The Wild Ones Page 1

Author: M. Leighton

Series: The Wild Ones #1

Genres: Romance , New Adult

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CHAPTER ONE - Cami

Sipping my beer, I look around at the familiar scene. If the honky tonk music blaring from the speakers in the ceiling hadn’t been enough to scream COUNTRY BAR, the sea of cowboy hats would have been. I smile as I adjust the black one that sits atop my own head. I love being incognito. Even if, by chance, someone I know stumbles into the smoke-filled dive, they’d never believe it was me looking out from beneath the brim.

Something hits the back of my barstool—hard—just as I put the glass to my lips. Ice cold beer pours down my chin and straight into my cleavage. I suck in a breath.

“’Scuse me,” a deep voice rumbles in my ear. Two hands grip my upper arms and pull me back, keeping me from tipping right out of my seat. I’m looking down at my soggy jeans and t-shirt when I feel the hands disappear. Half a second later, a face appears in my line of sight. “I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

My fingers stop plucking wet cotton away from my chest and I stare. Quite rudely, I might add. I’m speechless. Literally. And that, like, never happens to me.

The most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen are staring back at me. They are pale greenish-gray, rimmed in sooty lashes and filled with concern.

A sharp jab to my shin makes me let out the breath I hadn’t been aware of holding. I see my best friend Jenna’s head poke out from behind the mystery face. I know she kicked me and I know she’s trying to get my attention, but I can’t look away from these eyes long enough to glare at her.

God, his eyes! I’ve never seen eyes that make me want to gasp and giggle and do a strip tease all at once. But these do.

They flicker down, letting me go just long enough to collect my wits. I find very few of them. They are well and truly scattered. When he looks back up at me, his eyes are wrinkled at the corners. He’s smiling. And holy hell, what a smile it is!

“Does it make me a bad person for liking your shirt better this way?”

I glance down at myself. My dark pink bra is plainly visible through the now-wet paper thin material of my pale pink shirt. So are my very erect nipples. I blush, mortified.

Why, oh why did I wear a light pink t-shirt with a dark pink bra?

Because you can’t see your bra through it when it’s dry, dumb ass.

A thumb brushes my right cheek. “God, that’s sexy,” he whispers. Against my will, my eyes fly to his face. His smile has died to a lopsided grin that is devastation in its purest form. “I’ve never made a girl blush before.”

I laugh nervously, struggling to find my voice, to find my dignity. “Somehow I doubt that,” I say softly.

“Wow! The hair of a devil, the face of an angel and the voice of a phone sex operator. You really are the perfect woman.”

To my utter humiliation, my cheeks burn even hotter. Curse my fair skin!

Reaching into his pocket, Hot Stranger pulls out a couple bills and slides them across the bar. “Another of whatever…” He trails off, looking at me in question, waiting for me to fill in the blank.

“Cami,” I say, trying to hold back my grin.

Smooth way of getting my name. Chalk one up for Hot Stranger.

“Another of whatever Cami is having.” He turns back to me, a wicked gleam in his smoky eyes. “Sorry about your drink. Not so much about your shirt, though,” he admits candidly.

Willing myself not to blush again, I tilt my head. “So, do clumsy strangers have names in this place? Or are you just called ‘bull in china shop’?”

The lopsided grin comes back. “Patrick, but my friends call me Trick.”

“Trick? As in trick or treat? That kind of trick?”

He laughs and my stomach flutters. It actually flutters. “Yep. That kind of trick.” He sobers and leans in close to me. “Cami, can I ask a favor?”

I’m breathless again. He’s so close I can count every hair in the stubble that dusts his tan cheeks. For just a second, his clean manly scent overrides the cigarette smoke and stale beer smell of the bar.

I lose my voice—again—so I nod.

“Pick ‘treat.’ Please, for the love of God, pick ‘treat’.”

Like an idiot, I say nothing. I do nothing. I simply stare. Like a…a…well, like an idiot.

He makes a disappointed noise with his lips then starts shaking his head. “Too bad. Woulda made my night.”

He straightens, takes a step back and smiles at me again. “Nice to meet you, Cami,” he says, and then he turns and melts into the crowd.

********

“Earth to Cami!”

Tearing my gaze away from the broad-shouldered, slim-hipped view of Trick walking away, I turn to Jenna. “What?”

“Is that all you have to say? ‘What’?” She’s grinning.

“What would you like me to say?” I’m still a little addled. Or is it bedazzled?

“Um, I’d like to hear your plan for getting your lame ass off that stool and going over there to collect on that treat!”

“Eavesdrop much?”

“He was practically sitting in my lap while he hit on you. What was I supposed to do?”

“Uh, move!”

Jenna snorts. Not a great sound, but somehow she makes it seem cute and girlie. “And miss that view? I was all but catatonic just looking at him. He is seven kinds of hot, Cam!”

I giggle. “Listen to you. You’ve got a boyfriend. Or have you conveniently forgotten that we are meeting people here?”

“I haven’t forgotten. Have you?”

I nod at her. “Touché, pussycat.”

In truth, I had. From the time I’d looked up into Trick’s eyes, I hadn’t thought of Brent one time. And that can’t be a good sign. Brent has never made me feel what this guy has in three minutes.

“Meh,” she says, waving her hand dismissively as she sips her own beer. “Don’t give it a second thought. Looking at him is kinda like staring at the sun. You see spots and you’re dizzy for a while, but then it goes away.”

I wonder to myself if I really want it to go away. I can’t ever remember a guy making me feel this way.

I can’t stop myself from looking into the crowd again. I scan the endless ocean of hats until my gaze stops on one dark head. The hair is longish and has a slight wave to it. I know without having to see his face that it’s Trick. It just seems right that he’d be the only guy in the place not wearing a cowboy hat.

Almost like he can feel my eyes or my thoughts on him, Trick turns around. His gaze locks with mine like there isn’t a room full of people between us. We stare at each other for a few seconds and then, real slow, he grins.

Good God, he has dimples! I might die!

Right on cue, my cheeks get hot. Here we go again.

His grin widens into a smile and he winks at me. I’m pretty sure my toes are numb. I watch him turn away. Before his head completely disappears, I consider what Jenna said. Maybe I should go and ask for the treat…

I jump when I feel fingers at my neck, brushing my hair back. “You looking for me?”

I recognize the voice. It’s Brent. I sigh. It’s not right that I should feel a little disappointed. But I do. The time for me to be reckless has past. The door of opportunity has officially been closed. By Brent.

I turn on my stool. I smile up into the face of Brent Thomason, my quasi-boyfriend.

Brent is no slob in the looks department. His sandy hair has that purposefully messy look and his dark brown eyes have an exotic tilt I’ve always found very appealing. But even as I stare into them, I’m picturing smoky greenish-gray ones.

“Were you looking for me?” he asks again.

I dodge the question, playfully poking him in the chest. “You’re late!”

“I can’t be too perfect. Gotta keep a girl like you on her toes.” He kisses the tip of my nose and then brushes my lips with his.

“Did you get the ‘Vette running?” I ask, leaning back.

“No. That’s why I’m late. I just talked to the guy that was supposed to take a look at it for me. Since I couldn’t even get it here, he agreed to look at it tomorrow night instead. I’ll get it out there even if I have to have it towed,” he growls in determination.

As usual, I find Brent’s passion about his car a little bit of a turn on. One of my father’s obsessions is vintage cars. We have a garage full of them and I know enough about them to talk like I’ve got some sense.

“Out where?”

He shrugs. “Eh, some sort of field thing. You know how country people are.”

I feel my frown, but can’t stop it. I know Brent doesn’t really mean anything by the comment, but it still bothers me. Unlike most of my friends, I know what life without money looks like, feels like. Granted, it was a long time ago, but some things a girl never forgets.

Sexy eyes drift through my mind…

“I want to get that thing running so I can drive you around and show you off. I mean, drive it around and show it off.” He grins at me. I grin back. The sad thing is, I think he had it right the first time.

CHAPTER TWO - Trick

Tiny hands tap on the bare skin of my back. I feel the thump of them echo through my throbbing head.

“Uuuuuuuugh,” I groan into the pillow.

I hear a giggle. “You sound like a monster when you do that.”

I groan again, louder this time. Another giggle. Grace loves it when I sleep in. She gets a kick out of waking me up.

“I neeeeed foooood,” I growl in my best monster voice. Then, as fast as I can manage to move first thing in the morning with a hangover, I turn over and loop my arm around her tiny waist and throw her onto the bed.

I grab her foot and start tickling it relentlessly. She jerks and wiggles, rolling around on the bed, giggling the whole time.

“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! That tickles,” she cries breathlessly.

“You know this is what happens when you wake the sleeping giant.”

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!”

I let her foot go and throw my legs over the side of the bed. “I’m letting you off easy this time, but only because you remembered the magic word.”

“I’m sorry?” she asks as she sits up and pushes her dark brown bangs out of her eyes.

“No, that’s two words. The magic word is hippopotamus.”

She grins. “I didn’t say hippopotamus, silly.”

“You didn’t? Well then…” I lunge at her and she scoots off the bed, squealing all the way out the door.

I sit back down on the bed, my head pounding painfully. Not having a ten year-old sister in the house and having a bedroom door that locks were two of the major benefits of college life.

Don’t go there. Too little, too late.

Pushing myself off the bed, I head for the bathroom.

At least it has a functioning lock. Thank God!

After a couple splashes of cold water to my face, the night before comes back in a rush. Amazing near-violet eyes come to mind and, right after that, a blush that makes me hard just thinking about it.

Cami. She was gorgeous!

Damn!

Not that it matters. Girls like that always have boyfriends. Possessive ones who know what they’ve got and are willing to throw down for it. I certainly would. She’s the kind of girl you fight to the death for.

Damn.

“Hurry up, slow poke. Breakfast is almost ready.”

I hear Grace’s little feet scampering away from the door, no doubt thinking I might come charging out after her. I smile into the mirror above the sink. Even though she can annoy the daylights out of me, I still love her. Hell, I practically raised her. I’m the only man in her life, the only father figure she’s ever really had.

My thoughts turn bitter and angry, so I splash a little more cold water on my face before I head for the kitchen. Big, homemade breakfasts are one of the benefits of not being at college.

“Mornin’, hon,” Mom says with a bright smile.

“Mornin’,” I return, sitting in front of the place she has set for me, the place that used to be my father’s. “I told you, you don’t have to do this, Mom. I can make myself breakfast.”

“Not like this, you can’t.”

I grin. “Good point.”

Her smile fades as she sits down with her own plate. She looks at me from the corner of her eye. “You out drinking again last night?”

I sigh. “Yeah. Why?”

“I’m not fussin’. It just seems like you’ve been doing an awful lot of that since you had to come home.”

“Mom, I didn’t have to come home. I chose to come home.”

We both glance at Grace, who is pretending not to pay us any attention.

“I know it’s not what you wanted and I feel—”

“Well, don’t. Don’t feel that way. I wanted to do it, Mom. You and Grace are all I’ve got. It just makes sense.”

Her smile returns. “I knew all along you’d grow up to be this kind of man. I’m so proud of you, Patrick. I just wish…”

“Mom, college isn’t going anywhere. I can finish up later. Right now, this is more important.”

Her smile turns sad and she nods. I know she feels guilty, like she ruined my life by telling me the insurance money had run out. For the first part of the last year, I felt that way, too. But I meant what I said; she and Grace are the only family I’ve got. If I don’t take care of them, who will?

“Just promise me if it all gets to be too much, you’ll say something. I don’t want to see you drink yourself—”

“Mom!” I interrupt sternly. I soften it with a grin. “I’m fine. Really. It’s just some fun with the boys. No big deal. There’s nothing else to do around here, remember?”

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