A GIRL WITH REGRETS…
Sasha Cherlin died the night she let Nick Tate walk out on her for a life of crime. Her very essence was destroyed when they broke their promise to one another.
A MAN WITH REMORSE...
Nick Tate made his choice with her future in mind. He loved Sasha enough to know that leaving her behind was the only way to keep her safe.
A PATH TO REVENGE…
Special Agent Jax Barlow understands the bond of love and he plans to use it to get justice. Nick and Sasha will do anything to rewrite their past. He’s counting on that to bring them down.
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JA Huss is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty romances. She likes stories about family, loyalty, and extraordinary characters who struggle with basic human emotions while dealing with bigger than life problems. JA loves writing heroes who make you swoon, heroines who makes you jealous, and the perfect Happily Ever After ending.
I’m not a player. I know there are girls out there who do this kind of thing for a living. They scout out prospective husbands. Dress up, put on a show, try to hook one with the bait.
I have no bait. I’m cute—not sophisticated like my mom’s friend Rook, or badass like her friend Veronica, or even smart and sassy like my mom, but cute. A Smurf, they used to call me. And those ladies are the only real role models I ever had growing up. That’s it. The extent of my wily ways with men come from half-ass copy-catting people who have more game in their pinky fingers than I have in my whole body.
So I’m at a complete loss here. Because Jax insists on treating me like a woman. And I’ve spent a good number of years trying to avoid this kind of scenario. The kind that sweeps you off your feet. The kind that jumpstarts your heart and makes it hum in a way you never thought possible. The kind that makes you doubt all those pledges you made to yourself through the years.
I will never love again. I will never give my heart to a man. I will never have to endure the crushing reality that comes after the only person I ever wanted to be with practically begged me to forget about him.
I tried it, it just didn’t work. I can’t just erase my first crush. I can’t just throw away the one thing I held onto after my father died. I kept the boys at bay all during high school. I didn’t even lose my virginity until my first year of college. Ford made sure of that. The memory of his crazy overprotective antics as I grew up make me smile.
So I don’t have much experience.
But Jax is a player, I can see that now. He’s got me wound up tight. My head is pounding with the possibilities he comes with.
Sex being one of them. I have not had sex in over two years. And I’m not one of those girls who go for a toy at the first hint of a dry spell. After two years though, I’m considering that option.
But now Jax is here. Kissing me. Making my whole body tingle. Awakening the desire I’ve pent up for so long.
“Are you afraid of planes, Sasha?”
I look over at Jax. “What?”
“Does landing bother you?”
“No,” I say, confused. “Why?”
“You’re squeezing my hand so hard, you might be cutting off my circulation.”
“I still feel dizzy.”
“Come here,” he says, pulling me into his lap and repositioning me so my head is cradled in the crook of his arm. “Put your feet up on the seat and just rest. It’s a good hour drive to where we’re going.”
I could resist. He’s not entirely trustworthy. And he’s a stalker. That’s pretty creepy. I wonder how deep that obsession goes. I wonder if it’s safe to even be in this car with him.
But his embrace feels too good to make him stop.
My dress was not made for being cradled in a man’s arms. Or maybe it was? Because the slits up each side bare my thighs, and the heat of his hand on my skin stirs up the longing I’ve been pushing away for years, making me shut my eyes.
His fingers stroke me gently, back and forth across the top of my thigh. It feels so damn good, I lose myself in the pleasure. I lean into him and his hand drops down between my thighs, making me gasp.
“Sorry,” he says, removing the offending hand.
I reach out and place his hand back where it was. “Don’t stop touching me. Please. It feels good. I don’t get a lot of intimate interaction anymore.”
My eyes are still closed when I say this to him, but the ensuing silence and the tenseness of his hand on my skin—his hesitant touch—forces me to open them. It forces me to seek him out.
And I guess he wins, doesn’t he? He’s got me right where he needs me. Wanting more as I gaze up into his eyes.
“Pull your dress up, Sasha.”
I wasn’t expecting that command. But it absolutely is a command. He’ll give me what I’m asking for, but he won’t give it away for free.
“Do it,” he says. “You’ve been pushing me away all day. You’ve complained about my kisses and threatened to break my fingers. And now you’re here in my lap. Vulnerable and needy. So if this is what you really want, you need to participate. I won’t force you to succumb. I won’t take advantage of your longing for Nick, or your very bad day, or the panic that seems overwhelming. If you want me, show me.”
So I do. I do it without thinking or rationalizing. I just want it. My hand reaches for the silky fabric of my dress all bunched between my legs, and I pull it up. Inch by inch, until the coolness of the air sweeps across my lace panties.
He licks his lips as he watches.
The heat I feel is immediate.
“What should I do now?” I ask.
His hand slides up my inner thigh and the wetness gathers in a pool between my legs. “Open your legs.”
I swallow hard as the request sinks in. I want to obey. So badly. I want him to fix everything that is wrong with this day, erasing the shame of my failure at school and the haunting regrets I have from the past by fucking me in this car.
Nick is an idiot.
But I can’t fault him for it. If he had realized Sasha’s true worth—aside from killing and secret information—she’d still be his. She’d probably be dead because of it too.
My hatred for him dims a little. I will never like that man. Ever. But he left Sasha for a reason, I think. He left her because she was too good for him. She was pure and he was corrupt. I have a feeling that leaving her behind was as purposeful a move as any of the others he’s made throughout the years.
Does he love her? Is she the missing woman? She can’t be. Sasha freely admits she has not heard from or talked to him in a decade and I believe her.
So who is the woman who lured him back to the States six years ago? Sasha would’ve been just graduating high school. Her passport shows she was in New Zealand with her family that summer after graduation. So if he didn’t come to see her, then who?
This mystery has plagued me for years. Why does one of the FBI’s most wanted criminals leave Central America and come back to the US when he’s got a powerful position in a Honduran gang to protect him at home?
Why risk it?
For the job?
No. It can’t be that simple. Nothing about this guy is simple.
Did he lie to Sasha? Was he really her promise? It’s convenient that her father and his, the only two men who could substantiate the claim he made, are both dead.
I ponder this until we reach the airport. And by that time, Sasha is sleeping so deeply, she doesn’t even wake up when I pick her up in my arms and walk her up the stairs. I take her to the back of the plane and place her on the bed. “Sasha,” I whisper softly in her ear.
“Hmmm?” she moans back.
“Let’s take off your coat.”
“Mmmm.” She moves just enough for me to get her coat off, and then she turns over and falls back asleep with her hands bunching the pillow up to her face.
I stand there and smile down at her. Just smile. She’s so fucking adorable. And I’m starting to regret that rash decision to have sex with her in the car. You only get one first time. This one was pretty good as far as first times go. But still… I should’ve waited. Made it more romantic and less primal.
I lean down and kiss her on the head and then I walk out, leaving the lights off so she can get some rest. I go all the way up front to the business end of the plane and take a seat at the table.
“Drink, sir?” Essie asks.
“Sure. Brandy, if you’ve got it. You the only one on staff tonight?”
“No, the other girls are chatting in the galley. But if you want them, I can get them.”
“No, let them chat. I’ve got everything I need and I can use the quiet time.”
“Very good, sir,” she says, placing a snifter with two fingers of brandy in front of me on the table. “Just call if you need anything.”
I need a lot of things. But nothing Essie can help with. So I won’t be calling for her. I just drink my brandy and think about Sasha. I think about picking her up again and carrying her to the car that will be waiting for us when we land. I hope she doesn’t wake up.
Mostly because I want to carry her again. I loved that feeling. Her soft body against my hard one. But also because I’m not taking her home. And when she figures that out, she’s gonna be pissed.
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