Winter Fire

Fire, Book 1

Jess Dee

Chapter 1

Heat radiated from the stone fireplace, warming the room. The temperature in the cozy, modern hotel lounge was a welcome contrast to the frigid wind outside. Mesmerized, Rachel Ashberg stared into the flames, watching as they danced around the logs, consuming the wood with hungry licks.

She sipped the last of her wine, relishing the tranquility that settled over her. Tomorrow that peace would be stripped away like old paint.

It had been a good idea to drive up to the Blue Mountains from Sydney a day early. The ninety-minute car trip through winding roads and national parkland had given her a chance to decompress a little. Twenty-four hours of rest and relaxation, away from the stress of work and failed relationships, was proving to be a much-needed tonic. Plus, she was building up her energy reserves for the weekend. She was going to need them.

The walk down to Wentworth Falls earlier had helped too. All that crisp, wintry air, lush eucalyptus forest, calming birdsong and getting back to nature had either cleared her mind of any remaining despondency or frozen her brain and heart enough that those issues no longer worried her. So what if things hadn’t worked out with Paul? She’d known from the beginning he wasn’t the right guy for her, but she’d tried anyway.

Just like she’d tried with James and Ethan and a whole host of other men who hadn’t quite cut it. None of them were the right guy.

How could they be, when she’d already met the right guy—and he was the one man she couldn’t be with? Of course, fate dictated he was also the man she was about to spend two days and two nights with, in a romantic boutique hotel.

He, his sister and ten of their closest friends.

God, it was going to be hell. Torture to the nth degree. How would she ever make it through to Monday?

Rachel shook her head, chastising herself for her negativity.

She would make it through to Monday. Her strength and her resistance had been fortified today, and she’d be fine. The weekend would pass without her once pining for Jackson Brooks. Without accidentally brushing up against him. Without sneaking outside in the blistering cold to steal secret kisses as they once had.

Rachel fidgeted with the cover of her book, considered opening it, but in the end just wasn’t in the mood for reading.

“Mind if I join you?”

The question registered, but Rachel didn’t respond. Since she was here alone, whoever had spoken must have addressed someone else. Pity. The voice held appeal. It was a deep rumble, smooth as old scotch. And accented. American?

She smiled to herself. Her relationship skills may be shot to hell, but her body still worked just fine. It didn’t matter that yet another relationship had failed as a result of her feelings for Jackson. Her sex drive obviously hadn’t suffered for it.

Proof in point? A few words from an unseen man with a sexy accent, and her libido stirred. After all, sex was a wonderful way to temporarily forget her woes and heart-ache.

The evocative voice spoke again. “Okay, I won’t join you, but could I at least share the fire?”

Rachel blinked. Share the fire? Maybe the unseen man with the sexy-as-sin accent was talking to her after all. She turned in the direction of the voice and had to stifle a gasp. An absolutely gorgeous man gazed down at her, awaiting her answer.

Not staring at him was an impossibility. He was movie-star beautiful, with chiseled facial features and eyes the color of a crystal-clear emerald. His lips, full and lush, made Rachel want to sample them with her own. They made her want to sink her fingers in the silken brown locks of his stylishly cut hair, pull his face close to hers and kiss the living daylights out of him.

He had to be a model. No other profession suited a man of such defined beauty.

Her spine tingled.

Oh yeah. Definitely nothing wrong with her sex drive.

“Would you let me sit down if I swore not to say another word and spent the entire time looking anywhere but in your direction?” he asked with a charming smile.

She broke into a smile of her own, belatedly realizing she hadn’t answered. She’d been too busy ogling him. Rachel held out her hand in invitation. “Of course you can share the fire.”

He flashed her a huge grin and settled his towering frame into the chair beside hers with a relieved sigh. “For a moment I thought you might blow me off before I even found out your name.”

She raised an eyebrow. So he’d come to talk to her, and not to be close to the fire? Okay. She could live with that. “And for a moment I thought you’d just sit here and not say another word,” she said with a straight face.

He smiled impishly. “I lied.”

Oh, Lord, what a smile. “Ah, so you do intend to speak then?”

“Hell, yeah. A stunning woman sitting in front of a fire, all alone? Damn straight I’m gonna speak. I’m gonna say whatever I can to get her attention.”

Sexy devil. She tilted her head to the side. “Are you flirting with me?”

He frowned. “That depends.”

“On what?”

“On whether there’s a Mr. Beautiful who might get upset.”

“And if there’s not?”

He met her gaze and grinned. “Then I’m flirting.”

She laughed at his audacity, even as her breath quickened. “How about those plans to look anywhere but in my direction?”

He nodded gravely. “Yeah. I kinda lied about those too.”

She suppressed a smile.

“So is there?” he prompted.

“Is there what?” His eyes were so exquisite she got lost staring into them.

“A Mr. Beautiful?”

She shook her head. “No.” Well, there was, but as much as she might wish it were different, Jackson wasn’t her Mr. Beautiful, and aside from that one illicit afternoon, he never would be. Didn’t change the fact that her heart belonged to him and always would.

“Lucky for me then.” He held out his hand. “I’m Garreth Halt.”

“Rachel.” She deliberately left out her last name, enjoying the anonymity of chatting with a stranger who knew nothing about her. When she placed her palm against his and his fingers curled around hers, shivers rocked her hand. Dear God, could she please drag him to her room and have her way with him?

Er, probably better to stick around and make small talk. She’d known him all of five minutes. Jumping him now would hardly be appropriate. Or maybe it would be? Maybe if she jumped Garreth she wouldn’t have to think about Jackson.

She chose the small-talk option. “You visiting from the States, Garreth?”

He shook his head. “I’m Canadian. Heading back to Toronto in a couple of weeks.”

See? She could do the light chatter thing and not feel compelled to haul him off to her chalet. “Enjoying Australia so far?”

His eyes glinted. “Well enough. Although I’m not a tourist. I’ve been living here for the last two years.”

“In Leura?” she asked, referring to the closest village to the hotel.

He shook his head. “Nope. Brisbane. This is my first trip to the Blue Mountains.”

“Brisbane, huh? I lived there almost my whole life.”

“It’s a small world,” Garreth said thoughtfully. “Where do you live now?”

“Sydney. Been there over two years. It’s good to escape from the city for a while though. Isn’t it beautiful here?”

He grinned at her. “Let’s just say the mountains became a whole lot more interesting in the last few minutes…”

She laughed out loud. “You really are flirting, aren’t you?” And was she ever responding. A tingling awareness flowed through her, an open recognition of the energy that crackled between them.

“Is it working?” he drawled earnestly.

She pretended to think about her answer. No need for him to know just yet that her belly was already quivering in anticipation. “I’m not sure. Maybe you should try a little harder.”

“You know, we could skip the flirting part altogether and head straight into heated kisses beside a roaring fire.”

Damned if her heart didn’t miss a beat. “We could.” But she couldn’t be that easy. Could she? She and Paul had only split up six weeks ago. “Or I could read my book and pretend you’re not really here.”

“You could.” He nodded. “But heated kisses beside a roaring fire would be a lot more entertaining for both of us.”

Entertaining? Forget the fireplace, the two of them would probably ignite flames of their own together. “For all the other hotel guests too. I bet they’d get a kick out of watching.”

Humor sparkled in his eyes, and something else. Desire? Hunger? Or maybe raw lust?

Nah, the raw lust was radiating from her, not him.

He lowered his voice. “If it’s privacy you’re wanting, there’s a fireplace in my chalet.”

Heated kisses beside a roaring fire in the privacy of his hotel room? With a Canadian she’d never see again? A man she could spend her passion with and move on. There was very little that appealed more.

Okay, so maybe there was something that appealed more.

Yeah, didn’t matter how much Jackson appealed, nothing else could ever happen between them. Not without causing Jackson’s sister untold heartache.

“If I’d wanted privacy, I’d never have invited you to sit here,” she pointed out logically.

“Tell me you’re not regretting the invitation?”

She nibbled on her lower lip. “Well, you do talk a lot…”

He shot her a purely wicked look. “Not when I’m in the middle of a heated kiss.”

“You talk a lot about kissing.”

He nodded. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Since I first spied you in the lobby earlier.”

“You saw me earlier?” How could she not have noticed him?

“While I was checking in. You were on your way out. Dressed for a blizzard I might add.”

He’d noticed her attire? “I went for a walk. It was so cold there may as well have been a blizzard brewing.”

He shook his head. “You Australians have no idea about cold and blizzards.”

She let her gaze slide away from his face and down to his chest and shoulders. “We have no idea? Mate, you’re wearing a T-shirt.” A T-shirt he filled out beautifully. It hugged his broad shoulders and ended halfway down his upper arms, showcasing muscled biceps and golden flesh. “It’s three degrees Celsius out there, the mercury’s plummeting, and you have a T-shirt on.”

“We’re indoors. There’s a fire. It’s warm.”

Was he nuts? “It’s warm here and now. But the sun’s going down. Soon as it sets, the temperature will drop below freezing.”

“Not a prob. I have a sweater for when I go out.”

“A sweater?” One sweater? She had two jackets, an assortment of jumpers, three sweaters and a cardigan—and those were just for a three-day trip.

“It’s enough.”

“You’re crazy.” Gorgeous, ridiculously sexy and crazy.

“You’re cold?”

“I’m always cold in winter.” She missed the sun-drenched days of summer.

“You know, in Canada we have a brilliant system for keeping warm.”

“Ducted heating. I know.”

“Actually, I was talking about sex.”

His answer was so unexpected she laughed out loud. “Sex, huh?” She wanted to keep warm with Garreth, Canadian style. For sure it would take her mind off Jackson’s imminent arrival—and their checkered past. “Nope, sorry. We don’t have sex in Australia.”

He looked aghast. “Not even in the Blue Mountains?”

“Especially not in the Blue Mountains.”

He nodded gravely. “Ah. That’s a damn pity.”

“Don’t let it worry you. You’re going back to Toronto in a couple of weeks. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of sex then—even if it is summer and there won’t be any need to keep warm.”

“Maybe, but I was hoping to have sex with you, here in the Blue Mountains.”

Again she laughed, enjoying his repartee. Enjoying it almost as much as she enjoyed the tantalizing sparks that flickered between them. “Would you settle for a drink by the fireplace?”

He considered her question. “Depends which fireplace.”

“This one, right here.”

“How about the one in my room?”

She shook her head. “Nah. Too risky. I might have to fend off your heated kisses.” Yeah, right. If anything, he’d be the one fending her off. The longer they chatted, the more appetizing his lips became.

He grinned devilishly. “No might about it. Another red wine?” He motioned to her empty glass before signaling to a waiter.

She nodded, and he ordered wine for her and a scotch for himself. “So, Rachel,” he said as soon as the waiter had left, “what is it you do when you’re not seducing men into kissing you beside roaring fires?”

For a couple of seconds she hesitated to tell him. If he knew about her job, she’d lose some of her anonymity. And if she were to entertain ideas about kissing Garreth beside the fire, she knew she’d have to maintain that sense of them being strangers. A fling appealed no end. A brief affair with a stranger to take the edge off before Jackson arrived. A little something to distract her from her obsessions about the man she could never have.

A one-night stand.

Garreth was the perfect stranger. Gorgeous, charming and sexy to boot. He’d be an ideal distraction. Exactly what she needed.

But then she forged ahead. She’d never see Garreth again after tonight. He lived on another continent. What could it hurt to tell him a few things about herself?

Answering his question in the same light he’d asked it, Rachel revealed a little of herself. “I seduce gold into forming intricate pieces of jewellery.”

His eyebrow shot up. “You’re a jewellery designer?”

“You look surprised.”

For a good few seconds he didn’t answer. “I am,” he said finally. “See, I thought you might be a model.”

She laughed out loud. “I thought you were the model.”

“Me?” He gave a boisterous snort then eyed her speculatively. “I’m a journalist.”

“Newspaper?”

“Uh huh.”

Damn. Seemed she had a thing for journos from Brisbane. “I have a friend who’s a journalist.” Her heart twisted beneath her ribs. “He’ll be here tomorrow.” Ridiculous. Here she was chatting to a gorgeous guy, and she’d found a way to introduce Jackson into the conversation. Ridiculous and pathetic.

He peered at her curiously, as if trying to establish the depth of her and Jackson’s “friendship”. “You’re meeting him here?”

Hah. He should only know. Meeting Jackson and doing her best to avoid him at the same time. “Uh huh. It’s his thirtieth. He and his twin sister are celebrating in style.” She gestured to the hotel lobby with her arm. “A weekend in a boutique hotel in the Blue Mountains.”

“Nice birthday celebration. You friendly with the sister also?”

“BFFs,” Rachel told him with a smile. She and Jenna had been friends since their last year in school. Now that they lived in different cities, Rachel missed her like the devil.

In truth, Rachel was in the mountains to celebrate Jenna’s birthday, not Jackson’s. She and Jackson had no business celebrating together. They had no business being together in any way. They’d tried that once and the guilt had left them both unsettled and ashamed.

The waiter returned with their drinks, and Rachel sipped hers slowly as they spoke.

“So what, you came up a day early? Before the celebrations begin?”

She nodded. “I needed a break.”

“From the stressful world of jewellery design?”

Was he mocking her?

Nope. Teasing, not mocking. “Among other things.”

The light from the flames hit the tawny liquid in his glass. It glinted, just like the russet strands in his hair. The man was beautiful enough to make her chest ache.

“May I?” He reached over and lifted her arm, holding it up so he could see the bracelet that hung around her wrist. His touch burned her skin, licking at her flesh like the flames on the logs.

“Did you design this?” he asked.

“Uh huh.” It was one of her favorite pieces. An intricately woven gold chain with tiny diamonds embedded along its length.

“Impressive.” He gave an appreciative nod. “I’ve never seen gold quite that color before.”

Rachel smiled, enjoying the feel of her arm in his hand. How would her breasts feel in that same hand? “Copper gives it the pink tinge.”

He looked up, clearly surprised. “You mix gold with copper?”

“Uh huh. Mixing gold with different metals creates the different shades of gold.”

“You’re an alchemist,” Garreth murmured.

“Hardly.” Rachel chuckled. “I don’t make gold. I simply alter its color a little.”

Garreth flashed her a seductive grin. “Same difference.”

The wine settled in her belly in a pleasant puddle. Her limbs relaxed and her muscles loosened. She didn’t try to pull her arm away. She was more than content with it in Garreth’s hand. He had long, slim fingers. Fingers she could easily imagine trailing up her arms and over her shoulders, leaving goose bumps in their wake.

“So, what else did you need a break from?” he asked.

Ah. Back to that conversation. “Life in general. Nothing specific.” No need to mention her spectacular failure at building romantic relationships, or the little issue of spending the last twelve years in love with a man she could never have—no matter how much they might want to be together.

He raised an eyebrow. “Not even a man? A certain journalist friend perhaps?”

She gaped at him. How on earth had he singled out Jackson so quickly?

“You blushed earlier,” he said.

“When?” Her free hand flew to her cheek. Was she still blushing? Flushed at the thought of Jackson?

“When you mentioned your friend. Your cheeks turned pink. Just like your bracelet. A most alluring color on you I might add.” His gaze settled on her face. “It’s a damn pity.”

“What is?”

He smiled at her ruefully. “That there is a Mr. Beautiful out there.”

Rachel’s jaw dropped. Good grief. Just how much had he determined about her feelings for Jackson. She couldn’t be that open a book, could she? She licked her very dry lips. “Jackson’s a friend. Nothing more.” They could never be anything more, and they both knew it. No matter what they felt for each other, they’d had to shove it aside and pretend it didn’t exist.

History had taught the Brooks siblings that terrible things could happen if they dated each other’s friends. And Rachel was Jenna’s best friend.

“I had to ask,” Garreth said, and then smiled his devilish smile. “I had to check out the competition.”

Rachel arched an eyebrow.

“If I have any hope of getting you into my bed tonight,” he explained, “I have to know exactly what I’m dealing with.”

“You’re hoping to get me into bed tonight?”

“Kissing beside a fire is nice. Making love in a king-size bed is sensational.” The smile was gone. His eyes burned with the intensity of his words.

She tilted her head. “So if I climbed into that king-size bed with you, there wouldn’t be any kissing?” She gave him a pouty frown. “Pity. I’ve been fantasizing about those heated kisses beside the fireplace.”

“And I’ve been fantasizing about making love to you in the king-size bed in my chalet.”

“Hmm.” She tapped her finger on her lips, pondering the quandary. “Seems we’ve reached an impasse. I want one thing, you want another.”

“Seems we have,” he agreed.

“What to do, what to do?” she wondered out loud.

“You big on compromise?” he asked.

“Depends on the terms of the compromise,” she answered.

His green eyes sparkled. “What if the king-size bed were beside the fireplace?”

Chapter 2

It wasn’t.

His bed was on the other side of the luxurious chalet. Flames leapt behind an iron grid in the fireplace, which sat against the opposite wall of the large room, facing a double couch. The giant, wooden sleigh bed, covered with snow-white linens, overlooked a wall of windows. The sunset outside cast a pinkish-orange glow over the trees and mountains.

The chalet was identical to hers, only a mirror image.

“You have a choice,” he said as he kicked the door closed behind them. “I can spread a blanket on the floor beside the fire, and we can do this the slow romantic way.” His eyes gleamed with desire, with a fire hotter than the one across the room.

Her heart picked up speed. “Or?”

He kicked off his shoes. “Or I can toss you on the bed and fuck you until we both pass out.”

She slung her jacket over the couch. As if there was a choice. Sensual, dreamy and romantic, or hot, hard and ruthless. “Option two.” Dreamy and romantic were stored away for Jackson.

His lips twitched. “I had you picked for the heated-kisses option.”

“And I had you picked as a model. Apparently we were both wrong. Now you gonna keep talking, or you gonna fuck me until we both pass out?” Oh, yeah, when she met Jackson tomorrow, the last thing on her mind would be jumping him. She intended to fully satisfy herself on the delicious man before her.

His T-shirt was off before she finished the question. “Option two.” His smile scorched her all the way through to her bones.

She stared at him, dumbstruck. With his shirt on he was beautiful. Without it, he was panty-wetting, tongue-drooling gorgeous. Sex on legs.

Her hands shook as she unbuttoned her cardigan and let it drop to the floor.

“Bed?” he rumbled.

“Lead the way.” She pulled her shirt over her shoulders.

Garreth fiddled with his button and seconds later his jeans gaped open. Rachel forgot to breathe.

He tugged at her thermal silk undershirt. “Any more layers I should know about?”

“Just two.”

He shook his head. “No blizzards in Australia.”

“I told you, I hate the cold.” She lifted her arms and let him dispose of the silk.

His thumbs grazed over her covered nipples, making her tremble. They beaded instantly.

“Too many clothes,” he grumbled, and the cami she wore disappeared.

He gazed hungrily at her bra-clad breasts. “God, you’re beautiful.”

“Look closer,” she urged, and reached back to dispose of the black satin-and-lace bra. Her breasts sprung free, feeling heavier than usual under the close scrutiny of those emerald green eyes.

“Jesus, fuck,” he swore hoarsely, and then she was in his arms, pressed against the glorious wall of his muscular chest.

His full, lush lips took hers in a blistering kiss. A kiss so wicked it shook her very foundations. It burned off the cold, replacing it with a fierce heat that seared her from her mouth right through to her feminine core.

He tasted of scotch and man and sex—every bit as scrumptious as she’d anticipated.

Better.

She tunneled her fingers through his hair, holding his head close, molding her lips to his, pushing her body against his.

Ah, that erection. It felt good against her belly. A solid mass pressing into her softer flesh. She wanted it in her hand. In her mouth. Fuck, who was she kidding? She wanted it buried in her pussy. And in her ass. Hell, she just wanted it inside her.

She slipped her hand inside his open jeans and cupped it over his cock.

He moaned into her mouth, rocking against her hand.

Or maybe that was her moaning. He was thicker than she expected. And harder. She struggled to find breath. If he felt so good in her palm, covered by his boxers, how would he feel driving into her pussy?

Garreth broke the kiss to kick off his jeans and boxers. Toned, muscular legs were revealed inch by endless inch. His freed cock jumped up, slapping against his stomach.

“Yours too,” he said as his boxers hit the floor. “Take ’em off.”

She shook her head. “Can’t. Sorry. My hands are full.”

“Yeah? Of what?”

“You.” She wrapped one hand around his shaft, closing it around the silken steel of his erection. The other she used to cup his balls.

He threw his head back with a hiss, and she experimentally slid her hand up and down, testing his girth and his length. Both were impressive, yet neither overwhelming. He’d be a good fit inside her.

“Ah, Christ,” he groaned. “Just like that.”

For a long moment he stood stock still, letting her explore, feel, play. And then his patience snapped. He picked her up and tossed her on the bed.

“Carry on like that, Rachel, and it’ll be game over before we even begin.”

“What, no staying power?” she ragged as he tugged at her zipper and pulled her jeans over her hips.

“What the devil…?” He stared, dumbstruck, at the lower half of her body.

He’d found her leggings. “They’re my thermals,” she explained with a grin.

He shook his head. “You wouldn’t last a second in a Canadian winter.”

“Then we’re even ’cause you hardly lasted a second in my hand.”

His eyes gleamed as he pulled off her boots and her knee-length, woolen socks. “Is that a challenge?”

God, who would have thought disposing of sixteen layers of clothing could be sexy? Yet, with each item he removed, Rachel squirmed more and more on the bed. “You up to a challenge?”

“Woman, I’ve been up since I saw you in the lobby this afternoon.”

She eyed his impressive erection. “Hope it feels as good up as it looks.”

Her thermals vanished, leaving her lying in nothing but panties. “It’ll feel better buried inside you.”

She shuddered in anticipation. “Now about that challenge…”

He dipped his hands under the elastic of her panties and slowly rolled them over her hips and down her legs. “You think I can’t last longer than a second?”

“See, that’s the thing…” It was getting harder and harder to talk and tease. Her nudity left her exposed to his gaze, and his gaze left her smoldering. “…I’d at least like you to try.”

He gave her a quirky grin. “I’ll see what I can do.”

She grinned right back, thoroughly enjoying herself. Garreth was fun. He made her smile. When she’d made love to Jackson, neither of them had smiled. The ride had been too intense, too emotional and too shadowed with guilt to be fun.

Garreth covered her body with his and kissed her. His lips were so seductive, his tongue so alluring, so sensual, desire trickled through her belly like syrup. There was something sinfully erotic about making love to a stranger. No strings, no history, no emotional complexities. No secrets, no failings. And possibly the most important aspect of all: no future.

They were just two people intent on pleasuring and satisfying each other here and now.

Garreth tucked his leg between her thighs, using it to grind against her pussy. How he unerringly knew to position his thigh just so, so her clit benefitted from the full attention of his movements, she had no idea. She simply spread her legs and gave his thigh free access.

He dipped his head to draw a nipple into his mouth, his lips closing around the supersensitive flesh.

She raked her nails over his back. If this continued much longer, she’d come. On his leg, with her nipple in his mouth.

“Garreth,” she whispered.

“Mm hmm,” he mumbled around a mouthful of her breast.

“I thought you were going to fuck me ’til I passed out.”

He released her nipple to cup a breast in each hand, pushed them together and ran his tongue from one nipple to other. “And I thought you wanted me to last more than a second.”

She instinctively arched her back, pushing her chest higher, pleading silently for more. She also ground down against his thigh, seeking relief from the pressure building in her clit. “I want both. Now.

Lord, it was good to live in the now. To not worry about the future or the past.

He chuckled. “A lady who knows what she wants. I like that.”

“And I’d like it if you’d replace your leg with your dick, and fuck me like you promised.”

“Getting impatient?” He licked her nipples again, moving his leg torturously against her pussy.

“Getting hornier by the second,” she sighed. “Carry on like that and I’m going to come on your leg.”

He stilled completely, then sat up. “Not my leg. My hand.”

“Huh?”

He swept a finger over her clit and when she shuddered, did it again. He pushed her legs wide open to swirl his finger around and around, slipping it deep between her folds.

The breath left her lungs with a shudder.

“I want to watch you come. I want to see every tremor, every spasm that hits your pussy as I touch you.”

“O-okay,” she answered, because there was very little else she could think of to say in this position.

He trailed his finger lower, exploring between her butt cheeks, making her ass clench in helpless anticipation.

A groan escaped him, and he closed his eyes, grabbing his cock with his free hand and squeezing hard. His other hand continued to seduce her ass and pussy. He dipped his finger back inside her channel.

A fierce wave of pleasure began to crest over her. “Open your eyes,” she demanded.

“Why?”

“Because if you want to see me come, you better look now.”

His eyes opened as the first spasm hit, rocking through her body.

Garreth drove his finger in and out, and rubbed circles around her clit as waves of bliss washed over her. His gaze held firm, watching her pussy convulse, exactly as he’d promised.

The simple eroticism of the act, of his scrutiny, increased the intensity of the spasms, stretching the orgasm out. Garreth’s death grip around his cock must have slackened marginally, because as she came he pumped his shaft, timing his movements to coincide with hers. As her muscles clamped around his finger, he stroked down, and as they relaxed he pulled up again.

Her breath was gone. Ripped away by the force of her orgasm. Rachel collapsed against the bed covers, panting as the last waves of pleasure ebbed away.

“Don’t move an inch,” Garreth whispered and the mattress shifted.

His footsteps echoed over the wooden floor. A door creaked, and something scraped, like the hinges of a drawer being pulled opened. He must be looking for a condom.

His absence gave Rachel a minute to breathe, to think. And her thoughts instantly wandered to Jackson.

Making love to Jackson had been so different from sex with Garreth. With Garreth it was hot, hard and fun. No complications of any kind.

With Jackson their pleasure might have been compounded exponentially by their love for each other, but the strings and the history had left them both feeling wretched afterwards.

Damn it. She needed to shove Jackson from her thoughts. He had no place in her head. She was here with Garreth to cleanse her mind of her past. To take away the edge she always felt around Jackson. She was here, now, intent on having as much sex and as much fun as possible—because tomorrow when Jackson arrived, sex had to be the last thing she craved. Especially when she was in close proximity to the man she loved.

She pushed herself up on her elbows and watched as Garreth walked out of the en-suite bathroom, his cock standing proud, erect and fully sheathed. Christ, the man was indeed sex on a stick. She gave him her full attention, deliberately pushing Jackson to the far reaches of her mind.

Garreth placed one hand on her hip and pushed her gently. “Roll over, onto your stomach.”

She didn’t need to be asked twice.

“Spread your legs for me, sweet thing.”

She shifted slightly on the doona, spreading her thighs wide. “Sweet thing?” Movement behind her told her he’d climbed onto the bed and knelt between her legs.

“Mmm. You look sweet enough to eat.” He licked her at the point where her butt cheek met her thigh, surprising the heck out her. She’d expected his hips to be there, not his face.

Not that she was complaining. Oh, quite contraire. “Bon appetite,” she offered with a delighted sigh. Shivers raced up her spine.

Something grazed her pussy. His thumbs?

No. His tongue.

Her breath caught in her throat. Exquisite tingles raced through her groin.

“The thing about this position,” he said in a hoarse voice, “is that it lets your imagination run wild.”

Rachel tried to respond, but honestly, she was too horny to speak. Her imagination was already going wild, showing her snippets of all the things his tongue could do to her in this position.

“You can’t see me behind you,” Garreth said. He swept his hot, wet tongue over her pussy lips, making her sigh with bliss. “You can’t see what I’m doing. So it’s easy to close your eyes and imagine I’m anyone you want me to be.”

Her eyes were already closed, and all she saw was the devilish stranger who’d insisted on sharing her fire. It excited her no end.

“I could be me, a man you’ve never met before.” He punctuated his sentence with a devilish swirl of his tongue. “Or I could be someone else altogether. The man of your dreams, perhaps? Mr. Beautiful.”

Ah, which one did she want more? A handsome stranger or a man she’d loved her entire adult life? Depended on which dreams she wanted fulfilled now. A night of anonymous sex, or a lifetime of wretched, impossible love.

Garreth parted her butt cheeks and licked her from her pussy all the way up the cleft between her cheeks and back down again, making her shiver uncontrollably. Holy hell, he had a talented tongue.

“I could even be your journalist friend,” he said, then added in a soft whisper. “Jackson.”

Jackson?

He’d said Jackson’s name?

Holy crap. He had.

The man was no fool. No matter how much she might have denied her feelings in the hotel lounge, he’d seen straight through her. And now he’d brought Jackson up in the middle of their sex play.

Damn it, she didn’t want Jackson interfering in their love making. She wanted him as far away from her thoughts as possible.

Too late. Goosebumps erupted over her flesh and her pussy fluttered. Jackson was in her head again.

“Mmmm.” Garreth gave a satisfied groan and licked her from her clit to her ass again and again. “You like that idea, don’t you?”

No, she hated the idea.

Shit, not true. She loved it. Imagining Jackson knelt behind her was not only easy, it was second nature.

She whimpered, too embarrassed to answer truthfully. She didn’t need to. Her body told Garreth everything he needed to know as she squirmed on the bed, desire whipping through her in a dizzying coil.

“I like the idea too,” he murmured before dipping back in and treating her pussy to a stupendous licking.

Good God, he was aroused at the mention of Jackson’s name? White noise roared in her ears, and her eyes closed of their own accord. An image of Jackson burned her eyelids. Jackson kissing her, Jackson licking her, Jackson making love to her.

Not Jackson. Garreth. Garreth was behind her. She didn’t want Jackson here.

With her eyes closed, it was all too easy to envisage Jackson as the one who now tugged on her hips, pulling her up into a crouching position and lifting her ass higher in the air.

It wasn’t as if the fantasy was a new one. How many nights had she dreamed about just this? Fantasized about Jackson taking her—even though they both knew it couldn’t happen a second time?

Rachel thought she might never breathe again. Her chest heaved uselessly, unable to obtain the oxygen it sought as Jackson’s—no, Garreth’s—wet tongue delighted her with its expertise. Sensation spiraled through her as he swirled it around her folds.

God, Jackson.

Garreth.

The sensation was utterly exquisite. Tender and tempestuous all at the same time. Rachel was on fire, burning with desire. She could explode just like this, with his tongue in her pussy. Jackson’s tongue. Or Garreth’s. Either one.

Garreth licked his way up the crease of her butt and found the tight bud hidden there. Rachel nearly hit the roof as he feathered his tongue over it. Around it. Tantalizing, teasing.

And then not teasing. He pressed his tongue inside her, pushing in maybe a centimeter.

She exploded around him, the unexpected orgasm blindsiding her.

Low groans echoed from Garreth as she came, telling her the pleasure was just as arousing for him. Within seconds of the orgasm, he got to his knees and lined himself up between her legs. The sensation of his cockhead rubbing at her highly sensitized and slippery folds had her gasping. Rabid hunger ripped through her once again.

Again? She’d just come. She couldn’t possibly take anymore.

“Know what else you can imagine in this position?” he asked, his voice a low rasp across her spine. He didn’t wait for her response. “That there are two of us behind you. One taking care of your pussy. Me.” He pushed his cock inside her an inch, just enough to tease and not nearly enough to satisfy. “And one tending to your ass.” Something cool and slippery slid up the crease of her butt cheeks and touched her anus. A finger, probably covered with lube. “Jackson.”

Her eyes popped open. He’d brought up Jackson. Again. Holy crap. Was Garreth here in her head? Sharing her fantasies?

He pushed his cock inside her another inch. At the same time, the finger that had been massaging her hole slid inside unobstructed, straight past the tight ring of muscle. “You okay with that?”

No, she wasn’t okay with it. She didn’t want Jackson here.

But then why was her body shivering with delight? And why did she ache all over, desperate to come with Garreth and Jackson inside her? “I’m okay with that.” Her words rasped through her throat.

Garreth thrust once, hard, and embedded himself deep inside her with a low moan.

Dear God, he felt good. Thick and long, he reached all the right places. Rachel moved on instinct, rocking her hips, swaying forward and pulling off his cock a few inches, before pressing back and engulfing him once again.

“Oh, yeah. Just like that,” Garreth growled.

The finger in her ass slid deeper, and deeper still, until her pussy was filled with Garreth’s cock, and her ass with Jackson’s finger.

Jackson.

One of Garreth’s hands clasped her hip, and he pulled his cock back before plunging inside her again. Rachel threw her head back with a cry. The sensation of his cock sliding in her pussy while a finger filled her ass was…unbelievable.

He did it again. Only this time, when he plunged back in, the finger was withdrawn.

Jackson and Garreth developed a rhythm, one filling her, while the other withdrew, then vice versa. Each stroke felt better than the last. Exquisite tingles filling first her pussy then her ass, until she could no longer determine where the tingles began and ended. They simply overwhelmed her.

God, yes, she knew it was only Garreth with her. Jackson wasn’t here. He would never be here. But the imagination was a powerful tool, and with her eyes closed and sensation building within, it was easy to pretend.

All too easy. And made even easier when Garreth changed the rhythm. Jackson pumped in time with Garreth’s movements, filling her ass as Garreth filled her pussy, and withdrawing as Garreth drew back.

She could spend an eternity like this. With Garreth and Jackson behind her. Garreth in her pussy, Jackson in her ass. Pleasure rolled through her, utterly delicious.

“Christ, sweet thing,” Garreth moaned. “I want your ass. Wanna come there.”

The finger felt good there, but the thought of a cock, a real long, thick cock in her back passage had Rachel’s knees quivering.

Garreth withdrew from her, as did Jackson. The loss was overwhelming. Too much. She couldn’t bear it. Acting purely on instinct, she burrowed her fingers into her pussy.

Jackson.

A deep rasping groan sounded behind her. “Jesus, that is so fucking hot. Leave your hand there. Don’t take it away. Fuck your pussy while I fuck your ass.”

“Garreth.”

She pumped her finger into her channel, in, out, added a second finer, pumped faster.

“Oh, yeah.” His breath was uneven, his words jerky. “Your fingers could be his cock,” Garreth whispered. “Jackson can fuck your pussy while I take your ass.”

Oh, sweet, heaven. Had he just suggested…?

Yes, he had!

God, when had she ever been this aroused, this desperate? When had she ever fantasized about two men at the same time?

He gave her all of five seconds to recover before something cold and wet dripped onto her ass. More lube. She clenched her cheeks as Garreth used the tip of his condom-covered cock to massage it in.

He thrust once, a quick, short thrust, and penetrated her an inch.

Rachel froze. “More,” she demanded.

Garreth pushed forward, penetrating her farther. Sweat beaded on her forehead. Damn. That stung. Burned.

“Rub your clit, sweet thing,” Garreth urged, and she did, removing her fingers to play with herself.

Ahhh, better.

Garreth slid in deeper, stretching her back passage, hurting her, delighting her. Pleasure mingled with pain as he pulled out, easing the tension, then pushed back in.

Damn, how good did that feel?

Jackson slammed his cock back into her pussy.

Garreth seated himself to the root in her ass with a lusty moan.

She couldn’t keep still, couldn’t not move. She wanted Garreth driving into her, fucking her for all he was worth. Wanted Jackson pleasuring her pussy as Garreth took her ass.

She swung her hips forward, almost displacing Garreth’s cock, then drove back, engulfing him completely.

That was all it took. Garreth’s hands found her hips, and using them to steady himself, he began to fuck her in earnest. Long, slow, drugging strokes, followed by short, quick, carnal ones, then back to the drugging ones.

Time lost meaning. All that existed was her and Garreth and Jackson. The three of them. Or the two of them at any rate. Every inch of her skin was covered in goose bumps. Pleasure soaked deep into her bones.

She couldn’t hold back the ecstasy. It swept through her, over her, unbridled bliss exploding inside. Her climax hit with force, starting in her pussy and spreading in shockwaves through to her ass.

She clamped her muscles around Garreth’s cock, squeezing him, clenching around him.

He let out a roar, thrust hard through her wild orgasm, and froze. Seconds later he too erupted, his cock pulsing in her ass, emptying itself as it beat rhythmically inside her.

With Garreth in her ass and Jackson in her head, Rachel continued to come, one wild undulation following another. Her orgasm was explosive. Fierce. All-consuming.

When the force of her release finally subsided, she was left wasted. Utterly exhausted. She dropped onto the doona, spent, and Garreth followed, collapsing on her back in a massive heap of heated male bulk.

Jackson was nowhere in sight.

~

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