Passionate Ink – Some Like it Hot

Passionate Ink is Erotic Romance Special Interest Chapter #207 of Romance Writers of America

Sexy Scribbles Winning Scene Taylor

Sexy Scribbler R. R. Taylor’s Winning Contemporary Romance Scene

*Larkin*

 “As glad as I am to see you, you really shouldn’t’ve come,” he whispered. Leading them through the charged air to the front of the station.

“This is a pretty dark raincloud, Lark,” Jake whispered back.

About time he sounded serious. And if that was Jake finally stepping away, giving up on him? Good. He quelled whatever fluttery shit was happening in his chest. Better for Jake.

They stepped out into night, relaxing when the doors snicked shut behind them. “Whew,” Jake whistled. “That was a little intense.”

Larkin tucked his hands into his pockets, savoring the sting of the rough fabric against his scraped knuckles. He deserved it.

 “I maybe should have… told you.” And quieter. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah,” Jake said with emphatic agreement and maybe a bit of reproach, but with none of the regret and judgment that were to be expected.

“If I had though—”

“Oh come on, Lark.” He rolled his eyes. “I said it’s a dark raincloud, it isn’t Katrina.”

“You’re in danger now, Jake. This isn’t just some woe-as-fucking-me story anymore. You are right in the damn middle of it.” God. Not even ten minutes since Jake rescued him from Jail and another beating and Larkin wanted to shake him.

Jake laughed. Fucking laughed.

He was having serious flashbacks to their fistfight the night the Roadrunner got wrecked.

“And I’ve never done that to you?” Jake was still laughing. “You had to save my ass with a sawed-off shotgun. You damn near needed a blood transfusion. Just calm down and get off your high horse, partner.”

Larkin sputtered and Jake smiled at him, looping an arm around his shoulders and dragging him to a cab idling at the bottom of the steps. “You look like hell, by the way. Which bar we headed to?”

The cab let them out in front of The Green. Jake paid and Larkin led him to the Nova. She was primed a flat gray with streaks of red rust showing through from the long sit, but up close you could see the potential. Her body was pristine, the dents worked out long ago, and the interior repaired. She’d been a paintjob and a few parts away from done when he’d left.

“Nice,” Jake murmured, running a hand along her fender before hopping in.

Larkin started off without asking Jake where he wanted to go. He had a small duffel with him, so he hadn’t gotten a hotel. Larkin was taking him to his place, probably even if Jake wanted to go elsewhere. He was done with this shit. Jake hadn’t asked for an explanation, but he was getting one. Tonight.

Larkin drove north out of town taking a left after forty-five minutes of silence and driving another twenty minutes through back roads before heading south for fifteen. Jake didn’t ask him where they were going, or why the circuitous route. They reached the cabin, finally, and he pulled the Nova into the boat shed. Jake grabbed his bag and hopped out.

Larkin followed, rubbing his neck and fiddling with his keys. “Here we are.”

“It’s nice.” Jake took in the forest and the woodsy little house before looking up at the stars. It was cloudy, but the few that peeked out were more than he was likely to see growing up in a city.

“It does the job,” Larkin agreed.

“That it does. Pissed Sam off something royal.”

“She looked for me?”

“Of course.”

Larkin rubbed at his chest and took a deep breath. Thankfully, Jake pretended not to notice and headed for the porch. Larkin caught him up and unlocked the door. He flipped the light switch, revealing the main floor. It was an open kitchen, living room combo, stairs in front of the door went to the upper level.

“Running water?” Jake asked hesitantly.

“Outhouse is in the back, behind the shed.”

Oh, his face. Pure horror.

Larkin laughed. “I’m pulling your leg, city boy. Bathroom and bedroom are upstairs.”

Jake seemed too relieved to return fire.

“I’m going to go wash the jail scent off. I’ll be back.” He started upstairs and caught Jake eyeballing the loveseat and the two rocking chairs. “Uh, just the one bed. So, you can, uh, drop your bag upstairs.” He closed the door to the bathroom trying to figure out what the look on Jake’s face had meant.

34
*Jake*

A heavy sigh, followed by a low groan, preceded the door reopening before Jake even reached the top of the stairs. He paused with his hand on the rail.

“Forgot I just washed towels.” The door wasn’t completely open, but Larkin had made it as far as taking his shirt off and popping the button on his jeans. It was an enticing view. The cut across his cheek bone did nothing to detract from the image, maybe even added to it.

 I am seriously screwed up. “Dryer?”

“Yeah.”

“I got it,” Jake waved him back.

“I can—”

“So can I. I got nothing better to do.” He hopped down the stairs. “This place even have TV?”

His only answer was the rumble of the water pipes and the brief shriek of the shower as the rustic plumbing came to life. It took him a few closets before he located the washer/dryer unit. The fluffy cotton felt damp in his hands. It wasn’t really, but the rain chilled air had seeped in. Jake turned the knob, nothing like a towel fresh from the dryer.

While the dryer did its thing he snooped through the kitchen. The fridge and cupboards were filled with…ingredients? What did you call food in its premeal-state? The cupboards might as well be empty. Everything had to be cooked or combined with other things. Eventually he grabbed an apple.

By rights he should feed Larkin, but there was plant matter in the fridge he couldn’t even identify. Maybe there was some sort of backwoods pizza delivery place? He sighed, rubbed his arms. Larkin bumped the thermostat when they came in but the old unit was struggling to banish the chill.

Coffee weather.

Coffee he could do. Jake started the pot and sat at the kitchen table to eat his apple, but one bite in and the pipes groaned again.

He jumped up and grabbed a towel, toasty from the dryer, and bounded up the stairs two at a time.

The door was still ajar, steam sifting from it in a heavy mist.

“Hey, got the towel,” he called.

“Thanks. Toss it on the counter?”

Jake went to the door. He’d just lean in a bit to throw it in. He wasn’t going to look. Okay, maybe just a small peek. The fogged mirror displayed the hazy outline of Larkin’s broad shoulders and muscled back. Jake followed the lines of Larkin’s body to his hip where the frame cut off the view in a splash of color. He tossed the towel in and started to back away when Larkin turned his head to lock eyes with him in the mirror.

Jake froze. Caught staring.

But Larkin didn’t look mad. He looked…interested? Jake wet his lips and Larkin’s gaze dropped to his mouth. Jake held his breath, a tentative grin and raised eyebrow asking the question. Larkin turned and Jake’s grin died, along with any hesitation. He pushed into the room and grabbed Larkin’s bicep.

“What the hell?” Jake snarled.

Larkin’s brows shot up and he grabbed the towel wrapping it around his waist before he finished turning around. “Wha—”

“What happened to you?” Jake tugged him toward the counter and into the light. His grip was firm, but gentle despite the anger rumbling in his words.

“I told you. There was a fight.”

“You didn’t say you got stabbed! For fuck’s sake, Larkin.” Jake gave him a half glare, too concerned with the gash across the front of Larkin’s right shoulder to put any heat into the look.

“I didn’t get stabbed. It was a bottle. Maybe sliced.” Larkin’s voice got a little high as he downplayed it.

“Well, this thing is bleeding. Whatever you want to call it, it needs stitches.”

“I thought it stopped. Let’s just stick a band—”

“Stitches.” Jake cut him off. “And then we talk about the rest of those bruises.”

The marks varied in shade from light-green to blackened-purple and blanketed his torso. Jake bit his cheek. If he had to guess, these “barfights” had been going on since Larkin had got to town.

“Med-kit above the washer.” Larkin’s voice was quiet and sounded so tired.

Jake gestured vaguely at the wound and then the stairs. “You want me to?”

Larkin swallowed. “If you don’t mind.”

Jake forced a grin. “No sweat. Frankenstein stitch work comin’ right up.”

Larkin tipped his head with a thin-lipped smile, accepting his fate with good humor and maybe some relief. Jake ran down the stairs and in the cupboard over the washer found a surprisingly robust medical kit. He grabbed out what he needed and ran back up to find Larkin buttoning his jeans.

“Back in under the light,” Jake ordered.

They went into the bathroom and he patted the counter where he’d dropped the towel moments before. Larkin snorted but hopped up obediently. Jake dropped the supplies on the other side of the sink and started cleaning the wound with alcohol. He poured it right into the gash—because that’s what it was, a gaping bloody gash. Slice? The man was cracked—catching the runoff in a clean towel. Larkin didn’t quite hiss, but he took a sharp breath in before turning it into an attempt at casual whistling.

Jake bumped Larkin’s knee with his hip, chuckling. “So, want me to get the whiskey?”

“What?”

“This is gonna hurt.” He held up the curved needle, for emphasis.

Larkin blanched and looked away, rolled his shoulders a few times then nodded.

“Ready?”

Larkin let out a big breath. “Yeah.”

“So, no, on the whiskey.”

“Maybe later. Just. Talk to me for now.”

“What do you want to hear?” Jake nudged Larkin’s knees apart and stepped between them, trying not to wave the needle in his face.

“That you know what you’re doing?”

Jake laughed. “I can’t quite say that, but this isn’t the first time I’ve done this.” He squeezed Larkin’s shoulder in warning and poked the needle in.

Larkin grunted, his knuckles going white as he gripped the counter.

“Okay?” A shiver wiggled through Jake’s gut. Sorry.

“Don’t stop.” Larkin’s voice jerked up an octave. “When before now?” He asked, once Jake kept going.

“Had to do a lot of our own first-aid on the streets. There was this guy, old Army medic named Tom. Never knew his last name. But he would patch up the kids on the street. He slept in a box and was never sober enough to walk a straight line, but his old med-kit was immaculate. When his hands were shaking one day from withdrawal he talked me through stitching up Resa. She’d cut her leg on a fence. It happened a few more times and when he disappeared one day I was all we had. Not that I’m saying this will be pretty.”

Jake had the fingers of his left hand spread to either side of the wound, holding it shut while his thumb drew soft circles, trying to soothe.

“Not my first time being stitched up by an amateur,” Larkin gritted. “Did it myself, once.”

“I had to do that too. Resa always fainted at the sight of blood. Not fun. Why didn’t you go to the hospital? They would have tossed us back in the system.”

“Undercover. Can’t. Always–Jesus!”

“Sorry.” Jake didn’t stop.

“They get suspicious if you want to go to the hospital,” Larkin panted.

Yeah… and why aren’t we going now? “So how did you manage it?”

“Huh?” Larkin played dumb, which was adorable.

“Needles wig you out. You could hardly look at the needle before it was stabbing under your skin.”

Larkin groaned. “When I said to. Talk to. Me. I was trying to think about something else. Anything else. Jake.”

“So how did you manage?” Jake pressed.

Larkin grunted and tried to shrug, Jake managed to steady him. “Had to. But yeah, I guess they freak me out. A bit. Maybe more after… that.”

Jake didn’t look at him but he could feel the embarrassment rolling off him. “Rats.”

“What?”

“Rats freak me out.”

“Oh.”

He caught Larkin’s crooked smile in the mirror, stormy eyes all soft.

Jake bit his lip as he tied off the last stitch. He snipped the ends and sat the scissors down to inspect his work, when it hit him that he was standing between Larkin’s legs. His strong thighs bracketed Jake. The counter height raised Larkin a couple of inches. If Jake looked up they would be eye to eye. Lip to lip. The last few weeks he’d been thinking he’d fly out and put it all on the table for Larkin.

But then he hadn’t heard from him. And then the call came that he was in jail. He’d tried to make the shift to helping a friend. Nothing else on the agenda. He had really tried. But part of him had been hoping the whole, riding-in-on-his-white-horse thing, would make things spark. And a moment ago, he thought it had. But…

He’d been still for too long.

A rough hand grasped his chin and tipped his head back. Larkin searched his face until his gaze stopped where Jake worried at his bottom lip. Larkin took a shaky breath—probably from the pain—and brushed his thumb over Jake’s lip, gently freeing it. The light touch sent ice and heat tumbling through Jake’s veins, the feeling thrummed along his skin, settling in his stomach. God. His hands dropped reflexively to grip Larkin’s thighs.

This would be the moment to take a leap, capture Larkin’s mouth in a blistering kiss and pull him down to stumble back into the bed just outside. But hell, who was he kidding? There had been hundreds of those moments. Jake wasn’t a coward. He’d never feared rejection, but he had played the slow game this entire time. Even now, as a shiver ghosted up Larkin’s smooth skin—probably just chilled.

His lips parted as he tried to think of something to say.

Larkin closed his eyes, took a deep breath and shook his head.

Right, step away then.

But Larkin tilted Jake’s chin and brought their lips together.

It was light and electric and then Larkin put his hands around Jake’s back and pulled him in closer. Jake squeezed, exploring the muscles under his hands as his tongue explored Larkin’s mouth. Larkin let him deepen the kiss with a low hum of approval. He tasted goddamned fantastic. Not like food or spice, or anything Jake could name, but he was hooked. He went back to a parted lip kiss, inviting. Larkin took the hint, biting at Jake’s bottom lip to keep him from backing off too far before kissing him again, deep and hard. A rough moan tore from Jake, all the pleasure, relief and anticipation rolled into the small noise.

It started slow, the soft warmth turning to frantic fire. The heady rush Larkin’s lips induced threatened to spark from his skin, the heat and want coursing between them. Combustible. But just before they’d ignite they broke apart, like they had both sensed the live fire.

“So,” Jake panted, “I’m going to guess you’re interested.”

Larkin huffed a little laugh. “And you?”

Jake shook his head in disbelief. “Where was­—” he made a flustered gesture encompassing all of Larkin, “—this, a month ago?”

“I was trying to keep you safe.” Larkin’s voice cracked.

 “Glad you came to your senses.”

Larkin smiled. Ruefully. 

Jake took a step back. “Shit. You haven’t, have you? Damn it Hardroe, I’m a big boy!” Larkin’s smile twitched but Jake was winding up and he’d be damned if a little innuendo—Big. Big, innuendo—derailed him. Where…oh yeah. “I make my own goddamn decisions! And—“

“I know.”

“—you’re not my goddamned… What?”

“I. Know.” Larkin was in front of him, pressing close, his hands gripping Jake’s sides through his t-shirt. Jake swallowed, arousal roaring back. The heat from Larkin’s skin soaked through his clothes, setting him alight. Screw this timid shit, that wasn’t him. He leaned forward, crowding Larkin right back, slipping his fingers into the waistband of Larkin’s jeans.

“Then. Why. Aren’t. We. Fucking.”

Larkin’s whole body shuddered against him, lips parting in unconscious invitation. His hands started to slide down—but he shook himself out of it and stepped down from Jake’s challenge. His face was completely open, regret, lust, apology and… fear? Larkin dashed it away, threading both hands through his hair to tug in frustration… and maybe to keep them off me? Jake grinned. Shit. He felt off kilter, uncertain and horny as hell.

But Larkin liked him back.

“After we talk,” Larkin grated.

Jake groaned. “Christ. I’ve been trying to get you to talk since I met your sorry ass. I still, don’t know your favorite God. Damn. Color. And now you want to talk. Now?”

“This is a little more important than my feelings on fuchsia, Jake,” Larkin said dryly.

“If this is about your raincloud, Lark, I don’t have to know. I said I’d wait. Whatever it is it won’t change my mind about knockin’ boots.”

“It might.”

 “It won’t.” God, the man was exasperating. And sexy. And picked really inconvenient times for heart to hearts.

Larkin’s pulse jumped.

Jake leaned in and licked a thin line up Larkin’s neck ending with a not-so-gentle nip. His lips grazed Larkin’s ear.

“I made coffee. Let’s go chat,” he breathed.

When he turned to brush past Larkin he might’ve pressed his ass against Larkin’s bulge. No one could prove it, but Larkin’s low groaning laugh said he felt it.

 

 

Book 1 Synopsis

Detective Larkin Hardroe just wants to do his job and be left alone, but when his new boss hands him a pair of bolt cutters and sends him to rescue P.I. Jake Hardington, there is no more “alone.” Somehow, Jake ends up riding shotgun on a raid where they discover the body of Jake’s informant in a steamer trunk. By morning, Jake is officially on the case and Larkin’s new partner.

They investigate undercover and three rescued kids, a fistfight and one cover kiss later they become friends. Their investigation leads them to Victor Vargas and his boss, but when they take them down Larkin receives a threat from an old case and cuts all ties with Jake.

He does it to keep Jake safe, but a month later when Jake’s in trouble Larkin gives up trying to protect him if the idiot is just going to find a different fire to jump in. They fall back into friendship and make tentative dinner plans that could lead them to something more but Jake gets kidnapped.

Larkin rescues him and it is time for a serious talk when Larkin gets recalled to New York to deal with the old case that’s been haunting him. Jake drives him to the airport and in a what-the-hell moment lays a passionate goodbye kiss on Larkin in the security line. Several months later, Jake gets word that Larkin’s been arrested. Jake bails him out and learns that Larkin is in serious danger. His last case had put dirty cops behind bars, but he hadn’t managed to catch them all. With no more secrets, Jake and Larkin come together in the biblical sense. Jake stays as backup and it looks like Larkin might need it when he receives a threatening phone call before the trial.