Julianna Deschaine is curvy, sweet, and has a thing for a hot older guy. What’s so weird about that?
It’d almost be stranger if she didn’t.
Except for one thing. Judah Daniels, her crush-since-forever, who Julianna thinks is just a super-successful businessman? Turns out, he’s a black market arms dealer.
Oh, and only slightly less crazy than Judah’s career choice is the fact that as long as Julianna’s been thinking about him, the billionaire bad-boy has been trying to figure out just how to get the girl he’s always wanted... without getting her killed in the process.
ONE LAST DEAL is a sexy, steamy, lighthearted, standalone novella that takes a trip around the globe and asks if love really can conquer all.
“I’ve lied to you for a long, long time. Lies you didn’t deserve. Trouble you didn’t deserve. I’ve been selfish, Jules. But, here you are. Why?”
“Come on. Let’s get you cleaned up.” I tugged the robe I put on right before passing out around my body. For some reason, I felt more aware of myself, or my imperfections, than I had in quite some time. Placing my small hands over his, I felt him for a moment, just standing there.
“God, I’ve missed you, Jules.”
A smile crept across my face, and so did a little blush.
“Those perfect cheeks, those dimples.” He ran his thumbs over the dents in my cheeks. I’ve missed you so, so much.”
Judah pulled me against his chest, my head turned and rested against him. The rise and fall of his breath, the beating of his heart made me feel like everything was alright, like everything was fine. Memories flooded through me. I felt the rush of time, the power of distance being closed. Even though I’d been next to him for probably ten minutes it wasn’t until just then that it felt like we were really together.
“Come on,” I tugged again. “Let’s go.”
That time, he followed.
When I finally got a good look at him, I saw I was right about the desert. Judah was covered in the same yellow grime I saw hanging in the sky. In the other room, his phone reported a text message arrived, but he either didn’t notice, or didn’t care.
After he threw his jacket in the corner of the bathroom, I removed his shirt one button at a time.
“You sure you’re okay?” I said when he winced at moving his arm.
“Yeah... yeah, I’m fine. Just twisted my shoulder is all.”
He was exactly as I remembered. Tall, slim, and dark haired, the only difference was that he seemed to have forgotten his razor when he left the country. Somehow though, Judah Daniels managed to pull off even the unkempt hobo look pretty well. This was a man who I never, not in a million years, figured would want anything to do with someone like me. But, here we were. It was still a bit hard to believe.
“You’re certainly not a bashful one.”
“Normally,” he groaned and winced as he lifted a leg out of the slacks which I just realized were torn on the knee, “normally I’m a little more reserved.”
“But what? What in the world did you do to yourself?”
“It’s a long story. I talked to an old friend last night for a long time. About you.”
“Oh yeah? What’d you have to say?” I helped him out of his undershirt. God, God, God what a body was underneath. Chiseled, hard chest, rock hard stomach, and it all tapered to a trim waist. What did you do, Julie? What kind of karma did you build up?
“He made me realize something. Well, I guess he helped me remember something I always knew. That’s a better way to put it.” He sat down on the side of the tub. I slid his socks off, and he hunched over, shoulders stooped, elbows on his knees.
“And,” he looked up, eyes locked on mine. Somehow, with how beaten up he looked, those eyes still burned in a way that warmed me inside and out. “And, I realized that no matter what, you’re home to me. You’re what makes me comfortable, what keeps me calm. Did you bring that picture?”
“Yeah,” I said, “it’s in one of my bags.”
“I kept that with me. It’s got all those little creases from being folded up every which way you can imagine and stuffed in wallets, lap top bags, whatever else.”
“But why? I mean, why me? What about your wife?”
“Ex.” He said. “And you helped me through that too. We were never right for each other, but I got scared of... whatever it was.”
Judah stood and in one smooth motion, slid his boxer-briefs down, kicked them off and stepped into the tub. He hissed when his toes dipped beneath the surface, then sunk down until his chin touched the water, and sighed a deep, contented sigh.
Taking a washcloth and dipping it in the water, I stroked it across his shoulder, then his neck. Water beaded up and rolled down his gently tanned skin, and he took another breath. Strokes turned into a soft kneading of his muscles.
“She certainly wasn’t acting like an ex the other day,” I said as I dug my knuckles into the tension on his shoulder.
“She... mmm... she does that. We split up a few months back, but kept it quiet. I didn’t see any reason to spread drama around, especially since Kelsey’s got the ear of the Grayson Enterprises board. I keep her happy, or try to, mostly to keep her quiet.” Judah’s head drooped forward. Little ripples moved away from his face every time he breathed out. I let my hands rest on his back for a moment, feeling the rise and fall of his lungs.
My hands slid down to the points of his shoulders. I pushed my fingers against him, and again he let out a slow, soft moan, barely audible above the water falling out of the spigot. Down his arms and beneath the water, I rubbed, squeezed and released. Judah let his head fall backwards, and rolled it around, like he was stretching out his neck.
“Where does it hurt?” His firm, water-warmed biceps gave very little when I dug my fingers in.
“Right about... here.” He lifted a hand out of the water and pointed to where his neck met his back. Slowly I traced the line of his arm up and kneaded along his deltoid. “Mmm...” he moaned, and then took a deep breath through his nose.