Ahhh! You guys! We’ve blown past our first Dirty Rowdy Thing preorder campaign milestone!! *glitter cannon* If you missed Chapter One, you can read it here, and as promised, here’s Chapter Two! Tweet, Instagram, FB, blog, Milq, skywrite, and encourage people to preorder. When we reach milestone #2, Gallery Books will let us unlock Chapter 3, and you’ll get even more Finn. Dirty Rowdy and Early.
(As a reminder, this excerpt contains adult themes and content and is intended for a mature audience)
I don’t remember the last time I was at a house party surrounded by a bunch of obnoxious twentysomethings on their way to varying degrees of hammered. I am not a party guy, but I agreed to come along because Ansel is in town, and the last time we saw each other was Vegas, when the end of a fun reunion crumbled into matrimonial chaos. But somehow tonight I end up nowhere near the kid, with a keg cup in my hand, and halfway to buzzed for the first time in months, standing close enough to Harlow Vega to touch her.
It doesn’t surprise me that we’re standing this close or that I’d really like to touch her.
What surprises me is that Harlow is the one separated from the rest of the party, hanging out in the kitchen with Oliver’s stoner employee. Despite our Vegas nuptials and Vancouver Island bangfest, it’s fair to say I don’t really know much about her. But I do know her type, and if there’s a table at a party, girls like her are usually pounding, lying, or dancing on it.
“Why are you in here and not wiping the floor with us at poker?”
Harlow shrugs, placing her hands on my waist so she can move me aside and open the cabinet overhead. “I’m distracted tonight.” She frowns up into the crowded cupboard. “And why is this such a mess? Dear God.”
“You going to rearrange their kitchen for them?” I ask, smiling at the clinking sounds as she moves glasses around. “In the middle of a party?”
Dark auburn hair frames her face, which she tucks behind her ear as she stretches for the top shelf, exposing her long neck. I immediately think of sucking little marks into her skin, from her ear to her collarbone.
“Preoccupied this morning,” I say, drinking in the sight of her bare shoulders. “Distracted tonight.”
She retrieves two clean shot glasses and pulls back to look at me silently in response. And now I remember the heat of her oddly hypnotic eyes—more amber than brown—and the temptation of her full, flirty lips. Unscrewing the cap from a bottle of pretty stellar tequila, Harlow blinks away before pouring each glass to the brim.
“Well, I can tell Not-Joe is doing a great job undistracting you,” I tell her, “but you might want to slow down on shots with the guy who pierced his own penis.” Honestly, when Oliver told me that story, I nearly choked on my sandwich.
Harlow was beginning to hand me a shot, but her hand pauses, midair. “He . . . what now?”
“Twice. One in the tip, one in the shaft.” She blinks.
I lean in a little and the way she’s staring at my mouth is making my skin hum. “According to Oliver, ‘things happen’ when Not-Joe gets drunk.”
She tears her eyes from my mouth and looks up at me, lifting her chin to indicate the table of people still playing cards across the room. “You’re suggesting instead I go play cards with the people who’re giving out shots of Clamato as penalty?”
“It’s even better than that,” I say with a shudder. “It’s Budweiser with Clamato. It’s called chelada, and it’s pretty warm now.”
She makes the exact same face she made when the barista offered her a pumpkin spice mocha this morning—complete and total horror—and that drink she ordered. “Someone actually made that into a thing? There are people who drink and enjoy that?”
Laughing, I tell her, “You know, despite my better judgment I find it really funny when you act like a diva.”
With her head tilted to the side, eyes incredulous, she asks, “Being turned off by Budweiser mixed with tomato and clam juice makes me a diva?”
Apparently I’m buzzed enough to belt out a few lines of the only diva song I can think of at the moment: “I Will Always Love You.” And then I lift my shot and down it.
Harlow looks at me like I’ve lost my mind, but I can tell she’s amused. A smile lingers in her eyes, even if her brows are pulled together disapprovingly. “You can’t sing to save your life.”
Wiping a hand across my mouth, I say, “That’s nothing. You should hear me play the piano.”
She narrows her eyes further. “Did you just quote the Smiths?”
“I’m surprised you got that. It wasn’t from a song eventually sampled by P. Diddy.”
Laughing, she says, “You have a pretty fantastic impression of me.”
“I really do.” The tequila slips into my bloodstream, warming me from my chest outward. I lean closer so I can get a good whiff of her. She always smells warm, somehow, and a little earthy and sweet. Like the beach, and sunscreen and honeysuckle. I’ve said more nonsex words to Harlow in the past five minutes than I did the entire time she was in Canada, but I’m surprised to find that not only is she easy to talk to, she’s fun. “And, my impression of you is ever evolving, now that you aren’t just a pretty face in my lap.”
“You’re one classy motherfucker, Finn.”
“This speaking thing does wonders for expanding our horizons.”
She takes her shot, swallows, and winces before saying, “Don’t get ahead of yourself, Sunshine. I like our arrangement.”
“We have an arrangement?”
Nodding, she turns to pour us each another shot. “We fight, or we bang. I think I prefer the banging part.”
“Well, then I would have to agree.”
When she hands me the second shot—on top of the three beers I’ve already had with Ansel—I ask, “Why did you come up my way anyway? I never got around to asking you that be- cause you were sitting on my face most of the time. The visit was . . . unexpected.”
“But awesome?” she asks, brows raised as if she knows I’d never deny it.
She licks the side of her hand, shakes some salt on it this time, and studies it, thinking. “Honestly? I guess I wasn’t sure I could trust my memory from Vegas.”
“You mean your memory that the sex was so good?”
“It was,” I assure her.
“I know that now.” She licks the salt, takes the shot, and grabs a slice of lime from the counter, sucking it briefly before murmuring through wet, puckered lips, “Too bad the man attached to the penis is such an epic loser.”
I nod sympathetically. “True.”
“You’re fun,” she tells me, pulling back a little as if she’s only really looking at me now. “You’re fun in this sort of easy, unexpected way.”
She snaps her fingers in front of my face. “That must be it. The tequila I’ve had is making you fun.”
I laugh, wiping a hand over my mouth. “You seem to be in a better mood tonight,” I say.
“Just have some stuff going on and trying not to think about it. And besides,” she says, raising her empty shot glass, “this helps immensely.”
“How many have you had?”
“Enough that I don’t care much, not so many that I don’t care at all.”
This seems like a pretty bleak response for someone I’ve assumed all along was chirpy and sexy and carefree. Really, though, I don’t actually know much about Harlow’s life. I know she’s a pretty little rich girl, and probably has a line of pretty little rich boys lined up at her door. I know she’s a loyal friend to Lola and Mia, and because she’s apparently one of those people that need to help every human alive, she was a driving force in getting Ansel and Mia back together again. But outside of that, there’s not much. I don’t even know what she does for work . . . or whether she works at all.
“Anything you want to talk about?” I offer halfheartedly.
“Nope,” she says, and tosses back another shot.
My phone vibrates in my pocket and my warm, drunken comfort is quickly replaced by a sense of dread. Without having to look, I know this is the message I’ve been waiting for. Back home my youngest brother, Levi, is running a safety check on the largest boat in our fleet, the Linda, named after our mother, and with the way things have been going, I’m willing to bet the news isn’t going to be good.
Short in the wheelhouse, none of the controls are working.
Although there are about a hundred curse words I want to type right now, I don’t answer right away. Instead, I slip my phone back into my pocket, pour myself a shot, and throw it back. It helps.
“You okay there?” Harlow asks, watching me.
I clench my jaw against the burn, feeling it warm my body as it settles in my stomach. “Just a little distracted myself.”
“Well then—let’s have another!” She pours two more shots and hands me one. I know this isn’t really going to help. I’m going to sober up in the morning—or maybe a bit later in the day than that—and the controls in the boat will still be down, and our whole fucking livelihood will still be just as in jeopardy as it is now. But, damn, I’d really like to forget all that for a while.
I pick it up, look at the clear liquid before I lean into her, my lips almost brushing the shell of her ear. “I think you and I both know the last time we drank tequila together it didn’t end so well.”
“True,” she says, pulling back just far enough to meet my eyes. “But there’s no twenty-four-hour chapel nearby manned by some reckless idiot willing to marry us, so I think we’re safe.”
Harlow knocks back her shot and winces. “Ooooh . . . I don’t think I can do any more.” She holds up her hands, pre- tends to count out about thirty shots, and then smiles up at me. “One more and I’d face-plant into the bowl of these Fritos London is so excited about.”
She may have lost count, but I haven’t. Four shots into my time in the kitchen with Harlow and—besides Vegas—I’m drunk for the first time in years.
It feels like he’s been gone for an hour, but Not-Joe finally returns in a cloud of weed-smell. As he approaches, he extends his hand to me, saying very slowly, “I’m Not-Joe . . . it’s nice to meet you.”
Laughing, I remind him, “We met earlier at the store, when Oliver was doing the final walk-through?”
Not-Joe makes a little clucking sound, saying, “That’s why you looked familiar.”
It was three hours ago. This guy must not breathe unless it’s through a joint.
“You’re the lumberjack from Nova Scotia?” he asks. “Fisherman from Vancouver Island.”
Harlow bursts out laughing. “Poor Finn.”
He looks back and forth between me and Harlow. “So do you guys know each other through Oliver, too?” he asks.
“Not exactly,” she says, and then looks at me with a silly grin. “Finn is my ex-husband.”
Not-Joe’s eyes go as wide as saucers. “Ex-husband?” Nodding, I confirm, “That’s right.”
The kid looks at Harlow, and then really looks at her. Like eyes moving up and down her body in a way that makes me want to slap him into awareness and so he’ll stop fucking leering at her like that.
“You don’t look old enough to be divorced,” he finally concludes.
I lean forward to break his attention away from her chest. “But I do?”
Now he looks at me, but with far less interest. “Yeah, actually. You’re older than her, right?”
“Right,” I say, laughing as Harlow giggles delightedly next to me. “Thanks.”
Not-Joe digs his hand into a bag of corn chips on the counter, asking, “It must be weird hanging out at a party with your ex.”
She waves him off, saying, “Nah. Finn is an easygoing guy.”
“Am I now?” I ask her, and this makes me laugh because if there has ever been a phrase to describe me, it’s not easygoing. Easygoing is Ansel. I often get “contained.” I am, admittedly, sometimes a little closed off. I am not easy-going.
Nodding, she studies me for a breath and then says, “Yeah. You like long walks on the dock, making little dream catchers out of your extra fishing line, and evenings spent yukking it up with some Mountie MILFs at the local Mooseknuckle Bar.”
I burst out laughing. “I do, huh?”
Her lips come together in a sweet, thoughtful pout. “Mm-hmm.”
“Well,” I reply, “you’re pretty easy to be around yourself. It helps that you’re a fun-loving gal who likes shopping, nail polish, and . . .” I pretend to think some more before finally repeating, “Shopping.”
She puts her hand on my cheek, wearing a playfully adoring expression. “I love how well we know each other.”
In unison, we lift our empty shot glasses and clink them. “Why did you guys get divorced?” Not-Joe asks. “You seem to really like each other.”
“Do we?” I ask, not taking my eyes off Harlow. I didn’t actually think I liked her all that much until tonight.
She finally breaks our shared look to tell Not-Joe, “The truth is, we were only married for a night and, like, half a day in Vegas. We’ve probably only spent a combined twenty-four hours together, most of it drunk or naked.”
“Or both,” I add. “Seriously?”
We both nod. “That is wicked.”
“It was, trust me,” she agrees, and then pretends to glare at me. “Very wicked.”
I look at her lips just as she licks them and it sends a shock of electricity down across my skin and straight to my cock. In fact, I’m nearly drunk enough to suggest she reintroduce that tongue to that cock.
“It’s something I think everyone should do once in their life,” Not-Joe muses, pulling my attention away from Harlow’s now-smiling mouth. “Everyone should: run a marathon, read Candide, and get married in Vegas.”
Harlow laughs and begins to explain to him that it was fucking expensive and actually not all that convenient. We could have banged and parted ways for free. As she tells Not-Joe about the misadventures in Vegas, I excuse myself to go hit the head.
Outside the kitchen area, the party is loud and drunk. London is belting out a song at the poker table; Mia is playing cards and wearing the sombrero while sitting on Ansel’s lap. Lola and Oliver are the only ones who seem sober, and I laugh watching them for a few seconds. Oliver is notoriously competitive about cards, and here I can see the same determination on Lola’s face. The rest of the table has dissolved into drunken debauchery, but the two of them seem to be trying their hardest to keep the game organized. It’s like trying to tie a string around raindrops.
When I come out of the bathroom, Harlow is there waiting for a turn. She slips past me with a cheeky little smile and when I turn to do something—fuck, I don’t even know, crack a joke, stare at her, kiss her—she closes the door in my face.
I forgot how drinking makes me feel blurry at the edges, a little unwound. It’s freeing, but in the corner of my mind I can sense the red flashing light: Danger. Danger.
Looking down the hall, I consider going back to the poker table or to the kitchen, but my feet are planted, and even while I think about how fun it would be to play some cards with Ansel and Oliver, I don’t go anywhere.
Harlow opens the bathroom door to find me leaning against the wall opposite and she doesn’t look even a little surprised. Not one little bit. She stands in the doorway studying me and then takes a couple of steps closer.
She just stares up at me, and this is all so fucking new. She feels like a different woman than the wild Vegas party girl, than the hungry vixen who nearly broke down my front door. This Harlow feels patient, and seductive, and fucking fascinating. Beneath the surface of her gaze I see something there I hadn’t seen before, some depth she usually keeps hidden, as if tonight, some shield was stripped away. It can’t just be the alcohol, because I’ve seen her drunk. It can’t just be that she wants to get off, because we’ve done that before, too.
The longer Harlow stares at me, the more it feels like my heart has become an inflatable raft she’s slowly filling with air. My chest just gets tighter and tighter and tighter.
I can tell she put on some more lip gloss in the bathroom, and her mouth shines red when she smiles a little. “Are we gonna rumble?”
This breaks me from my trance and I reach for her arm, pulling her with me and turning us into the bedroom just to my left.
The room is empty but for a pile of bedding, a low dresser, and some cardboard boxes in the corner.
“Who the hell has an empty bedroom in a place like this?” I ask, walking to the floor-to-ceiling loft windows that line one wall. This place has three bedrooms and is twice the size of my house on Vancouver Island. There’s a sweeping view of the harbor and, in the distance, what I think must be Coronado.
“This was Ruby’s room,” Harlow says, leaning against the wall to my right. “London inherited this apartment a few years back. Ruby just moved out a couple of weeks ago, right after Lola moved in. She got some amazing internship in London.”
I look over at her, feeling confused. Drunk, mostly. “Ruby . . . and London?”
“Ruby moved to London, England,” she says more slowly. “And yeah, I know. Her roommate was London; she moved to London. The jokes were endless. It was like Abbott and Costello up in here.” Pushing off the wall, she takes a couple of steps closer to me and looks out the window at the water. “They’re looking for a new roommate so if you know anyone who wants to flee the oppressive regime in Canada . . .”
“You won’t move in?” I ask.
“I like my space. I like living alone.”
I nod. I like living alone, too. My hometown is small enough as it is; sometimes it’s nice to imagine I can close my door and get some distance.
Not that even at a thousand miles away I can really distance my thoughts from all the bullshit going on at home. My phone feels like a lead weight in my pocket, and I slip it out, putting it on the flat top of a cardboard box. Harlow watches me do it, and then does the same, pulling her phone from the pocket of her frayed-hem denim skirt and laying it facedown beside mine.
I step forward and she turns her face up to me, closing her eyes when I slide my hand along her neck and into her hair. “You smell like a fucking dream.”
I nod, but she misses it, eyes still closed. “Give me your underwear.”
No pretense, no warm-up, and she doesn’t even startle. My worries are safely placed on top of a cardboard box four feet away, and what I have in front of me is a soft, warm girl to make everything else evaporate. With a little glance up at my face, she reaches under her skirt and shimmies out of her panties, giving me the tiny blue handful of lace. I slide them into my pocket, and then bend, kissing her.
This, too, is new. It’s sweeter, more honest than the wild, biting, savage kisses we knew before. I kiss her once, just a touch, and then again, groaning as her hands slide up my chest and around my neck. Her lips fall into an easy rhythm against mine—there’s no physical negotiation or uncertainty, only Harlow offering me her full bottom lip, little strokes of her tongue, and her eager little gasps. I can taste a hint of cherry lip gloss, the shots we did together in the kitchen. She’s not sloppy drunk, but her cheeks are warm from the alcohol, her body pliable and relaxed. I’m sure I could bend her however I want. I could spread her out on the floor, put her legs over my shoulders, and fuck her so hard that people out in the living room would hear the slap of my skin against hers.
“You think about fucking me sometimes?” I ask, pressing a kiss to her neck, slipping a strap off her shoulder, and trailing my lips and teeth along her skin.
“It’s my go-to when I get myself off,” she admits without hesitation.
“So you think of me like five times a day?”
Harlow laughs and it catches in a little hiccup when I push her skirt over her hips and lift her onto the dresser, spreading her legs and stepping forward. I’m already hard and the feel of the bare warmth of her pussy against the denim over my cock is enough to have me hissing against her mouth, pushing my hips forward.
She presses into me and I slide my hand between us, reaching to touch the soft, slick skin between her thighs.
She’s gasping these perfect little breaths and shaking against me, and I’m so hard it’s all I can do to not reach for my fly, pull out my dick, and rub all over this, but instead I slide my fingers over her unbelievably soft body. She’s the only woman I’ve felt in so long. It’s hard to not let my mind instinctively tattoo her with mine when I kiss her neck, her lips, her shoulder. And it’s easy to pretend everything beyond this room has evaporated or, at the very least, been put on pause, and that relief—even if imagined—sends a thrill down my spine, coiling tightly at the base. I’m so hard for this girl; she makes me harder than anything I can remember. I swear I can still feel the echo from almost two months ago of her lips kissing down my cock, her hands guiding me into her.
“You have any idea how this feels to me?” I step back enough to watch my fingers slide up and over her clit and back down, lower, inside. I fucking love how they look when they’re wet with her. “God, when did your pussy get so sweet?” I look up to her downcast eyes, the lip trapped savagely between her teeth as she’s watching me touch her. A searing fire iron of a thought stabs at me: “You let that asshole kid lick you here last night?”
She closes her eyes, pushing into my hand, and I lean in to kiss her neck. Her silence is as good as a yes and it further sparks a fire in my chest. And then I remember how she looked this morning: like she simultaneously wanted to fuck me and beat me.
“Tell me you like my mouth.”
She whimpers, choking out, “I like your mouth.”
“Tell me you remember coming on it.”
“How many times?”
Harlow coughs out a laugh and it turns into a groan when I slide my thumb around and around and around her clit. “A lot.”
“I remember telling you to crawl across the room to get it.”
Her nails dig into my shoulder. “Dick.”
“But you did.” I kiss her neck, her jaw. “And I love licking it. I love your obscene little sounds.”
A knock on the door cracks through the quiet room and we both startle. Against me, Harlow tenses, reaching to hold my arm so I don’t stop touching her.
Fuck. It’s Ansel. “Yeah?”
“Hey, uh . . . we are leaving, in case you wanted a ride back to Oliver’s.”
I can practically feel Harlow waiting for my response; her body is tense all around me. “When is Oliver going?” I ask, contemplating my options.
“He left about ten minutes ago to swing past the store one more time.”
I groan and, without realizing it, move my hand away and use it to wipe my mouth. But my fingers are covered in Harlow. And now I can smell her, and taste her, and I’m so fucking hard my jaw clenches tightly with tension.
She watches me, but it’s hard to see her face since she’s backlit from the city lights. If I don’t leave with them, I’ll need to cab it. And the Roberts family business needs every one of the measly five thousand we have in the bank, so I really don’t think I should pay thirty bucks for a cab tonight.
“I gotta head out with them,” I tell her.
“I know.” She doesn’t sound angry or even all that disappointed . . . just tired.
“Don’t try to drive home,” I tell her. “You’ve had too much to drink.”
She blinks, and when she looks back up at me, I can see whatever shutter she keeps over her emotions has been slotted back in place. Disappointment cools me when she says, “Do you think I’m an idiot?”
“No.” I move to retrieve my phone, sliding it into my back pocket. Oddly, I feel a little like she’s played me tonight. “Do you want a ride home with us?”
She shakes her head. “I’m good.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” I lean in to kiss her, but she turns her head away and pushes me. It’s half annoyed, half playful.
“Go away, Sunshine. Goodbyes with emotion aren’t part of the arrangement.”
Right. This detached Harlow is much more familiar. I adjust my cap and give her a little nod before walking to the door.
Ahhh!! FINN!! Chapter Three is . . . well, just trust us, it’s fun. Thanks for all your support and let’s get this party started!