"...sets the pages on fire. The romance is as sweet as the action is hot, and there's something deeply satisfying about the way this couple comes together." --Publishers Weekly
CALL ON ME
Book 8 - Loving on the Edge
Released: July 7, 2015
Oakley Easton wants two things: to be a good mom to her daughter and to ditch her less than ideal night job. Hooking up with bad boy drummer Pike Ryland? Not on the agenda. She needs a promotion. Not sex, tattoos and rock ’n’ roll.
Pike isn’t about to let Ms. Prim and Proper shut him down so easily, especially when he stumbles upon Oakley’s sexy night job. She’s only playing a role on those late night calls with strangers, but when he gets her on the line, all bets are off. He won’t stop until that sultry voice is calling his name for real.
But as they move from anonymous fantasies in the dark to the flesh-on-hot-flesh reality of the bedroom, the risk of falling in love becomes all too high. And the safe, quiet world that Oakley’s worked so hard to create is about to be exposed to the one person who could ruin it all.
*Paperback has bonus short story "House Call"
READ CHAPTER 1
Copyrighted Material Roni Loren 2015 - All Rights Reserved Berkley Publishing Group
*18 and over only*
“Are you touching yourself?” The voice in Oakley’s ear sounded labored and overeager—like a Saint Bernard attempting phone sex. He was probably drooling, too. Lovely.
“Yes, you make me so hot . . .”—she quickly checked the sticky note she’d put on the kitchen island—“Stefan.”
Stefan. Literature professor. Single. Six foot five.
That’s the info he’d given her. Which probably meant: Steve, unemployed, married, and five-six on a good day.
He groaned. “You’re so sexy.”
Sexy? Two points off for lack of originality, Mr. Lit Prof. Though, even the suave guys tended to forget their vocabulary when they got to this point in the conversation. Oakley covered the mouthpiece on her headset and turned off the timer on the oven. If nothing else, she was impressed the guy had lasted through the full baking time.
“Thanks, sugar,” she said, letting her tone drop into a lower register.
“God, your voice is so fucking hot.”
That she heard a lot. A record company exec had once deemed her voice “smoky, X-rated perfection” when he’d heard her demo. At the time, she hadn’t considered how inappropriate it had been for a grown man to tell a fifteen-year-old kid that. But her raspy voice had gotten her the gig then, and it’d gotten her this one now. Though, admittedly, the bar wasn’t set quite as high for this current one.
“I’m gonna give it to you so hard, Sasha,” Stefan ground out. “I can feel your hot mouth closing around me.”
Oakley donned oven mitts and leaned down to pull out the tray of brownies. The smell of chocolate and the heat of the oven hit her with full force. She inhaled deeply. “Mmm, that’s so good. I could just lick up every last bit.”
“Yeah,” he panted, the sound of his slick, pumping fist obscenely clear through the receiver. “That’s right. Show me how much you want it.”
There you go, Steve, you go on and get your money’s worth. Oakley set the tray of brownies on a trivet and tugged off the mitts. Her stomach rumbled. She’d stayed up late enough that her body was looking for dinner number two. But these weren’t for her.
She glanced toward the darkened hallway and the stairs beyond. Well, maybe one little corner piece wouldn’t be missed. She cut a small square and dipped her fingers in to grab it. But as she lifted the brownie, her knuckles grazed the searing hot pan.
“Ah, shit!” she hissed, jerking her hand back.
“Oh, yeah, let me hear it,” Stefan said on a moan. “Come with me, baby.”
Oakley shook out her hand, sucking air through her teeth, and tried to keep the pain out of her voice. Her phone companion thought she was mid-orgasm. She threw in an oh, oh, oh and ran to the sink to plunge her fist into the dishwater she’d drawn to soak the mixing bowl.
Stefan made choked sounds as he reached his own release. In another world, maybe it could’ve been an erotic moment. She’d talked a guy into an orgasm. He was calling her name. But the name was fake and so was the talk. And though she held nothing against the guys who called—after all, they helped her pay the bills—her libido had long ago crawled into a dark corner to die a quick, peaceful death. Even if she imagined the guy on the other end of the line looked like Johnny Depp or Justin Timberlake or something, she couldn’t drum up one ounce of interest.
Stefan panted heavy, wet breaths right against her ear, resuming his resemblance to a Saint Bernard. Maybe she should offer him a “good boy” or a Milk-Bone.
“That was amazing,” she said, using her husky, after-sex voice as she soaked her hand in the water. “Thank you, Stefan.”
Panting. Panting. That was the only response.
Then a tight, high sound—whistling.
Uh-oh. “Stefan? Are you okay?”
Those squeaking breaths continued for a few seconds then: “Yes . . . I’m . . . fine.”
He didn’t sound fine. “Stefan, if you’re having an asthma attack or chest pains or something, you need to call for help.”
“Can’t . . .” He gave a ragged cough. “My wife . . . can’t know . . . I’m down here this late. She’ll know I’m up . . .”
He coughed again.
Jesus Christ. Oakley shook the water off her hand. “What’s she going to think when she finds you dead in the basement? Hang up the phone and dial 911.”
“Stu?” a sharp voice said in the background. “What are you doing down here? Stu?”
“Oh, shit,” Stefan/Stu said between wheezes.
The dial tone buzzed in Oakley’s ear a second later.
She pulled off the wireless headset and sagged against the fridge, exhaling a long breath. Okay. It would be all right. Stu’s wife might kill him when she found him with the phone to his ear and his underwear around his ankles, but at least the guy wouldn’t die of a heart attack on Oakley’s watch.
She could handle a lot of stuff—callers threw all kinds of bizarre shit at her—but she couldn’t be responsible for helping kill one. It was bad enough that she’d just contributed to strife in another marriage.
Gold star for her.
It shouldn’t bother her. The guys who called were grown men making a conscious decision to seek out paid phone sex. She was simply the tool of choice. Another night, they may download porn and watch a dirty movie instead. If she’d learned anything during her year of doing this job, it was that it wasn’t personal. She had a job to do. The callers needed a faceless someone to fill in for their fantasy that night. The relationship was purely transactional. And hell, she’d been used for free by enough people in her past. Now she was at least paid for it and not getting emotionally annihilated in the process. But still, sometimes she felt like the drug dealer, giving addicts easy access to their vice.
She rolled her shoulders, trying to shrug off the stress of the call, and dug a tube of antibiotic ointment out of the junk drawer to slather on her burned knuckles. It was past two and she really needed to get to bed, but there was no way she’d be able to sleep after that burst of adrenaline from the call.
Plus, she’d never gotten her dessert. And right now, she could use a big honking piece of chocolate.
She went back to the brownies. They’d cooled enough by now, so she cut herself a bigger square that the original corner she’d planned and took a bite. She closed her eyes. Yeah, that’s the stuff.
After pouring a big glass of milk, she brought that and the rest of the brownie to the table. She glanced at the walkie-talkie she’d placed on the table, the soft white noise relaxing her, and leaned back in the chair to enjoy the solitude. She was used to pulling the night shift by now, but usually she fell into bed after the last call, grasping for any shreds of sleep she could get before the alarm went off to start her real job. But it was nice to sit for a moment and simply be.
She polished off the last bit of brownie and milk and brought her glass to the sink. The exhaustion was settling in full force now. She braced her hands on the edge of the counter and eyed the soaking dishes. Her mother had always had the rule to never go to bed with a dirty sink—as if a bright, gleaming, empty sink was some sign ofhow together the household was. Maybe it was.
Oakley turned away from the dishes. They’d have to wait until tomorrow. She didn’t have it in her.
She put foil over the rest of the brownies and grabbed the walkie-talkie and her headset. She should be able to get at least four hours of sleep. But right as she flipped off the light, the walkie-talkie beeped.
Oakley halted, startled by the sudden break in the quiet. She pressed the button on the side of the device. “Yeah, baby?”
“What’s that smell?” Reagan asked, her voice groggy from sleep.
Oakley shook her head and smiled. She should’ve known the bionic nose would pick up that scent even in her sleep. “It’s just the brownies for your bake sale tomorrow.”
“It’s not my bake sale. It’s the school’s,” Reagan corrected.
“That’s what I meant.”
“But that’s not what you said.”
Oakley leaned against the wall in the hallway. This was an argument she’d never win. Reagan was into exactness. When Oakley told people Rae was eleven, Rae would jump in and specify how many months past eleven she was. “I’m sorry I said it wrong the first time. Now go back to sleep, sweetheart. I don’t want you to be tired in the morning.”
“Did you put nuts or caramel in them?”
“Of course not. I know you’re a brownie purist.”
“Okay. Good,” Reagan said, and Oakley could almost hear her daughter nodding. “Thanks, Mom. Love you.”
Oakley pressed the walkie-talkie to her chest for a moment, warmth filling her. “Love you, too, Rae. Goodnight.”
Oakley headed to her bedroom, listening to the footfalls upstairs and the flush of the toilet as Reagan made a quick trip to the bathroom. She must’ve really had to go because Rae hated getting out of bed in the middle of the night. And she outright refused to come downstairs after dark—a phobia she’d developed years ago and hadn’t been able to shake yet.
Hence the walkie-talkies. Oakley had gotten tired of Reagan yelling from afar anytime she needed something at night. And leaving every light blazing through the house all evening wasn’t an option either. The electric bill was already high enough.
Bills. No, she wouldn’t think about that now. Even though she could see the stack staring at her from her desk. The gas bill. Rent. The quarterly installment for Reagan’s private school and therapies. She couldn’t face that tonight. Plus, she knew the due dates by heart so she could hold on to her money until the very last minute without being late.
She closed her bedroom door and walked over to her computer to wake the screen. Her sign-in page for the service she used to get her calls was still up. It showed how many minutes she’d logged tonight. Not bad. But she was six minutes shy of hitting the bonus level where she got an extra fifty bucks for the night. Stu’s health scare had cost her more than stress.
She sighed and sagged into her desk chair. Fifty extra dollars could pay for that pair of lime green Chuck Taylors Reagan wanted for her birthday.
Oakley yawned and checked the box that indicated she was available to take a call. Her cell phone rang within seconds and she slipped on the headset again. “Hello, this is Sasha. Ready for a fantasy night?”
“So ready,” said the deep-voiced caller. There was male tittering in the background.
Great. A frat-boy call.
“What are you wearing, Sasha?”
Oakley looked down at her oversized T-shirt and yoga pants. “A sheer robe with nothing underneath.”
“Aw, yeah,” the dude said. “How big are your tits?”
Oakley put her head to her desk. Six minutes. She only needed to keep them on the phone for six more minutes.
They hung up at two, laughing in the background as the phone went dead, their Truth or Dare game complete.
And she was short.
She lifted her head and checked the Available box again.
“Hello, this is Sasha . . .”