Prologue to Jesse & Ella’s story (title pending) releases January 2022
Falcon Falls Book 2
Copyright © 2021 by Brittney Sahin
All rights reserved.
No part of this prologue may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Hey everyone, hope you enjoy the prologue to Jesse & Ella’s book. Just to note – this is still undergoing edits, so it’s not the final-final copy. So, please ignore any possible grammar, etc-errors. ENJOY!
New York City, New York – 3 years ago
“Would you stop acting like you’ve got a burr in your saddle?” Ella tipped her head, pointing her big blue eyes at Jesse. “We flipped a coin. Not my fault you called heads and lost. Better luck tomorrow.” She slapped him on the back and sent him a playful wink.
Ella. Ella. Ella. What was he going to do with her? Sure as hell not put her over his knee and swat her ass the way she’d whacked his back.
“Did you really have to pick a Broadway show earlier and now this place?” Jesse released a heavy breath, trying to wrap his head around the fact he’d sat through the Cher Show tonight, and now they were in a nightclub.
“You had a nice nap during that show, if I recall. You should be awake enough to dance with me tonight.” Ella’s bright red lips parted to show her white teeth, one front tooth a tiny bit bigger than the other. An “imperfection” as she liked to call it, but to him, she was perfection currently wrapped in a tight dress.
Sharing a room with his best friend’s little sister would not be perfect or ideal though. The swanky hotel that was a few blocks from Rockefeller Center had been booked when he tried to get his own room at the last minute, and since this was supposed to be his sister and Ella’s girls’ trip, there’d been no need for two rooms in their original booking plans.
But his sister, Rory, developed a stomach bug at the last minute, and she insisted Ella still go on the trip. And in Rory’s place, Jesse had been selected (more like coerced) to fill her shoes. And well, he didn’t wear heels or Prada. And he also had a dick, which meant sleeping in the same room with Ella was going to be a problem. Thankfully, when they’d checked into the hotel to get dressed for the show earlier, there’d been a room available with two beds. Otherwise, he’d be sleeping on the floor.
He thought back to when she’d walked out of the bathroom in her outfit for the evening and did a little twirl for him. She’d called the one-shoulder dress she’d designed “New York candy apple red.”
More like “siren” red, drawing the eyes of everyone with a pulse that night. But damn, did her dress have to have a bow at the waist? With Christmas next week, he’d thought a dozen times how much he’d like to unwrap her.
But he wasn’t just any man. At least, he wasn’t the man she thought he was.
And she wasn’t just any woman. She was a Hawkins. His best friend’s sister. Plus, she had three other brothers.
“Did you say dance?” Jesse finally reacted once he’d let her words sink in.
“I reckon I did.” Ella shrugged and flicked her light blonde hair to her back as she set both hands on the bartop counter, looking left and right for anyone available to serve them.
Her bare shoulder brushed against him as she leaned his way a bit, and he half wondered if she might place two fingers in her mouth and whistle for a bartender the way she’d done for a taxi earlier.
“Whiskey neat. Two. Not too expensive. None of that cheap shit either,” Ella ordered once she’d garnered the attention of one of the bartenders who had a Jim Morrison look going for him along with a handlebar mustache.
The man eyed Jesse with raised eyebrows, but Jesse lifted his chin in a silent request to “do what the lady says.”
The bartender grabbed a bottle of Woodford Reserve and poured two fingers of the whiskey then slid the drinks across the dark wood counter.
“Cheers.” Ella clinked her glass with his and threw back the amber liquid as if she were taking a shot.
“Well, I guess I’m adding, ‘Keep Ella from drinking too much’ to my list of responsibilities tonight.” Jesse shook his head and took a small sip, deciding he ought to stay as sober as possible to keep an eye on the firecracker.
Hell, it was the real reason he’d booked the last-minute flight to accompany her to New York for the weekend. Rory knew damn well he wouldn’t want Ella going to the big city alone.
According to Rory, no one else was available to go with Ella. Yeah, he’d called bullshit from a mile away. He was pretty sure he and Ella were being set up. Everyone in town, maybe aside from the Hawkins’ brothers, had been rooting for a match-up between them for as long as he could remember.
Ella positioned herself back to the bar, her gaze cutting to the dance floor, which wasn’t all that crowded since by Manhattan standards it was early at only twenty-three hundred hours. Or, eleven o’clock in civilian-speak. He doubted anyone there had to get out of bed before the sun came up to tend to a farm or horses on a ranch like back home.
“Was New York City your idea, or Rory’s?” he found himself asking.
“Why? Do you think I’m trying to pull a Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama? Leave Bama to pursue fashion design?” She twisted her neck to steal a look at him, and his stomach squeezed at the idea of Ella moving to New York and leaving her students behind. But she was a damn good designer. But so far, it’d only been a hobby. “I just wanted to see New York at Christmas. Christmas movies are my absolute favorite. And nothing feels more Christmas-y than this city.” She smiled. “Well, that’s what I thought before coming here.”
“And now?” He cocked a brow, curious.
“Our home is definitely more Christmas-y. I haven’t seen a single caroller since we arrived. Have you?” She grinned, her smile meeting her eyes.
“Not a one,” he returned with a smile of his own.
“Well.” She slapped her hands together as if she was about to rally in her big family for supper. “I’m going to go out there.” She pointed as if “there” could have been somewhere other than the dance floor by the DJ booth. “Sure I can’t entice you to join me?”
She could entice him to do a lot of things, but dancing wasn’t one of them. Sure, they’d slow danced a few times here and there over the years. And two-stepped back home. But throw his arms up and act like a raver? Nah, he didn’t think so.
“I’ll be over there.” He pointed to the random Roman-esq column off to the side of the dance area. “I don’t even know why that’s there. Not attached to the ceiling.” He shook his head. “Only in New York.”
“Aesthetic over function.” Ella patted his chest twice. “Loosen up. And if you change your mind, well, you know where to find me.” She turned, and he found himself circling her wrist, pulling her back to him.
Her eyes fell to where he held onto her. “You know I don’t tolerate assholes bothering you, no matter where we are.” And that was code for, if a man touched her on the dance floor, he’d join her for only one reason, and it wouldn’t be to dance.
Ella worked her gaze up his chest, over the pressed black button-down she’d insisted he wore with black slacks tonight, then her attention settled on the hard line of his mouth for a brief moment. “Well, you know I love to watch that ice hockey nonsense just for the brawls. Don’t tempt me.” She wet her lips, rolling her tongue along the bottom one in dramatic fashion to clearly fuck with him.
Not a great idea, when he’d love nothing more than to do just that. And it can’t happen.
The strap on Ella’s shoulder started to slip, and he let go of her wrist and righted it in place.
He knew if he looked into her clear-as-an-Alabama-blue-sky-day eyes even for a split second, that it didn’t matter how shitty the lighting was in that club, she’d be able to read him. He’d done his best to be as unreadable as possible over the years when it came to how he felt about her, how he really felt about her—and for some reason, at that moment, his mask had slipped free.
“I’ll just be . . . over there,” she whispered, seeming to sense something was off with him, and she didn’t quite know what to make of it.
“Okay.” He mentally ticked off a few seconds, waiting enough time for her to have turned and walked away before looking up.
He spotted her at the center of the dance floor as she began moving side to side, about as unsure how to dance to the electronic music as he’d be if he was out there. She was country through and through, but in that red dress, gold heels, with her wavy blonde hair framing her face and her make-up dark and sparkly . . . he’d never guess she was from a small town or that this was her first trip to New York.
He was tempted to go rescue her. Lead her out of there and find a bar a little more like one they’d find back home or in Birmingham near their small town. But wasn’t the point of her trip to get away, experience somewhere else?
Jesse crossed the room to lean against the useless column and dug into his pocket for his work phone. No new messages. That was good. He swapped it for his personal one and sent out a quick message to his sister.
Jesse: How’s that “stomach ache” . . . feeling better yet?
Rory: You might have the wrong number. Who is this?
Jesse: Your brother.
Rory: Which brother? The annoying one?
Jesse: The only one, smartass.
Jesse: You suck, you know. You faked being sick. Now that I’m here, you ready to fess up?
He watched the three little bubbles appear then vanish. Then appear again. He rolled his shoulders, trying to loosen the tension pulsing through his veins at hyper speed and checked on Ella.
She was moving her hips a bit more sensually now. And he was fairly certain she’d be drawing attention from the single guys any second. He clocked at least three men who had her in their sights. They were watching. Waiting to strike.
Unfortunately for them, he’d be there to strike back.
Rory: Ella texted me, you know. Said she took you to a show and you’re now at a club. I bet you’re skulking in the shadows like some creeper. All grumpy and growly about being in some swanky club.
Jesse: You don’t sound sick.
Rory: You don’t know how I sound. (cough, cough). Very sick.
Jesse: Thought it was your stomach?
He added an eye-rolling emoji.
Rory: So, you are in the shadows, aren’t you? And what happens when some jerk hits on her? You going to ride on in and save the day? Steal a horse from a city officer?
Jesse: Why are you such a pain in my ass?
Rory: Little sister job description. Didn’t you read the fine print? I could have sworn I made sure mom and dad gave you a manual decades ago.
Jesse pulled his focus from his phone to set his eyes on Ella, ensuring she was still at a safe distance from the opposite gender.
Jesse: You gotta stop setting us up. I know that’s what you think this weekend is . . . but it’s not happening. This isn’t a Christmas romance movie. There will never be an Ella and I. Or . . . Ella and me. Aw shit, I suck at grammar, but you know what I mean.
Rory sent him a few laughing emojis with tears coming out of their eyes.
Rory: I know she’s a Hawkins. And she’s got 4 big brothers. And yes, you’re best friends with one of them, but Jesse—when has anyone or anything ever stopped you from going after what you want?
Jesse: I didn’t text you for a lecture. I messaged to give you one. And an order: BACK. OFF. I can’t be with Ella. PERIOD.
And damn, why did he let that little word slip through the cracks, knowing his sister would want to spend hours unpacking the meaning.
Rory: Well, I suggest you remove your head from your ass and make a move. And yes, I am yelling at you with my thickest Southern drawl via text possible to make sure you get the message.
Jesse: Yeah, I hear it.
At least she wasn’t pressing on the whole “can’t” comment.
Rory: Enjoy yourself. Stop texting me and go dance. Goodnight. Feelin’ too sick to talk.
Jesse grunted in irritation and pocketed his phone and watched Ella dance, her wrists now linked over her head as she continued to give him a heart attack.
And heaven help the man that was two seconds away from making a move on Ella.
Don’t do it. Don’t do it. He didn’t want to have to break any arms in front of Ella on her weekend getaway. And shit. The guy set both hands on Ella’s waist, attempting to pull her flush to his body.
Ella’s palms landed on the man’s chest but Jesse was already on the move. She began to shove, which awakened the beast inside him.
Jesse snatched the back of the man’s neck and squeezed. He clamped down on his back teeth as he reminded himself there were witnesses. He didn’t need to end up on someone’s Instagram story. Crazy guy breaks man’s neck at New York City club. Yeah, that wouldn’t go over well with his boss.
“It’s okay. You can let him go.” Ella held up her hand, urging Jesse to back down.
Her soft voice had Jesse’s body relaxing somewhat, but he didn’t release the harsh hold of the man.
“He’s harmless. Let him go,” Ella pleaded, which had Jesse freeing the prick, and the dumbass backed off. But instead of high-tailing out of the club like he should have, he went to the bar.
“That was a little overboard, don’t you think?” He couldn’t see her eye roll with the flickering lights crossing her face, but he knew one was there.
“He shouldn’t have touched you.” He adjusted the collar of his shirt, checking for any other potential threats, and the men around them seemed to sense he was the threat. Good.
But he’d still prefer to get her off the damn dance floor, so he reached for her arm and guided her to the column where he’d previously stood.
Ella set her back to it and crossed her arms. “You know, you looked all Joe-like watching me dance.”
“Define ‘Joe-like’.” He lifted a brow and leaned in closer, setting a hand on the column over her head.
“The show, You. The main character, Joe, goes all stalker-y on a woman in season one. Obsessively watching her.”
“You’re calling me a stalker? And also, obsessive?”
“Well, in this case, I knew you were there, but as for obsessive? Only in your goal to protect your best friend’s sister from anyone with a pulse. Or a dick.”
He almost choked on that last word she’d spit out that still seemed to cling to the hot air.
Ella lifted her eyes to the industrial ceiling as if seeking out the exposed air ducts there, but there was something in that quick dodge that had him curious what she was really thinking. She wasn’t embarrassed for dropping the D word on him. No, she didn’t get embarrassed. So, what was it?
“You love to bust my balls, same as Rory.”
She smiled, bringing her gaze back to his face. “It’s not hard to do.”
“Mmhm.” He pushed away from the column and took a step back, because when his attention snagged on her bright red lips, his dick was now the only problem in the room, because it woke up and twitched. And he’d swear Ella somehow knew because she studied him like he’d done something sinful and would be needing forgiveness in spades.
Forgiveness? That’s something I might need, but I don’t deserve.
“You okay? I feel like I lost you for a second.”
“You never lost me,” he murmured. “You’ll always have me.”
“What?” She stepped forward, a hand going to his bicep. “I didn’t hear you.”
His gaze slowly worked to her red nails on the sleeve of his dress shirt. “Nothing.” He pulled his eyes away from her hand, his gaze catching the prick who’d grabbed hold of Ella on the dance floor now standing at the bar. “Damn it.”
“The bastard just slipped something into that woman’s drink.” Jesse cursed under his breath.
“How’d you see that?”
“I notice things,” he casually said as if that’d make perfect sense to her.
“Well, I guess I need to re-examine who I view as harmless.”
That was for damn sure. And he was glad he had come to New York. “Looks like he’s heading to the men’s room.” Jesse calculated his next steps. Playing them out in his mind down to every move. “I need about thirty seconds alone with him.”
Ella released her hold of his arm. “What are you going to do? I thought you gave up bar brawls years ago. No more fighting. We can call the police. I was joking about the ice hockey fighting thing.”
“A fight suggests competition. There won’t be any of that. In thirty seconds, head to the bar and tell that woman and the bartender about her drink, and that they’ll find the man unconscious in the bathroom. They can call the police.”
“Jesse.” Ella grabbed hold of his arm and squeezed. A request to back down? When he met her eyes, she let go of a shaky breath and relented. “Okay.”
He nodded as she released him, then moved with quick steps toward the restroom.
The man was alone at the urinal, and Jesse didn’t waste time. As soon as the guy zipped his pants and turned Jesse clocked him clean across the jaw then shoved him against the wall.
The man’s words died as Jesse spun him around and yanked with enough force to break his arm, and he groaned and hissed as Jesse smashed his face against the cement wall. “You’re lucky I don’t cut your hand off and use it to choke you, so I reckon you shut up and listen.”
Jesse did his best to remain calm and steady. In control of the situation. This wasn’t his first rodeo, nor was it his first time dealing with a man who’d crossed him when it came to Ella.
“When you wake up, you’ll be in police custody. But if you ever touch another woman again, or if you ever drug another woman again . . . you better believe I will kill you. I’ll be taking a photo of you when it’s lights out. And a picture of your ID.” He spun the man around and sent an elbow to his jaw. “Do. You. Understand. Me?”
The man nodded, clearly in shock. Probably some privileged jerk who’d been born with a silver spoon in his mouth and thought it was okay to take advantage of women. That it was his natural-born right.
Agitated at the thought, Jesse followed through with his promise and hit him a few more times, making his movements as efficient as possible.
After the man had slumped to the ground against the wall, Jesse snapped a photo of his face and dug into his pocket for his ID.
Once back outside the restroom, he stopped a man from trying to enter the room and muttered, “Out of order,” before passing him to get to Ella.
She spotted him as soon as he came into view and hurried his way. “You all right?” The pad of her thumb swept over his cheek. “Um. A little blood there.” This gorgeous woman seemed relatively unfazed, swiping her finger along the side of her dress.
She’d grown up on a ranch with a bunch of cowboys though. She wasn’t quite as fragile as he may have made her out to be in his mind.
“Come on. Let’s get out of here.” Jesse held onto her arm as they cut through the club, then they retrieved their jackets before making their way outside.
Ella bundled herself up in her cashmere peacoat, and Jesse shrugged on his knee-length black wool coat. “Did that really happen?” she asked, spinning around and nearly colliding with him on the sidewalk.
“Which part?” He shoved his hands in his coat pockets as he observed her.
Ella freed her long hair from beneath the collar of her coat, letting it fall like a bed of silk, the color nearly blending in with the goldish-tan jacket. “All of it. Did you really just take down a guy in the bathroom like that?”
“Does that bother you?” He took her arm, guiding her away from the foot traffic and closer to the building off to his right.
“I mean, I wouldn’t mind slugging that man myself for what he’d planned to do to that woman. So no, it doesn’t bother me. But tonight felt a bit different than back home when you used to slug a man for grabbing my ass at the bar.”
There’d been quite a few men he’d knocked out over the years. The faces were a blur. “We are in New York. I guess this deserved a different approach,” he joked, but in reality, he wasn’t the same man he was back then. Although, he’d done his best to act in character whenever he was home.
“Well, um. How about we go search out that New York at Christmas feeling I was craving?” She tipped her chin in the direction of Rockefeller Center, which was within walking distance.
“That sounds much better.” He smiled, then set his hand on the small of her back—he had no idea why—as they walked.
Golden angels with trumpets pointed toward the heavens lined their path once they neared the massive Christmas tree. Ella seemed to take all of it in. Looking left and right. The lights around them shone down on her as though she were an angel leading the way to something better—something he never thought he could have.
And I can’t have it, he quickly reminded himself before he let New York Christmas magic wrap him up in some kind of freakish spell, causing him to do something he’d forever regret.
They stopped walking when they reached their destination and she set her eyes on one of the most famous trees around the world.
He stood alongside her and removed his hand from her back.
“Rory planned this, didn’t she?” Ella whispered a few minutes later. “Her birthday was a few days ago, so I thought she meant this to be a Christmas slash birthday celebration weekend, but the stomach bug is fake, isn’t it?”
“I’m thinking so,” he answered honestly, and she turned to face him, her cheeks becoming rosier the longer they stayed out in the cold.
“Why does she keep trying to set us up?” When he didn’t reply, because what would he say, she went on, “Rory’s my best friend. She knows you’ve rejected me on a few occasions, so I don’t know why she keeps pressing the idea we’ll end up together. You don’t see me that way.” Her tone was soft, a little sad. And it broke his heart.
“Reject you? When did I . . .” He cupped his jaw, trying to sort through the past, searching through blurry memories. He’d worked hard to forget a lot of shit, including all the pain and suffering he’d witnessed in the war. “You talking about the kiss, and well, the other thing?” Your virginity.
She nodded, her eyes moving to his hand still settled on his jaw.
His week’s worth of facial scruff was scratchy beneath his palm, and he let his hand drop to his side as he waited for her to explain her definition of rejection. Because he didn’t see it that way. Not really. “That wasn’t rejection,” he finally spoke his thoughts, feeling the need to defend himself.
“I asked you to be my first kiss. You said no.”
He grimaced at her words. “Ella, I hardly call that rejection. I mean,” he said while holding a hand up between them, “you were fifteen, and I was eighteen. I was about to join the Army, and you were also drunk on Beckett’s secret stash of Tennessee moonshine. What’d you expect me to say? Me saying no was the right thing to do. That’s not rejection.”
Beckett was Ella’s oldest brother, now the sheriff of their small hometown, Walkins Glen. He hadn’t always been the grumpy “good boy” he was now. Beckett used to raise hell back in his day. Just like himself, he supposed.
“It sure felt like rejection to me.” Ella shrugged. “And by the way, I was drunk because you had told me you were enlisting the week before.”
As he processed her admission, a strange achy sensation filled his gut, then he muttered, “You were still too young. And also, a Hawkins.”
“Is that how you’ll always see me? A Hawkins?”
No, in his eyes, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. With the biggest heart on the planet. He saw her as so much more than he could possibly put into words, and yeah, maybe she was far too special and too sweet for him . . . but that still wasn’t what held him back.
This wasn’t some fairy tale where he was only mistaken as the villain, and the princess would somehow turn Jesse back into the prince she deserved.
“Ella,” was all he managed out.
“Okay, what about when I was in college then? And I asked you to take my virginity? I was of age. That was rejection.”
Jesse took a step back and gripped the nape of his neck, pushing the collar of his coat down to squeeze and work at the sudden tension there. “Tequila. Still a Hawkins.” And well, Iraq. “So no, that doesn’t qualify as rejection, and any man that would have said yes to you while you’d been shooting tequila ought to be dragged behind one of your daddy’s horses for a good mile. Maybe more.”
“I didn’t have that much tequila that night.” She pursed her lips and a contemplative expression crossed her face.
He looked around at the couples passing by for a moment before returning his attention to her. “Regardless, there were a lot of reasons for me to behave, but it wasn’t that I didn’t want you. That I rejected you.”
Fuck. Was that the first time in his life he admitted to this woman he had wanted her? Was that the first time he’d let the words slip free from his normally locked lips?
She was quiet for a moment, probably absorbing his confession the way a priest did before absolving someone of their sins.
“But also . . . Iraq,” he admitted. “I’d just come home. It’d been a bad deployment.”
She angled her head, continuing to try and get a read on him. “Is there such a thing as a good deployment?”
He swallowed. “The ones where everyone comes home alive, yes.”
“Oh.” She lifted her gaze skyward at his heavy words.
“Listen, I really can’t stand here and have a conversation about this. I don’t want to know who gave you your first kiss. Or who took your . . .” He cleared his throat, unable to work the words free, which had her eyes back on his face. “But I don’t need you thinking I rejected you in the past because I didn’t want you. That’s the furthest thing from the truth.” And there he went again with the truth.
Was it the Christmas tree? The magic of New York at the holidays he’d seen in movies growing up? What in the hell had him opening up now at thirty-five when he’d never been able to say jack shit to Ella since she turned eighteen and he’d taken notice of her as a woman? And if he was being honest with himself, more like when she was seventeen. When he’d noticed her long, runner’s legs were also fit for the runway.
“Okay.” Her soft voice floated into the crisp December air. “I think I’d like to go back to the hotel. I’m tired.” She faked a smile, one lacking her teeth. “I didn’t have a nap like you did.”
“Ella,” he called out after her since she’d barely finished her words before starting to walk away.
He’d messed up. Somehow ruined her night. And he’d be getting an earful from his sister via text in the morning. But more importantly, he hated seeing Ella sad.
“Ella,” he said again, gently taking hold of her arm once he’d caught up with her. When she spun around to face him, she had tears in her eyes, and didn’t that make him feel like an asshole.
“It’s the cold air making them water.” She swiped at her cheeks, but the little break in her voice gave her away.
“Don’t be sad. Why are you sad?” He reached for her hand, finding it cold, so he placed it between his to try and warm her up. They hadn’t thought of packing gloves for the trip.
“It’s nothing. Please.” The plea in her tone had him letting go of a deep breath, and he released her hand and nodded.
They walked in an almost painful silence back to their hotel, which was only a few blocks away. He doubted she’d be able to walk much farther in those heels, too. Not that he wouldn’t have carried her if she’d asked, but based on her change in mood from sassy at the club to “just lost her dog”—he doubted she’d let him.
Once in their room, Jesse tossed his coat onto the chair on top of hers as she rushed into the bathroom and shut the door. Are we in a fight?
He went to the window and drew open the floor-to-ceiling silver drapes, revealing the sight of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. He pushed one hand into his pocket while working the top few buttons of his shirt free with the other hand.
“Are you sure it’s okay if I sleep in here?” he asked once he heard the bathroom door open a few minutes later.
“There are two beds,” she said from behind, but he’d yet to turn. “Plus, we established you’re not interested and Rory keeps wasting her time.”
“We established that, huh?” He slowly faced her, lifting his other hand from his pocket.
He stilled at the sight of Ella standing in front of one of the beds in an oversized black tee that said “Cowgirls Do It Better” in pink print. The shirt went to her mid-thighs, showing off her long, golden tan legs. Her toenails were red to match her fingernails. But she’d scrubbed the makeup free from her face, so her lips were no longer red.
“I think you’re missing something.”
A bra, for one. Just because her shirt was black didn’t mean he didn’t notice her nipples.
She folded her arms, thank God. “And what’s that?”
“A pair of pants.” He forced his gaze to remain eye level so he didn’t check her out again, then he undid the last few buttons of his shirt and removed it.
He lost eye contact with Ella when her focus slid to his chest and stayed there. “I’ve seen you shirtless on the ranch a million times, I, um.”
And he’d seen her legs in her Daisy Duke shorts and cowgirl boots too. But yeah, it was different because they were alone in a hotel room in Christmas-y New York.
“You sure you didn’t pack an adult onesie? Or maybe some fleece pants with cute puppy dogs wearing Santa hats on them?” He needed to ignore the way her eyes seemed to eat up his body, or how they now settled on the buckle of his belt as if she wanted to remove it herself and fall to her knees before him.
“No, I hate being hot at night. I like sleeping in barely anything, jacking up the A/C and then getting cozy under the covers. That a problem?”
“Barely anything. Is this barely anything?” Damn his cock was moving again. “Or is this more than normal?” He freed the buckle and undid the top button of his pants, unsure why he continued to undress in front of this woman. But like she’d said, she’d seen him in his drawers when he’d strip and jump into the lake back in the day, so, this shouldn’t be a big deal.
“A tank top and panties. Or maybe just the panties. Tank tops tend to get all twisted in my sleep.”
Jesse swiveled his focus to the lamp between the two beds. He had to look at something other than her, and the picture she’d just painted that would permanently be etched in his mind. “So, you’re doing me a favor by wearing a tee, huh?”
“Why, you’d see me as someone other than A.J.’s sister if you saw my tits?”
Jesse dropped his head, realizing sassy Ella was back, and he’d take that over sad Ella. But did she have to go there? “Ella,” he rasped in warning. Or was the warning for himself? Abort and back away. Go walk around the city all night instead of sharing a room with her.
He forced his gaze back to her, and then blinked in surprise to see her tossing her tee onto her bed. “Go ahead. Reject me again,” she whispered, standing boldly in only a red thong, and Jesse nearly cracked his back teeth as he clenched, as he resisted erasing the space between them and taking her into his arms. “For a third time. And I barely had anything to drink. I’m way over age. And you’ve been out of the Army for a few years. So, what excuse will you come up with this time to try and hide the fact you really just don’t want me?”
Jesse’s gaze remained riveted to her full breasts that lifted when she inhaled sharply as if her nerves were catching up to her boldness. He turned to the side and lifted his eyes to the ceiling. Every part of him wanted to take her. To make her his. To forget all the reasons why he knew he couldn’t be with her.
“What if it’s for one night? Only one night. And we don’t tell anyone what happens. Instead of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, this’ll be what happens in New York stays in New York.” He could feel Ella closing in on him. Her body heat nearing his fire-hot skin. “I won’t tell Rory. Savanna. Any of my friends. Or family.”
“Why do you want to do this? Won’t it . . . complicate things?” He closed his eyes and held his temples with his thumb and forefinger, trying to find a way to say no to temptation standing just behind him. Because how could it not complicate things?
“Jesse, I’ve wanted you since as far back as I can remember. I’ve always wanted you, and you have to know that.” Any bit of sass was now buried beneath her soft voice.
I want you too. I’ll always want you. But I can’t have you. “Then tonight would be a mistake,” he said while slowly turning at the feel of her hand on his arm. And he used every ounce of restraint he had buried inside him to keep his eyes on her face. To not set his hands on her hips and work them around to her ass and squeeze. “Because I can’t be the man you need.” He shook his head, worried she was about to protest. “You deserve to be with someone whole, Ella Mae. And I’m about as broken as they come. Far too many pieces for me to ask you to try and help put me back together.”
When her eyes narrowed, he realized he’d said too much. Shit, did he just give her hope?
“But Ella,” he said around a swallow, “the last thing in the world I want is to reject you tonight. Because I do want you. I want to throw you on the bed and fuck the ever loving daylights out of you. And then do it again and again and again.” His cock strained in his pants at the image he’d laid out for them both to absorb. “The last thing you need to be thinking is that I want to reject you. But saying no is something I need to do. It’d be wrong of me to give you false hope. I’d be an asshole.”
He was pretty sure Ella’s mouth had fallen open sometime between his “again and again” comment. She stared at him, still a bit startled at his confession.
“Then be an asshole. Don’t say no. Not tonight. I don’t want to be a good girl. The trusty and reliable Ella Mae that does no wrong,” she murmured. “I want to be bad.”
Jesse set both hands on her arms and lightly gripped.
“We won’t kiss. Anywhere. Not even, you know, down there.” She looked down between them, eyeing his pants before her gaze moved to her thong. “Nothing intimate. I think that’ll help make it less . . . hopeful.”
Less hopeful? God, she was killing him. And he hated himself for keeping secrets from her, for not sharing the whole truth as to why he needed to steer clear from her. But it was for her own good. He’d tell himself that at least.
“I don’t have condoms.” Shit. Did I just say that?
Jesse’s grip on her arms went a fraction tighter. “Were you planning to hook up with someone this weekend?”
“I may have hoped that you . . .” She let her words trail off as if worried he might change his mind. As she stood nearly naked before him, her body practically flush with his. Did she think there was any universe in which he’d be able to reject her right now?
“We don’t tell anyone. Rory won’t ever leave us alone if she knows.”
Ella kept her chin lifted, eyes on him as she nodded, her lip catching ever so slightly between her teeth. Nerves now on display that seventeen years after she’d first asked him to kiss her, they were about to have sex.
“I can’t be with you,” he reiterated. “I don’t want you to try and fix me. To think I can be . . . fixed,” he added, stumbling through his words, feeling as though he might drown in those blue eyes of hers. “You have to promise me you’ll move on.” He didn’t want to think about that. To imagine her with any other man. But it was time she let go. Her. Rory. Everyone. They had to let go. “Please.”
Ella closed her eyes, took a breath, but nodded.
“I have to hear you say it. I need to look into your eyes when you do.” He had to make sure this night wouldn’t break her. Hurt her. He knew it’d fucking break him, but what difference would it make? He was already so fucked.
Her lids slowly parted, and her blue eyes held his. “I promise. I’ll move on.”
He released her arms and stepped back, allowing himself to finally take in the sight of her. To soak in every moment of this night since it’d be their one and only. And he hoped he wasn’t making a mistake when it came to her heart. Deep down he couldn’t shake the fact he was, but if he were being honest with himself, he wasn’t exactly thinking clearly.
His eyes journeyed from her red toenails and up her legs and to her full, round tits before meeting her eyes. “You’re beautiful.”
She reached out and set a palm on his pec. “So are you. You know, in a manly, rugged way, of course.” A nervous smile played across her lips.
Not being able to kiss her mouth or bury his face between her thighs was going to be torture, but maybe she was right. Maybe that’d make it harder for this to be a “one night” only situation. He’d always known if he ever set his mouth on hers, he’d be a goner. No turning back. The demons he carried wouldn’t let release their hold of him, but he’d be damned if he’d let them rope her into his own personal hell too.
Ella reached for his zipper and guided it down, then shifted his pants out of the way to expose his black boxer briefs. He was rock hard and ready.
“No kissing, but can I touch you?” he asked through gritted teeth, doing his best not to let his restraint snap and toss her onto the bed and bury his cock deep inside her.
“Yes, please,” she said with a tiny nod.
He hooked his fingers at the thin strip of fabric on her hips and pushed down her panties. Setting a palm to her pussy, he hissed when her arousal coated his fingers as he slid them through her folds.
She bucked against his hand, nearly falling into him. He brought one hand to her breast and rolled her peaked nipple between his fingers while playing with her wet folds.
“Jesse,” she cried. When he plunged two fingers inside her, she began panting and rubbing against the heel of his hand to create more friction.
This goddess saying his name was going to provoke the beast to wake. To take her. Ravish her. Fuck her hard and from every angle.
“Don’t,” he demanded. “Don’t say my name,” he growled out in warning and squeezed her tit, which was more than a handful, even for his big hand.
“Why?” She looked straight into his eyes as he continued to pleasure her, and he loved every second of her breathy moans. But those seductive sounds were also dangerous to his control.
Releasing her breast, he slid his hand around and up her back to fist a handful of her hair and lightly pull. “Because I will tear you apart, darling. And I’d prefer to be gentle with you.”
“Oh.” Her mouth remained poised and rounded. A little stunned by his words. And maybe on the brink of orgasm from his touch. Either way, it was damn difficult not to stick his tongue between her lips and fuck her mouth too. “What if I want you to, uh, tear me apart?” She pressed her body tight to his, his hand between them the only barrier.
He pulled her hair a bit harder, letting her know she was playing with fire right now. “Maybe later. We have the night, right? It doesn’t have to be the one time.”
Another soft “oh” fell from her lips as she squeezed her thighs together, trapping his hand there. “I might come if you don’t stop. And I want it to happen with you inside me.” She met his eyes. “Please.”
When he released her hair and pulled his hand from her tight pussy, he stepped around her discarded thong and climbed onto the bed. At the sight of her on all fours, ass in the air for him, Jesse nearly swallowed his tongue.
“The condoms are in the side zipper in my suitcase,” she directed him, then swung her gaze around to find him staring at her ass. “What? I’ve been working on my dump truck.”
“Dump truck?” He forced himself to leave the beautiful sight to grab the condoms.
“I think that’s what the twenty-somethings call it. It’s not near Kardashian levels, but I’ve been hitting my glutes a lot at the gym.”
“I don’t know anything about the Kardashians, but I’d say your ass is, well, perfect.” He rolled a condom over his dick as he took all of her in.
“As much as I love the view, I want to look at you while we . . .” Don’t say make love. This isn’t supposed to be intimate, you asshole.
She nodded then flipped to her back, and he climbed on top of her, straddling her legs as he sat back on his heels. Was he really going to have sex with his best friend’s little sister?
Would A.J. kill him if he ever found out?
Ella’s eyes drifted up the length of his body while making a come-hither motion with her finger as her other hand palmed her breast. Yeah, I’m done. Just put a bullet in me and call it a day, because how in the hell would he be able to move on after tonight?
He lowered himself to his forearms and positioned his tip at her soaked center. “Are you sure?”
“Absolutely,” she responded without hesitation then reached for the nape of his neck, drawing him closer to her. Too close. Their mouths nearly brushed.
“Ella.” Her name served as the final warning. The chance to wave the white flag. But he doubted either one of them would be able to cut out and surrender. To walk away from this moment, regardless of the consequences once daylight hit.
“Jesse,” she said with a lift of her brows, knowing she was on thin ice in terms of his control now.
“You really do want to be a bad girl tonight, don’t you?”
Ella planted her lip between her teeth as he nudged the head of his cock in just an inch, and his balls tightened at the touch. “Mm. As long as you whisper, good girl at some point tonight, I’ll be as bad as you want me to be.”
“You are a good girl.” He knew that wasn’t what she meant, but damn did he hate that he was about to plow into a genuinely good girl, risking making her even half as broken as him. But he was already an inch deep inside her, and there was no turning back.
He dove deep into her in one hard movement, and her hips and ass lifted off the bed as she joined him, her pelvic bone hitting his. “Ohhh,” she hissed, her eyes locked with his.
He’d never felt anything like this. She was a perfect fit, taking all of him. Moving with him.
Jesse shifted his weight to one forearm so he could reach for her hip and slide his hand to her ass and bury his fingertips in the flesh of her “dumptruck.”
“I’m going to come. I-I’m sorry. I can’t wait,” she moaned the second he squeezed her ass cheek.
“Waiting on you, sweetheart. I can come any-fucking-time being inside you. You feel so good.”
Ella’s gaze tightened on him, and she began shuddering beneath him. Her body arched as she lifted her back from the bed and rocked into her orgasm, grinding her pussy against him into climax. When she whispered his name at the height of ecstasy, it was all it took for him to thrust one last hard time and come hard.
He rolled off to her side after they both came down from what had felt like walking through heaven’s gates, and he was tempted to reach for her hand and lock their fingers together.
That’d be intimate. So he set his hands on top of his chest to try and find his breath. “How many condoms did you pack?” In his hurry to grab one, he hadn’t noticed. He shifted to his side to look at her, and he couldn’t help but palm her breast when she mirrored his move to lay on her side facing him.
“Three more.” She ran her tongue along the seam of her mouth, and he was desperate to kiss her.
“That may not be enough.” He leaned forward and set his lips to her shoulder that’d been bare in that dress earlier. “Maybe instead of one night, we have one weekend?” What was he doing? Saying? But how in the hell would he make it through tomorrow night without touching her?
No, they could go back to friends when they were home in Bama on Sunday, right?
“Yes,” she said, and he did his best not to notice the gloss to her eyes, worried she was on the verge of tears from whatever emotions had stirred inside her during sex. If she felt anything like he did, then yeah . . .
He forced himself to get up and rid himself of the condom. “Flip to your stomach,” he ordered while joining her back on the bed.
“Why?” But she followed his request.
“I can’t kiss your mouth. Or your pussy. But I plan on trailing my lips along the curve of your spine and down . . .”
“Oh.” Was this her new favorite word tonight?
“And if I cry out your name while you kiss my body, what then?” Sassy Ella was back, and he saw it in her shimmering blue eyes when she looked back at him from over her shoulder.
“You know exactly what, darling,” he promised, lifting a brow.
He lifted her arms over her head and linked her wrists, then shifted her mass of hair out of the way and set his mouth to the few freckles on the back of her right shoulder.
“Well then,” Ella said softly. “Jesse. Jesse. Jess—”
— Haven’t read book 1 of Falcon Falls Security yet? Check out The Hunted One on Amazon.