“You’re a coward.”
My carefully controlled temper was being tested. Erin Anderson had to be the most spoiled brat I’d ever met. However, my dick hadn’t gotten the memo. She was too smart, too manipulative, too beautiful, too off-limits. She was the President of the United States’ daughter.
“Not a coward, Erin, smart,” I replied.
She crossed her arms over her chest in annoyance, the movement showcasing the pristine flesh of her cleavage. In a moment of weakness my eyes lowered of their own accord, and I had to stifle a groan. The momentary glance had my dick stiffening and my resolve faltering. However, when my gaze met her smirk, I reminded myself I wasn’t going to touch her. Not now, not ever.
She knew exactly what she was doing. It was all part of her manipulation. Erin knew how beautiful she was and she’d learned to use it to get what she wanted. And over the last few months, she’d made one thing very clear—she wanted me. That wasn’t going to happen for a variety of reasons. Setting aside who her father was, I wouldn’t be used; I wasn’t any woman’s boy toy.
As happy as I was for my team, I didn’t believe in love. Not for myself anyway. Once bitten, twice shy and all that bullshit. I also didn’t fuck women above my paygrade. Rich women who only wanted me on their arm because I was former Special Forces. Fuck that. My service was never going to be exploited.
“I know you feel it, too, Colin. You’re either too stubborn or too stupid to admit it,” Erin continued.
“Woman, the only thing I feel is annoyed.”
“Enough, Erin. I know you’re used to the pansy, country club boys who kiss your ass, but I’m not them. You can throw whatever temper tantrum you’d like, and I still won’t bend. I’m a man, not some punk who’s gonna cave because you’ve begged enough.”
“You’re an ass!” she shouted.
“No, sweetheart, I’m real. I don’t sugarcoat shit so I won’t hurt your tender feelings. If that’s what you’re after, why the fuck do we keep having this same conversation?”
“Fine. I get it. You don’t want me.” The saucy grin she’d had earlier turned into a defeated frown. A look I found I didn’t like on her pretty face, but one that was necessary. It was my job to protect her, and I couldn’t do that if every time we were alone together, she was testing my patience and self-control.
“No.” She held her hand up, stalling my rebuttal. “Leave it. I have to get back downstairs. I have responsibilities to the charity.”
She was right, she did. There were at least four hundred people here by her invitation, all waiting to be schmoozed by the first daughter. I had to hand it to her; she could work a room. All it took was an impassioned speech about the children she was helping and a smile, and people opened their wallets and money flowed.
Erin was almost to the door. I reached out and stopped her before she could leave. My first mistake was touching her, the second was savoring the way her small hand fit in mine.
“Listen, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be such an ass, Erin. You’re a beautiful, smart woman.” I opted to leave out what a pain in the ass she was. “But you have to know, I can’t touch you. I was hired by your father to protect you. That’s it. Whatever you think is between us is a case of wanting what you can’t have. If I were some guy off the street, you wouldn’t give me a second glance.”
Her sexy, brown eyes narrowed into slits before she turned, bringing her closer to me. So close the flowery perfume she wore assailed my senses. When I tried to let go of her hand, her grip tightened and she leaned in close.
“You’ve miscalculated me, Colin. You presume to know me, and why I want what I want. Has it ever occurred to you, that I’m not, nor have I ever, been attracted to the ass kissers that chase me only to get closer to my father? I don’t want a boy in my bed, Colin. I could have any number of them with a smile and a wink. I want you, not because I can’t have you, but because I’m attracted to you.”
When her mouth pressed against mine, I did nothing to stop her. When the silk of her tongue swept the seam of my lips, I opened for her. And when she invaded, I caved, then took over. The sexy mew she made fueled my desire, and I deepened the kiss, and, in an illicit battle I knew I’d lose, I waged war. It was wrong. I shouldn’t have been devouring her like she was my last meal. I shouldn’t have enjoyed the way her tongue felt against mine. But I did and I was. She pressed her body closer and there was no way she could miss my hard-on. The slacks I was wearing gave little by way of a barrier. Her hands roamed my back, and mine grabbed her ass and kneaded the firm muscles. Goddamn, she was sexy.
“More,” she whispered against my mouth.
What the fuck am I doing?
“Stop, Erin.” I grabbed her hands as she fumbled with my belt.
She kept her hands where they were but pulled back enough to focus on my face.
“We can’t do this.”
I pulled her hands away and stepped back, needing the space to gather my thoughts.
“I told you why. We can’t do that again.”
Her cheeks heated, and instead of embarrassment she looked pissed.
“If you try and tell me you weren’t into that kiss just as much as I was, you’re a goddamn liar.”
I stood in silence, watching her get madder by the second. There was nothing for me to say. She was right, I was into the kiss just as much as she was, and had she not broken the spell by asking for more, there was a good chance she’d have my cock in her hand. But she did speak, her voice reminding me I couldn’t touch her.
She stomped to the door and paused, looking back she tried one more time. “Come on, Colin, tell me you don’t want me,” she taunted. “I may be a virgin but I know a hard dick when I feel one.”
A fucking virgin?
How in the hell does a sexy, beautiful, pain in the ass woman get to be Erin’s age never having had sex? I was getting ready to call bullshit when her shoulders hunched just enough to tell me she was trying to be tough. Erin Anderson was a fake. All her bitchiness and attitude were a put on. A façade she hid behind.
Fuck me, what was I supposed to do with her now?
“I wasn’t. And since you’re a virgin and all, I’ll explain to you that when a woman sticks her tongue in a man’s mouth and rubs her tits on him, his dick gets hard. Hell, you could’ve been anyone and my cock would’ve been begging for attention.” That was a lie, but it sounded like a good story to excuse my behavior.
In a move I would’ve been impressed by if the lamp she’d picked up off the side table hadn’t been sailing through the air straight for my head, I ducked out of the way just in time. I have no idea how she’d managed to yank the cord out, but she had. The proof was laying shattered next to me.
“You’re not only a coward but a liar, too.” And with that parting shot, she walked out the door.
I was no coward—but I was a bold-faced liar.
* * *
“Anyone have a twenty on Sparrow?” I asked into my two-way radio about Erin’s location.
“Negative,” one of the secret service agents replied.
I waited for the other five men to report in before I left the main house and went in search of her. Her disappearing act was beginning to piss me off. I thought we’d gotten past her trying to ditch her security detail. Even though we were on a three-hundred-acre private estate it still wasn’t safe for Erin to wander off. Movement by the guesthouse caught my attention and I slowed my step, waiting to see what it was. I saw it again, only this time it was a reflection from a lens. On silent feet I moved to the side of the guesthouse just as a man was lifting his camera, pointing it at the window. He was too interested in what was going on inside to notice me moving in behind him.
In a smooth, well-practiced move, one arm slipped around his neck and my hand covered his mouth. Five seconds later, he was choked out and on the ground. I picked his camera up and peered in the window. My blood instantly boiled. Erin was naked and there was a man in the room with her. What the fuck? So much for the blushing virgin act.
I quickly made my way to the door and was even more fucking angry that the door was unlocked. Anyone could’ve walked in.
“What the fuck?” I roared, and Erin jumped back and tried to cover herself with her hands.
“It’s not what it looks like.” The man put his hands up.
“Put your hands down, this isn’t a fucking stick-up, asswipe. Give me your phone.”
The man fished his phone out of his suit jacket that was neatly placed over the back of the chair.
“Here.” He thrusted it in my direction.
“Is this your only device?”
“Yeah. That’s all I have.”
“Get gone.” I took his phone and motioned to the door.
“Sorry, Erin,” he said, picking up a large, spiral bound pad and bolted faster than a speeding ticket.
“Why’s he sorry?” I asked. “Did he hurt you?”
“No,” she mumbled.
“Put some fucking clothes on.” I looked around on the floor trying to find her dress when I finally spotted it on the same chair the man had laid his suit jacket. I didn’t bother looking for her bra and panties, if she had even worn them under her fancy gown. “Here.” I tossed the dress to her and turned my back.
But it was too late. Erin’s naked body would be forever seared into my memory. Every sexy inch of her.
“It’s not what you think,” Erin said.
“It isn’t?” I turned to face her.
“Funny, it looked to me like you were getting ready to fuck one of your country club boys, not even an hour after you were begging me to fuck you,” I mocked.
Erin adjusted her tight-fitting, strapless dress and offered no further explanation. Not that she owed me one. She was no one to me, a woman I’d been hired to babysit. If that was the case, why did it piss me off so badly?
“Virgin, my ass,” I mumbled and walked to the door. “Let’s go. I’m taking you home.” She didn’t protest and followed me.
“It really wasn’t—”
“Save it, Erin. I don’t give a shit.”
I heard something that sounded like a sob but I didn’t dare ask her what was wrong. The last time I fell for her wounded doe act, she’d sneak attacked me and shoved her tongue in my mouth. That wasn’t going to happen again.
“I know you don’t. No one does.”
It was on the tip of my tongue to ask her what she meant when I caught sight of the photographer I’d choked out running toward the woods, reminding me I had a job to do. Protection—nothing else. If she needed someone to unload her burdens on, she could hire a therapist. I wasn’t that man.