In A French Whipping, Nicholas Cord has been trying to leave his family's past behind since he was a boy. The heir apparent to a Boston gangland empire, he's torn between his love for his family and a desire to walk his own path. Actress-slash-musician-slash waitress Blake Webster has been a friend of Nicholas's for years. As their chemistry catches fire, their connection is impossible to deny, but when Nicholas's family ties threaten to cut the woman he's fallen for, he must decide where his loyalties lie . . .
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She went to her tiptoes and wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him as thoroughly as he'd kissed her earlier. Unable to help himself, he kissed her back, letting his hands rest on her hips.
The shoppers in the marketplace wove around them, some of them giggling. One kid said, "Get a room," and laughed with his buddies.
Nick eased back, not wanting to draw too much attention, and heard someone say, very distinctly, "She'll never be yours."
Pulling Blake's hands from around his neck, he turned to identify the speaker, but the crowd was thick with people who'd taken off work early on a sunny Friday afternoon. Everyone was wearing hats and sunglasses. He leapt onto a nearby bench and looked around but didn't see anyone he recognized as Keenan, or anyone else he recognized, for that matter.
"What's wrong?" Blake asked from behind him, looking around herself.
"I heard something," he muttered. He could've sworn he'd heard Keenan's voice. She'll never be yours. Keenan had said that to him once ten years earlier, when he'd caught Nick staring at Blake one night after they'd been hanging out.
"What was it?"
He could have imagined it, he supposed. It wasn't like the thought hadn't flashed through his head every time he'd seen her. He jumped nimbly down from the bench. "Come on—my car's at Accendo's garage. We'll go to Newbury Street instead."
He knew she liked Newbury Street. It's where she dragged him to shop for Christmas presents every year.
"Nick, first, you don't buy 'essentials' on Newbury Street. Second, what the hell happened?"
"I thought I heard Keenan."
She tried to stop, but he pulled her along back toward Accendo, still tensed and searching for any sign of a threat.
"Are you sure?"
Nick shook his head. "No. He hasn't contacted any of us for ten years. I may have imagined it."
She didn't say anything.
Nick didn't stop walking, but he slowed down a little. "He hasn't—has he? Contacted you?"
"No." She shook her head. "He hasn't, but Nick, he was always . . ." She trailed off for a moment, visibly shuddering.
"Patient. Even when he was angry."
Yeah. Nick remembered that about him.
"So, we'll take my car instead, pick up a few things, get some dinner, and go back to my apartment. I'll go by your apartment tomorrow with Roland."
"Are you sure?"
They'd reached the parking garage where Nick had left his Subaru that morning. Nick wasn't certain what she was asking, but he was sure he didn't want her in danger, and he was sure that he wanted her in his bed again . . . even if she wasn't really his, even if it was only for a short time.
BLAKE WOKE, CONFUSED, sitting up straight in bed. The room was dim, a faint gray light coming in from a nearby window. She fumbled on the nightstand for a lamp, tugging on the small chain that she felt dangling. Soft warm light flooded the room, and she realized she was in Nick's bed, tucked neatly under the covers. Something had woken her, a noise, and she sat still for a minute, wondering why Nick wasn't in bed with her.
She touched the pillow next to hers. Cold. And the blankets hadn't been disturbed on that side. Where had he slept? And why?
Water was running somewhere, she realized. Was he taking a shower? With a frown she threw back the covers and padded into his bathroom. Nick was in the shower, his head bent as the water pounded on his neck and shoulders, his perfectly sculpted body on display through the glass.
Blake stared. He was so beautiful, his tanned skin slick with water, the lines of him so elegant and male. She couldn't stand it. Stripping off her nightclothes, she tossed them aside and opened the door. He straightened immediately, turning to look at her.
"I'm sorry, did I—"
She cut him off by the expedient method of putting her mouth over his and gripping his wet hair, holding him still for her kiss. After a moment, he responded, wrapping his arms around her and lifting. Blake instinctively wrapped her legs around his waist and sank down onto him, gasping and throwing her head back as the thick length of him forced her open inch by inch. He felt even bigger this way than he had before.
With a groan, he buried his face in her neck, his legs spread to brace them both. Blake ground herself down on him, gasping as he then lifted her and slammed her back downward, his biceps bulging as he worked himself inside her. Water drenched them both and Blake felt fierce, almost pagan, as if they were wild creatures, mating as the sun rose somewhere overhead.
Over and over again he thrust inside her, his grip on her tightening as he moved faster, his hips rocking in time with hers. They attacked each other, fighting to control the motion, until he pushed her against the wall and took her ruthlessly, sliding one hand between her legs. She bit down on his shoulder as he teased her with his fingers, making her come as he took her with one last desperate thrust, holding himself deep inside her while he shuddered.
Blake held him, gasping as she felt the deep pulses of his pleasure filling her.
He looked up, eyes wide, and slid out of her. "I didn't use a condom." He sounded shocked, faintly horrified.
Blake frowned. "It's okay. I'm on the pill."
He still looked dazed, like he didn't quite understand what she was saying. "It's okay," she said again and kissed him.
After a tense moment, he kissed her back and relaxed somewhat. When he finally pulled away again, he'd even managed to smile at her.
"Good morning. I thought you hated getting up this early."
Blake shrugged. "I never had a good reason before." She wiggled her eyebrows a little, making him chuckle, and he kissed the corner of her mouth.
"I'd be happy to serve as your wake-up call anytime," he said softly, sincerely, and Blake felt her heart tremble, just a little, for no reason she could name. She kissed him quickly to cover the disconcerting feeling and eased out from his arms.
"If I remember correctly, you promised me French toast."
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