Home > Consumed by You

Consumed by You
Author: Lauren Blakely

Chapter One

The dress she wore was pure torture.

Red, tight, and snug against every luscious curve of her body, it whispered to him in some kind of smoky, come-hither voice.

Take me off.

Travis would love nothing more than to answer that call, as he watched Cara move like a sensual, catlike creature on the dance floor, in those mile-high heels that had him wishing she were the kind of woman he could take home for the night.

He leaned his hip against the high metal table parked at the edge of the dance floor, enjoying his front row seat to the best view in the house. Her.

Cara was temptation herself this evening, her long, silky mane of black hair spilling down her back as those hips swayed in time to the low, pulsing bass that vibrated through the night club. He didn’t have a clue how he was going to survive dog training lessons with her later that week, when it was hard enough being this near to her at their friends Smith and Jamie’s joint bachelor and bachelorette party.

But, he reasoned, she’d be back to the T-shirt-and-jeans Cara, the hair-in-a-ponytail Cara in a few days, when they started teaching his new Jack Russell mix to sit, stay, and fetch.

That Cara would be easier for him to manage than this temptress, right?

He took a long pull on his beer, finishing it off as he considered his own question. The answer came quickly as he set down the empty bottle. Nah, it wouldn’t be any easier. She was just as fucking hot during the day, walking dogs around their hometown of Hidden Oaks, as she was here tonight, dressed for sin in San Francisco.

“How long?”

A hand came down on his back. Travis turned to Smith, who thrust another beer at him. He’d been refilling drinks at the bar.

“How long what?”

Smith nodded to the crew of their friends on the dance floor. “How long before you actually make a move on Cara?”

“Why do you want to know?” Travis asked. No use pretending he hadn’t been caught staring.

“Because I’m thinking of getting a pool going at the firehouse. I’m even going to put up a big old poster with squares,” Smith said, spreading his arms out wide.

Travis arched an eyebrow, finally managing to pull his gaze away from Cara. “And what will these squares say?”

Smith mimed writing on a whiteboard. “One week from now,” he said, tapping an imaginary square on the betting pool. “One year from now.” Then another. “Never fucking ever,” he said, stabbing his finger into the air. “And that’s the one I’m putting my money on.”

Travis laughed, talking above the loud music. “Why do you even care if I make a move?”

Smith clutched his chest. “Because it pains me to see a man ogling a woman like that and doing nothing about it.”

“Who said I was going to do nothing about it? Maybe I just don’t feel like telling you about all the plans I have up here,” Travis said, tapping his skull, even though his friend was right—he hadn’t been planning on doing a damn thing about Cara. “Plans that would make your betting pool obsolete.”

He was bluffing, but he couldn’t deny that Smith was onto something. Hell, it pained him, too, not to do a damn thing about this rampant attraction that wound him up like a coiled spring. His focus briefly wandered to the bar where Cara had joined Jamie in a round of shots. Somewhere out on the dance floor, Travis’s sister, Megan, was snug up against the fire chief, Becker, while a bunch of their other buddies had grabbed a table in the back. They’d all rented a few limos for the night, riding from Hidden Oaks down to the city so they could fully enjoy the celebration.

Smith shrugged and took a drink of his beer. “My money’s on: you’re too much of a pussy to do it.”

Travis scoffed, his eyebrows shooting into his hairline. “One, I’m not too much of a pussy to make a move on her. Two, why do people use pussy as an insult? I never understood that. Pussy is fucking awesome. It’s pretty much the greatest thing in the world. And three, you know she’s not interested in a guy like me.”

Smith nodded several times and flubbed his lips, as if Travis had just revealed the secrets of the universe. “Yeah, you’re right. She probably likes men who actually have the guts to go for her instead of just staring at her wistfully while she’s on the dance floor.”

Travis rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I meant. I would never stare at a woman wistfully. When I stare, it’s hungrily,” he said, as he deflected the conversation from the real reason he hadn’t acted on his desire for her. Cara was great—she was fun, and sharp, and he’d enjoyed every second of the summer they’d spent together back when they were younger. He could still recall how fiery she’d been between the sheets. But now that they were no longer two horny teenagers screwing in the back of his truck, or two recent college grads reconnecting for one hot night, she didn’t have any interest in guys who didn’t like settling down. A volunteer firefighter and a professional card player, Travis was not a settler-downer. Hell, he had his sights set on winning the California Bachelor Fireman’s Auction in a few weeks—the key word being bachelor. So as much as he wanted to have the woman in red again, he was all wrong for her. Even though he wanted her badly.

“Time for another round!”

Jamie grabbed Cara’s arm and practically yanked her off the dance floor. Cara nearly stumbled in her heels from the surprise attack her friend had launched on her elbow.

“Hey! I like that arm. I want to keep it,” she said as they made their way to the bar.

“It is indeed a very nice arm. Shapely and toned,” Jamie said, patting Cara’s bare flesh as they reached the chrome and steel bar at Edge, a nightclub owned by one of Travis’s friends.

“So you can see why I’m attached to it,” she said, and then her eyes widened as the soon-to-be-bride gestured to a tray with shot glasses and a gorgeous crystal martini glass with a purple concoction.

Cara pointed to the fancy cocktail. “Purple Snow Globe?”

Jamie nodded. “Pick your poison. I ordered a bunch of drinks.”

There was no question in her mind. She’d gladly take the sweet, sugary, award-winning cocktail over the burn of a tequila shot anytime. She picked up the drink and clinked glasses with Jamie. “To your wedding.”

“I will happily drink to the end of my single days,” Jamie said, quickly downing the amber liquid. “Speaking of single days, what are we going to do about you and Travis and the way you two were staring at each other on the dance floor?”

Cara’s jaw dropped. “What?”

Holy shit. Had everyone noticed? She thought she’d done a bang-up job sealing away her desire in a Ziploc bag and stuffing it in the back of the freezer. Evidently, she had not. She slapped on her best cool-and-composed look, took a leisurely swallow of her drink, then said, “What are you talking about?”

“Oh, come on,” Jamie said, rolling her pretty brown eyes. “The two of you are still checking each other out like you did in high school.”

God, it had been so long, and even though she and Travis had flickered back into each other’s lives once or twice since, they were never in the same place at the same time for long enough to matter. That hadn’t stopped her from wanting him, though.

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