Gettin' Hard

Single Ladies' Travel Agency, Book One
More Carina Wilder

DRAGON GUILD CHRONICLES
  • Dragon Hunter
  • Dragon Seeker
  • Dragon’s Lover

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
  • Gettin' Hard
  • Going Hard
  • Loving Hard

THE ALPHA SEEKERS 

 

  • Sought By The Alphas
  • Seeking Her Mates
  • Illusions
  • Sorceress

PLENTY OF SHIFT

 

  • Miri
  • Naomi and Quinn
  • Naomi and Tyler

 


THE WOLF ROCK SHIFTERS

 

 

 

  • Box Set

Gettin’ Hard

Single Ladies’ Travel Agency, Book One

When Adriana heads to Paris on a trip to “get away from it all,” little does she realize what she’s in for. Before she’s even crossed the Atlantic she meets Conlon Davies, the handsome billionaire with abs of steel and a sharp tongue to match. But he’s just a distraction, right? Just a little hors d’oeuvre before the main course…

Conlon is a self-proclaimed bastard with no interest in commitment. Women are a game for him; one-night achievements intended to be disposable. That is, until Adriana walks into his life. For some reason he can’t get her out of his head, even though she’s bad news. She lives in another country, far from his Parisian home. So why the hell does he want her to stay so badly?

This is the first in the Single Ladies’ Travel Agency series, stand-alone Contemporary Romance novels to take you to a faraway place and get your mind racing.

Read a longer excerpt below

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Details

Gettin’ Hard is a full length stand-alone novel, approximately 50,000 words.

Warning: mature content

Fascinating characters and enough suspense to keep you glued to your seat, white knuckling your ereader with your heart fluttering wildly in your chest.

- Judy Lewis

I love Carina’s books! Great plots. Always original. Perfect heroines and heroes, with plenty of flaws. Some steamy romance. And some hunky shifters. How can you go wrong?

- Aschlie Brake

I have LOVED getting to know this couple; their struggles, their chemistry, their fight for survival and for a chance to be together. These two have got to be one of my favorite book couples ever.

- TJ

Read the first two chapters right here!

 

Chapter 1

ADRIANA

 

“I’m going to Paris on Sunday night.”

I bite my lip as soon as the sudden realization hits me that even though I’ve been planning this trip for weeks, this is the first time I’ve uttered the words out loud.

Jen makes a strange, guttural sound as though her dinner’s coming back to haunt her. To the surprise of no one, my best friend is now assaulting me with an expression normally reserved for someone who’s just announced that she’s getting married to a greasy, psychotic one-eyed hunchback she met three hours ago.

The You’re completely nuts, and I’m only slightly too polite to say it to your face look.

“What the living fuck did you just say?” She all but yells the words, drawing annoyed stares from pretty much every diner who was foolish enough to venture into Smokey Joe’s tonight looking for a quiet meal. I slide my butt forward in my seat, trying in vain to hide my mortification under the table.

Jen’s look of confused irritation only deepens when I greet her question with a half-assed shrug. She’s always hated my shrugging but I can’t help myself. It’s my best self-defence technique when I have no reasonable answer to give but I’m too stubborn to admit it.

“You know I’m between jobs at the moment, and I thought I should take advantage of my freedom. So like I said, I’m going on a trip,” I say, letting a coy smile make its way across my lips as I tease an ornamental pink straw through my margarita. “On my own. For three weeks.”

Okay, I’m aware of how bat-poop crazy I must sound to her. I’m a total wuss when it comes to doing things on my own, and this is pretty much the equivalent of announcing that I plan to hop on a ship to Mars tomorrow and leave the oxygen at home. Maybe she’s right to look at me like I’ve just bought a one-way ticket to Crazyville.

“Yeah, but why?” Her brow furrows so hard that her forehead creases like bedsheets after a night of sweaty humping. Not that I would remember what those look like; I haven’t been humped by anything in eons, unless you count the odd night spent in the dubious company of a vibrator and a glass of cheap merlot.

“Because I need a change,” I blurt out, tucking strands of long blond hair behind my ears. “I need to get away. I need to find myself. I need…” I pause after realizing that I’m flailing my hands around like a lunatic, attracting bemused stares from every corner of the restaurant. Drunk woman alert, table four. “I need all the clichés that a single woman could want. I’ve got an itch and Paris is the place to go to scratch it, if you know what I mean.” I’m not even sure that I know what I mean, but it sounded really good in my head.

Jen blows out a disgruntled pfft sound, like she’s venting toxic gas out of her face. “If your itch is that bad, I’d say you need a gynaecologist, not another fucking continent. At the very least you need your brain examined. I feel like someone’s removed part of it.”

She’s not being bitchy, not really. This is her version of being protective. She’s been this way since we were kids, always looking out for me when I make bad decisions, trying to convince me to change my mind. But I don’t want protection from this decision.

I shoot her a narrow-eyed look of death before taking a long sip of my drink. Oh, God. Brain freeze. Maybe drinking too many frozen cocktails is what led me into this position in the first place. Was I drunk when I booked the tickets?

Maybe.

But that doesn’t change things. This trip is happening.

When my tongue has regained feeling I say, “My brain is just fine, thank you very much. But you know, I like your gyno idea. I could seriously use a pelvic exam. Preferably from an armless French guy called Jacques with a huge schlong.”

Jen can’t help but let out a laugh at the image. “I hear they have many armless doctors in France, so I guess you made the right call.” Yes. She’s coming around. I knew she would.

“Sweet,” I exclaim. “Of course, knowing my luck, Jacques will turn out to have herpes and a dick the size of a golf pencil.”

“You mean le golf pencil. If you’re heading to France, at least learn the language.” She’s speaking French, totally on board now. Good ol’ Jen. “But Adriana, I want to understand this. You’re not exactly Little Miss Adventurepants. A trip like this seems so unlike you.”

“Okay, fine.” I sit up and lean in, ready to open my soul to her. “After the breakup it took me forever to get to the point where I feel strong enough to do something like this. I want to prove to the world—no, to myself—that I’m perfectly comfortable on my own. I was stuck in a stifling relationship for far too long, and it sucked my spirit away. I want it back. It’s finally time to embrace my singleness. I want to be Independent Adriana, at least for a little.”

She pulls back and stares at me, her brown eyes sizing me up to make sure I haven’t been replaced by a pod person. “You’ve been single for over a year. You’re telling me you’re only embracing it now?” She looks dismayed as it hits her just how hard the last twelve months have been for me. That’s what happens with happy people; sometimes they don’t notice the ones suffering around them. But I can’t exactly hold it against her. She has her own life to think about and besides, it’s not like I reached out to help. I’m a silent sufferer, damn it.

“A year in which I’m fairly sure I reached the second coming of my virginity,” I reply. “But I’ve come to accept my aloneness, and I feel pretty good about it, actually. I’m really, truly content. Happy, even.”

“Well, good. I’m pissed off that Roger made you feel shitty for that long, though. That jerkass wasn’t worth suffering over.”

“Roger didn’t make me feel shitty. I made myself feel shitty. Look, you’re married—happily, I might add—and meanwhile I failed at the one long-term relationship I’ve ever had. It was a punch to my self esteem.”

“You didn’t fail. He failed you by being such a twat waffle. But back to the one year thing—has it really been that long since you got laid?” She looks like she’s trying to sort through one of the great mysteries of the universe. How the hell can a woman survive without sex for more than ten days in a row?

I nod, not sure whether to be ashamed or proud of my involuntary abstinence. “More than a year, actually. Roger and I didn’t exactly play hide le golf pencil for the last bit.”

“Well, your vagina has probably shrivelled into something that looks like a piece of dried fruit by now. Maybe a dirty romp with a French sausage is what you need.”

“My vagina is just fine, thank you.” I give her my best attempt at a snarl. “But this isn’t really about my naughty bits. It’s about me. I want to do something purely for myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that luxury.”

For a moment Jen’s face actually exhibits trace amounts of sympathy. This is what friends do—give you hell for your crazy decisions, then remember that they love you too much to be snarky for long.

“Fair enough,” she says. “Go to Paris and have a blast. You deserve it.”

I sit back in my seat and beam with satisfaction. She’s right.

I do.

“But there’s one thing I’m confused about,” she adds. Here it comes. “I thought you were looking for a new job? What happened to that plan?”

I bite my lip again. I do that when I’m nervous. “The search can wait a little while. Besides, I have another plan, one that I intend to set in motion while I’m in Paris.”

“Uh-huh.” Jen’s nodding, but her expression says What the hell are you up to?

“You know how my last job gave me a three-month severance because my boss was a douchebag with grabby hands and they didn’t want a sexual harassment lawsuit on their hands?”

“Yup, I’m all too familiar with Mr. Gropey and his penchant for ass-grabbery,” Jen replies, a flash of rage passing over her features. She and I have talked at length about my asshole former employer. Needless to say, she strongly encouraged my departure from the company where I worked as a woefully uninspired data entry specialist. Not only did I hate my job, but I hated that some days I was tempted to wear a sign that read:

My tits are not company property,

And my ass is not a hand-warmer.

“Well, that severance package gives me some time to ponder my next move. Plus…” Here it comes. The moment of truth. The greatest test our friendship has ever faced. Please, Jen, don’t snort-laugh at me. I muster every ounce of confidence that I have and look her in the eye. “I’ve been thinking, and I’ve decided I want to write a novel.”

“What?” The word shoots out of her like a bullet, her mouth dropping open for the hundredth time tonight. Everything I say is a shock to her system, poor woman. Well, at least she’s not snorting. Or laughing, for that matter.

“I have a degree in journalism and English Lit. I should be writing,” I tell her, determined to make her understand why I’d venture into a career that’s a massive financial risk, to put it mildly. “Writing is what I’ve always wanted to do.”

“Okay,” she says, placing her palms flat on the table. “Cool.”

I brace myself, ready to go on a tirade about how she should be more supportive, how this is my dream, how I want to be inspired by the romance of Paris, how…

Wait—was that it?

“Nothing?” I ask, dumbfounded. “No reaction?”

To my massive relief, her face lights up in the warmest smile I’ve ever seen. “Here’s my reaction: I want you to be happy. If writing makes you happy, you should do it. If going to Paris without your best friend makes you happy…”

“Ah ha! There’s the real issue at last,” I laugh. “You’re jealous as fuck.

“Of course I am. So jealous I could kill you.”

“That’s perfectly understandable. Just…do me one favour.”

“What?”

“Wait until after I get back to murder me, would you?”

* * *

On the afternoon of my departure I sort through my luggage at least fourteen times before finally zipping my suitcase shut. I’ve got almost every item of summer clothing that I own crammed in there, not to mention every pair of ugly panties in existence. Well, besides the pair that I’m wearing right now, which was apparently designed for someone with an ass the size of Mount Kilimanjaro. Speaking of which, have I mentioned that I loathe the word “panties?” Like, with the searing hot passion of ten thousand jalapeños covered in scorpions. I can’t think of a word in the English language that’s more repugnant. I’d sooner call the damn things snatch covers or bearded clam containment systems. Even pussy wrappers would be an improvement.

Note to self: buy new pussy wrappers in Paris. And not the stupid giant cotton sort with dainty flowers printed on them. Buy something that cries out for a Brazilian wax and a daily regimen of cellulite-reducing squats.

The red-eye is supposed to depart from JFK at 10:40 p.m., so like the anal freakazoid that I am, I take a cab and arrive at the terminal by 6:30. After lugging my almost-fifty-pound lime green suitcase (which I lovingly call the green monster) to the check-in counter and waving good-bye as it slips away on the conveyor belt, I sling my backpack over my shoulder and make my way through the long security line. The good news is that aside from a leery glance from one of the guards who seems to wonder about my taste in socks when he makes me remove my knee-high boots, it’s largely uneventful.

Over the years I’ve become a pro at flying. Roger’s family lived out west, and we used to do the airport shuffle all the time. I’ve learned to extract my laptop from my bag in advance, to pack all my liquids in ziploc bags and to be prepared to have a very unattractive, very hairy agent ask if I’d rather he grope my crotch in a super rapey way, or just put me into “the machine.” That’s what I call the the giant see-through tube which I’m convinced is just a means for a bunch of men to get their rocks off checking out women’s nipples through their shirts.

Thankfully, today I don’t get offered a pat-down or a boob-ogle, and things go swimmingly. Maybe the machine can sense that I’m wearing big ugly underpants and has rejected me on the basis that it doesn’t want to puke.

Once I’m through security and have slipped my boots back on, a feeling of profound relief sets in. The annoying bit is over. I am officially on my way to Paris, which means I’m officially free as a bird.

I stride confidently towards the first shop I see, one that sells travel pillows and glossy magazines coated in airbrushed celebrity faces. After purchasing the requisite bag of peanut M&Ms and the latest edition of People, I start my hunt for an appealing bar. But before I’ve taken three steps, my phone lets out a series of quacks, which can mean only one thing.

Jen’s sent me a text.

Quack, quack, quack. Make that two texts. I grab the cell and stare at the screen.

Text number one: Are you there yet?

Text number two: p.s. Look up verynaughtywildlife.com when you have a chance. It’s hilarious.

She’s piqued my interest, I’ll admit. But instead of standing in the middle of the airport and opening my web browser, I grab my bag and head to the pub across the way, whose name is Jimmy O’Beerstein’s or Pukey McIrish, or something equivalently drunken sounding. I don’t care about the name; all I know is that I want enough booze in me so that I stop feeling feelings, at least for the next several hours.

I grab a seat at the far end of the bar and paste the URL that Jen sent me into my phone’s browser. Almost immediately I gasp and cup my hand over my mouth to stifle the laughter. It would seem that she’s sent me to a site that sells sex toys and men’s underwear shaped like…wild animals. I’ve just paused on a dildo that resembles a very smug giraffe, complete with vibrating head. When the bartender saunters over, I quickly hit the button to darken the phone’s screen and smile up at him, trying my damnedest not to look like the sort of person who would cram a long-necked mammal into my hooha.

“Can I get you something?” he asks. His eyes are everywhere but on me, like he’s making sure no one is stealing his beer glasses. It’s just as well; I’ve pretty much resolved not to make eye contact with anyone male for the rest of my days.

“A gin and tonic,” I say. “Lots of gin.”

He flashes a dismissive smile that tells me the only way I’m getting extra gin is if I give him a blowjob, then disappears. I take advantage of the moment of silence to peruse the TV screens hanging above the bar area. There are four of them in front of me, all of which are showing the sorts of sports that men seem to enjoy for God only knows what reason. I guess this place isn’t exactly a haven for the fairer sex. Every screen in front of me is showing males playing with balls. I’m just going to put it out there: sports that involve the words “balls” and “dribbling” should be a lot more exciting than they are.

My eye is drawn away from the screens and over to a man pulling up a stool at the far end of the bar. He’s currently muttering something under his breath, like some invisible irritant is bugging the hell out of him.

But that’s not what’s captured my interest. Not even close. Yes, fine, I’d promised not to stare at men, but I can’t help myself. Not this time.

He’s the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen, and Independent Adriana wants to do unspeakable things to his body.

Chiseled jaw, dusted with just the right amount of stubble. Sexy, dark eyebrows. Thick, brown, close-cropped hair that’s a little longer on top than at the sides. He has the look of an athlete about him, and all of a sudden like clouds have parted inside my brain, I understand the appeal of sports. Then again, he could be a rich businessman, given that he’s dressed to the nines. No, make that the elevens. His dark suit has a bit of a metallic sheen, like raw silk. It’s cut to enhance his shape, which as far as I can tell is pretty damned beautiful. Judging by the way his clothes hug his muscles they’re in love with his body. And who the hell can blame them? If I got to press myself against that taut flesh I’d never let go either.

His clothing is the sort that you’d expect to see on a billionaire in one of those romance books where a young, virginal thing gets seduced by a slightly older man with smouldering eyes, a spanking paddle and money to burn.

And his face? Let’s just say if David Beckham managed to splice with a young Harrison Ford and then scientists genetically enhanced him by turning the Perfection Button to eleven, well, they’d end up with this guy.

He’s got my loins in a serious tizzy, and I’m enjoying the sensation far too much.

Stop looking at him, Adriana. You promised yourself you wouldn’t do this.

Thing is, I can’t stop. Because I may never get to behold such a sexy god-man again. So like an idiot I keep staring.

I’m only going to do it for a minute.

I can quit anytime, I swear.

Fuck it, I don’t care. Going to keep looking.

Oh, good. He’s on the phone now, which gives me a perfect opportunity for more open-mouthed gawking.

A broad chest is tugging at the buttons on his shirt, trying like hell to pop them off as he shifts his weight around on the barstool. My eyes are greeted by a hard, flat stomach, no doubt creased by defined six-pack muscles that would feel pretty damn good under my fingertips. Or my tongue. 
Let me lick your six pack, young Harrison Ford. 
His pants are fitted to the point where even from a distance, I can see an impressive bulge between his legs. 
Let me lick your pant-bulge, David Beckham’s younger brother.
And that face. Damn. I sort of want to lick that, too. Maybe I’m morphing into some sort of freakish beagle-poodle cross.

My ugly panties are threatening to melt into nothingness. Or maybe they’ll just run away screaming for fear that he’ll somehow catch a glimpse of their decrepitude over the waistband of my jeans. Either way, I want them to disappear. This man is definitely worthy of a woman who’s gone full-on commando.

MUST.

STOP.

LOOKING.

No man who makes my underwear want to erode to nothingness can actually be healthy. Every sensible woman knows that a man who makes a woman’s panties wet just by stepping into the room is one of two things:

  1. A) a player who chews women up and spits them out, or
  2. B) a sparkly vampire.

I haven’t seen his canines, but I seriously doubt if he sucks blood. He’s too tanned.

But he does have Player written all over him. With a capital P.

There’s another negative, too. Something in his expression exudes superiority and grumpiness. There’s an “I hate everyone, and you can bite me if you think you’re worthy of my time” attitude in his scowl that turns me off. Yep, Mr. Hostile may look good, but he probably tastes like bitter apple.

I finally avert my eyes, satisfied that I’ve just proven I can resist any man, no matter how hot. Independent Adriana has won her first meagre battle. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I totally want Mr. Hostile to strip me naked, bend me over the bar and shove his (probably) twelve-inch dick inside me before we’ve even introduced ourselves. I want him to take my renewed virginity away in a flurry of scream-inducing thrusts. But I definitely don’t want to talk to him.

I give myself a mental pat on the back and smile. Good job, Adriana. Way to reject a man who’s way out of your league and doesn’t even know you exist. That shows real fortitude.

Turning my eyes back to the televised lime-green ass of some golfer bending down to get his ball out of a hole, I let out a sigh of satisfaction.

 

 

Chapter 2:

CONLON

 

“Fuckery,”  I mutter as I toss my carry-on down at the foot of the barstool, only to catch sight of my churlish expression in the mirrored backsplash half concealed behind the array of overpriced, second-rate liquor on the other side of the bar.

A grumpy bastard, that’s what I see. All right, so I’m not nice to know. I’m nothing more than a British arsehole in an expensive suit. Pissed off for every reason in the book, and yet for no reason at all. I snarl Fuck you at strangers without even opening my damned frowning mouth.

Resting bitch face, that’s what they call this look on women. Is there no name for the male equivalent? Reposing shithead? Fucker-itis? Chronic bastard syndrome?

Well, who the hell cares? I’m not here to look charming; I’m here to wait among a throng of smelly strangers for my damned flight’s gate announcement, so that I can make my way to some waiting area full of sweaty human cattle and then wait some more.

Thank Christ for Executive Class, that’s all I have to say. At least when I get on the plane I can put my head back on a cushy seat and ignore the world around me without risk of touching whoever’s sitting next to me. I suspect that physical contact from me would be like that of an electric eel; I’d cause instant paralysis and a slow death. I pity any human who’s forced into my personal space over the next several hours.

“Can I help you?” asks the approaching bartender, who seems mercifully oblivious to my hostile exterior.

“Your most expensive scotch. A double,” I growl low. Good lord, the wanker needs a shave. Then again, so do I. My five-o’clock shadow has become a nine-o’clock one, and I think it’s passed the point of attractive sophistication and moved into rancid hobo territory.

“You’re British,” the guy says, as though I haven’t figure that out in all my thirty years.

“I’m aware,” I reply, more snark in my voice than should exist anywhere. Sorry, mate, I want to add. But he’s already gone to fetch my drink. Clever man lays my scotch in front of me in a matter of seconds, no doubt sensing my desperation. But before I’ve taken my first sip, my phone buzzes. I extract it from my pocket, ready to dash it against the far wall when I see the name on the screen:

Arse Face.

“Hello? Is this the pasty wanker with chronic halitosis?” I say once I’ve pressed the mobile to my ear.

“No, it’s the handsome one whose breath smells of roses in springtime.”

“Ah, my mistake. I thought it was my idiot brother.”

Galen lets out a chuckle. “Fuck you for that. I’m just calling to see where you are. I thought you’d be back in Paris by now. It’s past bleedin’ midnight in this part of the world.”

“Not yet. Missed my damned flight,” I growl, like it’s anyone’s fault but mine. “I won’t be in til morning. I’ve been sitting around sodding JFK, the whore of all airports, for seven wretched god-damned hours. Moving from bar to bar just to keep myself sane.”

“And is it working?”

“Not quite. I’m fairly irritable at the moment. Bordering on psychotic.”

“What’s the problem, then? Did you eat some dodgy clams?”

I snicker. “Not quite. You know why I flew to New York, yeah?”

“Yeah. To meet with some writer about your memoir, though if you ask me it’s a bit premature. Aren’t those things for people with one foot in the grave?”

“It’s not a biography, you tosser. The board thinks someone should document the evolution of the company with some factoids about yours truly thrown in for good measure.”

“So you met with the writer then?” asks Galen.

“No. Well, yes. Met with him. The issue is that he’s not a writer. He gave me a chapter of what he’d been working on and it was pure shite. It read like a a children’s book, but without the compelling plot.”

“Right. So I take it you’ve decided to go another way?”

“Yes. Trouble is that I have no one else in mind. But more immediately, I’m enraged to have flown across the ocean to meet with an idiot. I could put my fist through a wall, to be honest.”

“Uh-oh. Glad I’m nowhere near you.” Galen pauses for a moment. That’s never good; it means the fucker is thinking. “You know, if you had a lady friend to take on these trips, perhaps you’d be a little more calm.”

“I have plenty of lady friends.”

“You have friends who are women, and then there are the women you fuck and leave in a trail of tears and broken dreams. Neither of those qualifies as what I’m talking about. Besides which, I can’t recall the last time you told me you were going on a date.”

“You’re talking about commitment. Monogamy. One man, one woman. Actual, meaningful conversations.”

“All of the above, yes. You should try it sometime.” Galen’s gone sincere. Such a good, protective younger sibling, looking out for his heartless brother’s happiness.

I pause for a moment, pretending to have gone deep into a state of focused thought. “Nah, I’m good on my own.”

“Conlon.” Galen only ever calls me by my name when he’s being hyper-earnest.

“Galen,” I reply.

“You’re not happy.”

“I’m content.”

“You exist. That’s about all that I can say for you.”

“I appreciate your concern, but the love of my life is right in front of me. A glass of scotch called Balvenie. She’s a beautiful, russet-haired goddess and I will treat her with all the care in the world until she’s entirely in my belly. Ours will be a love for the ages.”

Another pregnant pause. “I worry about you, mate.” Still earnest. He’s killing me. “I don’t want you ending up like dad.”

Right. Now I’m getting irritated. I don’t particularly want to delve into that territory. “Is that why you called? To talk about dad?”

“No, to be fair. Just wondering if you’d made it back yet. Oh, and to give you some news.”

“News, is it?”

“Yeah. Just got home from what is likely my last ever night out with Brittany. I’m afraid an era has come to its end.”

“Big-tits Brit,” I bellow a little more loudly than I should. The thing is, my brother’s on-again off-again relationship for two years has been with a pair of large breasts. Brittany is not exactly a genius and has little to offer other than some size triple-H flotation devices. I’m afraid I’ve teased him about them for some time, and I have no intention of stopping now. “You’ve had enough of getting slapped in the face by giant fatty deposits, have ya?”

Galen laughs. I can tell that he’s not heartbroken, which alleviates any guilt I might feel at being a cruel older sibling.

“Let’s just say things fizzled. A gentleman never reveals.”

“She dumped you. Massive-Breasts-Brittany let you go.”

“Stop talking about her chest, you perv,” he says, but I can still hear the laughter in his voice.

“Mountains, they were. The Himalayas. At the very least, the Grand Tetons. The eighth and ninth wonders of the natural world.” I’m bellowing again, drawing looks from the wankers in the pub. Well, sod it. I’m having fun.

“Yes, well, her giant orbs and I have parted ways for good this time. I feel that the world should have a chance to enjoy them as I did.”

“Hey, I’m just glad you didn’t suffocate under their mass. Well done, old chap.”

“Thanks. On to greener pastures, or something. Time to be single for a little.”

“Good. I highly recommend it as a default state, as you know.”

“I’m all too aware, Mr. Eligible Bachelor of the year 2015.” Galen is making reference to an article in an English magazine from a couple of seasons back. Thank God they didn’t list me this year; I hated the attention.

“Listen,” I say, changing the subject with ninja-like reflexes, “I’ll be home by eleven or so tomorrow morning. I’ll send you a text when I get in. Will I see you later this week?”

“Absolutely. I need some adjustments done, so I’ll set up a time with your people.”

“Fine. Just let me know when you’re in town and I’ll come pick you up.”

“Great, thanks.”

“And Galen—about Brittany, I’m sorry. I hope you’re not too down about it.”

“Thanks, mate. I’ll be fine.”

“You didn’t let me finish. I’m sorry that you’ll no longer be able to motorboat those massive tracts of—”

“Bye, ya great wanker.”

“Bye, Gale.”

I hang up, laughing quietly to myself, my mood temporarily improved. I shouldn’t tease Galen for his disastrous love life, but it’s just too tempting. My brother tends to fall hard for women who are terrifically bad for him. Besides, I’ve told him many times that he should follow my enduring advice:

Fall for no one.

I’ve had a lot of women. It’s nothing to brag about; it just means I’ve given my soul away, little by little. Each one I’ve been with has kept some small piece of me and now there’s little left of me, except for the physical. Don’t get me wrong; the physical works very, very well. Nothing gives me more pleasure than feeling a woman’s hips gyrate under the light touch of my tongue, and I refuse as a rule to leave a woman unsatisfied. I don’t even mind if she leaves me with a painful hard-on, so long as I get what I want.The important thing is that she leave.

Because I don’t want to be stuck in a relationship, mired down in the painful duty of looking after someone. I don’t want another person depending on me. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I don’t want the sodding t-shirt, either.

Speaking of sex, women, and hardening cocks, my eyes drag to the end of the bar where a lovely—very lovely—young thing is sitting upright and alone, delicate right hand on her glass, funny little smile on her face.

Correction: she’s not just a lovely young thing.

She’s a SILF.

A stranger I’d love to fuck.

There’s something unrelentingly sexy about her that I can’t immediately define. I’m not sure if it’s the upturned lips, or the way her fingertips are fondling her glass. Her well-fitted jeans accentuate curvy gams in tall boots tangled around the metal legs of her barstool in exactly the way I’d like them to be wrapped around my hips. She never stops moving, whether it’s to shift in her seat or just to turn her head and look around. There’s a sense of excitement about her that’s all but contagious, enervating. Some part of me wants to go over there, spin her around and press her back into the bar so I can kiss that far-too-happy smile off her face. Or maybe I just want to steal some of her bliss for myself.

Either way, I slightly resent the fact that she’s drawing me in. The evil seductress is actually making my cock hard with her enticing allure, absolutely destroying any remaining traces of my foul mood.

Damn you, woman.

A happy person in an airport seems an impossibility, so something must definitely be very wrong with her. Maybe she just read one of those “Ten Ways to Have an Orgasm Whilst Sitting in an Airport Waiting Area” articles in a dreadful women’s magazine. That would explain why she keeps shifting in her seat, not to mention why she seems so sodding happy.

God, I wish my face were that seat.

Fuck it. Insane a thought though it may be, I’m going to speak to her. Curious and punch-drunk, I stand up, drink in one hand, and pick up my carry-on bag. I stride over and thrust my arse onto the stool next to hers, my head turned to stare at her some more.

Good God, she’s even prettier up close. Blond hair, green eyes, poreless skin that’s not concealed behind the mask of spackle-like foundation that so many women inflict on their faces. This one is a natural beauty.

For a moment she looks my way. But she turns her gaze away just as quickly, her smile fading fast. Is that a blush on her cheeks, or irritation?

There’s only one sure way to find out.  I have no idea what I’m doing; I’m not generally the sort to chat up young women in airport bars. Women normally approach me. It’s one of the many benefits of being stinking rich and vaguely famous. But sod it, I’ve got hours to kill, and it’s not like I’ll ever see her again.

“Where are you headed?” I ask.

And so it begins.

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