Chapter 1 - Strangers
“The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
The self-possession she carried when she sauntered into the bar of the trendy 646 Restaurant was sensuous, like the drink she ordered when she settled beside Magnus.
“Bourbon. Neat,” the beauty requested in a breathy voice.
Her bronze mocha skin offered a stunning contrast to her white dress, both chic and bold. The sleeveless leather number vacuum-sealed every single curve of her athletic body. It accentuated a healthy set of round breasts set off with a flat stomach, a bountiful ass, and sculpted legs like her arms.
Her ears carried glittery gold hoops encrusted with diamonds. The same gold matched the chains of her white stilettos. The tiny clutch purse of polished gold dangled from a gold chain strap along her wrist. She wore no other jewelry.
Her make-up never overwhelmed her delicate features, but added dimension with a gold shimmer and a darkly lined, winged eye. A simple lip-gloss touched her dark pink lips that were small yet slightly pouty. A naughty mouth if he’d ever seen one.
Damn! Magnus grew hard the moment he fixed on that last feature. He imagined it sucking him off with great enthusiasm. Shaking his head, Magnus could not deny how staggered he was by the carnality of his thoughts that bordered on scandal. Just the same, he would spontaneously combust in his suit if he didn’t do something about the fire this woman stoked in his blood and forced down his cock.
To be so turned by a stranger on mere sight, much less a short African American woman at that, was unheard of for him. This beauty was not the composite of what he categorized as the standard female he brought to his bed. Chiefly, he noted that she was not blonde, leggie, or tall.
Magnus prided himself on having control above a beast in heat, but this woman? She oozed sensuality from her pores. It caught the attention of every man she passed, especially after the clumsy waiter dropped a tray of drinks for a table of executives who cried foul.
All eyes drew to the newbie server, of course, but the flustered young man stared fixed at the beauty, who skirted him without missing her stride toward the bar. Who could blame him? Her every movement flowed in grace like an angel, except she floated down from heaven on spiky heels.
The moment Magnus saw her eyes, though, he was done. Large and catlike in the color of smoky quartz, they watched everything with predatory awareness. Her eyes noticed how all the men followed her with their approving stares, but she seemed to dismiss them.
When those eyes of hers locked on him, Magnus felt the air escape his lungs. Damn, the woman was beautiful! The urgent need to adjust himself shocked him because his erection was uncomfortable, but he was glad for the dark suit that masked his problem well enough for the time being.
The hint of danger her smoky eyes announced along with her unsmiling mouth did not put him off. It should have. Magnus knew better from years of practice to stay away from women like her. They seriously seared him in the past. As sure as he breathed, Magnus banked that the beauty would do just that. No helping the flame she was when she tossed back her wet and wavy hair in the shade of a dark liver. He detected something sweet and expensive drifting up to him from her.
Magnus needed to take a drink. A precipitous thirst crept upon him. The beauty chose that opportunity to brush up against his arm. It snapped his notice of her left hand. It reached out to catch her balance by gripping him with a small hand that carried short but even nails without paint but shined like her plain but beautiful toenails. No ring encased any of her nimble fingers that he imagined sucking just like those delightful toes. How could someone so tempting and smelled of an exotic paradise not be taken?
Sweet passion fruit maybe was the scent. No, not perfume precisely, Magnus thought. An expensive body wash or shampoo or a combination of both was what he smelled. Magnus imagined the beauty’s taste would be something like that: sweet and full-bodied. His mouth went dry at the thought of him, lavishing his tongue in wonder over that bronze mocha skin. It glowed like a piece of exotic fruit.
What was something as tropically hot as she was doing in Oregon, of all places? Did she pass through for the modeling convention, maybe? The best he could tell, many modeling agencies sought fresh talent at the Grand Seapoint Convention Center next door. So then, she had to be a model, right, who stayed at the adjoining Fairmont Hotel that housed the restaurant?
Lots of good-looking women walked around. Hence, Magnus wouldn’t be surprised if this woman were one of them seeking a break into the modeling business. In part, the convention roused packs of prowling men dressed to incite the attention of the fine-looking ladies for a hook-up. The 646 was usually busy, but not so, with the majority of the crowd being male.
Magnus sucked in a breath at the sultry sound of her voice speaking to the bartender. He whipped his thoughts back to what she ordered and tried to suppress a groan. His aching crotch swelled with further discomfort at the beauty’s ridiculous proximity to him.
“Impressive.” The white man in a suit lifted his glass of bourbon on the rocks at her before taking a sip.
Oddly, Jules detected disdain in how he wore that pricey English suit tailored to his every contour. It made her smile for the first time since entering this coastal city. The vibe radiating from him was magnetic, and Jules stared a little longer.
Yes. He would do.
Unlike many she observed in so many weeks, the stranger beside her was precisely whom she’d been seeking. Perhaps he might even meet her challenge? Would she dare to dream such a thing?
Hmm... Would I care to find out?
Jules licked her bottom lip, already deciding. Jules craved distraction from her thoughts. Could her chosen satiate her restlessness in the foreign city so far removed from where she called home? There was only one way to find out.
Something about this strange man’s countenance made it evident to her that he just might. His lovely blue eyes were sharp enough to pierce her to the core while he examined her greedily. His nose flared to gather more air. A large hand loosened his shiny striped tie, knotted at a masculine throat in a way that made her believe he was being strangled by it.
Overall, this man appeared a raw bundle of sinew and handsome flesh. Jules believed it would give the tempered pleasure she craved. A ring-less left hand curled around his drink was significantly bigger than both of hers combined. The man also stood far taller than she, even with the four-inch heels she rocked tonight with her favorite dress that hugged every curve she could advertise.
The other area of interest was that the stranger at the bar was so very white. Jules had never been with that particular group of men, nor had she felt more turned on by one. Her preference came in men of color. She dated her share of African, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, and Arab men. Living in Washington, DC, afforded her a variety of them in endless supply. After she graduated with her bachelor’s in business management from Georgetown University, she liked to party with the best of them on Embassy Row.
Jules figured since she remained disciplined while in college and at work that the very day she graduated, all bets were off. For five days straight, she partied, seeking eagerly to catch up on lost time. Frankly, Jules finally decided to reap the fruits of all her hard labor that paid off with her business soaring and finishing school with a degree with honors. Even now, she still liked to party within reason, of course.
White, though, remained the one ethnicity Jules never ventured to cross without much interest. The same rule applied in how she typically steered clear of black guys. She held nothing against white men, really. No attraction to them whatsoever seemed the issue.
As for black men, Jules’ previous life soured her to them, and it was just as well. It probably explained why nothing ever happened with fellow alumni Sinjin Fraser. The ultra-cool and wealthy bachelor remained more like a kindred spirit than a love interest. Occasionally, they would do business together, which served best to increase her cash flow. That was the way she liked their relationship best.
Jules never mixed business with pleasure. Oh, such a no-no. Another one of her precious rules she loathed to break. Business was business. Pleasure existed as the sort of transaction that failed to interfere with her work or her money.
The more Jules reviewed the stranger beside her, the more she reconsidered that white at least used to be excluded from her preferences in the opposite sex. Being on a new coast skewed things a bit. Bearing in mind the pickings were slim in the ethnic category for Oregon, Jules contemplated what she observed to be true. Mostly white, some black, Asian, Native American and Hispanic made up this dating pool across the cities of Seapoint and Crescent Beach, which she frequented. It changed tastes, she supposed, if one went dry long enough.
Regardless, Jules thought that factor alone was weak. She gave herself a little credit. Instinctively, she knew the caliber of man she desired. Settling never entered her vocabulary.
Until the moment Jules spotted the big blond at the bar, Jules would have thought twice about hooking up with a white guy. None she met before looked quite like him, though. The stranger reminded her every bit of a Norse god straight from the pages of mythology. Blondie would have given that hunky actor who played Thor in the Marvel movies a run for his money.
Mmm-mmm! The way this man filled out his posh navy suit to absolute perfection caused Jules to lick her lips. Hell, the stranger was a juggernaut of a man but not swollen on steroids like a bodybuilder big. No. This Thor of a man was bigger than any guy she had ever seen in such prime physical shape. Jules wondered if he was a defensive lineman or tight-end with an imposing physique.
“I’m impressive or just my drink?” Jules clarified in question with the lift of a beautifully arched eyebrow.
“Hmmm, both, of course.” The sound of his deep voice seemed to rumble through his broad chest like thunder.
Jules tried not to quake in the rapture of that sound, wondering if she was losing her edge. It wasn’t like her to go all ga-ga over a guy no matter how attractive, but him? There were no words for the heat she felt when the stranger looked at her or how it spread everywhere, including between her crossed legs. She shifted in her leather bar seat, but that did not help to distract from what Blondie already had done.
Jules offered a sly smile. “Good answer, for I was thinking the same of you.”
The bartender gave her the drink she requested with a smile, and she nodded with her generous cash payment without a request for change. Jules took a sip of her neatly prepared bourbon. With her eyes closed, she let the liquor slide down her throat, tipping her head back a little. Jules rubbed her neck with the back of her hand, loving how the alcohol warmed her as it slid down. Now, she succumbed to the burning but good due to the Norse god beside her. At last, it was time to play.