Welcome to TANTALIZING THURSDAYS!!!
During the past few weeks, I've shared snippets from my Carolyn Rosewood books. Now, we're moving on to my books written as Tara Rose for Siren-BookStrand. Today, I give you the beginning of Racy Nights 2 - CLAIMING THEIR RACY SUB.
Alexa Monahan smiled as she finished texting the last of her contacts with the new phone number she’d obtained an hour earlier. “All set?” Luke Rodriguez, the owner of Luke’s Bar and one of the two men Alexa had been casually dating for the past three months, smiled at her from his spot behind the bar. As always, the dimples in his cheeks calmed her nerves and made her grin.
“Yep. It’s official now. I’m a Hoosier. I have the Indiana area code to prove it.”
“You’ve been living here six months. Why did it take you so long to change the number?”
“Oh, you know. It’s not one of those high-priority things.” Alexa hadn’t told anyone except Julie Carruthers, the therapist she’d been seeing for four months, about the recent hang-ups. She hadn’t even told her roommate Kari Tye, even though the hang-ups had started the day after Donnie McCoy, the man Kari had witnessed raping and killing a woman in Manhattan, had shown up in Racy.
What would she do when Kari finally moved into Noah’s condo? Alexa would be alone in that big house. But that wouldn’t happen until Adison sold his condo. Kari’s two Doms, Noah Wells and Adison Kincaid, were at the house Alexa shared with Kari so often that they might as well live there, too, but Alexa didn’t mind. She felt safer with them around.
“You want another glass of juice?” Luke kept fruit juice in cartons behind the bar mainly for her. None of his regulars ordered mixed drinks that called for mango or papaya juice.
“Sure. Why not? I'm not driving.” Alexa glanced at her phone again. She should have tossed this old one as well as changing the number. Just holding it reminded her of Brad.
But Brad wouldn’t be able to call her now. She knew it was him who had been calling then hanging up. Who else would do that? She would have changed the number while still living in New York, but she’d left Brad almost eight months ago and moved to Indiana two months after that. The hang-ups hadn’t started until three weeks ago.
Luke gave her another sexy grin, pulling her thoughts away from Brad and Manhattan. Alexa’s panties grew moist. She’d seriously never seen a man so handsome and yet so unaware of his good looks. Women stared at him open-mouthed, but he just shrugged it off. At first Alexa had thought he was just putting her on, but now she knew he had no clue how fucking hot he was.
“Have you or Kari heard from the ADA lately, or is that thing with the man Adison killed finally over?”
“It’s over.” Donnie had escaped while being transported to a psych facility and had made his way to Racy. No one yet knew how he’d found Kari, as he’d been locked up on Rikers since the night Kari had given her statement to the police. He’d hidden in the back room of the shop, downstairs from where she and Kari lived, until after they’d closed, and had nearly raped and killed Kari. But he was dead now.
Even with Donnie dead, it wasn’t over, but Luke didn’t need to know that. The less he knew, the safer he’d be. If Donnie had found Kari here in Racy, how easy would it be for Brad to track her down? Alexa hadn’t told Kari about the hang-ups because she was so happy with Adison and Noah that Alexa didn’t want to give her anything else to worry about. Kari had been through hell in the last two years. She deserved some happiness now.
“That’s great,” said Luke. “Now you and Kari can relax and concentrate on the shop, right?”
“Yeah.” She was too wired to relax, but at least there was a lot of work to keep her mind occupied during the day. She and Kari owned and operated Racy’s only sexy shop, Tye Me Up, and opening day had been just before Christmas. They were still just as busy, even though it was now the first week in January.
So many times during the past three weeks Alexa had been tempted to tell Luke what was going on, but she didn’t want him to worry any more than she wanted Kari to, and she knew both would.
“Here you are, beautiful.” Luke winked as he handed her another glass of juice. Alexa smiled at the way he said “beautiful.” He meant it. It wasn’t just a come-on with him or something he said to every woman, and that made it even more special.
Luke leaned over the counter and glanced around, as if making sure none of his other patrons were listening. “You still thinking about Donnie McCoy? He’s dead, Alexa. He can’t hurt Kari anymore.”
“I know.” She forced a smile. Luke always knew when she was upset or worried. She couldn’t hide it from him.
“Then why such a worried face? Is it something I did?”
She laughed and rested her elbows on the bar, gazing into his black eyes. They were framed in the thickest lashes she’d ever seen on a man, and danced with a light all their own. She loved to look into them. There was more depth to Luke Rodriguez than anyone in this one-horse town had ever realized. She was certain of it. “You don’t do anything wrong. Not ever.”
“Then why won’t you make love to me?” Luke whispered it, but the reason Alexa mentally recoiled had nothing to do with whether or not anyone else had heard him. How could she tell him what Brad had done to her? How could she tell him the things that had happened to her as soon as she’d reached puberty?
This wasn’t Brooklyn. It was Middle of Nowhere, Indiana, and he’d lived here his entire life. He’d grown up with a mother and a father, and six siblings with whom he still had Sunday dinner each week. He’d never understand.
Alexa was tired of living in the past. She was ready to move forward, but she was scared to try. She wasn’t sure what would happen if she attempted to have sex with Luke, and she didn’t want him to have to deal with that. He’d think it was his fault. She and Julie had discussed nothing but that for weeks. Julie felt she was ready, and Alexa trusted Julie. But she wasn’t sure she trusted herself.
“I’m sorry, Alexa.” Luke’s expression had Catholic guilt written all over it, and Alexa blew out a breath. She hated to see him upset, especially when he thought he’d screwed up. “I shouldn’t have said that.” He glanced around again. “Especially not here.”
“Please don’t apologize, Luke. You didn’t say anything wrong.”
“What does Julie say about all this?”
Julie was unlike any shrink Alexa had ever known, and she’d been through enough of them to know. She had a way of making sense of the jumbled memories and nightmares that comprised Alexa’s past.
“She says I’m ready.”
“But you don’t think you are yet, do you?”
They’d had this conversation before. He begged her to tell him what was so bad in her past that she was terrified now, and she told him she couldn’t. Julie had told her she was ready for that as well—to tell Luke about her past—but every time Alexa visualized doing so, she’d break out in a cold sweat and start dry heaving.
But it wasn’t only her past that kept her out of Luke’s bed. Until she and Kari knew how Donnie had found her, she couldn’t tell Luke about Brad. She couldn’t inadvertently put him in that kind of danger.
Shortly before she and Kari had moved from Manhattan, the apartment they’d shared had been broken into. Nothing had been taken, and the police told them it was most likely someone looking for drugs or money, but both women were convinced the break-in was connected to the murder Kari had witnessed. They also couldn’t help but wonder if the break-in was connected to Brad as well, since it happened shortly after Alexa finally left him. Until those issues were resolved, Alexa couldn’t completely relax.
But she was crazy about Luke. Every time she looked into his eyes or listened to his lilting voice, she couldn’t help but wonder what might have happened if she’d grown up here instead of Brooklyn. He leaned over the counter to stroke her hair, and Alexa sighed.
“Belleza,” he said softly. “Quiero hacerte el amor.”
Every time he said something to her in Spanish, she was glad she’d learned it. The language brought out the warmth in his voice, and it was sexy as hell.
She wanted this man so badly. She wanted to hear him whisper endearments in Spanish in the dark as they clung to each other. She wanted to know what it felt like to be held in a man’s strong arms without fearing what he might do to her. She wanted to run her hands over the muscles his clothing couldn’t hide and kiss his full mouth until neither of them could breathe.
But how could she do that? How could she take this relationship to a level of intimacy that would force her to face her demons and put Luke in danger if Brad came looking for her? It wasn’t fair to him. He hadn’t asked for this.