Home > Tame Me (Stark International Trilogy 0.5)

Tame Me (Stark International Trilogy 0.5)
Author: J. Kenner

Chapter One

That, I think, was one hell of a party.

I am standing with my back to the Pacific as I watch the efficient crew break down the lovely white tents. The leftover food has already been packed away. The trash has been discarded. The band left hours ago, and the last of the guests have already departed.

Even the paparazzi who had camped out on the beach hoping to snag a few choice pictures of my best friend Nikki Fairchild’s wedding to multi-bazillionaire and former tennis star Damien Stark are long gone.

I sigh and tell myself that this vague emptiness I’m feeling isn’t melancholy. Instead, it’s an aftereffect of staying up all night drinking and partying. I am, of course, lying. I’m melancholy as shit, but I figure that’s normal. After all, I’ve just watched my best friend get married to the one man in the entire universe who is absolutely, positively perfect for her. Great news, and I’m really and truly happy for her, but she found him without trolling through the entire male population of Los Angeles.

Compare that to me, who’s fucked approximately eighty percent of that population and still hasn’t found a guy like Damien, and I think it’s safe to say that Nikki got the last decent man.

Okay, maybe not the last one, I amend as I catch sight of Ryan Hunter coming down the walking path that winds from Damien’s Malibu house all the way to the beach where I’m now standing. Ryan is the Chief of Security for Stark International, and he and I have been the de facto host and hostess for this post-wedding soiree ever since the bride and groom took off in a helicopter bound for marital bliss.

Ryan is not among the eighty-percent, and that is truly a shame. The man is seriously hot, with piercing blue eyes and chestnut hair worn in a short, almost military style that accents the hard lines and angles of his face. He’s tall and lean, but strong and sexy. I’ve seen him now in both jeans and a tux, and the curve of his ass alone is enough to make a woman drool.

We’ve gotten to know each other over the last few months, and I consider him a friend. Frankly, I’d like to consider him more, and I think he feels the same, even though he has yet to make a move.

I’ve seen the way he watches me, the heat that flares in his eyes when he thinks I’m not looking. Maybe he’s shy—but I doubt it. He’s got a dangerous edge that perfectly suits his job as the head security dude for a guy like Damien and an enterprise like Stark International.

Nikki once told me that there was nothing Ryan liked better than chasing monsters. I believe it, and as I watch him stride down the walking path, his movements a combination of grace and power, I can imagine him in battle and am certain that he would do whatever it takes to win.

No, I don’t believe that Ryan Hunter is shy. All I know is that he’s never made a move on me, and that’s a damn shame.

And now, of course, it’s too late. Because I’m heading back home to Texas tomorrow as part of my newly implemented life goal of getting my shit together. And, as part of the whole Repair My Life plan, I’ve put the kibosh on sleeping around. I’m focusing on Jamie Archer. On figuring out who she is and what she wants, and step one of The Plan is to not do the nasty with every hot guy who crosses my path.

Honestly, men are so five minutes ago.

So far, The Plan is going pretty good. I found a tenant for my Studio City condo a few months ago, then went home to live with my parents in Dallas. It’s hard being a twenty-five-year-old actress in Los Angeles, especially one who has yet to land a decent gig. There are too many guys who are prettier than me—and who know it. And way too many opportunities for a fast fuck.

Texas is slower. Easier. And even though it’s hardly the acting capital of the universe, I’ve already had a few auditions, and I think I may even have a decent shot for a job as an on-air reporter at a local affiliate. I’d auditioned right before flying out here for the wedding, and I’m hoping to hear back from the programming director any day now.

And, yes, true, I’d also auditioned for a commercial here in SoCal, but I didn’t get the job. I tell myself that’s a good thing because I would have taken it and stayed in Los Angeles, because I love Los Angeles and my friends are here. But that would have put me right back on that hamster wheel of auditioning and fucking, and then starting the whole destructive process right over again.

The Plan is good, I tell myself as I watch the crew finish the job. The Plan is wise.

As a dozen workmen haul the last of the tent poles to a nearby truck, the supervisor approaches me with a clipboard and a pen. He takes me through the list, and I duly check off all the various items, confirming that the final details have been attended to.

Then I sign the form, thank him, and watch as he climbs into the truck and drives away.

“So that’s it,” Ryan says as he approaches me. He’s still in tuxedo pants and the starched white shirt, but the cummerbund is gone, as is the jacket. He really does look sexy as hell, but it’s his bare feet that have done me in. There’s something so damn devil-may-care about a guy in a tux barefoot on the beach, and I can’t help but wonder if there really is a bit of the devil in Ryan Hunter.

And if there is, will I ever get to peek at the wickedness?

“No more cars in the driveway,” he continues, as I try to yank my thoughts back to reality. “And I just signed the invoice for the car park company. I think we can safely call this thing a wrap. And a success.” His smile is slow and easy and undeniably sexy. “It really was one hell of a party.”

I laugh. “I was just thinking the same thing.” My stomach does a little twisting number, and I tell myself it’s hunger. After all, champagne isn’t that filling, and I’m sure all the dancing I did during the night burned off the three slices of wedding cake I’d devoured.

I’m lying again, of course. It’s not hunger that’s making my stomach flutter. It’s Ryan. And as I stand there silently wishing he’d just touch me already, I’m also getting more and more irritated. Because why the hell hasn’t he touched me already? We’ve spent time together. We’ve even danced together during various club outings with friends. Not touching, maybe, but close enough that the air between us was thick with promise.

And once, when Damien had a security scare, he sent Ryan to check on me. I’d been wearing a tiny bikini with a sheer cover-up, and I looked damn hot. But he hadn’t made a move. We’d ended up talking for hours, which was great, and I even made him eggs, which is about as domesticated as I get.

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