Author: Amanda Usen
Length: 257 pages
Publication Date: December 15th, 2014
Rating: 5 Stars
A sexy category romance from Entangled's Brazen imprint... He's every fantasy she's ever had... Betsy Mouton knows that easy doesn't last forever. She's working her butt off to launch the Last Call Café so her family can leave the New Orleans bar business—and its heartaches—behind forever. That is, until the hottest one-night-stand of her life shows up next door, twice as uncompromising and two million times hotter, offering to buy the bar and send the Moutons to Easy Street. Hotelier Quinton James has never forgotten the unbelievably hot night he and Betsy shared. Never forgotten how beautifully she submitted to him, or how he found the only peace he's ever known in her arms. Now that Betsy is the only thing standing in the way of his new hotel, she's the one in control. But there's more at stake than her cafe or laying their past to rest—Quin wants a future. With her. All he has to do is convince her...one sensual command at a time. -Goodreads
Make Me, Take Me
by Amanda Usen Copyright © 2014 by Amanda Usen. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Quinton James stepped out of the doorway of his New Orleans hotel and glanced left and right for the nearest bar. He paused, making way for a woman leading a boy down the busy sidewalk. The boy was young, probably just old enough to keep up with her, and he dragged his feet, looking in the hotel window. The woman laughed, pulling on his hand like they were playing tug-of-war, and Quin chuckled. Her gaze darted to him. As their gazes met, shock froze him in place. Red hair, dark eyes, freckles.
The woman scooped up the boy in her arms, struggling a bit with his weight, and hurried down the street. He stared after them, perplexed, and glanced at his reflection in the window. He looked a little spooked, but not threatening. Why had she raced away from him? And why did he feel like he’d just seen a ghost?
Maybe I did. Perhaps that had been the ghost of his mother, shepherding his young self through the French
Quarter before she’d overdosed. Not likely. He couldn’t remember anything about her, but he doubted his heroin- addicted mother had been the playful type.
He took a step forward, and the stench of cigarette smoke, hot garbage, and ketchup smacked him in the face. God, I hate New Orleans. Too many memories. Not that he could actually remember any of them, not his mother dying, even though he’d reportedly found her body, nor his sister running away and leaving him alone. He didn’t recall a damn thing until his seventh birthday, the day Peter and Maeve asked him to be part of their family. He supposed that was for the best, but they were gone now, too, and this damn city was conjuring ghosts.
He expelled a harsh breath, wishing he hadn’t agreed to keynote the summit, but a shot or six of bourbon would help. Then he could go to sleep, get up, give his speech, board the plane tomorrow, and go back to Chicago. He wasn’t a kid anymore, alone and at the mercy of a capricious system. He was in control of his life, and there was no reason for the panic clawing at his throat. No reason at all—and no goddamn memories.
He spotted a bar right next to his hotel. The one good thing about New Orleans—it was always happy hour somewhere. He stepped through the door and made a beeline for the whirling rainbow of daiquiri machines, hoping there was straight liquor, too.
As he slid onto a corner stool, he looked around for the bartender. It didn’t take him long to spot her talking to a customer at the other end of the bar. Her bare shoulders and lean curves were proudly displayed in a low-cut tank, her lean legs showcased in a sexy denim skirt. Anticipation
curled through him as he raised his hand and cleared his throat. She acknowledged him with a wave but turned her back, obviously in no hurry to serve him. Irritation brought a prickle of heat to his skin. He was in no mood to wait, no matter how hot the bartender.
After a minute, she moseyed toward him, but when she finally stopped he’d half decided to leave. There were plenty of other bars in the French Quarter. But then she met his gaze with smoky gray eyes the color of banked coals, and another kind of heat flashed through him. He noted silky blue-black hair, a lush mouth, and prominent cheekbones, but it was her pale gray eyes, bright against her toffee- colored skin, that kept him in his seat.
Unmistakable interest flared in her eyes, a tight, hot connection. Her pupils widened, nearly eclipsing the gray, and when she licked her lips, he nearly groaned.
“What can I get you?” Her sweet Southern drawl was a potent accelerant to the heat building between them.
He sucked in a hard breath and then released it as a laugh. “Ice water, I think.”
Her gaze became coolly professional. The glass was in front of him, precisely centered on a bar nap, before he could catch another breath.
And then she was gone.
He stared after her for a few seconds and then settled into a more comfortable position on his bar stool and took a sip of the water. It didn’t cool him. If anything it made him hotter. He still wanted liquor, but he wasn’t going to pass the evening in a drunken stupor, not if he could score a better offer from the gorgeous bartender. That split second of shimmering attraction was a challenge he couldn’t resist. He
drained his water and waited for her to come back. Bourbon was good, but sex was better, and he didn’t need to sleep tonight.
Betsy ignored the suit’s empty glass as long as she could. The guy was obviously on the make, and she stayed away from the rich ones, the men with enough power and money to have plenty of practice abusing it, leaving that hopeless territory to her ever-optimistic mother. No suits. Her father had been a rich player, and her mother might as well own a T-shirt with a picture of Last Call that said, “I gave him my heart, and all I got was this lousy bar,” a parting gift from a man who could afford it. I don’t need a man to change my fate.
A sudden vision of what a man could do for her washed over her, leaving her knees weak, her skin tingling, and a sigh trapped in her throat. How long had it been? She couldn’t remember. Too long. Desire ripped through her, but that suit was trouble—and she was in a dangerous mood tonight. Best to ignore everything but the next order, which she screwed up because she was wondering what he smelled like, kissed like, felt like… What the hell was wrong with her?
“On the house.” She poured the correct drink and gave the customer a weak smile.
The suit was still staring at her, blatant lust in his expression, and she couldn’t summon her customary indifference. Her nipples tightened under her tank. Oh, hell no. He held up his glass, and she sighed, slowly moving toward him, feeling a rabbit hole open up under her feet as
she returned his steady gaze.
His eyes were light brown with gold flecks, and his hair was the color of mahogany, rich with reddish highlights. It brushed his shoulders in expensive-looking waves. He wore his Armani as comfortably as an athlete might sport Adidas, like he lived in it. Even sitting at the bar, he looked tall, powerful, exuding a confidence that spoke to her on her deepest level, the one that wanted to lie down and let someone else figure it out, for once. But it was all up to her. It always had been.
Her mother would be content to sling drinks forever, but Betsy wanted an easier life for all of them. She’d seen the toll the bar life had taken on her mother, and her sister Kate was headed in exactly the same direction. No one could work as hard as they did and not want some comfort at the end of the night—
He tossed a hundred-dollar bill on the bar. “Bakers, a double, with a little ice. Then water with lime until your shift ends. Unless you can leave now?”
She tried to roll her eyes, but scorn was hard to pull off when lust exploded inside her like he’d tossed a cherry bomb and hit dead center. “Aren’t you going to wink?” She was proud her voice was steady.
“If you’re going to say something that cheesy, you have to follow it up with a wink. It’s a rule. C’mon, pretty boy, show me your wink. I know you’ve got one.”
“If I show you mine…” A slow smile started in his eyes then traveled southward. By the time his lips formed a full curve, she was staring at his mouth. She jerked her gaze up to his eyes just in time to get blindsided by a sexy wink.
“Not interested,” she said.
“Me neither. Now that we’ve gotten the lies out of the way, what time do you get off?”
It was better not to think about how long it had been since she’d gotten off. “Whenever I want, but not with you.”
“Too rich for my blood.” She pumped derision into her tone as she swept her gaze over him. “Nice suit. Bet it cost more than I make in a month.”
“I’ll go back to my hotel and change if that will give me a shot.”
“Did you pack anything but suits? I doubt it.”
He gave her that slow grin again. “Busted. But the offer to take it off still stands. Better yet, you do it.”
Her entire body clenched with need, and she froze, trying not to betray her response. “Your crappy lines aren’t getting you anywhere.”
“I’m just being honest.”
“Honest doesn’t have as much practice picking up women as you clearly do. I’m guessing you’re in town for a convention?” Tourists didn’t wear suits.
“Since you’re here for something as fancy as a summit, I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume you own more than one hotel.” She waited for his nod. “And given the way you just tried to pick me up as casually as you ordered your drink, I’m also going to assume the technique usually works for you. In fact, I bet you’ve got women waiting for you in hotel bars all over the country.” He held her gaze and said nothing, but she saw the answer in his eyes. She jerked a thumb over her shoulder at the daiquiri machines. “If you
want the flavor of the night, order the Banana Rum.”
“Flavor of the night—I like that. I could make you like it, too. I have all that experience, remember?”
“We’re not having this conversation.” She set his bourbon in front of him.
He picked up the bill he’d dropped on the bar and held it out to her. “Women enjoy the things I have to offer.”
“Let me guess, sex and money?”
His nod both irritated and aroused her. “I don’t want either. Enjoy your free drink.”
What an asshole. She walked away, automatically pulling beers and pouring daiquiris for her other customers. But her thoughts stayed focused on the man watching her as if she were a meal he planned to savor. Her rejection seemed to have no impact on him. Of course, if he had as much experience as he claimed, he could probably read her body language. Even as she’d forced her lips to say no, her body had swelled under his taut regard. Goddamn suit.
Was it her fault the women in her family had a congenital weakness for business attire?
After watching her mother get her heart broken by rich jerks, never hooking up with random suit-wearing strangers was a point of pride…but her mother had already left for the night, and Betsy was leaving for culinary school tomorrow. She’d be long gone before anyone could tease her about her hook-up. Oh my God, am I actually considering this?
She worked faster, trying to escape the temptation, but every time he took a sip of his drink, her gaze flashed to his hands and then his mouth, cataloging the sensuality of his movements. She couldn’t help but imagine what kind of a body was under that expensive jacket. Soft from living the
good life? Or hard from expending the energy that seemed to swirl around him? She’d guess hard.
He caught her eyeing him, and he gave her that slow, sexy grin again, the one that said resistance is futile. Every part of her trembled. Her hard nipples brushed against her shirt, and her panties dampened. She marched over and slammed another glass down in front of him, filled it with ice and water, and then squeezed a lime in it like she was squishing a bug. She left his damn money right where it was. “I close the bar at two.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
She stalked away.
Rinse and repeat all night. He got up once to use the restroom. The rest of the time he watched her.
Well after midnight, Kate nudged her with an elbow. “Lucky bitch.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Plausible deniability, for the win. Betsy was the closer tonight, and she doubted her little sister would stick around a minute longer than necessary.
“Oh, please.” Kate’s grin was far worldlier than it should be, considering she had just turned eighteen a few months ago and was barely old enough to work in the bar. “Leaving town with a bang, huh? Good for you.”
Betsy flushed. “Last call.”
Kate giggled and hurried toward her big table to take an order for one more round.
Betsy watched her dodge groping hands and laugh off suggestive comments. I’m so glad I’m not going to have to put up with that kind of bullshit for the next two years. And as soon as Betsy graduated from the Culinary Academy, her
sister and mother wouldn’t have to endure it either. They were going to turn this place into a restaurant and get out of the bar life forever. Betsy intended to work her butt off at school to make sure her family would have a better life.
But tonight, she was going to have a little fun.
She felt his gaze caress her and couldn’t wait for her last official shift as a bartender to be over. It hadn’t been as bad as usual tonight, not with the suit keeping an eye on her. No one had dared step out of line after he deflected the hand of an overly friendly patron reaching for her ass on one of her trips out from behind the bar. There had been leashed aggression in his voice as he’d issued a low warning, “Control your impulses, buddy.” But the wink he’d aimed at her had been full of humor. Warmth filled her at the memory. If she hadn’t been so anxious for the night to end, it might have been kind of fun to have a protector.
She sucked in a startled breath and focused on pouring drinks. She didn’t need a protector. That was the kind of thinking that led to heartbreak. One night. A good time. That was all she wanted.
Slowly, the bar emptied.
Betsy dealt with the money while the cocktail servers set the bar to rights, ignoring their smirks as the man stayed put at the bar. Kate shot her a thumbs-up and blew her a kiss before she slipped out the front door and locked it behind her. Heart pounding, Betsy closed the shutters, and then dimmed the lights.
He stood when she stopped in front of him. “Quinton James.”
When he took her hand, a spark shot between them.
Ridiculous. That shit doesn’t happen in real life. He raised her hand to his lips, and goose bumps broke out all over her body. Her eyes dipped shut, and a wave of longing washed over her, so intense she locked her knees to keep them from buckling. “This is nuts. I don’t do this.” The words stuttered from her lips.
“Neither do I.”
She frowned at the obvious lie, and he chuckled. “I’ve never sat in a bar for six hours waiting for a woman.”
“Why did you?”
“Because every time you walked by I wanted to do this.” He cupped her chin with a sure hand and slowly leaned toward her. The time he took bridging the distance between them underscored her consent.
He wrapped his other arm around her waist, pulling her tight. They fit, and his low sound of enjoyment echoed the flood of pleasure sweeping through her. There was no reason on earth this should feel right, but it did.
He took her lips. His mouth was soft, moving with skill, and his breath was scented with lime from his water. His tongue stroked fire through her veins, melting her against him, and she clutched his broad shoulders, feeling dizzy from fighting arousal. A moan rose in her throat, and she tried to swallow it—and failed.
She wasn’t herself tonight.That was the only explanation. Betsy Mouton would never hook up with a cocky player like him. She didn’t do one-night-stands, casual sex, or irresponsibility in any way, shape, or form. But Quinton James didn’t know that. She could be whoever she wanted to be tonight, do whatever she wanted to do. She’d never see him again, and the freedom was intoxicating. Tomorrow, responsible Betsy would get on the plane to New York and set about changing her family’s destiny, but tonight she was going to embrace the spirit of New Orleans. Let the good times roll.
“Where are you staying?” she asked.
“Right next door.”
He kept kissing her, his hand cupping her ass, moving her up and down on his thigh. She dug her fingers into his shoulders, trying to brace herself against the waves of hot bliss that knocked the words from her mouth. Second thoughts crowded her brain. Just because they’d been eye- fucking each other all night and he had the patience to wait her out didn’t mean this was a good idea. “Can I assume you have condoms and no means no, just in case I change my mind?”
“I like your use of the plural as it relates to condoms, and I have plenty. But we both know no means maybe or you wouldn’t be kissing me.” When she tensed, his grip tightened. “Before you flounce off with your feminist principles in an uproar, let’s make a deal. Stop means stop, but I consider no a challenge. I’ve been sitting here all night thinking of things I’d like to do to you, and I want to make you say yes.”
“Make me?” She searched his eyes, seeing determination and so much lust she quivered. He gazed back at her with equal absorption. What did he see in her depths?
But she knew.
Softness to his hardness. Give to his take. Surrender. He was every fantasy she’d ever had and denied she wanted. She’d never met a man strong enough to make her do anything. She didn’t want to. She had her own plans for her future, but she was fascinated with the way he made her feel.
She wasn’t going to say stop. “Just for tonight.”
“That’s all I’ve got.” That slow smile spread across his mouth. Oh dear God, that smile was lethal. Carnal. It ought to come with a warning. He trapped her against the bar and pressed his hardness into her hip. I guess the smile is the warning.
“Six hours gives a man a lot of time to think about every imaginable way to make a woman come. Let’s get out of here.”
She nodded and led him to the side door, keyed the alarm code, and followed him into the alley, locking the door behind them. He put his arm around her as they walked to the street, and she leaned into his hard body. The scent of his warm skin mixed with his spicy cologne and the scent of her arousal made her tighten in anticipation.
Neither of them spoke as they entered his hotel, but her breath caught at the beauty and luxury of her surroundings as it always did when she stepped into the neighboring hotel. She studied him while he watched the numbers on the floors drop, amused by his obvious impatience. On a normal night, she wouldn’t be caught dead with a rich suit like him. Everything she was wearing probably cost less than one of his shoes. She made a bet with herself during the elevator ride and won it when he opened the door to his suite. It was as big as her apartment and then some. She stood in the doorway, taking it in.
“Nope. Lots of money usually means no scruples, soul, or conscience. I absolutely can’t stand guys who think they can get whatever they want by paying for it.”
His chuckle tickled the back of her neck as he nudged
her into the room and locked the door behind them. “Then why are you here?”
“I’m making a one-time exception.”
“Lucky for me.” He swept her into his arms and carried her down the hall, kicking open the door of a dark bedroom. He dropped her onto the bed and followed her down, stretching out beside her. His tongue traced her lips in a teasing kiss while his hand cupped her breast. Her skin tingled, coming alive at his touch. She held her breath as his hand moved downward, catching the hem of her short skirt and pulling it to the top of her thighs. He slipped his thumb under the crotch of her panties, and the hot slide of his touch made her moan.
“You’re soaked.” His voice was rough. “Soft and smooth, like you’ve been wanting this as much as I have tonight.”
She bit her lip, trying not to tremble, on fire from his touch. He wasn’t doing anything complicated, just moving his thumb back and forth, but the pleasure was sharp, intense, almost too much to handle. Her head thrashed against the pillows as his mouth whispered over her breasts, tonguing her nipples through her tank. His teeth grazed her neck, and she strained against him as his thumb sank into her body.
Suddenly, he rose to his knees and pulled her hips into the center of the bed. He thrust her skirt up to circle her waist, and yanked her panties and her sandals off at the same time. He settled between her thighs, and she lost her breath on a ragged moan.
His lips were firm and relentless, no tentative exploration, no slow discovery of what she liked. He seemed to know, ravaging her with his tongue while his hands held her hips in place. A flash fantasy of him on top, driving into her, his fingers manacling her wrists, made her eyes slam shut and her mouth fall open in a raw gasp. She wanted him inside, in control, driving her wild, and he seemed to be on exactly the same page. The thought of him taking her every way he’d imagined made her whimper, and she fought the urge to beg him to hold her down. Then she remembered she’d never see him again. Why did she care if he knew her secret desires?
“Hold my wrists,” she whispered. “Make me.”
His grip on her hips tightened, and a thrill shot through her. She writhed against his lips, close, so close. She needed him to lick her again, right there, hold her tighter, just a little harder…
She screamed when he took his mouth away.
“Easy, sweetheart. Hang on. You’ll like this even better.”
He moved her feet to his shoulders and grabbed her wrists, using them as leverage to pull her back to his mouth. Her legs were trapped between their bodies, knees bent in a deliciously confining position. His tongue speared deep inside her, fucking her in short strokes, and then his mouth fastened over her clit, sucking, and then rubbing with his tongue, all the while pulling her closer, tighter, harder, until she had nowhere to go. Every muscle tensed, and then ecstasy slammed through her. She howled against the onslaught, unable to move, yet needing to ease the pressure somehow. She thrust against him with her heels, but he crowded closer, trapping her hands against her hips, holding her captive.
His tongue slowed but didn’t stop, tracing leisurely patterns, until she collapsed on the bed, taking deep, shuddering breaths and blinking away the spots dancing before her eyes. Her scalp prickled with sweat, and every inch of skin burned. She sighed as he slid up to spoon her,
feeling like every bone in her body had melted. “That was… oh my God…um…” She searched for the right words, but her brain couldn’t move either.
His warm breath brushed the back of her neck as he chuckled. He pulled her hips into the curve of his, and his cock rubbed against her ass. Her breath whooshed out of her lungs. Impossibly, she got hotter. He might be the opposite of everything she usually liked in a man, but she wanted him so badly she shamelessly ground her ass against him, lost to the fire building between them. Not me. This is not me. Just for tonight.
He yanked her skirt down over her hips and threw it off the bed. As she pulled her shirt over her head, she heard the muffled sound of his jacket hitting the floor, a zipper, more fabric rustling, and the sound of plastic ripping.
“Condom is all set.” He slid back into place behind her, and the sudden warmth of his hard body made her groan in pleasure. She felt his teeth nip her neck as he rolled on top of her, pressing her face-down into the bed. She imagined him taking her from behind, and arousal slammed through her in a sizzling rush. As if he’d read her mind, he lifted her hips, tenting her body over the bed and then shoving pillows under her.
“Are you comfortable in this position?” he asked.
“One more taste.” His breath whispered over her, making her quiver, then his tongue was inside her. She pressed her face into the comforter to muffle her moans. Without the pillows, she would have collapsed from the hot pleasure of his tongue teasing her up to the edge, the cool arousal of saliva on her skin when he pulled away. She felt
his cock against her opening and thrust back, hard, seating him deep, and gasped, nearly climaxing just from having him inside her. She bucked her hips back and forth, wanting to feel that invasion again and again.
He fell forward, pinning her. “Oh no, you don’t. Be still. You want me to make you, remember? I want to make you.”
He caught her arms and held them over her head with one hand. He thrust the other hand beneath her, finding her clit and circling it with his fingers while his cock slid in and out. Each slow glide pushed her closer to the peak, but she was helpless, pinned by his hips and hands, unable to reach for it. She scrambled for purchase, wanting to increase the friction, change the angle, anything that would take her higher, but she couldn’t get her knees under her, and the sense of helplessness was the most erotic thing she’d ever known.
His fingers rubbed harder, and his hips moved faster. She stopped fighting and pressure built, as if everything inside her was waiting while the storm gathered. She held her breath. Faster, harder, tighter.
And then he stopped. “Tell me you want me.” His voice was harsh in her ear. “And I’ll make you come.”
Was he serious? “Get moving, you jerk.” She nearly sobbed. “Ask nicely.” He resumed a lazy rhythm.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” She groaned. His silence told her he wasn’t. Was he kinky? Did he want to hear her beg? She took a deep breath, tempted to tell him to stop. She could finish the job herself, right in front of him. That would teach him. However, the words bubbled into her head and the thought of saying them made her shudder with need.
Why not just say it? She’d never see him again.
“I want you,” she whispered. “Please…please make me come.”
He hammered into her, and stars burst behind her eyelids as her body detonated. One spasm set off another, and she quaked beneath him. She heard him groan, felt him tense, and she chanted the word please over and over again as she exploded with him.
Make Me, Take Me is a clear case of what happens when an author transforms the labor of crafting a story into a true labor of love.
Betsy and Quin's story may be filled with fierce and unchecked passion, but it is a passion that is laced with deep heartfelt pain.
It is this pain that both serves to draw the two hearts together, while threatening to destroy both their lives and their love.
Throw in the complications of money and distrust, and set it all against the ghosts, glory, beauty, and tragedy that is New Orleans, and you have 'une bonne fois'...for sure!This tale is one built and brought to life through the wonders of escalation. Each interaction, each word, each scenario a carefully placed accentuation of the one before. This is an element that is a delightful constant from beginning to end and scene to scene.
Both this story's leading man and leading lady are very well matched. This story is not so much one
LET'S NOT FORGET THE SEX!
This book is filled to the brim with earth shattering, bone melting, ohhhh no he didn't...ohh la la!
This is NOT the book that you want to read in public.
The sensuality increases in time with the emotionality, making each time these two come together hotter than the last.
The drama of a man blessed with everything but family, and a woman too afraid to trust her heart, is one that will stoke the fires of your body, provide thought provoking food for your mind, and feed the truth seeking belief that love conquers all...in your soul.