Beautiful Stranger (Beautiful Series #2)by Christina Lauren
Escaping a cheating ex, finance whiz Sara Dillon’s moved to New York City and is looking for excitement and passion without a lot of strings attached. So meeting the irresistible, sexy Brit at a dance club should have meant nothing more than a night’s fun. But the manner—and/b>/i>
The all-new scorching sequel to Beautiful Bastard!
Escaping a cheating ex, finance whiz Sara Dillon’s moved to New York City and is looking for excitement and passion without a lot of strings attached. So meeting the irresistible, sexy Brit at a dance club should have meant nothing more than a night’s fun. But the manner—and speed—with which he melts her inhibitions turns him from a one-time hookup and into her Beautiful Stranger.
The whole city knows that Max Stella loves women, not that he’s ever found one he particularly wants to keep around. Despite pulling in plenty with his Wall Street bad boy charm, it’s not until Sara—and the wild photos she lets him take of her—that he starts wondering if there’s someone for him outside of the bedroom.
Hooking up in places where anybody could catch them, the only thing scarier for Sara than getting caught in public is having Max get too close in private.
Read an Excerpt
“You’re wearing the silver dress or I’m stabbing you,” Julia called from the kitchen zone, as I’d begun calling it. It certainly wasn’t big enough to be labeled a full-fledged kitchen.
I’d gone from an echoing, rambling Victorian in the Chicago suburbs to an adorable East Village apartment roughly the size of my former living room. It felt even smaller once I’d unpacked, put everything in its place, and had my two closest friends come over. The living room/dining room/kitchen area was framed by giant bay windows, but the effect was less palatial and more fishbowl. Julia was only visiting for the weekend, for this night of celebration, but she’d already asked me at least ten times why I’d chosen such a tiny place.
The truth was, I chose it because it was different from anything I’d ever known before. And because tiny apartments were pretty much what you were going to find in New York when you moved there without first securing a place to live.
In the bedroom, I tugged on the hem of the miniature, sequined dress and stared at the extreme amount of blindingly pale leg I was offering up tonight. I hated that my first instinct was to wonder if Andy would think it was too revealing, while my second instinct was to realize I loved it. I’d have to delete all of those old Andy programs, immediately.
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t wear this.”
“Can’t think of one.” Chloe walked into the bedroom wearing a deep blue number that flowed around her like some kind of aura. She looked, as usual, unbelievable. “We’re drinking and dancing, so showing some skin is requisite.”
“I don’t know how much skin I want to show,” I said. “I’m dedicated to my freshly minted single-girl card.”
“Well, some of the women there will be showing bare ass, so you won’t stand out if that’s what you’re worried about. Besides,” she said, pointing to the street below, “it’s too late to change. The limo’s here.”
“You should be showing bare ass. You’re the one who’s been naked-sunbathing and day-drunk in a French villa for the past three weeks,” I said.
Chloe gave a little secret smile and tugged my arm. “Let’s go, gorgeous. I’ve spent the past few weeks with the BB. I’m ready for a night out with the girls.”
We piled into the waiting car and Julia popped the champagne. With just one tingling, bubbling gulp, the entire world around me seemed to evaporate until we were just three young friends in a limo barreling down the street to celebrate a new life.
And this night we weren’t just celebrating my arrival: Chloe Mills was getting hitched, Julia was visiting, and the newly single Sara had some living to do.
The club was dark, deafening, and filled with writhing bodies: on the dance floor, in the halls, against the bar. A DJ spun music from a small stage, and flyers plastered all across the front promised that she was the newest and hottest DJ Chelsea had to offer.
Julia and Chloe seemed entirely in their element. I felt like I’d spent most of my childhood and adult life so far at quiet, formal events; here it was as if I’d stepped out of the pages of my quiet Chicago story and into the quintessential New York tale instead.
It was perfect.
I shoved my way up to the bar—cheeks flushed, hair damp, and legs feeling like they hadn’t been properly used like this in years.
“Excuse me!” I shouted, trying to get the bartender’s attention. Though I had no idea what any of it actually meant, I’d already ordered slippery nipples, cement mixers, and purple hooters. At this point, with the club at maximum density and the music so loud it shook my bones, he wouldn’t even look up at me. Admittedly, he was slammed and making such a small number of tedious shots was annoying. But I had an intoxicated, newly affianced friend burning a hole in the dance floor, and said girlfriend wanted more shots.
“Hey!” I called, slapping the bar.
“Sure is doing his best to ignore you, in’t he?”
I blinked up—and up—at the man pressed close to me at the crowded bar. He was roughly the size of a redwood, and nodded toward the bartender to indicate his meaning. “You never yell at a bartender, Petal. Especially not with what you’re going to order: Pete hates making girly drinks.”
Of course. It would be just my luck to meet a gorgeous man just days after swearing off men forever. A man with a British accent to boot. The universe was a hilarious bitch.
“How do you know what I was going to order?” My grin grew wider, hopefully matching his, but most likely looking a lot tipsier. I was grateful for the drinks I’d already had, because sober Sara would give him monosyllables and an awkward nod and be done with it. “Maybe I was going to get a pint of Guinness. You never know.”
“Unlikely. I’ve seen you ordering tiny purple drinks all night.”
He’d been watching me all night? I couldn’t decide if that was fantastic, or a little creepy.
I shifted on my feet and he followed my movements. He had angled features with a sharp jaw and a carved hollow beneath his cheekbones, eyes that seemed backlit and heavy, dark brows, a deep dimple on his left cheek when the grin spread down to his lips. This man had to be well over six feet, with a torso it would take my hands many moons to explore.
Hello, Big Apple.
The bartender returned, then looked at the man beside me expectantly. My beautiful stranger barely raised his voice, but it was so deep it carried without effort: “Three fingers of Macallan’s, Pete, and whatever this lady is having. She’s been waiting a spell, yeah?” He turned to me, wearing a smile that made something dormant warm deep in my belly. “How many fingers would you like?”
His words exploded in my brain and my veins filled with adrenaline. “What did you just say?”
Innocence. He tried it on, smoothing it over his features. Somehow he made it work, but I could see from the way his eyes narrowed that there wasn’t an innocent cell in his body.
“Did you really just offer me three fingers?” I asked.
He laughed, spreading out the biggest hand I’d ever seen on the bar just between us. His fingers were the kind that could curl around a basketball and dwarf it. “Petal, you’d best start with two.”
I looked more closely at him. Friendly eyes, standing not too close, but close enough that I knew he had come to this part of the bar specifically to talk to me. “You give good innuendo.”
The bartender rapped the bar with his knuckles and asked for my order. I cleared my throat, steeling myself. “Three blow jobs.” I ignored his irritated huff and turned back to my stranger.
“You don’t sound like a New Yorker,” he said, grin fading slightly but never leaving his constantly smiling eyes.
“Neither do you.”
“Touché. Born in Leeds, worked in London, and moved here six years ago.”
“Five days,” I admitted, pointing to my chest. “From Chicago. The company I used to work for opened an office here and brought me back on to head up Finance.”
Whoa, Sara. Too much information. Way to enable stalkers.
It had been so long since I’d even looked at another man. Clearly Andy had been a master in this kind of situation, but unfortunately I had no idea how to flirt anymore. I glanced back to where I expected to see Julia and Chloe dancing, but I couldn’t find them in the tangle of bodies on the floor. I was so rusty in this ritual I was practically revirginized.
“Finance? I’m a numbers man myself,” he said, and waited until I looked back at him before turning the smile up a few notches. “Nice to see women doing it. Too many grouchy men in trousers having meetings just to hear themselves say the same thing over and over.”
Smiling, I said, “I’m grouchy sometimes. I also wear trousers sometimes, too.”
“I bet you also wear pants.”
I narrowed my eyes. “That means something else in British, doesn’t it? Are you giving me innuendo again?”
His laugh spread warm across my skin. “Pants are what you Americans so blandly call ‘underwear.’ ” When he said this, the “un” sounded like a noise he might make during sex, and something inside me melted. While I gaped at him, my stranger tilted his head, looking me over. “You’re rather sweet. You don’t look like you come to these kinds of establishments very often.”
He was right, but was it that obvious? “I’m really not sure how to take that.”
“Take it as a compliment. You’re the freshest thing in this place.” He cleared his throat and looked to where Pete was returning with my shots. “Why are you carrying all these sticky drinks out to the dance floor?”
“My friend just got engaged. We’re doing the girls’ night out thing.”
“So then you’re unlikely to leave here with me.”
I blinked, and then blinked again, hard. With this frank suggestion, I was officially out of my depth. Way out of my depth. “I . . . what? No.”
“You’re serious? You just met me.”
“And already I have a strong urge to devour you.” His words were delivered slowly, almost a whisper, but they rang through my head like a cymbal crash. It was obvious he wasn’t new to this kind of interaction—the proposition of no-strings-attached sex—and although I was, when he looked at me like that I knew I was bound to follow him anywhere.
Every shot I’d had seemed to hit me all at once and I weaved a little in front of him. He steadied me with his hand on my elbow, grinning down at me.
I blinked back into awareness, feeling my head clear slightly. “Okay, when you smile at me like that, I want to climb you. And God knows it’s been forever since I’ve been properly manhandled.” I looked him up and down, all pretense of polite society apparently gone. “And something tells me you could more than do the job—I mean, holy hell, look at you.”
And I did. Again. I took a steadying breath and was met with his amused grin. “But I’ve never just randomly hooked up with some stranger at a bar, and I’m here with friends, celebrating the awesome marriage they’re going to have, and so”—I gathered up my shots—“we’re going to do these.”
He nodded once, slowly, his smile turning a little brighter, as if he’d just accepted a challenge. “Okay.”
“So I’ll see you later.”
“One can hope.”
“Enjoy your three fingers, stranger.”
He laughed. “Enjoy the blow jobs.”
I found Chloe and Julia at the table, collapsed and sweaty, and slid the shots down in front of them. Julia put one in front of Chloe and held her own aloft.
“May all of your blow jobs go down so easily.” She wrapped her mouth around the rim, held both hands up in the air, and tipped her head back, swallowing the entire shot without blinking.
“Holy balls,” I mumbled, staring at her in awe, as Chloe broke into laughter beside me. “Is that how I’m supposed to do it?” I lowered my voice, looking around. “Like an actual blow job?”
“It’s a miracle I still have any gag reflex.” Julia rather indelicately wiped her forearm across her mouth and chin, explaining, “I did a lot of beer bongs in college. Let’s go.” She nudged Chloe. “Bottoms up.”
Chloe bent to the table and took the shot hands-free, as Julia had, and then it was my turn. Both of my friends turned to look at me.
“I met a hot guy,” I said without thinking. “Really hot. And, like, seventeen feet tall.”
Julia gaped at me. “Then why are you standing here doing fake blow jobs with us?”
I laughed, shaking my head. I had no idea how to answer that. I could have left with him, and it really could have gone to BJ territory in someone else’s far more daring life. “It’s a girls’ night out. You’re only here for two days. I’m good.”
“Fuck that noise. Go get some.”
Chloe came to my rescue: “I’m just glad you met someone you thought was hot. It’s been forever since you had this sort of happy boy-related smile.” Her own smile vanished as she reconsidered. “Come to think of it, I’ve never seen you with a happy boy-related smile.”
And with that truth placed so plainly on the table, I picked up my shot, ignoring Julia’s protest about my bad form, and downed it. It was sweet, delicious, and just what I needed to clear my head of the jerk in Chicago and the beautiful stranger at the bar. I dragged my friends out to the dance floor.
Within seconds I felt boneless, mindless, deliciously untethered. Chloe and Julia bounced around me, yell-sang the songs, lost themselves in the mass of sweaty bodies all around us. I wanted my youth to linger a little bit. Away from my routine, overscheduled life in Chicago I could see I hadn’t enjoyed it properly. Only here, with the DJ melting song to song, did I see how I could have spent my early twenties: under the lights, dancing in a scrap of a dress, meeting men who wanted to devour me, watching my girlfriends be wild and silly and young.
I didn’t have to move in with my boyfriend when I was twenty-two.
I could have lived a life outside the straight-and-narrow world of society functions and glad-handing.
I could have been this girl instead—dressed to the nines, dancing her heart out.
Lucky for me, it wasn’t too late. I met Chloe’s elated smile and returned it.
“I’m so glad you’re here!” she yelled over the music.
I started to reply with some similar screaming drunken oath of friendship, but just behind Chloe, set into the shadows off the dance floor, stood my stranger. Our eyes met, and neither of us looked away. He was sipping his three fingers of scotch with a friend, but I could tell by how unsurprised he seemed to be caught staring that he’d been watching every move I made.
The effect of this realization was more potent than the alcohol. It heated every inch of my skin, burned a hole directly through my chest and lower: down past my ribs, and deep into my belly. He lifted his glass, took a sip, and smiled. I felt my eyes rolling closed.
I wanted to dance for him.
Never in my life had I felt so sexy, so completely in control of what I wanted. I’d made it through my master’s degree, found a well-paying job, and even redecorated my house on a budget. But I’d never felt like a grown woman the way I did right now, dancing like crazy with a beautiful stranger standing in the shadows, watching me.
This—this moment was exactly how I wanted to start fresh.
What would it mean to be devoured? Did he mean that as explicitly as it sounded—his head between my thighs, arms wrapped to my hips, holding me open? Or did he mean over me, inside me, sucking my mouth and my neck and my breasts?
A smile spread across my face, my arms stretched up to the ceiling. I could feel the hem of my dress inching up my thighs and didn’t care. I wondered if he noticed. I hoped he noticed.
If I thought he’d walked away, it would have deflated the moment, so I didn’t look over his way again. I was unaccustomed to bar flirtation protocol; maybe his attention lasted all of five seconds, maybe it lasted all night. It didn’t matter. I could pretend he was there in the darkness for as long as I was here in the strobing lights on the floor. I’d grown to never expect much of Andy’s attention, but with this stranger, I wanted his eyes burning through my skin to where my heart thrashed against my ribs.
I lost myself to the music, and memories of his hand on my elbow, his dark eyes and the word devour.
One song bled into another, and then another, and before I could come up for air, Chloe’s arms were around my shoulders and she was laughing into my ear, jumping up and down with me.
“You’ve attracted an audience!” she yelled so loud above the music that I winced, pulling back.
She nodded to the side, and only then did I notice we were surrounded by a group of men wearing tight, dark clothes and grinding suggestively at the air near them. Looking back at Chloe, I saw that her eyes were bright and so familiar, this take-no-prisoners woman who had worked her way to the top of what was now one of the world’s largest media firms and who knew exactly what this night meant to me. Suddenly cool air spread over my skin from the fans overhead and I blinked back into consciousness, still giddy that I was actually in New York City, actually starting over. Actually enjoying myself.
But behind Chloe, the shadows were dark and empty; no stranger stood there watching me.
My stomach dropped a little. “I need to hit the ladies’,” I told her.
I wormed my way through the circle of men, off the dance floor, and followed the signs to the second floor, which was essentially a balcony overlooking the entire club. I walked down a narrow hallway and into the bathroom, which was so bright that a pulse of pain spiked from my eyes to the back of my head. The room was eerily empty, and the music downstairs felt like it was coming up from underwater.
On my way out, I fixed my hair, mentally high-fived myself for putting on a rumple-free dress, and touched up my lipstick.
I walked out of the door and right into a wall of man.
We’d been close at the bar, but not this close. Not my face to his throat, the smell of him surrounding me. He didn’t smell like the men on the dance floor, awash in cologne. He just smelled clean, and like a man who did his laundry, and who also had a touch of scotch on his lips.
“I was watching you dance, you tiny, wild thing.”
“I saw you.” I could barely catch my breath. My legs felt wobbly, like they weren’t sure if they should collapse or go back to rhythmically bouncing across the floor. I chewed my bottom lip, suppressing a smile. “You’re such a creepster. Why didn’t you come out and dance with me?”
“Because I think you rather liked being watched instead.”
I swallowed, gaping up at him and unable to look away. I couldn’t tell what color his eyes were. At the bar I’d assumed brown. But there was something lighter gleaming here in this part of the club, just above the strobes. Greenish, yellow, something mesmerizing. Not only had I known he was watching me—and liked it—but I’d danced entirely to the fantasy of him devouring me.
“Did you imagine I was getting hard?”
I blinked. I could barely keep up with his bluntness. Had men like this always existed, who said exactly what they—and I—were thinking without sounding scary, or rude, or pushy? How did he manage it?
“Wow,” I gasped. “Were you . . . ?”
He reached down, took my hand, and pressed it firmly to where he was erect, already arching into my palm. Without thinking, I curled my fingers around him. “This is from watching me dance?”
“Are you always such a performer?”
If I hadn’t been so thunderstruck, I would have laughed. “Never.”
He studied me, the smile still in his eyes but his lips fixed into something more thoughtful. “Come home with me.”
This time I did laugh. “No.”
“Come to my car.”
“No. There is no way I’m leaving this club with you.”
He bent and pressed a small, careful kiss to my shoulder before telling me, “But I want to touch you.”
I couldn’t pretend that I didn’t want it, too. It was dark, with flashing arrhythmic lights, and music so loud it felt like it hijacked my pulse. What harm could come from one wild night? After all, Andy had so many.
I led him past the restrooms, farther down the narrow hallway, to a tiny abandoned alcove overlooking the DJ station. We were trapped at a dead end, secluded around a corner but by no means hidden. Other than the wall forming the back of the club, the rest of the space around us was open, and only a waist-high glass wall kept us from falling to the dance floor below. “Okay. Touch me over here.”
He raised an eyebrow, ran a long finger across my collarbone, from one shoulder to the other. “What exactly are you offering?”
I met those strangely backlit eyes that seemed so amused by everything around him. He looked normal, so sane for someone who followed me through a club and bluntly told me he wanted to touch me. I remembered Andy, and how rarely—outside of keeping up appearances—he ever wanted my touch, my conversation, my anything. Is this how it happened for him? A woman would pull him aside, offer herself, and he would take whatever he could before coming home to me? Meanwhile, my life had become so small I could hardly remember how I used to fill the long nights alone.
Was it greedy to want it all? A career to die for, and a crazy moment here and there?
“You’re not a psychopath, are you?”
Laughing, he bent to kiss my cheek. “You’re making me feel a touch crazy, but no, I’m not.”
“I just . . .” I started, and then looked down. I pressed my hand flat against his chest. His gray sweater was unbelievably soft—cashmere, I thought. His jeans were dark, and fit him perfectly. His black shoes were unscuffed. Everything about him was meticulous. “I only just moved here.” It seemed a fitting explanation for how much my hand was shaking against him.
“And a moment like this doesn’t feel very safe, does it?”
I shook my head. “Not at all.” But then I reached up, wrapped a hand around the back of his neck, and pulled him to me. He moved willingly, bending down and smiling just before our lips met. The kiss was both the perfect kind of soft and the perfect kind of hard, with the scotch warming his lips against mine. He groaned a little when I opened my mouth and let him in, and the vibration set me on fire. I wanted to feel every one of his sounds.
“You taste like sugar. What’s your name?” he asked.
With that, I felt my first real pulse of panic. “No names.”
He pulled back to look at me, eyebrows inching up. “What’ll I call you?”
“What you’ve been calling me.”
“And what’ll you call me when you’re about to come?” He gave me another small kiss.
My heart jerked hard in my chest at the thought. “I don’t think it matters what I call you, does it?”
Shrugging, he conceded, “I don’t suppose so.”
I took his hand, brought it to my hip. “I’ve been the only person to give myself an orgasm for the past year.” Moving his fingers to the edge of my dress, I whispered, “Can you change that?”
I could feel his smile against my mouth when he bent to kiss me again. “You’re serious.”
The idea of giving myself to this man in this dark corner scared me a little, though not enough to change my mind. “I’m serious.”
“I promise you, I’m not.”
He pulled back just enough to examine my eyes. Back and forth his gaze moved until his eyes curved into that amused smile. “The fact that you have no idea how you come off . . .”
He turned me, pressed my front to the edge of the glass wall so I was looking over the balcony at the mass of churning bodies below. Strobe lights pulsed down from iron beams that extended across the club just in front of me, lighting the floor beneath while keeping our upstairs corner virtually black. Steam began to blow up from vents in the dance floor, covering the partiers up to their shoulders; waves broke out in the surface as they moved through it.
My stranger’s fingertips teased at the back edge of my dress, and then he lifted it, slid a hand down the back of my underwear, over my backside and between my legs to where I positively ached for him. Even the vulnerable position didn’t embarrass me as I arched back into his hand, already lost.
“You’re drenched, sweetheart. What’s it you like? The idea that we’re doing this here? Or that I watched you think about fucking me while you danced?”
I didn’t say anything, too afraid of what the answer might be, but I gasped when he slid a long finger inside me. Thoughts of what I should do blurred along the edges as I thought about boring Sara in Chicago. Predictable Sara who always did what everyone expected of her. I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I wanted to be reckless and wild and young. I wanted to live for myself for the first time in my life.
“You’re a tiny little thing, but when you’re slippery like this, I’m quite sure you could easily take those three fingers.” He laughed into a kiss he pressed to the back of my neck as a broad fingertip circled my clit, teasing and slow.
“Please,” I whispered. I had no idea if he could hear me. His face was pressed to my hair, and I could feel his cock pressed to the side of my hip, but other than that, I was unaware of anything beyond his long finger sliding back into me.
“Your skin is amazing. Particularly here.” He kissed my shoulder. “Did you know the back of your neck is perfect?”
I turned, smiled up at him. His eyes were wide open and clear, and when they met mine, they curved into a smile. I’d never looked someone so closely in the eye when they were touching me like this and something about this man, and this night, and this city, made me immediately sure this was the best decision I’d ever made.
Dear New York, You are brilliant. Love, Sara.
P.S. This is definitely not the alcohol talking.
“I don’t have many chances to look at the back of my neck.”
“A shame, really.” He pulled his hand away and I felt a mild chill where his warm fingers had been. He dug into his pocket and pulled out a tiny package.
A condom. He just happened to have a condom in his pocket. It would never have occurred to me to bring a condom with me to some random club.
Turning me to face him, he swiveled us, pressed me back against the wall and bent to kiss me, first soft and then harder, hungrier. When I thought I’d lose my breath, he wandered away, sucking at my jaw, my ear, my neck, where my pulse hammered wildly. My dress had fallen back down my thighs, but his fingers teased at the edge, slowly lifting.
“Someone could walk down here,” he reminded me, giving me one last out, even as he lowered my panties enough for me to step out of them.
I didn’t care. Not even a little. And maybe even a tiny part of me wanted someone to wander up here, to see this perfect man touching me like this. I could hardly think of anything other than where his hands were, how my skirt was over my hips now, how he pressed so hard and insistent against my stomach.
“You’re drunk. Too drunk for this? I want you to remember it if I fuck you.”
“So make it memorable.”
He lifted my leg, spreading me, exposing my bare skin to the cool air-conditioning blowing from just above us, and hooked my knee around his hip, making me grateful for my four-inch heels. Reaching between us, I unbuttoned his jeans, pushed his boxers down just enough in front to free him, and wrapped my hand around his erection, rubbing it across my wetness.
“Fuck, Petal. Let me get this on.”
His pants were open but slung over his hips. From the back we could even appear to be dancing, maybe just kissing. But he pulsed in my palm, and the reality of the situation made me wild. He was going to take me, right here, overlooking the crowd below. In that crowd were people who knew me as Good Sara, Responsible Sara, Andy’s Sara.
New home, new job, new life. New Sara.
My stranger was heavy and so long in my hand. I wanted him and was also a little terrified that he might impale me. I wasn’t sure I’d ever held a man who got this hard.
“You’re big,” I blurted.
He smiled, a wolf truly about to devour me, and quickly tore the condom package with his teeth. “That is the best thing you can say to a man. You could even tell me you’re not sure I’ll fit.”
I swept the tip across my opening, and trembled from it. He was so warm: soft skin, hard beneath.
“Fuck. I’m going to come all over your fist if you don’t stop that.” His hands shook a little with urgency as he pulled himself from my grip to roll on the condom.
“Do you do this a lot?” I asked.
He was right there, poised against me, his smile aimed at my face. “Do what? Sex with a beautiful woman who won’t tell me her name and prefers me to fuck her in a public hallway rather than in a proper place like a bed, or a limo?” He started to push in, achingly slow. The light burned in his eyes, and—holy crap—I didn’t think sex with strangers was supposed to be intimate like this. He watched every reaction cross my face. “No, Petal. I must admit I’ve never done this.”
His voice was tight, and then his words fell away because he was deep inside me, here in this chaotic club with living, breathing lights and music pulsing all around us, where people walked past unaware only fifteen feet away. And yet, my entire world reduced to the place where he filled me, where he rubbed firmly against my clit with every stroke, where the warm skin of his hips pressed to my thighs.
There wasn’t any more talking, only small thrusts that grew faster, and harder. The space between us filled instead with quiet sounds of praise and urging. His teeth pressed into my neck and I gripped his shoulders for fear I might fall over the edge or even somewhere else, not onto a dance floor but into a world where I couldn’t get enough of being so exposed, having my pleasure so visible to anyone watching—especially this man.
“Christ, you’re gorgeous.” He leaned back, looking down, and sped up a little. “I can’t stop looking at your perfect skin and—fuck—where I’m moving in you.”
Light was clearly on his side because to me he was backlit, just the silhouette of my stranger. I could see nothing when I looked down but dark shadows and the suggestion of movement: him into me, and out again. Slick and hard, pressing against me with every pass. And, as if to emphasize that I didn’t really need to see anyway, the lights dimmed almost to black as a lazy, oscillating beat filled the club.
“I took video of you dancing,” he whispered.
It was a few, long moments before his words registered above the feeling of him moving in me. “Wh—what?”
“I don’t know why. I won’t show it round. I just . . .” He watched my face, slowing down enough presumably so I could think. “You were so fucking possessed. I wanted to remember. Bloody hell, I feel like I’m confessing my sins.”
I swallowed, and he bent closer, kissing me before I asked, “Is it weird that I like that you did that?”
He laughed into my mouth, moving in and out of me again with slow, deliberate strokes. “Just enjoy it, right? I like to watch you. You were performing for me. There isn’t anything wrong with it.”
He lifted my other leg, wrapping both around his waist, and then, for the span of several perfect seconds in the darkness, he started to really move. Fast and urgent, he let out the most delicious grunts and there would be no question what was happening if someone happened upon our little corner of this balcony. With that thought alone—where we were, what we were doing, and the possibility that someone could see this man taking me so roughly—I was lost. My head rolled back against the wall and I could feel it
building in my belly so low and heavy, an aching ball rolling down my spine and then out, exploding along my sex so hard I cried out, not even caring a little if anyone could hear me. I didn’t even need to see his face to know he was watching me come apart.
“Holy fuck.” His hips grew jagged and rough and then he came with a low groan, fingers digging hard into my hips.
He might bruise me, I thought. And then: I hope he bruises me.
I wanted a reminder of this night, and this Sara when I left, to better differentiate the new life I was so determined to have from the old one.
He stilled, leaning heavily against me, with his lips planted gently against my neck. “Good Lord, little stranger. You’ve wrecked me.”
He pulsed in me—aftershocks of his orgasm—and I wanted him to stay buried deep like this for eternity. I imagined how we looked from across the club: a man pressing a woman to a wall, the hint of her legs around his hips visible in the darkness.
His broad hand smoothed up my leg from my ankle to my hip, and then with a small moan he pulled out, set me on my feet, stepped back, and unrolled the condom.
Holy hell, I had never even come close to doing something this insane. My grin took over my entire face as my legs shook almost to the point of collapse.
Don’t freak out, Sara. Don’t freak out.
It was perfect. Everything about this had been perfect, but it had to end right here. Do it all differently. No names, no strings. No regrets.
Straightening my dress, I stretched on my toes to kiss his lips once. “That was unbelievable.”
He nodded, humming a little into the kiss. “It was. Shall we—?”
“I’m going to go downstairs.” I began to back away and gave him a small wave.
He stared at me, confused. “You’re—”
“Good. I’m good. You’re good?”
He nodded, dazed.
“So . . . thanks.” Adrenaline still buzzing in my veins, I turned before he could respond, and left him standing with his pants unbuttoned, his lips twisted in a surprised grin.
Minutes later I found Chloe and Julia, both of them ready to head home. Arm in arm we left the club, and only after we were in the limo, and I was silently reliving every second of what had just happened with that strange, powerful man, did I remember: I’d left my underwear on the floor at his feet, and the video of me dancing on his phone.
Meet the Author
Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of longtime writing partners/besties/soulmates and brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the New York Times, USA TODAY, and #1 international bestselling authors of the Beautiful and Wild Seasons series, Sublime, The House, and Autoboyography. You can find them online at ChristinaLaurenBooks.com, Facebook.com/ChristinaLaurenBooks, or @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Christina Lauren has become one of my favorite authors. I loved Bennett and now love Max as well! Oh how I would love to have either of those boys!
I really enjoyed reading this book. I like it better than BB, which I also enjoyed. One of the best things is that it kept me up with Chloe and Bennett, which I wanted more of after BB was over. I'd love to see a book 3 and let the story continue. I know many people complain it all started from Fan Fiction and that the story line or writing isn't always great, but it's fun to read and a page turner. Where ever a person gets inspiration from, as long as it is truly their own idea, in terms of the overall story is fine with me. If I wanted deep, interllectual narrative, I'd read a book that would satisfy that need. Right now, I just loved reading about these characters. It was fun.
WOW!! Great read, great story, great dialogue and great characters.... Sara is a strong, confident young woman who meets Max, sexy British, rich fella... So refreshing to read about the main character who is not full of angst and insecurities.. Thank you for writing this enjoyable book which depicts women as strong even after dealing with heartbreak.. Yeah you both authors....Keep on writing,, LOVETOREAD
Loved this book! Max is AMAZING all on his own, but him and Sara together make for a fierce couple! I love Christina Lauren's writing style. The way they write really draws you in and keeps you interested every step of the way! Hope there is more to come. Hopefully Will!
Loved this book! I loved how the story from Beautiful Bastard progressed a little bit but this story was able to hold its own. Great continuation of the series!
It is refreshing to get lost in such a well written original storyline. I couldn't put the book down!
I could not put this book down. Can not wait for the next book.
Everyone needs a sexy Brit in there life! This was one steamy book! Loved it keep 'em coming ladies!!
Hot sexy read.
If you liked Beautiful Bastard you will like Beautiful Stranger....it was fun, hot! I liked the tie in with Beautiful Bastard...still laughing!
Didnt think anything would compete with Beautiful Bastard but you girls nailed it again!!
This book is around 215 pages of absolute bliss! I loved it from begining to end and I was hoping it wouldnt end.. The best part of the book was yes they had a fumble in the relationship but it was quickly squashed and moved on to the absolute love they had between them, very refreshing reading a love story about the love they found and shared and not so much drama and mishaps instead... well done!
Sara Dillon leaves Chicago and her cheating boyfriend to start over in New York. Hired as a financial executive with Ryan Media Group, she is out with a group of friends when she meets a beautiful stranger at a bar. As she dances, she sees that he is watching and she dances just for him. No names were exchanged when they have sex in a secluded alcove. She leaves with her friends. But Max Stella is fascinated with the woman and learns her name. From there they progress to sexual buddies but somewhere along the line, it becomes serious. Sara was burned once and is terrified that Max will hurt her. Max has never been in love before and has been known as a playboy but this time, he is the one who could be hurt if Sara left. Love the character of Max! A playboy until he meets Sara and lets her know that trust goes both ways and his heart could also be broken
I read this book after seeing it at target. I absolutely fell in love with the story lines and the character. I have bought and read every book in the series and even moved on to her next series starting with dirty rowdy thing, then fell in love with that series too. I even told friends about these books and let them read it. LOVE LOVE LOVE them all!!!
This was my favorite in the series.These two ladies know how to weave you into a story. So much so, you feel that desperate need for release or feel what ever they are feeling at that moment. They pull you in! And when you read that last sentence at the end of the book, you sit there completely dumbfounded because it's over. That is the wonder and beauty of reading these books! You will Not be able to put them down until you are done.
This series is consuming me. All I want to do is watch these couples fall in love, make mistakes, make up, and make some babies. Sexy as hell, charming, insatiable, Max Stella is a new favorite hero of mine! We met Sara Dillon in Beautiful Bastard, Chloe’s best friend and co-worker. In Beautiful Stranger, she moves to New York head up finance in the new branch of Ryan Media Group. Starting over and finding this new version of herself are her goals. She doesn’t expect to have a little thrill with a gorgeous stranger in the back of a bar. It was H-O-T! It was the simple fact that I didn’t want to be anyone else’s but my own for a while. And although this thing with Max was insane and completely different from anything I’d ever felt before—I was different—I liked it. A lot. Max Stella (his name is really sexy, right?!) is a ladies man and a regular in New York’s Page Six gossip magazine. Time shifted in his eyes when he met her: everything was “Before Sara” and “After Sara.” Naturally, he was thrilled to discover his friend Bennett was also her boss. What started as a one-night became several Fridays of public meet-ups for sex. The time between their meetings condensed while their feelings for each other expanded and clouded the original terms their little arrangement. What I love about this series is how all of the guys seem to be chasing the girls, rather than the other way around. Since I cheated and read Beautiful Player first (I know!), I already know that Will falls for Hannah while she is none the wiser, just like Bennett in Beautiful Bastard and Max in this book. "I watched her walk away, head straight and shoulders back. Looking to all the world as if she were returning from nothing but a brisk walk through the park. I looked around me as if it were possible to collect together the heart I’d nearly spilled all over the grass." There was something so utterly charming about Max. Maybe it was his British accent or the upper crust air about him, but I absolutely adored him. Sara and Max just clicked from the start. From their cute banter to the way love-drunk way they looked at one another, I just loved them as a couple. And OMG this line! I had to catch my breath after reading it! SWOONSSSSS ALL OVER THE PLACE! “The way you seem nervous makes me think you don’t know that I’m in love with you.” Christina Lauren write falling in love so well while keeping the book really steamy. So many times, the sex can overtake a book. But even though some of Christina Lauren’s books are super heavy on the sex, I still feel the characters’ chemistry, growing emotional connection, and love for each other. That’s huge for me! Like my complaints in the Christina Lauren’s other books, I wasn’t a huge fan of the extra sexual kink in this book – the whole public sex thing. In Beautiful Bastard, the panty-ripping bit seemed excessive and unnecessary. Here, Max discovers that Sara has a penchant for public sex and she gets off on the prospect of others watching her and Max while they get busy. This didn’t bother me as much since it was established from the beginning, but I still didn’t love it. Seriously, guys, jump on the Beautiful Bastard train. I’m leaving this station and continuing on to Will-land. Join me? Choo Choo!! 3.5 stars
Absolutely loved this book, 2nd in the Beautiful series. The authors just have a way with words that just suck me in. I loved Max and Sara. I loved how hard Max had to work for it. I also loved "Fridays". Hot, swoony, sexy as hell read from start to finish. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
Y'all, I have a new book boyfriend and his name is Max freaking Stella. I loved this book so freaking hard. Like I said when I reviewed Beautiful Bastard, I am absolutely kicking myself for not reading these books sooner. Though, there is something to be said for a lovely Christina Lauren binge-read. What starts out as a one night stand ends up as so much more in Beautiful Stranger. I was hopelessly hooked on all things Sara and Max right from their first encounter. Their trysts were hot. But I loved more than than just the sexy times they shared. I thoroughly enjoyed just watching them interact with each other. Despite their unconventional start, it wasn't long before it was easy to see just how much they really felt for one another. One of my favorite things about this book (besides EVERYTHING) was the role reversal. In so many books, it's the woman who wants more and the man who holds back. Not here. Sara wanted to keep things casual and private (except, you know, when they were exploring their voyeuristic sides and taking photos) and Max, the former playboy and hot British man, was interested in more. I loved how this shifted the story a bit. I know the reformed bad boy thing can get tiresome after awhile, but it didn't AT ALL when it came to Max. I think that's partially because we don't actually SEE that side of him. It's not a secret, but we didn't have to watch it. Somehow that made it better for me. Sara's history was interesting, and while we didn't find out the truth until later in the book, I could understand why she was cautious about being seen with a man as much in the public eye as Max was. Beautiful Stranger had it all. It was funny, sexy and sweet. It was also a little more emotional than I thought it would be going in. There were definitely some teary eyes as I got to the end of the story. But, it all ended with a big smile on my face. Most importantly, I loved the characters in this book. Sara and Max were both fantastic. I enjoyed their character development throughout. I loved how they pushed each other. But, most of all, I just adored them together. As a bonus, Chloe and Bennett played a pretty large part in the book and I loved catching up with them. I'm definitely intrigued by Will and am excited to start Beautiful Player. This has quickly become one of my favorite series. I listened to the audiobook version of this, which was damn near perfection. Both Grace Grant and Jonathan Cole were fantastic narrators. I could feel the emotion of the story through each of them. While I'm sure this book would've been just as enjoyable if read in eBook or paperback format, there's a huge bonus in having a sexy British narrator. *swoons* So much yes. Loved this one!
Love this series