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If You Leave: The Beautifully Broken Series: Book 2, Page 2

Courtney Cole

  I feel like I’ve been sucker-punched as all the air whooshes out of my body. A suggestive grin like that on this runway model is too much for my logical thought processes to overcome. My good sense has apparently been hijacked by my hormones.

  Tossing the smoke down on the sidewalk, I grind the heel of my boot into it. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, but I don’t much care at this point. I’m horny and she’s gorgeous. That’s a perfect arrangement if I ever saw one. The air between us practically crackles with sexual attraction.

  I look down at her and as I do, I let myself lean into her. She’s soft and she smells even softer.

  “I’m Gabriel.”

  “I’m Madison,” she answers. She hasn’t looked away from me even once. She’s definitely into me, although God knows why. I’m as different from her as I can be.

  “Why are you here, Madison?” I ask. “You seem a little out of place.”

  She suddenly looks self-conscious. “A friend talked me into coming. She thought I needed a night in the big city. But I really wish I was home instead. I’m tired and these heels hurt.”

  I smile. Her shoes do look painful as hell. I’ve never understood why women wear shit like that.

  “So you don’t live here?”

  She shakes her head and as she does, her scent seems to envelop us, blocking out the pungent city smells. Her nearness is intoxicating and I brace myself against it so I don’t get sucked in any further.

  “No. I’m from a little lake town, just an hour or so from here. But it seems like a world away. I’m not much of a big-city girl. Not anymore, anyway.”

  I actually wouldn’t have guessed that. She’s got that perfectly put-together look that big-city girls have, that perfectly confident attitude.

  She nudges me, her slender shoulder bumping mine. “Why are you here? You don’t look like you fit here either. Not here at this club, anyway.”

  I cock an eyebrow. “Oh?”

  The Underground is a trendy Chicago hot spot. And she’s right. I don’t fit in here. I fit in a Humvee in the hills of Afghanistan. Except I don’t. Not anymore.

  Madison notices my expression and flushes.

  “No offense. But you’re not wearing skinny jeans and hipster glasses. You seem more like… the football-playing type. Or the outdoors type, maybe.”

  I smile down at her. “No offense taken. And I am more of the outdoors type.”

  The gun-toting soldier type, to be exact, but I don’t say that.

  Madison looks relieved. “I thought so. So what are you doing in the middle of the city?”

  “What makes you think I don’t live here? Can’t I enjoy the outdoors but still live in the city? Or am I too uncool for that?” I raise my eyebrow again.

  She flushes yet again. “I’m sorry. I guess I just assumed. Where do you live?”

  I grin. “Here. Just call me a fish out of water.”

  She shakes her head and swats at me, but I easily catch her wrist and pull her to me instead. It’s a ballsy move, but I’m feeling cocky. She doesn’t resist, which both pleases and surprises me.

  She presses against me, looking into my eyes. She looks expectant and nervous, confident yet hesitant. Her tits are smashed against me, making it hard to form coherent thoughts, hard to examine our differences or even her motives. Her softness is the perfect contrast to my hardness. That’s all I can think about.

  “To answer your question, I’m here at the club because my little sister thought I should come out and meet someone. To quote her, I’m ‘getting mean as hell and need a piece of ass.’ ”

  Madison laughs, a low and husky sound.

  “Do you? Need a piece of ass?”

  She sounds anxious. And interested.

  I hold her gaze.

  “More than you can imagine.”

  I slide my hands from her back down to her ass, cupping it, squeezing it.

  “And I like yours,” I add. I’m being cocky again, but she seems to like it.

  She practically purrs as she leans into me even closer, her nose almost touching mine. Her lips hover so close that I can feel them.

  She slides her hands down to my ass, gripping it in her fingers.

  “Yours will do.”

  The air hangs heavy between us, charged and electric. Our eyes are locked and we each pause, waiting for the other to make a move.

  The anticipation is killing me.

  I take a breath.

  Then she takes one.

  Her lips graze mine and her mouth smells like mint. And then before I can think another agonizing thought, she covers my mouth with her own.


  Her tongue slips into my mouth and she tastes like Heaven, like an icy drink of water at the end of a hot day in the desert. Our tongues tangle together and her lips consume mine. I find myself instantly rock-hard and she notices.

  She smiles against my lips.

  “I think you liked that.”

  “What gave me away?” I ask with a grin, wedging myself even tighter against her.

  Madison grins back and kisses me again. The second kiss is just as consuming as the first. She seems a little bit desperate, a little bit vulnerable. And a whole lot sexy.

  She slides her hands back up my spine, wrapping her arms around my neck. As she does, I run my palms along her sides, feeling the skin of her back beneath my fingers.

  “Remember when I told you that my feet hurt? I’d like to take my shoes off.”

  I stare down at her. “So take them off.”

  “At your place,” she adds.

  I inhale sharply as I grip her hips even tighter.

  “You don’t have to say that twice.”

  And she doesn’t. I grab her hand and practically drag her toward the street, hailing a taxi.

  In less than a minute we have tumbled into the back seat of a cab and we’re speeding toward my apartment.

  Madison kisses my neck, tugging at my ear with her teeth as her hands skim my chest. “How far away do you live?”

  “Not very,” I manage to say. I’m actually proud of myself for being able to speak at this point, since her hand has made its way down to my throbbing crotch. I arch my hips so that I am planted more firmly in her hand.

  She licks my neck.

  “You taste good,” she whispers.

  I can’t take it. I wish she were wearing a skirt, but she’s not. So instead I cup my hand between her legs, moving my thumb in circles against the outside of her pants. She moves against me, moaning.

  I thrust my hand into the front of her pants, finding her panties completely soaked.

  I slip one finger in.

  And then two.

  Then I withdraw them both and slowly rake them into my mouth.

  Her eyes widen, exhaling a tiny sigh as her fingers clutch me.

  “Are you drunk?” I ask her. I don’t know why, but it feels like the right thing to do, to make sure that she’s not. Please say no, I silently urge her as her fingers spin circles around my nipple.


  Thank Christ. I don’t ask again. Instead I lift her onto my lap and rock her against my body. The friction is both satisfying and frustrating.

  Her eyes widen as I thrust against her through her clothes and she reaches her hand down to skim it over my throbbing dick.

  “You’re enormous,” she breathes, her eyes widening in both apprehension and appreciation.

  I grin.

  “When we get to my house, I’m going to fuck you with that,” I tell her in her ear. “And you’re going to like it.”

  Her teeth graze my lip, her hips firmly planted against mine. “You’re pretty sure of yourself, aren’t you?”

  I smile against her throat before I bite at it.

  “Very sure. In fact, let’s make a deal. If you don’t end up screaming my name within the hour, I’ll buy you breakfast in the morning.”

  She pauses, looking into my eyes. “Sounds like I win either way.”

p; “You do,” I manage to say before I plunge my tongue into her mouth again.

  In between panting kisses, Madison manages to ask a question.

  “I’ve never done this before. How do I know you’re not a crazy person?” she asks in a near whisper.

  “You don’t,” I answer, as I pull up her shirt and suck at her bare nipple, my fingers splayed around her slender rib cage. She arches against me and gasps. “But I won’t hurt you.” I pause and look up at her. “And somehow, I get the feeling that you need this as much as I do. Am I right?”

  Madison catches her breath and nods.

  “I do.”

  I don’t answer and I don’t ask why. I just wrap my arms around her shoulders and kiss her again.

  I’m inhaling her feminine scent, sucking it down, when I’m startled by the squeal of tires. Before I can even see where it’s coming from, instinct raises the hair on the back of my neck. I shove Madison onto the floor of the taxi and duck down on top of her.

  The impact is shockingly violent.

  There is a crunch of shrieking metal as the door next to me is bashed in and our taxi is flung in a spin across the narrow city street, slamming to a stop against the wall of a nearby building. The car rocks to and fro for a moment, then it is still.

  We‘re stunned as we sit for a scant second, trying to wrap our minds around what just happened. Steam and smoke begin to pour out from under the hood of the taxi and the driver stumbles from his seat, opening the door next to Madison.

  “Quick, get out,” he says in a heavy Indian accent. “Hurry.”

  I all but shove Madison out ahead of me and then pull her away from the crumpled car. There’s a hissing sound coming from the engine, then a strange crackle. I know what it means. I know from the acrid scent of gasoline that’s stinging my nose.

  “Move,” I snap to Madison, and her heels click loudly on the pavement as we rush to the curb on the other side of the street. We turn when we reach the sidewalk, just in time to see the cabbie duck for cover as the front end of the cab bursts into flames.

  “Oh my God,” Madison breathes, leaning into my arm, shielding her face from the waves of heat that roll over us even from this distance.

  As I watch the orange flames licking the black night, as the heated breeze brushes across my face, it triggers a response in me.

  I feel the now-familiar anxiety coming on and my gut clenches tighter than a vise grip. I can feel my throat begin to close up as it prevents me from getting a full breath.


  “I’ve got to get out of here,” I mutter as my chest tightens. Sweat pours down my temples and I wipe at it, squinting as the salt stings my eyes. Madison stares up at me, her eyes filled with concern.

  “Are you OK?” she asks, her fingers trembling as they curl around my arm. “We can’t leave. I’m pretty sure the police will want to talk to us.”

  She gestures toward the crowd forming, to where cop cars have already begun to congregate. I can see uniformed officers milling about, a couple of them headed our way. Heat from the fire and from my own anxiety begins to overwhelm me.

  “I’ve got to get out of here,” I mutter again. Her fingers are too tight now, along with everything else… my shirt, my waistband, my shoes. Everything bears down on me in blurs and smells and sounds. I can’t take it. I’m going to fucking explode. Or implode. I yank my arm from her grasp and stalk away.

  The last thing I see before everything turns black is the astonished look on Madison’s face, backlit by the red-and-orange glow of the taxi fire.

  The bad thing caught you.

  Chapter Three


  For a brief moment I wonder if the shock of the taxi accident has gotten to me or if I’ve somehow fallen down the rabbit hole.

  The guy standing in front of me has completely melted down, going from ultra-cocky and excruciatingly sexy to a complete panicky mess in literally thirty seconds.

  I don’t even know what to do with him.

  I put my hand on his arm, only to have him shake it off. There’s a wild look in his eye as he spins in a circle, hunting for a way out, his gaze darting around the perimeter of skyscrapers that surround us.

  “I’ve got to get out of here,” he mumbles for the third time. His eyes have a glazed-over look to them that I’ve never seen before. He starts to walk away and I grab his arm again. There’s no way I can let him walk off in this state. I don’t know him, but I feel a responsibility not to do that.

  “Wait,” I tell him quietly. “We’re got to give our names to the police and then we can go. Do you have an ID with you?”

  He fumbles in his back pocket and hands me his wallet before he sits on the curb, staring off into space, into the flames of the burning cab. After a minute he closes his eyes tightly and drops his head into his hands, as if to shut everything out.

  What the hell?

  I watch him hesitantly for just a second before I trot off to give the nearest policeman our IDs. The cop asks me for my contact information, then glances over at Gabriel.

  “Is he all right? Does he need an ambulance?”

  I turn and look. Gabriel is now leaning forward, his head resting on his knees, his eyes still closed.

  “I don’t think he’s hurt,” I answer, even though I honestly have no clue. “I think he just drank too much. We were taking the taxi home from the Underground.”

  “Smart,” the cop tells me. “There’s too much drunk driving out there. Good to call a cab.”

  “Except for when the cab explodes,” I mumble as I put my driver’s license back in my purse. The cop smiles wryly.

  “Yeah. Good point. At least no one was hurt.”

  I eye Gabriel uncertainly as I head back toward him. I’m not too sure about that. He’s still got his eyes closed, but his foot is tapping wildly against the pavement.

  When I reach him, I kneel down in front of him.

  “Gabriel, did you hit your head in the crash?”

  Because that would make sense. Maybe. Would a concussion cause someone to freak out like this?

  Gabriel looks up at me. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. I need to go home.” He doesn’t even sound like himself now. He’s speaking in a strange monotone, completely unlike the husky sexy voice he had before.

  It’s freaking me out.

  I sigh. Because I can’t leave him here.

  “Where do you live?”

  He just stares at me.

  I realize that I’m still holding his wallet, so I open it up and look at his driver’s license. His address isn’t that far away. We’re actually within walking distance. Thank God. I don’t want to get into another cab anytime soon.

  Reaching down, I tug on Gabriel’s muscled arm.

  “Come on,” I tell him. “I’m walking you home.”

  He comes with me without protest, pulling at his collar.

  “I can’t breathe,” he mutters to me. I look up at him. His collar isn’t too tight.

  “You’re going to be OK,” I assure him.

  Although I’m not sure of that myself.

  I hold on to his arm, although I don’t know why. After we’ve walked a couple of blocks, Gabriel starts muttering incoherent words under his breath. I can’t understand him, but when I ask him to repeat them, he just looks at me.

  This is seriously freaking me out. I highly doubt I should be walking anywhere alone with this guy. Why in the world didn’t I just tell the cop to deal with him? I’m clearly not equipped to handle this situation.

  “Is there anyone I can call for you?” I ask him, hoping that there is. He just looks at me again, almost like he doesn’t understand.

  When I look into his eyes, they are vacant and glassy.

  Like he’s not there.

  I gulp hard.

  Within a minute we’ve reached his building and I’ve never been so happy. A doorman recognizes Gabriel and greets him by name.

  “He’s not himself,” I say by way of explanation,
because I’m honestly not sure what to say. “I’m walking him to his condo. Can you tell me his condo number?”

  The doorman is actually kind enough to walk us up to the condo and then unlock the door for me with his master keys. I smile at him.

  “Thank you,” I tell him simply as I walk Gabriel through the door. Gabriel isn’t speaking at all by this point.

  The doorman looks at us.

  “If you need anything else, let me know,” he tells me, staring at Gabriel curiously before he takes his leave.

  That’s interesting. He’s obviously not used to seeing Gabriel like this, so maybe it really was an injury in the accident. Maybe he did hit his head. For a second I wonder if I should call an ambulance.

  But Gabriel is already walking back toward his bedroom, mumbling. I can see his neatly made bed through the open door. I follow along at his heels and almost run into him when he abruptly stops and slams his fist into the wall. His movement is strong and unexpected and packs enormous power. So much power that he shakes the entire hallway and leaves a hole in the wall.

  I gasp and freeze when he turns to me. Fear floods every part of me, every last nook and cranny of me. Because as Gabriel turns his face, a small illogical part of me almost expects to see someone else. Someone terrifying.

  My father.

  My heart pounds in my ears and memories from long ago flit through my head. Fists and blood and arguments and fear.

  But of course Gabriel isn’t my father. And so I force my breathing to slow and my heart to calm down, even as I balance lightly on the balls of my feet, poised to run if I have to. I swallow as Gabriel looks at me.

  “I hate this,” he tells me. His cheeks are flushed, his eyes are slightly glazed and his hand is still curled into a fist at his side, his knuckles scraped. I eye it and take a step back, because I know what can happen with a fist.

  “You hate what?”

  Emotion fills his eyes, something dark, something pained. “I hate the way it controls me.”

  I definitely feel panicked now. “What controls you?”

  But he doesn’t answer. He just walks into his room and drops onto his bed. He’s calm now, quiet. As though he didn’t just punch a hole in the wall.

  As though he didn’t just tell me that something controls him.