Home > The Reception (The Wedding From Hell #2)(4)

The Reception (The Wedding From Hell #2)(4)
Author: J.R. Ward

Danny swung her around, and then brought her close—spun her out, tugged her back in. He was a great dancer, a Channing Tatum who knew where his body was in space, rather than a Duff who—yup, was right now hard-angling it with one of the bridesmaids.

The poor man was like an arthritic before a visit to the chiropractor.

As she and Danny danced, she thought of when they’d been measuring her at the tux place, him looming, powerful and strong behind her, that heat kindling. Then she remembered the two of them in that back alley, unwitting saviors to that prostitute and her boyfriend and the pimp.

Then that kiss.

Anne looked up, into his eyes. He stared back at her. They moved together.

The song ended. Another began. And still they danced.

It was easy to forget there were other firefighters around, other colleagues they worked with, other people who knew them both. With the lights lowered, and the lasers streaking across like shooting stars, and the beat of the music, it was as if they were alone.

What are you going to do, Anne, she asked herself. Because everything about this was an invitation.

Four songs in, she made her mind up.

Leaning into him, she said, “Let’s finish what we almost started.”

Danny’s eyes flared and he stilled, his body throwing off heat.

“No one can see us leave.” She stepped back. “And no one can ever know.”

“I don’t care if you forget my name right afterward. I just . . . I need you, Anne.”

She wasn’t a fool. She knew this was just a hookup. But she didn’t want to do the good and sensible thing tonight.

Tomorrow she would regret this. Right now? She just wanted to be naked. With him.

“I have a room,” he said. “Upstairs. Eleven-oh-nine. I’ll go up now and leave the door open. Meet me there in ten minutes.”

Her heart started hammering. “Okay.”

Danny took off, shuffling past the tables, beating feet for the door. A couple of people tried to stop him to talk, and when Duff tried to stand in his way, it was pretty clear Danny was prepared to pick the guy up and throw him across the entire ballroom.

Anne put her hand on her sternum. Holy crap, was she really going to do this?

* * *

Up on the eleventh floor, Danny stepped out of the elevator and ripped off his bow tie, shoving the clip-on into his jacket pocket. Desperate to get naked, he started unbuttoning his shirt before he’d even made it to his room, and the only reason he kept his fucking pants on as he ditched the pleated monstrosity was because he wanted to give Anne a chance to tell him no.

Assuming she came up.

Fuck, what if she didn’t come up?

The room had a king-sized bed, a kitchenette, and a flat-screen TV you could pivot in any direction. It also had a minibar. Opening the cupboard of little bottles, mini mixers, and crackers, he took out an itty-bitty Jack Daniel’s, cracked the top, and downed the shot and a half on a oner.

Thing was probably going to cost him eight bucks.

And it was the first of three.

Even though he’d been with an embarrassingly large number of women—thank you, college frat house—Anne made him feel like a fumbling virgin, all nerves and thumbs.

Pacing around, he went over to the window and looked out over the city: Twinkling towers of the four skyscrapers New Brunie had. Streams of traffic showing white headlights as they came toward the hotel and red brakes as they went away from it. Glowing pockets of suburbia on the outer rim.

Shit, he hadn’t turned any of the lamps or overheads on. He was just here in the dark—

The slice of light that penetrated the room spun him around. And there Anne was, in her tuxedo, the woman he had hoped was coming to see him the night before.

“Anne . . .”

His voice was needy and hoarse, and as she stepped inside, his erection got even stiffer behind the zipper of his pants.

She closed the door behind her softly. And when she kicked off her shoes, he broke out in a sweat, his breath starting to pump.

He’d never thought this was going to happen, he realized. But like so much in life, here it was.

Anne came forward to him, her feet whispering over the carpet. Dimly, he was aware of voices out in the corridor, a woman’s laughter, a door closing with a loud thunk.

“I just don’t want anyone to know.” She stopped in front of him. “It’s hard enough being a woman on the service without getting slapped with a bimbo label.”

Danny frowned. “No one will ever think that of you.”

“If they know I slept with a firefighter, they will.” She shook her head. “You will be a hero. I will be a slut. And don’t argue with me.”

“I won’t.” And if you want me to beg? Just tell me. “I’m glad you’re here.”

Reaching out, his hand trembled, but he didn’t give a fuck. “I’ve wanted to do this for years.”

Drawing her forward, he lowered his lips until they were a hairsbreadth away from hers.

“Stop me now,” he said in a guttural voice. “If you’re going to stop me, do it now.”

In response, she pulled him down to her, the kiss direct, explosive, desperate. He’d wanted to be slow and considerate, but the taste of her, the slick slide of her tongue against his own, the clinging warmth of her body put bullshit to all that take-it-easy pre-planning he’d lectured himself on while riding up in the elevator.

In all of his life, he’d never expected to drop a tuxedo jacket from the shoulders of someone he was going to make love to, but Anne had always been a shocker to him. And as that coat she’d rented hit the floor, he went for the buttons of her shirt as he kept their mouths fused. The bastard fastenings were tiny and obstinate, but they did what his willpower had failed at: They pumped the brakes.

He penetrated her again with his tongue, learning what she liked as, one by one, he freed those cocksucking, motherfucking, piece-of-shit—

“I want to rip this shirt apart,” he said into her mouth.

“I don’t want to have to pay for it.”

“I’ll just do it in my mind, then.” As she laughed, he smiled and kissed her some more. “God, you taste amazing.”

And then the shirt went the way of the jacket and—

No. Bra.

Danny swayed in his fancy shoes. Her breasts were in perfect proportion to her athletic body, high and tight, tipped with nipples that were pink.

Sweeping his hands up, he captured them and then bent down, sucking one and then the other into his mouth.

The groan she let out almost left him coming in his pants.

Chapter 4

Anne let herself arch up to Danny’s mouth as he kissed and sucked at her, the velvet of his tongue lapping and licking, driving her higher and higher. Spearing a hand through his black hair, she held him in place against her breasts, wanting more.

“On the bed,” he said. “We gotta get on the bed.”

He picked her up as if she didn’t weigh a damn thing and laid her out on the bedspread. As he joined her, kneeling over her body, she ran her hands up his six-pack and traced his tattoos. So much ink marked him, but it was not the kind that had been added to impress others. Rather, it was to memorialize that which was important to him: What he’d had put into his skin was a map of grief, the birthdates and quotes and images and portraits of those who had been lost on the service forever with him, forever a part of him.

“Don’t go there,” he said roughly. “Don’t look at them.”

He took her hands from the tattoos.

“Stay in the present with me,” he whispered. “Now we’re alive. Now . . . we’re together. I don’t want to waste a second of this if it’s my only chance.”

There was sadness in his voice, and that was a surprise. She had assumed he’d be relieved that what was happening between them was a one-night-only, a secret, a nevermore instead of an evermore.

His reputation with women was not one of longevity, no matter what he’d said in that rehearsal speech.

“Please,” he said. “Stay with me.”

Danny was magnificent as he hung in the air, on the precipice above her, his broad chest rising and falling like he’d been running, his shoulders bunched up, his biceps and veined forearms striated and strong. He was the male animal, and he was ready to mate.

   
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