There are good Samaritans and there are saints.
I’m a saint.
The god of patience. The greatest man who ever lived.
Two weeks ago I would have settled for the simple hard-working, nice guy label. Two weeks ago Avery Montgomery, Diva Bitch, wasn’t on my radar. Hell, she wasn’t even in the same state. Then on an otherwise perfect day, the blonde California beauty walked into my café with her sister’s dog.
Her car died.
The dog broke her finger, therefore she can’t do her job—massage therapist.
Her father packed up and moved from her childhood home to chase a woman. A woman Avery doesn’t like.
And … her boyfriend cheated on her. Given her long legs, miles of blond hair, and perfect tits, that shocked me.
Until … Diva Bitch took over on our first day of Operation Take Avery Back Home to L.A. Never have I encountered someone so fucking needy and high maintenance.
My employee basically volunteered my shuttle services since I make a road trip to L.A. every summer to check in on my café there. I wanted to fire her.
For a solid week before we left Milwaukee, Avery stopped by the café and graced us with more sob stories. The women who work for me were in tears with sympathy. I wanted to vomit.
“I think I’m getting jungle rot.” She slips off her Barbie shoes and rubs her toes.
“Jungle rot?” I shoot her a quick glance as I put up our tent in the light of a full moon. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a clear sky.
Diva Bitch hasn’t looked at a single star over the course of our journey from Milwaukee to Los Angeles. However, she hasn’t missed one opportunity to whine about the scuff marks on her toe-mangling shoes, or the damage to her hair from the hard water at the campgrounds.
“Haven’t you watched G.I. Jane?” She frowns at my lack of engagement.
I chuckle, fighting to keep my sense of humor. If I lose it—she’s a dead diva bitch. I’ve been out of the ring for a few years, but I’m certain I could end the misery—my misery— with one quick move.
“It’s a fucking blister, you materialistic, chronically pessimistic, vain, grouchy, dog-hating, bit—”
Okay, I may have already lost my sense of humor. My best guesstimate … it scattered in the wind a few miles back when Avery threw a tantrum over me rolling down the windows, adding even more irreparable damage to her hair.
“Bitch? Were you about to call me a bitch?”
She’s not stupid. Quite the contrary I believe. Flaunting her looks instead of her intelligence has probably suited her needs over the years. Until now …
Her mantra of all-men-are-lying-cheating-monkey-spanking dick cheese will not win her points in the male community, even if she is a walking wet dream. I can’t even acknowledge her word choice. Dick cannot be an adjective to cheese. Nope. No fucking way.
“Bitter. I was going to say bitter woman.” Bitch. Total bitch.
“Typical. Men love to break women down, use them for dick warmers, and cry bitch when we decide to stand up for ourselves.”
I hold the flap open for her to get her bitchy ass in the tent. The quicker she goes to sleep, the quicker I can have some peace and quiet.
“Tomorrow we get a hotel.” She huffs.
“The only luxury tomorrow may bestow upon you is me not killing you. My trip. My truck. My choice where we stay. I make this trip every year. And every year I stay at campsites along the way.”
“It’s been a week and we’re only halfway to L.A.! My sister is home and wants her dog back.”
I grit my teeth, fisting my hands to keep them from encircling her neck. “I said I take my time getting to the West Coast. You said ‘I’m in no hurry.’ You said ‘I don’t want be an inconvenience. Just pretend I’m not here.’”
Avery grimaces while sliding her jungle rot feet back into her high heels. She pushes out her chest and tips her chin up. I bite back my grin as she hobbles like a broken princess to the tent.
“Come, Swarley,” she says.
The elderly Weimaraner lumbers to all fours from his spot in the cool grass. I bet he’d rather sleep right there than share space with Avery. I’m sure he’s tired of hearing her drone on about how he ruined her life.
I lock up the truck and enter the campground gates of hell.
“Out!” Avery holds her wadded shirt up to her chest. “You’re supposed to ask if it’s okay to come in here.”
I shrug, zipping the tent flaps behind me. “I’m taking your advice … pretending you’re not here.”
“But I AM here.”
I shoot her a barely detectable smile while moving to the center of the tent, the only part were I can stand straight. It’s also where my hitchhiking leach happens to be. Her blue eyes widen as she stiffens a little more.
“Swarley, did you hear something?” I shrug off my shirt.
Avery’s lips part.
I shrug. “Me neither.” As if she’s not gasping just inches from me, I unfasten my cargo shorts and let them fall to my feet. I didn’t think her eyes could get any wider. I was wrong.
“I-I’m not impressed. I don’t like tattoos. Or … or bulky muscles.” She shakes her head, nose wrinkled. “Your hair is too short … and blond. I like men with dark hair. And your eyes are the wrong shade of blue. And your …”
Keeping my head bowed, I toe off my shoes, hiding my amusement behind twisted lips. “My what? My cock is too big?” I glance up as the horror intensifies, reddening her cheeks.
“Mr. Matthews!” Her jaw unhinges. “I want nothing to do with your cock. Or any cock ever again.”
“Thank god … my cock threatened to hold its breath until it turns blue and falls clean off my body if I even think of sticking it in your battery-acid lined cunt.”
Another gasp. Can she really be that shocked?
“Cunt? You are the most vulgar man I have ever met.”
Really? She’s from L.A. I’m not vulgar. This infuriating woman just brings out the fighter in me. I need to let this go and take the high road.
“Sorry. Lady bits? Vajayjay? Hoo-haw? Bearded clam?”
“Vagina! Vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina.” She balls her fists.
I lift a single brow. “Okay.” I bow. “Good night, your Royal Vagina.”
“You’re such a dick,” she mumbles as I turn, retrieving my toothbrush and toothpaste from my backpack.
“Penis. Penis, penis, penis, penis. If we’re being anatomically correct, you think I’m such a penis.” I shove my toothbrush into my mouth and wrap my lips around it to ward off my amusement.
“My boyfriend stuck his penis into another woman … but I’m certain I hate you more.”
I pause my brushing motion, jerking my head back. Damn! What a declaration. I’m not sure if I should be offended or honored. Honored. Definitely honored. I continue brushing.
Avery huffs and turns, keeping her back to me as she removes her bra and slips on a satin nightie. Yup … I’ve been camping for the past week with a stranger hellbent on torturing me in every possible way.
I unzip the tent’s entrance and spit out my suds.
“Wait …” she mumbles over her toothbrush, crawling toward the opening.
Before I can get the flap pushed completely open, she spits … all over the inside of it.
“Nice, Ave … real nice.” I shake my head.
She wrinkles her nose, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand as her wide eyes flit between the mess and me. “Sorry.”
“Yeah, I”m sure you are.” I grab the first thing I can find and wipe off the nylon flap.
“Hey!” Avery grabs my wrist. “That’s my shirt! That’s an eighty dollar shirt you’re using like some bar rag.”
I nudge her to keep her away, refusing to relinquish the over-priced white T-shirt until the inside of my tent is free from her spit-up mess.
“Stop! Give it!” She attacks my arm, pressing her satin-clad body to my bare back.
“Get off me. You’re upsetting him, you crazy freak.” But I still don’t give her the shirt. I wad it up, throw it outside, and zip the flap.
“Bastard!” Her hand flies through the air toward my face.
I intercept it just before she connects with my cheek. The prissy princess with fake lashes, too much lipgloss, Barbie smooth hair, and miles of attitude drives me to the brink of murder. But … this hot mess with windblown hair and a face devoid of anything God didn’t give her … she’s fucking beautiful.
So. Damn. Sexy.
“Get. My. Shirt. NOW!”
I nod to her tapped fingers. “I think it might have hurt you more than me.”
“Get my shirt!”
The grin on my face feels incredible. “Let it be.”
Avery dives for the door. I stand on my knees and block her with my body, holding her to my chest with one arm around her waist.
She shoves my shoulders.
Breathless, with anger staining her cheeks crimson, she huffs out a long exhale just inches from my mouth.
“Let it be,” I repeat.
My other hand fists the back of her hair, giving it a firm jerk until her neck begs for my mouth. “Let. It. Be.”
I like older men in suits who don’t feel the need to express themselves by marring their skin. I like hotel suites. Sit-down dining. Air conditioning. Daily showers with hot water. Luxury beds. Silk pillowcases. Expensive cars with leather seats.
My heart has been broken too many times to count. I’m not sure it’s really a heart anymore—just a fleshy doormat.
“Things” make me feel good. Not everyone gets the same happily ever after. Maybe mine is an empty bed but a closet full of shoes and handbags. So what?
I grew up without my mother—she died. My father is a preacher. That fueled my rebellion from an early age. I hated boundaries, laws, and scriptures that made me feel guilty for the thoughts I couldn’t control.
I’m a girly girl who likes all things feminine, sexy, flowery, and pink.
NOT muscle-bound vegan chefs with Harleys, pickup trucks, and a shit ton of tattoos. Yet … in spite of his vulgarity and complete disrespect for my shirt, I can’t keep my heart from hammering into my chest as he fists my hair.
“A raccoon could steal my shirt.”
He brushes his lips along my neck, not kissing, not tasting … just feeling. I shiver.
“Do we really care?” he whispers in my ear.
Normally, yes. I would care very much. But at the moment, I can’t stay focused on the shirt because there’s a large hand sliding over my ass.
“Ouch!” I jump when he squeezes it—hard.
He chuckles, fisting my hair tighter as his mouth opens against my bare shoulder. His teeth tease my skin for a few seconds before his hot tongue flicks out like a whip.
I swallow hard. “I … I don’t think this is a smart idea.”
Jake lifts his head, blinking several times before cocking it to the side. “You have a better idea?”
Wetting my lips, I rub them together. I wasn’t expecting that response. “Not … necessarily.”
He nods slowly, letting his gaze slide along my body. “Clearly you’re a pain in any man’s ass. But I’d say most men would over look that. Unless …”
His gaze meets mine. A cocky grin teasing the corners of his mouth.
I narrow my eyes. “Unless what?”
“Unless you’re incredibly bad at sex”.
“How dare you—”
He smashes his mouth to mine.
His tongue taunts mine until I surrender. Dear sweet Jesus … he tastes better than champagne, perfectly ripe strawberries, the smoothest milk chocolate, and my favorite … everything.
He breaks the kiss. My lungs claw for air. His tongue makes a lazy stroke across his lower lip, ending with that damn grin. I’m a mess. What’s he smiling about?
“I’m not bad at sex,” I whisper between breaths.
“No?” He slides the spaghetti straps off my shoulders.
My nightie slips a few inches, clinging to nothing more than my hardened nipples.
“No.” I shake my head.
“Show me what you’ve got, Ave.”
I fight my smile. “Why are you calling me Ave?”
“Figured you preferred it to Diva Bitch.”
I scowl. “I still hate you.”
He chuckles. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Bastard. Sexy … delicious … irresistible … bastard.
Jake holds his hands out to his sides. “Let’s see it, Ave. Do your worst.”
What that hell? I wait, but he remains on his knees, statuesque. I slide off my nightie. His eyes follow with curiosity. Maybe … or is it disinterest? Gah! I don’t know. Men have seriously fucked with my head, chipping away at my confidence. What’s left is artificial. A complete façade.
Resting my shaky hands flat on his chest, I lean in and press my lips to the corner of his mouth. He doesn’t move. Ghosting more kisses over his jaw, I wait for him to respond … join in.
“Aren’t you going to touch me?” I whisper, teasing my teeth across his earlobe.
“Do you want me to touch you?”
I freeze. What’s going on? My body jerks back, but his expression gives away nothing.
“Is that the best you’ve got, Ave?”
I frown, shoulders deflating, but not as much as my ego. I survey his body. The prominent outline in his briefs gives me hope that I’m making progress. My hand slides down the front of them. His Adam’s apple makes a quick dip. That’s good. Right?
“Does that feel good?”
“Sure.” He shrugs. HE. SHRUGS! “Does it feel good to you?”
“I’m doing it for you, not me.” I can’t entirely hide the frustration in my voice. I’m so damn turned on, but he’s acting like someone stepping into a lukewarm bath.
“Well then …” His hand clasps my wrist, pulling it from his briefs. “You’re doing it all fucking wrong.” Shoving both of my arms behind my back like I’m under arrest, he dips his head down and teases his tongue over my nipple several times. I feel chilled and ready to overheat at the same time. His teeth clamp down, flirting with that invisible string that sends a thrumming pleasure right between my legs.
I seethe in a quick breath.
A soft groan rattles in his chest. That teases that invisible string too.
“You see…” he trails his lips along my chest, seeking my other breast “…the art of sex is all about selfish pleasure. You like what I’m doing…” he palms my breast and sucks it until my legs pinch together to fight off my orgasm “…but I’m not doing it for you.”
He lets go of my hands and hovers his lips over mine. “I’m doing it because I want to taste your tits … because I want to hear you whimper … because I want to feel you squirm. That gives me pleasure.”
I nod slowly, but I can’t find a one damn word that’s a suitable response.
He grabs my ass and lifts me, guiding my legs around his waist, my arms around is neck, so he can lay me down on his sleeping bag.
Kissing me slowly, he reaches behind him and unhooks my legs from his waist before tearing his mouth from mine. “And…” he sets my feet on the ground and slides off my panties “…when I lick you here…”
“Oh god …” my hips jerk against the two fingers he shoves inside of me.
“…it’s because I’m so fucking hungry.” He circles his tongue over my clit several times before sucking it.
Gone … I’m gone … lost in the bliss of pleasure given by Satan himself. I curl my fingers into his coppery hair and hold him to me as I throw my head back, speaking to a god I’m certain wants nothing to do with my orgasm gratitude.
“Where are you going?” Avery lifts onto her elbows as I pull on my shorts. “We’re not having sex?”
I grin, shaking my head. “I don’t have a condom.”
“It was YOUR idea! How can you not have a condom?”
I shrug. “It was a gamble, but I felt the odds were in my favor that I wouldn’t need one.”
Her mouth falls open. “Wh-what … you thought I would fail? You felt certain that what? I’d be bad at sex?”
“I find that people who spend so much time trying to impress are usually the most unimpressive. Don’t take it personally … you have potential.” I slip out the entrance and zip it closed.
Nearly an hour later, the zipper sounds to my back. So much for hoping she fell asleep.
“You’re just sitting out here?”
“Yep. Just sitting out here.” I slip my bottled water into the drink holder of my camping chair.
I did some pushups, planks, dips, and crunches … among other things that I’m not going to share with her. It’s late. I’m tired of explaining everything.
“And I’m too loud?”
I grunt a laugh. “You’re ‘too’ a lot of things.”
“You’re a jerk.”
“Oh, just with me?”
I glance over as she zips her pink hoodie over her short shorts, no shoes—shocking. She bends down and snags the expensive white tee off the ground, frowning at it as her hand smoothes over it.
“Gah … I didn’t think I had that much spit in my mouth. It’s still really wet.”
I rub my hand over my mouth and pinch my bottom lip between my fingers. “Yeah … you might want a squirt or two of hand sanitizer.”
She shrugs, folding the shirt like it’s fresh out of the dryer. “It’s my spit.”
“Yes. Some of it.”
Her nose wrinkles, forehead drawn tightly in confusion as she holds the folded shirt with one hand and rubs together the fingers of her other hand. “Sticky toothpaste.”
“It’s not toothpaste.” I scoot back in my chair, tipping my head back to admire the stars.
She stomps the ground, positioning herself right in front of my chair. “Did you spill something and use my shirt?” She looks around. “You used it to clean your stupid windshield didn’t you?”
“Then what?” She brings the shirt to her nose.
I choke on my laugh. “No … don’t … that’s just … wrong.”
I lean forward, resting my elbows on my knees. “Come here.”
Avery eyes me with caution for a few seconds before taking two steps forward. She jumps when I touch the pad of my finger to the inside of her knee. What can I say? I like torturing myself.
Sliding it up her leg, I whisper, “Are your panties still wet?”
Her lips part, releasing a ragged breath.
I don’t wait for an answer before dipping my finger under the crotch of her shorts. Her breath catches as I rub my finger over her damp panties. “I’d say yes,” I whisper.
Her teeth lay claim to her bottom lip.
“Why are they wet?”
Her forehead wrinkles a fraction.
“Did you clean my windshield with them?”
The wrinkles deepen for two seconds before realization ghosts along her face. “Oh my god!” She jumps back, dropping her T-shirt like it stung her. “You jerked off on my shirt? Who does that? What is wrong with you? Ewww …” She jumps in a circle shaking out her hands. “Gross!”
Swarley barks from inside the tent.
Leaning back to enjoy the show, I untwist the cap from my water and take a long swig. As her energy wears off, she levels me with a death glare. An hour ago, I had condoms on my list of things to pick up in town tomorrow. I don’t think I’ll need them after all.
“Come here.” I draw out the word come because she brings out the evil side of me.
I shake my bottled water.
Avery scowls. After the steam stops flowing from her nostrils, she holds out her hands. I pour some water onto them while she performs a surgical scrub.
“Some women swallow it.”
I glance up at her, lifting an eyebrow. Okay, she’s not as smart as I thought.
“Oh.” She rolls her eyes, drying her hands on her sweatshirt. “Why are you so mean to me?”
“Mean? You think I’m mean?”
“I don’t think calling me a bitch, ruining my shirt, saying I’m bad at sex, and then teasing me about it is exactly what I’d call nice.”
My lips twist to the side while I inspect this insecure mess of a woman before me. “Maybe I’m just flirting with you.”
“That’s not flirting.”
“No? Then what do you call flirting?”
She shoves her hands into the hoodie’s pockets and shrugs. “Compliments. Flowers. Chocolates. Jewelry.”
“Sounds like ass kissing to get into your pants.”
Avery tips up her chin. “You could learn a few things from men who do that.”
I laugh. “Avery, Avery, Avery … I ruined your shirt, called you a bitch, and suggested you’re shit at sex. Yet, in the next breath I had two fingers shoved in your … ‘vagina.’” I wink.
Heat crawls up her neck. I’m not a jerk. Really, I’m not. But Avery is one messed up chick, and I feel like putting her in her place isn’t a bad thing. She might not thank me now. In fact, I predict her hand making another shot for my face. But some day … she might thank me when she finds a guy who doesn’t treat her like a doormat, because she demands respect that can’t be bought with elaborate gifts and her self esteem reaches deeper than fake eyelashes and designer clothes.
“Don’t touch me again. EVER!” She disappears into the tent.
Good job, Ave. Stand the fuck up for yourself.