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The Brat and the Bossman (The Hedonist series Book 3) by Rebecca James (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Blaze

 

“You fucker!”

A shoe with a three-inch stiletto heel whizzed by my face, almost taking part of my cheek with it. The bedroom door opened, and Hung stuck his head out. He took one look at Madeline getting ready to throw her other shoe and ducked back inside.

“Katie warned me about you. She told me you’d play with my heart and then dump me!” Madeline screeched.

I ducked as the second shoe flew by. It bounced off the wall behind me and hit me in the head.

“Could you calm the fuck down?” I asked, rubbing the sore spot on my scalp.

Big brown eyes filled with tears, and Maddy’s bottom lip trembled, which was even worse than her screaming at me.

“Come on, don’t cry. I’m sorry. I’m just not ready for anything serious,” I tried, but I could see my words had no effect.

“I thought I was different,” Madeline said. “I thought you loved me.” Tears spilled down her cheeks.

“I care about you a lot.” The words sounded shitty and disingenuous to my own ears, but what was I supposed to say? I thought you were okay with just fucking? Sure, yeah, that’d go over well.

“Fuck you, Blaze.” Maddy grabbed her coat from the closet and stomped out the door barefoot.

I sighed, picked up her shoes, and followed. We’d been out to dinner, had sex, and then she’d brought up marriage. I could’ve been a little gentler with the break-up, but fuck. I’d thought she understood I wasn’t looking for anything serious.

“It’s thirty degrees out,” I called to her from the porch. “Come inside and wait for the cab.” When she only cast me a venomous look, I said, “At least put on your shoes!”

When she didn’t move, I set them on the porch and closed the door, leaving it unlocked in case she changed her mind.

“Dump another one?” Hung asked.

“Fuck off,” I muttered.

He grinned. “This one only lasted two months. At least she didn’t try to set the house on fire like that crazy redhead.”

I didn’t want to think about Leila, who was definitely at the top of my regrets list.

Realizing I only wore a pair of blue briefs that I’d hurriedly pulled on when Maddy had stormed out of the room, I went to look for a pair of jeans.

Hung followed and leaned against the door, watching me sift through a pile of clothing on the chair in my bedroom. “I liked her. She was cute.”

“Then you date her.”

“What’s the problem, Bossman? You sure run through a lot of chicks, and all of ‘em seem great to me.” He softened the words with his megawatt smile.

I glanced at him before fixing my hair in the mirror over the dresser. “Why can’t women just enjoy being with me? Why does it always have to lead to a ring and a commitment?”

Hung shrugged. “I guess chicks just want stability. That’s why I’m leaning more towards guys these days. They don’t care if I fuck and duck.”

Hung was bi and such a looker he probably even pulled straight men. He was also a good decade older than I was, and all the sexier for it. The club was his family, and he was a permanent fixture in it at a time in his life when he should be settled. As club president, I relied on Hung a lot and knew better than to brush off his hints.

Was I bi-sexual? Hell, I didn’t know. I’d always thought I was straight until the day I realized I was admiring my best friend’s ass. My feelings for J had been complicated. I’d loved him like a brother, but then that had begun to change, and I’d been more worried about hiding that from him than anything else.

J’s gone, I reminded myself. Don’t think about him.

But Hung was right—women were passing in and out of my life at an alarming rate. Seemed I couldn’t sustain a relationship longer than the time between oil changes on my Harley.

“Maybe I should become a monk,” I muttered.

“That would be a real shame,” Hung said, dark eyes running over me. “You are too beautiful a man to take yourself off the market.”

I gave him a cocky grin. “I didn’t know you cared.”

“Hey, say the word, and I’ll tap that ass.”

“Not with that monster, you won’t,” I joked. Hung wasn’t a fan favorite in my porn company for nothing; he had a fucking anaconda for a cock.

The handsome Brazilian’s eyes twinkled as his tongue fiddled with an unlit cigarette in a way I was sure even a monk would find sexy. “You saying you’d bottom if it weren’t for that?”

“No, man, fuck off.” I pushed him away when he made a playful grab for me.

My cell phone buzzed on the dresser. I picked it up and headed for the living room, Hung trailing behind me like a pesky fly buzzing in my ear.

“’Cause last time I checked, you were straight,” he said.

I waved him off, glancing out the window as I passed it. Madeline was still pacing around the yard waiting for a cab, but at least she’d put her shoes on. “Hello?”

“Blaze Harrington?” a female voice asked.

“Speaking.”

“Hello, my name is Julianne Carpenter, owner of Steel and Velvet Studios. We specialize in romantic porn specifically catering to the female audience.”

“Yes, I’ve heard of your company,” I said. “What can I do for you, Ms. Carpenter?”

“I wondered if you’d be interested in meeting with me. I’d like to discuss business with you.”

I scratched my jaw. I needed a shave.

“Um. I suppose we could do that.” I tried and failed to come up with what she might mean by that.

“Marvelous! Would Thursday for lunch work? Around two?” She named an Italian restaurant in Manhattan I’d been to a few times.

“I can do that. I’ll see you there.”

When I disconnected from the call, I told Hung what she’d said.

“Wonder what that’s about?”

I shrugged. “Guess I’ll find out tomorrow.”

Zeke entered from the garage. “Madeline just cussed me out before getting in a cab,” he said.

“Yeah, well, we broke up.”

“Another one bites the dust,” Hung said, and Zeke raised a brow at me.

“Wow, the turn around is getting quicker.”

“I don’t want to hear it. You finished with the bike?”

“Yeah. Complete valve job. That’s what you get for not asking for a service history before you buy.” Zeke slapped the keys into my palm.

“‘80’s Harleys are pieces of shit,” Hung said with disgust.

I didn’t even bother to comment. Hung rode an electric-orange and black 2006 VRSCE2 that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. My 1985 Shovelhead Harley-Davidson was cool as hell and the only bike for me. But we all had our preferences.

“Thanks, man. What’s the damage?”

“Don’t insult me, bro.” Slapping my hand, Zeke headed for the door. “I’m heading home. I’ll stop by tomorrow for lunch.”

“I owe you one!” I called after him. From the window, I watched Zeke climb onto his bike and roar down the street. If I’d been pressed to predict which member of my club would fall for a male ballet dancer, I would never have chosen Zeke, who hadn’t even realized he was into men until he’d met Morgan. Now they were fucking married.

I whistled to Pepper, the border collie mix the club had recently adopted from the animal shelter Swish ran. A stray himself, Swish had been taken off the streets by Dante a few years ago. He’d lived with us a while before moving out. Only then did Dante clue in to his feelings for the guy. After a tumultuous start, they’d moved in together.

When the dog trotted up the basement stairs, I knew what she’d been up to.

“Been wallowing in the dirty laundry pile again, have we?” I asked, plucking one of Ax’s colorful socks off her head and snapping the leash on her collar. “You’re gonna smell like a bunch of dirty bikers, girl.”

I shrugged into my jacket and took her outside.

I needed some air.