Corked and Tapped:
Because the best stories never start
with someone eating a salad.
USA Today Bestselling Author
“I could take my shirt off if you want.” The moment she heard him speak, she knew his words were more than just flirtatious banter. At least she hoped that was the case. But when a random stranger accidentally punched her in the jaw, his intentions were confirmed. The larger-than-life bouncer at her favorite bar immediately lost his shit. She just prayed he was serious because her heart couldn’t take it if he wasn’t.
This series is definitely keeping me on my toes. The releases are quick and they are short and satisfying reads.
Blaire has been flirting with the Corked and Tapped bouncer Kyle for a while now. She comes in every Friday and sits at the same table and alternates her drinks with tonic water. This week is Thanksgiving and her roommate decided to switch up her night for Wednesday.
Kyle is surprised to see her but goes with the flow, doing a bit of flirting himself as he takes a break. Called away to help escort a drunk, he’s too far away to stop the altercation that ends with Blaire getting punched.
This is a favorite scene.
He stared at her for a moment, and then leaned in close to whisper in her ear. “The fucking hot woman who’s been nervously watching my every move for months while she sits in my bar squirming in her seat over a romance novel doesn’t usually get caught in the middle of a fight and punched either. So, yeah, the police are coming. You need to press charges. Then I’ll take you home.”
She swallowed. Mortification was the only word that came to mind. Her face had heated earlier, but now it was on fire, and not just from the punch. In fact, that part no longer hurt.
He knew. Kyle knew she had been sitting here week after week stripping him with her eyes while he worked. Could she be more embarrassed?
He set his forehead against hers. “Please, baby. Don’t freak out on me now. Talk to the cops. Give a statement. Then we’ll leave.”
She couldn’t move. He’d called her baby.
He sighed. “I know you don’t like attention. I know this is uncomfortable for you. I get that. And I’m so sorry I wasn’t close enough to stop those guys from hitting you.” He removed the ice from her face, reached behind him to snag her bag off the table and her jacket from the chair, and grabbed her hand.
Before she knew what was happening, he tugged her around the corner, past the men who’d been fighting, and into a room farther down the hall.
The guy who’d punched her called out, “So sorry, ma’am. I didn’t mean to hit you. I just—” His voice was cut off when Kyle slammed the door, leaving them in relative silence.
He flipped on the light and then his hands were on her face again, his brow furrowed, his attention on her cheek.
“It’s fine, Kyle,” she whispered. “It’s no longer throbbing. I don’t think it’s that bad.”
He didn’t respond. Instead, he inhaled long and slow, seemingly controlling his anger. Was he mad at her? She pressed her lips together to keep from rambling. Maybe he was frustrated because she wouldn’t shut up.
Kyle closed his eyes and set his forehead against hers a second time, his hands spread on her neck and up her scalp. He took several deep breaths, and then he whispered, “Scared the fuck out of me.”
She swallowed, uncertain why he was reacting like this. She had no idea what he meant, and she was afraid to ask.
Someone knocked on the door.
Kyle released her to spin around and open it. Mike stood there, along with a police officer. “Officer Bradshaw has a few questions,” Mike stated as he stepped into the tightly confined room, followed by the officer.
Blaire finally had a chance to glance around and realized this had to be Mike’s office. She took a step back to make more room in the cramped space. She also didn’t have to say much. Kyle immediately explained to the officer what had happened. Blaire confirmed. The cop left. Mike left. Done.
Blaire blew out a sigh of relief as the door closed behind them, but then Kyle’s attention was on her again. “I’m going to take you home.”
Her eyes went wide and she shook her head. “No. You can’t.”
He frowned and then rolled his eyes. “Your roommate is there.”
“Yeah. I’ll be fine. I’ll just hit a fast food joint and grab a milkshake or something to kill time.”
He shook his head. “Like hell. Wait here.” Kyle set her book bag and jacket on the loveseat behind her, spun around, and left the room, shutting the door behind him once again.
Finally, she was alone. She reached for her cheek and worked her jaw open and closed a few times. It was going to be sore tomorrow, but nothing was broken. Everyone was overreacting. She just wanted to get out of here. Being the focus of so much attention made her nervous.
One thing was certain— she wasn’t staying here any longer tonight, so she grabbed her jacket, slid it on, and picked up her satchel.
She jumped when the door opened again and Kyle reappeared. “Come on.” He nodded toward the hallway, his enormous body filling the doorframe.
She searched his face but had no idea what he had in mind. Nevertheless, her best option was to follow him. Obviously, he had a plan, and arguing wasn’t in the cards. When he grabbed her hand and led her down the hallway and out the back door, her entire focus honed in on their connection.
Kyle was holding her hand. Kyle had set his lips on her ear. Kyle had lost his shit when someone accidentally punched her. Surely, she was sleeping and this was a fantastic dream— minus the part where she got punched.
It was chilly outside. November in Georgia. Any temperature was possible. Kyle was wearing a T-shirt, but he seemed impervious to the cooler night air. Still holding her hand, he kept walking, too fast for her to keep up.
“Kyle,” she called out.
He spun his head around. His brow was still furrowed. Anger wafted off of him. His gaze roamed down her body to her legs. “Shit. Sorry.” He slowed his pace.
“Where are we going? Don’t you have to keep working?” She glanced back at the bar as they crossed the parking lot.
“Jeremy’s covering for me. They’ll live for one night.” He didn’t answer her first question, and his voice was still clipped.
Her heart was racing. Nothing made sense. If he was mad at her, why was he helping her? She couldn’t imagine what his plan was, but she clamped her mouth shut again and let him lead. It wasn’t like she had a fantastic plan herself. Maybe he was heeding her milkshake idea and wanted to see her there safely out of some misplaced guilt for not protecting her from some random accident of time and space.
At least he wasn’t nearly running anymore. She had to walk fast to keep up, but she didn’t have a choice because he was still gripping her hand in his larger, warmer, stronger one.
They walked two blocks, and then Kyle stopped in front of a building and pulled out a keycard. He brushed it over the scanner and the outer door clicked open.
“Kyle?” she asked.
He set his hand on the small of her back and continued leading her to the elevator. After being silent for far too long, he still didn’t say a word as they rode to the fourth floor and then stepped out.
Blaire was staring at him, confused and a little nervous.
It wasn’t until after he opened the third apartment door on the left that she realized where she was. “This is your apartment,” she pointed out.
He took her bag, his face finally softening. “Yeah. You couldn’t go to yours. There wasn’t another option.”
She couldn’t bring herself to move from where she stood by the door, but Kyle padded across the room and disappeared, leaving her there. He returned moments later with a bag of frozen peas in his hand. “This’ll help.” He settled it against her cheek, his free hand on her shoulder.
“You eat peas?” She had no idea why that was the first question to come to mind, but there it was.
He chuckled. “No. But I keep them in case I get punched.”
She flinched. “You get punched often?”
“It happens. Occasionally, I get between two guys going at it in the bar and wind up taking a hit.” He reached for her hand and drew it up to settle it on the peas and then released her. “Come sit down. Sorry, my place is a mess. I hadn’t expected company.”
Blaire didn’t move. “You didn’t have to do this. I would have figured something out. You left your job.”
He sighed. “You could have figured something out? You mean like your plan to sip a milkshake at a fast food joint until it closed? I can’t believe your roommate kicks you out every week like this. It’s weird.” He frowned.
“Well, she’s fair about it. I get Saturday nights.” It hurt to smile, but she did it.
His expression went from concerned to horrified, his eyes widening, his mouth falling open. “You’re serious?”
She nodded. “Yeah. I mean, not that I’ve ever exercised the option, but the point is she’s fair about it.”
Kyle blew out a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair. “Jesus. You freaked me out there for a minute.”
She cocked her head to one side, confused again. He said the strangest things.
Becca Jameson. Blaire: Corked and Tapped, Book Nine (Kindle Locations 222-288). Becca Jameson Publishing.
Taking her to his apartment since she couldn’t return to her own, the conversation becomes very revealing.
I love Kyle and the way this plays out is sweet, sexy and heart-melting.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!
5 Contented Purrs for Becca!
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Becca Jameson is a USA Today bestselling author of over 70 books. She is most well-known for her Wolf Masters series and her Fight Club series. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two grown kids, and the various pets that wander through. She is loving this journey and has dabbled in a variety of genres, including paranormal, sports romance, military, and BDSM.
A total night owl, Becca writes late at night, sequestering herself in her office with a glass of red wine and a bar of dark chocolate, her fingers flying across the keyboard as her characters weave their own stories.
During the day–which never starts before ten in the morning!–she can be found jogging, floating in the pool, or reading in her favorite hammock chair!