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Derek’s tried everything to get Gina’s attention: flirting, asking her out on dates, and when that fails, fabricating guys’ nights at his friend’s house when she’s studying with Nate’s wife. Despite his best efforts, she turns him down every time, refusing to explain why. Finally, after Nate and Connie’s wedding, he gets his chance and makes a move – only to have her run out on him in the morning. After that, she dodges him for a week, leaving Derek fed up and aggravated, yet still wanting more of her. So he takes matters into his own hands, determined to show her that they’d be perfect together… even if he has to do it over his knee. Gina knows Derek’s interested in her – how could she not with him asking her for a date every time they see each other? But she knows they wouldn’t be a good match. Sure, he’s good looking, smart, and an all-around nice guy, but she has needs. Needs that only a certain kind of man can fulfill, and Derek’s never given her any hint that he’s that type of man.
Will Derek be able to break through Gina’s tough exterior and make her realize that if she just gives them a chance, she might be surprised with what she finds? Will Gina be willing to compromise and let Derek lead their relationship, even if it means giving up some control of her life?
Publisher’s Note: This is a newly edited and revised version.
Gina was ridiculously hot. Sweltering, in fact, possibly even melting. The oppressive heat bore down on her from above, making her lungs strain from the smothering weight. She reached up to try to find a way out but encountered some sort of fuzzy animal.
Was she in a cave in the jungle lying next to some sort of wild creature? No, that wasn’t right. Maybe someone covered her with a fur blanket? Suddenly, with the shattering clarity that only happens in dreams, the haze of confusing thoughts cleared and Gina figured out two things simultaneously.
One, she was nowhere near the jungle. Thankfully that had all been a dream. Unfortunately, her second realization chased away any relief she felt at not being in the rainforest snuggled next to a leopard. The reality of her situation was far, far worse.
That was no wild cat on top of her, ready to pounce and perhaps eat her alive. Nope. It was the absolutely infuriating, ridiculously handsome groomsman to her bridesmaid. The one she’d often caught looking at her as if he wanted to devour her, even though she blew him off every time he tried to ask her out.
Derek. Derek was wrapped around her, radiating a level of heat on par with the sun. That fur she’d felt was actually a light dusting of chest hair, just enough to be masculine without crossing the line to furry monster. She couldn’t see anything because she had her head smushed in the crack between the pillow and that deliciously muscled chest, with a blanket covering her face. For all of her annoyance and fear, and the lack of air and stifling temperature, Gina felt safe and protected in a way that she hadn’t felt in a long time, if ever.
Before that thought could dig too far into her brain she reached up and threw the covers off, not caring whether she woke him up or not. She needed to get up and out of there.
She untangled herself from Derek’s oh-so-strong arms, ignoring his sleepy but startled stare, and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She took a minute to try to shake the lingering cobwebs of sleep and hangover. It didn’t work. All the wine and shots from their friends Nate and Connie’s wedding reception the night before kept the fuzziness firmly in place.
“Hey,” a sexy-as-sin voice growled behind her. “Where you going?”
Gina sighed, desperately wishing Derek was ugly, or a jerk, or ill-mannered—anything to lessen her desire and make it easier to resist him.
She had known the night would be difficult, that she’d have to be on top of her game to make sure she didn’t end up exactly as she now found herself. She’d made it all the way through dinner, maintaining her pleasant demeanor but keeping her distance, even though they were sitting right next to each other at the head table. Derek tried to initiate conversation several times, but Gina kept her answers to his questions short and concise. She was borderline rude, but she couldn’t allow more. He was too easy to talk to, too wonderful to look at and there was no point in encouraging him because she knew they could never work.
Then Connie ordered after dinner shots for the bridal party and there was no way for Gina to decline. After that the dancing started and she found herself hanging out at the bar to avoid the dance floor, and Derek. That had been another fateful mistake. Everyone wanted to have a drink with a bridesmaid. At one point, she’d done three shots in a row with two of Connie’s lecherous uncles.
When she finally went to step away, the floor went wobbly and her head spun. Of course the closest person to her had to be Derek, who at least saved her from what could have been a mortifying fall in front of the fifty or so people who were left that late at night.
He’d steered her to an empty table in the corner and started pushing water and wedding cake down her throat until the world righted itself, somewhat. She still couldn’t drive and was just sober enough to realize it, so when he offered to let her stay in his room upstairs in the hotel she said yes immediately.
The copious amounts of alcohol coursing through her system could have also contributed to her quick acquiescence. Or maybe it was the way he told her in no uncertain terms that she could not drive, as if he cared enough to keep her from making a mistake. Now she realized he’d only done what any other friend would do, but the way he’d taken control the night before had flipped a switch. She’d been practically swooning as she followed him to his room an hour later, ignoring Nate’s knowing look and his comments about how she and Derek were finally hooking up. That had been the last thing on her mind, right?
“Gina, I asked you a question.” Derek said, sounding much less sleepy and a little bit annoyed. She twisted around and found him sitting up, bare-chested with the sheet covering his package. And oh what a wonderful package it was! She’d opened that gift last night and found out just what he kept hidden behind his designer jeans. Hot and hard, and boy did he know his way around a woman.
His now very annoyed voice broke through her reminiscing. “Gina, where are you going?”
The words prompted her to action. She stood and bent over to pick up her panties from the floor where they’d fallen last night. “I’ve got to go home,” she answered with her back to him as she hastily donned her underwear.
“Why? You’re off aren’t you? I thought we could have breakfast.”
She cringed at his suggestion they prolong this encounter, and prayed her stomach didn’t betray her when she lied. “I’m not hungry.”
“How could you not be?” he joked, apparently not noticing her tension as she gathered up the black satin gown from the night before and stepped in. “I’m always starving the day after drinking. Plus, dinner wasn’t very big last night. You’d think with the amount Nate and Connie paid for the place they would have given you more food.”
Gina needed to cut him off now. He was being so nice, so normal, making conversation like they were friends, being so great. So she latched on to the most obvious excuse she could think of. “I can’t go to breakfast in this dress, Derek. I’ll look ridiculous.” He opened his mouth to speak, but Gina rushed on before he could get a word out.
“Thanks for letting me crash, but I need to get home and shower.” She threw on her coat, grabbed her purse and shoved the rest of her undergarments in before fishing her keys from her pocket and opening the door, pausing for one more look at Derek Malin. It was the last time she’d see him rumpled and naked. Unfortunately, he also appeared to be hurt and angry, if his expression was any indication. She couldn’t blame him, really, but Gina told herself that ending it now was the best thing for both of them. They couldn’t be together. As fun as the previous night had been, Derek could not give her what she needed.
“Bye Derek,” she said softly and left, closing the door behind her.
* * *
Derek sat in stunned silence for a full five minutes before flopping back onto the bed. What the hell had just happened? He thought they’d finally made progress after months of Gina dodging him and politely refusing his requests to go out. The only time he saw her was when Nate tipped him off that she’d be coming to visit him and Connie at their home, or was joining them out somewhere. Then Derek would casually show up to watch a game with Nate, or whatever else was on. Once he and Nate ended up watching women’s fly fishing for three hours before Connie and Gina finished studying and came in to order pizza. It was the most mind-numbingly boring afternoon he’d ever experienced, but getting to spend time with Gina made it all worth it.
After Gina and Connie graduated from their master’s program, the opportunity to see her at Nate’s dwindled to the occasional Sunday night. So he’d gone for broke and made the mother of all moves last night by refusing to allow Gina to drive home, getting her somewhat sober and then offering her a place to sleep it off. It hadn’t started out as a sexual move, but then his dominant nature had taken over when he realized just how drunk she was and he couldn’t help himself from taking control. While he hadn’t planned on the sex, he had to admit it had been in the back of his mind that that’s where things would end up back in his room. He would’ve taken her home if she wanted, but she came more than willingly, and in more ways than one.
He’d always suspected that in spite of her aloofness, there was more to her than what she allowed him to see—that she was hiding a desire to be with him that was as strong as his desire to be with her. A few times in the past she’d loosened up enough for him to see how fun and intelligent she really was. Last night, with her inhibitions completely lowered, she’d finally let him get a good long look at the real her, and it left him hungry for more.
She had marched into his room as if she owned it and immediately started pulling hairpins out of her elaborate up-do, tossing them on the nightstand carelessly. Then, miracle of miracles, she asked him to help make sure she removed them all, allowing him to run his fingers through her chocolate curls, perhaps for a little longer that was strictly necessary. Derek couldn’t let such an opportunity pass by without taking full advantage, so he performed the most diligent search for hairpins anybody’s ever done. Ever.
When it became clear ten minutes later that the search had turned into something else, Derek lowered his hands to her shoulders and dared to ask.
“Do you need help with your dress?” His voice was a shade deeper than normal, but he was beyond caring at that point. He’d been waiting months for this chance.
It took her a moment to answer, and he wondered if he’d pushed too far, too fast. Finally, she shook her head, like she needed to clear her thoughts, and answered, “Why yes, I think I do.”
He’d caught the slight tremble in her voice and hoped it was lust and not fear. Holding her still so he didn’t pinch her porcelain skin in the teeth of the metal, he slowly drew the zipper down.
Derek knew that because she’d been drinking, he ran the risk of her claiming whatever happened between them was the result of the shots and not the attraction she’d been avoiding since they met. He knew he should wait, that they should talk and she should know just what kind of man he was before they got together. But he couldn’t wait any longer, couldn’t stop himself when the satin fabric covering her back slowly fell away to reveal the sexiest black bustier he’d ever seen.
That construction of lace sealed the deal. He had to have her right then. He’d take it easy and just give her some mind-blowing orgasms, no kinky stuff tonight. Later they’d talk and find out how compatible they were. Nate had told him Connie thought Gina was into kinky shit, but had provided no further details. Derek didn’t think Gina knew he was too, primarily because she refused to have a meaningful conversation with him. As much as he suspected they’d both enjoy it, tonight wasn’t the night to tie her to the bed.
Instead, he slowly undressed her, revealing a satin, retro garter belt keeping her back-seamed stockings up. She was killing him. And the whole time she’d stood there, letting him remove her clothing at his pace, submitting to his wishes silently, probably without realizing she was doing it. Only the quivering of her body alerted him to her growing excitement.
Now Derek knew, as he lay in the hotel bed alone, that he had no one to blame but himself. He should’ve listened to his big head and not the little one. He should have slowed down and talked to her. Who knew what she would’ve spilled in her inebriated state? But no, his willpower failed and once he caught a glimpse he couldn’t resist her silky skin and warm body. And of course, this morning she’d run.
The upside of this whole situation was now he knew how to work her body like a pro. He’d brought her to orgasm at least five times and she’d returned the favor three. Their coming together had been explosive, as he’d suspected it would be. Gina was vocal in her responses, letting him know what she wanted and needed. It was like they were made for each other, at least in bed having vanilla sex. Now he had to make her see that they fit together in other ways, too.