Bad Boy Valentine

By: Sylvia Pierce

Chapter One

Dread sat heavy on Kate’s chest, wrapping her naked body in a chill that yanked her out of a deep, orgasm-induced sleep.

Ignoring the delicious burn of her thigh muscles, she rolled over onto her back and opened her eyes, adjusting to the darkness. They’d left the window open, but Brooklyn’s late-night spring air wasn’t the source of the cold. Something was just… off. She felt it deep in her bones, a current of unease humming beneath her muscles.

“Jagger?” she mumbled, her eyes finally landing on his silhouette in the darkness. He was sitting at the end of their bed, fully dressed. His white T-shirt looked blue in the moonlight.

Jagger turned to look at her over his shoulder and smiled, his wavy chestnut hair falling into his face, shading his eyes. “Didn’t mean to wake you, Kit-Kat.”

He turned away again, the mattress shaking as he bent over and jammed his feet into his boots.

“What’s wrong?”

“Just something I gotta go take care of.” He squeezed her foot beneath the blanket, then stood up and grabbed his leather jacket from the rocking chair in the corner. “Go back to sleep. I’ll be back soon.”

“What? No. What’s going on?” Kate sat up, clutching the sheets to her chest as she eyed him suspiciously. She was fully awake now, and his soothing tone wasn’t fooling her for a second. She watched him silently, waiting for an explanation as he continued to get ready, dodging her gaze.

Even in the darkness, the sleek lines of his body were well-defined, his muscled shoulders and chest tapering into narrow hips that Kate loved to wrap her legs around. His jeans hung low, and when he stretched to tug on his jacket, his T-shirt rode up, revealing a strip of skin and a trail of dark hair she’d earlier painted with hot, passionate kisses.

Her stomach swooped at the not-so-distant memories.

Don’t let him walk out that door…

Kate swallowed hard. The voice inside her head was insistent, nagging, and had a tendency to show up at the worst possible times.

But it had never led her astray. Gran had taught her at an early age to listen to that inner voice at all costs, and she always did.

Talk him out of it. Now.

Jagger came over to her side of the bed and slid open the nightstand drawer, fishing for the keys to his Harley. The clock glowed bright green—three-thirty in the morning.

“Jagger,” Kate said firmly. “What the hell? It’s the middle of the night. Where are you—”

“Meeting up with Rage and those guys.” He bent down and pressed a kiss to her bare shoulder, then pulled back and flashed her a dimpled grin. They’d been together since her junior year of high school—his senior—and six years later, that damn smile still made her heart beat faster. “Be home before you know it.”

“How about you just be home now and I won’t have to worry,” she said, pouting. She couldn’t help it; Rage gave her the creeps. “You know what happens when I worry.”

“You bake me cookies.” Jagger smiled again.

“God, you’re impossible.” Kate laughed, but he was totally right. Rather than eat her feelings like a normal woman, Kate baked them for other people to eat. Whether she was stressed, nervous, or too excited to contain herself, every emotional overload got dealt with the same way in Kate’s kitchen, all the unspent energy fueling batches of cookies, cupcakes, pies, pastries, and chocolates.

“Sorry, babe,” Jagger said. “Can’t see how that’s a bad thing for me.”

Kate sighed. They’d only been living together a few months, and she didn’t want him to feel like he couldn’t have his space, his freedom. He’d given her the same respect. He wasn’t like some of her friends’ boyfriends, demanding her constant attention, trying to dictate her schedule. He never complained when she wanted to spend time with her friends, or when she went over to Gran’s to cook dinner every Sunday, or when she’d holed up at the NYU library for days on end to study for finals. Kate had always believed that a relationship needed air to grow. Space to breathe. Even before Jagger had asked her to move in with him, she’d always promised herself she wouldn’t be the type of woman to get between a guy and his friends.

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