Home > Exposed (VIP #4)(3)

Exposed (VIP #4)(3)
Author: Kristen Callihan

Fuck it. I refuse to be ashamed of my needs. Straightening my back, I reapply my lipstick and leave.

I’m no more than three steps out the bathroom door when I nearly collide with a hard, looming chest, only narrowly stopping short of running into it. “Excuse me, I didn’t see you…”

My words trail off in horror as I get a good look at the guy.

Rye Peterson—personal nemesis, general pain in the ass—leans one massive shoulder against the wall as if he’s been waiting for me. He’s a world-famous rock star, but he doesn’t look like one. Tall, broad, with tight muscles and spiky dark-blond hair, he’d easily be mistaken for a football player.

Most people consider him laid-back, the guy who will hand you a beer and make you laugh with a dirty joke. And he is that guy—to everyone else. With me? He’s the devil, lying in wait to exploit any sign of weakness. My reaction to Rye may not always be logical but it’s definitely visceral.

The blood drains out of my face when he gives me that smile of his, the smug, wide one he uses when he has something on me. The one that says he’s going to make me squirm and enjoy every damn minute of it.

But for once his voice isn’t teasing; it’s dark and deep, almost hard, when he says, “Let’s talk.”





Every man has a weakness. Every dog has its day. Those two truths collided in spectacular fashion the second I learned that Brenna James—my one true weakness—is in desperate need of great sex. She aches for it. Every night.

Goddamn, I’m still hard at the thought. Not just hard—hot, so freaking hot, I’m surprised my skin isn’t visibly steaming. It takes true effort to affect a pose of nonchalance and play the part Brenna expects of me—teaser, tormentor, fool.

I’m almost sorry I’ve unearthed the knowledge that she goes about her days wanting—needing—hands on her skin, a mouth on her clit. Jesus, it’s almost too much to handle. Almost.

But dog that I am, this feels like a change in the wind. Her secret is out, and hell if I’m going to ignore it. I hadn’t tried to eavesdrop. Okay, that’s a lie. The second I’d recognized Brenna’s voice behind me, I’d listened in. I’m not proud of it, but the woman has a way of bringing out the juvenile in me. Except hearing her desires and the longing in her voice brought up an emotion I haven’t truly experienced when it comes to Brenna—empathy.

Not that Bren would believe me; she thinks I’m a dog when it comes to women. In many ways I am—simple things make me happy, and I’m loyal to the people I love. I do not, however, take advantage of women. I just love being with them. So much so that I seek their company as often as I can. But that great, off-the-walls, gotta-have-it sex she’s been dreaming about? It’s as elusive for me as it is for her.

So, yeah, I empathize.

But when she’d said she was considering hiring someone to give it to her?

Hell. No. Just, no. I can’t know this and let it go.

The question is: What to do now that I’ve cornered Brenna? Over the years, our interactions have become mostly that of pride-based one-upmanship. For reasons I’ve never wanted to examine too closely, we’re constantly trying to prove to one another that we’re invulnerable, that we don’t care what the other thinks. In short, we lie spectacularly to each other. The fact that I’ve overheard her confession must be killing her.

She’s glaring hate fire up at me, which I know is a defensive measure. When it comes to the two of us, we both come out swinging, so very eager to hide any hint of weakness. God knows what evil deeds are racing behind her amber eyes. Oh, she’s definitely thinking about maiming me in creative ways. She’s always thinking that. The only difference here is that a tinge of mortification pulls at the corners of her shapely lips, and she’s glancing at the floor as if hoping it will open up and swallow her.

Despite what she thinks, I don’t relish her discomfort. I don’t even like it at the moment. Pushing off from the wall, I take a step in her direction. “I mean it, Bren. I heard what you said…” At this, her nostrils flare, a look of embarrassment flashing over her face. I forge on. “We need to talk.”

“No, we really don’t.”

It’s dim in the hallway, the red exit light overhead turning her pale skin magenta and her auburn hair blood red. I can almost imagine her bursting into flames and smiting me with her wrath.

“Yeah, we do. Come on, Bren. You can’t expect—”

“Just stop talking.” She shoves past me. “I’m not discussing this with you of all people.”

“But if you’d just listen—shit! Wait up.”

She’s fast on those heels, a lithe blade of speed and precision. She weaves through a crowd of guys in suits, and one of them whistles, making some overloud comment about her perky ass. I shoulder-check him as I barrel past, trying to keep up with Brenna.

Outside, she glances back and scowls when she catches sight of me. Her scathing curse and increased speed make me grin. Does she actually expect to shake me?

“You might as well slow down,” I say. “I’m walking you home.”

She lifts her chin and keeps up her pace. “Go away, pest.”

“That would be a no. Safety first, Bren.”

“Pfft. I don’t need a bodyguard. I could kick your ass if I wanted to.”

I shouldn’t find that hot. But of course, I do. “I have no doubt you’re a total badass, babe. But humor me, all right?”

Something in my voice must have gotten through because she relents with an aggrieved sniff and strides onward. The air is cold and crisp, our breath visible in the night. Brenna’s thin blouse can’t be keeping her warm. But since I know she’d only chuck my sweater into the street if I offered it to her, I shove my hands into my pockets and move to her side.

Now that we’re walking out in the open, she can’t outdistance me. In those insane heels of hers, Brenna is around five-foot-ten. But I still have several inches on her. Plus, her tight, absolute mind-fuck of a skirt doesn’t allow her to lengthen her stride.

She must realize this because she slows—just a little—not enough to concede defeat, but she’s no longer half-running. Her heels strike a click-click, clickety-click on the pavement. I hear that rhythm in my dreams sometimes. She’ll never know it, but that rhythm is the bass line for “Forget You.” No one will ever know that but me, though. A man has to keep some things to himself.

“I thought you were on a date,” she grinds out after a minute.

My lips twitch at the bitterness with which she says “date,” but I keep my tone bland. “I was. It ended early at the bar.”

This is a lie. There was no date. There hasn’t been for a while. But I’m not about to tell her why I couldn’t face family dinner tonight.

“Look,” she says all brisk business. “Whatever it is you think you heard—”

“Oh, I know what I heard.”

“—is none of your business.”

“I know that too.”

This earns me a fleeting gasp of shock, her amber eyes going wide. Then she huffs as though remembering she needs to stay mad to protect herself. “I cannot believe you eavesdropped on me. You should have said you were there.”

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