Dare to Resist ONLY
a Wedding Dare prequel novella by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laura Kaye
Trapped and tempted, this battle of wills rages all night long…
Kady Dresco and Colton Brooks click on a level that defies logic. There are only two problems. One, he’s her older brother’s irritating best friend, and two, they’re bidding on the same military security services contract.
When the competition heats up, Colton is torn between wanting to strangle Kady (and her annoying brilliance) and kissing her into submission. Which is a bad idea for a million reasons, because Kady’s submission is exactly what he craves. Being trapped in a tiny motel room with the object of his darkest fantasies will require every ounce of his restraint.
Kady doesn’t want his restraint, but Colton knows better. She deserves love, marriage, and a white picket fence—three things Colton can’t give her. But her proximity and the memory of their steamy near-miss three years ago slowly destroys his resolve. And he’s not sure how much longer he can keep his hands off…or his heart closed.
Title: Dare to Resist
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Grab the rest of the Wedding Dare series!
- Falling for the Groomsman by New York Times bestselling author Jen McLaughlin, w/a Diane Alberts
- Baiting the Maid of Honor by New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey
- Seducing the Bridesmaid by New York Times bestselling author Katee Robert
- Best Man with Benefits by USA TODAY bestselling author Samanthe Beck
An Excerpt from:
Dare to Resist
by Laura Kaye
Copyright © 2014 by Laura Kaye. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Kady Dresco had just kicked some major ass. She’d probably never done a better job giving a presentation. As she’d spoken, she’d literally seen the officers’ enthusiasm for her proposals as they’d sat forward in their seats, asked smart, engaged questions, and then sat back, nodding and satisfied with her answers. Though she was totally squeeing and fist-pumping and Elaine-dancing on the inside, she contained her excitement as she closed PowerPoint, gathered her presentation materials, and stood at the head of the conference table.
“Thank you for the opportunity to present today,” Kady said, her heart thumping against her breastbone, especially as a crash of thunder punctuated her words. Rain drummed a steady beat on the roof and windows as she glanced around the long table, making eye contact with the group of army officers responsible for hiring someone to head up the creation and installation of special computer security programs for a new army training facility in the middle of the Nevada desert. The room in which she stood, like the building and the entire base, was brand-new and still under construction, which was why the only decor were the American and army flags standing on tall poles in one corner.
“Very impressive, Miss Dresco,” Colonel Jepsen said, rising from his chair and extending his hand. The camouflaged sleeve of the older man’s combat uniform reminded her for the hundredth time that her biggest competition for this contract—not to mention biggest nemesis since she was a kid—had the advantage of being former military. Colton Brooks, her brother Tyler’s best friend. But Kady had innovation and sheer coding genius on her side, and right now, she was looking forward to a little good-natured gloating when she saw him.
“Thank you,” Kady said, forcing her mind back to the task at hand—sealing the deal. She shook the colonel’s hand and met his hard blue gaze. “I’d be happy to write up a contract for your review tonight if we have an agreement, sir. Do we?”
For a split second, surprise widened his eyes and lifted his eyebrows, then he smiled and squeezed her hand a little harder. “I like your attitude. We’ll move as fast as we can on this decision and be in touch soon. You can count on that.”
Kady smiled, gathered her things, and said a round of good-byes to the two majors, one captain, and one second lieutenant in the room. Then, as a booming clap of thunder shook the building, she followed the colonel out of the conference room, through what would eventually be the suite of offices housing the base’s top brass, to a reception area where her competition sat.
Two men who couldn’t be more different in every way.
Albert Beckstein, a round little man who sweated even when it was cool and who always took potshots aimed at making her feel like she couldn’t possibly know as much about computer security as someone who’d pulled off the biggest hack of 1991 and emerged on the other side of a prison sentence to build a career in computer security. That she’d been a toddler then only made her a bigger target, as far as Beckstein was concerned. Not that Kady cared what the little weasel of a man thought, especially since they both knew she’d hacked past two of his security systems, enabling her to steal a contract right out from under him just last year.
No. Albert Beckstein was good in his own by-the-book way, but he wasn’t her true competition.
Her gaze swung to the wall of windows where Colton Brooks stood staring out at the driving rain. Before this trip, she hadn’t laid eyes on him since she’d gone home for the holidays six months before. Every time she saw him, the pure masculine appeal of the man sucker punched her anew, as if while separated her mind blocked out the memory of him out of self-preservation. But, God, he was beyond gorgeous when he wasn’t talking. So gorgeous she could almost forget he was the most exasperating man on the planet. The navy suit jacket emphasized the breadth of his shoulders and his still-trim waist, even three years after retiring from the military. Though you could tell the guy was fit, the suit did nothing to reveal just how damn ripped he was. But she’d seen and felt it with her own eyes and hands, and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t make herself forget it.
As he turned, she caught the square cut of his strong jaw and the muscle there that always ticked when he was irritated with her, as he must’ve been now. And then those intense brown eyes were on her, evaluating and surveying her like he could read her thoughts and command her body as he’d once done several years ago…
Not going there, Kady. Ever again. Right.
In addition to all that, the guy wasn’t just pretty to look at. He was a decorated war hero and one of the best minds in their field. Just, you know, not as good as her. She smiled to herself as she drank him in, from dark-brown hair to black dress shoes. Yep, he was all that and a bag of chips. Man, how she’d love to eat him up and lick her fingers clean.
“Finally done?” Colton asked, arching a brow.
Kady smirked and ignored the question, since she’d waited through their presentations and ignoring Colton had the bonus of being one of the best ways to goad him, and turned to the colonel. “Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you and your staff. It was a very engaging conversation, and I look forward to working with you.” She shook the man’s hand again and he gave her a smile. This job was so hers. She basked in the rising irritation she could almost feel pouring off the other two men.
“I’ll be in touch,” Colonel Jepsen said. “Gentlemen.” He gave the men a nod and retreated into the office suite. Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed bright enough to reflect off the wall in front of Kady.
“How’d it go, Barbie?” Beckstein said as he hoisted himself from his seat and lifted an ancient briefcase into his beefy palm.
Kady tsked. “Al,” she said using the nickname she knew he hated. “Don’t you know anything? Barbie was blond and would’ve been at least five nine. At five three and with black hair, I’m much more of a…Catwoman.” She walked up to him and could nearly look him in the eyes he was so short. “You have something…” She grimaced and pointed to a crumb stuck to his tie. He batted it away with a deep frown. “Yes, so feel free to call me Selina, if you can’t remember Kady. I’d be happy to be named after a character who was a great thief,” she said with a pause she knew he’d understand since he’d accused her of that very thing last year, “and a great crime-fighter.”
Colton’s stifled snicker behind her made the treat of dressing down Beckstein all the sweeter, especially as the little man’s face turned beet red. Not everyone in her field was the outright arrogant, sexist asshole Beckstein was, but she’d gotten used to dealing with men who didn’t take her seriously in professional situations. Turned out being a young, petite woman mattered more to some people than the fact that she could write complex code half asleep and with one arm tied behind her back. That was part of the reason she needed to win this contract. It was exactly the feather in the cap of her portfolio that would garner her the respect—and the promotion—she deserved in her firm.
“Now,” she said, turning to the man she’d crushed on since about the time she got her first bra. Crushed. As in, in the past. Not anymore. Nope. “Do you want to call the transport driver or should I?” Because the facility was new, a few miles from a one-stoplight town, and required special clearances to enter, a driver had been assigned to shuttle them from the airport nearly ninety minutes away to the base and back again after all their presentations were complete. The three of them represented the finalist companies in what she understood had been a quite competitive request for proposals.
“No need,” he said, making a big show of checking the chunky black military watch he wore. How a watch could be so damn sexy, Kady didn’t know. But the simple movement—from the flick of his wrist that hiked up his suit coat to the way the muscle on his forearm popped—was pure masculine poetry in motion. Bastard. “He’s been here for nearly half an hour. We’ve all been waiting.” Colton’s eyebrow arched again as he retrieved his laptop case from a chair.
Kady suppressed an eye roll. “Oh, well. Why didn’t you say so? Come on already,” she said, heading into the hallway and feeling Colton’s gaze bore into her back. “And don’t blame me that my presentation went longer. I can’t help it if they were totally engaged by my plans.”
“Sure they weren’t asking questions because you’d talked over their heads and left them confused?” Beckstein asked from behind her.
Kady scoffed and tossed a glance over her shoulder. “You know as well as I do that I’m the best there is at boiling complicated concepts into completely accessible explanations, Al. So keep dreaming if it makes you feel better.”
No response. Exactly. She smiled at Beckstein’s silence.
Walking right beside her, Colton was like a big, gorgeous, brooding mountain. She glanced his way, and sure enough, he was staring down at her in that intense and penetrating way he had. The heat of a flush crawled up her neck. “What?” she asked, hating that he didn’t even have to say anything to get under her skin.
He pressed his lips together and shook his head, which of course drew her gaze to his mouth and made her remember how he—
Nope. Don’t go there. She blew out a deep breath.
They continued down the hall, the click of her heels on the tile floor and the intermittent thunder the only sounds. Finally, they entered a large rectangular lobby decorated with flags and portraits of the president and the base’s commanding officer.
A young soldier stood by the glass front doors talking on his cell phone. He turned when he heard them and gave a nod. “Yes. I understand. What about going east across—” He paused. “Roger that. I’ll take them there.” He lowered the phone and approached, a troubled expression on his young face. “Sirs, ma’am, I’m afraid we have a hiccup in the plans.”
“What is it, Soldier?” Colton asked.
The guy gestured toward the doors. “Looks like monsoon season came a little early this year, sir,” he said. “The storm’s washed out the roads, which doesn’t matter much since the airport’s grounded all flights for the rest of the day due to the wind and lightning.”
Kady frowned and mentally ran damage control on tomorrow’s schedule.
“That’s not a hiccup. That’s a disaster,” Beckstein said, mopping his brow. “I have work to do. A company to run. What exactly are we supposed to do now?” He turned on her. “This is all your fault.”
She inhaled to respond when Colton held a hand up to Beckstein. “That’s not helping anyone, Al,” he said.
Kady bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing at the little man’s scowl. She shouldn’t like the way Colton always stood up for her, especially when his sense of duty to her older brother played a role in the behavior, but she supposed it was mildly endearing. Sometimes.
“So what’s plan B?” Colton asked the soldier.
“I’ve been authorized to take you to the motel in town whenever you’re ready.” He slipped his phone into his pocket.
“Lead the way,” Colton said, tucking his bag under the flap of his suit coat.
Kady sighed as she followed the soldier out the door and into wind blowing so hard the rain pelted sideways. Hugging her bags to her chest to protect her laptop, she ran for the white government van knowing no matter how fast she moved she was going to be soaked. This was one of those times when it was a good thing she wasn’t high maintenance.
“Think it’ll rain today?” Colton called over the deluge.
Kady couldn’t hold back a smile. “It’s the freaking desert, Brooks. Never rains here.” She clambered into the van’s middle seat, her feet floating in her heels and her cute white blouse plastered to her skin. Which reminded her that she didn’t have any other clothes with her.
Maybe there was a store in town where she could pick up a few basics? If not, she’d be putting the blow-dryer to good use so she at least had something to sleep in. No matter. It was just one night. She could make do. As long as she had her laptop and her personal hot spot, she could be happy just about anywhere.
When Beckstein took the front passenger seat, Colton tugged the sliding door to the back shut and shifted into the seat in front of her. He gazed over his shoulder, his mouth half open with some smart-ass comment no doubt, when he did a double take and turned toward her, a scowl darkening his expression. The next thing she knew he was shrugging out of his suit jacket and handing it over the seat to her. “Put this on,” he said in a low voice. “Now.”
“Excuse me?” she said. His bossiness was totally not one of his more endearing qualities.
He arched a brow and gave her a pointed look.
Kady gazed down at herself. Oh. Oh, shit. The rain had turned the crisp cotton of her favorite white button-down with the square neckline and the ruffle collar absolutely sheer. So sheer the pattern in the lace of her bra showed through. Meeting his gaze again, she rolled her eyes but accepted the jacket. “Thanks,” she said, muscling back any embarrassment. After all, it wasn’t like this was the first time he’d seen her breasts.
Before she had the suit coat halfway on, she already knew agreeing to wear it was a huge mistake. Because it smelled frickin’ fantastic. Like clean soap and spicy aftershave and something entirely Colton—in other words, something entirely intoxicating. Her mouth watered and her heart raced, and that irritated her because damnit she hated that he had this kind of power over her body. And it wasn’t even him touching her. Not that he would. Or that she would let him.
She was pretty sure he’d met and exceeded her tolerance for humiliation this decade, thank you very much. Not that she cared anymore. Their one night together was ancient history as far as she was concerned. And she’d be surprised if he ever thought of it at all.
“It’s wet,” she said as the rain-chilled wool settled on her shoulders.
“Not as wet as you,” he murmured.
She gaped up at him and…yup. His blazing eyes and ticking jaw told her he was fully aware of the double entendre of his words—and that those words had the power to heat her cheeks—and other places. Kady bit down on the snarky response that flew to the tip of her tongue: Wouldn’t you like to know? Colton had always given good banter, but why the hell was he pulling out the innuendo when he’d been the one to back off and decide the two of them together was a bad idea? She tugged the jacket closed. It was so big, it easily crossed over her chest in overlapping layers. “Happy?”
“Ecstatic,” he deadpanned, lips pressed tight and eyes narrowed. As the van got under way, he glanced forward, allowing her to drink in his profile. The rain had turned his hair nearly black and she had to fist her hands against the urge to catch the droplets of water running down his jaw with her fingers. Or her tongue.
They hit an alignment-destroying rut in the road and Kady threw out her arms to steady herself on a surprised cry. One hand grasped the back of the seat in front of her, brushing Colton’s forearm in the process.
His gaze cut back to her and his eyes narrowed at the gap in the front of the suit jacket her position had created. “Better hold on tight, cupcake.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Colt, I will,” she said, returning his annoying term of endearment with the nickname she knew he found equally grating. His gaze was almost a physical caress on her face and breasts, but Kady refused to meet it because she didn’t want him to see that his words had affected her again. But in truth, the stupid little term of endearment curled anger into her belly because it took her right back to the night three years before when the competitiveness and tension between them had flashed red hot and led to the single most intense sexual experience of her life. And they hadn’t even had sex. Not because she hadn’t wanted to, but because Colton had developed second thoughts and declared the whole thing a mistake.
The wheels caught in another pothole that tossed Kady in her seat.
Their hookup had happened at the party welcoming Colton home from the military. Before that night, she’d only seen him now and then when he’d come home on leave and hung out with her brother. But that night, from the moment she’d seen Colton out on the back deck leaning against the railing, beer in hand and absolutely glorious smile on his suntanned face, he’d totally stolen her breath. During his two tours in the army, he’d gone from a gorgeous boy to an incredibly hot man who had the filled-out, muscular body, survival skills, and wartime experiences to justify the arrogance that had always been part of his personality. Her friend Regan, who had a knack for summing people up in just three words, didn’t refer to Colton as a loyal, driven badass for nothing.
Kady could certainly agree with the “ass” part anyway.
“Well, damn. Is that really you, cupcake?” Those were the first words he’d said to her that night. The nickname had been cute for about five minutes when she’d been, like, thirteen, and afterward he’d continued to call her that simply because he knew it annoyed her.
And though she’d teased right back that eight years in the military apparently hadn’t changed him at all, it hadn’t taken her long to realize that wasn’t actually the case. Because all night, Colton had looked at her differently. Like, for the first time in their lives, he actually saw her, and not just Tyler’s little sister. Her. Kady. The twenty-three-year-old woman.
After hours of circling each other and subtle glances that had turned more brazen the later it had gotten, he’d walked into the pool house after she’d changed into her bikini and stared at her like a starving man at a feast. “Problem?” she’d asked. And his answer to the question had been to close them in one of the dressing rooms, kiss her senseless, and make her scream his name not once but twice, first with his thick fingers and then with his mouth. God, between his dirty talk and rough handling he’d had her so out of her mind she’d freaking begged for him to fuck her. In that moment, nothing else had mattered but him burying himself as deep inside her as he could go.
Then her brother—who had the gift of perhaps the worst timing in the history of man—had come looking for Colton, and the sound of Tyler’s voice had totally thrown Colton out of the moment and sent him flailing back from her like she was a snake that might strike him down.
What was worse was that, in college, Regan and Kady’s sorority sister Christine had predicted that outcome—both how incendiary Kady and Colton would be if they ever gave in to the chemistry brewing between them and the fact that he’d pull a duck and cover. Which was exactly what he’d done. But had Kady listened? Nope. She’d led with her body instead of her brain and gotten her heart stomped on for her trouble.
Thunder crashed above them, pulling Kady out of the memory. She wished she could make out some detail of the passing scenery through the rain-blurred windows because she really didn’t need to dwell on how he’d commanded her body that night, nor on the humiliating words he’d said afterward. Not with the man himself sitting two feet in front of her.
Besides, young girl crush aside, it wasn’t like she had feelings for him or anything. Despite the fact that he was the only man who’d ever been able to get her off. She could take care of herself just fine, but other men? Kady didn’t know if Colton had ruined her or held the only key to her lock, but either way, it didn’t matter. She could never get there no matter how hard she—or her lovers—tried. At this rate, it might be a wise financial investment to buy stock in Duracell.
Kady’s cheeks caught on absolute fire at the thought. Sitting. In. Front. Of. You. Dresco. Right. No more thinking about orgasms or lack thereof in the presence of the infuriating sex god. Got it.
Needing a distraction, Kady pulled out her iPhone and thumbed open her email. She needed to let Christine know she wouldn’t be home today so she wouldn’t worry, but the little loading icon spun and spun but never actually produced any new emails. She tried her social media accounts and found more of the same. With a sigh, she dropped the phone back into her purse.
As the rain drummed on the van’s metal roof, Kady imagined the gorgeous weather she’d no doubt be enjoying back home in southern San Fran. Her firm, Resnick Security Services, was headquartered in California’s Silicon Valley. She loved living near the Pacific Ocean, visiting the wineries, and going out with Christine and their girlfriends to all the amazing restaurants in the city, but she still missed the mountains of Boulder where she’d grown up and her family still lived.
Finally, another series of harsh bounces had them turning into the lot of the Desert Paradise Motel. Through the windows, she could just make out the long one-story, cinder-block building with doors facing the parking lot. At one end sat a small office, and beyond that a bright-orange roof covered what appeared to be a diner. Seemed to her the ratio between desert and paradise at the place was just a bit off.
The soldier brought the van to a stop and turned around in the driver’s seat. “The travel office booked you reservations here, so you’ll need to give them a credit card for incidentals, but the rooms are covered with late checkout. Assuming the roads reopen, we have you booked on the same evening flights tomorrow. Those are the first available. So, if Mother Nature cooperates, I’ll be here at fifteen hundred to take you to the airport.”
Colton nodded. “Roger that.”
“This place is the best you can do?” Beckstein asked, a sneer on his little round face.
The soldier didn’t take the bait and instead smiled. Kady wanted to give him a high five. “Yes, sir. Before the base, Panther Canyon was little more than a crossroads. This is the only motel in town until the new Best Western is finished.”
Beckstein released a long-suffering sigh. “Whole day lost,” he grumbled as he scrambled out of the van and into the rain.
Kady scooted to the edge of her seat and slipped her purse and laptop case under her arm where Colton’s coat would help keep them dry. “Sorry about him,” she called. “It’s not your fault it’s raining.”
The soldier grinned. “Thank you, ma’am.” He pointed out the front window. “The diner over there has decent burgers and great milk shakes if y’all get hungry later.”
“Sounds good,” Colton said, hauling open the sliding door. Wind and rain blew in so hard it made Kady catch her breath. Colton jumped out, his back hunched to offer some protection to his own computer, and offered Kady a hand. See? Sometimes, he could actually be a gentleman.
“Thank you,” she called to the driver as she accepted Colton’s hand. “And thank you, too,” she said to Colton.
“Did…did I hear Kady Dresco just thank me?” he asked, humor playing around his eyes and mouth.
Kady stepped down, the force of the rain making it hard to give him a good smirk. “Yes, but now I’m regretting it,” she said just as her foot sank into a deep, cold puddle, throwing her off-balance.
She wobbled on her heels and Colton caught her with a hand on her ribs. “Okay?” he asked, dark eyes gazing down at her so intensely that for a moment she barely felt the rain on her face and shoulders.
“Yeah. Fine.” She pulled her hand free. She might find him irritating 90 percent of the time, but it was better to keep contact to a minimum, especially when he managed a bit of sweetness or charm. Because sweet and Colton equaled a lethal cocktail she’d never been able to resist.
Colton closed the door and then they dashed the short way across the lot to the entrance to the office. Kady could’ve sworn he kept a hand on the small of her back, as if he stood at the ready in case the combination of her three-inch heels and the two-inch-deep puddles made her unsteady again.
Beckstein pushed out of the door as they reached it, and of course he didn’t let them in first. What a ginormous asswipe.
Finally, they made it in out of the rain and stood dripping on the old linoleum floor of the tiny office.
“You can check in first,” Colton said, running a hand through his wet hair.
Kady’s phone rang. “Oh. Go ahead,” she said as she dug for the cell. Her assistant launched into a rundown of client calls before Kady stopped her. “Can you put all of this in an email to me? I’m stranded here overnight due to a storm, but if you send me everything I’ll return any calls I can today and all the rest tomorrow. Oh, and can you email Carson and copy me so we can reschedule the site visit I was supposed to do tomorrow?” A few more housekeeping matters kept her on the phone for another minute or two before she hung up and approached the registration desk just as Colton finished.
The man on the other side of the ancient, stained counter was quite possibly as old as the desert itself. He pushed his glasses up, then stared down his nose at her. “Welcome to paradise,” he said with a straight face.
Kady burst out laughing before she could stop herself. She slapped a hand over her mouth. “Sorry,” she said.
He blinked lazily, as if she hadn’t just made an ass of herself. “Can I help you?”
“Right. Yes. I’m Kady Dresco. I’m with the guys who just checked in.” She glanced over her shoulder toward Colton, who stood by the door shaking his head at her. “What?” she mouthed.
“Here you go, missy.” In almost slow motion, and without really taking his gaze off the small television that sat to the side, the receptionist lifted a key off a row of hooks and pushed it across the counter to her. Before long, she was all checked in and held an actual metal key on a ring in her hand. The large plastic tag read “2.”
“Are there any stores that might sell clothing nearby?” she asked.
The man squinted for a moment, then shook his head. “Not unless you want something from the tack shop, which is about five miles from here. Otherwise, nearest shopping is in Battle Mountain. Won’t get there in this weather, though.”
About what Kady expected. Oh, well. Looked like she had an appointment with a hair dryer, after all. “Okay, thanks.”
Colton held up his key chain as she crossed the room toward him. “At least you won’t be able to forget your room number,” he said with a smirk.
“Shut up,” she said. You forget your room number and try to enter someone else’s room on one family vacation—of course, one where your brother’s hot best friend tags along—and you never live it down.
“Good comeback.” He winked as he pushed the door open for her.
Kady rolled her eyes as she sidestepped past him and out into the humid June afternoon. A narrow sidewalk skirted close to the building from the office around to the long row of guest rooms. Rain fell in a sheet over the edge of the obviously overworked gutter. It was almost like walking behind a waterfall. “This is me,” Kady said at the second room.
“I’m in ten,” he said, gesturing past her. “Do you mind?”
“What? Oh,” she said. The sidewalk wasn’t wide enough for him to get around her without getting caught in the downpour. “Not afraid of a little rain, are ya?” He just looked at her. She grinned as she slipped the key into the lock and pushed open her door.
It was raining. Inside her room. From about a half dozen places on the ceiling, water dripped at speeds ranging from Chinese water torture to what could only be described as a steady stream. The latter was right over the only bed in the room.
From behind her, she heard a low, male chuckle. “Not afraid of a little rain, are ya?”