by Jackie Ashenden
(The Tate Brothers #1)
Navy SEAL Sullivan "Van" Tate has been called home to reluctantly inherit an empire and finds himself facing the most difficult mission of all: love.
Nothing about Sullivan "Van" Tate is what it seems. A Navy SEAL raised among the New York City elite, Van prefers heart-pounding action over a Wall Street corner office. But when his adoptive father dies and his business rivals move in to overtake his empire, Van must suit up to save the company and protect the one woman most forbidden to him…and the object of Van's most dangerous desires.
Chloe Tate is as ambitious as she is gorgeous. With a newfound independence, Chloe is no longer a prisoner on her father’s ranch. But everything changes when losing her father may also mean losing her life. Even with her survival on the line, Chloe can’t deny the burning attraction she feels the moment she locks eyes with Van, her rich, rough and ready, foster brother and the new head of her father’s company. Tall, dark, and muscled, he's the one man who she has no business being with. But how can she resist a Navy Seal Warrior when he’ll do anything to protect her?
Jackie Ashenden lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr. Jax, and their two kids and two cats. When she's not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.
He didn’t look at her. Instead he shifted his weight onto one elbow and lifted his hand, cupping one breast in his palm. The breath hissed in her throat, the shocking heat of his touch reverberating through her like a scream echoing through a deserted house. He brushed his thumb over her aching nipple and she gasped, all the desperation she’d felt earlier rushing back.
He lowered his head, putting his mouth against the pulse at the base of her throat, the feel of his lips so hot she began to shiver almost uncontrollably. His tongue pressed lightly, his thumb brushing back and forth over her nipple, teasing her. She groaned, her spine bowing, pleasure like a live thing twisting inside her.
“Beautiful,” he whispered roughly against her skin, giving her the reassurance she needed without her even having to ask. “You’re just so fucking beautiful.”
He didn’t speak after that, too busy trailing kisses down over her skin, making goose bumps rise everywhere, the brush of his thumb maddening. Then he took his hand away as his mouth closed over the hard point of her nipple, hot and wet, an intense pressure building as he began to suck.
She groaned again, the pleasure bright and electric, her hands closing into fists beside her head. It felt so good she could hardly stand it. She whispered his name yet again, the sound raw as he teased her nipple with his tongue, then bit gently on it, making a sob catch in her throat.
He shifted his attention to her other breast, sucking that into his mouth as well as he slid one hand down the quivering plane of her stomach, to the fastening of her jeans. She lifted her hips urgently, unable to keep still, wanting to pull away from the maddening torture of his mouth and yet wanting him to suck harder, deeper at the same time.
“Hush.” His breath was hot against her sensitized nipple. “I told you to keep still. It’ll happen, don’t worry.”
She tried to do as she was told as he casually flicked open the button on her jeans and grabbed the tab of her zipper, tugging it down. Then his fingers were feathering light touches across her stomach, moving lower, sliding beneath the waistband of her panties. The breath sobbed in her throat as she felt those teasing fingers tangle in the soft, damp curls between her thighs, pulling lightly, sending tiny pinpricks of sensation racing over her skin.
She said something, she didn’t know what, maybe it was his name again or maybe it was a curse, and then she forgot it entirely as his fingers slid lower, stroking the soft, slick folds of her pussy.
Her hips bucked against his hand, her head going back on the pillow. He circled her clit with one finger, teasing her. Inching her closer toward the edge of the cliff but not pushing her off.
His mouth was so hot on her nipple, licking and sucking, torturing her as his fingers stroked unhurriedly around and around her clit, then sliding down to circle the entrance of her body, almost pushing inside but not quite.
He was playing with her, making her moan and move restlessly beneath him, blind now to anything but the feel of his hands on her body and the relentless pressure that was slowly building higher and higher.
Then quite suddenly he took his hands away and she nearly burst into tears at the loss, reaching for him as she felt his weight shift up and back.
“Lie still.” The rough sound of his voice rolled over her, full of command. “I’m not going anywhere.”
So she did as she was told, lying back against the pillows, blinking away the stupid rush of salty tears from her eyes and watching him slide off the bed. He straightened and pulled his shirt off, then got rid of his shoes. He un did his pants, pushed them down his hips along with his briefs, and stepped out of them magnificently, gloriously naked, but for his dog tags.
She couldn’t stop staring at him, following the carved lines of muscle and sinew, a work of perfect, masculine art, the eagle and trident inked across his chest making it very clear—as if his body hadn’t already—exactly what he was.
Dangerous, lethal. A weapon in human form.
He bent and got his wallet out of his pants, every movement fluid, purposeful as he extracted a foil packet from it. Then he ripped the open the foil, taking out the latex inside. And as she watched, completely fascinated, he reached down and gripped his cock in one hand, rolling down the condom with the other.
Big. He was really big. And beautiful too.
Her hands itched, wanting to touch him, to stroke down the long, smooth length of his rigid flesh, feel exactly how hard he was. But then he was moving, the bed dipping as he got back onto it. And her breath caught as he reached for the waistband of her jeans, pulling the denim down her legs in short, hard jerks, taking her panties along with them, and finally slipping them both off. Then he put his hands on her bare thighs and with ruthless insistence, spread them wide apart.
Another rush of vulnerability swept over her and she half sat up, breathing fast. “Van, I . . .” she began, before stopping short, not knowing what she wanted to say.
But he was moving forward, putting his hands on her shoulders and easing her back. “Let me look.” His voice had gentled again. “I only want to look at you.”
She tried to relax against the pillows, letting him hold her thighs apart, his gaze returning between them. The look on his face was so hungry, making her feel less ex posed and more . . . powerful almost. She liked doing that to him. She liked making him look at her as if he was starving.
He moved forward quite suddenly, coming over her, surrounding her with all that bare, tanned skin and strong muscle, his dog tags brushing against her sensitized breasts. The scent of him was everywhere, fresh, with that spicy, earthy undertone, and she was abruptly trembling so hard she didn’t think she’d ever stop.
He said nothing, looking at down at her, and this time his expression was fierce with something she didn’t understand. She wanted to ask him what it was, but then he slid one hand beneath her hips, lifting them, and she felt the head of his cock slide through her folds, nudging against her clit. And she forgot what she was going to ask. In fact, she lost the power of speech entirely.
All she could do was lie there, shaking and desperate as he teased her, and when she didn’t think she could bear it anymore, he began to push his cock inside her, the intense stretch and burn of her pussy around him tearing a gasp from her throat.
She sobbed, because he didn’t rush. He went slowly. Inch by inch. Murmuring encouragement, telling her what a good girl she was, how tight and wet and hot her pussy was, and how good she felt around his cock. The dirty talk made her break out into a sweat, the climax so near she could almost taste it, making her want to shove herself up onto him or do something—anything—to push herself over the edge. But he didn’t let her, pinning one of her hips to the mattress with one hand as he lifted her leg up and around his waist with the other, tilting her pelvis so he could slide in deeper.
She stopped pleading, her throat too dry, her voice too hoarse. Besides, it was clear he wasn’t going to do anything until he was good and ready. She could only breathe through the pleasure that was wrapping itself around her throat and squeezing tight, making her gasp, making lights burst behind her eyes.
Then he was seated deep inside her, and she found herself pressed to the mattress, pinned beneath the hot, heavy weight of him. But strangely, looking up into his beautiful face, she didn’t feel crushed. She felt anchored. As if for the first time since she’d left Wyoming she’d come home in some way.
She didn’t speak as his arms came around her, cradling her, holding her close against him like she was a secret he wanted to keep safe. Then he drew back his hips and thrust deep inside her.
Chloe came apart then, sobbing against his shoulder, shattering as easily and as lightly as a sphere of blown glass, the pieces of her held together only by the strength of his arms.
Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.