Leo by Celeste Prater

Leo by Celeste Prater

Leo

Three Divisions, Book 1

by Celeste Prater

Siren-Bookstrand

Ebook ISBN: B015NIJ2IY

[ BDSM Romantic Suspense, MF ]

A reverent touch to a set of suede-covered cuffs, and Jillian Dosh unwittingly takes the first step into a world that she never knew existed. Busted while she’s making a stealthy visit to Three Divisions Lifestyle Emporium, Jillian can’t believe she’s face-to-face with her fantasy lover. Much more potent up front and personal, Leo Straton’s commanding presence intrigues and scares her at the same time. Can fantasy become reality?

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Chapter One


“Oh, that’s not good.”

Jillian cringed at the sensation of her silk shirt snagging against unforgiving brick, instantly wondering how shredded the back would look once she got enough nerve to push away from the wall. Glancing over at her car parked along the curb, she fought the need to run back over, leap inside, and listen to the tires squealing a quick getaway. The ballsy side of her Gemini nature finally rose up and assisted in its usual chastising tone.

“Get a grip, dumbass. It’s the fear of the unknown, that’s all. In ten minutes, you’ll be experienced and wondering why you were nervous in the first place. You’ve been in worse spots.”

Huffing out a hard breath, she quickly slid around the corner, hunkered against the glass window front, and immediately startled at the image lining up perfectly with her right shoulder. Wide green eyes, pale skin, and reddish-gold hair swirling in the breeze made her realize how silly she was becoming. Spooking at your own damn reflection now? Brilliant! I knew they should’ve sent someone else to handle this.

Straightening her spine, she took a deep breath and forced her legs to get with the program, fervently wishing she’d at least covered her hair—maybe slipped on a pair of dark glasses, or even worn a trench coat. The last thing she needed was to be recognized or remembered. Screw it. Too late now. Just get in, get out, and go home.

Hurrying along the walkway, eyes glued to the window, Jillian finally discovered a ten-inch gap between advertisement posters. Cupping her hands against the surprisingly clean glass, she peered inside, stood on tiptoe to see past the shelving, and immediately spotted two men. A quick assessment told her that the one with the gray hair and wrinkled business suit wasn’t a local. The brown leather suitcase leaning innocently against his right leg still carried the airline terminal tag.

Jillian couldn’t help but snort when she glanced at the other one. He was a little younger, wore a wedding ring, and still clung to his glory days as life pulled him kicking and screaming into his forties. The severely faded and tattered USC T-shirt had seen better days. She wondered how many times his wife had thrown it in the garbage, only to find it among the laundry items the very next day. That could very well explain the small Band-Aid on his left ear. She darted out of sight when the men’s profiles made an appearance.

Glancing down the relatively deserted street, Jillian was surprised to find that the fading sun had finally decided to hide itself, instantly bringing deep shadows to stretch ominously between each dim streetlight—a clear warning sign for the smart people to get their butts home. Only a few businesses across the roadway had yet to turn their exterior lights on, making the surroundings even spookier. She knew she needed to get this over with before the night dwellers burst out from wherever they hid during the harshness of the day and began filling the walkways.

Pushing quickly inside her targeted establishment, Jillian cringed upon hearing the tinkling of bells over the doorway. She reached up and silenced them before they could finish waking up the dead. Crap! Didn’t see that coming.

Dodging to the side of a tall metal structure, Jillian chanced a quick peek past the edge to see if she’d been discovered or if any other bodies were milling about the interior. Satisfied she only had the two oblivious browsers to contend with, Jillian slithered around several displays and two more short cabinets before she was ensconced behind a thick bookshelf with ample space between shelves to peek out.

Bravery growing by the second, she moved on silent feet along the narrow aisle, eyes locked onto the two men continuing to keep a respectable distance from one another. She quirked a brow. You both might as well have bull’s-eyes tattooed on your backs. Not once had they made eye contact, much less taken the time to glance over their shoulders to spot her lurking close at their rear.

Jillian couldn’t help but shake her head as she slid her hand out of her purse, cupped it with the other, and rested her grip on the smooth wood to steady her arms. Maneuvering the red laser dot from one skull base to the next, she considered her targets the proverbial “innocent bystanders” mentioned in every news article about the increasing murder rate in this crazy town. They were oblivious to their surroundings, content in the false knowledge that nothing bad would ever happen to them. Things like that only occurred to other people—a typical last thought of hapless victims.

Oh, well. Reality time.

Shoving the simple penlight back inside her bag, Jillian relaxed her shoulders, pulled out a folded piece of paper, and huffed out a resigned breath. Snatching a blue shopping basket from the tiled floor, she muttered, “Of the fifteen women at the office, why did I have to randomly select this one?”

Unfolding the sheet, Jillian glared at Megan’s delicate handwriting. The title—Sex Shop Party List—was nowhere near as innocent as its creator was, even with the little heart scribbled over the “i” in “List.” Snorting at the lineup of ridiculous things she was charged with acquiring, Jillian set out on her quest.

Smirking at the array of packages containing edible panty choices hanging neatly on an aisle endcap, Jillian selected a black pair and tossed them in the basket. She grimaced and hoped they didn’t taste like licorice. She rolled her eyes as she walked by the two men continuing to stare at the wall.

No wonder they were easy marks. Their eyes are glued to a display full of silicone pussies in a can and cock massagers. Good grief, there’s probably no blood left in their brains to do simple mathematics, much less worry about their safety. Hell, if I’d been a real assassin, they’d be toast.

Still feeling uneasy that she’d already spent too much time on a side of town she’d never visited, Jillian continued to grumble under her breath as she headed to the party section. “Damn, everyone knows that I’m better suited for finding the venue. Vanessa will probably have us booked at a strip club and lined up around the stage.” She cocked her head and shrugged. Hmm. That might not be so bad. I need to shake up my hunk-o-mania fantasy line before I get stuck in a rut anyway.

Satisfied with that pleasant thought, Jillian switched directions and stopped in front of a round display of lingerie. Flipping through the rotating carousel of outfits consisting of practically nothing to—well, practically nothing, Jillian grabbed a red slinky teddy in a medium and dropped it in the basket. She snorted. It’s good that Sheila’s little. I doubt they carry any XLs in here.

Referring back to her list of naughty items, Jillian shook her head and wandered over to the party section. She began snatching things from the shelves and tossing them into the basket—warming gel, penis lollipops, penis gummy chews, penis drinking straws, penis confetti, and a banner spelling out “Congratulations” in none other than—oh, snap—tiny penises. Colored condoms, check. One rubber dildo with a flat base, check. Arm bangles to flip over the bulbous head as a sick version of horseshoes, check.

Jillian stopped and gaped at the growing pile of crap. Good grief. Is their theme supposed to imply that getting married means Sheila gets to celebrate lifelong available dick or that all the available dick is a thing of the past so she should get it while she can? She snorted and kept walking. Hell, I’d settle for one guy that knows what a wonderful tool it is and learns how to use it properly.

Relieved she’d found all the things listed and wouldn’t have to search for another sex shop, Jillian began her power walk to the register, only to halt when she came abreast of something that immediately snagged her attention. Studying the display, she felt her breathing increase at the vast array of toys offered. Unable to keep her hands away, she confirmed the tips of the double-sided flogger were indeed as soft as advertised, the blindfolds would definitely keep all of the light out, and that the ostrich feather tickler would tease the skin without shedding.

However, it was the next item that yanked her right into the deepest recesses of her mind. The area that lay dormant, yet alive enough to scratch for freedom occasionally. Reaching out, she ran a finger reverently along the surprisingly soft inside curve on a set of black handcuffs dangling from a peg. A strange peacefulness settled over her as she imagined them gently clamped to her wrists by a nameless, faceless man telling her to relax and close her eyes.

Jillian startled out of her fantasy stupor upon hearing the word “Miss!” called out. Jerking her head to the left, she realized a young man with a buzz cut and warm brown eyes was standing to the side of the checkout counter and looking at her quizzically.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you come in. Do you need any help? I can explain the products if you’re confused on their use.”

“Oh, uh … no. I was just admiring them … um, I mean I was just looking at them.” Any further ramble was cut off by a deep, rich voice sounding from the other side of the aisle from hers.

“Hey, Chad. Can I speak with you for a moment?”

Relieved that the clerk’s attention was finally off of her, Jillian took a step forward and peered around the side of the shelf. No way did that voice belong to one of those numbskulls she’d spotted earlier.

Jillian instantly lost the ability to breathe as her mind scrambled to understand why “the” hunk from her gym was having a low conversation with the clerk. Backing up to a less conspicuous position, she scoured the familiar body as she pretended to browse.

Perfectly mussed jet-black hair falling against broad shoulders, sculpted arms and wide back clad in a black T-shirt, tapered waist, muscled legs holding up a tall frame, and a drool-worthy ass cupped in faded jeans held her enthralled. Even his scuffed boots were sexy.

She was used to seeing him in much less, but this package was just as yummy. He’d always been by himself at the gym, quiet, reserved, and the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on. Even the meaningful tattoos gracing his chest and upper arms had caused some seriously hot flutters in her girly parts on more than one occasion. She could see one peeking out from the bottom of his sleeve, yet she knew where each and every one resided on his smooth, tanned skin. He was raw, virile, and stunning.

Jillian felt familiar disappointment creeping into her emotions at remembering that they’d never spoken. In fact, he’d been completely oblivious to her presence. He’d do his thing and then quickly leave. Never once had he looked her way in the two weeks that she’d been going there.

He’d definitely had other encounters, though. She’d noticed quickly that any woman who had a body worthy enough to stand next to his would inevitably make a direct beeline to him. She couldn’t help the satisfaction she’d felt upon seeing their surprised, or sometimes even pissed, expressions when he’d casually lift an eyebrow, move his sculpted lips as he spoke softly to them, and not even peek at their perfect butts as they walked away. Jillian never could understand why some people thought it was okay to interrupt another in the middle of a set. It was just rude.

Reliving the gut flip experienced at thinking he might be gay or married, Jillian immediately refused to retain that image. He was her fantasy man for some righteously stupendous orgasms, and she needed him. She’d always wanted to throw him a wave of thanks, but he’d have to look her way first, wouldn’t he? Had the man even realized she existed, or did he catch a look when she wasn’t aware and decided one was enough?

Looking down to the sinful teddy she’d picked for Sheila, Jillian figured she could probably get it on with a little bit of a struggle, but someone would definitely have to cut her out of it afterward. Yep, she figured one glance at a size ten covered in gray sweats and gasping for air didn’t warrant a second glance when he already had half-naked girls strutting by. Whatever. He’ll always be my late-night lover. They can’t take that from me.

Jillian tried to look away, she really did. But, when that tall drink of water turned in her direction, she was snagged like a hapless fly on a web. She was surprised to see a light beard dusting his strong jaw. He was usually clean-shaven. This newest, dangerous look only ramped up her runaway libido. His stride was slow and deliberate, steel-gray eyes narrowed and focused in her vicinity.

Why is he coming over here? Should I say hello? Wave? Geez, get it together, woman. She glanced quickly beside her and then to the doorway. No gorgeous model waiting patiently for her man, check. Looking back, she saw that he was less than a foot away. Her mouth went dry.

Unaware she’d even moved backward, Jillian felt her ass press against the wall display. His presence was so powerful and consuming she figured he needed that much room to get by. She felt her eyes widen when he stopped directly in front of her and gifted her with a half-lifted smile. She hadn’t realized how perfect his teeth were, or that he had a small dimple in his chin. He was riveting. Incapable of maintaining eye contact with his intense, smoldering eyes, it took her a few beats to realize that his hand was inside the basket of goodies hanging forgotten on her crooked arm.

Unable to bring herself to call foul on his audacity, Jillian gazed in mesmerized wonder at his broad hands and masculine fingers. They were rugged and manly. He must have a hard job. A flash image of him in a pair of leather chaps while sitting upon a black stallion brought a flood of warmth between her legs and a need to lock her knees. She finally woke to the fact that he was lifting the dildo from the basket.

Unable to melt into the wall and fall out on the other side, Jillian glanced up and caught his brow rising. He waggled the dildo and chuckled. She cringed. It was a small, pink dick—rather pathetic when she thought about it. His sultry, breath-stealing voice wrapped around her senses, and she couldn’t look away.

“Oh, Jillian, you can do better than this.” Tossing the ridiculous appendage back into the basket, he picked up the large box of multi-colored condoms and shook his head.

“I’m almost afraid to ask what plans you have for this weekend.”

Horrified at his assumption, Jillian knew her voice was a little too shrill, but couldn’t stop her insanity from leaping out of the starting gate before the bell sounded.

“Oh! No! This isn’t mine. It was my job to pick these up. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.” She was immediately perplexed by the knitting of his slashing brows and the hint of anger sweeping across his features.

“Your lover needs his ass kicked. A man should always be prepared for his woman.”

“I don’t have a lover. Uh, I mean, it’s for someone else.” Realizing that her words had come across as desperate, she could no longer look him in the eye. As soon as her gaze fell to her trembling hands, she experienced a devastating need to throw the basket down and haul ass out of the store, yet she remained frozen to the tiles. What the hell is wrong with me? I’m an attorney, for God’s sake. If I acted like this in front of the partners, they’d eat my lunch. For some inexplicable reason, his softened voice calmed her.

“I’m sorry if you thought I was judging. That wasn’t my intent.”

Jillian felt an overwhelming need to explain herself so he wouldn’t think badly of her. Taking a deep breath, she urged her voice to steady as she pushed the red teddy aside to reveal the party items. “Uh, all of this is for a woman at work. She’s getting married. I’m on the bachelorette party committee.” The second she regained her ability to think, she gasped and looked up at him.

“Wait. How did you know my name?”

She received another panty-melting smile, and he whispered, “I have my ways.”

Before she could respond to the cryptic answer, he leaned in close. Unable to move any farther back without impaling herself on the display rods, Jillian had no choice but to enjoy the rich, enticing smell of his aftershave, the heat from his big body, and his intense gray eyes. I’d kill for those lashes.

Jillian gasped when his thick muscled arm rose and brushed softly against her skin as he extended it past her shoulder. Is he going to kiss me? That can’t be right. Jillian searched his eyes, heart pounding, and knees locking into place to keep from dropping—hoping for a miracle. Waiting—waiting.

The disappointment at realizing that he was slowly moving back was quickly replaced with another emotion she couldn’t name. Her eyes latched onto the set of lined cuffs dangling from his index finger. They swayed slightly, mesmerizing her as much as his rumbling, sexy voice.

“I saw you touch these, Jillian. You were much more circumspect with them than your mad dash to collect the other items. I don’t believe this was meant for your friend. What were you feeling when your fingers traveled over the suede outer lining? Did Chad interrupt before you could envision them latched around your delicate wrists?” His compelling voice lowered even farther.

“Tell me.”

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