There's Wild, Then There's You Page 1

Author: M. Leighton

Series: The Wild Ones #3

Genres: Romance , New Adult

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ONE: Violet

One by one, I watch the people in the rows in front of me stand up and introduce themselves.

Oh, sweet Jesus! How do I get myself into these messes?

I don’t know why I even ask. I already know. I help people. It’s not only what I do; it’s who I am.

By day, I’m a social worker, finally able to do what I went to school for four years to do—help people. But by night, I’m a chauffeur, a counselor, a nurse, a guardian, a suicide hotline, and, tonight, an addict.

As the first person in my row stands, my stomach turns a flip and I look around once more for my best friend, Tia. The only reason I’m here is for moral support. Her moral support. And she hasn’t even shown up yet.

That’s what I get for trying to help her when she obviously doesn’t want it.

Tia’s fiancé, Dennis, insisted that before they get married, Tia attend at least ten sessions at an addicts meeting. That might sound ridiculous to some people, but it’s probably not that much to ask, considering that Tia has cheated on him not one, not two, not three, not even four times. But six. Six times in three years, Tia has gotten drunk and slept with someone else. She regrets it immediately. Cries over it, apologizes for it, always confesses it, but it never seems to stop her when she feels a wild hair come on and a hot guy happens to be near. It doesn’t help that she’s gorgeous. With long, blond hair and pale blue eyes, Tia looks just like a Barbie doll. She has insanely big boobs, an enviably tiny waist, and ridiculously long legs. It’s a package that draws the eye of practically every male within a ten-mile radius. And that only worsens Tia’s . . . weakness. She loves first kisses. And butterflies. And excitement. And vodka. That combination lands her in more trouble than I care to comment on. It also lands me in more trouble than I care to comment on.

Like finding myself next in a long line of people standing up to explain who they are and why they’re here. My mind is whirling as I listen to the lady beside me explain that her name is Rhianne and that she’s been an addict for eleven years. People clap (why, I’m not sure), and she smiles before taking her seat again. Then the room falls quiet and every eye turns to me. My stomach drops into my shoes.

My turn.

Slowly, I stand. I give the guy at the head of the room a shaky smile, and he nods me on in encouragement. I clear my throat and wipe my damp palms on my jeans. I glance quickly around at all the attentive faces, wishing silently that this moment was already over.

Just a few more seconds and it will be . . .

It’s when my eyes collide with breathtakingly pale blue ones that I nearly forget where I am and what I’m supposed to be saying. Lucky for me, my speech is short. And exactly 50 percent untrue.

“Hi. My name is Violet, and I’m a sex addict.”

TWO: Jet

The monotony and the hopelessness of the night take an immediate turn for the better when she stands up. I watch the tiny brunette fiddle with her fingers as she looks around. She seems shy, which isn’t a trait I’d associate with people like the ones in this room. But she’s here for a reason, which intrigues the hell out of me.

I sit up a little straighter as I watch her. She’s actually really hot—dark auburn hair pulled back into a twist, creamy skin flushed around her cheeks, straight nose tucked nervously toward her chest, and pearly white teeth biting into her lush lower lip.

Her figure is small but proportionate—round tits, flat stomach, firm ass, long, long legs. Looking at her makes me glad to have found her here. I know for sure she likes one thing. And she likes it a lot. I can sympathize with that.

I watch her wipe her palms nervously on her jeans. She looks around and I wait for her eyes to make their way to me. I feel like I need to see them, like I need to see the rest of the package. What will they look like? What will they say?

When her quick scan reaches me, it pauses. For maybe a hundredth of a second. And I realize that her eyes are exactly what I was hoping they’d be, even though I didn’t know I was really hoping they’d be anything.

They’re a pale, silvery gray. Smoky. Sexy. It’s in them that I can see why she’s here. There’s something wild about those eyes, something that says she’s hiding a little devil inside that hot-yet-innocent librarian exterior, and it’s just dying to make its way out.

“Hi. My name is Violet, and I’m a sex addict.”

I feel like groaning. God, that voice! It’s low and husky, the kind that’s meant to say dirty things in the dark. It goes perfectly with her eyes. I have no doubt there will be a lot of wet dreams featuring that voice tonight.

I’m even more intrigued now. This woman is an unusual and very attractive blend of chaste and fiery, a combination I’ve never before encountered—and that’s saying a lot. I’ve tasted pretty much every type of woman this world has to offer. Or at least I thought I had.

Wouldn’t you know I’d finally find someone who really interests me here, of all places.

My eyes don’t leave her until she disappears back into the crowd that sits between us. Even as other people rise to speak, and even though it’s undoubtedly inadvisable, I know I’ll see Violet, Sex Addict again. Up close and personal. And soon.

THREE: Violet

I can’t get to the door fast enough. I’m irritated, I’m humiliated, and I’m a terrible liar. Trying to keep my head down and my feet moving quickly, I steadily make my way through the crowd.

Someone pushes open the exit, letting in the cool, crisp night air. It ruffles my hair and draws me toward it like a moth to the flame. That’s freedom just up ahead and I’m scrambling for it.

But I’m not scrambling fast enough.

A few feet before I reach my goal, someone steps into my path. I see denim-clad legs right in my way. And they aren’t moving.

I glance up to find the meeting coordinator, Lyle, standing in front of me, smiling. “Don’t run off. At least give me a chance to welcome you to the meeting and explain a little about what we do.” He gestures to a table. It’s surrounded by chatting addicts and laden with cookies, cups, and a big urn of coffee. “Can I buy you a drink?”

I refrain from commenting on his poor choice of phrasing. Ironically, it sounds like a cheesy pick-up line. From the coordinator of a sex addicts meeting. At the meeting.

If that ain’t funny . . .

But rather than commenting on his gall, I smile and dig deep for some courage and a really good story. “Oh, there’s no need. I’ve been to dozens of these,” I say with a casual wave of my hand. “I’ve been . . . uh . . . in control now for three years, so there’s no need for you to waste your time on me when there are so many others here that might need you.”

I give him a friendly nod and start to move around him. “That’s great news! Congratulations! Our group could use someone just like you. We have folks in varying stages of the twelve steps, but few in your position that still attend meetings.”

I feel a surge of panic coming on. I thought a story like that would make me less of a target or spectacle, not opt me into something worse.

In my head, I curse my best friend and her loose-and-free tendencies. I should’ve known she’d never show up tonight. Yet here I am, lying to a room full of sex addicts, making up stories about mastering a sex problem that I don’t have and never expect to.

I am glad, however, that my lie sounded convincing. Probably because it wasn’t really a lie. At least not all of it. Since my ex, Connelly, and I broke up three years ago, I haven’t been with anyone, so basically what I said was true. It’s just the “addict” part that’s a bit of a stretch.

Or a lot of a stretch.

I loved Connelly, but never in a million years could he have turned me into a sex fiend. Our sex life was more of an obligation. Or a gift. A concession—my concession to him. I did it because I knew he liked it, not because I really got much out of it. I’m sure the other people in this room would laugh their butts off if they knew the real me—lukewarm in the sack, with no intentions of heating up.

But they won’t. Mainly because once I leave here—if I can manage to get out—I’m never coming back. Tia can suck it up and come by herself. I did!

“I’d love to,” I say, trying not to stumble over the blatant lie (I would much rather have a root canal), “but I have some place I need to be.”

Lyle frowns at me, but doesn’t question me further. “Oh, okay. Well, I hope we’ll see you again. This crowd could benefit from someone like you. It’s good to see victors. Those who have overcome.” His smile makes me feel even worse about my deception, but I don’t let it sway me.

“Thank you. I, uh, I . . . sorry, I need to go.”

I move around him, refocusing on the door. When I’m within a few inches of it, the tension already beginning to drain from my limbs, someone else steps right between me and freedom.

Again, I stop. But this time I stop not because I can’t move past the obstacle, but because, for just a moment, I don’t want to.

Those eyes . . . I recognize them instantly. I might dream about them later. I might remember them forever. They belong to the guy who was watching me when I stood up. They were disconcerting then, but now . . . seeing them with the rest of him . . . they’re a thousand times worse.

Or maybe a thousand times better.

Tall and striking, he oozes the very sex appeal that makes him fit right in with this type of group. I doubt for a second that he’s even real, that he’s even human. That he’s anything more than a figment of my imagination. Everything about him is an invitation—his eyes, his smile, his posture. From his spiky black hair and dazzling blue eyes to his perfect lips and politely casual smile, he appeals to me like no one has ever appealed to me before. But he reeks of danger and hedonism, two things I avoid like the plague. Two things I’ve never wanted not to avoid.

Until now.

As we stare at each other, I wonder if he’s going to speak to me. And, if so, what he might say. I mean, we are at an SAA meeting. I’m sure picking up the other attendees is at the very least frowned upon. Before I can get too carried away pondering it, though, he smiles courteously and steps aside, stretching out his arm to push open the door for me.

I’m admittedly a little disappointed, which is stupid. I ought to be glad he’s aiding in my escape, not hindering it. And yet, as I return his smile and step forward, I’m not. Not at all. So caught up in my thoughts and my fascination am I, it’s no wonder that I get tangled in my own feet when I pass him, tripping and nearly falling right into him.

Fast as lightning, his hands reach out to catch me, righting me before I can make an even bigger fool of myself.

“Ohmigod, I’m so sorry,” I say, feeling my cheeks burst into blood-red flame. I keep my eyes cast down as I lean back, once again stable on my feet.

“Please don’t apologize,” his deep voice rumbles.

I lick my lips before I raise my eyes to his. Part of me knows I should turn and run, foregoing common courtesies and niceties. Something in me, some deep and rarely used instinct that lives within, knows that once I meet those eyes, I’ll be forever lost. It makes no sense, but I know it like I know my name and my eye color and the way my hair flips out on the ends when it’s rainy outside.

Despite my better judgment, I do it. I look up and up and up until I reach a blue so fathomless I feel like I could dive into it and never reach the bottom. Like I could drown and never even know it.

But I can’t do that. I can’t dive in. Not with a guy like this. I’ve seen what someone like this can do to a person—turn that which was once whole and capable into nothing more than scattered pieces of wreckage and ruin.

“I’m Jet,” he offers softly, his eyes never leaving mine.

Jet. Even his name is sexy, which makes me more uncomfortable.

Ridiculous! my rational, level-headed, slightly bitter side scoffs. It pipes up with its less bedazzled perspective, reminding me that guys like this are nothing more than predators. The love ’em and leave ’em type. And he’s obviously worse than most, as evidenced by his attendance here. Apparently, he’s got a real problem.

I give him a tight smile as I straighten away from him. “Violet. Nice to meet you,” I say, hurrying to continue. “Excuse me please.”

I slip on my familiar, no-nonsense persona like a protective shield, like the armor that has kept me from harm all these years. It has never failed me before; I don’t expect it to now.

My head is high, my spine is rigid, and my imperviousness is firmly in place as I move past the dark and damaged stranger. With every step I take, I determine to put him out of my mind and never think of him again.

Until he speaks once more. His words make dents in my breastplate like armor-piercing rounds.

“It’s short,” he calls from a few steps behind me.

Confused, I turn.

Knowing I shouldn’t, still I turn.

“Pardon?”

“My name. It’s short.”

“Short for what?”

I watch as he moves toward me, narrowing the space I only just created. He stops within inches and bends slightly forward, one side of his mouth pulling up into a self-deprecating grin. “Jethro.”

And, just like that, he’s human. And vulnerable. And slightly imperfect. And even more dangerous to me than he was before.

FOUR: Jet

I thought at first she was going to just walk away. Ignore me. And that’s never happened before. Never. I tell myself that’s why I told her my name. My real name. Normally, I guard that like I guard my heart—with a grip like a bear trap, ready to take off the limbs of any who might seek to uncover it. Yet I just handed it over to this girl. Because she wasn’t responding to me.

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