Cover Me Excerpts
Bess Halprin was never someone Derek Bast considered for a second. I was the girl who got straight A’s in my AP classes. The one whose idea of fun was hanging out with my church youth group. The one who never turned him down when he asked for a favor, even if he never said thank you.
“Here we are,” he said, pulling up in front of the valet stand at the Roosevelt Hotel.
“Of course you would bring me to a hotel,” I said. Who did he think he was? Dumb question. He knew who he was, that’s why he thought he could get away with bringing me here.
“Relax, Halprin. We’re only going to the bar. Right now I’d rather strangle you than screw you, so your virginity’s safe with me.” He got out as the valet opened my door.
Virginity? Not likely. Even us nerdy girls found a man every once in a while.
I waited while he tipped the valet, then stepped inside the lobby when the doorman opened the door for us. With the arches, soaring ceiling, tile floor and center fountain, I might have time travelled to the Spanish colonial era.
“When you’re done gawking…” Bast said, waiting for me to follow him into The Library bar.
Honestly, I wasn’t done gawking. I’d never been inside the Hollywood Roosevelt before. It was stunning. The bar actually did look like a library with leather chairs and banquettes, bookshelves along the walls and diamond-shaped window panes. Bast took my hand and helped me up into a chair at the bar before sitting beside me. “Thanks,” I said, somewhat shocked that he knew how to be a gentleman.
“What would you like?” he asked, waving to the bartender. There were only a handful of other people around us.
“Jameson on the rocks.”
The bartender heard me and nodded. “Make it two,” Bast said.
“So, the review.” I settled right down to business. Better to not pretend this meeting was personal. It wouldn’t do me any good when I didn’t see him for another decade…or ever again.
He pressed his lips together. His eyes narrowed. “The review.”
“I don’t imagine you enjoyed reading what I had to say, but I write reviews for my readers, not to kiss entertainer’s asses. Not even yours.”
The bartender sat my drink down. Perfect timing. I picked it up and took a healthy drink, relishing the feel of it burning all the way down to my stomach.
Bast gripped the edge of the bar and very slowly lowered his forehead down onto the polished wood. “I’m trying really hard here to not flip out on you. You should appreciate that, because it’s taking more self-control that I thought I possessed.”
I gave him an amused smirk. “Stop being such a diva and get over it. It was a bad review. So what? Can’t be the only one you’ve ever gotten? Or is it, superstar?”
He made a guttural growl deep in his throat, lifted his forehead and tapped it over and over again against the bar. “That’s not the point.”
“We’ll be here all night if you don’t start getting to it then.” I took another drink.
He turned his head to the side and looked at me. It wasn’t the face of a man who was being petty about a review. It was a man who was stung. “Whatever I did to make you hate me, Bess, was it worth trying to ruin my career over?”
“Ruin your career? Please.” I looked away from him and drained my glass.
Bess looked back at me, her eyes watery. “I…” she shook her head, took off her glasses to dab her fingers at the corners over her eyes, then dove for me. Her hands cupped around the back of my head, pulling my lips down to meet hers. The heat of her mouth filled me. I devoured her. She tasted like the past and present, things known yet unknown, roots grounding me and wings setting me free. “Bess,” I whispered, just to hear myself say her name. Bess. The girl next door.
I lowered us to the floor and held her against me, exploring her lips and tongue with my own. I rested my thumb over the pulse in her neck, feeling it thrum and pound. I kept my eyes open, wanting to see her, to catch every flicker of pleasure that crossed her face.
I didn’t know where we stood with the review or with her hating me or not hating me. I wanted my mind to stop bringing up these questions. I lowered my hand from her neck, trailing down along the bare skin revealed by the deep V in her t-shirt. I pressed my palm against her breast bone, wanting her to feel secure. I told her I wouldn’t throw her on the floor and ravage her, after all.
Not that I was the one to start this, but I sure as hell didn’t want it to stop.
Her delicate fingers stroked my cheek, ran along my jaw, followed suit with mine and rested on my chest.
I slid my fingers inside the V of her shirt and dipped them under the edge of her bra. My fingertip skimmed her pebbled nipple and she fisted my shirt in her hands. Her kiss quickened and deepened. I pushed her shirt aside, heard the seam give, and pulled her bra back freeing her breast. I cupped her and squeezed gently, massaging the tip with my thumb.
She pulled away from my mouth slightly, panting, her tongue flicking out to meet with mine. I could only imagine how wet she was. My dick throbbed inside my jeans, begging to be let out. My balls ached with heaviness, needing release that would come from being deep inside this sensual, amazing woman I’d overlooked for so long.
I dipped my head and flicked her nipple with my tongue before taking it in my mouth and giving it a hard suck. She arched her back and let out a whispered cry. Her hands dug under my shirt to make contact with skin. As we kissed, I freed her other breast and rolled the nipple between my thumb and finger, plucking it gently. It drove her mad. I could tell by the way her legs kept shifting.
Since I could stand some friction between my legs myself, I hooked my hands behind her knees and pulled her onto my lap, straddling me. God, she was beautiful with her tits out, wet from my tongue, with her skirt hiked up around her waist. Her underwear were black boy shorts and she still had those fucking fishnet thigh highs on. I decided I could live without the glasses and heels.
I lifted my eyes to his and let the fear and wonder in their green depths sink into me. “It’s fast,” I said. “That’s all. It’s very fast.”
His thumb stroked the back of my hand. “For someone you’ve known your whole life?”
“Time has passed. There are—we’re not kids anymore. It’s complicated now.”
He pulled me against his warm body and held me tight. “It doesn’t feel complicated to me.”
I pushed away. “Because you don’t know! You weren’t the one who got hurt!”
Derek put his hands on his hips and took a deep breath. “You keep saying that I did something. Tell me what it is! What the hell did I do to you that you carry around with you every day for this long and can’t let me have this with you.” He motioned between us. “We’re not strangers. We’re far from it. You say this is fast, but to me, it’s our time, Bess. That review busted my balls, but I’m starting to think it happened for a reason. To bring you back into my life. I’ve been sitting in this place alone, trying to make a life for myself now that I’m not on tour and like magic, here you are.”
“It’s not magic. It’s a review. A bad review. The way you responded to it brought me into your life, Derek. Not fate or destiny or any other kind of special force.”
He turned to the fire, rubbing his palms together and nodding. “Fine. I’ll call you a driver. I’d take you back, but the paparazzi would have a fucking heyday seeing you getting out of my car like that.”
We stood in silence. I stared at his back, followed the line of muscle where my fingers had pressed and held tight what seemed like only moments ago.
I didn’t want to leave. I was already hurt, but at least I was the one hurting myself and it wasn’t coming from him. He walked into the kitchen and picked up his cell phone from the counter. I heard him say he needed a driver while he opened the sliding door and stepped outside, then closed it behind him.
The scent of grilled burgers wafted into the house. He was trying so hard to make it a good night. A normal night between old friends who could be so much more. If I could just let the past go.
But I couldn’t. I was getting caught up in the moment and had to put some distance between us to know how I truly felt.
He came back in with the burgers on a plate and sat them down hard on the kitchen counter with a loud crack. “If you’re hungry, you can eat before you leave.”
I didn’t want to go with him angry. The past was pushing me away. I didn’t want the present pushing him. “Will you eat with me?”
He ran his fingers into his hair and gripped it tight, giving me a piercing stare. Standing there with his amazing body on display, his waist band riding low on his hips, he looked at me like he could be done with me in a heartbeat or be inside me in a second, proving he was right and tonight was meant to be. I could barely breathe, watching him think and wondering what he would do.
Finally, he dropped his hand and shook his head. He strode by me, swept the blanket off of the tops of the chairs and headed toward the master suite. “I’m taking a shower. Lock the door behind you when you go.” He stopped and turned his head, glancing back over his shoulder. “It’s been nice catching up. Good luck to you, Bess.”
When I woke from the dream in the morning, it was with the empty, hollowed-out feeling of something missing. I wanted to go back to sleep and find it, but the persistent knocking on the front door urged me out of bed.
A zing of panic shot through me thinking it might be Derek. My car was in the driveway, so it would be logical that one of the Bast’s would come over to find out what was going on while my parents were gone.
I pulled on my jersey dress over my head, grabbed my glasses off the nightstand and finger combed my hair on the way to the door. Through the sidelight, I saw him standing on my porch. The empty, hollowed-out feeling surrounding me since waking from my dream disappeared.
When I opened the door, he looked me up and down. “How did I know you owned a Prius?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Lucky guess?”
“Why aren’t you ready? It’s almost ten.” He tossed me a colorful folded towel.
“Okay. I’ll play. Ready for what?”
“Bess, it’s Saturday. What do we do on Saturday?”
Images of Derek at ten, twelve, fourteen, swam in front of my eyes. Every Saturday morning he stood on my porch waiting for me and we’d walk to the beach. Overwhelmed, I held up a finger. “I just need a minute,” I stammered, closing the door in his face.
Leaning back against it, I pressed my hand to my chest. My heart was about to explode. Once we’d entered high school and Derek’s attention drifted toward the more popular—and more developed—girls, our Saturday trips to the beach stopped. Or, mine did. He went with his group of guy friends to hit on girls. I stayed home and tried to pretend it didn’t bother me. To be fair, I could’ve tried harder to find girls to hang out with, but that didn’t happen until college.
A knock reverberated beside my head. I turned and opened the door to his amused grin. “I gave you two minutes. Ready now?”
I thought I might jump out of my skin with anxiety, but there was no part of me urging me to say no. “I’ll run and put a bathing suit on.”
“I’d say it was optional, but if the prospect of eating burgers scared you off, that would make you slam the door in my face.” He lowered onto the porch step and sat down. “I’ll wait here.”
I couldn’t do anything but nod, wondering how this day would progress. Wondering what he expected to happen between us.
My eyes roamed over his face, following the line of his eyebrow to his temple, down to his prominent cheekbone to his straight nose then over his full, beautiful lips that could be so gentle and so demanding at the same time. The lips that always spoke what was on his mind and never held back. “If only you did know me better, then you’d know that wasn’t what broke my trust in you. But maybe you wouldn’t have done it in the first place if you’d have thought about my feelings at all.”
He kissed my hand and spoke against my fingers. “What if I did think about your feelings, but got it wrong. You said I didn’t know you, so I might have done something I thought you would be okay with.”
I shook my head. “No. If that was true, you’re not the kind of person I should be here with right now.”
He held my hand more firmly. “So, if I was selfish and didn’t consider your feelings at all, it would be better than thinking you’d be okay with whatever horrible thing I did?”
“Are we going in circles? It sounds like we’re talking in circles.” Derek had the gift of gab and I had to be careful he didn’t talk his way out of this.
“Bess, whatever it was that I did, I’m so sorry. I apologize. But, I do know you well enough to know you won’t accept my apology without me realizing what I’m saying I’m sorry for. Correct?”
“Yes. And no, I won’t tell you. I know you well enough to know that if you think about it long enough, it’ll finally come to you.”
“Well, I know that you know that I know that—wait. We are going in circles.” He grinned and kissed my hand again. “Just know I can’t think of anything else and when it comes to me, I’ll be down on my knees begging forgiveness.”
We lay there for the longest time looking into each other’s eyes, listening to the ocean and the sound of our breathing in sync. My fingers itched to touch him, to trace over his arms, his chest, along his stomach, hold his hard cock in my hand again. I could almost hear his thoughts mirroring mine, wanting to touch and taste, caress and seek release.
Our hands were the only parts of us touching and I was so turned on my body hummed like a live wire. If the wind blew too hard, I’d explode. I could hear a slight hitch in my breathing. He had to hear it too.
“Don’t look down,” he whispered, his addictive lips so close I could feel each word against my own.
“I can’t help what’s happening in my head or my pants and don’t want something else to apologize for.”
I grinned and looked down. “I think you’re growing a tree in there.” God, he was well endowed.
“That explains why it feels like something’s about to break ground,” he said through gritted teeth.
My eyes found his again. The air between us hung heavy and dense with tension. “What’s on the A.P. friendship syllabus regarding this situation?”
He lifted our joined hands and ran his index finger over my lips. “You write the syllabus. I’m only here for the coursework.”
Not able to stand it one more second, I leaned in and brushed my lips to his. “It’s never only anything with you.”
I indulged with my lips and my tongue, rolling him to his back before making my way down his body to the hard, long gift in his trunks.
Carrie Bio and newsletter link:
Carrie Elliott lives in Ohio with her family, loves going to movies that make her cry and has an ice cream addiction--we won't mention the coffee and chocolate! She's the author of the True North Series, Cover Me and Listen To Me now available, Resist Me coming Fall 2014. Find her on Twitter and Facebook and make sure to subscribe to Carrie's newsletter for exclusive giveaways, content, sneak peeks at covers and more! Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/SYvZD
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