The scent curling in my nose did something to my insides.
Something that made me stupid and reckless.
Something I knew that would lead nowhere good.
Smoke snaked a heavy arm around my waist, moving me closer to him. His sweet scent, his thick, muscular chest, and flat stomach pressed right against my naked body.
No, I told myself. I wasn’t here…not again.
“Smoke…” I ignored the way he moved his fingers down my back, cupping my ass like it was normal and something he did without thinking.
He was nearly asleep and languid; how he always got after he took me, especially when it was late. That hand lowered and he gave me a half pat, squeezing my ass like some sort of silent motion to quiet me.
Here, in this bed, with the smell of us perfuming the sheets, Smoke wasn’t the gangster this town knew him to be. He was soft, gentle, and he touched me like he wanted me. Like he couldn’t get enough. Like there was more between us than the stretch of our naked skin and the heat of our bodies moving together.
Eyes closed tight, I let myself have a second. I wanted to keep the moment, the stillness between us. I wanted to pretend that this was real. Me and Smoke, touching, him holding me, because it felt nice. Nicer to pretend like he wanted only me.
Then Smoke brushed his face against my shoulder, his lips wet, sigh lazy and kissed me there. Soft. Intimate.
He’d never done that before and I felt cherished almost…loved.
No. This couldn’t be happening.
My head always got a little fuzzy when I was around him. I couldn’t help it.
The light from the bathroom slipped out through the darkness and moved over his features, hitting the sharp, fine angle of his cheekbones and the full, thick curve of his mouth.
He was beautiful.
Strong, even laying against his pillow, turned toward me and his fierce, masculine features relaxed as he seemed to move between exhaustion and sleep.
There was something about him I could never keep away from. No matter how hard I tried.
And it wasn’t just him.
It was them.
Smoke, his parents, his brothers and sister. They’d all taken me and my boy in when they didn’t have to. Brought us in from the snowy Christmas night like it was their pleasure to know us. They’d given us a family. A home. They’d given me a job and a place to belong.
And Smoke? Even though when this all started six months ago, we agreed there could never be anything real between us, somehow I always ended up back here. In his bed, pressed against him, being owned and loving every second that I was.
But then I’d leave and go back to the apartment I shared with my son and my friend Vivian, the older woman Smoke had rescued from her abusive husband, and pretend like I hadn’t been in his bed again.
“There’s more there than either of you will admit,” Vi had told me the last time she’d caught me sneaking in from a night with Smoke. If she could see me now. God, she’d laugh at me.
I rubbed my face, thankful she was out of town for a few days, but even if she wasn’t, I wouldn’t confess a thing to her. Or myself.
Smoke Carelli was a dangerous man. That much I’d figured out for myself. I knew about his family and the family business they were in. It was his life and the danger in his line of work kept him from wanting more from me.
There were little pieces that were mine. Pieces of him that no one else got. And even if I did want all of them—which I didn’t, of course I didn’t, it was only the little pieces Smoke would ever give me.
That was the problem.
I wasn’t a little pieces kind of woman.
And I’d never let my son want less than he deserved either. His father never cared enough to want anything to do with Mateo. No matter how good Smoke was to us, I couldn’t let him do the same to my son. Problem was, he was an addiction. Every time I swore I’d stay away, he’d kiss me or touch me and I’d come right back.
Every single time.
He barely moved when I wiggled from his heavy arm and slipped away from the warmth of his large body. I wouldn’t stay all night like I normally did. Smoke probably wouldn’t notice anyway.
The floorboards creaked when I shimmied my jeans over my thighs and I jerked, half-turning and pulling away from Smoke’s grip on my arm as he reached for me.
“Where are you going?”
He was so long and tall he didn’t have to do more than stretch an arm toward me to keep me still. All that beautiful olive skin was on display—those corded muscles twisting as he brushed his fingers over my shoulders.
“I—” My mouth wouldn’t work. Not when Smoke stifled a yawn and played it off with his fingers scrubbing through his thick, black hair. There was a tempting scruff of stubble along his chin. Despite knowing I needed to tell him my plans to move to the city, there was an overwhelming sensation to rub that scruff over my bare breasts.
“Bella?” he said, moving his head as though he started to worry about why I was gawking at him while standing half-dressed in my jeans and unhooked bra. His attention went straight to my nipples when my black bra slipped off one shoulder, then Smoke leaned up, resting on an elbow as he pulled me toward him with a hand curled around my waist. “Get back in bed.” His voice was deep, raspy from sleep. That sound alone could make a teasing throb pulse between my thighs. Smoke knew it, seeming to use it to his advantage when I hesitated. “Maggie,” he whispered, saying my name like it was a filthy word only he got to use. This time his voice going deeper, his mouth right against my naked breast as he pushed my bra to the floor. “You don’t wanna leave me. Not yet.”
“I…hmm…I should go.” I curled against him, moving my fingers into his hair as he pulled my nipple between his lips. “Mierda…” There were warning shouts firing in my head. But Smoke Carelli was kissing me, again… touching me, again… and it felt good. It felt so damn good.
“You taste so sweet, bellissima…”
“We…shouldn’t do this…” I tried, but didn’t push him away, not when the suction on my breast tightened or when Smoke came to his knees to run his hands down the back of my thighs and to pull my jeans off completely.
“No,” he said, a laugh muddling the agreement. “You’re right.” He kissed me then, tugging my head up with his fingers moving at the back of my hair. “I shouldn’t be doing any of this, should I?” His kiss was deep, all teeth and tongue, leaving me breathless and punch drunk. “Or this?” Then Smoke moved me, tangling my legs around his hips, turning us. I went flat against the mattress and he settled my leg against his chest.
“Since you won’t let me sleep and you think you’re going to run out on me in the middle of the night,” he started, pushing on my free leg, stroking a finger along the inside of my thigh, “then I’m going to have to find something else to occupy my time.”
When he wanted something—anything—the man wasn’t above fighting dirty. Right then, Smoke was the dirtiest. He moved his hand up, that wide thumb brushing against my pussy, his smile freezing as he slipped his finger inside me.
“Still wet?” The rasp in his voice sounded a little desperate now.
I swallowed, still torn about telling him my plan. I could only nod, my attention frozen on his face.
His gaze slipped lower as he watched his fingers moving inside me. “This, this is a good way to occupy my time.”
“It…is…” My breath grew ragged, uneven and that weak fight inside my head tittered closer to the side that told me to forget any fight, any lingering notion that this thing between was leading nowhere, and to just enjoy myself.
But doing that, forgetting what would happen tomorrow, next week, or next year would do me no favors. It wouldn’t get me any further than where I’d been when I found myself stranded in this tiny town. “Smoke…we can’t…we have to stop this.”
He paused, his gaze moving to my face for half a second before he laughed. Smoke leaned over me, still touching me, watching my face closely even as he smiled.
“I’m serious…” I tried, but my words came out in a breathless, needy whimper when he pushed two fingers inside me.
“You don’t sound serious.”
“I…” Am, I told myself. That’s what I meant to say. I. Am. But Smoke slipped his fingers away from me, then slid his body over me and just like that, I forgot what I was supposed to be serious about.
Tomorrow, I told myself, holding onto those soft, lush sheets as Smoke moved his mouth on me, his tongue inside me, my legs over his shoulders.
Tomorrow I’ll be stronger. Tomorrow I’ll tell him we have to stop this.