The Outlaws of Baseball series
SNEAK PEEK – This is an unedited scene and may change in the final version– but for now, happy reading!
“Rise and shine.”
Noel heard the voice from her favorite sex dream. It was TS’ voice. A voice, a tone she’d only heard while unconscious but she was pretty sure she was now awake. She tested her theory and opened her eyes and stretched. The bed was soft, and the sheets warm. Her body was sore but satisfied. A soreness one only felt after… whoa.
Images flashed, snippets of conversation, teasing banter and kisses that set her on fire. Kisses everywhere and her body had responded. Was still responding to the memory of it all. Every moment of last night slammed into her.
A loud slap echoed off the suite’s wall. Her flesh stung from the hurt so good sensation. TS had smacked her on her ass. Her bare ass available for all to see. But only one person did. Only one person mattered, TS.
“Noel. Hey, sleeping beauty. We’ve got a list to discuss before we meet the gang for brunch.”
His husky tone floated around in her brain. His words we’re not the naughty whispers and promises made and kept as he fulfilled her deepest desires. They were all business and she’d given in against her vow not to bail his ass out after giving the position she’d wanted to Frenchy.
“What do we need to uh, discuss?” Her mind whirled, her voice broke. How could she get out of this? How could she have been so stupid to agree to work with him especially after all they’d done last night. And how the Hell was she supposed to face him across a board room table and not think about him hard and naked giving her the most amazing orgasms?
“The schedule to start. It’s blown to Hell thanks to Jean-Claude spending it on his version of paradise. And by the look on your face, you’re not happy about something. And I’m not approaching this well.” TS flashed a crooked smile.
Damn that smile. Slightly lopsided and tempting her to explore his full and velvety lips.
“How about I make up for my all-business attitude with a morning kiss?” He leaned in and ran his hand along Noel’s still exposed thigh.
She jumped at the contact and let out a low moan. How’d he do that? How did he switch from CEO to seducer in zero point two seconds and send her body into overdrive with a look and a caress? Because you’re a goner Noel Snow. Face it. If this man asked you to sing the National Anthem naked at the next Outlaws home game you’d do it—without autotune.
Lord, she needed more sleep to handle the new day and the new, dangerous TS.
His hand continued up her thigh and she whimpered. He grinned and she froze. No, this couldn’t happen. It was just supposed to be casual. Causal back and forth at the black jack table, then dinner, then… oh, Hell she was weaker then she thought.
Her need to please had kicked in and she agreed. To everything. Take over for Frenchy, go to TS’ room for a drink to discuss terms, then she eagerly removed her clothes and let the man from her dreams worship her body.
“Noel, we’re getting close to the point of no return here. If you don’t say something, or cover those amazing curves we’re going to be late for brunch.” He touched his fantasy-inducing soft lips to her shoulder and lingered.
She wanted oh, how she wanted. But she got her fill last night, and earlier this morning. She couldn’t allow herself to be greedy. What they’d done couldn’t be repeated. She knew his thoughts on women. Had despaired over them. She knew the score. He loved woman, but never long term. Ever.
And she wasn’t going to allow it or him to persuade her to bail him out. That ship had sailed, no matter what the Noel from last night had promised; she wasn’t going to fall under his spell, to lose herself to the need to please factor yet again.
“I’m, uh, going to use the bathroom, get dressed and go back to my own room.” She pulled away from his warmth and shivered. The comforter was close thank God, and she pulled it around her as she scooted off the bed and away from the best night of her life.
“Is there coffee?” She looked down at the grey carpet and finger combed her hair.
“Coffee? Huh. I didn’t peg you for a runner.” TS held her gaze.
Noel sighed. He wasn’t going to make this easy on her.
“Okay, if this is how you want to play it, but first I’d like a good morning kiss. I mean after all, what’s one little kiss compared to what we did.” He looked over his shoulder and back to her.
His gaze ran up and down her now covered body, daring her to argue.
She took in the face she’d been pretending she didn’t like for almost two years. If she let him kiss her one more time, there’d be no turning back. She felt it to her bones. She blinked the sleep from her eyes and shook her head. No, this isn’t how she wanted to be with him. It was just another night for him. A negotiation to get his way. The terms were too high.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Last night was nice and…”
TS’ brow rose at the words.
“Okay, it was better then nice. But it’s not going to happen again. And as generous as your offer is, I’m going to do something I never do and retract my agreement. I wasn’t my usual self last night and the wine, and well everything, made me say things I don’t, uh—I’m sorry TS but I can’t work for you.”
He laughed. Then went quite. Too quite.
“Regrets already, Noel? What are you running from? And don’t blame being in Vegas, or one fucking glass of wine for what happened last night.”
“It was just sex, TS. And yes, it was one glass. But so what? I’m a lightweight. Ask anyone. Ask Kelsey, or Lara or—“
“Bullshit. It wasn’t just sex.”
“Oh, right I forgot you offered me a job. A job I was well qualified for before you gave it to Frenchy the slime.”
He winced at the her petty name for the highly sought interior designer. The one he gave the multi-million dollar condo project to who had been living a double life.
“If you think what happened between us last night, Hell an hour ago, in that bed was ‘just sex’ then I must have been out of it. Because what we did, what I felt wasn’t typical for me. And if you were honest, it wasn’t for you either.”
Dammit. He was right. It was beyond just nice or good or anything she’d ever experienced. But it wasn’t enough. It was tied to something else and she couldn’t get past the real reason he slept with her. She tightened her hold on the comforter and took a step towards the doorway. To hide from the man she wanted so badly to say yes to, but pride held her tongue.
“What’s got you tied up in regret Noel?”
She opened her mouth but couldn’t think of anything to say because even to her own mind her excuses were lame.
“No, scratch that. Damn, now I’m thinking of you tied up, back in that bed. Silk scarves—“
“What? We just spent hours devouring each other. Don’t turn puritan on my now.”
“Puritan? Come on… okay, poor choice of words. I’m fully aware of what occurred between us and yes it was the best sex I’ve ever had. Is that what you want to hear? Fine. It was. But that doesn’t change my mind. It was one night. A moment of weakness. And dammit I am, was, tied up in knots. But I’m over that. I’m sorry that Jean-Claude—the slime, the golden boy of interior-effing-design failed you.”
Heart racing, Noel thought she’d gone too far. Admitted too much. TS looked like he wanted to yell at her instead of tying her to the bedposts.
“He didn’t just fail me. He embezzled from me. He took the money designated for the project, placed fake orders for fixtures, furnishings, artwork and used it to supplement his lifestyle. When I found out, you were the first person I thought to ask. You were, are every bit as talented, plus you’re conven—“ TS rubbed his neck and gritted his teeth.
“Convenient! Is that what you think of me? Hell of way to sell me the job. No, I won’t replace him. I can’t. And just because I’m convenient doesn’t mean I should take your oh, so generous job offer. Contrary to the impression I must have given last night, I’m not desperate for this job or any job. I’m leaving.”
“Dammit, Noel. That was a poor choice of words, I’m sorry. But if you think I offered it to you because you were convenient then you should leave. Do you know how many other designers wanted, Hell would give their right arm for this job?”
“I’m not stupid, TS. I bid on the job, I knew who my competition was. But I’m the only one you asked, right? When did you find out about the embezzlement?”
She waited for a response. Instead he said nothing. His expression unreadable as he stared at her.
Screw the shower. She scooped up her clothes, what she could find of them, located her purse behind the love seat in the main room and with as much dignity as she could muster in a hotel comforter turned towards the door.
He followed her as she gathered her things. Still silent. A small part of her withered as the chance to make what happened between them last just a bit longer, faded.
She pulled her room key out the purse and fumbled the door knob. He reached from behind her, gently removed her hand and opened the door for her. Sparks erupted everywhere he touched.
“There is nothing convenient about you, Noel. The job is yours if you want it. And for what it’s worth I didn’t sleep with you so you’d say yes.”
He was too close. She felt his breath as he spoke against her hair. So close if she took in a breath they’d be touching. She wanted to believe him.
She gulped in air and nodded her head. Her throat tight, speech impossible. To walk out the door she’d need to touch him; brush her body against his to leave with any ounce of dignity. But if she looked at him, she’d do what she often did. What she’d always done in the past—she’d stay, say yes and clean up someone else’ mess.
She wasn’t in any shape to make a sound decision, so she did what he’d accused her of moments ago.