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Copyright © 2017 by Arabella Cornell
Cover image © Pixabay
Interior design by Pronoun
Distribution by Pronoun
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ALSO BY ARABELLA CORNELL
STRUM BEAT – CHAPTER ONE
THIS IS FOR ALL my rock star sisters – those who read about sexy rock stars, those who write about them, and everyone who adores them, in quiet ways and loud.
CATHERINE SLIPPED HER LEGS out of the bed, moving slowly. She eased the rest of her body out from under the sheet, freezing when the movement interrupted the rhythm of snores coming from the other side. Heart hammering, she waited until the man’s breathing deepened once more before moving away, collecting clothes as she went. She tiptoed out of the room, pushing the door almost closed behind her.
She dressed by the dim moonlight that filtered through the curtains of the hotel room. One sock was missing, but she’d rather risk a blister than go back into the bedroom to find it. She found her boots flung to one side of the doorway. Picking them up, she patted her pockets. Keys, phone, wallet, all accounted for. The door clicked when she unlocked it, loud in the still room. Casting a glance over her shoulder, she exited and closed it behind her. Another click made her cringe and she bolted down the short hallway.
She veered left to the stairs instead of taking the elevator, only pulling on her boots once she was halfway down to the next floor. Her footsteps echoed hollowly as she tried to make her way to the ground floor undetected. Stealth wasn’t her forte, but why should it be? She lived a low-key, clean life. Sneaking around wasn’t a necessity, ever. And yet here she was doing a runner from a high-end hotel in the middle of the night.
She paused at the exit to the ground floor, listening for the sounds of someone following her, but all she could hear were her own breaths. Cracking the door open a fraction, she could see the deserted foyer. Adopting an air of nonchalance, she moved across to sit on a couch near the sliding doors that led to the street outside. An employee appeared behind the reception desk, barely glancing at her as she feigned sending a text message on her phone.
All Catherine wanted to do was run. Run out the door and get away as fast as possible, but her shaking legs had begged her to stop, and running would probably have made her look like a thief. It was best to pretend she belonged there before making a dignified exit. She put her phone back in her pocket and stood, making a show of checking her reflection in the window. Strolling casually towards the door, she could feel every muscle tense. A moment later and she was in the cool night air. She didn’t dare look over her shoulder until she reached the street corner. Nobody was following her.
A taxi rank was a short walk away. She strode towards it, head held high. Acting confident seemed to deter some of the louts who always cruised the city streets at night, or at least she thought it did. She thanked her washing machine for chewing up her little black dress. If she’d been wearing that sweet number, it would have been like a magnet to some of them. Her alternative outfit of designer jeans and a leather jacket was a much better option for walking alone in. Not that she had planned on walking alone at this time of night, or of even being out still. She definitely hadn’t planned for the encounter that had led to this moment.
Three taxis were queued in the rank, bringing forth a sigh of relief. It was mid-week and the streets were quiet, but it always seemed that taxis were hard to find when you needed them. Not tonight, thank goodness. Catherine gave her address, relieved that the female driver didn’t feel the need to make small talk. She could feel the desire to confess to her night’s adventures, but it wasn’t something she should share. Even with her mind still clouded from a few too many bourbons, she knew that. Not that the driver would probably care. It wasn’t like she’d done anything all that unusual in the grand scheme of things.
Once she was home, she stripped off and showered. The hot water washed away the reality of the night, making it seem more like a memory of a TV show instead of real life. She threw the one sock that had made it home with her into the bin. It was a shame. She’d liked those socks. The pattern of skull and crossbones had made her feel rebellious. That alone spoke volumes about how exciting her life was. Normally, anyway.
She had gone to the bar alone on a Wednesday night to drown her sorrows, so to speak. A funding cut meant her job as an art conservator had been cut to three days a week. She could cope, financially, but the feeling that her work wasn’t appreciated got her down. Sure, the decision came from higher up than her boss, but she worked hard and was skilled at what she did. Going out at the new start to her weekend had seemed fitting, but now she was thinking of it as more of an act of pathetic rebellion. Nobody would care.
Her limit was three drinks, she knew that, and yet she’d ordered a fourth. As she had been looking down into the dark liquid she had felt someone watching her. Looking up her gaze had collided with another’s. The eyes, dark in the gloom of the bar, had taken her breath away. They had stared at each other for a long moment before he’d stood and walked over to her. As he had sat on the chair beside hers, she had felt the aura of his body heat.
“Life’s rarely fair, is it?” he’d asked.
The question caught her off guard. She didn’t know what she’d expected him to say, maybe an old, well-worn pick-up line, but not that.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything,” he added.
“No, it’s ok. I am kind of bummed about something. It’s nothing compared to what some people deal with, really. I’m just having a bad day.”
“I hope that’s all it is. You’re too beautiful to look so sad.”
Catherine’s stomach had done a funny little flip at his words. They should have sounded cheap, or even sleazy, but from that perfect mouth they had sounded beautiful. It had been because of the bourbon, of course, it had to have been. She didn’t fall for that sort of thing. Only this time, she had.
He had bought her another drink and they had flirted over the tops of their glasses. She didn’t remember specifics of what had been said, only the way those intense eyes had made her feel. When he’d reached across and taken her hand, the game was over. How they’d ended up back at his hotel room was a blank. Had he asked, or just taken her? Either way, she knew she would have followed him anywhere. It was a scary thought.
She did remember the way she’d kicked off her boots as he’d shut the door behind them. His mouth on hers had tasted dark and smoky, the warmth of his tongue a welcome invasion. She had flung her arms around his neck and he’d lifted her off the floor. Somehow, they had managed to stumble into the bedroom. In the moment that he had put her down to rip off his t-shirt sanity should have returned; she should have come to her senses and left. Instead, she had slipped her jacket off and removed her own top.
He had pulled her against him, kissing her once more as his hands fumbled with her bra catch. With a growl of satisfaction, he released the garment. One hand moved to her chest, cupping her breast before he rolled a thumb over her nipple. Catherine moaned into his mouth, her fingers tangled in his wavy hair. She had plummeted backwards onto the bed, and he had stood over her, looking down with a look of such hunger it should have scared her. Instead, she felt powerful. He had bent and unsnapped her jeans, sliding them, along with her panties, down her legs and off, socks going with them. She had propped herself up on her elbows to watch as he’d removed the rest of his own clothes.
Tattoos decorated most of both of his arms and shoulders, the details escaping her in the moment. It was his lean strong body that caught her eye; the defined muscles under smooth skin. A snail trail of dark hair led downwards from his navel to a sight that should have sobered her up immediately. She watched as he rolled on a condom, feeling only lust for the man she knew almost nothing about.
He had crawled up the bed beside her, almost cat-like in his graceful movements. A wicked smile played on his lips as he watched her face. His hand ran down her trembling body, calloused fingertips abrading her skin deliciously. When he had slipped a finger into her folds, she had almost exploded with desire, instantly wet and aching for him. Her hips lifted off the bed and she clutched wildly at his shoulders. He had moved above her then, looking with deep intensity into her eyes as he’d slid his cock slowly deep into her core.
Within moments any semblance of control disappeared as he thrust deep and hard. Catherine met each thrust with her own desperation, fingernails digging into his back. Her whole body shook as an orgasm began to build. When her climax hit it snapped every muscle rigid, and every breath was a strangled moan. The man came soon after, his roar of animalistic triumph vibrating every fiber of her being.
In the aftermath, they lay entangled, bodies slick with sweat. Catherine closed her eyes, gasping. She could feel tears trickling from her eyes, but her arms lacked the strength to lift a hand to wipe them away. A low, rumbling chuckle came from the man, whose arms still held her tight. She felt the stubble on his chin abrade her cheek as he nuzzled her face. He went still, and she felt him raise his head.
“Shit! Are you ok?”
Catherine opened her eyes to see him gazing down at her with a fearful expression.
“Me? Oh, I’m good. So very good,” she’d replied.
“You’re crying. Did I hurt you?”
“Oh? No. I just, well, it was just kind of intense.”
He watched her for a moment before his intense gaze shifted into a smile.
“It was, wasn’t it?” He rolled onto his back. “Fuck. I don’t know when I last had sex like that, maybe never.”
Catherine didn’t reply. He didn’t need to know she could barely remember the last time she’d had sex, period. A broken heart had led her to uproot her entire life and move to a city she had never even visited. Since then there had been no men in her life. There had been some propositions, sure, but casual sex had seemed so dirty. Now she was thinking dirty was a good thing.
The man, she didn’t know his name, pulled the sheet over them, hugging her close. He caressed her breasts with an unexpectedly gentle touch. Catherine moaned softly, reveling in the sensation. He moved down the bed and ran his tongue over her nipple, circling around and over before sucking at the tip. She threaded her fingers into his hair, wrapping a leg over his body. His hand moved between her legs causing a whimper of need to escape her throat.
The second time they’d had sex was slower, languorous at first. Catherine reveled in the feel of him sliding in and out, her moans and sighs unchecked. He had kissed her tenderly, reading her and driving her body with skill to another cataclysmic orgasm. His own climax had taken longer to follow, and she had watched his face above her in the light of the bedside lamp. He was lost to the world, lost inside her. The sight had been nearly enough to make her come again.
Afterwards, he had fallen asleep. Catherine had watched him sleeping for a while, drinking in the sight of his face. She expected to feel guilty or ashamed, but there was something about him that made it all seem ok. She had still felt the need to leave without saying goodbye, however. Their night had been brief but perfect. Awkward small talk in the morning would ruin it, so she had fled.
Now safe at home, alone, she felt her cheeks flame at the realization of what she’d done. It was a small city. What if she met him again? Would he expect another night together? Would he recognize her at all? A one-night stand went against all her principles and she had no idea how to deal with the possible repercussions. Still, regret refused to form in her heart. She had opened herself up to him in a way she hadn’t thought she was capable of. The result had been the biggest orgasms of her life.