The Doms of Club Mystique, Book 2
by Mardi Maxwell
eBook ISBN: 9781627412735
Jenna Parnelle gave Jackson Ramsey one night of passionate submission before he sent her away. He believed his possessiveness would destroy their relationship. Jenna thinks Jackson was just slumming with the girl from the poor side of town. Now, he wants her back but she’s determined to protect her heart.
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Jenna Angelique Parnelle glanced around, wished the Ramseys hadn’t invited so many people to her best friend Addison Matthew’s graduation party, then shrugged. It wasn’t every day a person earned an MBA, and it deserved to be celebrated, but she was hunting for Jackson Ramsey and all these damn people were getting in her way. After all it wasn’t as if she wanted to catch him. She didn’t even want to talk to him. She just wanted to get close enough to enjoy the delicious shivers of arousal that would race through her body whenever she saw him or heard his voice.
Noting the constantly turning heads and searching eyes of the women at the party, Jenna knew she wasn’t alone in her pursuit of one of the Ramseys. Young, old, married, single, it didn’t matter. The women of Rendezvous, Texas spent a lot of their time looking for and talking about their latest Ramsey brother sighting. Each woman had her favorite brother, but for Jenna only Jackson Ramsey would do. Jackson was six feet four inches of mouthwatering masculine yumminess with short black hair, a square jaw, and lips that made her yearn to kiss him. He had the green eyes of the Ramsey family but Jackson’s eyes tended to be more gold than green, especially in the sunlight. Beneath his clothes she knew his body was sleek and strong with washboard abs from years of military training.
In her youth, she had spent hours at the Ramsey Ranch watching Jackson as he worked with his beloved horses. She couldn’t count the number of times he had caught her staring at his mouth while she wondered what it would be like to kiss him. As a teenager, getting caught staring at Jackson had embarrassed her, but as a woman, catching him staring back thrilled her. The Ramsey brothers were gorgeous, but the most dangerous thing they had in common was their ability to steal a woman’s heart.
Looking across the room, she caught a glimpse of a dark head towering above a sea of pastel summer hats. Heart racing, she moved closer and recognized Jackson’s youngest brother Zane. He had somehow slipped up and gotten himself trapped by Ellen Jones and her busybody friends. Watching him nod and smile and desperately edge away, Jenna knew he would never escape without help. Since Zane was the nicest of the five brothers, and he might be willing to tell her if the rumor about Jackson leaving the Marines was true, she decided to rescue him.
Weaving around several groups, she made her way across the crowded room, all the while protecting herself from sharp elbows and carelessly placed boots. She slipped up behind Zane, tapped him on the shoulder, then nearly laughed out loud when he turned around and the desperation in his eyes changed to relief. “There you are, Zane. I’ve been looking for you everywhere. Sorry to interrupt your fun, but Cade is looking for you.”
Reaching out, Zane squeezed her shoulder, gave her a naughty grin, then said, “Sorry, about this,” and took off, leaving her behind,
“No problem,” she said, realizing too late that he had just left her with several of her least favorite people in Texas. Before she could follow him, Mrs. Jones grabbed her and gave her arm a little fat testing pinch, then tutted-tutted. Jenna hid her annoyance behind a false smile as she turned to face her.
“Jenna, goodness, dear, you’ll never catch a husband if you don’t stay away from the buffet.” Mrs. Jones opened her stylish clutch with bony fingers. “Since your mother has moved to Arizona, I’m sure she would want me to step in and take her place.”
“I’m sure my mother would be amazed at your generous offer, Mrs. Jones.” Jenna stepped back in an effort to put more distance between them.
“Well, I’m happy to help, dear. Now, this is the doctor I sent Valerie to for her little weight problem.” Mrs. Jones pulled a small white card from her purse and forced it into Jenna’s hand. “Of course, she wasn’t quite as rounded as you, but I’m sure if you’ll just follow Dr. Smith’s plan, he’ll be able to do wonders for you.”
Having no choice, Jenna took the card, pinching it between two fingers while wishing someone would rescue her. She glanced at it and recognized the name of a clinic that had made the newspaper headlines recently for malpractice lawsuits. “As a nurse, I don’t really believe in these kinds of diet programs, Mrs. Jones.” Jenna waved the card in the air. “They do more harm than good, and they can be very dangerous.”
“Yes, dear, we can all tell you don’t diet, but I feel obligated to advise you before you turn into a sad, lonely spinster with a dozen cats,” she said, smiling as her snooty friends laughed. “Also, dear, I believe you’ve misinterpreted the Ramsey brothers’ kindness toward you as a more intimate interest.” She leaned forward, invading Jenna’s space. “Men like the Ramseys prefer slender young ladies from their own social standing. Women like my daughter Valerie.”
Jenna smoothed her hands over her short, tight dress then deliberately drew Mrs. Jones’s eyes to her breasts by adjusting the strap. The sweetheart neckline of the dress left a lot of lightly tanned firm flesh on display. When Mrs. Jones’s lips flattened then began to open with what would most likely be another scathing comment, Jenna decided it was time to take off. Remembering her best friend Addison’s advice to say something nice then run, she put her own spin on it. “Well, then, thank you. I have to go find a friend now.” As she turned to take off, Mrs. Jones grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
“Valerie and her friends Delia and Jamie Sue share an apartment in Dallas. I suppose now that Addison has finally graduated from university, she’ll be moving to Dallas to share an apartment with you?”
“It hasn’t been decided yet.” Jenna saw the older woman’s face tighten with hatred.
“Of course. I should have realized Addison would never move away from Cade Ramsey. The poor man is just too kind to tell that shameless little Irish hussy to stop chasing him. As her best friend, you really should have a talk with her about that.”
Jenna let her smile falter as she decided she’d had enough. “Cade is Addison’s guardian, Mrs. Jones. He makes the decisions concerning where she lives,” she said as she pulled her arm away, “and he has absolutely no tolerance for anyone who talks about Addison.”
Looking around and seeing several people listening to them, Mrs. Jones hid her malice behind a tight-lipped smile. “Goodness, dear, I meant no offence. I’m just trying to protect Addison from unsavory gossip.”
Right, Jenna thought to herself. Unsavory gossip you and your friends start. Frowning, she mumbled something about needing to talk to someone then took off, crumpling the card in her hand as she ducked behind a large group of ranchers. She left the living room while trying to list the reasons it wouldn’t be polite to go back and kick Mrs. Jones’s bony ass. When she couldn’t think of one, she chuckled then followed a group of new arrivals to the large family room at the back of the house.
As soon as she stepped into the room, Jenna moved to the side and slid along the wall, pausing every now and then to check the area for a glimpse of Jackson. If he was in the room, he would be surrounded by people eager to talk to him and women who tended to giggle in his presence.
Several minutes later Jenna admitted defeat as she realized that none of the Ramseys were in the room. She snorted in annoyance. It was amazing how hard it was to find one of them, but she and Addison had finally figured out their method. Four of the brothers would hide out in Cade’s den, while the fifth brother would make a quick appearance. That brother would rapidly move from room to room while pausing only long enough for a quick hello here and a quicker good-bye there. Then he would quickly return to the den where most of the Ramseys’ closest friends were gathered. A few minutes later, a different brother would make an appearance somewhere in the house or yard. They would do this until it was time for their guests to leave, and then suddenly they would all be there shaking hands and slapping backs as they cleared the house. It was a clever and devious way to fulfill their social obligations.
At first she and Addison had thought they hid out so they wouldn’t have to be bothered with business proposals or the annoying attention of the female guests. But then they had discovered the real reason the brothers did it. They didn’t want to miss the big game. It didn’t matter who was playing, or even what sport it was, as they considered any game a priority. Which reminded her that the brothers usually made a group appearance at halftime, and that should be coming up soon.
Jenna glanced at her watch and mumbled a curse when she realized she had been unsuccessfully looking for Jackson for two hours. She hadn’t even come across Addison yet, but of course that was easily explained. If the Ramseys were hiding out from their guests, then Addison was hiding out from Cade.
Two years ago Jenna would have gone to the den to find Addison, but that was before her encounter with Jackson at the river. Since then Jackson had become an expert at avoiding her, and she had become an expert at pretending she wasn’t looking for him. Of course, being a Marine, he had spent most of the last two years away from home. She had heard he’d been home on leave twice, but she hadn’t caught so much as a glimpse of him either time. He’d come and gone so quickly that she had only found out about his visits after the fact.
Looking down, she saw a small trash can sitting beside a side table and tossed Mrs. Jones’s card into it then leaned against the wall and watched the people scattered around the room. As usual, the Ramseys were using this gathering to celebrate more than one occasion, and their guests were an odd mix. The first group was made up of Addison’s friends who were celebrating her graduation. The second group included people from Rendezvous who were celebrating the accomplishments of various community projects headed or funded by the Ramseys. It was the third group that was the most interesting and intriguing.
The men in that group were obviously friends of the Ramseys. They were tall, muscled, and seriously enticing. Self-assured and dressed casually in blue jeans, casual shirts, and custom-made boots, they commanded the room. Several women accompanied them, and they seemed to almost glow with satisfaction. The women were groomed to the max and dressed in fabulous dresses. Their shoes were some of the most amazing stilettos Jenna had ever seen outside of Addison’s closet. They were a puzzle, and Jenna loved solving puzzles almost as much as Addison loved gossiping.
Watching the men, she realized that comparing them to the men from Rendezvous was like comparing a puppy to a stalking wolf. These men carried themselves differently. Their eyes constantly scanned the room, keeping track of everyone, where they were and what they were doing. The men from Rendezvous looked at them with respect and the women were drawn to them, orbiting around them and gradually drawing closer one moment before nervously spinning away the next.
Even ninety-year-old Grace Johnson blushed with pleasure when the blond giant Jenna had dubbed the Viking helped her into a seat then fetched her a whiskey on the rocks. Jenna smiled as she watched Ms. Johnson tell one of her scandalous stories and the Viking and several of his friends threw their heads back and laughed. Watching them made her smile and remember how much she loved Ms. Johnson’s stories of her adventurous and scandalous life. The fact that Ms. Johnson had a soft spot for Jackson also drew Jenna to her. Seeing the women waiting for the Viking and his friends to rejoin them, she couldn’t help but compare herself to them. They were slender beauties and she was what her mother called “healthy” and she called fat. Their breasts were softly rounded, while her large breasts had shown up and ruined her young life when she was twelve. Remembering the teasing and leering looks she had put up with, she almost fell back into the bad habit of slumping her shoulders to minimize her breasts but caught herself in time. She gave herself a stern reprimand, reminded herself to be proud, and then straightened her shoulders.
Jenna smoothed the stretchy material over her hips and smiled. The peachy color of the dress went well with her naturally platinum hair and jade-green eyes. The dress and dark-peach shoes on her feet had been a birthday gift from Addison and she loved them. The shoes were made of leather and lace and they were the sexiest, most feminine shoes she had ever worn. Smiling, she gave them another admiring look then shoved off from the wall, enjoying the tapping sound they made as she figured out where to look next.
The backyard was the only place she hadn’t searched so she told herself to avoid eye contact then crossed the room as quickly as she could in four-inch heels. As she squeezed by the Ramseys’ friends, the Viking stepped back into her path and the heel of his boot landed on her left foot as his elbow jabbed into the side of her breast. She screeched with pain and jerked her foot away as she hugged her left arm against the side of her throbbing breast. Eyes watering, she stepped back, waiting for him to move out of her way. Every curse word she had learned from Jackson flew through her mind as she bit
her lip to keep from blurting them out. When large hands landed on her shoulders, she looked up, and up, into the glacier-blue eyes of the Viking.
“Are you okay?” he asked, looking down at her.
The heat of a blush covered her cheeks as his voice drew the attention of his friends. She lowered her eyes then nodded as she tried to step away from him but his hands tightened on her shoulders, holding her in place. She shifted from one foot to the other, anxious to escape and find a private place to rub the ache from her breast. Why, she wondered, did guys always have to catch her in just that particular place?
The Viking tipped his head down and looked into her eyes then whispered a quiet curse when he saw the tears in her eyes. Jenna figured he was wondering why a sturdy girl like her was crying, after all he hadn’t hit her that hard. Swallowing, she blinked her eyes, clearing them.
“It’s okay. Really.” Jerking back, Jenna bumped into a hard body behind her. She looked over her shoulder and saw one of the Viking’s buddies. His eyes swept over her from her shoulder-length platinum hair across her face and down until they stopped on her breasts. She kept herself from letting her discomfort show as she silently cursed the low neckline of the dress, then promised herself she would never let Addison buy her another item of clothing.
“I asked you a question.” The Viking drew her attention back to him.
“I’m fine.” Shifting, she moved away from the man behind her as she noticed the glares of several women who had been flirting with the group of men. Snorting, she blushed then bit her lip. Surely they didn’t think she was some kind of competition.
“How about having dinner with me and telling me what just went through that beautiful head of yours?” the Viking asked her with a confident smile.
Yeah, right, she thought, seeing his eyes locked on her chest. This guy isn’t interested in my brain. “I have to go,” she said, eager to escape into the anonymity of the crowd. Turning, she bumped into a blond man with hazel eyes. “I don’t blame you for turning down Thor’s invitation. I’m Ben Harrington. How about going to dinner with me tonight and we can get to know each other over a nice lobster dinner and a glass of wine?” His smile was enticing. The practiced smile of a bad boy who knew he was irresistible to women.
“Sorry, seafood gives me a rash.” Jenna hid her smile when his disappeared. Hearing a step behind her, Jenna swiveled around and saw a dark-haired man with dark-brown eyes give Ben a smirking grin. “I’m Mac Malone. How about having dinner with me? I know a place with the best steaks in Texas.”
Fed up, having been the victim of this type of one-upmanship in the past, Jenna decided to put an end to their fun. “I’m busy tonight.” Before she could take off, a small hand wiggled its way between the Viking and Mac Malone. A second later a flushed and excited Addison slipped between them, and slid to a stop next to her.
“There you are! I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” Addison said, grabbing Jenna’s hand then glancing around. “Hi, Thor. How have you been?”
“Better now that you’ve arrived, elf.”
Jenna watched as Addison threw her arms around Thor, gave him a hard hug, and then laughed when he oomphed and pretended she had squeezed the breath from him. “We’re playing poker in the den after lunch. You should join us, Thor,” Addison said, her Irish accent pronounced.
“No way, elf.” Thor chuckled as he told the people standing in his group, “Never, ever play cards with this blue-eyed pixie. She has the luck of the Irish.”
Addison laughed again then looked at Ben and Mac. “Your warning comes too late, Thor. Ben already owes me twenty boxes of crayons, and Mac owes me a case of markers for the elementary school resource bank.”
Thor chuckled then told the rest of the people standing with him, “This is Cade’s, uh—”
“Pain in the ass, just deserts, comeuppance, bratty stalker,” Addison suggested, laughing.
Thor laughed then said, “Addison Matthews.” Smiling, he added, “I don’t believe I’ve ever met your friend, Addison.”
Addison smiled at Jenna then at Cade’s friends. “This is my soon-to- be roommate, Jenna Parnelle.”
“It’s nice to meet you finally, Jenna,” Thor said. “Addison mentions you all the time.” He switched his gaze to Addison. “I thought Cade had decided against letting the two of you share an apartment.”
“Well, he can just change his mind or suffer the consequences,” Addison said.
A dark-haired lady stepped forward to introduce herself. “I’m Cara Bradley. It’s a pleasure to meet both of you.”
“Oh, we know you,” Jenna said, “or rather we’re familiar with your work with the free medical clinic in Rendezvous. Addison and I have signed up to work at the fundraiser next month.”
“That’s wonderful, we need all the help we can get,” Cara said.
“We’re looking forward to it.” Addison froze as Cade entered the room.
Jenna knew what would happen next. Addison would confront Cade about them sharing an apartment and then the fight would be on if she didn’t head her off. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, too, Cara. Sorry to rush off but we’ve got to go now. We’ll see you at the fundraiser next month.” Grabbing Addison’s arm, she tugged her toward the patio doors. “Let’s go outside.”
“What’s the hurry?”
“It’s too hot in here.” Jenna gave herself another mental roll of the eyes. It had to be at least ninety degrees outside beneath the cloudless blue sky and blazing Texas sun. Just as they reached the doors, and safety was within their reach, Jimmy Burrows stepped into their path. Jenna cursed and looked back for Cade as Jimmy shifted by her and blocked Addison.
“My dear, Addison, Mother, and I were just commenting on how beautiful you look today and how nice it is to see you again. In fact, we’d love to have you to dinner tomorrow night.”
Jenna watched as Addison laughed in his face then stabbed the tip of one rosy red fingernail into his bony chest. “Shove off, Jimmy. You’re not getting your hands on me or my money.” Then grabbing Jenna’s hand, she pulled her through the doors.
“Damn, how do you do that?” Looking back, Jenna saw a look of pure hatred cross Jimmy’s face. “If I did something like that, people would be on the phone talking about me before I could move out of hearing distance.”
“Money talks, and lucky for me, I have lots of it.”
“You better watch him, though. You really pissed him off.” Jenna towed Addison across the lawn while trying to keep the heels of her shoes from sinking into the ground. “Where have you been hiding all morning while I’ve been fielding all of the ‘what’s Addison going to do now’ questions? People do realize we’re two different people, and I don’t always know what you’re up to, right?”
Stepping closer to her, Addison lowered her voice. “I’ve been in the kitchen with Maggie helping Cade’s housekeeper Jane Marshall. You’ll never believe what she was telling Maggie about Cade and his brothers.”
Snorting, Jenna narrowed her eyes. “One of these days Cade’s going to catch the three of you gossiping about them. Then, Jane is going to lose her job as his housekeeper. Maggie, your ex-nanny aka spy, is going to be banned from the ranch. Then who will you get your juicy little tidbits of information from, hmm?”
“I don’t gossip. I gather information and they’re not my only source of information.” Addison planted her hands on her waist, her Irish brogue lyrical. “Do you want to know what she said, or not?”
“Of course I do but let’s sit down. These shoes are killing me and your giant friend stepped on my toes then got my boob with his elbow.” Glancing around, she pointed to a couple of chairs by the pool. “There.”
“Great choice. I’ll cover you while you rub it. Do you need some ice?”
“Hell, no! If I put ice on it my nipple will turn into a weapon of mass destruction. Everyone here would have to protect their eyes.” Throwing her head back, Addison laughed, her husky voice echoing across the lawn as her braid swung back and forth, the sun catching on the gold and red strands. “I’d love to see that! Everyone stumbling around, one hand covering a watering eye. Cade could hand out eye patches and we could all pretend to be pirates.” Covering one eye, she mimicked a character from one of her favorite movies. “Argggg.”
Shaking her head and laughing, Jenna said, “Damn, I wish I was shorter like you.” “Yeah, where the elbows line up with the side of your head.” Jenna dropped onto a cushioned chair and sighed with relief.
“Either way my boobs would be safe.” Crossing her legs, she looked at her foot then reached down and rubbed her toe. “Oh, that feels so much better.”
Standing in front of her, blocking the view of anyone nearby, Addison watched her rub her foot. “Go for the boob. I think your toes are okay. Those shoes may hurt your feet but dang, they make your legs look fabulous.”
“You know you can cuss if you want to. Cade isn’t around to hear you right now.”
“I can’t take the chance of it becoming a habit. I’d be sure to slip when he was around and there’s no telling what he’d do. He can be really mean.”
“No shit. Look at the car he made you buy when you wanted that Porsche.”
“Don’t remind me.” Addison grimaced. “I didn’t even get to choose the color. He said red would make me reckless.”
Laughing, Jenna ran her eyes over Addison’s rosy red dress, shoes, lipstick, and nail polish. “I was wondering what was up with all the red.”
“I’m protesting by showing him he was right.” Giggling, she pointed to a table a few feet away with an ice bucket, several beverage dispensers, and glasses. “I’m going to get us something to drink. I’ll be right back.”
Jenna checked her shoe again, making sure there wasn’t any damage to the slender strap over her toes.
“Here.” Addison held out a glass of tea to her then dropped into the other chair as she took a long sip from her own glass. She grinned then winked at Jenna. “Boy, gossiping sure does make your throat dry.”
“You’re shameless, Addison Matthews.”
“Yes, I know, but you love me anyway.”
“That’s true. I have something to tell you that I overheard last night at the Hard Times Tavern. I wish you’d been with us.”
“Me, too, but by the time I got back from Dallas I was so tired I just wanted to go to bed. Then, Cade insisted I have breakfast with him this morning.” Addison paused for a breath, “Tell me now what you heard last night.”
“No, first you tell me what Maggie said before someone spots us and knows we’re gossiping.”
“You’re paranoid. They’ll just think we’re talking.”
“Addison, everyone knows you’re the biggest meddler in the county. Maybe even the entire state of Texas.”
“Can I help it if everyone wants to confide in me?”
“Confide? What you call visiting is what other people call interrogation.”
“I learned it from Cade.” Addison leaned closer to Jenna. “Do you remember what we heard about Luc and Logan, and how they share their girlfriends?”
Jenna scooted her chair closer to Addison, wanting to make sure she heard every word. “Yes.” “Well, Jane was telling Maggie that one night she forgot to take a casserole from the freezer that she wanted to serve the next day, so she was in the kitchen moving it to the fridge when she heard a noise coming from the family room and—”
“Congratulations, Addison.” Mr. Long, the local pharmacist, stood next to them, his bald head sunburnt and glistening with beads of sweat in the bright Texas sun. Next to him, his elderly wife leaned on a cane as she fanned herself. A bright purple hat covered her snowy-white curls.
Jenna said hello then stood and offered Mrs. Long her chair. When she accepted, she helped Mrs. Long sit down while ignoring the strong whiff of mothballs coming from the elderly lady’s hat. Glancing toward Mr. Long, she bit her lip to keep from laughing when she saw Addison step out of reach of his roving hands.
“May I get you something to drink?” Addison asked, edging a little further away.
“Yes, dear, ice tea sounds lovely,” Mrs. Long told her, her voice shaky with age. “I’m afraid the heat has been a little too strong for poor, sweet Mr. Long today.”
Jenna giggled when she saw Mr. Long reach out and pinch Addison’s bottom as she turned her back on him and Addison squeaked and jumped forward, away from his groping fingers.
“Oh, Mr. Long, you naughty boy,” Mrs. Long said. “I’ll have to punish you later at the club.”
“Yes, dear.” Mr. Long looked at Jenna and winked.
Knowing she must look ridiculous with her mouth hanging open and her eyes bugging out, Jenna tried to blank her expression. It had been pure luck that she had been in the ladies’ room at the tavern last night when two women had begun talking about an expensive and very exclusive BDSM club called Club Mystique. Intrigued at first, she’d really been shocked to learn it was located on the southern border of the Ramsey ranch and was owned by the five brothers. More shocking than that had been learning the brothers were Doms. Finding out Jackson was a Dom had shaken her to the depths of her soul. It had also put her river encounter with him two years ago into a whole new light. Then hearing the Longs’ remarks just now had the pieces of a rather interesting puzzle beginning to take shape in her mind.
Looking at the people scattered around the yard, she examined them from a new point of view and a little shiver of awareness spiraled through her as she finally understood the real difference between the guests. Eager to tell Addison what she knew, she waited as she handed two glasses of ice tea to the Longs and moved a large umbrella closer to shade them.
“There you go. Now, isn’t that better?” Addison brushed off her hands and looked satisfied.
“Yes, dear, you’re such a good girl. Come see me soon and we’ll have a nice long visit.” Mrs. Long gave Addison a gummy smile then swept disapproving eyes over Jenna. “Jenna Parnelle, what would your dear sweet mother think about that dress? It’s positively scandalous. The neckline is much too low. I don’t know what kind of material that is, but it’s entirely too tight and shows everything you’ve got. In my day good girls left something to the imagination.”
“I think she looks very nice, dear,” Mr. Long said.
“I gave Jenna that dress for her birthday, and I think she looks beautiful today,” Addison said, her voice sending a clear warning that anyone who messed with Jenna would have to deal with her. She gave Mrs. Long’s shoulder a gentle pat then said, “I’ll come see you soon, Mrs. Long, and you can tell me all the latest news. Now that I’m all grown up maybe you could tell me just a tiny little something about Cade. It would be our little secret.”
“I’ll see if I can think of anything, dear. In any case, come visit soon.”
“I will, Mrs. Long.” Addison waved at the older couple then pulled Jenna away.
“What is it with that old biddy? My dress is an exact match to yours. Just a different color,” Jenna grumbled as they walked away looking for a little privacy. “What did I ever do to her? And just why does she like you so much?”
“Well, she’s a terrible gossip, you know? Someday she’s going to tell me all about Cade.”
“In your dreams! She’s not going to tell you but, boy, do I have something to tell you.” Thinking about what Addison’s reaction might be, Jenna decided to hold off telling her until later. “We’ll talk tonight when we return to the hotel.”
“Tell me now.”
“No, later. It’s not something I can explain quickly. Now, tell me what Maggie said.”
Addison stepped in front of Jenna, placing her back to the crowd. “Okay, where was I? Oh, yes, so Jane heard a noise and she crept into the hallway that goes to the family room and when she peeked around the corner she saw Luc and Logan and their girlfriend Linda and they were all naked.”
“Yes! And Linda was kneeling on the couch and one of the twins was behind her screwing her and the other twin was on the other side of the couch and Linda was…” Waving her hands in the air, she added, “You know what?” Addison blushed, the freckles on her perfectly beautiful nose standing out in the bright sunlight.
“No, I don’t know”—Jenna did air quotes—“what so tell me.”
“Geez, Jenna, you know?” Feeling her cheeks heat with a blush, she looked at the ground for a moment, then back at Jenna as she ran her hand down her braid then planted her hand on her hips. “She was giving the other twin a blow job.”
“You do know that you don’t actually blow. Right?”
Nodding, Addison giggled, her eyes shining. “Yes, I know you don’t blow. I took that human sexuality class with you. Remember?” Addison glanced around again, smiling and waving at several friends.
“You know, I was really surprised Cade let you take that class.”
“Uh, well, he might not have known I was taking it since I signed up late and paid cash instead of having them send the bill to him.”
“Very sneaky. And, very clever of you.”
“Well, it worked until he got a copy of my transcript. Then all hell broke loose. I don’t know why I let him boss me around.”
Well, it might be because you’re a total submissive like me, Jenna thought to herself. “We’ll talk about it later. Right now let’s just have fun. It seems like forever since we’ve been able to find the time to relax.” Jenna searched the crowd again, frowning when she still didn’t see Jackson.
Addison grabbed Jenna’s hand. “Come on. There goes Logan and Luc sneaking out to the stables with a woman. They ratted me out to Cade and I’m pissed off at them. Let’s go ruin their fun.”
“No. Either Cade will stop us or Jackson will. One of them always does,” Jenna said, thinking maybe that was one way to finally see Jackson.
“I have something I want to talk to you about later, too. When we get back to the hotel. We’re going to need wine. Maybe two bottles.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Yeah, maybe. I’m not sure. I went out to dinner with Cade two months ago.”
“You have dinner with Cade at least once a month.”
“Not like that,” Addison said. “I think it was a date.”
“You couldn’t tell?”
“Well, it was the same as usual except he was nicer and he didn’t interrogate me. And, he kissed me goodnight.”
“Cade kissed you—are you sure?” Jenna asked then giggled. “Of course you’re sure. Wow, that’s amazing. I can’t believe he kissed you. Did he kiss you on the mouth? Was tongue involved?”
Addison nodded. “Yes to both but since then he’s sort of avoided me. Or, if he has to see me, he sticks to business then he rushes away. Three weeks ago I was in his office and a copy of my guardianship papers were on his desk. He had circled the expiration date, which is my twenty-fifth birthday, and there was a sticky note that said, ‘Dinner and dancing with Addison.’”
“He’s never taken you dancing.” Jenna knew she couldn’t hide her worry from Addison but she didn’t want her getting her hope’s up only to be hurt when Cade didn’t follow through.
“No, he hasn’t. I know I gripe about how strict Cade is, but the truth is I’ve done everything I could think of to test him and drive him away. He’s never let me down, Jenna, not once.”
“You mean like your parents let you down?”
“Yes, but more than that. I know that no matter what Cade will never abandon me, and he’ll always keep me safe.”
“We have a lot of talking to do when we get back to the hotel tonight. We’ll need chocolate.”
Addison nodded then smiled. “The good dark kind, but in the meantime let’s have fun and see how many of the business people I can avoid. Mr. Johnson has already caught me once today and tried to get me to invest in his latest invention.”
Laughing, Jenna led the way around the yard, the two of them waving at people and then moving on before Addison could get cornered again.
“Are you looking for Jackson?” Addison asked.
“I am not one of your matchmaking projects so don’t even go there. I just like looking at him. Who wouldn’t?” Seeing Addison’s wide smile, Jenna knew the warning had come too late.
“Well, then”—Addison lifted her glass in the air—“here’s to looking at lickalicious men. Especially lickalicious Ramsey men.” Laughing, the two of them clicked their glasses together. “If you change your mind and decide to look for a husband, I can help you with that. Matchmaking is in my blood, you know?”
“No. Meddling is in your blood, and besides, I’m not getting married for a long, long time. I’m enjoying my life away from the watchful, disapproving eyes of Rendezvous, Texas.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. Everything I do gets reported back to Cade, but nobody will tell me a single thing about him. It’s a big bummer.” Addison glanced around at the growing crowd. “It must be about time to eat because all the brothers are showing up. There’s Cade.” Addison pointed to the deck where Cade stood talking to a group of ranchers. “He’s got nerve, I’ll say that much for him. He always has some blonde dressed in the most delicious outfits on his arm, and to hell with what the people of Rendezvous think.”
“Yeah, but have you noticed he’s only ever seen with blondes or brunettes. Never a redhead?” Jenna glanced at Addison’s reddish-gold hair. “Makes a person wonder, doesn’t it?”
“The only thing I wonder about is where they all shop.” Addison grinned. “I’d love to show up in an outfit like that for one of the interrogation dinners he makes me attend.”
Jenna laughed. She just couldn’t help it. “I dare you to tell him what you call those dinners.”
“No way. I’m always in enough trouble with Cade.”
“Thor said he was going to let you move to Dallas but not in with me?”
“The dirty rat’s already made my living arrangements in a high security building. It will be like living in a fish bowl with people watching everything I do and reporting back to Cade. He thinks I don’t know he’s always had a security detail on me, but I can spot one of those guys a mile away. Last year he hired a woman and she showed up at my gym. Another one showed up at a dance class I attended.”
Jenna smiled. “Well at least we’ll both be in Dallas, and no matter what we do we’ll be the safest two women in Texas.”
Addison smiled then narrowed her eyes. “Look at Cade! Flaunting his girlfriend like that after buying that horrible car for me.”
“I don’t blame you for the car thing. That’s one ugly car.” “He said there was no way he was letting me have a Porsche ever again.”
“Well, you did total the first one within an hour of receiving it.”
“That wasn’t my fault. How was I supposed to know the road ended?”
“Maybe by the great big signs saying it was a dead end?”
“Well, I didn’t think they really meant it. Who knew that roads really do end just like that?” Addison snapped her fingers. “It doesn’t make sense. I mean did they mean for it to end, or did they change their minds? Where was the road supposed to go? It just makes me wonder.”
“I will never figure out how your brain works,” Jenna said.
“That’s what Cade says. You should have heard him when he got the bill for my latest shopping spree.” Making her face stern, she mocked in Cade’s deep, gravelly voice. “How the hell could you spend ten thousand dollars on shoes, Addison? Are you buying shoes for the entire town of Rendezvous, Addison?” She grinned. “Jackson tried to defend me by telling him what these kinds of shoes cost.” Holding out her foot, she admired her new Louboutins. “The dirty rat said I could go barefoot and then he took my credit cards away!”
“No way. He took your cards? Are you going into plastic withdrawal? Should I get a doctor?”
Addison pursed her lips then smoothed her hands down her long, reddish-gold braid. “First, he bought me a grannie car then he cut my shoe allowance. What’s next? If he messes with my pastry addiction, I’ll go PMS on him!”
Jenna was laughing and looking around at the other guests when she finally spotted Jackson. He was standing in the open patio doors. Believing that the sun was in his eyes, she allowed herself the luxury of watching him, absorbing every masculine inch of his tempting frame. “There’s Jackson. I can’t believe it. Two Ramseys making an appearance at the same time. The world must be coming to an end.”
Addison shook her head. “No, it must be halftime or something.”
Jenna nodded absently as Jackson stepped out onto the patio and was immediately surrounded by a group of men. While the men talked to him, the women with them tried their best to get Jackson’s attention. The cynical part of herself, the girl from the poor side of town, gave a silent snort of derision as she watched the hussies shift closer to him. They were so obvious, playing with their hair and fluttering their lashes as they tried to draw him away from the tall, slender brunette at his side. Damn, she thought. I will always hate seeing him with another woman.
She tortured herself by watching as he pulled his date closer to his side then looked around the yard. The sun turned his sage-green eyes to gold as his gaze swept over her. She smiled as he looked into her eyes, and a wave of heated longing flowed through her. He stared at her for a moment, and then, without acknowledging her in any way, he turned back to the brunette by his side.
His dismissal stole her smile as she watched him bend down to listen to the woman by his side then tip his head back and laugh. Even from where she stood across the yard, Jenna could hear that deep gravelly laugh, and it had the usual effect on her. Her belly muscles fluttered and the crotch of her barely there thong became damp as her heart rate sped up.
Like all the Ramsey brothers, Jackson was self-assured and commanding. Seeing that his hair was longer than usual, she felt a rush of joy and relief as she decided the rumor about him leaving the military must be true. The longer length went well with his square jaw and full kissable lips, and it was just the right length for a woman’s fingers to comb through it.
Besides being her idea of the perfect man, Jenna admired Jackson’s ability to control his emotions and actions no matter the circumstance. Even when she’d been deliberately annoying, he’d just smiled and ignored her. Biting her lower lip, she decided his calmness really pissed her off sometimes.
The only time she’d seen him rattled was when she was nineteen and she’d been involved in a pileup on the highway. Jackson had arrived just as the last car had gone into the ditch, barely missing her car as it slid past her. Before the ambulances and police cars had arrived, he’d had the chaos under control, the uninjured sitting with the injured, and the gawkers moving on so the emergency vehicles could get through. But, before any of that, he’d checked on her first, his face almost frantic as he’d run his hands over her, making sure she was all right. It had been the last time he’d smiled at her.
Then two years ago he’d been home on leave from the Marines. She and Addison had been walking home after spending the day tubing on the river when they’d caught Jackson skinny-dipping. Dropping behind a tree, they’d watched and smothered their giggles as he’d splashed around in the river. Every now and then his butt had risen above the water and given them little glimpses of his well-shaped bronze ass. When he’d moved into the shallower water and stood up, the water at his waist, Addison had mumbled an “ick” and taken off, but Jenna had stayed, unable to miss the chance of seeing Jackson naked.
Her heart had nearly pounded out of her chest when he’d walked out of the river, shaking his head and spraying water out around him. He’d been the most beautiful living work of art she’d ever seen, and she’d wished desperately that she’d had her camera with her. She’d watched as he’d stroked his hands over his body and imagined it was her hands stroking over him. When he’d slid his hands down his belly, she’d licked her lips and watched his hand close around his cock and begin stroking it. Her own arousal had grown as she’d watched him masturbate, his cock lengthening and thickening, the head turning red and glistening with pre-cum.
Her lungs had strained to draw air into them. Her heart had pounded until all she could hear was the sound of her own pulse as her nipples had beaded and pressed against her bikini top. Beneath her knees, twigs and tiny rocks had dug into her skin but she hadn’t cared. The crotch of her bikini bottoms had become soaked with her own arousal as her clit had pulsed with the need to be touched.
Watching him in the sunlight, pleasuring himself, she’d slid her fingers beneath the crotch of her bikini and stroked her fingers over her swollen, wet clit. She’d had to bite her lip to hold back her own cries of pleasure. When Jackson had stiffened and thrust his hips forward and stroked his cock faster, she’d slid her fingers over her clit, matching his rhythm. Finally, when she’d felt as if she was going to lose her mind, Jackson had groaned then bellowed his pleasure to the sky as his cum had exploded from him in long spurts. She’d pressed hard on her clit, her other hand digging into the rough bark of the tree as she’d exploded, and a gasping cry of need and relief had torn from her throat. She’d fallen against the tree, the rough bark scraping her cheek.
Immediately Jackson’s eyes had zeroed in on her and she’d froze, her fingers still on her clit, as she panted out her orgasm. Before she could move, he’d been standing over her, his hands on her shoulders, lifting her to her feet. His scent had surrounded her and she’d turned her head and seen his cum on his fingers. She’d licked her lips, wanting, needing to taste him. When she’d tried to pull her hand from between her legs he’d slid his cum-covered fingers over her hand and mixed their essences together.
His sage-green eyes had stared into hers as his other hand tightened around the back of her neck and held her still as he lifted their entwined fingers to his mouth. She’d panted and moaned and almost cried with newly building arousal as he’d licked their fingers clean. When his mouth had covered hers, his tongue pushing between her lips, she’d tasted the two of them together. For the first time in her life, she’d wanted to drop to her knees and take a man’s cock into her mouth. His mouth had devoured her mouth, and his tongue had claimed her, pulling her into his world until she didn’t know where she ended and he began. Then suddenly he’d let her go and walked away.
Jenna had watched as Jackson had lifted his jeans from the tree branch he’d thrown them over then shook them out before stepping into them. She’d stood mute, her hands by her sides, and watched him pull on his socks then stomp his feet into his boots. He’d grabbed his wide belt and tucked the large buckle into the front pocket of his jeans then grabbed his shirt and shrugged into it. As he began to button it he’d told her, his voice gruff, “If you’re still there when I turn around I’m going to use my belt on your ass, Jenna.”
She’d hesitated then fled, running for two reasons. First, because he had meant what he’d said, but more importantly, because something in her had responded to that threat. She’d wanted more than anything for him to bend her over and use that wide belt on her ass until she was begging him to fuck her and screaming with pleasure.
Addison shook Jenna’s arm. “You okay? You seem distracted today.”
Blinking, Jenna pushed her memories away and made herself smile. “I’m okay. Just upset that our plans to share an apartment have fallen through.”
“Well, you never can tell. If I pester Cade enough, he might get fed up and let me have my way.”
“Well, then, I say let the pestering begin.” Jenna looked at Addison. “Your shoulders are turning pink. Let’s find some shade.”
“Sometimes being a redhead sucks,” Addison grumbled.
“Being in Rendezvous sucks,” Jenna said. “I can’t believe the difference between living in Dallas where I’m free to do as I please and nobody even notices, and being in Rendezvous and being treated like trash because my family was poor.” Jenna glanced around and frowned at the people watching her and Addison. “Look at them. They act like they think I’m going to do something scandalous at any moment. Maybe I should spit on the ground just so they can say ‘told you so.’”
Addison giggled then said, “I’ll spit first.” She smiled at Jenna. “I really appreciate that you agreed to come today. I tried to tell Cade I just wanted a quiet dinner with you, him, and his brothers but he insisted on this three-ring circus.”
“Don’t be silly,” Jenna said. “It’s not every day a girl earns a master’s degree. We had to celebrate it.”
“I know you’ve had to put up with a lot over the years with the gossips of Rendezvous, Jenna. But, rest assured, I’ve taken action,” Addison said, the expression in her eyes grim.
“Oh, my, god,” Jenna said, slightly alarmed. “What have you done?”
“Let’s just say I’ve decided to accept a few social invitations but only if certain people who will remain un-named aren’t in attendance.” Addison winked, and then smiled.
“You didn’t have to do that, Addison.”
“I know, but it suddenly occurred to me that I should have taken action a long time ago and made it clear to the gossips in Rendezvous that as my best friend you were off-limits.”
“Uh, Addison, you do realize that you’re one of the biggest gossips in Rendezvous?”
“Yes, but I never, ever use what I know to hurt someone. I only use the information to help them.”
Jenna smiled. “I know you do and I admire you for that.”
“Which brings me to another bit of information I’ve been avoiding telling you.” Addison took Jenna’s hand. “Now, I don’t want you to worry but I’ve taken over my mother’s charitable foundation.”
“But only as an advisor or something, right?”
Addison shook her head. “No. Over Christmas break I went on a five-week tour of Africa so I could see firsthand what’s been going on. Since then I’ve been making a lot of changes to how things are done. Mostly making sure my money goes to the children and not into someone’s pocket.”
“I can’t believe Cade let you do something so dangerous” Jenna tried to keep the alarm out of her voice and off her face but knew she failed when she saw the expression on her friend’s face. She still remembered the day Addison had told her how her mother had been killed by rebel forces while on a similar tour.
Addison looked down and Jenna knew she wasn’t going to like what she was about to hear. “Well, Cade may not have known what I was planning to do.” “He wasn’t very happy when he caught up to me and we had a hell of an argument, but for once I managed to hold out against him. I showed him I had made my own arrangements for security and he could go along with my plans or he go home.” Amazed that Addison had stood up to Cade, Jenna shook her head, asked herself will wonders never cease, then laughed and asked,
“Where did he find you? What did he do?”
“Cape Town. A lot of cursing, yelling, and threats but he finally approved my security then added a few guys to the team. Then, he stuck around and ruined my fun.”
“Typical,” Jenna said then asked, “Is that the only trip you’ve taken?”
Addison shook her head. “The foundation was a mess when I took over and I’m really mad at Cade for not paying more attention to it. I’ve been to South America several times on short two-to-three-day trips. Jackson went with me once when Cade couldn’t go. I think Jackson has a crush on you. He kept asking me questions about you and he told me again that he really hates that you cut your hair.” Jenna glanced at Jackson and caught him looking their way again.
“Well, he has my number, and he hasn’t called, so he can’t be too interested.” Changing the subject, she asked Addison, “When are you moving to Dallas and what are we going to do first to have some fun?”
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