At any turn, p.2
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       At Any Turn, p.2

         Part #2 of Gaming the System series by Brenna Aubrey
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  She threw a half shrug, trying to blow it off, but I could tell she was bothered. I brought her hand up to my lips to kiss it.

  “Davis,” she said.

  “Bah. You didn’t want them anyway. That commute would be murder. ”

  She laughed. “They weren’t my favorite choice, that’s true. ” She gave another stiff shrug and a brief frown creased her brow again. She looked away, but I squeezed her hand again to get her attention.

  “No, really…you okay?”

  She looked down. “Nervous, I guess. First response being a no. It’s just…kind of like blowing the MCAT all over again. Wondering if Davis is just the first in a long line of nos. ”

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  “I reject that line of reasoning. Someone’s got to say no. You just happened to hear from the no first. I bet the rejection doesn’t even have anything to do with you either, but some deadline bullshit or something. ”

  She sighed. “But…if they were so quick to reject, it makes me wonder if any of the others will want me. ”

  “But you aced your MCAT this time. You had a kickass score. And fantastic grades on top of that. You’re brilliant and any school that doesn’t see that is too idiotic to deserve you. ”

  She leaned her head on my shoulder, released my hand to wrap her arms around my waist. I turned my head to steal a kiss in her hair, a rush of feelings tightening in my chest.

  I hated to see her so disappointed. I knew how hard she’d worked to retake that test and in some ways, her previous failures had really shaken her confidence. She sighed. “You’re pretty good for my ego. I think I’ll keep you around for a while. ”

  I cleared my throat and decided it best to get her mind off the negative thoughts. “So, how about some good news? Did I miss out on anything interesting?”

  She straightened and grinned at me. “I’ve been dying to tell you, actually. The hidden quest in Dragon Epoch was discovered! It’s all over the blogs. ”

  I froze. My heart started hammering and I’m pretty sure the blood drained from my face. That quest was my baby and I was just hearing this now? Weird. I swallowed a lump in my throat and watched her as she smiled up at me.

  Then she frowned as she watched me. I was frozen. Speechless. The emotional reaction was shocking even to me. She pulled away. “Shit, are you okay? I’m sorry. I was just kidding. ”

  The rush of relief hit me with the force of a ton of water from that waterfall. I was almost dizzy with it. As she watched me, her forehead puckered into a frown. “I’m so sorry. That was fucking mean of me. I had no idea you’d—What was that, anyway? You almost looked…panicked. ”

  I looked away and shrugged, trying to brush it off. I barely understood the reaction myself. How the hell could I explain it to her? “I dunno. Just upset I’d missed it. You’re right…it was fucking mean. ”

  She pulled me into a hug again. “I’m so sorry. I feel awful. ”

  I drew her against me, wrapped my arms around her. Then I bent my head to nibble on her ear. “You know this means you’ll have to make it up to me later, right?”

  She laughed. “I feel so bad. ”

  I continued kissing her ear. “Don’t. Just make sure you make it up to me later,” I said, my voice thick with meaning. I pulled her tighter against me so she would have no doubt what I was saying. As I kissed her, I tried not to examine that strange relief I felt at the news that she’d been kidding. The quest was still safely hidden away. It wasn’t time yet. All was good.

  When we got back to the hotel that afternoon, she left me with the order to shower and visit the barber. I milked the joke about keeping the new look for as long as I could before I drove myself insane with the itchiness. I did manage a few more whisker-rubs, though, while I still had the chance. But I was anxious to shed the fur. Especially because I was horny as hell and she probably wasn’t going to let me near her when I was looking like B. C. the caveman.

  When I got back from the barber, she was in my room getting ready. She called from the bathroom while I changed clothes to get ready for dinner. The four of us were supposed to meet in the downstairs dining room at seven. But when she came out, ready to go, I knew we were going to be late.

  Because—guh—she was gorgeous. She wore some kind of wraparound strappy dress that clung to her lithe frame. It was dark red and next to it, her pale skin gleamed.

  No. We weren’t leaving until I did something about my instant hard-on. I swallowed, looking her over.

  She laughed. “You have a beard tan!”

  I rubbed my smooth cheek. “Do I? Well, at least it’s some tan. Better than I usually get. ”

  “I bet you feel five pounds lighter without all that hair. ”

  I grinned. “Come here and give me a real kiss now. ”

  She hesitated, likely having figured out what was going through my mind at that moment as my eyes landed on that sacred valley between her breasts. “Okay, but we don’t have time for anything else, unfortunately. We have to be downstairs in five minutes,” she said.

  “Sure. We’ve got a whole night after dinner. You still owe me for that mean little joke of yours,” I said, motioning for her to come to me. It wasn’t a lie. After dinner I’d be more than ready for go number two—and probably three. Maybe four if I had a thick steak and dessert to fuel me at dinner. The only thing that could possibly slow me down would be exhaustion. It sure as hell wouldn’t be lack of desire.

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  She came toward me. “Only a kiss for now. ”

  “Sure,” I said, pulling her into my arms and landing a dizzying kiss on her soft, full lips. She opened to me immediately and I curled my hand around the back of her neck, holding her mouth to mine. Her lips were firm and petal-soft. They moved under mine, returning pressure as I firmly held her to me. My tongue darted inside her mouth, eager to claim her. Mine. The word echoed in my head as a fierce wave of possessiveness rushed over me.

  That hike had been a great famine of more than one kind. I pulled her body flush against me. Our tongues tangled with one another. I wanted her right there and then. No surprise, after all. I hadn’t gotten laid in five weeks.

  My hands went to her breasts. Pliant, firm, just the right fit under my palms. Her nipples obediently responded to my strokes. She was every bit as irresistible as I remembered. I deepened the kiss and—

  She pushed my hands away and stepped back, flushed and breathing fast, so beautiful. She avoided my gaze. “Okay, umm, time to go,” she said in a breathy voice, but I knew her heart wasn’t in it.

  Color crept down her neck and over the tops of her breasts.

  I licked my lips like a starving tiger that’d just had a bloody steak dangled in front of him and then snatched away. No way that tiger was going to be left starving without a fight.

  “Good things come to those who wait. ” She smiled and swatted my hand aside when it reached for her again.

  She backed away. We looked at each other for a long moment, the air thick with expectation. She took a deep breath and a step back, but I didn’t move. Sighing, she turned and went to the door. I watched her but didn’t follow. She pulled the door open before realizing that I hadn’t budged. Looking back over her shoulder, she asked, “Are you coming?”

  My eyes traveled down her long legs where they peeked out from her above-the-knee hemline. All the blood in my body was being pumped to my cock and I was relieved to know that all the essential equipment still worked like it was supposed to after such a long dry spell.

  I went to her, reached up and gently loosed the doorknob from her grip, closing the door.

  “Adam—” she began.

  I hooked my other arm around her waist, burying my mouth in her neck. “They’ll wait. They can order an appetizer. ”

  She turned toward me and now I had her sandwiched between me and the door. Perfect.

  She laughed and wriggled to get free, sending a jolt of pleasure right thr
ough me. “You aren’t going to take no for an answer, are you? Typical. ”

  I groaned and kissed her neck again. “Give me five minutes,” I said.

  “Five minutes? That doesn’t sound like much fun. ”

  “Give me five minutes to convince you why fucking right now is a good idea. ” And before she could agree or disagree I reached up and tugged on the tie that held her wraparound dress together.

  It fell open, revealing a black lace bra and matching panties. Oh, hell no—we weren’t going anywhere until there was coming involved.

  I ground my pelvis against hers and she let loose a gasp. My mouth was on her neck again—sucking in the soft, delicious skin. “It’s like unwrapping my gifts on Christmas morning. ”

  “No,” she said with mock sternness in her voice. “It’s like opening presents early, the night before. ” But she couldn’t disguise the breathy quality in her voice that I knew so well. She was turned on. Very turned on.

  “I always was an impatient bastard,” I said, flicking open the front fastening on her bra. It parted like the red curtain at an old-time movie theater.

  “Adam,” she breathed.

  “Shh. My five minutes of convincing aren’t over yet. ”

  “They’re going to know why we’re late. ”

  I almost laughed to myself. She certainly gave in quickly—as horny as I was, no doubt. “We haven’t seen each other for over a month. It’s no big mystery. ”

  When she would have said more, I smothered the protest with a kiss, pressing her against the door, overwhelming her with my own need for her. My hands on her breasts, her hips, the silky insides of her thighs. My mouth on hers, tongue penetrating like I wanted to penetrate her in other ways. I was a man on fire and the only way to smother the flames was to dive in and drown in her.

  Her taste, the feel of her curves pressed against me was pushing me past the point of no return. If she had any thoughts of stopping now, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d make it through dinner until we could get back at it.

  I cupped her breasts, growing more urgent, licking her nipples. My erection was getting tight, painful. It had been a long-ass time and trying to keep the libido in check now was like trying to hold back that hungry tiger with a spool of thread.

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  She gasped and flinched when I groped her too tightly. Not the reaction you are looking for when trying to convince your partner in a short amount of time. She stiffened against me.

  “Sorry,” I breathed against her mouth. “I’m too eager and a little desperate. ”

  She gave a light laugh and pulled her mouth away, raising her hand to where I must have hurt her.

  “Can I kiss it better?” I asked.

  She frowned for a moment as if she wasn’t listening, so I reached over and gently pulled her hand away from her breast and replaced it with my mouth, kissing, gently slipping my tongue out to taste her. She tasted like spiced wine and blackberries. And a hint of something I couldn’t describe—some flavor uniquely her own. The smooth, soft texture of her skin only added another layer to her essence. I licked her and she moaned my name.

  I kept my mouth where it was and slipped my hand over her smooth stomach to rest on the warm mound beneath her panties. She rewarded my efforts with a tiny squeak at the back of her throat.

  I rubbed her there and her breath caught, her hands tightening around my biceps. This was all a dance with steps we were still learning and discovering. And it was always different.

  Her hands wandered underneath my shirt, which she had hurriedly untucked from my pants. Her touch was red-hot, palms traveling across my chest. I hissed out my breath. “You don’t have an ounce of fat on you. You’re rock hard. ”

  I shot her a wicked grin. “That’s not the only place I’m rock hard,” I said, unbuttoning my pants.

  I had to get inside her. That goal was paramount now. And I wasn’t going to waste another minute.

  My hand returned to her panties, stretching the crotch aside and she braced her hands against my shoulders. I looked into her eyes. “I need to fuck you. I can’t wait another second. ”

  And I pushed into her wet heat. She closed in around me, tight, encompassing. I growled in response. The satisfaction of sinking into her was short-lived because that knot of tension tightened in my groin. I was going to spill like a teen if I didn’t calm down.

  She wrapped one long leg around my hips, locking me to her. She was so goddamn sexy—irresistible, really. Not that I wanted to resist her in any way. Instinct screamed in me to charge. And so I did, sinking myself all the way in, pinning her to the door. My mouth found hers again, forcing me to slow down.

  It had been too long and I was so turned on, I was pretty sure this first time wasn’t going to last long no matter how hard I tried. After dinner we’d take our time, savor it. Maybe take hours if we felt like it. Shit, I wasn’t even done and yet here I was, planning for more. It was ridiculous, really, because I was inside her and she was amazing and swallowing me whole with her body, her lips, her eyes.

  I reached between us and stroked her clit and she tipped her head back against the door and moaned. Her hold around me tightened as she clenched me tighter where we were locked together. She was about to come already and I could barely keep it together. I rocked my pelvis against hers, my own muscles taut and tense. Whenever I felt it near, I stopped and stroked her instead.

  “Oh God!” she moaned, climaxing. I could feel the spasms tightening her around me. I blew out a long breath, ready to follow her over the edge. She arched her back, pressing her luscious chest into mine. The contractions from her orgasm squeezed the breath from me. I rocked into her one last time, letting go as I came, pushing deep inside her. Pure pleasure seized me, violently overtook me. I gasped her name.

  When I relaxed and came back down from the high, I kissed her, tightening my arms around her. I knew I should just pull out and let her go, but I didn’t want to.

  I kissed her neck. With just the slightest coaxing, we could start this all over again. With every shred of control I had, I pulled my face away and looked into her eyes.

  I put my hands on either cheek and pressed my face close to hers.

  “I love you,” she said.

  “I know,” I replied, grinning as I echoed the famous retort Han Solo gave Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back.

  She laughed and I kissed her again.

  “I don’t ever want to be away from you for that long again. ”

  “No,” she sighed, content. “You need to stop leaving me behind when you go off on your grand adventures. ”

  I stared at her, cheeks flushed from our lovemaking. She was my next grand adventure. She was mine.

  “Mine,” I said.


  “You’re mine. For good. And since you don’t like being left behind, you can come along with me on next year’s thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. ” I was mostly kidding, of course. Just thinking about another epic hike made me ache all over.

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  She snorted that adorable laugh of hers. “Fuck that. ”

  I pulled away, grinning. “Let’s get put back together since I’m starving now. ” I glanced down at my rumpled shirt. “They’re going to totally know what we were doing since you practically ripped my shirt off while you were shamelessly seducing me. ”

  She hit my arm with the back of her hand, laughing, then refastened her bra. “Let me get this tied up again and we can go. ”

  “Yeah,” I said, tucking in my shirt. “Get that pretty gift wrapped up so I can enjoy unwrapping it again later. ” The thought of “later” sent a jolt of lust straight down to my crotch again. If I weren’t so goddamn hungry, I’d be ready for round two in minutes.

  Next time I’d at least wait for us to get horizontal. She tied off her dress, we took a minute to clean up, and Emilia did her best to hide any indication of what we’d just
done. She’d succeeded, except for a large dark bruise at the base of her neck, which she had apparently not noticed in the mirror and I refrained from pointing out to her.

  My eyes fixed on it and I smiled to myself. In my own swirl of lust I’d branded her with my mark. Mine.

  I put my hand on that delicious curve at the small of her back and guided her out the door. The process of arousing a woman was not unlike designing a computer program. Old-school designers used to lay out flowcharts before they’d ever crank out a line of code. Programming itself was all about cause and effect. Turning a woman on was like that—inputting certain information in order to receive the desired output; pun intended.

  With machines, the initial state was always the same, but with a woman it was variable. The process followed a pattern, but there were different factors that affected her initial state: how her day was going, whether or not she was tired, how long it had been since the previous time. Look deep into her eyes with clear intent on a bad day and she’d sigh and turn away, brushing you off. But on a good day, you could push through your subsets and subprograms—stroke these places and you’d get her wet, kiss those places and you’d make her moan, lick her here and she’d open to you. It didn’t always work. Sometimes the subroutines you chose didn’t achieve the required results.

  As with code, experimentation was necessary. If one spot did not produce a pleasure response, then it was necessary to try another, or another. Input parameters were very important: if a guy wanted to input anything into his partner, he was going to have to make sure the parameters were correct or the whole routine would fail.

  So I’d used my five minutes of free seduction wisely—made sure my subroutines would achieve the highest yield. And in no time at all, I’d had her moving under my hands. Easy as coding!

  When we made it to dinner, we interrupted Peter and Kim sipping wine over a plate of appetizers, laughing, their heads tipped toward each other.

  They looked up when we sat down. I grinned. “Sorry we’re late. ”

  Peter and Kim exchanged a glance and Emilia blushed.

  “Don’t worry about it,” said Kim.

  “It was my fault. So what’s the special? I’m starving. ”

  When they weren’t looking, I turned and winked at Emilia.

  “I hope you’ve recovered your manners and we aren’t going to see any more Jabba the Hutt imitations,” Emilia sighed dramatically, her lips twisting into a grin.

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