Sweet Sizzle, a Red Hot Valentine story.
Valentine’s Day—the bane of Rory Sinclair’s existence. Hard to forgive the one holiday responsible for the single most moronic decision of her life. If it was up to her, she’d skip anything to do with cupid, but with her business partner home sick with the flu, she’s stuck delivering a bunch of cookie bouquets to a local firehouse. Who knows, maybe she’ll cure her Valentine’s Day neurosis and heat up the mattress with a hunky firefighter. Her plan of donning some edible undies and getting her freak on goes up in flames though the instant she steps through the doors of Station 5 and spots Bennet Jackson—the man responsible for her decade long Valentine’s Day boycott.
No matter how hard he’s tried, Ben has never gotten over the innocent girl he foolishly let slip between his fingers. When Rory unexpectedly crashes back into his world, he figures it’s his only shot at righting the wrongs of his past and getting her back in his bed and his life. For good. Unfortunately, she has other plans. Ones that don’t include him. He’s well aware that she has every reason to despise him, but if there’s one thing he’s up for, it’s a challenge. Because there’s no way in hell he’s losing the woman of his dreams again. And this time he’s prepared to pull out every dirty, sexy, and hotter-than-sin trick to convince her to stay.
She stepped through the doorway, and resisted the urge to do an about-face when she spotted Bennet standing in the middle of the room, looking devastatingly gorgeous in a navy sport coat and khakis. Pulse thumping in double time, she took in the bouquet of roses and the suspicious heart-shaped box he held. “What do you think you’re doing?” She wasn’t entirely surprised at him showing up. She knew damn well how persistent Ben could be when he wanted something badly enough.
Too bad he hadn’t wanted her that much ten years ago. He wouldn’t have to resort to overpriced flowers and chocolate.
“I couldn’t let it end like that between us, Ro. I’m not giving up on you so easily.”
“You’re wasting your time.”
“Wrong. When it comes to you, there’s no such thing. I’ll wait forever for you if that’s what it takes.”
An undesired sting pricked at her eyelids. Damn it, she wouldn’t cry. It didn’t matter if the tears were ones of anger and frustration. She’d shed every kind imaginable over Ben. No more.
He closed the distance between them. A familiar sweet essence drifted to her nose, and she dropped her focus to the cellophane-wrapped flowers. Tucked amongst the red roses were dainty cotton candy pink freesia. She blinked, her vision blurring. The lump in her throat was almost worse than the threat of tears. Crying was a form of release, at least. This heaviness paralyzing her vocal chords was a mute bully gleefully suffocating her with her own emotions.
So he’d remembered about the freesia. It meant nothing. And it sure as hell didn’t make up for the endless hurt he’d put her through. She jerked her gaze back to his. “I want you to leave, Ben. There’s nothing here for you anymore.”
He shook his head. “You’re here.”
“I was speaking metaphorically. And besides, technically I’m not going to be around much longer anyway. I was about to close up shop before you came in.”
“It doesn’t smell like it to me.”
Damn those butterscotch scones for ratting her out. “This is a bakery. It always smells like that.”
“Nope. There’s something in the oven. I’d stake twenty bucks on it.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He cocked an eyebrow in challenge. “Don’t suppose you’d mind me going and checking it out first hand then, would ya?” Before she could respond, he sidled past her and strode into the kitchen.
Closing her eyes, she sucked in a steadying breath and counted to ten. By eight it was pretty freakin’ clear her patience had decided to skip out for the night. Grinding her molars, she followed after Bennet. She found him hunched in front of the oven, door wide open while he appreciatively whiffed at the scones inside.
“Damn it, shut that door.”
He did as directed, his teeth a bright flash of white highlighting his obnoxious grin. “Looks like someone owes me twenty bucks.”
“I never said I’d take your bet, smart ass.”
He rose to his feet and settled the flowers and chocolate on the prep station. “Admit it, Ro. You had no intention of seeing someone else tonight.”
“No, I did. I mean I do. Once those scones are finished, I’m going to meet my date for dinner.” Praying Ben would buy that load of bull, she crossed her fingers behind her back.
“Uh huh.” He took a step closer; forcing her to angle her head back enough to meet his gaze full on. “I guaran-damn-tee ya he’d be a waste of your time. Because no way in hell he feels a fraction of what I do for you.”
The persuasion in his whiskey baritone combined with the softness in his eyes provided a double whammy in the battle against her defenses. He was giving her no choice but to play dirty. Gripping the edge of the worktable behind her, she steeled herself and blurted out the biggest lie she’d ever uttered. “I feel nothing for you, Ben. Now please leave.”
Rather than slink out of the kitchen like she’d vainly hoped he would, Ben leaned closer, boxing her against the table. “You were never good at lying, Ro. Even if I didn’t have proof from your response to me earlier when I kissed the daylights out of you at the station, there’s still the small fact that your pretty nipples are waving a salute at me right now.”
She didn’t need to look down to verify he was telling the truth. The traitorous offenders had pebbled into hard peaks the moment he’d invaded her personal space. Every breath she dragged in came with the excruciating side effect of rubbing the lace of her bra against her sensitized flesh. “It doesn’t mean anything.”
“No?” He slid his hands around her waist and coasted them upward until he came to her breasts. Stalling there, he lazily grazed his knuckles back and forth, following the underside of her bra. “I’ll make you a deal. Allow me one kiss. If you still think it means nothing, I’ll leave. For good.”
Oh God. What hope did she have of pretending he left her unaffected if she went along with this? She probably had better odds of hitting the lottery and getting struck by lightning. Simultaneously. But what choice did she have? It was either agree to his insane proposal or spend the rest of the night arguing with him.
Just one kiss. Surely she had enough willpower not to get carried away. The butterflies in her stomach laughing uproariously at that delusional statement, she acquiesced with a resigned nod. “I have your word you’ll leave when I win this bet?”
The confident set of his jaw spoke volumes regarding his faith in being the victor in this round. “Absolutely.”
“Fine. Then give it your best shot, Casanova.” Oh Lord. Why did she tack on that provocation? She might as well wave a red flag at a bull and charge the beast head on. Ben’s nostrils flared, adding to the overall impression. Half certain he was about to paw the floor with his wingtips, she waited for the inevitable pounce. He surprised her by moving in slowly, his hands roving outward along the swells of her breasts. He inched infinitesimally closer, his mouth a hairsbreadth away from hers. She stared into his eyes, her heart drumming. Time stretched into an eternity. The intimacy of their almost kiss straddled the line of unbearable. He was teasing her. Making her long for that first taste. She licked her lips and watched the responding flare of heat in his irises.
But still the tormenting son of a bitch refused to make the next move. Growling under her breath, she gripped the lapels of his jacket. “Kiss me, damn it.”
His mouth crooked into a half smile. “Thought you’d never ask.” Slipping his arms around her, he cradled the back of her head and closed the scant distance separating their lips. The kiss mirrored his leisurely approach to initiating it in the first place, igniting with a slow burn that steadily built into a consuming flame. He tunneled his fingers through her hair, his lips coaxing. She submitted with a shuddery moan and wrapped her arms around his middle, her legs suddenly too wobbly to hold her upright. Ever the gentleman, he scooped her up by the butt and planted her on the edge of the worktable, all the while never ceasing his kisses. Hooking her legs around his waist, he sent a sliding kiss along the slope of her neck, unerringly locating the sweet spot beneath her ear that always did her in. She gasped, arching against him. He gently tugged on her hair, exposing more of her neck for his feasting. Shivers of pleasure chased after his descending mouth. His teeth scraped and nipped, prodding a whimper to escape her. He chuckled, the dark, smoky sound like velvet over her flushed skin.
Bastard knew she was at his mercy. Well, if she was going down hard she was damn well taking him along with her.
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At the ripe age of seven, Jodi Redford penned her first epic, complete with stick figure illustrations. Sadly, her drawing skills haven’t improved much, but her love of fantasy worlds never went away. These days she writes about fairies, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures, only with considerably more heat.
She has won numerous contests, including The Golden Pen and Launching a Star. When not writing or working the day job, she enjoys gardening and way too many reality television shows.
She loves to hear from readers. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her online at www.jodiredford.com and her blog www.jodiredford.blogspot.com . You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.