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Punishing Thirst, Rough Redemption Series, Chapter Three


“How the heck did you end up on the floor so fast?“ my Auntie asked.

It happened in a flash, and in that blink of an eye, I surmised that like still waters, Dante was a man dark and unplumbed depths.

So why didn't he scare me?

Nearly every man I'd met, since Mathew became a delusional, hard-up lunatic, frightened the piss out of me.

I tried to wipe the grin that wanted to drape itself across my features off of my face. Just one encounter with the beefy construction dude had my panties soaked. The thought of his return to install the flooring this evening while I was here alone made my heart beat fast and my fingers itch with the urge to stroke his biceps to see if they felt as hard as they looked.

I didn't want the whole town hearing about my little crush, Lord knew if one customer heard about me practically falling into his arms, it would be all over Briarville faster than flames across a dry forest floor. The last thing I needed was to be the center of town gossip.

I'd had enough unwanted attention to last me a lifetime.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson but try and tell that to my ovaries or my galloping pulse.

At the end of the day, while I was bagging up day old pastries and baked goods for the local women's shelter my Auntie supported, they arrived.

Teresa carried a bouquet of pink floral splendor into the kitchen: carnations, stock, and roses burst out of the vase, “These are for you, and there's a card.“ Her eyes squinted with mischief.

I plucked the small white envelope from the flowers, opened it and read:

“Flowers are fine, but nothing smells as good as the scent of you on my clothes.


I backed away, my hands raised.

It was too familiar, the unexpected grandiose gesture. “From Dante,“ My whisper was tissue-paper thin and my hand floated up to cover my mouth.

Teresa came over and hugged me tight. “That guy, Mathew, really did a number on you, didn't he?" She stroked my hair back from my forehead, "If it makes a difference to you, I would trust Dante with my own daughter if I had one. He's a good boy.“ She released me to look at the bouquet, and fondled a rose petal with the pad of her finger, “Romantic. He's Italian, his blood runs hot.“

“I'm just scared to enter into something that might not work out. A break up I can handle. A man going full blown psycho because I refuse him is more than I can take right now.“

Mathew would send flowers, constantly, believing we were meant to be together even though we’d never gone out. It was like he thought if he just kept trying I would change my mind. He tracked down my apartment address and would greet me at my doorstep after work with take out and a movie or two. Until I got scared and filed a restraining order.

Big mistake.

My auntie’s voice snapped me out of it, “You had a terrible experience, Savanna, but a gentleman walks away when a woman isn't interested. Dante is a gentleman. I'd bet my bakery on it.“

We spent the last hour polishing the place until we could see our reflections in the chrome and glass display cases. The manual task was meditative.

“Dante's had his share of trouble too.“ She said before leaving.

“How so?“ I asked.

“His fiance was hit and killed by a drunk driver three years ago. They were about to be married. Tragic, really.“ Said my aunt.

“Oh, God, that's so sad.“ I said.

“Would you feel better if I stuck around until Dante is done with the flooring?“ She asked.

I thought about it for a moment. “No I'm okay, auntie. I've got to start interacting with the world again sometime and at least this is someone you know and trust.“

“Okay, my love. I plan to go home and curl up with a glass of wine and a good book. I'll see you in the morning.“ She pulled me tightly into her arms and her cinnamon sugar scent eased my trouble. I closed my eyes.

I heard her lock the front door, and double checked it, doing the same with the back door. Then headed upstairs to my studio. First thing I did was take off my bra to get comfy for the evening, then took my hair down, brushing it out.

Looking in the medicine cabinet mirror above my porcelain sink, I assessed my features. It was a hard to tell what I looked like behind the huge glasses. I applied mascara and dabbed my lips with pink gloss. Encouraged, I threw on a striped, crop top, mock turtle neck and high waisted dark denim jeans which highlighted my waist and flattered my breasts and bottom.

My pulse skittered.

Why are you doing this?

Because, for the first time since forever, my panties were damp with arousal, and my nipples rubbed readily against the front of my shirt.

Before I could think twice, I heard the delivery buzzer ring at the back door. Grabbing an oversized cardigan, I threw it on and buttoned it up to the top as I dashed down the stairs.

“Who is it?“ I asked at the door.

“It's me, Dante.“ His deep voice said from the other side of the door.

I was one part scared, two parts turned on when I opened the door and he stood there with his leather tool belt on, scowling, and holding a huge pizza box.

“Brought pizza,“ he grunted, and I laughed because it was so freaking obvious. Was he as nervous as I was?

This would be a routine service call except for the fact that his enormous bouquet was sitting on the kitchen island like a pink shout in the middle of the room.

“Thank you for the flowers. They're beautiful.“ With a mind of their own, my fingers began to fasten and unfasten the top button of my cardigan.

This wasn't a date exactly. He was coming over to take care of my aunt, but I had to admit, my heart thumped faster as I stood there listening for an answer. The pulse of my blood became a bass beat in my ears.

His lips kicked up at the corners it punched the air out of my lungs — he was a beautiful man.

Beautiful might not be a word he agreed with, but all the other phrases I could think of fell short. His smile was unbearably handsome, totally altering his otherwise stern and chiseled features.

Suddenly I found myself crowded against the island.

He was inches away.

The memory of his attempt to catch me from falling earlier made my cheeks burn. It seemed our bodies were hell bent on touching each other.

“Do you want me to take your measurements?“ He asked.

“Excuse me?“ I said.

“For the non-stick flooring.“ He gradually lowered his face towards mine, and I could feel the heat of his breath on my lips.

I nearly moaned.

His lips crashed onto my mouth, demanding, and a wave of heat crashed over me. It was a kiss so deep that our souls fucked before our clothes even hit the floor, and I melted into him, allowing his tongue to explore my mouth.

Lust exploded in every cell of my body.

He pulled away, nostrils flaring, his green eyes darkened to the color of pine, “Like candy.“

He took two steps back and we stood staring at each other, breathing like long distance runners after a race.

Over a kiss.

I didn't feel...




Kissing Dante made me brave enough to jump off the high dive.

His pecs swelled noticeably and I wanted to shove up his t-shirt lick every inch of them. Instead I asked in a trembly voice, “So. You're in construction?“

What a dweeb, Savanna. Quaking like a helpless female.

“Don't do that.“ He demanded.

“Do what?“ I asked.

“This is more than small talk and you know it. You and me.“ He was so solid, and his jaw was set in stone.

I brought a shaky hand to my forehead as he swallowed his Adam's apple down several times. “Come on,“ he held his hand out to me and I took it, wondering why I'd never before noticed that there were a million nerve endings in my palm. “You can hold my measuring tape.“

He measured everything twice while I watched, writing down the dimensions for the flooring as he dictated them to me.

“Hey,“ His head jerked up and his eyes locked on me with dark intensity, making me shift on my feet. “How come you're not dirty after work if you're a construction worker? That's not small talk, I'm really curious.“

“More like I'm in the construction business than a construction worker. I don't pound nails all day. I run things.“ He stood up and I had to back away; his direct gaze was unsettling. “I like to be in charge.“

He unnerved me but wasn’t because I was afraid of him. Every drop of my blood was beating in a scarlet tangle of desire.

This man would never hurt me.

I knew it in my bones, and I only just met him.

“I'll be back tomorrow with the flooring. Be careful until I get back,“ he brushed my lower lip with his gigantic knuckle, and bent down for a firm, authoritative kiss that left no doubt in my mind who was boss.

This was a first, letting a man possess my mouth the first day I met him.

But why on earth would I want to deny myself something that made me feel so alive?

He dropped a huge hand to my hip, and asked, “Are you going to show me what's under this granny sweater of yours someday? Or do you intend to continue driving me mad with curiosity?“ I sucked my lower lip in between my teeth, trembling at his words and his nearness, wondering what would happen if I unbuttoned my cardy and dropped it to the floor.

The thrill of having this gruff, gorgeous man in front of me, desiring me, and yet he wasn't trying to force me to do a thing.

I marveled at the power I had over him.

He gave my body a bold, sweeping gaze, “I recognize quality material when I see it, Savanna. You’ve brought me back to life. “

“You just met me!“ I protested, although my spirits pranced at his compliment.

“Some things don’t take very long to figure out.“ He replied.

His palm slid around my hip and cupped my ass and I slid my hands up his chest got my fill of his hard pecs. Instead of stopping there like I should, I shoved his t-shirt up to his collar bone so I could stare at his beautiful, golden skin.

He tilted his head, studying me. “I think we'd better stop there. Otherwise, you might not make it to work on time tomorrow.“

My heart shrunk, but I knew he was probably right.

He strode to the back door and said, “The pizza's for you. You need to put some weight on.“

With my ass resting against the island counter, I could still feel his large palm prints there and my pussy was wet for him, clenching and releasing as he stared at me from the back entrance.

“Be a good girl. Lock this door behind me.“ His voice dropped to an intimate level before he closed the door, “I'll see you tomorrow.“

I raced up the stairs, ripped off my granny sweater and everything underneath it, jumped under the covers and put my hand between my legs to rub at the insatiable ache he made there, until I came over and over again.

I couldn’t wait until tomorrow.

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