For Jatoi Keys, a neighbors Halloween party is her last chance to fulfill a desire that has fueled her dreams for years, to spend one night in the arms of Kaden James. When she put on her genie costume, she never expected Kaden to ask her for the one wish she’s always wanted.
But when the night is over, will a Halloween wish be the beginning or the end, after they discover that one night may never be enough to make all their wishes come true.
Jatoi sensed when he walked in the room.
God, she was pathetic.
Sage. Musk. Sex.
Why was it always like this? Why did her internal sex kitten began to mewl every time Kaden James’ to-die-for six-pack came within a fifty foot radius. Heart thumping, she refused to give in to the intensity his nearness caused.
“There he is. Did you see him? Look at his costume,” her friend Natalie whispered to her excitedly.
It took everything in her not to tilt her head just to catch a glimpse of him as he mingled with the others in the largest area of the party room. Because of his height, she knew he towered over every other person, so it wouldn’t be hard. But she was dying to see what he’d worn. All week she’d imagined what he’d come dressed as. Batman, Superman, the Green Lantern, anything that would showcase his fabulous body. She sucked in air in an attempt to calm herself as she snuck a quick peek. From the only part of him she could see, he was dressed in some type of Egyptian costume. Stupid. She knew it was stupid. “I’m avoiding him or didn’t you get my text?”
“You can still look at him, can’t you?” Natalie shook her head. “Goodness, he is fine.”
Out of the corner of her eyes, Jatoi studied him unabashedly. His head was covered in a blue and gold striped headdress that hung to his shoulders and hid his gorgeous black hair. He had on a short-sleeve white shirt with a matching blue and gold swooped collar that hit him midchest around his neck.
“Yeah, yeah. He’s sexy as hell. I went to high school with the man, remember?”
He still had a lean, athletic build, and the faint hint of stubble on his chin showed evidence of the long day he must have put in at work before coming here.
Hmmm…how would those stubble scratches feel against her inner thigh, she wondered with a shiver that had nothing to do with the dropping temperature outside. Right now, she could only see his profile but knew he had a mouth made to kiss and other more intimate things.
Shit. She still felt like a sixteen-year-old geek mooning after the popular football jock. There wasn’t a fantasy she’d had during those years that hadn’t included Kaden James. She’d been halfway in love with him during high school. To him, however, she hadn’t even existed.
“Why did I come to this Halloween party?”
“Because you knew Kaden would be here, that’s why. You’re running out of time, you know.”
Jatoi grabbed another beer out of one of the tall, plastic bins Mitch, her neighbor who was throwing the party and who just happened to be Kaden’s first cousin, had placed all around the room. “Running out of time for what?”
Natalie bumped her hip. “To jump his bones. He’s only been in town a few months. Before too long, some other woman is going to snatch him up, and you’re going to miss your opportunity.”
What she wouldn’t give for the chance. When Kaden’s gaze locked with hers through the crowd, he smiled. She swallowed hard, heat flaming her face.
“Um, I don’t think so. Besides, I’m not his type.”
Maybe if he found someone to date he’d stop spending so much time at Mitch’s. Surely a woman would occupy his evenings, and she wouldn’t have to see him as much. Three months of seeing him walk past her window and watching as every female in their apartment complex—attached and unattached—flirted with him had been torture. Even now, Callie, the brunette who lived above her, Wonder Woman costume practically glued to her body, was putting the moves on him. Jatoi squeezed her eyes tight and almost snapped the neck of the beer bottle in half. When she opened her eyes, she watched Callie glide her hand down his muscular arm.
Damn it. Why couldn’t she get over him? After all these years, why?
“He’s coming this way,” Natalie said in a sing-song voice.
I can do this. I can do this.
Her gaze slid over him, taking in the rest of his costume until she met his eyes. Boy did it accentuate his muscular physique. She attempted to keep any emotion she felt off her face as her heart began to thump wildly. The shirt he wore had a split up the middle, and his incredible abs winked at her from underneath. He had on a white skirt, a blue and gold belt wrapped around his waist. It wasn’t a skirt exactly, but for the life of her she couldn’t recall the correct name of the rest of his costume. Her mind had turned into mush.
He sat his glass down on a side table and smiled. “Hey, Natalie. Can I steal Jatoi away from you?”
“Sure.” Before Natalie walked away, she whispered, “Remember what I said. Last chance.”
“Last chance for what?” he asked.
Jatoi was flooded with embarrassment. “Nothing. We were just talking about…nothing. How are you?” She allowed her gaze to travel the length of him again. “I like your costume. Which Egyptian god are you?” A kilt. That’s it, she thought.
When he mimicked her and his gaze slid down her body and back up again, desire squeezed the air from her lungs.
“You look great.”
A rush of pleasure went through her. She moved her hands over her thighs to grasp the folds of the material that billowed at her legs. “I Dream of Jeannie. I don’t know why I let Nat talk me into wearing this thing.”
She wanted to look sexy, that’s why. They’d gone to four different stores searching out something to wear. When she’d put it on, Natalie told her she had to buy it, and after looking at herself in the mirror, she thought she’d made the right choice. It covered up all the essential parts, yet showed just enough skin. Plus she’d found one in purple and lavender, not the typical pink. And Natalie had been right. She knew Kaden would be at the party. She’d paired it with a cute pair of spiky heels that made her feel like she was on stilts. Goodness, she hoped she didn’t fall.
He took a step closer, put his arm around her waist, and pulled her forward. He whispered into her ear, “Can I make a wish?”
Jatoi knew he’d asked her something. Her brain registered the fact that he’d just touched her. The feel of his fingers against her bare lower back sent every cell in her body into hypersexual overdrive.
She looked up into fathomless green eyes that hadn’t changed at all. They were still rimmed by thick dark lashes and still reminded her of the summers she’d spent running through the fields on her grandfather’s farm in Arkansas.
She cleared her throat. With courage she didn’t know she possessed, she responded, “You have to find my bottle and rub it three times first. I can’t grant you a wish unless you find it.”
The corner of his mouth crept up. “And where should I look for this bottle?”
The first time she saw Kaden popped immediately into her mind, complete with the sights and sounds and smell of chili cheese Fritos, a favorite in their high school cafeteria. It was the third day of school her freshman year, and every member of the football team came barreling into the cafeteria after a pep talk from their coach. Laughter, cheers, and their school’s whoop call filled the room. Out of the seventy-five or so players why she’d singled him out, she never understood, but after that, every time he came within a fifty foot radius of her, she’d known he was near. From that moment she’d fallen into a serious, almost stalk-induced crush that would continue until her senior year. And not just because he was cute. He’d turned out to be a genuinely nice guy. He was on the student council, volunteered in their community, and was super smart to boot. And after ten years, nothing had really changed, except the word “cute” didn’t quite fit anymore. The man was—and she hated to use such cliché words—drop-dead gorgeous.
He was talking.
Snap out of it.
“Is everything okay? Jatoi?” He stepped back, a flash of bewilderment tinged with disappointment shifted across his face. “I apologize. I didn’t mean… If I was too forward, I’m sorry.”
In high school, as each year passed, her fantasies about Kaden had grown lustier and sexier. She could imagine them all clearly right at this moment. The time where he pushed her up against a locker, a knee between her legs, and he pinned her arms above her head while he ravished her neck, then slid lower. Or the time when he bent her over a table in the chemistry lab and fucked her from behind, one hand gripping her hip while the other played havoc with her throbbing clit.
She blinked. He was just about to walk away before she grabbed his arm and stopped him. “No. You weren’t.”
“Hey, Kaden.” They both turned to look at his cousin Mitch. “Come here for a second.”
Kaden turned back toward her and smiled. A smile that shot liquid heat straight to her middle where it quickly slid lower, and lower until… God, she felt like a teenager.
“Don’t disappear on me. I’ll be right back.”
“Okay,” she agreed.