“Come on, sweetcheeks. Don’t be like that. This is your lucky night.”
Cyn tucked a curl behind her ear, opening her mouth to inform this man—and that was a term she used loosely—just how wrong he was just as two men, both taller than her, appeared at her side.
The man, Jack, she recalled his name being, eyed them both up and down with challenge. She fought to hide her snort.
“You know,” she remarked as if his life weren’t in danger, “you should probably just walk away now.”
Jack puffed up and sent another scathing look at the two males beside her. “These your men? You one of those broads who enjoys more than one dick at a time?”
“Oh,” she said with a smile, “these aren’t my dates. But you’ll wish they were.”
He snorted. “Who are they then?”
The words barely had time to leave her mouth before her two brothers each took one of the obnoxious man’s arms and backed him away from her. Not the slightest bit polite about doing it either. Rolling her eyes, she turned back to the pool game she’d been keeping an eye on and sucked on the straw while watching the woman there set up the man she was playing against.
“How do you do it, Cynzia?”
One shoulder up in a shrug, she waited until the woman sank her latest shot before glancing back to her brothers. They were triplets, the three of them—she was not only the youngest but the only girl—and it tended to make her brothers a bit overprotective.
Michael, the eldest, wrapped his arm around her, and she sank into him. She was also the shortest, not having gotten the height the boys had from their father, Giovanni Cassano. She was closer to their mother’s height.
“What are you doing here, Cyn?” This time the question was posed by the middle brother, Dante. “Why aren’t you home with Mom?”
Pushing her now empty drink at her brother, she turned to be able to see them both. “I’m not in diapers. I’m twenty-three, same as the two of you. I am allowed to go out to bars.”
Michael growled low in his throat. “And get picked up by assholes like the one we just had to chase off? You should be smarter than that.”
That dig hurt and pricked her normally laid-back temper.
“One, I wasn’t getting picked up. He was hitting on me, and I was about to tell him to fuck off when you two walked over.”
“You didn’t tell us where you were going,” Dante snapped.
“Of course I didn’t. I needed to get away from the smothering. You two are far worse than Mom and Dad, and let’s face it, between Dad and our uncles, I didn’t think anyone would be able to be worse. But you two have surpassed them with flying colors.” They both grinned. She scowled. “Not something to be proud of. I came here to get away from everyone.”
“We followed you.” Michael pointed out the obvious.
He had always been so literal. A lot like their mom, Jaydee. Very blunt and took statements as they were given. He didn’t have the time or the care to try to see if there were hidden meanings in the words coming out of someone’s mouth.
Cyn flattened her lips and took several deep breaths. It wasn’t like she didn’t love her brothers. She did, and she would die for them in a heartbeat. However, she also wanted to do things without them. Like find a man and have sex. Lots and lots of it.
“Why did you follow me, Michael?”
“You’re our sister.”
His tone told her everything. He found nothing wrong with his behavior.
“I am, yes. And I love you both. But you have to stop following me everywhere. I’m capable of taking care of myself. I want to go out and not see you boys there behind me, scaring away a guy I may want to talk with.”
Dante crossed his arms. Michael ran his gaze over her.
“You want us away because you are looking for sex.”
May the good Lord just let the floor open up and swallow her because she was mortified. Her siblings weren’t quiet, and Michael’s statement had gotten more than a few males’ attention.
She ignored the flush scampering over her face and held up her hands. “Stop it. Right now, both of you. You’re trying to get me to leave, well, fine. I’m leaving.” They both stepped forward, but she shook her head. “No. I’m leaving by myself. I’m going to a different bar and I don’t want to see you until morning. We’ll meet at the hotel for breakfast. We’ll talk, laugh, and I will go with you to the airport to get you on a plane to head back home and let me enjoy my trip.”
“You’ll be without protection,” Dante protested.
“I don’t need it. I grew up in the same house as you did. We have the same parents. The same uncles. All of whom taught us self-defense. Not to mention Aunt Bailey.” She took a deep breath. She wasn’t a schoolgirl who was in danger. She knew how to take care of herself. “I’m leaving now. And I’ll show you I can survive by myself. I’ll even kiss a guy on my way out, and you’ll see, it will be okay.”
Pushing up on her toes, she kissed Michael’s cheek then Dante’s. She walked to the door after putting her empty, which she had taken back from her brother, down on the bar. As she neared the exit, three men walked in that took her breath away. All of them were fit, and she would bet her life they were military. Having grown up in her household, it was easy to pick them out.
It was the man in the middle, though, who made her heart beat all the faster. Darkly tanned skin, short black hair and a body she would love to touch. He turned toward her as he looked around the establishment and his lips quirked up in the left corner of his mouth. Those blue eyes mesmerized her, and she nearly tripped over her own feet.
Standing before him, before she could talk her way out of what she was about to do, she smiled. He replied in kind.
Now or never.
She slid her arm around his neck and once again stood on her toes. This time, instead of the cheek as she’d done with her brothers, she went for his mouth, to touch those bow-shaped lips.
Seconds later his hand palmed the nape of her neck, holding her close in a proprietary motion as his other hand pressed against the small of her back. His tongue dipped inside her mouth and teased hers.
Cyn scrambled to get her senses back enough to pull away. She didn’t want to, even as she did. The din of the bar faded into obscurity, and all she could focus on were this man and the harsh pounding in her chest combined with the way her lungs struggled for air.
Forcing her legs to move, she ducked by the men there and walked out of the bar.
“The hell, man? How do you pull that shit off?”
Lucas Hoch shrugged as his two friends continued to razz him. He, personally, had done a one-eighty to follow that woman—who’d just walked up and kissed him—with his eyes as she exited.
His entire body trembled with the slow to depart tingles along his skin, every nerve hyper aware.
“It’s crap is what it is,” Trey, best friend and fellow Marine said, clapping Lucas on the back.
“Agreed,” Alberti, other best friend and fellow Marine, added. “We’re just as hot as you. I would say hotter but she went to you.”
Yeah, she did.
And he craved more. A fucking ton more.
I have to find her. No way in hell do I let this woman get away.
“Be right back.” He ducked off before they could say a word. Those two would have plenty of words to say as well.
Outside the crowd out to enjoy the nightlife was growing. Grateful for his height, he scanned first left then right.
God, he could still taste her, the harsh taste of alcohol hidden beneath what he knew was her and her alone. A sample he craved more of, needed to indulge in. And one he wasn’t willing to allow another to taste. Ever.
Then there was her soft skin and curves beneath his hand and pressed into him as they’d kissed. He’d forgotten everything but her.
Lucas checked both directions once more and found her, by a lamppost talking on the phone. He was on his way far before he was conscious of his action.
She had a shoulder against the pole, and her ankles crossed. Unlike some of the people walking the streets, she was aware.
Sharp eyes locked onto him despite the fact that she didn’t move. With a calm he didn’t feel he stared at her as she ended her call and pushed the phone in her front pocket.
Lucas moved until the toes of his boots touched the tips of her heeled footwear. Even with the ugly light from the streetlamps, she was stunning.
Smooth skin the color of coffee with two splashes of cream. Maybe three. High cheekbones, incredible full lips he wanted to taste again.
He placed a hand over her head on the pole she was against. Her tight red shirt drew his eyes directly to her breasts, which teased a hint of flesh.
“You can’t just kiss me like that and vanish.”
Her smile gutted him.
She ran her gaze over him. “You look like a man who can take care of himself.”
He licked his lips, preening when she followed the move with these golden-brown eyes. Then she met his gaze again.
“I used to think so but then this stunning sexy woman walked out of a crowd and kissed me so that I forgot my own name.”
“What name would that be?”
He bent closer, still keeping an eye on their surroundings. “Lucas. Corporal Lucas Hoch. United States Marine Corps.”
“Pleased to meet you, Corporal Hoch.”
“Lucas.” He inhaled and was surrounded by a floral citrus scent. “Or Luc.”
All she did was smile.
He wanted her name. “And you are?”
She looked past him, and her grin grew. “Leaving.”
What? No, he wanted to keep her with him. “Name?”
“You want to know that bad you’ll figure it out. But I will be at the Wall tomorrow around three.”
This hadn’t gone his way.
She pushed up and brushed her mouth to the corner of his mouth. “‘Night, Marine.”
As she walked away, her fingers trailed along his midsection, like she couldn’t stop herself from touching him. Gut tight, he turned and watched her walk off.
Time lost all meaning, but he did know when his friends settled on either side of him. Both crossed their arms as all three of them stared off in the same direction.
“I’m going to marry that woman, boys. That right there is the future, one and only, Mrs. Lucas Hoch.”
Alberti snorted. “Marriage? You’re twenty-five. Why are you thinking about marriage?”
He pushed his hands in his pockets. “I wasn’t. Until she walked into my life.” Lucas couldn’t stop the smile from turning up his lips. Hell, he’d never felt this way in his entire life. And none of it mattered. She was his. His heart belonged to her.
“I’m heading back to the hotel. I have to get some sleep. I’m meeting her tomorrow.”
“What’s the first name of your Mrs. Hoch?” Trey asked.
“No clue. She wouldn’t tell me.”
As expected, his friends laughed. “Let me get this straight. You’re hung up on some broad because she kissed you for all of a second in a bar. Now you’re ready to marry her and don’t even know her name.”
He nodded. “Correct, Alberti.” Lucas rocked back on his heels. “‘Night.” Without waiting for them to say anything else, he walked off. They would be fine without him, but he wasn’t going to get plastered now. No way was he going to meet her again nursing a hangover.
Lucas didn’t expect them to follow him back to the hotel, but he’d just stepped out of the shower and had dressed for sleep when they both walked in. Scowling.
“I thought you two were going to go get drunk.”
They both flipped him off. “Fuck you, Luc. You know we’re a trio. Plus if you’re in here moping about your woman, we can’t bring back any whores.”
“Trey, no whores even if I wasn’t moping, which I’m not.” He sat on the couch where he was going to be sleeping. “You want strange pussy, you go to their place, we never bring them back here. I thought you learned that in Hong Kong.”
Trey flushed at the memory. “Fuck you.”
Lucas laughed and lay back, pulling the blanket up. “No thanks. Didn’t want you then, want you even less now. ‘Night, guys.”
He was up early in the morning and got his workout in. While his friends still crashed, he ate breakfast then made his way through the nation’s capital. Three was far away, but he didn’t have any intention of missing her.
His entire body hummed at the prospect of seeing her again. And soon.