Make me take me, p.1

Make Me, Take Me, page 1

 

Make Me, Take Me
 


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Make Me, Take Me


  He’s every fantasy she’s ever had...

  Betsy Mouton knows that easy doesn’t last forever. She’s working her butt off to launch the Last Call Café so her family can leave the New Orleans bar business—and its heartaches—behind forever. That is, until the hottest one-night-stand of her life shows up next door, twice as uncompromising and two million times hotter, offering to buy the bar and send the Moutons to Easy Street.

  Hotelier Quinton James has never forgotten the unbelievably hot night he and Betsy shared. Never forgotten how beautifully she submitted to him, or how he found the only peace he’s ever known in her arms. Now that Betsy is the only thing standing in the way of his new hotel, she’s the one in control. But there’s more at stake than her cafe or laying their past to rest—Quin wants a future. With her. All he has to do is convince her...one sensual command at a time.

  Table of Contents

  Dedication

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Discover the Into the Fire series… Into the Fire

  Seducing the Playboy

  If you love sexy romance, one-click these steamy Brazen releases… Light Her Fire

  Her Forbidden Risk

  Mistaken by Fate

  Dare to Resist

  Melt for Him

  Down on Her Knees

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

  Copyright © 2014 by Amanda Usen. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

  Entangled Publishing, LLC

  2614 South Timberline Road

  Suite 109

  Fort Collins, CO 80525

  Visit our website at www.entangledpublishing.com.

  Brazen is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC. For more information on our titles, visit www.brazenbooks.com.

  Edited by Liz Pelletier

  Cover design by Heather Howland

  Photography by iStock

  ISBN 978-1-63375-156-9

  Manufactured in the United States of America

  First Edition December 2014

  For my big sister, Mindy Shryock, who took a second chance at love and made pure magic. Sis, you inspire me—more with every year that passes. Our shared history is precious. It’s true—nobody knows you like a sister, and I’m so lucky to be riding shotgun with my…buckeroo!

  Chapter One

  Quinton James stepped out of the doorway of his New Orleans hotel and glanced left and right for the nearest bar. He paused, making way for a woman leading a boy down the busy sidewalk. The boy was young, probably just old enough to keep up with her, and he dragged his feet, looking in the hotel window. The woman laughed, pulling on his hand like they were playing tug-of-war, and Quin chuckled. Her gaze darted to him. As their gazes met, shock froze him in place. Red hair, dark eyes, freckles.

  The woman scooped up the boy in her arms, struggling a bit with his weight, and hurried down the street. He stared after them, perplexed, and glanced at his reflection in the window. He looked a little spooked, but not threatening. Why had she raced away from him? And why did he feel like he’d just seen a ghost?

  Maybe I did. Perhaps that had been the ghost of his mother, shepherding his young self through the French Quarter before she’d overdosed. Not likely. He couldn’t remember anything about her, but he doubted his heroin-addicted mother had been the playful type.

  He took a step forward, and the stench of cigarette smoke, hot garbage, and ketchup smacked him in the face. God, I hate New Orleans. Too many memories. Not that he could actually remember any of them, not his mother dying, even though he’d reportedly found her body, nor his sister running away and leaving him alone. He didn’t recall a damn thing until his seventh birthday, the day Peter and Maeve asked him to be part of their family. He supposed that was for the best, but they were gone now, too, and this damn city was conjuring ghosts.

  He expelled a harsh breath, wishing he hadn’t agreed to keynote the summit, but a shot or six of bourbon would help. Then he could go to sleep, get up, give his speech, board the plane tomorrow, and go back to Chicago. He wasn’t a kid anymore, alone and at the mercy of a capricious system. He was in control of his life, and there was no reason for the panic clawing at his throat. No reason at all—and no goddamn memories.

  He spotted a bar right next to his hotel. The one good thing about New Orleans—it was always happy hour somewhere. He stepped through the door and made a beeline for the whirling rainbow of daiquiri machines, hoping there was straight liquor, too.

  As he slid onto a corner stool, he looked around for the bartender. It didn’t take him long to spot her talking to a customer at the other end of the bar. Her bare shoulders and lean curves were proudly displayed in a low-cut tank, her lean legs showcased in a sexy denim skirt. Anticipation curled through him as he raised his hand and cleared his throat. She acknowledged him with a wave but turned her back, obviously in no hurry to serve him. Irritation brought a prickle of heat to his skin. He was in no mood to wait, no matter how hot the bartender.

  After a minute, she moseyed toward him, but when she finally stopped he’d half decided to leave. There were plenty of other bars in the French Quarter. But then she met his gaze with smoky gray eyes the color of banked coals, and another kind of heat flashed through him. He noted silky blue-black hair, a lush mouth, and prominent cheekbones, but it was her pale gray eyes, bright against her toffee-colored skin, that kept him in his seat.

  Unmistakable interest flared in her eyes, a tight, hot connection. Her pupils widened, nearly eclipsing the gray, and when she licked her lips, he nearly groaned.

  “What can I get you?” Her sweet Southern drawl was a potent accelerant to the heat building between them.

  He sucked in a hard breath and then released it as a laugh. “Ice water, I think.”

  Her gaze became coolly professional. The glass was in front of him, precisely centered on a bar nap, before he could catch another breath.

  And then she was gone.

  He stared after her for a few seconds and then settled into a more comfortable position on his bar stool and took a sip of the water. It didn’t cool him. If anything it made him hotter. He still wanted liquor, but he wasn’t going to pass the evening in a drunken stupor, not if he could score a better offer from the gorgeous bartender. That split second of shimmering attraction was a challenge he couldn’t resist. He drained his water and waited for her to come back. Bourbon was good, but sex was better, and he didn’t need to sleep tonight.

  …

  Betsy ignored the suit’s empty glass as long as she could. The guy was obviously on the make, and she stayed away from the rich ones, the men with enough power and money to have plenty of practice abusing it, leaving that hopeless territory to her ever-optimistic mother. No suits. Her father had been a rich player, and her mother might as well own a T-shirt with a picture of Last Call that said, “I gave him my heart, and all I got was this lousy bar,” a parting gift from a man who could afford it. I don’t need a man to change my fate.
<
br />   A sudden vision of what a man could do for her washed over her, leaving her knees weak, her skin tingling, and a sigh trapped in her throat. How long had it been? She couldn’t remember. Too long. Desire ripped through her, but that suit was trouble—and she was in a dangerous mood tonight. Best to ignore everything but the next order, which she screwed up because she was wondering what he smelled like, kissed like, felt like… What the hell was wrong with her?

  “On the house.” She poured the correct drink and gave the customer a weak smile.

  The suit was still staring at her, blatant lust in his expression, and she couldn’t summon her customary indifference. Her nipples tightened under her tank. Oh, hell no. He held up his glass, and she sighed, slowly moving toward him, feeling a rabbit hole open up under her feet as she returned his steady gaze.

  His eyes were light brown with gold flecks, and his hair was the color of mahogany, rich with reddish highlights. It brushed his shoulders in expensive-looking waves. He wore his Armani as comfortably as an athlete might sport Adidas, like he lived in it. Even sitting at the bar, he looked tall, powerful, exuding a confidence that spoke to her on her deepest level, the one that wanted to lie down and let someone else figure it out, for once. But it was all up to her. It always had been.

  Her mother would be content to sling drinks forever, but Betsy wanted an easier life for all of them. She’d seen the toll the bar life had taken on her mother, and her sister Kate was headed in exactly the same direction. No one could work as hard as they did and not want some comfort at the end of the night—

  He tossed a hundred-dollar bill on the bar. “Bakers, a double, with a little ice. Then water with lime until your shift ends. Unless you can leave now?”

  She tried to roll her eyes, but scorn was hard to pull off when lust exploded inside her like he’d tossed a cherry bomb and hit dead center. “Aren’t you going to wink?” She was proud her voice was steady.

  “What?”

  “If you’re going to say something that cheesy, you have to follow it up with a wink. It’s a rule. C’mon, pretty boy, show me your wink. I know you’ve got one.”

  “If I show you mine…” A slow smile started in his eyes then traveled southward. By the time his lips formed a full curve, she was staring at his mouth. She jerked her gaze up to his eyes just in time to get blindsided by a sexy wink.

  “Not interested,” she said.

  “Me neither. Now that we’ve gotten the lies out of the way, what time do you get off?”

  It was better not to think about how long it had been since she’d gotten off. “Whenever I want, but not with you.”

  “Why not?”

  “Too rich for my blood.” She pumped derision into her tone as she swept her gaze over him. “Nice suit. Bet it cost more than I make in a month.”

  “I’ll go back to my hotel and change if that will give me a shot.”

  “Did you pack anything but suits? I doubt it.”

  He gave her that slow grin again. “Busted. But the offer to take it off still stands. Better yet, you do it.”

  Her entire body clenched with need, and she froze, trying not to betray her response. “Your crappy lines aren’t getting you anywhere.”

  “I’m just being honest.”

  “Honest doesn’t have as much practice picking up women as you clearly do. I’m guessing you’re in town for a convention?” Tourists didn’t wear suits.

  “Hotelier summit.”

  “Since you’re here for something as fancy as a summit, I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume you own more than one hotel.” She waited for his nod. “And given the way you just tried to pick me up as casually as you ordered your drink, I’m also going to assume the technique usually works for you. In fact, I bet you’ve got women waiting for you in hotel bars all over the country.” He held her gaze and said nothing, but she saw the answer in his eyes. She jerked a thumb over her shoulder at the daiquiri machines. “If you want the flavor of the night, order the Banana Rum.”

  “Flavor of the night—I like that. I could make you like it, too. I have all that experience, remember?”

  “We’re not having this conversation.” She set his bourbon in front of him.

  He picked up the bill he’d dropped on the bar and held it out to her. “Women enjoy the things I have to offer.”

  “Let me guess, sex and money?”

  His nod both irritated and aroused her. “I don’t want either. Enjoy your free drink.”

  What an asshole. She walked away, automatically pulling beers and pouring daiquiris for her other customers. But her thoughts stayed focused on the man watching her as if she were a meal he planned to savor. Her rejection seemed to have no impact on him. Of course, if he had as much experience as he claimed, he could probably read her body language. Even as she’d forced her lips to say no, her body had swelled under his taut regard. Goddamn suit.

  Was it her fault the women in her family had a congenital weakness for business attire?

  After watching her mother get her heart broken by rich jerks, never hooking up with random suit-wearing strangers was a point of pride…but her mother had already left for the night, and Betsy was leaving for culinary school tomorrow. She’d be long gone before anyone could tease her about her hook-up. Oh my God, am I actually considering this?

  She worked faster, trying to escape the temptation, but every time he took a sip of his drink, her gaze flashed to his hands and then his mouth, cataloging the sensuality of his movements. She couldn’t help but imagine what kind of a body was under that expensive jacket. Soft from living the good life? Or hard from expending the energy that seemed to swirl around him? She’d guess hard.

  He caught her eyeing him, and he gave her that slow, sexy grin again, the one that said resistance is futile. Every part of her trembled. Her hard nipples brushed against her shirt, and her panties dampened. She marched over and slammed another glass down in front of him, filled it with ice and water, and then squeezed a lime in it like she was squishing a bug. She left his damn money right where it was. “I close the bar at two.”

  “I’ll be waiting.”

  She stalked away.

  Rinse and repeat all night. He got up once to use the restroom. The rest of the time he watched her.

  Well after midnight, Kate nudged her with an elbow. “Lucky bitch.”

  “I don’t know what you are talking about.” Plausible deniability, for the win. Betsy was the closer tonight, and she doubted her little sister would stick around a minute longer than necessary.

  “Oh, please.” Kate’s grin was far worldlier than it should be, considering she had just turned eighteen a few months ago and was barely old enough to work in the bar. “Leaving town with a bang, huh? Good for you.”

  Betsy flushed. “Last call.”

  Kate giggled and hurried toward her big table to take an order for one more round.

  Betsy watched her dodge groping hands and laugh off suggestive comments. I’m so glad I’m not going to have to put up with that kind of bullshit for the next two years. And as soon as Betsy graduated from the Culinary Academy, her sister and mother wouldn’t have to endure it either. They were going to turn this place into a restaurant and get out of the bar life forever. Betsy intended to work her butt off at school to make sure her family would have a better life.

  But tonight, she was going to have a little fun.

  She felt his gaze caress her and couldn’t wait for her last official shift as a bartender to be over. It hadn’t been as bad as usual tonight, not with the suit keeping an eye on her. No one had dared step out of line after he deflected the hand of an overly friendly patron reaching for her ass on one of her trips out from behind the bar. There had been leashed aggression in his voice as he’d issued a low warning, “Control your impulses, buddy.” But the wink he’d aimed at her had been full of humor. Warmth filled her at the memory. If she hadn’t been so anxious for the night to end, it might have been kind of fun to have a protector.
r />   She sucked in a startled breath and focused on pouring drinks. She didn’t need a protector. That was the kind of thinking that led to heartbreak. One night. A good time. That was all she wanted.

  Slowly, the bar emptied.

  Betsy dealt with the money while the cocktail servers set the bar to rights, ignoring their smirks as the man stayed put at the bar. Kate shot her a thumbs-up and blew her a kiss before she slipped out the front door and locked it behind her. Heart pounding, Betsy closed the shutters, and then dimmed the lights.

  He stood when she stopped in front of him. “Quinton James.”

  “Betsy Mouton.”

  When he took her hand, a spark shot between them. Ridiculous. That shit doesn’t happen in real life. He raised her hand to his lips, and goose bumps broke out all over her body. Her eyes dipped shut, and a wave of longing washed over her, so intense she locked her knees to keep them from buckling. “This is nuts. I don’t do this.” The words stuttered from her lips.

  “Neither do I.”

  She frowned at the obvious lie, and he chuckled. “I’ve never sat in a bar for six hours waiting for a woman.”

  “Why did you?”

  “Because every time you walked by I wanted to do this.” He cupped her chin with a sure hand and slowly leaned toward her. The time he took bridging the distance between them underscored her consent.

  He wrapped his other arm around her waist, pulling her tight. They fit, and his low sound of enjoyment echoed the flood of pleasure sweeping through her. There was no reason on earth this should feel right, but it did.

  He took her lips. His mouth was soft, moving with skill, and his breath was scented with lime from his water. His tongue stroked fire through her veins, melting her against him, and she clutched his broad shoulders, feeling dizzy from fighting arousal. A moan rose in her throat, and she tried to swallow it—and failed.

  She wasn’t herself tonight. That was the only explanation. Betsy Mouton would never hook up with a cocky player like him. She didn’t do one-night-stands, casual sex, or irresponsibility in any way, shape, or form. But Quinton James didn’t know that. She could be whoever she wanted to be tonight, do whatever she wanted to do. She’d never see him again, and the freedom was intoxicating. Tomorrow, responsible Betsy would get on the plane to New York and set about changing her family’s destiny, but tonight she was going to embrace the spirit of New Orleans. Let the good times roll.

 
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