Author: K Bromberg
Series: Driven #8
Release Date: January 11, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
Purchase: Amazon UK
Rylee and Colton's ride continues...
One moment. Six years ago.
The night she made the world around me so much more than just a blur. Now it's the catalyst that threatens to tear us apart.
Our happily was supposed to be ever after. So why do I feel like it's slipping through my fingers?
How can one moment, when our world seemed so right, resurface and cause our perfect life to spiral out of control?
I can't lose her.
She's my checkered flag.
“Smoldering! Rylee and Colton’s romance continues burning up the pages in this steamy and exhilarating addition to the beloved Driven series!”
– Katy Evans, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author
“Ry?” I call her name the minute I clear the top of the stairs. The little note she left me on the counter is in my hand. “Your nothing-but-sheets date night starts now,” it reads. Curiosity rules my thoughts and fuels my actions.
Well, that and the image of her naked and waiting for me. My day’s been for shit though, so I’m not going to push my luck and expect a miracle like that to turn it around. But a man can sure as fuck hope.
SoMo is playing as I walk onto the upper patio of the house where our original nothing-but-sheets date took place a long-ass time ago. Sweet Christ. My feet falter when I find Rylee. She’s leaning back on the chaise lounge, dressed in some kind of black lacey thing that I don’t pay much attention to because it’s see-through enough for me to tell she’s naked as sin beneath it. Her hair is piled on top of her head, her lips are bare, and her knees are spread so her feet are on either side of the chair. And I’m distracted momentarily—my eyes searching for a glimpse of the something more between those thighs of hers—before realizing sky-high heels complete the outfit.
Fuck me. I can already feel the spikes of those heels digging into my ass as her legs wrap around me. That’s a pain any man can find pleasure in.
“Hey,” she says in that raspy voice of hers that calls to my heart, my dick, and every nerve in between. A coy smile plays at the corners of her mouth as her eyes narrow, one foot taps, and eyebrows rise. “I see you got my note. Glad you knew where to find me.”
“Baby, I could be deaf and blind and I’d still find you. No way in hell I could forget that night.”
“Or that morning,” she says, and damn, she’s right. It was one helluva morning too. Sleepy sex. Just-woke-up sex. Sunrise sex. I think we tried all of those and then some. And I love the flush that crawls up her cheeks from the memory. My sex-kitten wife greeting me after work in lace and heels is embarrassed. The irony isn’t lost on me. I love how she can be this way for me, when I know, despite her confidence, it still unnerves her.
“Definitely a good morning,” I agree, as I stare at her. She’s always drop-dead gorgeous but there’s something new, something different about her tonight, and it has nothing to do with the lace. I can’t tell what it is but it’s knocked the breath right out of me.
Shit, what am I missing? Panic flickers inside me that I’ve missed something major. Could it be one of those dates guys have to put in their calendar with five alerts, so they don’t forget it? I run through the usual suspects: It’s not our anniversary. Not her birthday.
I move to the other shit a guy usually doesn’t notice. Her hair’s the same color. It must be new lingerie. Is it? Fuck if I know. If it is, can a scrap of lace really change her demeanor?
Damn. I know lingerie changes mine, but that’s for a whole different reason.
What else can it be, Donavan? Bite the bullet and just ask. Save yourself the guessing game and the trouble you’ll be in if you guess wrong and hurt her feelings. No need to get the hormones she just got back under control—after all those years of fertility shit—to get all out of whack again.
“Something’s different about you . . .” I leave the comment open-ended so she can respond.
But of course she doesn’t take the bait. I should have known my wife is smarter than that. She’ll make me work for the answer, so we just stare at each other in a battle of wills before her smile slowly widens into a full grin.
Give me a clue, Ry.
Nope. She’s not going to. I should’ve guessed as much. Might as well admire the view anyway: cleavage, lace, a whole lotta skin, and thighs I can’t wait to be between. The smirk on her face tells me she knows exactly what I’m doing when I finally meet her gaze. When her eyes flicker to the table beside her, she finally gives me something to go off.
The table is covered in takeout boxes from our favorite Chinese restaurant. There’s a galvanized bucket of ice with some bottlenecks sticking out of it and paper plates and chopsticks piled on the side. Truth be told, I was so busy looking at her, I hadn’t even noticed the food.
But now, my stomach growls.
“I got your favorite,” she says, fidgeting with the hem of the lace so my eyes are drawn back to the V of her thighs, where it’s dark enough I can’t see anything. But fuck if it’s not from a lack of trying. “I hope you’re in the mood for Chinese. I thought we could eat out.”
I can’t hide the lightning-quick grin that flashes across my face because the type of eating out I’m thinking of has nothing to do with chopsticks. And from the purse of her lips, she knows perfectly well what I’m thinking. And yes, I may be hungry, but I don’t really give a flying fuck about food right now because there’s the taste of something else I’d rather have on my tongue.
“I know you’ve been working hard, stressed about the race next week. Sonoma has always been a tough one for you . . . so I thought I’d treat you to a date night with your hot wife,” she continues with a lift of her eyebrows, taunting and daring me all at once. Goddamn tease.
“Does my hot wife think that when she greets me on the patio in a getup like that, I’ll give a rat’s ass about the dinner, the cold beer, or the sunset we’ll get to enjoy while eating it?” I ask as I cross the distance; the need to have my hands on her growing stronger with each passing second.
“For starters . . . yes.”
“I like starters.” I reach out and trace the line of her collarbone with my fingertip. After all this time, there is still something so damn sexy about her body moving ever so slightly into my touch, telling me she wants me as badly as I want her. “And I also like dessert . . .” I say, my voice trailing off. The air is thick with sexual tension as I drop to my knees on the chaise between hers. She’s crazy if she thinks she’s going to greet me like this and not get fucked good and hard before we leave this patio. “But you forgot one very important thing.”
Her violet eyes widen as I lean in. “What’s that?” she asks, her voice breathless. My every nerve is attuned to the sound of it.
“You forgot to kiss your husband hello.” I catch a flash of a smile before she tilts her head back so our lips are in perfect alignment.
“Well, let me correct that right now, sir,” she says, knowing damn well that term will only turn me on more. Shit. Like that’s a hard thing for her to do. It’s Rylee, isn’t it?
Before I can finish thinking about what more I want her to do while calling me sir, she leans forward and closes the distance between us. And fuck yes, I want all of her right now, but I’ll take what I can get. Besides, the way she kisses me is so damn sexy. It’s that kind of kiss guys hate to admit they love: the soft and slow kind that causes that ache deep in my balls before it slowly spreads up my spine and tickles the base of my neck. It’s the kiss that comes two steps before I lose control and panties are torn because the need to bury myself in her tight, hot pussy is the only desire I have.
When she pulls back to end the kiss, I groan in complaint and fist my hands to prevent myself from reaching out and yanking her against me. I’m ready to say screw the dinner, regardless of how hungry I am.
“Better?” she asks, sass on her lips and seduction in her eyes.
“Hmm . . . there are other parts of me that still need to be welcomed home properly.” I fight the grin I want to give her because I love when she’s like this. Feisty. Sexy. Mine. Shedding her reserved nature in the way she only does around me.
“What a poor, deprived husband you are,” she says, her lips in a sexy pout while her fingers walk up my thigh. I watch the ascent of her hand, my dick definitely wanting those fingers to move faster. “And I promise to welcome all of those parts home properly, but first . . . you need to eat.”
Buzzkill. Seriously? She thinks she can tempt me with her touch and then stuff an egg roll in my mouth? Does she not know me by now? That when it comes to her I have no restraint? Well, unless of course those restraints are tying her to a bed.
“You tease.” I lock eyes on hers the same time I reach out and grab onto her hand. I place it exactly where I want it: my cock. “Why wait? We can have dessert first.”
“Nice try, Ace, but dinner’s going to get cold.” She cups my balls, fingernails scraping ever so softly that the minute my head falls back and the moan falls from my lips, she tugs her hand from my grip. “Let’s eat.”
“Oh, now that’s cold.” I laugh. What else can I do? Like always, the woman has me by the balls. I stare at her, smirk on my lips and disbelief in my eyes, as I swing my legs over the edge of the lounge chair. “You can’t greet me wearing that and expect me to focus on Kung Pao chicken.”
“But it’s your favorite,” she says, voice playful. With determined actions, she starts to open containers.
I’m hungry all right, but not for Chinese.
I reach out and tug her against me, so her back is to my front, and the feel of her warm body against mine strengthens my resolve. I’ve decided Chinese food is much better reheated. And if I have any say in the matter, that’s exactly what’s going to happen to ours.
“I beg to differ. You’re my favorite,” I murmur against the curve of her shoulder as her curls tickle my cheek and her vanilla scent fills my nose. My let’s-always-stick-to-the-schedule wife’s body stiffens in resistance at first, but when I press a kiss just beneath her ear in that clothes-immediately-fall-off zone, her body melts into mine and she relaxes. “I want dessert first.”
“Rule breaker,” she sighs, lacing her fingers with mine on her chest. She’s trying to figure out how to rein me in when she should know by now it won’t do any good. I always get what I want when it comes to getting my fill of her.
“You wouldn’t like me any other way.”
“How about we compromise?”
“Compromise?” she asks, as if she’s shocked to hear that word coming from my mouth when discussing sex.
“Yes, it means you give some and I give some.”
“I have a feeling what you want to give and what I want to give are two entirely different things,” she teases. “Don’t forget that I know you, Donavan. I know you like to play dirty—”
“Damn straight I do, especially when it comes to having sex with you.”
She just smiles and shakes her head at me. “But I have a plan.”
“You always have a plan,” I say with an exasperated laugh. “Bet my plan is better.”
“Lay it on me,” she deadpans and then realizes exactly what she’s said. I can feel the laugh she tries to hide vibrate from her back into my chest.
“How about we have sex first and then eat?” I suggest, knowing I’m driving her crazy. Her laugh rings around us, but for the first time since I’ve been home, I hear something different in her tone. Before I can give it much thought, she continues.
“Nope. That’s not the plan. And definitely not a compromise. Food first, then sex,” Rylee says as she shifts away and moves to face me. She crosses her arms over her chest and nods, trying to take a hard line with me.
“I love when you get all demanding.” I lean forward with a half-smile on my lips, knowing my comment will get her all riled up.
She narrows her eyes, and I can see her mind working to figure out a way to negotiate so she gets what she wants. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out what that is. I’ve been so absorbed in work—the narrow lead I have in points over Luke Mason going into Sonoma and all of the other shit that goes with it—I’ve obviously missed something.
“It seems we’re at an impasse,” she finally says. Her prior confidence, which had momentarily wavered, is back, and I’m more than ready for action.
“Good thing I drive a hard bargain,” I say with a quirk of my eyebrows as I glance down at her outfit.
I’ll drive more than a bargain, sweetheart.
“Oh, I know you do, Ace, but I think we need to leave it up to the fortune cookies to decide what we do next.” Her eyes light up with challenge while I start laughing at how ridiculous that sounds.
“The fortune cookies? What are you talking about?”
“Well . . . you said you wanted dessert first so I’m just trying to compromise,” she says with a bat of her eyelashes.
“Not that kind of dessert,” I state. There’s nothing I can do but shake my head at her and her asinine suggestion, but fuck, I’ll take any help I can get to speed up this process so I can slow it down with her. Come to think of it, I’m sure I can twist any of those stupid little fortunes to my benefit. So be it. Game on, Ryles. “It’s ridiculous, but you planned this so you get to make the rules. Let’s just hope those fortunes say you need to have hot monkey sex with your husband.”
Her face lights up and her lips curve into a grin. She leans forward and grants me a great view of her cleavage as she starts rummaging through the plastic bag on the table. My eyes shift and focus on the dark pink of her nipples just beneath the sheer fabric, until she starts waving the cookies in front of my eyes with the smuggest of smiles.
She knows exactly what she’s doing, and has no shame in playing it up as I work my tongue in my cheek, bide my time, and let her have this moment.
“Only three?” I ask when she sets them on the table in front of us. “How are we going to decide who gets the third one?”
“Since we’re learning to compromise . . .” Her voice trails off as she elbows me in the ribs. And just as she starts to pull away, I grab her arm, pull her into me, and press a chaste kiss on her mouth. It’s already been way too damn long since I kissed her. She swats me away when I try to slip my tongue between her lips. “Are you trying sway me for the third cookie, Donavan?”
“Did it work?” A man can always hope.
“Here. You go first,” she says, leaving me hanging without an answer as she holds the cookie in front of me by the cellophane. When I take it from her, she shifts so she sits square to me, her bent knee against my thigh, giving me a perfect view of her pussy. In a glance, I can make out the trim strip of her hair down there, and fuck if it doesn’t turn me on even more.
Fortune cookie gods, please be kind. Sex is needed.
“Okay. Let’s see,” I say as I pull the cookie out of the bag and break it with a dramatic flair, praying it’s a fortune I can work with. I pull the strip of paper out and shake my head as I read the words. Really? How fucking perfect is this?
“What does it say?” she asks as I laugh.
“It’s been a long race, but you’ve finally crossed the finish line.” I look up and she seems as amused as I am.
“I’d say that’s a fitting fortune,” she says, eyes narrowing as she contemplates the words. “I guess the real question is what race are they talking about?”
“Life?” I shrug. “Fuck if I know.”
She laughs and fidgets with the cookie in her hand. Why does she seem so on edge all of a sudden?
“You’re trying to figure out how that gets you sex, and I don’t think that helps you out in any way, shape, or form.”
Shit. She’s right. There’s no way to parlay this into me getting sex before food because if I’ve already crossed the proverbial finish line, it doesn’t bode well for me.
“Damn it. That’s a food-before-sex one. Don’t get cocky, Donavan. I’m primed for a comeback,” I say pushing her cookie toward her and taking a bite of mine, hoping this silly game will end soon, but am enjoying myself all at the same time. “Your turn.”
The things I do for my wife.
“Okay,” she says as she breaks the cookie and stares at her fortune. “It says your lucky numbers are six, nine, and sixteen.” She looks up from her fortune, eyes guarded, teeth worrying her bottom lip.
“That’s random. Nothing else is on there?” I ask as I grab it from her. Yep. It says exactly that. Must be a misprinted fortune, but hell, I’ll take it because I can use it. “Sweet! This is a sex-before-food one because it says your lucky number is six and nine . . . sixty-nine. And guess what? I happen to like doing certain things pertaining to that number too . . .”
“You’re incorrigible,” she says, playfully pushing against my chest, before uncharacteristically fisting her hand in my shirt and pulling me into her. Our faces are inches apart, the heat of her breath is on my lips, but there is something in her expression that stops me from kissing her.
And I never stop myself from kissing her.
“What is it?” I ask. She just shakes her head, trying to blink away the tears welling in her eyes despite the smile on her lips. “Talk to me, Ry. What’s wrong?” My hands are cupping her face as I wait for her to explain. Tears make me fucking panic. How’d we get from sexy to flirty to funny to tears?
“I’m being stupid,” she says, shaking her head as if that is going to help clear the tears from her eyes. She must sense I’m freaked the fuck out because she pushes against my hands holding her head, and presses her lips to mine. “I love you.” Her voice is soft as her lips move against mine, and something about her tone makes my heart beat a bit faster. “Like head-over-heels, butterflies-in-my-stomach kind of love you . . . that’s all.”
Her words dig deep down into the places that rarely get paid attention to these days: the goddamn abyss where the demons from my childhood live. The ones that used to rule my life until Rylee came along using her fucking perfection and selfless love to help brighten that darkness, and chase away the doubt that occasionally rears its bitch of an ugly head.
I lean back to make sure this woman who means the whole goddamn world to me really is okay. Because if she isn’t, I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure she is. When she bites her bottom lip, smiles and nods she’s fine, I smooth my thumb over the indent her teeth just left, before trying to lighten the suddenly serious moment. “You scared me for a minute. I thought you were upset about the prospect of sixty-nining, and that would mean I’d be in a whole world of hurt with this death-do-us-part thing since I kind of like when I get to do that with you.”
“You perform that number exceptionally well, so no, that number stays in play,” she says with a cute wink. She bites the inside of her cheek and eyes the third and final cookie in my hand before flicking her gaze back up to mine.
Thank fuck for that, but there is something most definitely off with her. “Here,” I say as I hold out the last fortune cookie, hoping to make whatever wrong I’ve done, right.
“No. You open it.” She shoves it back toward me, smile back in place. “It’s the tie-breaker.”
When I try to make her take the cookie, she just pushes it into my hands and scoots back. “Sex before food, sex before food,” I chant and we both chuckle. But my laugh dies off when I read the fortune, and try to make sense of it. “OVbunEN.”
What the fuck? I read it again before I look up to meet Ry’s eyes. The sight of her—tears welling, that smile so goddamn big on those perfect lips—knocks the breath out of me. And, suddenly, it all clicks into place.
It’s like everything is moving in slow motion—thoughts, breath, vision—everything except for my heart. Because it’s pounding like a fucking freight train as I glance back down to the jumbled words on the paper, before looking back up to her.
There’s no fucking way.
“Really?” I ask. I don’t even recognize the awed disbelief in my voice as I ask about the one thing I thought we’d never get another chance at again.
The first tear slips over and slides down her cheek as we stare at each other, but this one doesn’t make me panic like they usually do.
“Really,” she whispers.
Disbelief turns into the best fucking reality. Ever.
Bun in the oven.
“You’re pregnant?” I can’t even believe the words I’m saying as I pull her toward me, and onto my lap.
She can’t get the words out to tell me yes so she just nods her head as tears fall, and her arms cling to me. And fuck, her hands digging into my back feel incredible because I don’t think I’ve ever felt closer to her. Not even when I’m in her.
I have one hand on her neck and the other on her lower back. Air’s not even welcome in the space between us as we hold on to each other on this patio where so many firsts have happened for us. Telling me here of all places makes perfect fucking sense, now.
My face is buried in the curve of her neck. And if I thought my heart and soul had been lost to her before, I was so fucking wrong it’s not even funny. Right now, in this moment, I’ve never felt more connected to her. My fucking Rylee.
My mind flickers back over the years of agonizing fertility treatments when emotions ran high, and hope always gave way to heartbreaking disappointment. When we finally acknowledged last year that having a baby the traditional way was never going to happen for us, Rylee lost herself for a bit. Fuck yes, it put a strain on our marriage, but it was more devastating for me to watch the woman I love more than my own soul slip away day by day, bit by bit, and not be able to do a goddamn thing about it.
The helpless feelings I had during that time can take a hike.
When I lean back and move my trembling hands to her face, I don’t think she’s ever been more beautiful than in this moment: eyes alive, lips in a glowing smile, and a tiny part of us growing inside her.
“We’re gonna have a baby,” she whispers. And although I already know it, hearing her say it causes my breath to catch and my heart to summersault. “June ninth.”
We finally crossed the finish line we thought we’d never reach.
Six months later
“I was a little worried when you told me to come over today that you’d lost control of your balls, but this?” Becks asks, as he takes a measured look at the empty beach around us. “This is just what the doctor ordered.”
“Where’s the faith, brother?” I slide a glance over to him behind my sunglasses. “Can you see me at a baby shower?” I ask. He snorts in response. “I assure you my balls are firmly attached. There is no way in hell I’m setting foot anywhere near the house right now.” I mock-shiver at the thought of all those women who’d gladly leave lipstick on my cheek.
“A whole new definition for the estrogen vortex.”
“Damn straight.” I reach over and tap the neck of my beer against his. “And not in a good way.”
“And for that reason alone, I think the baby’s a girl,” he says with a laugh, causing me to grunt at his logic. “Dude, you’ve played women for so damn long, it’d be funny as fuck and serve you right to watch one play you for the rest of your life.” He holds up his pinkie telling me if we had a little girl, I’ll be wrapped around her finger. Fucker’s probably right, but I’m not telling him that. Besides, the smarmy grin on his face is wide enough to earn the bottle top I throw at him.
“No one is playing me. That you can be sure of.” I tip my bottle to my lips, as Becks laughs long and hard at the words he knows are a lie.
“I don’t think you have any idea what’s about to hit you, brother.”
He’s right. I have no fucking clue. Zip. Zero. Zilch. All I know is the closer the due date gets the more I feel like I haven’t had enough time to get ready for it. It? More like a complete overhaul of our life. Scary fucking shit.
“So, how are you doing with all of this?”
“Shit’s getting real,” I muse with a slow nod of my head.
“Considering there’s a baby shower up at the house right now with women dressing themselves in toilet paper—in some ritual I pray I never understand—and talking about crowning that has nothing to do with the kind a king wears . . . and diapers . . . yeah, it’s definitely real. But uh, nice try, Wood. You never answered my question.”
“I’m good.” Back off, Daniels.
“We’ve known each other how long?” he asks, and I know he’s going in for the kill here. I just wish I knew what the fuck he’s hunting for, so instead of giving him the answer he already knows, I just concentrate on peeling the label on my beer bottle.
“Pussy,” he mutters under his breath. Baiting me. Fueling a fire I’d rather not light.
“What’s your bag, Becks? You want to know that this whole baby thing scares the shit out of me? That it’s fucking with my head?” I pick up a shell and huck it at a pile of seaweed to the right of me. “Feel better, now?”
I want to shove up and walk down to the water, get the hell away from him, and yet he knows me well enough that if I do, then he’s gotten under my skin. Pressed the buttons he’s been waiting to push.
How the fuck do I explain that everything already feels the same and so goddamn different, and yet I wouldn’t want to change it even if I could? He’d be bringing out the damn straight jacket.
“Me feel better? No.” He chuckles, grating on every nerve. “But I think you do.” I glare at him from behind my lenses. “Wanna talk about it?”
“No,” I snap. Leave the shit I don’t want to talk about alone. But the silence eats at me, taunts me to speak. I can trust Becks; I know I can. Yet as the words form, I choke on them. Man the fuck up, Donavan. “Yes. Fuck. I don’t know.”
“Well, that simplifies things,” he teases, trying to draw a laugh out of me.
I take my hat off, scrub a hand through my hair, and put it back on to buy some time. “I’m having a kid, Becks. And all of it’s scary as shit. Diapers and futures and expectations and . . . I don’t know what else, but I’m sure I’m missing a million other things. What the fuck qualifies me to be a dad? Not just any dad, but a good one? I mean, look at my fucked-up childhood. It’s all I know. How in the hell do I know when I’m stressed and tired that I’m not going to revert to the only thing I’ve ever known?” I end the question, my voice almost a shout, and realize everything I just said.
Have another beer, Donavan. You sound like a sap.
Becks laughs. And not just any kind of laugh but a chiding chuckle that scrapes on my nerves like 60-grit sandpaper.
“Thank God! It’s about damn time you start acting like you’re freaking out because sure as shit I’d be too. Look, no one qualifies to be a good parent. You just kind of learn as you go, mistakes and all.” He shrugs. “And as for the last one . . . dude, look how you are with the boys at The House. You’d never hurt them. It’s not in your makeup regardless of the fucked-up shit you grew up with.”
Hearing his words I nod my head, finding some relief that the shit that’s been bouncing around in my head is normal. But my normal and Becks’s normal growing up are polar opposites. So while I appreciate the sentiment, it doesn’t stop the freight train of fear I’m going to fail epically at this parenting shit. That Rylee will be so head over heels in love with the baby she’ll forget me. That I have the same blood running through my veins as my mother who’d had no regard for me. That I have the same blood running through my veins as my father who hadn’t stuck around.
“Dude, it’s totally normal to be freaked,” he says, as I open the cooler and grab another beer to drink away my stupidity. “You’ll fuck up sometimes, but that’s how it is. There’s no manual on how to be a good dad . . . you learn as you go. Kind of like the first time you had sex. Practice makes perfect type of thing.”
I laugh. Fucking Becks. He’s the only person I know who could compare parenting to sex, and I’d completely understand the parallel. He gets me.
“And sex? Now that’s something I’ve practiced a lot.”
“By the look of Rylee’s belly, I think you finally mastered that skill. So, see? No need to worry. You’ve got this.”
“Damn.” The word falls from my mouth as images of earlier today flood my mind. I was supposed to be moving the couch in the great room to make space for the rental tables and chairs being delivered for the shower. Rather, I found myself looking down at Ry’s cheeks hollowing out as she sucked me off. The look in her eyes and smirk on her lips as she ran my slick cock up through the V of her cleavage until it met the sweetness of her wet mouth. My balls tighten remembering how her lips looked stretched around me when she teased my tip before sliding it back down again.
“That good, huh?” Becks asks, dragging me from the images of my hot wife.
“Fucking perfection.” It’s futile to fight the smug grin on my lips.
“So, is it true then?” I glance over to Becks, my beer now stopped halfway to my lips as I wait for him to explain. “That pregnant women are really that horny?”
My eyes flicker back toward the house at our backs. Laughter from the estrogen invasion floats down to us and I nod my head. “Brother, let’s just say that voodoo doesn’t hold a fucking candle to pregnant pussy.”
“Nympho.” I draw the word out.
The look on his face right now—the raised eyebrows, slow nod of his head, slack jaw—is classic. “Damn. Just damn.”
“You have no idea,” I say with a laugh. “Shit. All the guys were warning me about hormones and mood swings, and I’m sitting over here with a cat-ate-the-canary grin on my face because pussy is my friend. Dude, the only pregnancy craving she’s having is for my cock, and I’m more than willing to help her out.”
“You lucky bastard.”
“Don’t I know it.”
“Aren’t you afraid you’re going to . . .” His voice trails off but I can hear the amusement in his tone. “Never mind . . .”
“Finish what you were going to say, Daniels.”
“Well, I was going to say, aren’t you afraid all that sex is going to hurt the baby—poke it in the head or something? But then I forgot you’re only about three inches long so there’s no need to worry about that.” He stifles the chuckle.
“Fucker.” It’s my go-to comment with him and even with the dig, I can’t help but laugh because I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. Besides, I could use the distraction since I keep questioning whether I should have made the call to my private investigator, Kelly, this week.
Ball’s already rolling. Too late to stop it now.
I know nothing good can come from it. No happy endings to be had in this situation. In fact, I’m sure it’ll fuck me up before it makes me better. But maybe, just maybe, I can lay this one last thing to rest. Close this final circle before the baby comes and move on.
Full circles and shit.
At least once this one’s linked together; the goddamn ghosts can just chase each other over and over like a hamster on a wheel while I’m putting the pedal to the metal one hundred miles per hour in the opposite direction.
“Dude,” Becks says, pulling me from my thoughts, “you need to take advantage of the sex while you can because after the baby comes, you won’t be getting any for a while.”
“So I’ve heard,” I groan. How I’m going to go from my wife being a nympho to a nun is not lost on me. “Changes, man. They just keep happening. One day I’m single, the next I’m getting married, and now I’m about to have a baby. How the fuck did that happen?” Despite my words, the smile is wide on my face.
“Not sure how you found a woman who’s willing to put up with your crap but she deserves a damn medal for it.”
“Thanks for the support.” I tip my beer his way in a cheers motion.
“Always. That’s what I’m here for . . . but with all of these changes happening, I need to ask you, what’s gotten under your skin? Something’s up with you and I know you well enough to know it’s more than what you’ve just said.”
Here we go again. Let the Becks psych evaluation begin.
I refuse to look at him, not wanting him to know I’m not okay. That this banter is all a front because my head feels like it’s been put in a blender: too much, too goddamn fast, with too many doubts, and too many unknowns. My fucking past that never goes completely away.
“Colton?” he goads.
My beer stops midway to my mouth as irritation fires anew and sarcasm becomes my friend. “Are you asking as my crew chief, my best friend, or my shrink?”
“I’ve got lifetime privileges for two of the three, so does it really matter?”
Fuck. He’s got me there. Why is he pushing the goddamn issue? Does he really want to know the truth? Because I sure as fuck would rather stick my head in the sand. Ignorance is bliss and all that shit.
“I’ll get the job done. No worries there,” I say way too easily and immediately curse myself because Becks will see right through that response in a heartbeat. I just wonder if he’s going to let sleeping dogs lie or if he’s going to jingle the leash so they come out to play.
“Ah . . .” he says, drawing the sound out. “But you forget, I do worry. It’s my job. You’ve got a lot of shit going on, and I need your head straight before you even board a plane to the Grand Prix.”
“Jesus Christ, Becks. Always worried about the track. Well, there’s other shit to life besides the goddamn track!” I snap at him, pissed he knows just what to say to set me off and at the same time hating that he’s right.
Baited hook? Meet line and sinker.
Motherfucker. You’d think by now I’d be immune to Becks pushing buttons, and yet every damn time I react on cue like a puppet.
“No worries. My head will be just fine,” I say, trying to gain some traction. “You satisfied?”
“You think I care about the fucking track, Donavan? You think racing rules my every thought? No. Not hardly. What does though is having to pick up a phone and call your wife who’s nine months pregnant and tell her I put you in a car knowing you had a fucked-up head, that you crashed and died because you were distracted and couldn’t focus on the task at hand. Now that? That’s what I worry about . . . so you can take out whatever it is you don’t want me to know and tell me I’m a selfish asshole for thinking about racing. What I really want to know is that your head is in the goddamn game enough that I don’t have to watch some medic put you in a fucking body bag because you can’t focus and won’t tell anyone why. Call me selfish, call me whatever the fuck you want to . . . talk to me, don’t talk to me . . . Christ . . . just make sure you’re good to go so that doesn’t happen.” And then in perfect Beckett fashion, he ends his tirade as quick as he starts it.
Silence returns. Eats at me. Pulls from me the truth I don’t want to confess.
“I’m trying to find my dad.” Fuck. Where did that come from? I wasn’t going to tell anyone until I had something solid—like concrete-barrier solid—and yet there I go spilling secrets like a leaky faucet.
Wanting to see his reaction, I glance his way from behind my mirrored lenses; he takes a deep breath and nods his head twice as he digests what I’ve just said.
“I’m not going to pretend I understand the why behind this . . . but man, aren’t some things better left for dead?” There’s understanding in his tone, but at the same time, there’s no way he can understand. No one can. My shoes have walked through the proverbial Valley of Death more times than I care to count. Maybe I need to go there one more time to finally shake the shadow so I can move forward without it hanging over my head.
“That’s just it though—he’s always been a loose end. I need to tie it up, cut the strings for good, and never look back.” I take a long tug on my beer and try to wash away the bitter taste thinking of him leaves. “It’s a shot in the dark. Kelly probably won’t find him. And if he does? Maybe just knowing where he is will be enough. Maybe not.” I sigh. Feeling more stupid for calling Kelly now than I did before. “Fuck it. Forget I said anything.”
“No can do. You said it. I heard it. At least that explains what’s crawled up your ass lately. Does Ry know?”
“There’s nothing to tell yet.” I ignore the twinge of guilt. “She’s already stressed about the new kid at work and the baby . . . The last thing I need is for her to worry about me.”
“That’s what you’ve got me for.”
“Exactly,” I say with a definitive nod of my head.
“And your pops? What does he say about all of this?”
Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.
“Same thing. I’ll tell him if something comes of it. Besides . . . he’s my dad, if I need to do something, he always supports me.” And yet if that’s the case, why aren’t you telling him?
“Exactly,” Becks says, and the simple word validates my guilt.
Why in the world am I looking for the piece of shit who never wanted me when I have a man who took me in battered and broken and never looked back?
Thoughts. Doubts. Questions. All three circle the other. But only Kelly will be able to confirm if I’ll ever find the answers.
“I promise my head will be clear when I hit the track.” It’s the only thing I can say to my best friend. My fucked-up way of apologizing.
He nods his head and adjusts the bill of his ball cap. “Well, I hope you find what you’re looking for, brother, but I kind of think you already have.” When I glance over to him, he tips the green neck of his bottle toward the deck over my shoulder. Confused, I follow his line of sight and look up to see Rylee standing at the railing talking to guests.
Our eyes lock. That goddamn sucker punch of emotion hits me like a battering ram, because for a man who thought he’d never feel anything, she makes me feel everything. The whole fucking gamut.
I remember to breathe. That pang of desire just as strong now as that first time I saw her. But there’s so much more that goes with it now: needs, wants, tomorrows, yesterdays, and every fucking thing in between.
Becks is most definitely right.
My father’s not the endgame. Just another ghost to exorcise from my soul.
I’m a lucky fucker because I have found what I never knew I was looking for. Thank fuck she’s looking right back at me.
Rylee Thomas is used to being in control. But she’s about to meet the one man that just might make her enjoy losing it…
I am the exception to the rule.
In a world full of willing women, I’m a challenge to the roguish and achingly handsome Colton Donavan. A man used to getting exactly what he wants in all aspects of life. He’s the reckless bad boy constantly skating that razor thin edge toward out of control, on and off of the track.
Colton crashes into my life like a tornado: sapping my control, testing my vulnerabilities beyond their limits, and unintentionally penetrating the protective wall around my healing heart. Tearing apart the world I rebuilt so carefully with structure, predictability, and discipline.
I can’t give him what he wants and he can’t give me what I need. But after a glimpse beneath his refined exterior into the dark secrets of his damaged soul, can I bring myself to walk away?
Our sexual chemistry is undeniable. Our individual need for complete control is irrefutable. But when our worlds collide, is the chemistry enough to bring us together or will our untold secrets and battle of wills force us apart?
What happens when the one person you never expected suddenly happens to be the one you’ll fight the hardest to keep?
Colton stole my heart. He wasn’t supposed to, and I sure as hell didn’t want him to, but he crashed into my life, ignited feelings within me that I thought had died forever, and fueled a passion that I never knew could exist.
Rylee fell out of that damn storage closet and into my life. Now I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. She’s seen glimpses of the darkness within me, and yet she’s still here. Still fighting for me. She is without a doubt the saint, and I am most definitely the sinner.
How is it the one thing neither of us wanted—neither of us anticipated that fateful night—has us fighting so hard to keep?
He steals my breath, stops my heart, and brings me back to life again all in a split second of time. But how can I love a man who won’t let me in? Who continually pushes me away to prevent me from seeing the damaged secrets in his past? My heart has fallen, but patience and forgiveness can only go so far.
How can I desire a woman who unnerves me, defies me, and forces me to see that in the deep, black abyss of my soul there’s someone worthy of her love? A place and person I swore I’d never be again. Her selfless heart and sexy body deserve so much more than I’ll ever be capable of giving her. I know I can’t be what she needs, so why can’t I just let her go?
We are driven by need and fueled with desire, but is that enough for us to crash into love?
When life crashes down around us, how hard are we willing to fight for the one thing we can’t live without, each other?
Life is full of moments.
And none of them are inconsequential.
Every single moment prepares you for that one instance that defines your life. You must overcome all your fears, confront the demons that chase you, and cleanse the poison that clings to your soul or you risk the chance of losing everything.
Mine started the minute Rylee fell out of that damn storage closet. She made me feel. Made me whole when all I thought I could ever be was incomplete. Became the lifeline I never knew I needed. Hell yes, she’s worth the fight…but how do you fight for someone you know you don’t deserve?
Love is full of ups and downs.
Heart stopping highs.
Soul shattering lows.
And none of them are insignificant.
Love is a racecourse of unexpected twists and turns that must be negotiated. You have to break down walls, learn to trust, and heal from your past in order to win. But sometimes it’s the expected that’s the hardest to hold on to.
Colton has healed and completed me, stolen my heart, and made me realize our love’s not predictable nor perfect—it’s bent. And bent’s okay.But when outside factors put our relationship to the test, what lengths will I have to go to prove to him that he’s worth the fight?
Whoever said love is patient and love is kind, never met the two of us. We know our love is worth it—have acknowledged that we were meant to be—but when our pasts crash into our future, will the repercussions make us stronger or break us apart?
The Colton Points of View Collection
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author K. Bromberg comes a companion novella to the Driven Trilogy (Driven, Fueled, and Crashed). This novella is a compilation of reader requested scenes from the series retold through the eyes of Colton Donavan.
Colton Donavan lived life in the fast lane, but it took Rylee Thomas to teach him what racing was all about.
You think you know me?
*Raced is not a complete re-write of the Driven Trilogy. This companion explores pivotal scenes as well as some new ones written in Colton Donavan’s point of view that were not previously published in Driven, Fueled, and Crashed. Hear his thoughts, experience his inner-turmoil, and laugh with him on his journey as he overcomes his demons and accepts what it means to love.
One night. That’s all it was supposed to be.
Reeling from the sudden loss of her sister, Haddie Montgomery has sworn off relationships. All she wanted from Beckett Daniels was a sexy distraction to help her escape her pain for just a little while….There weren’t supposed to be any strings attached—so why can’t she shake the memory of that unforgettable night from her thoughts? Or the taste of his kiss from her lips?
No matter how hard Haddie tries to forget about him, Becks relentlessly tries to prove that she should start living for today. But she is determined to avoid romantic commitment, and she can always use her ex-boyfriend’s reappearance to help snuff out the slow burn within her that Becks has sparked….
Or will fate force her to realize that this kind of connection doesn’t come along very often and a chance at love is worth the risk?
The New York Times bestselling author of Slow Burn turns up the heat when a sexy bet turns into so much more…
Hawkin Play, the bad boy rock star with a good guy heart, has lived a lifetime of cleaning up after his twin brother’s mistakes. Hunter’s most recent screw-up could land Hawke in jail and risk the band’s future. Hawke agrees to guest lecture at a local college to stay in the judge’s good graces—and a bet with his bandmate to seduce his sexy teaching assistant is icing on the cake.
Quinlan Westin is harder to bed than Hawke imagined. She knows his type and is determined to avoid the rocker at all costs—even if their attraction runs deeper than simple lust.
Just as Hawke might finally be winning over the girl, his brother has other plans. When Hunter realizes his twin finally has a weakness, he’ll stop at nothing to take advantage…
From the New York Times bestselling author of Sweet Ache comes a blistering new novel filled with danger, secrecy, and a desire that can’t be sated…
Foreign war correspondent Tanner Thomas is addicted to living on the edge. Needing the adrenaline rush of his job to help him cope with a personal loss, he throws himself back into the game, concentrating all his energy on getting the next big story.
But when he meets his new photojournalist, Beaux Croslyn, he can’t help but feel like he’s losing his focus—and maybe risking more…
With secrets she won’t address, Beaux is far from your ordinary woman. Determined to keep her distance, she’s willing to pull Tanner in closer and hide behind the sparks flying between them. But as Beaux’s past begins to put their relationship—and their lives—at risk, Tanner’s determination to find the truth puts them both in jeopardy.
He’s ready to chase her to the ends of the earth to find out if what they had was real, or if the danger surrounding them was just an exquisite heat fated to burn out…