So it was two years ago today that you met Haddie Montgomery and Beckett Daniels properly in their emotional and touching story in SLOW BURN.
I have to admit that this story meant so much to me to write. I know it was a hot-button topic for some of you, while others thanked me for being so open about Haddie’s fight and how similar her feelings mirrored in your own situations.
So on this 2 year publishversary – I thought it would be special to revisit them. If you’d bought the paperback version of SLOW BURN, then you’ve read this already, and my apologies…but if you’d only read the e-book, then here is the beginning chapter of Slow Burn, told through Becks’s eyes.
I hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading!
SLOW BURN – Alternative POV
CHAPTER ONE – Beckett
The bass of the club’s music hits hard as I scan the nearly naked women surrounding us—every single one of them ripe for the picking. A bat of fake lashes. An accidental lean over the bar, tits on display, and painted lips offer- ing up what is literally and figuratively on the table.
So why am I not finding some hot piece, offering to take her up to our room? Shit, I could use a little release after the stress of a long week.
It’s Wood’s fault. That’s my go-to answer. It’s always his fault. And hell if I’ll tell my best friend he was right when he said, “She’s got a hot friend.”
Hot friend, my ass. Haddie Montgomery’s more like molten fucking lava.
I sweep my eyes across the crowded dance floor and try to move past her, but it’s no goddamn use. Don’t kid your- self, Daniels. You’ve been looking at her all night. I toss back the rest of my drink, but my damn eyes remain fixed as she throws her arms up in the air and swivels her hips. Those long, shapely legs move to the beat, and hell if I can’t get the thought of them and those sexy-as-fuck heels wrapped around me somehow, someway, out of my damn head.
I avert my gaze, try to distract myself with one of the many easy targets in the club, but no one else calls to every part of me like Haddie does. And of course my eyes shift back to the floor just in time to see her dress sneak up some. Every toned inch of those thighs is on display as she grinds her hips to the beat. I groan. And I don’t even care that I do, because hell if a sane, red-blooded American male would look away from that perfection.
“Hey,” I hear to my right as Colton’s hand, which is hold- ing my fresh drink, bumps against my arm.
“Thanks,” I say, forcing myself to pull my eyes from the sight of her and focus on the man who’s like a second brother to me. But when I meet his eyes, they’re studying me, amusement mixed with confusion. Here we go again. I hate when Colton gets this damn look. “What? What the fuck is that look for?”
“Seriously? You have the two-point-five look on your face, dude,” he says, taking a sip of his beer and shaking his head as if he’s ashamed.
“Two point five?” I sputter, completely shocked that he of all people would say that after the revelation he dropped on me earlier. The one where he admitted that he, the man who’s the king of condoms, is sliding skin on skin with his girlfriend, Rylee. Taking that giant leap of trust for the first time ever to bareback with a woman. The confession still staggers me even after more than a few cocktails.
And he’s accusing me of the two-point-five look? I don’t think he has any room to throw stones in the fucking glass house he built. “Two point five?” I repeat. “This coming from the barebacking cowboy himself? Whatever. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Have another.”
“Which one is she?” he asks, slinging an arm over my shoulder and pointing toward the dance floor.
“No one,” I say, trying to deflect him. “Just a whole lot of flesh on display, and fuck if it’s not something to look at while I get nice and drunk. I’ve got an asshole for a boss, so this buzz,” I say with a laugh when he tightens his arm around my neck in a headlock for my dig at him, “and that woman over there are—”
“Hot damn!” he says, catching my slip of the tongue. And hell if I wouldn’t want to be slipping my tongue into her, but shit if I didn’t just give ammunition to the king of antagonization to start making his own digs in retaliation. He slaps my back harder than necessary. “I knew just by the sappy-ass look on your face you were looking at some woman on the floor, imagining wedded bliss, and the two- point-five kids you’re going to have with her.”
“Shut up, dude. You are so far from—”
“So which one is she?” he goads, and I know he’s only just getting started. He’ll keep at it until I give him some- thing to be smug about.
I look back out to the floor with him scrutinizing my every damn move—trying to figure out which woman has caught the eye of a picky son of a bitch like me. And when I look, a part of me is relieved that Haddie and her best friend, Colton’s date, Rylee, are no longer on the dance floor . . . and then another part of me is pissed because I sure as hell was enjoying the show.
“Hot blonde, red dress, two o’clock?” Colton asks, draw- ing my eyes to the woman on the floor, shaking her shit like she should be on a pole. She’s definitely hot, all the right curves in all the right places, but nah, not my thing. Owning your sexuality is one thing, but putting it on display? I’ll pass.
I look over at Colton and roll my eyes. “Seriously?”
“With those moves?” he says, eyes flicking back out to her. “Damn.”
“Dude, I’m all for moves like that in bed,” I say, causing him to snort out that laugh of his that makes me smile, re- gardless of the mood I’m in, “but if I want to screw a man- nequin, I’ll go to Macy’s. Besides, isn’t eating out of plastic hazardous to your health? BPA or some shit like that?”
He throws his head back and laughs while I take a long drink of my Merit Rum and Coke. And of course I feel bad for talking shit about the unsuspecting woman.
“BPA sounds like an STD to me, but fuck, dude, live on the wild side.” He bumps my shoulder with his. “One taste won’t kill you.”
“This coming from Mr. Discriminating himself? I assure you, it most definitely is not all the same.”
“Yeah, you got me there.” He shivers in mock disgust, and I can’t help but laugh. He looks back out toward the dance area and nods his chin toward where Red Dress is still bumping and grinding. “Not even just for the night?”
“Nah, you know me. Not my thing.”
I hear their laughter float over the music before I see them, grateful for the interruption. I lean my elbow on the railing and turn to watch them walk up, pretending not to care. Colton turns too when he hears Rylee, so I’m able to watch their approach without him noticing. I take in Haddie’s more than handful-sized tits, which bounce a bit with that walk of hers. The combination of blond hair against her tanned skin begs me to run my eyes down the length of her svelte figure. When my gaze makes its way back up, her mouth is spread wide in a grin, and fuck if I don’t want something else spread wide on her with me in between them. I get lost in the thought, and when I refocus, she is staring right back at me, lips pursed, eyes curious.
“Yes?” Those chocolate-colored eyes of hers hold mine. Tempt me. Dare me. Question me.
“Sorry.” I shake my head, a sheepish smile in place. “I was just thinking.” Smooth, Becks. Brilliant response to why you were staring at her like you want to eat her for dinner. Shit, might as well be breakfast since I’m sure it’d be an all- night affair, with her body sure as hell being the main course.
“Thinking?” She asks as she reaches out and takes my drink from my hand and tips it up to me, silently asking if it’s okay. I nod my head, and she lifts it to her lips, taking a sip before handing it back to me. “Thanks. Don’t you know, Country, that you’re in a club, in Vegas of all places, so thinking’s not allowed?” She sidles up next to me, her body brushing against mine and snapping my every nerve to attention.
“Country?” Where the hell did that nickname come from?
“Yeah,” she says with a smirk before shaking her head to get her hair out of her face. “Laid-back. Polite. Good guy. Slow and steady wins the race.” She raises her eyebrows, challenging me to argue with her assessment.
And fuck if she’s not right, so why am I sensing that Country is a bad thing for her? And why the hell do I care? “Nothing’s wrong with slow and steady,” I tell her, enjoying how she angles her head to the side and just watches me. “A man shouldn’t be faulted for drawing things out just to make sure the endgame is that much sweeter.”
And I feel like I’ve scored a touchdown when I see her eyes widen, take note of the quick intake of breath. Inter- esting. Playing field seems to be wide-open. Good thing I’m a patient man because this woman most definitely does not sit on the sidelines.
“Sweet is good,” she leans in and says in my ear, her words a whisper, “but some girls like a little spice added in.” She leans back and flashes me a smart-ass grin, tossing the ball back in my court. Goddamn if it’s not hot that her comebacks are as witty as her tits are perfect.
“City, I assure you I have talents that can’t be put on a résumé.” I take a drink and raise an eyebrow, failing miser- ably to hide my smirk. “Besides, it’s not the sugar or the spice that matters but rather the man who’s mixing it.”
We stare at each other for a moment in a silent standoff, as we try to figure out what the other is saying. Is there in- terest here? Would it be worth it? Damn, who cares? Be- cause she most definitely would be one helluva wild ride.
A slow, knowing smirk curls up one corner of her mouth.
The music changes and becomes more seductive as she shakes her head ever so subtly. “City?” she asks, and then runs her tongue over her top lip as her eyes taunt me.
My mind goes blank as I focus on her mouth. Shit, I need to play this safe. For all I know, this is just how she is with everyone, a little flirty and a whole lot of fun. After all, it can’t get more complicated than going after the best friend of my best friend’s girl.
I look out at the floor again, bodies grinding, connec- tions being made even if only for the night, before I look back at Haddie, her eyebrows raised and her body so on fire that my dick begs to fly full staff. It’s probably just me. And the alcohol. And the influence of the club around me.
It’s probably nothing.
But then again, damn.
I can’t resist. If I can’t reach out and touch, I might as
well leave a mark with my words. Let her think about how a laid back country boy might not be such a bad thing after all. “Yeah, City,” I repeat. “Classy, nonstop, and always wanting to be in the thick of it all.” I take a drink, my eyes locked on hers while she watches, contemplating what I’ve said.
“The thick of it, huh?” She takes my drink from my hand again and smirks as she sucks ever so slowly from the straw. And once again, my eyes are drawn to those lip-glossed lips of hers and notice how they are drawing on my straw. So that’s why they put straws in men’s drinks. I have a whole new appreciation for those annoying little fuckers now. I watch her tongue play with it momentarily and realize that part of the reason she’s so damn sexy is because she’s not
purposely trying to be.
Something catches her eye, and I follow her head as she
turns to watch Colton lead Rylee up the stairs toward the mezzanine. At least I don’t have to worry about him stick- ing his nose in where it doesn’t belong now. When I look back toward Haddie, she’s moved toward me, her face closer to mine. I can smell the scent of the alcohol from my drink on her breath, and hell if I can understand why that makes me want her that much more.
“Yep. Always wanting to be in the middle of the action,” I say, lifting the straw out of my drink and taking a sip.
Haddie twists her lips until the smirk breaks its way through. “Action’s always good. Being in the middle of it’s even better.” She arches an eyebrow at me as I try to figure out what her next words are going to be but remain silent. It’s time to let her wonder what I’m thinking for a change. I hold her gaze, the swirling lights overhead changing color and reflecting in her blond hair. “And I think I’m wanting some right now.”
I force a swallow, those taunting yet innocent words of hers causing a visceral reaction that I try to ignore. “What kind of action are you looking for?” There. Let her figure out if I’m flirting or if that’s just how I am, because I can’t tell shit with her. And fuck, I can always figure everyone out. So what’s so different about her?
She doesn’t answer. Instead, she turns and looks over her shoulder. “You coming?”
And fuck . . . there are so many ways my mind answers that question that I groan. I swallow over the ache that our flirting and her damn, fine ass in perfect view creates. “You know what they say?”
“What?” she asks, stopping momentarily, “Every good man’s place is behind a woman?”
I chuckle. That most definitely was not where I was going with this conversation, but there she goes again, wanting me to take the bait. “The only reason for a man to be behind a woman is because he’s checking out her very fine ass.” And hell if that’s not the truth right now.
She licks her lips and I have a hard time looking away from her tongue as it darts out and then back in. “Haven’t had any complaints so far, Country,” she says with a shake of her head, her hair swaying all the way down her back. “And . . . uh . . . there are many more places I’d prefer a man to be,” she says with a wink before turning and walking into the crowd, without even checking to see if I’m following.