Just One More Night
Book 2 in the Summer Seductions Series
Down & Dirty
Book Two in Caitlin’s Summer Seductions duet for Harlequin Dare!
He’s claiming her…
One night at a time!
Free spirit Indiana March is always moving on. But she’s never forgotten the dangerous stranger who rescued her in a dark Budapest alley…or her promise to meet him in Prague two years later. She’ll give him one wild night, then she’ll flit away. With his breathtakingly blue eyes and sculpted lips, Stefan may claim her soul as well as her body. But can his passion chain her restless heart?
Just One More Night
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Just One More Night
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Indiana March, called Indy by her loved ones and much filthier things by her lovers, landed in Prague on a gorgeous June afternoon, ready to face her destiny.
It had been two years since one night in Budapest had changed everything.
Two years since she had made a promise before flying standby back to New York, where she’d moved in with her far less free-spirited older sister—who never would have gone to Budapest in the first place and wouldn’t have gotten into the trouble Indy had no matter where she went.
Bristol was the good March sister.
She had recently gotten her doctorate after a lifetime of endless, serious, and committed studying. Indy, on the other hand, was committed to having fun. And while she was at it, living up—or down—to everyone’s expectations of the other March sister.
Not bad, she liked to say. But better.
Especially because when she said things like that, and vamped it up, it made her sister roll her eyes. And then laugh in spite of herself.
Indy and Bristol had settled on these designations for themselves when they’d still been little girls in small-town Ohio. And all these years later, Indy still thought she’d made the better choice. She’d decided school was boring in roughly the fourth grade and had decreed that she had better things to do, leaving Bristol to study away to her heart’s content while she danced and partied and ran around just being silly, because she could.
Bristol would probably be off studying right this minute—because there were apparently postdoctorates for people who felt the one PhD wasn’t enough—if it weren’t for the little summer adventure Indy had sent her sister off on. An opportunity to discover the parts of you that aren’t all about your mind, at last, Indy had told her—but that was another story.
Indy smiled at the notion of studious, killjoy Bristol getting her freak on out there as her plane taxied toward the gate, bouncing a little on the tarmac. She couldn’t wait to see if her big sister finally loosened up a bit—and couldn’t really imagine what a loosened up Bristol would look like. As the plane came to a rocking stop at the gate, she gathered up the small carry-on that was all she’d brought with her and held it on her lap, watching as all around her, people leapt to their feet and started dragging much heavier bags out of the overhead bins.
It always looked so unpleasant. And then the reward for all those heavy bags was that you then had to lug them around with you. Where was the fun in that?
Indy never troubled with much baggage, figurative or literal. After college she’d backpacked around for a couple of years, but never with one of those massive packs that some people toted across the planet that made them look like unfortunate tortoises. Their packs were always seventeen times their body weight, the better to mark them to all and sundry as a tourist, and barely fit in the narrow, often cobbled streets that they were always trundling along in. Not to mention, they might as well have worn neon signs inviting any predators to take a swing their way.
No thanks, she thought now, though she smiled nicely enough at the woman next to her and her two enormous, overstuffed suitcases.
That wasn’t how Indy operated. She was less about neon signs that weighed her down and more about going with the flow. And she’d never had an issue with predators.
Well. She stood up from her seat when she could finally step out into the aisle and considered. That wasn’t entirely true, was it?
Indy had made up no itinerary, back in her world-traveling backpacker days or even today. Because itineraries were boring. They nailed you down to a time and a place and a schedule and Indy was all about never, ever being boring, nailed down to anything, or, God forbid, the kind of person who couldn’t grab a drink without consulting seventeen sticker-laden planners and her phone’s calendar app. She’d watched Bristol—whose whole life was about schedules and responsibility and tedious meetings about any number of inane things—whittle away her life in tiny little recorded increments on hundreds of planner pages, but Indy had never wanted any part of that kind of nonsense. She had barely made it through college. Not because she was dumb, but because there were always so many more delicious things to do than study. Or sit in a yawn-worthy lecture. Or write dreary essays that were never about the things that interested her.
Those being, in no particular order: life. Sex. Fun.
Indy wanted to squeeze every last bit of the good stuff out of every single day, then roll herself around in it until it became who she was. On a cellular level. What else could possibly be the point?
Sadly, that was not, it turned out, the kind of mission statement the average employer liked to see on a résumé. Or the average landlord liked to hear about when rent was due, so it was a good thing for Indy that Bristol was always so dependable.
Still, Indy never had too much trouble finding work. Or getting laid, for that matter, and the two often twisted together in ways she was sure she could probably hashtag about—if she weren’t too busy living to live tweet. She didn’t have any particular airs and was perfectly happy to take a waitressing job here or a temp job there. Just as she was happy to roll under one man in the morning and ride a different one that night. Jobs and men were an endlessly renewable resource, in her experience. There were always, always more when a girl was game for whatever came her way.
Her sister and her perfectly lovely parents back in Ohio did not understand Indy’s approach to life—and only Bristol knew the more salacious details, thank you. All her parents knew was that Indy had trouble settling down.
Her mother thought she needed a man. Indy had to bite her tongue every Christmas to keep from saying things like, don’t worry, Mom, I’ve had many. She didn’t think that would shock the unflappable Margie March. Nothing could, in her experience. But it would open up her personal life to conversation, and Indy always figured that was a bad idea all around.
Particularly these past two years when, she could admit, her usual carefree, hedonistic attitude had become something a good deal more…manic.
It was true. She’d had something to prove, hadn’t she?
Indy shivered a bit in the cab that drove her from the airport down into the old city. Prague spread out before her like a fairytale, but not the kind of fairytale that warmed the hearts of wannabe Disney princesses. Bristol had been the one who loved those happy ever afters when they’d been girls. She’d always longed for the Prince Charmings and the perfect kisses.
But Indy had been far more intrigued by the Big, Bad Wolf. She’d seen no reason for Little Red Riding Hood to waste her time swinging an axe or even getting a passing huntsman to do the same on her behalf.
Not when there were so many other things to do in the dark.
She shivered again, even though it was warm in the cab. The truth was, Indy had been aching like this since she’d left Budapest. It had only gotten worse over time. Her nipples were always so tight they hurt. Her pussy was always so wet. Sometimes she could simply clench her thighs together and make her clit throb, or even get herself off sometimes, but none of it was enough.
None of it was near enough.
No matter how many cocks she rode or took deep in her mouth, none of it had made her feel the way today did. Just here, sitting in a taxi, was already hotter and better than all the sex she’d had since she’d left Budapest.
Because today she got to keep her promise.
Indy didn’t let herself imagine, even for a moment, that he wouldn’t be here.
He would. She was sure he would.
He had to be.
His instructions had been simple and clear two years ago. He’d given her the address, a time, and a key. The same key she could feel tucked between her breasts now, because she’d hung it from a chain when she’d gotten back to New York. The key she’d never taken off, no matter who she was fucking or what other adventures she might have had since.
Sometimes she’d gotten off more to the memories the key kicked up in her than whatever—or whoever—she’d been doing. She wrapped her hand around the key on its chain now and sighed a little, feeling her whole body hum in anticipation.
She’d never been one for waiting. But she’d waited for this. Some days she’d been sure the waiting might kill her—but it hadn’t. And now here she was. Alive after all.
The waiting was finally over.
Or almost over. Indy had a few hours before the agreed-upon meeting time, so she didn’t go to the address she’d been given. She had the taxi drop her off on the cobbled street ringing Prague’s Old Town Square and dodged armadas of tourists as she walked around the looming statue of the fifteenth-century martyr that dominated it. She peered up at the great Gothic church that always made her sigh a little and got a glimpse of the famous Astronomical Clock over the inevitable crowd waiting for its next show.
It felt good to walk. The last time she’d been in Prague she’d been so exhausted after far too much clubbing in Berlin that she’d hardly been able to feel her own feet, much less fully register where she was. She knew she should have been jet-lagged today, but she wasn’t. Or if she was, it was buried so far beneath her excitement and the adrenaline of finally being here that it didn’t affect her at all. She hadn’t slept on the overnight flight from New York to Zurich. She hadn’t nodded off in the Zurich airport where she’d caught her connection. And she’d been good and wired on the plane into Prague.
When she sat down at a table in the crowded, open-air café, she waited for a wave of weariness to take her over.
But it didn’t come.
She was amped.
Indy settled back in her café chair and blew on her coffee when it arrived. She was hardly able to believe it was only a matter of hours now. She checked her phone. Less than two hours.
And she could still remember that night in Budapest far too clearly. As if it had happened last night instead of two years back.
Indy had been with some friends she’d hooked up with in Croatia. She’d been two solid years into her world traveler phase and hadn’t seen any end in sight, at that point. These particular friends were the sort she picked up wherever she went. A hostel here, a club there—there were always like-minded people about. Always another party, always another adventure. A new city, a new face, a new story to tell. Indy hadn’t been able to come up with a single good reason why she would ever return to what waited for her back in the States.
That being the hum-drum little lives that all her friends lived in the various places they’d settled down. Nine-to-five desk jobs, paycheck to paycheck, dreary cubicles, and boring conversations about the property ladder.
None of that was any fun at all.
You need to make some real decisions about your life, her father had told her after her college graduation, which everybody liked to say had been a skin-of-the-teeth kind of deal for the not-so-good March sister. Serious decisions.
Indy had felt that she was full up on serious. She had taken a fifth year to get her degree and might have taken a sixth if she hadn’t been so deeply bored by the whole thing. Still, she’d paid her way—meaning there had been no letting anybody down if she made academic decisions that didn’t suit them, like failing a class because she’d forgotten to attend it, or accidentally going off to a music festival instead of taking her exams.
Disappointing them, sure. But not actually letting them down or spending their money. Indy had some standards, thank you. And she had never felt the need to let her father know how she’d paid her way through college. Or why it was she had such a robust savings account come graduation.
There were things a father didn’t need to know.
I know what I want to do with my life, she had told him, wrinkling up her nose in his direction as they’d sat down by the river near her childhood home, fishing.
Or in Indy’s case, pretending to fish while doing what she did best. Lounging.
Okay, what she did second-best.
Nothing is not a good answer, Bill March had replied. He’d shot her a look she knew well, filled as it was with laughter, love, and that particular gleam that made her think, sometimes, that her father knew exactly how free-spirited she really was.
I’m going to live, Dad, she had said. Deep and hard and wild. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with a life?
Everybody’s hard and wild until it’s time to pay taxes, her father had said with his typical calm midwestern practicality.
I’m going to be just fine, she had told him, smiling wide. I promise.
And she had been.
She had taken a certain delight in sending her raciest photos to her sister, because Bristol was so easily scandalized. Indy had sent postcards to her parents from every new place she went. London to Bali to Perth to Rio and back again. She’d worked when she needed money, went on marvelous adventures as the spirit took her, and followed her pussy wherever it wanted to go.
The club in Budapest had been one of the underground ones she’d developed a taste for over time, on all continents. She loved the inherent mystery of these pop-up events. A warehouse or a field somewhere, often in a sketchy part of town to make the whole thing feel more edgy and exciting. There was never any possibility of planning for these things, there was only waiting for the text to come and then racing off—no matter her state of inebriation—to dance and howl and party until the sun came up.
That was why a wise woman didn’t have a plan. All the good stuff happened outside those lines.
The night in question had been like all the other nights in all the other cities and fields and beaches she’d discovered on her travels. The DJ had been particularly good and Indy had lost her friends somewhere in the crowd, but that was never something she worried about. She liked to let the universe take a hand in such things. She would either find them again or she wouldn’t, but her experience, everywhere, was that there were always new friends to be made.
You have a low bar for what you call friendship, Bristol had told her. More than once.
Or you have a ridiculously high one, Indy would retort. You can make a friend, Bristol. It’s not a lifetime commitment unless you want it to be. It also won’t kill you.
Bristol, as ever, had remained unconvinced. And also lonely, by Indy’s reckoning, though she would die before she admitted it.
But Bristol hadn’t been on Indy’s mind that night in Budapest. She’d danced and danced. At some point she’d decided she needed a little bit of fresh air after all that dancing and she’d wound her way through the crowd, buzzing along nicely on the music and the beat she could feel deep inside her.
Indy had slipped out the side of the warehouse, and never knew, later, what made her wander away from the groups of people doing the same thing she was. Either taking a breath from the party inside or carrying on their own festivities out in the summer dark. She’d wandered away from the clusters of them, half wondering if she could see the stars in this part of Budapest. If she got away from those party lights and all the lit-up cell phone screens. If she’d had another motivation, she couldn’t remember it.
She hadn’t known what she was walking into until it was too late.
Scary men arguing in a dark alley. A gun in her face.
Then Indy on her knees on the pavement, hard, her heart pounding so wildly it had made her feel ill.
In that moment, she’d been certain that every warning she’d ever been given was about to come true. With a vengeance. Every dire prediction anyone had made about the way she lived, the way she was, was about to happen to her after all.
You don’t think before you act, her sister had said a thousand times.
I hate to think of you getting yourself into trouble, her mother had said more than once, and all because your head is always in the clouds.
And her father had frowned at her, the day he had dropped her off at the airport. Looking far more serious than he usually did. The world isn’t a magical place just because you want it to be, honey. Be smart out there.
Indy had not been smart. She had been the opposite of smart, in fact, and had reveled in how little care she’d taken because it made for a better experience and then a better story to tell. And she had known, then, that she was going to pay for that in some out-of-the-way alley where no one would ever find her if they left her for dead.
Assuming they left her.
But that wasn’t what happened.
She shuddered now, her hands cupped around her coffee. Far away from Budapest in a crowded café in lovely, fairytale Prague, two years later.
Still, Indy shuddered, because she could remember too well her first sight of him. That face of his, so beautiful it was cruel as he’d stared down at her in disbelief. She’d noticed that face, like the blade of a hatchet, piercing and inevitable. She’d had the impression of a tall, well-built, dark-haired man, but he’d had the eyes of a poet, intense and yet almost dreamy as he’d gazed at her there on her knees.
Their eyes had met down the length of the gun he’d held, pointed directly at her forehead.
And she’d had no doubt whatsoever that he knew how to use it.
He asked her something in a language she didn’t understand. Hungarian, she’d thought, which would make sense as she had been in Hungary. Indy had shaken her head, almost smiling in an out-of-body sort of way, because at least if she was going to meet a brutal end it would be at the hands of a man who looked like an angel.
A fallen one. And fallen hard.
That he was dangerous, brutal and powerful at once, would have been obvious even if he wasn’t holding a gun. Right in her face.
Even with those too-blue eyes.
What are you doing here? he had asked her in English, after trying a couple of other languages and getting nothing. His accent had made the words seem like liquid, swirling around her and washing through her. A new, potent heat.
I have no idea, she had replied, honestly.
And for a long moment, possibly a lifetime, she had been aware only of him. That look on his overwhelming face. That gaze of his that made her want to cry. The electric something that arced between them, even with concrete digging into her bare knees and her hands in the air.
For that little while, nothing else existed.
He had muttered something she’d understood was profane, even if she hadn’t understood it.
And then everything got fast.
Indy remembered it like a blur, though she knew that each action had been precise. Surgical.
He had looked at her. She’d seen something in his gaze, something that had made her breath catch.
Something that had gone through her like an earthquake.
Then he had turned and taken down the other three men standing there with him. She had hardly had time to gasp, to shake, to react. She’d thought of poetry again, all of it lethal, as he’d spun around with blistering speed and laid all three men out flat.
Two kicks, one punch.
Like he was an action star.
Come, he’d said to her when they were all slumped on the ground. You cannot be here.
He’d reached down to pull her up to her feet with a possessive grip on her arm.
And Indy had gone willingly.
More than willingly. Because he’d saved her, that she’d had no doubt—even though it hadn’t been clear if he was one of the things he’d saved her from.
But there was something about his grip on her arm. The way he’d moved them both out of that alley. Quickly, but with that same liquid grace she’d already seen used with lethal intent on his friends.
It had occurred to her then that she ought to have been more scared than she was. As scared as she’d been when she’d first understood what was happening to her. As scared as she’d been before she’d actually caught his gaze and everything had…shifted.
If you’re just going to kill me in a different location, she’d said as he led her away from the alley, I have to tell you that it will be very disappointing.
They’d made it out into the street by then. She could hear the pumping sound of the club she’d so foolishly wandered away from, though she couldn’t see it. Had she wandered into the alley from the other side? And yet Indy hadn’t really cared, because there had been a streetlight and she could really see him then.
He was built like a weapon far deadlier than any old hatchet. His beautiful eyes were breathtakingly blue, and he had a set of lips that should have made him a courtesan—and might have made him pretty if his face wasn’t drawn in such harsh, male lines. She’d thought she would happily pay the whole of her life savings, and then some, to have that mouth between her legs.
But those were the only two soft things on his body.
Everything else was muscle. Thick and honed at once, so that he fairly hummed with power. With threat.
She remembered thinking how odd it was that she had been with so many men and had always happily explored all the various ways they used their power. Physical and intellectual alike, but nothing like this. Like him.
This man was darkness personified and his body showed it.
Indy had noticed a tattoo rising from the neck of his T-shirt, the same T-shirt that strained to contain his biceps. The same T-shirt that seemed unequal to the task of his hard, ridged abdomen. He wore dark jeans and the kind of dress shoes men wore on this side of the Atlantic because trainers were frowned upon for nightlife purposes in so many European countries.
She had been fully aware that he had that gun tucked in the small of his back. But looking at him, not only did she also know that his hands were weapons all by themselves—not to mention the feet that she’d seen in action with her own eyes—but that he likely had other things stashed around on his body, as well.
His profession seemed pretty clear.
I’m not going to kill you, he had said in that accented voice of his that lit the night on fire, low and gravely with that impossible blue gaze behind it.
Or maybe the fire was only in her, making her wet and hot and something too close to desperate.
When she had never been desperate in her life.
She had tipped her head slightly to one side as she regarded him. You sound surprised.
I should have killed you the moment I saw you. His voice was matter-of-fact, suggesting that roaming about killing people was an ordinary occurrence for him, and yet his hand was still on her arm and she’d felt the heat of his grip. And she still hadn’t been afraid. That’s what happens when foolish girls stumble into business meetings in the wrong part of town. Would anyone have missed you?
Not tonight. Why had she said that? She might as well have knelt right down again and invited him to use that gun of his. Worse yet, she had kept talking. It was something about that faintly arrested look on his face, like he didn’t understand what he was doing, either. It was that grip on her arm. It was her certain knowledge that something had happened between them in that alley. Eventually, people back home would miss me, but they wouldn’t know where to look. Most people think I’m still in Croatia.
He had gripped her arm harder, though not hard enough to hurt. He’d pulled her closer to him then, his poet’s eyes blazing with a distinctly unpoetic fire as he’d gazed down at her—and she still hadn’t been afraid.
She’d been exhilarated.
I fucked up my life for you, he’d gritted out at her. I don’t ever fuck up my life. For anyone. The kind of life I have, fuck it up too much and you lose it.
Indy hadn’t understood anything that was happening. All she’d known was that it was happening to both of them—and it was as intense as it was impossible.
They should never have met. She should already have been a statistic.
None of this should have been happening, but she’d been wearing red and he was clearly a wolf and somehow, it had all made sense. She had felt the sense of it everywhere, like fate.
Indy had reached up with her fingers and spread them over those beautiful lips of his.
Careful, he’d warned her.
But Indy had only smiled. Too late, she’d said.
Then she’d surged up on her toes and kissed him, like the dark little fairytale she’d always wanted to come true at last.
End of excerpt
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Just One More Night
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