Real

By: Katy Evans


Miami is not so hot



We’re flying to Miami today.

The front seating section of the plane is talking about Scorpion and the “off-ring fight” that almost ensued last night. I sit in the back bench with him, as seems to be becoming the usual, and we’ve just brought out our headphones. He has his iPod in his hand and is already searching his songs, and I’m searching mine, not sure if the song I’m choosing will be listened to by me, or by him.

In the car on our way over, he extended out his arm and whispered, “Fix my wrist for me.”

He has the thickest, most dense wrist I’ve ever seen, and as soon as I started moving it, I just knew it was an excuse to get me to touch him, for it felt perfectly mobile, which makes my pussy clench as I remember. Does he want my touch as badly as I want his?

“Put a song on for me,” he whispers now. Amazing, how one look from him can flip my heart over.

I nod, but I’m wavering between what to play. He’s searching around too, and I see him hesitate as well.

Neither of us is smiling anymore. Neither of us has smiled since yesterday. When we almost did something crazy and … wonderful.

I’m still looking for a song when he hands me his iPod and I plug my headphones in to listen, and the song that starts is Survivor’s “High on You.” It flashes me back to his first fight as I pay attention to what the lyrics say.

They play in my ear, sounding fun, upbeat, and joyful, reminding me how I stood watching him fight, and later, how the crowd crushed around us and how his hand touched mine, and how we both felt electrified…

I’m feeling so equally mischievous and frustrated, I just want to see what he’ll do if I do something crazy, so I search for a really fun older song I recently heard revived in an episode of Glee, called “Anyway You Want It,” by Journey, and I pass it over to him.

He starts listening with a smile, and when he realizes the chorus is basically saying he can get “it” any way he’d like, he lifts his eyes to mine. There’s a question inside those eyes, and his gaze jumps restlessly between my eyes and lips, eyes and lips, until it falls and stick on my lips. I lick them, and I notice his eyes grow so heavy, they seem weighted.

“Rem,” Pete calls from up front.

“He’s got headphones on, he can’t hear you,” I respond, for I could hear since my song was no longer playing.

“Jesus, stop turning him on, Brooke. Especially if you’re not going to…”

A laugh escapes me, and Remy, oblivious to what Pete just said, seems deeply absorbed with me and the music. I don’t know what his stare means, but he dips his head closer. “Play me another one,” he roughly commands, his somber blue eyes staring intently.

I hesitate for a moment, but inside, I’m bubbling with lust and mischief, so I go all out with another oldies song that seems fitting, and play, “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You,” by Heart.

The moment the chorus begins, I notice that his pupils are wildly dilated. My breath catches, and I realize by playing that song, I am basically begging the man to make love to me, to say that he will…

Anxiety about the ravenous look on his face makes me slide back on the couch as he leans forward. His gaze holds mine as he dips his dark head lower, his stare so hot, it galvanizes me.

He slides his hand around my waist and brings me a little closer to him, then he angles his head and presses his lips into my ear. I think he just kissed my ear. My nerve endings sing when he grabs his iPod and puts on music for me. He plays “Iris” again, watching me as every beat steals my breath again, and the lyrics make me want to weep.

Flooded with longing, I hold his gaze as the song plays, and his eyes are as ardent and consuming as the words I’m hearing. When the song ends, he removes my headphones and pulls off his, his breath cragged and uneven as he leans into me and kisses my ear again. “Do you want me?” he asks in a guttural voice that sends the hairs on my body up in alert.

I nod fiercely against his head, and his hands clench around my hips. He ducks into my neck and inhales me. A shudder bursts through me, and I’m awash with the sudden certainty that tonight, tonight after the first Miami fight, Remington is going to make love to me.

The rest of the flight he keeps his arm around my shoulders and pins me to his strong side, and he keeps making sexual foreplay to my ear, the only place where the others can’t really see what he’s doing to me. He tugs my earlobe with his teeth, licks the shell of my ear, and has forgotten all about playing music for me. While I shudder wantonly, wet and squirming as I keep glancing at his jeans, which burst with the fullness of his erection. The volume straining the denim is so staggering that my hands itch, my tongue wants to taste him, lick him, my pussy clenches in desperate desire.

We arrive at the five star hotel, and the heady combo of anticipation and arousal I’ve been struggling with shoots through the roof when I realize Remy has booked me into the two-bedroom presidential suite with him. As the keys are handed out, everyone else seems to notice too.

“I sincerely hope you know what you’re getting into,” Pete says in a concerned whisper, his brow scrunched worriedly at the corners.

Diane’s eyes are almost tear-filled when she tugs me aside at the lobby. “Oh, Brooke, please reconsider rooming with me again?”

Riley comes over and looks at me with all openness, patting my shoulder like I’m going to war. “He’s trying the hardest I’ve ever seen him try for you, B.”

Their attitudes don’t really confound me.

I know they’re worried this will end badly. I’m Remington’s employee and only a temporary one, and he has a bad reputation with tons of evidence behind it. He obviously has a little bit of a temper and can prove to be too hot to handle. But even though he’s so strong, I know instinctively that he’d never hurt me, and he’s never done anything to demonstrate otherwise. The rest doesn’t matter right now. It just doesn’t matter to me at all. I want him. With a force I haven’t felt in over six years. And I’m going to go for it.

Maybe I have a red self-destruct button too?

The nerves about what will happen run me raw as we go up to our rooms to ready for the fight, and suddenly I need Melanie so bad I pull my cell phone out of my purse and immediately text her, since it’s been a couple of days since I have.



Brooke: How’s my BFFFFFFFFFFFF!

Melanie: Miz u! But I forgive u if u tell me you’ve gotten sexy piece of man ass already!

Brooke: Oh, sigh

Melanie: What? You have???

Brooke: Mel

Melanie: What?? What?

Brooke: I think I’m falling in love with him
He took Miami like an avalanche.

We’re back from his first fight, and I’m still breathless with exhilaration. Remy barely got grazed by his opponents. He was super charged, his body precise and so powerful he didn’t even have to deliver many punches to knock down his opponents. He swept through every one of them like he was on vacation, and by the end of the evening, people screamed with delight and even the announcer was out of breath. “May these poor men Rest In Peace, my goodness, this man can hit! You go, RIP!!!! Rip their heads off, you bad bastard! Riiiiptide, ladies and gentlemen! Riptiiiiiide!”

Even Riley was so excited from where he watched at the corner that he climbed on the back of Coach and pumped his fists in the air, yelling his head off. Meanwhile Pete seemed to have left his responsible self back in Atlanta, for before we left the Underground, he declared, “We should fucking celebrate!”

Before Remington even knew what happened, there was already a crowd heading with us to the hotel in about a dozen different cars. So now we’re in the presidential suite with what feels like a thousand strangers, but of course, there can’t possibly be so many for real. And actually, Pete says most of these people have previously partied with Remington, so they’re only strangers to me.

The crowd is so vast, people are even littered out in the hall, making so much noise I can’t help thinking what a blessing it is the other two enormous presidential suites at the top hotel floor are empty, or else we’d probably be looking for somewhere else to sleep tonight.

I’m disappointed I haven’t even been able to see him since he showered and changed. He’s been flocked by admirers and was brought to the hotel by a group of old Miami friends, who let him drive the Ferrari one of them brought.

Now, as I wind through all the people crammed in what supposedly is my and Remy’s suite, I wonder if I should join the merriment and go all out and get drunk, when applause breaks out by the entry, followed by unmistakable cheers only one man I know can cause. He comes into the room carried on the shoulders of four guys. My heart stutters. He’s got this big smile on his face, cocky Remy to the tenth power, high on his wins, and the women scream, high on him. “Remy! Remyyyy!”

“That’s right, who’s the man?” he shouts, and pounds his fists on his chest. I laugh, completely sucked in, mesmerized and enchanted by him. The aura he emanates makes him blaze like a sun tonight. If right now he says he can fly, I think we’d all believe him. Everyone present seems magnetized by him, helplessly gravitating to where he is. He spots me, and his smile softens and his eyes alight with a strange, hungry, and somehow glowing look. “Brooke.”

He hops down to his feet and beckons me forward, and the crowd parts to let me pass. He smiles at me, and his dancing blue eyes hold mine as he slowly walks forward and meets me halfway. He lifts me in his powerful arms and swings me around, and then he kisses me.

The instant he takes my lips, fireworks shoot off in my body.

All the pent-up desire of days and weeks adds up to this one moment when everything that I am, and everything that I want, is narrowed down to this. To me, pulling Remington Tate’s dark head closer to mine as I open my mouth and let him give me anything and everything he wants to.

His kiss spins my stomach into a wild swirl. He holds me tightly by the hips and deftly moves his lips as he rubs his tongue to mine. A rumble vibrates deep in his core as he gathers me closer and forces me to feel his erection, all while he angles his head and fucks my mouth like there’s no tomorrow.

People whoot loudly nearby, and when they tell him to “Go fuck that pussy!” Remy tears free. He breathes harshly through his nose as he drags his mouth to my ear, where he whispers, hot and gruff, “You’re mine tonight.”

A fevered moan escapes me. He cups my face in those big hands that make me feel fragile and tiny, and he hungrily recaptures my mouth. He takes it slowly this time, as if I’m precious and valuable. “Tonight you’re mine.”

He looks into my face again, his eyes seething with desire. I think I just nodded in agreement, but I’m too shaky to know for sure. A sweltering fever runs unleashed through me. My legs won’t stop trembling as every one of my cells scream in lust because I want him now. I want him now.

“Remy, I want you, take me!” a woman shouts, but he ignores her, ignores everything. But me.

His eyes dark and intent, he scrapes the sides of my face with the pads of his big, callused thumbs, then spreads his fingers wide over my scalp as he kisses me again, our mouths hot and wet as they blend, thirsty and anxious. I grip the soft gray of the t-shirt he wears in my fists, dying with sensations. I don’t even care who’s watching, am oblivious to the crude things they’re whistling. I hadn’t realized how much I want this, need this, until these shivers ripple through me and I’m in a flux under his insistent sexy mouth, the look in his eyes that makes me feel like I’m the only woman alive to him.

“Take her to your room, Tate!” someone yells. But he seems engrossed only in me, and me in him.

Holding me protectively in his strong arms, he brushes my hair back as his lips buzz along the bare curve between my neck and collar, his fingers sliding up my neck as he once again, like a chant, nuzzles my ear and tells me, “Mine. Tonight.”

“So are you.” I cup his jaw and search his darkened gaze when, suddenly, he’s plucked by four men who swiftly swing him up in the air once more.

“Remy, Remy…” they chant, bouncing him in unison. Laughter fills me, and bubbles of happiness pop inside my chest. I’m happy for me. For him. For this night.

Nearby, Pete and Riley watch the scene with faces so bleak and pinched, it feels like they’re burying a cadaver tonight.

“Have fun, guys!” I say laughingly as I approach. Very possibly both my grandfathers party better than these two. But they just shake their heads and keep looking positively glum.

“He’s getting speedy,” Pete mutters, mostly to Riley.

“I know, man. Shit.”

“Yeah.” Pete scratches his curls. “Did I actually instigate this whole party?”

“Prepare for crash landing,” is all Riley returns, and then he heads down the hall, tossing his head side to side.

Confusion hits me. “What’s wrong?” I ask Pete.

“Nothing. Yet.” He glances at his watch, then at Remy as he’s carried back to the bar. “But anything goes off in a way he doesn’t like, then we’re going to be in trouble. Big. Trouble.”

Glancing around, I see there’s only smiles and laughter while crazy rock music from Remy’s iPod bursts from the suite speakers. I truly don’t know what these two are worrying about. Everyone is having fun, and Remington works as hard as anyone I’ve ever known. He deserves to let loose. Yes, he’s a little hyper, but to me it’s obvious that he’s got a rush from the fight and it’s been added to the same thing that has been having us both, Remington and I, feel coiled like hungry cobras, for weeks.

All day today, when we came up to settle our suitcase in our suite, and went down to lunch with the team, and he prepared before the fight—every instant of these moments, our eyes have been wildly searching each other, and as soon as they lock, the sparks leap between us in arcs so powerful the need to be with him cuts me like whiplashes. Even at the fight, when he turned to look at me before it began, his blue eyes simmered with a fierce appetite to have me. I know that he feels the same hunger I do now, as I wait, fevered in anticipation of this evening. My body hums in arousal, and after such an amazing fight, I know Remington is buzzing like crazy. He’s all jacked up. Stoked and primed.

His energy is so powerful tonight, it actually pulls at every cell and atom in my body, bathing me in pure female awareness of his hot masculinity.

Now I watch as he pours some tequila shots behind the bar, and a striking blond at his side squeezes lemon juice on her cleavage and adds a dab of salt, then she squeezes a shot glass right between her tightly squeezed tits. She tugs on Remy’s wrist and signals for him to come get it. Jealousy clenches all my inner muscles, only loosening when Remy grabs the nearest man around and pushes his face into her boobs, laughing, loud and manly, as he grabs the two shots he’d poured and starts to come back to me.

His eyes lock to mine, and they go dark and wild. As dark and wild as the fluttering in my insides. He seems to want to party with no one but me, and the knowledge hits me square in the knees. Between my thighs, I’ve grown sensitive, wet, and swollen.

He carries a salt shaker and lemons in one of his palms. “Come here,” he says, gruff but soft as he sets the shot glasses on a console by the entry. He sucks the lime wedge between his lips, and bends his head to pass it to me. I open my mouth and the lime juice spills into me, from his mouth, then he draws it away and sticks his tongue in with mine. He groans, we both do, as we linger and kiss, licking each other, until he groans once more and steps back to hand me the shot glass.

I’ve never gotten drunk with someone, and suddenly I’m just glad it’s with him. Reckless joy courses through my veins. I feel wicked and impulsive, doing everything I’ve never done. Taking the glass between my fingers, I toss back the liquid and feel it burn a path down my throat, and when he hands me the lime again, I’m absolutely crazy with excitement.

Repeating the same thing he did, I stick the lime wedge into my mouth, and he ducks and sucks the lime juice from me. A moan escapes me when he tugs the lime away and replaces it with his tongue. Need rips through me, and my arms go around his neck.

The empty shot glasses crash to the ground as he grabs my ass, boosts me up to the console, slides between my legs, and thrusts his tongue into my mouth.

He shoves his hips and hardness against me, the desperation in the move shooting lightning bolts through my body. “You smell so good…” he rasps into my ear. His hands clench on my thighs as he rubs his hardness against me. His mouth grazes a path down my temple, to my chin, and his lips my buzz, fast and fevered, over mine. “I want you now. I can’t wait to get rid of these people. How do you like it, Brooke? Hard? Fast?”

“Anyway you want it,” I murmur, intoxicated with the feel of his arms, his mouth, the scrape through our clothes of his sex against my sex. I think my words make him remember the song I played, for he groans and ducks his head to lightly nibble on my lower lip.

“Wait here, little firecracker,” he says, and he makes his way back to the bar.

We have a second set of shots, and then he goes off for rounds three and four, and I’m definitely woozy by the fourth. I’ve never really drunk before, and I don’t think my system is equipped to handle it. My head spins as I watch him go for round five with a dopey smile. Some of the men once again grab him and shoot him up in the air, shouting, “Who’s the man? Who’s the man?”

“You bet your asses it’s me, motherfuckers!”

They set him back on his feet at the bar and then start yelling as they push an enormous glass of beer to him, and they yell at him, with triple cadence as their fists bump the granite, “Re-ming-ton! Re-ming-ton! Re-ming-ton!”

“Cool down, guys,” Pete says as he approaches, trying to calm things down.

“Who the fuck is this nerd?” one bearded guy says, and Remy grabs him and shoves him up against the wall as easily as if he weighed no more than a premature baby.

“He’s my bro, you toad. Show some fucking respect.”

“Calm down, dude, I was only asking!”

Remy drops him to the ground and goes back to fix our tequilas.

I know he’s going to come back to me with more shots, but people keep detaining him, and my stomach is making noises. I can’t feel my tongue, and I’m pretty sure I need to puke.

Covering my mouth, I rush to the bathroom of the smallest but closest bedroom, and ignore the couple making out on the bed as I charge into the bathroom, slam and lock the door, then drop at the side of the toilet, grab my hair and barely manage to lift the lid as I puke my guts out.

Five minutes later I’m still at it, gasping as I begin to have a private pity party with myself. Right here in the bathroom.

God. My stomach. My poor liver. Poor me. I’m so frickin’ glad I did track in my teenage years instead of te-kill-ya! I can’t even believe Melanie likes to do this. I groan in misery as the nausea comes back up my throat again. I hang my head into the toilet once more and convulse as everything rips out of me.

When I think I’m done, everything is a blur and I’m still dizzy. I wash my mouth and search for my vitamins in the stuff I’d left in this room’s bath in case I’d rather not share a bathroom with Remington, which seems like a great plan now that I might be spending all night puking. I grab a red-colored B complex and vitamin C mix and pop one in, and I figure I should start hydrating myself, but I feel lazy to go get some water, so instead I flush the toilet a third time, close the top, and lean my forehead on it in case I get nauseous again. I grab my phone and text Mel;

Fel like shiz!@ Drunk as a firkin don%ky! but Im gunna furck Remy if i survve th8 teqila!

Then I think I even doze off.

When I come to, my temples throb, and the noise outside in the presidential suite is deafening. I have the good sense to wash my mouth and calm down the tangles in my hair and wash my hands, then I peer out into the room and the lovers are gone, so I pad out into the living room toward the noise. No. Not noise. The pandemonium.

Blinking, I absorb the scene before me with disbelieving eyes. I don’t know what’s happened, but something. Definitely. Has. Happened. Feathers from torn pillows are littered everywhere. Glass crunches under my feet as I walk. People are shoving against each other, somehow drunk and panicked as they try to save themselves from something. Then I see him.

Remington “Riptide” Tate, the sexiest man alive, is tossing anything in his path and yelling at the top of his lungs, “What the fuck did you tell her about me? Where the fuck is she?” while Pete is jacketless, and tieless, and desperate to calm him down. Remy flings a crystal decanter into the wall with a fantastic crash, and people scream both in fear and laughter, while Riley is busy ushering them out the open suite doors.

My drunkenness instantly fades, or at least it drops down about fifty percent, and I am almost fully sober from the shock. I jump into action and start shoving all the bodies I come into contact with toward the door, “Out, out, out!” I scream like a banshee.

Remy hears my voice, and whips around and sees me. His eyes flash with something feral as he tosses the lamp he has in his hands and sends it crashing with a big explosion of glass behind him, then he starts for me. But Pete grabs him back, pulling desperately at his arm. “See, dude? She signed a contract, remember? You don’t need to destroy the hotel, man.” As Remington stares into my eyes with an expression of pure raw pain, Pete rams something into his neck and his eyelids flutter.

His head slumps forward, and I freeze in complete and total horror. Clouds of confusion impede any rational thought as I try to process the fact that Pete, gentle Pete, just shot something up Remy’s jugular.

Riley continues shoving people out the room as Remy slumps down and Pete struggles to prop him up against the nearest wall. When we manage to get the last person out, Riley drapes one of Remy’s arms around his neck, while the other goes around Pete. His feet are dragging beneath his body as they start hauling him to the master bedroom, and when I hear his beautifully male voice speak, he sounds not only drunk now, but super drugged, his timbre low and barely intelligible.

“Don't let her see.”

“We won’t, Rem.”

His head hangs forward as if he has no strength to support it. “Just don’t let her see.”

“Yeah, man, got it.”

Icy dread spreads along my insides as I move dazedly, like a sleepwalker, and follow them to the door. I stay at the threshold, torn between going after him and my utter confusion of what’s going on and my OCD which just begs me to start cleaning all this damned mess, and also the tequila shots which still make me feel like a donkey. “What’s wrong with him?” I ask Pete as they both come out. Riley heads out to the living room phone.

“He’s fine, just a little low.” Pete grabs the doorknob to close the door.

And suddenly I’m concerned out of my ever-loving mind and hold onto Pete’s arm like a lifeline. “Don’t pull this shit on me. What doesn’t he want me to see?”

My voice trembles, but I’m so scared and drunk and sexually frustrated, if he doesn’t give me an answer I think I’m going to go and smash the rest of what Remington left intact.

Pete hesitates, then pries my arm free from the death grip I seem to have on him. “He doesn’t want you to see him.”

I’m stunned speechless, but my need to make sure Remington is all right is so overpowering that I still try to go in. Pete quickly yanks me firmly aside.

“Look, he’s been speedy since you got here, and this kind of thing happens after the speedy. All he needs is some physical contact to make him feel good, get him out of that funk, and he’ll be fine soon. We knew it was coming, it was just a matter of days. It always begins when he can’t be worn off in the ring. And the fact that he’s been panting after you like a dog doesn’t help, Brooke.”

“And who the hell gives you the right to shoot chemicals up his veins, Pete?” I demand, reeling in fury on Remington’s behalf.

“He does. A thousand trashed hotel rooms, Brooke. I’ve been with him a decade, and so has Riley. He’s the most high maintenance man you’re ever gonna meet!”

Riley walks back to us with a bleak expression. “They’re on their way.”

“You got two?” Pete asks.

“Three. New ones. See if that will whet his damned stubborn appetite.”

When I realize what they’re talking about, I immediately want to hit them. “Three new what? Prostitutes?”

With a fresh glimmer of concern, Pete pats my shoulder in an appeasing there-there mode. “This is standard protocol, all right? These are clean women and very expensive ones. He won’t care who it is. We shouldn’t have let him go so long without working that off especially with you around. Sorry about being graphic but this is our problem to fix now, and he can’t fight like this tomorrow. Hell, it’s going to be a miracle if we get him out of bed.”

Something bleak and green twists inside me, knotting viciously in my chest. “I don’t want those women here,” I tell them in deceptive calm.

Maybe I don’t have a say in the matter, but I remember Remy’s kiss tonight, the gentle cup of his hands. His words. You’re mine tonight…

The sudden, vivid image of his body entwined with someone else’s makes me want to rush to the toilet again and throw up. I’m a little drunk, or maybe already hung over. I don’t know. But my heart hurts and my stomach roils at the mere thought of anyone else touching him. And suddenly I do need to cover my mouth and rush to the toilet again for real.

I spend the next ten minutes there, then wash my mouth again, clean everything up, and wind my way back to the living room just in time for the stinking prostitutes to arrive. Riley seems to have gone down to the lobby to bring them up—as no respectable hotel would allow these women access on their own—and when Pete opens the door to let them inside, with their stinking perfumes and glittery ensembles, I gape and feel green and twisted all over again.

They’re so beautiful, I realize with horror I may be the kind of drunk who starts yelling at people and then crying, because I feel like doing both. I’m so furious I charge forward and halt the women only two steps into the living room, all three of them stopping when they see my messed-up hair and my angry glare.

“We don’t need your services anymore, ladies. I’m sorry for your time, here’s for your expenses coming over.”

Grabbing a hundred dollars from Riley’s wallet, who was the closest and also the jerk who had the gall to call them, I shove the women out into the hall and slam the door in their faces. Then I spin around, a scowl biting into my face.

“That’s the last time you call some tramps when he’s like this,” I say, sticking a finger out threateningly, my heart pounding in pure rage and protectiveness. “I realize I’m in no condition to make decisions here, but neither is he. He doesn’t want them!” I cry.

The men, both of them completely sober and always quite sharp in their “bodyguard-looking” suits and ties, except Pete who lost form tonight, they just stare at me in utter confusion, making me feel like I’ve gone mad.

Well?

Have I?

I’m not sure. But my chest aches for the man in the master bedroom and my breasts heave from my fast breaths as I fight to stand my ground. I know what these guys are thinking. I know they want to know why the hell I won’t let those women in. They think I want to fuck Remington, and that I think he truly wants me. And maybe I do. I desperately do. I not only want to fuck him, I may possibly have gone all out and have deep complicated feelings for him.

But the thought of anyone touching him makes me want to breathe fire. I don’t care that he’s not mine. I care that right now, Pete just shot something up his veins, his beautiful body is on standby, and his brain is shot. If I can stop this nightmare from happening, I will, and I just did.

“I’m not drunk now,” I state to the men when they only keep staring at me.

Both of them sigh. “I’m going to bed in case he starts up when it wears off,” Riley says, and stalks to the door.

“Don’t go in there,” Pete warns to me, signaling at the master. “Sleep in the other room. He’s possibly not going to remember anything you say right now, and if what we gave him wears off too soon, he can get more difficult than you can imagine.”

“Fine,” I lie, and go to other room to get into my sleep shirt, but I just can’t leave it at that. Only Remy and I are sleeping in this suite, and when the door shuts after Pete, I know we’re alone.

Winding my way through the minefield of glass everywhere and shoving aside the compulsion to clean up, I go into the master bedroom. My pulse is a frantic drum pounding at my temples as I take in the scene. The drapes are partly open, and I feel a rush of possessiveness and protectiveness surge through me as I spot his shadowed form on the bed, briefly illuminated from the city lights. I tell myself I just want to make sure he’s okay. But I’m so wired and worried, I’m afraid seeing him won’t be enough and I’m going to need to search for a pulse or something.

Easing quietly inside, I trap my breath in my throat and soundlessly close the door behind me.

Silently I remove my shoes, then approach with light steps on the carpet as my eyes adjust to the shadows. He’s face down on the bed, and when he groans, my heart goes crazy with pain. The sheets rustle and the mattress squeaks as he shifts, and I’m so crazy about this man, I just want to eat him up with a spoon and do a whole lot of other things I’ve never wanted to do with anyone else.

The bugs flutter all over my stomach as I remember him telling Pete and Riley for me not to see. Does he worry about what I think of him? I really want to tell him he’s still “all that” to me. I want to tell him a lot of nice things. How well he fought. That I think he’s the hottest thing I’ve ever seen. That he’s had me walking on cloud nine all night just with his kisses. I know that I too, needed to hear this when my world came crashing down, my body broke and my spirit caved in, and Mel held my hand and told me I was still her number one. I want Remy to know I would also proudly hold up a poster that says I’m his #1 fan. But I just can’t talk through this ball of emotion in my throat. I’m so worried to see him like this it’s eating me. And my liver isn’t coping so well so I’m experiencing about a thousand emotions I don’t even know how to deal with right now. I think I just want to caress and cuddle him, but I’m afraid he’ll kick me out if he knows I’m here.

Nervous as I lean over, I set a hand on his big bare shoulder. His warmth seeps from his smooth skin and into me as I bend to the shell of his ear and softly buzz my lips along his earlobe, like he did to me in the plane.

The scent of his shampoo and the natural smell he emanates that drives me mad with lust seeps into me, and I can’t help but slide my fingers down his back, over the round curve of his buttocks. He’s so beautiful, my body weeps with longing to know his.

I understand the protocol of working “off” some extra energy. Athletes compete better with sex beforehand in many proven cases. These weeks with him have been intense for me too, and every day I feel more desperate and unbalanced from the pain of sheer sexual denial.

Lightly, full of regret for our lost night, I touch up the curve of his back and shiver at the contact of his warm skin, silken and smooth, sliding under my fingers. My pussy grips with pure longing, and a selfish part of me desperately wants him to open his eyes, see me, and pull me into his arms until we’re both out of breath and exhausted from what’s been building.

But another part of me dreads that he will send me away.

There’s such a high probability that he will. I don’t even know why I’m still here when I was so clearly warned to stay away. Maybe I’m weaker than Remy is. Maybe I’m crazier. I just want to be next to him tonight. He’s sedated, big and helpless right now, and I just know he would never hurt me.

As quietly as possible, I edge to the side of the bed and spread my body next to his. Suddenly he groans softly and rolls over fully to his back, and I hold my breath as the complete expanse of his beautiful muscled body is exposed to me. My breath just goes.

His nakedness in the moonlight makes me wet in the mouth, and between my legs, legs which feel like cotton now. I can see every muscle in his body, see where each adjoins to the next, and how his skin coats perfectly tight over every inch. I could delineate each muscle with a pencil. He’s so perfectly virile, I’m blazing hot and drenched between my legs, and I’m just desperate to feel his lips under mine, his tongue grazing mine.

I want him to wake up so I can tell him that I want him, in my mouth, inside me. I want to strip off my clothes and glue every inch of my skin to his golden one. I want to bend down and touch and kiss him right there, where he’s just as big and hard as the rest of him. Right there, where he’s so much … man.

Briefly, I allow my eyes to caress him, the length of his muscled legs, his narrow hips, his beautiful cock, so thick and long and velvety … up the sexiest star tattoo I’ve ever seen, up higher over his washboard abs, his hard chest, his thick, powerful neck, and to his gut-wrenchingly handsome face.

His eyes are closed, his lashes two dark moons against his high cheekbones, his jaw perfectly square, even at rest. I stroke a finger across the scratchy stubble there.

“You’re so beautiful, Remy.”

He groans and turns his face into the touch, and I wrap my arm around his waist and cover us up, listening to his breathing, his big chest rising and falling as I press my body to his for warmth.

Eventually I must have fallen deeply asleep. By the time his cell phone alarm goes off at five a.m. neither of us hears it, and it is ten a.m. when Riley wakes us up, clapping and laughing to get our lazy asses out of bed because Rem could use going to the gym today.

Riley actually seems delighted that I appear to have “slept” with Remy. He was probably eager for Remy to work off whatever “it” was, either with those prostitutes or with me.

The man totally misses the way we both jump to a sitting position when he leaves. Remington looks anything but groggy the instant he notices me across the opposite side of the bed. I think my hair is tousled and I must look every inch as trampled as I feel, but I can’t help noting his beautiful body is fully naked and the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen by daylight.

We take each other in for several heartbeats.

Heartbeats where every kiss he gave me last night swells in memory in the flesh of my lips.

The sunlight streams into the room, and the bed is undone, and we’re both in it, and our eyes are wildly going up and down.

A desperate urge to jump his sexy bones rushes through me, and I notice the primitive alertness that settles in his eyes as he quietly rakes me, top to bottom, as my body shakes in lust inside an old Disney World t-shirt courtesy of one of Melanie’s yearly “stay young” trips.

His eyes look so dark this morning I swear to god there’s not a fleck of blue in that hot-deviled gaze anymore.
Before Remy can even ask what I am doing in his bed, I hop to my feet and briskly go to change, insanely aware of his eyes tracking my movements across the room.

But he never comes after me.

“It’s normal, when this happens.” Pete shrugs at the gym, when Remy doesn’t appear after two hours. “You might want to do something with your day, Brooke. There’s no point in you not enjoying yourself and getting a little sun.”

Really, after a night of drinks, the word “sun” is not as welcoming as it is usually to me, but I nod and walk a little of Miami, trying to soak up the amazingly vibrant cultural mix of Latinos and more, but I just don’t have the energy for it.

I’ve never been hung over in my life.

It’s definitely an experience I don’t ever want to repeat.

I’m parched no matter how much water I drink, and I’m also nauseous and foggy-headed, weak and unwell, and I can barely open my eyes wide enough to see where I’m going.

But I still make an effort, and decide to call my parents from my cell phone as I head down the shops at Midtown Miami.

“Where are you now?” my mother demands. “Your father wants to know if you’re going to that famous restaurant, What’s-it-Called, the one where the movie stars go?”

“Mother, I’m working,” I tell her. “This isn’t a vacation to me. And if you told me the actual name of What’s-it-Called, I might have a clue about what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, never mind! But we got a new postcard from Nora! She’s in Australia, and she sends all her love. You should see the beach in the picture, goodness! Now that’s paradise. I wonder if she’s seen any real alligators. Or is it crocodiles that live there? Crocodiles or alligators?”

“Crocodiles, Mom. And I think there are some here in Florida, as well. Hey, I don’t want to run out of battery, I’ll call you next weekend, all right? I just wanted to check up on you.” I hang up, because it was seriously not a good idea to call my parents today. They’re great and I love them, but they’re my parents.

They’re nosy and opinionated and they naturally get on my nerves.

I especially resent the fact that their dreams for my worldwide stardom shattered the day that my knee did, and I know that they don’t truly believe that I will ever be able to live a “full” life now.

It would be so much easier to deal with them if Nora would do more than just send a monthly postcard too.

Heading back to the hotel, I spot Diane at the gift shop, and we share a quick lunch.

“Pete tells me our guy isn’t doing well today,” she says, her tone both questioning and sad.

I pick at my salad and keep hydrating with natural fruit juice, merely because my temples have been throbbing all day. I just know my liver is not used to the kind of abuse of the likes it received yesterday. I’ve always treated my body kindly. Today it’s just angry at me for alcohol overload, bad food choices, and unfulfilled lust. “Does it happen frequently?” I ask, looking up from my lettuce with vinaigrette to her.

She nods.

“I see,” I say, weakly, and set my fork down. “Is it because he doesn’t handle alcohol well or is it some sort of anger issue?”

“I’d say it’s an anger issue but I don’t know for sure.” Lifting her iced tea, Diane leans back and shrugs. “I’m the one who knows least about it. All I know is Remy is a handful.” She nods meaningfully, and sips through the straw. “A handful. Which is why I really, truly want you to reconsider before you … well, of course, unless you already …?”

“Nothing happened, Diane.” I rub my forehead and ask for the check.

We sign off and she invites me over to her room to check recipes, but instead I go to the suite, which I notice Pete or Riley kept closed with the “Do Not Disturb” sign hanging from the doorknob. I slide my key and head inside to quietly start cleaning up the worst of the mess.

It takes hours to get the room into a semblance of order, and once I’ve got all the glass in piles near the door, I call housekeeping and request a dozen plastic bags to haul it all out. Once that’s done, I jump in the shower.

I’m still sleeping in the presidential suite, no matter that Diane offered me to room with her tonight. I just … can’t go anywhere else. I wanted to sleep with Remy, and now that we’re sharing a room for the first time, I’m not moving out and leaving him alone here.

Especially if he’s unwell.

But at night, the suite feels so deathly quiet, my heart won’t settle as I stare wide awake in my own bed, thinking of him, of everything that’s happened. I want to ask Pete and Riley about what’s wrong, and on the other hand, I want Remington to tell me.

I don’t know how long passes, but the bedroom door opens when I’m still staring bleakly at the wall. I’m groggy, but I sit up and see his silhouette. He must have taken a bath. A pair of pajama bottoms drape low on his narrow hips. His tan torso glistens, and his hair is all wet and spiky, not a strand falls on his proud forehead.

My heart shudders. I think the sedative has worn off, since he stands perfectly upright, with only one hand braced lightly on the doorframe, maybe for support. I straighten up higher on my arms. “Are you all right?” I ask, my voice concerned and cottony.

His voice is gruff and craggy. “I want to sleep with you. Just sleep.”

My stomach turns.

He waits for me to reply, but I can’t. I want to cry and I don’t know why, but I attribute it to being hung over and dangerously close to falling in love with a man I don’t even know.

He comes over, lifts me, and carries me down the hall, back to the master room, to the wide, unmade king bed.

He sets me down, and when he slides under the covers and gathers me close so that my face is on his chest and his nose is buried in the top of my head, I don’t understand the overwhelming amount of oxytocin hormones that my body makes, but this … him … being in this bed with him … makes me feel way too good. Too safe. Too happy.

I desperately want him to tell me what’s wrong. What happened? Can’t he control himself? Why did they react like this? Does he have a problem with violence and unresolved anger issues? Who the fuck hurt him? I think of why he was kicked out of boxing, how he’d been angered with Scorpion at the club, dangerously close to sabotaging his career again. But I don’t think he wants to talk right now. He seems lazy and gentle, and the darkness, the silence, feels so holy, I don’t want to break it.

Instead, I lie next to him while every pore in my body screams for us to physically connect. I try not to want it, because I know that this is not the moment. I don’t know what kind of sedative he was given, or how long it lasts, but I know that later he might not even remember that he’s here with me. Even I might not remember. I’m so tired and hung over I don’t trust my thoughts at this point.

“Just sleep, okay?” I whisper at his throat, even though I swear I ache for this man somewhere beyond my body, beyond even my heart.

“Just sleep.” He pulls me closer to him, and I can feel his erection between us, fiercely hard and pulsing with life, making me shiver inside. “And this,” he murmurs.

He cups my jaw and puts his lips on mine with such gentleness that all my cells seem to fuse with his. I moan and part my lips, sliding my hands into his hair, feeling a little crazy as I push my breasts up to his chest. Suddenly I want his hands on me, I want his tongue all over me. When he brushes it, slick and hot, against mine, I feel like I vanquished the impossible. Trembling, I clutch his face, kissing him harder.

He slows me down with his tongue, his fingers twined in my hair, guiding my head to the slow, drugging rhythm of his mouth. God, I want him to touch me in all the parts where he can fit. Everywhere. Anywhere. I’m so swollen and lubricated, I thrum, and he’s so hard between our abdomens, I know how much he wants me too. But we said just “sleep” … and “this” … and now I don’t want “this” to stop.

He kisses me so slowly and so deeply that I run out of breath. He only unlatches my mouth to allow me to catch my breath, and then, he brushes his tongue back against mine, stroking my lips, the roof of my mouth, and my teeth. He suckles, sucks, turns, twists. I fall in love with his kiss so fast, that soon I don’t know where my hands are, where I’m lying.

My entire body is consumed by the way he fucks my mouth until my lips are raw and swollen and it hurts to kiss him back even though my frenzied body demands more. When I’m sure I’ve tasted blood from either his lips or mine or both, I draw back to breathe and pant, noticing his cut has reopened. He’s the one bleeding from kissing me. I moan softly and lick him gently, and he groans with his eyes closed. He sifts his fingers down my hair and pushes my face to the crook of his neck, cuddling me, his chest rising hard and fast under mine.

The sheets are somewhere at our feet but he’s so hot and warm that I press as tight as I can to his body and fall asleep. When I stir during the night, I’m awakened by the odd, novel sensation of a powerfully built arm tightening around me and settling me back against the spot I’ve warmed against him. My extremities tingle when I peek up at his shadowed face and realize I’m in bed with him. He’s sleeping or at least he appears to be. Then he turns his head, his eyelids parting open, and when he sees me, he kisses my lips again, licking them softly before he draws back to press his nose back into my hair, tucking me back into him.

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