Open Cover Before Striking
By: Willa Okati | Other books by Willa Okati
Published By: Loose Id LLC
Published: Feb 12, 2013
ISBN # 9781623001919
Published By: Loose Id LLC
Published: Feb 12, 2013
ISBN # 9781623001919
Word Count: 62,831
Available in: Epub, HTML, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket (.mobi), Adobe Acrobat, Mobipocket (.prc)
DescriptionDavis Carmichael doesn't do love. Ever. He'd rather strip naked and crawl through a field of broken glass than give anyone that much control over his head or his heart. The only thing he cares about is his career in journalism. That's it. Period, dot, full stop.
That is, until he meets Cristián Baranov, a die-hard Romeo with an uncanny knack for making connections and taming cranky wordsmiths. A man who breaks down Davis's resistance with a sweep of his hand.
For one night. Granted, it's a night of marathon sex not to be forgotten...
Neither expected they'd meet again, but fate has other plans. Now Davis's job is on the line, with the sacrifice of his pride and an article on modern matchmaking the only thing that can save him. And the matchmaker he's meant to interview in-depth? Cristián. Who, though able to strike matches for everyone else, had given up on finding the one who was made for him. Until he slept with Davis.
When Cristián and Davis go head to head over romance and reason in print and in the sheets, sparks aren't just going to fly. They'll ignite.
Reader Rating: (6 Ratings)
Excerpt:Davis had a deadline, a crappy Wi-Fi connection, and an evening flight back to Baltimore delayed until dawn. The only place he could find to work? An open-air terrace with a pricey bar full of bad beer, dubious wine, and top-shelf whiskey. Not a harmonious mix, and not a time during which he’d have chosen to be interrupted.
Which was, of course, an open invitation to the universe for someone to do that ten minutes after he’d taken a seat and five after he’d begun to hit his stride in an article that might, just might, rate a byline.
He didn’t look up when the man, a stranger to him, took hold of the seat back, but Davis cut him off before he could speak. “Ask me if this obviously unoccupied seat is taken, and I will end you. And no, that’s not an invitation.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” the unfamiliar interloper said without a single drop of regret. He swung the chair out and dropped down with the approximate grace of a carefree colt. “That’s the most honesty I’ve heard from anyone in years.”
“If I need to use words of one syllable, I will. Go. Away,” Davis bit out. “I’m losing my train of thought.”
“I’m not so sorry to hear that.” His amusement was a nearly tangible thing, as soft and warm as amber velvet.
“Not half as sorry as I am. I’m busy. But if you insist on having words, we can--” Davis glanced up, intending to slice the man down to size.
He returned his focus to the words on his screen.
He did not glance back a second time. No good could come of it, and definitely not the completion of his article upon which his job depended, thank you very much.
But holy fuck, did he want to. Long, elegant stretch of legs. Lean torso fleshed with comfortably solid muscle. Narrow hips. A hint of honeyed skin visible in flashes between the sleek leather of his belt and the hem of a deep blue raglan. Twinkling eyes, indiscriminate in color but deliberate in their mirthful depiction of the man’s soul.
He’d been made, and he knew it. Even in low lighting, the damnable blush that’d been Davis’s birth curse gave him away.
The man chuckled. “Here.” He offered Davis an unopened dark-brown bottle of ale, nudging it across the table. “If you don’t like me, that’s okay, but I already bought this. I’d hate to see it go to waste.”
“Got a drink.” Davis lifted the mostly untouched glass of wine he’d bought to legitimize his taking up space on the terrace. “Good-bye.”
The man’s chuckle grew into honest laughter. Not at Davis. Not entirely at him. More at life, the universe, and the perversity of human nature.
Davis itched to look back up at him.
Even when the man remarked, “You’ve got a temper, don’t you?”
“And you’ve got...” He stopped typing and pressed his fingers to his forehead. If one were to be perfectly honest, even without a second glance Davis could tell there wasn’t much this guy didn’t have, all of it tailored to his specific preferences. Anyone sane would jump on him and leave nothing behind but his--Russian? Slavic? the best of both?--bone structure gnawed clean.
Therefore, either the aliens had landed at last and decided to come after him first, or this was the gods’ way of offering him a big heaping plate of “neener, neener” while giggling behind their hands. Deadline. Had to be met. No choice. Davis gritted his teeth.
“I’ve got...?” the man prompted.
“You know exactly what you’ve got. If I have to spell it out for you, I’m wasting both our time.” Hmm. Something about the grammar there didn’t sit right for Davis. Seemed as if it should be ‘our times,’ but that wasn’t correct either, was it? He clicked his tongue and typed the sentence both ways.
Neither looked right. Your time and mine. That’d do.
“Manslaughter or breaking and entering?”
“The way you’re glaring at that poor computer, I couldn’t help wondering what it’d done to you. Has to be something worth a nickel or a dime in the pen.”
“A nickel or a-- Whoever you are, you watch too much bad TV.”
“I read too many bad pulp detective novels from the thirties and forties.” He waggled his hand, the movement registering in Davis’s peripheral vision. “Unless you like that kind of stuff, which I do, which makes them good.”
In addition to deadline and delayed departure, Davis now had a headache, and he was dangerously close to lapsing into vernacular. He hated men who rattled his cage in that particular fashion. Davis liked competition as little as he liked interruptions. “What do you want?”
Tall, dark, and annoyingly attractive displayed a long reach across the table, offering Davis a hand that looked as if he’d done some hard work in his time but could still win a game of Operation. Ridiculously sized, it’d swallow Davis’s, and Davis was not a small man.
Davis eyed it. Long, firm palm, strong fingers with nails clipped short, his knuckles perhaps a tad overlarge. Veins just visible enough below the surface to remain fucking hot, er, attractive, the whole of it leading to a strong wrist sporting a bracelet woven of thin, braided strips of leather, and a forearm as sturdy and limber as a young birch.
So he had a thing for hands. Sue him.
“And you are?” the guy repeated.
Wait, what? Ah. He’d introduced himself while Davis lost a few seconds immersed inside his head.
He could tell the guy knew he’d zoned out, most likely guessed why, and intended to press the advantage as if he knew Davis was a sure thing...and he probably wasn’t wrong.
Still. Davis didn’t roll over for just anyone. “Spell that for me.”
The man’s grin said he knew that particular trick. “C-R-I-S-T-I-A-N. Cristián.” He drew a tick in the air to indicate an accent mark. “I can ask you what your name is again if you--”
“Not necessary.” Cristián? No way that could be his real name. Guys like him didn’t walk around with accent marks over innocent vowels. He looked more like a Jason or a Ray. Just enough dominance to command attention, but with that little bit of sweetness that’d make walking away easy. Davis didn’t often pin a man wrong.
Possibly worth his time after all. His flight didn’t leave until morning, and if Cristián had a room reserved...two birds, one stone, and he could finish his article after he’d shed a few layers of tension.
Let’s see how he plays when I volley back. Davis pressed the fingertips of his hands together beneath his chin. “I never said I’d tell you my name.”
Cristián turned his palm up in mild surrender. “No problem. But if you’re into pseudonyms, you might want to tuck away the ‘property of’ tag on your laptop bag. Davis.”
So much for that. “Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Davis rubbed his forehead.
Davis did not smile, though it took more effort as this crazy, surreal conversation went on. This stranger coaxed it out of him as naturally as breathing. Clean air too, not thick city exhaust. “Does the weird charmer routine usually work for you?”
“Yes,” Cristián said.
Davis’s cock twitched. He resisted the urge to press a hand against himself under the table. Way too much of a giveaway. But for the love of fuck, talking to this guy was like painting targets over his hot spots, standing in front of an automatic ball pitcher, and pressing the On switch. “And you think it’s working now?”
“Mmm.” Cristián turned Davis’s arm over and stroked the smooth underside. “You tell me. You haven’t touched your beer.”
Davis slid the bottle back in Cristián’s direction. “No. There’s a good reason for that.”
“The seal’s intact.”
“Because no one in their right mind would drink it.”
“I like this brand,” Cristián protested mildly.
“I’m sure you do.” Davis handed the bottle, slippery with condensation, back to Cristián. “Thanks, but no, thanks.”
One of Cristián’s eyebrows climbed slowly. “Is that a no to just the beer or to the offer in general?” He touched the back of Davis’s hand with one finger, tracing the pattern of his veins. “And if you ask what kind of offer I mean, you’ll make me change my mind about you.”
Well now. Point and serve. Nicely done. Davis grudgingly raised his estimation a notch.
My turn now.
“Those are either deep, deep thoughts or shallow, shallow ones,” Cristián said, leaning back. He tapped his foot against Davis’s. “Share.”
“Hmm?” Davis deliberately returned his focus to the screen. “Ah. Your offer.”
“And your counteroffer?”
Normally Davis despised teasing. Why did he fight to keep himself from smiling now? He averaged one smile per month. Or so the spreadsheet with graphs a former fuck buddy had made claimed. He cleared his throat. “That. Buy me a decent drink first, and then you’ll get laid. Don’t give me that ‘thought so’ face either. The latter negates the former, by which I mean smugness sends you back to the beginning. You may not pass Go, may not collect two hundred dollars, and you sure as hell won’t get to tap my ass.”
“A hot temper and a dictionary in your head,” Cristián murmured.
Most guys looked happier at the prospect of getting laid. Despite himself Davis was drawn back, wondering exactly what might be going on in Cristián’s head. “Since you’re still here, I’m going to assume you don’t have a problem with either.”
“Not at all.” Whoa. Cristián was touching him, tracing the line of his jaw from back to front. Fingertips rasped against nine o’clock shadow.
Davis licked his lips. He rallied. “Drink first. Then fuck.”
“Add ‘high maintenance’ to the list,” Cristián said. He went on before Davis could do more than bristle. “Those are steps two and three. There’s something else in first place.”
Cristián stood and leaned over the table, as graceful as he had previously been graceless. He brushed his lips across Davis’s. A small taste. His tongue was gentle but didn’t take no for an answer--smooth, sleek, warm. Cinnamon snapped across Davis’s taste buds. Aha. So Cristián didn’t really drink that swill either, and he had a clear head. Good to know.
“Sneak preview,” Cristián said, well pleased with himself. If pressed to the point--which he suspected he would soon be--Davis might reluctantly admit Cristián had earned it. Holy Christ, the man could kiss. “The faster we drink, the sooner the main reel starts. How do you feel about whiskey?”
Davis refused to be dazed. Or to display it. “If it doesn’t have a screw-on cap and it’s at least half as old as I am, it gets you laid twice.”
Cristián’s grin, at full force, might have lit up the night. “Consider it done.”
Copyright © Willa Okati