Jordyn stared down at the glass in her hand. The whiskey was nothing fancy, but it was getting the job done—the job being getting her tipsy enough to actually loosen up and enjoy tonight. She frowned and took another sip of her drink, the burn of it warming her throat and pushing back against the ball of anxiety she could feel pressing down on her chest.
How the hell was she going to enjoy tonight? That seemed…seemed impossible after the day from hell she’d had, but even so, she’d never been raised to be a quitter. Jordyn raised her glass, downing the last of it in a quick toss, and couldn’t help the wince on her face.
She had never been a drinker. Well, at least, not until tonight. Her fingers tightened on the empty glass in her hand. No, she never drank, swore, or wore clothes that were edgy or that made her stand out. She’d always been the good girl, the dependable one, the one that did her best to people-please.
She scowled, looked at the mirror behind the bar, and raised an eyebrow. She was in a dark leather jacket, white tank, and her hair was down from the usual ponytail she normally wore it in. She looked…different with her hair tumbling down around her shoulders. The faint flush of her cheeks and too bright-eyed look of her eyes from the alcohol was also different. Wilder. She liked it.
So what if she had been the sensible-rule-following-innocent-type all wrapped in a khaki pencil skirt and pastel cardigan? That didn’t mean she had to stay that way when she didn’t want to. She raised her hand, signaling for a second drink, and even dared to wink at the bartender when she slid her money forward, a hefty tip tucked on top. He winked back, and she blushed, eyes darting away from him before she could stop herself.
“Baby steps,” she murmured to herself. Okay, so what if she couldn’t look a man in the eye that winked at her? She was working on it. Badasses weren’t born in a day, right? She turned away from the bar, sipped at her drink, and forced her back straight. She could do this—be a new version of herself, even if her flirting skills were abysmal right this second.
She scanned the space of the bar she was doing her best not to stick out in. It was her first time in a bar like this. She’d been in bars before, of course. But not like this one. And that was saying something because, for all of her twenty-three years, Jordyn Summers had spent each and every one of them in this town. Her hometown was small and quaint with the kind of neighbors that knew your name and waved at you when they saw you in the town square or walking to the grocery store because yes, her town was that small.
Golden, Virginia. It was a good place to live and grow, a spot that made you feel welcome, and for years it had been the only place to live in her mind. But saying all that, Golden wasn’t the kind of place that a bar like this existed. And, technically this bar wasn’t in Golden, but right outside the city limits.
The Velvet Throne had welcomed her with a toothy grin from the bouncer while a fight broke out in the parking lot behind her. A fight the bouncer had no intention of stopping. She’d hurried inside at the first punch and never looked back. Despite its name, there was nothing soft or gentle about this bar.
The Velvet Throne was rough and dirty, its clientele not the kind of people that would wave at you when you walked down the street, but might be the kind you met in a back alley. For what, she didn’t know, but she didn’t imagine it was good. Where the hell the bar got its name? She didn’t have a clue. It had to be a weird joke by the owner.
She cleared her throat and sipped at her drink, slower this time because even if she was all about living dangerously, that didn’t mean her alcohol tolerance had quite gotten the memo. Jordyn didn’t much feel like finding out if she was a happy drunk or emotional drunk just quite yet.
She bit her lip. She bet she was an emotional one.
“Baby steps,” she reminded herself. Her eyes moved over the dance floor where there was a band playing loud and fast rock and roll, stuff she didn’t normally listen to, but tonight the beat of it felt right. The thumping bass shook the floor so much she could feel the dull vibration of it through her boots. The lighting was low, dim except for the lights on the stage, and she squinted trying to make out the people in front of her, but it was hard without getting close. Turning her head, she saw that off to the side of that was a length of bar floor devoted to four or five pool tables, all of them busy with men and women mingling, shooting pool, and drinking. She could see a few dartboards to the side of that and a red painted arrow on the wall that proclaimed the bathrooms were down the hallway she saw disappearing to the right. She really hoped she didn’t have to use the bathroom while she was here.
A man in a too-tight tee and more tattoos on his arms than Jordyn knew were possible to fit on someone’s arms squeezed in beside her and bumped her, making her drink slosh over the sides of her glass.
“Sorry,” she breathed when he turned her way with a glare. “Sorry.” She moved away from the bar and became painfully aware, for what felt like the sixtieth time that night since she cleared the doorway of the bar, that she had zero clue of what to do with her hands or feet or her anything for that matter.
When she had hatched the plan to come here, to step out of the meek and mild shell of a woman she had existed in most of her adult life, she hadn’t realized that it would be so…daunting. Though the thought that she had been living and breathing to please anyone other than herself made her take a deep breath and chance another step further away from the bar that had been serving as a sort of home base for her since she’d arrived at the bar. It was easier to drown herself in liquid courage and people watch than it was to make the tough choices of where to stand or if she wanted to join the crowd on the dance floor. She might have thought of playing a round of pool but she didn’t know how to play, so that left dancing. Dancing she could do, even as rule-following as she had always been, she had loved to dance.
But she just wasn’t interested yet. Not without the right partner to tempt her. She’d come here for a reason—a reason beyond having a drink or two in a new and slightly dangerous location outside of town. She turned, taking in the meaningful looks she was receiving from some of the men around her. Even the man that had made her spill her drink was now giving her a slow once over but that wasn’t what she had come here for. They were small fish to her, and Jordyn wasn’t interested in a single one of them.
Tonight she was after something a little different than the men giving her fake saccharine smiles. She wanted someone singular. Someone that was going to encourage the flame of change that had come to life in her that very day. The flame that hadn’t existed until the act of one man. The man that was responsible for her decision to come to The Velvet Throne in the first place.
Just the thought of him sent a pain through her sharp enough to steal her breath and make her feel unsteady in a way the whiskey in her glass couldn’t touch. In that painful instant, she was transported back to the too-small office she had always insisted needed a mirror to make the space look larger. But Alex hadn’t cared because people didn’t come there for aesthetics, but for the accounting services he provided. Still, she’d done her best to bring touches of color and a sense of home to the office he worked out of. Not that any of it had done one thing to stop Alex from betraying her trust. Why had she ever bothered to care so much about a man that cared so little for her heart and did nothing to keep her trust?
She squeezed her eyes shut and took a stutter step towards a pillar in front of her. She leaned against it, hoping to catch her breath, but it was useless. The memories were coming faster and her little trip down memory lane was in full swing despite the raging bar all around her.
They had been engaged. Had been for nearly two years since Alex popped the question and made her feel like a fairytale princess her junior year of college. He’d planned a scavenger hunt and arranged for her friends and family to join them at the big surprise ending. When she’d found the last clue, the very spot they had gone on their first date, a nice little gazebo in the city square park that had been beyond romantic for a first date of two high school seniors on the Fourth of July, everyone had cheered while Alex had gotten down on one knee in front of her.
God that proposal was perfect. Just like she’d thought they were but that had all been a lie. In the end, it hadn’t mattered how much she’d don—and she had done everything Alex asked of her. She helped him teach Sunday school and run the youth program at the church he worked at as the youth director. She chose sensible friends and clothes, worried about what people would say, and erred on the conservative side of life though she had longed for something else—something freer.
Something real. She just hadn’t known it then.
Jordyn always had an adventurous spirit, a writer who wanted to do nothing but live out of a suitcase and spend her days putting pen to paper. She had dreamed of traveling the world but everything changed when she met Alex. It happened her senior year, he’d transferred in that year from the town over and she fell in love with his warm smile and caring eyes. He was stable and good. He made her think of the steadfast manner she admired in her parents who had always only had eyes for each other. That promise of what she might have by Alex’s side had been enough to capture her heart as a teen and somehow, Jordyn had traded her wild spirit, her dreams of writing and roaming, for the love of a single boy.
How foolish she had been then. Her fingers rubbed absently at the space where her engagement ring had been. The unadorned finger felt alien to her and she raised her hand in the dim light of the bar, lifting it close to inspect it. Gone was the gleaming diamond, solitaire with its delicate band of gold.
“I wanted a sapphire,” she whispered to no one. She hadn’t gotten one because the ring had been tastefully and carefully chosen by Alex for its classic look, something he swore would “never go out of style.”
She was glad the ring was gone. Gone just like her love for Alex. She’d hurled the ring at him just like he’d thrown away what they had for the temptation of someone new. She tensed, the memory of those terrible seconds that had rocked her world hitting her full force. They’d been together, Alex and the other woman, an acquaintance and Alex’s coworker that Jordyn had only known in passing. The pair had been wrapped so tightly around one another that Jordyn couldn’t tell where one began and the other ended. Hands and bare flesh pressed obscenely together in a way that Jordyn had never gotten to experience with Alex.
And all of it on the copier of all places.
The cliché of it all was enough to make Jordyn grateful she had never slept with Alex—though it hadn’t been for lack of trying on her end. She wanted to have sex, she wanted the intimacy of it, and after so long together she had been more than ready to explore what the world of sex had to offer, but Alex hadn’t thought it was right, not until they were married. He’d admonished her at every turn until Jordyn had stopped seeing herself as a curious sexual being at all.
Jordyn had been content to wait for their wedding night. She had been a virgin when she began dating Alex and waiting a little longer for the man she loved didn’t seem like such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Sex just wasn’t something they were going to do, and that was fine. Or at least it was until it turned out she had been alone in her stint of celibacy. Her fingers tightened on the glass and she shook her head at the thought of Alex cheating on her. And on the copier, for fuck’s sake!
With a barely disguised growl, she set her back straight and stalked towards the dance floor. She was going to have fun tonight and that was that. With her newfound determination humming through her veins, and more than half of her whiskey, she was ready for anything.
And that is when she saw him. The anything she was ready for.
Tall, clad in a leather jacket that hung perfectly over his broad shoulders and arms. He had a close-cropped beard and she wondered what it would be like to kiss a man with a beard. She never had before on account of her ex preferring a clean-shaven face. She bet a kiss from a man with a beard was just the thing she needed. His hair was longer than she was used to, but she liked that too. Dark thick locks of it that fell just so but she knew it wasn’t from any product, that was just how his hair was. She wanted to touch it, run her fingers through the dark strands of it before she gave it a tug. Her eyes left his face and wandered on down the length of him. The fire in her burned a little brighter when she saw the man had thighs that she would die a happy woman on.
God, she hoped she died on those thighs. If she did, she would consider it a blessing. Jordyn watched as her mystery man pushed forward onto the dance floor that parted before him like it had been expecting him. He turned his back on her then and Jordyn frowned, though it was short-lived because him turning meant she got a look at his ass.
Correction, she would die a happy woman just getting to touch his ass. She would faint if she got on his thighs, though. Good Lord. The man was stunning. He was everything she wanted. Everything she had dreamed about night after night alone in her bed.
She wanted him. No question about it. He was perfect for tonight, for her objective of living on the wild side, if even for one night. He was the living embodiment of every dirty fantasy and thought Jordyn had ever entertained in her bid to make Alex happy. From his leather-clad shoulders to his life-giving thighs and ass, the man was the definition of wild.
But first things first.
Jordyn had to get him to notice her because her plan for the night wasn’t just to ogle him. She wanted to get under this man…or on top of him, beside him, in front of him, whatever way she could and that was because at the top of Jordyn’s new living life to the fullest list was one very important objective. She squared her shoulders as if going into battle, downed the last half of her drink, depositing it on the corner of the bar, and took in a deep inhale. She was going to need every last bit of fortitude to do what she was convincing herself was a must-do. It was now or never seeing as she had just found the man to help her get the one thing she wanted to accomplish more than anything that night.
And that was to lose her virginity.
Jordyn’s bravado lasted all of the eighth of a second it took for her to set foot on the dance floor and realize that her Mystery Man had his eye on another woman. A petite blonde with killer legs and a face that looked like it belonged on a movie poster. There was no denying the woman Mystery Man had his sights on was gorgeous. Like drop-dead gorgeous and very much in her element at the bar.
The woman was stunning in a barely-there crimson red dress that hugged her lithe body to perfection. The garment looked like it had been sewn with the sole purpose of showcasing the woman’s best assets while she danced, hips swinging enticingly while she locked eyes with the beautiful man in front of her.
The man took a step closer, a bright smile on his face that the blonde returned as she moved to tuck in close to him, a dainty hand on his muscular chest. Jordyn knew they would be perfect together. They looked damn near perfect together. King and Queen of The Velvet Throne, sure to spend their night in some passionate romp most women only dreamed of.
Women like Jordyn.
She bit her lip and almost turned tail, and maybe she should have when she saw the first touch between them, but that was playing it safe. That’s what the old Jordyn would have done. She would have turned away and probably spent the rest of her night watching from the corner and nursing a drink.
But that Jordyn hadn’t had her heart ripped out only hours before. That Jordyn didn’t exist anymore.
And this Jordyn was done being the good girl. It was time to get what she wanted, even if she was stepping on someone else’s toes. Besides, the couple had just met, it wasn’t like there were church bells ringing in their future. She paused, watching the man move in the low lights of the dance floor. He was at the center of it all, his back to her, and seemingly without a care in the world. She could watch him dance for far longer than it took for her to get labeled a creeper, but that was because this man knew exactly what to do with his hips.
Alex had acted as if she were subjecting him to water torture when she had tried to coax him into dancing with her. But this man? Dancing wasn’t a chore for him.
Not even close.
This man was moving in time with the music, his hips rolling with controlled ease, head tipped back, eyes closed, and a grin on his face. Jordyn enjoyed the sexy sight, or she might have if he had been a little less tangled up with the blonde. Jordyn zeroed in on where the woman’s hands were trailing their way up his chest, her nails twisting in his shirt as they danced.
Jordyn forced herself to keep walking forward while the scene continued to heat up in front of her. The woman pressed her scantily clad body against the sexy stranger, and an exaggerated swirl of her hips against the man pulled a smile from him. One of his hands slid up from her waist to palm the woman’s breast, and Jordyn’s eyes widened in surprise. Until tonight she’d lived a relatively sheltered, ahem, boring life, and Alex would never have dreamed of touching her so intimately in a public place. The man’s actions should have stopped her forward march, or even slowed it, but it didn’t. Instead, Jordyn’s steps quickened as a single thought began to take hold in her mind’s eye: him touching her just the way he was the blonde.
She wanted that. Needed it.
Jordyn’s nipples tingled and she felt her cheeks warm from the fantasy of having the stranger’s hands on her. In a matter of seconds, she was stepping towards the couple, their intimate moment be damned. She couldn’t hesitate now, not when she was this close to finally acting on what she wanted. If she hesitated for even a second, she would lose her bravado and run away, of that she was sure, which meant the only way left was straight into the fray.
Reaching out a hand, Jordyn trailed her fingers up the sexy stranger’s leather-clad arm. Her fingers skimmed the inside of his wrist before she moved up to brush the back of his hand—the hand that was currently full of another woman’s flesh. She felt his hand tense beneath her touch. She held her breath and looked up to meet the stranger’s eyes. He was looking at her now. Curious blue eyes stared back at her. Yep, she had his undivided attention. No doubt about it.
Feeling bolder with his attention on her, Jordyn slowly continued to move her fingers along his before she stepped in closer and dared to squeeze his bicep with her other hand.
The man didn’t move, he froze in fact, but he didn’t look away from her. The blonde beside him was only now realizing what Jordyn was doing and she began to voice her displeasure.
“Who is she? Your girlfriend or something?” She asked with narrowed eyes.
“No. Never seen her before,” he replied, and Jordyn blamed the rich timbre of his voice that was all bass tones and smoothness that she felt in a way the bass beat of the music couldn’t hope to match. Though she had little time to dwell on how pleasant the man’s voice made her feel.
Never seen her before.
Ah, yes, that. She was a stranger and what she was doing was insane.
She hadn’t really considered what to do after touching him Hell, she hadn’t even thought about touching him in the first place. She had just gone on instinct, and now, it was like time had stopped. She knew in her gut that if she didn’t do something fast the man was going to disappear with the blonde. Her moment of boldness would be remembered by him as an odd girl doing odd things, and that was if he even remembered her at all. She refused to have her night end that way. She couldn’t let it go that way.
Thinking had never gotten her anywhere special, so Jordyn didn’t think now. She acted. Reaching out she grabbed his leather jacket by the lapels and pulled him close. She half expected him not to move but her moment of insanity was rewarded when the sexy stranger came with her without so much as a backward glance at the women he had just been dancing with.
She licked her lips and stared up at him, taking another step backward. The man matched her movement, and she felt her stomach do a flip-flop. What in the ever-loving blazes was she supposed to do now?! This must be what dogs that chased cars would feel like if they ever managed to catch the damn thing. Jordyn barely had time to mull over her shared predicament with overzealous canines when her attention was pulled back to the mystery man.
His hands touched her sides with surprising gentleness, and she almost tripped over her own feet at the first feel of his hands on her. It wasn’t her breast, but hell this was more than enough to make her feel dizzy. His hands then slid down further to firmly grab her ass. There was nothing gentle about the way he was touching her now, and Jordyn knew her eyes had gone wide with shock when she saw him smirk at her.
She couldn’t let him gain the upper hand so fast, not this early in the night. Jordyn rallied herself to recover from looking so wide-eyed, tossed her hair over her shoulder with far more sass than she actually possessed, and was thankful for the whiskey that was still warm on her lips. She placed her hands on his wrists and pushed her hips into him in encouragement, and she did it all while staring him in the eyes. It was hard to pull off without wanting to bolt, but she was glad she had done it because that meant she got to see the need bloom in his blue eyes—got to watch those eyes warm up and heat the man in front of her through and through. She wouldn’t have traded seeing that for the world.
His hands tightened against her, pulling her more firmly against him, and she knew he was going to kiss her. She needed him to. Jordyn slid her hands up his neck and finally fulfilled her wish to kiss the sexy stranger. She ran her fingers along his jaw, through the scruff of his beard, and leaned forward to run her tongue along his bottom lip. He groaned, hands flexing and fingers digging into her. Her heart began to hammer in her chest because yes, he was going to kiss her, and not only did she need it but so did he.
Jordyn decided it was heaven to be needed by someone.