Music thrummed through the pavement as Nick and Ellie approached the strip club, cast in a gaudy display of purple and pink neon lights. Nick reached the door first and pulled it open. A flood of deafening noise, sickly sweet perfume, and the sour scent of alcohol rolled out.
As Ellie stepped inside, she glared at Nick.
He held up a hand in surrender. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Like I did something wrong and I’ll be sleeping on the couch for a month because of it.”
“I don’t know,” Ellie replied in a tone that warned of an impending killer blow. “Maybe it has to do with the room of naked women you’re about to walk into.”
Nick flashed his most charming smile. “I’ve only got eyes for you, babe.”
He leaned in to kiss her cheek but Ellie twisted away. She raised an eyebrow as if to say, guilty until proven innocent.
After questioning the owner, bartenders, and a handful of patrons, Ellie and Nick were empty-handed.
“Well, that was a waste of time from start to finish,” Nick said. He shouldered a through the crowd to the door, Ellie following in the path he forged for her.
She reached out and curled her fingers into the crook of Nick’s elbow, sidling up close to him.
“I wouldn’t say it was a complete waste of time,” she said.
Judging by the coyness in her voice, it didn’t sound like she was talking about work. Nick glanced at her, his interest piqued.
“Is that a good thing?” he said, a lilt of hope in his voice.
Ellie hummed in agreement. “I noticed you were very professional around those girls. Didn't flirt once with any of them."
“So…no couch then?”
Ellie grinned as she nuzzled Nick’s ear. “Unless you would prefer some company.”
Before Nick could reply, a shout cut through the thumping bass of the club.
For a split second, Nick froze, eyes wide. It had to be his imagination.
But then a hand landed on his shoulder and Nick hissed a quick, “shit”, under his breath before pasting on a smile and turning to face the man he had hoped never to see again.
He wore a velvet purple suit and a disco-ball-silver shirt that glimmered under the club’s psychedelic lights. His blond hair was gelled back and he looked as slick as he had always been—like something wet and slimy hidden under the refrigerator for too long.
“Hey, Reggie,” Nick said begrudgingly.
“Long time no see, man,” Reggie replied. “How many years has it been? Four? Five?”
Nick’s skin prickled, keenly aware of Ellie’s scrutiny. There would be some heavy interrogation after this.
“I’d say it’s closer to eight by now,” Nick replied.
Reggie blew out a laugh of disbelief. His gaze flicked over Nick in appraisal.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! Those eight years have been damn good to you, my friend.”
And then his gaze fell on Ellie.
Too late, Nick moved in front of her, putting himself between Reggie and Ellie. But Reggie had already locked onto his target and he wasn’t about to let a pretty girl get away without comment.
“Who is this little slip of sugar with you?” Reggie said, reaching to take Ellie’s hand.
Nick got to her first and interlaced his fingers with hers.
“None of your business,” he said. “That’s who she is.”
“Relax, buddy,” Reggie said. “My guess is you haven’t told your girl about me and that hurts my feelings." He winked at Ellie. "We were good friends back in the day."
“Reggie,” Nick warned. “Don’t.”
Reggie nodded at Nick, never taking his attention away from Ellie. “Your boy toy here used to be an entertainer at my club. Bet you didn’t know that.”
Ellie’s eyebrows shot up. Her lips parted as if she wanted to say something but her breath exhaled in a rush. Speechless.
It was only a matter of time though. Soon, she would have questions. And she wouldn’t stop until she had every dirty little detail. Ellie turned wide eyes on Nick with an eager gaze.
Fuck, he thought. I’m never going to live this down.
“Hell of a good one, too,” Reggie continued. “Drove the ladies buck wild.”
“Okay, that’s enough,” Nick said. “See you later, Reggie.”
He pushed by, herding Ellie out the door as fast as he could.
By the time they reached the car, Ellie had found her tongue.
“Major D,” she said.
Nick flinched at that name coming from her mouth. A reminder from a lifetime ago when he was a different person, closed off and emotionally locked away. A lifetime where there was no Ellie to pester and annoy him until he finally gave in.
“When Reggie said you were an ‘entertainer’,” Ellie went on. “What did he mean exactly?”
Nick said nothing as he climbed into the car. She took the passenger’s seat, propped her elbow on the arm rest, her chin in her hand, and stared at him. Waiting.
“Ignoring me won’t work,” she said.
“I know. But I can try.”
Ellie gave a dramatic sigh. “All right. Guess I’ll just have to come back and visit Reggie on my own. He’ll tell me everything, I’m sure.”
“No. Don’t go anywhere near that guy without me.”
“Better start talking. Fast.”
Nick stifled a groan and looked away, mumbling something incoherent.
Ellie leaned toward him. “I didn’t catch that.”
“I was a stripper, okay?”
Ellie’s mouth formed a pink O of surprise at this priceless piece of information.
Nick pointed at her. “If you tell anyone, I will shoot you. I don’t care how cute you are.”
A wicked smile spread across Ellie’s face. “So Major D is your stripper name.”
Nick closed his eyes and pressed his forehead to the steering wheel. Defeated.
“What does the D stand for?” Ellie said in a strangled voice, barely controlled laughter stretching her tone high and thin.
“Exactly what you think it stands for.”
“…are there videos of this somewhere?”
“I hope not.” Nick raised his head, attempting to salvage the situation. “Look, it was my first case—”
“This was an assignment?” Ellie said in disbelief.
“Not that part. There was a group of drug dealers operating out of Reggie’s club. But security was too tight to get in. Then I found out that dancers got a free pass so…I went with it. I needed to get the job done and I did.”
Finally, Nick glanced over at Ellie. She dipped her chin, her lips pressed into a thin line. He narrowed his eyes.
“You’re trying too hard not to laugh,” he said. “Your face is turning red.”
“I’m just…picturing you…in one of those little—"
Ellie cackled. “No way. Don’t think for a second that I’ll ever let this one go. Not on your life.”
The questions kept coming. At every opportunity, Ellie hounded Nick for details. In the elevator. In the break room. At lunch.
“Was it a one-time thing?” she said, cornering him at the vending machines. “Or were you a regular?”
“If you count three months and seventeen days on the job a regular. I closed the case after that.”
“Did you work with a troupe? Or were you solo?”
“Both. Are you done yet?”
“Not even close. I thought it was impossible to embarrass you?”
Nick shrugged as he retrieved a packet of trail mix from the vending machine. “Trust me, I have nothing to be embarrassed about. But you’ve been on this topic for five days now. A change of pace would be nice.”
Ellie peered over his shoulder, poking through the trail mix in search of M&Ms. “Reggie seemed impressed. How did he put it? Drove the ladies ‘buck wild’.”
“Is that a hint of jealousy I hear in your voice?” Nick said. He found a blue M&M and held it out to her. Ellie took it and popped it in her mouth.
“More like curiosity.”
He snorted. “Says the woman who was about to kick me to the couch for a month for walking into that strip club.”
Ellie tucked two fingers in Nick’s belt and tugged him closer, tilting her chin up. “Well, you’re mine now. So, your buck wild lady friends will just have to take a back seat.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “You’re like a growling puppy. It’s adorable.”
She smacked his arm. “Shut up. I have a gun and I know how to use it.”
“Now. Tell me what your routines were like. Cop? Firefighter? Soldier?”
“Sounds like someone has a uniform kink,” Nick said with a smirk.
Ellie narrowed her eyes and pinched him in the side. Nick squirmed away with yip. He tucked the bag of trail mix behind his back, out of Ellie’s reach.
“No more M&Ms,” he said. “That’s for being mean to me.”
“Don’t change the subject,” Ellie countered. “And don’t bring up my kinks at work.”
“Oh, but you can ask a million questions about my stripper days?”
“Come on. I’ve heard you and McGee talking about your table dancing plenty of times.”
“Doesn’t sound like it to me,” Ellie sing-songed. She tipped forward on her toes and brushed a kiss to the corner of Nick’s mouth with a lingering sweetness of chocolate.
As she backed away from him, she fired off one last question.
“Are you sure a video or two didn’t leak onto YouTube or something?” she said.
She snickered. “Ellie, yes.”
“Case closed,” Gibbs declared. “Get outta here. All of you. Enjoy your weekend.”
Ellie sighed with relief and stretched her arms over her head after being slouched over her desk for hours. But when she turned to ask Nick what he wanted to do to celebrate, he had already scooped up his jacket and headed for the elevator.
A pang of disappointment stabbed Ellie in the heart. After a case was finished, it had become their tradition to blow off some steam and go on a normal date for a change. No discussions of murder or dead bodies allowed.
She had been looking forward to spending the weekend with Nick. Sleeping in. Ordering takeout.
But they were both adults. They had their own lives, their own apartments, their own demanding careers that took priority above everything else.
Maybe Nick just needed to cool off on his own after this case. It didn’t seem to bother him that much but he had always been good at pretending.
A little voice in the back of Ellie’s mind whispered a slur of doubts. Reminding her of how often she had pestered Nick over the past few days about the incident at the club with Reggie.
Had she asked too many questions? Had she pried into a sensitive subject without realizing it?
No, she thought. If Nick truly didn’t want to talk about something, he remained tight-lipped about it and refused to budge.
There were precious few times where he volunteered information regarding his undercover history. From art classes to car bombs, elaboration was slim at best.
But he had laughed with Ellie about the sheer outrageousness of assuming the identity of a stripper. That wasn’t the mark of a man who wanted to bury his past and keep it there, never to be resurrected again.
Either way, Ellie decided to leave it alone from now on.
She stifled a yawn as she drove to her apartment. Maybe tomorrow she could take Nick out for breakfast, to thank him for putting up with her boundless questions and being such a good sport despite her relentless teasing.
Ellie scrubbed a hand over her face and unlocked her apartment door, peeling off her coat as she stepped inside. The door had barely closed behind her when the music started.
Don’t be so quick to walk away/Dance with me/I wanna rock your body, please stay/Dance with me.
Ellie’s instincts buzzed to life. Her skin prickled with heat at the possibility of an intruder in her apartment. She rested her palm over the gun at her hip.
Movement drew her eye and she stiffened, prepared to draw her weapon, to take aim—
Ellie dropped her keys.
Nick stood in the doorway of her bedroom, wearing a crisp white Navy uniform, hands folded behind his back, his posture ramrod straight at attention. A stiff white peaked cap was pulled low over his eyes, the dark brim accenting the sharp angle of his jawline.
He came toward Ellie with the swagger of a military man—all broad shoulders and bold, intimidating strides. He stopped right in front of her, his nose inches away from touching hers.
Ellie bit the inside of her cheek as she realized what this was.
A private show. Just for her.
Nick nuzzled at her cheek, tracing the shell of her ear with the tip of his tongue. Ellie squeaked and hunched her shoulders up, a small giggle slipping out before she slapped a hand over her mouth.
With a flick of his wrist, Nick swept his cap off and placed it on Ellie’s head. His fingers skimmed down her hair and cupped the back of her neck, his thumb nestled at the hollow beneath her ear, the width of his hand cradling her head.
Then, keeping in perfect beat with the music, Nick began to grind up and down the full length of her thigh from knee to hip.
“Oh my god,” Ellie exhaled, her voice hoarse, her hands roaming up Nick’s chest, finger interlocking around the back of his neck. He was always ready and willing to try anything she wanted, from sex in the kitchen to handcuffing him to the bed. But this was new, something she never would have dreamed of in a million years, and she loved every second of it.
Nick unclipped the holster from Ellie’s belt, and as he reached past her to set it on the counter, he pressed his body flush against hers, the flat of his tongue gliding along the racing pulse at the line of her throat.
Ellie’s eyes fluttered closed with a contented little sigh. Nick’s hands skimmed down her sides and over her thighs before his fingers hooked behind her knees and in one smooth motion, he scooped her up.
Ellie yipped in surprise, locking her legs around Nick’s waist. She touched her forehead to Nick’s as her fingers dropped to the buttons on his shirt.
“Hey, wait a second,” he said. “You’re getting ahead of me here. I’ve got this all planned out.”
She snorted. “Yeah, right. You’re totally winging it.”
“Okay, maybe a little.”
Nick set Ellie on the counter. She grabbed the lapel of his uniform and pulled him close for a hard kiss, toothy and sweet with an edge of want beneath it.
He tore himself away, leaving Ellie kiss-pink and disheveled. The Navy cap sat crooked on her head, dipped over one eye. Her shirt had come untucked from her jeans, bunched up to expose the arcing shadow of her hip bone. Her hair was a frizzy golden halo around her head.
The music faded from the sexy pounding beat of Justin Timberlake to…
I believe in miracles/Where you from/You sexy thing/sexy thing you.
Nick snapped his fingers to the beat, rolling his hips just like that day he dared to in the office to make Ellie laugh, spurred on by the bright gleam in her eye and the pleased redness in her cheeks.
It had the same effect now, especially when he popped the first button of his collar and Ellie cheered. He turned slowly, stripping off his shirt as he went. First one peek of a shoulder—shy and coy. Ellie applauded and whistled. Then the other shoulder with a sexy little shake for emphasis and a dramatic, cheesy toss of his head.
By the time Nick faced Ellie again, his shirt was in his hand. He flung it behind him, heedless of where it landed.
Ellie whooped and held her arms out to him, beckoning him closer.
Nick curled his fingers around her ankle and raised her foot, prying off her boot. He kissed the inside of her ankle then guided her leg over his shoulder. He did the same with her other foot, the boot falling to the floor with a thud. He flicked his gaze up to Ellie’s face when her knees were around his ears, his mouth at the inside of her thigh. Even through the fabric of her jeans, he could feel the tremble of desire ripple through her muscles.
Nick slid his hands under Ellie’s ass, his palms splayed across her lower back. Ellie’s fingers found his head, fingernails scraping lightly through his hair—a familiar gesture they had played out a thousand times before. He pinched the fabric of her shirt in his teeth and pulled it free from her belt, revealing her stomach. His gaze dropped to her belt buckle, his stripper act forgotten, thinking only of Ellie’s skin, tasting her, watching her unravel beneath his hands and his tongue until she was babbling his name over and over.
But Ellie smoothed her shirt down, blocking Nick’s view.
“You’re not finished yet, Major,” she said. “Get those pants off. Then you can start on me.”
“Sir, yes, sir,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
Nick took Ellie by the wrist and tugged her over his shoulder in a fireman’s lift. Ellie squirmed and squawked in protest but he simply carried her out of the kitchen and into the living room, setting her on the couch.
Pushing her back against the cushions, he sucked a loud, wet kiss to her neck and pulled away with a pop! He stood up and gestured to his belt.
“Care to do the honors?” he said.
Ellie sat forward, wiggling to the edge of her seat, flexing her fingers in a grabbing motion. She leaned forward, scraped her teeth over his hip bone with a teasing bite. She spider-walked her hand up Nick’s stomach then dragged her fingernails down again with a vicious burn that made his cock surge in his pants.
“Oh, baby,” he groaned. “You don’t play fair.”
Ellie flicked her gaze up to him with a grin. She slipped her fingers into the waistband of his pants.
And she yanked.
Fabric swished to the floor in a heap.
Leaving Nick Torres in nothing but a silky cobalt blue G-string.
Ellie sucked her bottom lip between her teeth. Nick took her hands, threading his fingers with hers. He swung his leg over her knees and straddled her lap, riding her long, slow thrusts. He buried his face in her neck, nipping at her earlobe until she swore under her breath.
“You’re such a fucking tease,” she mumbled.
Ellie grabbed the back of his neck and pulled Nick down to her, his mouth colliding with hers in a mess of teeth and tongues and laughter. He hummed with satisfaction, cupping her face in his hands, plowing his fingers through her hair.
She gasped against his lips, arching up against him. Nick dragged his tongue along the roof of her mouth, drawing the most depraved moan out of Ellie he’d ever heard.
“Your turn,” Nick whispered with a grin. “Can’t have you looking so overdressed, babe.”
Ellie watched him as he worked each button of her shirt free, his knuckles brushing the warm, tempting smoothness of her skin. With each new inch of skin revealed, he dipped his head and planted a sweet, lingering kiss to the slope of her shoulder, the swell of her breast, the rise of her ribs. She knew how much he loved this part, no matter how many times he did it. Peeling away her clothes as if the fabric was wrapping paper and she was the most precious gift tucked inside.
Nick nudged Ellie’s sleeve off of one shoulder, fingers trailing feather-light down her arm. He traced along the lacy edge of her bra until he moved the cup aside.
The music shifted again, something softer and quieter. Nick couldn’t remember what was on his playlist when all he could think about was the taste of Ellie—the sweetness of her mouth, the salt of her skin.
Ellie couldn’t hear it. Her senses were clouded with Nick—the heady barely-there touch of his thumb against her nipple and his hands all over her, the throbbing bulge of his cock pressed to her hip, straining against the wisp-thin fabric of that ridiculous G-string she couldn’t wait to get off of him.
Nick pressed a kiss between Ellie’s breasts as he climbed off of her lap and dropped to his knees in front of her. He worked her belt free, the accompanying rasp of her zipper matching the stuttering hitch in her breath. She raised her hips up from the couch, allowing Nick to tug her jeans and underwear off at the same time.
He rested his cheek against the inside of Ellie’s knee, guiding her leg over his shoulder. He peppered small, ticklish kisses up her thigh until she was squirming, fingers clawing at his hair to direct him where she needed him most.
Nick curved his hands over her thighs, coaxing her legs just a little further apart. Ellie covered her hand with his, her thumb skimming back and forth over his knuckles. He held her gaze as he lowered his head and closed his mouth over her clit, dragging his tongue, slow and hot over the full length of her.
Ellie released a long, low breath, pushing her hips up against Nick’s mouth. When he worked his jaw into her, stubble scraping, burning, along her thighs, Ellie dug her heels into his back with a shaky holy shit.
Nick took his time, stroking her clit, once, twice, three times. Her knees tightened around his head until his ears were ringing but that didn’t stop him, didn’t even make him hesitate. He slid two fingers inside her and curved upward, sucking on her clit. Ellie’s body bowed off the couch, chanting his name in a rush as she came.
When she sagged to the couch again, Nick smoothed his hands over her thighs, easing the aftershocks shivering over her skin. Post-orgasmic pink dusted Ellie’s cheeks and across her chest. Nick kissed his way back up to her and licked into her mouth, a slick slide of tongue on tongue.
Ellie scraped her teeth over his bottom lip with a purr of laughter. She hitched one leg around his waist, and with a deft shift of her weight, she twisted, pushing Nick back against the couch. She braced her knees at either side of his hips, the wet heat of her cunt palpable through the paper-thin fabric of his G-string.
Ellie kissed him open-mouthed and breathless and so damn desperate, it made Nick’s head spin.
“Condom,” she demanded, grinding on the hardness of his cock. She scrambled to unhook her bra and tossed it aside.
“Pants,” he croaked.
Ellie kept her knees clamped to his hips, never leaving his lap as she twisted to retrieve his pants from the floor. Nick’s hands remained on her thighs, coasting up to her waist and helping her sit upright when she pulled the condom from the pocket of his pants. She tore the packet open, fingertips dancing over his lower stomach, tracing the line of his hip. It didn’t take more than a nudge to remove the G-string that wasn’t doing much to contain his aching cock by now anyway.
As Ellie rolled the condom on, Nick leaned forward and kissed her temple, nosing along her cheekbone. He pulled her closer, his hands spanning her lower back as she rose up on her knees. With one hand gripping his shaft, the other cupped to the back of his neck, Ellie lowered herself onto Nick’s cock, so slowly, so exquisitely that they both moaned.
Nick slid his hands up Ellie’s bare back, ghosting his breath over her neck with kitten kisses. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, riding him in long, steady strokes, savoring the slide of his cock inside her over and over. She pressed her cheek to the top of Nick’s head and closed her eyes, reveling in every spark of sensation he ignited in her body, from the broad width of his hands to the pinch of his teeth on her breast, soothed by the soft heat of his tongue, to the pulse of his cock.
With each roll of Ellie’s hips, Nick was sure he would lose it and come too soon. But her core tightened around him and he wanted nothing more than to see her shake apart all over again, lost to the bliss of ecstasy.
Nick pulled his mouth off of Ellie’s breast and raised his head to find that she was already looking at him, her hands framing his face. Her breathing stuttered to a shallow rasp, her lips parted and rose-pink and plump after the way she kissed him, as if he was the best thing she’d ever tasted.
Nick nipped at her bottom lip, flexing his hips off of the couch at just the right angle to make Ellie’s mouth drop open with a gasped, fuck, yes.
He did it again and Ellie’s head dropped back with the keening whine of a woman right on the edge. He slipped one hand between them and circled her clit, continuing to push up into her again and again, even as her second orgasm hit.
Ellie arched in his arms, her hands clasped around the back of his head. Nick peppered her skin with a thousand kisses as a stream of profanity spilled from her lips.
When she finally came down, she was still shaking as she melted against Nick’s shoulder with a sigh.
“That filthy mouth of yours, babe,” he mumbled with a smile against the crook of her neck and shoulder. “It’s so goddamn sexy every time.”
Ellie released a quiet laugh, eyelashes lowered, shoulders rising toward her ears in an almost bashful gesture if Nick didn’t know any better. She had never been shy or self-conscious about sex—telling him what she liked, asking for more, being as loud as she wanted to—but a special little light glowed in her eyes when he reminded her just how much he loved her for it.
Nick curved his hand around the back of her neck, locked an arm around her waist. He picked her up and spread her on the couch beneath him, hitching her legs over his forearms. After two orgasms, Ellie was so slick that Nick buried his cock inside her in one thrust, balls deep, enveloped by the hot silk of her body.
“Ellie,” he breathed like a prayer.
She wrapped her arms around him, holding him still for a moment, fingers tracing idle patterns between his shoulder blades and down his spine.
Then her fingers clamped tight to his ass, a direct order to get moving.
Nick drove into her with long, deep thrusts. Ellie caught his face in her hands and pulled him down to her, sucking on his tongue in time with each throb of his cock. His hips stuttered and his body went rigid, one hand gripping Ellie’s waist like an anchor in a sea of white-hot pleasure.
With a groan, Nick settled on top of Ellie, his head resting on her chest, her ankle hooked around his calf and her hands clutched tight to his shoulders, unwilling to let him go just yet. The music had ended at some point and the only sound in the apartment was their uneven breathing.
Finally, Nick tore himself away. Sliding his softening cock out of Ellie made her whimper at the loss of contact. He kissed her shoulder, part apology for leaving, part promise to return.
As Nick stood and rolled the condom off, Ellie stretched her arms over her head, loose and satisfied.
“So,” she said, her voice hoarse. “That’s what you did to drive the ladies buck wild.”
Nick glanced at her with a smirk as he headed for the bathroom. “Looks like I haven’t lost my touch either.”
Ellie lobbed a pillow at his retreating back and he laughed.