Series: Imperfectly Perfect #4
Author: Lym Cruz
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 20, 2020
The emptiness was always there.
I considered myself decent at hiding it, masking it with normal human emotions. But the darkness, there was no getting away from it. My nightmares helped fill it with what I never cared to elaborate.
I needed to feel something to numb the pain.
Then I saw her from across the room, and her beauty bewitched me. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
But it was all a facade. When no one was looking, her disguise fell. And I saw a glimpse of the pain behind the beauty.
This is a standalone contemporary romance novel that is part of the Imperfectly Perfect Series. No book is required to be read before this one. It is a standalone.
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As I stood in front of the mirror, applying my makeup, a pang of sadness found its way to my chest. Makeup was my war paint, and I used my sexuality as a weapon. It was part of my self-expression, and I’d be lost without it.
Blinking, I pushed those thoughts away. “Are you sure you don’t want to come?” I asked Gwen, pouting as I applied a layer of hot pink lipstick.
“No, I have reports to finish for my boss.”
“Your loss.” A buzz came from my phone. “My cab’s here. Don’t wait up.”
“I never do.”
I swung the sliver straps of my purse over my shoulder and was out of the apartment.
Growing up around rich kids did have its advantages, and one of them was access to certain clubs like The Aquarium—one of the finest in town. It was limited to members plus a few lucky ones who managed to get in.
The taxi pulled up at the curb. I sashayed to the entrance, passing the line of hopeful faces. I winked at Stan—the bouncer—he unhooked the velvet rope and let me through.
Neon blue lights illumined the corridor leading to the inside of the club, darkness and alternating flashing lights greeted me. The energy bounced off the speakers, shooting straight into my heart. My entire body pulsed.
Mingling with the crowd, I found my way to the bar. A shot of whiskey later, I was ready to take on the night.
As I danced, my body collided with others, heat and sweat enveloping as one body in particular grinded up against me. He pulled me into his arms, and I let him, hands moving up my waist, his lips brushing my neck as his grip tightened.
It was the contact I craved. I needed to be held by somebody; anybody. I yearned to be lied to, to be told that I was perfect, that I was the best they’d ever had. To hear whispers in my ear about how good I made them feel, even if fleetingly. These moments eased the burden on my soul and assuaged the agony to a dull throb. It was how I found peace beyond my suffering.
In the club’s dimness, all I saw were his high cheekbones and mischievous eyes. There was a look of unfettered desire and unashamed intention. He moved slowly and subtly, rolling his hips against mine, then leaned his head forward to tuck it close to my ear. “You look like pure sex, and I want to show you exactly what I mean by that.” The music, the heat of our bodies, and the lust in his voice heightened my arousal. “Let’s get out of here, gorgeous.”
I tilted my head up to look at him, ready to respond, but my mouth froze half-open. A movement on the top floor caught my eye. I saw a silhouette strolling toward the faintly illuminated side of the VIP lounge. He was all broad shoulders and muscular limbs, his characteristically hard expression waiting for the golden light to tumble onto his skin.
The man from the bar.
My body awoke. It was more than a slight tingle running underneath my skin. It was as if someone had attached a live wire to each of my nerves. My body convulsed as the violent electrical current pulsed through me.
“Hey,” I shouted over the music to the guy dancing with me. “Be right back.”
Short of an acknowledgment, I maneuvered across the room towards the stairs. To my good fortune, the bouncer dictating who got to go up knew me. I palmed him a twenty, and he glanced the other way as I took the stairs.
It was quieter up there.
The lights were low, and booths circled the space. Each had a round table surrounded by sofas. I peeped down from the glass window, which muted the sounds from downstairs, and the view was hilarious. Incapable of hearing what they were jumping to, everyone seemed like wild animals in the middle of a jungle.
I kept on searching the room for him and… bingo. He was at the alcove in the left corner, casually dressed in a dark button-down shirt and jeans.
I found a seat by the bar where he would be in my direct sight. Gritting my teeth, I noticed the blonde who accompanied him. I’d seen her before; she worked this floor, providing entertainment for a price.
And entertaining she was. His hand was high up her thigh, and she pushed herself onto him, doing what she was good at. My eyes narrowed on them, static crackling in the air.
I felt an irrepressible tug, the curious magnetic pull drawing me toward him with such ferocious intensity, almost beyond the realm of my self-control. The seductive sensation swept itself across the room as our gazes met. It was an attraction stronger than I’d ever felt before. A challenge.
And once I got what I wanted, I’d move on. That was who I was.
The girl on his lap whispered something in his ear, and he didn’t acknowledge her. Even in the dim lights, I felt the intensity of his eyes. Our stare bordered on obscene. He ran his tongue along his bottom lip, rousing chaos inside of me. An undercurrent tempted me to walk over there and claim him—the dare was in his eyes. With long fingers, he picked up his drink, gulped it all down, never taking his eyes off me.
The connection broke when the blonde straddled him, burying her face in the arc of his neck. With one hand, he held his glass while the other rested on the sofa. He wasn’t touching her anymore, and soon his gaze found mine again.
“Voyeur?” A male voice startled me. I peeled my eyes away from my new addiction and his blonde. “Ben,” the man said, thrusting his hand for me to shake.
I took it. “Ashlyn.”
“Do you enjoy watching?”
I smirked. “Sometimes.”
“Are you alone, Ashlyn?”
“Do you see anyone with me, Ben?”
“I guess not.” He laughed. “Can I get you a drink? What are you having?”
“Whatever you’re offering.”
“I like you.”
I smiled, uncrossing my legs, and swiveled the stool in his direction. While Ben ordered, I glanced over my shoulder at the object of my enticement. The girl from his lap was gone. He was hunched forward, resting his elbows on his knees, staring straight at me with a tense jaw and a frown.
Ben bumped my shoulder and handed me a pinkish drink. At twenty-six, I was often mistaken for a teen, and one of the drags of having a babyface was that people mistakenly assumed that I was sweet and friendly. “Pink isn’t my favorite color if that’s what you were aiming for.”
“You seem warm and softly approachable. That’s what drew me.” He eyed me keenly. “You’re sensual and possibly sensitive. So I thought pink was appropriate.”
I took a sip of the overly sweet drink. “Does that work on any girl?”
“I don’t know… does it?”
I placed the glass down, shaking my head. “Awful.”
Snickering, he leaned forward. “Can’t blame a man for trying.”
Ben had succeeded in distracting me for the moment. He kept the conversation light and avoided getting personal. It was obvious he was looking for a one-nighter with no string attached—my thing exactly.
“Let’s dance,” I offered.
As we headed to the dance floor, I checked the booths for the other man, but he was gone. I inspected the floor, but he wasn’t in sight. He’d slipped away yet again, but our day would come.
Ben and I danced, dirtier as we went. My already short dress stirred up with the sway of my hips. His hands were low on my back, ushering me closer to feel him grow. I flung my hands around his neck and kissed him.
It wasn’t anything special, only what I needed, the skin on skin contact. Ben’s lips were soft, and as the kiss deepened, his hands lowered. Grinding against his erection, I felt the wetness between my thighs.
“Ashlyn, let’s get out of here,” Ben panted. “What do you say?”
“Took you long enough.”
He clasped my hands, and we fled through the back door leading to an alley. The night air was crisp with a bite to it. Its blue breeze brought a salt-like scent and concrete. I pushed Ben against the wall, unbuckling his belt, and shoved my hands inside his pants. Impressive.
“Fuck,” he murmured, cupping my breasts with both hands while his mouth crashed into mine. He grew stiffer beneath my touch, and the pulsing between my legs intensified. Then, suddenly, I felt fingers passing through my hair, forcing my head up and breaking the kiss.
“What the fuck, man?” Ben grunted.
“Ouch…” I cried as my hair was pulled harder, towing me away from Ben.
“Let her go.” Ben held on to my wrist, preventing me from being drawn back further.
“She’s coming with me.”
I held my breath as the rush of blood flooded my ears, and my knees trembled.
It was him. The husky tone of his voice was unmistakable.
Ben tensed. His face twisted, the look in his eyes was of fury. He wanted to fight, but I didn’t want that. I raised a hand, preventing him from launching himself forward. “Ben, it’s okay,” I panted, thinking of an excuse. “I know him… he—he’s my husband.”
“What the actual fuck?” Ben’s eyes widened. “You’re married?”
I nodded, and the tug on my hair slackened. “Yes.”
Ben rested against the wall, laughing dryly. “Just when I thought I would get lucky, she turns out to be married.” He ran his hand up, scrubbing over his face. “You’re a fucking strange couple.”
I attempted to turn and get a look at the man holding my hair, but he didn’t let me. Instead, he began striding, dragging me to keep up.
“Let me go,” I complained, slapping his hands.
He ignored me and kept walking. We drew the attention from people outside the club as we rounded the alley towards the front, but no one intervened. We moved further up the street and eventually he dropped his hold from my hair to my nape. When we reached a car, he unlocked it and practically threw me in the back seat, hopping in after me and locking the doors.
“You wanted my attention,” he muttered. “Now you have it.”
I swallowed, at a loss for words. I had wanted his attention. Now what?
My heart pounded in my chest, hard and loud. “You’ve been thinking about me too, haven’t you?” I lifted my chin with unblinking eye contact. “I bet you’ve imagined what I feel like, what I taste like. How great it would be to fuck me.” I ran a finger over his shirt, hearing his harsh breathing.
With one swift move, he hauled me to his lap, held onto the hem of my dress, pulling it over my head. I was on top of him, wearing only my panties with my bare chest in his face. His hands slipped over the curve of my waist and the sides of my breasts. Arching my back, I placed my hands on his shoulders for support.
It was real. He was touching me. My fantasies didn’t come close to the reality of him. His touch was assertive, and every inch of my skin lit up. My breasts grew heavy, pebbling at their centers with desire. He brought his mouth to the left, sucking viciously. I heaved, my nails digging into his shoulders.
With one hand, he pushed my panties to the side and brushed my clit. I gasped and moaned at the same time. I was already wet, and his touch soaked me further. The sensation was piercing, sending waves of heat throughout my body. Burning with desire and lust, I hungered for more. I wanted to touch him; feel him. To be consumed by him.
I slipped my hands under his t-shirt. He was harder than I expected. I felt the hair on his chest as I ran my hands through, fisted and pulled, almost as if avenging what he’d done to me. He groaned; a deep vibration flowed from his chest.
I leaned in to kiss him, but he shook his head, denying me his mouth, instead nibbling on my neck. It felt good, though not what I wanted. He pulled me further up to ride his thighs. The friction from his pants against the lace of my panties built a powerful pressure deep in my belly.
Then he rolled me over, my burning flesh laid against the cold leather seat. I winced with momentary loss of contact. He set himself free and pulled a condom from the back pocket of his jeans. He held his cock at the base, staring at me as he rolled the condom down. When finished, he glided my underwear down my legs, then he cupped my sex, massaging gently. I bit my lower lip, squirming under his palm—the sensation seizing new realms of pleasure.
His hands were on my hips as he drew me forward, aligning us. Without hesitation, he was inside of me.
“Oh!” I breathed as we both moved.
His mouth was on my breast again, his hands around my waist digging deep into my skin, urging me to move faster. Then he hauled us both to a sitting position so I could ride him. His hands were in my hair. On my back. On my ass. We are the fireworks in this velvet dark, the blaze lighting up the night.
We moved until I couldn’t take it anymore, on the verge of a volcanic eruption. My head fell to his shoulder, and I inhaled his scent. The pressure within me was building as I sunk my teeth into his flesh.
“Harder,” he barked. “Bite harder.”
I did, digging my teeth deeper into his skin.
The sexiest, deepest growl rose from the back of his throat. He was holding on to me so hard I knew I’d bruise in the morning. But I didn’t care.
His hands skated up my back until they were firmly positioned on my shoulder, and then he pressed me down. I screamed both of pain and pleasure as an orgasm quivered through me, leaving me breathless.
“Shit,” he hissed through grunted teeth, and if he held me any tighter, I’d break. “Ashlyn… Ashlyn,” he repeated my name while reaching his own climax.
We stayed in the same position, fighting to catch our breath. Too quickly, he took me off his lap, picked up my dress, and handed it to me. Then he removed the condom, fixing himself before leaving the car. In a hurry, I threw on my dress to follow him, but before I could, he settled into the driver’s seat and started the engine.
“Where are you taking me?” There was a tremor in my voice, my chest tightening. “Where the fuck are we going?”
“Relax, I’m taking you home. Tell me where you live.”
“I don’t need you to take me home. I came on my own, and I can leave on my own.”
“Just give me the damn address.”
“What’s your name?”
“Address,” he barked.
I gave him my address, then wrapping my arms around myself, I rested silently, leaning back in the seat. I won. I got what I wanted. I’d had plenty of sex in my life, but never as intense as tonight. I grinned, trapping my bottom lip between my teeth.
He arrived at my building and brought the car to a halt.
“What’s your name?” I pressed.
“Go to bed, Ashlyn,” he retorted.
“You know my name. It’s only fair you tell me yours.”
“You wear a name tag, and life isn’t fair. Leave.”
Our eyes met through the rearview mirror, and I mouthed, “Fuck you.”
He scoffed. “You already did that, and very well.”
Fuming, I got out of the car and slammed the door. He pulled away and sped down the street with no hesitation. I could’ve been upset or perhaps hurt, but the scenario wasn’t atypical. Dirty girls like me weren’t meant to be loved, only used. And I’d come to terms with that.
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Lym Cruz is a Contemporary Romance Author who strives to create heartfelt novels and short stories.
Her stories revolve around strong, but imperfect heroes and heroines, both struggling to find love in the face of adversity, and that’s what makes them relatable.
Fall madly in Love with your next characters by simply reading one of her stories.
When Lym is not reading or writing, she spends her time with her family. She considers them, her greatest accomplishment.