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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
“AJ’s family has killer connections, so he always brings us back some when he goes to visit.”
As Rhys picked up his shot glass, I frowned. “No limes or salt?”
Glancing at me over the rim of the glass, Rhys said, “You’re not totally hardcore then.”
“If you don’t have any, that’s okay.”
Rhys sat down the shot glass. He held up one finger to me before walking to the end of the bar and bending over. Leaning up on my stool, I saw that he was rooting around in a small refrigerator. When he stood up, I saw two limes in his hands. As he started back to me, he started juggling them. “I didn’t know you were a man of many talents.”
“Oh yeah, I totally wanted to run away with the circus when I was a kid.”
I giggled. “Seriously?”
He cocked a brow at me. “You’ve met my parents. Anything, including the circus, would have been better.”
My smile faded as I once again felt the intensity of his pain. When I started to say something to him, Rhys shook his head. “No more of that or we’ll have to down the entire bottle. Then I’m pretty sure we’d end up with alcohol poisoning.”
After cutting the limes, he brought out a salt shaker. He placed it all before me before he walked around the side of the bar. He took a seat on the stool beside me. “I think we’re good to go now.”
“Thanks for humoring me with the salt and lime,” I said.
“It’s nothing. Besides, I owed you.”
Furrowing my brows, I asked, “How did you owe me?”
Not meeting my eyes, Rhys ran a finger along the wooden groove in the bar. “You stayed tonight.”
“Of course I did.”
His gaze flickered from the bar to me. “You didn’t have to though. After seeing what happened with Ellie and all the f**ked up shit that is my family, you could’ve bailed. Hell, you probably should have.”
I shook my head. “What happened tonight was horrible. My heart aches for Ellie and for you. But it could never make me care about you less.”
As his jaw clenched and unclenched, Rhys’s eyes remained firmly on mine. “You do care about me, don’t you?”
“Very much. I always have and always will,” I replied, my voice humming with emotion. I reached across to close my hand over his. “I’ll always be here for you, Rhys.”
“Take a shot,” he commanded, his expression tense, his eyes unreadable.
Goosebumps pebbled my arms at his assertive tone. I wasn’t used to him being so forceful. For a moment, I couldn’t process his words. It was like the tone of the entire conversation had veered off course. Reluctantly, I followed his orders. When I started to reach for a lime, he stopped me. As I eyed him curiously, he took the shaker of salt in his hand. Tilting his head, he shook the bottle along his neck. Then he leaned over and brought the shaker to my neck. My breathing became erratic at the nearness of him. But most of all, it was the way the tension crackled in the air between us. Nothing really had been spoken out loud, nothing had been done to change things, but in that moment, everything was different.
“Take a shot,” he repeated.
With trembling fingers, I reached for the glass. I took it in one hand and the lime in the other. Leaning forward on the stool, I dipped my head down to his neck. My lips hovered over the warmth of his skin. Flicking out my tongue, I brought it against the stubble on his neck. Rhys sucked in a harsh breath at the contact. Slowly, my tongue trailed upward over the faint line of salt, eliciting a small groan from Rhys.
Once I finished, I pulled away. I didn’t dare look at Rhys—my skin burned just from the intensity of his stare. Tipping up the glass, I downed it in one fiery gulp. As my eyes pinched shut in pain, I slammed the lime against my lips. My teeth cut through the fruit, as my mouth sucked off the juices. When I swallowed again, a shiver echoed through me.
I opened my eyes to find Rhys still staring at me. His dark eyes shone with such intensity that I would’ve given anything to know what he was thinking. He reached for his glass and lime. His eyes never left mine as he bent over. I tilted my head to give him better access. At the feel of his warm tongue on my neck, I shuddered, and I remained trembling even after he pulled away. He then downed the tequila without even bothering with the lime.
We repeated the process again. And again. Until we had downed five shots and licked and sucked our way up each other’s necks. My skin still tingled from the feel of his tongue. Of course, my entire body was tingling from the strong alcohol pumping through every cell and molecule. It made me feel so alive. While it had just been his tongue on my neck, the feel of his hands drove me crazy as they brushed on my shoulders and whispered across my collarbone. I fantasized that his tongue was following the same path across my chest and down to my br**sts.
More than anything in the world, I wanted this man, and tonight I was going to get my wish. From the lust-filled looks he’d been giving me, along with the groans of pleasure when I had licked his skin, I knew what was going to happen. I was finally going to have Rhys.
It was official—I was f**king wasted. Swaying on the bar stool, I licked the remaining salt off my upper lip as my last shot of tequila burned its way down my stomach. When I glanced over at Allison, my dick jerked in my pants. Damn, she was so f**king sexy. The feel of her tongue on my skin had lit me up like I had never imagined possible. If she could do that just touching my neck, what would it feel like for her to have her hands and mouth on the rest of my body? I shuddered at the pleasurable thought.