
It’d been months since she’d been to a speed dating night, and the only reason she was even there was because of him. He of the ridiculously tall and insanely hot.
She hadn’t stopped fantasising about the man since she’d walked out of his office Monday afternoon, and masturbating just wasn’t getting the job done.
She needed dick.
Preferably one attached to a man who knew how to use it, was willing to overlook her own physical shortcomings, and whom she’d never have to see again after a night of wham, bam, thank you, ma’am.
That had been the goal.
And that goal was quickly circling the drain.
She couldn’t possibly go ahead with it now Tobias had seen her. What would happen if they ended up at the same table together? On a “date”. Hell, it would be just her luck he’d turn out to be some kind of antiquated prude who thought only “loose women” turned up at these events, and while it was perfectly fine for him, a man, to be there, good little girls like her should be at home, tucked up in bed with a book or knitting or something.
She almost laughed out loud. A good little girl. Firstly, she was forty years old, so hardly a girl. And secondly, no one had ever accused her of being either good or little. Nope. When it came to describing Lucy Barton, those terms were right up there with subtle, meek and whatever the fuck the opposite of sarcastic was.
She’d been told more than once her mouth would get her in trouble one day. And when one day had come, it had seen her out of a job. Okay, so it wasn’t the only thing that had gotten her fired, but it hadn’t helped. Then again, you’d think a decade spent working for the one company, weathering all sorts of changes in that time from operating systems to managing directors, would earn her a modicum of loyalty. But no. Because when it came down to gaining a new client worth a squillion dollars or retaining an employee worth considerably less than that, her mouth had tipped the scales in the client’s favour. Even if he’d been the one in the wrong.
She clenched her jaw and shoved the thoughts away. Now was not the time to dwell on the past.
Pretending to casually glance around the pub, Lucy tried simultaneously judging the distance to the nearest exit, calculating the fastest escape route to said exit, and getting in one more peek at the deliciousness that was Tobias Bennett. If she timed it right, she could slip out through the crowd before the speed dating actually began and avoid any further embarrassment in front of her new boss.
“Should have worn my cherry Docs,” she muttered, staring down at her hot rod–red patent leather stilettos. Ironically, the most impractical of all her shoes for making a fast getaway.
“All right, gentlemen,” the lady running the speed dating said. “If you could move to a table and take a seat. And ladies, good luck!”
Everyone moved at once, and instead of sneaking out as intended, Lucy somehow got dragged farther in, carried away on the sea of hormonally driven singles as they sought their next conquest.
And that’s when it happened.
As Lucy attempted to escape her fate, she was shoved from behind and stumbled into a kid in his twenties, who instantly recoiled from her. “Whoa there, ugly,” he said, exaggerating his show of horror. “A little early for Halloween, isn’t it? What are you supposed to be anyway? A zombie hooker?”
The guy standing next to him pretended to cough to hide his laughter. He wore a T-shirt that read “bearded for her pleasure”, the words fashioned in the shape of a thick mountain-man style beard. She assumed he wore it as a joke, as he had no beard to speak of. Two girls who looked barely old enough to drink stood behind them, giggling into their vodka cruisers.
Instead of telling them off, Lucy bit her tongue and offered the little shits her very best resting bitch face, because the last thing she wanted when she was trying to make a run for it was to draw even more attention to her situation by causing a scene. But before she could turn and walk away, a large hand rested on her shoulder.
“Apologise to the lady.” Tobias Bennett’s deep voice vibrated through her, setting every one of her nerve endings on fire and making her body tingle with awareness in all the best places. Oh holy crap.
So much for the quick getaway.
“Now.” Another hand, accompanied by an equally deep voice, landed on her other shoulder.
Glancing up at her boss, she watched the muscles tick in his jaw as he glared at the arsehole who’d made fun of her. A quick look at his friend and she came face-to-face with a pair of crystalline blue eyes almost identical to Tobias’s and an easy smile stretched across his impossibly handsome face.
“Evening, beautiful,” he said with a wink.
Beautiful? Lucy did a double take, and the jerk-off twenty-something snorted. She bristled at the dismissive sound and gritted her teeth, tamping down the urge to say something and make the situation worse. But it seemed Tobias had no such reluctance. He stepped forwards and folded his thick arms across his impressive chest, causing the dark blue cotton of his button-up shirt to pull tight around his biceps.
The big man’s less-than-subtle power move made her insides clench with need, and Lucy suppressed a whimper as she wondered what it would feel like to be held in those strong arms.
“I said apologise to the lady,” Tobias growled again, glaring down at them like they were shit on the sole of his shoe. “Now.”
The jerk’s friend paled, as if he’d only just realised exactly how huge her rescuer was. To be fair, the man made Lucy feel small, and she stood at just a smidge under six feet tall, even when she wasn’t wearing five-inch-high follow-me-home-and-fuck-me shoes.
The jerk scoffed again, as if the whole situation was so beneath him, then rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry, okay? It was a joke. Jesus.” Then he shook his head and muttered under his breath, “Bitch.”
Lucy sighed. “Wow, okay. You know what, I was prepared to let it slide, but you just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” She leaned closer, invaded the ignorant little twat’s personal space and turned her scars towards him. “Take a good look, junior,” she said quietly, smiling grimly as the jerk visibly stiffened. “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a firefighter. I’m ugly, as you put it, because I put my life on the line to save a four-year-old kid from a burning house. But I’m guessing from your expensive-looking haircut and clothes and, what, the Mercedes in the car park”—the jerk nodded and swallowed hard—“that you’ve never sacrificed anything for anyone in your life. But sure, you go ahead and call me names if it makes you feel like a big man.” She let her gaze travel deliberately, disdainfully up and down the arrogant brat. “You in your skinny jeans and ironic T-shirts, playing at grown-ups in Daddy’s car as you bang impressionable schoolgirls you have zero intention of calling after you shove them in the back of the taxi you so very predictably have on speed dial, you sad little boy. So yeah, I just may be the ugliest bitch you’ll ever meet, but at least I’m only ugly on the outside.”
Face flushed with what she hoped was embarrassment—and maybe a little fear—and eyes darting to the side, the jerk stammered, “I’m… I’m sorry.” Only this time it was said with a modicum of contrition.
“Get out of my face,” Lucy growled, then sighed softly as the jerk and his friends scurried away to join the dating pool. The lady in charge caught her eye, pressed her lips into a thin line, and shook her head. Lucy had been there often enough to know what that meant. Good ol’ rule number three: “harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.” Except what they really meant was “harassment of any kind towards people we deem socially acceptable will not be tolerated. Freak show rejects need not apply.” Which explained why Skinny Jeans McGee wasn’t receiving the same glare of disapproval currently pointed at her. He may have been an arsehole, but at least he was a good-looking arsehole.
Lucy nodded towards the door. “I’ll just go.”
“Do. Please. And take your friends with you.”
Lucy frowned. “Friends?”
Behind her, someone cleared their throat, a hint of amusement enriching the deep timbre.
She stiffened. Somehow, while she was ranting at the jerk, she’d forgotten Tobias and his friend were still standing there like two enormous sentinels, watching over her even as she made a fool of herself in front of her new employer.
Hands clenched into fists to hide her anxiety, she pasted on a smile and slowly turned to face them. “So, am I fired?” she asked, only half joking.
Perfectly carved eyebrows arched over fathomless blue eyes, and the sexiest grin she’d ever seen on a man tugged at the corners of his full lips. “No.” He turned to his friend, and they seemed to talk to each other without actually saying anything at all, just a few raised brows and nods in her direction. Then they bumped their fists together and the whole world turned upside down as Lucy found herself being tossed over Tobias Bennett’s shoulder and carried out of the pub.
“What the hell?”
One strong arm banded around her legs, holding her in place so she couldn’t kick—or perhaps fall from an extreme height—while his other hand landed on her arse. Smack!
Lucy gasped at the sharp sting, then rubbed her thighs together and moaned as a glorious ache began to throb between her legs. Fuck.
She could use some more of that.
A moment later she was standing upright again, Tobias gripping her hips like a vice, preventing her from toppling over when her high heels wobbled on the gravel surface of the car park. She grabbed his arms to steady herself.
His biceps were even thicker than she’d thought. Harder too. She gently squeezed them, but it was like fingering steel.
“Are you all right?” he said, keeping his voice low.
The single lamp in the car park shone with a dull yellow light, illuminating him from behind and casting his face in shadow. It made the already fearsome man look downright terrifying, like a huge spectre looming over her. But Lucy found she wasn’t afraid. She was intrigued.
And more than a little turned on.
She licked her lips and nodded as she got her bearings. “It’s nothing I haven’t heard before,” she said, shrugging. Then, because she’d rather not kill the mood by throwing a pity party for one, she added, “Where’s your friend?”
“Right here, beautiful.” A shuffling of gravel drew her attention to the man rounding the back of the black truck parked beside them. “And may I just say, that was fucking awesome! A true pleasure to watch. Entitled little shit didn’t know what hit him.”
Tobias reached into his pocket, then tossed a set of car keys at his friend. “Lucy Barton, meet my brother, Charlie Bennett.”
Charlie bowed slightly, then looked up at her from under dark lashes as that same grin from earlier played across his face. “His older, wiser, better-looking twin brother,” he said, winking. Taking her hand in his, he pressed his lips to the backs of her fingers, then flicked his tongue out and licked between her index and middle digits. The gesture wasn’t lost on her, and her pussy clenched in response. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lucy Barton.” His voice was a rich purr of masculine confidence.
Wide-eyed but amused by his audacity, Lucy rolled her lips between her teeth as she repressed the laughter clawing its way up her throat. Turning to Tobias, she said, “Is he always like this?”
Casting a long-suffering look at his brother, he sighed. “Sadly, yes.”
When she laughed out loud, he looked down at her, a half smile curving his delectable mouth. He lifted his hand and stroked the blade of one big finger over her scarred cheek. Lucy shivered, and it had nothing to do with the cool sea breeze blowing in from the bay.
He stepped closer and backed her up against the cab of the truck. “I’ve wondered all week what your smile would look like.”
“Have you?” she said, another shiver skittering through her. Lucy couldn’t remember the last time someone said they’d been thinking about her. Most people tried not thinking about her. In fact, she was fairly certain her parents had tried so hard to not think about her, they’d completely forgotten she existed at all. But before she could let that little joy-thief of a memory steal her mojo, she did what she’d dreamed of doing all week long and slid her hands over his chest, felt the ridges of hard muscle under his shirt twitch and flex. Jesus, is he this hard everywhere? Suddenly breathless, she whispered, “Tell me, Tobias, what else have you wondered about?”
“Call me Toby,” he said, the other half of his mouth curling upwards, completing his sensual smile. “And I’d rather show than tell.”
“Show me, then.”
“Come home with us and I will.”
“Us?” Lucy gasped. “Both of you?” Her fingers curled in his shirtfront as her eyes widened to a comical degree.
Toby chuckled. Charlie too. Even in the dim light of the car park, it was easy to see the intensity of her interest—and her uncertainty—in her lovely whisky-coloured eyes. “Yes, both of us. If that’s what you want.”
Her pretty pink tongue darted out to moisten her lips, drawing Toby’s attention to the way her scars pulled slightly at the top right corner of her mouth, giving her a tiny permanent sneer he hadn’t noticed before. He had a sudden and powerful urge to lean down and kiss that little imperfection, to explore and taste and discover if it was as soft and luscious as the rest of her mouth looked.
“And if I don’t want?” she said, interrupting his wayward thoughts. A slight frown pulled at her brow, and she dropped her hands to his forearms and gripped them tightly, as though readying to shove him away and make a break for it should she not like their answer.
“Then you choose one of us,” Charlie said, leaning against the truck. His hungry gaze slid over Lucy’s slender figure in a predatory way, but she either didn’t notice or didn’t mind because her grip relaxed.
“Or neither of us,” Toby added.
Aiming a pointed stare in his brother’s direction, he restrained an urge to block Charlie’s view. Strange. He’d never been jealous of his twin before, but the thought of Lucy choosing to go home with Charlie instead of him made something inside him snap. Unleashed something primal deep within him. He’d felt something like it once before, a long time ago, but never this strongly. Never this completely. It made him want to wrap her up in his arms and not let go. He wanted to protect her. Cherish her. Keep her all to himself.
But another part of him longed to fulfil her desires, to taste her, tease her, pleasure her, even share her if that was what she wanted. He just wasn’t sure he could sit idly by and watch if she chose his brother over him. His jaw clenched and he felt the muscle in his cheek tick. If that happened, it’d be better for everyone if she went home alone. Otherwise, Charlie might end up with a black eye.
And a broken jaw.
The last thing Toby wanted was to frighten Lucy and push her in his brother’s direction, so he took a calming breath and slowly let it out. “We’re happy to drive you home and walk you to your door if that’s what you’d prefer, but whether we give you a ride home—”
“Or give you the ride of your life,” Charlie interrupted, winking at him. Arse.
“It’s your choice.”
Lucy nodded slowly. “So, one of you, neither of you, or the two of you together, huh? You boys are spoiling me for choice.” Her tongue darted out again to wet her lips, and then she sucked her bottom lip between her teeth and slowly released it. Toby tracked the movement like a hawk tracked its prey, watched the plump little pillow darken with blood, and licked his own lips in response. His cock twitched in anticipation.
“I’ve had threesomes before,” Lucy said, “and I freely admit the idea of a threesome with you pair is very attractive, but you’re both so… not the type of guy I usually go home with. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little overwhelmed right now.”
“I’d be worried if you weren’t,” Toby admitted, pleased by her caution in what was a potentially dangerous situation. Not that either he or Charlie would hurt her, but she didn’t know that. Yet.
It also made him wonder what type of men she usually slept with and just how many times she’d put herself in harm’s way in the pursuit of getting laid. She hadn’t seemed like the type of woman to live recklessly, but maybe he’d misjudged her. On the other hand, if she were opposed to taking risks, she wouldn’t be going home with him.
And he really, really wanted her to go home with him.
Slipping one arm free of her grip, he reached out and caught a lock of her long wavy hair. He rubbed the silky strands between his thumb and fingers, then lifted it to his nose and inhaled her scent. Gardenias. Sultry, exotic. He let his gaze travel the length of her lithe body once more. Intoxicating. The fragrance suited her. When she didn’t shy away from the possessive gesture, contentment rumbled through his chest. He didn’t miss the slight parting of her lips either, or how her body swayed closer to his. Hope bloomed inside him and cooled his anxiety. “What can we do to put your mind at ease?”
“Maybe,” she said, her tone breathless as she watched him play with her hair, “if I had more information to go on?”
Toby let the strands of blonde hair sift through his fingers and fall away from him. “And what more information would you be needing, baby?” Lucy’s gaze flicked deliberately to Toby’s crotch, lingered for a moment, then moved back again. “Naughty girl,” he said, grinning. “But you don’t get to see my dick unless you come home with me.”
“Fuck, she can see my dick anytime she wants,” Charlie said, his hands dropping to his belt.
“Stop showing off,” Toby growled. Gripping Lucy’s hips once more, he turned her slightly, angled her body away from his brother.
“Just giving the lady what she wants,” Charlie returned, shrugging. But at Toby’s continuing glare, he resumed his position leaning against the truck and shoved his hands in his pockets.
A wicked grin overtook Lucy’s face. “If Charlie showing me his dick makes him a show-off,” she said, lifting her hands to toy with the buttons of his shirt, “are you a bigger show-off or smaller?”
Now it was Toby’s turn to gawk as his own natural shyness came to the fore. Did she really just ask him if his dick was bigger than Charlie’s?
Thankfully his twin stepped in. “Unfortunately, beautiful, that is one area where my little brother has me beat.”
“Unfortunate for you maybe,” she tossed at Charlie. Then she pressed her palms flat against Toby’s chest again and returned his stare, her uncertainty replaced with humour. “Sounds like a win-win situation over here.”
He liked having her hands on him, even if it was through the cotton of his shirt. But with any luck, that would soon be remedied. With any luck, he’d soon have her stripped bare and riding his cock for the rest of the night. “Have you made your decision, then?”
She bit her lip again. “Not quite.”
Fingers flexing against her rounded hips, Toby said quietly, “What else do you need from us?” He wanted her to be as sure about this as he was and was willing to do just about anything to put her concerns to rest.
“Well, it occurs to me that many men talk a good game, but when it really comes down to it, talk is the only thing they’re good at.”
“What’s wrong, Lucy?” Charlie said, folding his arms over his chest as his impatience reared its head. He cocked a brow. “Don’t believe me when I say I have a big dick?”
Lucy smiled sweetly and held her hands up defensively. “No, no. That I believe. It takes a big man to admit his dick is smaller than his brother’s.” Toby snorted. Charlie flipped him off. Lucy continued, “I was thinking more along the lines of… kissing.”
Toby smiled down at her. “Kissing?”
“Kissing,” Lucy repeated, her smile playful yet tentative. “You can tell a lot about a man by the way he kisses.”
“Me first,” Charlie said, moving closer.
But Lucy’s gaze didn’t shift from Toby’s, and his breath caught in his lungs. Did she want him to go first? Or was she waiting for his permission? His cock swelled against his leg at the thought, at that small hint of submission. It was all he needed for any lingering tension, any residual jealousy to ease out of him.
Gently, Toby stroked his fingertips over her scarred cheek and nodded. “Him first.”
“Yes, Sir,” she whispered, then turned to face his brother.
Charlie was an expert at seduction, at deducing a woman’s secret desires and making them a reality, but if Toby was right and Lucy was submissive, his charms wouldn’t go far. She’d no doubt find his kiss pleasurable, but he doubted she’d wilt in his arms as so many women had before. Charlie adored women, worshipped them, and he went to great pains to ensure he never hurt them, only ever leaving them in a puddle of pleasure. But if Toby’s hunch was correct, leaving Lucy in a puddle of pleasure would require at least a little hurt. Possibly more than a little.
He watched, openly and unashamed, as his brother slid his hands into Lucy’s hair and held her steady, as his mouth descended on hers.
The usual sounds followed—moaning, heavy breathing—but their body language told Toby more. While Charlie’s hands had travelled down Lucy’s back, one resting at her waist while the other cupped the softness of her arse and pulled her closer, her hands had barely moved, going only from his chest to his shoulders and not in any way that would indicate any urgency or sense of possession. She didn’t cling to him like a drowning man would a life raft, or as though she needed him to carry her out of the darkness and into the light. No, her hold on Charlie looked almost… polite in nature.
The kissing equivalent of a handshake.
Toby wanted to punch the air in victory but restrained himself. Barely. He reminded himself that her lack of reaction towards his brother was no guarantee he’d fare any better. Hell, for all he knew, that was how she showed passion, in which case his first impression of the woman was the right one, and the sooner she went over his knee and got a damn good spanking, the better.
His cock hardened further at the thought of laying her over his lap, one hand in the small of her back, holding her in place, the other delivering a series of stinging slaps designed to make her quiver and squeal, to make her bones melt, her mind relax, to let go. Let her know he would take all her worries away and look after her. That he would carry the weight of her world on his shoulders. That he would free her from whatever it was that held her back and show her the true meaning of passion.
Without warning, Charlie lifted the hand cupping Lucy’s arse and spanked her. It was nothing more than one firm whack on one half of her backside, but a muffled whimper escaped her and her fingers curled into his shoulders, pulled him closer. Toby’s gut tightened, the action confirming his hunch, and he shot a glance at Charlie’s face. His brother was staring at him as he continued playing tonsil hockey with the luscious woman in his arms—bastard—and Toby’s jealousy reared its ugly head once more.
“My turn,” he growled.
Immediately, Lucy disentangled herself from Charlie. “Wow,” she said, her voice little more than a throaty exhalation of breath. “You are really good at that.”
Charlie smiled down at her, his expression warm, his gaze sensual. “Thanks. You’re pretty great yourself.”
Toby noticed her hand lingering on his brother’s chest and his emotions swelled again. “My turn,” he repeated, snatching Lucy’s hand in his and spinning her towards the truck.
Using his big body, he caged her against the passenger door, pressed his chest to her back, and nestled the thick evidence of his arousal against her arse. With slow and deliberate purpose, he gathered her hair together near her scalp and held it tight in his fist. Then he wrapped his other hand around her throat and gently squeezed. Not to harm her but to let her know what she was getting herself into. To let her see him for what he was.
A sick, twisted bastard who would control her body, her mind, her spirit.
If she let him.
Lucy leaned into the security of the palm around her neck, let its warmth, its strength permeate her flesh and fill her with a sense of calm she hadn’t known in far too long. Combined with the sharp sting of her hair pulled taut in his other hand, Toby had her wriggling with desire in less time than it took for his brother to wink.
The man hadn’t even kissed her yet and Lucy wanted to climb him like a freaking tree.
This was what she needed. What she wanted. Not that Charlie’s attention had been unwanted, but he’d failed to excite any real hunger for him. His kisses had been enjoyable, certainly, and she hadn’t lied when she’d said he was very good at it—the man’s technique was flawless—but it wasn’t until he’d added that little bite of pain at the end that she’d seen a faint glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be just like every other man she went home with after one of her speed dating sprees.
Nice enough—if somewhat desperate—but ultimately disappointing.
Charlie was handsome—gorgeous, really—with his neatly trimmed brown hair, pale blue eyes, strong jawline, and lean, muscled physique. Not to mention her own personal kryptonite—dude was tall. So very tall. And Lucy really did love nothing half as much as a man who made her feel short, but all the good looks and aerial postcodes in the world couldn’t make up for his lack of dominance.
Toby’s brother was without a doubt a strong and disciplined man—a body like his didn’t happen by chance—but it was the wrong sort of strong for her liking. The wrong sort of discipline. Annnd she was pretty sure he’d only slapped her arse because he had also noticed a lack of any real interest on her part, and he’d thought to change things up a bit.
It had worked too.
The instant his hand had landed on her arse, her pussy grew wet and throbbed with wanting. But before she could press him for more, Toby had demanded his turn, and that rich baritone had pulled her away from Charlie as easily as if he’d reached out and grabbed her with both hands.
There’d been no way in hell she could have resisted his command.
Immediately, she’d complied with his wishes, but she’d also left one hand on Charlie’s chest, letting him know he wasn’t totally forgotten, just not her main point of focus in that moment. Then Toby had snatched her hand away from his brother like a child who was tired of sharing his toys.
Lucy had half a mind to be mad at him—so rude—but the instant his hand had wrapped around her throat and she’d felt his impressive erection pressed against her arse, her brain had tapped out and let her sadly neglected nether regions take the win.
He gave her hair a tug, and her mouth fell open to expel a harsh breath. Then she felt his lips, soft and hot, where they brushed against the shell of her ear. His heated breath tickled, and her whole body shivered at the ethereal caress. “Mine,” he growled, and then his mouth fell upon her skin.
Breath after breath shuddered in and out of her lungs as he kissed and licked her scars. Up the side of her throat and across to her earlobe, along the edge of her jaw and then back down to nuzzle in the crook of her neck. The damaged flesh was so sensitive to touch it felt as though every erogenous zone in her body had relocated to wherever Toby’s mouth was, pushing the line between pleasure and pain.
The sensation was exquisite.
And she wanted more.
Curling one hand around his thick wrist, she gripped him tightly in a silent plea. Toby didn’t disappoint, his fingers tightening around her throat until the only breath she drew was the one he allowed her.
Lucy was usually pretty good at keeping her needs in check. Adult toys and internet porn did most of the heavy lifting, with the occasional one-night stand thrown in for good measure when she needed a little something extra. Like a nice pair of callused hands or a talented tongue or the weight of a warm body—or sometimes two—pressing down on top of her. Sometimes it just came down to wanting someone she could hold a conversation with. Conversation consisting of more than talking to herself as she put fresh batteries in her vibrator.
But as good as she was at sexual self-reliance, she couldn’t deny the adrenaline rush coursing through her at the feel of the dominant man behind her. The way his fingers pressed against her skin, controlling her breathing, her life, made her mind slip sideways. Such a rush.
Her eyelids fluttered, and her knees grew weak. She trembled in his hold.
Toby chuckled quietly by her ear. “Oh, Lucy. You’re submissive as fuck, aren’t you, baby? But don’t you float away on me. Not yet. I intend to play with you a lot more than this before I let you fly.”
Eyes springing open, she caught his piercing gaze in the reflection of the driver-side window and swallowed hard against the hand still locked around her throat. She sank her teeth into her bottom lip, but nothing could stop her whimpering moan. Just as squeezing her thighs together was useless against the pulsing sensation Toby’s words had caused between her thighs.
“We should get out of here,” Charlie said, moving closer, and Lucy heard the jingle of car keys. “Maybe take this somewhere more private than a car park?”
Lucy held Toby’s reflected gaze and lifted her chin slightly, challenging the big man at her back. “But Toby hasn’t kissed me yet,” she said, hoping her tone sounded more confident out loud than it did in her head. She licked her suddenly dry lips. “How do I know I even want to go home with you? How do I know you’re not wasting my time? That you’re not just all talk?”
Toby chuckled again, an ominous rumble of sound that vibrated through her body and lit up her lady parts like a Christmas tree. “Oh, you’re coming home with us. I have no doubts about that.”
“Why?” she said, brow furrowed. She was genuinely curious to know how he saw their encounter unfolding.
His grin was feral, his eyes narrowed. “Because I only talk when I have something worth saying,” he growled, tightening his fist in her hair. “I can give you what you want. I can give you what you need. And you need it, don’t you, baby? You need to be dominated, held down. Fucked. Used. You want to be my little fuck toy, don’t you, Lucy?”
Her whole body quivered as her pussy clenched around nothing, aching to be filled by the hard cock still pressed against her arse. “Yes,” she hissed. The sting in her scalp had her tilting her head back, hoping to rest it on his broad shoulder, but he shoved her forwards against the cold metal of the truck door. Away from him and the warmth of his big body.
“Yes what?” he snarled.
Lucy swallowed down an excited moan. “Yes, Sir.” Her pussy flooded with warmth.
Then Charlie spoke up, his deep voice thick with concern. “Tobes, ease up. You’re hurting her.”
“Am I hurting you, Lucy?” he asked, his tone amused. She shook her head. “Say the words. Put Charlie’s mind at ease.”
She slid her gaze towards his brother and barely held back an excited shiver at seeing him watch her, seeing that concern mingled with lust. “He’s not hurting me.”
And he wasn’t. He was, however, driving her wild. She pushed her arse out and thrilled at the contact as she brushed against his thick erection.
Toby chuckled again and thrust forwards, pinned her between the bulk of the truck and his own solid mass. “And are you wet for me, baby?”
“Yes, Sir.” Her voice trembled with desire. She dared to lift her gaze and meet his in the reflective surface. “So wet.”
When he growled in response, Lucy instinctively went to drop her chin and lower her gaze, to submit, but he wouldn’t let her. His grip shifted from her throat to her chin, and he held her head high. Testing his grip, Lucy tried to wrench free, but she wasn’t going anywhere. It was an amazing sensation, hot, dirty, exciting… and dangerous. She couldn’t afford to forget herself. Or him. Tobias Bennett wasn’t just some random bloke, and this wasn’t just some no-strings hook-up. This night, these actions—her actions—had real-life consequences. And the weight of those consequences began pushing down on her, choking her more efficiently than Toby ever could.
But it seemed the man was as perceptive as he was dominant, discerning her anxiety with ease. He held her reflected gaze, his eyes narrowed but curious. “What’s wrong, Lucy? What aren’t you telling me?”
“I want this,” she whispered, unable to conceal the desperate edge in her voice. “I really do want this.”
The constant pull on her scalp ceased, replaced by the gentle throb of release before he let go of her chin and turned her to face him. Gentle fingers stroked her cheek and brushed her hair from her face, and his deep voice was soft when he spoke. “But?”
Lucy bit her lip to hold back her cry of utter frustration. There she stood, on the brink of experiencing the absolute best sexual fantasy she could’ve ever imagined, knowing she’d probably never get this opportunity again, and she was stalling. She’d been stalling from the beginning. Because as sexy as Toby was, and as hot as she knew the sex would be….
“You’re my boss,” she said quietly, hoping he was intelligent enough to read between the lines.
She’d already had to leave one job and wasn’t looking to go through that again. She needed to work—not for the money, although that was nice. She needed the comfort and the reassurance that came with the routine of an office. She needed that little bit of control in her life to stop her mind from spinning out of bounds and taking her to the dark places, to the recesses of her psyche she’d rather forget.
Toby slid his hands through her hair and gripped the back of her skull, then tilted her head and lowered his lips to hers. It wasn’t as aggressive a kiss as she’d expected from him but rather a gentle exploration, soft but sure, and by no means less erotic. And when he forced her lips apart and flicked his tongue between them, he groaned, the sensual sound urging her to fist her hands in his shirt and haul herself closer. To feel the warmth emanating from his rock-hard body as she rubbed herself against him like a bitch in heat.
But then it was over. He pulled back and ended it, and Lucy mewled at the all too brief, blink-and-you-miss-it move. It hadn’t been a kiss so much as a tease, a temptation, and she wanted more.
He gave her more. But not in the way she’d expected.
“I’m not your boss, Lucy,” he said, smiling down at her. “And you’re not my employee. Not tonight.”
“Not tonight,” she echoed, letting the underlying meaning in his words filter through her brain. But she’d been burned before. Needing clarification, she added, “Then what are we?”
“We’re just two people—”
“Three people,” Charlie interjected.
Lucy shook with supressed laughter, the sudden burst of emotion easing her tension.
Toby glared at his brother. “Three people,” he continued, “looking for a little fun and maybe a little comfort in the arms of another.”
She stroked her hands over his shoulders and down to his thick biceps. “I admit I do like your arms.”
Toby grinned, and her knees threatened to buckle again. So damn sexy. “So, what do you say, Lucy? Am I taking you to bed, or am I taking you home?”
Staring up at him as her brain chased itself in circles trying to second-guess the decision she’d already made, she said, “What happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom?”
He nodded slowly. “Of course.”
Lucy swallowed hard, then said what she’d been wanting to say from the moment Toby had tossed her over his shoulder and smacked her arse. Her mind was more than made up, and she was done stalling. “Then I guess you’re taking me to bed.”
“I’ll drive,” Charlie said, nudging them out of the way of the driver door and climbing into the truck.
Toby took her hand and led her around to the passenger door, but before he opened it, he pinned her against it and slashed his mouth over hers. The kiss was hard and fast and over all too quickly. “Are you sure about this, baby?” he said, his face suddenly serious, his eyes searching hers. If he was looking for doubt, he wouldn’t find any. Not now. “I won’t be offended if you change your mind. I don’t want you to feel like you have to do this.”
Lucy smiled at his concern. He didn’t want her to feel coerced or obligated. Used. Not in some sleazy way, at least. She let her gaze drift over his broad shoulders and chest, traced small circles around his nipple and sucked down an excited breath when he groaned. “I want this. I want to be your fuck toy. One night only, no strings, no repercussions.”
His gaze darkened and he pressed himself closer, ground his hard cock against the junction of her thighs and hissed out a breath. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but the window rolled down and his brother spoke before he could.
“Are we gunna have some fun or what?”
Toby’s gaze never left hers, but his face softened slightly. “Lucy?”
Lucy grinned. “Let’s fuck.”
His Own Heaven will be available in early 2020.