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Jet (Marked Men #2)

By:Jay Crownover

ut that wasn't something I liked to talk about. I changed the subject by running a finger over the obviously new and pristine interior of the car.

"This is a supernice ride. I had no idea screaming into a microphone paid so well."

He snorted a laugh and gave me a sideways look. "You need to branch out from cookie-cutter country, Ayd. There are all kinds of great indie country bands and even some amazing Americana bands I bet you would totally dig."

I just shrugged. "I like what I like. Seriously, is your band famous enough that you can afford a car like this? Rule said you guys were popular in town, which was clear after tonight, but even with that crowd it doesn't seem like you would make enough to live on just playing music."

I was prying, but it had suddenly occurred to me I didn't really know anything about this guy other than he was making my heart race. He was also making my head create all kinds of interesting scenarios that involved both of us and a whole lot less clothing.

He was tapping out a rhythm on the steering wheel with his black-tipped fingers and I couldn't look away.

"I run a recording studio here in town. I've been around a long time so I know a bunch of bands and guys in the scene. I write a lot of music that other people end up recording and Enmity is big enough that I don't ever have to worry about starving. Lots of people make a living just playing music. It's just hard and you have to be dedicated to it, but I would rather be broke and do something I love, than be wealthy working a nine-to-five job any day."

That was something that just didn't make any sense to me.

I craved security and a future with a foundation rooted in safety. I wanted to know that I was going to be able to support myself; that I would never have to rely on anyone else for life's basic needs. Happiness had nothing to do with it at all.

I was going to ask more questions but the apartment I shared with Shaw was quickly coming into view, and I hadn't even tried to let him know that I was interested in more than a lift home.

I turned my entire body in the seat so I was fully facing him, and plastered my best do me smile on my face. He lifted an eyebrow in my direction but didn't say anything, even when I leaned over the center console and put my hand on his hard thigh. I saw the pulse in his throat jump, which made me grin. It had been a long time since I had been so overtly interested in anyone and it was nice to know that he wasn't immune to me, either.

"Want to come up and have a drink with me? Shaw is staying with Rule, so I'm sure she'll be out of commission for at least a couple days."

His dark eyes grew even darker with something I didn't recognize, because we really were strangers, but he put his hand over mine and gave it a gentle squeeze.

I wanted to inhale him; I wanted to get inside him and never come back out. There was just something there, something special about him that pulled on all the strings I thought I had neatly trimmed away when I had left my old life behind.

"That sounds like a bad plan, Ayd." His voice was low and had undercurrents floating through that I couldn't identify.

I sat up straighter in the seat and with my other hand turned his face to look at me. "Why? I'm single, you're single, and we're consenting adults. I think it sounds like a fabulous plan."

He sighed and took both of my hands and placed them back in my lap. I was watching him carefully now because, while I might have undergone a dramatic life change over the last few years, I was still smart enough to know I was way better looking than most of the bar trash who had been circling him all night. That-and no guy ever turned down no-strings sex.

"We have friends who are dating. You drank half a bottle of tequila tonight, and let's be real-you're not the type of girl who takes a guy she barely knows home for the night. You're smart and ambitious, and you have no fucking idea what that Southern drawl does to me or how fast it would cause us to end up naked and tangled up. You're just a good girl all around.

"Don't get me wrong. You're beautiful, and in the morning when I replay this conversation over and over in my head, I'm going to absolutely want to kick my own ass, but you don't want to do this. Maybe if I knew for a fact we would never have to see each other again, never have to spend time around each other, I could do it with a clean conscience, but I actually like you, Ayden, so I choose not to mess that up."

He was so very wrong.

I totally wanted to do this; to do him, but something about him thinking he knew what kind of girl I was shocked my libido like a bucket of cold water. I jerked my head back so hard that it hit the passenger window and the car suddenly felt like a coffin. I scrambled to open the latch and bolted out. I heard Jet call my name, heard him ask if I was all right, but all I needed to do was get away from him. I jabbed the security code into the door and ran into the apartment.

It wasn't until I had the doors locked and had a hot shower pouring over me that I realized how close I had come to letting everything I had worked for unravel around me. Whatever it was that Jet made me feel tonight, it was far too dangerous to try to act on. Not only had it ended in humiliation and panic, but I had also risked all the things that mattered to me now, and I just couldn't allow that.

I was going to have to keep Jet Keller locked in the box where I kept pre-Colorado Ayden. Only now, I was going to make sure that the lid was on so tight, there wouldn't ever be a chance of it coming off. The risk just wasn't worth it.

Chapter 1

Ayden, One Year Later

I had my computer open and was working on something for my biochem class. My roommate Cora was sitting on the couch in the living room painting her nails a startling neon green before she left for work, when the door