Third Time Lucky:
The Bennett's Bastards Series, Book One
Crooking her finger at handsome strangers was not something Abigail Bennett did on a regular basis. Or ever, really. Skinny-dipping in the local creek, on the other hand, was a semi-regular activity so it was only a matter of time before someone caught her in the act. She'd considered sinking under the water and waiting until the motorcycle had ridden past, then she figured the chances of anyone seeing her with their helmet on were pretty slim and thought, bugger it.
The bike only made it two metres past the clearing before the rider slowly rolled it backwards and kicked the stand into place, cut the engine and removed his helmet. Abby's first thought upon seeing the man underneath was a stream of unintelligible noise akin to that of a drooling dog chewing on a bone.
A big, sexy, leather-clad bone.
And before she knew what she was doing, she was crooking his finger at him in wanton invitation.
An invitation he eagerly accepted, the impropriety of skinny-dipping within full view of a dusty country road apparently as meaningless to him as it was to her.
With a devilish grin, he stripped his clothes, discarded his motorcycle jacket on the grass by his feet and yanked his T-shirt over his head. Even before he started slowly unzipping his leather pants, Abby could tell Handsome was an exceptional specimen of man.
The guy was quintessentially male.
He looked to be a good half foot taller than her—and she stood at six feet tall. Maybe a few years older than her too, his short mop of brown hair peppered with the beginnings of grey. His stubbled face was punctuated by intelligent hazel eyes and his big, broad body was chiselled to athletic precision, his strength undeniable. A collection of intricate tattoos wrapped around his thick biceps, stretched across the solid expanse of his chest, and as he shoved his pants down, he revealed more ink trailing down one tightly muscled thigh.
Abby bit her lip and whimpered, her body flooded with heat.
Handsome wasn't wearing any underwear.
He held her gaze as he toed off his boots and stripped off his pants. Well, he tried to, but Abby's gaze was constantly drawn down his body to the impressive cock standing proud between his thighs. The one he'd wrapped his fist around as he walked to the edge of the creek and stared down at her.
"What's your name," he asked. Dark and smooth like velvet, his voice slipped over her sex-starved body and she shivered.
When she answered, she barely recognised the sultry timbre. "Let's not ruin this with names, okay, Handsome?"
His grin broadened. "Whatever you want, little nymph." And then he lowered himself into the water. "Fuck that's cold."
Abby laughed and swiped her hand through the water, splashing his chest and face. He dove for her, caught her and they both fell under the surface. Both came up laughing. But their laughter quickly died, and the frigid temperature of the water was forgotten as Handsome slid his hands around her waist and bent his head to kiss her.
He held his mouth above hers, his fresh breath brushing over her lips. "I want you, but I don't have any protection."
Abby smoothed a droplet of water off his cheek. "I want you, too. And I don't care."
Handsome licked his lips. "Are you sure?"
As soon as she said the word, Handsome's mouth was on hers, hot, soft and fierce. And as they explored each other's bodies, tasted and tested and pushed and pulled, as they licked and fucked and cried out in pleasure, Abby forgot that her world was cold and lonely.
Because for a few blissful moments, her world ceased to exist.
As her body jolted from sleep, it took Abby a moment to remember where she was—the creek. And another moment to remember why she was still there—sex.
But why the hell had she let herself fall asleep?
Slowly lifting her head from the pillow of an outstretched arm—his outstretched arm—she froze when his bicep twitched. He made a snuffly sound like a contented dog—a really big contented dog—and a lazy smile split her face. He should be content after what they'd done.
Even so, she repressed the urge to snuggle back into the warmth of his embrace. The last thing she needed was for Sleeping Handsome to wake up and foil her escape. Scratch that, the last thing she needed was for him to take her again. Because take her was exactly what he'd done. Handsome's brand of sex was addictive. Powerful. Vital. Yet at the same time he was almost tender, his touch reverent and gentle, igniting in her a passion she'd thought long since dead. It had been exactly what she'd needed, and until today she hadn't realised just how much she'd missed it.
Male human contact.
And the way Handsome had handled her, as though her size meant nothing, as though her body was his to do with as he pleased, and what he'd pleased was to make her mindless with pleasure. She could see herself craving more from this guy—eagerly. Handsome had reawakened her submissive side, and that was not good.
She'd already learned the hard way: good sex did not equal good man.
Lifting her head a little higher, she peered over her shoulder. She couldn't see his face, buried in her hair as it was, but she could feel his breath brush over her neck and shoulders like a gentle caress. The scents of leather and sandalwood radiated off his warm skin to envelop her senses, sending shivers of arousal straight to her core.
She closed her eyes and swallowed a moan. It took all her will not to squirm and wiggle her arse against his cock.
One large, hot hand rested possessively on her side, his strong fingers curled around her fleshy hip, and one long leg sat heavily atop hers, pinning them under his weight, but she didn't feel caged. No, he held her against him in all the right places, and if anything she felt protected, as though his embrace would keep her safe from the world.
It was an odd sensation for someone who'd come to rely on no one but herself.
Abby looked towards her feet, her mouth twisting with a wry grimace. Her belly and breasts sagged towards the ground, completely at the mercy of gravity. She wondered if Handsome would have been so eager to take her had he seen her like this to begin with. Probably not. Not that it mattered. She wouldn't be seeing him again anyway. He'd wake up and be glad she'd done a runner because it would mean no awkward silences as he tried to find just the right words to say, "Thanks for the fuck but I really must be going", and be on his merry way.
She stifled a laugh. The gorgeous wall of muscle behind her had taken what she'd freely offered and probably thought he was doing her a favour to boot. He didn't need to know he'd been used.
Now if only she could get out of here before he woke up.
Gingerly, Abby pried each of his long, lean fingers from her hip, slipped her legs out from under his, and slowly rolled forwards out of his grasp. With a stealth that belied her size, she got to her feet… and then like an idiot she stopped to stare at him and drank in his rough masculine beauty, sighing with both longing and awe.
Until her attention snagged on one distinguishing feature.
Even as it slumbered against his thigh, his cock was a magnificent sight to behold, long and thick and dangerous to her capacity for rational thought. Erect and proud, it had been a thing of beauty, its proportions the stuff of myth and legend, and as she stared at it now, she muffled an amused snort behind her hand.
How the hell does he walk straight with that thing between his legs?
Sudden heat blossomed low in her belly and her skin prickled with a rush of lust, her mind suddenly filled with an erotic montage of everything he'd done to her with that thing. Not only could the man walk straight, but he had a pretty damn good idea what to do with it while standing up, lying down, and kneeling, in water and on land.
Handsome was a big man, and she'd not had sex in a very long time. He'd stretched her wide and filled her completely, and her body had melted with the sensation of total abandon. The way he'd touched her had made her forget herself, forget everything until nothing existed on her horizon but him.
Sex hadn't just been good with this guy, it had been breathtaking.
Just then Handsome shifted and snuffled again. He reached for her. The gesture made her heart flutter. She frowned. Stupid heart. But it also reminded her that it was time to leave. Stubbornly ignoring her body's cry of protest, and leaving Handsome to come to his own conclusions when he found her gone, she quietly turned away and headed home.
Keeping his eyes closed against the dappled autumn sunlight, Wolf breathed deep and sucked in the clean country air. The scents of fresh water, green grass, and hot-blooded woman clung to his nostrils and made him smile. Yawning loudly, he stretched the sleep from his body, his riding leathers creaking under his naked weight. The makeshift bed felt warm against his skin compared with the coolness of the lush grass around him. He barked a laugh as he remembered sharing that warmth with the mischievous beauty he'd found skinny-dipping in the creek, all glistening wet curves and long black hair, crooking her finger at him in silent invitation like some mythical water nymph.
He grinned as his cock stiffened in anticipation of having that soft, feminine body under him again, of hearing her moan as he teased her to the peak of arousal, then whimper with frustration when he stopped. His grin softened to a satisfied smile as he thought of her eyes, deep brown like melted chocolate and glazed with passion as he'd rolled her nipples between his fingers, increasing the pressure until she'd gasped, until her back had arched and her eyes had rolled back, and she'd gifted him with a husky groan of pleasure.
It'd been a long time since he'd enjoyed a woman so much.
The Dominant in him eager to push her limits further, he reached for the warm little bundle he'd fallen asleep with. Maybe he'd bite her some more—she'd responded very nicely to that—or a sound spanking perhaps? Her responsiveness to the few exploratory slaps he'd placed along her thighs and bottom had been encouraging, had indicated she'd be open to something more intense.
His hand alighting on an empty space, Wolf opened his eyes—and his gut fell to his feet.
Where is she?
He bolted upright, narrowed his eyes and scanned the clearing but found no sign of her. Nothing. He sprang to his feet and looked back up the gently sloping bank to the road beyond. His motorcycle was still there. He snatched his backpack off the ground and tore it open. His keys, wallet and—most importantly—his laptop were still inside. She hadn't robbed him. That was something, he supposed. But she'd stung his pride, and that he did not appreciate.
Wolf planted his hands on his hips, his brow pulled together in a deep frown as he scoured the clearing and again found no sign she'd ever been there.
Was it possible he'd only dreamt her?
He looked down at himself. The fading bite marks on his lower abdomen were evidence enough of her presence. His lips turned up at the corners. His little nymph liked to bite almost as much as he did. So no, while the fifteen-hour journey north from Sydney to Melville's Cross had certainly made Wolf tired, he wasn't delusional. He hadn't imagined the mischievous beauty.
She was real. Whoever she was.
And now she was really gone.
Wolf dragged a hand down his face and huffed out a sigh. He should have demanded her name instead of indulging her little game of anonymity. After months of nothing but sycophantic subs tripping all over him, he'd been thirsty for a real challenge, and lo and behold if he didn't actually find one in the middle of bloody nowhere and at the most inconvenient time of his life.
He felt like roaring at the sky.
Why here? Why now?
He knew it was time to move on, time to put the past behind him once and for all and get on with his life. Hell, that was one of the reasons he'd agreed to this retreat bullshit. But why couldn't he have found his little nymph after he'd appeased the gods of publishing and finished the manuscript he'd been procrastinating over for months?
The one he had simply lost the will to write.
The one he had a month to finish or forfeit his substantial advance cheque.
Wolf closed his eyes and rubbed away the tension gathering at his temples. His mysterious little nymph was a distraction he could ill afford, but one that was now burned on his brain, a searing reminder of what could have been had their timing been better.
A mixture of disappointment and betrayal churned in his gut as he swiped his clothes from the ground. "Fuck."
A short time later, after one wrong turn, a subsequent backtrack and a lot of swearing, Wolf stopped his motorcycle in front of the only house he'd found along the dirt trail from hell and wiped away the film of dust that blanketed his visor. He pulled a scrap of paper from his pocket and checked it against the faded signage that sat propped against the low stone wall bordering the property.
4 Bennett's Road
This was the place, all right. The Bennett family home and current residence of his agent's spinster aunt. The house he'd be holed up in for the next four weeks of his miserable life.
Wolf growled, his frustration palpable. He didn't need a babysitter. He didn't need someone watching over his shoulder, making sure he put words on the page. He knew he had a deadline, knew he'd made commitments, and knew he was failing to uphold them. He didn't need a walking, talking reminder of that fact.
Talk about pouring salt on a wound.
The whole situation was ludicrous. It wasn't as if he was suffering from writer's block or anything as asinine as that. The entire book was mapped out inside his brain and scribbled down on notes. And he would've gotten around to it. Eventually. Once he'd straightened out his life.
And his head.
Unfortunately, his agent, Sally “my bite is worse than my bark” Bennett, didn't agree with his current timetable of “you'll get it when you get it”, which was why she'd arranged this little sojourn into the wilds of South East Queensland.
To force the city boy out of his comfort zone.
To force him to finish the book.
Cutting the engine, he dismounted the bike, gritting his teeth as he caught sight of a large stone chip in the finish of the fuel tank. Wolf was beginning to think God hated him. Or maybe the atheists were right and He simply didn't exist.
That would certainly explain the last twelve months.
As he approached the house, he removed his helmet and absorbed his surroundings, his sharp eyes roving over the building sprawled before him and the overgrown cottage-style garden that enveloped it. On any other day, he would have considered the house quite charming. Its heritage design and vine-covered walls were an artist's dream, the stuff postcards were made of.
Today, however, the house was anything but a dream. Today it was more like a nightmare, looming before him like a mausoleum just waiting for him to crawl inside and rot.
With a resigned sigh, he knocked on the door and waited.
As the door swung open, Wolf lifted his head, his gaze colliding with the most beautiful pair of chocolate-brown eyes he'd ever seen, eyes that were wide with surprise, and for a moment he didn't dare breathe nor move for fear she would vanish again. But then those eyes narrowed and darkened with anger, and the door began to swing shut.
She wasn't getting away twice.
Adrenaline shot through his limbs and he released the breath he'd been holding. His arm shot out, shoving the door open, breaching the barrier between them. She stepped back as he stepped inside, and she gasped as he slid his hand around her nape, squeezing with just enough force to prevent her retreat.
Wolf grinned as he stared down at her, watching the tip of her pretty pink tongue flick nervously over her full upper lip. "There is a God."