Unexpected fate, p.8
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       Unexpected Fate, p.8

         Part #1 of Hope Town series by Harper Sloan
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  I am staring at his lush, full lips when I realize I have been basically lusting over his face since he sat down. Shit.

  When my eyes meet his, I expect to see humor at busting me, but all I see is the mirrored hunger I know is dancing behind my green eyes. His are heated, a deep fire blazing behind them. He isn’t even attempting to hide his desire for me.

  I hold my breath, waiting while the world stops spinning around me, and I go for it. Clearly, he’s taken off guard when I all but leap off the stage flooring and into his lap. My legs fall on either side of his hips, my hands dive into that freshly cut hair—enjoying the prickle of the buzz against my palms—and my lips are on him before he has a second to figure out what my intentions are. He’s solid and unmoving. If it weren’t for his strong hands holding my hips in place, I probably would have gotten up and run away.

  Pulling my lips off his motionless ones, I look into his shocked eyes and feel a heated blush of embarrassment wash over me.

  “Oh my God. I’m . . . I . . . I shouldn’t have done that. ”

  He doesn’t say anything, but he also doesn’t let go of my hips when I try to move off him. It takes me a second for the reality to hit me—I’m sitting in the shadows, straddling a very shocked Cohen Cage.

  Holy crap. Okay, so maybe I really was reading too much into the last couple of weeks.

  “I . . . I don’t even know what to say. I’m sor—”

  My apology never leaves my lips, because in a split second, his hands tighten, pulling me harder against his body, and his thick lips crash down on mine. The feel of him, the reality of a kiss I’ve dreamt of since I was old enough to crave it, is so overwhelmingly perfect that I feel it all the way to my soul.

  “We shouldn’t be doing this here,” I gasp against his lips, knowing that I don’t mean a word of it. If he stops, I just might die.

  “Can’t stop, Dani-girl. Now that I finally know what you taste like . . . I can’t stop,” he moans when I shift my weight against his lap.

  I can feel the truth in his words against my core, and I can’t stop myself from rotating my hips against his hardened length.

  “Jesus. I knew you would make me come undone. ”

  His lips are back on mine. Caressing, lightly nipping between his teeth, before his tongue slides along the seam and demands access to my mouth. Our tongues dance together, almost as if they were made for each other. My breaths dance with his in a heated tango.




  “Your girlfriend,” I pant, trying to pull back but knowing it will be impossible to let this go.

  “Not my girlfriend. ”

  I pull back and look into his hooded eyes, “She came with you, Cohen. ”

  “She isn’t with me. She came because she is the widow of one of the men from my unit, Dani-girl. She is here because she has no one else and she’s had a hard time recently. But she isn’t who I want in my arms. Good lord, woman. Shut up and kiss me. ”

  Well, alrighty, then.

  When I still don’t move, his hands slide up my sides. His thumbs brush over the sides of my breasts, causing my nipples to harden painfully, before his hands cup my face. His fingers go into my hair, his thumbs lightly caressing my cheeks, while he studies my face. I have no idea what he sees there, but it must be enough, because seconds later, he pulls my face to his and devours my lips.

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  There is no other word for it. He takes my lips in a kiss so brutally perfect. His tongue duels with mine with effortless control.

  It takes my sluggish mind only seconds to get with the program. Seconds, minutes, hours—I have no idea. It isn’t long before I’m working his shirt over his head and his hand is working its way into my shorts.

  “Dani, we need to stop,” he groans as his fingers roll against my core, lightly pressing against my swollen clit before he pushes two thick digits deep within my wet core.

  “Can’t,” I gasp against his mouth and dig my fingers into his shoulders. “Don’t want to. ”

  “Not here. Anyone could find us. ” He’s right. I hate it, but he’s right.

  “Cohen Cage . . . I swear to God that I’m going to go insane if you’re going to leave me like this. ”

  He doesn’t say anything. His eyes are back to searching my own.

  “I’ve waited forever for this,” I whisper.

  His eyes close, and he drops his forehead against mine.

  “Forever,” I repeat.

  “Shit,” he groans. Then he pulls his fingers from my shorts, helps me right my clothing, and helps me stand with his hands against my hips.

  I watch in confusion as he grabs his shirt and pulls it back over his head before he starts to pace around in the darkness.

  Good job, Dani. Way to scare him off with your freakish admission that you’ve always waited for him to shove his hands down your pants. I bet he’s trying to figure out the best way to run as fast as he can without hurting my feelings.

  Well, too late for that.

  “Listen, I’m just going to go . . . ”

  His head snaps over to mine, and within seconds, I’m back in his arms. He just holds me tight against his body. When his body starts to sway with the music coming through the stage’s thick curtain, I struggle to keep up with his mood changes.

  Until I hear the song the DJ is playing.

  Brett Young’s “Kiss by Kiss. ”

  The same song I had my first dance to with him four years ago. The same song that has always reminded me of him day after day and year after year.

  His lips go to my temple and he places a lingering kiss there before sliding his jaw down to rest it there. His breath against my ear is coming in deep pants as I hear him singing the song lyrics. Lyrics that will forever have a new meaning to me.

  “And every time you look at me I just want to hold you. All my life I’ve been waiting for you. Little by little falling for you. ”

  Oh. My.

  I pull back and look up into his handsome face. His lips curl slightly in a smile that seems to say, Well, I guess the cat’s out of the bag now. His eyes hold mine as he waits to see what I’ll do with his admission, and he pulls me deeper in toward his body. As if he’s afraid I’m going to run.

  As freaking if!

  “I fell for you a long time ago, Cohen Cage. I’ve loved you my whole life. ”

  His face relaxes, and he lets out his breath. When his forehead drops against mine, I brace myself for his rejection.

  “Dani-girl,” he groans like a prayer for strength.

  Which is when it happens. When he realizes just who he has in his arms. And he starts to pull back. This is going to change everything between us. This final rejection. If the families find out—my brother, his siblings . . . Oh, God, Liam was right. This is going to be terrible.

  “I have to go check on Megan. Make sure Chance can take her home. ”

  And just like that, he’s walking away from me, pulling the curtain to the side, and jumping down off the stage.

  I didn’t think it would hurt this bad. But having something I’ve wanted, desired, craved, in my arms for just moments only to have it ripped away is more painful than never having him.

  Because no matter the obstacles we would have had to face, having him there, realizing that we really are just as perfect as I’d always imagined and knowing I’ll never have it again feels like someone just died.

  To top it all off, I was so close to what promised to be the most powerful orgasm I’ve ever experienced.

  “Shit. ”

  After dropping my ass back down to the floor, I curl my legs up and wrap my arms around them before laying my head against my knees.

  Well, doesn’t this just take the cake for shit outcomes?

  ONE COULD SAY THAT I had a moment of insanity. An out-of-body experience that I was helpless to stop and just had to let happen.
Maybe I could say it was the beer? No. No matter how I try to excuse what just happened between Dani and me, it would be a lie.

  She was exactly where I wanted her.

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  She looked so beautiful when I walked in this afternoon. Her body showcased in those short-as-hell shorts. Those perky tits I love so much standing out in her tight tank. And those heels. God, what I wouldn’t give to know what it felt like to have them digging into my back as I pounded into her.

  It took everything I had not to rush her right then and there. But I stuck to my guns and kept my determination to stand back. If things were still there when I got home, then we would explore this.

  “What am I doing?” I mumble to myself, jumping off the stage and into the party that had been going on around us, careful to hide the fact that my cock is about to claw its way off my body to run back to Dani.

  Cam spots me and shakes his head. Colt, who’s standing next to him, gives me a thumbs-up, which I return with my middle finger. He and Cam laugh so loud that I can hear them across the room and over the music.

  It takes me a second to get through everyone and to the table I left Megan at. She looks just about as miserable as she was this morning when I stopped by to make sure she was okay. Jack should have been shipping off with us, and I know that’s a fact that hasn’t escaped her notice. It’s been hard since we lost him, but no one has suffered harder than Megan. Well, maybe their four-year-old daughter, who keeps asking for her daddy.

  A little over a week ago, she called me because she needed help with something around the house. When I got there and saw just how bad things had gotten, I stepped in and continued to stop by—just basically made sure she knew she wasn’t alone.

  “Hey, Megs,” I say with a smile.

  I drop down in the chair next to her and look over at Chance, who has been keeping her company—or as he likes to call it, “watch duty. ” Chance, like I did, served with Megan’s husband.

  I think I’ve always known that I would eventually join Corps Security. When my aunt Melissa got custody of me after my mom died—then, shortly after, met Greg—it didn’t take long before I was adopted by both and calling them Mom and Dad. They have been a huge part of my life, and I honestly look at them both as my real parents. I was around three when they started dating. He has helped shape me into the man I am today. Since then, I’ve come a long way from the little boy who wore a cape everywhere and wouldn’t shut up about dick piercings.

  “Hey, Coh. ”

  She looks at me briefly before turning her attention back to the people around us. I lean back and take in the room. Since all the parents ran out before things could get a little crazy, the makeshift dance floor is crowded with the pulsing bodies of my closest family and friends. The room is full of people enjoying life. That is all she would see. Happiness she doesn’t have anymore.

  “Are you ready to get out of here? I think Chance has been ready for a few hours now. ” I laugh when he nods an emphatic yes.

  “I am, but I don’t want to take you away from your family right now. You should enjoy your time home before you leave. ”

  “And I will, Megs. I can come back, or Chance can take you home. ”

  It takes me a little longer than I would like to get Megan to agree to go home with Chance. He’ll make sure she gets home, takes a sleeping pill, and is okay before he heads back to our apartment.

  I stop over with my sisters to let them know I’m leaving with the truck and to catch a ride with Cam and Colt. They don’t pay any attention to me, but they nod their heads. After checking with my brothers one last time to make sure they know to take the girls to their house before they head home, I head to my last stop and that red curtain hiding my prize is just within my reach.

  I might be crazy for this. Hell, if Axel found out that I was about to drag his little princess off to my apartment for a night of debauchery, he would cut my dick off. Or maybe chain me to the back of his big-ass truck by my Prince Albert. Not exactly a pleasant thought. I reach down and rub my poor junk at the thought.

  “You sure about this?” I hear right before I’m about to walk up the side stairs that will take me back to the cloaked darkness behind the curtain.

  I look over to see Liam leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest, but no doubt he would push off and attempt to kick my ass if he felt I was about to hurt Dani.

  “Liam, mind your business. ”

  “Yeah, that’s not going to happen. That girl back there, the one you left ten minutes ago, doesn’t think you’re coming back. I would have known that even if I hadn’t peeked behind the curtain to see if she was okay. I’ll give you this time because I can tell you had every intention of coming back to her, but you hurt her again and, friend or not, family or not, I’ll fucking kill you. ” He ends his rant by stepping right into my personal space, and it’s taking every ounce of control I have not to punch him right in the face. “She’s my best friend, Cohen,” he whispers. “You aren’t stupid. You know how deep she feels for you, and if you would take two seconds to not be terrified about it going bad, you would be able to admit you feel the same way. Either do something about it or leave her alone so she can get over you. ”

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  “It’s not that easy, Liam. I’m leaving tomorrow. Leaving. I know you know just as well as I do that I might not come back this time. Right or wrong, consequences be damned, there isn’t much of anything that could make me stop now. Did I expect this? No. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t welcome. I tried to keep my distance. I denied us both, but I can’t anymore. I won’t hurt her. I could never hurt her. ”

  “All right. I might take back my earlier assessment. You might be stupid after all. Make sure she is clear with whatever is about to happen and what it means to you, Cohen. Because if you don’t, you’re going to get her hopes up, and when you leave without making something, anything, clear, it will crush her more than just you being deployed will. ” He turns and walks off, grabbing Maddi on his way by her waist and playfully throwing her over his shoulder before marching onto the crowded dance floor.

  It should be said for the record that I am far from stupid. I thought I was doing the right thing by denying us this. I thought that it would be easier for both of us if we didn’t take this attraction any further.

  One thing and one thing only is clear now.

  I want Danielle Reid.

  And right or wrong, I will have her.

  I just need to make sure she knows I can’t make her any promises about our future. Not with too much unknown standing in our way. When I get home, we can sit down and figure this stuff out, but for now, I need to find out if the fantasy of her lives up to the reality. I have a feeling that it will be even greater than I ever could imagine.

  I don’t know what I expected when I came back to where I left Dani, but seeing her sitting in some kind of protective ball definitely wasn’t it. My Dani is strong. She wouldn’t ever feel the need to turn in toward herself. Hell, if she weren’t happy with me, she would have marched out there and kicked my ass herself.

  “Dani-girl?” I implore, walking up to her still form and crouching down next to her. “Talk to me, baby. ”

  She’s quiet for a second, and just as I lean down to pull her into my arms, she catches me off guard with an elbow to the gut.

  “You jerk. I told you not to leave me like that. I’m two seconds away from shoving my own hand down my pants to finish what YOU started. ”

  Her eyes flash, giving me just enough time to prepare for her launching herself from her position. My arms go around her seconds before I fall back. Then I roll until I have her trapped under me with no way to get away.

  Leaning down, I make sure she is focused completely on me before speaking. “I don’t know what’s gotten you worked up, Dani-girl, but I told you I was coming back. ”

  “No you didn’t, jerk-off. You said you had to go check
on Megan. You said you needed to make sure Chance was taking her home. Now tell me how was I supposed to know in Cohen’s world that mean you would be right back? You know what? Just forget it . . . Get off me so I can find my brother and have him take me back home. ”

  She’s lost her damn mind.

  “That isn’t happening. ” I push my hips against hers so there is no doubt in what I’m about to say. “For years—years, Dani—you’ve been parading around this flawless body and teasing me with something I couldn’t have. For weeks, we’ve been dancing around this attraction. I’ve had a taste, and now, I need my meal. So what we’re going to do is get off this damn floor, walk out the back door, and I’m going to get your sweet little ass to my bed quickly. I mean it, Dani. Years I’ve thought about what your pussy would feel like with my cock deep inside you, and I’m not giving that up now. ”

  Her eyes widen hilariously. Those stunning, light-green orbs look at me with so much shock that, if I weren’t so frustrated, I would laugh. Okay, so maybe I should have handled that a little better

  Yeah, smooth I am not.

  “What?” she breathes. “What happened to you saying this wouldn’t happen?”

  “I’m man enough to admit I was wrong and I’m open to discussing this again. Now get ready, baby. It’s going to be a long night. ”

  THE WHOLE TWENTY-MINUTE DRIVE TO my apartment is done with silence and sexual tension so thick that it’s choking. My cock is testing the strength of its confinement. With every inhale, I can smell her arousal, her desire for me, and it’s driving me insane with lust.

  “Do you think we should talk about this, Cohen?” she asks weakly, like she would rather talk about anything else but knows it’s smart that we at least lay some communication out.

  “What do you want me to say here, Dani-girl?”

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  “The truth would be nice. Is this just some game to you? Or is this more? I’m not asking for the world, Coh . . . but I don’t think that I can just give myself to you if it doesn’t mean something to you. I’m so confused with your no-and-then-yes games. ”

  I don’t answer right away. I need to make sure she understands me, and there is no way I can get my point across if she is staring out the window and freaking out instead of looking at me. I need to see her eyes, to know that she is here with me and not running into her head to hide.

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