Home > Downfall(15)

Author: Jay Crownover

When my lips touched his, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I imagined this moment as I laid alone in my bed in the dark, it was rough, brutal. I was quickly overwhelmed and afraid of how easily I would give into his every want and whim. Reality was light years different. Solo kissed with slow, thorough precision. Moving carefully, as if he sensed I was ready to bolt. Not away from him, but from the rush of feelings he unlocked inside of me. His lips moved across mine with steady intent, coaxing small responses until my mouth opened on a gasp. One of his hands left the ledge above my head and landed on the side of my neck. His warm palm encircled the soft skin, and I could feel my pulse fluttering against his sure hold. His thumb skimmed the line of my jaw, applying just enough pressure to tilt my head back so he could seduce me with the slide of his tongue and the bite of his teeth from another angle.

The kiss scrambled my brain and turned my knees weak. I could hear my heart thundering in my ears and feel the rest of my body reacting to his gentle touch. I was caught completely under his spell, malleable in his hands. I’d never felt this way with anyone before. Not that my previous partners had been mature or considerate enough to take the time to worry about how their touch affected me. My reactions seemed to be the only thing Solo was thinking about. When I moaned softly against his mouth, he made sure to repeat whatever he’d just done to draw the sound out of me again. When I shifted closer, he focused on giving me more of whatever it was that lured me in. It was a dance, and I was blindly following his lead. He had way better moves and far more rhythm than I did.

His tongue twisted around mine and then slicked across the curve of my lower lip. It was still tingling from where I tugged on it when I was nervous. I felt him trying to kiss the owie away, just like Noble had done to him. The gesture was so sweet, so thoughtful, I practically fell into his chest as I surged closer, throwing my arms around his neck in a virtual chokehold. I rested my forehead against the hollow at the base of his tattooed throat and momentarily wondered if ending up in the city was the best or worst thing to ever happen to me.

“Mommy!” Noble’s shrill voice broke us apart and left me blinking up at him like an owl. “I want more ice cream.”

I took a second to catch my breath and lifted shaking fingers to my lips. “Of course she does.” And for once, I could actually accommodate her. It was nice to be able to indulge my kid every once in a while and not worry that ice cream meant my cell phone was getting turned off.

Solo chuckled and fell back a step. He reached out a hand and tugged on the fiery ends of my hair. “You taste sweet and expensive, like really good brandy. The kind you savor all night long.”

I barked out a little laugh. “You taste like the best bad idea.” And a whole lot of fun, but he didn’t need to know that.

“Thanks for dinner. One day you’re going to trust me enough to tell me what your monsters look like.” He turned to walk back to his apartment and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from his retreating figure.

I heaved a sigh and quietly shut my front door. I knew enough about the man next door to understand they would become his monsters, too, as soon as he understood the lengths they would go to in order to keep me and Noble quiet. He already had enough to deal with without taking up my battles as well. It had nothing to do with trust and everything to do with the way my heart couldn’t tell which way was up when I was around him. I wanted to keep him safe almost as much as I wanted to believe he could keep me and Noble from harm.

It was all a convoluted, dangerous mess, but for the first time since I’d crash landed in the city I refused to call home, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.


Sleep was elusive the night after I kissed my luscious neighbor. I knew it was a bad idea, knew the fallout would most likely destroy me, but I couldn’t resist. It was like someone handed me the keys to a luxury car I could never afford and offered me a test drive. There was no way I was ever going to turn down a chance to see just how fast the high-performance vehicle could go, how well it responded, how sweet it handled when I had my hands on it. In my normal day to day, girls like Orley were not placed in my path. They typically went out of their way to avoid guys like me. But every time I turned around, I seemed to be running toward the uptight redhead and catching her as she fell right into my arms. I was done fighting the curious attraction I couldn’t seem to shake.

I could still taste her on my tongue. A lot sweet, a little smoky, and all tentative excitement. She kissed me back like she was afraid of what would happen if she let go of all the rigid control she valiantly tried to cling to whenever we were together. I wasn’t the one who scared her; she was terrified of herself and the way she reacted to me. Knowing I got to her on such a deep, inescapable level did more than make my dick painfully hard. It touched something deep inside of me: a primitive, raw place I didn’t even know I had. One that swelled with pride and pounded with the need to protect and claim. I’d always avoided any kind of commitment in the past, knowing I didn’t have enough left over at the end of the day to give to someone else, but there was something about Orley and her adorable little girl. I couldn’t help but want to find a way to fit them into my crowded life.

Temperatures in the city were still stifling. It was unbearably hot, so I went to bed naked, not that I normally bothered to put anything on before crashing. Modesty was silly when you lived alone. During the night I kicked off the covers and woke from a restless dream with my hand wrapped around my hard, aching cock. I couldn’t remember dream I’d been caught up in, but I remembered red hair and bewildered blue eyes. For someone who had a child and obviously had some shit they were dealing with in their life, Orley was shockingly innocent in her reactions. It was almost as if she’d gone straight from first kiss to motherhood without pausing at all the spots along the way that showed newly sexually active teens how much fun and trouble they could get into with their bodies as they figured out what they liked. She was innocent and untried in a way that was completely addictive and totally alluring. It was impossible to walk away from the challenge of showing her just how good things could be between two people who had the kind of scorching chemistry we did.

I squeezed my dick as I felt pleasure coil around the base of my spine. I kicked at the tangled covers and let images of long, fiery hair and pale, smooth skin dance behind my eyelids. I felt my heart rate speed up and sucked in a breath as a slick layer of sweat beaded on my chest and trickled down the side of my neck. I remembered the way Orley’s lips felt pressed so softly against mine, so soft and supple. I got lost in the phantom touch of her hands sliding across my shoulders and chest. I dived into the fantasy of how hot and slick she would feel wrapped around me. My palm skimmed over the wet head of my dick, slipping through the moisture pooled at the slit, the warmth a poor substitute for the woman I couldn’t stop thinking about.

I tightened my hold, a grunt escaping as my orgasm slowly spiraled outward, electrifying my limbs and shooting bolts of pleasure through my blood. I swore as lazy satisfaction tugged at every inch of my body. It was a good orgasm. One that would’ve been better shared between the dampened skin of the girl next door, but I wasn’t going to complain about the sudden release of tension or the sleepy passion that still sizzled in my veins. Grunting, I pushed out of the bed, intent on making my way to the bathroom to clean up so I could grab a few more hours of sleep. I stopped not even a step away from the bed when I heard a quiet moan filter through the wall.

My eyes widened in shock and my cock tried to rally like a champ when another quiet, delicate sound of pleasure made its way through the annoyingly thin barrier. I couldn’t tell if Orley was still asleep or not, and I briefly wondered if my own unchecked sounds had triggered hers. It was sexy as hell, and way more fun than listening to the crazy couple on the other side fight and fuck. There was another light gasp, followed by a sweet moan, and finally a long breathy sigh I could practically feel touching my damp skin.

I wanted to be close enough to taste the noises Orley was making as she dreamed of me while she was sleeping. I didn’t even stop to question that whomever was giving her pleasure in the middle of the night was me. I knew it without her saying my name. Those sounds, that pleasure, the girl… they were all mine, even if she didn’t fully understand it yet.

When I got back from the bathroom, everything was quiet and still once again. I tried to fall back asleep knowing I had a full day of work, a training session at the gym, and a solid two to three hours of coursework to complete later in the day, but rest was elusive. Instead, I stared up at the dark ceiling imagining what I’d done to Orley in her dreams to draw those sounds out of her. I was anxiously awaiting the day when I would get to put my hands on her and try to make her whisper them against my skin. The possibilities she inspired were endless.

The next day at work dragged. I usually loved joking around with the guys and learning whatever I could from the Boss. I liked being up to my elbows in grease and rusty old engine parts. Today, I couldn’t seem to put anything back together the way it was supposed to go and I’d knocked my head on the elevated hood three times. When I saw the Boss coming my way out of the corner of my eye, I figured he was going to chew my ass for the less-than-stellar work I was cranking out today, but he surprised me when he asked me to come with him back into his office. The man was hard to read. His eyes were darker than mine. He’d had a lifetime to call this city home, and he fought to keep it from burning to the ground and keep the people he loved safe. It had hardened him in a way I never hoped to be. I didn’t want to be stone, unbreakable and cold, but I appreciated those qualities in the man I looked up to more than anyone else.

The older man flicked his fingers in the direction of my face and lifted a black eyebrow. The star tattooed near his eye twitched and I tried not to cringe when he asked, “Why did you lose your last fight?” I was, for all intents and purposes, his protégé. When I lost, when I failed, it was a reflection on him. I never wanted this man to regret giving me a chance to make a better life for myself and provide the means to take care of my mother.

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