Good evening, y’all!
I hope everyone is having a fabulous night. I thought I’d give y’all chapter one from Her Husband’s Brother – A Love and Justice Novella – Book 1.
“To thirty years of awesomeness and many more!”
Lexie Hayes and her two best friends, Rosie Hobbs and Lynette Montgomery, clinked their shot glasses in a toast and downed the whiskey in one deliciously fiery gulp. Not a bad way to celebrate my thirtieth birthday. Sure, it wasn’t how she had thought it would be—out somewhere nice with Dean, her husband, before trying to get pregnant with those kids they’d been talking about for the past two years. But spending some girl time with her next two favorite people at one of the newer clubs in downtown Houston was not the worst way to spend a Friday night.
Her husband was, of course, out of town on business. He was a generator specialist who traveled often to work on malfunctioning equipment. Being gone so often didn’t exactly help with the whole getting-pregnant plan. When was the last time we tried? Lexie shook her head, trying to dislodge that thought as she glanced at her wedding ring. It was probably just that fourth shot of whiskey settling smoothly in her tummy, right?
“Are you okay, Lexie?” Lynette asked with a toss of her blonde hair, concern evident in her blue eyes. Lexie glanced up just in time to see Lynette’s eyes follow the path of her gaze to her wedding ring, then slowly make their way back to her face.
“Yeah, where are you? The party is over here!” Rosie snapped her fingers with the beat of the music, shaking her butt back and forth in her chair as she scanned the room for man candy.
“I’m here, I’m here!” Lexie forced a laugh, although it didn’t sound quite as carefree as she would have hoped. She eyed her friends and wondered how much, if any, she should disclose about her current situation. Where would she even begin? Actually, girls, I’m not here at all. I’m really laughing about how I once thought having children would help us feel like a family, but then I realized he doesn’t even care to sleep with me, much less knock me up. I mean, truly, I had to get myself ready, and then five minutes later, when it was over, I’d lie there wondering if it was enough to make me pregnant. Oh, did I come? Oh no, no, no. I mean, you don’t really have to come during sex, right? There’s so much more to it than that, right? So I went to see Conner this morning and filed for a divorce. Yes, ladies, my marriage is over. Happy birthday to me! Yeah, she’d stick with not confiding in them at all. Not that they couldn’t be trusted, but there were some things one didn’t dare speak of. Some things were just too embarrassing. Or shameful. Not having an orgasm with her husband since they’d said “I do” four years prior? Yes, that was definitely one of them. Not being sure she actually wanted those kids they had supposedly been trying for? Okay, that too. Coming to the conclusion she didn’t truly love her husband anymore, pretty darn positive he didn’t love her, and then going to see Lynette’s brother for help with a divorce? That one took the cake. She’d tell them, eventually, but not tonight.
Lynette interrupted her thoughts. “So, Dean’s still out of town, huh? How long has he been gone this time?”
“I’m not sure. No longer than usual.” Lexie hated lying to her friends but desperately wanted to avoid the current line of questioning at all costs.
Rosie shot her a doubtful glance before pinning up her dark-brown hair and turning back to the dance floor. “Lexie, you just need to let off some steam. There are plenty of men here. Just pick someone. Don’t worry, we won’t tell Dean. It’ll be our secret for life.”
Lynette laughed and rolled her eyes at the joke as Rosie stood and made her way to the bartender.
Was it a joke? Lexie wasn’t so sure. While Rosie never came right out and said it, she’d never exactly hidden her distaste for Dean, and she didn’t know the half of it. Either way, soon Lexie would be single and free to be with anyone she wished. The thought of her failed marriage stung, but she brushed it off and turned toward Lynette. “How’s Jenna?”
Jenna was Lynette’s older sister, and had been battling cancer for as long as Lexie could remember. She’d been in remission twice, and now it looked like it was back again. Jenna was one of the most genuinely nice people Lexie had ever met. A single mother of two little boys, she’d always managed to keep it together for her family, and to see this happening to her was just horrifying.
Lynette shook her head slightly while her lips formed a tight line. “She had a biopsy and is waiting for the results, but the doctors are pretty positive the breast cancer is back. Momma and Daddy are trying to stay positive, Conner too, but I get this gut-wrenching feeling that this time it’s not going to be okay.”
Lexie squeezed Lynette’s hand as Rosie came back with three new shots.
“Holy hell, I just met the sexiest guy, the one over there.” Rosie turned to smile at the pierced and tattooed gentleman, who grinned back. “That would be Aaron, and mark my words, I plan to climb him like a tree.”
“And on that note, I think it’s time to dance. Let’s go, ladies,” Lynette yelled over the music as she took the drinks from Rosie.
Shots slammed, Lexie let her friends pull her to the dance floor to, hopefully, forget about reality for just one night.
As she let the music take over and started to sway her hips, she took in her surroundings. She loved the club. A black dance floor made up most of the first level with the exception of the huge bar area where they had been sitting. The bar stretched along the entire wall, while the second level seemed to be more chairs with tables and couches, very lounge-like and chill. Deep red walls and a gorgeous staircase separated each level. That gorgeous staircase was the last clear thought she had before she felt the liquor completely take over.
BLISS. PURE. FUCKING. Bliss. Jonathon Hayes watched Lexie from his spot in the corner of the bar, willing to bet money she hadn’t felt that relaxed in a long time. In the past, she’d always been tense, as if she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. Seeing her like this was a thing of beauty. Dancing and laughing with her friends, not a care in the world, shaking her ass and probably never realizing that all it did was tease every poor bastard’s cock in the room. His included.
His sister-in-law was the most gorgeous woman he’d ever seen. Dark hair fell halfway down her back, accenting even darker eyes, and her soft body had just enough curves to have a man on his knees begging for a taste.
He still remembered the first time he’d met her. His douche bag of a brother Dean had taken her to a party at a hole-in-the-wall bar five years ago. How Dean had managed a catch like Lexie was still lost on him. Jonathon had shown up and stayed long enough to be introduced—he used to make an effort back then—decided she was too good for his brother, and promptly shoved his tongue down her throat when she left the main area to go to the bathroom. Dick move? Absolutely. But in the few minutes he’d spent with her, he’d known instantly Dean would destroy her. Take everything she had to offer and leave her empty and broken in return. He’d do anything to keep her from that fate, even if it meant him coming off as a total creep. He’d fully expected her to kick him in the balls, but instead, her face had transformed into one of desire and need, and he’d panicked. He’d gotten too close to the sun and knew it would set him on fire, so he summoned up his best smart-ass chuckle and said, “Damn, baby, I guess you’ll wet your panties for just about anyone, huh?”
God, what a prick. Yeah, he’d acted like a complete ass, and he hadn’t blamed her one bit when she’d told him to fuck off. He hated that his words had hurt her. But he never expected her to marry his brother the next year. Hadn’t she seen what an asshole he was? Jonathon might have a hot temper and be a little overprotective, but he was damn sure better than his brother. And not fucking dangerous. Which was why he’d tried to scare her off.
Now here he was, staring at her for the past three hours while she drank with her friends and danced around like she was truly happy, although he suspected that not to be true. He knew what his brother had been up to, and the pensive expression she wore was enough to tell him she had an idea something wasn’t right.
“Another beer?” The bartender threw a hand towel over his shoulder.
“Yeah, man, why not? One more should be good.” After paying for his beer, he took a drink and turned just in time to see Lexie heading off to an empty hallway, her friends still on the dance floor, having picked up some random guys.
Jesus. Doesn’t she know not to fucking walk alone in these places? He watched her go, looking around to make sure nobody got any bright ideas. Even though it was almost time to close and the crowd was thinning out, there were still plenty of people lurking around. He wished she would be more aware of her surroundings. He didn’t want to give his presence away, but if someone presented himself as a threat to her, he wouldn’t hesitate to step in. Didn’t girls always go to the bathroom together or some shit like that? Just then he saw a big guy with a shaved head and a black T-shirt eye-fuck her as she walked by. Jonathon watched and waited. He didn’t like the idea of someone leering at her, but he’d let it slide as long as it stopped there. Unfortunately, the son of a bitch got up, glanced around, and proceeded after her. Jonathon saw red.
* * * *
Okay, Lexie, you have no idea where you are going. Lexie giggled as she walked down the hallway in search of the bathroom. Oh, well. She was enjoying her buzz and wasn’t going to let her awful sense of direction stop her good time.
She was about to turn around and head back when something pushed her hard from behind and flattened her into the far corner of the hallway. She yelped as her clutch went flying and pain radiated from the right side of her head. A large hand grabbed her wrists, pinning them above her head, while an arm wrapped around her waist.
“Shut up!” a male voice growled in her ear. “Shut the fuck up right now, and I won’t hurt you.”
“You won’t hurt me?” Lexie whispered back. She’d always been feisty, and no way was she changing now. “Something tells me you’re full of shit. What do you want?” Her heart raced, fear taking hold of her with every liquor-filled breath he sent her way. Fear gave way to panic when the arm around her waist slid down until he was holding her mound through her skirt.
“You know exactly what I want. It’s what you want too. That’s why you’ve been showing it off all night like a wh—”
Suddenly, he was off her.
Willing herself not to panic, she turned around in time to see another man pin her assailant in a chokehold. Eyes widening in surprise, she stared at the one man she detested. The only man who’d taken up residence in her wet dreams.
“ARE YOU OKAY?”
“Lexie, are you okay?” Jonathon tried to keep his voice steady and calm.
After a moment, Lexie nodded while adjusting her shirt.
Jonathon had made it a point to stay under the radar, and he wouldn’t let this piece of shit ruin it for him. But he almost had. When he’d gotten to the back of the hallway and seen her caged against the wall with that asshole’s hands all over her, he’d damn near lost it. The bastard was putting up a good fight, and he had to ground himself so they wouldn’t both fall over. He squeezed a little tighter, and after a few more seconds, the man finally lost consciousness. Jonathon dropped him to the floor. After retrieving her clutch, he stood in front of her. Gently, he held her shoulders so he could look her over. With the exception of her blank stare, she seemed to be okay. Thank God he’d been there. The thought of what could have happened made him sick.
“Um, thank you,” she said after a few seconds, silently assessing him.
He knew the exact moment the reality of the situation smacked her in the face.
“Holy shit.” She began to shake. Tears welled in her eyes, threatening to overflow at any moment.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay. It’s okay, baby.” Jonathon pulled her to him and hugged her tightly, all the while running his hand down her hair, trying to soothe her. She wrapped her arms around him and sobbed into his chest, her breasts pressing into him with every breath, until he sported a major hard-on. Son of a bitch. He’d just stopped some pervert from taking advantage of her, and now he was the pervert. Now appearing in the role of Jerk-Off #2—Jonathon Hayes. Fantastic. He took a deep breath, trying to calm his tingling body. She was married, and he needed to keep that shit in mind. His brother was a dick, but she didn’t know that. The last thing she needed was him holding her and pressing his cock into her stomach. He didn’t want to give her any reason to feel guilty; she didn’t deserve that. He suspected she’d been going through a lot, and the last thing he wanted to do was add to her stress. Just when he was about to release her, she went completely still, suddenly aware of the situation under his jeans.
Jonathon took another breath and waited for her reaction. He counted through the many possibilities in his head. Anger? Horror? Annoyance? But what he got instead was a look into those deep brown eyes when she raised her head, scorching him from head to toe. The burn only intensified when she slowly licked her bottom lip and pulled it between her teeth.
“Fuck it,” he all but growled as he grabbed her hand and pulled her through the back exit and into the alley behind the club. After a quick glance to make sure they were alone, he leaned back against the brick wall and pulled her to him, smashing his mouth to hers.
She tensed for a moment before a small moan escaped as she opened her mouth. The hot, slippery feel of her tongue against his had his dick pulsing. She tasted just like he remembered, like sweet honey with a little whiskey mixed in this time. Her hands swept up his chest and into his hair, curling it between her knuckles. Tilting her head to the side, she deepened the kiss.
He moaned as his hands went to her ass of their own accord and held on for dear life. She lifted her leg, rubbing her inner thigh against his. He kissed her like she was his last breath, loving the feel of her stomach against his erection.
“Jesus, Lexie, you’re perfection.”
AS IF HER name on his tongue somehow woke her from a daze, she pulled away from him, ashamed…and a little pissed off.
I did not just let this happen, again…
“Sorry. I’m so sorry,” she stammered as she backed away and took in a deep, calming breath. “I shouldn’t have done that. We, ah, we can’t do that.” Shaking her finger back and forth as she spoke, she knew she looked like a complete idiot, and that wasn’t a look she’d ever cared for. She decided anger would be the better option. Rather a bitch than a moron. “What the hell are you even doing here? I mean, where did you come from?”
With the moment broken, Jonathon looked down the alley to make sure they were still alone.
“Let’s talk somewhere else, sweetheart. We need to get out of here.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you.” She almost laughed. “Plus, my friends are inside.”
“So text them and let them know you ran into me and I’m taking you home. I’d rather not let you out of my sight, especially not after what just happened.”
Who the hell does he think he is? Yes, he’d helped her, but that didn’t give him the right to dictate her night. Fat chance, asshole. She was thirty years old and more than capable of finding her friends and getting home.
He continued, “Anyway, from what I could see, your girls found some gentlemen to occupy their time. I’m guessing they won’t be too heartbroken not to have to share a cab with you tonight.”
“Why are you acting like you care what happens to me? You don’t talk to Dean, and you’ve damn sure made it clear time and time again what you think about me, so why are you still here?”
His blank expression pissed her off more. Calm down, Lexie, reel the situation back in. You aren’t getting anywhere like this. Taking a deep breath, she decided to try a different approach. Humility. Ugh, the worst.
“Look, I appreciate what you did back there. And thank you. That, well, it wouldn’t have been good,” she ground out through clenched teeth, “but we don’t have to pretend we’re best buds. And what just happened—”
“What do you mean, ‘what just happened’?” Jonathon asked with a smirk. “Oh, you mean where you just kissed me like you’ve never been kissed right in your fucking life and then rubbed yourself against my dick like you’re starving for it?”
Regret flashed on his face, and if she didn’t know any better, she’d have thought he’d realized he’d been unnecessarily harsh. He continued softly. “Look, Lexie, I’m sorry. That was out of line. But—”
“I kissed you?” So much for humility. Looked like anger was ready to take center stage again. Nice to see you, old friend. “You kissed me! As far as your”—she just couldn’t bring herself to say it, not while looking him in the face—“your whatever, I wasn’t rubbing against it. I was trying to get away from you, but you grabbed me with your big ol’ caveman hands and wouldn’t let go.”
Jonathon rolled his eyes.
“Sweetheart, unless you were trying to climb up me and scale the wall, you weren’t trying to get away, but we can go with your version long enough for you to get it into your head that I’m taking you home.”
She opened her mouth to argue, but he cut her off.
“I’m not leaving here until I know you’re safe. I have no problem throwing you over my shoulder with my—what are they? Oh yes, ‘big ol’ caveman hands’—and hauling your ass to the truck myself. From what I can tell, security around here sucks anyway.”
Lexie closed her eyes and silently counted to ten, a frustrated sigh escaping her lips. She didn’t know what embarrassed her more—the fact that she was in this situation, or that once again she’d given in to her weakness and practically dry-humped her brother-in-law in an alley. Woohoo, Lexie. Real class act. You should teach the masses.
When she opened her eyes, Jonathon was still leaning back against the wall with a pleading expression on his face. Stupid, arrogant, sexy-as-hell face. Trying for clarity and failing miserably, she gave in.
“Okay. Just take me home, please,” she muttered in defeat.