Warning! This episode contains explicit content for mature audiences. Reader discretion is advised. Things are really heating up in Moonlake.
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Danika’s first week at home had come to an end, which gave her two nights to let loose before settling into her new job at the space observatory. Sliding hangers of clothes along the rail of her walk-in robe, she considered her options for the night: designer party dress to match the crown I reclaim, or knock ’em dead sex appeal to guarantee a wild night? With Malik out of the picture, she looked forward to restoring a sense of normality at Elise’s party and while Grayson had not yet called her, prospects of seeing him there were high—and if things with him did not work out in her favour, she knew she could count on Brennan to fulfill her needs.
Her phone chimed to life across the room, pulling her away from the impossible choice. The name lighting up the screen put a smile on her face as she answered, ‘Hi Grayson, how are you?’
‘Hi Danny. I’m great, thanks. Sorry I haven’t had a chance to call you earlier. I’ve been swamped getting ready for school next week. How are you?’
Ecstatic after giving the police solid proof of Malik’s crimes, excited for work, and horny as hell after thinking about you the past few nights. ‘Good thank you. I certainly understand the work preparations. I’ve been busy doing the same.’
‘Of course! You start at the space station next week, don’t you?’
A lilting laugh slipped from her throat when he mixed up the nature of her place of employment. ‘I wish I were flying out to a space station, but alas I’m stuck on the ground staring up at the heavens through high powered telescopes.’
He chuckled. ‘My bad. I’m sure your work will be great wherever you do it. So… I was wondering if you are free tonight?’
‘Actually, I’m planning to go to a party.’
‘Oh?’ He infused his voice with enthusiasm. ‘Is it the one my cousin Elise is hosting?’
‘Yes, it is. Will you be there?’ She likely failed to curtail the hopeful tone in her voice.
‘Absolutely, if you’re going. Will you attend as my date?’
Yes, yes, yes! ‘I would love to. Why don’t I meet you there, though? To save you a pointless drive across Town.’
‘It’s hardly pointless. I’m more than happy to pick you up and it gives us more time together.’
Be still my beating heart! Like seriously! The muscle pumped frantically in her aching chest. ‘Okay, if you insist,’ she rasped in an unrecognisable voice. Good God, I need to get laid. Bodycon it is then.
‘Shall we meet at your place around nine?’
‘Sounds good.’ After a few more pleasantries, they signed off and Danika raced back to her closet to retrieve the hottest dress she owned: a shimmering gold asymmetrical number that barely reached her knees at its longest. The backless dress showed most of her left thigh thanks to a wide split and the deep plunging V-neck left little to the imagination. She had bought it on a whim while holidaying in Europe and had not yet worn it out in public. There’s no way Grayson will be able to resist me in this.
Four hours disappeared in the blink of a mascara coated eye, and the doorbell announced Grayson’s arrival. ‘I’ll get it,’ she called out to her parents who had retired to the living room for a night in front of the television. They knew about her date, and having met him already, approved whole-heartedly.
When she flung the door open, his jaw hit the floor. ‘Wow! You look…’ he gulped. ‘Stunning.’
She simpered demurely, a well-rehearsed act, and extended her arm. ‘Thank you. Shall we?’
He gently tugged her outside into his arms and pressed a chaste kiss to her right cheek, hands skimming across the bare skin of her back, sending tingles along her flesh. ‘You even smell delicious.’ His voice turned gruff, and her girly parts high fived each other. ‘Let’s go.’
The air buzzed and crackled between them for the duration of the ten-minute drive while they talked about their new jobs and the hassles of house hunting in a small town. Luckily Grayson had his own spot in the car port, else parking may have been a problem in the driveway that already overflowed with cars. The windows rattled with a thumping R&B bassline and once they passed the threshold, he slid his arm around the small of her back. Tempting as it was to beeline for his room in the guesthouse, Danika needed to mingle first. As if reading her mind, Grayson headed for the bar. ‘What would you like to drink?’
‘Gin and tonic please.’
‘Good choice.’ He made their cocktails and placed a chilly hand on her back, sending a shiver down her spine. ‘Oops! Sorry, my hands must be freezing after handling that ice.’
‘I don’t mind,’ she assured him with a seductive smile. ‘I was feeling hot anyway.’
She could have sworn she heard him groan, but the music grew louder when they reached the garden lounge. A scantily clad crowd gathering around the central seating area drew her attention, and she gaped at the man who should be in prison. Elise and Courtney—another of Danika’s high school friends—both wearing skimpy bathing suits, draped themselves over Malik as he sipped amber liquid from a rocks glass.
‘What the hell?’ she muttered, although her voice must have travelled because Malik glanced up at her and gave her a smug grin and a casual wave. When ‘Devil Devil’ by MILCK began playing, she wondered if he had even rigged the playlist.
‘Is something wrong?’ Grayson asked in a whisper.
‘Yes,’ she hissed. ‘Malik shouldn’t be here. I’ll explain why later.’
Malik drank in the sight of her with a languid perusal before locking her gaze with his dark, blazing eyes. ‘Greetings Princess. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.’
‘No. Just the Devil himself,’ she scoffed. Sipping her drink, she tried to cool her temper.
‘Touché. Why don’t you take a seat? You can have any except my throne. I won’t be giving up my kingdom any time soon.’ He waved his arm in a wide-sweeping gesture, showing her the few vacant seats on the outskirts of the patio.
She glimpsed movement near the pool and spotted Brennan climbing out the water, his attention piqued like that of an alert guard dog.
Courtney giggled. ‘You’re so-o funny, Malik.’
Fuck! Is she high? Upon closer inspection, her eyes were quivering, as were Elise’s. Danika leaned in closer to Grayson, snaking her arm around his waist as she reached up to speak in his ear, ‘Can we go somewhere to talk in private?’
Nodding, he led her into the guesthouse; the scent of coconut shower gel prevailing in the living area. The lock clicked into place, and he invited her to sit beside him on a plush microsuede modular sofa. ‘What’s wrong, Danny?’
She swallowed a large mouthful of her G&T and placed it on a side table. Grayson’s proximity and the growing need pooling in her core got the better of her, so she crawled into his lap and kissed his lips.
He pulled back. ‘Woah!’ ‘What’s gotten into you? I thought you needed to talk about something.’
She frowned. ‘Did I read you wrong? I thought you wanted me?’
Heaving out a sigh, Grayson lifted her aside and stood. He combed fingers through his blond hair and paced the floor. ‘I do want you, Danika, but not like this. I don’t want to rush things and I fear you’re pushing for something here for the wrong reasons.’
‘Seriously? You are the reason I kissed you. My body has been on fire all week because of you, Grayson.’
His chest rose and fell in rapid breaths. ‘Sure it has nothing to do with Malik?’
She laughed drily. ‘You’re kidding right?’
‘There’s no joke. I’ve seen the way you look at each other.’
Rising to face him, she exhaled in exasperation. ‘The only looks we share are ones of pure hatred.’
He shook his head. ‘Deny it all you want, but there’s definite sexual tension there. I don’t know much about your history—’
‘That’s exactly right. You know nothing about the politics of this town, so don’t presume to understand the bad blood between me and Malik. I promise he is the last human being on this planet I would ever consider sleeping with. Did you know the man’s a crook? I’m pretty sure he’s the reason your cousin is high tonight.’
‘What?’ His face flushed with murderous intent. ‘On what grounds?’
‘I caught him dealing drugs the other night, even recorded the transaction on my phone. I reported the incident to the police, and I know they arrested him, so seeing him here tonight shocked the hell out of me.’
‘What was he dealing?’
‘PCP, I think. He called it rocket fuel.’
‘Oh fuck!’ Grayson dashed outside and she followed him. He strode straight up to Malik with clenched fists. ‘Out the way girls, I need a word with this dipshit.’
Elise and Courtney stared at him with wide eyes.
‘Move!’ he boomed, and they scattered. ‘Tell me Malik: did you dose them up on whack?’
Gasps echoed through the assembled group and Malik relaxed into his chair. ‘Your Princess has been whispering in your ear, huh? I guarantee the girls voluntarily indulged.’
Grayson grabbed Malik’s collar and pulled him up to his feet before slugging him with a right hook to the eye.
Malik stumbled back into Danika, knocking her to the ground before he retaliated with a vicious blow to his assailant’s jaw.
Tucking her chin to her chest, Danika saved her head from hitting the pavement, but she winced at the sharp pain in her backside.
Brennan rushed to her, offering a hand to help her up. ‘You okay?’
‘I think so.’ When he brushed the dirt from her arse, she flinched. ‘Sorry, does that hurt?’
Nodding, she returned her attention to the brawl. Danika did not want to admit to the other sensations surging through her body with so many witnesses around. Instead, she snapped her finger, giving Brennan the pre-arranged signal.
A few guys chanted ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’ while other spectators cheered for one or both parties. The rivals circled each other and as Grayson aimed another swing, Malik caught his arm and spun him into a chokehold.
‘I think you should let me assess your injuries,’ suggested Brennan. ‘Don’t worry about Grayson. Malik’s not an idiot, he won’t seriously hurt the man with so many witnesses.’
‘Especially with a cop here,’ she reminded him.
Brennan was off duty, but he was still present and that had to count for something. ‘Right,’ he huffed. ‘Come on, let’s get you cleaned up and bandaged. I think your leg is bleeding.’ He pointed to her grazed knee.
‘Oh shoot.’ Trailing after him, she entered one of the guest bathrooms. She sat on the vanity counter and watched as he searched the cupboard. ‘You don’t happen to know why Malik is flaunting his freedom rather than laying low after that incriminating evidence I handed in?’
‘I have no idea what you’re talking about, sweetheart. Now give me your busted knee.’
‘Oh, I get it. Plausible deniability, huh?’ She extended her leg, granting him access to her wound and an eyeful of the bare flesh between her legs.
Brennan smirked. ‘Undressed for the occasion, I see.’
‘This dress is too snug for underwear.’ Resting her head back against the tiles, she gritted her teeth and braced for the sting as he wiped the area with antiseptic.
He applied an adhesive bandage and tossed the wrapper in a bin beside the toilet. ‘How does your arse feel?’
‘Your arse has always been fine, Danny.’ Spreading her legs wider, he ran his calloused fingers up her thighs, stopping a hair’s breadth from her apex. ‘What’s going on between you and Grayson? The pair of you looked pretty cosy when you rocked up.’
‘Not much. I kissed him earlier and he pushed me away.’
Brennan’s eyes bugged out. ‘The guy must be crazy or gay if he’s turning this down.’ He dipped a finger into her depths. ‘Lucky me, I guess.’
A pathetic mewling escaped her throat and she chomped into her bottom lip to stifle it. ‘I-I actually wanted to talk about Malik.’
He narrowed his eyes. ‘You gave me the sex signal just so you could talk about another man? Real classy.’
‘This is serious,’ she insisted.
‘So is my hunger for you, Danny.’ He pressed his thumb against her sensitive bud, prompting her to whimper. ‘Christ! You never should’ve come home. I’m dangerously addicted to you again already and I haven’t even fucked you yet. Not to mention all the other shit going down in this town.’
‘Shit involving Malik, right? Jesus, Brennan, the guy’s dealing angel dust. You know how much I hate that stuff.’
Averting his gaze, he withdrew his fingers from her body and crossed his arms. Brennan’s silence was deafening, sending chills through her nerves.
‘You know all about it, don’t you? Why aren’t you doing anything?’
Every ridiculously sculpted muscle in his body tensed. ‘Because I’m even more powerless with Malik than I am with you. Can we please drop this? If you’re not here for a good time, you should run back to your new boy toy. He probably has a bruised ego needing an ice pack.’
She slapped his face for such insolence seconds before stroking the inflamed cheek, relishing the feel of his bristles against her skin. Reacting with fast reflexes, he grabbed her wrists, effectively pinning them against the wall as he crashed his lips into hers with a crushing force. Every nerve in her body sparked, every blood cell heating and surging through her veins. A hint of pool chlorine mingled with the taste of his breath mint when he opened his mouth to her probing tongue.
He retrieved a foil packet from the pocket of his faded jeans and handed it to her before dropping the denim to the floor. Danika ripped the pack open with her teeth and deftly slid the latex over his throbbing dick, eliciting a sharp intake of air from his panting lungs. He took her with brutal force, igniting emotions in her black soul. Life was truly beautiful during these fleeting moments of fierce passion, like the glow of a dying star. Her eyes almost fluttered closed as the mix of pleasure and pain began to overwhelm her, but she spied a figure barge in through the door and panic seized her. Shit? Did we forget to lock it?
Malik froze when his dark eyes met hers.