This is the rough draft of Chapter 1 of Katharine’s Fire as promised. It might go through through some minor edits/changes in the final draft but for the most part this is it. Happy reading!
The last man standing. Blake couldn’t get those words out of his head as he drove across town. Somehow, he’d gone from being a member of one of the country’s most elite five-man SEAL teams to the lone survivor. The lone sane survivor, he corrected, muttering under his breath. And it was all Einstein’s fault. He had started this when he’d agreed to do a favor for his father. And in so doing, he’d met Bronwyn. From there, Preacher had met Anna and Poet his Jacqueline. And now, from what the guys were telling him, it would seem that Caveman had succumbed to this ridiculous farce as well. True love. “Fuck that,” Blake hissed. True love was a sham. An illusion. It was nothing more than a myth perpetuated by greeting card companies and romance novelists. A fairytale parents read to their children when they tucked them in at night. Christ. What the hell were the guys thinking? That they were going to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after? Bullshit. Nothing in life was guaranteed. Least of all happiness.
Fifteen minutes later, he pulled into the lot of his favorite club, parked his truck, and killed the engine. In another ten, he was inside at the bar, reaching for his second beer of the night. Poet had interrupted his first when he’d made his little engagement announcement. Blake scowled. He didn’t want to think about that. Hell, he didn’t want to think about anything right now. He just wanted to enjoy his beer after which he’d find a beautiful, willing woman who neither expected nor wanted declarations of love and devotion and ask her to dance. And if that dance led to an offer of wild, meaningless sex then he’d gladly accept. And he didn’t give a flying fuck what the rest of the team thought. With that goal in mind, he spun on his stool and scanned the crowd. At six-feet-three-inches, with blond hair, angelic good looks, and vivid blue eyes, Blake Adams, AKA Hollywood, knew his odds of attracting a woman were better than most. And once he had her attention, he’d have no trouble keeping it. “Fuck me,” he hissed suddenly as he looked across the club. Of all the women in the world, what sick twist of fate had landed Kate Logan in his sights? His eyes traveled over her. Her blond hair was loose tonight, hanging halfway down her back in soft waves. A white silk blouse hinted at subtle curves. And her face, heart-shaped and classic, looked like it belonged on the cover of a magazine. Or, as he had once told her, in the centerfold. Looking back, he had to respect the speed and lethal precision she had used to put him in his place. She’d made it quite clear what he could do with his compliment. Smiling, Blake brought the beer to his lips and took a long pull from the bottle.
Just as he’d decided that they’d both be better off pretending he hadn’t recognized her, a man approached Kate’s table. Blake couldn’t hear their conversation over the music coming from the dance floor but her body language was speaking volumes. Kate wanted the guy gone. Her unwelcomed admirer wasn’t taking the hint though. When he grabbed her arm, Blake swore and pulled away from the bar.
“Hey baby,” he greeted when he reached the table. “Sorry I’m late. I got hung up at work.”
“Well, that’s original,” Kate’s admirer scoffed. “Get lost man. I saw her first.”
“Actually, I did,” Blake corrected, his voice clipped. “Naked and under me in bed this morning.” He saw the guy’s eyes register his shock. “So you’re going to want to remove your hand from her arm. Now.” The last was said with more than a little heat.
As if he’d been scalded, the stranger released Kate and stood. “Look man. I don’t want any trouble,” he mumbled.
“Then I suggest you walk away before you find it.”
With a nod, the stranger turned to go, quickly disappearing into the crowd.
“Thanks,” Kate responded. “Some guys have a hard time believing no means no.”
“When a woman looks like you, no is the last thing a man wants to hear,” Blake admitted truthfully. He settled into the chair across from her, waiting for her to look at him. When she remained silent, her head down, he put his beer on the table and leaned in. “Look at me, Kate.” His hand came out to tip her face up to his. Christ, she was beautiful. She was also, if her eyes were any indication, unbearably sad. It broke Blake’s heart just to look at her. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
Kate shook her head, struggling to fight back tears as he pulled his chair alongside hers.
“Kate?” With one arm, he reached around her shoulders to draw her close. He could feel the tension in her body, could feel how hard she was fighting to keep it together. His free hand covered hers. “Talk to me, Katharine.”
She dragged her head up, her eyes meeting his, as she clung to his hand. “Gabriel’s dead.”
Ah fuck, Blake thought. He remembered Gabriel. They’d met the night of the fire at Bronwyn’s first bookstore Another Story. Kate had been the arson investigator on scene. Gabriel, a firefighter out of the same station, was a friend. A close friend. Blake knew what it was to lose someone close. How it cut you to pieces and left your soul bleeding. How, no matter what people said, you never got over it. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, placing a gentle kiss on her temple. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Kate took a shaky breath, letting it out slowly and carefully. Finally, she turned to him with a watery smile. “I think what I really need is to put it away for a while.”
He returned the smile with one of his own. “Then you’ve come to the right place.” Peering under the table at what must be four-inch heels he asked, “Can you dance in those things?”
“Honey,” she smirked. “I can run in these things.”
“Maybe we’ll try that some other time. For now, why don’t we start with a dance?” He stood and held out his hand in invitation.
Kate let him pull her to her feet. “Try to keep up,” she challenged as she sashayed past him toward the dance floor.
Blake’s laugh stuck in his throat when he caught sight of the feminine sway of her hips and the curve of her bottom in a snug black skirt. And as his eyes dropped down even further, he saw a set of sexy mile-long legs. When those legs paused, he realized he’d been caught admiring her assets. Still, he took his time, his eyes making the slow journey back up to her face.
Kate raised one eyebrow in question.
“You can’t blame me for looking, Katharine,” he insisted. “It’s a hell of a view.” When her mouth fell open in shock, he laughed. “Come on. Let’s dance.”
Hours later, they were still on their feet. There was very little left of the woman Blake had tried to comfort earlier. Instead, Kate was smiling, laughing, and full of energy. She was also sexy enough to make a man sit up and beg. Something he had successfully ignored all evening. Until now. As the music slowed, she started to leave the floor. He stopped her with a touch of his hand. “Stay and dance with me,” he tempted.
Kate hesitated. All evening, by tacit agreement, they’d kept things upbeat and fun. Now Blake was asking for slow and intimate. Not a good idea. Still, against her better judgment, she nodded and allowed him to pull her in close.
He lifted her arms to circle his neck, molding her body to his as they started to move in time to the music. “You feel good, Katharine. The way we fit together…” He breathed in the smell of her, savored the exhale. “It makes me wonder how many other ways we’d fit.” Blake pulled back enough to study her face, one hand coming up to cup her cheek. His eyes, determined and dangerous, focused in on Kate’s mouth. He licked his lips in anticipation. Felt his heart begin to race as she licked hers too. Still he waited, giving her plenty of time to tell him no, all the while praying that she didn’t. He really wanted to feel her mouth under his. Slowly, expecting her to stop him at any moment, he lowered his lips to hers.
She’d expected simple. A quick taste to satisfy their mutual curiosity. What Kate got was so much more. Blake’s mouth captured hers, hot and demanding, his tongue sweeping brazenly across her lips until she let him in.
He groaned at the first taste of her. Strong and bold. Intoxicating. Unable to resist he plundered her mouth, exploring every inch while his blood pounded in his ears and his hands drew her body in tight to his. She was a glorious mix of strong, lean muscles and soft, feminine curves. Her long legs in combination with her heels had them lining up perfectly, hip to hip. Sex to sex. The need to take, to possess, burned fast and hot through him, had him straining with the effort to wait. Suddenly, Blake ripped his mouth from hers and stepped back, his breathing tortured. “We have to get out of here,” he panted. Without another word, he grabbed Kate’s hand and began pulling her through the crowd, out the door, and into the parking lot. The cool night air felt good on his overheated skin. “Where’s your car?”
“Truck,” she corrected automatically, pointing to a red pick up parked on the other side of the lot. Coincidentally, Blake had parked next to her. He gave her high marks for choosing a space near a street lamp. It was a smart precaution for a woman out alone at night. As luck would have it though, the light was out, covering the area around their trucks in near total darkness. Perfect, he thought. With Kate’s hand still in his, he moved quickly across the lot.
“You want to explain why you dragged me out of that club?” she demanded, rushing to keep up.
Blake pulled her into the narrow space between their trucks and hauled her back into his arms. “Because I was afraid I’d do this.” He crushed her mouth under his. Hands that had held her tight before were everywhere now. Caressing. Stroking. Learning her body through her clothes. One hand cupped her breast as the other pulled her hips in hard to his. Kate moaned loudly, her hands sliding up his chest and back down again. Blake’s muscles flexed and rippled at her touch.
“Let me have you, Katharine,” he whispered desperately.
His eyes nearly crossed. “No. Not here. Are you trying to kill me?” He kissed her again, hot and eager. “I meant some place private. Your place. Or mine.” When he felt her tense, he rushed to plead his case. “Think about it, Katharine. One night. Anything and everything we want. But without the strings.”
“Just one night?”
He nodded. “Then we walk away. No harm. No repercussions.”
“What’ll we tell our friends?”
“Nothing. We’ll keep it strictly between the two of us.” His heart began to race again as she stopped to consider. “One night,” he tempted, “When anything we want is ours for the taking.” He felt her tremble as he gently smoothed her hair away from her face. Blake pressed her back against the truck, the length of his body on hers. His hand found her breast again as she arched into him. “Think about all the things I could do to your body. All the things I could make you feel. I could…”
Kate’s hand came up to cover his mouth. “Don’t,” she whispered hoarsely.
Blake smiled. “We could spend the next eight hours tangled up in one another. Until we’re hot, sweaty, and satisfied.” That comment shocked him. Sure, he liked sex. Hell, he was a guy, so let’s face it. He loved sex. But only when it came unfettered by promises and expectations. That meant that he never, ever, stayed the night. No exceptions. Sex was one thing. Waking up with a woman was another thing all together. But as much as his statement surprised him, Blake wasn’t about to take it back. He’d meant it. He wanted to spend the night with her. The whole of it. And when it was over, when they were weak and weary, he wanted to take her one last time in the soft light of sunrise. “Kate?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
Blake shook his head. “Say the words, Katharine. I want to hear you say the words.” His hands began to move over her again as he spoke.
“Yes, you can have me.”
“Tonight,” she repeated.
“All night,” he clarified. “You’re mine until morning.”
He kissed her then. “Is my place okay? Or would you rather go to yours?”
“Your place is fine,” Kate answered quickly. She had never brought a man home to her bed. She didn’t want to start with a one-night stand. “I live on the other side of town,” she explained. “I’m sure you’re closer.”
“My apartment’s only ten minutes from here. Over on Cypress. You can follow me.”
“Okay.” Kate gave him one last long look before she turned and climbed into the cab of her truck. Blake signaled for her to roll down the window.
He leaned in and kissed her. “If I look up and you’re not behind me, I’ll assume you’ve changed your mind.”
He kissed her a second time. And then a third. “Please, don’t change your mind.”
She smiled as she reassured him. “I won’t. See you in a few.”
Once Kate was alone, she forced herself to reconsider Blake’s proposition. She would approach it logically and rationally, weigh the pros and cons. To start, she didn’t do one-night stands with men she picked up in clubs – con. Blake wasn’t really a stranger, though. It was true she didn’t know him well, but she did know him. She wouldn’t have to worry about her safety – pro. She had seen for herself, firsthand, that he was intelligent, compassionate, and loyal to the bone – pro. He was the close friend of a close friend. That made him family – con. Blake had agreed to keep everything between the two of them – pro. It had been months since she’d been interested in a man. Even longer since one had been able to tempt her with such a proposal. And if he made love the way he kissed, the risk would be more than worth it. Kate sighed heavily. The bottom line was, for reasons she didn’t even begin to understand, Blake had offered her a night of no-strings-attached sex. Even considering her past experiences, she’d be an idiot to pass it up.
He led her into a gated apartment complex, pulling into a spot in the back parking lot, away from the main entrance. Kate looked around at the well-lit walkways and the manicured lawns. She’d heard about this place. It was stylish and expensive. Very expensive. She estimated that Blake’s rent must be three to four times what she paid each month. That surprised her. During the course of the investigation of the fire at Another Story, she’d spent a little time with him. Never once had he left her with the impression that he was wealthy. He hadn’t acted spoiled or entitled. He hadn’t bragged about how much money he made or the number of expensive toys he owned. It was almost as if he had intentionally hid his wealth. She wondered why.
Blake parked quickly and joined Kate on the sidewalk. He reached out and tipped her head back so that he could see her face in the light of the lamppost. “Last chance,” he offered.
“Why? Are you having second thoughts?”
“Neither am I.”
He smiled victoriously and lowered his mouth to hers. Without hesitation she opened for him, pressing her body to his as the kiss spun out of control. He’d have to have her fast and hard this first time, he decided. Eyes wide open and locked on hers. His hands holding her still as he pumped into her. But not here. He wrenched his mouth from hers. “Fuck. I can’t wait to get inside you.”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to because I’m not having sex out here on the sidewalk.”
He chuckled. “Fair enough. But can we hurry? Please.” He glanced up the stairs. “I’m on the third floor.”
Kate slipped off her shoes and hiked up her skirt, exposing smooth, slim thighs. “Better keep up then.” With that, she turned and fled up the stairs.
Despite being caught off guard, Blake closed the gap between them in just a few strides. He took the steps two at a time, grabbing her hand on the way and pulling her after him.
“Wow. I guess you are in a hurry,” she teased.
“You have no idea,” he murmured as they reached the landing and he slid the first key into the lock. They both heard the deadbolt as it slid back with a satisfying click. Making short work of the second, he opened the door wide. “After you.”
Kate smiled up at him as she stepped inside, turning as he shut the door and locked them in. “Do I get the…?” She never got to finish her thought as Blake shoved her back against the door. His hands streaked over her while he took her mouth in big, greedy bites. “I want to touch you. Need to touch you,” he growled. Rushing through the buttons on her blouse, he tugged it free from the waistband of her skirt. It didn’t take him long before he was stripping it off. Along with the camisole and lace bra he found underneath. He had known Kate was beautiful of course. He had only to look at her face to see that. But still, Blake hadn’t expected this. He hadn’t expected her to steal his breath. “Holy fuck, Katharine,” he swore. “You’re… extraordinary. Absolutely extraordinary.” She had a long, slim, athletic body accented by soft, creamy skin, an impossibly tiny waist, and delicate breasts. He cupped one in each hand, his thumbs teasing her nipples into hard, little pebbles. “So soft. So warm.” His mouth closed over one and sucked, gently at first then hard enough to have her arching into him, her fingers clinging to his shoulders. Perfect. “So responsive,” he smiled as he kissed his way across her chest to give the second breast the same attention as the first.
Kate buried her fingers in his hair, tugging hard to drag his mouth back up to hers for another frantic kiss. When her hands pulled at his shirt Blake paused long enough to yank it over his head. He was shaking now, his breath coming in desperate pants as her mouth burned a path over his skin. “Your skirt. Take it off,” he begged.
Kate reached behind her, wrenched open the button, and dragged the zipper down. Shoving the skirt over her hips and to the floor, she kicked it aside, leaving her naked save for a pair of skimpy white lace panties. Her heart thundered nervously in her chest as she stood before him.
“Fuck me,” Blake hissed in appreciation. His eyes traveled the length of her once, twice, before his mouth took hers again and his hands found her hips. He rubbed the long, hard length of his arousal against her, his voice thick and hot in her ear as he whispered, “Are you wet for me, Kate?”
“Yes,” she gasped.
Hot, hard, and aching Blake fell to his knees. “I want to see you. Feel you.” He looked up from his position on the floor. “Taste you.” Filled with anticipation, he tugged her panties down her legs. “Pretty,” he murmured as his finger traced the small triangle of blond hair covering her mound. Kate jolted. “Easy, sweetheart.” He stilled her with a hand to her hip, leaning in to place a kiss low and intimate. He paused as his eyes found hers. “Watch,” he ordered, his tongue coming out for one, slow lick.
Her knees buckled. “Oh god, Blake. Please.”
“Please what, Katharine? What do you want?” He bent low again, stopping short of touching her. “Do you want my mouth on you?”
She blushed, embarrassed. No man had ever spoken to her like this. Asked her to watch. Demanded that she tell him what she wanted. “Y…Yes,” she finally stammered.
Blake felt his blood burn through his veins. “Thank god! I’ve been fantasizing about being with you like this for weeks now.”
She blushed again. “You don’t have to say things like that. I know this is only for the night but I’d still rather we were honest with one another.”
“I am being honest. Since the night we met, I’ve been stockpiling fantasies. And in all of them you’re naked, writhing in pleasure, and begging me to come inside you.” His hands slid up the backs of her thighs and over her bottom. “Except for the times I was begging you to let me in,” he confessed.
“There’s a lot of begging in your fantasies,” she pointed out.
“And a lot of pleasure.” The look in his eyes turned serious. “I’ll do anything to please you. All you have to do is ask.”
“As long as it’s something that feels good, yes.” He watched as her eyes darkened with hunger. “Tell me Katharine. What gives you pleasure?”
“Your hands and mouth. On me.”
His eyes went hot. “At this moment, there’s nothing I want more.” He held Kate still and slowly lowered his mouth to her, tempting and teasing her with his tongue and teeth while he slid two fingers deep inside her. Her body closed hot and hungry around them.
“Oh God,” she panted.
“Christ, you feel good. So good.” He slid his fingers out and then drove them in hard and fast. He was rewarded with her long, throaty moan. “Yes,” Blake murmured. “Yes.” He thrust his fingers in and out, watching as emotions played out on her face. Wonder. Arousal. Need. Her body moved with him, climbing, reaching for release. Suddenly, the need to be with her was too fierce to be ignored. Blake dragged his fingers from her hot, wet heat, pleased when she whimpered in protest. “Hang on, sweetheart.” He scooped her up and into his arms hurrying down the hall. “This first time, I want you in my bed. And I want to feel myself move inside you.” As soon as Kate’s feet touched the ground, he tore at the rest of his clothing. When he was naked, he reached for her. But she had ideas of her own. Her hand closed firmly around his arousal.
“Show me how you like to be touched,” she orderly softly.
Blake’s hand covered hers, stroking, clenching, pumping.
Kate watched as his body went taut, every muscle in his torso outlined in sharp relief. “Is this good?” she asked.
“Any better and I’m going to come in your hand,” he bit out. He saw her eyes flash with knowledge and power and felt her hand tighten around him. “No, wait,” he hissed.
Not this time, Kate thought, keeping her grin sexy and wicked as she continued to arouse him. She needed to push him to the edge. To drive him up so far and so fast that waiting became impossible. His body would take over and he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from coming. And he wouldn’t be able to feel anything other than his own release.
Blake’s hand closed around her wrist. “Inside you,” he growled. “Now.” He tumbled them both onto the bed covering her body with his. “Christ. I can’t wait. I have to…” He entered her in one hard thrust, filling her, stretching her. He tried to give them both a moment to adjust but desire tore through him, wild and brutal. Helpless, Blake plunged into Kate again and again until suddenly, with a roar, he climaxed. Only when he felt himself pour inside her did he realize that he’d come alone. “Fuck,” he spat, collapsing onto the bed beside her, disgusted with himself. “What the hell was that?”
He turned his head and studied her skeptically, his chest rising and falling as he fought to level his breathing. “That wasn’t sex,” he insisted. “Not even close.”