EXCERPT: What I Need by J Daniels
Riley Tennyson has made a huge mistake.
At least, that’s what she keeps telling herself.
Showing up to her brother’s wedding pissed off and newly single, Riley seeks comfort in solitude and an open bar, until the gorgeous and irresistibly charming CJ Tully makes her a better offer―a wild night with the master of smooth-talking where nothing is off limits.
Riley does what any single woman would do, and a connection is made. One neither one of them can ignore. But when she comes home to the boyfriend she no longer thought she had, Riley buries her secret and begs CJ to do the same.
Forget about each other. It was a mistake. That’s all it was… right?
Desires are hidden. Distance is kept. Until one night CJ makes the ultimate sacrifice, and Riley can no longer avoid the man she can’t stop thinking about.
Not with him sleeping down the hall…
I jerk my chin at the guy standing at the security booth after he speaks, then throw a look of appreciation at the bouncer who led me over here before he steps away.
“Name’s Mark. I’m running things tonight. It’s good to have you,” the guy says.
We shake hands.
“Yeah. Don’t mention it,” I reply.
He looks around the venue and gestures. “Packed joint tonight. Shouldn’t get too crazy with this band and the crowd it’s bringing out, but we never wanna risk it. It’s good having backup.”
“How many of us you got?” I ask him over the music when the band starts playing, leaning closer to hear his response.
“You and another guy who’s already here. He’s hanging out up by the stage. Plus a bunch of our guys.” He hooks his thumb at the floor to ceiling windows along the front of the building, adding, “I got some uniforms on the street keeping that shit under control in case people get tossed out.”
I nod, liking what I’m hearing.
The Red Door isn’t the biggest venue I’ve worked security on, but it’s big enough. Managing this shit alone can present a challenge. And by the looks of it, it’s a sold out show.
More eyes we got on the crowd, the better.
“You run into any problems yet?” I ask.
The guy shakes his head. “Nah. Just normal shit. People trying to sneak in their own booze,” he replies, glancing at the door where everyone is filing in. “Confiscated it. No issues. Everything else seems to be running smooth.”
“Good,” I say when I meet his eyes. “I’ll keep near the back since the other guy’s covering the front. I’ll come to you if I run into any problems.”
“Sounds good, man.”
We exchange another hand shake, then I step away and move through the crowd.
I stop near the center of the room and stay to the back like I said so I can have full view of the floor that’s packed with bodies, some keeping position and others moving away from me, pushing to get closer to the stage.
Bringing my arms across my chest, I stand tall and do a sweep of the place. I’ve been here before so I know the layout.
There’s a bar to the right of where I’m standing, stretching the length of the wall. Restrooms are behind me. Other than the hallway leading to the rooms behind the stage where bands hang out, there’s isn’t much that isn’t visible. Plus, it’s one level, standing room only, so I don’t gotta worry about another floor I need to cover.
Should be an easy gig.
I do shit like this on the side for the extra cash. Venues hosting concerts are always looking for cops who are willing to come out and beef up security. We stay in civilian clothes so we blend in, and unless I’m having to act on something, I typically get out without anyone knowing I’m a cop.
Easy money. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
I look back to the dance floor.
The lights are dimmed. Red and blue strobe lights positioned on the ceiling illuminate the crowd, along with the bright, white lights shining from the stage. Visibility is good.
Another plus. I worked a few of these where it wasn’t and that only presented problems.
But here, I can see faces. Can see other shit going on too if someone’s dumb enough to try something too.
I anticipate it. Events like this always bring out some of the stupidest motherfuckers. Which is exactly why they like having us work these things.
Security can only do so much.
I’m three songs into the set when the beat picks up. The bass vibrates along the floor. I feel it pulsing in my feet.
The faster rhythm stirs the crowd and shifts them around. More bodies gather and move closer to the stage, jumping up with their fists in the air and belting out lyrics, drawing people away from the bar. Others stay toward the back where there’s room to dance.
That’s where I’m looking, and that’s where I see her.
I blink. My eyes refocus. Then I stare at waves the color of sand flowing down the back of a tiny thing swaying to the music.
Shirt tied off at the waist. Lower back showing. Hips shaking in some tight as shit black jeans. Ass looking fucking incredible.
She reaches above her, bends her elbows and rakes her fingers through her hair, lifting it off her neck as her body keeps moving in ways I feel straight in my cock, then after letting her arms drop, she looks toward the bar with eyes searching, giving me full view of her profile.
My chest grows motherfucking tight.
I blink again, thinking I’m seeing things.
Riley Tennyson wets her lips.
I’m not seeing things.
Jesus Christ. This is just what I need.
Working this shit, needing to stay focused and eyes alert to all bodies in this room and now I know for damn sure that’s not gonna be happening, meaning this gig just went from easy to really fucking complicated.
There’s only one body I’m interested in keeping eyes on and it’s the one making my dick hard.
Riley Tennyson is gonna fucking kill me.
I pull in a deep breath, watching that sweet face get ripped out of view when Riley looks toward the stage again.
She keeps dancing. Keeps shaking that perfect ass and swaying those perfect hips, fingers curling in and lifting those long waves again, also perfect.
Every part of her. Every fucking inch.
And I’m not even considering what she’s got going on in the front. Shouldn’t even be considering it—we’re friends, she’s taken, and I’m not a fucking asshole—but that didn’t stop me all day when I couldn’t keep those spectacular tits off my mind, even going a step further into crazy when I shared that with her through a text.
I need to quit now. Stop this shit.
I can avoid it. I got options.
Switch with the guy hanging up by the stage, hoping Riley keeps her location. Or fuck it. Just pull out of this gig all together. Make up some excuse. I don’t need the cash.
I don’t need to be staring.
I sure as fuck don’t need to be getting hard right now.
I got options. Just need to pick one.
Real fucking simple.
I breathe in deep again, letting it out slowly. And I do this staring at her.
Only at her.
And the more staring I do the more I start to notice, like how she seems to be out there dancing alone, not with another person or a group of friends she came with. People around her are keeping to themselves or appearing to be together, throwing their arms around each other or sharing looks. Acting friendly. Just not with her.
Riley isn’t meeting anyone’s eyes. She’s not trying to talk to anyone. She’s in her own little world.
She’s here alone.
He made her come to this shit alone.
Anger fills me. My jaw flexes while the muscles in my arms and shoulders start locking up.
My choice of options just grew by one.
Instead of charging through the crowd which, no lie, is exactly what I want to be doing right now, I reach into the back pocket of my jeans and pull out my phone. I shoot out a quick text.
Me: Tell me he’s here.
Lifting my eyes, I watch as Riley pauses mid ass-shake, slaps her back pocket, tugs out her phone and brings it in front of her. Her head tilts down, then a second later it’s lifting and she’s searching all around where she’s standing, peering around people and standing taller. She finds me when she finally twists around, head first and then body following.
Her lips part. Her blue eyes go round, flames burning me up like they always do.
Riley starts moving my way and my eyes lower, first to her mouth, watching the slow smile twist across it and take shape.
She looks happy to see me. I shouldn’t put stock into that but I do. It’s what I want.
Then my eyes keep dropping and I get full view of her tits. Her full, heavy, perfect fucking tits. Sitting high behind her tight white shirt and bouncing with her steps.
My new friend has tits like that. And by the looks of it, she didn’t bother putting on a bra either.
What the fuck did I do in a previous life to deserve this kind of torture?
“Hey. I didn’t know you were coming to this,” Riley says all sweet sounding when she reaches me, stopping close and offering me a smile. Sweat gathers on her brow and in the hollow dip in her throat. She shoves her phone away and questions, “Why are you standing all the way back here? Don’t you wanna get closer so you can see the band?”
“Working,” I tell her, lifting my eyes before I punch a hole through my jeans. I tuck my phone into my back pocket, adding, “Trust me. I can see plenty from where I’m standing.”
Ain’t that the fucking truth.
Riley blinks, then looks to my chest. “You’re not wearing your uniform,” she observes.
I squint at her mouth.
I got what she said, but I can barely hear her over the music. I don’t like that.
I want to hear her.
“Come on.” Grabbing her elbow, I pull Riley with me to the back corner of the room, stopping beside the hallway that leads to the restrooms and crowding the wall.
It’s as far from the speakers as I can get her unless I take her outside, and I’m not sure I want to do that.
Only `cause I know I’ll want to leave with her. Meaning I absolutely want to do that.
Shoulder pressing to the wall, I release her elbow after tugging Riley close. I pull my arms across my chest. “Not typically something I wanna advertise when I’m staying undercover,” I say in response to her observation.
“Oh.” She looks up at me, smiling and lifting her shoulders with a jerk. “Cool,” she says.
I can see Riley better where we’re standing now. The hallway light is shining on her, making her skin glow.
I look her over.
She wearing more makeup than I’ve ever seen her in. Black lines her eyes and her lashes are darker. Thicker too.
I like that.
Her cheeks are flushed from the dancing she was doing. That combined with the whatever she’s got on her face is hiding her freckles from me.
I don’t like that. But I don’t tell Riley. I keep looking.
Red lips, full and shiny. Cock sucking lips. I know that from experience.
Shit. Don’t go there. I focus on her eyes again.
Blue and black, fading out to grey. Like a storm coming…
“You totally still look like a cop,” Riley shares, jarring my focus. The corner of her mouth twitches. “You’re not fooling anyone, CJ Tully.”
My brows raise. “Yeah?”
She nods, laughing. “You look scary and pissed off. Smile a little.”
I don’t smile. Not even when she amps hers up and gives it to me, pairing it with another soft giggle.
I get straight to the point with her because getting off point with Riley is gonna lead to this shit getting even more complicated, and fuck, I’ve looked enough tonight to run the risk of major fucking complications.
Plus, she’s laughing. Smiling. Looking like she’s thinking the same things I’m thinking.
Get to the fucking point, Tully.
“You gonna answer my question?” I ask.
Her brow furrows. “What question?”
“I asked you if he was here,” I remind her.
“Oh.” Nodding, Riley looks behind her in the direction of the bar, then meets my eyes again. “Yeah, he went to get a drink. He doesn’t really want to be here. I kinda dragged him out.”
“Why’d you need to drag him out?”
Riley tilts her head. “Because… he doesn’t really want to be here?” she repeats slowly, looking puzzled. “I just told you. He doesn’t like The Killers.”
“Yeah, babe. So.”
She straightens her head, but her eyes narrow as if she’s thinking hard. “You’ve lost me,” she shares.
“Forget it,” I mumble, looking away, knowing I got no business getting up in her shit the way I’m doing. I need to back off.
“No. What? Tell me.” Riley reaches out and places her hand on my forearm.
I look down and watch her black painted fingers wrap around and curl under. I feel them squeeze.
Our eyes lock.
“Tell me,” she pleads, looking close to begging for this.
My blood starts running hot. Scorching. Hot.
I’m getting up in her shit.
“I’m here because I’m working for extra cash, not because I’m digging the music,” I share, staring into her eyes and seeing hers staring back, like what I’m revealing is something she needs to hear, not just something she’s curious about. “Don’t hate it. I listen to stuff like this on occasion but it ain’t something I’d pay money to see. That being said, my woman wants to come to a show like this, crowd this size, booze flowing, other shit possibly going on, she ain’t coming alone. No discussion needed. I could hate this music to the point it makes my fucking ears bleed and I’m still going with her.”
“Why?” Riley asks. “To protect her?”
“That.” I jerk my chin. “And `cause she’s mine and a real man can deal with shitty music for a few hours if it means putting in time with his woman.”
Riley drags her teeth along her bottom lip. Her chest starts working harder, moving stricter with her breaths.
I should stop now. The way she’s looking at me…
I should stop.
“Saw you dancing and thought you were here alone,” I add, smirking. “Already hate that motherfucker for what he gets to touch every night. I thought I was gonna have to kill him.”
Riley stares up at me. She doesn’t blink. Doesn’t breathe.
“Babe,” I probe.
“You shouldn’t say that,” she says, face serious.
Her hand squeezes tighter. She’s anxious now, maybe. Or pissed. I don’t know.
I decide to ease her mind if it’s nerves getting to her.
“I wouldn’t really kill him.” My smirk grows into a smile. “Mess him up though.”
“No. Not that.” She shakes her head. “The other thing. What he gets to touch. You shouldn’t say that.”
“Even so. We’re friends. You shouldn’t say it.”
I bend to get closer. “You might wanna take your hand off me if we’re friends, darlin’.”
J. Daniels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sweet Addiction series, the Alabama Summer series, and the Dirty Deeds series.
She would rather bake than cook, she listens to music entirely too loud, and loves writing stories her children will never read. Her husband and children are her greatest loves, with cupcakes coming in at a close second.
J grew up in Baltimore and resides in Maryland with her family.
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