Author: R.K. Lilley
Release Date: April 19, 2015
Genre: Erotic Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
Purchase: Amazon UK
Are you ready to take a walk?
Are you ready for a twist?
Are you ready for the truth?
Alasdair Masters is in a rut. He just hit forty, has been nearly celibate for the past year, and his life has turned into a daily sequence of lonely patterns that revolve around avoiding human contact.
His tidy life is turned on its head when a hot young blonde at the gym that’s been pseudo-stalking him decides to rock his world. A very young blonde. Way, way too young for him. The problem is, he can’t seem to tell her no, and she just keeps coming back for more.
It doesn’t help that he’s ninety percent sure she’s a criminal, and still, he can’t seem to turn her down. What is a dull introvert to do when a chaotic cyclone that oozes sexuality comes twisting into his life?
At first, he thinks she’ll give him a heart attack, but after his twenty-year marriage ended a year ago, he’s been a little lost, and when she comes crashing into his life, he realizes that he’s never felt more alive.
Is a walk on the wild side just what he needs to get his on track or a disaster in the making? Is it possible for someone that much younger to be just what he needs, or is she a fortune hunter, as everyone keeps telling him? Is it his hormones telling him that the mysterious younger woman is the one, or could it be more?
I set my two perfectly folded gym towels down on a chair by the treadmill and got on the machine.
I always brought two. I wasn’t even sure why. I was a creature of habit. Once I started a pattern, I tended to stick to it, rain or shine.
Kind of like my marriage. Of course, that hadn’t lasted forever, but that hadn’t exactly been my choice.
I punched in my settings and began my warm-up. I had already done twenty minutes of stretching at home. My three-hour daily workout was very precise. I had a family history chock-full of heart disease, and so I aggressively fought to stay healthy. I was intelligent enough to know that I’d brought the whole thing to an extreme, but honestly, what else was I supposed to do with my free time? I was busy enough with work, but my work involved a lot of sitting down and tapping away at a computer, and I felt I had to counter all of that physical inactivity, somehow.
I’d just had my dreaded fortieth birthday, and I felt like I was in as good of shape as I’d ever been. My waistline wasn’t growing, thanks to my three hours a day in the gym, and an impeccable diet, and my muscles were well toned and good sized. I had no idea what age I actually looked, but I figured the liberal salt and pepper at my temples brought it at least close to forty. I didn’t really give it much thought, as I stayed largely to myself, and any time I was on camera, I went out of my way to avoid seeing it.
The gym was busy, as it usually was, so my time there was literally the most social I was in an average day, and I usually got away with a nod or a good morning to the receptionist on the way in.
That was it. The only verbal interaction in my day.
Sometimes I had to talk on the phone for work, and once, maybe twice a year, I did a few television or radio interviews.
And that was it.
The scary part was, it was effortless for me. It had started with an ugly divorce just over one year ago and slowly shaped its way into this. A sad, old man that could have easily embraced a life as a complete recluse.
I did still go out of my way to work out at an upscale gym, instead of just building one in my house. I had the room. I certainly had the money. I figured it was only a matter of time before I resorted to that, too.
The strange part of it was, I wasn’t worried about it because I was lonely. I was worried because I wasn’t. I did miss being with a woman in the literal sexual sense, but that was about it. I’d considered the idea of hiring a prostitute briefly, but even that seemed like an ordeal. I detested breaking the law. It was so very chaotic.
A familiar figure moved onto the machine next to me, and I met pale, smiling green eyes in the mirror, nodded once briefly, then looked back down.
She was a shapely little blonde woman that had started sharing my gym hours nine days ago.
Girl, I corrected myself. She was a girl, way too young for me to even sneak a long glance at, though I was only human, and she was wearing next to nothing, so I’d caught many, many glances.
She probably thought I was dad material, I told myself, as she started to jog on the machine, her full, perky breasts bouncing with every smooth step.
She really needed to go shopping for a more supportive sports bra, I thought to myself, my eyes catching on her, then darting away, then glancing again within a few bounces.
She wore only a hot pink sports bra and the tiniest white Lycra bike shorts I’d ever seen in my life. Her abs were toned, waist tiny, her skin smooth in a way that happened only in the very young.
Way, way too young for you, I reminded myself, my furtive gaze catching on her lithe hips as she jogged her sexy little heart out.
My intent stare moved up to her face, and I flushed to find her watching me watching her. I looked down and kept on jogging.
There’d been no censure in her eyes, and so I found mine wandering back to her face.
She was beautiful. Not a scrap of makeup on, her white-blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, and still she could’ve stopped traffic. A real bombshell. None of it was artificial either, just plain old good genetics at work.
She was friendly, too. I wasn’t sure why, but she usually took the machine next to mine, if it was empty, though there were lots to choose from. She always had a smile for me, too.
Maybe I reminded her of her dad. Or fuck, her grandpa.
It didn’t bear thinking about.
I’d never been with a younger woman, let alone one that much younger. Hell, she’d probably give me a heart attack. I shook off the thought. A flawless little thing like that wouldn’t give me a second glance, and I told myself that was a good thing.
She was likely jailbait, and for a man that’d never even had a speeding ticket, just the idea of that was too scandalous to linger on.
Still, my eyes were drawn, time and again, to her perfect figure jogging hard on that treadmill. Her legs were incredible, long and slender, bare from the top of her thighs to her ankles, and so toned and tan.
I made myself look away and not look back.
I hit the one hour mark on the machine when I saw her slow and stop out of the corner of my eye. This had become a pattern, too. I did exactly one hour of cardio, before I hit the weights. She seemed to be working a similar routine, and every day I saw her, it became even more similar.
I almost jumped in surprise when she approached me directly, standing on the very front of my machine, to get my attention.
My gaze traveled slowly up, trying not to linger on the way her breasts rose out of her sports bra’s neckline as she leaned into my machine. She was spilling out of the thing.
She beamed at me.
I swallowed hard, catching the side bar and swinging first one leg, and then the other, onto the footrests on the sides, coming to a stop.
I popped out an ear bud, raising my brows in what I hoped was a look of polite interest.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hey,” I panted back, shutting the treadmill down. May as well quit, since I’d reached my goal.
She handed me my towel, and I took it, immediately wiping my brow. This was a new development, and a strange one, to be sure.
She held up the second towel, my OCD towel, if you will. “I saw that you have two. I forgot mine. You mind if I borrow it?”
I shook my head. “Go for it. Glad I could help.”
She smiled again. Her teeth were gorgeous, straight and white against her tan skin. “What’s your name?” she asked me.
I was caught off guard, and so it took me a few extra beats to answer awkwardly. “Alasdair.”
She raised her brows, looking intrigued. “Nice name. It has a lot of character. Do you shorten it at all, or should I call you that, Alasdair?”
Hearing her say my name made me feel indecent. Just beastly. I briefly considered cutting my workout short. “Sometimes my friends call me Dair.”
“Dair. I like that too. And are you daring, Dair?”
“Not particularly,” I said quickly, my heart pounding. I couldn’t quite believe that she was hitting on me, but if she was, I needed to put a short stop to it.
Way too young, I told myself firmly.
I moved to the weights, and she followed like we were old friends. I started doing curls, eyes glued to her as she grabbed some smaller weights and started doing dead lifts with a hammer curl.
The sight of that nearly had me slack-jawed. The move consisted of her bending down at the waist, her legs straight, and touching the ground, then lifting back, her ponytail bouncing, back arched, her incredible ass sticking out, and bringing her arms into a curl.
She faced away from me when she did it, giving me a perfect view. Her shorts were so thin, her skin so supple, that it was more perfectly designed to turn me on than a porno. And I’d watched plenty of porn. The girl was set on giving me a heart attack today.
She kept doing it for the longest time, sending me a look over her shoulder as she straightened on the last rep. She smiled that sweet little smile at me. “Well, aren’t you going to ask me?”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but my mind went very dirty with it.
Could you do that one more time, but pull your shorts down for this one, so I can fuck your brains out? I was pretty positive that wasn’t what she meant.
Can I give you a ride home? Or maybe a hard ride on my cock? Nope, those two were out, too.
Or how about, Want to grab a coffee after this? That one was better, but I held my tongue.
“Excuse me?” I asked instead. The safest bet of all.
“My name. I know yours now. Don’t you want to know mine?”
I smiled politely, sincerely hoping that my raging hard-on wasn’t too obvious. I was wearing athletic pants and a long sweatshirt, so I was probably safe. “Yes, of course. Nice to meet you…”
My brows shot up. You didn’t see many girls her age named Iris. “Iris?”
Her eyes twinkled at me. She gave very good eye contact. Intense, but good. “Don’t you like it?”
“Y-yes,” I stammered out. “It’s a beautiful name.”
“It’s always easy to pick out flowers for me. My favorite flower is the same as my name.”
“I’ll make a note of it.” What the fuck did you say that for? I asked myself. Of course I wouldn’t be getting her flowers. Totally inappropriate.
She looked pleased as punch. “You do that.”
She bent down, her back arched like a pinup girl, and picked up her borrowed towel. She moved closer, dabbing at her cleavage with it.
I swallowed hard, my cock throbbing in time to my accelerated heart rate.
“Upper body today, huh?” she asked.
I was watching her perky tits as she said it, so I blinked like an idiot. Her nipples were hard. I could see them through that flimsy as hell bra. “Hmm?”
The towel moved down to her stomach. She didn’t look to be sweating much, but she patted herself down like she was.
I was in a full-on sweat. I designed it that way. It made for a better workout, but just then I wanted to strip down.
Strip down and pin a naked Iris to the floor.
“You’re working your upper body today. You alternate, right?”
“It’s an intense workout you’ve got going. You training for something in particular?”
I shook my head. “Just trying to stay fit. What about you? You clock in three hours, too, right?”
She shrugged. “That’s a new thing, though I do enjoy a good workout. Just trying to keep things nice and tight.”
That made my brain short-circuit. “Things are looking very tight.” A perfect fit for my cock, my perverted mind added.
She came a little closer, almost into my personal space. “Thank you. That’s a big compliment, coming from a gym regular like you.”
I couldn’t take anymore. I turned, put the weights back on the bar, and went into a round of grueling pushups.
When I rose again, she was a few feet away doing French press reps, her chest thrust forward.
I turned quickly away, and tried not to so much as glance at her.
ARE YOU READY FOR A TWIST?
Who is Iris? Where did she come from? Where has she gone?
Alasdair Masters has more questions than answers about his new, too young obsession, and when he finds out she’s been lying to him, from their first meeting to their last one, he’s more confused than ever about her feelings, her intentions.
And what’s just as confusing are his own feelings. Has he turned something purely physical into something emotional in his own head? Is any of it mutual?
The only thing he doesn’t question is whether he’ll keep going back for more.
Me, I was simple. I was order. A very neat, efficient machine that ran on nothing but air.
Me plus anyone else, well, that was another matter. And me plus Iris, that was a monster of a machine, with all gears going at different speeds, some spinning off their hinges, just going mad, but it was a wonderful madness, at full throttle, misfiring in all directions.
It felt wonderful and dreadful.
I was breaking down, and it felt amazing.
Two Months After the Falling Out
I had a bit of a nervous breakdown after Iris left without a trace.
It was the strangest thing, but I suddenly didn’t like my own company so much.
In fact, I began to hate it, even at home.
I still went to the gym at the exact same time, every single day, in the small hope that she’d show again. She didn’t, but I kept going, because I wanted to see her again.
She hadn’t been in my life for long, but I missed her.
Being that I couldn’t stand my own company, I began to reconnect with old friends, people I hadn’t talked to since the divorce, the friends I’d chalked up to losses in the breakup; Tammy’s assets when we’d been chopping our combined life in half.
For some reason, they all seemed very happy to hear from me. I felt like a jerk for going into full hermit mode and attempted to have something of a social life again.
I’d often meet up with another writer friend for coffee or lunch after my workout, telling myself that if I just kept working at it—being a normal person, with normal social habits—it wouldn’t feel so forced.
And it was true. Two months post Iris, and I was looking forward to having coffee with my friend, Benji.
He was already sitting at a table as I entered the café a few shops down from my gym.
I waved at him, saw he had an extra coffee for me, and bypassed the line to go directly to him.
He slid me the cup as I sat down.
“You make your deadline?” I asked him. Like me, he was a neurotic, work obsessed writer, and so we always had something to talk about. It was good. Distractions were good. The more the better. The more plates spinning the better, these days.
He nodded with a grin, pushing his thick glasses up high on his nose, and sweeping his light brown hair away from his face. He was a good seven years my junior, with a lean, nerdy look that I thought suited him. He wore it well. “How about you? I know you were early on your publisher’s deadline, but how is your indie project coming along?”
“Good. Good. My word count is flowing faster than ever. I should be done in about four weeks.”
He whistled. “Will you sell it to the publisher, if they decide they like it and make you a good offer?”
I shrugged. “I doubt it. This whole project is an experiment for me. It won’t be much fun if I don’t get to at least see how making seventy percent compares to making, yanno, eight.”
He shook his head, smiling wryly. “You’re forgetting your advance. You can’t tell me they don’t give you plenty up front.”
I shrugged again. “Like I said, this one is an experiment. I doubt even my publisher can sway me, and it’s not exactly written in the genre I’m known for, so they wouldn’t write me a big check for it, anyway.”
“You’re probably right.” He sighed. “I envy you the flexibility to do what you want. Some of us are still writing just to pay the bills.”
We sipped coffee and talked shop for a bit. We were just getting ready to leave when he suddenly trailed off mid-sentence, looking at something behind me.
I turned to see what it was, and an electric fire went off in my brain at the sight that met my eyes.
Setting my jaw hard, I turned carefully away.
So the back of that blonde woman in line resembled Iris, so what?
This wasn’t the first time my brain had tricked me into thinking she was somewhere close.
But it was never her. I’d see some young blonde thing out of the corner of my eye and turn to stare until I met a stranger’s blank stare.
Not today. Today I was going to ignore the urge to obsess. It wasn’t her, just some young woman with a great body. She wasn’t even dressed correctly, wearing a pleated skirt and a belted, collared blouse.
Iris wouldn’t be caught dead in business attire.
“Holy fucking shit, man. Did you see that chick?” Benji asked, his tone reverent.
My mouth quirked up in a rueful smile. Even the most civilized men turned into mouth-breathers if a hot enough woman walked into the room.
“I did.” I took a long sip of coffee, watching Benji, who just kept watching the woman in line, forcing myself, with great effort, to stifle the urge to turn around again. “Nice ass,” I noted.
“Yes. But you need to turn around and check out the rest of her. Huge titties, man.”
I rolled my eyes. There was a bit of a generation gap between us. My generation thought shit like that, but then we kept it to ourselves, like grown-ups.
“Big soft tits,” he continued, “in a semi-sheer white blouse. Fuuuck. She’s got a tan. How many articles you think I need to write to bang a chick that out of my league?”
“A lot,” I mused, still staying firmly with my back to the woman in question.
“Like how many is a lot?”
“What do you make? Like five hundred an article? I’d say about two thousand of those, minimum. If she’s as hot as she looked from the back, though, you’d need to be well into the millionaire club before she’d give you the time of day, so more like five thousand articles, realistically.”
His eyes were wide as he finally looked away from the hot chick and back to me. “Really? That is fucking depressing, dude.”
I shrugged. “Yeah. But the really sad part is you’d have to spend a good chunk of that cash on her, if you wanted her to stay around for any length of time.”
He shook his head. “I think you’ve gone cynical, after Tammy.”
I couldn’t dispute that. Not a bit. “You may be right. What can I say? Divorce messes with your head.” I didn’t bring up Iris. I hadn’t told him about her. “Why don’t you go ask her out, if you’re so certain I’m wrong?”
He laughed. “I didn’t say you were wrong, I said you were cynical, and so am I. That chick is out of my league, period. I need more money to bag a woman like that. Or at the very least, better looks and a bigger dick. And look at that, fuck, she’s already leaving. I was hoping she’d sit down to drink her coffee, and let me look at her for a few more minutes.”
“Maybe you were creeping her out. You’ve barely taken your eyes off her since she walked in the door.”
He didn’t even seem to hear me. “Oh, no, wait, she’s only going to the bathroom. I thought it was weird she was leaving without her order. Did you see her shoes, man? Those are some ‘fuck-me’ stilettos. And her hair is in this tight bun, and she’s wearing sexy librarian glasses. Will you please turn and look when she comes back out? I will drop the subject if you will just get a better view of her and agree with me that she’s a ten.”
“Nope. Not doing it. That poor girl does not need us both creeping out on her. I’ll take your word for it.”
That seemed to settle the matter. He dropped it.
His phone rang; he checked the screen and started cursing. “I’ve got to run. Same time next week?”
I nodded, and he left. I didn’t move and still didn’t turn around. I had that feeling, a tingle on my neck, like I was being watched from behind, and I was again talking myself out of obsessing about Iris.
But burned in my brain was the image of the back of that woman, and in spite of myself, I was comparing.
And a small part of me was enjoying the torture of imagining it could be her, that she would find me again.
Finally, I cracked, turning to look, thinking that the woman must have left, so I should just get it over with, like pulling off a Band-Aid.
And there she was.
There was Iris, standing only feet away, holding a cup of coffee and watching me, her expression very blank. She was wearing sexy librarian glasses, her hair in a tight bun, just like Benji had said.
And it really was her, in the flesh.
She wore white, and her clothes were fitted enough to show off every lush curve. Her mouthwatering breasts were clearly outlined, the buttons of her blouse open enough to show an extravagant amount of cleavage.
How had I forgotten just how stunning she was? How captivating?
Her large breasts were even more exceptional than I remembered, as though I’d dreamt her up as a comic book version of herself.
The moment our eyes met, she began to move, walking with easy grace to sit across from me.
She looked cold, so icy blonde and beautiful, like some mix of Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly.
Terrible and beautiful.
It felt like fatal voltage to my chest just to look at her like that.
It was Iris, but Iris as a stranger. No, it was worse than that. It was like she was a curious, wild, imaginary creature, with the pieces of her just now put together, invented for my eyes, not how I remembered at all, because even when she’d been angry, she had never been cold.
Then she smiled, and it was her again, all traces of the cold stranger gone.
Which one was the real Iris?
I swallowed hard and saw her eyes dart to my throat.
“God, I missed the sound of your voice.”
“The sound of my voice?” My voice caught on the question awkwardly, breaking slightly on the last word.
She had such a talent for catching me off guard.
“Yes. You have the best voice, like a stern school teacher.”
My brain short-circuited for a bit before I could respond. “You say the most outrageous things.”
She laughed, and its tinkling sound felt like velvet across the back of my neck. “Is that all you have to say to me, after all this time?” she asked quietly.
“I’m sorry for all the things—”
“I don’t want you to take those things back, if you still believe them, and besides, that’s not what I meant. Don’t you have anything else to say to me?”
I took a few deep breaths. “Where have you been? And why are you back now?”
“That’s not what I meant, either. And I don’t want to talk about that. Didn’t you miss me?”
She reached a hand across the table, and I found one of mine grasping it, lacing our fingers tightly together.
My eyes squeezed shut. It felt very good to touch her again, even just her hand. “Yes, Iris, I missed you very much.”
“There you go. Was that so hard? I missed you, too. You look good.” She tugged her hand away, and my eyes opened to follow its retreat.
“Why are you dressed like that?”
She looked like she was trying not to smile. “Like what?”
“Like a professional. Why are you wearing glasses? What are you doing? Where did you go? Where have you been?”
She glanced around, and the way she did it struck me as more than a little paranoid. “Want to go for a walk?”
My heart started pounding hard.
I didn’t hesitate.
“Of course I do,” I said, absolutely no thought required.
I’d take a walk with her anytime, anywhere.
She smiled, taking off those sexy glasses. “Well, then, let’s get out of here.”
ARE YOU READY FOR THE TRUTH?
I’d started writing everything about her down. I didn’t want to forget.
The color of her hair. The depth of her eyes. The stubborn shape of her jaw. The way her lips shaped words with such expression. The way her voice made my chest ache. The way she gave advice beyond her years.
The way she listened like she cared about every word.
The way she made me feel—Alive.
Every curve and hollow of her body was recorded, in my mind, and now my hard drive.
There was a bit of truth in every lie, and even if it had only been fed to me in the smallest increments, I wanted, needed to remember the real Iris.
Because in the end, there was one irrefutable thing that I couldn’t deny.
Hostage or hustler, sinner or saint, whatever she was or wasn’t, whether she lied to my face or taunted me with hints of the truth, all of this seemed always to defer to the more pertinent fact at hand.
She was mine.
After yet another shocking discovery, followed by a disturbing letter, Dair is almost certain Iris has left his life for good. He tries his best to move on.
Easier said than done, and when an unexpected and dangerous opportunity arises for him to find out what happened to her, he doesn’t hesitate to take it.
As usual, with Iris, the answer leaves him more lost than the question.
Every revelation is shrouded in mystery, and every disclosure leaves Dair more in the dark than ever.
And when finally, the messy truth is revealed in its entirety, will he be ready for it?