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Hottest Mess

J. Kenner

  Hottest Mess is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  A Bantam Books Trade Paperback Original Copyright (c) 2016 by Julie Kenner All rights reserved.

  Published in the United States by Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

  Bantam Books and the House colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Kenner, Julie, author. Title: Hottest mess J. Kenner. Description: New York : Bantam, [2016] | Series: Stark international ; 5 Identifiers: LCCN 2016006717 | ISBN 9781101967478 (paperback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781101967485 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Man-woman relationships--Fiction. | Billionaires--Fiction. | BISAC: FICTION Romance Contemporary. | FICTION Contemporary Women. | FICTION Romance Suspense. | GSAFD: Erotic fiction. Classification: LCC PS3611.E665 H68 2016 | DDC 813/.6--dc23 LC record available at

  ebook ISBN 9781101967485

  Cover design and illustration: David G. Stevenson, based on images (c) Shutterstock v4.1




  Title Page

  Copyright Page


  1: Pretty Little Liars

  2: Rear Window

  3: The Man with the Golden Cock

  4: Sins of the Father

  5: A Hasty Retreat

  6: Bitch in Satin Sheets

  7: The Usual Suspects

  8: Glass Houses

  9: Starry, Starry Night

  10: What the Butler Saw

  11: The Other Man

  12: Deliver Us From Evil

  13: Dirty Little Boy

  14: Reality Bites

  15: Dinner and a Movie

  16: Wrecked

  17: Master of Illusion

  18: Fight Me, Fuck Me

  19: Happy Hour

  20: Steak and Potatoes

  21: Mrs. Robinson

  22: City of Angels

  23: Boy Toy

  24: Tsunami

  25: Sanctuary

  26: Enemy Mine

  27: Goodbye to You

  28: Lady in Red

  By J. Kenner

  About the Author

  My earliest memories are of Dallas. Being with him. Laughing with him.

  Loving him.

  I don't remember when I realized that it was wrong, when I truly understood that we had to keep our growing desire secret. I only know that it glowed inside us, a spark just waiting to burn. And that when the worst happened--when we were captive together in the dark--we no longer cared about rules and expectations, taboos or punishments.

  All we wanted then was to survive. All we cared about was finding comfort in each other's arms, the world outside be damned.

  In some ways, those long, dark weeks were the best of my life. Terrifying and horrible, yes, but we belonged to each other. Fully. Completely.

  After, in the real world, we were torn apart, everything we'd been to each other pushed aside. Buried.

  A precious memory. A traumatic interlude.

  A mistake.

  Because we are brother and sister--bound as tightly by adoption as if we were tied by blood--and yet equally bound by need. By desire. By love.

  For seventeen years, we fought a battle against our desire, but that is over now. Neither of us can fight any longer, and we have succumbed to heaven in each other's arms.

  It's a forbidden love, a hidden passion.

  It's a secret, and it has to stay that way.

  But secrets scare me, because things hidden in the dark have power.

  Dallas and I know that better than anyone.

  So even though I am happier now than I have ever been, I am also more frightened than I can ever remember. Because I fully understand the stakes now.

  I know the power of secrets.

  And I'm terribly afraid that our secret is going to destroy us.

  Pretty Little Liars

  The universe is completely unfair.

  For four long, luxurious days this Southampton mansion had been my personal paradise. Here, my body had been adored. My skin stroked. My blood had burned with a passion that had been building over seventeen long years. I'd been touched and kissed and worshipped by the man I've loved my entire life, and I'd relished the freedom to explore every inch of him in return. My lips on his strong jaw, his tight abs. My tongue tasting the sweetness of his skin and the saltiness of his cock.

  We made love tenderly, then violently, then tenderly once more. We curled together in each other's arms. We watched late night television with our legs twined, until the sensation of skin against skin overwhelmed us and we muted the drone of talk show hosts, and explored each other again in the flickering light of the television.

  We swam naked in the pool during the day, then walked along the beach in the moonlight.

  Those days had been a gift. A reward.

  A decadent, sensual heaven.

  But all that changed this morning, and now this mansion that I love has transformed into hell. A luxurious hell with cool ocean breezes, a wet bar, liveried waiters offering sushi and canapes, and the man I love fondling the ass of a pert blonde with tits that are going to pop right out of that barely there dress if she so much as sneezes.


  And I'm not the only one mentally plotting Blondie Bitch's demise. On the contrary, I'm certain that every female in the vicinity would take her down in a heartbeat in order to take the twit's place at his side. Dallas Sykes. The infamous billionaire bad boy. The man known publicly as one of the two heirs to the Sykes family fortune, and who women all over the country reverently refer to as the King of Fuck.

  The man I love.

  The man I can have in private, but never in public.

  The man who is my brother.

  Well, fuck.

  The bitch leans closer to him, and as her teeth tug at his earlobe, I turn away--there's only so much torment I can take--and make a beeline for the bar.

  "Woodford Reserve," I say to the bartender. "Two ice cubes." I recall the way his hand cupped her rear. "Actually, let's make that a double."

  "Sure thing, miss."

  Beside me, a runway-thin model-type with at least four inches on me takes a sip of red wine. "The hard stuff, huh? Guess you're singing the same song I am."

  I glance at her, confused. "I'm sorry?"

  Her mouth curves up in a way that makes her cheekbones even more prominent. She looks like a fairy with her pale skin and short dark hair. A devious fairy, I amend, seeing the glint in her pale blue eyes. "The Ode to Dallas," she clarifies. "The siren's song to make him ditch the bimbo and come straight to you. Or, in my case, me."

  "Oh. Oh, no." My cheeks burn, and right then I'd totally welcome a natural disaster. A sinkhole, perhaps. Or a tsunami blowing in off Shinnecock Bay. "Me? With Dallas? That's not even--"

  I clamp my mouth shut before I get in a serious the lady doth protest too much situation. How the hell could I have been so obvious? Could she really see the lust in my eyes? Surely not? Surely I was more careful. Because I have to be careful. I've been careful my whole damn life.

  Yes, but before you two weren't together. Now you are. At least when you're alone. But not here. Not in the world. Not where it matters.

  Her smile is knowing. "Oh, come on. Don't tell me that you don't--wait." She tilts her head, studying me, and as I watch, her eyes go wide, and she presses four long fingers over her blood-red lips. "Oh, shit. I'm sorry. I didn't--"

  "Didn't what?"
  "Didn't recognize you. You're Jane, right? You're his sister. God, that was totally lame of me." She drags her perfectly manicured fingers through her pixie-style hair. "I just saw you looking at him, and I assumed that you--anyway, never mind." She draws a deep breath and extends her hand. "I'm Fiona. Did I mention I'm an idiot?"

  I can't help but laugh. "Honest mistake. Really. I was looking at him. But that was irritation you were seeing. Not lust." That, at least, is half true, and I allow myself one deep breath in relief. Crisis averted. Bullet dodged.

  But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that some tiny, screwed up part of me wishes that she'd called my bluff. That she'd felt the heat that burns in my veins for him--and that she'd figured it out.

  Because as much as I love Dallas, I hate that we have to hide. And some rebellious, hidden, bold, stupid part of me wishes that we could be open and out there and real.

  We can't, though. I know we can't. The law and our parents and the threat of public humiliation keep us trapped firmly in the shadows. And, honestly, I've never been too fond of the spotlight, so the idea of having tabloid attention focused on me because I'm sleeping with my brother really doesn't sit well.

  But it's not just family and privacy and social mores that are keeping us apart. There's Deliverance, too. Because as long as Dallas is Top Secret Vigilante Guy, everything in his life is going to remain hidden, including the man he truly is. A man so very different from the one he shows the public. A man that even I don't fully know or understand, because we haven't yet talked about how Deliverance operates or about its core mission to track--and presumably kill--the miserable excuses for human beings who kidnapped us both seventeen years ago. We need to, of course, but neither of us wanted that conversation to intrude on our four days of bliss. We only wanted each other.

  "Hey," Fiona says, her forehead creasing as she peers at me. "You okay?"

  "Fine." I force a smile, even though I feel like crying. Because for the first time it's fully hit me. He's mine. Dallas Sykes is absolutely, one hundred percent, totally mine.

  And yet I can never truly have him.

  Not in the way that counts. Not in the way that matters.

  We're living a lie that is shiny and perfect and wonderful in the shadows, but that shrivels and dies in the harsh light of day.

  I love him. I do.

  And even though we promised each other that we would make this work, I can't help but fear that's a promise we never should have made. Because it's a promise that is impossible to keep.

  Rear Window

  An hour later I'm finally alone and on my third bourbon. Fiona has overcompensated for her faux pas by prattling on about nothing and everything, which was good in that her constant attention kept my eyes from drifting to Dallas.

  And bad, in that her constant attention kept my eyes from drifting to Dallas.

  Even knowing I shouldn't, all I want to do is watch him. And imagine him touching me. And seethe about the fact that he is spending the party touching everyone but me.

  Apparently, he's even touched Fiona.

  "We went out a couple of times," she told me, eyes sparkling. "Everyone knows he hardly ever sees the same woman twice, but, well, he saw me three times." Her lips curved wickedly. "He saw all of me."

  My stomach twisted as I smiled politely and said something about my brother's reputation and how I really needed to go take care of something with the staff. I escaped inside, hid out for half an hour, and when I returned, I didn't see her at all.

  Dallas, however, caught my attention right away.

  Now, I'm leaning against the corner post of one of the pool cabanas trying not to watch him. Or, at least, trying not to be obvious about the fact that I'm watching him.

  He's moved on from the blonde. Now he stands next to a brunette with streaks of neon blue. Her long hair falls in loose curls over her back, bare in the designer halter she wears. She sports a tattoo on her shoulder--not a feminine one, but a skull against a blood-red background.

  She wears a black leather miniskirt and five inch heels, and I have no doubt that this is a woman who takes what she wants. I can tell simply from looking at her. I can also tell from the way she keeps leaning toward Dallas and running her tongue over the edge of his ear.

  I've never met the woman, but I'm going out on a limb and saying that I don't like her. Not at all. Not even one little bit.

  I realize I'm staring again, and so I pull out my phone and make an effort to go through my emails. The attempt is futile--I see words, but they make no sense to me at the moment.

  At least not until a text message flashes across my screen.


  It's from Dallas, of course, and my body tightens merely from seeing his name. I react on instinct--my head lifting, my eyes going straight to where he stands with Skull Girl. He's not looking in my direction, but I know that he is aware of me. He always is. Just as I'm always aware of him.

  I stand, my feet like weights holding me in place as I watch the scene unfolding in front of me. Dallas and the woman standing near the pool, chatting casually with a few of the guests. Dallas's hand, brushing lightly against her bare back. His fingers trailing down her spine, then over the halter's tie at her waist.

  I expect his hand to stroke the soft leather and cup her ass, but that isn't what happens. Instead, his nimble fingers unfasten the button of her waistband, loosening it just enough so that he can slip his hand inside her skirt and slide it down over her ass. For just a fraction of an instant, he looks up, his eyes finding mine. Heat pours through me, turning me liquid, making me wet.

  I know what he is doing--we've done this before. Him touching another woman. Me watching. And both of us pretending that he is touching me.

  The first time, it was hotter than sin. I'd been alone in a bathroom, watching the scenario play out on video. We weren't together yet--in fact we were doing everything to stay apart--and that moment had been a turning point for both of us. A bold--albeit completely fucked up--statement of just how badly we wanted each other. Of what we were willing to do.

  Of how far we were willing to go.

  I bite my lower lip and swallow, wanting to take what I know he is giving, but also wanting to run far and fast. My reaction surprises me--but at the same time it doesn't. I don't want this. Yes, it's hot. Yes, it's exciting.

  But I really, really don't want it.

  Before, it had been my only option. Vicarious lust. Fantasy fucking. I'd allowed myself to get lost in a sensual haze while I watched him with another woman. I'd touched myself and come violently, over and over again, pretending that it was Dallas stroking me. Knowing it was me that he wanted, and that the woman with her mouth on his cock was nothing more than a poor substitute.

  But back then, I wasn't his. Not yet. Not really.

  Now I am.

  Now he can have me whenever and however he wants.

  Except that's not really true. Because he can't have me now. He can't touch me here in his own backyard. Not with all these people around.

  He and I have to stay in the shadows. But he can fondle Skull Girl whenever the hell he wants to.

  God. Fucking. Dammit.

  I turn away, my skin still tingling. My breasts still tight. I want to watch--so help me, I do.

  But I really, really don't want to want to.

  The door to the cabana is now right in front of me--our cabana. Where it all began between us, and where we finally, fully committed to each other, promising that we would somehow, someway, make this impossible situation work.

  Memories flood over me as I move toward the door. I want to lose myself in them even if I can't lose myself in the man.

  I push the curtain aside, then stop dead. I don't know the people on the daybed, but I know only too well what they're doing. I watch, transfixed, as a fully clothed man with his fly down thrusts his cock into a very naked, very willing woman.

  I make a small noise, my hand going immediately over my mouth to stifle it, but I m
ake no move to leave. I'm hidden from their view, I think. From where I stand, I am mostly behind the man, at an angle to the daybed. There is the curtain behind me that leads to the pool deck, and also a solid sliding pocket door that I'm surprised they didn't close and lock. Maybe they didn't know it was there.

  In front of me are two more layers of gauzy curtains, designed both for both privacy and to repel bugs in the evening. The lighting is dim, and although I'm sure they would realize I was there if they looked closely, I know from experience that they would see only shadows. And that so long as I don't move, they probably won't even notice me.

  I don't move a muscle.

  Instead, I stand perfectly still, lost in the hot, decadent scene that is playing out in front of me. I don't care about these people, and I don't want to. Instead, I'm imagining that it's me on the bed, my body stripped bare. That it's Dallas behind me, still dressed for the party, his fly down, his cock hard and thick and thrusting inside me.

  He bends over, his hands cupping my hips, then my waist, then sliding up to grab my tits. He squeezes hard, the pain shooting all the way down to my cunt, making me even wetter, making my muscles clench ever tighter around him as he pounds inside me.

  His cock fills me, his balls slapping hard against my ass as he fucks me from behind, harder and harder, riding me until I want to scream from pain and pleasure and the wild, frantic need for release.

  I taste blood and realize that I'm biting my lower lip in an effort to stay quiet. I haven't made a sound, but I have moved. My hand has slid down, brushing the thin cotton of my floral print skirt, easing it up slowly until I have to clutch tight to the material in defense against the overpowering urge to ease the garment all the way up.