As soon as they were alone again, Denver hurried her down four flights. On the way, Willow wondered how long he would last. Would he pull over somewhere and do her in his truck like before? It was clear he wanted her just as badly, if not more. She was off-limits, something that challenged an alpha male’s integral sense of ownership—a weakness Willow planned to use to her advantage.
They burst out into a half-full parking lot still bathed by the gentle warmth of a mild desert morning. A rotund, middle-aged man stepped backward with a shock of surprise on his face after they almost clocked him with the swinging door. “Where are you going?” he asked.
“Something came up,” Denver said over his shoulder. “I’ll be back later.”
“That’s what you said Friday!”
Which must have been when Denver got Lane’s call to drop everything for a game of sexual roundup. “Didn’t you have a nine o‘clock appointment?” Willow reminded him when he shoved her into the passenger seat of his shiny black truck.
His answer was a powerful curse that filled her with even more satisfaction. Once he was behind the wheel, he started the engine and threw it into gear. As they cut through the parking lot, he put his cell phone to his ear. “Lisa, cancel my nine o’clock.” He paused and glanced over at Willow. “On second thought, give my appointments to Stan. I have an emergency and don’t know when I’ll be available today. Thanks.”
With a violent swerve, they entered traffic, narrowly missing a food truck that blared its horn as it made room for them. Willow watched Denver as he donned a pair of aviator sunglasses. “Half of the office saw you leaving with me.” She somehow managed to say it without smiling. “They’ll know exactly what ‘came up,’ which won’t look good for you.”
“Something tells me that went according to your plan, aside from showing up here just to mess with me.”
Willow waved away the thought. “I like it here. Might even want to stay. Find a job, a cheap apartment somewhere, maybe make some friends.”
“If you’re trying to avoid Lane, you’re just making it easier for him to find you. I won’t protect you from him.”
Anger put bite in her words. “I don’t need you to. I can take care of myself.”
He made a scoffing laugh as he unbuttoned his jacket. “Right.”
“I got here on my own, didn’t I?” In an attempt to stay calm, she fiddled with the knobs on the radio.
He reached over and turned it off. “You still haven’t told me the truth about how.”
“What makes you think—”
“You really expect me to believe you had lesbian sex with a stranger?” He shook his head with a smile that lacked humor. “It isn’t in you.”
Unappreciative of the tone, Willow straightened her spine. “I had sex with you. We were strangers.”
“I have a dick. Pussy is an entirely different matter.”
“Not really.” She quirked her eyebrows. “Put some peanut butter on it and it all tastes the same.”
He swallowed hard. While she watched, his pants grew tighter around an erection that had to be a painful one. He was remembering, just like she was, the time she’d eaten her least favorite sandwich filling from his cock. And Lane’s. Back and forth, keeping both of them hard and ready.
Once again, he grabbed his phone and thumbed out some numbers. She frowned as he waited for an answer. “It’s me,” he said finally.
It was Lane; she just knew it.
“I’ll be at the house in five minutes. Meet me there. I have a surprise for you. Oh, and bring your black bag.” He ended the call that had obviously not been to Lane, but his smug attitude still put her on alert.
“Who was that?” she asked.
“A friend,” was all she got in return as he continued the drive in silence.
Minutes later, they turned into a neighborhood of midsize homes. Rows of tiled roofs rose atop lawns of lush green grass. The vegetation looked like an oasis surrounded by the backdrop of arid, earth-colored mountains. It was surprisingly nicer than what she’d pictured in such a “brown” city.
Denver slowed and pulled into one of the circular drives on the right. “This is your house?” Willow asked as he bypassed a set of double garage doors and stopped in front of the arched entrance to the home.
“Yep.” He put the truck in park and cut the engine. “Come on; get out.”
As they exited the vehicle, they were met with a blast of warm air that smelled of rain, even though the sky lacked a single cloud. There were no tall buildings to shade this oasis from the rising sun, but the palm trees offered more beauty as their lush fronds caught the slight breeze. Willow listened to their whispered movement with a deep sense of foreboding. That whole “black bag” thing had her rattled. The man she followed up the walkway and onto the front portico was much too accommodating, especially when he unlocked the door and ushered her inside.
They entered the foyer. As they passed a clean, modern living room with vaulted ceilings and a fireplace, his keys landed on one of two end tables that flanked a leather couch. Willow soaked it in, noting how different Denver’s home was compared to the dark, smoky interior of Lane’s house in Las Vegas. The sound of rustling paper alerted her to a presence other than their own. Her gaze shot over to the right where a woman stood behind the bar of a grand, rustic kitchen. She was pretty, brunette, with impossibly thick eyelashes that flicked upward when she heard their approach. A smile warmed luscious lips as she closed the pages of a thick magazine. “Who’s this?” she asked with a look that was much too friendly to be a significant other.
Denver’s introduction confirmed it. “Willow Burgess, meet my neighbor, Murphy Jones.”
When the woman rounded the bar, Willow took in her floral sarong-style dress and jeweled flip-flops. Comfortable yet classy. Also no bra. She held a soda can containing millions of calories that obviously had no effect on her waistline.
Willow found herself engaged in a firm handshake. “Uh…nice to meet you.”
“Love your hair color.” Murphy took a thick strand in her palm, admiring it as if her own long, glossy curls held no appeal at all. “Natural, right?”
Willow nodded, finding it impossible not to like Denver’s neighbor despite the copious amounts of sexual magnetism emanating from her.
As Denver threw his jacket over the back of the couch, Murphy turned to him with a look of wonder. “So this was the surprise you had for me? The new girlfriend?”
He shook his head. “She’s my brother’s girl, not mine.”
The reminder drew blood, something that put a sneer in Willow’s tone. “I don’t belong to anyone.”
“Right.” Denver’s answering smile was big. “In fact, Willow here just discovered she prefers women over men.”
Her insides instantly recoiled. “Really, Denver?”
“What?” he returned with a prizewinning, innocent look of his own. “Murphy has a lot of connections in this town. And, lucky for you, she likes women too.”
* * * *
Oh no he didn’t.
Willow scrambled to find a response to that, more than just the hot blush creeping up her neck.
“Don’t be an asshole, Denver.” Murphy’s laugh accompanied a head jerk in Willow’s direction. “Anyone can see how green this poor girl is.”
“No, she spent the whole morning trying to convince me she’s gone lesbian.” Denver approached them both and took the soda can from Murphy’s grasp. “I’m just giving her a chance to prove it.”
His gaze stayed on Willow while he took a drink. Those two, side by side, watching her with curious expectation, made Willow fidget in her white canvas tennis shoes. “Prove it?” she squeaked.
“You wanted to make friends, Willow.” He elbowed the woman beside him. “And Murphy loves to eat pussy.”
Instead of hitting him like she should, Murphy simply shrugged. “He’s right. I do love to eat pussy.”
“Uh…” Speechless, Willow placed her backpack on the edge of the kitchen’s narrow island. “I don’t think…” Fuck. Think! Think!
“Why not?” As Denver worked open the buttons of his cuffs and collar, his visual challenge pierced right through her ability to lie. “That’s how you got here, isn’t it? Trading lesbian sex for a ride to El Paso?”
But she couldn’t exactly tell him the truth. If he knew about the cash she’d withheld from the club, he’d tell Lane. And without knowing for sure if Lane was in jail or not…well, he still posed a legitimate threat. “Yes, that’s right,” she answered carefully as he approached her.
“Then I want to see some major negotiations take place right here, right now.”
“I should have known,” Murphy interrupted behind him. “Nothing like a little three-way to pull you from the office.”
His answering smile was roguish, setting Willow’s heart aflutter. Things weren’t exactly going as planned. Denver meant to scare her off with this challenge, and he wouldn’t pull his punches until he got the truth. He was good at getting what he wanted from women. What was it Lane had called him? A chick whisperer?
This was supposed to be Denver’s lesson in betrayal, not another sexual journey for her. But, sure enough, he was turning it into one. She’d never been with a girl. The thought of licking a pussy held no appeal, but Murphy did smell nice. And there was something about her that was attractive to anyone with a pulse—the kind of woman a novice like Willow would want to experiment with if forced to in a game of truth or dare.
“All right, I’ll do it,” Willow said, tossing her bangs with attitude. “As long as Denver doesn’t get to join in.”
Murphy burst out laughing. “Oh, I like her.”
“You aren’t in any position to make demands,” Denver answered with a scowl.
“You’re obviously trying to teach me a lesson and using Murphy to do it,” Willow countered caustically. “You want her to scare me off and then have her take care of that erection you’ve been fighting since first laying eyes on me.”
Murphy looked between them as they glared at each other. “I’m beginning to think she’s right, Denver. You don’t deserve to come.”