Soaring on Love

By: Joy Avery

CHAPTER 1

Roth Lexington leaned against the banister of the upper-level balcony inside The Underground Jazz House—The Underground, for short—nursing a glass of bourbon. The amber liquid had always been his drink of choice, ever since he’d taken his first sip at thirteen. “It’ll make you a man,” he’d been told. He was definitely a man, but he wasn’t sure the bourbon had anything to do with it.

Taking a swig, he savored the earthy notes. A fire flared in his chest, but it wasn’t from the whiskey. This inferno ignited from envy. With a tight jaw, he observed the partygoers below. He soaked in their laughs, their smiles, their congratulatory hugs and handshakes for the future bride and groom.

Normally, nothing soothed him like a smooth beverage and the silky sounds of jazz, but neither did much for him now. And he knew why. The reason stood several feet below him in the form of the sexiest woman in the room. Also, the guest of honor at this engagement party he’d reluctantly attended.

Tressa Washington.

Since the first time he’d laid eyes on the ravishing ER nurse several months ago in his best friend’s living room, she’d danced in his thoughts. Danced sensual moves. Provocative moves. Seductive moves. Moves that had forced him awake in a hot sweat on several occasions. In his thirty-six years, he couldn’t recall a woman ever having this kind of effect on him.

He didn’t like it. He didn’t like it at all.

Stunning in a fitted off-white jumpsuit, Tressa stood out among the sixty or so people in attendance. Tiny curls framed her round face, lightly touched with makeup. Though she didn’t need any makeup at all, really. That was how stunning she was.

Engulfed in conversation with a group of women, her lips—the ones he craved to leave kiss swelled and aching—curled into a smile, and those dimples he’d grown to adore pierced her chocolate-brown cheeks. His gaze burned a heated path along her voluptuous body, stopping briefly to appreciate her ample breasts. They’d fit in his grasp perfectly.

It took a real man to handle dangerous curves like hers. And as he’d stated before, he was a man.

A knot tightened in his stomach. How he’d love to suckle nipples he’d teased with his thumbs to tautness. He curtailed his thoughts when he felt a tightening in his boxers. Wearing a hard-on for the bride-to-be in the middle of her engagement party would be a shit thing to do. But dammit, he couldn’t help that Tressa turned him all the way on. He wanted her so badly he ached. Forbidden fruit was always so damn tempting.

Loud laughter drew his attention to Tressa’s fiancé. Cyrus Williams. Even the thought of the man’s name put a sour taste in his mouth. A cornball name for a cornball. Damn he hated that man. Or more accurately, envied him. Cyrus had something he wanted—Tressa’s warm body pressed up against his.

Pushing his envy aside, Roth still got a bad vibe from this Cyrus character. He’d always been good at reading people and something about Tressa’s soon-to-be husband screamed shady. Roth blew out a heavy breath. But Cyrus was none of his business, and neither was Tressa. And if he told himself that a few more hundred times, maybe he’d actually be convinced. He slid his eyes back to her.

As if sensing his ogling, Tressa shifted in his direction. The instant their gazes locked, a lightning bolt of desire seared through him. She smiled at him in that warm, welcoming manner he’d become accustomed to. A smile like that wasn’t easily forgotten. But that was exactly what he needed to do. Forget. Forget that soul-stirring gesture and the woman donning it.

Tressa’s best friend, Vivian—his best friend Alonso’s wife—said something that drew Tressa’s attention. Tressa slid her gaze away, allowing him to breathe again. Maybe he was being absurd, but he’d got the feeling she’d regretted ending their connection just as much as he had. Yeah, absurd.

Alonso clapped him on the shoulder. “Careful. The way you’re staring at the bride could give someone the wrong idea. Namely, her soon-to-be husband.” He laughed.

She wasn’t a bride yet.

Roth and Alonso had been friends since way back. Over the years, Alonso had kept him out of so much trouble and got him into his fair share, as well. He didn’t trust many people, but he trusted Alonso with his life.

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