Hope Donnigan is finally getting her life together. She's working a job she likes, has some amazing friends, and is steering clear of Mr. Wrong. Now if only she could get her mother to understand that. Maybe a hot tattoo artist from the other side town is just the ticket to teach her mom a lesson.
J.T. Webster fell for Hope months ago at his sister's wedding. So when she propositions him to be her fake boyfriend to get her mother off her back, he's all in. The only problem is J.T. had no idea their pretend relationship would be better than anything real he's ever had…
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Hope lost herself in J.T. He smelled like an invitation to sex and tasted like honeyed caramel. Good Lord, but the man knew how to kiss.
The moment he’d touched her lips, she’d forgotten her own advice to steer clear of men and latched onto him. And now she could do nothing but enjoy a real man concentrating on her.
He moaned, slanted his mouth at an angle that gave him deeper access, and followed her tongue with his, dipping into the recesses of her mouth and stimulating every damn cell in her body.
He was hard. All over. His broad chest swelled. Arms that she could barely fit her hands around tightened. As did the rest of him when he drew her into his body.
She felt caged in his embrace, totally controlled by a man much more powerful than herself. But she sensed nothing but arousal and safety, oddly enough. Nothing overbearing, like what she’d experienced with a few of her exes.
A smart woman would put a stop to the kiss. Especially when he put his large hand at the small of her back and pulled her closer still, allowing her to feel the impressive bulge between his legs. Their disparity in size was evident, especially that big part of him she felt all too clearly when he rubbed against her belly. She gasped, caught between his kiss and his shocking dimensions.
He trailed his lips down her cheek to suck at her neck.
She moaned, tilting her head back, doing her damnedest to find the will to push him away. But her body had other plans.
Her breasts ached. The place between her legs throbbed. And the rest of her tingled, every part of her needing to lie down on the nearest horizontal surface so she could spread her legs in welcome…
“No.” She pushed weakly at his chest.
J.T. froze, panting. “No?” he choked out.
“Yes. I mean, no. We can’t do this,” she managed between large intakes of breath.
He slowly put her away from him and stared at her from under hooded lids. All she could think was that he looked kissable.
“Huh?” She shivered.
“Don’t look at me like that.”
She licked her suddenly dry lips, and he glanced away and swore.
“Like you want me to… Never mind.” He blew out a harsh breath. “Yeah, um. Good idea to stop that. We’re just pretending, right?”
“About dating. So we can fool your mom if we have to kiss in front of her to be believable.”
“Right. Yes. Uh huh.” Think, Hope. With more than your ovaries. “I’m sorry. I didn’t… I wasn’t trying to put out the wrong signals.” That I want you? That sex with you is on my must have list? “I told you I had some tough relationships in the past.” She swallowed the lump in her throat. “I’m trying to do better and be focused on me right now.”
“Sure. I get you.” He nodded and tucked his hands in his pockets, which did nothing to mask the raging hard-on under his fly. “Smart move. I met Greg. I feel you.”
She sighed. “Yeah.”
They all started out nice, then slowly morphed into monsters. J.T. seemed amiable, sexy, safe. What would he turn out to be in the end?
“Okay then.” He cleared his throat and guided her toward the front door. “We won’t do this again. But we know we can pull it off for your mom if we need to.”
“Right. I really do appreciate you doing this for me.” She stopped and faced him, feeling bad for pulling him into her mess. “You don’t have to, you know.”
“Um, yeah, I do. Where else will you find a tattoo artist with several baby mommas and jail time on his resume?”
She stared. “Really?”
“Well, no. That’s not all true.” He winked at her. “But to find out which parts I’m lying about, you have to buy me a beer at Ray’s.”
She gave him a smile, unable to help herself. Charming should have been his middle name. That and handsome. “It’s a date.”
“Wednesday at six work for you?” he asked. “It’s a little less crowded in the middle of the week, and less scary for a first timer.”
“I won’t be scared.” She’d heard from her brothers about the rough types who hung out around the place.
“Honey, I was scared my first time. And my second, my third…” They shared a laugh. “Ray’s is good people. Tough, but good. I’ll pick you up. Will that be okay?”
She thought about it and realized she didn’t care if he knew where she lived. “You’re practically family,” she teased. “I trust you.”
She couldn’t read the look he shot her as he walked her to her car and waited for her to belt up. Once all secured, she rolled down her window. “Okay. What’s with that look?”
“Just remember, Hope—we aren’t family.” He shook his head and bent to stare her in the eye. “Because I’m not down with kissing my family like I kissed you.” He stroked her cheek, sighed, and straightened. “Now go home before I forget why I shouldn’t give you what you’re asking for.”
Heck, she’d been the one to say no earlier. But when his eyes narrowed, she obeyed. Better to keep him happy since he’d agreed to help. Plus, she trusted what she knew of him. If he thought she should leave, she’d go. Because if she stayed any longer, she might assault the man and have her wicked way with him. And that would pretty much shoot her independent, no-men stance all to hell.
Turning on the radio, she sang all the way home, feeling better about life than she had in a long time.
The next day, she arrived at work early, in a cheerful mood. She wore a business casual outfit of dress pants, heels, and a silk blouse. Even Linda would have trouble making an issue of her clothing, styled hair, and makeup.
Instead of annoyance at thoughts of her domineering mother, Hope smiled, recalling J.T.’s warmth, the feel of his firm yet soft lips guiding her. Melting her. She sighed as she took the elevator to the office on the second floor. “Dating” J.T. would prove to be a challenge, because everything in her wanted to be with the man for real. To see if he could make good on his reputation’s promise as a marvel in bed.