Read an Excerpt
Only for a Night
The Lick Series Book 1
By Naima Simone, Tracy Montoya
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Naima Simone
All rights reserved.
Sex not only sold — it sold like a motherfucker.
Rion Ward leaned against the glass top of the bar and sipped from the one glass of liquor he permitted himself every night before the festivities kicked into high gear. The smooth, smoke-and-caramel flavor of the twenty-three-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon slid over his tongue like a benediction. Drinking the Kentucky whiskey might be seen as treason in his part of the country, the home of Sam Adams, but fuck it. The shit was good.
He surveyed the shadowed, cavernous room. Satisfaction beat within him, as warm and bright as the bourbon. Exposed brick walls lent character to the converted warehouse while two long, wide glass and chrome bars dominated either side of the building. Strategically placed halogen lights illuminated the bars, the glass-enclosed balconies, the dance floor already growing more packed with people, and the stage. High tables dotted the space around the dance floors, and long, leather couches resided in shadowed corners and alcoves.
In the 1800s, this brick building in Boston's Leather District might have once been used for leather manufacturing, but today it housed Lick, the city's hottest and most exclusive aphrodisiac club. Since its opening a year ago, Lick had quickly become the hottest place to party thanks to the patronage of sports figures, actors and actresses, musicians, and other celebrities. The bottom level of the building provided music spun by the country's most popular and in-demand DJs; premium, top-shelf alcohol; dancing; VIP lounges; and the best time to be had in Boston.
But on the upper levels in the loft-style apartments ... Lick delivered the ultimate — and kinkiest — fantasies. Bondage. Spanking. Domination and submission. Voyeurism. Role play. The club provided a private, safe, and luxurious place for well-vetted members to indulge in the most carnal and dirty side of their needs and imaginations. Whatever sexual aphrodisiac stimulated or excited a person's desires, Lick catered to them — for an exorbitant annual fee.
Not bad for three ex-members of the Irish mob.
And a far cry from the world of extortion, weapons trafficking, and murder they used to live in. Now they dealt in kink ... not blood.
So Lick was more than a business. It was his, Sasha's, and Killian's redemption.
And Rion guarded it jealously.
Sasha Merchant, one of his best friends and one-third owner of Lick, leaned against the bar railing next to Rion. Before Sasha could turn to the bartender, a tumbler of vodka appeared beside his elbow. Nodding his thanks to the pretty brunette and ignoring the I'm-down-to-fuck invitation in her smile, Sasha picked up the drink and fixed his eerily bright blue and gray gaze on him. He reminded Rion of the wolf Sasha's homeland was known for. The pale blond hair cut close to his head; slanted, exotic eyes; harsh facial structure; and big, wide-shouldered frame declared his Russian heritage.
"Hey, Sasha. Everything okay?"
He grunted, sipping from his glass. "Not exactly. Caught a guy dealing out of the bathroom last night. Said he's an O'Bannon."
Rion, Sasha, and Killian had decided to go straight two years ago, but getting out of the O'Bannon gang — one of Boston's Irish mobs — had been hell. Even being the son of Darry Ward, the infamous mob hitman and enforcer, hadn't held any sway with the boss, Jamie Hughes. Blood had been spilled, and ... He clenched his jaw. The bottom line was they got out ... even if the how of it haunted him in the middle of the night.
And damn if the O'Bannons were going to worm their way into the dream he, Sasha, and Killian had sacrificed so much for. Or drag them back into that life.
"Let him stay. For now," Rion said, voice grim. "And with the reminder that he keeps his ass clean. I don't care if he's an O'Bannon. While he's here in our house, he follows our rules. And that includes no dealing." So far, they hadn't experienced any trouble with their former gang. So far. He doubted the O'Bannons were making a push on them, but they would also be fools to not be prepared and ready to defend what was theirs.
Sasha's lips thinned into a flat line, and after several seconds, he nodded.
"Anything else?" Rion downed the last of the bourbon and set the glass on the bar behind him. He glanced down at his watch. Eleven o'clock on a Friday night. Still fairly early down here, with people pouring through the club's doors and crowding around the bars and on the dance floors.
"Yeah, one more thing." Sasha frowned down into his drink, his fingers clenching and unclenching around the thick glass. When he glanced up, wariness darkened his wolf eyes, and unease tripped down Rion's spine. If Sasha was nervous, then they all needed to buy fleece and fur-lined drawers because hell was experiencing a cold snap.
"What?" Rion pressed.
Another beat of hesitation. "Harper Shaw is here."
Fuck. He shouldn't have asked.
* * *
Mission for tonight.
Wait. Did people even say that anymore? What were they calling it now? Hook up? Getting ass?
God. Harper Shaw sighed, sipping on her virgin rum-and-Coke ... which, okay, was just a Coke. I'm astronomically bad at this.
What had she expected? That once she stepped into the popular club, all her inhibitions and nerves would fly off like Britney Spears' panties? She snorted. If only.
Not that the stark yet elegant and sexy decor didn't inspire a person to let her freak flag fly. Even if just for a little wave. The large, framed, black-and-white photographs dotting the exposed brick walls had her blinking, then flushing, and in desperate need of a fan: A bed with tangled sheets and pillows with indentations as if lovers had just climbed out. Couples in silhouette, their bodies straining toward one another. The moon shining over the dark, mysterious water of Boston Harbor. Two hands — one masculine, the other slim and feminine — entwined, tightened around the other.
Rion's work. There were no name plates to reveal the identity of the photographer, but she didn't need them. In her soul, she recognized his sensitivity and sensuality in the beauty that radiated from them.
She contemplated the rest of the room. The black and chrome tables and chairs; the wide, red and dark blue couches along the walls and tucked into corners. The glass balconies with crimson drapes and gorgeous staff in tight leather pants and blue silk halter tops or white shirts ... Yes, sexy.
But so damn intimidating.
She curled her fingers into a tight fist as if she would use it to fight the urge to scurry back to the safe bolt hole she called a house. Two years, damn it. It'd been two years since Terrance's death. Three since Carlie's, the precious baby she'd lost, miscarrying at seven-and-a-half months. She briefly closed her eyes, and the bite of fingernails digging into her palm helped beat back the throb of pain in her chest. The thought of Terrance and Carlie no longer buckled her knees like it used to, time and grieving having dulled the serrated edges some. Still ... She sipped through her straw, the cold, crisp soda distracting her from ambling down that pocked and well-travelled road.
The season for mourning had passed. The support group her mother had insisted Harper attend would've claimed she'd entered the seventh phase of the grieving process. Acceptance. And hope. Not for a man or husband. She'd been there, done that, had the shattered dreams and broken promises littering her heart to prove it. Screw the T-shirt.
No, tonight she'd come to Lick — God, she blushed just thinking the name — to feel alive again. To break out of the cryogenic state she'd hibernated in for the past three years.
She'd come for sex.
Hot, dirty, black-out-from-orgasm sex that good little Catholic girls from a respectable family shouldn't know about. The kind of sex that had Terrance staring at her as if an alien had snatched his wife's body the first — and only — time she'd dared to whisper her fantasy to him.
Yes, that kind.
And who better to provide it than the man who'd granted her a glimpse of what true need and passion were like before slamming that door shut ... and shutting her out. She just had to convince him that a) it was a good idea, and b) she didn't want him to put a ring on it; she just wanted sex.
A shiver quaked through her, the tiny hairs on the nape of her neck rising as if an intent sniper had her in his sights. She inhaled a deep breath, held it, then released it slowly, deliberately ... Nada. Didn't do a damn thing for the frantic twisting and knotting in her belly.
Picking up her glass in a trembling hand, she lifted it to her mouth, and shifting on the surprisingly comfortable chrome and leather chair, she covertly scanned the packed room. People mobbed the dance floor, but the sense of being watched — hunted — didn't come from that direction. The itch intensified, as did the fear, anxiety, and ... excitement.
The balconies. Nope. The scattering of tables and couches on the far side of the room. Not there, either. The bar ...
No. Not God. Rion Ward.
Even so, floods of people parted, making way for him, tinges of awe, lust, and envy suffusing their faces. As he stalked closer to her with a sensual glide that triggered her fight-or-flight instinct, wonder and arousal wound through her. Like it always had when she'd been near him in the past. The man was living, breathing, and walking danger ... and sex.
She rose, steadying herself with a hand on the table. The sheath dress suddenly seemed too tight, squeezing her so she couldn't even draw in a lungful of air.
Jesus, he was ... beautiful.
Nothing of the teen who had first appeared in her life by coming in between her and a couple of bullies existed in the man.
No, that wasn't exactly true.
He still possessed the same slumberous, hooded gaze, the same slashes of dark brows. The black hair appeared as thick, except now those silken waves grazed his razor-sharp cheekbones and the hard line of his jaw instead of falling around his shoulders. The same sensual, full mouth with its hint of cruelty. God, thoughts of that mouth had resulted in more confessions to her priest and Acts of Contrition than she could count. And back then, a dark shadow of a beard hadn't dusted his jaw, chin and surrounded those lips ...
In the years that had passed since she'd last seen him, he had become ... more. The promise of power and control that had simmered under his skin then, radiated from him now. He wore it with confidence, as easily as he did the immaculately tailored black suit and shirt that draped over his wide shoulders and chest, slender waist, and strong legs. And thighs. Why couldn't she tear her gaze away from the muscles that pressed against the slim cut of his pants with each stride?
She couldn't think. Couldn't grasp and hold onto a single thought as he closed in on her, not halting until scant inches separated them, and she inhaled the wood-and-sex scent of his cologne. A gentleman would've ceded a respectable distance, not invaded her personal space.
But Rion Ward — ex-mob, her former best friend, the first man to break her heart, and star of every secret, illicit fantasy she'd ever dreamed — had never been a gentleman.
For an instant, the hurt and disillusionment from years ago trickled past the fascination and attraction, sparking memories. Painful memories. Of Rion coming to her with a bruised face and knuckles, and Harper, terrified for his life, throwing down an ultimatum — her or the gang. Of her telling Rion that she wanted him, needed him, and flinging her heart at his feet, kissing him. And for one blinding moment, of him kissing her back, caressing her breasts and nipples, showing her pleasure for the first time.
Of Rion refusing to leave the mob life behind, and then his terribly gentle rejection, his belief that he wasn't capable of relationships, especially not with her.
Then, finally, of the night she'd informed him about Terrance's marriage proposal ... and Rion wishing her happiness and walking away.
"What are you doing here?" The deep, midnight voice sliced through the memories, and she willingly locked the vault on them. His velvet tone slid over her exposed skin like a velvet caress, resonating in her chest, curling in her belly — and lower. She squeezed her thighs together, praying those piercing gray eyes with their thick fringe of almost ridiculously long lashes didn't notice how she shifted on the unfamiliar stilettos that were beginning to pinch her toes. "I asked you a question," he said, the demand silky but no less menacing.
Did it make her depraved or the shameless slut Terrance had called her that the danger embedded in that voice had her sex clenching?
"I-I came here to speak with y-you," she stammered. God, she sounded like an idiot. Forcing her hand to remain by her side and not cover her face in mortification, she tried it again. "I hoped we could talk."
A black eyebrow arched high. "Talk," he enunciated, a corner of his sensual mouth curling into a faintly sardonic sneer. "What could you and I possibly have to talk about?"
"I —" She peered over his shoulder, for the first time noticing the blond giant standing behind Rion. A flicker of memory ghosted across her mind, and an image of a tall, lean boy with exotic eyes and an accent superimposed itself over the man. Sasha. Sasha Merchant. A close friend of Rion's. And from the way he loomed behind Rion's shoulder as if protecting his back, he still was. Jerking her regard away from that unwavering and a bit unsettling stare, she returned her attention to Rion. "Would you mind if we ... Can we speak in private?"
Without his friend and, oh, hundreds of people, as witnesses. Her reason for searching him out was embarrassing enough. Having an audience for the conversation? Humiliating.
She reeled back on her death-defying heels, teetering before grabbing the table tighter. "No?" she repeated. Seconds of silence passed between them. Irritation warred with mortification, and she tilted her chin in spite of the heat rushing up her throat and into her face. "That's it? Just no?"
She sighed, exasperated. "Rion ..."
"Go home," he interrupted, the order unyielding, hard. Dismissive.
"Rion, please," she murmured, cringing at the plea that crept into her voice.
"Sasha, would you mind escorting her safely to her car?" He turned, again disregarding her without hearing her out.
Anger shoved the hurt aside, surging hot and hard inside her. She'd been dismissed, shelved, or patronized too often in her life. She'd also been mute, opting to remain silent, not rock the boat. Not voice her needs, her wants ... her desires. Years ago, he'd been the first person to teach that confessing what — or who — you needed resulted in rejection, humiliation. Terrance had solidified that lesson. Well, that time had passed.
She was tired of living — no, existing — in a cocoon that was supposed to be safe but was really suffocating.
And he didn't get to push her back into that cocoon.
Aiming a dark scowl at Rion, Sasha stepped forward, his hand extended toward her. "Sorry, sweetheart —"
"Wait a minute," she snarled, skirting past Sasha and latching onto Rion's arm, ignoring the sexy flex of muscle beneath her fingers and palm. Rion froze, probably in surprise rather than from her hold. "We were friends for a long time. Too long for you to just toss me aside like a stranger. Okay it's been five years since we've seen one another. You can at least give me five seconds."
Slowly, Rion pivoted, dislodging her hand. Staring up into his lean face with its stark lines and stormy eyes, she shivered. Fear had picked a fine time to remind her of the absolute stupidity of stirring a predator.
Cradling her hand to her chest, she rubbed a thumb over her tingling palm. The palm that had gripped the steel of his arm.
"I'm sorry," she murmured.
"Five seconds." He slid his hands in his pants pockets.
"Thank you." She sighed, relieved. "If we could just —"
Excerpted from Only for a Night by Naima Simone, Tracy Montoya. Copyright © 2016 Naima Simone. 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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