If you've read The Ninja Tattoo, you know who Teague and Vivica are. If you haven't, you really should. It's a great book and I'm not just saying that because I wrote it. One of Teague's former girlfriends calls him unexpectedly, asking him to check up on a mutual friend who has disappeared. Aileen is afraid Nadeya may be in danger. Teague, reluctantly, agrees. He enlists the help of his good friend, Jasper Waters, and his cousin Joel. Aileen also joins them to help find Nadeya and identify the person who framed her for murder.
Unfortunately, Jasper has known both Teague and Joel forever. He can't stop teasing the other man, especially about Joel's car. His constant digging finally pushes Joel over the edge. He knows he'll end up shooting Jasper, so he leaves the house.
Aileen went outside. She found Joel sitting on the neighborhood dock, gazing at the moon. He looked up when she sat down on another deck chair.
"He really gets under my skin," he explained. "And I let him. I want to kick myself in the ass."
"What's with you two. You seem to hate each other."
"No. Jasper's a good guy, he's just so competitive. I've been on the receiving end more times than I'd like. He's a sore loser, but he's a worse winner. Problem is, I am too." He chuckled, shaking his head. "We're too damn much alike to be friends. The only reason we tolerate each other is because of Teague."
"He's always had that effect, hasn't he? I've never seen someone who can bring people together and get the best out of them like he can. God, he had me charmed and in his bed faster than any man I've ever met."
Joel held up his hand, halting her monologue. "I can handle many things. But hearing how good my cousin is at seducing a beautiful woman is not one of them."
"As all hell," Joel admitted. He stared across the water.
"I can't imagine you've had much trouble along that line," Aileen said quietly. She scooted closer, shivering.
Joel flung an arm around her, pulling her closer. "I'd loan you my jacket if I had one."
"This is good. So, you don't want to know how he seduced me?"
"Nope. Why would I?"
"Because it might work for you too."
Joel chuckled, rubbing her arm. "There is that. Maybe I'll find my own way."
Aileen gazed into his eyes. They looked silver in the moonlight. "How would you go about it?"
"First, I'd take you for a ride in my sexy car." He ticked the steps off on his fingers.
She giggled. "And then?"
"Then I'd buy you a cup of coffee and a slice of the best pie in town."
"Jasper actually did that." She pressed the second finger down.
"Yeah, but I drove you there in my sexy car." He raised his index finger again.
"Then I'd have me a temper tantrum and storm outside like a three year old." He held up a third finger.
Aileen grabbed his hand, holding it close to her chest. "Oooh, be still my fluttering heart."
Joel turned his face to hers, pulling her close. "Then, I reckon I'd get you by the river in the moonlight and hope you let me kiss you." He wound his fingers in her hair.
Aileen leaned closer. Joel brushed her cheek, touching her lips with his thumb. His lips met hers—warm and soft and full. She shivered against him, but not because she was cold. Joel's tongue flickered between her lips and she opened them more. He took full advantage, deepening the kiss.
The screen door of Vivica's house screeched, sounding loud in the still night. Joel's head snapped around.
"You two okay?" Vivica called.
"Yeah. Be right in, Viv. Sorry," Joel replied. He stood, giving Aileen a hand up.
Her arm slipped around his waist. "That was a nice kiss. I'd like to continue that sometime."
Joel sighed. "But I'm guessing not tonight."
"Not tonight. But soon." She started away from him.
Joel caught her hand, pulling her back. The kiss was even more powerful when they were standing. His firm body pressed against hers. It felt good to have a man show his interest so definitively. There were no games with Joel. He liked her, he was attracted. She had no intention of bedding a man she'd known less than 12 hours—though it was damned tempting.
"How long did it take my cousin," he whispered huskily. His breath tickled her neck.
He nodded, smirking. Arm slung around her shoulders, he planted a kiss on her cheek as they walked to the house.
© Dellani Oakes