Beautiful Beginning [Beautiful Series]


Chapter One

“I’m about to cut a bitch,” I hissed, pushing my share of the work away from me. Bennett failed to even look up, so I added, “And by that, I mean paper-cut a bitch.”

At least this got a tiny flicker of a smile. But I could tell, even after doing this for the past hour, he was still in Wedding Preparation Zone, and would keep robotically working until the entire, unending pile of cardstock in front of him was gone. Our normally immaculate dining room table was littered with Tiffany-blue wedding programs. Across from me, Bennett methodically folded each one in half before moving it to the Completed stack.

It was a simple process:

Fold, move.

Fold, move.

Fold, move.

Fold, move.

But I was losing my damn mind. Our flight left at six the following morning for San Diego, and our bags were all packed but for the four hundred wedding programs we had to fold. I groaned as I remembered we also had to tie five hundred blue ribbons around five hundred tiny satin bags full of candy.

“You know what would make this night so much better?” I asked.

His hazel eyes flickered to me before returning to the task at hand.

Fold, move.

“A gag?” he suggested.

“Amusing, but no,” I said, giving him the finger. “What would make this night better would be getting on a plane and flying to Vegas, getting married, and then fucking all night in a giant hotel bed.”

He didn’t bother to reply to this, not even a whiff of a smile. It was probably fair to say he’d heard this exact sentiment from me approximately seven thousand times in the past few months.

“Fine,” I replied to his silence. “But I’m serious. It’s not too late to drop all of this and fly to Vegas.”

He took a moment to scratch his jaw before reaching for another program to fold. “Of course it isn’t, Chlo.”

I’d been playing around—mostly—up to this point, but with his words genuine irritation swept through me. I slapped my hand on the dining room table, earning a quick blink from him before he resumed his folding. “Don’t patronize me, Ryan.”

“Yeah. Okay.”

I pointed a finger at him. “Like that.”

My fiancé gave me a dry look, and then winked.

Damn that man and his goddamn sexy wink. My anger dissipated somewhat and in its place came a flare of desire. He was ignoring me, being a patronizing ass. I was being a bitch.

It was the perfect setup for me to have many, many orgasms.

I looked him over and sucked the edge of my lower lip into my mouth. He was wearing a deep blue T-shirt that was so old and worn, the collar was frayed and—even though I couldn’t see it—I knew there was a tiny hole right above the hem that was just big enough for me to slide my finger through and touch the warm skin of his stomach. Last weekend he’d been wearing that T-shirt and I’d asked him to keep it on while he fucked me against the bathroom counter, just so I could wrap it up in my fists.

I rocked a little in my chair to relieve the ache between my legs. “Bed or floor. Your choice.” I watched him as he remained impassive, and added in a whisper, “Or I could just climb under the table and suck on you first?”

Smirking down at his work, Bennett said, “You can’t get out of wedding preparation with sex.”

I pulled back to study him. “What kind of man says that? You’re broken.”

Finally, he gave me a dark, hungry look. “I promise you, I’m not broken. I’m getting this done so I can focus on wearing you out later.”

“Wear me out now,” I whined, standing and walking over to him. I slid my fingers into his hair and tugged. Adrenaline dripped hot and electric into my veins when his eyes fluttered closed and he suppressed a groan. “Where’s all this money you have? Why haven’t we hired someone to do this?”

Laughing, Bennett wrapped his hand around my wrist and pulled my fingers from his hair. After kissing my knuckles, he very deliberately set my hand back at my side. “You want to hire someone to fold programs the night before we leave for San Diego?”

“Yes! Because sex!”

“But isn’t it nicer like this? Enjoying each other’s company and,” he said, lifting his wineglass to take a dramatic sip, “conversing like the happily affianced lovers we are?”

I glared at him, shaking my head at his attempted guilt trip. “I offered sex. I offered hot, sweaty, floor sex—and then I offered to give you a blow job. You want to fold paper. Who is the buzzkill here?”

He picked up a program and studied it, ignoring me. “Frederick Mills,” he read aloud, and I began pulling my shirt up and over my head, “together with Elliott and Susan Ryan welcome you to the wedding of their children, Chloe Caroline Mills and Bennett James Ryan.”

“Yes, yes, it’s so romantic,” I whispered. “Come here and touch me.”

“Officiant,” he continued, “the Honorable James Marsters.”

“If only,” I sighed, and dropped my shirt on the floor before working my pants down my hips. “I’m going to pretend it’s Spike performing our wedding ceremony instead of that hilarious gentleman with early dementia we met back in November.”

“Judge Marsters performed my parents’ wedding ceremony almost thirty-five years ago,” Bennett chastened me gently. “It’s sentimental, Chlo. The fact that he forgot to zip up his pants is a mistake anyone could have made.”

“Three times?”


“Fine.” I did feel a little guilty for making the joke, but I stood quietly for a minute, letting my memory of the old, frazzled man take shape. He’d met us at the wedding site when we went out to see it last fall, and got lost on each of three trips to the men’s room in under an hour, returning with his fly open each time. “But do you think he’ll remember our na—”

Bennett cut me off with a stern look before he realized I was only wearing my bra and underwear, and then his expression went a completely different kind of dark.

“I’m just saying,” I started, reaching behind me to unfasten my bra, “it would be at least a little amusing if he forgot what he was doing halfway through the ceremony.”

He managed to turn his attention back to folding the program before my breasts were exposed; he made a crisp seam as he slid his thumb along the edge. “You’re being a pain in the ass.”

“I know. I also don’t care.”

He quirked an eyebrow as he looked up at me. “We’re almost done.”

I bit back my response, which was to point out that folding the programs was the least of our worries; the next week with our two families together had the potential to be a disaster of Griswold-family holiday proportions, and wouldn’t sex right now be a lot better than thinking about that? My father and his two boozy divorcée sisters alone could make us crazy, but add in Bennett’s side of the family, Max, and Will, and we’d be lucky to get out of there without a felony under our communal belt.

Instead I whispered, “Just really quick? Can’t we take a little break?”

He leaned forward, inhaling between my breasts before moving to the side and kissing a path to my left nipple. “Once I start, I don’t relish stopping.”

“You don’t like interruptions, I don’t like delayed gratification. Which of us do you think will get her way?”

Bennett ran his tongue over my nipple, and then sucked it deeply into his mouth as his hands circled my waist, slid to my hips, and then worked together to pull my panties off with a satisfying rip.

Amusement lit up his eyes as he looked up at me from where he sucked at my other breast, and his fingers teased at the juncture of my hip and thigh. “I suspect, my impossible wife-to-be, that you’re going to get your way and then I’ll finish folding these later while you sleep.”

Sliding my hands back into his hair, I whispered, “Don’t forget about tying the ribbons on the candy bags.”

He chuckled a little. “I won’t, baby.”

And it hit me all over again, like a warm gust of wind: I loved him, madly. I loved every inch of him, every emotion that passed through his eyes, and every thought I knew he had right now but wasn’t voicing:

One, that I’d been the one to insist we do as much of this ourselves as we could.

Two, that I was the one to assure him it was fine that every distant relative of ours on the planet had somehow squeezed their way into this wedding event.

Three, that I would never, ever back out of the opportunity to wear my wedding dress on the Coronado coastline.

But instead of pointing out the obvious—that he was the one being a good sport here, not me, and that despite all of my bitching I would never be satisfied with a quick Vegas wedding—he stood, turning to walk to our bedroom. “Okay, then. But this is the last night I’m fucking you before we’re married.”

I was so buzzed by the “fucking” part that it wasn’t until he’d disappeared down the hallway to our bedroom that the rest of his words fully sank in.

Bennett was already undressing when I joined him in the bedroom, and I watched as he slipped the buttons free on the fly of his jeans and pushed them and his boxers down his legs. He reached for the hem of his shirt, eyebrows raised in silent question—want it on or off this time?—before I nodded and he tugged it up and over his head. He walked over to our bed, lay down on his back, and gazed at me.

“Come here,” he said in a quiet growl.

I stepped closer to the bed but remained out of his reach. “When you say ‘the last night you’re fucking me before we’re married,’ do you mean that we are only going to have sex during daylight hours this week?”

A tiny smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. “No. I mean that after tonight, I want to abstain until you’re my wife.”

An unfamiliar panic rose in my chest, and I wasn’t sure how seriously to take him. I climbed onto the bed and crawled over, bending to kiss my way down his chest. “I thought I knew what abstain meant, but in this context it sounds like you’re telling me on a Tuesday that we’ll be together all week but not having sex until Saturday.”

“That’s what I’m saying.” Strong fingers tangled into my hair and urged my head lower, to where his cock arched, rigid and slick with his own excitement.

I stopped the path of my lips just at his hips, which rose from the mattress in an effort to meet my mouth halfway. “Why on earth would you want to abstain?”

“Christ, Chlo, stop teasing and put my dick in your mouth.”

Ignoring him, I sat up and moved to straddle his thighs so he couldn’t easily escape if I decided to inflict some sort of bodily harm. “You’re insane if you think I’m going without sex for the next four days in the middle of this wedding nonsense.”

“I’m not insane,” he insisted, trying to pull me higher up his thighs so his man parts could get better access to my woman parts. “I want it to be special. And aren’t you the one who wanted a quickie before finishing the wedding prep?” His fingers dug into my hips and he lifted me, pulling me down directly over his cock. “So stop struggling.”

But I escaped by digging a finger into the single ticklish spot on his body, between two of his ribs, and with a spasm he released me, shoving my hands away.

I bent to kiss him once on his perfect, perfect mouth. “That was before you suggested that my access to this sincerely ridiculous body of yours expires at midnight. Saturday is our wedding night. As far as I know, we only get one of those. How could it not be special, even if you’re hitting it like a jackhammer all week long?”

“Maybe I want you a little hungry,” he whispered, sitting up beneath me. His mouth found my neck, my collarbones, my breasts. “I want you so hungry for it that you can barely think straight.” He grew fevered, grasping at my sides, sucking my skin. I was all too aware of the hard press of him against my inner thigh, and wanted nothing more than to feel him inside, hear his sounds as he grew delirious and lost and urgent.

And then a thought occurred to me. “You mean you want me hungry enough to not care if you rip the ungodly expensive lingerie I bought for the wedding night.”

He laughed into my breasts. “That’s a pretty good theory, but no.”

I knew Bennett Ryan well enough to know that I wasn’t going to win this battle. Not here, not yet. With him, I never won with words; I only ever won with actions. I kneeled over him, pulling away and smiling at his short, deep grunt of frustration. But then I turned my body so I could straddle his face at the same time I took his cock into my mouth. He reached for me eagerly, hands splayed across my hips and pulling me down, down, down.

My eyes rolled closed at the first sensation of warmth, of the soft slide of his tongue followed by the seal and suction of his lips. I quickly grew lost in the vibration of his moans, his words muffled against me, the tiny tease of teeth before the suction was back and he grew wilder, and desperate. Below me, he rocked up, urging, and I wrapped my fist around his base, gazing at his length, appreciating its shape and smoothness. I loved the feel of him, the impatient jutting of his hips.

With a wicked smile, I exhaled over the tip of his cock, and whispered, “Your mouth feels so good.”

He groaned, pushing up meaningfully, but I simply moved closer, panting across the thick crown, letting him feel the heated pulse of my breath. I slid one hand lower, cupping his balls and pulling gently as my hand stroked just the lower half of his cock. On the tip, I gave him

only air.

He could make me come faster with his mouth than with any other part of him, and already I felt close. The physical sensation chased the pleasure from my own mischief and combined into an urgent warmth, my favorite kind of orgasm: Bennett’s mouth on my pussy, with the joy I got from teasing him. My release burned like fire down my back, and up my legs, exploding outward until I really did lose all sense of my movements over him. I was most likely fucking his face, my fist wildly pulling his cock without rhythm or purpose.

He slowed as my body calmed, and kissed my clit, my hip, my thigh, before gently pushing me so that I rolled over onto my back. I slid my hand up my stomach, over my breast, and rested it on top of my pounding heart. I hadn’t forgotten that I was probably in trouble for offering Bennett’s favorite foreplay without reciprocating, but damn, I needed a minute to relish the effects of the Mighty Bennett Ryan Oralgasm.

“That was so fucking good,” I mumbled, catching my breath. “I think your mouth is its own Greek god. Tongueseus.”

He climbed over me, eyes on fire. “I know what you’re doing.”

I opened my eyes and let the blurry shape of him form before asking, “What am I doing?”

He moved to straddle my ribs, and I smiled, running my hands up his thighs as he reached for himself, and made a long, slow pull down his length. His voice came out like liquid smoke when he said, “You think you’ll win this battle.”

“What battle?”

He laughed, and reached for the mattress beside my head, bracing himself as he hovered over me. His cock was only an inch from my mouth and he leaned forward and, with his free hand, rubbed the tip over my bottom lip. Without thinking, I slid my tongue out, tasting the small bit of wetness there. I felt my mouth water, my nipples tighten. I wanted him in my mouth, wanted to see him move in, and out.

He moved back a few inches so I had to watch as he stroked himself slowly in front of me.

“I can see your pulse in your neck.”

Swallowing, I asked, “So?”

“So,” he started, wearing a cocky smile, “I can see how much you want this.” He leaned forward again, barely touching his cock to my lips before retreating. “You want it in your mouth.” His hand began to move faster, and I heard his breath catch. “You want it on your tongue.”

He was right. I wanted it so much my skin felt tight and overheated.

“Not as much as you do,” I said, voice strained. “You couldn’t go a day without sex.”

He paused before leaning back and pushing himself farther down my body. For a single, perfect moment, I thought he was going to spread my legs and angry-fuck the daylights out of me, but instead he tilted his head, looked down at me, and then stood.

“What are you doing?” I asked, pushing up onto one elbow so I could watch him pull on his boxers.

“Proving you wrong.”

He walked to the door and disappeared.

“Why are you so fucking stubborn?” I yelled after him, and all I heard was his amused snort halfway down the hall. “And—if you recall—I gave you head in the shower this morning so technically you already had sex today!”

He’s coming back, I thought. Totally one hundred percent coming back. I can wait it out.

I lay back, stared at the ceiling. My skin was flushed, and between my legs I felt heavy and fevered. My body hadn’t caught up with my brain yet, and still wanted to chase after him, beg him to take me for real this time: man parts in woman parts, moving a lot and very fast.

The sound of the fridge opening cut through the silence in the bedroom, and I bolted upright. Was he getting a fucking snack?

Before I could think better of it, I was racing down the hall, completely naked. My feet slipped on the hardwood floors and I wheeled around the corner just as he closed the fridge with an armful of food.

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” I asked, stopping short only inches from where he appeared to be making himself a sandwich. “You’re going to have a fucking turkey wrap?”

He turned to look at me, letting his eyes move from my face and down over every one of my naked curves—the bastard couldn’t even hide how much he wanted to fuck right now—before returning his attention to my face. “I suppose until my fiancée stops being a teasing bitch or my dick learns to suck itself, I may as well have a bite to eat.”

“But . . .” I started lamely, searching for the best way to suggest he eat me again without incurring his sexually frustrated wrath. I scowled at his amused half grin. “Rude.”

“You want sex, you do it on my terms. Tonight’s the night, Mills. Actually,” he said, giving me a self-satisfied smile, “tonight is the last night I fuck you while you still have that name.”

Now this I couldn’t let slide. “We haven’t exactly agreed on anything in the name department, Ryan. I’m still gunning for Chloe Myan and Bennett Rills.”

“Tell me when you’re ready to get it, Chlo.” He held my gaze for several silent beats and then leaned down close enough that all I had to do was lean forward an inch to kiss him. I started to, but he pulled just out of reach. “When you say ‘please, Bennett, I need it’ I’m going to fuck you so hard you won’t be able to sit down for days without remembering it.”

My mouth opened and closed a couple of times without any words escaping. With a knowing smirk, Bennett turned back to his sandwich preparation.

He hadn’t bothered to put a shirt on, and his bare torso seemed to go on for miles. His skin was smooth and even, tan from running shirtless in the spring sunshine. The muscles in his arms popped and tensed as he opened the jar of mustard, pulled at the silverware drawer to retrieve a knife, opened the bag of bread. Such simple tasks, but watching him do it felt like the dirtiest and best porn. I loved his forearms, loved the dark hair, the tan skin, the carve of muscles.

God, what an asshole.

I watched his tongue slip out and wet his lips. His hair was a mess and fell heavily over his forehead. When I let my eyes slide down the length of his body, I saw the one reaction he couldn’t hide. He was still so hard his cock pressed against the low-slung waistband of his boxers.

Sweet Jesus.

I opened my mouth one more time and, without looking at me, he bent slightly to the side so his ear moved closer to my lips. A shaky exhale escaped and I squeezed my eyes shut.

“Bennett . . . ?”

“What’s that you say?” he asked. “I didn’t quite hear you.”

Swallowing, I whispered, “Please.”

“Please what?”

Please, Bennett, go fuck yourself was there, on the tip of my tongue. But who was I kidding? I wanted him to fuck me. So, I took a deep breath and admitted, “Please, Bennett, I need it.”

The crash came before I fully registered what happened: with a single sweep of his arm, Bennett had cleared the kitchen island and everything he’d taken from the fridge clattered to the floor. Glass shattered and the knife skittered across the tile and crashed into the baseboard. Bennett crushed me against him, bending to cover my mouth, force his tongue inside, and give me the satisfaction of hearing his deep, relieved groan.

It wasn’t playful anymore, it wasn’t gentle or careful. It was his arms hauling me onto the island, hands pushing me backward to lie flat on the cold marble, and hold me there with one flattened palm pressed heavily to my sternum. It was his other hand spreading my legs wide, his impatient fist pulling at his boxers. And before I could say how much I wanted it, how sorry I was for teasing—because I was, and something about seeing him so wild and primal scared me deliciously—he was easily pushing inside, so deep, and then pulling out just as fast, moving his hips in perfect, punishing stabs.

Releasing the weight of his hand from my chest, he grabbed my legs and took a step closer, pulling them over his shoulders and hitting that spot so deep that I felt the force of him reverberate up my spine. He slid his hands down to my hips, and held me in place while he fucked, head thrown back, taking his pleasure now. The island was sturdy enough to weather the force of his movements, but I reached over my head, gripping the edge so I could press myself even farther onto him. It wasn’t enough; I needed more, and deeper, and wetter, and rougher. He’d told me I couldn’t have this for days, and he knew better than anyone that his touch was the one thing—the only thing—that could keep me from disintegrating into a hurricane of stress. I needed to get him farther inside me than I ever had before, and I grew obsessed with the idea that I could, somehow.

“God, you’re fucking soaked,” he groaned, opening his eyes to look at me. “How can I keep from taking you? You’ll never know how much I need this.”

“Then why?” I asked. “Why tell me we can’t?”

He bent down, bringing my legs with him so the front of my thighs pressed tightly to my chest. “Because it’s the only time in my life I’ll be able to stop, to slow down, to relish just being near you.” He gulped at the air by my neck and then licked the skin there; his tongue, his teeth, his touch felt like fire. “I want to not be thinking the whole time about where I can take you to be alone for ten minutes, for fifteen, for an hour. I don’t want to resent anyone for keeping us apart, while they’re there to celebrate,” he said, gasping quietly. “I’m obsessed with you, and with this. I want to show you I can be measured.”

“What if that’s not what I want?”

Bennett buried his face in my neck and slowed, but I knew his body well enough to guess that he was just on the cusp of losing it, of reaching that point of no return. He ground against me, found that place, and that rhythm that distracted me from my question and made me chase the feeling building between my legs.

I was trapped beneath him and he began to focus on my pleasure, pushing into me and against me, getting me there until I was clutching at his shoulders, digging my nails into him and meeting his thrusts from below. My back was sore and the countertop was stony and cold on my spine but the increasing urgency of his movements made me not care. I could be bruised from it, and it didn’t matter. I didn’t want anything else but to fall apart with him inside and for him to fall with me.

When my orgasm hit, the sensation that took over my body was a silvery thrill unleashed across my skin, sliding over and inside until I wasn’t sure I could handle the feeling of being filled, of being ravaged, and coming so hard I saw black. I screamed, pulling him tight, needing to feel the full weight of him over me.

His movements sped and grew wild and then he arched away. “Fuck!” he shouted, his voice echoing off the vaulted ceiling as he came, freezing over me and holding still. “Fuck!”

Despite the chill of the countertop, we were sweaty and breathless. Bennett pushed himself up, and continued to slide in and out, slower now. As if he didn’t want to stop even if he had to, he pressed and retreated, eyes moving across my flushed skin.

He’d come already, but he didn’t seem to be done. Instead, he looked like a predator who’d had a small taste and now wanted to take stock of what was in front of him before diving back in. I loved this side of him: the Bennett who seemed to barely grasp control, who seemed so unlike his composed, daylight self. His eyes were dark and almost unseeing. Hungry hands touched the friction-warmed place between my legs, up over my hips, up my sides to where they roughly teased my nipples. His hands surrounded my breasts and squeezed, plumping me for his mouth as he bent and sucked forcefully at my skin.

“Don’t leave a mark, you menace,” I said, and my voice sounded tiny and hoarse. “My dress . . .”

Pulling back, he looked at me and his eyes cleared at this reminder that we lived in a world with other people, and that we would be required to interact with these other people in the near future for our wedding. A wedding where I would wear a strapless gown that would show all of the bite and suck marks he was about to deliver.

“Sorry,” he whispered. “I just . . .”

“I know.” I ran my hands into his hair when he trailed off and pulled him over me, wishing we could stay like this forever: me on my back on the kitchen counter, him standing and leaning over me.

He exhaled deeply, pinning me beneath his weight. Suddenly he seemed exhausted. The last few months he’d not only helped with every stage of the wedding planning, but he’d also done everything he could to keep me sane and it had to wear on him. I ran my fingers into his hair and closed my eyes, loving this reminder of Bennett as mortal, as a man who could—and did—become worn-out or needed a reminder to be gentle. He was the perfect lover, the perfect boss, the perfect friend. How could he manage it? I’m sure some days he just wanted a quiet girlfriend, a woman who didn’t argue with every thought he had. A tiny thread of doubt slipped beneath my skin and wove its way into my brain, but then I stopped, feeling my lip pull up in a smirk.

Bennett Ryan was a perfectionist, demanding, stubborn, power-hungry asshole. Any other woman would last about two seconds with him before he chewed her up and spit her out.

And hell, some days I would love a pliant manservant, but no way was I trading in my Beautiful Bastard.

He stood, kissing down between my breasts and, with a reluctant groan, pulling out of me. Bending, he reached for his boxers and slid them back up before looking me over, eyes raking across bare, damp skin.

“I’ll finish the programs and tie the goddamn candy ribbons,” he said, running his hand over his face. “You’ve got a kitchen to clean up if you want more of that in our bed later.”

“Uh, no,” I protested, pushing up on one elbow. The kitchen was a disaster. “I’ll do the programs.”

“You’ll do the kitchen,” he said, voice firm. “And hurry, Miss Mills. Mustard stains.”