Summer Reading 2022
Cam Carter is young, hot, and cocky as hell. He’s loved by some, respected by many, and hated by more. He’ll do anything to win the next race, the championship, or the heart of the girl.
Lily is unlike any other challenge Cam has faced. Quiet, full-figured, and several years older, she’s trying everything she can to resist the pull of this bad boy of stock car racing.
Can they find a way to cross the finish line and take the checkered flag together? Or will obstacles and distractions, both inside and out, push against them until they crash and burn?
“What are you doing next month?”
Lily Jackson smiled at Candi’s tone. She couldn’t decide if it was excited or conspiratorial. Either way, her friend was up to something, which for Candi was a little out of character. “Nothing out of the ordinary. Why?”
“Want to come up for a few weeks? You haven’t visited in while and you can stay at my house. Won’t cost you a dime.”
Candi was right. Lily hadn’t been up to see her friends in some time. She didn’t make much, between her three jobs – substitute teacher, private music teacher, and chamber musician. But her expenses were minimal, and she lived simply enough.
“If you’re undecided,” Candi hurried to say, “how about I sweeten the deal?”
“I’m listening.” Lily was going to say yes no matter what Candi threw in, but she was curious.
“I’ve got race tickets.” Her sing-song voice teased and tempted. Candi really was pulling out all the stops and she knew the one thing Lily wouldn’t be able to resist was race tickets.
“There’s a catch, isn’t there?” Not that she cared. She was already mentally packing her suitcase and figuring out which Cam Carter tee shirts she would be taking with her.
He was her favorite driver and Lily hadn’t been to a stock car race in way too long. Daytona was her usual go-to for races as it was closer to Tallahassee than anywhere else. It would be nice to go with her friends up in Charlotte.
“Well, yes and no.”
“Yes and no?” Lily looked out the kitchen window into her small backyard. Her herb garden was beautiful this time of year, bright and green. Spring flowers were in full bloom, and the small water featured she’d had installed last summer sparkled in the sunshine. She loved her little house. It was a small haven she’d created for herself. Quiet, just like her. Well, except when it came to races. Then she got loud and rowdy. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“I’m not going to be here.”
“Where are you going to be?”
Lily’s reflection in the window showed her shock. “Italy? You’re finally going to do it?”
Candi had been talking for several years about going on a cooking tour in Italy. Cooking was her passion. She’d worked in enough kitchens, put herself through culinary school, and dreamt of opening her own restaurant. Lily couldn’t be more thrilled for her.
“I’m doing it. I quit my job, pulled out some money from my savings, and booked a tour.”
“That’s awesome. I’m thrilled for you.”
“Please say you’ll come stay at the house. You and Alli can go to the races together, spend some time wallowing in misery because you miss me so much…”
“You’ve planned it all out, huh?”
“I have. For months.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Not that Lily was surprised. Candi usually kept things quiet until the last minute, just as her next words confirmed.
“I know. I didn’t tell Alli, either. I wanted to make sure I could really do it, really afford it, really take that leap. I’m tired of playing it safe. I’ve never traveled like this on my own and you know me, sometimes I’m scared of my own shadow.”
Lily did know. Candi was beautiful, giving, and artistic. She was also self-conscious sometimes. Taking a trip like this would be huge for anyone, but for Candi, especially. “I’m proud of you. When do you leave?”
Candi sighed and Lily heard the relief in the exhalation. “In five days. Say you’ll come. Please.”
“I’ll be there in time to see you off.”
* * * * *
“Oh my God. Will you hurry up? He’s signing autographs today and we’re going to miss him.”
Lily turned at the high-pitched exclamation and was nearly run over by Alli, who was on her way to the gift shop exit. “Who?”
She’d been in Charlotte for two days and so far, the relaxing part of the trip hadn’t kicked in yet. She and Alli had taken Candi to the airport earlier and all Lily wanted was a nap. She wasn’t used to being up that early. Even during the school year, she wasn’t up at ungodly hours like four in the morning.
So, she was a little slow on the uptake at the moment.
“What do you mean who? Cam Carter that’s who.” Alli gushed and grabbed Lily by the hand. “C’mon. We need to hurry.”
Lily froze. Her knees locked which in turn jerked Alli to a stop.
Cam Carter was on site? Signing autographs and greeting fans? She’d never been one for celebrity crushes, but she had one on the twenty-six-year-old race car driver. Lily took one look at him when he first arrived on the national stock car scene and had literally whimpered. Out loud. No one had been around to hear it, but she knew. She’d gone so far as to start fantasizing about him, having dreams about him.
That was not like her. At. All.
Between she, Candi, and Alli, Lily was the least romantic of the three.
She couldn’t go near him. Not if there was a chance that she’d make a complete fool of herself. It was bad enough robbing the cradle in the privacy of her own mind, but to look into his intense gray eyes and see the smile that made her bite her lip every time she saw him on TV? Nope.
“You go on,” she urged Alli. “I’ll wait in the car.”
It was a lame attempt to get out of the surprising situation, and she knew Alli would call her on it.
“The hell you will. You’re coming with me. Candi dragged us out of bed and the only thing keeping you and I from going back to her place to crash is this grand tour of the race shops. Believe me, this is better than anything I could’ve imagined for today.”
Lily smiled. “We’ve been to these shops more than a few times over the years.”
“Yeah. But you haven’t been up here in a long time, so this is like the first time. Drivers and teams have changed. And we’ve never met any of the drivers. I mean, here in Charlotte where they’re all based, and we haven’t seen one in person. It’s ridiculous. So… If not for yourself, then do it for me? Please? You need to make sure I don’t end up jumping across the table at him or something.”
Alli talked a mile a minute and Lily gave in, letting Alli drag her toward the line on the far side of the lobby near the glass trophy cases. They had to do some fancy maneuvering around the two race cars and three race trucks on display but finally found their way. “Besides, you know want to meet him, too. And just imagine how jealous Candi will be when she finds out.”
Lily nodded. Alli had a point. Candi was as big a fan as the two of them.
At the same time, Candi was on a plane headed to Italy for loads of pasta and wine.
The closer they edged to the front of the line, the more Lily wanted to turn tail and run. She didn’t need to add fuel to her overflowing lust for the young race car driver. She might want to stand up close and personal next to him, but she knew it wasn’t a good idea.
“Why are you so interested in meeting him?” she asked Alli. “You don’t really like him. You heckle him every chance you get.”
“That’s just a front. You heard me say I might jump across the table at him, right? I just… I like to play Devil’s Advocate when it comes to him. He’s an in-your-face and up-your-ass get the hell out of my way driver. And you know I don’t have a favorite. I like them all. Especially the single ones.” Her eyebrow waggle was on point and Lily couldn’t argue.
“You haven’t met a single man you haven’t liked. Ever. But you know he’s just a guy, right? He drives race cars and wins a lot, but he is just a guy.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Lily turned her face away. She was such a liar. She knew what the big deal was about Cam Carter. He was currently the hottest race car driver on the circuit. He was aggressive and the fans loved to hate him. From the crowd gathered in the race shop lobby, they loved to love him, too. He had it all. Fame, fortune, boy-next-door good looks, smarts that rivaled men twice his age, and the kind of cocky confidence that most women loved.
“Just a guy? Just a driver?” Alli hissed in Lily’s ear. “You’re telling me that if he offered himself to you on a silver platter, you’d think of him as just a guy?” She backed off when Lily looked at her, knowing she’d called Lily’s bluff. “The heckling is all in good fun, and I don’t mean anything by it. He’s so yummy, Lil. You know you want to meet him as much as anyone else here. Probably more.”
She did. In the worst way. “Sure. He’s yummy in a robbing-the-cradle kinda way.” But even she knew she was digging the hole deeper with her denials.
“He’s not that young,” Allie said, slanting Lily a sideways glance.
“He’s twenty-six. You’re thirty-two.”
“It’s not a big difference. Just because you only date men our age, when you decide to date, that is, doesn’t mean the rest of us have to limit ourselves.”
“Oh, shut up and pay attention before you miss your chance.”
Alli grinned. “See? I’m right and you know it.”
Lily sighed and focused on the man with the permanent marker in his hand and a seemingly permanent smile on his face. Today, at least. Get him in a bad spot on the race track and the post-race interview was likely to find him scowling and being called to the official’s trailer. But watching Cam interact with his fans made her smile. He was incredibly good with those who loved him and incredibly forthright about those who didn’t. He had charisma and charm, and in this place, surrounded by the tangible reward of success in his young career, he was almost too hard to resist.
She could admit to being a big fan, but honestly, how did it look for a woman her age to be openly lusting after a man so much younger, so much hotter, so much in demand? It wasn’t Alli she needed to be worried about. It was herself. Looking at him did funny things to her, and she wouldn’t even think about the fantasies he’d inspired in the dark of night when was alone in bed. But damn if her insides weren’t having a freakin’ parade at the moment. She’d never met a celebrity before, local or national, sports or entertainment, and though most people outside the racing community didn’t know his name, race fans — hundreds of thousands of race fans — knew exactly who he was.
Before she knew it, she and Allie were up next, and Lily’s heart kicked up speed. Damn. The man had great eyes, and his smile… His mouth… Her belly flipped, then flopped to be so close to him.
She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t meet him. She couldn’t stand that close to him. She was so nervous her hands were sweating, and she couldn’t wipe them on her jeans enough.
“Hi Cam! I can’t believe I’m meeting you. Can you sign this?” Alli held up a new shirt she just bought in the gift shop and beamed at him, while Lily stood slightly behind her trying not to stare. Cam winked and grinned at Alli. And why wouldn’t he? While she was the same age as Lily, Alli didn’t look a day over Cam’s twenty-six and had the bubbly personality he seemed to go for, if his on-camera rotation of girlfriends was any indication.
He reached for the shirt, but Alli shook her head and held it up against her body. Shameless hussy, Lily though with wry twist of her lips.
“Sure,” he replied good naturedly. He stood smoothly and leaned toward Alli. He gave the gathered crowd a shrug accompanied by a flirtatious smirk which Alli echoed over her shoulder.
Lily was mesmerized watching him lay his long, slender fingers against the tee-shirt to hold it against Alli’s chest as he signed his name with a flourish. Lily had vision of being naked on the hood of his race car, those fingers insider, that hand holding her down, that mouth…
Lily shook herself out of the erotic thoughts with a guilty smile and focused on Alli who was now bouncing up and down on, holding the shirt with Cam’s signature against her jiggling boobs. Lovely. “Sorry,” she mumbled.”
“Yeah, fine. Ready?” She tried to nudge her friend, but Alli wouldn’t budge. She was staring at Lily with an odd expression, making her uncomfortable. Had they been able to tell what she was thinking? Had they seen it written all over face?
Her cheeks heated, but she drew herself up as though nothing was out of the ordinary.
Alli gave her a hard look, but eventually shrugged and looked back at Cam, blowing him a kiss. “Thanks. Good luck this week.”
He nodded. “Thank you.”
Lily barely kept herself from staring at him again. She started to follow Alli past the table, but she startled when Cam reached out.
“What about you?” he asked. There was a light in his eyes she hadn’t seen before, not with Alli or anyone else that had gone ahead of them in the line. Then again, given the direction of her thoughts only moment ago, she was probably imagining things.
“Oh, uh… I didn’t bring anything for you to sign,” she said, her voice soft, her gaze darting away from his face, and more heat creeping into her cheeks.
“Why not? Don’t like me?”
There was humor in his tone, and she made the mistake of quickly returning her gaze to his. The crowd laughed at his always present sarcasm, but Lily was beginning to tune them out. Dark gray eyes danced with merriment, and she tremulously returned this smile. “I like you just fine.”
“Embarrassed, then? I get it. I am the favorite of fans everywhere.”
More sarcasm and more laughter accompanied his open arms gesture, but the look between Lily and Cam began to change. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Alli glancing back and forth between them, and Lily scolded herself for making a spectacle of herself.
She needed to get out of there.
“I’m not embarrassed. I just… I didn’t know you were signing today, or I’d have brought a car.”
“You collect cars?”
“Some.” For a split second, there was appreciation in his gaze, but it changed. Again. He gave her a soft, more personal smile and took a picture from a nearby stack of promotional materials. He signed his name, then flipped it over and quickly scribbled something else.
“Lily.” Heat morphed through her, sliding down through her body to pool between her legs. He had such young features, like those of a guy just graduating college, and his antics were less than those of an adult when dealing with the press, but his eyes – his eyes belied a maturity that tugged at her. He found balance for both sides of himself, a balance that had seemed to escape her. She’d seen what his combined focus on fun and maturity had done for him on the track, and she wondered about that same focus being trained on a woman.
“Lily,” he repeated. “Pretty name. Here you go. Lily.”
The way he said her name… She took a shaky breath. “Thank you.” She took the picture and was careful not to touch him. She didn’t trust herself.
His cocky smile returned for the benefit of the crowd, but the look in his eyes was all for her.
* * * * *
“That was the coolest thing. Oh. My. God.” Alli hadn’t stopped gushing since they left the race shop. Lily couldn’t stop seeing Cam’s smile in her mind’s eye.
“Don’t you what me. You know damn well what.”
“Don’t try to deny it, either. The way he was looking at you.”
Lily didn’t want to have this conversation, especially in public. She wanted to go back to Candi’s house and curl up on the bed with Cam’s picture pressed to her chest. She wanted to be in private where she could squeal like a teenager who had just met her favorite idol. “How was he looking at me?”
“He was undressing you with his eyes in front of everyone. He was flirting with you, trying to get you to talk, and you… You looked like you were ready to either strip naked or run.”
“Oh, please… It wasn’t like that.” But the little she-devil in her head was dancing a jig knowing all too well it had been exactly like that.”
“Oh yes it was. He wanted you, Lil. He wanted you on that table, and you, my sweet and not-so-innocent friend, wanted him, too.”
“It was just a show, an act. It didn’t mean anything.” Lily took the latte off the counter and walked outside to the patio of the coffee bar, leaving Alli behind.
Sitting at a small table under the signature green umbrella, she thought about her encounter with Cam Carter and how aroused she’d gotten just looking at his hands. She never got aroused like that without some actual touching going on. She wasn’t sure she’d ever been that aroused even with touching.
But aroused she’d been, and aroused she still was every time she thought about his smile, his eyes, his laugh, his voice. Him.
“Wanting to throw down in the middle of a race shop was not a show for his fans,” Alli said, picking up right where she’d left off inside.
Lily shook her head and refused to meet Alli’s eyes because she was right. Lily wanted him, but she didn’t know how to flirt like that. She didn’t know how to be casual about personal things. He was a man way out of her league, and whether it was or wasn’t a show, she was sure he got the message loud and clear.
She wasn’t his type.
“You’re off in space again.”
“I don’t know why I keep doing that.” She took a sip of her drink, licked her lip, her mind drifting back to his mouth. What would it feel like to kiss him, for him to kiss her?
“Uh-huh. What did he write on the back of the picture?”
“I… Just his signature.”
“Liar. His signature is on the front. What’s on the back?”
Lily groaned. She didn’t want to say it or show it. She didn’t want to think about what it could mean. “A phone number,” she mumbled.
“What?” Alli’s eyes widened. “His? He gave you his number? Oh, you have to call him. Is that all?”
“Isn’t that enough?”
“There’s more isn’t there?” She was practically bouncing in her chair across from Lily. “C’mon. What? What else did he write?”
“A time and date, and a place to meet him.”
Alli screeched, drawing the attention of everyone seated around them. “He wants to see you again? This is fabulous. When? Where? You’re going, right? What am I saying? Of course, you’re going. What are you going to wear? That’s the bigger question. We have to go shopping. We have to get you something hot that will knock him right out of his firesuit. Something –”
“No,” Lily interjected into Alli’s monologue.
“What? What do you mean no? Why not? He wants to see you. You have got to go. Nothing like this has ever happened to any of us. This is a once in a lifetime shot.”
“It’s not… I don’t chase guys and I’m most certainly not going to chase him. Alli, he’s a race car driver. He’s got women hanging on him all the time. I’m not his type. He was just giving the people a show. Nothing more.”
“For such a big fan of his, you sure aren’t giving him a lot of credit to know who he does and doesn’t like.” Alli chastised her. “And I believe it’s him doing the chasing.”
“It might not even be his number. It could be the number of the shop.”
“And what about the date and time?”
“I…” Everything she said sounded lame to her own ears. She was looking for excuses and she didn’t even know why. Okay, well, she did know why. What if she went and he rejected her? That was a big why not to go through with meeting up with him again. What if it had just been a… Hell, she didn’t know.
Did things like this happen to other people? To normal people?
“I know you’re thinking about it. I know you want to. I can see it in your eyes. You’re going. You know that, right? You’re going, and I don’t care if I have to drag you kicking and screaming.”
“He’s too young.” Of the three of them – Alli, Candi, and Lily – Lily was the oldest by three months. She was also the most conservative, the most levelheaded, the most boring. Candi was a year younger, and they had met Alli because she moved next door to Candi growing up. They became thick as thieves seemingly overnight and had remained so through the years.
And of the three of them, Lily was the least likely to go through with something like a date with Cam Carter.
But Candi was currently on a plane doing something they hadn’t been sure she’d ever have the nerve to do… Could Lily do the same thing?
“Age? That’s the best you can come up with? I mean, if you’re going to turn down a chance like this, at least try to find a better excuse.”
It wasn’t. Well, actually it was, but Alli didn’t need to know that. “Allison…” Lily only used her full name when she was admonishing or warning her friend and evidently the other woman got the message.
Alli stood from the table and leaned forward, invading Lily’s space. “I know you don’t do one-night stands. I know you don’t do anything without thinking through all the angles, but just this once, Lil… Just this one time, maybe you could let go and have something special and all for yourself. You’re one of my best friends and you deserve a gorgeous, sexy, hot, young man in your bed.”
Lily couldn’t think of anything to say in the face of Alli’s conviction and friendship.
Alli headed toward the car and Lily watched her. She’d ignored all of Lily’s objections about Cam and she’d been right to do so. They were weak at best, but she really believed she had no business going to see Cam. She hadn’t been with a man in more than a year. Not that it mattered. It wasn’t like they were going to become lovers or fuck buddies.
The twinge of heat between her legs told her differently though, and much as she tried to ignore it, tried to deny it, she couldn’t. Her body responded to thoughts of him more so now that she’d met him, seven year age difference or not.
Suddenly the idea of staying at Candi’s for the next month didn’t seem like such a good one, even if it was the only chance she had at a vacation this year.
“Alli,” she called out, getting out of her seat at the table and hurrying to catch up.
“If you’re just going to give more excuses, I don’t want to hear it.”
“You’re not being fair.”
“Not being fair? You have got to be kidding me.”
Alli spun around. “Not being fair? Lily, honey… there’s a hot-blooded man who drives cars at two hundred miles an hour for a living and he was in lust at first sight for my quiet, practical, music teacher friend. The only thing I’m not being fair about is that this is a chance not many women get to live out. A fantasy come to life.”
“Lust at first sight?”
“Yes. That man had a serious case of lust. For you. All I want is for you to take him up on it. Would be a hell of a waste if you didn’t,” Alli finished off as she climbed into the car. She started the engine and waited as Lily rounded the front end and climbed into the passenger side.
“Shopping?” she confirmed, buckling her seatbelt.
“What does one wear for a date with a race car driver?”
Alli laughed. “Something he can get you out of real fast.”
“Cam. Hold up.” Cam looked over his shoulder at Ronnie. Crew chief. Best friend. General pain in the ass. He was jogging to catch up and Ronnie didn’t jog. “What’s your hurry?”
“What do you mean?” But Cam knew and chose to play dumb for a minute.
“You’ve been checking your watch and your phone all day. You weren’t paying a lick of attention in that meeting earlier. I’m not sure you heard a thing that was said. And now you’re high tailin’ it out of here. You got a hot date or something?”
Or something. Cam started walking again. “I hope so.”
“Oh yeah? Who?”
“Just…someone.” Cam wasn’t ready to tell anyone about her. It wasn’t like him to pick up women in the autograph line, or any line for that matter. But there was something about the woman named Lily that intrigued him. He’d seen enough that intrigue and interest wasn’t usually the first thing to cross his mind, so when it did, he knew to pay attention.
He wanted her. From the second he spied her staring at him while nibbling on her lip. He was pretty sure she hadn’t been aware of it.
“A woman I met.”
“When did you meet a new woman?”
“I… A few days ago.”
“You’re being awful secretive. What’s her name?”
“Okay. Where’d you meet her?”
Cam stopped moving again and waited until Ronnie caught up. They stood face to face. “What the hell, man? Why all the questions?” he asked, exasperation lacing his voice. “Why does it matter? I met her. I liked her. I asked her out.” Sort of. He didn’t ask so much as left his number and when he’d be leaving the shop today.
Ronnie held his hands up, surrendering. “Sorry. It’s just always been a different woman with you, and you never fixate on any one of them.”
“I know. This one… She’s different.” He hoped she was, at least. His gut told him she was something special and his gut had never steered him wrong when he chose to listen to it.
“Will you at least tell me where you met her?”
“I wish I knew why you were so interested.” He sighed and rolled his shoulders, trying to ease some of the tension that had been building all day. He hadn’t heard from Lily. He was afraid she wouldn’t show, and he didn’t have to a way to find her. “She was at the shop the other day when I was meeting with fans.” He thought back. She’d been curious and understated and distracted and brazen in how she looked at him when she thought he wouldn’t notice. “She wouldn’t even speak to me.”
Cam heard the skepticism in Ronnie’s voice. “You gotta trust me on this. She’s different. I know she is.”
Ronnie shrugged, clearly not trusting Cam at all. “She could’ve been trying a different tactic than the usual ones you fall for.”
Cam shook his head. “No. I don’t believe that.”
“All right. I’ll stop with the questions. For now. Just be careful. I’ve been in this business a long time and these women… Well, hell. You’ve been around long enough to know better. They put up a front when all they want is to trap you, be linked to you, and get their fifteen minutes which you’re only too happy to give them.”
“I’m well aware of my faults.”
“Good. I don’t want to have to keep reminding you.”
He and Ronnie started walking toward the doors leading to the parking lot again. The week had been a long one. Race weeks in Charlotte always added more stress and work to their already hectic schedules. He usually fell into bed exhausted at night from all the sponsor schmoozing, extra media appearances, and more special events than he cared to tolerate. He knew it came with the territory, but all he wanted to do was race.
In the days since meeting Lily, though, exhaustion had left him alone. In its place was anticipation and excitement. The need to see her again consumed him and images of her in various settings, mostly naked in his bed, haunted his dreams.
He’d never really thought about women as older or younger, even though women of all ages threw themselves at him. He dated casually, often within his own age bracket, give or take a year, but Lily wasn’t just a year or so older. If he had to guess, she was more than five years older than him. Was that why she hadn’t called? Because he was younger? Was that why she hadn’t wanted to engage with him at the signing?
The thought rankled him. Surely, that wasn’t it. Older women and younger men weren’t a stigma anymore. She’d seemed more intimidated than uninterested. Yes, they made a bit of a scene by just staring at each other, but he hadn’t wanted her to leave and he hadn’t known how to ask her to stay and wait. She’d looked ready to bolt, ready to be away from it all, ready to crawl over the table and take him on the floor.
“Did you get her number?”
“Let’s grab a beer, play some pool. Maybe she’ll call if you get your mind off her. My mama used to say that a watched pot never boils, and ya know, sittin’ around watchin’ your phone ain’t gonna make it ring.”
It amazed Cam sometimes how Ronnie’s southern twang emerged every time he talked about his mama or growing up in Georgia. At any other time, you couldn’t tell where the man was from.
Cam gave the offer a moment’s thought before declining. He just wasn’t up for the rowdiness of the guys and the bar. “Nah. I’ll catch up with you tomorrow about those changes at the team meeting. And see, I was listening.”
“Uh huh. Sure. If you change your mind, you know where we’ll be.”
Cam nodded and pushed through the front doors of the shop while Ronnie headed off down a hallway leading to the executive offices. He slid his sunglasses on and didn’t notice the woman on the other side of the large ornamental fountain until he heard his name.
He spun on his heels and couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across his face. “Lily.”
* * * * *
He was there. Lily could hardly believe it.
She could hardly believe she was there, too. And bless his gorgeous face, he looked happy to see her.
She suddenly felt out of her element again and not quite up to the dress code in her lacy blue skirty and white ruffled t-shirt. Her pink painted toes curled under as she shifted her weight nervously from one foot to the other in the cute, sparkly flip-flops Alli had talked her into wearing.
Then again, there probably wasn’t a dress code, given that he was in faded, threadbare jeans with holes in the knees and one of the back pockets ripped at the seams. His t-shirt was black with a washed-out logo she couldn’t make out, and his sneakers had seen much better days. Still, she felt uncertain about how she looked while they stared at each other. What was it about him that drew her and scared her all at the same time? Maybe it was his freshness, his youth, his smile that was all too knowing and aimed at her. Maybe, she reminded herself, it was because she was out of her depths, and he was way out of her league.
Things like this just didn’t happen to women like her.
He stopped in front of her. “You’re here.” He sounded pleased and Lily hoped she wasn’t making a terrible mistake.
“I-I hope it’s okay that I just showed up without calling. My friend drove me and wouldn’t let me call. She was afraid I’d chicken out.”
“Would you have? Chickened out?”
“I tried, but I was already strapped into the seat of her car.”
“I’m glad you’re here. I can stop checking my phone every thirty seconds now.”
Checking his phone? He couldn’t be serious. Could he? Guys didn’t do that sort of thing. Guys like Cam Carter didn’t do that sort of thing. “I’m sure you probably made plans for tonight since I hadn’t called.”
But then, he was smiling at her, telling her he was happy she was there, so maybe…
And she was stranded. “I’m sorry, I…”
She hated stumbling over her words. The man had her tongue-tied and she wished she hadn’t had that particular thought because she would love to be tongue-tied, naked and wrapped around him.
She had to stop thinking that way. Instead, if she focused on how different their lives were, she might actually be able to get out of this awkward mess unscathed.
But first, he had to stop looking like he wanted to devour her.
“I have nothing else I’m needed for until tomorrow, so that means I’m all yours tonight.”
“Oh.” It was a quick response that was followed by her cheeks heating. What did a woman say to a man who just told her he was all hers? She didn’t know when she was going to wake up from this dream, but she hoped it was either soon, or never because in what universe was Cam Carter ever going to be hers?
“You like that?”
He was reading her mind again, just as he’d done when he was signing autographs. She was so transparent. Allie was forever telling her that everything she thought or felt could be seen in her eyes and in the expressions on her face.
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She could do this. “Yes.” She could play along for a few hours. “I’d be crazy not to want you all to myself.”
“Great. Because that’s how I want you.” He stepped close and traced the outline of her cheekbone with his callused and scratched fingers causing her to melt even more. “All. To. Myself.”
He was going to kiss her. She knew it because he took off his sunglasses, because the pulse beating in his neck had kicked into high gear, because his lips brushed against hers. Oh. My. God.
Too young. Too different. Too young. Too different.
Her mind rattled off the litany, knowing she needed to remember it. It would be so easy to let herself get carried away if she spent any amount of time with him. But all her reminders, all her good intentions drifted away at the softness of his lips, the insistent tip of his tongue, the feel of his hand sliding into her hair, the pressure and control he exerted in holding her mouth to his.
It was just a brief kiss, just a small taste of him, but it was enough to whet her appetite for more. The little devil inside her head laughed. As if she needed her appetite encouraged at all. For six days she’d though of little else except him, and she’d never wrestled with anything more.
Should she, or shouldn’t she?
More than once, she’d picked up the phone and dialed his number but never let the call go through. What if he hadn’t remembered her by just her name and voice? What if he put her off or changed his mind or hadn’t meant for her to take the date and time on the picture seriously?
Lily had been so uncertain what to do that Alli had forced her into the car and dropped her off at the shop. As soon as Alli left, Lily entertained the notion of walking to the nearest bus stop, but then Cam stepped outside and she couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. She didn’t want to leave without trying. Trying what, she didn’t know, but there was definitely something in the air between them.
“Just as sweet and hot as I knew you would be,” he said softly, his lips still grazing hers. Lily smiled, not trusting herself to speak just yet. “My shy little kitten.” He chuckled and shook his head. “What do you want to do? Dinner? A movie? A show? A club? Whatever you want, we’ll do it.”
“Shy little kitten?” That statement had cleared the fog enough for her to open her mouth.
“Yes.” He nipped the tip of her nose with his lips. “Shy and timid, like a scared kitten. I won’t hurt you. I just want to date you.”
His brow wrinkled and his mouth twitched at the corners. She wanted to kiss that mouth again and she wanted to brush her fingers against the creases in his forehead. She wanted to touch every inch of him, commit him to memory.
“Yes,” he confirmed. “Date you. What did you think this was?”
“I… I don’t know.”
Cam’s smile faltered as he gazed at her with curiosity. Now he was the one looking uncomfortable. “Was it presumptuous of me to think you might like to go out with me?”
“No. No, I… I would very much like to go out with you.”
“On a date?” The light returned to his face as he teased her, and it took her breath away. Damn. The effect the man had on her.
She wasn’t strong enough to deny him, or herself. He was offering her a chance few women ever got, just as Alli said. She’d told Lily to make the most of it and Lily couldn’t think of a reason why she shouldn’t throw caution to the wind just once and do this one thing.
Okay, so, there was the age difference thing and the lifestyle difference thing and the fame thing, but… Other than those…
“And just so we’re clear… It’s likely that I’m going to want more than one date.”
Her jaw hit the pavement. At least, her mental jaw hit the pavement. Her physical jaw was screwed so tightly shut she couldn’t get a peep out, much less a full word.
She swallowed. Hard.
She wet her lips, or tried to, but her tongue was dry, so it didn’t do her much good.
“Likely more than one date?”
“I… What does that mean exactly?” She needed to call Alli. She needed someone to ground her. Her brain was working overtime on this little issue, and she was so scared of screwing it up before they ever took a step away from the bench she’d been perched on while waiting for him.
Cam placed a kiss to the top of her head and slipped his hand into hers, lacing their fingers. He was so casual about the gesture, about the public display that she was having a hard time reconciling the Cam she saw in interviews before and after races and the Cam standing in front of her now. He was so intense, but in vastly different ways.
“We’ll talk about it later,” he answered in a tone of voice that made it sound very much like a promise. “What do you say he get to know each other a little bit first?”
She looked like a deer caught in headlights. Cam didn’t know if she was going to eat him alive or turn tail and run as far and as fast as she could to get away from him.
Indecision was written all over her face.
“I’m not that bad. I mean, at least not in public.”
She smiled up at him, a real smile, a relaxed smile. It stole his breath. “I don’t know. It might fuel the rumors and add to your reputation.”
As soon as the words were out, she slapped a hand over her mouth and her cheeks colored. Cam frowned. He didn’t want her to be scared to say anything that popped in her head. He wanted someone real, someone honest.
“I’m so sorry.”
“Why? I earned my reputation. I’m not bothered by it.” He reached for her and took the hand that had covered her mouth. He threaded their fingers together. “Are you?”
“I take it you’ve read some of the more colorful interviews and articles.”
“Yes. I’ve read them all.”
“Good. You know what you’re getting into, then.” He shrugged. “I’m a normal guy. I have a few peculiar tastes in my romantic life, but they don’t define me.”
“I think normal is relative.”
“I think so, too. I just… I do my own thing, you know? I try to keep my private life as private as possible. No one really needs to know the details of my sex life.”
“But you talk about it when asked.”
“I’m not going to lie just because it might make others uncomfortable. And I don’t give all the details. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone.”
She nodded, but there was a question in her eyes. She was cute, beautiful, different. He was charmed by her uncertainty of him, of his intentions. And he was thrilled by her curiosity about him, that she’d read a lot about him. He tapped the tip of her nose, a slight smile crossing his lips. “Why are you looking at me that way?”
“The different sides of your personality… The way you are in public, on television, in the media isn’t the same as the way you are here, with me. I know I don’t know you or you me, but there’s public Cam and there’s opposite end of the spectrum Cam.”
“Mm… I grew up not too far from Los Angeles and spent a fair bit of time in San Francisco. You see things, learn about things, about yourself, about others. We all have secret likes and dislikes. We’re all hiding something we think others wouldn’t understand.”
The women he usually went out with didn’t know much about him at all. They weren’t interested in him as a person. They were interested in him as Cam Carter the driver, the winner, the celebrity.
But Lily? “You’re a fan, aren’t you? A real one.”
“You soak up everything I say, everything I do. You’re not just a pretty face, not just after a little fame.”
“No. I’m not after anything. I…”
“I say so many things for shock value and some of those publications make their living off asking the more provocative questions. I mean… At least I didn’t get naked.” The conversation had taken a bit of a turn he hadn’t expected or been prepared for, though he wasn’t complaining. “Reporters like to instigate. It’s part of their job. I get that. They look for us to say or do something outrageous. It’s nice to throw something in every once in a while that makes themes squirm. For the most part, we all keep a lot hidden to protect our families, even our fans. We are a family friendly sport, after all.”
“I’d invite anyone who thinks that to come sit in the stands with the fans. They’d find out exactly how unfriendly it could get and how unfamily-like it actually is.”
“Seen some stuff, huh?”
“Stuff I can’t ever unsee.”
“You’ll have to tell me sometime. Now, why are you doing that with your hand?” She’d been flexing her fingers and squeezing his hand, then tried to pull away. “Are you trying to get away from me?”
“No, I…” She looked around the parking lot they’d been walking the length to get to the spot he’d parked in earlier that morning. “It’s not like I can go anywhere.”
“Nope. I kind of like that you’re at my mercy. So, we’ll be taking my truck.”
“That’s not what I’d imagined you driving.”
“No? What did you think?”
“A sports car, maybe. Something fast and sleek.”
“You can’t mean that? Do I really look like the fast and sleek sports car type?”
“Well, you don’t look like the truck type.”
“I realize I’m not the typical good ol’ boy the sport has been used to since it was first introduced, but us new drivers have found a place in it.” He often wondered if that’s why he wasn’t more fully accepted among the fans. He and several others were from out west and a lot of those fans of small, local tracks hadn’t made the transition to the national side of the sport when he’d first arrived. Over the years, though, it had changed as more and more races were held on the west coast.
He stopped in front of a midnight blue four4-wheel drive and he was rewarded with Lily’s eyes widening and doing a double take. “It’s beautiful.”
“Still surprised, huh?”
Cam turned and leaned against the passenger side door. “I like that it doesn’t take much to surprise you.”
“I don’t know. It’s refreshing. You’re genuine. You’re real. You’re different.”
“I don’t know how to be anything else,” she said, at first defiant, but then shy and she ducked her head, looking anywhere but at him.
“Hey…” He touched her chin, hesitant at first, then with a little more grip. He wanted her to hear him, to see him. “I… I didn’t know I’d like different until I saw you. Your friend? She’s cute and I’m sure she’s nice, but I’ve met a million just like her.”
She offered a small smile. “She wouldn’t like that.”
He responded in kind, but added a wink for good measure. He didn’t want her to think he was insulting her friend. “Then we won’t tell her I said it.”
He dropped his hand and shoved both in his pockets. He didn’t trust himself. He wanted to touch her. All over. Sexually, yes. But just… Different didn’t even cover it. Her curves. Her smile. The way she wore her bashfulness and her naked interest like two sides of the same coin.
“You’re going to have to bring me back here tonight so Alli can come pick me up.”
Cam shook his head. “I can take you home. You know, like a proper date should.”
Her smile returned, bigger than before, and her pretty eyes lit up. “This is… This is not a proper date.”
“Why not?” He braced himself for some sort of rejection. He didn’t like the word no.
“Because guys like you don’t date women like me.”
“I don’t think I agree with that. You make it sound like there’s something wrong with you and something wrong with my interest in you. Which, by the way, there isn’t.” She blushed and the light dimmed in her eyes. He hated that, but he’d bring it back. They could disagree about everything under the sun and he’d be just as fascinated by her. “And… If I take you home, It’ll give me a little more time with you. I don’t know what kind of guy you think I am, but I’m nothing special. I’m just me. I drive race cars. I get on camera once in a while. But my mother still takes me to task if I don’t call her at least once a week and my dad still tells me I’m not too old to get my ass tore up when I smart off or do things that bug him.”
That brought her out of her shell a bit more and he grinned. He wanted to make sure she knew they could find a way to relate to each other.
“You’re a celebrity to me.”
“Well, tonight, I’m your date and you’re mine. And make no mistake about it, Lily. This is a date. The first one. You should probably get used to that idea.”
He pushed off the truck and turned to open the door, leaving her to think about those words. When he looked back at her to help her up into the cab, she was staring at him, at his ass. “Lily?”
“Yeah?” she replied absently. He waved a hand under her face. She lifted her gaze and a blush stole across her cheeks. “Sorry.”
“What were you doing?”
She shook her head and took a step toward his truck. He stepped in her way. “Nope. Not until you tell me why you were looking at my ass.”
“No. I… I… Please don’t make me say it.”
“Oh, you’re going to have to or we’ll stand here all night.”
He folded his arms across his chest. “Take your time. I can wait.”
She stared at him, speechless, opening and closing her mouth several times. She was beautiful when she was flustered. He couldn’t get over the effect he had on her or the effect she had on him. “You’re serious?”
She sighed. She fidgeted. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other as she had before. “Okay, but in my defense… I… This is so embarrassing.”
“The sooner you tell me, the sooner we can forget about it.”
“Easy for you to say. I was wondering…” She blew out a breath and shoved a hand through her hair. He wanted to do more than that. He wanted to wrap it around his hand and tug her head back and kiss the fucking hell out of her.
“You were wondering?”
“Boxers or briefs,” she mumbled softly. He heard it, though. He heard it clear as day.
“Good girl,” he said, a grin spreading across his face. “You can find out the answer later if you want.
“I’m so sorry.
“I don’t know why. I love that you want to know. I have some things I want to know about you, too.”
“You’ll have to find that out later, too. I’m starving.” For more than food, but he’d settle for a steak at the moment.
“That’s really not fair.”
“I know. But I never said I was going to play fair.” He stepped to the side so she could get into the truck. He took her hand and held her steady while she climbed up onto the seat. He leaned in as she pulled her seatbelt around her body. “Lily…” Her eyes met his. “You need to know I want you like that. Intimately. What you’re wearing under that skirt…”
“Don’t say anything. Nothing even say you want me that way, too.”
“Because I already know.”
“Yeah… Oh.” He lifted himself up so his face was level with her and kissed her surprised mouth. She was going to be so much fun to unravel.
So much goddamn fun.
Her sweet warm scent drifted around the cab of his truck and Cam was willing to bet his last trophy that she had no idea how crazy she drove him. She fidgeted with her hands in her lap, nervous and unsure. He hardly knew her, but she gave him a sense of self that he’d never known before.
He kept going back to her being different from any other woman he’d dated.
He found her hesitation with him touching. Even knowing he was attracted to her, she was still unsure. He didn’t think it was a self-conscious thing or even an insecurity thing, just that she wasn’t quite sure what to make of his intentions. Or him. He could understand that. He tended to go full tilt when he wanted something, and he certainly wanted her.
Was she as aware of him as he was of her?
She wasn’t flashy and out to impress him, but she grabbed his attention. There was something that lurked in her eyes when she looked at him, a hunger, a desire that got his blood flowing.
Speaking of hunger… His stomach growled and that brought her head around to him. It was his turn to be a little bashful. “I didn’t ask if you like steak. Would you rather have something else?”
“Whatever you want is fine. Not sure I’ll be able to eat anyway, no matter what it is.”
“Why not?” He wanted to touch her again and before he could think twice about it, he did. Her surprised ‘Oh’ when he snagged her fingers made him smile.
He pulled her hand over to rest on the seat between them and twined his fingers with hers. She looked down at their hand, then up at his face. Her smile caused his heart to trip. She was beginning to relax.
“Stomach feels like a whole family of butterflies took up residence.”
“I get that.”
“I do.” And he did. She made him nervous, too.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it, that you might get nervous.”
“I don’t, generally. But this has me feeling a little unsure of myself.”
“You don’t act like it.”
“It’s not something I’m interested in dwelling on… You are, though.”
Those words got him the reaction from her that he’d hoped for. A smile and a pinkening of her cheeks.
“Won’t people recognize you?”
He slowed to take the exit where his favorite steakhouse was located. They knew him by name, mainly because he ate there so often as it was close to the race shop. “Maybe, maybe not. Not everyone is a race fan, so if they’re not, they won’t know me from Adam.”
“But if there are, won’t they talk? Especially if you walk in with me?”
His brow wrinkled and his lips pulled down. “So?”
“Well, I mean… This town is flooded with thousands of fans right now, and with social media and people with their cameras out all the time, I… Don’t you care?”
“Nope.” He slid a glance in her direction. “Do you?” She visibly swallowed and he had the urge to kiss the hollow of her throat. It would have to wait until he was driving, though. He only took chances on the track.
“This is all new to me. I’m not sure what to think or do.”
“Just be you. They’ll say what they’ll say.” The parking lot was still fairly empty when they pulled in. He kissed her hand. “Stay right there,” he said, unbuckling his seatbelt and shutting the truck down.
He rounded the front end and opened the door, reaching in to help her out. She started to shuffle away once she was on the ground, but he caught her with a hand on her waist. “Don’t worry about being seen with me. Please, Lily. Don’t.”
“I don’t want it to cause a problem for you or for me. I don’t think I’d be comfortable with my picture plastered all over the internet and people speculating about me.”
If she really was worried about that, Cam wasn’t sure how to move forward. There were guys in the sport who never had a camera follow them around. He wasn’t one of those. He liked his privacy as much as the next guy, but he also didn’t mind being in the public eye. He didn’t care. That was part of what made him so controversial. He just didn’t care what others thought about him.
Well, until now… He cared what Lily thought about him. He cared a lot.
“I’ll do my best to protect you. I’ll do my best to look out for you.”
He didn’t tell her there would be speculation when a camera did catch sight of her. She already knew that, or suspected it. There might be talk. There might be posts or Tweets about them, about her and he’d wade into the fray and try to hold it all back. He was willing to weather storms for her. Was she willing to do the same for him?
He hoped so.
But knowing what he did of her, she’d probably choose to walk away to protect him before he ever got the chance to stop her. He didn’t need protecting. He could take care of himself.
Inside the low-lit building, the manager met them at the door. Greetings and pleasantries were exchanged before they were led to a booth in the very back. Of the dozen or so patrons, only a few looked up, and only a handful seemed to even realize who he was. For Lily’s sake, he was thankful for that.
They settled into their seats and he looked at her from across the table. Or rather, he stared at her. Openly. Without a hint of shame. In public place. He wanted her pixie face, her full enticing body, her smile, her laugh, her complete attention. He wanted her with an incredible, all consuming lust he couldn’t remember ever feeling before.
As she browsed the menu with the corner of her bottom lip tugged between her teeth, completely unaware of his thoughts and desires and plans, he looked his fill. They could’ve been alone or in in a wall-to-wall crowd and she’d have been the only one to hold his attention. She pulled at his gut and she didn’t even realize it.
“So… which is it?”
“Which is what?”
She lifted her gaze to his and gave him a mischievous smile. “Boxers or briefs,” she mouthed.
Cam was certain shock registered on his face and if it didn’t, it had to be because her inquiry hadn’t fully reached his brain.
The earnest look she gave him said it all. She was serious.
He laughed. Out loud. Of all the things he had imagined she might say, that wasn’t one of them. For all his plans about surprising her, he had no doubt now that she would do quite a bit of surprising, keeping him on his toes. She wasn’t going to fit into any box he might have imagined for her.
He leaned toward her and crooked his finger. She leaned toward him… “Right now?” he mouthed back.
“Neither.” He blew her a kiss.
“Do y’all need a minute?”
They looked away from each other and up to their waitress. Crystal, as per her nametag. Cam settled back in his seat. “No. I think we’re ready.” He lifted a brow at Lily.
“Yes, I think we are.”
Her order delighted him. She didn’t just order salad. She ordered herself a steak and the whole nine yards. When she finished answering all the questions, he placed his own order. Crystal eyes them both before walking away.
Cam reached out, offering his hand to Lily. She wouldn’t look at him for a long moment. It intrigued him how one second she was shy and quiet, and the next second she was asking about what type of underwear he preferred.
“You have to be one of the only people who won’t look straight at me. Why is that?”
It took a breath or two, but she did face him. Her brow furrowed, as though she didn’t know what to say, but it cleared quickly. “Truth?”
“Always. Without hesitation.”
“Okay,” she said, resolute in the tone of her voice. “I have to keep reminding myself that there’s a significant age difference between us. And that you’re…” She flitted her fingers in his direction. “You’re Cam Carter.”
“And?” He was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
“You’re fun and playful and intense and a… A fantasy. But you’re… Maybe too young for me.”
“You don’t sound convinced. Was that for you or me?”
“Are you serious with this?”
“I can’t believe this. That’s just…” He shook his head. His fucking age?
“That’s some bullshit, Lily.” Disappointment filled him. He thought she would see beyond something as superficial and meaningless as his age. His gut didn’t usually steer him wrong, but he was beginning to wonder if this time it had.
Looking at the uncertainty that crossed her features, the cute way she nervously nibbled her lip… She fucking messed him up inside. Like the hot teacher or hot librarian. He was so deeply attracted to her, didn’t give two shits about age, or any other objection she might throw his way.
“Please, Cam… This is…”
He rubbed his palms against his thighs to keep from dragging her across the table. “Don’t. Don’t pretend you don’t feel it.” His fingers curled into fists, before splaying open. “Age doesn’t matter. Not at all. Nothing else matters. I’m not rash. I’m not indecisive. My intuition said her. That’s the one to take a chance on. So, if you’re going to give me an excuse why this can’t be more than one date, one dinner, and a couple of kisses, please do us both a favor and pick a better fight.”
Her eyes widened at his outburst, his words. She sighed and looked away. Again. Shit.
Crystal brought their salads just then, giving Lily time to put a little more distance between them. She turned haunted eyes back to him. “That you’re who you are is a big deal, Cam. Association with you, no matter how brief, can turn my quiet life upside down, and if you think our age difference won’t be brought up…”
“I’m not looking for brief, Lily. Hell, I wasn’t looking at all, but I met you and fuck, I’m toast.”
“Brief might be all it is. I mean, look how it’s turning out so far and we’ve just gotten the first course.” She stabbed her fork into her salad and shoved it in her mouth. It made him smile despite their disagreement.
“Only because…” He too stabbed at his salad. “Excuse me,” he said, after chewing and swallowing and wiping at his mouth.
He slid out of his seat and tracked down their waitress. He felt Lily’s eyes on him like a brand and it only confirmed his belief that she was more than a little into him, no matter what she said.
“What did you say to her?” she asked when he returned to the table.
“Nothing that has anything to do with my age or being a little famous.”
“Takes one.” And he promptly stuck his tongue out at her before taking another bite of lettuce drenched in dressing.
“Not too young, huh?” she questioned with a smirk.
Their salads were eaten in silence with sly looks passing between them. His smug. Hers wary.
“Here’s your order, Mr. Carter. Just as you asked.”
Cam caught Lily’s confusion and gave her his most innocent smile. “Thank you, Crystal.” He pulled his wallet out and produced at least three twenty-dollar bills and handed them over. “Keep the change.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you.”
Cam turned back to his stunned date. “Are you finished?”
“What’s going on? What did she bring you?”
“We’re not eating here?”
“Because we need to leave.”
“Oh. Even for me that’s a record.”
“Oh, baby. Date isn’t over. Not by a long shot.” He slipped his sunglasses on and took her hand, leading her out of the booth and out of the restaurant. Once he had her up and secure in the truck again, he climbed in and tugged her closer.
There was only a slight hesitation, but she relented, and he took her mouth in a very thorough kiss. His glasses fogged up and he smiled when he lifted his head. “We’re going home.”
Her lips were so perfect, all rosy and swollen, and he rubbed his thumb over them, feeling her breath graze his skin. “Yes, we’re going to your house.”
“I… We can’t. I don’t have a house here.”
She blew out a breath and he fought the urge to kiss her again, fought the desire to pull her mouth down between his legs and ask her to do nothing more than breathe on him.
“I’m staying at my friend’s house while she’s overseas. This is kind of a vacation.”
“So, you’re housesitting?” Okay. Well, plan B, then. “Where do you live?”
“Daytona?” Could he get that lucky?
Of course, he couldn’t. Damn. “How long are you here for?”
“The end of the month.”
A month. Actually, less than a month. Not much time. “I guess we’ll have to talk about that later on. Right now, we’ll go to my place.” He preferred it that way, anyhow. Her. In his bed. “We can have dinner in private. You know, because I’m so young and famous.”
“Oh, I…” She was so pretty when she blushed. This time he didn’t resist the need to taste her again, slanting his mouth over hers, bending her back until he was pressed chest to hip with her.
“We can even argue some more if you’d like.”
He nipped her nose, her chin, and trailed his lips down her throat, drawing a soft moan from her.
He looked at her, then, really looked at her, lying back against his seat, wondering if perhaps he’d read her wrong. He didn’t think so and it was confirmed by the dilation in her eyes, the softness of her body relaxing beneath him. She was curious, interested, and wanted him.
He bent to taste her briefly once more and her breath stuttered. Seconds later, she sighed, and tilted her head to the side.
“Age difference or not. Fame or not. This is… This is real, Lily. Whatever it is. Whatever it was that revved up between us the day we met, but it’s real. I promise you. This is more than just me looking for someone to flirt with or someone to play games with. I know how I’ve felt about others and it’s nowhere close to this. Please… Just give me a chance.”
She nodded and after convincing himself she wouldn’t bolt from the truck as soon as he sat up and gave her space, he did just that. She slid toward the passenger side of the cab. “Okay,” she replied softly.
She offered no more resistance, asked no more questions.
The drive to his upscale neighborhood was relatively short and made in tense silence, the air thick with need and hunger. She never looked at him, but he knew she was thinking about where all this might lead, just as he was.
She was out of the truck before he could turn the ignition off, and looked up at him from the ground. He smiled. “In a hurry?”
He jumped down and they met at the front of the truck. “I don’t bring women here, Lily.”
“I don’t know if you needed to know that or if I just needed to say it.”
Why wasn’t she saying more than that one word? He reached for her and started toward the front door after grabbing their nearly forgotten dinner from behind the driver’s seat. She didn’t move. She stood solid in his driveway, unyielding.
Concern flooded him. “What? What’s wrong?”
Was there something wrong? No. There was definitely nothing wrong. At least not in the way Cam meant. But… What the hell was she doing? Did she even know?
From the moment she’d decided to meet him for their date, she hadn’t known at all what she was doing. She was hot and cold from one second to the next. She was battling with herself and with him. Any minute he was going to change his mind and decide she wasn’t worth it.
It was time for her to get a grip and stop flip-flopping.
She stood in his driveway with him staring at her, questions on his lips, a decision made inside her.
She was going to get naked with him and that wasn’t something she ever thought she would do. The kiss after they’d gotten back into his truck at the restaurant changed everything. It was a different kind of kiss. Different from a simple I-like-you-and-would-like-to-date-you kiss. It was a complex I-really-want-to-get-into-your-pants-and-stay-there-all-night kiss. And Lily, who wasn’t one to have one-night stands, was ready to throw caution right out the window and indulge herself in the lust thrumming in her blood
The ride to his house had given her time to make up her mind. She knew what she wanted and what she was going to do. She was going to rob the damn cradle. While some rational part of her was still trying to fight it, the carnal womanly part of her was stronger and more stubborn at the moment.
It was impossible not to stare at him. She could smell him on her, could still feel his kisses. His pull was potent, too much for her to resist and her nerves were raw from being so close to him.
“What are we doing, Cam?” She sighed as soon as the words were out of her mouth. That wasn’t what she had meant to say and her inner she-devil was going to kick some serious inner do-gooder ass later on.
Vulnerability was hard for her and maybe she wanted him to feel as vulnerable as she felt.
He hid behind his sunglasses and she wanted to see what was in his eyes.
“We’re going to have dinner.”
“That’s not what I meant.” And why couldn’t she shut up?
“I know, but right now, that’s what we’re gonna do. Just spend some time together, getting to know one another. You might find you like me.”
“What about it?”
The man was insufferable. But wasn’t she just one to talk? She was tired of herself at this point.
He waggled his eyebrows over the top of his glasses making her laugh. He grinned down at her and her heart flipped. “Nothing.” Indeed. The she-devil took over, having muzzled the do-gooder. “I guess we should go inside.”
She punctuated her statement by leaning in to kiss him. When she pulled back, the smile on his face had changed. She couldn’t explain it and couldn’t decipher it, but it mirrored the feeling she had in the pit of her stomach. It was the first time that she’d made an overture toward him. She knew she had to be careful or her desire for him would consume her, but to kiss him, to touch him, when so few women would ever have the pleasure, she couldn’t let the chance pass her by.
If he wasn’t going to resist or fight against this, if he was going to make it easy for her, she wasn’t going to deny either of them.
“Let’s go,” she whispered, swiping the keys from his hand. Before her bravado could slip and before she could jump back in her shell, she gave him her back and walked away, straight up to his front door like she owned the place.
She didn’t check to see if he followed or if he was calling 9-1-1 because there was a crazy woman entering his house. She simply inserted the key into the lock, twisted it, and stepped into his house.
She stopped just inside the door, telling herself to calm down, willing her heart to stop beating like a bass drum. That little action was completely out of character for her. She wasn’t a forward woman. She didn’t take chances. She took life as it came at her and adjusted. She’d never done anything so brazen and there was more to come, much more she was looking to do.
She took in the shadows of his house, the outlines of furniture, and took a deep breath, stealing herself for what was about to happen.
Looking over her shoulder, she asked in a voice steadier than she’d expected, “Are you coming?”
* * * * *
Cam wiped one damp palm against his jeans, shifted the to-go bag, and did the same with the other hand. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been nervous twice in one day. Even the first time he climbed into a race car. Most other kids in his age group had been a little nervous, some were downright scared, and others wanted to be anywhere but at the track. Not him, though.
But with Lily?
His stomach was fucking with him and he wouldn’t be able to eat a bite until he got himself reined in.
Are you coming? Hell… She was going to drive him insane, this woman he’d stopped on a whim in an autograph line. She’d taken his keys and walked into his house. She was full of surprises and contradictions.
He joined her inside and kicked the door closed behind him. Was she nervous, too? She had to be, right? Or maybe not. She didn’t seem like it right now, though earlier…? Yeah. Definitely.
But now she was alone with him. In his house. Away from anyone and anything familiar.
He didn’t want to screw this up. He didn’t want to be too aggressive and wreck before he had the chance to find out if this was a short sprint or an endurance race. He knew what he wanted. Every sharp turn and full throttle straightaway.
She turned to face him, her bottom lip caught between her teeth and Cam tried to imagine what she was thinking, but she nodded as if she’d just come to some decisions.
Her fingers drifted to the hem of her shirt. In seconds, it was over her head and dropped to the floor. Her skirt was next. She slipped her thumbs into the waist and shimmied it down her hips. In white lace bra and panties she stood, her lip still caught between her teeth.
“You… You’ve offered me something I never thought, not in my wildest dreams that I’d have the chance to have,” she said softly. She stepped closer until the thin material of her bra brushed against his shirt, causing her nipples to perk up and tighten against him. His breath came in short bursts and threatened to choke him. His stomach muscles tightened at the contact and sight of her nearly naked body.
When had he ever wanted a woman this much? He couldn’t remember.
She looked up at him, took his sunglasses off and set them gently on the glass topped entry table. “Women are always around you.”
“His concentration fled, and his hands itched with the need to touch her. “Some,” he managed.
“This, right here, me… It has nothing to do with you being famous,” she whispered like pushing his shirt up, reaching on her tiptoes to lift it over his head. He offered no resistance.
“No.” Her lace covered nipples brushed his skin, and he exhaled on a groan. He wasn’t sure he should be trying to think at all with her making the moves on him.
“This is all about you and what you do to me. Dinner can wait. I want dessert first.”
He wanted to ask where her boldness had come from when she hadn’t been too keen on being in a restaurant with him, when she hadn’t been certain she wanted to even meet up with him. He wouldn’t, though. He didn’t want to break the spell. He didn’t want to take any focus off the moment, off the physical closeness, off the connection they were forging.
Her hands drifted to his jeans next, making quick work of the button and zipper. She could have ripped them off – cut them off – and he wouldn’t have cared. He just wanted to be naked and inside her. Hell. If they did it right, neither of them needed to be naked at all. The denim was pushed down his hips, and he toed off his sneakers.
When she looked up with fire burning in her eyes, he lost what was left of his tenuous control.
He flexed his fingers once before he grabbed her by the waist and whirled them to the wooden bench that sat next to the entry table. He sank down on the most uncomfortable piece of furniture ever made, and pulled her to straddle his lap. He’d have to thank Ronnie’s wife for talking him into buying it. Up to now it hadn’t served a purpose other than to take up space.
Lilly’s gaze was startled at the move, but the lust was shining bright, and he forgot all about the bench and Ronnie’s wife.
He brushed the hair from her face with one hand while he lifted the other to cup a breast in his palm. “Pretty as this bra is, it has to go,” he whispered hotly as he thumbed her nipple. She arched her back, moaned deep in her throat, and his cock jerked at the heat between her legs.
Electricity shot through him. She was so ripe, so lush, her body all hills and valleys, and he sank into the softness that surrounded him, burying his face in her neck. Everything around him faded, then vanished. Everything except her and the feel of her against him. The crown of his cock was sensitive, and he was fucking hard. “Inside, you. I need… Lily, I need to be inside you. Wallet. Condom.”
He spoke in stilted phrases, but he couldn’t help it. He was afraid if she so much as breathed in his direction, he would come right then and there and look like a kid with his first hard-on.
The lace covering her was delicate, beautiful and he wanted to rip it from her, leaving it in shreds on this floor.
She slid off his lap and bent to grab his wallet from his jeans. He leaned back against the wall, thanking whatever God existed for the woman about to rock his already tilted world. She had the condom in her hand when he opened his eyes again and was beginning to lower her panties. “Don’t.” His voice was harsher than he meant for it to be. “I want to. Please.”
He didn’t want to. The urge to rip and tear was still coursing through his blood, but he reined it in and pulled her close. His finger shook when he reached for the feminine undergarment, and he had a flash of her wearing crotchless panties. Neither of them would need to remove anything and he could simply slide home.
Shit. He hadn’t…
Inch by slow inch, he pushed the material down, revealing her neatly trimmed mound. The lips were smooth, and his tongue pushed against his teeth, wanting a taste. He’d get one soon enough.
Her Belly was soft and not entirely flat. He had another flash, this time of her pregnant with his head pressed to her. The shudder that went through him was almost more than he could stand.
The woman got to him on some elemental level, and it overwhelmed his senses and his thought process. He couldn’t think straight beyond wanting her in every square centimeter of his life.
She stepped from the panties that were now at her feet and slid back over his thighs. He gripped her hips tight and watched in fascination and she ripped into the foil packet and pulled the latex circle from it.
A light touch, a soft brush of fingers, and the condom wrapped him up.
Their eyes met and she smiled.
“Ready?” he asked. It was a necessary question, but he wanted, needed the confirmation all the same.
“Please,” she breathed.
Cam slipped his hands to her ass and brought her impossibly close. She lifted. He slid. Then, he was inside her, in one smooth glide. He was fucking lost. “God, woman.”
She tightened her legs against his and squeezed, holding her breath. He felt her body pulse around him, and she leaned in, exhaled against his lips, then pressed tongue between them and kiss him. He crushed her to him and wasn’t sure who moaned first, but the way her pussy sucked at him and the way she started to move… She was touched the edge of every sexual fantasy he’d ever had.
Her desire was real, and that tossed his emotions into a whirlwind. She didn’t appear to care about anything else but the heat between them and he was more than willing to let her burn him alive.
Her hands coasted over his chest and up his neck to his head. She pressed her fingers into his skull as she undulated on his lap, his cock sliding in and out. She was using him for her pleasure. She was going to make herself come on him. Lace scraped his chest, and her breath in his mouth was screaming hot. There wasn’t a part of her that wasn’t touching a part of him, and he held on as she contracted, shuddered in his arms, and whispered his name against his mouth.
“Damn,” he whispered back, once again digging his fingers into her ass and shoving his tongue between her teeth, taking her as hard as she’d taken him. He knew the grunts and groans were his this time. His hips pistoned up, shoving his cock into her. The bench bounced against the wall. The harder he fucked her, the more he wanted it to last forever. He didn’t want to come but knew he wouldn’t be able to stop it. She was too hot around him, too tight, too wet.
“Look at me, Lily.” He ground the words out through clenched teeth when he was able to wrench his mouth from hers. Her sweet, soft gaze lifted. His balls drew up. Cum filled the condom. And his heartbeat echoed in his ears.
All the while… His eyes never left hers. An invisible tether held them suspended together, locked. In a split second, life as he knew it was over.
He knew what that feeling had been when he saw her at the signing. He hadn’t put a name to it before because he hadn’t known then what it was. Now he did.
Love at first sight.
He was in love with her, crazy about her, and he was going to make her his.
“What do you do? I feel like I should know this, that we should’ve covered it before, you know…”
Lily looked up from her plate, heat stealing into her cheeks. Yes, she knew. She’d never been so forward in her life.
They’d finally settled enough to eat their reheated dinner. She swallowed and wiped her lips with the napkin. For some reason she felt naked, exposed, even though she wore one of his tee shirts. It covered her down to her thighs, yet she didn’t think she’d have felt more vulnerable if she’d been completely naked. Would that feeling go away? The vulnerability?
She was aware of everything, her senses heightened. She wasn’t comfortable in his house because she didn’t know it, but at the same time, it felt warm and familiar. She could see it becoming a home, a place of refuge and simplicity. And the fact that she could see it and feel it was dangerous. She had to remind herself not to get caught up in playing house with him. She was already acting outside the norm.
Going to bed with a man on a first date was something she’d never done. It just wasn’t who she was. Normally. With Cam, though, who she was day in and day out didn’t seem to be as important as who she could be under his influence. And this was just the second time talking to him face to face.
But then, could she really call what they did inside the front door going to bed with him? No. No she could not. It was more like an attack. Something she’d never done with a man. She was not the aggressor. She was the one who waited until she was ready or the other person was ready. Or at least until the other persona made the first move.
Not so with the man seated a few feet away, staring at her intense, storm cloud eyes.
He was even hotter to her now than before. It had been an equal taking, maybe started by her, but finished by him and she wanted him again. She could give a crap about the food. All she wanted to feast on was Cam Carter.
He took a sip of beer from the dark brown bottle in his hand and she tried not to stare at his lips as they parted, or at the way his throat worked when he swallowed. But she stared anyway and clenched her thighs together.
And while she thought about sex, he was asking about her life away from him. Her life that was typical, everyday, non-race-car-driver-fucking life. Their two worlds couldn’t be further apart.
“I’m a music teacher at one of the high schools in Tallahassee and play in the local concert band and chamber orchestra and teach privately.”
“Seriously? Damn. I’ve met all kinds of people in all kinds of professions, but you’re my first classical musician. Will you play for me sometime?”
“Did you bring your instrument with you? What do you play?”
Was he for real? He wanted to hear her play. For him.
But she knew that he was. The earnest look on his face, his fascination with her told her everything she needed to know.
“That’s really cool. You must be very good.”
“I’m okay.” She knew the reality was that she was better than okay. She was far and away better than okay. She’d simply never been able to bring herself to say it. Out loud. To anyone else.
Try as she might, she couldn’t help wondering what she would feel and be like when her time with him was olver. How would she go back to dating normal guys? How would she feel when she watched a race on television and saw him standing beside the car with a beautiful woman that wasn’t her? How would her heart not break, just a little, knowing she’d had him for such a brief amount of time?
Why was she thinking about any of that when he was across from her right then?
She mentally shook away the what if’s and how to’s and forced herself to concentrate on the right now.
“Do you like Florida?” he asked, dangling the beer bottle between two fingers. His voice jarred her from her thoughts and she was grateful.
“It’s… You know, I’ve never really thought about it.” Why hadn’t she?
“No. I mean… I went to college there and just never left.”
“Where did you grow up?”
“Here. Alli, Candi, and I all lived next door to each other. Candi stayed and went to culinary school. Alli went to Raleigh for law school. And I went to Tallahassee for music school. Alli came back and I… I just didn’t.”
“Sounds a little like you wished you had.”
Did she? “Maybe,” was all she said, but she knew she’d have to think about it when she had the time. There was something there that she… She wasn’t sure she liked what it all implied about her or her life.
“What about traveling? Have you done any?”
“Not really.” She didn’t think she liked the questions. Not that it bothered her that he was asking, but she didn’t like the answers to the questions. It made her life seem small when they both knew that his life was not small in any way.
“We’ll change that.” He was matter-of-fact in his reply as she shoved a forkful of steak into his mouth. “I’ll take you around the country with me. We’ll have fun. When we get out to California, I’ll take you to see my parents. They’re going to love you, Especially my mom. She’d been afraid I was going to end up married to someone after my money or fame or not married at all. She’s going to take one look at you and hug you like you’re her long lost daughter.”
He took another bite, chewed, and swallowed while Lily was just trying to catch up with what’d he’d said. Before she could form words, he continued. “Last year when I went home for the race, a few of the teams got together and had a huge picnic and contest with Kids’ charities. From those we chose winners to come and hang out with us at the track. It was a blast. You’ll love it. And I’ll love having you there.”
“Wait,” she finally managed to say. “Your parents? Me traveling with you? Cam…” Lily didn’t know what to make of it all. Just a few minutes ago she had been wondering how she was going to manage her heart while watching him with someone else one day, but he was talking about her meeting his parents.
“What?” He set his fork down. “I told you this is real, Lily. I want you. Period.” He shoved his play away and stood. “And I’m going to have you.”
The determined look in his eyes and the hard set of his jaw had her up out of her chair, too, and taking steps backward. “Cam…”
“You can’t run from me.”I’m going to catch you. When I want something, I go after it. I don’t sit around waiting for it to come around.”
“We just… We just met. And…” She searched for anything at all to say, anything at all to fall back on. She needed something to ground them both, because if he kept advancing on her, looking at her like he wanted to devour her, she knew she wasn’t strong enough to resist. “You’re too young for me.”
He stopped mid-stride, lifted a brow, and his lips kicked up in a smirk. “My age? Again? I may be younger than you, but I’ve got more on my young shoulders than most men twice my age. I’m old enough to my own mind and my own heart.” There was disbelief and fierce determination in his expression.
“Fine, then. If not yours, mine. I’m too old for you.”
“Bullshit.” He rounded the corner of the dining room table and Lily turned her head to the side a little to see where the other corner was. Damn. If he caught her, touched her, she would attack him again. He felt too good inside her, felt too good against her. “We fit, Lily. You’re soft curves and I’m hard planes. You’re gentle and I’m rough. I’m not letting you deny this fire between us. You want it as much as I do.”
God… He wasn’t wrong.
He reached for her and snagged the tips of her fingers. He took one more step and caught her when she was within reach, tugging her close. His cock was hard against her belly, and he slid his hand to the back of her neck. “Look at me.”
When she hesitated, he squeezed his fingers, applied a small amount of pressure. She lifted her lashes and he captured her next breath with his mouth.
His other hand dropped to her ass and forced her legs apart from behind and pulled her up tight until she was standing on tiptoes. He cupped her pussy. “You’re so hot here.” He emphasized his words with a squeeze that made her moan, then slid a long, slim finger inside her. “And you’re so damned tight and soaking wet. I want you choking my dick with this pussy every goddamned day.”
“Cam…” His name exhaled from her on a whimper. No one had ever talked to her like him. She’d never been with anyone as open, as sexual, as potent as him. His physical presence was overwhelming and his desire was almost more than she could handle.
“I know you’re scared. I know you fall back on that age stuff because you’re scared. I get it, but you don’t need to be.” He nipped at her lips. “Let’s play a little game.”
“What kind of game?” She wasn’t sure there was any game they could play where she had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.
“Catch.” He eased his hold enough to strip the shirt off her before she could form a protest. A chill raced over her skin but it had nothing to do with being cold. Catch? Like with a ball and glove? Naked?”
Cam chuckled and placed a chaste kiss on her lips. “Not quite. My bedroom is up the stairs and to the left. I’ll give you a ahead start. For every second between the time you get into my bed before I get there, I’m going to spank you.”
Lily’s gaze widened. He was going to spank her for beating him to his room. Wait. He was going to spank her? She’d never been spanked before, had never even thought about it, but as she looked down at his hands, which found oh so sexy, she suddenly had a desire to feel them smack her behind.
Who was she? She was trying to keep a level head and losing it all at the same time.
As quickly as her doubts showed up, he rapidly chased them all away. All she wanted to do was agree and let him chase her up the stairs and fall on her. Age and other issues floated to the back of her mind.
“How is this a game of catch?”
“Simple. You run, I catch you.”
“Sounds more like chase.”
“Are you really arguing semantics with me? Because I can just bend you over the table and have my way with you.” He shrugged. “Just thought the bed might be more comfortable for you, but…”
Lily gulped as she followed his line of sight to the table they’d recently vacated. “So, it’s all true?”
He cocked his head. “What’s all true?”
“The interviews. The…” She didn’t know how to finish what she was trying to ask. They’d started the conversation by his truck earlier, but there were parts of it she still couldn’t get a grip on. He was so tender and inquisitive about her one minutes, then the next he was predatory with a wicked gleam in his eyes.
“Some of them, yes. Some of them, no. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which ones are which?”
“But what?” he asked, smoothing her hair back, sifting through the strands with his long fingers, then fisting a handful at the back of her head and making her moan with need. “We all have things we like. We all have things we want to explore. I just happen to like a little spanking with my sex, a little roughhousing, a little playing around before we get to the main event. Nothing wrong with it, baby. And you’ll like it. I promise.”
She nodded. The more he talked, the more aroused she became.
“Good girl. Now, do you want to play?”
“Well… Wouldn’t the incentive be for me to go slow so there aren’t so many spanks?”
“No. I…” A part of her was blossoming in front of him. Did he realize it? She did and loved the feeling. It was freeing, like shedding invisible shackles she hadn’t realized were holding her down. Cam seemed to be the catalyst she’d needed to see that another Lily lived inside her – a bold, brazen, sexual Lily. “A head start?”
-He stood still, hands on hips. “Yes.”
“How much of one?” She started edging away, sidestepping him.
“Five seconds. But you have to realize that’s an automatic five swats.”
More wetness pooled between her thighs, and she really wished she knew something about being spanked for pleasure. She’d heard about it, read about it in a few of the romance books Alli had lining her bookshelves, but reading and experiencing were two different things. “I understand.”
He grinned, wicked and sweet all at the same time. “Oh baby, you’re gonna be so much fun.” She blushed and took another couple of steps along the edge of the room. “Lily?”
“Bra off. You’ve had it on way too long.”
“Right.” She ducked her head, reaching behind her back for the hooks. She didn’t know why she’d kept it on. She never put her panties back on, but for some reason had kept the bra on.
Once undone, she started to pull the straps down, but Cam got to them first. Slowly, he uncovered her, revealing and releasing her breasts. “Mmm. You’ve got a great ass baby, but your breasts…? Goddamn. I don’t know if I’m an ass man or a tit man looking at you.”
Her nipples pebbled immediately and Cam’s palms were there, gripping, grasping, massaging. He rubbed his palms against them, and the friction traveled down her body to pool between her legs. Her clit twitched and she had a hard time keeping still and guessing by the smile on his lips, he knew it.
“Ready?” he asked softly, a taunt implied.
It took a moment to figure out what he meant, but she nodded once she had. “Set?” He let go of her breasts and she stepped to the edge of the room. “Go.”
She took off, jogging through the house to the stairs at the front. Jogging for a full-figured sometimes size eighteen and sometimes size sixteen girl wasn’t always the prettiest sight, but there was something about the way Cam was with her that didn’t make her feel uncomfortable or self conscious about her size. He treated her like she was beautiful, sexy.
Her breasts bounced and jiggled and she felt the extra flesh where it wasn’t as firm as she once wished it had been, but she also felt his gaze on her, and that was enough for her to push it from her mind.
She reached the top of the landing and paused. He was at the foot of the staircase, watching, a challenge in his eyes. He stepped up onto the first step and she turned to the left. Another step and she started walking. A third step and he lifted an eyebrow in question. She giggled and power walked toward his room. He was halfway up when she opened the door at the end of the hall.
His room was furnished like the rest of the house – sparsely. A king-sized bed dominated one wall between two windows, and she made a beeline for it, then crawled into the middle and burrowed under the sheets. They smelled like him: cologne, musk, and his own unique scent that was young and fresh and so damned sexy.
“Damn, honey. I do like knowing you’re in my bed, but I’d like to see that pretty face.” She felt her cheeks heat and she peeked over the top of the covers. “There’s my girl. So, how many do you think you’re gonna get?”
“Including the first five?”
“Yes.” He moved into the room, undoing his jeans as he got closer to the bed. He pulled his cock out, and she could have come right then. He was her fantasy.
He tsked and shook his head. “Try again.” He pulled the sheet from her body and tweaked her nipples before urging her to flip. “On your hands and knees.”
With a shiver of anticipation, Lily complied. He caressed the sensitive skin of her ass, the tender flesh of her thighs and hips. She moaned and wiggled a little, silently begging for more of his touch. Her blood boiled. She couldn’t get enough of him. “How many, Lily?”
“Almost. Try twenty.”
Long fingers slid from her bottom to her pussy and back again, dragging wetness. One flicked at her clit, and one dipped inside her. Her arms were trembling as she tried to hold herself up, but they gave out when he pressed the finger that had been inside her against the opening of her ass. He did nothing more than tease her, but it was enough. Her clit tingled and her feet flexed. She came with her head buried in the center of his bed, gasping out his name.
“Beautiful,” he whispered. Cam wiped her cum across her body. “Have you ever been spanked?”
She replied with a muffled no before she lifted her head, taking in a breath of cool air.
“Do you trust me?”
After everything they’d done so far, everything they’d shared, it was an odd question to ask, but her answer was sure, and swift. “Yes.”
“Good girl. Do your best to relax for me. Breathe through the sting and don’t tense. You’ll love it. I promise. You’ve got an ass made for spanking, Lily, so round and full.”
One more caress of his palms over her skin, then he landed a swat dead center.
* * * * *
Warm pink color and radiant heat collided on her skin and set shivers through him. He’d always loved a little light spanking play with his girlfriends, but Lily… He landed a smack on her other cheek, and his cock hardened painfully.
The way her back arched in a graceful curve, the way her paleness immediately darkened with his handprint, the way her flesh quivered – he’d never been with anyone like her. “How many was that?”
“Two.” She was breathless, and he’d hardly begun. With a hand on the small of her back, Cam lifted his other one and in rapid succession spanked her cheeks with alternating blows. His palm hovered over her. The heat radiating off her flesh nearly undid him, and she moaned when he leaned down to lick at the tender flesh. She parted her legs a few inches more, pushing her ass toward him. Did she realize what she was doing? The scent of her sex drifted up to him and when he lightly touched her pussy, grazed her with his fingers, her hips bucked and she let out a keening cry.
He dropped his mouth to her and licked at her juices. She pressed down on his tongue and rode the tip until her body stiffened. He slipped it inside her just as the spasms rocked her. Her muscles gripped his tongue as he ate at her core, suckling softly until she calmed.
Her thighs trembled against his head as he pulled back. Sliding his hands up her sides, he wrapped them around her waist and turned her over before reaching into his pocket for the condom he’d stashed when he’d come upstairs earlier. He covered his cock and crawled on top of her, his lips opening for her kiss. Her legs automatically hugged his hips, her pelvic arched up seeking his cock, and his cock happily obliged to be found. He was inside her in one swift motion, pounding her without mercy. She clutched him, held him, kept her lips and eyes locked with his.
He’d never fucked so fiercely before. The combination of the spanking and her sexual reaction to it, the taste of her orgasm on his tongue and the sharing of it with her, the feel of her slippery pussy on his cock all pushed him headfirst over the edge. Yes, the woman was going to be the death of him and he was going to enjoy the whole fucking ride.
Lily opened her eyes slowly and glanced at the clock on the bedside table. It wasn’t yet six in the morning. She had no idea what time they’d finally gone to sleep, but she was wide awake and hungry for him again. She thought about turning over and sneaking down between his legs to taste him, but the arm around her waist tightened and she momentarily stopped breathing.
Cam was awake.
Part of her wanted to groan in mortification at the way she’d attacked him before they’d barely been inside his front door. Then, at the wanton, shameless way she’d spread her legs for him, having loved the spanking. The other part of her wanted to roll over and crawl on top of him and screw him until they both went back to sleep, too exhausted to move.
Of course, mortification really didn’t belong anywhere in her vocabulary when she’d moments ago wanted to wake him up with a blow job.
She’d become a walking-talking contradiction since the day she met him.
His lips nuzzled her neck, his teeth nipped at her ear, and her heart skipped a beat.
She lived a pretty simple, uncomplicated life. It was how she functioned best.
And now, she ached everywhere, was burning up from the inside out, and she longed for more. She wanted to be fucked into oblivion and then fucked again. She wanted Cam Carter. She wanted everything about him, everything he was, everything he ever would be. She wanted the man very few ever really saw, the man who let his guard down with her and smiled easily, genuinely, whose very touch could be both gentle and arousingly rough and his eyes… She couldn’t get enough of his eyes.
She wanted difficult and complicated and the wind blowing through her hair at two hundred miles an hour.
How did a woman like her fall in love overnight? How was that even possible?
Uncertainties slipped through the haze of her desire and she moved. She had to stop thinking of him in her life. It couldn’t be love, she knew that. It was lust. A very healthy, very large dose of it, but it was still lust. And it wouldn’t last beyond the moment she walked out his door. She had to remember that.
“What’s wrong?” His raspy whisper made her shiver.
“You’ve gotten more and more tense as the second pass.”
“Oh. I was just thinking.”
He nudged her with his hips, his cock rock hard against her ass, and he slid his hand down under her thigh to lift her leg. In the next second, he was inside her. “It’s way too damn early to be thinking.”
Lily groaned and her muscles clamped down, melting around him.
“I can’t seem to get enough of you. Hot and tight.” He wrapped strong fingers around one of her breasts and squeezed, his thump grazing the nipple as it peaked under his teasing. “So damn…”
His body slowly rocked behind her, his cock sliding in and out in short hard thrusts. He kissed her shoulder, her neck, all the while his finger and thumb continued to pull at her nipple, pinching it and eliciting a little mewling sound of need from her throat.
So much for needing to move away from him. So much for resisting the lure of him.
“That’s it. You like it, don’t you? The sharp little twinge. Does it make your belly tighten? Does it make your clit twitch? I bet it does.”
Lily could only continue to moan in response. Cam hadn’t talked much during sex last night, but God, hearing his voice like this – low with a hint of sleep around the edges – turned her on. If he kept it up, even if he never touched her clit, she’d be coming all over him.
“Ever had a man in your ass, Lily?”
Did he really ask her that? “No.”
“Ever wanted to try it?”
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Lily licked her dry lips. “Yes,” she answered softly, her face heated with embarrassment, her pulse thumping in triple time. She’d never admitted it to anyone. She’d hardly admit it to herself.
“Good, ‘cause I can’t wait to slide deep inside it. It’ll be impossibly tight. It’ll stretch and hurt a little and it’ll be so fucking hot… Goddamn, I can’t… Hold on, baby…” He pressed his face into the curve of her shoulder and bit down, not hard enough to hurt, but hard enough to sting, and she smiled at the mark it would leave. He pulled out, pressed his cock hard between her thighs, pulsing, his body rigid and shuddering it orgasm.
After a few minutes, he lifted his head and let go of her. Lily started to move, but Cam had her on her back, his face buried between her legs. He attacked her clit with his lips and tongue, tugging and pulling and nibbling until she was writing and gasping for breath.
Before last night she hadn’t had a man’s mouth on her pussy in longer than she could remember. Cam reminded her then, and now – oh God, right now – how much she loved it. Her hands were restless. She gripped the sheets, lifted her arms over her head to grab the slats of the headboard, then lowered to dig her fingers into his shoulders. Finally, she grasped the back of his head, holding his face tight against her as she rode his tongue, exploding in her own orgasm, crying out as she saw stars behind her tightly closed eyelids.
When her legs ceased their trembling and she could focus again, she found him still there, licking her down so soft, so tender. He raised his eyes to meet hers before lifting his body, kissing his way up, dragging sticky cum over her belly. He wrapped his arms around her, took her mouth in a kiss that she would never recover from. She tasted herself, him, and a future that wasn’t hers. It would never work between them, not in the long-term, but in bed with him, playing sex games with him, it was easy to forget that.
“You made a mess,” he whispered, stretching out beside her, drawing one long finger through the cream on her stomach. He drew a design in swirls, causing her belly to flutter.
When he pressed that same finger to her lips, she opened and licked his cum from the tip before taking advantage and sucking the whole digit deep. His eyes darkened as he watched her cursed under his breath. “You pretend to be this prim and proper little teacher when what you really are is very dirty and tempting.”
“Looks can be deceiving.”
“Yes, but it’s more than looks. It’s your whole personality. You have this idea that you can only be one way, when you’re so much more. You like this is very different than the you that wouldn’t even look at me, that was in a rush to get away.”
She didn’t know what to say to that, so instead, she leaned over and kissed him. “How did you do that?”
“Pull out. I didn’t think it was possible.”
“I didn’t either. I shouldn’t have taken the chance, I know that. You were… And I felt… Shit.” He scrubbed his hands over his face and through his short spiky morning hair. “I can’t even put words together so they make a lick of sense. Felt like you were pulling away and all I could think about was getting inside you to keep you in the moment with me.”
“I wasn’t leaving.” Not physically, at least. There was way too much going on in her head for her to contemplate what was happening between them. She was old enough to know love didn’t happen overnight, that people didn’t fall head over heels from the first kiss or the first slide of naked skin over naked skin, but…
“I think it’s time for a shower,” he announced, again dragging her out of her too real for the moment thoughts.
Lily swallowed against the laughter and tears that couldn’t – wouldn’t – fall and tried for a light tone of voice as the bed dipped and he stood beside it, all long, lean muscle and to-die-for smile. “But you said it was too early for thinking.”
Cam leaned down, tweaking the other nipple than the one he’d paid attention to earlier. “Naughty girl, using my words against me. You’ll be punished for that.”
* * * * *
Forty-five minutes later, give or take a few, Lily stood on the deck outside Cam’s kitchen, holding a cup of coffee and trying not to think for once that morning, especially about the sex they’d had. She was definitely trying not to think about the sweet and naughty way he’d washed her in the shower, and most definitely trying not to think about having to leave him.
She felt him before she heard him. He stepped through the French doors to join her, and the odd connection between them baffled her. She couldn’t remember a time when she’d been so in tune with another person aside from Alli and Candi. They’d always joked that they were really triplets, sharing the same mind, but she’d never been this way with a man. “When do you need to be at work?” It felt like a strange thing to say, and yet it felt completely natural.
“Around ten for a meeting to go over some changes that we’ve been talking about. I guess I need to check my phone to see what else there is. Hold on a sec.”
Lily was holding on. Just barely, but she was holding on. She was torn between running far, far away from him as he’d said he felt her doing earlier and tackling him to the ground. Sex had never been on her mind this much, but the man had her insides all twisted in knots, and the flesh between her legs throbbed every time she looked at him.
He came back with his phone, and she watched those fingers she loved so much press app after app, then put the phone to his ear. “You make me wish it wasn’t all-star week.” He leaned his shoulder against hers, nuzzling his face in her hair. She suppressed the shiver of arousal that went through her, and a few seconds later, he pocketed the device and winked at her before placing a smacking kiss to her lips.
“Yeah. After the shop, I have an appearance around eleven, a luncheon at twelve-thirty, a meeting at two, and a date at three.”
That last one caught her off guard. She didn’t know why it would have, why it should have. Of course, he would have a date. She saw how many different women stood by his car during the season leading up to this week. He’d said he wanted more than one date with her and she could see it for the sweetness, kindness, sexiness that it was to make someone like her feel special.
Reality, though? It sucked.
And she hated thinking that he was anything less than genuine in everything he said, but she knew from the beginning that she needed to take it all with a grain of salt and keep her feet firmly planted on the ground.
“Just let me know when we need to leave and I’ll be ready,” she said, proud of herself for the casual tone, and if he picked up on anything different, he didn’t let on. Instead, he smiled and took the coffee cup from her hands, sipping from it. He pulled her into his arms and Lily kept her head averted so she wouldn’t be tempted to lick the warm liquid from his lips.
“Plans this weekend?”
She did look at him, then. “Did you really just ask me that?”
He grinned. “Got your tickets?”
“Hmm… Anyone you can give them to?”
He nipped at her nose. She didn’t want to admit how much she loved that little gesture. “Because I am inviting you to watch the race from the pit box.”
She didn’t know what to say, so she didn’t say anything. Everything she’d been shuffling around in her head about him, about their night together, about his intentions, even his date at three later in the day… And he was inviting her to sit on the pit box for the race?
The look on his face was sincere, earnest, full of want.
All of a sudden, well, not all of a sudden because she’d been wondering since the beginning… Why her? She was normal, average, ordinary.
It wasn’t low self-esteem. She was perfectly happy with herself and her curves and her age. Still, she couldn’t help asking herself What the hell is he doing with me?
“What do you mean?”
“You just asked what the hell I’m doing with you. What do you mean by that?”
Oh. Crap. “I…” Damn, she needed to get a grip and stop opening her mouth without her head’s permission.
“Look… Lily… I don’t know if you meant to ask that out loud. From the look on your face, you didn’t. And I don’t know how to answer it. I don’t know how to tell you everything inside me, what I want with you or from you. I just know how I felt when we met and how I feel now.”
“And how did you feel?” She knew she shouldn’t ask that question, either, especially when he grinned at her with that cocky, know-it-all-better-than-everyone-else grin that people loved to hate. “Hungry.”
“Hungry. I felt like I was starving.”
“I…” She started to say she didn’t know how that felt, but she did. She knew exactly what it felt like.
“I know. It’s crazy as hell, but I’m not going to argue with it and I wish you wouldn’t either.” He pressed a soft kiss under her jaw, against her throbbing pulse. “I just know I want you. Unfortunately, we don’t have time for me to show you exactly how much. I need to get going so I’m not late and so your friend doesn’t call 911 on us. Do you need to give her a call so she knows I’m taking you wherever it is you’re staying?”
“I’ll call her and she’ll pick me up from the shop, if that’s okay.”
“It’s great. Just make sure you give me directions for later on.”
She tried not to give anything away again. “I thought you had plans.”
“I do. With you. What did you think I meant?”
“Nothing,” she lied. “Just that you had plans.”
“Bullshit. You thought I meant I had a date with someone else, didn’t you?” That arrogant grin reappeared. “I should spank you for that. I won’t because we don’t have time, but you’ll get one later.”
“Okay,” she said, breathless, wishing they didn’t have to leave, but in the next moment, “Maybe we should go slow with this. Maybe we should –”
“Nope. We should do a lot of things, but taking this slow is not one of them. I have less than a month to make you understand that you can’t live without me. Slow is not going to work. Besides, I don’t know what the hell slow means.” He dropped his sunglasses over his eyes and walked backward, away from her until he entered the house again, only to turn and keep right on walking out the front door.
“Well, now what?” Lily asked. The golf course fairway just beyond Cam’s deck didn’t offer a response. It did look peaceful though, like maybe if she stood there long enough, the answers would smack her upside the head with all the force of a golfer yelling Fore! before the ball hit her.
Behind her the front door opened and closed again. The man of her dreams sauntered toward her full of swagger as though he owned the world. Her breath hitched as it had half a million times since Alli left her at the shop. One would think the gleam would have dimmed at least a little, but not with him. He only seemed to burn brighter, hotter, and she was the one who would feel the singe of the flames.
“Coming?” he queried.
As soon as the word was out of his mouth, the smirk on his face had her biting back her own smile as memories of their night and morning assailed her. Was it four or five times? She couldn’t remember exactly because a couple of the orgasms had run together into one long one. With as straight a face as she could manage, she said, “Yes.”
Cam stood beside his truck watching as Alli and Lily drove away. He hated the tight feeling in gut. He’d had the same feeling when she walked away from the autograph table. It was fear that he wouldn’t see her again, that she wouldn’t call, that she didn’t really want him the way he craved her. It was a feeling he was used to, and he didn’t like it. Not at all. Absently he rubbed at his chest, then dropped his hand and shook his head. He had it bad. There was no other explanation.
It was going to be a long-ass day.
“Yeah?” He turned to see his crew chief coming at him. Slowly. Cautiously. Gingerly. Cam held back a smile. “Hey, man. Good night?” Ronnie grimaced behind his sunglasses and Cam laughed. Guess not.
“Got my ass whipped and damn near broke the bank buying rounds. Remind me not to go out with them again unless you’re coming with us.”
“You already do know better.”
Ronnie snorted and flipped him the bird. Cam loved their ease, their friendship, the way they made all the facets of their business and personal relationship work for the better. It wasn’t always so easy between drivers and crew chiefs, but Cam and Ronnie lucked out. They were like long-lost brothers. Cam couldn’t have asked for a more knowledgeable man to be in charge of the crew. He couldn’t have asked for a more supportive man, either. Cam didn’t have the most sterling reputation. The majority of people in and out of the business didn’t like him and while he was fine with that, fine with his brash, tell-it-like-it-is way, others weren’t. Ronnie understood him, supported him, backed him every step of the way. Ronnie and the crew and team owners believed in him and allowed him to be who he was and he knew he was damn lucky. His sponsors balked every once in a while, but as long as he got results, they pretty much continued to funnel money into the car and into him.
And now, there was Lily.
On race days, he was her driver, her favorite. He fucking loved that. They all had their fair share of a diverse fan base, but having someone like her in his corner just left him speechless. Especially given that she was his type of woman. Sweet and tender and little shy outside the bedroom and naughty as sin in it.
No matter how much she tried to push the age difference between them as being important and a reason why they couldn’t work, it was nothing more than an excuse. Age didn’t mean shit. He wanted her and she wanted him. His fame, or rather his infamy, didn’t mean anything, either. He wanted to drive. He wanted to win. He didn’t care if anyone else ever liked him for it. Lily, though? Yeah, he needed her to like him as a man and as a driver. He couldn’t explain it, but he needed her support, her belief in him, just as he had it from Ronnie, his team, his car owners, and his sponsors. He needed to know she could handle the negative press he received more often than not. He would protect her from as much as he could, and take as many of the hits as possible, but he knew she would get some of it just by being close to him. And yeah, the press might tap into the age thing. They might even tap into the fact that she wasn’t built the model girlfriends and wives of his fellow drivers. She was more the girl next door who was your best friend growing up but never dated or saw as a girl until it was too damned late and she’d moved on.
He wasn’t going to let Lily move on from. She was stuck with him, age difference, infamous face, controversial attitude, and all. She –
“Cam? You with me, buddy?”
Cam grinned and hoped that Ronnie hadn’t said anything important. “Yeah. Sorry about that. Not much sleep last night.”
Ronnie let out a whistle. “Oh? You hear from your gal?”
There was the twang. “Yep. She was waiting outside for me yesterday when I left. We had dinner. Talked a lot.” And sex. Lots and lots of sex.
He opened the door to the shop, and both of them took off their sunglasses. Ronnie immediately put his back on. “You had dinner? All night? Damn, either you had some shitty service or the girl herself was dinner.”
Cam ignored the comment and hoped that Ronnie would let it go as well. He wasn’t ready to share too much about her yet. At the same time, he knew that by not saying anything, he was confessing a whole hell of a lot. Damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.
“You dog.” Ronnie nudged him in the shoulder. “You did the girl on the first date? Damn. She must’ve been good. You don’t usually do that. Gonna see her again? Gonna share?”
Cam walked off laughing and shaking his head. No way in hell was he going to answer now, and no way in hell would he be sharing Lily with any of the guys. It had been a running joke with the crew that they all shared so much being on the road most of the year that the only thing they hadn’t shared yet was a woman. It wasn’t going to start now, either, not with his woman.
His. Oh yeah, he loved the sound of that. His woman. Fuck if that thought didn’t make him rock hard.
“Team meeting in five,” Ronnie called out from behind him.
Cam lifted a hand in acknowledgement but kept right on walking. After pulling his phone out of his pocket, he found Lily’s number in his contact list and sent her a text.
Get home okay?
That wasn’t what he wanted to ask, but he figured he’d start with something innocent, not knowing here where was, who she was with, or if her phone lit up like a Christmas tree when a text came through.
Yes. Aren’t you supposed to be in a meeting?
Cam settled on the floor in the garage and leaned back against one of his cars.
In a bit. What are you doing?
Cam waited, staring at his phone, waiting for her name to pop up. When it did, the little flip of his stomach astonished him. Again. It would take some getting used to, this over-the-top attraction and desire for her. He felt like some teenage kid waiting for his crush to text him back, to call him, to give him the fucking time of day.
Having coffee with Alli.
Good. You’ll need the caffeine.
Ronnie chose that moment to come around the front of the car with a clipboard in hand. “All right guys let’s get moving. There’s work to be done.”
Gotta go. See you later.
Alli heaved an exaggerated, wistful sigh. “He’s texting you. Cam Carter is texting you. And you spent the night with him. All night. Doing all the dirty things. I can’t believe any of this is actually happening, but it is and it’s so fucking awesome. Candi is going to flip her shit when she finds out.”
Lily couldn’t disagree with anything Alli said. She was having a hard enough time believing any of it herself and it had happened to her.
Alli was also right about Candi. She was going to go nuts over the fact that she’d missed it all.
“Maybe I should’ve let you go sit in the car when you wanted. It might have been me he took a liking to.”
“You don’t mean that. You wouldn’t trade Cam for having sat in a hot, lonely car.”
“No, I wouldn’t.”
Alli’s enthusiasm was contagious, though there was a little trepidation mixed in with Lily’s. She didn’t want to get ahead of herself. Yes, Cam Carter was texting her. Yes, she’d spent the night with him. And yes, he wanted to see her again.
“What’s that blush for, and why are you shifting around in the chair like that?”
Lily didn’t realize she’d been doing either one of those things. But the fact was… She’d had sex with Cam and his mouth had been between her legs and he’d spanked her until she was wetter than she’d ever been in her life.
No way was she going to tell Alli any of that, though. “Just thinking, is all.”
“You have it bad for him, don’t you?”
“I can’t have it bad for him. He’s… Well, he’s… He’s him. He’s just a fling while I’m here.”
“A fling? Seriously?” Alli shook her head. “The end of the month will get here and you’ll be so head over heels in love with him, you won’t know what what to do with yourself.”
Lily soberted. “Falling in love is not an option, Alli. I can’t. And more to the point, he won’t be falling in love either.”
“You don’t know that.”
That was true. She didn’t. But her emotions were all tangled up in him and the night they’d spent together. She’d dismissed love at first sight for lust, earlier. That’s the way it needed to stay, too.
She lifted her coffee cup to her lips only to realize it was empty. Damn. She walked to the sink and set the mug in it. “I’ve never been with anyone like him.”
“He’s that good, huh?”
Lily heard the teasing in Alli’s voice. “Good doesn’t even begin to cover it. He did things, said things… It was just sex. I mean, I know what he said, but…”
“You’ve never been a just sex kind of girl, though, honey. Flings and no strings have never been your thing. Mine, yes. Not yours.”
“Nice rhyming.” Lily sighed. “And I know you’re right. That’s part of the problem. If it is just sex for him, where does that leave me in a few weeks when I go back home? You said it yourself… Cam Carter is a once in a lifetime man, and I’d be a fool to stop seeing him just because I’m afraid. On the other hand, I’d be a fool to keep seeing him because I’m afraid I’d never get over him.” Did women ever get over men like Cam with so much life and vitality? “There’s also the age difference…”
“Um… No. You can’t stop seeing him. Ask yourself this… Will you regret the time spent with him more than regret not and wondering what if for the rest of your life?”
Leave it to Alli to put things in perspective when Lily was off kilter. She didn’t want to live with regret. She’d never done it before and she didn’t want to start now. It didn’t make things any easier, though. The man was under her skin. She’d had secret fantasies about him before she met him, and ever since the staring contest across the autograph table, she’d been dreaming about him, often waking up in the middle of an orgasm. No man had ever had that kind of effect on her. So, really… What choice did she have?
“Also…” Alli reached over and took Lily’s hand. “Hang the fucking age difference. No one cares. No. One.”
“Good. Now, what are y’all doing later?”
“I don’t know. He only said he’d see me later.”
“Oh… That doesn’t help.”
“Help me choose what you should wear.”
“Well, maybe you can help me with something else.”
“Sure.” Alli drained her coffee cup. “Does he want a threesome? Because I’m so up for that. You and I have seen each other naked before. We could totally do it. You know, for him.”
Lily’s shocked gaze met Alli’s amused one. “Um… No. That’s not… He invited us to sit up on the pit box for the race this weekend. Know anyone who would want our tickets?”
“Pit box? On pit road? Near the garages?”
“I’ll find someone to take the tickets. You tell him yes, if you didn’t already.”
Alli’s enthusiasm helped Lily relax a little. Still… “I’m not going to want to leave him, am I?”
“No. He’s too magnetic and charming and perfect for you.”
“But I just met him. This is all so much bigger than me. I’m not this person. I’m not the fling person, the casual sex person.” The little she-devil on her shoulder thumped her on the side of the head… Didn’t he say he wanted to take you home to California, to meet his family, to be with him on the road?
Much as Lily wanted to listen to that, she couldn’t. Could she?
“I’m going to respectfully disagree, Lil. Not about the fling or casual sex. But the one who takes a chance? The one who lets her heart lead? The one who falls head over heels? You are that person. You’ve just never met anyone to bring that part of you out. Until now. You quiet, creative types are always the wild ones. As for leaving him… Honey, you can get a job up here. Candi and I would love it if you moved back.”
“You and Candi would want drivers of your own.”
“And there’s something wrong with that because…?”
They both laughed and Lily realized, not for the first time, how much she missed her friends. She had a good life, but it was a small, quiet life going to work, going home, going to rehearsal, going home. It repeated itself. There wasn’t much that changed from one day to the next.
She told Cam that she went to school in Florida and just never left and now she wondered why. It wasn’t as if she couldn’t do in Charlotte what she did in Tallahassee. There wasn’t anything holding her there, so why did she stay?
And if she had a chance at something more, what was there to stop her from taking it? Other than her own fears? Fears of what, she didn’t know, but that had to be what it was, right?
While her life was small and quiet, Cam’s life was vastly different. Right then, she couldn’t even imagine how she’d fit into his daily world. Would she want to? Would she want to give up her solitude for his hectic, traveling-all-the-time-in-the-spot light life?
Images of the night before flashed through her mind. Him naked, kissing her, spanking her, filling her. His smile, his eyes lit with mischief fill another part of her mind and she knew in an instant, that yes, she would give it all up for a chance to be with him for longer than the few weeks she had left at Candi’s house.
Alli squeezed her hand, pulling her attention back from her thoughts. “Let’s go shopping?”
“Me. I need something to wear this weekend to the race.” Lily lifted a brow in question to which Alli gave an emphatic nod. “I need something new and appropriate to wear if we’re going to be on pit road and around… You know, new people.”
“You have a closet full of stuff that none of them have ever seen. And there’s new people at every race.”
“So? Look, I know you’ve already got the hottest guy, but I don’t. And in order for any of the other hot guys to notice me, I need to wear more than skinny jeans and a tight t-shirt.”
“What about Candi’s closet?”
“Candi’s as bad as you are about clothes and shopping. You both need a closet makeover.”
“You’re serious? It’s still a race, though. Dirt, track rubber, sweat, Southern heat… Any of this ringing a bell?”
“And different guys. Not the usually drunk, rude, asshole ones in the stands.”
Lily had to give her that one. The fans sometimes left a lot to be desired. Some of them were more than the textbook definition of rude. They could be crass, and mean, and wholly inappropriate for a family friendly sport. “But they’ll have jobs to do. They won’t have time to mess around with you.”
“You’ve seen them the same as I have between pit stops. Some of them will have time.” She waggled her brows, then batted her lashes. “C’mon, Lily… You know you wanna?”
“C’mon, Alli,” Lily said, matching Alli’s tone of voice, “You know I don’t wanna.”
“Spoilsport. We’re going anyway. You said he’s busy until after two, so that gives us plenty of time.”
Three hours later, Lily stood outside the dressing room of yet another clothing store. She’d lost count of how many outfits, dressing rooms, and stores Alli had dragged her into.
She didn’t completely hate it. Alli was having fun and Lily had to admit, she’d seen some cute things that she thought about getting for herself. She didn’t, but it was a positive that she’d thought about it.
She and Candi thought Alli might go into fashion when they all graduated from high school, but she’d chosen law instead. Of course, binging old Perry Mason and L.A. Law episodes and too many viewings of My Cousin Vinny, and it shouldn’t have been a total surprise. She’d worked her way up in a law firm that specialized in motorsports and that had paid for her to go to law school.
She was the only one of the three of them who actually worked in a sport they all loved.
“What time is it?” Alli called from the dressing room.
“Um… A quarter to two?” She’d avoided looking at her phone since they’d been at the mall. She didn’t want to see that there were no new messages from Cam.
Was this what being involved with a boy you really really liked, was well, like?
She’d had boyfriends and lovers and even a disastrous friends with benefits moment, but she could honestly say that none of them had ever done for her what Cam did and none affected her heart the way Cam did and her insides hadn’t melted with them the way they melted with Cam.
She had a crush. More than a crush. Less than a relationship. But her heart was already involved.
She wasn’t cut out for this kind of intense emotion.
“We’ll go after I’m done in here, okay?”
Alli poked her head out the door. “I’m proud of you. You’ve handled shopping today with minimal huffing and puffing.”
“Wouldn’t huffing and puffing have helped?”
“Nope. Would’ve dragged this out way longer, probably to the very last second.” Lily stuck her tongue out and pulled the door closed on Alli’s snicker. “Are you nervous?”
“Well, the light of day is usually very different than up all night having sex.”
The blush was immediate, and Lily ducked her head, even though no one was paying attention to her. “No, I’m not nervous.”
“You just seem tense.”
“I know… I think I’m just tired.”
“That’s normal from up all-night sex.”
“We weren’t up all-night having sex.”
“That’s why you didn’t text me until three thirty this morning?”
“I…” Lily had no response. If it hadn’t been for Cam and sex, she’d have been in bed at her normal time which was always well before three-thirty.
“I’ll get you back to Candi’s with enough time to spare for a power nap.”
A nap, power or not, sounded heavenly.
Alli emerged, somehow looking more beautiful than when they’d walked in, with her hair fluffed and her make-up freshened. She took the clothes Lily had been holding for her and hung them on the rack.
“You’re not getting any of those?”
“No. They weren’t right.”
Lily started to ask what right was if none of those clothes were it but decided it didn’t matter. Alli would find something and look stunning. She would turn heads on pit road.
“You’re not trying to sabotage this thing with Cam, are you?”
“What? Where did that come from? I spent the night with him. I’m going out with him later.”
“But…?” Alli grabbed her hand and that’s how they left the mall, arms empty of shopping bags, but holding hands. The three of them used to do that when they were together. They’d hold hands everywhere they went. Alli to the left. Candi to the right. And Lily stuck in the middle, linking them all.
“I don’t know how to feel about it, or act. This is… And he’s just…”
“Go with it. That’s all you have to do. Go with it. Let it become whatever it’s going to become. He’s so into you, so don’t overthink it. He’s not like the other guys you’ve dated. He’s not stuffy and boring.”
Once upon a time, Lily might have taken offense to Alli’s choice of words about the men Lily normally dated, but she found she couldn’t in this instance. Compared to Cam, those guys were definitely stuffy and boring.
In private with him, she wasn’t stuffy and boring either. She was the complete opposite. She was free and sexual and playful. She was exactly as she’d always wanted to be, but never had the nerve to be.
“He’s good for you. He’s going to end up being the man of your dreams. I just know it. He’s going to be your fairy tale ending.”
Lily smiled at the fanciful comment. The thing was, though, she already knew it to be true.
Cam knocked. Again.
His frown deepened when Lily didn’t answer. She hadn’t answered her cell the three times he’d called, either. Looking around, everything seemed normal for a small, residential neighborhood. He’d driven through this particular area of town quite a bit but had never paid much attention to it.
Older, all-brick homes lined the street with daily large yards and fully grown trees. There were a lot of green laws, which was different than the more up to date subdivision where he’d grown up out in California. The oaks and magnolias gave this area Southern charm, and he marveled that it was so close to the speedway. He’d never have guessed from standing on the stoop that he was just minutes away from the loud roar of engines a few times a year.
He stepped off the front porch and inched his way through the front flower bed to peep into the front window. He hoped no one saw him. Race Car Driver Turned Peeping Tom. Wouldn’t that be a fun headline? But he forgot all about that when he saw Lily curled on the couch, sleeping.
A green blanket covered her, and all he could see was her face. It was May, and she was cold. Something about that made him smile. A pair of glasses were folded on the coffee table, and from what he could tell, while the house was older on the outside, it had been renovated and modernized on the inside.
“How the hell do I wake her up?” he muttered to himself. He’d called, knocked. There wasn’t a doorbell, or he’d have tried that, too.
Tapping on the glass, he hoped to get a response. She didn’t stir. He tapped a little harder, and still… Nothing. This wasn’t going well. The woman he couldn’t stop thinking about, the woman he’d had a hard-on for all day was sound asleep. He moved out of the flower bed and up to the porch again. IN each of the four corners were flowerpots. What were the odds he’d find an extra key under one?
None. That’s what the odds were.
He also checked under the mat, under the rock at the front of the flower bed beside the bottom step, even over the door frame.
Back at the window, he looked around the room, and spotted something he didn’t think anyone, but his grandparent’s generation might still have. An answering machine.
She’d given him her cell number and another number. He thought maybe it was for her friend Alli, but maybe it was the landline tied to the answering machine.
The line connected and he waited for it to start ringing. Once it did, he heard it in his ear and heard the jangling of a phone from inside the house. Lily stirred slightly under the blanket just as the machine picked up and a female by the name of Candi rattled off a greeting and something to the effect of not being able to come to the phone, and please leave a message at the beep.
Cam did just that. “Lily? Lily, baby, wake up. You look so cute all wrapped up in a blanket, but I need you to wake up and let me in before the neighbors call the cops.” She stirred more, and this time lifted her head. “That’s it. I see you. Look at the front window.”
Slowly, she did. His cock hardened at the sleepy look on her face, at her mussed hair, at the recognition that lit her face when she saw him. He grinned. “Let me in. I want to kiss you and hold you and pull you close. Come get me, Lily.”
She tossed the blanket aside and stood. He backed away from the window and a few seconds later heard the click of a lock. The door opened. Red stained her cheeks with a blush and Cam pocketed his phone with his left hand while using his right to drag her to him. He nuzzled his face into her neck and inhaled. “I missed you.”
For a moment, she stood stiff, then slowly relaxed and sunk into him, nestling close. He wanted to hold her, just fucking hold her, but he’d made plans for them and they needed to get going. Kissing the top of her head, he set her away from him and moved them both inside, then closed the door behind him.
His heart contracted when she looked up at him with lust in her eyes. Damn. “Don’t.”
“Don’t what?” she said, all soft and sleepy.
“Don’t look at me like that.”
She licked her lips and very nearly found herself back against the wall. “Like what?”
“Like you want to eat me alive.”
“What if I do?”
“Dammit, woman. You can’t say things like that and expect me to keep a level head and resist you.”
Confusion crossed her features, followed by a little uncertainty. He hated that. “Why do you have to resist me?” She took a step forward to close the space between them. Cam backed up until he was pressed to the door.
“Oh no, you don’t. You stay over there.” But she kept moving. He had nowhere to go but to the side, so that’s what he did. He sidestepped her and swatted her ass. She turned her not-so-innocent eyes on him. Her confusion and uncertainty was gone. He was so close to dropping them both to the floor and giving in. “Stop trying to get me naked.”
“Why do I have to stop? I want you naked.”
She was coming onto him, like what she’d done when they got to his house last night. He loved every fucking second of it. “I made plans.”
She grabbed his shirt in her fist and stepped close again. “I was dreaming up some plans.”
Her voice was rough and throaty, a sexy rasp from sleep and he let her get within inches of him before he stepped out of reach again. “What if I promise that as soon as we get back in the truck afterward, you can do whatever you want to me?”
“Really? You’d promise that?”
“Oh…” Fuck. “Yeah.”
“Will you kiss me?”
She nodded. “Uh huh.”
“Nope.” Hell. No. If he kissed her now, they’d be rutting like animals. Her aggression turned him on and he wanted to plant his lips on hers, but they’d never make it to her surprise if he did. “Those had to be some interesting dreams. You’ll have to share them with me later.”
“I can show you.”
The. Death. Of. Him. “Later. After. In the truck.” He uncurled her fists from his shirt and kissed the back of each hand. “Aren’t you curious what I have in store for you?”
“Well, it’s obviously not a continuation of last night, so…”
“Naughty girl. No. It’s not. Not right now. A few friends are waiting for us.”
“A few friends?”
That cleared the sleepy haze and seduction right up. He smiled at the wariness that crept into her gaze. She was okay in private with him, but going out in public, and she tensed. Interesting. “Yeah. Go do whatever you gotta do to get ready to go. We’ll leave when you’re done.”
“Where are we going?”
“You ask too many questions sometimes.” He watched her fiddle with the blanket she’d left on the couch. She folded it and smoothed out the corners. She reached for her glasses and slid them on. She turned toward him, but she wouldn’t look at him. She was a bundle of nerves and he wished he knew how to ease her tension. “I thought I’d take you around the track in a car. I think you’ll love it. I think you’ll love to feel what it’s like going two hundred miles an hour.”
“Really?” Her eyes lit up and the trepidation she’d had, was gone in an instant. She grinned from ear to ear. “That’s so cool. I’ll be right back.”
She disappeared down the hall, fairly bouncing as she went. Cam walked around the house, keeping to himself so he didn’t follow her.
Lily’s friend’s home was light and airy with all the common rooms flowing into one another. A small breakfast bar separated the kitchen from the dining area and a set of columns separated the dining area from the living room.
It had a warm homey feeling to it all despite its openness. It was tidy, uncluttered, but felt comfortable with the warm rich greens and blues of the furniture and decor.
Off the dining room and through a set of French doors, was a deck and Cam could almost imagine it full of friends and family for a barbecue. He smiled at the thought and knew with every fiber of his being that he wanted to be part of it, part of Lily’s inner circle. He wanted to be part of her, mixed in with her life as much as he wanted her to be part of and mixed in with his.
“Ready to go.”
Cam turned from the tranquil looking backyard. She’d changed into a t-shirt with his name plastered against her chest. Jeans hugged her hips and thighs, and she wore red canvas sneakers. She was cute, beautiful, wholesome, and sexy all at the same time. He wasn’t sure which part of her he wanted more at that moment.
When he looked at her, she wasn’t older than him or him younger than her. She was simply the woman he wouldn’t be able to get enough of, something he’d known the second he saw her, the second she’d used that uncertain, lust-filled smile on him. He was pretty sure she hadn’t realized the way she looked at him the day they met, but he hadn’t mistaken it for a minute.
Her glasses were gone. He liked her in them. Sexy in a naughty school teacher way. “Contacts?”
“Yes. Thought it would be best without glasses in a car behind the helmet.”
“More comfortable, yes.”
“I saw you looking out at the deck. Would you like to go out there? Candi has a beautiful yard. She loves to have people over for cookouts.” Her hips swayed and his cock hardened again. Her unpracticed sex appeal did things to him he couldn’t explain.
She flipped the lock to the door and he followed her outside.
There was a breeze and a coolness in the air that was uncharacteristic for last spring in the south.
The deck had three levels and sported three different seating arrangements. Bushes lined the fences and trees he didn’t know the names of dotted the yard. It was well taken care of, lush and welcoming.
“It’s nice out here. I can’t believe she lives so close to the speedway. It feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere. There are no sounds of traffic.”
“Not generally, no. Race weekends are the exception, but even then, it’s pretty quiet.”
“Can you hear the cars at the track?”
“Yes. I’m usually at the races whenever I visit, but there’ve been times we sat right here and watched it on TV with the sound turned down.”
“Well, hopefully you’ll be at all the races, here and in other places. I want to wake up with you like I did this morning and know that I’ll see you later in the day? He slipped his arms around her and pulled into him. Her head fit into the cradle of his shoulder, and he kissed the top of her head. “I can’t wait to see you this weekend on top of the pit box.”
“We’ll be there.”
“Your friend agreed? What about the tickets?”
“She said she’d find someone to take them.”
Cam squeezed her. “Great.”
He’d felt her hesitation and her body stiffen in increments when he talked about waking up with her and her being part of his life, but he couldn’t, wouldn’t think about her not being around. He simply couldn’t let her leave at the end of the month.
He’d only known her for a few days, but didn’t want the life he’d had before her. Somehow, someway, he had to convince her they belonged together. That is, once he wrapped his own head around it.
“Let’s go. We need to leave before I bend you over the railing and strip those jeans right off your ass and forget the deal we made a few minutes ago.”
Her response was to wiggle her butt against his cock. He didn’t bother to stifle a groan or push his hips into her. “Naughty woman. I just might have to forget our little deal anyway.”
She was already breathless when he slid his hand up her chest and settled it over her heart. It thumped wildly. Lower his head, he trailed kisses along her neck and pulled the collar of her shirt to the side to nip at her shoulder. “Yeah.” He reluctantly let go and stepped away. “But not right now.”
She whirled to face him. “You’re mean.”
Cam laughed at the smile in her eyes, at the mock indignation on her face. He was such a goner. Sliding his sunglasses over his eyes, he tugged her to him with a hand around the back of her neck. His lips glossed over hers, and that’s all he allowed either of them before he laced his fingers with hers and led her back inside the house.