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Hold Me Down Hard
By Cathryn Fox, Libby Murphy, Theresa Cole
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Cathryn Fox
All rights reserved.
Eden Carver dealt the remaining cards from the deck and glanced at her three friends as they gathered around her small kitchen table for their weekly game of poker. She took note of the nearly empty glasses and made a move to get up.
"Anyone want another ..." Her voice fell off when the sound of her neighbor's Jeep pulling into their shared parking lot drew her attention.
She dropped back into her chair and noted the warm shivers of delight raining down her spine as she strained to hear her best friend's footfalls on the stairs. The echo of his size-twelve boot hitting the first step quickened her breath. As she listened, there was nothing she could do to keep her pulse from racing, nothing she could do to prevent her nipples from pressing insistently against her thin white tank top.
"Hello, earth to Eden," Janie said, waving her arms in front of Eden's face to pull her attention back to the game at hand.
As a humid summer breeze fluttered the lacy curtains over her sink, Eden blinked her mind back into focus and met Janie's shrewd glance. While the four girls sitting around the table were all actresses, having met on a movie set after Eden moved to the Big Apple three years ago, Janie was by far the most flamboyant and loudest of the bunch.
Eden shook her head. "Sorry, where was I?" she asked, with only half her attention on her cards. The other half was still on her neighbor and how she'd do just about anything to get a glimpse of him in his police uniform before he peeled it from his rock-hard body and called it a night.
God, if he only knew what it did to her, knew how many times she'd lain in bed and conjured naughty scenarios with the big bad cop in his work wear — doing delicious things to her with his cuffs — he'd surely think she was a deviant and run the other way. This, of course, was the main reason she'd never admit her desires to anyone. Not ever again, anyway. The one time she'd told a guy how she felt about men in uniforms, the way her mind's eye played out a bevy of kinky fantasies — like being shackled to the bed or tied at the ankles — he'd run straight into the arms of a normal girl. Apparently, because she was from Iowa, he, as well as everyone else, expected her to be a shy country girl, not some wild and twisted pervert — which was what he'd called her on the way out of her condo and out of her life.
But dammit, she was tired of hiding the real Eden, and she wanted a guy she could be herself with, a guy who accepted her for who she was and who wasn't afraid to explore all her darkest desires.
Except it wasn't just any guy with whom she wanted to share her wicked side. Oh no, not at all. The guy she wanted to lay herself bare to was none other than her best friend, Jay Bennett.
"Oh. My. God," Maria whispered, her big blue eyes bulging wide as she studied Eden. When Maria's mouth dropped open, her chin dangling inches from the table, Eden feared her friend was about to catch the fly buzzing around the kitchen.
Angie picked up her strawberry daiquiri and gave a small salute to Maria. "Oh my God is right."
"What?" Eden asked, working to keep a measure of calm as all three glared at her like they could see straight into her soul. Then again, they'd all shared so much over the last few years that maybe they could. Maybe they knew how much she wanted her neighbor, in and out of his uniform.
Janie snapped her fingers and did some weird head-bobbing thing before saying, "You've got it bad, girlfriend."
Eden stared at her friends for a moment longer, then let loose a long-suffering sigh, deciding any attempt to hide her feelings from the trio, who probably knew her better than she knew herself, was simply an exercise in futility.
"I know," Eden admitted and buried her face in her hands. "I've got it bad. But he totally friend-zoned me. He's not interested in sharing anything more than pizza and movies."
The truth was, while she wanted a shot at a real relationship with her best friend, one that would eventually involve a white picket fence and a brood of kids, he seemed more than happy with the way things were between them. She loved hanging out with him, loved how he checked in on her every night, and especially loved lounging on the sofa and sharing a bowl of popcorn during one of their many weekend movie marathons. But as much as she pried, Jay never opened up on a deeper personal level and never shared his work life with her, even when she knew he'd had a bad day and needed to vent.
Maria frowned. "Are you sure he doesn't have a girlfriend somewhere?"
Janie arched an inquisitive brow. "Maybe he just isn't commitment material." She rolled her eyes and added, "Typical playboy."
"You could be right," Eden said, nodding in dismay.
Maria blinked dark lashes over hopeful eyes. "Maybe you could reform him. Prove to him you're the one and only girl for him."
Eden blew an exaggerated breath. While she would love to do just that, she wasn't sure how to go about it. Nor was she even sure if she could tame him, considering the amount of women she'd seen coming and going from his place over the last three years. Maybe he just wasn't interested in long-term with anyone.
"Yeah," Angie said. "Show him just how good you two can be together."
"How? We're friends and he just doesn't seem interested in anything more."
"Then make him interested," Janie said.
Eden planted her elbow on the table and rested her forehead in her palm. "Make him? How am I supposed to do that?"
"He helps you rehearse your scripts, right?"
"Yeah. What does that have to do with anything?"
Across the table from her, Maria giggled and shared a conspiratory look with Janie. Janie winked at her as Angie reached over and pulled Eden's palms from her face and handed her a much-needed drink.
"It has everything to do with it," Maria said.
Wondering what she was missing, Eden took a big sip of her daiquiri and leaned back in her chair. "You two want to enlighten me?"
Janie rolled her big brown eyes and her voice was teasing when she asked, "God, Eden, do I have to spell everything out for you?"
"Get your ass over there right now and ask him to help you rehearse."
Frustrated, Eden threw her arms up in the air. "He runs lines with me all the time and it's never made him notice me before. What makes you think this time will be any different?"
Janie leaned forward, a mischievous grin curling her painted lips. "Because this time, sweet, naïve Eden, you're going to write the script."
Eden exhaled slowly and sank a little lower in her chair. Even though she couldn't believe what her friend was suggesting, it didn't stop her salacious mind from racing with devious plots, ones that involved Jay in his sexy uniform rescuing and cuffing an innocent — or not so innocent — damsel in distress.
Her gaze shifted to Angie, the most logical and rational thinker of the bunch, but when Angie pointed one manicured finger toward her door and gave her an encouraging smile, Eden's thoughts once again careened in an erotic direction.
Shivers of anticipation trickled along every vertebra in her spine as she thought about playing out the role she'd been fantasizing over for months. Her breath came in shallow bursts and a low, needy moan lodged deep in her throat when her eyes strayed toward her door. She blew a wispy strand of hair from her face as basic elemental need took over, urging her to heed her friends' advice and show Jay how good they could be together both in and out of the bedroom. Her body trembled almost uncontrollably as she visualized herself going over to his condo with her very own sexy script — before he climbed out of his uniform.
But it was so risky. So outrageous. So downright naughty.
Then again, hadn't she just said she wanted a real relationship with Jay, wanted him to like her for who she was? Five minutes ago, she swore she would never share her secret fantasies with anyone, but wasn't this the perfect way to show him the real Eden — to let him see the naughty beneath the nice — and show him how they could be together? Plus, she also wanted Jay, a guy who risked his life every day to serve others, to really open up to her and share all aspects of his life.
Feeling restless, needy, and oh-so-edgy, she took a moment to give the wicked scheme further consideration. Less than a heartbeat later, as she warmed to the idea of seducing the bad-ass cop next door, ribbons of desire pulsed in her blood and she fought the urge to squirm in her seat. But then worry hit like a sucker punch when she thought more about their friendship.
What if her seduction and secret fetishes ruined their relationship?
What if they didn't?CHAPTER 2
Jay stopped at the top of the landing and turned toward Eden's door. He was about to knock, but when he heard voices coming from inside he remembered it was Thursday night, which meant it was girls' night out, or in this case, girls' night in. Disappointment settled in his gut as he shoved his hands into his pockets. Turning on the balls of his feet, he made his way to his own condo across the hall.
The officer in him liked to check in on his neighbor on a nightly basis. After all, Eden might think she was a seasoned New Yorker, but he knew she was just a sweet and innocent Iowa farm girl deep inside, one who was a bit naïve when it came to the dangers of the big city. The man in him, however, liked to check in on the girl next door for entirely different reasons. Selfish reasons.
Like the name, she was pure paradise. But as tempting as she was, he knew if he took one small bite, nothing good would come from it. He definitely wasn't the guy for her because at the end of the night, she deserved to crawl between the sheets with a lover who was slow and gentle. Not with a guy who wanted to ravish her with dark hunger over and over again. And he was pretty sure if he ever got her naked, there was no other way he could give it to her.
Even though he knew he was all wrong for her, it still didn't stop him from wanting to hang out with her every weekend. During the week, before hitting the sack, he loved to see her pretty face, her soft curvy body, and that sexy mouth that dreams were made of. In fact, he looked forward to their exchanges in the hallway. There was something so arousing and alluring in the way her big, honey-flecked eyes lit up when he checked in on her. It gave him something to think about other than the corrupt world in which they lived — a world he had every intention of protecting Eden from.
Moments before he reached his condo door, her voice drifted into the hallway and seeped under his skin. Jesus, his cock thickened just from the sound of her sweet laughter. But it wasn't like sex between them was going to happen, because when it came to Eden, there was a line he wasn't going to cross.
They were good friends, which meant he wasn't going to let his lust get the better of him, no matter how much he wanted her.
No, he intended to keep her safe and alive and out of his dangerous world, something he hadn't been able to do for his kid sister, Jess, when they were both teens. His hand went to the tattoo of her name and he thought about the reason behind his career choice. Even if he wanted a deeper relationship with Eden, he knew he couldn't have it. Eventually, she'd want him to quit the streets. He'd seen it happen to dozens of guys at the precinct, and if he took a desk job he'd be betraying the memory of his sister. After he'd lost her, he vowed to become a cop and crack down on gang fighting in the downtown core. Her death would not be in vain.
Jay shoved the key into his lock and pushed open his door. He stepped inside his small condo and when he flicked on the lights, an instant pang of loneliness hit like a slap in the face — a reminder that he hadn't dated or brought another woman back to his place in a few weeks.
He glanced at the contact list on his iPhone as he shrugged out of his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt. But instead of making a call and engaging in meaningless sex, he grabbed a cold beer from his fridge and plunked himself down on the sofa to watch some mind-numbing TV. He flicked through the stations until he came across Eden's favorite reality show, then looked at the empty seat beside him, wishing she was there.
Not wanting to think about how empty the place felt without his sexy neighbor there to brighten it up, he took another slug of his beer, set it on his coffee table, and made his way to the shower.
He stayed under the hot spray for a good long time, until the water turned cold and he heard someone pounding insistently on his condo door.
Without drying his body, he whipped the towel off the hook next to the shower and tied it around his waist. "Okay, I'm coming," he bellowed. Jesus, was there some kind of emergency going on in his hallway?
He rushed to his front door and flung it open. His heart picked up tempo when he came face-to-face with Eden. He was about to smile until he noticed the strange look on her face, one he'd never seen before and couldn't quite identify. His heart dropped into his stomach.
He grabbed her, hauled her inside, and looked past her shoulders into the empty hallway. "What's going on? Are you okay?"
She nodded, and he gave her a once-over before he closed the door and locked it. His eyes traveled back to her face and when he spotted the slight pink hue on her cheeks as she blatantly stared at his bare chest, he suddenly became very aware of his clothes, or lack thereof.
"I've caught you at a bad time," she said, her voice a touch lower than usual.
"I was in the shower. I thought there was an emergency."
Eden nibbled her bottom lip, and while her look was apologetic, he thought he spotted a glimmer of vulnerability before she said, "I should go."
"No, you should stay." He gave her a playful grin and, hoping to lighten her mood and put a smile on her pretty face, he added, "And you should tell me what's so important that you nearly knocked my damn door down."
Her eyes cast down for a brief moment and he could sense her trepidation, the apprehension brewing just beneath the surface.
Worry moved through him. He'd never seen her like this before and, as a police officer who'd seen some pretty bad shit, his mind went down a dark path, one that brought back painful memories of the night his sister got killed.
"Did someone hurt you?" He fisted his hands and briefly glanced at his closed door, ready to tear it from its hinges and hunt down whoever dared to harm her.
"No, it's not that," she answered quickly.
Working to keep calm, he put his finger under her chin and tilted her face until they were eye-to-eye. "Tell me what's wrong."
She looked at him for a long moment, then he felt a shift inside her, felt her body relax under his scrutinizing gaze.
"Well," she began, returning to her warm, sexy self as she waved a script in front of his face. "I was wondering if you could run lines with me. There's a part I want to play and it's very, very important that I get it right. It could mean all the difference for my future."
He exhaled a breath. "Oh. Okay." He took the script from her and passed off her odd behavior as nothing more than the burning need to land a new role. "What's the part you're going for?"
"It's the lead role, which is why I have to nail both the lines and the character."
Something in the way she said nail brought heat to his body and his mind went down a path it had no right to go. Jay cleared his throat, plunked himself down on the sofa, and worked to get his mind on the script and off the way Eden's blouse clung to her full breasts.
Eden smoothed down her short, sexy skirt and sat next to him. Her long blond hair tumbled in silken waves over her shoulders and when she shimmied in close, her sweet, familiar scent reached his nostrils. Lust instantly bombarded his body and there was nothing he could do to stifle the low growl of longing crawling out of his throat.
"Are you okay?"
Excerpted from Hold Me Down Hard by Cathryn Fox, Libby Murphy, Theresa Cole. Copyright © 2013 Cathryn Fox. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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