Dodge: Books six of the Dragon Runners MC
I didn’t want to move. My head pounded, and my mouth tasted like garbage disposal fodder. Shards of bright light pierced my brain when I tried to open my eyes, so I squeezed them shut with a gurgled groan and burrowed into the pillow.
Then shock number one zapped through my brain.
An arm lay around my waist, holding me against a body. A warm body. A male body. A naked male body. This was odd, as Chase didn’t cuddle. Ever.
The totally unfamiliar sensation was enough to make me come awake with a mental jerk. I forced my eyes open and painfully squinted around the strange room.
Hotel. Luxury from the looks of the furniture. My hotel? I’d never been in the rooms, only the kitchens where I worked as a sous chef.
The man behind me grunted and stretched. Yep, he was definitely naked, as the morning wood at my back showed. My eyes zeroed in on the little happy pile of clothes neatly laid over one of the big, soft easy chairs. My clothes. Shit.
Second shock: I was naked too.
Where the fuck am I, and what the hell have I done?
The man pushed the ratted tangle my hair had become off my neck and growled in a just-woke-up voice, “Mornin’, sweetness. I ’spect your head isn’t feelin’ all that great right now.”
My heart rate turned the speed up to puree. I didn’t move, but I grunted an affirmation.
“Stay here. There are some complimentary painkillers in the bathroom. I’ll get ’em for you.”
He kissed me lightly, and the bed shifted as he left it. I rolled over and got a full view of his beefy ass as he sauntered across the room. Damn, that is fine! He had a back tattoo of what looked like a dragon in full flight. Gold and green with wings spread over a twisting path of flames. Game of Thrones fan? He would have made a nice Khal Drogo, except his hair was short and blond.
What am I doing?
I lifted the thick comforter and glanced down at my body, confirming my naked state and getting my third shock: my pussy was shaved. There was no doubt I’d been intimate with this strange man; the damning evidence sat before my eyes. Blood rushed through my head as vessels burst while I dug through my vague memories of the night before.
“Went down on you twice, but we didn’t have sex, if that’s what you’re wonderin’.”
I whipped the comforter down and clutched it to my breasts. “I just… I….”
What the hell are you supposed to say in these situations? It’s not like I’ve had a lot of experience waking up in a hotel room with a stranger. Like never. Fuck!
He stood by the bed, a packet of caplets in one extended palm and a glass of water in the other. I couldn’t help but look at the thick outline under the towel he wrapped around his waist. Damn, that is a serious promise under there! He clearly told the truth, because if that monster had been inside me last night, I’d still be feeling it. Why didn’t he put on his pants or something?
As if he heard my thoughts, he reached for his jeans and slipped them on. “You passed out cold after coming the second time. I think you needed the release pretty bad.”
Sitting up, I tore open the tiny envelope and swallowed the pills, trying not to choke as I handed the water back to him. “Thank you… um… I’m not sure… ah… I don’t remember very much.” Shock number four: I was tongue-tied. Me. The woman who prided herself on going toe-to-toe with anyone and everyone.
He took the glass from me and put it on the nightstand. “What do you remember?”
“I had an epic fight and breakup with my boyfriend in the kitchen.”
Huh, that was the understatement of the year. The truth was, we’d been fighting for months, ever since the Omni Resort Hotel hired him to be the head chef and I ended up being the sous chef. Both of us interviewed for the head job, but he landed it and became my boss. This did not help our relationship, as I wasn’t the type to play second fiddle. Especially to someone I knew for certain I could outcook on a bad day.
My scrambling thoughts ordered themselves in somewhat of a timeline fashion. “Last night’s service was a disaster. Gordon Ramsay would have had a field day. The walk-in stays a disorganized mess, and it was totally off count. A lot of food gets wasted or goes bad. I told Chase the oysters and mussels didn’t smell right, but he insisted he was going to serve them anyway. I told him he shouldn’t, and he started yelling at me, throwing his authority around. I yelled back, and he told me to get out of his kitchen.”
The man’s blue eyes grew contemplative. “I heard some people got sick in the dining room, puking their guts out. One guy had to be taken to the hospital.”
Part of me felt vindicated that I was right. The other part worried about those people. Bad shellfish was some of the worst food poisoning out there.
He sat on the bed next to me, and my belly sizzled. He said we didn’t have sex, yet I was intrigued by the thought. One large hand came up and ran through his hair. “You remember anything else?”
I stared at the perfect waves that settled around his face. Jeez, he looked like a cover model for one of those romance novels my friend Anita read all the time. I ignored his hotness and scrunched my face at my fuzzy recollections. “I came to the bar and told Macie what happened. He gave me a couple of shots on the house. I’m not sure after that.” My face flushed. “I don’t drink much, and I was on the clock, so I hadn’t eaten anything substantial. I guess the liquor went to my head.”
“That and something else was on your mind.”
My eyes got wide. “Oh shit, what did I do? I went nuts, didn’t I?”
“Sort of. You were plastered and falling down yelling about how you hadn’t had a decent fuck in months and—”
“Argh!” I put my hand over his mouth to stop the flow of words. “I didn’t say that out loud. Please tell me I didn’t.”
His pretty blue eyes looked into mine, and he nodded. “You weren’t quiet about it. Pretty much everyone in the bar heard you and watched the show.”
His words came out muffled behind my palm, but I knew he spoke the truth. I closed my eyes and flopped back on the bed, regretting it once my head hit the pillow.
“A couple of men were ready to help you out with that. I got you out of there before they took you up on your offer.”
I groaned and covered my face with one hand while pointing at my crotch with the other. “Thank you. Um… did I do that?”
“No, I did. You were determined to make it happen, and I was afraid you would cut yourself. You weren’t steady enough to handle a razor.”
The skin between my legs itched as I recalled the event. “Do it. Shave it all off. I’m positive. If you don’t, I’ll do it myself.”
Fisting the pillow, I jammed it around my head. I had no clue what weird-ass demon possessed my brain to give me that idea. I’d been so off-kilter last night that I’d been another person entirely. “I made you do it, didn’t I?”
I heard his chuckle through the thick foam.
“You were very demanding. You said if I didn’t, you’d go back to the bar and find someone who would. Them other two could have still been down there, so I figured I was the better choice.”
“Yes, oh yes. More. Do it again. Oh shit, I’m coming!” My clit twitched at the memory of his skilled tongue, and I wondered what it would be like now—this time with me completely sober.
My face flamed under the cocoon of crisp white linen. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry.”
“Hey, sweetness, look at me. You’re what? Five foot five, ’bout 120 pounds? Do you really think you can make me do something I don’t want to do?”
I took the pillow from my face and looked at him. He was a handsome man, classic all-American football star with high cheekbones and full lips. Lips that had been on the most intimate part of my body. His eyebrow rose as if he knew where my thoughts had gone.
“I don’t do this. I’m not a slut. I don’t sleep around with strangers.” Words poured from my mouth as a myriad of emotions hit me, embarrassment being the most predominant one. “I’m not into fucking random men I meet in bars. One-nighters. Dammit, I can’t believe I let you do that much.”
“Hey, darlin’, slow down. Yeah, I went down on you, but I didn’t do anything else. It sounds to me like you had a shitty night and needed a break. I do not mind at all, and given the circumstances, I was your safest route.”
I thought about it for a moment. He was right. There were worse things than waking up to a handsome man first thing in the morning. Much worse. And in fact, I’d had a bad night after a really bad week.
Truthfully, it was more like a bunch of bad months. Eight of them. Chase had made work a nightmare. Even worse, we lived together, so we brought the tension home with us every night. The other people working in the massive kitchen of the Omni Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, recognized I was the better person for the job, but I had two major strikes against me. Number one, I’m a woman. Number two, I’m mixed—my father’s white, and my mother’s Black. I’m a blend of the two, but I favored my mom’s DNA more.
My word vomit continued. “What time is it? I need to go. I shouldn’t be here. I’m… I’m… I’m….”
Shit, I’m going to cry.
Shock number five: I didn’t cry. Ever.
Tears welled up in my eyes, and my nose promptly ran. I didn’t like to lose control. Chase had accused me many times of being a control freak, but I always considered myself as being driven.
Two arms enfolded me, comforter and all. “Hey, Fauna, it’s okay. No harm, no foul. You don’t have to rush off. Let’s take advantage of all the fancy hotel shit they got in here. We’ll grab a shower and order room service. Then I’ll take you where you want to go. Deal?”
His warmth seeped into my body, and I relaxed. I didn’t have a job here anymore, so no schedule to keep, and no boyfriend to rush home to. This man was being incredibly kind and patient with me, so why not? I sniffed and nodded against his bare chest. God, he smells good! How does someone do that first thing in the morning?
“Cool. You get the shower first, and I’ll order some food.”
He kissed my forehead and moved to let me get up. It mildly disappointed me that he didn't kiss my lips, because I wanted to see how that felt. Probably best he didn’t, as I also had the morning breath of a dead goat.
I cleared my throat as I viewed that elaborate back tattoo again. “Hey… uh… this is really, really embarrassing, but… well… you know my name, but I don’t… um…”
He turned and smiled as he picked up the phone receiver. “Call me Dodge.”