Trashed, p.4
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       Trashed, p.4

         Part #2 of Stripped series by Jasinda Wilder
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A bolt of lightning shears the air mere feet in front of us, thunder shaking the ground beneath our feet. Just ahead is The Little Stone Church and I pull him across the street, jerk open the doors and we’re in the foyer, dripping on the carpet. The air in the church is musty and old, and it’s darker in here than outside, no lights lit, and only a couple stained glass windows for ambient light. I can’t see him, can’t see a thing. Wind and rain batter the windows and rattle on the door, and he’s a warm solid presence in behind me.

  “What is this place?” His voice rumbles in my ear.

  “The Little Stone Church. ”

  “Smells weird. ”

  “It’s old,” I say.

  He spins me around, his mouth is suddenly and fiercely moving on mine, his hands firm and unrelenting on my back, spanning my spine and sliding down to the small of my back. I’m being pulled against him, body flush to body. It’s inexorable, like the tides. My breasts touch his chest, and then they’re crushed between us, and my heart is pounding against my ribs so hard the bones become drums, and I know he can feel it.

  Where are my hands? I’ve lost all sense, lost track of what’s happening, of what I’m doing, what he’s doing. All I know is his mouth, his lips scouring mine, his teeth nipping at my lower lip and then the upper, and I can feel his hands too, inching downward and downward, into dangerous territory, to the upper swell of my ass and I don’t know how I’m tolerating this, how I’m doing it, how he’s erasing my doubt and my fear and my lack of trust in anyone—especially men—and somehow igniting inside me this…heat. This need. This ravenous hunger, this desperation the likes of which I’ve never felt, never knew I could feel, especially after—

  No. No. I will not allow that monster control over me, not anymore. Not again. Not ever.

  Adam has a double handful of my bottom, clutching me against him possessively, as if he has a right to me, a right to touch me, hold me, grope me, caress me, squeeze me. I don’t know which word is right, because he’s doing all of them at once, and I’m letting him.

  Page 10

 

  Oh, this kiss. It has no end. It’s an ocean and I’m drowning in it.

  And my hands? They’re gripping the soaked fabric of his shirtfront as if I’m holding on for dear life, as if he’s all that’s keeping me tethered to the earth.

  I shiver, and he releases me abruptly and gasps for breath, almost as if he’s as blown away by the power of this thing between us as I am.

  But that’s impossible.

  “Come on. You’re shivering. Gotta get you warm. ” He pulls me out of the dry warmth of the church foyer and out into the bucketing, howling, raging storm.

  The sky flashes with lightning and shakes with thunder, and it’s not so much raining as upending the contents of a sea from out of the clouds. We run, now, hand in hand, barreling up the hill toward the looming white colonnades of the Grand Hotel’s world-famous porch.

  We enter through Sadie’s, the nearest door, where all is white walls and black, white, and red checkered benches, and the scent of vanilla and baking pastries and coffee, and then we’re in the florist shop and it’s all geraniums and roses. I’ve never been past Sadie’s. You have to pay a ten-dollar fee to go past the front door, unless you’re a guest, and I’ve never had the time or inclination to spend the money merely to indulge my curiosity. Dripping with each step, shoes squishing, we go down a long marble-floored hallway, windows showing the road on one side, and shops on the other. The road is dark and glistening wet, flashing white with lightning now and then; a carriage passes, lit lamps on the back, and the horses clop-clop-clop along, tails swishing. There is a jeweler, a clothing boutique, a coffee shop, and then the front desk.

  “Hello, Mr. Trenton,” the small Asian woman behind the desk says.

  “Hey,” Adam responds, with a smile and wave.

  There are whispers and mutters from the crowd standing around the front desk, people twisting and craning to get a glimpse of the Adam Trenton. A few people lift their cell phones and snap pictures, and a blonde girl of maybe fifteen or sixteen shuffles forward, offering a silver cell phone to him.

  “Can I have your autograph, Mr. Trenton? Please?” She’s timid, and tiny.

  I notice an immediate shift in Adam. He’s gone from lithe and loose to stiff and tense in the space of a breath. But I only notice that because I’m clinging to his arm. Outwardly, he’s smiling and taking the cell phone, digging a Sharpie out of his pocket and scrawling his name across the back. As if the one signature was a dam breaking, half a dozen people surge forward, shoving receipts and hats and tourist maps at him.

  And he signs them all.

  He smiles at each person as he hands them their autographed item, not once betraying any irritation or haste. A crowd has formed at this point, and I can see that Adam’s smile is becoming strained, even though he’s still signing and shaking hands and posing for pictures. I move to stand over to one side and try to be inconspicuous, melting back into the crowd.

  “No more, no more,” a doorman says, cutting between the crowd and Adam and I. “No more, now, please. Let Mr. Trenton go on his way, please. ”

  Adam grabs my hand and pulls me with him as the doorman escorts us away from the crowd; another red-suited doorman keeps the people at bay. Adam hands the doorman a fifty-dollar bill as he calls the elevator.

  “Thanks,” Adam says.

  “Of course,” the doorman says, with a wide white grin splitting his black skin.

  Adam pushes the button for the fourth floor and the elevator doors close in front of us. As soon as the doors are closed and the elevator is moving, Adam lets out a relieved sigh and leans back against the wall.

  “Does that happen a lot?” I ask.

  I knew he was famous, obviously, but I’ve never seen anything like that before, at least not in person.

  He nods. “All the time. Happened once already today, when I was getting the fudge. ”

  “It looks exhausting. ” I stare down at our joined hands, wondering why he’s still holding my hand.

  He laughs, a harsh, sarcastic sound. “You have no idea. It was cool the first few times I got recognized out on the street, you know, but it’s just so tiring. It’s part of the gig, though, so I can’t bitch about it too much. ”

  “I was impressed, to be honest,” I admit. “You gave everyone your full attention. ”

  He shrugs, but his smile is bright and genuine, and a little shy, actually. “Well, they’re the reason I’m where I am, you know? They like my movies, they like me. So as much as I don’t enjoy it in some ways, because I can’t really go anywhere without getting recognized like that, I do love it, too. It’s a validation that I’m doing something right, I guess. ”

  “That makes sense,” I say.

  The door slides open and Adam leads me off the elevator, turning right. Everything is green. The carpet is a deep forest green, and the walls are a pale mint, and there are framed photographs of woodcut artwork from hundreds of years ago lining the walls.

  “This hotel is weird,” I say as we pass a replica of a Greek sculpture in a corner. “It feels like it’s…I don’t know how to put it. Like we’ve stepped back in time or something. ”

  Adams digs a key out of his pocket. It’s an actual physical key, not a swipe card like you see in pretty much every other hotel in the world.

  “That’s the point,” he says. “That’s part of the appeal, why they can charge so much for the rooms and whatever. It’s an experience. You have to be dressed in formal clothes to even go down to the parlor level after six o’clock. ”

  “I’ve heard about that. I’ve never actually been in the hotel itself, though. ”

  “It’s kind of fun,” he says as he unlocks a door. It’s a double door, in the corner where the hall turns to the right. A sign above the lintel announces that this is The Musser Suite. “It’s kind of like being in a movie. We got here late yest
erday afternoon, so we all had dinner down in the main dining room. I wore a suit and tie and everything, and it was very, very fancy. ”

  “Sounds like fun,” I say.

  It does, too. I own one nice dress, and I never have an opportunity to wear it. I don’t even dare think about what it would be like to be dressed up and go down to the dining room on Adam’s arm. That’s not going to happen. He wants one thing from me, and once he gets it, he’ll send me on my way. That’s how this works, and I know it. Panic shoots through me as Adam leads me into the room, dragging me by the hand through the doorway and closing the door behind us.

  Page 11

 

  My panic is momentarily subsumed by shock. The Musser Suite is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s…overwhelming.

  As you walk in, there’s a large foyer that also functions as a kitchen, with a sink, a wine refrigerator, and a stainless steel microwave drawer and a dishwasher, beside which is a rack containing half a dozen bottles of wine. The foyer floor is a dark parquet wood, with a round green, white, and black rug with an elaborate ‘M’ in the middle. Three steps up lead to the sitting area. The floor here is plaid carpeting, a white background with blue and red stripes in a squared-off pattern. The ceiling is painted a pale mint green with white beams meeting in a starburst pattern, from the center of which hangs an ornate gold chandelier. There is a violently purple satin couch against one wall, and the opposite wall, above the white mantel fireplace, is covered in the same intensely purple satin. There’s a flat-screen TV mounted to the purple wall, which seems poignantly out of place in the otherwise archaically decorated room. The curtains framing the window are a sheer turquoise, and centered beneath the window is glass tabletop mounted on a white spindle. The matching chairs have crimson satin cushions. There’s another table and two chairs set in front of the fireplace, but these are large overstuffed armchairs done in a busy floral pattern. Behind the couch is a matching set of four oil paintings, but I don’t know enough about art to say what style they’re in.

  I take two steps into the sitting area, staring at the room.

  “Something else, right?” Adam says.

  “I don’t even know what to say. ” I take a few steps in, leaving puddles on the floor, keeping my hands tucked against my stomach. “It feels like I’m not supposed to touch anything. Like it’s a museum or something. ”

  He grins. “Well, it’s not how I’d personally decorate anything, but I’m a typical macho dude, so what do I know?”

  I roll my eyes at him. “You’re anything but a typical macho dude, Adam,” I say.

  Somehow he’s behind me, and I can hear his breath in my ear, feel his chest expanding at my back. His hands come to rest on my hips. “Oh yeah? So what am I, then?”

  I swallow hard and fight the urge to lean back into him. “I—um. You’re Adam Trenton. ”

  “Cop-out,” he murmurs.

  Teeth nip at my earlobe, and I can’t breathe, and my eyes are sliding closed against my will, and somehow I’m losing strength, my spine melting inside me, leaving me no choice but to fall back against him. His hands trace the waist of my jeans, pausing on my stomach, his hands covering mine.

  I shiver again, both from being cold and from his proximity, from his lips on my neck, on the curve where throat meets shoulder, clavicle, and breastbone. His hair tickles my ear, and his lips are touching, kissing, moving.

  “You need a hot shower,” he murmurs.

  I’m compliant, his lips having stolen my will with each delicate touch. He pulls me back down into the foyer, and back up into a bedroom. There’s a bed with a flower-print comforter and an elaborate purple headboard surrounded by drapes that match the bedspread. That’s all I see, and then I’m being pushed into the bathroom. He halts, spins me, pressing my back against the frame of the door, so we’re half in the bathroom, half out, our bodies crushed together. His lips touch my throat, and then my neck, and I’m tilting my head to the side with a sigh as he kisses beneath my ear.

  I don’t know what’s happening. What I’m doing. I should stop this. Stop him. Have him get me one of the horse-drawn carriage cabs back to my dorm. If I stay here, I won’t stop him. I’ll let this happen.

  He squeezes past me, into the bathroom, opens the glass door of the shower and turns on the water. In moments, steam is billowing from the spray and filling the small room. And now he’s here again, in front of me, curling a finger into a belt loop of my jeans. His hand frames one side of my face, fingers curling into my wet hair, pulling me toward him. His lips devour mine more slowly now, and his other hand deftly unbuttons my jeans, lowers my zipper.

  Now my heart is crashing and hammering and I’m kissing him but I’m so, so scared, because I’m letting him do this, allowing him to undress me, even though I’m scared and know I shouldn’t be and know this can only end badly for him and for me…mostly for me.

  God, what the actual fuck am I doing? I’m helping him, that’s what. I’m pulling my arms through the sleeves of my shirt and shrugging out of it, tugging it over my head and letting it plop to the floor at my feet, and the air is cold against my skin, even though steam is enveloping us, wreathing around us. I’m in my bra and jeans, and his hands are on my flesh, sliding up my back, smoothing beneath my bra strap and up over it, to my shoulders. My feet are toeing off my shoes and socks, and now, oh no. No. No.

  Yes.

  He lets me peel his shirt off.

  Jesus, the man is perfect. I have to wrench my eyes open and gaze at him. His body is not just bulky and built, but is also incredibly, perfectly toned. Each muscle is so clearly defined they may as well be chiseled into place. His khaki shorts are heavy from being wet, and they hang low around his hips. The waistband of Polo underwear peeks out, and a wickedly deep V-cut disappears under the elastic.

  My hands itch and twitch. I want to touch him so fucking bad it hurts. He’s a fantasy. This is a fantasy. It’s not real. I’m asleep at home in Detroit, in my bed, dreaming. There’s no way this is really happening. It feels real, but I know it’s not. It can’t be. It’s all happening so fast, meeting him in the hot sunshine of late evening, and then the storm hitting out of nowhere, and the leisurely hour of dinner, and now suddenly I’m in this extravagant hotel room being kissed and stripped by an actual god.

  Hot, rough-skinned, massive hands slide up my sides and in, around, to my ribs. I glance at him, and see that his eyes are open and roving over me, staring at me as if he can’t get enough of me. As if I’m something he likes. Which is just crazy. I’m not stupid or self-conscious. I know I’m pretty enough. I’m in shape. But I’m not dainty or skinny. I’m just shy of six feet tall, and I’m curvy. I don’t look like Hollywood actresses, or models. I’m me, and I’m confident in myself, content with the way I look.

  But I’m just not what a man like Adam Trenton goes for.

  And now, with his leaf-green eyes taking in my skin and my tits and my hips, I wonder what he’s thinking. If I’m being naïve. Maybe he’s not picky and I’m just a conquest for the night.

  Page 12

 

  “You are so fucking sexy, Des,” Adam growls, his voice a low rumble in my ear. His lips trace along the shell of my ear. “You know that? Do you know how fucking incredible you look right now?”

  I can only shake my head, because that’s just the honest truth. I don’t know. I don’t feel sexy. I’m wet and cold and my hair is a tangled mess and my makeup, what little bit I put on earlier, is either smeared by the rain or washed away entirely.

  “I’ll have to show you, then. ”

  He pivots, and my back is to the towel rack, and I can see over his shoulder to our reflection in the mirror. His back is as ripped as the rest of him, of course, and god, a man’s muscular back is a thing of beauty. His muscles shift and ripple as he leans down and his teeth nip at the delicate skin at the side of my neck. And then he pivots again, and I’m facing the mirro
r and he’s standing behind me. He doesn’t tower over me, but he still dwarfs me. His hands wrap around my waist, just above my jeans, and now I can see myself.

  Black bra. It’s an old one and doesn’t fit, so my breasts spill out over the top of it, the edge of my areola peeking up from the top of one cup. My stomach isn’t entirely flat, a fact which doesn’t usually bother me, but now with his scrutiny on me like a laser, all I can see is the slightly rounded pooch of my belly. My jeans are undone, showing my green cotton underwear in the ‘V’ of my open zipper.

  I am in no way prepared for this. I’m not even wearing a matching bra and underwear set. As a broke, orphaned college girl barely making rent and tuition, the last thing I need or have the money for is sexy lingerie. But now I’m wishing I’d bothered, because I’m in a hotel bathroom with Adam Trenton, in my jeans and my bra, and my bra is easily ten years old, the silk of the cups fraying at the edges, and it doesn’t fit because I’ve filled out since I bought this bra, but it’s one of three I own and the other two are in the wash. And my underwear? Well, thank god they’re not granny panties; I don’t wear those, even on period days. These are basic cotton, which isn’t really sexy, but at least they’re boy-shorts, which, considering how big my ass is, look pretty good on me.

  But am I sure I want him to see my underwear? Meaning, am I sure I’m willing to let him take my jeans off and see me in just my underwear?

  No.

  Hell no.

  But his fingers slide down my sides and over my hips, slipping between the denim of my jeans and the cotton of my underwear. And then, somehow, I’m stepping on the cuff of one leg of my jeans and pulling my leg free, and then again, and now I’m shaking all over and his eyes are raking over my curves in the mirror, and I can feel him behind me. He’s a huge mountain behind me, his chest at my shoulders, and I can feel something hard and thick between us, and I know what it is, but can’t think about that.

  “Des. ” He says my name in a rumbling whisper.

  “Adam. ”

  “You’re shaking. ”

  “I’m cold. ” That’s true, but that’s not really why I’m shaking. The truth slips out of my mouth. “And scared. ”

  “Why are you scared, Des?”

  “Because…I mean, isn’t it obvious?” The real truth behind my fear isn’t something I’d ever admit to, not even under torture.

  “No. ” He cups my hips, and then his hands are palming my butt, lifting the heavy weight of one cheek and then the other, playing with me, enjoying it, kneading and caressing.

  I couldn’t stop him if I wanted to, and I don’t. I don’t want to stop him. I like the way his hands feel on my ass. I like being touched like this. I didn’t know it would feel so good to have a man’s hands on my bottom. But it does, it’s incredible, it’s heady and I’m shaking from how good it feels and from the ever-present fear and doubt and nerves.

 
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