When her car breaks down off the side of a lonely highway far from her sunny Miami home, tattoo artist Lia never expected her very own white knight to ride up on the back of a barely street-legal motorcycle…and she never expected to fall for her dark savior. After a string of failed relationships and a bruised heart Lia is not looking for forever, and the hot mechanic, with his sexy scruff and shaggy hair, is simply impossible to resist. He’s the perfect candidate for a mind-blowingly-perfect, no-strings-attached one-night stand.
Reid left his life in Chicago far behind him and hasn’t been back, but he’s never been able to escape the guilt he feels about his own painful role in inviting a monster into his baby sister’s life. A monster who almost destroyed her. Being with Lia is an unexpected gift, one he doesn’t feel he deserves, and their one night together has him wanting more than he should. When he surprises her at her tattoo studio, Second Circle Tattoos, in Miami, he’s in for a shock—and a fist to the face—when his past and present collide.
With secrets coming to the surface, Reid and Lia are thrown into a world of betray and lies that threatens to pull them under, and the last link to his former life may be the darkest of them all.
“I have an idea,” he said, taking the menu out of her hands. “We both have stuff going on, but I like hanging out with you, Lia. So how about we forget who we are for a little while and just enjoy each other’s company for tonight?”
Lia leaned forward in her seat. “I love that plan,” she said with a slow smile, looking up at him through dark lashes. “Can we go back to the part where you talked about kissing my lips earlier?”
Reid moved closer. “Which part was that? Remind me.” He grinned.
“The part where you said they were pretty.”
“Pretty? That was a poor word choice.” He ran his thumb over her lower lip. “Such a lazy word. There is nothing pretty about your mouth.”
She inched so close he could feel the warmth of her breath on his face. “So what words would you use?”
He pressed his forehead to hers. “Sultry, sinful, sexual, and most of all—”
“Are you ready to order, sir?”
The two of them jumped apart like naughty schoolkids trying to steal a base behind the bleachers. Lia bit her bottom lip to stop the grin before she opened the menu and covered her face.
If Lia was on the menu, he most definitely was.
They ate the sashimi, grilled lobster yaki, and tuna kobachi while sipping on Sapporo, a choice that surprised him. She struck him as a champagne or cocktail kind of girl, but she knocked back her beer and entertained him with stories about the studio and her friends, never raising the topic of her father again. He was curious, though, about the nature of their relationship, because it didn’t sound positive, much like his own with his father.
It was impossible to remember the last time he’d spent so much time in a woman’s company he enjoyed as much as he did Lia’s. Despite the fact he’d been ready to kiss her in front of their server and every diner in the restaurant, he’d not come close again.
When he next looked up, the restaurant was empty, and the host was hovering close by. Having gestured for the check and noting the relief on the host’s face, it was time to face facts. He wanted to stay, wanted her to invite him up to her hotel room and take her every way possible. But she deserved better than that, even if his balls might explode before he had the chance to get home and jerk off in the shower.
“I can’t believe we’ve been here for hours,” Lia said, after he paid the bill and they were walking back to her hotel. His hand was in his pocket, and she had wrapped her hands around his bicep, leaning against him.
“Didn’t feel like it, did it?” he said, putting his hand on top of hers.
They reached the imposing floor-to-ceiling glass doors of the hotel. A solid, touchable metaphor for the end of their acquaintance. Lia looked up at him.
“Just how good would those kisses be, Kenny?” she asked, looking at his lips.
“Oh, Lia,” he said, sliding his hands to her hips and pulling her to him until they were flush together. Her hands slid around his neck, and her nails slid along the base of his skull. “They’d be the best fucking kind of kisses.”
“And what are those?” Her lips moved against his as she spoke, and he resisted the urge to dive in and devour her on Main Street, U.S.A., or wherever the fuck they were, despite the fact he could feel her breasts pushed up against his chest.
“The kind that could change the direction of your life if you let them.”
And with that, he kissed her like both of their lives depended on it. Savored the way her lips parted for him, the way she tasted of saki and sweetness. Holy shit, those fucking eyes pinned him, laid him bare to her. Allowed him to be exactly who he was, or who he had been . . . before.
A good man.
Not a coward.
Born in England, SCARLETT COLE traveled the world, living in Japan and the United States before settling in Canada where she met her own personal hero – all six and a half feet of him. She now lives with her husband and children in Manchester, England where she’s at work on her next book. She is the author of The Strongest Steel.