Reckless (Brazen 2) - Page 2

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He was scared of her. She wanted to laugh, but she was afraid he’d be too offended if he knew she was laughing at him. Imagine, little ole Nikki scaring big, bad J.T.

Summers. It was hysterical, really.

She released the seatbelt and scooted over so she was next to him. He stiffened and gripped the steering wheel even tighter.

“Nikki,” he growled.

She stifled her smile and leaned her head on his shoulder. Her arm snaked around his middle as she nestled closer to him.

“I missed you, J.T. It seemed like every time I came home from college, you avoided me.”

“I, uh, missed you too, honey. You always were a fun kid.” She couldn’t control the silent laughter. Her shoulders shook as she heaved against him.

“What’s so damn funny?”

“You are.”

“Glad you think so,” he said darkly.

“Does calling me a kid somehow make it so in your mind, J.T.? Come on, I never took you for a coward.”

He roared into her driveway a little faster than was necessary and slammed on the brakes, skidding to a halt. He extricated himself from her grip and opened his door.

He sat there, chest heaving for a long second as she pulled away.

“You are a kid, Nikki. You’re my best friend’s kid sister. I was twelve years old when you were born, for God’s sake. When I was getting lucky in the backseat with Jane Seaver, you hadn’t even made it to preschool yet. You had just finished kindergarten when I graduated from high school.”

Her nose wrinkled as she stared at him. “Well, yeah, if you’d been interested in me when you were in high school that would have made you a complete perv, but that was ages ago, J.T. No one cares now. I’m over the legal age, and you’re hardly over the hill.

And whether you want to admit it or not, you want me.” She gazed challengingly at him. Let him squirm his way out of that one. If he denied it, she’d call him a big fat liar to his face.

He didn’t deny or confirm. He merely got out and walked around to her side to open her door. She accepted his hand, and when he pulled her up, she leaned into his chest and turned her head up so that their lips were close. Tantalizingly close.

For a moment he didn’t move, and she almost thought he was going to let it happen.

But then he yanked his head away with a soft curse. He curled his fingers around her arm and all but dragged her to the front door.

“Stay out of trouble, Nikki,” he said in a resigned voice. “Next time you come into the station in cuffs, I’ll let you stay in jail overnight. It’s not a joke, and it won’t be fun.” She reached up to touch his cheek. “If you’re on duty, you could keep me company.” He scowled. “I don’t keep the prisoners company, Nikki. Bear that in mind next time you want to play your stupid games.”

She arched one brow as she let her fingers slide down his chest. “Game? I’m not playing a game, J.T. You know what I want. I haven’t made any secret of that. I’ve been more honest than you. You want me. I know it, and you know it, but you deny it with every breath you take. So who’s playing games?” Not giving him time to react, she breezed past him and shut the door behind her. She walked over to the couch and flopped down with a weary sigh.

What a night. She hadn’t been sure what to do in order to get arrested, and truth be told, she’d been terrified. She’d never even been inside a police station before, much less in jail with handcuffs.

But with J.T. going to such lengths to avoid her, she’d had no choice but to infiltrate his hidey hole. Starting a wee altercation at Tucker’s Bar seemed a good idea at the time.

Oh, it hadn’t escalated to much. No doubt J.T. had put the fear of God into the local men about even looking in her direction.

By the time Toby had shown up, the excitement was over, but she’d insisted he take her in. In handcuffs. She grinned. She’d known J.T. would blow a gasket when he saw her handcuffed. It had been worth it to see the look on his face.

She sighed and closed her eyes as she leaned her head against the back of the couch.

He wasn’t going to the café anymore. He wasn’t going home, apparently, not after she’d shown up there a few nights ago. And now he’d likely avoid his office. Where else could she hunt him down?

The Morgans. She grimaced. No doubt he’d run out to the ranch where he was sure she wouldn’t show up.

Her mind raced to figure out a way around his next move. Jasmine was back in town.

And married to Zane. Which confused Nikki, because she’d always been sure that Jasmine was pretty hung up on Zane’s older brother Seth. She shrugged. Maybe Jasmine had settled. That wasn’t her problem. Her problem was making damn sure J.T. couldn’t avoid her forever.

She and Jasmine weren’t best friends by any stretch, though Jasmine had never been rude, unlike the rest of the good people of Barley. Jasmine had her own difficulties back in the day, but she’d always had the protection of the Morgan brothers and J.T. as well. If Jasmine weren’t married, Nikki would be jealous of the fact that J.T. had never tried to avoid Jasmine. In fact…hmmm. Hadn’t he hauled Jasmine out of Tucker’s Bar on more than one occasion?

Jasmine had to know J.T. pretty well given how close her husband was to J.T.

Maybe…just maybe she should look Jasmine up. Give her a visit to catch up. Okay, not that they had any catching up to do. A few hellos in town didn’t a friendship make, but hey, she was willing to play nice if it got her closer to her goal of seducing one J.T.

Summers.

***

The heat was ungodly. Hot air blew through her hair as she drove her convertible down the dusty drive of the Sweetwater Ranch. The sun scorched over her skin, leaving her feeling parched and dry. July in south Texas. Only an idiot would live here. And only an idiot would fall in love with a man who had no intention of ever leaving this Godforsaken place.

Oh hello, my name is Nikki Durant, and I’m an idiot.

She pulled up to the sprawling ranch and cut the ignition. How desperate did it make her to come all the way out here to enlist the aid of a girl who might very well tell her to get lost?

With a resigned sigh, and the realization that she’d lost any and all pride when it came to J.T., she hauled herself out of her car and traipsed up to the front door. Right now she’d kill for air conditioning.

She rang the doorbell, and a few seconds later, an older Hispanic lady answered. The lady smiled welcomingly.

“Uh, hi,” Nikki said lamely. “Is Jasmine home?” The woman beamed at her. “I’m Carmen. Come in, come in. Jasmine is in the kitchen.”

Nikki stepped inside and closed her eyes in absolute pleasure as the frigid air washed over her damp hair. Carmen pointed across the room and nodded.

Nikki walked nervously toward the kitchen, or what she assumed was the kitchen since Carmen had disappeared. She heard distant voices and quickened her step. When she rounded the corner, however, she put the brakes on, and her mouth gaped open.

Jasmine was in a lip lock with Seth, who was not her husband. He had her backed against the counter, and their bodies were molded tightly against each other.

Oops didn’t even begin to cover it. Despite the fact that it was certainly none of her business, anger washed over Nikki. She liked Zane. Liked him a lot. He’d been her childhood hero when he’d stepped between her and three other kids who were determined to beat her into a pulp. And the fact that his wife was cheating on him with his brother pissed her off.

“Uh, Jasmine, it appears we have company.”

Seth’s voice, husky from passion, hit Nikki all wrong. Her eyes narrowed as she glared at Jasmine. Never mind that she’d come here to enlist her help with J.T. Right now she wanted to kick her ass.

“By all means, don’t let me interrupt,” Nikki said dryly. “Just don’t expect me not to tell Zane his wife is f**king around on him with his brother.” To her surprise, Jasmine grinned and cast a sidelong glance at Seth who attempted to keep a straight face.

“Some might say it’s none of your business,” Jasmine drawled.

“Zane is my friend,” Nikki said fiercely.

Seth’s eyes widened. “Nikki? Nikki Durant? Is that really you?” She nodded stiffly. Seth let out a whistle. “Damn, when did you go and grow up on me?”

“Nice hair,” Jasmine said, and at first Nikki thought she was being a smartass, but Jasmine looked at the pink stripe with a very interested light in her eyes.

“Don’t get any ideas, Jasmine,” Seth growled.

Jasmine grinned innocently. “I like it. I was thinking maybe blue for my hair to match yours and Zane’s eyes.”

Seth groaned and rolled his eyes. “First the belly ring. Then you asked to get a tattoo as a wedding present.”

Nikki stared between them in confusion. For two people who should at most have a casual friendship, they certainly seemed to be on intimate terms.

“Are you here to see Zane?” Jasmine asked softly. “He’s not here, but he should be back soon.”

Nikki shifted uncomfortably. “No, actually I came to see you.” Jasmine’s brow lifted in surprise.

“But uhm, maybe it’s not such a good idea. I should probably go.” Jasmine grinned. “You gonna go track Zane down and tell him his wife was cheating on him?”

Seth smacked her on the ass. “Stop egging her on, Jasmine.” Nikki frowned. “I was here to talk to you about J.T.”

“What about J.T.?” Zane asked as he strolled into the kitchen. His eyes lit up when he saw Nikki. “Nikki, girl! How you doing?”

He swept her up in a bone crunching hug, lifted her off the floor and then plunked her down. He dropped a kiss on top of her head then backed away to look at her.

“Holy hell in a bucket, no wonder J.T. is running scared,” he said in amusement.

She frowned even harder. “What’s J.T. been saying to you about me?”

Zane grinned then walked over to loop an arm over Jasmine. “Hey, Jaz. Missed you, babe.” He pulled her into his arms and gave her a long, lusty kiss that had Nikki turning three shades of green.

Why couldn’t J.T. look at her like that? And then she glared at Jasmine as she remembered that not five minutes ago, she’d been kissing Seth just as fiercely as Zane was currently kissing her.

Seth cleared his throat, and Zane pulled away. “Sorry,” Zane said in Nikki’s direction. “Got a little carried away.”

“Not as carried away as Seth and Jasmine got awhile ago,” Nikki said acidly.

Jasmine’s lips twitched, and Seth had the grace to look away. Zane looked between Seth and Jasmine and then over to Nikki who was still glaring openly at Jasmine.

“Ah,” Zane said as if he’d been struck with sudden understanding. “Hell.”

“Yeah,” Seth said. He cleared his throat. “Nikki is pretty pissed off on your behalf.” His lips twitched, and he broke into a grin. “I’d say right now she’s considering gutting your pretty little bride.”

Jasmine swung her elbow into Seth’s stomach, and he doubled over in mock agony.

Nikki stared between them all and wondered what the hell she was missing. They acted like it was some big joke.

“Maybe you two should get lost,” Jasmine said pointedly. “She did come out to talk to me. She can catch up with you later,” she told Zane. “Maybe after she kicks my ass for cheating on you. You have quite the defender there, sweetums.” Zane grinned and reached out to chuck Nikki on the arm. “Glad someone loves me.” Jasmine rolled her eyes and made shooing motions. Seth and Zane both sauntered out with Seth chuckling the entire way.

Jasmine motioned for her to sit down. “You want something to drink?” Nikki shook her head. She wasn’t going to ask. It was none of her business.

“So, you wanted to talk about J.T.?” Jasmine prompted as she took a seat across the bar from Nikki.

Nikki cleared her throat. “Well, yeah, but I’m not sure you’ll want to help me now that I’ve unsheathed my bitch claws.”

Jasmine laughed and flipped her almost-black hair over one shoulder. Then she eyed the pink streak in Nikki’s hair. “I’m serious. I think a blue streak would be cool. I really like yours. It’s so noticeable.”

Nikki blinked. “Well, uhm, sure, blue would look nice.” Jasmine stared at her for a long second, as if measuring her. Then she sighed. “I don’t know a lot about you. I mean I’ve heard Zane mention you once or twice, and J.T.

talked about going to your graduation, but I know enough that you’ve suffered being the subject of talk in this town like I was when I was younger. So I’ll say this, hoping you’ll remember what it’s like to be the topic of gossip and won’t go spreading it around.” Nikki stared at her with a furrowed brow, not knowing whether to be insulted or not.

“I’m married to Zane, but in my heart I’m married to both him and Seth. I’m with both of them. I love them both, and they both love me.” Nikki’s mouth fell open. Then she tried to close it. Damn.

“Yeah,” Jasmine said with a half smile. “Shocking ain’t it? Now you know why I don’t want it to get around. I suspect some people know or at least think they know, but suspecting and having solid proof are two different things. At least now you won’t try to kick my ass for cheating on Zane. As much as I appreciate your apparent loyalty to my husband, I’d just as soon you not feel as though he needs protecting from me.”

“Oh damn,” Nikki muttered. “I just made a first-class ass of myself didn’t I?” Jasmine grinned. “Nah. You would have only made an ass of yourself if you tried to kick my ass in my own kitchen.”


Tags: Maya Banks Brazen Erotic
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