Authors: Stephanie Julian
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Romantic, #Romance, #Contemporary
BY STEPHANIE JULIAN
Published by Stephanie Julian
Copyright 2016. Stephanie Julian.
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Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. To obtain permission to excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at [email protected]
All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.
Oh, how that man hated her.
As Dorrie Haverstick made her way across the private gaming parlor secluded within the Lazarus Hotel, she tried not to notice the way Ian Keller watched her.
She’d had no idea he’d be here tonight, which made sense because she hadn’t spoken to him in six months.
She couldn’t imagine he was here to gamble. That didn’t seem like something Ian would do.
Then again, everything she’d thought she’d known about the man had been wrong so far, so how would she know if he liked to gamble? Or play golf or watch football. If he always drank scotch or if he ever wore jeans.
What she did know was that, six months ago, she’d met him at hospital fund-raiser. He’d walked over to her as she’d contemplated making a break for the exit and ending her suffering. She’d stuck her foot in her mouth several times already and had only been there an hour. She couldn’t imagine how much damage she could do in another half hour.
Which was why she typically smiled and nodded and let others carry the conversation when she had to suffer through those events.
That night, she’d been unable to hide behind a smile and the few items of small talk she didn’t find completely soul-sucking. Her mind had been overtaxed because of the long day and the small patient she hadn’t wanted to leave. She hadn’t wanted to spend hours of her time with self-important rich people with way too much money on their hands.
Of course, those rich people had the money she needed to continue to help patients like the one that day. She needed their donations to fund the free clinic where she volunteered when she wasn’t running her own practice. So she’d forced a smile and hoped she didn’t look like a rabid Chihuahua ready to rip someone’s leg off.
She’d had no idea who he was when he’d introduced himself. She’d honestly thought he’d wanted to garner her support for some hospital issue.
She only knew that after fifteen minutes of conversation, she’d wanted him to take her home so she could strip him naked and offer to do things to him she’d only read about in books. She read a lot of books. Romance, mostly. Erotic romance specifically, so she had a lot of ideas. Not that she’d ever tried them on anyone. Until that moment, she hadn’t met anyone she’d even remotely considered worthy of her fantasies.
That night, she and Ian had talked for hours. Before she’d left that night, he’d asked her to go out with him the next night.
They’d spent every night together for a week. He’d been a perfect gentleman. Hadn’t really kissed her until the third night, a kiss that had made her melt from the inside out. A kiss that had made her think maybe this was the man she could share her fantasies with.
It was as if he’d fallen off the face of the earth. He hadn’t called, hadn’t texted, hadn’t shown up at her door to apologize for missing their date.
She’d been stunned. And hurt. And so confused she’d spent several nights simply sitting in her living room waiting for her phone to chime, hoping to see his name appear on the screen.
A month after that, she’d boxed up all those emotions she’d had for him and stuffed them away in a dark corner of her brain.
And then she’d seen him at Max Burdanov’s home three months ago.
His expression when he’d looked at her had made her want to cry and scratch his eyes out at the same time.
His loathing for her showed so plainly on his face.
And she’d had no idea what had caused it.
“Dorrie. You okay?”
The man at her back touched his hand to her elbow. Anyone looking at them might think they were a couple.
It would be so far from the truth, it was laughable.
Turning her head, she glanced over her shoulder and smiled. “I’m fine.”
Shaking off the hurt and confusion that wanted to consume her, she focused instead on her destination, the door on the other side of the room. She’d be safe back there. And by the time she came out, hopefully he’d be gone and she could go back to not thinking about him.
But still, she felt his gaze on her and knew, if she looked over her right shoulder, she’d see him watching her with that cold, pale stare, his mouth a tight, flat line.
He’d had the same look three months ago when she’d patched up Jesse. She’d had no idea Max had called Ian to help protect Jesse and their lover, Mary Alice, after a home invasion that had left Jesse bleeding from a knife wound.
It wouldn’t have stopped her from making the house call but at least she would’ve been prepared.
Prepared for what, exactly, she didn’t know.
“You don’t look fine.” Anton Blankenship’s gruff voice rumbled in her ear. “Is there something going on I need to know?”
She glanced up at her personal security guard, appropriately nicknamed Blank. For the past two years, Blank had been in charge of her safety and they’d gotten to know each other well.
Sucking in a deep breath to stave off completely unwarranted tears, she nodded.
“There’s nothing wrong.”
“Bullshit. Who do I need to punch?”
Her lips curved in a completely spontaneous smile as she turned to face him.
“I don’t think we need to go there. But thank you for the offer.”
He fell silent again as she continued to the door to the back room though she knew he had more to say. Luckily for her composure, he didn’t.
She only wanted to be away from Ian’s stare, which she swore she felt like a heat lamp against the back of her neck.
As she stopped at the door, she put her hand on Blank’s forearm and squeezed, a silent thank you for caring. “I’ll be about two hours. Have some dinner. You look like you’re wasting away.”
She’d hoped for a smile. Instead, he grimaced. “Dorrie.”
With a sigh, she shook her head. “I’m fine. Really. It’s been a long week. I need to unwind a little.”
After a few seconds scrutinizing her face, he nodded. And she attempted a small smile.
Out of the corner of her eyes, she found Ian still watching her. For a brief second their gazes caught and held, and she swore the room spun around her.
Then he deliberately turned away. Making sure she understood he was snubbing her.
Part of her wished she was home in her sweats in front of the TV with a drink in one hand and a bowl of popcorn in the other. She was in the middle of a
binge and, damn, but Jensen Ackles was one fine-looking man. And safe. She could lust after him in peace.
“Then you should go home.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to tell Blank she didn’t need another father, but the problem with that statement was, in the eyes of the rest of the world, she didn’t have a father to begin with.
Only five people in the world knew who her father was. Blank wasn’t one of them. Although her dad did pay his salary.
Oh, what a twisted web…
“I won’t be late.”
Holding out a keycard, she waited for the guard at the door to swipe it. She’d been here before, but no one, not even the owner, got through this door without having his card swiped.
The guard opened the door immediately after confirmation and nodded as she stepped through, leaving Blank on the other side.
Blank hated leaving her side, especially in a place like this, where criminal elements rubbed elbows with blue bloods. Of course, sometimes the line between the two was a thin one.
But she was safer back here than she was out there. And Blank was not a stupid man. He probably knew exactly why she had nothing to fear back here.
As the door closed behind her, she headed down the short hall toward the last room on the left. Nodding to the familiar man standing at the end of the hall, she walked through the door.
“Jesus, I thought you were never going to get here! What took you so long? Did something—oh my god, you did it! You colored your hair. I love it, of course. You always were more suited to be a brunette.”
The gorgeous blonde who’d been sitting alone at the dining table in the middle of the spacious room rose from her chair, threw her arms around Dorrie’s shoulders, and hugged her tight. Dorrie returned the hug just as fiercely.
“That’s because I
a brunette. The blonde was a total lapse in judgment. I’m so glad to see you, Risa.”
If Dorrie’s arms clung just a little tighter than normal, she hoped Risa wouldn’t notice.
“I’ve missed you, too.” Then Risa drew back but kept her hands on Dorrie’s shoulders so she couldn’t avoid Risa’s searching gaze. “Now…what’s wrong?”
Dorrie rolled her eyes. And thought about lying. But Risa’s left brow rose and Dorrie huffed.
“Nothing. It’s nothing. It’s just… Ian’s out there and, well…” She shrugged. “It’s nothing.”
“Uh huh.” Risa gave her the look, the one that made grown men whimper in a corner. “If it’s nothing, why are you flushed and stuttering?”
“I’m not. I—” Dorrie huffed, her lips pulling in a grimace. “I thought you agreed not to torment me anymore.”
Risa’s smile turned wicked as she shrugged. “I’m making up for lost time.”
Risa gestured to the table and they took their places. Risa picked up her phone to text someone, probably the restaurant’s maître d to signal they were ready for dinner.
While she did that, Dorrie studied her sister. Technically, Larisa Antonoff was her half-sister, but when Risa made a decree, no one argued. And Risa had declared them full sisters to the bitter end, no matter that they had different mothers.
“Hmm, I know that look.” Risa raised an eyebrow at her as she set her phone aside. “What are you thinking about?”
“The first time you called me sister.”
Leaning back in her chair, Risa wrinkled her nose. “I’ve apologized for my behavior. Several times. In my defense, I was fourteen and my beloved daddy had just told me he had another perfect little daughter, so you need to cut me some slack.”
“That wasn’t the time I was thinking about. I was thinking about the day you
me we were sisters and that nothing anyone said could make that not true.”
Now Risa’s beautiful mouth curved into a smile. “And I was right, of course. Now, tell me why we’re taking this trip down memory lane and what it has to do with Ian.”
“It has nothing to do with Ian.” She shrugged. “I just don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Risa’s gaze narrowed and she leaned across the table to take Dorrie’s hand. “All right, now I’m worried. What’s wrong?”
Dorrie huffed out a sigh even as she curled her fingers around Risa’s and held tight. “Honestly, I don’t know. I’m restless. I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin. Maybe I need to find something new to keep me occupied.”
Risa’s eyes widened. “You mean like running your own medical practice and playing soccer twice a week and volunteering at the clinic and yoga almost every morning isn’t enough? Do you want to know what I think’s missing?”
“Sex.” Risa waved a finger in front of Dorrie’s face. “I’m sorry but you’re running yourself ragged when a good fifteen-minute fuck will do more for you than two hours on the soccer field getting pummeled by girls who look like they eat raw eggs for breakfast.”
Since she couldn’t argue with that logic, Dorrie gave Risa the finger. “And who do you suggest I find for this fifteen-minute fuck? I’m not exactly swimming in dates. And don’t even suggest some online dating site. Daddy would have a heart attack.”
“Daddy still thinks we’re both virgins. Hell, you might as well be. When was the last time you had actual sex anyway?”
Dorrie didn’t answer. She couldn’t answer because she’d have to think about it. And she didn’t want to examinethe fact that she hadn’t gotten laid in more than a year too closely.
So she countered with, “Your sex life isn’t much better than mine.”
Risa made a sweeping hand gesture. “True, but I’m not the one climbing the walls. They make these wonderful things called vibrators, you know.”
Dorrie couldn’t argue with that. “I don’t think that’ll solve my problem.”
“Then you need to get out more. You have friends. Ask them to set you up.”
She did have a few good friends. Whom she hadn’t seen in months because she’d been busy with all that stuff Risa had said.
With a sigh, Dorrie put her elbow on the table and propped her chin on her hand. “I’m pitiful.”
Risa shrugged. “You’re a little pitiful, yes. But all hope is not lost. There’s always—”
A knock at the door announced the arrival of their dinner.
“Hold that thought,” Risa said as she headed for the door.
They didn’t speak again until Risa had wheeled in the dinner cart. She always let her sister pick their meals and wine. It wasn’t that she didn’t have an opinion. She just trusted Risa to handle it. There was no one else in her world she trusted more.
“So.” Dorrie poured herself a glass of wine and passed the bottle to Risa. “You were going to tell me how I was going to get laid.”
Risa took a sip before answering. “Well, you could always pay for it. I actually know a guy who knows a guy who’s apparently pretty good at his job as a sex therapist. I mean, he’s almost like a doctor. Whatever goes on during your ‘session’ stays in your session.”
Dorrie blinked away her shock then shook her head. “You’re seriously telling me to hire a prostitute?”
“He’s not a prostitute.” Risa waved her fork in the air. “He’s a therapist. Licensed and everything.”
For a split second, the thought didn’t repulse her.
Oh, my god. Are you actually considering a sex therapist?
She shook her head. “No. I think I’d rather shrivel up and die than go to a sex therapist.”
“Well, your hoohah may actually shrivel if you don’t use it.”
Dorrie burst into laughter as Risa’s wicked smile made another appearance. Dorrie considered herself one of the lucky few who ever got to see this side of Risa.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if life really was like…oh, I can’t think of the name of the movie. The one with Kate Beckinsale that we watched a couple months ago.”
Nose wrinkling as she thought, Risa started to laugh. “I hope you don’t mean
. The one with the vampires and werewolves.”