lling his eyes, he spotted Nathan by the bar. He appeared to be watching Bethany as well, and Derrick shook his head, a slight grin tugging at his lips. Nathan had been after him for months to make a move on the pretty blonde. Derrick was hesitant.
It wasn't that he didn't want her. Hell, he definitely wanted her, but he'd made a promise to himself to keep his hands off his father's girls. It wasn't as though she was actually his father's girlfriend. Quite the contrary. She accompanied him to social events, along with about four other girls, posed for pictures, and in return, he paid for her college education, clothes, whatever she wanted basically. It was a charmed life for the girls. Most of them were now experiencing a life they had only dreamed existed.
Bethany had done well here. She'd posed for the magazine three years prior and had become one of its most popular models. She'd also gone to college. Photography had been her major. She'd interned at the magazine and was now one of its top photographers. From top model to top photographer in three years. Yes, Bethany had definitely done well.
Her laughter floated across the patio, and Derrick watched as she brushed her long hair behind her shoulder. Her sultry brown eyes met his across the pool, and he smiled, nodding his head in acknowledgment. She nodded back, albeit hesitatingly, before turning back to her friends.
Derrick deserved that little bit of hesitancy, he supposed. He hadn't exactly been consistent with his attention. Most of the time he kept his distance, but occasionally his desire for her would get the better of him and he'd make a pass or touch her in a way a man would touch a lover.
A few times he'd caught her off guard--caught her watching him with longing, the same longing she often looked at Nathan with. Derrick was used to that sort of thing. He and Nathan shared women and had often joked they would end up with the same girl when they decided to settle down.
At his father's last party, he and Nathan had pinned her in a quiet corner. They'd all had too much to drink, and her gorgeous, curvy body had been too tempting to pass up. They'd both kissed her, fondled her, and he wanted to again. But ever since then, she'd been a little more wary around them, a little more watchful.
Her sly gaze met his again through her lashes as she took a sip of her drink. He held it until she once again looked away.
“You're going to stare a hole straight through her,” Nathan said from beside him, and Derrick grinned.
“Nah,” Derrick replied, smiling. “Besides, you can't tell me you haven't been staring just as hard.”
“No, 'fraid I can't. I can't stop thinking about the last party, when we kissed her. I don't know why the hell you're being so stubborn about this.”
“She's Dad's favorite, Nathan.”
“So?” Nathan shrugged. “What's your point?”
“She's been through hell,” Derrick said, trying to reason for both himself as well as Nathan.
“It's been six years since her stepfather raped her.”
“Doesn't mean she's over it.”
“I think the toys in her room say otherwise.”
Derrick turned to glance at him. “What toys?”
Nathan grinned. “You know she wants us as much as we want her.”
“If you want her so much, then go,” Derrick said with a wave of his hand.
Nathan raised an eyebrow. “Really? You sure about that?”
“Are you saying you can't seduce a woman by yourself anymore?” Derrick pressed, only half-serious.
Nathan's gaze narrowed. “Kiss my ass.” He shrugged. “I can; it just doesn't feel right for some reason without you. Not sure why. Maybe we've been doing it together too long.”
Derrick turned his gaze back to Bethany. She smiled down at his father, then leaned over to kiss his cheek. He laughed, smiling at her like a father would a daughter. Jacob loved all his girls, but he had a soft spot for Bethany, and Bethany had a soft spot for him. She loved him. Not like a lover, but like a father. She looked up to him, took care of him, saw he ate right, got enough sleep, even goaded him to seriously date, not just put on an image for the press.
She'd said more than once Jacob had saved her life. He'd given her a second chance, and she'd forever be grateful. That was one of the reasons Derrick hadn't seriously seduced her yet. He didn't want anything to come between her and Jacob, and he had a feeling if things didn't work out for them, she would feel incredibly awkward here and would most likely leave.
Things were stressed enough between him and his dad.
Derrick sighed and took another sip of his whiskey sour. He needed to get drunk.
One of his father's models walked by, her red hair piled on her head, her fair skin glistening with tanning oil. She was a beauty and left no doubt she was interested, but Derrick wasn't. Instead, his gaze shifted back to Bethany.
“I'm so fucking screwed,” he grumbled.
Nathan snickered. “You just now figuring that out?”
Bethany couldn't stop stealing glances at the two most gorgeous men at the party, Derrick and Nathan. Both of them were absolutely heavenly, and she'd thought of nothing else since they'd both kissed her at the previous party.
That sort of thing wasn't uncommon at Jacob's parties, but it was for her. She hadn't dated anyone since she'd lived here. Hadn't wanted to really, until those two. She knew how they were, how it worked with them. Licking her lips, she tried to not appear obvious as she stared. Derrick was dark. Dark hair, beautiful dark blue eyes, and a hard body that had her shivering whenever she remembered the feel of it against her.
Nathan was lighter with brown hair that curled softly, the ends tickling his shirt collar. Green eyes that more often than not twinkled with mischief. He was the flirt, the happy-go-lucky character. Derrick was more serious.
She often attributed that to his job as a detective. He saw a lot of terrible things, things she was sure would give her nightmares.
Derrick's gaze met hers, and she glanced toward the ground. Her fingers trembled slightly as they gripped her glass. She wondered if they would corner her again. She half hoped they would, half hoped they wouldn't. To be honest, she wasn't sure if she was ready for sex. She wanted it but, at the same time, felt nervous. It had been so long. It would be like having sex for the first time all over again.
She cringed and took a sip of her drink. The warmth of the alcohol spread through her body, warming her flesh. Or was it the way Nathan watched her with hungry eyes that heated her skin? She took another sip, welcoming the tingling sensations as the drink settled on her stomach.
She smiled down at Jacob and didn't miss the sad look in his eyes as he glanced over at his son before turning his attention back to his guests. She hated the tension between Derrick and his father. It had been there for as long as she'd known them. Nathan said it had been there most of their lives. Derrick had wanted more of his father's attention as a child, but instead had to share him with all these girls. He'd resented it through his teenage years and often acted out. He'd settled down as an adult, had grown more accepting, but remnants of the resentment remained. Bethany could see it, and so could Jacob, and it tore at her heart to see Jacob sad over it, which usually made her angry toward Derrick and sometimes more harsh than she should be.
Derrick wasn't a bad guy, not really. He just needed a little shove.
A shove right into my bed.
Bethany snorted. Jacob looked up at her with a questioning expression, and the heat of a blush covered her cheeks.
“Sarah did something funny,” she said, and Jacob smiled.
“Sarah's always doing something funny.”
Bethany grinned. “True.”
Jacob wrapped his hand around her thigh and patted it lovingly. “Go have fun, darlin'. You don't have to stand here and entertain me.” He nodded toward Derrick. “Why don't you go tell Derrick to stop brooding and loosen up?”
“Derrick loosen up? Are you sure he even knows how?” Bethany teased, making Jacob chuckle.
“I've wondered that myself a time or two, but I'm sure he can figure it out. If not, you'll show him.”
Bethany chuckled. Oh, she would love to show him. Him and Nathan. Her smile faded as she turned to look at the two of them softly speaking to one another. Was she the slut her stepfather had always accused her of being? Or was this a natural attraction? Her lips twisted. Just how natural was it to be attracted to two men at once?
Taking a deep breath, Bethany strolled over to the two of them. Nathan saw her and smiled, putting her somewhat at ease. Derrick continued to stare at her with that dark, brooding look that made her weak in the knees. Her gaze wandered down his chest, hugged tight by the white T-shirt he wore. Dark blue Levi's clung to hips and thick thighs. Nathan wore khaki Dockers and his usual button-down shirt. Despite his casual demeanor, he was working the party. Just like always.
“Well, don't you look like a walking ray of sunshine?” Nathan said as his green eyes took in her yellow bikini.
Her skin heated, and her stomach tightened into knots. She smiled, her lips trembling slightly. Spreading out her arms, she glanced down at herself. “It's one of the suits sent over by Georgina. She said the color would go well with my tan.”
“It does,” Derrick murmured as he too took in her figure, his eyes glowing with desire.
“I think she just wanted her suits photographed. All the girls got one, each a different color and style.”
“At least they're free,” Nathan replied, grinning.
“Yeah, but sometimes I feel like a walking billboard.”
Derrick snickered and lifted his glass to take a sip. Bethany couldn't help but stare at his lips.
“Your father wanted me to come over and make sure you were having some fun,” she blurted out, then blushed when she realized how that sounded.
Derrick grinned, making her heart flutter. “Is my father saying I don't know how to have fun?”
She crossed her arms, eyeing him speculatively. “I'm not sure you do.”
“I'm a police officer. I can't have too much fun.”
“The press has left, Derrick. If that's what you're concerned about. You make a lot of people nervous standing over here watching them like some uptight schoolmarm.”
Nathan chuckled. “She pegged you, didn't she?”
Derrick scrunched up his face like he'd eaten something sour. “I do not. Besides, if they're nervous, then apparently they're doing something they shouldn't be.”
Bethany snorted. “Like you don't ever do anything you shouldn't.”
“I'm always a good boy.” He grinned wickedly and moved to stand behind her, his breath blowing like hot cinders against her flesh. “Unless I'm near you, and then I turn into a very, very bad boy.”
Bethany shivered and held her breath, waiting anxiously for him to touch her. He never failed to have that effect. So did Nathan. At times like this, she was so tired of being leery and afraid, so tired of waiting.
“You turn into a very naughty boy,” she countered, her gaze landing on Nathan's hot, smoldering eyes as they glittered like emeralds. “Both of you do.”
Nathan stepped closer, and Bethany sucked in a breath. Their heat surrounded her, closed in around her like a blanket, and she wanted to sink to her knees in surrender. Nathan tugged at the string between her breasts, brushing the tip of his finger along her skin.
“If there weren't so many people around, I'd show you just how naughty we could get, Sunshine,” Nathan purred, making her knees weak.
She had no doubt of that. It wasn't the first time they'd teased her, taunted her with their alluring sex appeal. Derrick feathered his hand down her arm, and she glanced at him over her shoulder.
“Right now,” Derrick whispered, “I'd like nothing more than to drag you somewhere quiet.”
And Bethany would have gone willingly too. Until she got away from them, and then she'd realize the stupidity of such an action. He was Jacob's son. She knew how they were. She knew they wanted nothing more than a fun romp in the sack. What about after? How would it be between them then? She didn't think she could just have sex and then go about as though nothing had happened. Not like they did.
“Bethany?” Sarah called.
Bethany drew in a deep steadying breath as Nathan and Derrick stepped away from her but still remained close. She looked to Sarah, who stood at the far side of the bar, leaning one hand against it as she watched her with amusement.
“I have someone who would like to meet you, if you can get away.”
Bethany nodded. “Sure. Who is it?” she asked as she joined Sarah and walked across the patio.
“Honestly, no one. You just looked like you needed a rescue. You okay?”
Bethany smiled and nodded. “Yes. At least I think so. The two of them can certainly be overwhelming, can't they?”
“I wouldn't know,” Sarah said with a grin, watching her closely. She wrapped her arm around Bethany's elbow, her grin widening into an understanding smile. “Let's go join the gals and forget about men for a while.”
“Deal,” Bethany said with a relieved chuckle.
Trista Ann Michaels