Rowan grew up believing she was an outcast, but found her place in the world nonetheless. Or so she believed. Her unusual features attract a very unusual and attractive man when she’s in a night club looking for a new sexual diversion. What she doesn’t know is that this man knows more about her than she knows herself—he knows what she really is. She falls in love with him in the process of opening her eyes to the world she really belongs in. But his love may not be enough to make her stay.
Rowan rested on her barstool, sipping her tequila. There was a kind of depravity in seeking out a new lover. A desperation in the act of looking that she hated as much as she loved finding him. Bodies drifted by, carried by the colorful strobing lights and rhythmic music.
She preferred dark places like the club because her vibrant red hair didn’t stand out quite so much. She’d grown up with an unusual set of features that doctors just explained away as a genetic anomaly. She wore colored contact lenses to avoid startling people with the strange, red color of her irises, but the hair color wasn’t so easy to cover up. For some reason no dye would stick, but at least that part she could pass off as a fashion statement, and it did catch the attention of potential lovers. Not that it was difficult to catch their attention, with her unique looks. Even though most women looked at her like she was some kind of alien creature, the men were barely able to keep their dicks in their pants.
Some nights she’d come to this place just to watch, have a drink, and wonder at the eventual crumbling of the women’s wills against the men who found them. What woman would let herself give in so completely to a man? She never would, and neither did she need to. She’d been drawn to lucrative financial opportunities from an early age, forced to find her own opportunities as an orphan. Now she enjoyed collecting rare, ancient carvings, a passion that had proved to be the only occupation that really fulfilled her.
She wore one small piece of her collection now—a tiny, red jade medallion with a dragon carved into it. It was set in gold and hung from a delicate chain around her neck resting just at the base of her throat. She touched it absently, believing she could feel some power in it, but knowing it was all her imagination. The only power was in her ability to seduce a man, but the right one had yet to present himself. She entertained herself watching the club patrons in the meantime.
A couple tumbled into a corner a few yards away and embraced. She watched covertly, entertained that they thought the corner was private even though it clearly wasn’t.
The woman tilted her head back against the wall, inviting the man’s lips to trace down her throat. She wore a tiny little dress that barely covered her. Easy access, Rowan supposed, taking a sip of her drink.
A dark shape sat down at the bar beside her. “A round of drinks says he’ll fuck her right there,” a rough, thickly accented voice said near her ear.
She didn’t look at him, but her skin tingled in a way that let her know he was the one. Sexual premonition? Maybe. Whatever it was, she never needed much information to know a man was worth her attention. This one’s voice—the gruff tone and foreign accent—were enough for her to know without even seeing him. And she smiled at the challenge he’d offered.
“Two shots of tequila says he goes down on her.” She said it without turning back to look at him, though she could feel his presence beside her.
“Oh, darling, that’s cruel. To yourself, I mean. A man never goes down on a woman unless he loves her.”
The small hairs on the back of her neck stood up when he said “darling”.
“That is patently untrue.”
The hot breath of his laugh caressed her shoulder. She heard him shift closer. Out of the corner of her eye she glimpsed a large, manicured, gold-ringed hand holding a glass. Ice clinked and the aroma of expensive whiskey hit her nostrils. She’d bet anything that the shiny watchband secured a Rolex to his wrist. None of it impressed her as much as his presence, so palpable he may as well have already been sinking inside her, right through her little black dress.
“You’re right. I’d go down on you in a heartbeat and I don’t even know your name.”
Jesus, she was turned on just by his voice. She’d forgotten the couple in the corner, though she still kept her eyes fixed on them. Instead, she imagined she was that woman, and the man was her new friend.
The man had the woman turned around now, pressed against the wall, chest-first. His fingers tugged at the hem of her skirt, pushing it up above her hip. Not even the shadows could conceal the white, round shape of the woman’s ass, a thin strip of dark fabric crossing one hip. That disappeared with a jerk of the man’s hand.
Rowan felt the touch of a large, warm hand at her hip, a thumb grazing a pattern into the bare skin of her back just above the fabric of her low-cut dress. His touch was gentle and cool, but left a promise when he removed his hand. When his hand disappeared, he murmured behind her, “I think you owe me a drink.”
“Wait for it,” she said. Whether it was the way the man in the corner was clutching the woman’s ass, or some particular change in his posture, she had the sense of what he might do next. She had to restrain a laugh when he sank to his knees and buried his face between the woman’s ass cheeks. Rowan could imagine the ecstatic sounds coming from the woman’s throat by the way her chest thrust out and her head flew back, mouth open while the man tongued between her legs from behind.
“Did I call it or what?” she asked, turning around to gloat, only to be greeted by an empty barstool.
* * *
Obsessed was an understatement for her frame of mind the following week. Alternately pissed and confused, she sometimes wondered if she’d hallucinated the entire conversation, but that small patch of skin where he’d touched her still tingled. Finally after several sleepless nights imagining his shadowy presence behind her doing more than just talking, she resolved to go back to the bar, find him, and confront him about leaving her hanging. The only problem was that she’d never actually seen his face.
It might be futile. She had no idea whether he’d even be there again, much less talk to her. But in spite of all the pretty faces she could see in the bar—attractive men who she knew at a glance would happily go home with her—she could no longer settle. Where was he, and how in the world would she be able to tell if she’d even found him?
“Looking for someone?” The rough, accented voice sent a charge like a lightning bolt straight down her back. Rowan closed her eyes and savored the pleasant tingling sensation between her thighs for a second.
“Maybe I found him,” she said, turning her head slightly. There was no mistaking that voice and now that he was close again she recognized the mildly spicy scent of his aftershave. This time she’d be damned if she let him get away from her. She turned and looked up into dark eyes and an expression that gave new meaning to the term smoldering.
“I think you owe me an apology. And a drink,” she said when she finally caught her breath.
He nodded. His eyes drifted lower, tracing the outline of her bosom while one large hand reached toward her, fingertips grazing along the contour of her waist and hip. The light contact through her dress may as well have been skin on skin the way the heat of him sank into her.
“I’m very sorry,” he murmured. “But if I had stayed last week there would have been a second woman indecently exposed in the corner of the club. I pride myself on my ability to maintain control, but you…” The words trailed off and the muscles in his clean-shaved jaw flexed. His fingertips dug into her hip, subtly pulling her closer.
Rowan’s lips curved into a pleased smile. That she could cause such a meticulously put together man to doubt his self control thrilled her. Something else about him excited her, too, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Something in those dark eyes of his seemed almost otherworldly, and he exuded the kind of sexual energy that usually attracted her to a man.
“That’s a lousy excuse,” she said. She resisted the tug of his hand even though it took all her willpower not to sink against him. Looking at him now, she wondered what ethnicity he was. The dark features and accent fit together in an alluring combination, but none of his clean angles gave her a clue. His accent was also hard for her to place. The scent of him was the worst culprit in enticing her to bury her face against his neck and just breathe him in. She decided that the other details didn’t matter.
“How can I make it up to you?” he asked, settling his eyes back on hers.
“Start by telling me your name, maybe. Then buy me that drink. I’m Rowan.”
“Rafe. And I have better tequila at home.”
“If that’s an invitation, then I accept.” The words came out before she had the chance to censor herself. She had established personal rules when meeting new men, particularly in venues like the club she liked to frequent. Don’t go home with them the first night was one of her first rules. But the enticement of expensive tequila along with a man who smelled as good as he did—and looked at her like he’d like to mount her right there, damning his own sensibilities—was enough to throw her judgment completely out of whack.
The sleek, black convertible Porsche that pulled up outside the club a moment later screamed wealth. The luxurious leather of the seats caressed the backs of her thighs when she sat. She lowered the visor to look in the small mirror in an effort to disguise her covert study of him after he shut her door and rounded to the driver’s side. He moved with slow, easy grace, like a panther. As eager as he had sounded about getting her out of the club, now that he had her in his clutches he seemed intent on taking his time.
The idea of herself as his prey excited her. She normally couldn’t stand domineering men, but so far he’d never once commanded her to do anything. He’d merely made a suggestion and she’d fallen right into his trap. Instead of struggling to get free, she had a strange urge to let him devour her.
“It’s a chilly night, do you want the top up?”
“Cold never bothers me. Leave it down.” In truth, she always ran a little warm, but tonight her blood felt like lava. When he put the car in gear and revved the engine he let his hand drift from his gearshift to brush the skin on her thigh. He left his hand resting just above her knee, removing it only to shift gears as he drove.
She spent the first few minutes of the drive wishing he’d do more than caress that small patch of skin just on the inside of her thigh. When they were on the Coronado Bridge headed toward one of the richest neighborhoods in the city, her anxiety spiked enough to subdue her libido just a bit.
She became painfully aware that she might be getting in way over her head if a man as rich as he seemed to be was interested in her. Before she had a chance to comment, his hand began to slip up her thigh, the tips of his fingertips grazing her sensitive skin. She inhaled sharply at the intensity of his caress. His fingertips might have been live wires the way they caused a steady current of pleasure to sink through her skin. He didn’t stop at the hem of her dress, either, but pushed past it.
The cool wind tugged at the wayward strands of hair that had escaped their binding. The breeze across her heated skin did nothing to cool her need. She sighed and spread her legs a little wider on the seat, aching for him to keep moving higher.
A low growl came from the driver’s seat when his fingertips pushed past the barrier of her panties and slid between her wet folds. She tilted her head back and closed her eyes when he found her clit and began to stroke it. She was so lost to his touch she almost didn’t register the question he asked her.
“Where do you come from, Rowan? Why haven’t I met you before?”
“I—why would you? Oh God, don’t stop.”
When his hand disappeared, leaving her hot center cooling from the night wind, she opened her eyes.
Without looking at her, he asked, “Who are you?”
Confused and frustrated, she said, “I’m just Rowan. I never knew who my parents were, so really I’m nobody. I promise I’m not a gold-digger, if that’s what you’re worried about. I have my own money.”
Rafe laughed and darted a quick glance at her. His eyes sparkled. “It doesn’t matter yet, but I will find out somehow, even if you can’t tell me. I’m not worried about my money, either, even if you were a gold-digger, as you say, there are worse qualities than desiring wealth.”
The depth of his interest should have disturbed her. The truth was she had tried to find out her parents’ identities but had run into dead end after dead end, and nearly depleted all her savings in the process. She was still doing well enough financially to dig a little more, but had given up the search as a lost cause. Her parents hadn’t wanted her, so why should she bother?
“Be my guest if you want to waste your time,” she said. She shifted in her seat and tugged the hem of her dress back down, irritated by the remaining dampness between her thighs and the lingering ache he’d left by not finishing what he’d started.
She was on the verge of demanding he turn around and take her home when she noticed him shift in his seat. The slight movement brought to her attention the pronounced bulge straining at the front of his expensive trousers. She smiled at him when he caught her looking and reached across, placing her hand on his knee and sliding it up.
Rafe’s right thigh flexed with the pressure he exerted on the accelerator. He took one hand off the wheel and placed it over hers, pressing her palm harder against him and tilting his hips.
Rowan’s head buzzed from knowing she’d done this to him. She explored his hard length through the fabric, her pulse picking up with each increment of what she discovered was a very large cock, the head of which seemed to want to escape from his waistband.
With any other man, she might have unfastened his pants, unleashed his erection, and taken him into her mouth while he drove. But that would have been too easy and she had the urge to test her own limits almost as much as his.