Want more Huck and Cat? Check out this exclusive BONUS SCENE from HOOKED by Christine Manzari. If this doesn’t put a huge grin on your face then nothing will! 😉
HOOKED EVER AFTER
by Christine Manzari
I lifted the camera and brought it to my eye, the viewfinder framing the most perfect ass I’d ever seen. Cat was dressed in a lacy red thong and matching bra, and was leaning over the edge of the sink to apply her makeup. Her lips were parted in a way that begged to be kissed, but it was the delicate curve of her lower back and the perfect swell of her ass that held my attention this time.
With the rich rays of the late afternoon sun cutting through the window and pouring over her skin like liquid gold, she looked otherworldly.
Her hand moved slowly as it traced a dark line over the arch of her eye. I took a few deep breaths, turning the focus ring until the image was just right. When she continued to stay still, I pressed the button and the familiar click of the shutter broke the silence.
“Took you long enough,” she said, dropping her hand and looking away from her reflection to find me in the mirror. Her mouth curved into a playful smile and she winked. “I knew you were there.”
“For my private collection.” I nodded to the camera where it was cradled in my hand. It seemed like that’s where it always was these days, a permanent extension of my body. Sometimes it still surprised me that I’d found success in doing something that I was not only good at, but that I loved too. A year ago, I never would have dreamed of giving up my career in my father’s company to do photography full time. It took finding Cat to find myself. Now, photos were my living . . . except for the ones of Cat. Those were just for me.
Her eyebrow lifted, but the smile remained. “I don’t know why you insist on taking so many pictures of me. You can have the real thing any time you want.” She gave her ass a little shake and I didn’t even try to hide the fact that I was checking her out from the bottom up.
Christ. It didn’t matter what she was doing, she was always breathtaking. Like right now. She was looking over her shoulder at me, and the sunshine spilled across her face and shoulders so that she looked like she was covered in a honey-colored glow. I lifted the camera again and took another shot, capturing the way the light turned her eyes into shiny sapphires and her hair into a silky sheet of fire.
Lowering the camera, I leaned against the wall next to the doorway. “Sometimes the real thing is too much to handle,” I teased.
“Tell me about it,” she said before turning back to the mirror to finish getting ready. “I’m almost done. I just need to put on my dress.”
“Don’t hurry on my account.” I pushed off the wall and walked up behind her, setting the camera on the counter. I gripped her waist and pulled her hips back against mine. I ran my hands over her bare skin, forcing goose bumps to raise wherever I touched.
“Behave.” She scowled at me in the mirror. “This is your big opening night. You’ve worked hard for it. Don’t do anything that will make us late,” she warned. “Brodi will never let me hear the end of it.”
Brodi was a friend of Cat’s. When her mother passed away last spring and Cat inherited the Durand Art Gallery, she asked Brodi to run it. When he saw the photos I’d taken of Venice Beach, he loved them so much that he asked me to do an exhibit. It was such a success that he scheduled another one for September. This one was called “The Face of Venice” and it was a collection of shots I did of the people of Venice Beach. We were hoping for a big turn out. Brodi had even talked to a local publisher who was interested in featuring my work in a coffee table book. I needed to be there to charm him into making that a reality.
But first . . . Cat.
I leaned over and pressed a kiss to the center of her back. “Don’t worry about Brodi. This is more important.” I reached up and pushed the long, smooth strands of her dark red hair over shoulder and then dropped kisses up her spine and across her shoulder. Her head fell to the side and her eyes closed.
I loved when she said my name like that. Like I was the answer to everything. “Yeah?” I asked between kisses.
“What was the name of the car in Ghostbusters?” Even though she was asking a total cockblock question, her words were breathy.
My lips stilled against her shoulder. “Are you serious right now? I’m pulling out my best moves.”
“It’s okay if you don’t know. Just remember, I get anything I want if I win.” She tilted her head more, a motion that begged for me to kiss up her neck.
That was our game. Cat was a huge fan of older movies, mainly those from the 80s, and she loved to have trivia battles. We asked each other questions until someone couldn’t give the right answer. The loser had to do whatever the winner wanted. Cat was used to getting her way most of the time, so I loved besting her in our trivia matches. However, I usually at least had fair warning of what movie we were going to battle over. She’d caught me off guard today.
That didn’t mean I intended to lose, though.
My fingers touched her elbow, trailing up her arm until they skimmed across her chest, tracing along the edge of her bra.
“Nice try, Cat. But tonight’s not your night.” I dragged my teeth along the curve of skin where her neck met her shoulder and she shivered. “They called it the ectomobile,” I answered.
She huffed in annoyance, but it was tainted with a pleased sigh when my hand cupped her breast, my thumb rubbing across her nipple.
“Bet you don’t know the license plate.” Her words were soft, but I could detect the note of frustration. Whether it was because I was trying to distract her, or that I’d answered correctly, I didn’t know.
“ECTO-1.” I chuckled. “My turn.” I kissed under her ear and felt her sag against me. “What was the Ghostbusters hotline number?”
“It was . . .” She faltered when I ran my tongue up the side of her neck. She swallowed and took a deep breath. “555-2368.”
“You sure?” I whispered in her ear. I actually had no clue.
“555-2368. Final answer.” She turned in my arms so that we were facing each other, her chest pressed up against mine.
I ducked my head to kiss along her collarbone. I’d let her have that one only because I didn’t know the answer myself.
“I know you don’t know this one,” she said, her voice almost a moan. “What was the original name of Ghostbusters supposed to be?”
My lips paused against her skin and I wracked my brain. I had no idea. Fuck. My mind sifted through all the possibilities. Ghost . . . Ghost . . . Ghost something. It had to have the word ghost in it.
I could feel her grin even though I couldn’t see it. “Give up?” she asked.
“Ghost . . .” I slipped my finger under the strap of her bra and pulled it down over her shoulder, touching my lips to the spot where it had been.
“Ghosthunters,” I guessed.
She stepped back, breaking my contact with her, and tsked at me. She waved her finger between us and gave me her trademark, wicked smile. “Wrong. It was Ghost Smashers.” She scrunched her nose. “Terrible name, but the important thing is,” her eyes met mine and she pointed at her barely-covered chest, “I win.”
Cat placed her hands on my shoulders and pushed me backwards until my back hit the wall behind me. She’d gone from falling apart in my arms to manhandling me.
She hooked her fingers in the waistband of my dress pants and dropped to her knees in front of me, which was not what I was expecting.
Again. Typical Cat.
“Huh. What do you know. Looks like I win, too,” I told her. I wanted to bury my hands in her hair, but seeing as how she’d just finished primping, and was face-to-face with my family jewels, I figured it was best not to press my luck and assume I knew what was about to go down. Or rather who.
She looked up at me and where most women in this position would have been trying way too hard to be flirty or naughty or sexy, Cat just . . . was. She was all those things. She was perfection. Irresistible.
Releasing the grip she had on my waistband, her hands pressed down the front of my pants to undo the button. She dropped her eyes away from mine to watch as she pulled the zipper down.
“If this is how things are going to go down when you win from now on, I’ll be sure to lose more often.” I was joking, but my voice was low and rough. Hopeful.
The zipper had reached its final destination and she pulled her bottom lip between her teeth before releasing it. “I love you,” she said. “You know that, right?”
I reached down to lift her chin upwards, but her eyes were slow to follow. When she finally looked at me, I said, “Are you talking to me or my dick?”
She laughed and then reached up to fist the top of my pants in her hands. She tugged gently, not pulling them down, just teasing me with the possibility. “I want to share everything with you.”
The blue of Cat’s eyes was a mix of mischief and love, and when she grinned at me, I decided I didn’t care if we ever made it to opening night of my exhibit because this moment, this girl, was everything. She was all I ever wanted. All I needed.
“Take whatever you want. I’m all yours.”
She leaned forward, inching my pants down further. “You promise?”
I ran the tips of my fingers across her forehead and along her hairline to tuck her hair behind her ear. “I do.”
Her eyes flashed with happiness and her mouth stretched into the most innocent smile I’d ever seen on her. I probably should have been worried because Cat was never innocent. But she was on her knees, my pants were clutched in her hands, and my brain was on a one-way street to blowjobville. That’s all I could think about.
“Will you marry me, Huck?”
What? I stared at her in disbelief. There was no way I could voice my thoughts and not ruin . . . whatever this was.
That innocent smile of hers twisted into the devious one I was used to. “No answer? It shouldn’t be that hard, Huck.” She glanced down to the gaping fabric of my pants. “Although I’m glad it is.” Her thumb brushed along the tip of me and I made a desperate sound in the back of my throat. “But my question still stands, and I really only need a simple yes or no.” She leaned forward and kissed me through the thin fabric of my boxers.
Yep. Hard as a rock. Goddamn woman loved to torture me.
“Will you marry me?” she asked again.
Blood thundered through my veins like I was about to jump off a cliff. “Are you seriously proposing to me?”
“Yes.” Her answer was simple, her face hopeful and expectant.
“While you’re on your knees and my pants are yanked down?”
“I thought getting down on your knees was the traditional way to propose,” she argued, a smile in her voice.
I reached up to grip my hair in my fists before looking down at her. She was in nothing but a few pieces of red lace, my pants were around my ankles, and my dick was straining to get closer to her. I didn’t even care that she’d beaten me to the actual proposal, that wasn’t the problem. “We can’t tell this story to people!”
Her hands were back at my hips again, only this time she was tugging on the edge of my boxers. “Good. Then it’ll always belong just to us. It’s none of their business anyway.”
Of course I wanted to marry her. Spending the rest of my life with Cat was the only option there was. The only reason I hadn’t asked her yet was because I hadn’t even managed to get her to move in with me. That was a question I had popped many times, and her answer had always been no. There were pieces of her in my home—colorful clothes in my drawers, fancy girly soap in the shower, DVDs of her 80s movies stacked on my end table—but nothing permanent. She still held on to that apartment across the water that she shared with her best friend, Jay, even though she and I spent every night together. Whose bed it was never mattered, only that she was in my arms when the lights went out at the end of each day.
She didn’t want to move in with me, but she wanted to marry me? It made no sense. This whole thing had to be a prank.
“Cat, if this is some kind of joke . . .”
“No joke.” She reached into the cup of her bra and pulled out a silver band. “I got a ring and everything.”
My throat was tight with emotion as well as a shit ton of desire. “What else you got in there?”
“In here?” She looked down at her bra and pulled it away a bit to give me a peek. “Just a little preview of what you’re in store for if the answer is yes.”
I dropped to my knees and her eyes flew wide open, her teasing chased away by surprise. I grabbed her face in my hands. “You really want to marry me, Cat?”
She gave a small laugh, the first sign of uncertainty she’d shown. “That was the whole point of buying you a ring and asking you.”
I pulled her face to mine and when our lips touched, she melted against me. One of my favorite parts of kissing Cat was when she finally let go of her control and surrendered to me. Despite all of her teasing and bravado, when I pulled her to me and kissed her harder, I could feel her body tremble under my touch. Her heart was pounding a furious beat against her chest, and in that moment, I knew she wanted me to say yes as much as I wanted to.
I reached around to hold her tighter and when my fingers touched the naked skin of her back, I traced the letters of my answer against her skin. I did it over and over again until she realized what I was doing. She pulled her lips from mine and looked at me.
“Yes?” she asked breathlessly, her eyes searching my face.
“My answer has been yes since the night you asked me those five ridiculous questions on Muscle Beach.”
The innocent smile was back, but only for a brief moment before it was replaced by the one that promised to rock my world. She laid her hands on my chest and pushed me until I was sitting with my back against the wall. She straddled my legs and grabbed my wrist, her hands shaking as she put the ring on my finger.
Maybe I should have felt emasculated that she was the one proposing and giving me a ring, but I recognized that look in her eyes. I was about to become a very lucky man, for the rest of my life. So I didn’t really give a fuck who had asked who.
Cat lifted my hand and kissed the finger where her ring now was. And then she started laughing. “Now I know why guys like doing this. I feel like I own you,” she said. “I like it.”
“You already owned me.” My hand went around the back of her neck, my fingers finally burying into her hair, and I pulled her down for another kiss.
“I never though I was the girl who wanted a happily ever after,” she mused. She threaded her fingers through the hand that had her ring on it. “You know what makes me really happy?”
I kissed her sweetly. “What?”
Cat giggled. “That you’re going to have to tell Jay about this.”
I smirked and shook my head. “I’m not telling him shit.”
“He’ll insist.” She rocked her hips over mine and my thoughts blew straight through blowjobville and on to fuckmetown.
“Not when I offer him the Best Man position,” I said.
Her eyes widened and she stopped moving. “No. He can’t be your Best Man. He’s going to be my Man of Honor.”
“We’ll see,” I said, reaching between us. I ran my fingers across the flimsy lace and my touch caused all of the tension to leave her body. A sweet moan echoed in her throat as she moved against me. “What do you say we celebrate and get this happily ever after started?” I asked.
“Finally something we can agree on.” Her eyes fluttered closed and she captured my mouth in a kiss. “I love you,” she said through the kiss.
“I love you, too.”
Our lips and hands found familiar paths, but it was more intense this time, knowing that forever was now a promise between us.
“Huck?” She made my name sound like all her favorite things rolled into one.
“Since I proposed, does that mean you’ll take my last name?” She paused, holding back laughter. “Huck Maverick sounds pretty good.”
But she was my Cat. My happily ever after. And I was as hooked today as I was the first time I met her.
Hooked by Christine Manzari
The first thing Christine does when she’s getting ready to read a book is to crack the spine in at least five places. She wholeheartedly believes there is no place as comfy as the pages of a well-worn book. She’s addicted to buying books, reading books, and writing books. Books, books, books. She also has a weakness for adventure, inappropriate humor, and coke (the caffeine-laden bubbly kind). Christine is from Forest Hill, Maryland where she lives with her husband, three kids, and her library of ugly spine books.