Jared felt as though he’d been slammed in the gut by a fist bigger than Connor’s. The moment he clapped eyes on their visitor the air left his lungs in an extravagant whoosh and it was a moment before he could string an intelligible sentence together. Trafford was jumping all over the place and Jared absently stroked his head, but his focus was fixed upon Naomi Redford. She looked so much like her brother—even with eyes swollen from crying and the tiredness that came with an overnight flight—that the loss of Saul hit him afresh. So did something else. He glanced at Kent and knew he was similarly afflicted. It took a lot to silence his loquacious partner, but the sight of Naomi had him tongue-tied and gawping like a gauche teenager.
Black hair tumbled around her shoulders as she looked up at them through large, sloping eyes a deep, rich shade of brown. They were housed in a delicate face with high cheekbones, a flawless complexion and a wide, lush mouth that he couldn’t seem to stop staring at. Sadness shrouded her, lending her an air of vulnerability that would make any red-blooded male go that extra mile for her.
Saul had always maintained she was the tougher sibling. Right now she looked as though a strong gust of wind would knock her right off her feet. She was slender—a little too slender. Well, that was to be expected. She was a world-famous model, but the enticing curves a lot of models lacked were a very welcome surprise. Jared’s reaction to her was as inappropriate as it was inevitable.
Shit, they were in trouble!
She stood up and flashed a brief smile. Fuck, this just got worse by the minute. She was probably five-eight, had shapely legs that refused to quit, leading to a tight little backside that set Jared salivating. Her expression changed from wary to suspicious, which is when he realized he was gaping at her, probably with his mouth hanging open. She must get that reaction all the time, and it brought Jared to his senses.
“Hey,” he said, stepping forward, hand outstretched. “Has Alice been looking after you?”
“Yes, thanks. And Trafford here.”
He took her hand in his and felt a frisson of awareness rock him. “Trafford is a sorry excuse for a guard dog, but we love him anyway.”
When she smiled Jared was nearly reduced to a quivering wreck. That smile lit up her entire face, making her appear even more exotic, momentarily wiping away her despair.
“I can quite understand why.”
Kent stepped forward and took his turn to shake her hand.
“I’m Kent,” he said. “Welcome. Wish it was under different circumstances.”
Her smile faded and she abruptly resumed her seat. Way to go, Kent. Not that he could blame his mate, exactly. They had to talk about Saul and it made sense to break the ice.
“You sure you don’t need to sleep a while?” Kent asked.
“No, I couldn’t. I’ll catch an early night and try to adjust my body clock that way.’
“That works best, if you can do it,” Jared said.
“I have before.”
“Of course, you’ve travelled the world modelling and I’m betting the camera loves you,” Kent said.
“Not any more. I’ve decided to give it up.”
“Look, we’ll leave you to your tea and change out of this gear,” Jared said into the uncomfortable silence that ensued, gesturing toward his suit. “Won’t be above a minute, then we can talk, if you’d like.”
“That’s what I came here to do.”
The light of battle gleamed in her eyes, as though she didn’t quite trust them. Jared couldn’t blame her for that, but hoped to convince her they were on the same side. He and Kent headed for the stairs. Surprisingly, Trafford didn’t follow them. Well, perhaps not so surprisingly. He was smitten, too.
“Shit,” Kent said as soon as they were out of her earshot.
“My sentiments entirely,” Jared agreed, grimacing. Shit, when had shaking a woman’s hand last given him a hard-on?
“How are we gonna play this?”
“Same way we always intended to. We need to find out why Saul died and give her some closure. We also need to protect her from her father and step-brothers and help her through this without forcing our lecherous selves upon her. She probably gets that all the time.”
“Christ, you don’t want much, do you?”
Jared emitted a mirthless chuckle. “I knew she was a pretty lady, but I had no idea…I mean, the pictures we’ve seen don’t do her justice.”
“I hear you,” Kent replied, groaning as he disappeared into his room. “Fuck, do I hear you.”
“Naomi, just stop and think for a minute. You’re jet-lagged, you’re grieving, you don’t—”
“Don’t tell me what I am, or that I don’t know my own mind! And don’t tell me you don’t want this, too.” Her smile was sensual, empowered. “I saw how you looked at me just now.” She glanced at his groin. “Besides, the evidence is pretty difficult to ignore.”
“So, you just want my body.” He intended to tease but his voice, thick with desire, probably told her she was right. “And won’t respect me in the morning.”
She chuckled. “Don’t worry. No strings attached.”
Jared sensed his self-control, such as it was, rapidly dwindling. “Are you absolutely sure this is what you want?”
“I don’t recall ever having to argue my way into a guy’s bed before.” She took a step toward him, her eyes heavy-lidded and seductive. “Don’t make me beg, Maynard.”
“Come here then.”
He held out a hand. She took another step toward him and slid hers into it. With a smothered oath, Jared pulled her into his arms, and her near-naked body collided against his with a soft thud. He framed her jaw with one hand and slowly claimed her lips in a deep, drugging kiss. His other hand crept up the back of her T-shirt. He’d been wrong about what she wore underneath it but, in his own defense, the wispy lace thong barely covering her pussy was so insubstantial it was little wonder he hadn’t noticed it. One thing he had got right was her lack of a bra. Despite her slender form, her tits were nicely rounded and, he was glad to discover when one filled his roaming hand very nicely, they were the real deal. Jared was no lover of silicone enhancements.
Her pert nipple solidified beneath his fingers as he gave it a tweak and simultaneously deepened the kiss. She wound her arms around his neck, tangling her fingers in his hair and her tongue with his, rubbing herself against his erection as cute little mewing noises slipped past their fused lips. Jared dropped one hand to her backside and massaged the small globes, wondering how to play this. He could have vanilla sex if it came to it, he supposed, although it wasn’t high on his agenda. But this was for her. She was the one in need, but something about the enthusiastic manner in which she was plastering herself against him made Jared wonder about her preferences. Or could it be he was so anxious to fuck that cute arse of hers that he was misinterpreting the messages she sent him?
“Hey,” he said, breaking the kiss and smiling down at her. “Let’s take this somewhere more comfortable.”
She was still clinging to him like a limpet and didn’t seem capable of walking. Jared swept her into his arms and carried her along the corridor to his own room. He kicked the door open. Trafford dashed in ahead of him and, with a martyred sigh, curled up on his bed. He was snoring within seconds. How did dogs do that?
Jared sat on the edge of the bed, still fully clothed, with Naomi on his lap. He reached across and switched on a lamp that gave out a soft glow. He wanted to see her, every glorious inch of her.
“Last chance to change your mind,” he told her.
“Quit trying to get out of this, Maynard.” She offered him a full inventory of sexy pouts. “I know my rights.”
He chuckled and kissed the end of her nose. “Just making sure, because once this starts, I’ll have a hell of a job stopping if you decide you’ve made a mistake.”
He would stop, of course, but wouldn’t have started either if she hadn’t insisted. Yeah, keep telling yourself that. Jared had known he was in trouble the moment he saw her in that blasted transparent T-shirt. A T-shirt that suddenly seemed far too concealing. He grabbed its hem and whipped it over her head, leaving her clothed in just that wispy thong. It was navy blue, all lace and not a whole lot of use for anything expect making her look too damned sexy for her own good.
“You need to tell me what you like,” he said softly.
“What do you like?”
“This isn’t about me.”
“Sure it is.” She threw him a scorching look. “With a little effort, I figure we can please one another.”
“You reckon?” He wound her hair around his fist and tugged gently. When she groaned he tugged a little harder. “You like me pulling your hair?”
“I like what it does to you.”
She wiggled around on his lap to prove her point, and she was spot on. Anything the slightest bit domineering had him firing on all cylinders—one cylinder in particular. His cock was now so hard it was downright painful but if Jared let it out now, with her cute backside deliberately stirring him up, it would be over in a heartbeat. That couldn’t be allowed to happen. Jared was all about control, in all situations.
And the type of situation he found himself in right then was his specialty.
“Is that right?”
He lowered his head, pulled her hair to one side so her head had to follow it, and nipped his way down the long column of neck he’d just exposed. When the contact of his teeth on her delicate skin produced a series of increasingly desperate little moans, Jared figured she had to be enjoying the discomfort and so bit a little harder, distracting her by playing with one of her nipples. He pinched it hard. And then a little harder. Her groaning, along with the pressure of her backside against his cock, got a little more intense and less inhibited.
“Does that work for you, darling?”
“You like it hard and rough?”
“As hard as possible.”
Jared wondered if she know what she was saying.
“There’s something you need to know,” he said.
“Not now,” she replied, eyes closed, head rotating in circles, a dreamy expression on her face. “Just keep doing what you were doing to me. Like it.”
“I know you do, sweetheart. You’re so fucking responsive. But, here’s the thing. Have you ever been Dominated before?”
Her eyes flew open. “What do you mean?”