Pucker Up Excerpt


All the rumors are true.”

“Yeah, ladies, it really is that big.”

Those are the kinds of things a man wants the woman he’s with to tell her friends about his dick.

However, if my own dick doesn’t get with the program, Sonya is going to be telling her model friends a whole different story.

She’s sitting next to me on the prep counter of my restaurant. Blonde hair spills over her shoulders. Her long, lean legs are crossed at the knee, her hot pink toe nails bouncing in an open-toed five-inch stiletto. Her dress clings to her perfect figure so tightly I know there’s no way she’s wearing underwear. Full breasts slip further and further from her plunging neckline as she leans over. Waiting, willing, wanting.

And this damn zucchini in my hand is harder than I am.

Christ, if I didn’t know the real reason for my lack of interest, I’d be seriously concerned. But I do know.

Jenna. My best friend’s little sister.

She’s the reason.

It’s her birthday tonight: the big 3-0. I offered to cook both her and her brother dinner, just like I have every year for the past ten years.

I remember exactly what I made her and where. For the first two years, I made her dinner in whatever apartment I was living in. Up until five years ago, I made her dinner in my first restaurant, Oven on the Street. Just a hole in the wall stuck between two massive skyscrapers with only enough room for a few tables. I literally found an oven on the street from a restaurant going out of business and that was the start.

Since then, I’ve opened five more restaurants. I’ve cooked Jenna dinner in every one of those restaurants except Torch, the one I’m in now.

Torch is my two-story sprawling Manhattan monstrosity of a restaurant. Closing it for Jenna’s private dinner is costing me a hell of a lot of business tonight, and earning me numerous angry calls from celebrities and socialites who thought they were getting off the wait-list.

I don’t care. It’s Jenna’s birthday, and it’s tradition.

But, thanks to Sonya’s earlier amorous attentions, I’m running behind. Jesus, I already gave her three orgasms today, and she’s still not satisfied. Normally, I’m up for the challenge, but not tonight. Instead, I’m wishing I hadn’t invited her to join us for dinner. It’s not something I’d normally do, but she’d asked my plans during a particularly, well, intimate time, and it had seemed rude not to.

When she leans in for a kiss, I turn my head away and demonstrate how to peel the skin of this zucchini I’m holding.

“Garnishes complete a dish. So, you have to make sure you give it a nice twist.”

“Oh, Lee,” she purrs in my ear. “I’ll give it a nice twist.”

Her perfume is expensive and exotic, but it clashes with the smell of the food I’m making: scallops dripping in butter on a bed of risotto with truffle oil. It’s Jenna’s favorite, and I want everything to be perfect.

Sonya slips off the counter and disappears under my apron.

“I’ll be your garnish, so you can finish,” she says as she unzips my pants.

I stand still, curious if her flicking tongue will get me on the express train to Hardville. But nope. Nada. At best, my dick gives a lackluster twitch. I gently grab her wrists and pull her up.

“Look, thanks for the effort. My friend’s little sister will be here any second, and that really kills the vibe.”

As soon as I mention Jenna, my dick swells in a way Sonya certainly didn’t inspire. What the hell? How does thinking of Jenna get me hotter than this model on her knees?

Then again, I’ve gotten hard thinking of Jenna before. Imagining her out of her prim and proper clothes. Bent over one of my prep counters, pounding into her from behind, hard and fast and good. But never just because I said her name. And never when I was getting such close attention from another woman.

I quickly shove my half-hard length back into my pants, zipper up, and cover the evidence with my apron. Then I wash my hands.

I am, after all, a professional.

Sonya frowns. “What’s so special about this girl that you’ll go to such trouble? Is she gorgeous or something?”

Is Jenna gorgeous? Not really in the traditional sense. Not like Sonya or the other women I’ve dated. Jenna’s different. Her dark hair doesn’t fall in beach waves and her legs don’t stretch as far as the Nile, but her eyes sparkle. Her lips aren’t particularly plump, but the corners twitch up with her wicked sense of humor. And her nose isn’t petite, but she scrunches it up when she’s thinking, and I’ve always found it adorable.

Sure, she had that awkward teenage phase I am forbidden to mention. I don’t blame her for wanting to forget the retainer that gave her a lisp, the Canadian tuxedo she insisted on wearing at least once a week, and the haircut from hell.

But whenever she spoke, everyone listened. With her words, she had power.

Over people then.

Over me then and now.

We’re friends. Just friends. I respect her brother Bryce, so I don’t go there. Plus, she’s not exactly my type, and honestly, I’m not even sure she likes me. She stops talking when I’m around, like I can’t follow her conversation. She finds excuses to leave. Or she brings up her law job until I’m bored to tears.

Still, any time I see her I want her to stay. I want to stay. It’s beyond anything sexual. Though, like I said, I’ve certainly fantasized about that before. But of course, I don’t say any of that to Sonya.

“She’s kind of a plain Jane.”

I feel guilty for saying it, but hell, I’m just trying to avoid drama. Sonya is hot, but she’s also kind of a loose cannon. I heard she dragged another model by her hair over another guy. Rumor has it the model only survived because she had cheap extensions. Better to be safe than sorry.

Besides, it’s not like Sonya will be in my life for very long. Maybe not even after tonight. So, what does it matter if I downplay Jenna’s attractiveness?

“You can see for yourself,” I suggest. “They’ll be here soon.”

I check my watch. Ten more minutes. Ten more long, tedious, boring minutes with Sonya.

“So … shots?” Sonya says.

Ten slightly less boring minutes later (thanks to my good friend Mr. Patron), we walk out of the commercial kitchen and into my restaurant’s dining area. Small flames burn in the sleek displays that line the windows. Throughout the floor, different iron sculptures burn with fire details. It looks badass. Torch is my favorite restaurant, but it’s not quite perfect. Not quite enough. I already have ideas drafted for the next one and am lining up investors. I’ve also been taken on as a client by Owen Kiss of Kiss Talent Agency. Owen’s planning on making me the next big celebrity chef, and has already contacted food network executives about a possible new cooking show. That could lead to my own line of cookbooks. Cookware. Glassware. Linens. Hell, pretty soon, Lee Bowers merchandise could be sold in retail stores nationwide.

Part of me wonders when I’ll slow down. Maybe enjoy what I’ve already built instead of pursuing the next challenge. I beat back those thoughts by reminding myself I can’t lose momentum. Nor would I want to! I’m at the peak of my game, so why slow down now? Yet the more I throw myself into this life, the less happy I become. I keep thinking more, more, more. But I care less, less, less.

Something’s off in my life, as if my limp dick with Sonya’s mouth on it isn’t a big enough warning sign. But, hell if I know what to do about it.

However, for tonight’s dinner everything is perfect: the linens are clean and pressed, the wine glasses are shined and polished, the music playing from the speakers is elegant and engaging.

“Are you being sued?” Sonya hiccups. I turn to her, eyebrow raised. She points across the room. “Looks like you’re about to be served.”

I follow her bronzed and oiled bare arm to the woman who just walked into the dining room. She wears a white-collared shirt buttoned all the way up to the top under her ultra conservative black pants suit. Simple black pumps, no jewelry, hair pulled back in a tight bun, simple makeup. To someone else, Jenna might look like a prude but when you look close, when you’re around her for any length of time, when you get used to the fact she’s sharp, and funny, and confident, and obviously has control issues? Fuck.

When I think of Jenna taking charge of me in my bedroom, wearing that suit, I get hard. Harder than when I said her name.

“You’re right. Total plain Jane,” Sonya whispers loudly.

I glare down at her. “Be nice, Sonya. She’s my best friend’s sister and it’s her birthday.”

She smiles and runs her fingers up my arm. “I’ll be good.”

God, I really want her out of here. Too late now. I pull away from her hold and walk up to Jenna.

“I see you wore your party power suit, Jenna. Maybe if we’re lucky, you’ll go wild tonight and unbutton this top button.” I lightly tap the button in question then hug her.

She stiffens slightly, and when I pull back, I see something uneasy flash across her eyes. Annoyance sweeps through me. Once again, I’m confused. We used to be so comfortable together. At one point I considered her to be as close a friend of mine as Bryce. What the hell happened? I actually asked her once. She said she didn’t know what I was talking about, and I’ll be damned if I’ll play the fool and ask again. Maybe I can serve some of that Patron and get her to loosen up a little. Be like the old Jenna I used to know.

“Where’s Bryce?”

“He and William are parking the car.”


“My date.”

My eyes widen in surprise. Not because it’s hard to believe a man would want to date her. But because she’s never brought a date to her birthday dinners.

“I hope it’s okay I brought a date. Bryce mentioned you were bringing one, so…” She arches an eyebrow and looks over my shoulder. She then holds out her hand. “Hi, I’m Jenna.”

“Sonya. Happy birthday, Jenna!”

Sonya wraps Jenna in a big hug, swaying back and forth like she and Jenna are the best of friends and haven’t seen each other in years. Over her shoulder, Jenna’s expression is amused. She’ll tease me for this later. Our eyes meet, and I smile and shrug.

Then Bryce walks into the restaurant, followed by another man dressed in a suit. Knowing how much Jenna values a man’s intelligence, it’s likely he won the lottery jackpot for both looks and brains. Why that bugs me so much I don’t know, but I’m definitely glaring at him.

Bryce greets me with a half-hug, half-slap on the back. My mood instantly improves. Back when we were kids, he stole some fireworks from a store. I took the fall for him, and we’ve been best friends ever since. Of course, his parents hate me. They always said I was a terrible influence. But Bryce went to Stanford and is now some kind of kick ass investment banker who travels the world—he’s leaving for Japan the next day—so how bad of an influence could I have been?

“Lee, this is William, Jenna’s coworker,” Bryce explains.

“Date,” Jenna corrects with a punch to her brother’s arm. Then she smiles at William. She cuddles into his side, and his expression seems to soften as he looks down at her.

Once again, I’m tight around the collar and annoyed as hell. After all, I went to all this trouble to make her dinner. The least she could do is act appreciatively and smile at me. Come to think of it, when was the last time she smiled at me? An honest-to-goodness smile?

“William, nice to meet you,” I force myself to say.

“Great restaurant,” he says. “Huge fan.”

He’s full of shit. And he knows I’m full of shit. So damn, I was right—he’s good looking and smart. And double damn, because he’s not just smart, he’s a lawyer, like Jenna.

I pull Sonya to my side. “This is Sonya.”

I swear I’m watching a cartoon as William stutters and tries not to ogle her tits. Ogle away, buddy. I win.

Wait, win what?

Tony, my best server, interrupts as he invites us to take our seats. He runs through the specials and his suggested wine pairings while I try to figure out why I feel so competitive with Jenna’s date. Especially considering Sonya’s on my arm.

Jenna talks about important cases she’s working on at her firm, and Sonya talks about a new lip plumper guaranteed to make her lips look two times larger. As she goes on and on, I’m thinking about something else.

Jenna has nice lips.

They curve up at the sides, making her look like she’s always smirking. She probably is, since she’s brilliant and she knows it. She certainly doesn’t tolerate bullshit, especially meaningless bullshit like the difference between a temporary and long-term lip plumper. And at the top, Jenna’s lips have the most perfect Cupid’s bow. Her red wine has stained them the most delicious, kissable, bite-able shade of burgundy.

“Lee, what are you staring at?” Jenna glares at me from across the table.

Shit. She caught me. “I was just wondering what shade of Chapstick you’ve graced us with tonight.”

Bryce drags a hand over his face. “Tony, some wine,” he calls.

“It’s called ‘College Grad’ or ‘Successful Boss Bitch’.” Jenna turns to face my date. “Sonya, have you heard of either of those?”

Sonya puts a perfectly manicured finger to her chin and actually ponders the question. “Is that from the Spring 2017 line?”