Trashed, p.24
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       Trashed, p.24

         Part #2 of Stripped series by Jasinda Wilder
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“Get him off!” I’d like to say that came out as a shriek, but it was actually more of a squeal.

  “Ignatius, get down,” Erik snaps, and the bear-dog or wolfhound or whatever it is lowers his paws to the ground and stares up at me, tongue lolling, eyes happy and innocent, his head even with my navel.

  I wipe my face, and then wipe the slobber from my hands on my pant-legs, trying to contain my disgust. When I finally look up, everyone is trying not to laugh.

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  I glare, but it’s good-natured. “Why on earth would you have a pet bear? That’s crazy. ”

  “Wolfhound, babe. Not a bear. ” Adam is grinning.

  “Bear, wolfhound, the size of that thing makes it moot point, if you ask me. ” I watch nervously as Iggy ambles away, turns in a circle three times, and then lies on the ground behind Adam’s chair.

  “So did you have any pets growing up, Des?” Lani asks.

  I shake my head. “No. I…moved around a lot, so pets weren’t really a possibility. ”

  “Oh, was your father in the military or something?” Lani’s questions are innocent, but so hard to answer.

  “Mom. ” Adam gives his mother a meaningful glance and a slight shake of his head.

  And now it’s awkward. I take a fortifying sip of the wine. “I didn’t have a…traditional childhood,” I say. Everyone at the table is rapt. “I grew up in the foster system in Detroit. ”

  “Oh. ” Lani’s gaze goes soft and understanding. “I see. ”

  That’s the look I hate. That right there, even though I know she means well, is the reason I don’t talk about it.

  I shrug. “There was this one family I stayed with for a few months, and they had a parrot. ” I can’t help smiling. “He was kind of an asshole. I think he was actually a cockatoo, now that I think about it. He was really bizarre. He would climb up your arm and sit on your shoulder when he first met you, and he would just stare at you. It was creepy. You couldn’t get him off or try to pet him, or even talk to him until he got down on his own, or he would bite you. ”

  “What was his name?” one of the twins asks. Lia? The one wearing jeans.

  “Cartmann. ”

  “Like…the South Park character?” she clarifies.

  I nod. “Yep. ”

  “That’s kind of funny,” Lia says, grinning.

  “Yeah, until he takes a chunk out of your ear,” I say, touching the small divot in the outer edge of my ear where Cartmann had bitten me when I first met him.

  “Yeesh. ” Lia makes a face.

  “So, Tory, how long are you in town for?” Erik asks.

  “Till September or October,” Adam answers.

  “Oh, for awhile, then. ”

  Adam nods. “Yeah. All I’ve got is the premier next month, but I’m off for the summer except for that. ”

  Erik peels the label off his beer bottle, glancing at his son. “So what are you going to do with yourselves?”

  Adam shrugs. “Dunno. Show Des the city. Hang out and not memorize lines. Not spend twenty or thirty hours a week in the gym. ” He glances at me, and there’s a glint of humor in his eyes, or maybe it’s a promise.

  Something tells me those twenty to thirty hours a week in the gym will be transferred to the bedroom, and it’ll probably involve me on my back. Or my knees. Or standing up, bent over. He’s very imaginative. My core tightens and goes damp at my train of thought, and I force my mind out of the gutter and back to the conversation, which has moved on to Lia and Lizzy’s coming transition to college in the fall.

  I pay attention and keep quiet, watching Adam interact with his family. It’s so incredible to watch. They all know each other so well, they’re each so invested in the others, and they each have their own unique way of talking to each other. The girls obviously adore and idolize their older brother, and Adam is fiercely protective, interrogating them each in turn on the kinds of guys they’ve dated, who they hang out with, and spends several minutes lecturing them on keeping out of trouble when they start college. It’s adorable, and a lot sexy. He’s tender and respectful with his mom, macho and manly with his dad. And with me, he’s a little of all of that. He goes out of his way to include me in the conversations, guides the topics away from anything that might make me uncomfortable.

  At some point in the afternoon, Lani quietly leaves the table and moves into the kitchen and begins pulling things from the fridge. I get up and join her in the kitchen.

  “Can I help?” I ask.

  She smiles at me. “Sure. Would you like to mince a few cloves of garlic for me?”

  I smash the cloves with the flat of the knife blade, peel them, and then start slicing. “Adam is really incredible,” I say. “You and Erik should be proud. ”

  She beams. “Oh, we are. Very proud. He’s accomplished a lot in a very short time. ” Lani opens two packages of ground beef and dumps them into a huge pan and stirs. When the meat is sizzling, she turns back to me and glances past me, at Adam. “I was worried about him when he signed with the Chargers. I was proud of him then, too, of course, because making it to the NFL is an enormous accomplishment for a football player. But even in the four years he played for Stanford, he got injured several times. Very badly, once, and actually missed half a season. His Achilles tendon, that was. The NFL is so competitive, and I worried for him. ”

  “How do you feel about him acting? Some of the stunts he does are pretty dangerous. ”

  She shrugs. “Well, he’s a very tough and athletic man. He always has been. He wouldn’t be content doing something that wasn’t physically demanding. So yes, I suppose the stunts are dangerous, but the overall risk is less, I think, than the NFL. ” She glances at me. “Did you know he got a full ride to Stanford?”

  I shake my head. “I didn’t. I knew he went there and played ball, but…”

  Lani’s pride is evident. “Well, yes, he played football, too, but his full ride was an academic scholarship, not athletic. He wouldn’t mention this, because it’s not his nature to brag, but he was Valedictorian when he graduated. He has a degree in psychology. That’s on top of starting all four years he played football as well. ”

  My head spins. “Wow, I didn’t know. I mean, I know he’s smart, but…” I shrug. “When it comes to Adam, though, not much surprises me. ”

  “What about you?” Lani asks, putting water on to boil for pasta. “What do you do?”

  “I’m working towards a master’s degree in social work. ”

  “What will you do with it?”

  “Work with foster kids like me. They need an advocate. Someone who cares, because there’s just…there’s not enough people in the world who care for the kids who get lost in the system. ” I slide the cutting board with the minced garlic to Lani, who dumps it into the pan with the now-browned ground beef and tomato sauce. “I want to be someone that I wish I’d had myself, growing up. ”

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  “I understand this,” Lani says, her voice quiet, her eyes far away. “Growing up in Fiji, I was just one of many children whose parents simply couldn’t afford to care for them. But for us, there was no system. ”

  My heart hitches. Something in her carriage, her bearing, her voice, tells me she understands me on a personal level. “But you made it out?”

  She nods. “Eventually, yes. I had an aunt; my father’s much, much older sister. She had no children of her own. She’d moved here to Los Angeles many years before I was born. I’m not even sure how she made it here, honestly. She visited us in Fiji when I was eleven. And she…brought me back with her. Why me, I’ll never know. But she did. Put me in school, gave me an opportunity I would never have gotten otherwise. ”

  “That’s awesome,” I say.

  “Yes, I was very fortunate. ”

  “So, what do you do?” I ask.

  “I am a surgeon,” she answers. “And Erik is an entrepreneur. He owns
several apartment complexes, a shopping center, a chain of gyms, and he also runs a medical supply company, primarily for outpatient home care. ”

  “You must be busy, then. ”

  She shrugs. “Who isn’t? He’s thinking of selling off some of his holdings now, though, since the girls are both heading off to college in the fall. ” Her gaze goes to me, and while her expression isn’t exactly hard, it’s piercing, unwavering. “Tory is kind and loyal to a fault, you know. And he may be a big macho tough guy, but his emotions run deep. He was hurt by a woman recently, very badly. That was…difficult for me to watch. ”

  I let out a long breath and meet her eyes. “Emma. He told me about that. ”

  Lani seems surprised. “He did? He’s usually very reticent to speak of that time in his life. That was just so…public, which made it that much more painful for everyone involved. Except her, of course. ”

  I nod. “He made it seem like the whole thing was no big deal to her. Which is just…insane to me. The way he explained it, at least. ”

  “Well, we never met her, but every time I saw him during the time they were dating, he seemed…stressed. As if keeping up with her, keeping her happy was more a full-time job than even his acting career was. ” She glances at me. “If you ask me, a person is only as beautiful as the contents of their soul. ”

  “You never met her?” I find this odd. “They dated for what…a year and a half?”

  “Perhaps closer to two years, yes. And no, he never brought her here. ” Lani’s expression is thoughtful. “How long have you and Tory been dating?”

  I shrug. “Not long. ”

  Adam is behind me, his arms sliding around my middle. “I never brought Emma over because I just…I guess I knew you and Dad wouldn’t approve. And I didn’t want that conflict. Des is a different story. ” He moves beside me, leans a hip against the island. “And Des, you’re the only girl I’ve brought home to meet my parents since…what, Mom, high school?”

  Lani nods. “Your first girlfriend. Sarah Wexford. That was your sophomore year. ”

  My heart lodges in my throat. “So I’m in pretty exclusive company, huh?”

  Adam laughs. “Babe, you are the company. I brought Sarah here once after we’d dated for a month, but then she dumped me two days later for the quarterback, who happened to be my best friend at the time. So that doesn’t even count. ”

  “Wow. ” I’m not sure what else to say, so I don’t say anything.

  The rest of the evening passes easily. I like this family. I like sitting around the dinner table, passing a basket of bread, laughing, talking, feeling as if I belong. Perhaps it’s just how kind and open his family is, but I do feel as if I could belong. Which is heady, and addictive, and frightening. I pinch my leg under the table several times throughout the evening, but it all remains real. Lia and Lizzy and I discuss fashion for a long time, especially once they discover that I was a model. I tell them modeling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Lizzy especially seems a little let down by that. I find out Erik used to play football, too, for the USC Trojans, and then second string for the Forty-Niners for four seasons, which explains Adam’s build and natural athleticism.

  As scared as I was when we first got here, by the time night has fallen and Adam seems ready to go, I feel like I’ve known this family forever, which makes it hard to leave.

  But we do leave, sometime close to ten p. m. , and Adam is quiet on the drive into downtown L. A. He takes me to a high-rise condo building in the bustling heart of the city, where a valet parks his car and a porter unloads our luggage and whisks it away. We board an elevator, Adam inserts a small key and presses ‘PH’, and then we’re shooting up, up, up, forty-three floors above the ground.

  The elevator doors open directly into a huge foyer where the luggage is somehow waiting for us. It’s an open-plan penthouse suite, the kitchen, dining room, living room and a library all sprawled across the entire upper floor, more square footage on one level than I’ve ever seen before. The walls are white, decorated with black-and-white photographs of old Hollywood, a few framed high-gloss color action photos of Adam playing for the Chargers, and some antique-style maps. The floors are black wood and so shiny they reflect the track lighting. There are floor-to-ceiling windows running along one entire wall, a white couch in the living room area facing a TV that has to be at least ninety inches. It’s a beautiful condo, masculine and lived in.

  I’m still taking everything in when Adam tosses his keys on the kitchen counter, kicks off his shoes, and then peels his shirt off. His dark skin and rippling muscles catch my eye, and then the gleam in his gaze, the hungry, predatory expression has my breath lodged in my lungs and my core going hot and damp.

  “Seeing you with my family was incredible,” he says, reaching for me.

  “Your family is amazing. They’re all wonderful. ”

  “They loved you. ” He rolls the waistband of my yoga pants down. “I told you they would. ”

  “I felt very welcomed. It was…nice. ”

  “Nice? That’s all it was?”

  I set my purse on the floor and leave my hands at my sides, look into his fierce, ravenous green gaze. “They made me feel like they could be…like I could—” I can’t finish the thought, though. It’s too much to hope for.

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  “Like you belong?” His mouth slants across my jaw.

  “Yeah,” I breathe, tilting my head to the side, offering him my throat.

  “That’s because you do. ”

  “I do?”

  “Yeah. ” He takes my offer, nipping across my throat and then down, his hands rolling my yoga pants down a bit further, revealing the indent where my hipbones lead to my core.

  “I want to belong. ” My hands flutter and find his skin. “I’ve never belonged anywhere before. ”

  He tugs my pants down so I’m nearly bared to him, but not quite, and then his hands cup either side of my jaw. His eyes find mine. “Well, you belong now, Destiny. ”

  My heart stutters at the way my full name sounds on his lips. Words stick in my throat.

  “Where do you belong, you ask? Well, let me tell you. ” He speaks into the silence of my inability to reply. “To me. With my family. In my life. In my home. ”

  “I like all those places,” I whisper.

  “In my bed. ”

  “I’m wearing too many clothes to belong in your bed,” I say, looking up at him.

  He peels my pants off, then my shirt. “Let me fix that,” he rumbles, his eyes raking and roving over my body as he bares it, bra then underwear.

  “And so are you. ”

  “Then you should fix that, too. ”

  So I divest him of his jeans and underwear, and then he’s walking me backward, kicking open a door. I pause to look around. The bed is set in a nook to the left of the doorway, on a raised platform. It’s a massive bed, custom-made by the look of it, piled with pillows and throw blankets. There’s a set of French doors to the right, leading out onto a balcony, and straight ahead is a door leading through to a mammoth walk-in closet that, in turn, leads to a bathroom.

  “I like your condo,” I tell him.

  “Me too. ” He grins at me, his hands roaming over my ass. “I’ve only owned it for a year. You’re the only person other than my parents, my sisters, and my agent who has been here. ” I know what he’s saying, that Emma has never been here. That the memories we make here are solely ours. He kisses my shoulder, cups my breast. “So, my sexy Destiny…you have two choices. Number one, I lay you on the bed over there and eat you out until you can’t breathe, and then I fuck you six ways to Sunday. Or number two, I bend you over the bathtub, and then fuck you in the tub. And then maybe the shower. ”

  I reach behind me and grab his erection. “How about option number two, followed by option number one?”

  His finger slips between my thighs, finds me wet and ready. “I like the way you think
, baby. Guess I’d better get started. ”

  “Guess so. ”

  He moves past me, through the closet—which extends at least two or three hundred square feet to either side—and into the bathroom. The floors are marble, and warm under my feet. There’s a palatial glass-walled shower with more heads and nozzles than I can understand, a double sink, several shelves of thick, white, folded towels, and a separate room for the toilet. But the centerpiece is the tub. Claw-foot, circular, and gobsmackingly enormous. Big enough for even a man as big as Adam to lie in, with room for me as well. The faucet and knobs are brass, matching those at the sink and shower.

  And, coincidentally, the tub’s walls are the perfect height for me to hold on to. I discover this the fun way as Adam guides me to the tub, places my hands on the rim, gently but firmly presses on my shoulder blades until I’m doubled over, and then nudges my feet apart. My hair is still in the ponytail, so he slowly pulls the elastic band free, feathers his fingers through my hair, and then drapes it over my shoulder. I crane my neck to watch him, trembling in anticipation.

  He palms my ass cheeks, lifts them and lets them fall with a heavy bounce, slides his hand between my thighs and finds my entrance. Guides himself to the opening and slides in, no warning, no easing in, no foreplay. I gasp and then moan at the sudden fullness of him inside me, lean forward and relax into his movement for one…two…three…four thrusts, and then he’s out.

  “Don’t move,” he tells me, giving me a light pat on my ass.

  He circles the tub and twists the faucet on, adjusts the temperature, then sets the plug. While it begins to fill, he rummages in a cabinet beneath the sink, finds a bottle of some kind, and squirts it into the stream of water. Bubbles immediately form.

  I glance at him in curiosity. “Bubble bath?”

  He grins somewhat sheepishly. “I had the place done by a company. They staged all the furniture, picked out everything from towels to silverware. And, for some reason, they provided a bottle of bubble bath. I’m not sure why they stocked a bachelor’s condo with bubble bath, but now I’m glad they did. ”

  I reach down and swirl my hand in the water, find it steaming hot. Adam points at me. “I told you not to move, Des. ”

  I put my hands back on the tub. “Well hurry up. I need you. ”

  He grips his cock in his hand and strokes it. “This?”

  I nod. “That. Bring it over here. ”

  He shakes his head. “How about you touch yourself for me. Let me watch you make yourself come. ” So I slide two fingers against my clit and gasp as I circle myself, slowly at first, and then faster. “Stop,” he commands, when I’m moments from climaxing.

  I halt, quivering, aching, and then Adam is behind me, pressing the broad, soft head of his massive cock to my clit. He cups my tit with his other hand, thumbs the nipple until I moan, and then massages my hypersensitive nub with his head until I’m rocking against him, gasping and moaning.

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