Jessica Emerson has had the worst luck in men. Until she meets hot, yummy Jake Crane. After one steamy night together, Jessica decides to cut her losses and ran. But Jake is not the quitting kind of guy. So when he finds Jessica again, Jake is not about to let go. Now, it’s up to Jessica whether Jake is the guy who could turn her luck around.
This short story is a stand alone but it’s part of the Emerson Sisters short story series. The other book in the series is “Shut Up and Kiss Me”. Although “Shut Up and Kiss Me” was published first, Jessica’s story occurs first in time.
“Holy fuckballs of never!” If Jessica was not sitting, she would have died. Literally. Because she would have jumped over the balcony. She looked at the terrace, then at the man standing in front of her, assessing if she could get up and make it over the four feet of railing before he could stop her. Which was ridiculous, because why would he stop her from plunging thirty stories down? She was getting hysterical but she couldn’t help herself. She thought she’d never see McDirty again. Just the thought of his nickname made her hot all over. Focus, Jessica!
“Well, hello to you too, Ms. Emerson.”
“You’re—” she didn’t finish her sentence. She began choking on her own tongue. No, this was how she was going to die. Death by choking. He handed her the glass of water on the table as he sat down across from her. It was then that she found her voice, “No, don’t sit down!”
“That works too. My place or yours?” He smiled. It was that smile that got her in trouble in the first place. God, she loved his mouth. He did things with it that she didn’t think was possible. He made her feel things she only read in books. Even now as she contemplated Hara-Kiri, the memories of his lips on her made her tingly all over. She crossed, then uncrossed her legs, remembering she had her granny panties on. She wore them as a guarantee she wouldn’t put out on the first date. So much for guarantees. At the rate her thoughts were running, a chastity belt wouldn’t help keep her underwear on.
“No. Not going to happen.” She started choking again, this time on the stupid ice. Why the hell did the waiter put so much ice on the water?
“Holly was right. You’re gorgeous.” He was enjoying this. He had the advantage of knowing exactly who she was. Damn him.
“I’m going to kill her.” She managed to spit out the words between her coughing fit.
“Oh, come on. Your sister was being nice setting us up on a blind date.” He leaned toward her, rubbing her back. She pushed his hand away. Having those hands on her was going to get her in deeper trouble.
“Blind my ass. I don’t know how she knew about us, but I’m officially disowning her. And this date is over.”
“So, there is an us.”
“You’re not funny, Ja-” she tried to remember the name her sister gave her because all she could think about was Jake, handsome, sexually adventurous, talented Jake sitting across from her.
“Jacob Crane. She said I was meeting a Jacob Crane. Fuck me, did she lie about that too?” How much of a fool was she that she didn’t see through her sister’s motives, badgering her into this supposed blind date?
“My name is Jacob Crane. Close friends call me Jake. I think after that night, we can be classified as, um, close friends?”
“We’re not close anything.”
“I do remember you liking my name. And I liked it even more when you screamed it.” He continued on as if she hadn’t spoken at all. His eyes took on that wicked glint that meant she was in trouble. She knew that look. It led to something incredibly naughty happening.
“You’re an ass. I’m leaving.” Jessica grabbed her purse, shoving her phone inside. Her movements were stiff and clumsy. She couldn’t believe this was happening. She didn’t want to see him again. Well, maybe she did. No, surely not. This was precisely the reason she didn’t want to see him again. He confused her. He made her feel things, things that scared her. Jessica liked her life neat, and black and white. Jacob Crane didn’t fit the neat category.
He placed his hand on her wrist. It was firm, but it would take more than that for her to stay. “Don’t go.”
She stood despite him trying to stop her, shaking her head so vigorously her hair started falling from its loose bun. “No. That night was a one-time thing. It isn’t going to happen again.”
“If I was good enough to be a one-night stand, I think I’m good enough to have one meal with you.” His smile disappeared, replaced by the subtle gritting of his teeth. He looked angry. Why would he be angry? She saved him the trouble of sending her away by sneaking out the next day. He should be thanking his lucky stars for her discreet exit.
“What don’t you get about the definition of a one-night stand?” She pulled her hand from his with a force that rattled the table.
“I’m quite familiar with the term.”
“I just bet you are.” Her voice rose. She was barely hanging on to whatever little composure she had left.
“Sit down. People are staring.” She took a swift perusal of the room. Some were openly looking, while others were more discreet. Red-faced, Jessica slid back down to her chair, trying to disappear among the roomful of people in the busy rooftop restaurant. She hated attention. Anything that drew notice to her made her back down.
She took a deep, steadying breath. She made a ritual of straightening her black skirt, pulling it over her knees though he couldn’t see them with the linen-covered table between them. She pulled an imaginary piece of lint off her clothes as she tried to think but she couldn’t. Her brain had ceased to function while the rest of her body had come alive. Traitor!
She was fighting for control but it was useless, she had none when it came to this man. Why else would she have found herself in his hotel room rolling around on his bed less than an hour after she met him?
After a long stretch of silence, most of which she spent stewing in her own anxiety, she only had one coherent thought. “How did you know? This couldn’t be a coincidence.”
He shook his head. He was starting to look as exasperated as she was. “Piece of advice, if you’re going to hook up with a stranger and you don’t want to ever see him again, don’t do it at your sister’s work party.”
“I was drunk.” She meant it as an insult and it landed squarely, if the way he looked at her was an indication.
“You weren’t that drunk.”
No, she wasn’t that drunk. Tipsy maybe. But she was a long way away from being drunk. She knew exactly what she was doing. “You said you didn’t live in New York.” Her tone dripped with accusation. She would’ve never hooked up with him if she knew there was any chance of them meeting again. Liar, a little voice told her. She threw caution to the wind that night. It didn’t matter who he was, where he lived, she would’ve done the same exact thing.
“I wasn’t living in New York then.”
“Great. Stupid details.” She waved her hand at him, trying to dismiss his lame excuse, along with the nagging guilt at the way she had walked out on him without a word.
“Yes, those pesky little details that got us here, where the lies and the truth are relative.” He clenched his jaw, while shame poured through her at the tangled web she had weaved. “So, Anne,” he emphasized her middle name, the name she gave him, “care to tell me why you’re trying to deep-six what happened between us?”
He was right. She was trying to hide from him, from that night, and maybe from herself too. But where to start? And how to say it? She stared at him. She was acting like a mutinous little child but she couldn’t help it. Self-preservation kept her from telling him why she left without saying goodbye, leaving only a fake-ish name.