Daisy stared at herself in the mirror over the sink and thought with a thrill that she looked pretty darn good.
Her dress was green to match her eyes, and although it was perfectly appropriate for a five-o’clock wedding, it was sexier than what she normally wore with its sleek shape and slight flare above her knees. She turned a bit to make sure the curve of her butt wasn’t too pronounced.
It was pronounced, but hopefully not unattractively so.
“Your ass looks fantastic,” Chloe said with a grin as she came out from one of the bathroom stalls.
“I wasn’t looking at it.” Daisy gave her butt another quick glance to verify that it did indeed look fantastic.
Chloe laughed uninhibitedly as she washed her hands. “You can act all sweet, innocent librarian all you want, but you’ve got a wild side in there somewhere that I’m going to set loose eventually.”
Daisy gave her friend an appreciative smile and didn’t argue. Out loud anyway.
She knew the truth. She didn’t have a wild side. She was a sweet and (mostly) innocent librarian. She was twenty-four, and she’d only had one serious boyfriend. She went to church every Sunday, and she’d been raised to never swear, never drink, and never, ever let boys touch her in naughty ways.
She might not have lived up to those rules perfectly—and lately she’d been working on being herself and not just who she was raised to be—but she certainly wasn’t close to Chloe’s level of wildness. Daisy had met Chloe at Preston’s Mill, their apartment building in a small town in eastern Virginia, and they’d become friends immediately. Chloe was fun and fearless and had traveled all over the world, and she was always encouraging Daisy to spread her wings a little further.
Daisy was trying. But there was no way she’d ever spread her wings as far as Chloe did on a regular basis.
She would always be a quiet, small-town girl at heart.
“We’ve got to try to find you a man tonight,” Chloe said conspiratorially as they were leaving the bathroom.
“Ha ha,” Daisy replied dryly.
“Why do you mock? There must be a few eligible men around. Half of Preston is here tonight—plus tons of people from surrounding areas.”
“Chris and Heather were both raised in Preston, so they know everyone.”
Daisy had been raised in Preston too. She was a couple of years younger than Heather, the bride of today’s wedding, so they hadn’t been really close. But she knew almost everyone in town.
She also knew there weren’t any interesting single men lurking in the shadows of the reception hall, a large ballroom in a lovely Victorian house that was now hired out for weddings and other occasions.
As she and Chloe reentered the room, Daisy’s eyes immediately strayed toward the far corner where the man she’d noticed before was still lurking in the shadows.
She wasn’t sure why she’d noticed him earlier except he was sitting alone and seemed so out of place. He was tall and well built with unruly dark hair. He was dressed in all black, and he’d evidently made a gesture toward wedding attire with a jacket, but his shirt didn’t have a collar.
He looked rough. Intimidating. Not particularly friendly.
He wasn’t even very handsome—at least not the type of looks Daisy had always gravitated toward. She wasn’t sure why she kept sneaking looks at him.
“You’re just scared,” Chloe said as they returned to the table they’d been sitting at earlier.
The reception was lovely and generously stocked with food, but it wasn’t a formal banquet dinner, and there wasn’t assigned seating. Daisy enjoyed these kinds of receptions more. They didn’t feel so stiff and artificial. The band was playing a good variety of music, and there were a lot of people dancing—but mostly kids bopping around and older couples who clearly knew all the old steps.
“I’m just scared about what?” she asked Chloe, trying to think back to their earlier conversation.
“About coming on to men.”
Daisy sucked in a sharp breath. “I’m not scared about that. There aren’t any men here to come on to.”
“I’m sure I can find you a few. Then what would you do? You’d be too afraid to make a move on them.”
“If there are eligible men around, I wouldn’t be afraid.”
It was a lie. Daisy never came on to men. She’d always waited for them to make the first move, which was why she was often waiting a very long time between dates.
“Are you willing to prove it?”
“Prove it how?”
“If I find three eligible guys, will you come on to them?”
Daisy went still. They’d been joking around before, but Chloe was entirely capable of making good on this particular dare. “What do you mean, come on to them?”
“I mean you have to go over to them, start a conversation, and do a little flirting.”
“And that’s all?”
“That’s all. Best to start with baby steps with you, I think.”
Daisy frowned, although she knew her friend wasn’t serious.
She was by nature fairly conservative and by upbringing rather sheltered, but she wasn’t a child or a coward. She could do something other women might consider normal—even if she’d never done it before.
“Is it a deal?” Chloe asked.
Daisy never would have agreed had she not felt like she had something to prove—to herself even more than to Chloe. She didn’t want to be trapped by her own insecurities. Her heart was already hammering in her chest, but she was going to do this. “It’s a deal.”
Chloe looked delighted and a little surprised. “Okay. Great. We’ll start easy then. The guy with the glasses over there.”
Daisy glanced over and recognized the man as a cousin of one of her old classmates. He was pleasant-looking and a little shy. She breathed out in relief.
She could do this.
She could do it.
She stood up, aware of Chloe watching with amused interest, and she went over to talk to him. She felt a little stupid as she sat down in an empty chair at his table, but she relaxed when he smiled, recognized her, and looked happy to talk with her.
It was easy. He was perfectly nice, if a little boring. She laughed a lot and touched his hand, his arm, so Chloe would believe she’d been flirting.
It was clear to see that the man would be very happy to continue talking to her, but Daisy didn’t actually want to lead him on, so she ended the conversation with a smile and returned to Chloe.
Chloe was laughing, clearly pleased with her friend’s success, and she’d gotten them both fresh glasses of champagne so they could toast Daisy’s victory.
“Okay. That one was easy. Now you have to do that guy over there near the bar. The one with the flashy watch.”
Daisy turned to look and immediately saw the one Chloe meant. She didn’t recognize him, so he must not be from town. He was quite handsome in a charming, entitled way, and he looked like he was used to having his way with women. That would make him challenge enough, but he wasn’t standing alone. He was chatting with two pretty, single women, who were both clearly flirting with him.
And Daisy was going to have to go over there, bust into their conversation, and somehow try to win him away from the other women.
She swallowed hard.
“You can always admit you’re not up to the challenge,” Chloe murmured.
Daisy squared her shoulders. “I am up to it. I’ll do it.”
She walked over to the man in a blur, an anxious stupor taking over her movements, and she almost wilted in relief when, as she got closer, she recognized one of the women.
So when she got to the bar, she greeted the woman, having to remind her of how they’d had biology class together in high school.
They chatted for a minute, and the woman introduced her to the other woman and then the man.
As Daisy turned her smiles on the man, she was aware of how the other women looked annoyed.
Maybe this was normal practice for some women, to horn in on other groupings and take the attention of the best man.
Daisy didn’t like it though. It felt rude. And kind of selfish. But she had something to prove here, and so she tittered with laughter at a stupid joke the man made and did her best to look alluring.
She must have been successful because the man said how much he loved redheads and asked if she wanted another drink.
She said she did, and they walked away from the other two women.
There. That would prove to Chloe that she’d appropriately come on to this man. She’d earned his attention, and he evidently wanted to keep talking to her. She sipped a new glass of champagne, put up with his silly compliments about her long red hair, and finally got so annoyed with his obnoxious attitude and the way he kept flashing his ridiculously expensive watch that she made an excuse and returned to Chloe.
“That was fantastic,” Chloe said, brimming with excitement. “Did you see those other girls’ faces when you took him away from them?”
“Yes,” Daisy admitted, flushed with her third glass of champagne and with a kind of power she didn’t often feel. “Although it feels like a mean thing to do.”
“It wasn’t mean. That’s the way it always is. All’s fair and all that.”
“Okay. Fine. So who is the last one? Or do you just give up now that I’ve proven I’m more than up to this challenge?”
“I’m not giving up. I’ve got your last guy all picked out for you.” She nodded toward the far corner of the room. “There. The guy by himself.”
Daisy tensed up, knowing even before she looked who Chloe was referring to. The rough, intimidating guy she’d been sneaking looks at all evening. “He’s not eligible!”
“What do you mean, he’s not eligible? He’s been alone the whole time. He doesn’t have a date. I don’t think he looks married, but if you find out he is, just say ‘whoops’ and get the hell out of there. No big deal.”
“But what?” Chloe was grinning wickedly now. “You’re throwing in the towel, aren’t you?”
“No. I’m not.” Daisy gulped. Was she really going to have to go over there and talk to that guy? What on earth would she even say? She had no thin connection with him to initiate the first contact the way she had with the other two men. She had nothing but a blunt, open approach.
“So do it. He’s been watching you.”
“He has not been watching me.” She knew that for sure because every time she glanced over, his eyes were focused on something else.
“Yes, he has. But it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to go talk to him anyway or else admit you’re not up to it.”
“I am up to it.” She swallowed down the rest of her champagne and then stood up, her head spinning a little from nerves or alcohol or both. “Okay. Here I go.”
She didn’t move.
“Anytime now,” Chloe prompted.
“I’m going. Right. Now.”
Daisy finally managed to make her feet move, and she forced them to head toward the corner. She was halfway there when the man’s eyes landed on her, and his gaze didn’t falter as she approached.
He knew she was coming over to him.
There was no face-saving excuse with this one.
She was breathless and almost numb with fear when she reached his table. Her knees wouldn’t hold her, so she sat down on the chair next to him. “Hi,” she said stupidly.
He raised his dark eyebrows. “Hi.”
His eyes were blue. Very blue. She couldn’t help but notice. He needed to shave—or maybe he was growing a beard. And there were tattoos all over his forearms, exposed now that he’d taken off his jacket.
She was going to have to come on to a guy with tattoos all down his arms.
“You’re sitting all alone,” she managed to say when it was clear he wasn’t going to help her out in making conversation.
“So you felt sorry for me?” His voice was deep, slightly gruff. Definitely sardonic.
“No. Just being friendly.”
“Is that what you call it?”
She was getting confused now. Her mind was slightly clouded from the three glasses of champagne. “What I call what?”
“It looks more like you have some kind of bet going with your friend.” He inclined his head toward where Chloe was sitting and blatantly staring at them.
“There’s no bet.”
“Really? Because I just saw you come on to two other guys and then walk away when they responded.”
She gulped. “It wasn’t a bet.”
“Then what was it?”
“I was just… just proving something.”
“Proving what? How men will make asses of themselves when faced with a pair of green eyes and a hot body? Because I’d have thought that has already been proven over and over again throughout history.”
He was smart. She could see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice. And he had a dry sense of humor. She liked both those things.
She also liked the strongly chiseled lines of his face and the breadth of his shoulders.
He was big and solid. Man all the way through.
“That’s not what I was trying to prove,” she said.
“Then what?” He asked the question like he had the right to know, even though they didn’t even know each other’s names.
“Just proving something to myself.” She wasn’t sure why she was telling him the truth.
“What did you need to prove to yourself? You must know how gorgeous you are.”
She didn’t know. She’d always figured she was pretty enough, but guys had never been knocking down doors to get to her. But she couldn’t help but flush with pleasure at the heated interest in his eyes.
He thought she was gorgeous. That much was clear.
“Not that,” she said, answering his question. “Just that I can… I can do things other women can do.”
“Things like what?” He seemed to really want to know.
“Come on to men.” No sense in pretense now. He evidently knew when she was lying to him or playing games.
“You really thought you couldn’t come on to men? Angel, all you have to do is show up.”
Her cheeks burned even hotter, and the pleasure washed down from her chest to her belly—and then even lower.
“So you came over here to come on to me?” he asked, swallowing down the last of the scotch in his glass.
She cleared her throat. “Yes.”
“And what was your plan?”
“I didn’t have a plan. Is that something women plan out in advance?”
“Oh. I was just making it up as I went along.”
He chuckled, low in his throat. The sound seemed to vibrate through her whole body. “I see. Well, I’m waiting here breathlessly to see how you’ll proceed.”
He was teasing her, and she liked it. Her mind buzzed as she tried to keep up with his wit. “Oh. Well, maybe you get me another drink, and we’ll see what happens.”
The man laughed appreciatively and stood up. As he strode over to the bar—damn, the man had a great butt and amazing arms—Daisy tried not to giggle in excitement. She looked over to Chloe and saw she’d gone to talk to a few other friends. But she gave Daisy a grin and a silly thumbs-up sign before she looked away.
Daisy laughed out loud by herself at the table.
Was she really doing this? Flirting with a sexy stranger?
He returned with two glasses of scotch.
She frowned. “I was drinking champagne.”
“I know you were. But if you want to come on to me, you’ll have to drink something less fizzy.”
She didn’t like whiskey, but she took a swallow anyway. It burned her throat and filled her with a pleasant heat.
He nodded in approval. “I’m Carter,” he said.
“Daisy. It’s nice to meet you.”
“I have a feeling it’s going to be very nice to meet you.”
An hour later—a lot of flirty conversation and two more scotches each—and Daisy was flying high.
She wasn’t even sure how it had happened, but they were stumbling down a hallway in the old Victorian mansion, looking for a private room.
For the past thirty minutes, Carter had been touching her a lot—kissing her hand, stroking her bare arm with his fingertips—and between that, the alcohol, and his throaty drawl, she was so turned on she could hardly see straight.
He was evidently just as aroused. His cheeks were slightly flushed, and a delicious tension filled his body.
He pushed open a partly cracked door to discover a little sitting room. “This will do,” he growled, pulling her in with him.
He closed the door and pushed her against the wall, kissing her hard.
Her body throbbed with pleasure as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back. Nothing had ever felt so good. Nothing in her whole life. His hard body was pressed against her completely, and every inch of him was hot, was strong, was man.
She could feel his arousal in the bulge he kept grinding against her.
“You sure you want to do this, angel,” he murmured thickly, pulling out of the kiss to nibble a delicious line down her throat.
“Yeah.” She arched against him in helpless pleasure. “Oh yeah. Please.”
“You’re not too drunk?”
“I’m a little drunk,” she admitted. “But not too drunk to know what I want. I’ve never wanted anything more.”
It was true. It was absolutely true.
She might be buzzing from the alcohol, but her mind was still working. This was a choice she was making, and it was exactly what she wanted.
“Damn, I’m glad to hear that.” His hands were all over her now, stroking up and down the curves of her body.
She’d always wished she wasn’t quite so curvy so she could look more like the stylish girls her age, but he seemed to appreciate her body. He couldn’t stop touching it, and the fire in his eyes kept burning even hotter as he gazed at her.
Then they were kissing again, and he was walking her over to a console table against a wall. When her ass hit the edge of it, she gave a little “oof” at the impact.
She was so aroused she was throbbing with it, and she kept lifting one of her legs, trying to wrap it around him so she could get more pressure where she needed it.
He helped her by pushing up her skirt and then lifting her up to prop her on the table. She wrapped her legs around him eagerly and gave herself over to the feelings.
By now, he’d managed to unzip her dress and pull her breasts out of her bra. He lowered his head to nip at them, causing her to cry out at the intense jolts of pleasure. In their position, he couldn’t do much more than that, and both of them were too far gone to take the time anyway.
He slipped a hand inside her underwear so he could finger her, and she whimpered and rocked her hips in response.
“You like that?” he murmured hoarsely.
“Oh God, yeah! Keep touching me like that. Just like that.”
“Damn, you’re hot when you’re turned on. Who knew such a little angel could let go like this? You’re the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.”
She experienced the oddest sort of pride—that she was that kind of woman, that she was capable of being so wild and spontaneous. And sexy.
She’d never dreamed it was possible for her.
He kept moving his fingers inside her until the pleasure coiled up and broke unexpectedly. She cried out loudly as she came, trapped between the wall and his body, propped up on the table.
“There you go, angel,” he was murmuring, his eyes devouring her face and body. “There you go. So good. Damn, that was gorgeous.”
Her body throbbed in satisfaction as he finally removed his hand.
“Do you have a condom?” she asked, her groggy mind managing to land on one reality she didn’t want to forget.
“Yeah.” He reached into his back pocket.
She wondered if he always carried condoms around with him.
She wondered if most men did.
She’d only had one boyfriend—the guy she’d dated all through college and had briefly been engaged to—and he’d never had condoms available at a moment’s notice.
But maybe some guys did.
She was infinitely grateful for it now as they both worked on undoing his pants and rolling on the condom. His erection was big and hard, and she couldn’t wait to feel it inside her.
He adjusted their bodies so he could enter her, and she wrapped her legs around him tightly as he sank in.
Both of them groaned at the penetration.
“Jesus,” he hissed through his teeth, holding on to her ass tightly. “Jesus, you feel so good.”
He felt good too. Better than anything.
She wriggled as her body relaxed around him and started to need even more.
He levered his hips and pushed into her with a short, hard thrust.
She cried out, dropping her head back as the sensations slammed into her.
“Like that?” he asked, his body so tight it was almost shuddering.
“Yeah. Yeah. More. I need more.”
He took her like that, propped up on the table with her legs wrapped around him, and she’d never known it was possible to feel so sexy and uninhibited. She tried to keep her voice down since there were people all over the building, but she couldn’t stay quiet. Every time he pushed into her, a helpless sound of pleasure escaped her lips.
When she felt the sensations start to tighten into another orgasm, she started to urge him on. “Harder. Faster. More. Please more.”
He was taking her hard now, almost roughly, and he was grunting with a primal passion as he thrust.
She bit down on her bottom lip hard as a climax ripped through her, causing her to shake and shudder. Then he was coming too, letting out a long, low exclamation that sounded like, “angel” as he let himself go.
And all of it felt good. Amazing. Exactly what she wanted.
Until she started to come down from her climax and realized she’d just had sex with a stranger at a wedding reception.
His name was Carter, but that was all she knew about him.
She wasn’t this sort of person.
She felt weird and achy as she unwound her legs and he pulled out of her.
“Damn, what a mess,” he muttered as he started to take care of the condom.
She was wet between her legs. Really wet. And it seemed to emphasize that maybe she hadn’t really thought things through as much as she’d believed.
Carter was looking down at the condom as she readjusted her panties and smoothed down her dress.
She was suddenly terrified. The heated fog was lifting in her mind, and she had no idea what she’d been thinking.
Her legs were sore. She was sore inside. Her whole body was sore.
She gasped and hurried toward the door, wanting only to be alone so she could think.
“Angel, wait—” Carter began.
She didn’t wait. “Sorry,” she said, swinging open the door. “I’ve got to go.”
And with that, she ran down the hall.
(Copyright © 2017 by Noelle Adams and Samantha Chase. All rights reserved)