Book: Tough and Tender (Bad Boy Romance Box Set)





“Trish!” Roger yells to me across the bar. “Would you mind running back to the storage room and grabbing a package of red plastic cups for me please? We’re running low over here behind the bar.”


I drop the towel I’m using to wipe off the tables and head for the storage room. Once inside, I search through the tall metal racks to look for the cardboard box of cups. What a disaster the room is in. How am I supposed to find anything? Maybe I should offer to come in on my day off and organize things. The extra hours would come in handy.

Finally, I spy the cups high up on the top rack. I drag the rolling stepladder over and climb up. Even with the ladder, I can barely reach the edge of the box. I grab onto the shelf and lean toward it.

“Need some help?” a familiar deep voice says below me.

My heart catches in my throat.

I’m afraid to look.

And even more afraid to get my hopes up.

If I look down and it’s not Jesse, the disappointment will be more than I can bear. I’ve spent the past few weeks forcing myself to not think about him.

Every time I remember the night he walked out the door of the hospital, I want to sob. It’s taken all the strength I have in me to keep things together well enough to go to work, much less not cry myself to sleep every night.

Letting go of Jesse was the worst decision of my life, one that I’ve regretted every minute since. With all the stress I’ve been under lately, I’m probably imagining his voice now. I grip the shelf tighter so I don’t fall.

“I have to admit the view is looking pretty fine from down here,” he says, a smile in his voice. “Those pink panties of yours are doing things to me that you can’t even imagine. Want to come down and check out the effects for yourself?”

It’s Jesse, alright.

I let out the breath I’ve been holding and turn to look down at him. He’s standing there in jeans and a solid black t-shirt that does little to hide his ripped muscles.

“Is your filthy mind always in the gutter?” I ask.

Jesse gives me that gut-wrenching smile that turns my stomach inside out.

“Where you’re concerned, yes it is, ma’am.”

He reaches up a strong hand, and I hesitate only a split-second before taking it and allowing him to help me down the ladder. When I reach the floor, he tugs me close against his chest.

“Jesse,” I mumble against his shirt. “What are you doing here?”

“Shh...don’t say anything,” he says, burying his face in my hair and inhaling deeply. “Let me hold you one more time before you send me away. I’ve missed you so much.”

For a long minute we stand there, holding each other and not moving. I never want this moment to end.

“Did I ever tell you how good you smell?” he asks into my hair. “No, I probably didn’t. I meant to. I’m sorry for not telling you those things. I was sure we had more time. That we could take it slow and easy. That I would have all the time in the world to show you how I feel. And maybe at some point to tell you too.”

I’m almost afraid to breathe or say anything. I’m scared he’ll stop talking or take back the words. Or even worse, laugh and say he’s only kidding.

“I came to tell you that you’re safe now,” he continues. “Big Roy was killed in a motorcycle accident. He’ll never hurt you or anybody else. So you never have to worry about the Liberators again. I made sure of that.”

“He’s really dead?”

A huge wave of relief engulfs me. I didn’t realize how much the threat of Big Roy was hanging over me until it was gone. No more looking behind me when I walk down the street or triple-checking to make sure I’ve locked the doors.

“What about the other Liberators?” I ask. “Won’t they pick up the pieces and keep the feud going?”

“Not this time. Cut off the head of a snake and the body dies.”

I slide my arms around his waist and look up at him. 

“Is that all you came to tell me?”

He gently tucks a strand of hair behind my ear and kisses me softly on the lips. “No, that’s not all. Not by a long shot. I want you to come back to Georgia with me.”

He tilts my chin up so his mesmerizing blue eyes can stare intently into mine. All I want to do is melt against him and never let go.

“I want you, Trish, and I’m not leaving here without you. No matter how much time it takes. I won’t give up. Tell me what I need to say or do to convince you to give us another chance to be a real couple.”

As much as I would love to be with Jesse, the thought of being broke and homeless again scares me to death. I finally have a tiny bit of stability in my life, and to think about starting all over again is terrifying.

“How can I go back with you? I wouldn’t have a job or a place to live.”

“We’ll work all that out once we get there,” he says. “I need my girl by my side. Not four hundred miles away. I want you to move in with me so that your gorgeous face is the first thing I see every morning and the last memory I have at night.” He makes a face and smiles. “In the interest of full disclosure, you would be living with Sam too since we share a great big farmhouse. He’s cool though. Once you get settled in, you can take some time and decide what you want to do with your life. There is even a college close by that you can commute to if you want to go back to school.”

My mind is already whirling with possibilities. I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid to grab onto the hope. There’s nothing I would like more than to build a life with Jesse.

“Let me take care of you,” he says. “Give me a chance to show you how good we can be together. I know you’ve been through so much. So that’s all I’m asking of you for now. Until you’re ready for more. Just be with me. I will take whatever you’re willing to give at this point.”

He places his hands on both sides of my face. “I know this is fast and I’m rushing things. I’m not going to apologize for that. If there’s one thing I’ve learned lately, it’s that there are no promises of tomorrow. Or even the rest of today. I love you, and I need you to know that now. Today. No more holding back, thinking there’s more time.”

Closing his eyes, he rests his forehead against mine. “Tell me you’ll slide on the back of my bike and come back home with me.” 

This must be a dream.

It has to be.

Fairy tale endings don’t happen to girls like me.

How can I possibly resist him?

I reach up and run my fingers through the dark hair at the nape of his neck. He tugs me up against him with his hands gripping my hips.

“I’ll need to give Roger a two-week notice,” I say.

Jesse raises his head and smiles. His blue eyes are twinkling. “Is that a yes?”

I nod. He grabs me in a bear hug, lifts me off of my feet, and whirls me around.

“You’ve made me the happiest man alive. Let’s get out of here. We can swing by wherever you’ve been staying and pick up your stuff. With any luck, we can be home for a late breakfast if we leave right now. I don’t mind driving in the dark, if you don’t mind riding. I can’t wait to get you home.”

“Whoa! Wait!” I say, laughing and trying to catch my breath. “I can’t just leave. I need to help Roger finish closing up the bar tonight. Didn’t you hear what I said about giving him notice? I don’t want to leave him in a bind. He’s been so good to me that I can’t treat him that way.”

“I have a confession to make,” he says in a serious voice. “I hope you don’t get mad. I’ve been talking to Roger about you every single day for weeks. I needed to be sure you were okay. He knew I was coming back for you as soon as I knew it was safe. And when I was able to ride again.”

To know Jesse has been thinking and caring about me this whole time chokes me up. Tears spring to my eyes.

“You’ve been checking on me? I wish I had known. I’ve never felt so alone as I have lately.”

“If you’ll remember, you weren’t returning any of my phone calls or texts. Any other man might have given up.”

I bury my head in his shirt and try not to cry. What if I had driven him away for good? I can’t bear to think about how things might have turned out.

“I know, and I’m so sorry. I was confused about Ty and you and everything. And by the time I realized you had been telling me the truth about Ty, I was too embarrassed and ashamed to call you back. I felt like such a naïve idiot. It devastated me to finally accept who Ty really is.”

“You love your brother and it clouded your judgment. Luckily, I’m not the type of man to let things go. I told you it wasn’t over, and it’s not. Not now, not ever. You’re mine now. If you’ll have me.”

“You’re the only man I can ever imagine being with, Jesse.” Something he said stuck in my mind. “What did you mean about being able to ride again? Did something happen? Are you okay?”

He runs a steady hand up and down my back in reassurance. “Nothing that time couldn’t fix. I took a spill on my bike. Dislocated a shoulder, sprained an ankle, and had a few more bumps and bruises. No big deal,” he says with an easy smile. “I learned my lesson and I’ll take the curves a little slower next time.”

“Now I feel even worse to think that you were hurt and I wasn’t there for you. What kind of a bad person am I?”

“To be honest, I’m glad you weren’t there. I wanted to keep as many miles as possible between you and the Liberators. No regrets, Trish. Okay? Everything now is about the future, not the past. We can start fresh. It’s not too late.”

A loud rapping on the storage room door interrupts us.

“Trish! You still in there?” Roger yells through the door. “I’m leaving now. Turn off everything and lock the back door to the bar when you leave. Everyone else has gone home for the night.”

Jesse winks at me and I stifle a giggle.

“Okay!” I yell back. “I will.”

“Jesse?” Roger says after a minute. “I know you’re in there too doing God knows what. Can the phone calls stop now? You’re worse than my Mama about calling every damn day.”

Jesse smiles. “No more phone calls, Roger! I promise.”

“Alright then. I’ll leave you two lovebirds to continue whatever you’re doing. If you make any kind of a mess, clean it up.”

We wait silently until we hear the back door of the bar slam shut then burst out laughing.

“I owe that man big time,” Jesse says. “I hope I get the chance to repay him someday.” He takes my hand and opens the door to the storage room. “Come with me,” he says, leading me out into the now empty and dark bar.

“What are you doing?” I ask as he drags me toward the long wooden bar lining one side of the room. “Where are we going? I need to lock up.”

“Not yet. From the first night I saw you, I’ve had this fantasy playing through my mind,” he says. “No way am I going to miss the chance to act it out for real.”

He suddenly spins me around to face him. In one smooth movement, he picks me up and plants my ass on the edge of the wooden bar with my legs hanging over. I don’t know what he is planning, but he already has my whole body trembling in anticipation of his next move.

In an instant, his lips are everywhere, kissing every inch of my face and down along my neck while his hands pull my bikini top loose, exposing my breasts to the cool air-conditioning.

Jesse’s harsh intake of breath tells me how much he likes what he sees, his body stilling as he stares down at my breasts. The dark gleam in his eyes sends my heart racing.

“Wow!” he says, stopping for a long moment to look. “I’ll never get tired of this view. You take my breath away every single time.”

I don’t have time to answer before his head swoops down and he encloses a hard nipple in the heat of his mouth.

“Jesse,” I cry out, clutching the dark hair that I love so much as his lips seal around the nipple and sucks with urgent tugs.

Nothing has ever felt so good.

The feelings grow more intense with a hand inching up my leg and under my short skirt. His hands cup beneath my ass, half-lifting me off the bar as he reaches for my thong panties. With a strong tug, he rips them right off me and throws them on the floor, followed by my skirt.

“Those are my favorite pair,” I scold.

“I’ll buy you more, or even better, you can go without. Then I can rub your bare ass whenever I feel like it. Lie back. Those sexy as hell leather boots are staying on.”

He lifts my legs to place them over his shoulders while he scoots my ass right to the edge of the bar.

“Perfect,” he says, sliding his hands down my thighs. “Just as I imagined. Your pussy is lined up exactly where I want you to be.”

I lean back on my bent elbows, using them to support me as he takes his position in between my legs, which he pushes wider apart. His hand slips between my thighs and the next moment his fingers are skimming over my mound.

“You are so fucking wet,” he says with a deep groan, sliding one finger then two deep inside. “Did you miss me?” My tightness and heat clasps hold of his fingers, and his breath catches as he feels the sensation.

“God! Yes!” I writhe against his hand and hear him chuckle with pleasure. How I missed him!

“Show me how much. Rub your tits for me,” Jesse says, his eyes gone almost black with unadulterated lust. “Make your nipples hard while you watch me.”

Shy at first but eager to please him, I squeeze my full breasts together and tug on the large nipples. Without breaking eye contact, he finger fucks me harder, with each thrust almost lifting me off the bar while his thumb rubs my clit.

“You’re so unbelievably beautiful to me,” he says.

He spreads my legs wider and moves his head between them. My thighs quiver as he rubs his day-old stubble gently against them and kisses his way up my leg.

“I want to taste you,” he murmurs. “So many long nights I would have given anything for one more sweet taste of you inside and out. Sometimes I would close my eyes and remember how it felt to bury my face between your legs. Your scent, your flavor. I never dreamed I would get the chance to be with you like this again.”

Removing his fingers, he replaces them with his tongue. I buck hard into his face and he clutches my thighs, holding me steady on the bar. I fist my hands in his thick hair and bite down hard on my bottom lip to keep from crying out.

He looks up at me, his eyes mirroring every emotion surging through my body before using first the flat of his tongue and then just the tip to tease me.

Hungrily, I slide my hands from his shoulders down to grip his muscular upper arms. I can never get enough of the feel of his skin beneath the palms of my hand. A lifetime spent tracing the dark black tattoos lining his body will never be enough. I want to lick and touch every symbol, every letter.

I close my eyes in ecstasy as Jesse gives me everything I want and need, driving me to the edge of sanity when he touches my clit with his tongue.

“Open your eyes,” he commands hoarsely, raising his head to look at me. “I want to make you cum harder than you ever have so you’ll know your gorgeous body was made just for my touch.”

He murmurs sexy, dirty words to me, telling me how hot I am and how much he craves one more touch of me. How I am like a drug to his system that he can never get enough of.

Instincts take over, and all I can focus on is Jesse’s tongue grinding into my sex with delicious pressure. Now that I know that he is playing for keeps, I relax and give in to all the wonderful sensations flooding my body.

The empty bar fills with the sound of my moans. I’m past the point of being embarrassed by how good his mouth feels. Clutching his hair, I wiggle wantonly beneath his tongue. He nibbles on my clit and I cry out his name as a powerful orgasm hits, sending wave after wave of contractions through my body. When I float back to earth, he looks up at me from between my legs.

“You’re a living, breathing wet dream,” he says hoarsely. “I would have waited forever to feel you cum on my face again.”

Suddenly he slides me backward on the slippery bar. I clutch the edge, afraid I’ll fall off the side straight into the bottles of liquor. He chuckles and the sound thrills my heart. I love to hear him laugh.

“I won’t let you fall,” he says with a devilish grin. “Trust me, I’ve got you. From now on, I’ve always got you.” In one smooth move, he pulls himself up to join me on the bar then strips off his shirt.

I stare at him, awestruck. His tanned chest muscles are bigger than I remember. My hands quickly spread over his pecs and the large Steel Infidels tattoo running across the width of his chest.

“There’s one last part of my fantasy yet to be fulfilled,” he says. “Roll over and scoot up on your knees. See that mirror?” He points to our reflection in the long mirror behind the bar. “Don’t take your eyes off it.”

I catch a glimpse of our bodies. Jesse is shirtless, deeply tanned and sexy as hell. I’m sprawled out on the bar wearing nothing but black leather boots.

“Thank God for your vivid imagination,” I say. I turn over, tilt my ass high in the air, and brace myself on my elbows.

“Fuck,” he groans, his fingers tightening on my flesh as he gets a full view of what I’m offering up for his taking. “Damn, Trish. That’s just...damn. You’re driving me insane.”

I watch in the mirror as he kneels behind me, quickly unbuckles his belt, and unzips his pants. With one hand, he pulls free his large, hard erection.

Oh. My. God.

“I’ll never forget how wild and sexy you look at this moment,” he says. “No matter how amazing my fantasies were, they never came close to this reality. I need you. So much it’s fucking unreal.”

He spreads my ass cheeks and fingers me one more time slowly before placing the head of his thick cock against my pussy. Grabbing a handful of my long hair, he wraps it around his hand and pulls my head back slightly. His blue eyes meet mine in the mirror. Just when I think the waiting will drive me crazy, he slides into me in one powerful thrust.

I can’t think and can only feel.

Slowly, he begins to move. He draws out inch by inch and then thrusts back in, increasing his pace and intensity. Each time, he sinks himself in to the balls and causes his groin to smack into my ass. I can’t take my eyes off the mirror. I love the sight of his cock appearing and then disappearing into my pussy.

Watching him fuck me from behind is wild, erotic, and primal.

“Please tell me this is as good for you as it is for me,” he murmurs before slamming into me a bit more fiercely and reaching under me to tweak my nipple in his fingers.

“Better than good,” I moan between thrusts. “You’re the only man who can make me feel this way.”

I’m so close when I hear his deep, rough groans. He angles his hips and plunges deeper than ever. I bump and grind back against him, seeking more. He grabs my swaying tit and massages hard.

“Yes...oh yes!” I cry out in a blend of agony and bliss. Another strangled moan escapes me, and my inner muscles spasm and clench like a fist around him.

His pace becomes a blur of stabbing thrusts, and an instant later Jesse climaxes with me. He lets out a choked curse and grips my hips to hold me tight against him.

I gasp at the visual in the mirror, watching how powerfully he loses control, just like everything else he does. No filters or holding back. Nothing but pure masculine energy pumping into me.


All man.

And all mine.