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2017 by Ashlee Price- All rights reserved.


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SEAL Me, Daddy


A Fake Marriage Romance

By Ashlee Price

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Personal Note from Ashlee

Hello there, Im Ashlee Price. Thank you so much for downloading my book.
Im not just an author of steamy contemporary romance booksIm an avid
reader too!

After the main book, SEAL Me, Daddy, youll find some bonus stories for your
continued reading pleasure ;-) If youre into quick, hot reads then youll
absolutely love the collections. There are also 4 other full-length bonus stories
Ive included that I know youll enjoy.

Happy Reading

Ashlee

xo

Table of Contents

SEAL Me, Daddy


Bonuses
Billionaire Romance Collection
Western Romance Collection
More Steamy Romance Bonus Stories
Epilogue: Seal Me, Daddy
Steamy Deleted Scene

SEAL ME, DADDY

By: Ashlee Price

Chapter OneLinc
I already had the start of a headache going when I stepped into the second
bar of the night; Tulanes had had last call about an hour before, and Id
finished off my beer there before moving on to Foster s, which I knew would
be open until four. I wasnt even really drunkId paced myself a bitbut I
could walk home from Foster s if I had to, without breaking too much of a
sweat, and the owner there didnt care if I left my car in the lot overnight.
Whoever had grabbed control of the jukebox at Foster s was on some god-
awful country music jag, and I walked up to the bar with my ears full of Hank
Williams, Jr. and my brain full of Lisas most recent bullshit. Mandy, the
woman working the bar, knew me, and by the time I took one of the seats at the
bar, she was finishing up my first drink: Jameson with a PBR beer back. I
looked around the place, trying to figure out if it would be worth it to find
someone to chat up and take back to the motel on the other end of the block for
a few hours. My new tenant was supposed to be coming in a day or soand I
knew I should probably at least do the normal checking around the unit before
she got therebut after the news Id gotten that day, all I wanted to do was go
mindless for a while.
You look like a wreck, Linc, Mandy said as she set my shot and beer in
front of me. I took my wallet out and handed her a twenty.
That good, eh? I gave her a quick smile and knocked back the shot,
cracking the PBR as the whiskey burned down my throat and catching the first
sip of it. Same old shit. You know how it is. Mandy and I had had more than a
few talks about the shit-fest my life had become in the past few years; she was
one of maybe three women I trusted, including my divorce lawyer, Carol.
Not so bad that you couldnt catch a willing woman if you wanted, Mandy
said, giving me a quick once-over. Of course, most of the willing women
here are three sheets already. I laughed.
I dunno, I told her, taking another, longer sip of my beer. Im supposed
to meet with someone tomorrow, early morning. It was the first slot that Carol
had had open when Id called that afternoon after being served the paperwork.
The envelope with the thick sheaf of paper in it was still in my car; Id looked
at it when Id parked, thinking about whether or not to just call it a night.
When has that ever stopped you? Mandy flashed me another grin and took
my twenty off the bar, taking it with her to the register while she checked on the
handful of other people sitting there. She brought back my change while I
occupied myself looking around. Two girls who were probably only just old
enough to be in Foster s in the first place, a couple of tourists who had
delusions of being hikersBirkenstock sandals, rugged cut jeans, crop tops
and a handful of regulars. Foster s would really fill up in about another
hour, after most of the other bars had closed down for the night, and Id have a
better selection to choose from.
Someone elsethank godtook over the jukebox, and the stream of
country tunes gave way to some late Beatles music. It was at least an
improvement, and I knew Id miss it once the kids from the college dragged in.
I thought about shoving a few bucks in the machine and putting on some Rage
Against the Machine, or maybe Audioslave, something good and gritty and
hard, but it was like I was nailed to the stool.
A few more people came in, and I spotted the one Id take to the motel up the
street: she was petite, with blonde hair in a sharp bob cut, long legs that looked
like she might actually hike on a regular basis, tanned skin. She was in a skirt
and blouse, showing off enough skin to tell whoever was looking hard enough
that she was available without putting the goods completely on display. Shed
do. I waved Mandy over when I saw she was free.
Whats she having? I gestured to the blonde.
Beers, mostly, Mandy said. Stella. Had a couple of shots of Patron silver
when she came in, with the other chick. I nodded.
Get her another Patron, and the friend too, from me, I told her. Mandy
rolled her eyes with a grin but nodded and took my money, handing me
another Jameson as she did. I thought I might switch to water for the next round
I didnt want to get too drunk to enjoy things with the blonde if it came to
that, just pleasantly buzzed. Enough to fuzz the edges of the simmering rage I
felt at my ex-wife.
Just as I expected, the blonde and her frienda slightly chubby-looking
brunette, a few inches taller, with her face made up and a sundress showing off
a sunburn from that afternooncame up to me as soon as theyd finished their
shots. I smiled at them both; the brunette was more confident than the blonde,
and I knew immediately that she thought the shots had been for her. Well, well,
well, what have we here?
Linc Hayes, I said, holding out my hand to shake. And you two lovely
ladies?
Jess, the brunette said, shaking my hand. Oohyoure strong, arent
you? She gave me a flirty look and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at her.
And you? The blonde looked shy, but she was definitely interested. Her
bright blue eyes had been on me from the moment Mandy had called them to
the bar with the shots.
Katie, she said, barely squeezing my hand. Up close she was even more
worth looking at than shed been halfway across the room: little freckles on
her cheeks, and her tits pushed up against the loose fabric of her bra.
Pleased to meet you both, I said, keeping my manners as polite as possible
for the moment, at least. I went through the usual, asking about their jobs,
about who they were; I didnt really care, but if years of hookups at base bars
around the world had taught me anything, it was that nothing turns a woman on
more than a guy who seems interested in who they are. Katie was an aspiring
blogger, worked at some call center during the day, and Jess worked at a
family business back in their mutual hometown of Arnette, Texas. Theyd
gotten some kind of deal from a travel agent friend to come to Colorado, and
the guy who owned the apartment they were staying inan Airbnb situation
had recommended Foster s to them.
After a while, someone else at the bar started to chat up the brunette, leaving
me with Katie, just as I wanted. So, you got a boyfriend back home, Katie?
She shrugged. Someone Im seeing off and on. She gave me a shy little
smile. Right now were off.
Is that so? How lucky youre in a brand-new town, and completely single.
Id been slowly moving closer to her, drawing her in, getting past that little
reserve of shyness she had.
I thought so, Katie said, tilting her head a bit. Her lips and eyes were
practically begging me to kiss her. I held backgiving her what she wanted
right away was a good way to give her control over the situationand sipped
the water Id switched to about halfway through our conversation.
Katie, her friend called out, coming back to us. I groaned inwardly. Jess
came to her friends side and half-covered Katies face with her hand to
whisper something in her ear.
Go ahead, Katie said. I can catch an Uber, worst case. I raised an
eyebrow at that. Jess gave her friend a peck on the cheek and a promise to
check in, and then she was gone, headed for the door with one of the guys Id
seen sitting at the bar.
Wheres she headed?
Katie shrugged. Guy she just left with apparently lives nearby.
Shame on her, abandoning you like that, I told her, shaking my head,
pretending I didnt approve.
I have a code to make her pay for the Uber, Katie said with a little grin.
Smart girl, I said. Heyfeel like leaving? This place is getting loud.
Katie gave me a quick look and I thought shed turn me down, but the next
moment she knocked back the last of her beer and put the empty down on the
bar.
Lets go, she said.
Rico, the night manager of the Motel 69 a block away from Foster s, looked
up as soon as I walked through the door. He raised one eyebrow a fraction of
an inch and turned to grab the key to room 142my roombefore I even got
to the desk. You know this guy? Katies voice took on a suspicious note.
Hes a bud, I said, brushing off the question. Rico had become a friend
after I started bringing girls to his motel, but Katie didnt need to know that. I
wasnt about to bring her back to my place, even though it was only a bit
farther away; I didnt need a one-night stand knowing where I lived. Dont shit
where you eat. It had been my old mans advice, and Id held onto it my whole
life. Id never hooked up with any of the guys in my SEAL team, no matter how
desperate Id gotten on deployments, and Id never even hooked up with a Navy
chick while Id been in. Nowadays I never brought a girl back to my place,
always either her place or this motel.
Room for the night, man? Rico put the key on the counter, and I nodded to
him. You can leave your check on the bed stand when you head out, he said,
holding out his hand. I shook it. I gave Rico a bit of extra cash to keep my
room open for me; he knew that it would be taken at least once or twice a week,
and I didnt have to pay tourist rates, no matter the time of year. It worked out
well for both of us. If the owner of the place knew he was doing it, he might
lose his job, but in the meantime he made some extra scratch just by not
booking it till last.
I finally made my move on Katie when we got to the room. I pushed her up
against the locked door and tilted her face up to kiss her, starting out slow but
steady and then sliding my tongue past her lips, letting my hands drop down to
her waist. I pressed her body against mine and deepened the kiss, nibbling until
she moaned into my mouth, already beginning to squirm. I pulled back and
found the key in my pocket where Id left it. Lets go inside before we start
attracting attention, I told the girl.
I got the door open and pushed Katie through it ahead of me. I was already
hard as a rock, and any thought about my bitch of an ex-wife was a million
miles away. All I cared about was what this girl felt like, what she tasted like.
You come here often? I closed the door behind me and tossed the key onto
the dresser.
Shh, I said, kicking off my shoes and walking towards her. Shed gone
nervous on me again; I needed to keep her occupied, clearly. I kissed her again
and took the plunge, bringing my hands up to cup her tits through her blouse.
They felt just as heavy, just as full as Id thought they wouldKatie obviously
didnt stuff her braand by her moaning against my lips, I knew the girl
wasnt even thinking about being nervous anymore. I had her shirt off and my
hands on her bra clasp before she could even think of slowing me down, and I
felt her tugging at my tee shirt, trying to get it up and over my head. I lifted the
girl up and she hooked her legs around my waist. Her ass was firm against my
arms as I carried her over to the bed and sat down, keeping her on my lap.
I could feel the heat of her through her panties and my jeans; it felt like I had
hot liquid metal pooling along my groin, and my cock was like a hunk of iron
in my pants. I kissed her again and then dipped down to her neck, working my
way to her tits. Katie squirmed on top of me, rubbing against the ridge at the
front of my jeans, and it was like torture to have to hold back at all. I cupped
her tits and brought them up to my mouth, claiming one and then the other with
my lips and tongue, sucking like a starving baby and flicking my tongue
against each hard little nub, making the girl gasp and moan like a whore.
I teased her for a little while, and then I couldnt stand it anymore; I needed
some relief. I pulled back and looked Katie in her bright blue eyes. Think you
can do me a favor? I guided her hand down to my crotch and raised an
eyebrow.
As long as you promisepromise this wont be it, Katie said. I laughed.
Babe, I can go all night, trust me. Even if you get me off by accident Ill be
recharged in five. She climbed off of my lap and I stood up just enough to
undo my fly and push my jeans and jockeys down over my hips, freeing my
rock-hard cock. Katies eyes widened at the sight of it, and she looked up at me
for a second, like she had no idea what she was doing. Either shes impressed
or she really doesnt know what shes doing, I thought. I almost told her to get
up, that wed just get to the main event; but I figured I could stand the amateur
thing for at least a little while. Besides, her lips were thick enough that even if
shed never gone down on a guy before, there was no way it wouldnt feel
good to be inside her mouth.
Katie reached out and took the base of my dick in her hand, and then her lips
closed around the tip of my erection and any worries I might have had about
her being an amateur were gone. I groaned as she sucked and slurped, her
tongue working the tip while she took me deeper into her mouth. I let my hands
rest on her head, not pulling, and steadily pushed my hips up until I felt the
little spasm, heard her gag on metelling me she couldnt take any more. I
worked her mouth steadily, loving the feeling of her lips around me, her
tongue swirling all over me, her moans vibrating everywhere. If she was this
good with her mouth, I had to think she would be even better in the main event.
When I thought I was maybe five minutes away from coming, I pushed Katie
off of me as gently as I could. She looked up at me from the floor at my feet,
her lips still shiny from spit and pre-cum. Something wrong?
Just that I want you on top of me right now, I said, grinning at her. I
reached down and pulled her up, steadying her on her feet.
Hold onlet me get my skirt, she told me, as I reached up from
underneath to get at her panties.
Leave it on, I suggested. I buried my face against her tits and hooked my
fingers into the waistband of her panties to tug them down. I kicked my jeans
the rest of the way off and lay back on the bed, pulling the girl with me,
positioning her over my hips. Katie rubbed herself against me, and I groaned
again at how hot and wet she waspractically dripping on me, and even
without being able to see, I could tell she was completely smooth.
I held onto her hips and pushed down slightly, and Katie sank down onto
me, her soaking wet pussy wrapping around my cock inch by inch. I knew I
should have grabbed a condom out of my jeans, but I was already committed;
besides, I told myself as Katie started moving on top of me, rising and falling,
twisting her hips like an eager whore who loved her work, she had mentioned
being on the pill at the bar, and she and her friend had joked about an STD
scare the friend had had that prompted Katie to get tested ahead of schedule.
It took me a minute or two to get a good rhythm going, but once I did,
Katies body was squeezing me every time she pulled her hips up, and I started
pushing harder and faster, slamming deeper and deeper inside of her. I heard
her shout my name, and I reached down between us to start playing with her clit
as she rode me, rubbing it in little circles that made her gasp and shiver.
I felt her muscles clench around me as she came, moaning and shouting, and
kept going, hammering into her as she rode through her climax. I slowed down
just enough to let her recover, enjoying the sight of her tits bouncing in my
face, and kissed her again and again, nibbling at her lips, her neck, until I was
sure she was ready for more.
Just when I was right on the edgemaybe two minutes from comingI
heard my phone ring. And it wasnt just any ring, something I could ignore; it
was the ringtone Id set for Lisa, my ex-wife. There was no way I could just let
the call go. Fuck.
What? Did I hurt you? I shook my head at Katies stupid question and
lifted her off of me, letting her fall to the bed. I looked around for my jeans,
and saw the girl looking up at me, startled and worried.
Its my ex-wife, I told her.
Come on. Really? Katie was going from worried to annoyed.
Yes, really, I said. I found my pants and dug in the pocket for my phone.
Its probably about my daughter.
You have a daughter? I gave Katie a look and she apparently decided the
question wasnt that important. Of course she calls me now, I thought grimly as
I tapped accept on my phone.
Lisa, what is it? Every muscle in my body was tense, and my erection was
starting to deflate already. Did Jazmin want to talk to me or something?
I wanted to make sure you got the paperwork. I clenched my teeth. The
process server had come to my place that afternoon; there was no way Lisa
didnt know that Id gotten the paperwork. She was just trying to rub salt in the
wound.
I did, I said, taking a slow, steady breath. Is that all you wanted to know?
Yep, just wanted to make sure you knew you had to be in Family Court,
Lisa said cheerfully. I could almost hear the venom in her voice.
I know about it, I told her. Tell Jazmin her Daddy loves her. I ended the
call and turned to Katie. Sorry, babe. Im done for the night.
Katie pouted. But you said you could go all night.
I scowled at her. That was before my ex-wife interrupted us, I said. Come
on, Ill get you a cab.
I can get an Uber from here, Katie said, sitting up on the bed. Im here
another couple of daysmaybe we can hook up again, finish what we started?
I shrugged. Im going to be busy the next few days, I told her. But well
see. I took her number while she got dressed, but I didnt save it in my phone.
In fifteen minutes she was out of the room, and I was headed to the lobby to
give the key back to Rico. I walked back towards my place, thinking that at least
I wouldnt be hung over when I met with Carol.

Chapter TwoSky

By the time I saw the sign for the highway exit, letting me know Id finally
reached my destination, I was exhausted. The trip had been one of the longest
of my life. Denver was a long ways from my little hometown in Michigan. It
had taken me two days because Id gotten off to such a late start yesterday, but I
was finally where I was supposed to be.
It wasnt quite what I expected. For some reason Id thought there would be
snow. It was May, but as high up as the city was, it seemed like skiing would be
a year-round activity. And I was pretty sure I remembered seeing pictures of
the Rockies with snow in July. But apparently that was freak weather; from
where I was, the only snow I could see was atop a mountain range far in the
distance. It looked like the big parka my parents had insisted on giving me as a
going away present would be going into the closet for a few months. Once, that
is, I found my new closet.
What have you gotten yourself into, Sky?
Id asked myself that at least a dozen times since setting out; it was a
question that I still wasnt sure I had an answer for. Sure, it was a kind of
amazing job opportunityfull time, benefits, the whole enchilada. That had
been the reason Id given everyone, but the real draw was the little tingle of
adventure that came with it. I wanted to try something new. Id gotten to the
point that I was afraid that if I didnt get out of small-town Michigan soon, I
would be trapped there for the rest of my life. I was going to end up like my
mother: married to a man I didnt really love, with a kid who I mostly just liked
instead of loving with all my heart. Maybe, if I was lucky, Id have some
machine-cog, interchangeable-person job somewhereoh joy!
So here I was. The GPS droned on, telling me to get into the right lane, and I
did as I was told as if I really were that machine cog, interchangeable person I
was afraid of becoming. According to my phone I was only about ten minutes
away from the little apartment I had paid good, hard moneyfirst and last
months rent, security depositto lay claim to. It was going to be my new
home, and although Id only seen it in a virtual tour and a handful of pictures, I
was optimistic about my choice. I had to be optimistic or I was going to lose it.
The GPS told me to take a left. The apartment building was at the end of a
cul-de-sac not far from downtown. I pulled into a parking spot that said
Resident and looked around. It was dark out already, but the property was
well-lit and I was able to get a little bit of a feel for my new home. The place
was painted nicely on the outside and the landscaping was all up-to-date. It
wasnt the most modern building Id ever seen, and even so late at night I could
see signs of wear-and-tear on the brick and the decorative metalwork, but I told
myself that made it look homey. Considering the high rents of other places in
the area, I figured it would be fine. Unless there were chalk outlines on the
floor or suspicious interior doors that didnt open.
I found my apartment, and I could feel the fatigue in every bone of my body,
weighing me down. I decided that I would unload just enough to let me sleep
and shower in comfort. I could get into the rest of my stuff in the morning.
Right now, I was going to crash. I took out the key Id gotten by courier mail
last week and tried it in the lock.
Nothing.
Of course, I muttered to myself, closing my eyes and taking a moment to
breathe in. I tried it again. I tried with all my might to twist the little piece of
metal in the hole that supposedly was made for it, and I was probably lucky I
didnt break it off, but still nothingnothing at all. I couldnt even get it to
budge. I groaned and leaned against the door, pressing my aching forehead
against it, trying to think of what to do.
Walking around the place, I tried to find a door that said Manager or
something like that. I needed to talk to him, but there was no clue as to where to
find him. I knew that the owner lived on site, but I had no idea where, and all of
the doors looked alike.
What was his name anyway? Link? No: Linc. I thought about just calling it
out a few times, but I had no idea if he was even on the property, and on top of
that I didnt want my neighbors first impression of me to be that I was some
shrieking, shouting girl who woke people up in the middle of the night. Finally
I remembered that I still had Lincs number in my cell phone. I called it and let
it ring until it went to voicemail.
I left a message, and when I hadnt gotten a call back after ten minutes, I
called again. Still no answer. By now I was beyond irritated with the whole
thing. After the long drive, all I wanted to do was get into the apartment and
drag my bed in there. It was a roll-up futon that I could handle myself, but that
wasnt going to help if I couldnt even get in. I considered the possibility of
just rolling it out on the ground in front of my door. It would have made a
funny picture, but the humor of it was not good enough to justify the risk of
sleeping outside of my own apartment with a bunch of strangers around me.
Calling the landlords number again, I finally got an answer. It wasnt at all
what I expected.
What? The voice was sharp and rasping, more of a bark than a greeting,
and I felt the familiar tightening in my stomach that I got right before an
argument.
Is this Linc?
Yeah, why? Who is this?
This is Sky Davis. We talked a few weeks back when I rented the apartment
from you. 6A?
The line went silent, and for the span of a heartbeat I wondered if the call
hadnt been dropped. Fast on the heels of that thought was the suspicion that
Linc had hung up on me; but noI would have heard a beep if that had
happened. For almost a full minute, Linc was silent, and I realized it must be
because he was trying to remember. Why didnt he remember me? It wasnt
like there were that many apartments there. I counted maybe thirty at the most.
How many other people were moving in this month?
Oh yeah, youre that chick coming from the East Coast, right?
I bit back a comment at the chick part of the statement and refrained from
pointing out that Michigan wasnt exactly on the East Coast. Instead, I just
agreed with him for the sake of getting into my apartment sooner rather than
later.
What do you want?
Hearing the slight delay, the slur in his voice, I decided that the reason that
he couldnt remember me was likely that he was drunk. It didnt exactly make
me more confident in him, but the important thing was getting into my
apartmentnot lecturing my landlord about proper phone courtesy.
The key that you sent me doesnt fit the lock in the door. I would really just
like to get in. Ive been driving for twelve hours.
Are you sure you put it in the keyhole the right way?
I took my phone away from my ear and stared at my screen for a moment
or two, battling between anger and absolute incredulity at the question. I made
myself take a quick, deep breath; I couldnt be sure that he was actively trying
to insult my intelligence, and since he was clearly drunk I had to take the high
road.
Yes, Im sure.
Well, sometimes you gotta jiggle it a little bit. Just try it a few more times
and it will open for you. Im sure I sent you the right key.
He hung up before I could say anything else. Once again I stared at the lit-up
phone, which was blinking the call duration. How rude was he? The guy Id
talked to when signing the lease and sending the check had been a lot nicer.
Hes drunk and its the middle of the night, I reminded myself, trying to shake it
off.
I went back to the door and tried the key several more times. It wouldnt
budge, wouldnt turn so much as a fraction of a millimeter in the lock. I wanted
it to work so badly, but there was just no way that it was the right key, which
meant that I was going to have to call that asshole back. Oh, goody, I
murmured to myself sarcasticallysince I didnt exactly have anyone else to
talk to. Well, its either deal with him or sleep in the back of the moving
trailer.
So I called him again, even though I really didnt want to talk to him. At
least this time he remembered who I was.
You havent even moved in yet and youre already my most annoying
tenant, Sky.
Id had just about enough of his attitude, and my reply came out of me
before I could do what my mom would call the right thing and think of a
nicer way to say it.
This key doesnt work. I swear to you that if I could get in without having
to call and talk to you, I would do it. Trust me, I dont think anyone would want
to talk to you right now. So what are you going to do to help me, sir?
Dont call me sir . It makes me feel old.
Okay, Linc, Ill call you whatever you want me to call you. Just help me out
here. Im stuck in the hallway and I dont know what to do.
I think what you need to do is calm down. Go stay at a motel or something
for the night. Do you know how late it is?
My irritation blossomed into outright anger; I was tired, I ached all over,
and I was pissed. Go stay at a motel or something for the night? What was the
point of making sure I had a place to stay when I got here if it was going to
turn into this? I was starting to think that I should have waited until I got here to
look at apartments. Then I wouldnt be stuck with the landlord from hell. I
opened my mouth to raise some hell of my own, but the words that came out
started to turn into something closer to a helpless sob about halfway through.
Look, Im really sorry to bother you, Linc, but Im stuck out here with
barely enough money to eat tomorrow, let alone get a motel for the night. I just
need to go to sleep. Please, is there anything that you can do?
I heard a long sigh on the other end of the line, and I smiled to myself. I
hadnt meant to pull some kind of damsel in distress routine, but if it worked
and the sigh made me think he was reconciling himself to the need to do
something about the situationI wasnt about to knock it.
Okayokay, fine. Ill come over.
Id assumed that he was at some friends house, or maybe crashed out at a
family member s, and part of me thought that he probably shouldnt be driving
but I wanted get into my damn apartment too badly to really care. But when I
heard heavy footsteps in the hallway leading to my apartment just a couple of
minutes later, I realized it had to be him. It was hard not to get up and instantly
tear into the man. If he lived that close, why was he giving me any trouble
about coming to help? Be nice. You have to deal with this guy for the
foreseeable futureyou cant just go off on him. I took a deep breath. Id had to
deal with my share of hard men in the past.
The man who came around the corner wasnt what I expected. Not at all.
Instead of some hard-bitten old man with a bitter scowl and grizzled stubble
covering his face, a gorgeous man with piercingif bloodshotgreen eyes
stood in front of me. He looked like someone from an HBO series. Maybe not
the dashing young leadmore like one of those competent, experienced
supporting characters who sweep up the heroines friend and save her from
some bad guy. I knew Id been angry a minute ago, but just now I couldnt think
of why that was.
His hairimpossible to tell the color in the weird hallway lightwas cut
military-short, and his arms were massive, as was his neck. The tee shirt hed
obviously picked up off the floor before coming to me showed that he had a
broad, muscled chest. His hands were probably twice the size of mine, strong-
looking, with callused palms. Why was I looking at his hands? My body shook
a little with an idea that I pushed back quickly: What would those hands feel
like on me?
The movement of his full lips caught my attention, and I couldnt help but
notice how soft they looked for such a hard man. The imagery that came to
mind was enough to make my face burn, from the roots of my hair down to my
neck. What was wrong with me?
I must be tired. That was it. That had to be it. I was tired, and my emotions
were just going off the map. That was all it was.
Linc didnt seem nearly as impressed by me, which gave me a little insecure
twinge. He paused for a moment, his dark jade eyes running over my body and
then stopping on my face. The man looked about three sheets to the wind.
Are you the tenant who couldnt get in?
His words were even more slurred than theyd been on the phone, and I was
thankful that he hadnt driven anywhere in the state he was in. Apparently hed
been just around the corner, at most.
Are you deaf, girl?
His tone snapped me out whatever delusional, exhausted half-fantasy I was
trying to avoid having and restored all my irritability as I remembered that it
wasnt my fault hed had to come here. If hed sent me the right key in the first
place, I would have been able to get in on my own and he never would have
seen me until we met in the halls or I paid him. I was the one who should be
angry, not him. I especially didnt like being called girl. He was older than
me, but not that much older, and being sexy as hell didnt give him any right to
be rude.
No, Im not deaf. Yes, since were standing in front of the apartment that
you rented to me, yes, Im that tenant. I knew I should have been more careful
with a guy like that I should have kept playing the helpless damsel cardbut
I didnt care anymore.
Well, its good to see that at least youve got a sense of humor. You
sounded a little scared on the phone. Im surprised you didnt faint before I got
here.
I started to ask him what in the world he was talking aboutId been pissed,
not afraidbut I decided that getting inside was more important than
prolonging this pointless conversation with this rude jerk. I handed him the key
and waited.
Did you even try it like I told you to? Give it a little jiggle first?
My hands balled into fists and I forced myself to count to five before I gave
him any kind of reaction. What I wanted to say roared through my mind: Of
course I tried it! Of course I gave it a jiggleand what kind of place are you
running here that a normal person cant get a door open with a normal key
without having to practically molest the door first?
Nodding my head, I waited for him to get another key out. He must have
given me the wrong one, so he must have the right one on him. Instead of
searching for another key, he took the one Id just handed him and slid it into
the keyhole. I wanted to say something like I told you so, or ask him why he
didnt believe me, but I didnt get the chance.
He made some kind of movement with the key that I couldnt make out, and
like magic, the little sliver of metal turned and the lock moved with a clank. He
twisted the knob and the door opened maybe an inch. The look on his face
when he popped the door open made me want to slap him. But at the same time,
I could feel my stomach sink, and my face burned hotter than ever. I could have
been in the apartment an hour ago instead of standing outside like an idiot.
Like I said, a little jiggle is all you need. Sometimes you just have to know
what youre doing.
With that he turned away, and I couldnt even summon up the moral courage
to come up with anything to say to that. It was bad enough that Id been
humiliated, but Id had my share of those experiences. Everyone makes an ass
out of themselves sometimes. What made it worse was that my landlord was
hot. If only he were a little nicer, I could see myself with a man like Linc. He
was the kind of man Id gone for in the past, but Id learned my lesson. Men
like that werent worth the trouble, even if they were nice to look at.
Shaking my head at the sentiment, I walked into the apartment without even
going back out to get my futon mattress. I was ready to put this whole night
behind me, even if it meant sleeping on the floor.

Chapter ThreeLinc

The papers Id gotten from the process server the day before were bad
enough, but when Id had to get out of bed at something like two in the
morning to deal with the airheaded new tenant whod apparently never worked
a key before in her life, Id been sure that my trip to see my attorney would just
be the frosting on the shit cake that my life had turned into. I was in over my
head and I knew it, so Carolmy divorce attorneywas going to have to
make sense of this for me. I wasnt stupid. I knew that it was bad news. I just
didnt know how worried I should be about it.
If I didnt know better, I would think that Carol purposely made the waiting
area in her office too small. Between me and her other dozen or so clients, she
had to have been able to afford a decent-sized office; but sitting there, waiting
for her to get done with the poor schmuck who had the appointment before me,
I felt uncomfortableand not just because of the headache that had never
really gone away. Being just shy of 64, and over 200 pounds, I felt like an
elephant in the room, and I had to fold myself up to fit into the tiny chair. My
knees were almost up to my damn chest. I wanted to stand up, but if I did, I
knew I was going to pace. That would only work me up even more
Would you like something to drink, Mr. Hayes?
The sweet voice of Carols receptionist cut through the red-tinged haze of
my thoughts, and I shook off my irritation for a second to tell her I was fine in
the least aggressive voice I could find. She was watching me with that wary
look that women get when they suspect Im about to explode, and I tried my
best to calm down. Id seen her a couple of times before, but she was still fairly
new; I could remember when Carol had worked strictly on her ownshe
hadnt been making enough to justify a secretary. The girlI was pretty sure
her name was Lucy, or Stacy, or something like thatwas cute, but I couldnt
think about that right now. All I could think about was Lisa and what she was up
to this time. When court papers came in from that woman, it was never a good
thing. It looked like she was trying to get full custody and take away my
visitation rights. Over my goddamned dead body, I thought, and then took a
breath.
Shell be right out to see you, the girl said. Its just that the meeting she
had before you ended up being more complicated than she thought.
Its fine. Im just anxious to talk to her, I told her.
The receptionist nodded, but she still had the slightly wide-eyed look on her
facethe one Id seen more than once, breaking up the occasional fight at base
housing, when one of my fellow sailors thought having muscles meant they
didnt need to use their brains, got drunk, and took out some issue they had
with the chain of command on their girlfriend or wife. I didnt think I looked
that upset, but maybe I did. Since I was so big and tall, people seemed to watch
me with special caution, and once I lost my temper, they tended to get out of the
way quick. I tried to give the girl behind the desk a quick, reassuring smile, but
I wasnt sure if that made it better or worse.
I waited with my eyes partially closed and my head down. My nerves were
getting to me, and I wondered how much this was going to cost and how long it
was going to take. Ever since Lisa had found the rich asshole from California,
and got him dancing to her tune, it seemed like she would never run out of
excuses to take me to family courtsome issue about the letter of the custody
agreement, like that I dropped our daughter off one minute late one time, or
that I hadnt provided some piece of paperwork that I hadnt even gotten the
chance to receive yet.
Now she wanted to go back to California with her husband, and she wanted
to take our daughter with her. But we had shared custody now, so she couldnt,
unless she could get a court to change the arrangement. I bet that burned her
ass, but I didnt care. I wanted to be a part of Jazmins life, and just because
Lisa had found another man to pay her way, that didnt mean she could take her
from me.
I tried to push the thoughts from my mind. I was working myself up without
even really trying. What was it about that woman that pissed me off so much? It
couldnt just be that she kept taking me to court over nothingthat was like a
few mosquitoes. But there was something about the way she seemed to be
willing to hurt Jazmin just to get to me that made it impossible not to see red
every time I thought about her. And lets be real: its because she tricked you.
She pulled the wool over your eyes, and you had that beautiful baby girl with
that fucking snake, and youre worried shes going to turn your princess into
every bit as much of a snake as she is.
I heard the door to Carols office open, and sat up in the chair, rising to my
feet and standing at attention without even really thinking about it. The guy who
had the appointment before me looked like hed been crying; there was a time
in my life when I would have scoffed at the sight, but now I could understand.
There had been at least one time in the past several years when Id walked out
barely able to keep my shit together until I could get to my carbut it seemed
like my ability to actually feel sad about what had happened to my marriage or
betrayed by Lisa had gone away. Now all I felt was angry.
Linc, come on in. I would like to say that Im happy to see you, but with
that paper in your hand I can tell that this is not going to be a social call, Carol
said. Sorry that last meeting ran over.
No big deal, I told her, walking past the receptionist. Guy looks like hes
getting reamed.
He would be if he didnt have me, Carol said with a confident little smile.
You of all people should know how hard that first shock is, finding out your
former partner is determined to pull the Hail Caesar special on you.
I followed her down the short hallway leading back to her office. Carol was
maybe ten years older than me, with blonde hair that shed told me at our first
meeting had never looked better than when she started in divorce law. She
made good money at itenough to go to the salon every couple of weeks to
get it colored, and enough to buy the designer suits she wore to the courtroom.
Half of my success in this field is because I never set foot in front of a judge
without looking like a million bucks, shed told me. The other half was that
she was willing to contest anything for whoever she worked for, even if it was
perfectly reasonablenot that Lisa had ever met reason.
Like I told you yesterday, shes taking me to court again, I said. I didnt
have to tell Carol who she was.
She shook her head and shut the door behind me, gesturing to the chair I
always sat in when I came to see her; it was at least bigger than the ones in the
waiting room. Her office itself was actually bigger than the waiting room. It
had a couch, even, along with a big bookcase full of books about law and
Colorado Family Court procedures and mediation and whatever else. The desk
was about the size of the bank of chairs out in the waiting area, all on its own.
Do you want some coffee?
I told her that I didnt. No amount of coffee was going to help anything. I
thought about heading straight back to the bar as soon as I got done talking to
her about the new twist in my shitty life as Lisas ex-husband.
No, I just want you to tell me what I should do next, I said.
Let me see what shes stirred up this time. I handed her the paperwork and
she sat down behind her desk, looking around the top of it for a moment.
Have you gone through it?
I shrugged. Its in that bullshit language lawyers all like to use, I said,
giving her a little smile as part of me started to relax. But it looks like she
wants to take Jazmin with her to California and I wont get to see her
anymore.
Did she get married? I raised an eyebrow at that. Why was that the first
question out of her mouth? I had to admit it had bothered me that Lisa had
gotten married a few months before; but that didnt have anything to do with
what was going on, other than to give her even more access to the rich
bastards money, the better to come at me with.
Yeah, why? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Carol made a dismissive gesture and found her glasses on the desk, put
them on and opened the packet of court paperwork. She started to read the
summons Id received; I knew that I should give her a minute to read it, but it
was hard. I was too worried about what was going to happen next. I could be
cool and calm in the worst of situations, but I wasnt able to cope with anything
that threatened my relationship with Jazmin.
Finally, she looked up from the paperwork. I dont know. It does establish
her household as the stable one. Thats not good for you, obviously. Shes
going to bring up your hours at the apartments, and your career with the
SEALsshe says that you still do covert special ops missions, if you can
believe thatbut the fact that youre a single man is always going to be her
biggest missile. She tried that last time we went to court. Now that shes
married, youll look even worse in comparison. And the law will always side
with the parent thats the best chance for the child.
Shit. I exhaled hard. Carol had never been the kind of lawyer to dress things
up with candy-coating to make the bad news go down more easily; that was
part of why I respected her. If there was bad news, she was going to be upfront
about it. I guess I should have figured something like that, I said. Whats the
situation with that summons?
She went back to the paperwork and I tried to sit in silence without working
myself into a rage, waiting for her to finish. After maybe a minute or two, she
looked up at me once again. Wow, I guess thats about the gist of it. The
claims are mostly the same as before: youre single, you work strange hours,
and you dont have any family around to help with childcare. She also worries
that Jazmin will get into your tools and other dangerous work-related items
and get hurt.
Carol was quoting the papers, and for a second we both just rolled our eyes
together at the craziness of it all. Lisa was determined to do whatever she
could, say whatever she had to, to keep me from having access to Jazmin; it
would almost be funny if it wasnt my damn life.
So what do I do, Carol? I cant let her take Jazmin to California. All of my
businesses are hereif Lisa takes her all the way to the coast Ill never get to
see her, I said. Carol pressed her lips together and set the paperwork down,
and I could see the wheels turning behind her bright eyes.
Well, there are a few ways that we can go about this, but you know what my
first idea is going to be, she said, raising one well-groomed eyebrow.
I groaned, bringing my hands up to my forehead; just the start of this
conversation was enough to give me a headache. Some of the tactics that my
lawyer suggested were further out of the realm of possibility than others. Id
already heard her theories, so I did know what she was going to suggest. The
look on my face must have given me away, because Carol hesitated for a
second.
I know you dont want to hear it, Linc, she said. But since Lisa got
married, you look even less stable by comparison. It all comes down to the
opinion of the judge, and that could go a hundred different ways. Hes going to
see you and then them. They are a family unit; youre not. If you could find a
way to change that, maybe things would look better to him. Im not going to
tell you that itll make it a sure thing, but it could make a huge difference when
it comes down to where Jazmin is going to go.
Im not even dating anyone, Carol, I said. I dont see how Im supposed to
just get married like that. The court date is in two weeks. Theres no way I
could get it all done even if I wanted to.
It was just a suggestion. I know what this means to you, and Im not about
to leave an ace out of the hand if I dont have to. It could work, but if youre
not even seeing anyone, obviously we can sideline that idea.
I nodded along with her words, because I knew she was working for me
that she was probably even rightbut there was no way I was going to do that,
even if I could. Just the thought of Lisa was enough to give me a headache, and
thinking about everevergetting married again made it worse. My whole
marriage with Lisa had been one long headache, and the divorce was no better.
I know you mean well, Carol, but I dont see that as an option, I said.
What are my other options? She tapped her fingernails against the top of her
desk for a moment.
Did you get Jazmins room finished?
Months ago.
Well, thats one thing in our favor. Hmm... Shes talking about money
again. How is everything going with that?
Shes paid up, has always been paid up, I said, remembering the
painstaking way Id made sure the transfers for the child support came out of
my account automatically and with at least one day of grace. But she keeps
asking for cash on the side. If Jazmin needs anything she knows Ill buy it for
her, but I told her Im not going to give her cash without knowing what its
going to.
Good! Dont. She would deny it if you did, so it wouldnt be counted.
Carol let out a gusty sigh. I really hate this for you, Linc. How are you
holding up?
Shed set the paperwork down and was really looking at me now. Id been
through plenty with this woman, and she was always there for me. Carol was
one of the only women that I really trusted; as long as I paid her, she was as
loyal as they got. There was even a part of me that thought she might like me as
a person, not just as a paycheck, but I didnt take that hope too seriously. She
was a lawyer, after all.
I just got this yesterday. I feel like Im going a little crazy, I said. I mean,
how many times can she take me to court?
How old is Jazmin now? Carol tried to look down at the paperwork for
the answer.
Eight, I replied.
Well, youve got a while to go, Carol told me. I wouldnt worry about it
too much. I knowmight as well tell you not to breathebut Im going to do
everything that I can to get this worked out. I dont want you to lose her either,
and were going to figure out a way to make sure that it doesnt happen.
I groaned, and then took another breath. Feeling helpless about the whole
situation was the worst part, and I knew that Lisa wanted me to feel helpless.
There was nothing I could do to change things, reallyjust keep doing the
next right thing. God damn it, Lisa. Id divorced her for a reason. Sometimes I
thought shed married that Californian asshole just to have the money to make
my life miserable. I wouldnt put it past her.
Thats what I needed to hear, I told her. God, sometimes I think shes
determined to make my life as absolutely hellish as possible. Carol made a
sympathetic noise and I told myself to stop feeling sorry for myself; after all,
she was handling it. It was in her hands now.
Well, just keep your cool, big man, and dont get too tetchy with them
when we do the deposition, Carol said. Shes going to try to get you going,
and you cant afford to let her. I know how Lisa is, and I know her lawyer. The
deposition will be a fishing trip, and as long as you dont give them anything,
they wont have anything.
In spite of the confident words, I thought I heard something that sounded an
awful lot like nervousness in my lawyer s voice. Even if it was, I had to rely on
her. I couldnt just jump ship nowand Carol didnt deserve that, not after
what shed been able to do for me already.
Okay, she said, when I didnt add anything else. Ill look this over, well
come up with a strategy, and well see this through. Remember what I said,
Linc: lets keep it together till court.
I nodded and stood. I appreciate you seeing me so early, I told her.
I appreciate you waking up early enough to get here and sitting through
that last run-over, Carol told me with a little smile. Keep that kind of patience
and attention to detail going and well make this happen.
I nodded again and left her office, knowing that there wasnt anything else I
could do about the situation for the moment; I would just have to rely on my
lawyer to pull something together for me. The receptionist looked less like a
frightened animal as I walked past her and out through the front door, but I
thought I should probably do something the next time I had to come inbring
her a coffee or somethingsince Lisa was clearly going to make it hell for me
for years to come, and I didnt like the idea that someone I didnt have anything
against was terrified of me.
If Lisa was terrified of me she might stop pulling this shit, I thought as I
walked out to my car. But then, if I were the kind of guy to deliberately make
Lisa terrified of me, shed actually be in the right to make my life hell for it.
And making Lisa terrified of me would only make Jazmin terrified, tooand
that was the last thing I wanted. Just keep your cool, do what your lawyer tells
you, and get yourself out of this. I decided against going to the bar, at least for a
few hours; I was not about to become the guy who gets drunk every time
something bad happens.

Chapter FourSky

When I got up the morning after my eventful first meeting with my


landlord, the first thing I wanted to do was take a nice, long bath and drink
some coffee. I was scheduled to start at the new job in a few days, and before
that I would need to meet with Cassie, see about getting groceries, and figure
out how to move all my stuff into the little apartment.
I rolled off of the futon mattress that Id finally decided to bring into the unit
after my first inspection. I looked around the room. My bleak thoughts about
the apartment buildingfueled mostly by the malfunctioning door lockwere
tempered by about seven hours of sleep and some daylight. Obviously, the
place was old, but without the anger Id felt last night, it looked more the way it
had in the pictures Id seen of it: homey, almost cozy. The hardwood floors
were worn but clean, and I definitely liked old hardwood better than I liked the
idea of old carpet that had had who-knew-what ground into it over the course
of years.
The bathroom had a long, deep tub, with a showerhead and a slightly
yellowed-looking curtain. A few of the blue-and-white tiles on the floor were
cracked, but that just made it look more authentic somehow. I took care of my
bladder and went into the kitchen, where there was a beat-up old porcelain sink,
a big water heater that looked about as old as my parents, a microwave, and a
fridge with a cracked handle that hummed when I pressed my ear to it. There
was a little table, toolaminated particle board, I thought it was, with three
rickety-looking chairs pushed in around it. Good enough.
I went out to my car and crawled into the back seat to find my kitchen stuff.
Id taken precious little, but it was still more than I could fit into the tiny trunk,
and I hadnt wanted my plates and cups smashed by the larger items Id put in
the moving trailer. Cassie, my friend whod helped me get the job in Denver,
had promised to take me shopping when I got my first paycheck, to get the
stuff I needed to make my apartment a home.
I dug through boxes until I found the one with my favorite coffee mug in it;
it had seen me through about a dozen finals week cram-study sessions. It was a
Harry Potter themed mug, green and gray and black, with the Slytherin house
crest and name on it; it was silly, but I loved itand it was the biggest mug Id
ever owned in my life. I went back to the driver s seat of the car and found the
grocery bag on the floorboard in front of the passenger seat. I grabbed it and
climbed out of the car, locking it behind me.
It wouldnt be a great cup of coffee, I thought as I walked back towards my
apartment, but it would be something: Starbucks Via instant coffee, some
powdered milk, water, and a little sugar, and it would at least get me awake
enough to deal with the rest of the day. Id brought in my backpack with my
toiletries in it the night before, along with the futon mattress, so I figured that I
would make myself a big cup of coffee and get into the tub and just soak the
last little bit of soreness out of my muscles before I did anything else.
No more than fifteen minutes later, I sank into the deliciously hot water in
my new bathtub, my mug full of coffee within reach, and closed my eyes. I was
tempted to fall asleep again, but I knew if I did that Id just spend a good hour
or two in the tub doing nothing until the water got cold enough to wake me up.
Or youll drown, like Mom always says youre going to when you fall asleep in
the bath at home. But my parents house wasnt home any moreno more
than the dorms at West State were.
I gave myself about thirty minutes to enjoy the heat of the water, drink about
half of my cup of coffee, and think about what I needed to get from the grocery
store to stock the kitchen at least to a bare minimum. I had thought living in
dorms for four years would be enough to prepare me for being on my own
but I hadnt really thought about how different it would be to start more or less
completely from scratch. I had to buy furniture, even; I had the frame of the
futon in the trailer attached to my car, but if I ever wanted to have someone
over, I would need a couch, a coffee table, something to put my TV on.
Then, when every excuse I had for soaking was exhausted, I got to work
scrubbing myself down. Id had a terrifying night of semi-sleep in a rest area
the night before Id finally gotten to Denver, curled up in the front seat of my
car with my old college throw wrapped around me and the windows cracked
I hopedenough to keep me from running out of oxygen, but not enough for
someone to get into my car to grab me. I felt filthy from head to toe. So I
shampooed twice, and then shaved my legs while I let the conditioner sink in. I
emptied the tub and filled it again and used my favorite loofa to get every inch
of my skin below my neck as clean as it could possibly be.
Finally, I climbed out of the bathtuband very nearly killed myself in the
process. I slid on the floor and barely caught myself on the lip of the tub before
I would have cracked my head against it. As it was I was pretty sure the toilet
next to the bath had collided with my ass hard enough to leave a bruise. What
the hell? I looked at the cold tile floor and saw a puddle of water, not huge but
big enough to have made the floor where Id stepped slippery. Had I splashed?
I looked around on the floor more intently and saw water oozing out from
under the tub. Oh, great, I said with a sigh. I closed my eyes. This was just
what I needed. Of course: another thing that would force me to call my
gorgeous-but-awful landlord. And of course hell accuse me of just splashing
too much or something like that, I said to myself bitterly. I decided that I was
not going to give him the chance to make that case. I would clean up the mess
that the tub had already madesacrificing one of my few clean towels to do it
and then I would run the bath again, without me in it, and I would wait for the
leak to appear. He couldnt argue with that, could he?
I waited for the tub to empty and finished off my coffee, drying myself off
enough to throw on a pair of lounge pants and a tee shirt. I took my time
combing my long, black hair and went back into the bathroom to make sure the
tub was absolutely empty. I mopped up the water Id slid in and then started up
the tap for the bath again, plugging the drain right away. I waited for it to fill
up, putting lotion everywhere Id scrubbed, and then when the tub was full, I sat
on the toiletfor lack of a better placeand waited.
Sure enough, water began to appear from underneath the tub within a few
minutes, and I let it drip, fuming to myself. Of course hes still going to try
and find a way to make it your fault, I muttered to myself, emptying the tub as
soon as there was a reasonably-sized puddle on the floor next to it and going
into my bedroom to get my phone. I tapped my toes on the floor of my empty
living room while the phone rang; but as irritable as I wasand as bad an
opinion as I had of my new landlordI was not expecting the first words I
heard from him when he finally answered.
What the hell do you want now?
I had no idea what had gotten into him, but after everything he had put me
through so far, I was not in any mood to even pretend to be some helpless
damsel. His impolite opening was like gasoline on the banked embers of my
annoyed feelings, and I just exploded.
What the hell do I want? I started pacing, and words tumbled out of me
before I could even fully think them. I want to have a landlord who doesnt
fucking pretend like hes doing me a goddamned favor by renting me a piece
of shit apartment that I cant even get into, or like its such a damned problem
to do his job and come take care of shit on his own property! I want to be
treated like a freaking human being who just paid you over a thousand dollars
for a place to live and has some damned rights to an apartment that isnt some
kind of death trap!
I went on and onI dont even know how long I kept goinguntil Id
actually forgotten the reason Id called him in the first place. When there was
nothing but silence on the other end of the line, I hung up; I wasnt in any mood
to deal with him. I needed a minute to calm myself down, and I thought, as I
took a few deep breaths, that maybe he did, too.
Just about the time I finally felt calm enough to try calling him back, my
phone buzzed in my hand. Lincs number flashed on the screen. Hello? He
must have heard the tension in my voiceand maybe my cursing spree from a
few minutes before had sunk in for him. The voice that came across the line
was a lot more respectful.
This is Sky, right?
Yeah, its me, I said. It occurred to me for the first time that he might not
have known who I was when I called; he probably hadnt entered my number in
his phone yet. Still: what kind of way was that to answer the phone?
Look, Im sorry, okay? I thought you were someone else when you
called, Linc said. At least that explained his rudenessa little bit. Whoever it
was he thought I was apparently was just as terrible as he was. What can I do
for you? Its not your key again, is it? You know, if I gotta come let you in
every day, I feel like I should charge a fee.
I stared at my phone for a long moment, not sure if he was joking or not,
but not appreciating the comment either way. I made myself take a breath and
brought the phone back to my ear.
You are charging me a fee. Its called rent. I was going to talk to you about
something, but Ill just wait, I said. Do you have office hours or something?
No, if you need something you just call. Oh great. Such professionalism. I
thought for a moment.
Is there a better time to call you? I put long odds against the answer to that
question being helpfulbut if there was any time of the day when he was in a
better mood, that would be a major improvement on matters.
At the moment, no. If you need something, spit it out, because there isnt
going to be a better time than now.
I huffed; I couldnt help it, even though I knew a guy that big would
probably just think it was cutethe little young thing getting upset like she
thought she could do something about it. Theres a leak in the bathroom that I
was hoping you could take a look at. Its coming from underneath the tub, I
think, I said, keeping my voice carefully level.
There was a long silence on the other end of the line and I waited for him to
tell me that it was probably my fault, to accuse me of inventing problems to try
and get him to lower my rentor whatever it was that he was going to say to
discredit me and make me feel small. I heard him clear his throat on the other
end of the line and steeled myself to get angry again, and to push down my
anger for the sake of at least getting something done.
Okay, Sky. Ill be down there in the morning to look at it, he said. At first,
I was glad: at least he was taking me seriously. But then the second half of the
sentence worked its way through my mind: tomorrow morning?
Okay, I said. What am I supposed to do until then?
I dont know, Sky. It cant be that bad. I heard that tone in his voicethe
same one that had come into play when hed accused me of not knowing how
to use a key. My free hand tightened into a fist, and any kind of goodwill I felt
towards him for being willing to entertain the thought that there was an actual
problem evaporated.
I just wanted you to know. I dont want anything getting damaged because I
didnt call soon enough. Its in the lease that Im liable if I dont contact you
immediately. There was another pause on the other end of the line, and I
wondered why Linc seemed to get taken by surprise so often. He seemed like a
fairly smart man, if not a very polite one.
Ill be down there tonight if you think its going to be that bad of an issue,
he said finally. I dont want any more damage either.
I appreciate it, I said, letting myself relax a little bit. I understand that I
cant just call you for every little thingbut I want to make sure that things are
the way they should be to begin with. Thats fair, right?
Youre right, its fair, Linc said. Ill be there tonight.

Chapter FiveLinc

Id almost forgotten about the situation with Skys apartment by the time I
finally made it home. I got into my apartment and took off my shirt and jeans,
thinking about what a shit-fest the day had been. Id missed a call from Jazmin
at least, that was what Lisa had said in the voicemail shed left me, which Id
gotten maybe five minutes before Sky had called me. I spent the rest of the day
dealing with a bunch of paperwork bullshit: tax stuff for the apartments, a
repair that one of my other tenants had been bugging me about for a week, shit
like that. I threw myself down on the couch, considering the possibility of
drinking half a handle of Jack to get to sleep. Then I remembered: Sky. I
groaned and pulled my jeans back on, hoping that she might have forgotten
about it.
Not even bothering to put on a shirt, I walked the short distance over to her
apartment and knocked. It was warm in the hallway, but every hair on me was
standing on end. She opened the door and smiled up at me.
I remembered her vaguely from the night before, but I felt like something
must have been wrong with my eyes; was she that beautiful then? Yeah, Id had
a bit too much to drink, but I felt like Id failed somehow in not remembering
that she was so damn pretty.
Her lips were red enough to make me wonder if she was wearing lipstick,
there in the apartment by herself, and my mind went instantly to how they
would feel wrapped around my cock. Not a good thought to have about one of
your tenantsstop that shit in its tracks. It was only too easy to picture her
looking up at me, those big eyes full of innocent lust.
She had long legs, which was actually surprising, since altogether she came
up to about the middle of my chest. My eyes, almost with a mind of their own,
glanced down to her rack for a moment before they came to rest on her face
again. I tried to distract myself from her soft lips, sure that I would say
something inappropriate if I didnt. I had to remember that she was way too
young to even think about that way. Besides, Sky was a tenant. Get yourself
under control, sailor.
Thanks for coming over, Linc, Sky said. I had almost started to think
youd forgotten about it.
I told her that it wasnt a problem and moved into the apartment as she stood
back to let me in. It looked like shed spent the day a lot more practically than I
had: all of her stuff seemed to be unpacked, not that there was much. Not even a
couch or a coffee table for the living room. Her taste was all over the place,
which didnt help me to guess her age, even if I already knewno matter what
it wasthat she was too young for me. There were a couple of vases in the
kitchen with no flowers in them, a few paintings up on the walls. I was sure she
had to have gotten the rugs secondhand, but at least they werent ugly.
I knew where the bathroom was and I started going that way without waiting
for her to show me. Id done enough work in all of these apartments that I
knew them like the back of my hand. There was no sign of whatever leak shed
been talking about that morning. But then, I thought, she had to be at least a
little responsible, and anyway she probably wouldnt have wanted to step
through a puddle every time she had to use the bathroom. Stay focused, Linc. I
cleared my throat and looked around the base of the tub, along the caulked
edges where it attached to the wall.
Did you take a bath or a shower? I looked up to see her framed in the
doorway, and once again got a little jolt of heat straight to my groin: it was
cooler in the apartment than it had been in the hall, apparently just cool enough
for her nipples to harden. I could see them, perkyand totally without a bra
straining at the fabric of the tight little tank top she wore.
A bath. Why does it matter?
It helped me to envision her naked in the bathtub, was why. I could see her
sprawled out in the big, long tub, maybe splashing a little bitnot enough to
cause the kind of puddle that would make her think there was a leak, but
enough to get those gorgeous tits soaking wet. For just a second I thought I
could almost smell whatever shampoo she used, and some kind of warm,
vanilla-scented soap for her skin; but I told myself I was just imagining things.
I made myself snap out of it. If you took a bath your overflow pipe is
probably leaking, I said. It hasnt been used in a while, so maybe its rusted
out.
She nodded her head, but I could tell she wasnt that worried about the cause
of the problem, just the question of when it was going to be fixed. I think Im
going to have to turn your water off until I can get a new pipe in the morning,
I said. You were right to call me. We had a rough winter, so some of the other
pipes may have cracked when it froze. But I wont be able to tell how bad it is
until I get into it tomorrow.
How am I going to cook or take a shower in the morning?
I looked around the bathroom. How much of a leak was it? And where was
it?
I could run the bath and show you, if you want, she suggested. I shook my
head; that would just mean another mess to clean up. I thought about the
probleminsofar as it was one. It wasnt like she was going to get dirty before
morning. Not unless she invited me to spend the night.
If you need anything, just come by and knock. You know where I live,
right?
Actually, I dont, she admitted, blushing slightlyand god, why did she
have to look so gorgeous when she blushed? I barely remembered the night
before, in a flash of need: the blush on her face when Id opened the door, the
anger in her bright eyes. For just a seconddrunk as I wasId managed to
recognize how delicious this girl was. Even if Id managed to forget it
completely between then and when I came back to the apartment.
There was nothing more I could do, and I said as much. Ill be back in the
morning if you dont need something first. I make the first pot of coffee at
seven if youre interested.
Thanks, Linc. I appreciate your help.
That was something I hadnt expected; to be honest, Id expected her to be a
bitch to me, especially after the way shed chewed me out over the phone when
Id thought she was Lisa and yelled at her. I muttered something to the effect of
it being my job and got the hell out of there as fast as I could. As I walked away
I realized that I was starting to see her as a woman rather than just an annoying
tenant. That was a problem. But by the time I was back in my apartment once
again, I was too tired to do anything but take off my jeans and socks and get
into bed.

I woke up to the smell of coffee and the sound of the alarm clock. Fuck, I
muttered to myself, trying to justify staying in bed for a few minutesmaybe a
few hourslonger. I was still debating it with myself when the knock cut
through my thoughts. If my bedroom wasnt right on the hall leading away
from the front door, there was no way that I would have heard it. I guessed who
it was right away: the soft, unsure knock told me everything I needed to know.
It was Sky, the helpless little thing with a mouth that my C.O. would have
envied. I was hard from just waking up, and the last thing I wanted was for her
to see me in this state. But she had no water, so I had to answer. She probably
needed something. I pulled myself out of bed, put my jeans back on, and
padded to the door.
Good morning, she said, looking far too chipper and far too deliciously
rumpled and put together all at the same time.
Morning, Sky. What can I do for you? I tried to smile and not look angry,
but it was really hard to do when I was still so tired. It had been a long week,
and knowing that I had to replace that pipe today wasnt sitting well with me
either.
You mentioned coffee? Sky had a hopeful look in her eyes, and a smile
that was hard not to feel. Her whole face lit up, and I finally saw her. Every
time Id seen her before Id been tired, distractedand, lets face it, half the
time, drunk. Now I really saw her with all my faculties, and she was so
beautiful standing there without an ounce of makeup on. Lisa would hate her
guts. The thought brought a smile to my face; my ex-wife definitely believed in
what she called gilding the lily, and had more than once spent so much
money on makeup from some place called Sephora that wed had trouble
making rent. Then too, most of the women I hooked up with at the bars were of
a similar mindRico had joked once about me getting some poor womans
entire face-print on one of his pillowcases.
Its in the kitchen, I told her. I could feel the strain in my jeans from just
the sight of herI needed to get out of the way, get her out of my line of sight,
until I could get myself under control. The bathroom is right down the hall if
you need to take a shower. Im going to go get dressed.
Okay, thanks.
On my way to the bedroom, I looked back to see her moving into the
kitchen and opening the cabinet to find a cup. She pulled out one of the pink
plastic cups that I kept around for Jazmin. I saw something flicker across her
face, but she didnt say anything or look my way. After a minute I felt like I was
spying and went back to my bedroom. It was wrong of me, but I knew that I
wasnt going to be able to focus or act like a human being until I took care of
the other head, the one that was currently taking up all the blood in my system.
The only good thing was that it didnt take any time at all with Sky in my
kitchen. It was only too easy to think of a little scenario to get myself going.
I pictured her on her knees, her soft, full lips curved in an innocent,
endearing smile, those bright eyes of hers looking up into my face. I saw the
stunned shock flicker through them when she caught sight of the size of me,
and imagined coaxing her to start slow, telling her that there was nothing to
worry about. I closed my eyes as I worked myself with my hand as quickly and
quietly as I could, imagining her slowly working up confidence, then eagerly
going at menot like one of the slutty chicks I picked up, but with a healthy
kind of need to get me off. I shot off in my hand like a horny teenager; but at
least as a grown man I had enough sense to keep tissues around.
When I finally did get dressed, I half expectedand half-hopedshed be
gone. That girl was bad news from the jump. I shouldnt be thinking about Sky
in that way, anyway, I reminded myself yet again. I had way too much on my
plate to be worried about some woman whod moved into my building and
turned out to be almost too much of a pain in the ass to justify her prettiness.
The shower was running when I got out of the bedroom. I stopped by the
door. I could smell her shampoo or body wash coming from underneath it. I
dont know what scent it was, but it smelled amazing and even though I had just
gotten myself off, I could feel my cock coming to life again. I moved away
from the door before it could get worse and sighed to myself. This was
ridiculous. I had to get a grip.
I poured a cup of coffee and made some eggs and toast for breakfast; I
didnt know what Sky liked to eat, but I figured at least I could make myself
seem like some kind of host. The food was just about done by the time Sky got
out of the bathroom, followed by a blast of steam. Her skin was pink from the
hot water, and I had to avert my eyes when I saw her standing there in her
towel.
I made some breakfast if youre hungry, I said, making sure to keep my
eyes on the stove. I took a quick breath and managed to make eye contact
without letting my gaze wander to any of the more interesting places, barely
covered up by the towel wrapped around her.
At first it looked like she was going to turn me down, but then she nodded
and thanked me. I just need to go get dressed real quick. Ill be back in a
minute, she said, flashing that bright, cheerful smile again.
Okay, I managed to make myself say. My mouth had gone dry and I could
barely swallow, let alone say more than a few syllables. The images I had made
of her in my mind were nowhere near right. Her skin was like porcelain, and it
didnt have a blemish on it. Her shoulders were narrow, and her tits were even
bigger than I had first thought: heavy Cs, maybe even Ds. My towel had a hard
time reaching all the way around them, and there was a small gap that showed
me a little cleavage. Her small, manicured hands were holding the towel in
place so that it didnt slip off, and for a second there the only thing that I could
possibly think about was what those hands would look like wrapped around my
cock, stroking me. Stop it. Shes practically a child.
She was walking away, and I was left standing there holding a pan of eggs.
Her round backside moved underneath the towel with each step she took, and
the towel barelybarelycovered the bottom curves of her ass cheeks. I was
mesmerized and only stopped looking when she was out of sight.
When she came back, I was still in the same position, eggs still in my hand.
Sky gave me a funny look, and I just looked back at her. Realizing I was
standing there like an idiot, I offered her a seat and slid her coffee cup to the
bar stool. Sky was wearing her hair down in wet, dark ringlets, and my idiot
brain pictured what it would be like to get my hands completely tangled up in
it, to pull on it just a little bit, drawing her faceand that pouty mouthcloser
to my dick.
I got down to business filling the plates, pushing out of my head all the
thoughts that werent supposed to be there. I needed to focus on what Carol had
told me about, and thinking about a hot young thing that I had no business
lusting after was not going to help me keep my temper in check.
So, the hardware store opens around nine, I said. Ill go over and get the
pipe first thing. Was there anything else that you saw that might need fixing?
Sky was surprised by the question. She just kind of shrugged her shoulders.
I dont know much about fixing and all of that. I just saw the water and figured
that it wasnt supposed to be there. When I lived in the dorm there was a
maintenance guy who took care of all that stuff. I never had to worry about that
sort of thing, so I dont know if theres anything else.
That answered the lingering question about her age. In short: too young.
How long ago did you leave school?
I graduated a few months ago, she replied.
So what brings you to Denver? It actually felt kind of good to have
something like a normal conversation with someoneespecially a cute girl.
A job. And I just wanted to get away, Sky said. She ate another bite of her
eggs and smiled wryly. Sometimes its good to get away from it all, dont you
think? I had to laugh at that. You dont know the half of it, I thought. If anyone
had any idea of how good it would be to get away from it all, it was me; but I
couldntnot while I still had Jazmin to think about, to care about.
Yes it is, I said, when Sky raised an eyebrow at my first reaction.
So I saw a pink cup in your cupboard. It doesnt really go with the motif of
the place.
I snorted at her choice of words. I dont think Ive ever had a motif in this
apartment. Its my daughter s cup. She loves everything pink, her room is like
an explosion of the stuff. I told her that she could paint it whatever color she
wanted, and sure enough she picked hot pink.
Sky smiled with that look of pity Ive seen on too many womens faces
when I tell them about my daughter. She must have realized it, because she
quickly hid her expression by taking a drink of her coffee. Im sorry. I didnt
know that you had a kid. I wouldnt have called so late.
I waved her off and told her that Jazmin was with her mother. I get her on
the weekends when Lisamy exis feeling generous, and like she wants to
abide by our agreement. As if that had been a cue, my phone rang in my room
and it was Lisas ring tone. I didnt say anything to Sky, but immediately
ducked into the bedroom to take the call.
I hear that lawyer of yours filed a counter-motion, Lisa said as soon as I
was on the phone. I wanted to smile, but I could hear the tone in her voice that
told me she was going to be particularly nasty.
If youre allowed to file motions, I am, I said, working hard to keep my
voice even. When are you going to be dropping Jazmin off?
Im not going to be, Lisa said. My free hand tightened into a fist and I
forced myself to take a slow, deep breath. To count to five.
Lisa, I dont want to do this with you anymore. Why cant you just let me
see Jazmin? You know that its just hurting her, and it isnt worth it. Our
daughter needs both of us.
Our daughter needed you to be at home with me. She needed us together,
Linc, and you ruined everything. Its not my fault that you didnt want to be
with us anymore. That was on you, so now you can live with it. I could see red
behind my vision, like it was coloring everything in the background.
I have a right to see my daughter, I said slowly.
I dont think it would be wise until after the court date. I know how hot
headed you can be, and Im afraid youll do something crazy. I cant let that
happen.
Sometimes I really thought that she didnt give a damn about Jazmin. If she
did, she wouldnt be able to do these kinds of things to her. Her reason for
denying me time with my daughter was clear in what she said to me: it was
completely for revenge. It was because Id wanted to get away from her. She
was toxic, and Id thought it would be better for everyone; but so far it wasnt.
It had been even more of a nightmare since she found a man who would pay
for her revenge.
Lisa, you know that I would never do anything, or let anything happen, to
her. What kind of man do you think I am?
Youre the kind of man who would abandon his family and get mad when
they found someone to take his place. I know what this is about. You had your
chance to be with us back then. Now that Im remarried, theres no going back.
Steven is a better man than youll ever be.
Steven is your sugar daddy, Lisa, and he doesnt know you like I do. Yet.
Hell learn, just like I did. I was letting her get to me, which Carol had
specifically warned me against. Sometimes I thought that Lisa actually enjoyed
arguing. She sure could pick a fight well enough. I tried to calm down.
Look, Lisa, I cant believe that the only reason you called me was to try
and pick a fight. Let me have Jazmin for my normal visit, and lets do the right
thing by her and at least pretend like were both capable of treating each other
with respect, I said.
No, I dont think thats a good idea. Ill tell her you called, though. Shell
be happy to hear you care.
Seething, I tried to think of something that wasnt cruel, or a curse word.
Lisas bullshit knew no bounds. Just let me talk to her. Its in the court order.
Ive got rights to see her.
Well, youd better pay that lawyer of yours the money to file another
motion, because youre not getting her. Ill see you in court, Linc.
The quick three-beep tone told me that shed hung up, and I took a moment
to collect myself, remembering almost too late that Sky was probably still in
my kitchen, only feet away from me, wondering what the hell was going on. I
pushed the unfairness of my ex-wifes bullshit out of my mind and went back
out into the kitchen, where Sky was still sitting, pretending she hadnt heard
anything.
Are you going to be home today so I can work on the pipe? Might as well
get down to the business of the day, I told myself.
Yeah, I dont start work till Monday, Sky said, and I frowned; surely shed
mentioned something about that when shed been making the arrangements to
move inor at some pointhadnt she? Why hadnt I remembered it?
Where at? I tried to keep my voice neutral. The last thing I needed after
making an ass of myself in front of this girl was to come across like a drill
sergeant.
That big insurance place on the west side, Clandale. Do you know it? I
waved my hand to indicate Id heard of it, but I wasnt too familiar.
Oh. What will you do there? I expected her to say that she was going to be
a receptionist, or a filing clerk or something like thata young thing like her,
fresh out of college, probably looking for a foot in the door at some business
or another.
Ill be an actuary, she said. I didnt even know what that was. Didnt that
have something to do with birds? To save myself from looking like a dumbass,
I just kind of nodded like I knew what she was talking about. She must have
done well in school to land such a fancy sounding job, but I still had to wonder
what she was doing so far from home.
Do you have any family here? That would explain it: a recent college
grad moving across the country, her parents must have sent her to where there
were more jobs and some kind of family connection.
She shook her head that she didnt. When I queried with a raised eyebrow,
she laughed lightly in that way that Ive heard women do so many times when
they dont want to get into the long version of the story. My family is way too
involved, so its easier if they stay there and Im here. If not, they will have my
whole life planned out for me before I turn twenty-five.
That sounds a lot like my family when I was younger, I told her. I knew,
though, that when Jazmin was her ageif I was still, miraculously, allowed
into my own daughter s lifeI would probably be just as protective. Dont
worry, theyll ease up as you get older and prove yourself. You just have to
give it time.
Sky made a noncommittal sound and took another sip of her coffee. I had to
stop the things spinning in my head, and Sky sitting there wasnt helping. I
finally got her to leave, saying Id better get to the hardware store, and she said
that she would probably meet up with a friendif she wasnt around, then I
was, of course, welcome to let myself into her apartment. I grinned at that
formal politeness, but thought very deep down in my mind that she was a bit
naive to make an invitation like that to anyone.

Chapter SixSky

As soon as I left Lincs apartment, I called up my friend Cassie; she had


made me promise to get in touch as soon as I was safely more or less settled
into my apartment. I decided to go out instead of staying around and watching
Linc fix the pipe. There were several things that I had to get at the store now
that my final check from my summer job had cleared. It wasnt much, but I
figured that I could at least have a meal that wasnt takeout, and maybe
something to drink that wasnt tap water or instant coffee.
Cassie was waiting for me when I got out to the front of the apartment
building, just like shed said she would be. Id told her that I could just as easily
meet her somewhere, but she said there was no point in both of us using up the
gas in our cars, and Id finally agreed to ride with her. Id just locked my door,
figuring that Linc would have a master key and do the repair while I was gone.
There was something about him that was hard to handle; it wasnt that I was
afraid of himnot reallybut there was something overwhelming, all the
same. It was just easier to avoid him if I could.
Hey, girl! Man, its been a while! I closed the distance between us and
hugged her tightly, more grateful than I had expected to see a familiar face in
my new hometown. Cassie had graduated a year before me. She was the one
whod told me about the job, and she had helped me get it, because she worked
for the same company; shed moved to Denver in the name of love, and settled
in even though the love didnt last. When Id told her that I wanted an excuse to
get out of my sleepy small town, shed handed it to me practically on a silver
platter.
So where are we going? I pulled back and smiled at Cassie. It was actually
kind of impossible not to smile around her; she was always so cheerful.
Well, that depends, she said. Are you hungry?
Not really. I just had breakfast, actually, I replied.
Did you already go shopping? I thought you said you didnt have anything
in your fridge yet, Cassie said, giving me a dramatic, almost disapproving
frown.
No, the landlord made it for me, I explained. She gave me a look like I
was going to have to explain further. It was nothing, I swear, I said quickly. I
loved Cassie, but she had a tendency to be on the lookout for any kind of
situation that might possibly lead to romance. My pipes are leaking and he had
to turn the water off. So he let me use his shower, and I guess he made enough
to share when he was getting together his own breakfast.
It sounds like the start of a bad porno! Or maybe a really good romance
novel, Cassie said with a grin. Is he cute?
I sighed and shook my head as we walked over to her car, making a mental
note that I would need to get the trailer to the rental place at some point. It was
just as well that Cassie had offered to drive. I didnt feel like trying to navigate
the parking lot of a grocery store or a mall with the trailer still hooked up to
my car. Yeah, hes cute, I admitted, and when I saw that Cassie was about to
tell me to go for it, I added, And in at least his late thirties, maybe even
forties!
That just means he knows what he wants, Cassie said, wiggling her
eyebrows at me. I rolled my eyes.
Well, have at him. Im not even worried about that, I said, shaking my
head at the thought of having anything to do with Linc.
Still waiting for the one, huh? I heard the little bit of pity in her voice
and I was torn between laughing and feeling annoyed. As soon as shed learned
that I was putting off my first time, waiting for love, Cassie had done
everything in her power to change my mind. Shed set me up with more guys
than I could count. None of them had ever worked out, and I wanted to stop her
before she got started this time.
Yes, Im still waiting for the one, and I promise you that it isnt Linc, I
told her. Youll meet him eventually and then youll see. Hes one of those
hotheads. I dont really like that kind of guy.
Still dont know what youre looking for, huh? I didnt want to admit it,
but Cassie wasnt entirely wrong; after living in the same dorm building for
three yearsand sharing a dorm room for two of those yearsshe knew me
pretty well.
No, I dont know what Im looking for, but I know what Im not looking
for, and Linc Hayes is exactly the opposite of what I need, I said firmly. Cassie
just shook her head and smiled at me like I was a lost cause. I hated that she
might actually be right, but I was still young, after allI was a year younger
than she was, and I had plenty of time to find someone. And there was no way
that that someone, the first person I ever had sex with, was going to be my
landlord. He was too dangerous. I could easily imagine him letting a girl fall
head over heels for him and then just walking away; and that was not a risk I
was willing to take, no matter how much Cassie carried on about how fun it
would be. Something inside of me told me that I should stay away from him.
We moved on to other subjects, and I asked about Clandale. It was one of the
biggest employers in the city, apparently; that explained Linc having heard of
it. Although Cassie was an accountant and wouldnt be in the same department,
she was at least going to be close by. It was going to be good to have someone
there that I already knew. It was a great job opportunity anyway, but knowing
Cassie would be there to go to lunch with, and talk to about the other people in
the officeto generally just steer me away from the bad and towards the good,
just like she had in collegewas comforting.
By lunchtime I was getting excited about starting my new life on Monday
morning. With everything at the apartment being such a mess, and having to
deal with the ticking time bomb that Linc seemed to be, it was nice to have
something that seemed to be what it was supposed to be. The rest I was just
going to have to learn to adapt to.
After a little back-and-forth and discussion, we went to a sushi place for
lunch that Cassie said was the best in town. I was quite willing to go along with
her until I found my own favorite spots. I decided that since she was so into my
love life, I might as well ask about hers.
So, whats the dating scene like here? Surely if you managed to stick
around, theres plenty of fish in the lake, I said, snagging some pickled ginger
with my chopsticks between bites of some over-the-top roll that Cassie had
insisted on getting for us to share.
Not much on that front, Cassie admitted with a grimace. Dating sucks
here, but the friends with benefits angle is fun. Nothing to hold onto, but you
can have some fun.
Thats not really my kind of fun, I pointed out, frowning. Kind of a
bummer.
You know what Im going to say, Cassie told me. You dont know what
youre missing, and you shouldnt knock it until youve tried it. I rolled my
eyes.
Im not entirely sheltered, you know, I countered. Ive watched porn, Ive
read books...
You havent actually done anything more than make out with a guy,
though, Cassie said, interrupting me. So how do you know that you wont
like a little no-strings, no-frills fun?
Okaytechnically I dont, I admitted. But the thing iswhy should that
be my first time ever? I mean, shouldnt my first time be special, at least a
little?
Why? Your first time is only going to be so good, no matter who its with,
because youre going to be obsessed with whether or not youre doing it
right, Cassie said. So it might as well be a throwaway. Like the first pancake
in a batch.
I almost choked on my sip of water at that comparison. I knew I couldnt
actually argue the logic, but my feeling about the situation wasnt going to
change.
I just want it to actually mean something. Thats all, I said, hoping that
would put an end to it.
Cassie said that I was dreaming. You need to wear something low-cut,
show off those knockers and see what happens. I stared at her for a moment
and then shook my head again, rolling my eyes.
Just that easy, huh? I popped a few edamame out of a shell and into my
mouth, and reached for another bite of sushi.
For you? It would be even easier, Cassie said. Those damn eyes would
do it every time. There had been a time in college when Cassie had
experimented with women, and shed made comments about my eyes in the
past. Oh god, shes going to hit on me, I thought, and felt my cheeks burning
even as I looked down at the table, pretending to be intensely interested in the
menu card. Calm down, I dont really like girls like that anymore. Im just
calling it like I see it. You never did understand the power that you have.
It wasnt something Id ever really thought about; even when Cassie had
tried to drill it into my head that I had some mystical hot girl power, Id
always dismissed it. Id gotten good grades because Id studied, and Id gotten
the job at Clandale because I was able to get through the phone interview. It had
nothing to do with my looks, and anyway, Id seen more than one gorgeous
girl whose looks had done more to get her into trouble than to get her out of it.
Ill find someone when the time is right, I told Cassie, once again hoping
that I could just get the subject changed. I just got here, and right now I just
want to have some fun.
That got Cassie smiling. It was only two when we left the restaurant, and
there was still shopping to do, but wed agreed that that night would be
reserved for a night out. It had been too long since wed just let loose, and now
was the time. One thing you have to look out for, she said, as we finally got
to the first of the shops we needed to visit. Youre going to be a lightweight
herethe altitude takes time to get used to. So for the sake of future-Sky, you
need to remember that hangovers suck. I laughed at that; I had partied with
Cassie many times before in collegestarting before Id been legally old
enough to drinkbut it was always me whod ended up taking care of her, not
the other way around. I didnt like being too drunk. I felt weird, and out of
control in a way that wasnt even pleasant.
I got back to the apartment around five or so and noticed that my door was
unlocked. I was a little miffed that Linc would leave it like that, but quickly
realized that he was still in there; that made it okayat least more okay than it
would have been. I walked through the house calling his name, and, just as I
suspected, he was still hard at work in the bathroom. The man was covered in
water and had a determined look on his face as he stared down the tub like it
was his mortal enemy that just wouldnt die already.
Is everything okay in here? I could barely suppress a giggle at the sight of
him. He turned to me and blinked like he had never in his life seen me before.
His mind was obviously a million miles away. I smiled at him and waited for
him to answer me. When he didnt, I walked off to put the bags down. I hoped
that he would be packing up to leave by the time I came back, but he was still in
the bathroom, all hot and sweaty. His tee shirtthe sleeves cut offwas stuck
to his broad chest and back, leaving almost nothing to my imagination. If I
hadnt seen him shirtless before, it would have been difficult not to stare at the
massive arms free of their sleeves, the slightly faded tattoos, the way sweat
rolled down the back of his neck. Get it together, Sky.
The problem was bigger than I thought. Not only was your overflow pipe
busted, but there were hairline fractures all throughout the pipework
underneath. I still need more materials to patch this back up right, and now the
hardware store is closed for the day. Can you do one more day without water?
I guess it wont make much of a difference, I said. I didnt get all that
sweaty shopping. Linc raised an eyebrow as if that surprised him.
Are you sure? I can let you use one of the vacant apartments until its fixed.
I know this is a big inconvenience, he said, and I was actuallymaybe just a
little bittouched that he was being considerate for once.
Dont worry about it. I wasnt planning on being here tonight anyway, I
said, shrugging it off.
Oh, okay, Linc said, turning back to the work in front of him.
I felt like I had to say something else. Just going out with an old college
friend I havent seen in a while. We did some shopping, so of course now its
time to drink.
Linc laughed, and I tried hard not to notice the sweat that was running down
one of his hard biceps. It was hard to do when he looked so damn good. If the
guys back at West State had looked like this, Cassie wouldnt have had such a
hard time convincing the younger, more impressionable me to take one for a
ride, no strings attached. There was just something about himabout how
muscular, powerful, unapologetically masculine he wasthat seemed to tug at
something deep down between my hips, deeper than the pit of my stomach.
Well, have fun, he said. Just pretend like Im not even here, Sky. Ill be done
cleaning up soon and be out of your way.
I told him to take his time and just lock up when he left. Going into my
bedroom, I looked through my closet. Nothing was really jumping out at me. I
didnt want to admit it, but Lincs presence in my bathroom had to have
influenced me. Normally I didnt go for anything flashy when I went out. I
didnt want to give any guys the impression that I would be open to going
home with them. But I wanted Linc to see me in the black, slinky dress that I
hadnt worn in a while. It fit me just perfectly, and if it had been my time of the
month it would have been just a bit too small at the chest. I had to rummage
through my luggage to find one of the few thongs I owned. There was no way I
was going to have a panty line with that dress. It was worth it, I told myselfor
it would be, when I saw the look on Lincs face.
I decided to test the theory after Id done my makeup. I took my hair out of
the convenient braids Id put it in, tousling it with some product to leave the
ringlets it formed. I wanted it soft but not too messy. I knocked on the
bathroom door where Linc was still at work, and felt that little tingle of heat
when he glanced up, looked at his hands, and then looked at me again. His dark
emerald green eyes told me all that I needed to know. Linc had noticed.
Where are you going dressed like that?
It wasnt what I wanted him to say, and it perturbed me a little bit. If I had
wanted to hear my fathers opinion I would have texted him a picture myself, I
thought irritably. The lust was there in his eyes, but his words, tone, and facial
expression didnt match up.
Just out, I said, keeping my voice as light as possible. I wanted to say,
Im not even wearing the one pair of slutty heels I own, but I thought that
wouldnt help. I didnt know how else to answer his question.
Be careful out and about looking like that. Youre going to give the boys
all kinds of ideas.
I had to swallow down a laugh at how close that was to being something my
own father would have said. I also told myself that it was a good reminder. I
sighed and smiled. Even though I could see that I was giving him all kinds of
ideas, he was still warning me like he was above it.
Im sure it will be okay, I said. Were just hitting a couple of clubs.
Besides, Ill be with my friend, and she knows her way around here. Denver is
pretty safe anyway, isnt it?
He shook his head. Yeah, but not when you look like that. His eyes were
on me again, trailing from my chest to my waist to my hips and then right back
up, only briefly pausing to look at my face. I wasnt sure whether I was more
thrilled that he found me so hot or frustrated that he was treating me like a
child. Id dressed up to pique the interest of a guy who I knew I wanted nothing
to do with, and my reward was a lecture on nighttime safety and a few
awkward, lust-filled looks. I decided I should just go before things got any
worse.
See you later, Linc. Thanks for taking care of that for me, I said, turning
to leave.
Anytime, Sky. Just give me a call, he said. I had to admit to myself, even if
I wasnt fully pleased with the results Id gotten, that at least Linc sounded
much more reasonable than he had during our first couple of run-ins. Maybe
there was something in what Cassie had said.

Chapter SevenLinc

I hadnt seen that coming. Sure, Id noticed how hot she was; it was hard not
to. But suddenly I really got it. Even an hour after she left, I couldnt get my
mind off of how shed looked, in that itty-bitty dress, with more of her on
display than covered up. I could think of a dozen things Id like to do to her
and none of them involved fixing the pipes in an old apartment unit. But as I
tried to make myself focus on the plumbing for the old bathtub, an idea flashed
into my hot brain like phosphorous dropping into waterjust as sudden, just
as improbable, as that demonstration had been during my early Navy training
in aquatic incendiary devices.
I needed a wife for court, and all things considered, I had a feeling that I
would be more than happy to wake up to a woman like Sky every day. I needed
a fake wife, but why did that mean that I couldnt like her as well? Did that
mean that we couldnt be together in a way that felt right? I desperately wanted
to get my hands on her all of a sudden, and the fake marriage part was only
half of it.
I took one last look around her place before I left for the night. I didnt go
through drawers or anything like that, but I was really looking for an excuse to
come back. There was always something to fix in these old apartments if a
person was so inclined. Right now I was, and although I didnt find anything
for a while, I knew it was only because I was so eager.
Finally I got to the kitchen, and found the jackpot; the old water heater
looked like it was about to rust out at the bottom. Id thought it was good
enough before Id leased the apartment out, but it was obviously going to have
to be replaced completely. Then too, I told myself as I tested the cabinets and
drawers, the knobs on them needed tightening, and there seemed to be a little
bit of a leak at the faucet for the sink. Most of the things were easy fixesbut
they would give me plenty of opportunities to talk to Sky, to feel her out.
Especially the heater.
*****
The next morning couldnt come soon enough as far as I was concerned. I
tossed and turned all night, wondering if Sky was going to hold onto her
resolution not to leave her friend alone, picturing all the good things that could
come from getting on her good side. I couldnt even make myself wait more
than ten minutes after my alarm went off, after the coffee was made, to fill a
mug up for herI was pretty sure Id caught a glimpse of how she liked it,
milk and sugarand get my ass over to her unit.
It took several minutes for her to answer, but when she finally did the view
made the wait worth it. She was gorgeous even when she first woke up in the
morning, and even when, by the looks of it, shed been drinking all night and
hadnt had any sleep at all. Her mussed hair tumbled around her shoulders
didnt look dirty or gross, but just made me want to tell her to go back to bed
and take me with her. It looked like shed only barely managed to take off her
makeup, and shed traded in her skimpy dress in favor of an oversized tee shirt
that I was pretty sure had nothing underneath it.
Morning, Sky, I said when she blinked at me sleepily. I wanted to come
by and make sure that everything was okay. There wasnt any leaking or
anything, was there? The fix should be fine. I just like to make sure.
She kind of shrugged like she had no idea what I was talking about, but she
opened the door to let me in. I hadnt expected to get in so easily, but when her
hand went automatically for the coffee Id brought with me, I grinned to myself
a bit at the success of my gambit. I hadnt known she would be hung over, but it
was obviously one of my better ideas of the past few days.
How had I not seen her for what she wasor at least, what she could be
before? Not just a hot girl I could enjoy, but the prospect of a ticket to the end
of all of Lisas petty little courtroom dramas. All I had to do was convince her
and show her how great we could be together. I was going to make Sky scream
out my name until her voice was hoarse, and even then I didnt think it was
going to be enough. I felt like how some of my teammates whod gotten Purple
Hearts and medical dischargesand then gotten addicted to Vicodin
described their addictions. I didnt think I could ever possibly get enough of
Sky, unless she turned out to be all smoke and no fire; and I didnt think for a
second that that would be the case.
How are you feeling? Sky sank into a chair at her kitchen table, and I
leaned against the counter, pleased for the moment just to have a few minutes
to enjoy the sight of her. God, imagine what it would be like to just slither right
up under that shirt, spread her legs good and wide, and make her forget
headache is even a word that exists...
Not bad, I just drank too much last night, I think. Can you tell? Sky gave
me a weak, rueful smile, and I laughed as quietly as I could.
Ive seen worse, Sky. In the mirror, I didnt add. I think you just need a
little coffee and youll start feeling better. Im going to go check out the
bathroom to make sure its dry. Dont mind me.
She waved me on without even seeming to consider it, and that was another
sign that her hangover was hung over for sure. I was just glad shed made it
homeand apparently alone. I wouldve hated to find her room empty because
shed spent the night with some guy. With the combination of the booze and her
beauty it had probably been a near thing.
It looks pretty good in here, I called from the bathroom. I dont see any
water on the floor or anything. Have you used the tub or shower yet today?
I wouldnt even be awake if you hadnt knocked, she said from the
kitchen. I left the bathroom and leaned against the pass-through to the living
room.
I saw a few other things that needed fixing when I was here doing the pipes.
Do you want me to do it today, or is there another day that works for you? Say
today. Say it; what else do you have going on? One of them is that water heater
it really needs to be replaced, and thats going to take some time, I added. I
felt like I was a teenager again, trying to ask out the head cheerleader; I was
actually nervous for once. Sky wasnt like the girls Id been meeting recently
and that was a good thing, even if it threw me through a loop.
Um... if you think it needs to be done. I really dont keep up on anything
like that. Ill tell you when something breaks if I notice it, but thats about as far
as it goes. What are you doing up so early?
I always get up this early, I told her, shrugging the question off.
Oh. I try not to, but my new job is going to make me soon enough, so I
guess Ill have to get used to it. I just want to go lie back down. My head is
killing me.
I chuckled. I have had my fair share of those mornings, I told her. I didnt
add that the most recent one had been the day shed arrived in the city.
Is there any kind of remedy that youve found to work?
Not really, but coffee and not too many people around always seems to
help.
She grinned and took another sip of her coffee. How did you know that I
would have a hangover?
I didnt, but with that dress you had on last night, I was just playing the
odds. Id said too much. Sky just sort of stared at me for a long moment, and I
actually felt the blood rising into my faceat least that was a good alternative
to the way it kept seeming to pool in my groin every time I was around her.
Looking like that, you must have had more than your fair share of free
drinks. Sky half-laughed and then winced; I knew that look well. Her head had
to be killing her.
Thanks for checking on everything for me, Linc. When I first met you, I
thought this was going to be a disaster, but youve really made me feel at
home. Its almost like I already have friends here besides Cassie. I appreciate
that more than you know.
Maybe we were both saying more than was necessary. Her words came out
of the blue, but I liked that she didnt have trouble showing appreciation. Shes
not the only one. If I can get her to do me onebigfavor, shell be up to her
elbows in appreciation.
No problem, Sky, I said, giving her another smile. I wanted her to think I
was a much better guy than her first impression told her. Thats what Im here
for.
I feel like I should pay you back. I think this coffee may have saved me.
Come over here and Ill show you a few ways you could pay me back, I
thought. But I knew that wouldnt flynot with her. She wasnt as naive or
finicky as Id first thought, but she was definitely innocent, and my usual
moves with the girls from the bars wouldnt work on someone like her: feisty
and fiery one moment and sweetly polite the next. I couldnt count on my usual
bag of tricks to get me what I wanted. I was going to have to go slow.
Just being neighborly, I said. I figured youd probably need the boost,
and I needed to come over and check the repair anyway. Sky looked up at me
again and I could see she was starting to get a little more alert in the eyes; the
coffee was helping.
I could make you dinner, she said after a moment.
That would be great, I told her; anything to have an excuse to get close to
her. I could come by tonight and take care of the few things that dont need a
whole lot of work, too.
Thatd be great, Sky said. What should I cook? I dont know what Denver
folks eat. I laughed at that.
I was in the Navy long enough to be able to eat anything that wont eat me
first, I told her. Surprise me. I didnt want to leave, but I knew that if I
wanted to make things move along smoothly, giving Sky some space at the
right moments would be just as important as being in her presence.
I excused myself, telling Sky to take an aspirin and get some sleep, and went
back to my own apartment. I ended up working on my own apartment for a
while, fixing odds and ends, wasting time until I could go to the hardware store
to pick up what I would needand to put in the order for the replacement water
heater.
I managed to get through the morning and most of the afternoon before I
decided I just couldnt put off seeing Sky again; besides, I thoughtI had a
valid reason to go to her apartment. She wouldnt want me underfoot while she
was cooking for me, and I could take care of the faucet and the cabinets before
she got down to her own business. I was only a few feet away from her door
when my phone rang. It was Lisa. Fuck. I couldnt not answer iteven if, as
seemed likely, she was calling just to wind me up.
Whats up, Lisa?
Took you long enough to answer. Where are you?
At a friends house. Why? I looked around, expecting her to be spying on
me, though God knew I wasnt doing anything wrong.
Because you need to watch your daughter. Its your weekend, after all.
That stunned the hell out of me, even though it shouldnt have.
I thought you said that I couldnt see her until after court?
Well, things come up. Do you want me to drop her with you or pay a
babysitter? I dont care either way, but shes asking for you, Linc, God only
knows why.
Ill be there in a couple of minutes, I said, kissing any chance of seeing
Sky that night good-bye.
Figured you were close. Were waiting outside your door. She would
have had to have arrived literally the moment I was heading up to Skys
apartment, barely out of sight. She cant have planned itnobody knows what
Im going to ask Sky to do for me. I was letting her get me paranoid.
But I would have to cancel with Sky, and I knew that was probably going to
screw things up with my plans; even if Lisa hadnt done it on purpose, she had
managed to throw a wrench into my scheme. I took a deep breath and dialed
Skys number, stepping away from her door so she wouldnt hear me on the
other side of it. She picked up after the first ring, sounding much more chipper
than she had that morning.
I took a nap, and ran by the market my friend Cassie told me about, so if
you want to swing by, we can get down to business, she said. I closed my eyes
and clenched my teeth. I wanted to get down to business with her more than
anything. But I couldnt.
Im sorry, Sky. You dont know how bad I feel about this, but I have to
cancel for tonight.
What? What do you mean you have to cancel? She sounded more upset
than I would have thoughtmaybe she was actually looking forward to
spending time with me?
Something came up, and I have to go home and take care of it, I said. Is
there any way we can do a rain check?
The long silence on the other end of the line told me she was not happy at
all. Can you come later tonight?
I shook my head, even though I knew she couldnt see it. I wish I couldI
actually have to be going right now to take care of this. Please, please let me
make it up to you.
I see. Um, sure, yeah... We can do this another time. Sky didnt sound all
that enthusiastic about the idea, and I couldnt blame her.
I really am going to make it up to you, I swear, I told her. I ended the call
quickly; if I didnt go meet up with Lisa and Jazmin she was as apt as not to just
leave anyway.
I am going to have to do some serious damage control the next time I come
see her, I thought. I couldnt help it, though. If I went through with my plans
with Sky, Lisa would drop Jazmin off with someone else and then she would
use it in court to argue that I was the one constantly breaking the agreement. It
didnt matter that she was a day late, if I didnt see my daughter, thats how it
would look. There was also the fact that I hadnt talked to or seen Jazmin in
over a week, and I wanted to. Everything else had to go on the back burner,
compared to her. Even the hot, surprising woman who might be my ticket to
keeping my daughter close to me.
All that aside, I still left Skys door with a sinking feeling in the pit of my
stomach. I didnt want to leave her that way, not when it had all been going so
well and was poised to end even better.

Chapter EightSky

I tilted back in my desk chair a little bit, sighing and closing my eyes. Id
known that my first week or so at the new job would be a steep learning curve,
but oddly enough the hardest part ended up being just staying awake and
engaged through the whole day. The summer job Id just left was in an office
too, but since it was a community outreach program, Id spent more time
outside, with kids.
At first thered been the thrill of being at my new job, of course, but as the
first day dragged on, I got more and more tired of just reading training
manuals, doing computer-based modules, and taking quizzes to make sure Id
retained the industry-specific information I needed to do my job. Most of it was
a rehash of stuff Id learned in Statistics, with a little bit of added complication
to deal with insurance issues.
Then, too, I had made the horrific decision to wear heels to work for my
first day. My mother had even warned me to wear comfortable shoes, saying
that I would be on my feet a lot going through the orientation procedures.
When Id left the apartment that morning, theyd been comfortable enough
but by the time Id finished lunch with Cassie in the break room, I was wishing
that Id brought something a lot more comfortable to change into.
Now that I was just sitting at my desk, I could tell that I was starting to work
myself into a rut of discontent. I decided that it was a good time to start
reminding myself of all the good things I had going on. I have a pretty decent
apartment, in a completely new town, thousands of miles away from my
parents, I murmured to myself, clicking through yet another quiz on auto-
pilot. My new job comes with its own office, with a window, I added,
glancing away from my monitor to look at said window; the view wasnt really
anything to write home about, but it was a window, in an office, and the office
was mine.
I went through the rest of my list: I had a good job, with an excellent
benefits package; I had some really cool coworkers, who had wanted to get to
know me when Cassie had introduced me around. Even though she was in a
different department, she knew lots of the people I was working with. I would
have my first paycheck in a little over a week, and even if it wasnt a huge one
it wouldnt be for a full monthit would be enough to let me have a little
fun after Id covered my expenses.
I heard a knock at my door and cut off my little litany, feeling embarrassed;
had I been talking loud enough for someone to have heard me?
Come in!
I took a deep breath to settle my nerves, reminding myself that my door was
closedthere was no way anyone could have heard what I was saying, or that I
was talking to myself. If theyd heard my voice at all theyd just assume Id
been on the phone with someone.
The man who came through the door was familiar enough: Stephen
Jennings, my new boss. He was maybe ten years older than me, with slicked-
back hair, groomed eyebrows that a few of my friends back home would have
paid good money for, and teeth that struck me as a little too white. But he was
my new boss, and hed been perfectly pleasant when I came in that morning,
shaking my hand and welcoming me to the team.
I hope youre settling in okay, Sky, Stephen said, closing the door behind
him. Something about that made me feel a little strange, but I dismissed it; after
all, that was why I had an office door, wasnt it?
Oh yeah, I said, smiling at him. Starting to get that three in the afternoon
feeling, you know? But Ill finish this up and maybe grab some coffee to
power through it.
I know that feeling well, Stephen said, stepping up to my desk and
stopping at the corner. You know, you can decorate more or less how you
wantwe even have competitions here for whos the most creative, the best
theme, all that.
Cool, I said. Is he just bored, or is there something he needs to ask me
about? Is there some issue with my paperwork? For some reason my heart was
beating faster in my chest, and it wasnt in the way that it did when I was alone
with Linc. My stomach twisted a little and I finished the quiz as quickly as I
could. Was there something you needed? I turned away from my monitor to
give my new boss my full attention.
I was hoping I could talk to you alone for a few minutes, Stephen said;
hed insisted on me calling him Stephen, instead of Mr. Jennings, from the
moment wed met.
Is there something wrong? The feeling of alarm increased, and a
thousand scenarios played out in my head: that due to some crazy identity theft
issue, I had some kind of criminal record I didnt know about, that my drug test
had come in with an inexplicable positive, something like thatsomething that
would jeopardize my job right off the bat.
Oh, nonothing like that, Stephen said, smiling a smooth, contented
smile. I tried to make myself relax, but there was still something about the
situation I didnt like, even if I couldnt put my finger on what it was. You
know, Sky, youre a beautiful young woman. And so talented and intelligent,
he said.
My stomach felt as though it had fallen to my knees, and my heart pounded
in my chest so hard that I could hear my blood roaring in my ears for a
moment. Im sorryI didnt quite get that. Must be sleepier than I thought, I
said, trying to keep a smile on my face.
Youre beautifulbut of course, Im sure you know that already, Stephen
said again.
Im not sure what that... what Im supposed to do with that, I told him.
Well, Im sure I know what you can do with that beauty, Stephen said. I felt
frozen in my chair for a moment, and then all at once I shifted from being
terrified into being angry. Oh my God, hes hitting on me. I cant believe itthe
bastards hitting on me. On my first day! But that bastard was my boss. I
swallowed against the dry feeling in my throat and tried to think of what to do.
I dont really think thats appropriate, Mr. Jennings, I said, keeping my
voice level.
A pretty girl like you cant possibly be that naive, Sky, he said, looking
down at me. I mean, come onyouve got to know the effect you have on
men.
I dont feel comfortable discussing this, I told him, trying to make my
voice firmer, stronger. Unless theres some issue with my work, Id rather get
back to itand you get back to yours.
Sky, Sky, Sky, Stephen said, shaking his head. I know youre young, but
its the way of the world: the powerful sleep with the beautiful, and everyone
benefits. My face felt like it was on fire. I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to
slap him. Most of all I wanted him out of my office.
I have a lot to get done today, Mr. Jennings, I said firmly. If you have
something you need to discuss with mesomething pertaining to the work
were doingthen I would appreciate it if you would discuss only that. It cost
me every bit of self-control and pride that I possessed to say it that calmly, but I
felt a little better when the words left my mouth. A little less dirty.
Of course. Pleasecall me Stephen. I insist. I told myself I would never
call him Stephen ever againnot even if he put a gun to my head. I think you
should ask around the office; I have a reputation as a very worthy lover. Oh
goodick. Gag. I kept my face neutral.
I dont think that would be appropriate, I said, keeping his name out of my
mouth. I didnt want to hear him tell me to call him Stephen again. Does Cassie
know about this guy? As Jennings finally left my office, closing the door
behind him once more, that question filled my mind. Was that why Cassie had
wanted me to take the job? Noit couldnt be. There was no way she had
known about what kind of snake Jennings was, or I was sure she would have at
least given me some kind of hint.
No amount of counting my blessings would help me after that, and I
slogged through the rest of my day in a thoroughly depressed state of mind.
The only thing I could be thankful for, at the end of it, was that Jennings hadnt
come back to see me. I drove home still feeling annoyed that my new boss
hadnt even been able to wait an entire day before making a pass at me, and I
resolved to talk to Human Resources the next day, bright and early.
I fumbled with my key in the lock once again. Great. Just great. Just what I
needed, I muttered to myself, trying every single way I could think of to
wiggle the key in the lock the way that Linc had. Just when I was about to aim
a frustrated kick at the door for being just the latest in a series of irritations in
my day, the door opened as if it had suddenly gotten scared of me.
I stared at it for a second, and then realized that the door was opening to
reveal my new landlord. Having trouble with it still? I wanted to be irritated
at Linc, but the mildness of his voice stopped me.
Just having a bad day, I said. Then I remembered the last-minute way hed
canceled on meand what was he doing in my apartment when I wasnt there,
anyway? I scowled at him. What are you doing here? He looked surprised
for a second, and then recovered.
Remember? I had the cabinets and things to fix? I sighed. If I hadnt been
so irritable, I would have remembered. I nodded and stepped into my
apartment, brushing past him. I wanted to be totally unaffected by the closeness,
but something inside of me twitched in the most pleasant way possibleit was
like a gush of heat shooting down my spine, something I hadnt felt even with
the cutest of the boys Id ever gone on a date with.
Sorry, I said. Like I saidbad day. I reached up to the back of my skull
and started taking the pins out of my hair. Id put so much effort into twisting
and tucking my hair into the perfect bun that morning; why did Jennings have
to ruin it by being such a sleaze? He ruined your first day at workdont let
him spoil your non-work hours too, I told myself.
Rough first day? I hate that for you, Linc said, and I glanced at him
quickly to make sure he wasnt just being sarcastic. He actually looked like he
was genuinely upset for me, which stunned me.
Its nothing, I said.
I also wanted to be here when you got home, because I wanted to make a
proper apology for canceling on you the night before last, Linc said. I sat
down at my kitchen table and looked at him for a long moment.
Its okay, I told him, even though it had taken me a good hour to get over
it when it had happened.
No, its not, Linc insisted. He leaned against my counter and met my gaze
steadily. I wanted to explain what was going on. I was supposed to have
Jazmin over the weekend, but my ex-wife said she wouldnt allow it. I pressed
my lips together; I knew I didnt have all the information. Maybe Linc had
serious issues because his ex was a bitchor maybe his ex was just being a
bitch because he had serious issues.
Okay, I said, gesturing for him to get to the point. What did that have to do
with him canceling on me?
Right before I came over, she decided that she wanted to go do something
with her new boyfriendwell, husband nowand that I needed to watch Jaz,
Linc explained. Ah. Yeah, that would do it.
So that was why you ended up canceling, I finished for him.
I wouldnt have done it for anything less, you have to know that, Linc
said. I summoned up a little smile.
I know my cookings good, but there are probably a lot of worthy reasons
for you to cancel. You dont have to go quite so high as my daughter is
suddenly on my doorstep, I said.
In any case, Linc said, mirroring my smile, I doreallywant to make
it up to you. I was going to ask if you wouldnt mind coming out with me for
dinner tonight.
I thought about it. After the day Id had, the last thing I should have wanted
was a not-date with my new landlord, who seemed so dangerous and so
attractive at the same time. I knew I should tell him no, get out of my work
clothes, take a nice, long bath, and go to bed early.
Whats the situation with the water heater? I suddenly remembered that he
had said it would take longer for that. Linc laughed.
It should be in tomorrow or the next day, he replied. You can still keep
using this one, but be on the lookout for it to leak, or something to go off
and let me know right away so I can shut of the water to it.
I nodded. Okay. I thought about his offer again. At least if I went with him,
I wouldnt have to cook or do dishes. Let me get changed out of my work
clothes and we can goassuming you meant dinner tonight.
I did, Linc said. Meet in the parking lot in... say... twenty minutes? That
was enough time to get myself put together.
Twenty-five, I told him.
Deal.

Chapter NineSky

His eyes were all the reward I needed for the work of getting out of my
work clothes, taking off my makeup, putting new makeup onnot much, but
enough to make a differenceand throwing on the second-nicest dress I
owned. It wasnt as slinky or skimpy as the first one, but I could see that Linc
liked it very much, and my face was heating up again. It really was impossible
not to let him get to me. I finally had to look away, asking if he was ready.
So are we going to go, or are you just going to stand there staring at me?
He looked away, but it wasnt long before I could feel his eyes on me again.
I didnt have a chance to even look at what he was wearing, not that I really
cared. I dont think there was anything that could have made him look better
than he always did to me.
Sure, Linc said, something like a laugh rippling through his voice. But
why are you in such a rush?
Because if we didnt get around people soon, I didnt trust what was going
to happen next. Id waited so long that I was starting to wonder if the wait was
worth it. Worse was the idea that Id waited all this time for him in particular.
No. You are not going to squander your first time with your landlord, all
because youre irritable from getting hit on and because hes hotter than a five-
alarm fire.
Im not, I said. Im just hungry, I guess. I havent been out much since I
got here, so it will be nice to go out to a good place. This city can be a little
intimidating.
He nodded his head, but we both knew that there was more to the way I was
acting than I let on. It was hard to be so close to him and to think at the same
time. It wasnt good for keeping my mind in the right place, and it was already
getting fuzzy. My body trembled as I walked, and I wanted to hate it but at the
same time it was such a rush to know that Linc couldnt keep his eyes off of me
that I couldnt make myself hate it.
I followed him down to the parking lot, and I realized that I had no idea what
kind of car my landlord droveor even if he drove a car at all. It just hadnt
occurred to me to even wonder. He stopped in front of an old beat-up truck and
I waited for him to unlock it, suddenly sure that that was what we were going to
go in. It wasnt what I would have picked, but I wasnt the one who had to drive
it. Of course a mans man like Linc would drive a beat-up old pickup. What
were you expecting, a Rolls-Royce?
No, we arent taking this one, Sky. Im trying to impress you a little bit. I
dont think you want to move stuff off the seat to sit down.
I looked into the window and I could see a mess of tools and other things on
the passenger seat. I dont mind if you want to take this, I said, worried
though I couldnt say whythat he thought I was some kind of snob. Really, I
dont.
He looked at me like I must be joking, but I wasnt. It wasnt a real date
anyway, so what did it matter what we went to the restaurant in? I took a deep
breath and tried to stop my brain from thinking in such tight circles.
So if not this one, then which one? There were several cars in the parking
lot, but none of them really felt like him. I didnt know or care which one was
his, but then I saw a hot pink seat cover and it made me think of his daughter.
Is that one yours?
How did you guess? He seemed amused at my accuracy.
Well, I saw the pink, I admitted, pointing out the seat cover. There arent
many grownups who would rock a color like that. You must be pretty secure in
your manhood to drive around with all that pink.
He kind of chuckled at the comment. You just have to go with it. Its hard to
be cool when youre father to a little girl who has you wrapped around her
finger. I gave up trying a long time ago.
It was obvious that he was a good father, and I wanted to know more about
Jazmin. Besides which, I couldnt really think of anything that we might have to
talk about otherwise. Speaking about her was the only time he really seemed to
light up. I wanted to see the smile on his face again, even if it was just for a
moment.
So how old is she again?
Eight.
I didnt know anyone that age besides my niece. She was a mess, and though
I loved her, I didnt have much in common with her. Shasta was into the girly
side of things, much like Lincs daughter appeared to be. I was not good at that
sort of thing. Id been the kind of eight-year-old who either read books, or
climbed trees, or went digging in the mud for bugs to scare other eight-year-
old girls with; I hadnt gotten into girly things until high school.
Thats a good age, I said, for lack of anything better to say about it. I
have a niece about that age.
Yeah, but I think shes growing up way too fast. I wish I could keep her my
little girl for just a little bit longer, but I know that shell be all grown up
before I know it. Id heard a dozen parents say that exact thing, and I couldnt
really relate; the only kids in my lifethe ones Id babysat, and then my niece
never seemed to get old enough to have any kind of interesting conversation
with. Do you like kids?
I heard a little bit of intensity in his voice that I couldnt understand; why
would it matter if I liked kids? But obviously the question was important to him
for whatever reason.
I dont know much about kids except that I used to be one, I admitted. I
babysat when I was younger, but never all that often. It wasnt the answer that
he wanted, but that was all I had. I had little experience with children, and
anyway, I had heard dozens of times that it would be totally different when the
kids were my own.
Well, I mean, I guess Im not around them that much, I said, trying to
salvage what I could of the conversation. College kept me busy. There were a
few girls on campus who had babies, but not that many. It must have been near
impossible to do it like that. I paused again. It didnt seem to be enough. Im
sure your daughter s great, though, I finally said, weakly.
He kind of grinned. She has her momentsboth ends of the spectrum.
Theres no child thats a saint, and Jazmin certainly isnt one. I know that Im
supposed to think shes perfect, but she has a little too much of me in her.
Well, how could that be a bad thing? Linc laughed.
Considering how I acted the first night we met, I think you know well and
good how that could be a bad thing, he said.
I assume that at eight shes not going around treating grown women like
theyre idiots for not being able to manage a bizarre key-wiggling ritual.
No, that she doesnt do, Linc admitted. But she does have a bit of a
temper on her. I have to find a way to teach her to control that without getting
rid of her spirit at the same time. The second part of the sentence seemed
almost to himself, and I had a moment, watching him drive in silence, where it
struck me how strange it was that this massive, muscled ex-Navy guywho
could probably break a few lesser mortals in half without breaking a sweat
was a big ball of marshmallow and concern about his little girl.
We got to the restaurant that Linc had picked out, a place called Tacos
Tequila Whiskey. It turned out that we were just in time to catch the end of
happy hour.
Oh no, I said, shaking my head as soon as I saw the dining area full of
half-drunk twenty-somethings.
You dont have to get drunk, Linc pointed out.
On the other hand, who comes to happy hour just to have a soda? I
countered.
So have one drink, and Ill have a beer, and well leave it at that, he
suggested. It was a sensible plan; I had to give him that. He ordered me a
Palomawhich Id never had beforeand himself the draft special, and with it
we got nachos with barbacoa, along with a couple of kinds of tacos that Id
never even heard of before.
The alcohol began to settle my nerves, and I started to actuallyat least a
little bitfeel at ease with Linc, for the first time since Id met him a few days
before. Soyou had that big dust-up with Lisa, I said. I knew in the back of
my mind it was probably a stupid idea to bring it up, but the curiosity was
burning in me almost as much as the tequila.
Yeah, my ex, Linc said, sounding a bit rough with surprise.
Whats the situationwhy is she able to pull the stuff like she did the other
day when she wanted to deny you seeing Jazmin, and then drop her on you
when you thought you wouldnt see her? I knew I wasnt quite making sense,
and I decided that one Paloma was definitely enough for me, but Linc seemed
to understand me all the same.
We have a court date coming up, Linc explained. Itsits kind of
important. Lisa wants to take my daughter with her to California, where her
new husband has some kind of business interests.
Ah, I said, nodding. Id heardin passingabout weird custody battles
before, from friends of mine whose parents had divorced. So shes using that
against you somehow?
Shes using everything against me, Linc said, sounding more than a little
bitter; not that I could blame him. She said that she wasnt going to bring
Jazmin to see me for the weekend because we have this court date pending, or
some bullshit like that. She pulls that kind of power play all the time.
I hate that, I told him, shaking my head. How can they let her get away
with that kind ofbullshit? Definitely need to ask the waiter for a glass of
water the next time you see him, Sky, I thought. But at least Linc seemed to
appreciate my sudden willingness to cuss.
Shes married again, nowso shes the more stable parent, he told me.
So she thinks she can do what she wants, because shes pretty sure the judge is
going to decide in her favor. He looked like he was about to say something
more, but then he shook his head.
What?
Im out to dinner with a gorgeous woman, Linc said. I dont need to be
thinking about my bitter snake of an ex-wife. Hows your day looking now?
You were pretty on edge when you came in. I laughed and shook my head.
Its a stupid work thing, I said. My boss. Linc raised an eyebrow at that,
and for the first time that nightor at least since the alcohol had started
affecting meclarity came through my mind and I knew I needed to shut up.
Its a misunderstanding. Hopefully I can take care of it tomorrow.
Well, if he gives you any trouble... I laughed at Lincs veiled threat,
indirect as it was, to my boss.
If he gives me any trouble Ill contact HR like Im supposed to, I told him.
And now we should talk about something else, because otherwise neither of
us is going to have a very good evening, are we? He seemed only too willing
to change the subject, and I could only think that it was probably for the best
that I hadnt mentioned how sleazy my new boss had turned out to be.

Chapter TenLinc

After our date, I couldnt get Sky off my mind. I hadnt seen her since, and
she hadnt been picking up her phone for the last couple of days. Id replaced
the water heater, and even left a note for her to come and see me if she had any
questions about the new one, but Id heard nothing at all. It was the end of the
work week, and the time to request that Sky do me the huge favor I needed
and then convince her to agreewas running out faster every day.
I definitely didnt want to come across as too pushy, but I also didnt want to
wait too long and then find out that she was seeing some stuffed suit from her
office. I wanted to know why she wasnt returning my calls, and I wanted to
know why she seemed to be avoiding me. Wed had a good time at dinner, and I
hadnt done anything with or to her that I wouldnt have done with a friends
daughter or a cousin; it had been like torture, but I had managed to keep myself
civil and keep my hands to myself.
I spent all Friday dwelling on it, and decided to take myself to the bar; if Sky
didnt want to have anything to do with mefor whatever reason she might
haveI wasnt about to continue chasing after her. I was going to take the
implied rejection like a man. But when it came to picking someone else up, I
just didnt have the heart for it. Mandy, my favorite bartender, and one of few
women I trusted other than my lawyer, Carol, tried to get me into the groove of
things.
Come on, Lincthere are at least four different women in this bar right
now looking at you like youre the Matterhorn at Disney and suddenly theres
no line, she said. I had a laugh at that, but to my mind not a single one of the
girls she pointed out was nearly as appealing as the girl who was trying to
avoid me.
I checked my phone every ten minutes, hoping that she would at least send
me a text with an apology, but by midnight, I was ready to go home, ready to
give up even on the idea of drinking myself into a stupor. Id managed to get a
bit of a buzz on, but not enough to defeat the annoyance I felt about Lisa trying
to take my daughter a thousand miles away from me out of pure spite.
I walked back to my apartment and debated having an end-of-the-night beer.
Youre feeling sorry for yourselfyou know what thats about, dont you, Squid?
Id gotten chapter and verse about self-pity from more than one superior
officer in the SEALs. There was no time for self-pity; there was only dusting
yourself off and getting back into it. If Sky wouldnt come near me, I would
find some other girl who would be open to the idea of marrying me, or Id
leave it to Carol to come up with some kind of strategy for getting me what I
needed in court.
I had finally decided to just go to bedno end of the night beer, no self-pity
and face the next morning like a man who had some kind of future when a
knock at my door shattered whatever peace Id managed to wrap around
myself. What the hell? Who could be knocking so late at night? I answered
myself immediately: it had to be a tenant with some kind of problem. At least I
wasnt drunk this time.
On the other side of my door, when I opened it, was not just some tenant. It
was Sky. I stood there for a moment just staring at her; she was dripping wet,
wrapped up in a red terrycloth robeand, I thought, nothing elseand
dripping onto my doormat. She had had makeup on at some point, to judge by
the thick smears of black running down from her eyes, and the lipstick that still
smudged her lips; and by the way she wavered slightly, even standing still as
she was, I could guess that she was quite a bit closer to drunk than I was.
The hot water things broke, she said, and then paused, frowned, and
cleared her throat. What I mean is, the new water heater in my apartment is
broken. The heating element is out. I raised an eyebrow at her second, more
eloquent statement.
How do you know?
Sky rolled her eyes and leaned against the frame of my door. My first hint
was the fact that the water that came out of my showerhead was freaking
freezing all of a sudden, she said. The heater I had installed was one of the
new onesan on-demand heater, without a tank to leak. The water flowed
through it, heated up, and went into the pipesso it made sense that if the
heating element had broken or shorted out somehow, she would get a blast of
cold water.
Wow, I said, unable to think of anything else to say for a moment. Sky,
are you drunk?
Mostly, she admitted. Cassie wanted to celebrate my first paycheck.
I had to chuckle a little at that. Come inside, I suggested; it was warmer
out in the hallway, but I didnt have any doubts that Sky wouldnt want to stand
outside of my apartment indefinitely. I cant fix it tonightyou understand
that, right?
I figured as much, Sky said with a sigh.
But you can finish your shower here. There Id been, feeling sorry for
myself that this girl was avoiding mewithout even knowing why she was
avoiding meand shed turned up on my doorstep half naked. God bless the
shit out of whoever was in charge of quality control for that heating element.
Thank you, Linc, Sky said, her voice sounding strange with all the effort
she was putting in to sound normal. It was the way Id heard guys talk to MPs
on base when they were trying to beat a drunk driving pullover. I shook my
head and watched her pad across my living room, directly towards the shower
shed used the last time she was in my apartment.
I sat on the couch, determined not to go to sleep until I knew what was going
on with Sky. I wanted to hear more about the night out, or maybe talk to her
about why she was avoiding me. In her current state she might let something
slip. I must have dozed, at least a little bit, because I lost track of my train of
thought for a while and only got it back when I heard the door to the bathroom
open. I caught a quick whiff of the sweet-warm soap that Sky used, and
whatever it was she had as a shampoo, and then she was right in front of me.
Youre so nice, she said. It was obvious she was still more than a little tipsy,
and I felt guiltybut not that guiltyabout the idea that rose up in my mind.
Could I take advantage of her in the state she was in?
Im not that nice, I told her.
Im not that drunk, Sky said, and I frowned. Youre looking at me like
Im about to puke all over you, and I want you to know: Im not that drunk.
I had to chuckle at that, but in fact she no longer had the tone in her voice
that had told me, before, that she was trying hard to sound normal.
Why dont you have a seat? she was in the robe again, but at least this
time, she had taken the timeand one of my towelsto dry off. I gestured to
the couch and Sky looked at me for a long moment before moving to the area
Id indicated. She sat down and looked up at me, and for half a second she
looked like every drunk college girl Id ever seen in my life. Then she took a
deep breath, and suddenly she was the sweet-strongif youngwoman I
hadnt been able to get out of my head for days. I sat down, giving her a little
space.
I wanted to thank you for letting me use your shower, and I wanted to
apologize for missing all your calls, Sky said, speaking a little slowly, but
without slurring.
Well, what other shower would you have used? I couldnt make you take a
cold shower, or go to bed covered in soap for that matter, I told her. And the
callsits no big deal.
It is a big deal, Sky said, looking at me. I should have called you back,
but Ive been dealing with work stuff, and just... She shook her head. Will you
let me thank you? I raised an eyebrow at that.
What did you have in mind? Before I could suggest anythingand my
mind was full of suggestionsshe leaned across the couch, wavering only
slightly, and kissed me. I would have been lying if I said this kind of scenario
hadnt played through my mind more than once; but even as I steadied her
against me, even as I let my hands just barely start to wander over her body,
over the thick, plush robe, I felt a little guilty.
I broke away from her lips after a moment and looked into her eyes. I was
surprised at how sober they looked. What? I shook my head.
Youre drunk, I told her. I may have slept with plenty of drunk girls in
my time, but Im not sure youre doing this for the right reasons. Sky
frowned, her lower lip sticking out in a pout, and she exhaled sharply.
I am sober enough to make this decision, she said firmly. I held her gaze
for a few more moments and then thought, Good enough. If she has regrets
later, its on her. In all honesty, I couldnt have held back much longernot
with the feeling of her tits pressing against my chest through her robe, and not
with the warmth of her body sinking into me, and definitely not with the
fantasies that had been dancing through my head for days.
I kissed her, pressing her body as tightly against mine as I possibly could,
and taking full advantage of the fact that she was in the next best thing to
nothing, and was clearly willing. I let my hands drop down to her full, round
ass and squeezed it through the heavy fabric. I heardand felther moan
against my mouth at the feeling of my touch. Her hands came to life on me,
exploring my chest, moving around to my back, and in a matter of moments I
was touching her everywhere I could think of, trying to find the knot on the
sash of her robe to tug it untied, so I could expose that delicious body Id
gotten so many little hints of.
I managed to slip one hand under one of the front flaps of the robe, and my
reward was more than a handful of Skys warm, full, heavy tit, the nipple
beginning to harden to my touch. She moaned again, and I thought for a second
that it was because she loved itbut the next moment she was pulling back,
squirming in my arms in a way that I understood right away. I was hard as a
rock, my cock straining at my jeans, eager for the action that Sky had seemed
to promise mebut I knew hesitation when I saw it.
Whats wrong? I looked into Skys eyes and saw it: fear. Not fear like
women showed when they thought I was about to blow up at them; fear like
when theyre almost certain theyre about to make a big mistake. We can stop
if you want, Sky, I said.
I justI think I was letting my... She shook her head. I think Im more
drunk than I thought.
Why dont you crash on the couch? I couldnt let her go back to her place
not in the state she was in, and not when she might feel humiliated the next
morning, and decide that she definitely didnt want to see me again or talk to
me again until her rent was due. I can run to the hardware store and pick up a
replacement part for your water heater in the morning.
I should go back to my place, she said, tensing up all over. Im naked and
Ive been leading you on, and thats just a recipe for...
Its a recipe for a great story about how you showed up on your landlords
doorstep soaking wet and got him to let you use his shower and crash on his
couch, I told her. I knew she was still hot for me. She was embarrassed by it,
and I didnt know why, but I had been able to taste it on her lips: she wanted me,
even if she was saying no. But I would respect the no.
Im not going to sleep on your couch in my robe, she said.
Ill get you a shirt to sleep in, I suggested. And a couple of blankets and a
pillow out of the guest room. There: is that okay? She thought about it for a
moment and then nodded. I got upawkward, because of the hard-on still
straining to get out of my jeansand fetched an old shirt of mine from the
Navy, almost bigger than she was, pillow and blankets, everything a half-drunk
girl might need to feel comfortable sleeping on a relative stranger s couch.
She was almost down for the count by the time I came back, and I had to tell
myself I was glad that I hadnt just moved on forward with her. It had been a
near thing.
As soon as Sky came back out of the bathroom in my shirt and padded half-
asleep to the couch to collapse, I went into the bathroom myself. I had a big
problem to take care of, and I could only hope that she wouldnt hear anything
that would let her know about it. I laughed to myself as I stepped under the hot
water flowing from the showerhead, even as I reached down and wrapped my
hand around my throbbing erection and started to stroke it. She might be
innocent, but shes definitely not boring, I thought, picturing the night going a
slightly different way; if she hadnt wanted to stop, if Sky hadnt been just
drunk enough to get things started but not enough to want to keep them going
in spite of her misgivings.
In next to no time I came, shooting my load down the drain, and as I leaned
heavily against the wall of the shower, I had to admit that if Sky was going to
give herself to me, I wanted it to be because she wanted to 100%. I didnt want
her to be so drunk that she couldnt think better of it. I wanted her to be sober
and so turned on she couldnt even think of hesitating. That thought nearly
made me hard again, and I got out of the shower before I could be tempted to
another round of dirty thoughts that would only waste a bunch of water.

Chapter ElevenSky

My head had started pounding before I even came fully awake, so by the
time I opened my eyes and realized in a flash that I wasnt in my bedroom, I
was already aware of the fact that I had the hangover from hell. It was worse
than the one Id gotten a week beforeworse by farwith my stomach
pitching and twisting inside of me, and my mouth tasting like cigarettes. Had I
smoked the night before? What could have possessed me to do that?
Images of my night out with Cassie flitted through my mind, and I finally
remembered that one of the guys shed convinced me to talk to had told me that
nothing went with a good cocktail like a cigarette, and Id let him give me one
hed lit, and Id smoked it. At the time it had seemed greatbut the dry, crackly
feeling in my throat was more than punishment enough for the flirtation with
vice. God, Im such an idiot.
After a few more moments I realized why I wasnt in my bed in my
apartment. I remembered deciding to take a shower when I got home, and I
remembered the blast of cold water, and standing in my kitchen to stare in
confusion at my water heater. And then I remembered making out with Linc,
and I groaned.
I see youre awake, Linc said quietly, and I felt my humiliation as an
almost physical thing, like a shaking down in my bones. If the couch could
have swallowed me up, it would have been preferable to showing my face.
I am such an idiot, I wailed from underneath the blankets, and I
immediately regretted it. My own voice was like ice picks stabbing into my
brain, and I wondered briefly how anyone else in the world could possibly
stand it.
Less of an idiot than you might think. You had the intelligence to know
when to call a halt to things last night, Linc told me. He was keeping his voice
low, and the baritone rumble of it was oddly soothing to me.
You dont think Im someI dont knowstupid, gross... I couldnt even
think of what I was trying to describe.
I think youre a smart girl who had too much to drink and who made the
best of the situation, Linc replied, when it was obvious I wasnt going to finish
my question. I took a deep breath and threw the blankets off of me; it was too
warm underneath them, anyway.
I feel like Ive been run over by a truck, I told him. Are you sure there
isnt some kind of military remedy for a hangover?
Let me throw something together for you, Linc said, sounding amused,
and I wanted to hate him for thatbut I couldnt. Id come onto him the night
before and then backed off right when things had heated up. I didnt think I had
a right to object to much right now.
I covered my ears when I heard a blender running in the kitchen, but when I
smelled coffee I was drawn to it like a magnet. I padded into the kitchen and the
mixture of smells was almost enough to make me regret my decision:
something vinegary, something fatty, coffee, something that smelled
suspiciously like peppers. Oh God, what is going on in here?
Friend of mine from my unit swore by this, Linc said, gesturing to a
reddish-brown liquid in the blender. Dont ask whats in itbut none of it will
hurt you.
Are you sure about that? I looked at the contents of the blender and my
stomach did a flip-flop inside of me at the thought of even tasting it.
Sit down, and Ill get you some coffee to have with it, Linc suggested. I
had to admit, whatever embarrassment I had suffered from being a drunken
idiot, I could appreciate the kind, almost sweet Linc who had now appeared. I
sat down at his table, in the same chair Id used the week before when wed had
our little impromptu breakfast, and he poured me a mug of coffee and a big
glass of the red, gloopy-looking stuff.
I took a deep breath and steeled myself against whatever it might taste like;
but the first sip wasnt actually that bad. It tastes kind of like a Bloody Mary, I
said, frowning. Id only ever had oneand I hadnt been much of a fanbut
the mixture that Linc had made for me was an improvement.
Its got tomato and some of the other Bloody Mary stuff in it, Linc said.
And some other stuff you probably dont want to know about, but which
supposedly should help. I wasnt about to ask more questions; if it would help
me then it would help me. I drank down about half of the glass before starting
in on my coffee, and I actually was starting to feel betterat least, I was
starting to feel more like a human being and less like a giant walking mistake.
I am forever in your debt, I told Linc, switching between the two drinks
hed prepared for me. He was sipping coffee, watching me intently.
You seemed pretty interested in me last night, he remarked, and once
again I regretted the entire night with every fiber of my being.
It was a bad idea, I said. I justI was grateful for you letting me use your
shower, and I was drunk, and... I dont even know.
I thought as much, Linc said with a nod. But you are still a smart woman:
remember that. I smiled weakly.
I appreciate that, after how stupidly I acted last night.
I wondered if I could pick your brain on a problem Ive been trying to deal
with, Linc said. I blinked a few times, and realized that my headache was
starting to go away; whatever was in the remedy hed concocted for me, he
should patent it.
Sure, I said. Not sure how much help I can be, but I owe it to youat this
pointto at least give it a shot. I finished off the last of the remedy and went
back to the coffee.
I think I mentioned I have a court date coming up, Linc said. I nodded.
Something big about your custody, I said. I remembered that from our
dinner together.
Basically, my ex-wife wants to move my daughter to California, and my
lawyerCarolisnt all that sure that she can get the judge to see things in my
favor, so that hell decide that they have to stay here, and that Lisa cant get full
custody, Linc explained. I considered that for a moment.
What do you need to pick my brain about on that? If a lawyer cant figure it
out then Im probably not going to be much help, I said.
Carol thinks that if I get married, it will make it harder for Lisa to win full
custody, Linc explained. I dont know if thats true, but she says the stable
home aspect is important. I want to get more visitation rights, but if she goes to
California, Ill never get to see Jazmin.
He had gone from being matter-of-fact about the situation to being outright
emotional, and I felt his pain through his words. It was clear that he loved his
daughter very much. Id found that out the first time hed talked about her and
lit up like he did. I hadnt thought much about having kids yet, but I couldnt
imagine what it would be like to have one taken away from me. Just the idea of
it was devastating.
Then why dont you get married? It seemed so obvious to me.
Linc seemed surprised by the answer. Im not even dating anyone. Who am
I going to marry?
I bit my lower lip before the words that jumped into my mind almost
immediately could fly out of my mouth. I knew that I needed to really think
about the idea that had appeared in my brain, and I had to make sure I was fully
capable of the kind of thinking that required. What I was about to suggest was
not something that Id ever planned to do. But I felt like I had been put into this
position for a reason. I was starting to think that meeting Linc wasnt
coincidence, but more like fate. When I was sure I wasnt just still drunk
somehow, I spoke.
Why dont we get married? It would get my family off my back about
being out here by myself, and then you would be married for your court date.
Its a win-win.
Linc looked at me like I had grown another head, or maybe even two.
Maybe I was totally out of my mind, but I wanted to help him. I didnt know of
that many good dads, and it just seemed wrong that Linc was doing his best to
be a good dad and still might end up losing his daughter.
Are you serious?
I almost told him that I wasnt, just because I couldnt quite believe it myself.
He hadnt blinked in several minutes, and I was starting to worry about him.
Was he in shock? Id heard of that, but Id never seen it happen. Maybe this was
what it looked like.
I know we dont know each other well, but why not? Its not like it would
be a real marriage or anything. It would be in name only, and we could both
benefit. We dont even have to live together. A quick wedding and we could be
done. The words just kind of tumbled out of my mouth almost before I could
fully think of them, and I kept talking until they ran out, probably almost as
surprised as Linc was at what I was saying.
You would do that for me? Linc shook his head as if to dismiss the idea,
and then just stared at me again. I wondered what he knew that I didnt.
Yes, I said. I would do it so that you have a chance in court. Besides, its
not like we cant get a divorce later when its all done. This is only temporary.
He didnt seem to like the second part of what Id said, but that wasnt all
that important at the moment. I knew that I was going to fall for him, at least the
way things had been going between us, so I had to remind myself that it was
only temporary. I didnt want to believe that this was real. It was all just an idea.
Okay, he said finally.
Okay?
You know, I never really thought about it like that, but youre right, Linc
said. Its only temporary, and its not any worse than her marrying a rich guy
so shed have the money to take me to court.
Huh? I wanted an answer to that question, but he waved me off and told
me that he would tell me about it another time. Linc wanted to talk about the
wedding plans. I couldnt even say wedding out loud without getting a chill.
Where had the idea even come from? Surely it hadnt come from me, had it?
Here I had been worried about finally finding a love interest, finding
someone I could lose my virginity to before I turned twenty-five. I hadnt
thought about this. Now I was going to get married? It was my idea, but it had
all just fallen out of my mouth, and Id been unable to take it back once it was
out. It was the right thing to do; it felt right, but at the same time I felt as if Id
climbed to the top of some very high cliff and started looking down into the
valley under it.
I told Linc that I had to go back to my apartment, and he made a token effort
to get me to stay, but when it was obvious that I needed to be by myself for a
bit, he relented. I thought, a little glumly, that he didnt want to push hard
enough to make me take back my offer to marry him. I went back to my
apartment and for a while I just stared at the walls. How had this happened?
That was what I couldnt quite understand. One minute Linc had been telling me
about his ex-marital woes, and Id been sympathizing, and the next Id been
suggesting that we get married. My parents are going to be pissed, I thought,
and started to laugh. I decided I needed another shower, some actual food, and
some more sleep before I pieced together the strangeness that had just
happened.

Chapter TwelveLinc

As soon as Sky left my apartment, saying she needed to get back to her
place and get some sleep, I called Carol. She didnt usually work weekends, but
I had her cell phone number, and I was only too eager to tell her about the
situation and the twist it had taken.
You have got to be kidding me, she said. You got someone to agree to
marry you in three days?
Thats my story and Im sticking to it, I told her. Can you work with
that?
Itll be cutting it close, but as long as its official and on the books, we can
work with it, Carol promised. She was nothing if not efficientthat was why
she made the kind of money she did.
I didnt see Sky the next day, but I figured she had stuff of her own to take
care of, and shed probably want space. I could only hope that she didnt end up
getting enough space to reconsider.
Carol called me Monday morning to give me the final details on the Family
Court hearing, and as soon as I got off the phone with her I made an
appointment at the courthouse for my wedding with Sky. If we were going to
get married, and I was going to use it in Family Court, I needed to get all of my
ducks in a row as quickly as possible. Once I had everything set up, I tried to
see if I could get Sky on the phone to tell her what needed to be done. I
couldnt, but shed told me where she worked, so around noon I went by to see
if I could steal her away for a little while, figuring that it would all go better
over lunch.
Finding her was going to be an issue, though. The place was huge, and there
were probably over a thousand employees running around. The only saving
grace was an information booth staffed by a nice old lady, maybe in her fifties,
with a hairstyle about twenty years out of date, but dressed well enough. When I
told her why I was there she wanted to see me find Sky, so she spent several
minutes tracking her down while the phones rang in front of her. She was a
master at ignoring them, but the incessant ringing nearly drove me crazy while
I waited for her.
Shes up on the fourth floor, in the back. You cant miss it. Corner office
on the left when you get to the west side of the building. Her name plate should
be on the door by now.
Thank you. I dont think I would have found her without you, I said, trying
to stick to my role of romantic hero.
You two have a good lunch. I wish my husband would surprise me once in
a while. But you know how it is once you get married, everything changes and
you dont do those sweet little things anymore.
I know exactly what you mean, I told her. I can only hope Ill know how
to keep that from happening in my second marriage. As I went up to the fourth
floor, intent on finding Sky, I had to wonder if I had lost my mind under the
strain of dealing with Lisa. Hadnt I sworn to myself that I would never get
married again? What if Sky turned out to be no better than Lisa had been? What
if I got her to agree to marry me and then everything changed?
I shook my head to get rid of the intruding thoughts and took a deep breath
to calm myself. I was eager to see her again, and I could still taste her on my
lips from when we had kissed in my living room. I wanted more of that, even
though time was running short on the court date. I had to focus, but it was
impossible to focus when I had Sky to think about.
Stopping the first person I saw when I got off the elevatora guy in his
twenties, it looked like, wearing a suit that was a little too pricy for someone
working an office jobI asked for directions to Skys office yet again. Id
gotten them from the lady downstairs, but Id already forgotten most of them.
All I could think about was seeing Sky, and I didnt want to get lost on the way.
Excuse me, Im looking for Sky. I didnt use her last name. The name Sky
was unique enough, even in a building of a thousand. I would almost bet that no
one else here had that name.
Sky Davis? The twenty-something guy gave me a quick up-and-down
look.
I nodded my head. Yeah, thats her.
The man looked at me curiously but then shrugged and pointed me in the
direction of some offices. I could walk you over, he offered after a moment.
It can be a real maze in here.
No, I think Ive got it from here, I told him. Im here to surprise her.
The guy looked doubtful for a moment longer, but then he smiled and
waved me off. I was surprised by how pleasant everyone in the office seemed
intent on being. I had never seen anything like that in the SEALsat least, not
when people were on dutyand Id definitely never seen so many smiles in the
apartment building. I watched all the people running around and working. I
didnt know how anyone could work in this chaos, no matter how pleasant their
coworkers were. I guessed it was a civilian thing. Years of military precision,
and then being on my own, had worn it out of me.
The door to Skys office was open a little. I heard conversation, and a deep,
male voice had me stopping in my tracks. It was not just the tone and timber of
the voice that alarmed me, but what he was saying when I got closer to the door
and could hear him.
Come on, Sky. Just go out to lunch with me one time. I know you want to.
Theres no sense in trying to act like you dont. Youre a bit too old to be
playing the hard-to-get card with me or anyone else. Before you know it, your
biological clock is going to be winding down. My heart started beating faster
in my chest as I remembered Sky mentioning that shed had some kind of issue
with her boss. Shed said it had just been a misunderstanding, but this didnt
sound like a misunderstanding.
Really, Stephen, I dont want to go out with you. I thought I made that clear.
We work together, and youre my boss.
Do you want to keep it that way?
What do you mean by that? The alarm in Skys voice cut right through my
skull, and I got the kind of too-clear vision that tended to come with an
adrenaline overload. I knew I had to be careful, but the mixture of Skys alarm
and the assholes words was making it hard for me to think.
I mean that I can find another actuary if you dont want to be nice, Sky. I
told you when you started that I was going to have you. Now is the time to give
in. Either that or Ill find someone who is a little more compliant. Being
friends with Cassie, I thought you would be more accustomed to how it works
in the real world.
I didnt get to hear her answer before I was bursting into her office. I didnt
say anything, because I couldnt think of a thing to say. I saw red, and when I
realized that the man was actually touching her arm, and almost grabbing it
hard enough to hurt her, I couldnt stop what happened next. Instinct took over.
I would have been pissed no matter who was on the receiving end of this
blatant sexual harassment, but it wasnt just any woman. It was Sky whose
forearm the slick-haired asshole was gripping. Well, I was going to make sure
that he would think twice before ever touching another woman in his life.
Wait, Linc, stop! I could hear Sky in the background, but I lost it for a
minute. My mind just went blank, and I didnt even know what Id done until
later, when it came back to me as the haze of the adrenaline rush lifted. When I
finally got myself together, all I could tell was that Id gone too far. What the
hell was I thinking? The man was bleeding on the floor in front of me and
everything around me was far too quiet. What the hell had come over me? Sky
wasnt even mine, but I had reacted with the kind of protective instincts that Id
only ever felt towards my daughter before.
Sky was looking at me as if I might be some kind of monster. What the hell
did you do that for?
He was harassing you, Sky, I said, rubbing the knuckles on my right hand.
I walked up and heard it. I didnt like the way he was trying to blackmail you.
So you broke his nose?
Ahits not broken, I said, trying to dismiss it. But one look at the blood
on the guys face, on the floor of the office, and the crooked angle of his nose
told me that Sky was probably right. I tried unsuccessfully to hide the smile that
I felt inside. After all, the man had gotten what he deserved. But even though I
wasnt worried about the legal consequences yet, I was worried about how Sky
was looking at me.
What are you even doing here, Linc? She was pale, and her eyes were
widebut not in the sweet-sexy way Id seen them before. She looked pissed
and scared shitless all at the same time.
I wanted to see if you were free for lunch, I said. It seemed like a pretty
hollow reason, in light of what had happened, but that was the fact of the matter.
She looked from me to the man on the floor and just shook her head. There
were a few groans out of her boss, but not many. A right hook backed up by
twenty years of hand-to-hand combat training had put him down for the count,
and I was satisfied that hed gotten the point. If not, I would be more than happy
to spell it out to him again anytime it was needed. Sky shook her head again
and leaned heavily against her desk. Oh my god, she said quietly.
He had no right to touch you or say those things to you, Sky, and I wont
let him. She looked up at me and it seemed like her mind had settled on pissed,
instead of scared shitless. The color rose back up into her face in a hectic
blush.
Im going to get fired for this. You know that, right? Why the hell would
you do this?
Why the hell would I do that? Because he was grabbing you. He was
assaulting you, Sky. He had no right to do that. Besides, can you honestly say it
wasnt gratifying to see someone do something about it?
I could tell that she didnt appreciate it as much as I did. You dont
understand, Linc. I needed to line another job up first. I cant just get fired and
hope that it all works out. Ive got bills to pay and you come in here like
Rambo.
I didnt know what to say. She wasnt wrongbut something about it felt
wrong. Sky wasnt mine, at least not yet, and even when we did get married, if
we still went through with it, it was only going to be a sham marriage. She still
wouldnt really belong to me. I took a deep breath. The adrenaline was starting
to fade, letting me think more rationally. Im sorry. I just reacted when I saw
him touching you.
There was a bare glimmer of a smile before she straightened her face out. I
cant believe youre jealous, Linc.
Something about the way youre saying that doesnt sound all that good, I
told her.
It doesnt look all that good from where Im standing, she said dryly.
I had to agree. This could have gone a lot better. It certainly wasnt what Id
imagined in my head.
I think I have to go tell someone about this. I dont know what to do. Im
sure Ill be fired for this. She shook her head again, and that scared shitless
look came back into her eyes. I tried to think of something I could say to make
it leave again, but I couldnt come up with anything. Then I remembered
Carols advice to me and cringed.
Let me leave before you call the police, Sky, I said. I know you have to
but just let me get out of here first, okay?
Her eyes narrowed. Why?
My ex-wife has been trying to paint me as some unstable, unpredictable
rage-head for years now, and something like this would undo everything else
Im trying to dothat were trying to doto make it possible for me to keep
Jazmin here, I said.
So what am I supposed to tell them, then? I mean, you kind of messed his
face up, Linc.
Just tell them you dont know who I am. I just came in and started to attack
this guy.
His name is Stephen, in case that matters, she said. You want me to lie to
the police?
Well, do what you have to do, I said. If you have to tell them... I sighed.
Please, just do me one last favor, and avoid telling them anything about me if
you dont have to. Sky held my gaze for a long moment and then nodded.
Okay, fine, she said finally.
I sighed. I was going to take that as short for Okay, I wont say anything to
the police. I wasnt sure, and it was a lot to ask of someone, but I had to hope
that she would do exactly that. I also had to get out of there before the guy on
the ground woke up enough to get a good look at my face. Maybe it would all
be chalked up to a random act of violence, or blamed on a former employee
with a grudge. It was better than the alternative.
When I left, I tried to put the incident out of my mind. There was nothing I
could do about it anyway, and there were still a few arrangements to be made
and items to be picked up. I wanted everything to be perfect, even if asking for
a wedding to be perfect when you only had a couple of days to make it happen
was practically asking for disaster. I could only hope that Sky would go along
with my plan, and that she would come over like Id asked her to. I needed to
talk over the last several details with her, and more than that I needed to make
sure that she was still willing to go through with it. I supposed I couldnt really
blame her if she decided against it.
I picked up a bouquet of flowers for her, a pair of rings for the courthouse,
and decided that I was going to make her a decent dinner to come home to. We
would talk about what had happened, and then wed figure it outand
hopefully wed make everything come out okay in the end. I wasnt all that
optimistic normally, but I had nothing left to me, really, but hope.
While I was waiting, I decided to call Carol and make sure that everything
was as it should be. She picked up on the second ring, and I didntI couldnt
tell her about the situation at Skys office.
I swear, if you are going to call me like this Im going to start billing you
for phone hours, Carol said. I laughed; I had to. Some things might change,
but Carol was always the same.
I just want to make sure everything is how it needs to be, I said. Itll take
you all of five minutes. Is there anything else that I need to get done before the
court date? I just want to make sure that Ive done everything I can to put the
odds in my favor. I cant let her go to California and take our daughter with
her.
Not that I can think of, Linc. Youve done far more than I thought you
would, and way more than most fathers would do in your position. We will
have to leave a little bit up to the judge, but everything is looking up.
Good, because I dont know how much else you could ask for besides
blood.
No blood, not yet. Thats for later.
She laughed out loud at her own joke, and once again I had to wonder what
was on her mind when she said things like that. Carol had the strangest sense of
humor, but I trusted her to tell me straight. And now I couldI hopedadd
Sky to the list of women I trusted. I would have to see if she was up to the
challenge.

Chapter ThirteenSky

When I stepped up to Lincs door, it was more out of a sense that I should go
through with it than a real desire to do so. My head had been spinning ever
since hed shown up in my office at lunch time, and the events afterwardwith
the police showing up, and everything that went along with ithadnt
improved matters. He answered the door almost before I was done knocking,
and the smell of something delicious greeted me.
Im glad you decided to come and talk to me, he said. I took a deep breath
and asked if I could come inside. Of courseright, yeah, you can come in.
Why was he so nervous? Probably the same reason youre so nervous.
So I was hoping that we could talk a little bit about everything. Things
happened fast, and my mouth overran my ass for a little while there.
You arent thinking of changing your mind, are you?
He looked stricken for a minute, something that Id never thought I would
see from him. He was always so cool and calm, almost steely, but for a
moment I could see anxiety and something else. Im not sure what I was seeing,
but I was surefor an instantthat he was convinced, maybe rightly so, that I
wasnt going to go through with the wedding.
When Id blurted out that I would marry him, a lot of things had gone
through my mind, none of which I was really comfortable thinking about. The
fact of the matter was that I wanted to marry him. Id come to that realization
when Id been driving home. But I had to admit that I was nervous. Wasnt he
nervous about being married to me? I was practically a stranger, for Petes
sake.
No, its nothing like that. I told you that I would marry you, and I meant it. I
just dont know what that means to you. I want to make sure that me and you
are on the same page, thats all. This is kind of a big deal, and I want to help
you all that I can for your little girl.
The whole time I was talking, he was looking at me as if I was being silly,
and I didnt like the feeling at all. I wasnt being silly. How could he be so calm
about this? It was like as soon as he realized that I was still going to marry him,
Lincs confidence had come back and I was left trying to catch my breath.
Thank you, Sky, he said. You really dont know what this means to me.
I just want to make sure that we have the same expectations. It could turn
out badly if we dont, dont you think? He nodded his head, but all his
attention was below my eyes. At first I thought it was my chest, but then I
realized that he was staring at my lips again. What was with this guy?
I think this is going to be great. I cant see how this could end badly at all. I
already feel like I know you, and trust me, this is the most Ive talked to a
woman in a long time. Most of the time Im just worried about getting them in
bed and making them scream my name till they pass out.
He said that with a wink, so I guessed he meant it as a joke, but it didnt help
my anxiety in the slightest; it just intensified it somehow. I hadnt even thought
of the possibility that Linc might actually think that we would consummate our
fake marriagebut joking or not, I didnt have any doubts that he was capable
of doing what he said. But I didnt think I was ready for that kind of experience,
especially not for my first time. Although, when I looked into his dark green
eyes, I did feel a little curious.
Couldcould we eat something? I didnt really get the chance to have
lunch, I said.
Of course, Linc said, and he led me into the kitchen, where hed already
set the table. How had he known so exactly when Id get there? I took a few
bites of the food hed madesteak, baked potato, and sauted spinachand
began to feel a little calmer. After a few moments of us both eating in silence,
he spoke again. I didnt mean to frighten you, Sky.
You dont, I said. I should have said that he didnt that time, because in
general he scared the hell out of me. Linc made me feel things that I knew were
wrong. Now that I knew we were going to be married, I had to wonder about
other things. What was I going to do if he expected me to actually follow
through with the marriage on a physical level? I couldnt make myself say no
foreverand I didnt know how long it would take to get through the crisis
with his daughter, so that we could get divorced.
I consciously settled my mind before bringing up the most worrisome issue
at least, what should have been the most worrisome issue. I set my plate aside
and looked at Linc across the table. I decided to get some of the questions about
what had happened in the office out of the way. So what was that about at
work?
He looked a little guilty for a moment and then made a noncommittal sound.
I dont know. What happened after I left?
I told him about the cops coming, but Linc didnt ask what all Id told them
and I didnt volunteer anything. I wanted him to worry a little. It served him
right for losing his head so thoroughly and jeopardizing the job that brought
me here. I didnt want him to think that it was all okay, so I let him sweat a little
while before I told him that Id given the cops no help whatsoever.
So you really arent scared of meeven after that? I wouldnt blame you if
you were, he said finally. I shook my head.
Im not scared of you, I said.
And youre still willing to go through with the wedding? I thought about
it for a moment. That brought up the uncomfortably hot feelings again, the
mixture of dread and excitement and need that came along with any thought of
what being married to this man would mean.
Yes, I said simply.
Oh Godthank you, Linc said. His eyes were clear and I was able to see
the small flecks of gold among the green. Id never been this close since our
last kiss, and I wanted him to kiss me again. God, I wanted him to kiss me so
badly that I think I was the one who leaned closer to actually make the first
contact. His lips felt so good on mine. It was perfect. It was just like the sweet,
innocent kiss that Id imagined it would be. He rose up and I stood too, not
even sure what I was doing, but eager to find out where we were going with
this.
But soon, Lincs lips became more demanding and his body was pushing me
into the countertop behind me. I felt his hands go to my ass and lift me up to set
me there. Now he wasnt as tall and I didnt have to crane my next up quite so
much to see him.
Is this what youre so worried about?
I didnt answer him with words, just nodded my head. His kisses and touches
were exactly what I was nervous about. I wanted to touch him more, and I
wanted to finally see what all the fuss was about. I could feel the hard ridge at
the fly of his jeans against my leg, and when he pulled me forward on the
counter, I could feel it pressing right up against my pleasure center. I jumped at
the way it felt, so much better than I would have thought it could from just a
small touch.
You feel so good, Sky, do you know that? I kind of nodded my head, but I
was more worried about what his hands were doing on my thighs. He was
opening my legs more so that he could wedge his body in between them. I felt
his fingertips brush along my inner thigh, getting perilously close to the heat
seeping through the fabric of my panties, and all at once something inside of
me slammed shut. We cant do this, Linc.
Hell, I think we can do this, Sky. Were going to be married in two days. It
will be like were already husband and wife.
I shook my head and pushed him back from me. I needed to breathe. I
needed to think. He was doing something to me, and it scared me. I didnt like
the change in my body and everything that I felt because he was in front of me.
It was hard to deal with all the new feelings, and I knew that if I could just get
some distance from him, it would be a whole lot easier.
We arent husband and wife, Linc, and even when we do get married, we
wont really be together like that, I said.
His green eyes narrowed, and I wasnt sure what it was I saw in them, but it
gave me a little shiver of cold down my spine. It wasnt scary, just so intense
that I couldnt feel comfortable. Is that what you want?
I wanted so many things, none of which would ever be uttered out loud. I
dont know what I want, Linc, but I know that this isnt helping.
He finally moved back a little, and the change in me was so swift and so
intense that I almost wished I hadnt said a word. I wanted him to be near me,
touch me, do all the things that his eyes promised, but I was coming to realize
that I couldnt have it both ways. If I wanted to keep my head screwed on right,
I needed to keep my distancephysically, as well as emotionally.
Lets finish our dinner, okay? I took a deep breath and nodded, even
though I had never felt less hungry for food in my entire life. I could tell he
was agitated. His body was huge and muscular, so every time he paced a little
or moved to pick something up, half of his body flexed. How badly I wanted to
touch him again and see if he really was as hard all over as he seemed. His
hands on my body had awakened something in me, and now I was thinking
about the wedding night again. Was this going to be a real wedding, in all
ways? But once we were back at the table, eating again, I felt something in me
start to relax.
Sorry, Sky. When Im around you I forget that youre so young.
Im not that young. Why did I take offense at that? I wasnt a child, after
all. I was well into being a woman, and he was talking to me like I wasnt.
He chuckled a little and then he shook his head. Not young, just
inexperienced.
I was torn between feeling insulted and feeling chagrined at how right he
was. For a few moments all I could do was eat my food and try to figure out
how I should be feeling. What do I even say to that?
He looked at me kind of strangely, and I realized that Id said it out loud
instead of in my head like Id intended. I dont know, Sky, but its true. It was
pretty clear the first time I saw you that you were inexperienced for your age.
How old are you, anyway?
Twenty-two. I saw that he wasnt as happy about that number as he could
have been. I hadnt thought a lot about how different in age we were. It didnt
really matter to me, but now I had to wonder if it did for him. Would he not
want to marry me if he knew how true his statement about my experience really
was?
Youre very young.
Does it matter? Why was I so worried all of a sudden that he wouldnt
marry me? Wouldnt that let me off the hook, anyway? I was the one whod
decided that it was a good idea. I had offered. I was doing him a favor, not
myself.
No, not at all. Many men would be happy to have such a young and
beautiful wife.
I looked down at my plate when he came to the beautiful part. Well, I wont
be a real wife.
Why dont we talk about something else for a while?
I had to admit that seemed like a better idea.
Okay, I said. What about the wedding?
What do you mean? He frowned in confusion.
I dont know. The logistics of it, and the details, I guess. Ive never been
married before, and for the Family Court date Im not sure what Im supposed
to do.
You can come with me if you want, but thats up to you.
I wasnt sure if I wanted to go to that sort of thing. I would if it would help
him in some way, but I cant say that I was overly excited about the prospect. I
didnt want to meet Lisa, but I wanted to meet Jazmin. It seemed like it was
strange to get married before meeting her, but things were complicated, I knew
that. It was weird how this was all coming about, but what was so great about
normal?
*****
Cassie woke me up the next morning by banging on my door. I could hear
her all the way in my bedroom, and when I looked at the clock, I realized I was
so tired because it was really early. Why she insisted on coming over so early
sometimes, I never would know. It was like she didnt quite get that the rest of
the world might not have gotten up at the crack of dawn like she had. Cassie
had done this before, many times, but she wasnt even consistent about it. One
week she was up with the birds, and the next week she complaining if I called
and woke her up at half past ten in the morning. She must have something on
her mind to be here so early.
Cassie started in on me immediately, bursting out like she was going to
explode if she didnt. Why didnt you call me last night?
Why would I? I still wasnt fully awake. I had scurried home from Lincs
apartment as quickly as I could, needing space once again, but I hadnt
managed to get to sleep until late. Cassie got to work filling up my coffee
maker and setting it to brew, and then she spun around and pinned me down
with her gaze. Youd better spill what happened with Stephen. I heard some
guy ran up into your office and punched him out?
It was scary how fast news spread in that place. I had to be at work in
another hour, and I was already dreading all the looks that I was going to
receive. It didnt matter that Id told them I didnt know whod done it. It had
happened in my office, so everyone was going to think I was involved. I really
hoped that it wasnt going to be as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Look, Cass, Im sorry I didnt call. I was a little busy with the cops and I
didnt get back home till late.
Thats the great thing about cell phones, she said tartly. You carry one
with you all the time so that people can get ahold of you when they need to.
She seemed upset, but I really didnt want to get into it with her. She would
find out eventually, and since I was getting married and wanted her to be my
witness, I kind of had to tell her more than I felt comfortable saying out loud to
myself, let alone another soul.
Okay, I said finally. Fix me a cup of coffee as your penalty for getting
me up before my alarm, and Ill explain what happened.
I sat down at my table and Cassie went about getting everything together.
She fixed us both cups of coffee, and by the time we were seated at my table,
Id managed to come up with a coherent explanation of the situation.
Spill, or I will spill that coffee all over you, she said. I grinned sleepily.
Heres the deal, I told her. The guythe one who hit Stephenisnt
exactly a stranger to me. But Stephen wasnt innocent in the whole situation,
either. Not at all. Not in the least. I explained about what Stephen had been
doing since my first day, and how hed gotten more and more aggressive.
Cassies expression sank from eager interest to indignation and then into guilt.
Ive heard that about him before. I dont know why they dont get rid of
that creep.
I wish they would, but at least now maybe hell leave me alone.
Why didnt you tell me, Sky? I feel like you should have told me.
I feel like you should have warned me about him! Anyway, what would you
have done? Punched him out yourself?
I know people above him, and some of those people owe me favors, she
said firmly. Did you talk to HR before you got Stephen knocked out? I
laughed bitterly at that.
They set me an appointment for next week, I said. Cassie shook her head.
So what was your landlord doing in the office? Id mentioned that part in
passing, and I had to hope she would come along with me with the rest of what
I had to say.
He was actually there to discuss some details with me, I said.
I have to admit, I would have loved to have seen that creep Stephen get
punched out by that hunk of a man who owns your apartment. I snorted at that.
It wasnt all that great. Mostly I was scared shitless. But Cass, you have to
promise me you wont tell the cops I already know him.
Why not? She frowned. I pressed my lips together. This was going to be
the hard part of the conversation.
Because Im going to marry him this week.
What? Cassie nearly shrieked the word out and then just stared at me.
Itsits to help him be able to keep custody of his daughter, I said. Its a
whole long explanation, but basically, Im marrying him so that he can keep
his ex-wife from taking his daughter to California.
Cassie continued to stare at me for a long moment. Youre going to marry
him? Just like that?
I nodded. Its not going to be a real marriage. But it will be a real wedding
at the courthouse. And hopefully itll work out.
I dont know about this, Cassie said, shaking her head. I mean, how could
you get involved with a guy who could be violent like that? I actually bristled
a bit at that comment.
He got violent at Stephen because Stephen was hurting me, I said. I dont
think thats so terrible.
Good lord, Sky, Cassie said, sighing and shaking her head again. Its just
going to be so he can keep custody? Nothing else?
I nodded.
Thats kind of a shame, you knowa hot guy like that. I rolled my eyes; I
was not about to admit how close Id come to doing much more than a
wedding-day kiss with the man I was about to marry.
So... How do you feel about being my bridesmaid on Thursday?

Chapter FourteenLinc

When I didnt hear from Sky all day, I decided that we needed to have
another, more thorough conversation about what was going to happen. I was
relieved that she still wanted to marry mebut I was damn frustrated at the
same time. It should not be this difficult to get a woman to cross the line, I
thought, remembering the way she kept leading me on and then pushing me
away at the last minute. The night before, shed done it again, and Id gone
along with itafter all, Im not an animalbut if we were going to be
married, even as a sham, we both needed to be on the same page.
I decided I needed to do something more showy, something that would draw
Sky in. The night before, shed still been worked up over the incident in her
office, and I had handled the situation with my usual bullish approach.
Obviously, Sky needed a little more delicate handling than the girls I picked up
at barsI kept forgetting that. Finding out she was only twenty-two had shaken
me. Shes probably only been with one or two guys in her entire life. You cant
expect her to just be ready to drop her panties right away just because you feel
her up.
So I dug into the bag of tricks Id had when I was a younger, less cynical
guy and drove down to a florists shop in town. I hadnt been to a flower shop
in agesI didnt even know if women still liked getting flowers, or if Sky for
some reason might hate getting flowers. But as I was wandering around the
humid little shop, I remembered there were a couple of vases in her apartment.
Id noticed them when Id gone in to do repairs. Theyd been empty, but their
presence seemed to indicate that she liked flowers. Maybe she hadnt had the
extra cash to buy fresh ones, or maybe she didnt like buying them for herself.
Can I help you, sir? I turned around at the sound of an older womans
voice and managed to summon up what I hoped was a reassuring smile. Shed
obviously taken one look at mebig guy, muscles, tall enough to almost have
to duck to get around all the hanging baskets in the shopand thought I was in
the wrong place, but was too dangerous to kick out directly.
I hope you can, I said. Ive gotten myself in kind of a pickle with a
woman I care about. The woman looked at me doubtfully for a few more
seconds; she was maybe fifty-five, I thought, letting her hair go gray the
natural way instead of trying to cover it up. She was starting to lose the firm,
tight look to her face, but I could tell that she had probably been gorgeous
maybe even close to as pretty as Skywhen shed been younger.
What kind of pickle? I wanted to roll my eyes; the woman obviously
thought there was a good chance that Id beaten my wife or girlfriend in some
violent rage and was now trying to make amends by buying some flowers for
her. I didnt hurt her, I hurt someone trying to hurt her. I didnt even bother
trying to explain the details to this woman.
I forgot our anniversary, I lied. I try to be a good boyfriend, but you
know how it is. You put an alarm in your phone to remind you of something,
and then you get so wrapped up in everything else.
I made myself stop there; if I kept going, I was definitely going to push the
story too far. Always know when youve made your tale tall enough, one of my
Navy buddies, a guy named Jules Schmidt, had always said. Of course in his
case, his tall tales were mostly for the sake of getting out of trouble with his
own wifebut I figured it applied in most situations.
The woman gave me another long look and I almost considered just finding
another flower shop, but then she relaxed. Do you know what kind of flowers
she particularly likes? Weve got some great things here in the back...
Im honestly pretty clueless when it comes to these things, I told her. I
wasnt in a million years about to tell this woman that I had no idea what kind
of flowers Sky liked because Id only known her a little over a week.
By the time I let myself into Skys apartment with the flowers, the rest of my
plan was more or less figured out. I thought about the possibility of just letting
things stand as they were; after all, shed agreed to marry me, hadnt she? She
was still going to go through with it, even though she had every right to back
out. Why was I trying so hard to get her to be something more than she was to
me? Why would I risk pushing her away entirely by trying for more than she
said she wanted?
The heat simmering along my groin gave me the answer, even if I didnt
want to hear it. I wanted the girl. I wanted her more than Id even wanted Lisa
when Id first met my ex-wife, and Lisa had led me on a merry fucking chase
to get her into bed. The difference was that Id known it was a game with Lisa
I didnt think Sky had even an ounce of game in her.
I debated leaving the note on the door, but in the end I decided to leave it
with the flowers; I didnt want her to be prepared in any way for what she
would see when she came into her apartment at the end of the dayand I didnt
doubt that she would go straight to her apartment, not to mine. I took one last,
quick look around. Id filled both of the vases with the best flowersat least
according to the floristand Id even sprung for a box of chocolate-covered
strawberries to go with it. God, Im such a fucking tool, I muttered to myself,
ducking out of the apartment and locking the door behind me before I could
give into my second thoughts.
When I heard the knock at my door, I had dinner ready: bacon-wrapped
asparagus, pork tenderloin, and roasted carrots. Id wracked my brain at the
grocery store to try to figure out what kind of meal would set the tone I
wanted, and remembered at the last minutewhen I was at the cash register
that Sky had mentioned how much she loved roasted carrots. I was not about to
let any little scrap of knowledge about the woman I wanted to win over go to
waste. Know your enemy, gentlemenbut more important, know your woman! I
hadnt taken that advice from Screwball Lenny in BUD/S when it had come to
Lisa, but I hadnt ignored it since.
Sky had obviously taken a few minutes to change out of her work clothes:
Her hair was down, and she was in a comfortable-looking dress, the makeup
off of her face. She looked almost as fresh, almost as delicious and edible as
she had the morning shed used my shower the first time. I got your note, she
said, smiling slightly.
I thought we should hash out the last few details, if youre still on board, I
told her.
Of course Im still on board, Sky said, shaking her head at me. If I
wasnt, I would have told you. I evenI even have a bridesmaid. I guess shed
be a bridesmaid, anyway. Sky frowned.
If you have a witness, that would be great, I said. And if she wants to
wear a nice dress, and whatever elsewhatever would make you happy. Sky
looked at me with an expression like shock.
Whatever would make me happy? she blinked slowly and shook her head,
and for a second all I could think about was kissing the confusion off of her
face, claiming her mouth as mine and pressing her body against me until she
had absolutely no doubts at all about my intentions. The heat that kept steadily
pooling between my hips intensified.
I know its a rushed wedding and all, but I want you to be happy with it
too, I replied. I meanwe dont really have the time to make a big to-do
about it, or schedule a church ceremony or anything like that, but I dont want
you to go into this feeling like you made a bad decision.
Sky just stared at me again, and I wondered if I hadnt pushed her too hard
after all. I hadnt even really gotten to the good part of things yet.
The flowers were... just beautiful, Sky said finally. And yeah, I guess we
should talk about things... about what its going to be like, and what... how
were going to pull this off.
I figured youd probably be hungry, I said, leading her into the kitchen.
We can talkand I mean talkover dinner. Sky smiled slightly, and seemed
to finally be losing that shell-shocked look on her face.
You made roasted carrots, she said, the smile deepening.
I remembered, I told her.
I am hungry, actually. I was just soso stunned, I guesswhen I went into
my apartment and saw the flowers and the note.
I wanted you to understand that I wasnt just apologizing because I was
afraid youd back out, I said.
You know, Sky observed, even as I started to fill a plate for her, if you
had been half this considerate and understanding and sweet when I first showed
up, we could probably already be married and you wouldnt be sweating it so
much. I nearly dropped the tongs in my hand and turned to stare at her.
What do you mean? Sky giggled, and God, the sound was just irresistible.
I remembered pushing her up against the counter the night before, nearly
taking her right then and there, and it was the next thing to impossible not to try
it again immediately. I took a breath and forced my brain to focus.
I mean, if youd been like this when we first met, and then told me about
the situation with Lisa and Jazmin, I might have offered to be your fake wife
sooner, Sky said. Oh good. Thatthat makes sense, I thought. For just a
second, Id thought she was saying she would have wanted to get married for
real.
But if Id been like this when we first met, none of this would be special, I
pointed out, finishing up with her plate and handing it to her. Once I had my
own dinner in hand, we both sat down at my table.
So what did you want to talk about? I pressed my lips together and tried to
thinkreally thinkabout the best way to approach what I had in mind.
I think we should live together, I said. Nothing like the direct approach. I
meanit would look suspicious if were married but living in different
apartments, wouldnt it? Sky looked at me sharply, and for a fraction of a
second I was reminded of the older woman at the florist.
If youre trying to convince me...
You can stay in the guest room, I told her quickly. No one has to know
where in my apartment youre sleepingthats between usbut wouldnt you
agree that if it ever does come up, it would open up a lot of questions about
what the hell were doing if youre living down the hall from me even after
were married?
Sky stared into my eyes for a long moment and then nodded. That makes
sense, she admitted. I hate to say it, but it does.
Would it be so bad to live with me? I grinned at her, trying to keep my
nervesand the need that threatened to make my blood boilat bay. Youll
have your own room, and you can come and go as you please. Besides,
considering how often youve been over here since you moved in, it wont be
that different.
Sky shrugged, but I could see the color creeping into her cheeks. I guess it
just feels different because Ive never lived with a guy before, she said
quickly. Andbecauseyou know... youll technically be my husband, and
because of last night.
Listen to me, Sky, I said, and she looked up from her plate. Her lips
looked as kissable as ever, and her eyes had that wide, innocent thing going on
in them yet again. That look that made me want to throw her down on the bed
and touch her and taste her until she was moaning uncontrollably, until she was
as eager for me as I was for her.
God, you know shed make the hottest noises, and shed probably taste like
honey... shes the type wholl get soaking wet in an instant, once she lets her
guard down.
I took a deep breath. I am never going to do anything you dont want. I
wont crowd you.
So youre okay with mewith me never having sex with you, if I dont
want to? I nodded.
I am okay with you never kissing me again if you dont want to, after the
wedding, I said. If its what you want, then I wont even touch you. Even if it
kills me not to get another feel of that tight ass, or those gorgeous tits, I thought
but very, very carefully didnt say.
Then I guess we can make this work, Sky said, brightening a little bit.
I had to wonder what was going on in her head; I had to wonder what the
problem might be. It was as obvious as the damn sun at noon that she wanted
meat least, it had been every time wed gotten close to doing anythingbut
she kept pushing me back at the last instant. And now this. I reminded myself
that she wasnt all that experienced, that shed probably only been with a couple
of guys, but somehow it didnt seem to stack up even with that in mind.
Then it hit me, like a ton of bricks, all at once: it wasnt that Sky wasnt all
that experienced. She was completely inexperienced. She hadnt only been with
a couple of guys; shed never been with anyone. Fuck. No wonder.
I wanted to say something, but it would only have made her more self-
conscious, that much I knew. But it explained everything: the way she would
come on so strong and then, as soon as we got into really interesting territory,
she would just shut down, the way she blushed, and of course the fact that she
kept insisting that there be nothing between us other than paperwork. Shed
gotten to twenty-two without losing her virginity. Obviously it was special to
her. She was saving herselfmaybe not for marriage, but probably for
something a little special.
I told Sky that I could handle the dishes while she went to get her things, to
move them into my place. I wasnt just being a nice guy. After spending all of
dinner trying not to slobber on her, I needed her out of the apartment for long
enough to get rid of the throbbing hunk of rebar that had somehow gotten
trapped in my pants.
As soon as she was gone, I went into my bedroom and closed the door. If
she came back sooner than I expected, I could just tell her Id been in the
bathroom. I closed my eyes and unzipped my fly, and my erection sprang right
out like a bad magic trick, straight through the flap in my boxers. I sat down on
the edge of my bed with a groan and wrapped my hand around myself, letting
every little brief thought Id had about what Id like to do withand toSky
fill my head.
It was just too easy to imagine her giving herself up to me, to picture her
sprawled on my bed, looking up at me with those innocent eyes as I slithered
down her body. I pictured her long, pale legs draped over my shoulders,
pictured those perfect tits trembling, rising and falling fast as her breaths came
shorter the closer I got to her pussy. I imagined her grabbing at the sheets,
almost ripping them while she writhed under me. I was right on the edge of
climax in a matter of minutes, and when I thought about what it would be like
to finallyfinallyslide into her, to feel her take every inch of me, and her
hot, wet pussy wrapping around me with that little spasm of muscle that would
tell me even more than her moans how good it felt to her, I came.
I shuddered from how hard it hit me, and I didnt even have the presence of
mind to try and find something to contain the load I was shooting off. I could
only hope I had enough time to clean up after myselfand, of course, that Sky
wouldnt be coming into my room anytime soon. I worked myself until I was
completely soft, gasping for breath, shaking from the need gnawing at my
bones. It was good enough to get through the next several hours with Skybut
I knew Id need a good, long shower before I managed to get any sleep at all,
knowing she was in the apartment with me. God, this was such a fucking
mistake. But Id gone through with it, and I knew there wasnt anything else I
could donot at this point.
I stuffed myself back into my pants, cleaned up everything that I could find,
and went back into the kitchen. Sky still hadnt come back, and I figured that as
long as I was just about done with the dishes before she did return with her
stuff, then she never had to know what Id needed to do to get through the night.
I thought grimly to myself that if Skys feelings on the issue of our lives as
man and wife remained the same, I was going to need to find a good excuse for
needing to duck into my room at random intervals.

Chapter FifteenSky

That night, after I had hauled what I thought I would need to my new room
the guest roomat Lincs place, Id made a lame excuse about how tired I
was and said that I was going to call it a night early; that I hadnt slept that well
the night before and needed to catch up. It wasnt a lie, but it wasnt the truth,
either. Instead of dropping off into an exhausted sleep, I lay in the bed, staring
at the ceiling. Every nerve in my body seemed to be on fire. Linc came in to
check on me before he went to bed and I was still up. I pretended that I was
sleeping, but I wasnt. I was too worried about everything going on in my head.
It was so bad that I didnt even trust myself to be around him. How was I
supposed to stay in the apartment with him? I couldnt hide in the room all the
time, and I didnt work 24/7. I was going to have to figure something out,
because this was ridiculous.
Then I started thinking about other things, and a part of me didnt want to
hide; it wanted to go to him. It was a strange tug inside of me, and when I heard
him getting up to go to the bathroom later, I couldnt resist it anymore. I got up
and padded across the apartment, to his bedroom door. I was waiting next to it
when I heard his footsteps. He stopped right in front of me, staring at me as if I
was some kind of ghost. Can you not sleep either?
I smiled shyly, biting my bottom lip, thinking in the back of my mind that
probably never in my life had I looked as much like a virgin as I did just then
and a stupid virgin at that. No, I admitted.
I forced myself to actually look at him, and realized instantly that it was a
mistake. Linc was wearing nothing but a pair of boxers, and my eyes moved all
over the place; it was like I couldnt focus on one thing. His hard chest, the soft,
dark hairs that curled along his hard washboard abs. Id seen it before, but it
wasnt something that got old. I didnt stop looking until he made a sound in
the back of his throat that made me realize what I was doing: I was staring at
himIn fact, I was leering at him. I had the decency to blush, but that didnt
exactly help the situation.
Yeah, I cant sleep either, Linc said, and I realized that he was looking me
up and down, and then I realized that instead of my usual pajamas, Id pulled on
a little nightshirt that barely covered me, a relic from my teenage years that I
hadnt been able to make myself throw away. Id been so distracted I hadnt
even thought about it.
Do you feel let down? It was as close as I could come to what I really
wanted to ask him.
Why would I?
My heart was hammering in my chest, and every nerve in my body seemed
to be screaming at me to do something, to just throw myself at him and let him
figure out what came next. I could feel the creeping warmth along my labia,
and I tried not to stare at my toes on the floor, tried to get up the guts to
actually talk about what Id come to him to talk about. Because of the whole...
sex thing, I said quietly. Because were going to stay separated.
No, not at all, Linc said, and I looked up quickly, suspicious of the
possibility of sarcasm. But he was being genuine. You have a right to decide
what you want to do with your body, and if you dont want to share it with me
even as my wifethen thats up to you.
Why did he keep saying that? There was a part of me that almost wanted him
to force me, that almost wanted him to just take me and not even ask if I wanted
it. I knew that I didnt actually want it to be that waythat it would be terrible
and horrifying if it wasbut at the same time I didnt want to have to be the
one to say yes. I didnt want to be the one making the decisions when I didnt
even really know how I felt. Or what I wanted. But my body knew what it
wanted.
The way he was looking at me and leaning in, it didnt take much
imagination to realize what he was thinking about. I should have told him the
truth then. I wanted to, I really did, but the words were stuck in my throat,
something that often happened when he was around. An inconvenient affliction.
Im an idiot, I said. Iyou dont have to do anything... nothing like... I
dont know, Im babbling. I laughed and wanted to cry at the same time. Right
up until that moment had come, it had all seemed so easy: Linc obviously
wanted me, and my bodyas it kept insistingreally wanted him, and did it
really have to be more complicated than that?
I could help you get to sleep, he said slowly, and there was a little rumble
in his voice, something that seemed to go straight into my ears and somehow,
magically, work its way down my spine, to my hips. I felt somethingsome
group of muscles below my stomachtighten, and I trembled.
How could you help me fall asleep? Do you have some sleeping pills or
something like that? I hated the way my voice shook, but I couldnt help it.
I was almost hopeful, because I was really tired and there was no reason for
me to be up.
No, its not at all like that, although I hear it can be habit forming, Lincs
voice rippled again, this time with a laugh, and I was torn between the sudden
certainty that he was making fun of me and the curiosity to know what was so
funny about what he was saying.
I dont understand, I said.
I know, and I didnt get that until a little while ago, Linc said. Tonight, in
fact. Why didnt you tell me?
He was talking in Greek, that or I was just unable to follow the conversation
when his breath was on my neck. I couldnt even remember when he had gotten
so close to me, so close he could breathe against my skin. I wasnt sure if my
heart was beating a million times a minute or if it had stopped altogether.
Tell you what? I tried to shake my head, to clear it of the hazy, thick
sweetnesslike honeycoating every thought, making everything so much
harder to understand, to think about.
Let me show you, Sky, what it can be like between a husband and wife,
Linc said. Some muffled alarm went off in my mind, but I couldnt make
myself pay any attention to it.
But were not married yet, I said; but somehow it didnt seem to matter at
all. Who cared? Certainly Linc didnt care about thatand my body, at that
moment, was far from having a disciplined outlook when it came to sex.
His lips moved the last couple of inches towards mine and I couldnt stop
myself. I kissed him back, and the immediate pull of his arms around me took
my breath away. He knew exactly how to touch me and hold me to make
everything better. He made me feel so good that I never wanted the feelings to
end.
Linc picked me up, and I barely had time to realize he was carrying me
through the door to his bedroom; I was too distracted by the fact that hed lifted
me into his arms like I weighed nothing at all. When he laid me down on his
bed, it finally hit mewhat we were about to doand I felt that snapping
sensation again. I felt my body betray me with a sudden cold gush. We
shouldnt, I started to say.
Do you want to? That was a question that Linc had never really asked me.
And I had to nod.
II want to, but I dont want to... He smiled slowly, kissing me lightly on
the lips again, and then again, as if he loved the taste of them.
Everything will still be intact, Sky. I can wait till youre ready for all of
me, but for now I want to thank you properly. I still didnt get what he was
talking about until he got on his knees between my legs and started to slowly
pull my sleep shirt up by the hem. I jumped up and tried to move away, but his
hands were fast on my thighs. Just let me, Sky. I promise you that I wont do
more than you want me to.
I wasnt going for it. How can I trust that when I dont even know what I
want you to door what youre about to do to me?
He was trying to pull me into his vortex of lust, and I was afraid that I
wouldnt be able to stop him. I was afraid that I wouldnt want to. Every part of
my body said yes, while every part of my mind said no.
Just feel tonight, Sky. All you have to do is feel what Im doing to you. If
you want me to stop, at any time, I will. I will stop the instant you even start
saying it, but if you want this, you shouldnt keep stopping yourself from it.
Youre thinking about it too much.
I was trying to think of what to say to thatsome way to convince both of
us that it would be better if I just went back to my room and put my foolishness
behind mewhen he yanked my thighs open and his mouth moved down onto
me. All the thoughts that were driving me crazy were gone. I did exactly as he
suggested. I just felt.
His mouth was so damn hot and wet. Even with my panties still on, I could
feel the moisture coming from between his lips, as well as the steaming breath
that made my toes curl. After saying no for so long and trying to deny the
attraction that I had to Linc, it was my sheer need that won in the end. I wanted
him so badly, and what he was doing right then, I never wanted him to stop.
Every thought left my mind and my body took over completely. My hips
bucked and twisted, trying to push my panty-clad pussy into his face. His teeth
grazed the soft skin along my inner thigh, and then against my barely-covered
labia, and I yelped out, startledbut then I asked him to do it again. Id never
known that anything could feel this good. Those exact words must have slipped
out of my mouth, because he kind of chuckled at me. Just wait till you feel
what my tongue can do to you.
I trembled underneath him, and my hips rose again as he tried to pull my
panties down. It was pure instinct; the only thing I could think of was how badly
I wanted there to be nothing at all between Lincs body and mine. I wanted to
know what he could do, even though I seriously doubted that it could feel any
better than when he nibbled on my clit.
I was wrong. So damn wrong. His mouth was so much hotter without the
cotton of the underwear between us. The wetness was different, too; instead of
being damp, it was now slippery, and it helped his tongue slide in between my
lips and brush against the tiny bundle of nerves just at the apex.
Ohoh, Holy Mother ofGod! I bucked up, and again he had to hold me
down. He wrapped his arms around my thighs and pinned me underneath his
hungry mouth. What had started as mere pleasure was quickly overwhelming
me, and I tried to push him away. I was getting hot all over, like I had a fever,
and I couldnt stop the rise and fall of my hips. I was searching for something
more, even though I knew it was going to make me explode. There was a
strange tightness between my hips, like a lazy knot, that somehow just kept
pulling and pulling until the tension was unbearable.
Linc, please! He didnt stop or even slow down. Instead he leaned back
just a little so that his mouth was no longer on me. I cried out again, this time
begging him not to stop. Linc said something about not being able to make up
my mind, and he was right. One minute I thought it was too much, but as soon
as his hot mouth moved away from me, I wanted it back.
Make up your mind, Sky. Do you want me to stop or keep going?
I didnt want to answer him, but the fear that he would leave me in the state I
was in now forced my hand. I needed him so badly, and I wanted whatever it
was that was happening. I wanted the ending. I need you to lick me, Linc, I
said, surprised at the needy sound of my own voiceI sounded like I was a
starving child. It feels so good.
He growled at me in the back of his throat and pulled me back to him
roughly. I realized with a jolt that hed pulled me so far toward him that my ass
was no longer even in contact with the sheets below me. My legs were over his
shoulders, and he held me in place with a strong grip on my arms. I was not
going to be able to move, and I had a feeling that that was the point. He didnt
want me to go anywhere.
The heat was back in my face, and my body was starting to shake
uncontrollably. I wanted him to stop, but I dared not say anything, because he
might actually listen to meand that would be far worse than the implosion
that my body was about to undergo.
His fingers rubbed on my clit while his tongue pushed on the hole that was
for now off limits. It was like torture, and I heard myself moaning, felt my
body twisting against his tight grip as I struggled to get some kind of control
of the situation, as I tried to get better contact every time his tongue danced
away from where I absolutely needed it and then came back. I started to think
that I might actually die if something didnt happenthe tension mounting in
me felt so good that I didnt want it to stop, but if it didnt stop then I was
certain I couldnt take it for even a second more. All at once, I felt myself burst
from the inside and saw colors behind my closed eyes. My legs tightened
around his neck for a time, and then I was desperately pushing him away
because I couldnt take it anymore. It was all just too much.
Linc! His mouth pulled back, but his fingers kept working on me. I gasped
and shivered, wanting to tell him to stop, but unable to even think of words
anymoreand utterly distracted by the sensitive feeling of my own pleasure
center, the tingling in it that was somehow both delicious and terrible. Finally I
pushed myself away from him, needing to get air, needing to stop feeling for
just a moment.
Linc took pity on me and let me go. I breathed out a sigh of relief, but it was
short lived, as he moved to touch me again almost immediately.
I slapped his hand away. No more. I felt like all the energy that I possessed
had gone out of my body and now I was left in a daze. Please, I added,
realizing how rude I must have sounded. Linc chuckled, and after a few
moments, when I finally felt like my heart might not explode, I turned around.
Our eyes met. He wanted to do more; I could see it in his eyes. He pulled
back and let me breathe instead. He was right. I was going to have no trouble
going to sleep now. All my enthusiasm for everything else was gone. I didnt
even care that I was still naked in front of him. I felt like I no longer had bones
in my body, like I was somehow both light as a feather and weighed a million
pounds, pinned to Lincs bed by an immense gravity. I felt him move next to
me in the bed, and I heard myself moan when he kissed my neck. Is that
better?
His voice was strained, and I turned my head to kiss him back. Much better,
Linc. Thank you.
There was a pause. For a moment he looked like he wasnt sure what to do. I
knew that I should say something, that I should make some kind of offer to
him, but my mind was still so hazy from what hed done to me that I couldnt
even pull together the energy to form a real thought.
Before I could come up with the energymuch less the consciousnessto
figure out what I should say to Linc, the darkness began to swirl around me,
and the delicious exhaustion that had come along with my climax started to
take control of me.

Chapter SixteenSky

The next morning, I felt amazing; Id slept better than I had in months
maybe yearsmaybe even ever since Id hit puberty. It surprised me,
considering how the thought of sleeping in the same bed as Linc would have
terrified me before. Then I realized with a start that Linc wasnt in the bed with
me and felt something in me sink at that knowledge.
But I had to go to work, so I got up, telling myself that I would talk to my
soon-to-be husbandand that was a strange way to think about him, still
when I got home. When I went into the kitchen, I saw a note on the table.
Needed to pick up a few things at the store. Will see you when you get home.
Theres a key next to the door you can use to lock up. Linc.
I wasnt sure what he could possibly need to pick up at the store so early in
the morninghe had to have left before my alarm even went offbut I
figured it wasnt my business or he would have told me about it. Linc had at
least brewed some coffee, and it was still hot in the pot.
I helped myself and decided to take a quick shower before I got ready for
work. I wanted to stick as close as possible to my normal routine, even if I was
in a new place; and oddly, I felt bettereven with my misgivings about Lincs
disappearanceabout living with him, about our sham marriage, than I had
since Id suggested it the first time.
I was even whistling to myself as I did my hair and touched up my makeup
before walking out of the apartment. I nearly forgot to lock the doorand then
remembered the note, and stepped back in long enough to find the key. I
noticed with amusement that the lock on Lincs door worked without the key
needing to be wiggled, and reminded myself to point that out to him when I got
back.
Cassie was the first person I talked to when I got to the office, and I noticed,
almost immediately, the worried look on her face. She asked if I was okay,
acting like I was going to break with the slightest vibration. I wasnt that bad
off. I didnt think I was, anyway.
Yeah, Im fine. Is it busy today?
For me, very. I dont know whats going on in there. Good luck.
That didnt sound very promising. I wondered what I needed luck for. I tried
to ask her what she meant by that, but she was already moving on her way. I let
it go. Cassie was most likely dying to ask me some things too, but at the same
time she didnt want to get into my business. I knew that it must be hard for her;
she always tended to treat me like an innocent little sister, and even though my
wedding was supposed to be the next day, and even though shed agreed to be
my witness and maid of honor both, she had never quite given up on asking me
if I was really sure that it was what I wanted to do. I suspected she was under
the impressionconsidering what Linc had done to Stephen only a day or two
beforethat Id somehow been threatened into it.
I made my way to my office. Everything seemed to be in order. I must have
read a little too much into what she said. Everything was fine. I could see that
now, and I started to relax. All that stuff with Stephen would eventually go
away, and people would stop all the whispering rumors. I just had to wait it out.
Knock, knock.
I looked up to see Stephen standing in the doorway. Good morning, sir.
How can I help you? My smile was genuine. I really did want to put any hard
feelings behind us. It wasnt like Id known that Linc would do that. Id had no
idea that he was that way. Hed just burst in and attacked; no one could have
predicted that, least of all me. If it meant that Stephen wouldnt be harassing me
anymore, I for one was willing to let bygones be bygones.
I was hoping to talk to you about what happened the other day. I groaned
inwardly and did my best to keep the smile pasted on my face. It was literally
the last thing that I wanted to talk about, but I didnt really have a choice. He
was still my boss, after all, and if it ever came out, he could get me in trouble
for lying to the police.
As soon as I can meet with HR about you, well see how long youre calling
the shots, I thought, but I also realized that Linc might have actually done my
case more harm than good with human resources, no matter what his intentions
might have been.
What about it, boss? I could only hope that Stephen would respond to a bit
of ego-stroking; he seemed to be that type.
I want that man found. Hes a real maniac to go around sucker punching
people like that.
Im sure the police are working hard to find him, I said, not really sure
what else I could say. Maybe if you hadnt been trying to grope me, you wouldnt
have gotten sucker-punched. I doubted he wanted to hear that.
Well, I know that you know who it was. You were talking to him, but then
you lied to the police. I just want to know who it is. I cant sleep knowing that
guys like him are out there.
I had to work hard to resist the urge to roll my eyes at his melodramatic
words. I had to wonder why guys who had clearly done so much to hurt women
I had no doubts whatsoever that Stephen Jennings would only have become
more and more aggressive if Linc hadnt made him think twicealways
seemed to take it the worst when the shoe was on the other foot. Sir, I assure
you that I told the cops everything that I could. Im sure they will find him soon
enough.
Good, Jennings said. Well, then you wont mind that I used your office
line to call your apartment. A man who called himself your fianc answered,
and he sounded a hell of a lot like the guy who hit me. Hell be here soon
enough and Ill prove it. I gave you a chance to come clean, but now youll go
down with him.
What? It felt as if my heart had fallen out of my chest and hit the ground
beneath my feet, my stomach not far behind it.
The police are here, waiting for lover boy to come in, he told me. And
as soon as theyve got him safely in custody, Im sure theyll be wanting to talk
to you as well. I glared at Stephen; I no longer even cared about maintaining
the pretense that everything would be fine between us.
Get out of my office, I told him.
Im your superior, Stephen said, smirkingand then wincing when his
smirk made his injured nose hurt.
You also made multiple unwanted sexual advances towards me, as my
boss, I said. Or did you forget the reason you got punched in the first place?
It doesnt matter what I was doing, Stephen said with a shrug. You and he
are going down.
We will see about that, I told him. I was bluffingI knew there wasnt
much chance that the police would stop to listen to me complain about a boss
sexually harassing me. But you should know that I have a meeting already
scheduled with HR.
Stephens eyes widened and my heart wasnt on the floor anymore, it was
pounding in my chest, sending my blood roaring through my ears. I needed to
do something. Get out of my office, now. Stephen probably had no better
idea of my authority to do that than I did, but the prospect of me speaking to
HR was enough to get him out of my office; he darted from the door and
towards his office so quickly I almost could have laughed if I didnt feel the
panic bubbling up inside of me.
I had to do something. If Linc never shows up, theyre not likely to just...
follow me home or something, are they? What had Linc been doing in my
apartment, anyway? I shook the thought aside and fumbled in my purse for my
cell phone. If I could warn him before he reached the office, before he came
inside, maybe we could at least put off the worst of what was happening.
Stephen didnt know his name, just that he was my fiancand that was yet
another round of rumors I was sure was going to thrill me to no end to live
through.
I dialed Lincs number, fidgeting with the need to do something. I wanted to
run away; I wanted to punch Stephen myself. I wanted to get out of my office
and maybe run down the street until I found Linc and could tell him that there
was a trap lying in wait for him. The call rolled over into voicemail.
Shit. I waited for the message to play through and tried to think of how to
let Linc know what was going on, without having to waste too much time
explaining. My mind was all over the place.
Linc, I said, when I heard the beep. Dont come to my office. Please.
Theres cops waiting for you here, and theyre going to try and grab both of us
Im pretty sure of it.
I ended the call and dialed again mindlessly, hoping against hope that I
would get him the second time and could tell him directly instead of having to
rely on a message he might not even hear. It rolled over to voicemail again and
I didnt bother to record another one.
I called him three more times, feeling more and more panicky, and I looked
out through my office door in between each call, knowing I couldnt really do
anythingafter all, according to Stephen, Id already implicated myselfbut
hoping I could maybe catch Linc in the office before the police descended on
him. I sent him a text begging him to check his messages.
When I didnt think I could do anything more, at least not to prevent Linc
getting snatched up by the cops, I sat down at my desk at tried to think of
something I could do against Stephen. HR, I murmured to myself. I wasnt
supposed to be meeting with them until after the wedding, but if Linc was in jail
it didnt seem all that likely the wedding was going to happen the next day
anyway.
I picked up my office phone and remembered that Stephen had said that hed
used it. It was probably stupid of me, but I paused to wipe it down with a
sanitizer wipe and then wipe it dry with a tissue before putting it to my ear.
Hi, yes, is this the HR department? My voice came out surprisingly steady.
Yes, whos this calling please? I took a deep breath.
My name is Sky Davis, and I need to speak to someone about filing a
claim.
Worker s Comp, FMLA, or sexual harassment? I rolled my eyes.
Sexual harassment, I said. I need to make a report to someone. I have to
admit I wanted to do it more out of spite than to actually save some other
woman from Stephens advances, even though I was pretty sure he would soon
be moving on to his next target. But anger was more powerful than empathy
for the time being.
Im sorry, Ms. Davis, but the senior HR supervisor isnt in today, the
woman on the other end of the line said. At least, the one in charge of those
claims.
When will she be back in? I gritted my teeth. Surely Clandale didnt take
sexual harassment so lightly that the person in charge could be out of the office
for days at a time; surely I could make a report the next day, or at least by the
end of the week, instead of waiting until my appointment.
Shes on a vacation, and wont be in until next Monday, the secretary told
me.
At least Monday was earlier than my scheduled appointment, but it wouldnt
do a damned thing to help me or Linc. I was pretty sure that if I got arrested as
an accessory to the crime my future husband had committed, my case with HR
would be weak indeed.
Can you please leave a message for her that I need to speak to her at her
absolute earliest convenience? I have a really important sexual harassment
claim I need to register, and I want to give Clandale the opportunity to handle it
before Im forced to go to the legal authorities, I told her quickly. I didnt
know how much recourse I might have, but I figured it would at least light a
fire under some asses to hint that I was willing to take a legal route to resolve
the situation at hand.
Absolutely, the woman said, sounding startled. Of course, Ms. Davis. I
will make sure she gets the message on her personal phone.
I finished the call and tried to think of somethinganythingelse that I
could do, but all I could think of was trying to call Linc. And I knew that wasnt
going to accomplish anything.
I just had to wait.

Chapter SeventeenLinc

I saw Stephen before I saw Sky. Here Id thought that we were going to work
some things out like men, but I was suddenly surrounded by a platoon of police
officers and arrested. Sky didnt say a word, her blue eyes watching me as they
took me away. Had she set this up? I had thought that I was going to clear the
air, and that Skymaybewas going to help me. Hadnt that bastard said that
he and Sky had talked about the situation, and how important it was to her that
we handle it like adults?
I had heard my phone ringing on the drive to her office, but Id ignored it,
figuring that whatever it was, it could wait. Id felt guilty about leaving Sky
alone that morning, but Id needed to get out of the apartment. Id needed to get
away from her before I did something we would both regret. Id gone to sleep
with my cock throbbing, unsatisfiedat least physicallyand Id told myself
that it would be gone by the time I woke up, but a handful of hours later, it
hadnt been. It had only been worse, fueled by dreams of what Sky and I could
have done if shed just been ready for it.
Sky?
She just turned around and walked back into her office. Stephen wanted to
talk crap to me, though, and I ended up head-butting him in the face as I was
leaving. There was a satisfying sound as I broke his noseagainbut it wasnt
enough. I wanted to do more. But the more I tried to pull away from the police,
the harder they held me. It was only when they told me that they were going to
charge me with something else that I realized what was happening.
Who ratted on me? I snarled. The police werent going to answer that. I
wanted to know if it was my future wife, but I would have to find out later. My
mind went a million different directions. I couldnt believe that Sky would do
this to me, but the fact that she wasnt being carted out of the building in
handcuffs seemed to suggest that she had rolled over on me rather than go
down with me.
How could everything have gone so wrong for us?
I got booked. I was still amazed at everything that had happened. It was like I
was in some Twilight Zone episode and everything was different. The bond
was set not too long afterward, and although I had the money, I needed to
figure out who to call to bring it over. I thought about Sky for a minute, but if
she had rolled over on me, then she probably wouldnt want to get any more
involved. And if she hadnt, then I didnt want to take the risk of getting her in
trouble by having her come to the station.
So I called Carol. I didnt want to tell her what had happened, but I couldnt
see any choice. I hated the sound of her warning that this was going to mess up
everything that we had worked so hard for.
I told her that it was just a misunderstanding, and she told me that she would
be there after her client left.
Do you have any idea when that will be?
Its a complicated situation, Lincit always is, you know that, she said.
I sighed. It looked like I would be stuck there for a while, anyway.
Youll be able to get me out before tomorrow, right?
Whats the hurry? I sat back in the chair the guard had given me. How
could Carol have forgotten?
Im supposed to be getting married tomorrow, remember?
Youre still getting married, after you got your ass thrown in jail?
Honestly, Im not sure how much good its going to do at this point.
Ill explain it later, I said. But yesassuming I can get out of here
tonight, I am definitely still going to try and get married tomorrow.
Gotta hand it to you, Linc: God loves a trier. Lets hope the judge does too.
Ill see what I can do, but I may be here late.
The only other person I could think of to callthe only one who might be
able to bail me out, who somewhat owed me a favorwas Rico. I asked the
man on duty if I could get another call.
You seem like a decent guy, he said, shrugging. Youre not making any
trouble, so sure.
I thanked him, took a deep breath, and called Rico.
Hey, Rico, I said, as soon as he picked up. I know were not best friends
or anything, but I need to beg you a favor.
Hey, Linc, man! I was hoping Id hear from you.
I frowned at the phone. Why would Rico be wanting to hear from me?
Sorry about earlier. I didnt know your girl was going to answer. I didnt
think you ever brought them home. I was running my mouth before I realized
who it was.
What are you talking about, Rico? Why did I suddenly have a really bad
feeling? What had he done that he was apologizing for? Oh God, just what I
needed: more bullshit to pile on top of this shit-heap of a day.
Have you talked to Sky? She sounds hot, by the way. I told her it was all a
misunderstanding, but I think she knew I was lying. You know I aint no good
at that. Thats why Ive never had your luck with the ladies.
No, I havent talked to Sky. What the hell are you talking about? Where is
she?
I dont know. I talked to her for a few minutes and then she said that she had
to go.
I forgot all about the reason Id called Rico in the first place. Id been going
to ask him to get money from where I had it stashed and come pay my bail, but
his words had me practically hypnotized. Hed done something bad, and I
didnt know what. I had to know, though. Whatever else was going on could
waitat least for a minute or two.
What did you say to her, Rico?
Well, I was just calling to see if you had any hotties that you needed a room
for. I miss those bills coming my way, and youd told me before that you might
be back. There are some Jacuzzi rooms free today and I thought Id try to hook
you up.
How much of that did you say to her? My question came between gritted
teeth. How could he be such an idiot? Did he realize what hed done?
A bit too much. She was quiet, you see, and you know how it is, I cant
stand silence, so I thought you were thinking about it. I was trying to tempt you
into coming, and that was when she finally said who she was.
Are you telling me that she knows about our little arrangement? I wanted
to believe that my instinct and fears were wrong, but I kind of knew that they
werent. What was Sky even doing at my apartment to get the call in the first
place?
Im afraid so, man. Thats why I was hoping youd call me. You know that I
wouldnt have ratted you out if Id realized who I was talking to. I want to make
it up to you, Linc. How about one of them Jacuzzi rooms? My treat.
The entire point of calling him had vanished into thin air. Had Rico called
before Sky had left that morning? Had that been why shed decided to roll over
on meif she had? In addition to needing someone to bail me out, I could
suddenly see the prospect of my wedding, set for the next day, going up in
smoke.
Ill have to call you back later, Rico, I said. I need to figure some shit
out. I couldnt count on him to bail me out, even with my own money; and
even though Id already decided I couldnt ask my future wife to help me with
the situation, I knew that Id held that in the back of my mind as an option right
up until Rico had told me about the conversation hed had with her. She was
pissed at me, and probably not in the mood to do anything to help.
That got me thinking about Sky and her question about what I liked to do
with my spare time. Napping in a holding cell wasnt way up there on my list,
but if nothing else I got to relax for a while before I heard my name being
called.
Hayes? Lincoln Hayes! I got up and went to the door of the cell.
Right here, I called out.
Youre bonded, the man said, coming down the aisle to where Id been
waiting. Thank fucking God. Maybe I have enough time to do some damage
control.
Tell Carol that Ill see her in a little while, I said.
Who?
I stared at the man; was he an idiot, or something?
The lady who paid my bail, I replied.
The woman who paid your bail said shes your fianceSky something.
Youd better remember that, and I wouldnt mention another woman if I were
you, friend. Your girl looks like shes already pretty upset.
I was confused, and it took a minute for what he was saying to sink in. Sky
is here?
Blue eyes, black hair, pretty little thing, he said with a nod.
I didnt like the way he said it, or that he noticed her in that way, but I had to
nod along with him. Her eyes certainly were one of the top three things about
her for me. Looking at the man, I could tell that hed noticed the other two as
well. At least hed been polite enough not to mention them.
Well, it looks like youve got some making up to do. I hope Carol was
worth it.
I didnt waste time explaining. I just wanted to get out of there and see if it
was really Sky there. I wanted it to be her, so I could explain everything the
way that it needed to be explained. She had to realize that things had different
before her. After Lisa I just hadnt cared.
Sky had changed that, though. I had realized that when Id been out and
about that morning, looking for something to take my mind off of the fact that
I wanted her so bad I almost couldnt breathe. Id considered the idea of hitting
one of the few bars that opened early. Id even thought of giving Rico a call,
asking him if he knew someone who could take the edge off for me, but as
soon as Id given it any thought at all, Id felt nauseated. I didnt want to be with
some made-up skirt Id never talk to again; I wanted to be with the hot young
thing keeping my bed warm for me, the one whod apparently never even been
touched the way Id done it the night before. I was willing to wait until she was
ready.
When I got to the outtake area, she was waiting for me by the door. I could
tell that she didnt want to be here, but she was, and that meant more to me than
she would ever know. Why was she here? I hoped it was because shed realized
that I loved her and that Rico and the motel were part of my past.
Hey, Sky. I groaned inwardly at how lame it sounded, but I couldnt think
of anything else to say. She turned to me and smiled for a minute.
Hey, Linc. Her eyes were smoky and darker than usual. She looked upset,
and I was sure that it was because of me. I wanted to blame Rico, but I should
have realized that at some point my past was going to bite me in the ass. Hed
just hurried the process along.
I didnt think I would see you here, I said. The question loomed big in my
mind: had she been the one to roll over on me? Or had she just gone along
with it because she couldnt stop it?
You know that I didnt snitch on you, right? It was Stephen. He called my
apartment and when you answered he recognized your voice and put two and
two together. Hes going to try to get charges put on me too, but I dont think
they will stick. She frowned. What were you doing in my apartment,
anyway?
I managed a weak smile at thatthe last thing I was going to tell her was
what I was doing at her apartment that morning.
Im sorry that I got you in trouble again, I said.
She shook her head and smiled. Dont think of it like that. Think of it like
you broke his nose again.
I sighed and wondered if I would be going to jail. Yeah, I couldnt help
myself, I admitted. Im sure that will come around to bite me in the ass, too.
Its what everyone wanted to do, trust me. Im not upset about that, she
said. I wanted to do somethinganythingto bring the light back into her big,
blue eyes. At the same time, I had to know where we stood.
But youre upset? I steeled myself for her answer.
Yeah, she said simply.
Because of what Rico said? What else could there be?
Is it true? It was a simple question and it deserved a simple answer. I
wanted to give her my excuses, my reasons, hell, anything to get her to
understand, but that wasnt what she wanted. Sky just wanted to know, and I
owed it to her to tell her.
Yes. I stood there for a moment and just held her gaze. I hadnt had
someone stare into my eyes so intensely since the last time Id been in
formation. I didnt even blink.
Why didnt you say anything? That was not exactly what I was expecting
I was expecting her to go off on me, to say that the wedding was off, that she
was done with me.
I kept meaning to, I said. Look, I understand if you want to call
tomorrow off.
I dont, she said, surprising me again.
What?
Sky looked around the outtake area and sighed. We should get in the car,
she said. I dont want to have this conversation in front of everyone.
Right, yeah, of course, I said, nodding right along with her. I hadnt even
thought there was a conversation to be hadI would have bet good money on
Sky just deciding to tell me that anything between us was over.
We went outside and walked out to her car. I had that Twilight Zone feeling
again. What the hell had happened? I didnt argue at all when she took the
driver s side. I was just relieved that I wasnt going to have to call a cab or
walk home.
Okay, Sky said, looking at her steering wheel. We can talk now.
Im sorry you had to find out that way, I said quickly. And lookIm not
going to go around making a slut of myself when were married.
Im not sure it would make a difference, Sky said, and I looked at her
again. Would she ever stop shocking me?
What do you mean? Youyou said you dont want to call tomorrow off, I
said. I was clinging to that.
Its supposed to be a fake marriage anyway, right? Sky started the car and
I almost asked her to stop, to just focus on the conversation we were trying to
have; but I could understand her need to do something.
Well, yeah, I conceded.
Then how promiscuous you are isnt an issue, Sky said, shrugging; but I
could see the hurt in her face.
Look, Sky, I said, licking my lips. I stopped doing that even before you
suggested getting married. I stopped the day I met you.
She paused in the act of putting the car in reverse. Why?
I shrugged and gave her a little smile. Lost my taste for it. I promise you: if
you dont want to have sex with me, or share a bed, or anythingI wont go
after anyone else. Even in my sham marriages, Im a traditionalist. She
cracked a smile at that, and even if there was still some sadness in her eyes, I
felt a little better.
So, were getting married tomorrow, she said. Youd better be willing to
come with me to get a dress.
Ill even pay, I said, relieved that we seemedfor the moment at leastto
be over the worst of it.

Chapter EighteenSky

I woke up the morning of my wedding feeling stranger than I would have


ever thought possible. After Id bailed Linc out, wed gone straight to the mall,
and while I hadnt wanted an actual wedding dressthe courthouse didnt seem
like the venue for white, even if I really was a virginI had wanted to wear
something special, at least. Id wanted to feel like a different person for my
wedding, even if it was a fake wedding.
Id insisted on going to bed in the guest room, in spite of the hints Linc had
dropped all evening; I wasnt ready to be in a bed alone with him again. I knew
that I wouldnt be able to resist his charms, and now I didnt want to think about
how hed acquired those charms. It was no wonder hed been so good at
getting me off the night before; hed had plenty of practice, to judge by what
Rico had let slip.
I still wasnt sure how I felt about that part of my soon-to-be husbands life.
When I got out of bed, I looked at myself in the mirror and tried to make the
fact that I was about to marry him make sense to my mind. What had come
over me? Why did I still want to do it, in spite of everything?
After the police had carted Linc off the day before, Id gone to HR. The
woman in charge of paid time off had been there, even if the one who took the
sexual harassment reports wasnt. I told her that I needed the next day off, that
Id been traumatized by everything that had happened. Id planned originally on
taking just a half-day, meeting Linc at the courthouse for our wedding and then
going back to work, but with the situation with Stephen, and given that I had no
way to report it formally until at least the next week, I didnt want to be in the
office if I didnt have to.
Good morning, Linc said, when I finally went out to the kitchen. There
was coffee, which was definitely helpful to my state of mindeven if my
stomach gave a quick twist inside of me to tell me it wouldnt be so great for
that part of my body. I didnt care just then.
Hi, I said, feeling weirdly shy. This was a man whod had his head
between my legs two nights before, who had punched and head-butted a guy
for me, and there I was, coy as ever. What was wrong with me? I think Im
going to skip breakfastbut I could definitely use some coffee.
Cream and sugar, right? Linc held up a mug and I smiled at him more
genuinely. It wasnt that complicated a preference, but I couldnt help but feel
touched that he had thought of me. I took my cup of coffee and sat down at the
kitchen table.
Have you told Jazmin yet that youre getting married? Linc shook his
head.
No chance for it, he said. I think shed like you, though. I think shed be
okay with it.
I shrugged. If not, its not like we have to stay married, I pointed out.
Something flitted through Lincs eyes, but it was gone before I could put my
finger on what it was.
We made small talk while we drank our coffee, and it finally started to feel
real to me: this was the man I was going to marry, even if it was fake. We
would be connected in some way, probably for the rest of my life. Granted, we
were going to get divorcedor get the marriage annulled, if we couldbut
there would always be that record, that official document with my name on it,
saying that at one point in my life, I was bound to Linc Hayes.
I should probably start getting ready, I said finally, checking the time; we
didnt have to be at the courthouse for our appointment until eleven, but I felt
jittery, like I needed to do something.
Me too, probably, Linc said, giving me a little smile. I laughed at that.
You just have to show up, I pointed out.
Well, were driving there together, remember.
That I did; wed agreed on it the night before, talking about what we would
do and how it would all play out. Cassie was going to meet us at the
courthouse, along with one of Lincs friends from the SEALs who happened to
be in the Denver area, a guy named Bruce.
Besides, after all the hand-wringing about that dress you ended up buying, I
need to look good or Ill shame you.
I laughed, and some of the butterflies in my stomach actually seemed to go
away.
I went into the guest bedroom and looked at the dress. Id insisted that Linc
wasnt allowed to see it, because Id wanted some kind of normalcy, some
element of tradition, in my wedding, even if it was fake. Hed argued a little
about that, but finally just waited for me outside of the store Id gone into. Hed
let me try things on by myself until Id called him inwith the dress already in
the bagto pay. I couldnt help but smile at it, even knowing it was just another
part of the fakeness we were going to be participating in that day. I couldnt
wait to see Lincs face when he saw it on me.
I took a shower but didnt wash my hair; I didnt want to waste time drying
it. I let it down as soon as I was out of the water, and worked some product into
it, letting my natural curls flow down past my shoulders. It was the next best
thing to a veil, I told myself. I did my makeup in neutral colors, since I wasnt
exactly going out on the town, and slipped into a lacy bra that had absolutely
no padding but that did have a matched set of panties that would work with the
dress Id chosen. And then there was nothing more to do but put the dress on,
and slip on my shoes, and go to see Linc.
I stepped out of my room when I was finished. Linc? I heard his bedroom
door open and I left the hallway to walk into the living room. For a second we
just stood there staring at each other. Linc had definitely put in enough effort to
match me. He was in his Navy uniform, absolutely perfect, with the hat on and
everything, and it fit him to a tee. Wow, I murmured, shaking my head a little
bit; he had to know how good he looked, every line clean and straight, every
inch of him regulation-right.
Wow is right, Linc said, his gaze moving up and down over me slowly.
The dress Id chosen was a pale, soft blue, with a darker trim on it that just
matched the color of my eyes. I knew virgin brides were supposed to wear
white, but I didnt want to wear something obvious, and when Id seen the dress
on me in the mirror at the store, it had been impossible not to buy it. I thought
it was probably intended for a graduation, or some other event like thatit was
beautiful, and clearly formal, but there was no plunging neckline, and the hem
floated maybe two inches above my knees.
You look amazing.
Thank you, I said, feeling my cheeks burn with a blush. We should
probably head out, right?
I looked around and spotted the clock on the wall; it was a little after ten, and
I couldnt quite believe that wed both spent the better part of two hours getting
ready. Where had the time gone?
Yeahwe dont want to be late, Linc said. He moved to grab his keys, and
then looked at me again, for a long moment, and I felt that little surge of
warmth tingle through me like it had the night when hed seen me in a much
sexier dress than I was in now.
*****
The wedding itself was almost uneventful; by the time we got to the
courthouse, and met up with Cassiewho had taken an extra-long lunch to be
able to be my witness and bridesmaidand Bruce, who didnt look nearly as
good in his uniform as Linc didand stepped up to the justice of the peace,
any nervousness I felt was totally out of my system. I responded to the
questions automatically, and before I knew it Linc had my hand in his, and he
was sliding a ring onto my finger, and then offering me his hand to put a ring
on his, and the only thing I could think of was where he had gotten the rings.
As soon as we were out of the courthouse, with Cassie taking pictures of us
in front of the building, I got up the nerve to ask him. Linc, these werent
yours and...
NoGod no! Linc said, shaking his head. I would never use the same
ring for different women. Bad luck. I had to laugh at that.
Youd think he would have had his fill of bad luck in marriage with his
first wife, Bruce said, and Linc gave him a playful shove.
Brucie is just mad because hes too fat for his uniform and cant pick up
any bridesmaids at this one, Linc said. From the look on Cassies face, I
wasnt so sure my new husband was entirely right about that. If hed paid even
an iota of attention to my friend, he could have had her back at his place before
he knew it.
We rode back to the apartment in near silence, and I found myself looking at
the ring again and again, wondering at it. When did you buy these, if you
didnt already have them?
I got them the other day, Linc said. If youd decided not to go through
with it, Id just be out about fifteen hundred.
I blinked and looked down at my ring again. It was white gold, just a plain
band, but I could easily believe that it cost seven hundred dollars. I could hear
Cassie in my mind, telling me Id been lucky to land a guy who had looks and
money.
I felt exhaustedand hungrywhen we got back to the apartment, but Linc
stopped me at the door. Hey, he said, giving me a little grin. I know its not
really our wedding night, but I thought you might like to do the traditional
thing.
I frowned in confusion, but didnt say no; when Linc reached down and
scooped me up into his arms I yelped in surprise, and he grinned at me more
broadly.
You are not going to carry me into the apartment, I said, not quite making
it a question.
I am if you stop squirming, Linc told me. I laughed in spite of myself, and
somehow Linc got us both through the door without dropping me or hitting
my head on the frame. He set me down on my feet lightly as soon as we were
through. I didnt want to admit it to myself at that moment, but it was touching
it was so sweet, the way hed done it for me like that, to give me just a little
taste of being a newlywed.
Im going to make us some lunch, because Im starving. But firstI should
probably take this off, I said, looking down at the beautiful dress. I almost
wanted to keep it on, but I knew better; if I cooked in it, I was just going to
mess it upand I might want to wear it again someday, for some more
legitimate event.
Ill get out of my uniform, too. Forgot how hot this thing is, Linc said.
And then all at once our wedding daysuch as it waswas over, and in a
matter of minutes I was walking out of the bedroom with my hair pulled back
into a sloppy bun, and a light, comfortable sweater dress on me instead of my
wedding gown. Id left the bra and panties on, just because I didnt feel like
taking them off yet.
I went to work in the kitchen and tried to focus on what I was doing instead
of dwelling on what I had already done. Linc came in as I was setting rice to
cook, and I felt his gaze on me, lingering at my ass. You know, just because
Im your wife now doesnt mean you can leer at me, I said, without looking at
him. I couldnt admit that I actually kind of liked the feeling of him watching
me like he was.
Youre the only woman Im legally entitled to leer at right now, Linc
countered. I giggled and turned around to meet his gaze; he obediently brought
his eyes up to my face, though he took a quick detour at my breasts on the way
up.
We agreed, I said, thinking of what Id learned from Rico the day before,
when Id come back to the apartment to try and figure out what I was going to
do to help spring Linc from jail. We agreed that it was going to be just on
paper.
I know, Linc said. And if you really dont ever want to have sex with me,
we wont have sex. But nobody would think any less of you if you did decide to
have sex with me now. Were married.
I rolled my eyes at that. You cant change your mind now, I told him. If
you do, Ill go to the courthouse tomorrow and get a divorceor whatever
and youll look even worse when you go to court. Linc raised an eyebrow at
that threat.
Youd really do that? I could see the respect in his eyes.
If you tried to make me have sex with you when I dont want to, yes, I said
firmly. Linc held my gaze for a long moment of silence and then nodded.
I will keep that in mind, he said. I would just like to point out one thing,
however.
Whats that? I couldnt resist the curiosity that rose up in me. What would
Linc bring up?
You loved what I did to you the other night, he said. I know for a fact that
you wanted moreat least, your body wanted more. And now that were
married, whether or not theres sex in our relationship, I am not going to touch
or even look at another woman.
I crossed my arms over my chest. How am I supposed to believe that,
knowing your history and given that this is a fake marriage anyway?
Because if I give you my word on something, you can count on it, Linc
told me. If I say I will forsake all others for you, Ill do it.
That had been in the vows, but I hadnt thought that Linc had taken them any
more seriously than I had. The look in his eyes, intense and fiery with
something else in there that I couldnt really name, was making me
uncomfortable. I turned around to face the stove again, and tried to focus on
the quick sauce I was making for the chicken and rice we were going to have.
I could still feel him watching me as I moved around the kitchen, and part of
me wanted to tell him to stopbut another part of me loved every moment of
it. I may have even started bending over to pick up things I accidentally
dropped more often than I could reasonably have needed to, just to hear the
sharp little intake of breath that would come from the direction of his chair at
the table.
Sky. I turned off the heat on the stove; everything was done, but I needed
to cool off before I would be ready to eat it.
What, Linc? I put on my most innocent voice as I turned to face him. I
knew exactly what Id done to him, but I wasnt sure how to feel about it. I knew
I had been leading him on, that Id been encouraging every lecherous look, but
my heart pounded in my chest when I thought of him doing anything about it.
Youre torturing me, Linc said flatly, looking straight up into my eyes. If
youre not going to have sex with me, Id appreciate it if you wouldnt tease
me like he stopped. Id appreciate it if you wouldnt intentionally try to get
me hard and then turn me down.
That was like a gush of cold water down my back, completely ruining any
enjoyment I had gotten out of teasing him.
Im sorry, Linc, I said. I guess I just got carried away. I liked feeling you
watch me. I smiled wryly.
You should like it, Linc said, his voice almost hoarse, and I glanced down
at the front of his jeans without even thinking. Good Godwhat does he have in
there? A baseball bat? I refused to think about it, and I made myself look at his
face. Youre showing off for your husband, thats a natural thrill.
Youre not my real husband, I protested.
I could be, Linc said. For a while, anyway.
That was getting into dangerous territory, and when Linc rose to his feet I
almost told him to stop, to leave me alone. Then I almost apologized again, but
the words wouldnt come to my mouth. I couldnt make myself want him to
stop; this was what Id been goading him to all along, and I knew it.
Linc was right in front of me, and then his hands were on my waist, lifting
me up onto the counter, and I couldnt make myself say anything against what
he was doing; I wanted it too much. I hadnt even realized how much Id wanted
it, how the knowledge of him watching me had made me hot, too. Then he
tilted my face up, and his lips descended onto mine, and I threw my arms
around his shoulders, pressing my body to his.
His hands moved over my body just like they had before, and I found
myself shivering uncontrollably; but how could I be cold, when I had the
warm, soft sweater on, and the heat from the stove behind me?
Linc pulled back and then his lips were on my neck, sliding down the
column of my throat, and I gasped when I felt his teeth graze the spot where my
pulse was going crazy. Come on, Sky, he murmured, bringing his mouth up
to my ear. His lips found my earlobe, and I made a sound I didnt even
recognize as he sucked and nibbled on it. Let me give you a real wedding
night, even if it wasnt a real wedding.
I couldnt say no. I didnt have it in me. I nodded; I couldnt even speak. Linc
picked me up again and I realized that he was carrying me, through the kitchen
and then the living room, and then into his bedroom once again. He seemed to
like carrying me. He wasnt quite as gentle laying me down on the pillows as
hed been the first time, and I made a noise that he must have decided was
upset; he kissed me lightly on the lips and murmured an apology.
You have no idea how badly Ive wanted you, Sky, Linc murmured as his
hands slipped up, under my dress, lifting it over my hips. It was off of me in an
instant, before I could even reply to him.
Why? I couldnt think of a good answer to that question.
Because you are just... God. Linc stopped short and stared down at me like
a starving man. He even licked his lips. Were you wearing that under...
Under my wedding dress? I giggled; I couldnt help it, I was giddy. I
couldnt believe that I was really doing this. Yes.
Why I didnt convince you to let me rip that off of you as soon as we came
into the apartment I will never know, Linc murmured, before kissing me
again. His hands were all over me, slipping up between my thighs, and I gasped
as he brushed up against the mound of my vulva through the thin lace of my
panties. I was already wet, and I hadnt even really noticed itjust the growing
tightness between my hips.
He dipped down from my mouth and then he was sucking on each of my
breasts in turn, and I cried out, arching up off of the bed, eager to feel more of
him. The feeling of his hot, wet tongue against my nippleseven through the
lace of my brawas absolutely amazing, and I didnt want it to stop. I grabbed
at his shoulders, at his head, twisting and writhing underneath him as he
worked his way down. Even knowing what he was going to do, I felt like I was
absolutely on edge, like I couldnt breathe until I felt his mouth up against me,
right where I needed it the most.
Linc stopped short, just below my hips, and I groaned in frustration. I
opened my eyes, not even sure of when Id closed them, and looked up to see
Linc grinning. So impatient for someone who kept insisting she didnt want to
do this right up until today, he said.
Its all your fault! I tried to take a deep breath, tried to regain some kind
of composure, but as soon as Linc hauled his tee shirt over his head, exposing
his broad, muscled chest, any ideas I might have had about regaining some
self-control evaporated. My breath caught in my throat as he reached down to
the fly of his jeans, and then I couldnt even think of breathing as he unzipped.
He pushed his pants down, and his boxers with themor maybe he just hadnt
put any on when wed come back to the apartmentand the sight of him, thick
and hard and bigger than anything I thought could possibly belong on a human
being, made me tremble a little bit with a mixture of dread and desire.
Youre not ready for this yet, Linc told me with a little smirk, gliding his
hand slowly up and down his erection for a moment. But Im going to make
sure youre so ready that you couldnt bleed if you wanted to.
The mention of bleeding caught me off guard, but then Lincs hands were
guiding my flimsy panties down over my hips, and he was slipping down
between my thighs, and I forgot about it altogether as he worshipped me with
his mouth. It was every bit as good as before, and I gave myself up to it without
a fight, bucking against his face until his strong arms gripped me too tightly to
move. He worked me with his tongue and lips relentlessly, pulling back every
few moments just as I was sure I was going to hit that magical point of tipping
over again, like I had the last time.
Just when I thought I would die if he didnt finish me off, Linc pulled back
completely. What? What are you doing? I was almost in a panic.
Linc chuckled, kissing me lightly on the lips. I was about to suggest that we
move on to the main event, he told me. His fingers slid along my labia, and
then one slid slowly inside of me and my toes curled against the sheets. Like
that?
GodGod yes, I like it, I said.
I think youre ready for me, do you? If youre not, I can just keep doing
this, Linc said, sliding his finger slowly in and out of me, wriggling it just
slightly along my inner walls. I made pathetic little noises, somewhere between
moans and whimpers, unable to help myself. Tell me, Sky, he said, his voice
hoarse.
Yes, yes, Im ready, I said, not even entirely sure anymore what I was
agreeing to. Then Linc was fully on top of me once again, and I felt the heat
and the hardness of his erection against my thigh, and I remembered. I was
about to have sex for the first time. I felt a little flurry of panic, and part of me
wanted to take it back. Part of me wanted to tell him to stop, but the rest of me
couldnt stand the thought of it stopping.
Open your eyes, Sky. Im not going to hurt you, Linc said. I felt the tip of
himGod, he was so thick, how could he possibly fit that inside of me?
rubbing against my inner labia, barely brushing against my clit, and it was so
distracting that I couldnt make sense of his words for a moment. Sky?
I opened my eyes and looked up at him, and then I felt it: I felt his hips
move, and all at once, the tight fullness, the way my body put up a token
resistance that was so intense that it had to be pain, mingled up in the warm
flowing pleasure that his tongue and fingers had given me. I gasped and Linc
kept moving, kept pressing forward. I wanted to tell him to stop, but every
word had left my brain, jolted out by the intensity of what was happening inside
of me.
All at once the resistance seemed to just stop, and Linc slid the rest of the
way into me, until his hips were flush against mine, and I could feel him right
up at the top of my inner walls. God, I said, finally taking a few deep, slow
breaths. Thank God youre not any biggeryou might kill me. Linc
chuckled, and the shaking brought on more of the intense, pleasure-pain
sensations tingling through my nerve endings. I made some kind of strangled
noise and he slid out of me all at once; but that wasnt what Id wanted either.
No!
No?
I didnt want you out, I said, knowing I sounded ridiculous but not caring.
Linc chuckled once more.
Thats easy to fix, he said, and I felt the thick tip of his cock against my
labia again, slowly rubbing up and down, and then his fingers swirling around
my clit, making me somehow even wetter than I was beforewhich I hadnt
even known was possible. Tell me when youre ready. I wanted to say it right
away, but I was too distracted by how good his fingers felt playing with me. I
let it continue until I just couldnt stand it anymore, gasping and panting and
shivering.
Now, Linc. Before I could get his name out all the way, he was pushing
inside of me again. I braced myself for the pain that I thought was coming, I
was sure was coming, but beyond stretching for his thickness, it was only
pleasure. So different than when his mouth was on me, as he bottomed out and
ground down into me. It took my breath away to feel him inside of me so deep.
And then there was the rubbing on my clit.
My nails dug into his shoulders and he paused. Do you want me to stop?
I shook my head no. It felt too good, and I was already getting antsy, ready
for him to move. I knew that it was only going to get better from here. I should
have trusted him on that. The difference was so stark that it was hard to
imagine anything ever feeling this good.
Please dont ever stop, Linc. He growled above me and pulled out all the
way before plunging back down. I gasped and clung to him. I felt like I was
lost, drowning even, and he was the only thing that was going to save me. I
didnt let him go, afraid that I would float away and never feel this way again.
More, I said, gasping as he gave me just that.
His movements became quicker, and I held onto the ripped and sweaty
triceps that were holding him up over me. Linc bent down to kiss me, and I
squeezed the thickness inside of me. His reactiona sharp, loud groan of
pleasuremade me do it over and over again.
Stop, or Ill come too soon. I didnt listen very well, and he finally sat
back on his heels and pulled me to hm. We watched his cock slip in and then
disappear into my wetness. I loved the look of pure ecstasy on his face. I
wanted to make Linc lose it, like hed done to me a couple of nights ago.
Growling, Linc pulled me closer and started to drive into me faster and
harder than before. I came hard and fast, the feeling overtaking me. I wasnt
expecting it. I wasnt prepared for all this, and everything started to get dark.
My eyes were shut tight, and every single muscle in my body was pulled tight.
Wound up like a rubber band, I was catapulted into another dimension. Never
had I thought that being with a man, any man, would make me feel so good and
complete. Now I got it. This was what all the fuss was about.
His own pleasure wasnt far behind. I could feel the hot, slightly sticky gush
of him inside of me as he groaned out his climax. It was a beautiful feeling,
and I wrapped my legs around him and pulled him close. Id never felt so close
to someone in my life, and I just wanted all of us to touch each other anywhere
that we possibly could.
Wow.
Linc chuckled and asked me if that was a good thing. I nodded my head.
Words still eluded me. How could they not when it was all so overwhelming?
He pulled me to him, and I laid my head on his chest, listening to the steady
thump of his heart under my ear. It magnified the sound and somehow made
me feel even closer to him.
I didnt know that it could ever feel like that, Linc. I hadnt had any idea,
but now I felt that Id cheated myself by keeping this out of my life for so long.
What had I been thinking?
Me either, Sky. It doesnt normally feel like this.
I was confused and asked him what he meant. It doesnt? I mean, you seem
to have done it a lotso I have to think that you knew what was going to
happen.
Linc laughed. I loved the sound of it. I knew... Hell, Sky, it doesnt usually
feel so good with anyone. Ive never felt so much pleasure in all my life. I just
want to make sure that it was good for you. I dont usually worry about that
kind of thing, but I want you to have liked it.
How could I not? I cursed myself when I realized that Id said it out loud.
It had felt too good to deny it, but I wasnt sure if I wanted him to know how
much Id fallen for him. On the other hand, looking at him now, I wasnt sure
that I wanted to hide it anymore. If I couldnt be honest with Linc after that, who
else could I even try with? It didnt make sense, but then nothing that was going
on really did.
I didnt stay awake too long after we finished. His heart beating in my ear
was an even rhythm that felt like it was going to lull me to sleep at any
moment. When it did, I was surrounded by his warmth and my nostrils were
filled with his man scent. God, he smelled so good. I drifted off without even
being able to complete the last half-thought in my mind.

Chapter NineteenLinc

Family Court was just like I remembered, but for the first time since Id first
appeared there, I actually felt at easeat least a little bit. I knew that Id done
everything humanly possible to guarantee the best results, so now I was going
to have to depend on Carol to do her job. I did trust her. That was why I kept
going to her time after time. I just hoped this time would be the last on this
particular matter. I was going to make sure that Lisa regretted the shit shed put
me through. I was going to get custody, I was just sure of it.
The judge came out and everyone stood up. I knew the drill, having done
this many times before. The judge was the same guy wed fought in front of
before, too. Either hell be as tired of her shit as I am, or hell be pissed at me
that she feels the need to put us all through this again.
I cant say that Im happy to see the two of you in here again. How old is
your daughter now? He was looking at me, but he didnt say my name, and
Lisa answered first in a haughty voice. The judge glanced at my ex-wife, and I
could tell he was less than pleased to have to pay her any attention at all. That
made two of us. Whats this about today?
Lisas lawyer started his statement about the motion that shed filed trying to
establish full custody so that Lisa could leave the state with Jazmin. As far away
as she wanted to go it might as well have been leaving the country. Lisa wanted
to go over a thousand miles away, knowing full well that that meant I would
never get to see our daughter. After a few minutes of the mans droning, Judge
Bryan put his hand up to stop him from talking. I want to hear from the
mother and father, not the lawyers. Ive heard enough from you two already.
Why are you here, Ms. Hayes?
Its Sprague now, Lisa said, and I forced myself not to look at her; if I did
I would lose it. I was almost losing it just from the tone of her voice.
Of course it is. So what are we here for? Lisa wasnt prepared to speak,
and when I took the risk of glancing at her, I could tell that she was a little put
off that she was being asked to. That was what she paid the lawyer the big
dollars for, so she wouldnt have to do it herself.
I think that everything is spelled out in the motion, your honor.
He didnt even glance down at the paperwork in front of him, and I bit back
a laugh. I want to hear it from you. Why are we here again, Mrs. Sprague?
What have you brought this man back to my courtroom for?
Lisa was thrown off, which gave me a small, smirking satisfaction. For
once, I might get to see her get her ass handed to her, instead of taking the
spanking myself.
I want to move to California with my new husband, she said, and I
wondered if she could hear the shrill tone of her own voice. He has businesses
there, and we would like to go back there to the West Coast. I want full custody
so I can move as I please.
That was the wrong thing to say to Judge Bryan. He held up a hand for her
to stop. Where does your daughter fall into all this? Its the middle of the
school year and you want to drag her across the country, away from her father
and all her friends, all her ties?
When he put it like that, I didnt feel so guilty about feeling the way I did.
She was making it hard on Jazmin as well as on me, and I dont even think that
shed ever really thought about it until that moment. She thought only of
herself, just like she always had.
Youre twisting my words, your honor! I was shocked that shed say that
to the judge, but this wasnt the first time the two of them had gotten into a
heated discussion in the courtroom. Id learned long ago to just keep my mouth
shut and see how everything played out.
Im married to a wonderful man, and Jazmin will have all her needs taken
care of. Were stable, and thats something that shes not going to get from her
father. He leaves on covert missions for the military and works every single
day when hes here. A single man does not have the stability that we can
provide.
Carol started to say something, but I stopped her. For once, I was ready to
speak for myself. And I was going to do it, come hell or high water. Thats all
false, I began. I retired two years ago, got my discharge certificate here to
prove it, and Ive since gotten married. I live with my wife. Our home is stable,
and Jazmin has everything that she needs at my place, including her own
room.
Judge Bryan smiled, and I knew that he was happy Id spoken up.
Lisa wasnt. What do you mean you got married? To whom? Her lawyer
tried to shut her up, but she kept going. NoI want to hear him say who he
got married to. He hasnt even been dating! The judge didnt seem to care,
though, and he didnt ask me to show any proof, although I had it waiting just
in case. I was ready for Lisa today, and she obviously wasnt ready for me.
Your honor, he told me nothing about this, and surely as a co-parent, he
should keep me in the loop! She was getting pissed, and Carol smiled at me. If
Lisa got in the right mood, she would do everything for us. She was already
losing her shit, and it wouldnt be long before even Judge Bryan would know
exactly what she was about. Lisa was all about herself and anything that got her
what she wanted.
Mrs. Sprague, youre going to have to control yourself a little bit better. By
your actions here today in this courtroom, I have to agree with the response
motion that youre a little unstable. I think that we need to have some
evaluations done.
What? Your honor, thats absurd! Lisa was incredulous, and I had to admit
that I was a bit shocked as well. Id never thought about this before, but how
good of an idea was that? Sure, alleging that she was mentally ill was kind of
underhanded, but if she could play dirty, why couldnt we? I hadnt even known
that Carol was going to take that tackbut it made perfect sense. And it made
sense that she hadnt told me about it; she hadnt wanted me to tip her hand.
Ive warned you once. If I have to warn you again, Ill slap contempt
charges on you. Ill not have you making a mockery of this court.
The judge paused then, and I saw Lisas lawyer pushing down on her
shoulder, holding her in place even as he whispered furiously in her ear. When
Lisa didnt try to say anything more, Judge Bryan continued. Ive personally
seen enough of you, and Im ready to make my ruling. Ive read your motion
and Im denying it. I dont know why in the world you think separating your
child from her fathera good father, I might add, with an honorable record of
service to his countryis going to be better for her. Its not, and you should be
ashamed of yourself for even suggesting such a thing.
Lisa was still sputtering, but the fear of going to jail had her doing so in a
way that wouldnt offend the judge. Shed been put in her place, and for once I
think she realized that shed have to stay there. The judge turned and looked at
me. As for the other motion; sir, what do you have to say for yourself?
Well, your honor, Lisa is making it impossible for me to see my daughter.
This is only the last in a long line of acts and provocations from my ex-wife.
Last week, while it was my weekend, she refused to let me see her Friday night
as per our agreement. Then she came to my house a day later to drop Jazmin
off. Shes erratic, and getting remarried hasnt helped. I paused and took a
breath. There: Id said the things that I almost wouldnt have dared to say to the
judge at any other time.
And so your petition is for? I could almost see a glint in Judge Bryans
eyes.
I would like to take a bigger role in my daughter s life, and Im asking for
joint custody with equal visitation. I live close enough to her school that it
wouldnt be affected, and Ill always be home when she gets home. She wont
need to be left with hired help like she is with Lisa. I just want to be a bigger
part of my daughter s life, your honor.
The judge turned to Lisa and asked her if she saw the difference.
The difference?
Hes trying to do whats right for Jazmin. If you dont go to California,
what will happen?
What do you mean? Lisa looked both confused and frightened, and a part
of mea petty part of me, I had to admitwas pleased.
Will not going harm you in any way?
No, your honor, she replied.
Good, then its settled. Ill deny your motion to leave, as well as sole
custody. These are not in the best interests of your daughter, which are always
foremost in this court.
I blew out some breath with a huge sigh of relief, forgetting for a moment
that it wasnt all Id asked for. I had asked for more rights, and he hadnt ruled
on that yet. But at least now Lisa couldnt take Jazmin away from me.
As for your motion. He was looking at me now, and he had a damn good
poker face; any glimmer of amusement that had been there was gone.
Yes, your honor? Only grueling experience responding to superior
officers without breaking discipline as they shouted in my face made it
possible for me to say it with my voice level and calm.
Im granting your motion. Its best for Jazmin to see more of you. It would
also help if you two could somehow manage to get along. That little girl
shouldnt have any part of the problems between the two of you, and I think
you both know it. But he was looking at Lisa when he said the last part, not at
me.
I sat back in my chair and let the relief wash through me. There were some
legal technicalities to be ironed out, and the lawyers argued about when the
new arrangement would start, and where to meet at, but none of that mattered. I
was finally going to get what I wanted, and I knew that it was going to be for
the best all around.
Linc? Carol was talking to me, but I hadnt heard a word shed said. I
gestured for her to repeat herself. The judge wants to know if theres anything
else.
No, I couldnt ask for more, I said.
Carol smiled and went to conference with Lisas lawyer. I was left standing
slack-jawed. Had that really just happened? I had to get home and tell Sky about
it right away; there was no one else I wanted to share that news with, not in the
entire world.

Chapter TwentySky

I knew the news was good even before Linc said what had happenedbut by
the time he got home from Family Court, I had bad news to counter his good. I
hated to tell him, but I thought that it was probably better that he hear it when he
was happyhappier than Id seen him in the short time Id known himthan
when he was already upset about something.
Sky! Thank God youre homeI had to get here and tell you, Linc said.
He picked me up and spun me around, and for a moment I couldnt bring
myself to say what I needed to say.
Let me guess: court went well today? Linc laughed and kissed me. I
stiffened in his arms; I didnt want to like the way he kissed me as much as I
absolutely did. I didnt want to feel that warm flush through my middle, all the
way down to my hips and in between them, that rush of sensation that only
made me want more.
Lisa and I have joint custody, he said. She cant take Jazmin to California
she cant take her anywhere, and she doesnt have primary custody anymore.
The judge saw right through her.
Thats awesome! I managed to smile for him, knowing how good it must
feel. I could see how important it had been to him. So then our work here is
done, I guess.
What? Linc stopped in his tracks and stared at me.
I just meanyou only got married to me because you needed that boost,
right? That credibility in court, I said quickly. It wasnt the opening that Id
wanted to use, but the words kept tumbling out of me. So we could wait like,
six months, just to make sure everything is settled with you and Jazmin, and
then... I shrugged. I guess we could get an annulment.
I dont want an annulment, Linc said, shaking his head.
What? It was my turn to stare at him.
LookSky, I realized when I was in court today that it wasnt just about
getting married to have a better chance in court, Linc told me. I started
shaking my head, holding my hands up to stop him from speaking. If I let him
go on, he might talk me into almost anything.
Youre on a high from winning the case, thats all, I said. We agreed that
it was going to be a fake marriage, and that it was only going to be for as long
as you needed it to have the right status to get custody.
But we could make it a real marriage, Sky, Linc said. He held my gaze for
a long moment and I felt my heart beating faster. Had I wanted him to say that?
Had I opened up with the weaker part of the situation just so that he would?
I dont know, I said. I looked down at my feet. Itheres another thing.
Whats wrong? Linc was right up close to me again, and the smell of him
his cologne and soap, and something more elemental than thatwas too
much for me. I wanted him to hold me, I wanted him to tell me that every little
thing would be okay. But first I wanted to get what I had to say over with.
I got served with paperwork today, I said, taking a deep breath. The
police are going to charge me with obstruction.
Obstruction? Linc stared at me, and I realized that hed totally forgotten
the issue of his battery charges.
Remember how I lied to the cops about not knowing you? Apparently
Stephen kept pushing them to charge me, and so now theyre coming after me
for interfering with an investigation, obstruction of justice. I pressed my lips
together and closed my eyes for a moment. Its not going to look good for us
if were in the court as man and wife.
Well, on the bright side, as my wife, you cant be forced to testify against
me, Linc said.
Its not funny, Linc, I told him. Its really serious.
I know it is, Linc said quietly. And I swear, I will see you through this.
Look, Sky: I actually really care about you, beyond anything I thought I was
able to feel about anyone except for Jazmin.
Youre just saying that, I said, shaking my head.
Im not, Linc said. Look, give me six months, at least. Let me show you
that I do care about you, and then at the end of it, if you decide that its just no
realer then than it is now, we can talk about getting this annulled. He looked
into my eyes, and I couldnt make myself come up with a reason why that
wouldnt work. How did he always know exactly what to say?
Six months? Linc nodded, and I caught a gleam in his eyes that I already
recognized, even after only a short time of being around him.
Besides, if youre going to go out there in the world and find your real
Prince Charming, you should be well-versed on how to seduce your future
husband, right?
Laughter burst out of me at that, and when Linc moved to wrap his arms
around me again, to pick me up, I didnt resist at all. I had to admit that when
Id been thinking about what I would have to doleave Linc, and try to salvage
what I could of my reputation somehowI had thought long and hard about
the fact that I would certainly be giving up sex. I couldnt see myself with
anyone else but him, and try as I might, I couldnt regret the way Id lost my
virginity.
Linc carried me into his bedroom, and in a matter of moments we were
peeling each other s clothes off. We hadnt had sex again since the first time,
but Linc had been more than happy to show me a few other things in the few
days since our wedding, and Id been an eager student. I let my hands wander
all over him, working up my nerve to finally reach down and take his
throbbing, thick cock and stroke him slowly.
Linc groaned, stiffening against me, and his hips bucked as I worked him
with more and more confidence. I felt the sticky slickness of the pre-cum
beginning to flow from the tip, and I paused in my stroking to bring my
fingers up to my mouth to taste them. God, you have no idea how hot that is,
Linc said, watching me intently.
I have a pretty good idea, I countered. It was apparently hot enough to
make it impossible for Linc to let me continue; he pulled me onto his lap and
settled me on top of him, and I shivered at the feeling of his thickness against
my slick, soaking wet labia. He pushed down gently but steadily on my hips
and I sank down onto him.
It didnt hurt like it had the first time, but it felt so full that for just an instant
I almost couldnt tell the difference. But when I started moving on top of Linc,
that was when I knew it was differentit was so right, so good, I never wanted
to stop. I kissed him hungrily, twisting my hips as I took him gradually deeper
and deeper, and Linc ducked away from one of my kisses to claim each of my
breasts with his mouth, sucking and licking and grazing me with his teeth
enough to drive me absolutely crazy. I rode him steadily, going faster as I
loosened up, and Linc began to thrust into me at the same time, holding onto
my hips with his big, strong hands.
All at once, the tension winding up deep down in my hips snapped, and I
reeled against Linc, grabbing at him, holding myself against him tightly. He
kept moving inside of me, and for a few moments it was almost overwhelming
how good I felt as wave after wave of sensation crackled through my nervous
system. I was barely even able to breathe, barely able to think, when I heard
Linc groan out his own climax, pounding into me hard and fast as he came.
We both collapsed to the bed together, panting and gasping, and in spite of
everything Id told Linc, I knew that I was glad hed talked me out of leaving.
He kissed me lazily on the lips, and I could feel the thickness of him still inside
me starting to harden once more. Six months? I pulled back and looked into
his brilliant, gleaming green eyes.
Six months, I agreed. Unless we both get thrown into jail. Linc chuckled
and shook his head.
We wont, I promise you, he said. Ill do whatever it takes to make sure
neither of us ends up in prison. And I will do whatever it takes to prove to you
that Im serious about this.
I smiled at him; I couldnt help but feel at least a little optimistic. Linc made
me feel so good I couldnt imaginein a moment like thatever wanting to
leave him. I could only hope that things worked out the way he said they would.

Chapter Twenty-OneLinc

I had to hand it to the Denver court system: they didnt keep us waiting. Two
weeks after I won in Family Court, Sky and I were in a different kind of
courtroom, waiting for the beginning of my Grand Jury hearing. She had been
suspended from Clandale, pending the outcome of her trial; fortunately theyd
suspended her with pay, and even more fortunately, I made enough money
from the apartment building that it didnt really matter. Sky was my wife, and I
could support us both for a while. But I knew that she would hate herself if she
lost her first real job because of this.
The judge came into the courtroom, and we all rose to our feet. Carol
hadnt wanted to represent mesaid she wouldnt be caught dead practicing
criminal lawbut shed referred me to a defense lawyer friend of hers, and he
seemed just as sharp and shrewd as she was. I was pretty hopeful.
Good afternoon, everyone, Judge Lance Pfefferman said after we were
seated. Were here today to determine if there are grounds for charges to be
laid against one Lincoln Hayes, in the battery of one Stephen Jennings. He
went on, and I looked around the room. Stephen was milking his broken nose
for all it was worth, and I would have sworn someone had put makeup on him
to make the bruising look worse.
Shit, Sky murmured next to me.
What? I took her hand in mine, and squeezed it as lightly as I could to
reassure her.
Him, she said, pointing to a man seated in the gallery. Thats Stephens
bossthe head of the department. I raised an eyebrow. The man shed pointed
out looked to be in his sixties, with graying hair, a pair of wire-rimmed
glasses, and a no-nonsense face.
Dont worry about him, I told her. Itll be fine.
We sat through the preliminaries, and I kept looking at Skys boss, hating
him in my mind. It was his fault we had to go through this. Finally, the moment
Id been waiting for came up. Sky began to sit up straighter as we both heard it
coming. My lawyerwho was Skys too, for her chargetold the judge that
Sky Hayes would be testifying.
Sky Hayes? The judge frowned. I have a Sky Davis listed as a co-
defendant in a collateral case.
Yesobstruction of justice, my lawyer agreed. She is now married to
the defendant in this case.
That will be interesting, then, the judge remarked. All right, lets see
what Mrs. Hayes has to say. Sky stood and walked across the courtroom to the
witness stand. I smiled at her, wanting to encourage her, as she swore her oath.
Mrs. Hayes, I would like you to tell us what happened the day of the alleged
attack on Mr. Jennings, my lawyer said. I looked at Stephen; he wasnt looking
quite so confident. I turned my attention back onto Sky.
The day of the alleged attack, Mr. Jennings was in my office, Sky said.
She kept her voice level, absolutely confident, and began to explain to
everyone in the room. The first day that I started working at Clandale, Stephen
Mr. Jenningsmade it clear that he was interested in having a sexual
relationship with me. A ripple went through the gallery at that, and the Grand
Jurymost of them women, I was glad to seewere not happy.
Did you reciprocate his interest?
No, sir, Sky replied. I tried to make it as clear as possible to him that I
found his advances inappropriate, and that I wanted him to stop.
And how does this relate to the day of the alleged attack?
When Mr. Hayes came into my office, Mr. Jennings was in the middle of
attempting to coerce me into having lunch with him, Sky said. Another ripple
went through the room. I told him, once again, that I didnt find his behavior
appropriate, and that I wanted him to stop. Mr. Hayes came into the office at
that point, and saw that Mr. Jennings had grabbed mehe wanted, I think, to
pull me out of my desk chair. I dont know what he intended to do after that,
and Im glad I never found out.
Stephens lawyer tried to shake Skys testimony, but she had the truth on her
side; no matter how he tried to get her to admit to somehow encouraging
Jennings to court her, Sky knew that she hadnt. Then it was my turn, and I
testified to exactly what had happened the day Id punched Stephen in the nose,
not mentioning the part about asking Sky not to tell the police who I was.
Finally, it was Stephens turn, and I could tell when he went up on the stand
that the room was not in his favor. So could he, and he didnt like it. Hed
thought that his lawyer could intimidate Sky into some kind of confession that
she had been interested in him, and he had thought his lawyer could get either
Sky or me to admit to some conspiracy to cover up who I was; but wed agreed
before wed even met with my lawyer: we werent even going to mention it,
and we were going to stick with the story that Id just fled.
Mr. Jennings, did Sky Davis give you any indication at all that she
reciprocated your interest in her? I almost laughed. From that point forward I
knew that no matter what else came up, it was almost a guarantee that the Grand
Jury was going to side with us. Stephens lawyer tried to draw out some
argument that Stephen hadnt deserved to be punched, that Sky had led him on
and then intended some bizarre lawsuit at her brand-new job as a cash cow, but
the jury was clearly not having it.
When they came back in with their decision, less than thirty minutes after
leaving the courtroom to deliberate, I knew even before the judge read it out
that there wasnt going to be some big trial.
Im also ready to make a ruling on the collateral case, the judge said, after
reading the decision not to indict me. The charges against Mrs. Hayes should
also be dropped, in that I have not seen any evidence other than hearsay that
there was any active effort on her part to interfere with an investigation. I
conclude, with the Grand Jury, that this is a case where force was used in the
rightful defense of another, namely Mrs. Hayes.
The judge adjourned the session, and I stood up and pulled Sky to me,
kissing her hungrilybut trying to keep it appropriate to the venue. Neither of
us was going to have to go to court again, at least not for a long time. Neither
of us was going to have to deal with a trial. And none of what had happened
with Jennings was going to have any impact on the custody ruling Judge Bryan
had handed down.
Ahem, Mrs. Hayes? I let Sky go and turned around to see the man shed
pointed out to me.
OhIm so sorry, Mr. Keller, Sky said, blushing. I didnt realize you
were waiting to speak to me.
I wanted to personally apologize for the stress you must have been under
these past few weeks, Keller said. And in light of what has come to light in
regard to Stephens behavior, I will be filling out the paperwork for his
dismissal this afternoon, as soon as I get back into the office. Of course, your
suspension will be rescinded effective tomorrow. I believe we can resolve the
HR issues tomorrow morning, if youre still willing to work at Clandale.
I am, Sky said. Thank youthank you so much.
Keller turned to leave the courtroom and I hugged Sky tightly to me.
Everything had turned out all right; and I still had another five and a half
months to convince her to stay with me for goodfive and a half months that
wouldnt be overshadowed by anything.

~The End for now~

Bonus Book

Ricos Chance at Love

Chapter 1
So I take it you arent gonna go back to the motel, huh?
No, Rico. You got me in enough trouble with Sky. Im surprised she even
lets me go play poker anymore.
I laughed at him and made a whipping sound. Id been to their wedding a
few weeks back, and my friend Linc was happier than Id ever seen him. Love
and marriage seemed to be going great for him. Had to be, considering what
hed given up for that life.
Me, if I had a choice, I didnt know which one I would choose. I didnt think
that I would be as quick to give up a night of strange whenever I wanted it. But
damn if Linc wasnt happy.
Well, if youre not coming back I wont be getting you in trouble anymore.
All thats out in the open and she forgave you. You cant still be mad at me.
Linc told me that he wasnt. I did still feel bad about it, though. I knew that it
had almost messed up what they had, but now they were stronger than ever. In
the end it was all just a test, one that they had passed. Why hadnt I found a
woman like Sky?
Good. Have you had much luck finding my replacement?
I frowned and told him that I hadnt. No, I got a second job a couple of
days ago. I start tomorrow night.
Doing what?
I laughed at the irony of it all. I knew Linc would appreciate it. Im going
to be working at Scuttles. It was the bar where he used to pick up the tourist
chicks, and I was hoping that it would give me the same kind of luck that it had
given him. I needed that kind of luck in my life, and being the front desk clerk
at a seedy motel hadnt been giving it to me. I was ready to move on, and I had
an idea of how I was going to do it. I was going to take a play out of Lincs
book.
Thats going to be one wild job for a guy like you. I bet youre going to
like it there.
I had a feeling I would, too.
Are you ladies going to gab all night, or are we going to play some
poker?
Making a face at James, I knew that he had to have a good hand. He was
never eager to make the game any faster. He had a wife at home that he
couldnt stand, so he would usually drag things out as long as possible so he
didnt have to be around her.
I folded, knowing that I wasnt going to win. I had nothing in my hand, and
the way he was looking at me was a joke. He had the worst poker face ever, and
before long everyone had folded. James bitched a little bit, but quickly gave up
and went to get a beer. When I turned his hand around, I could see why he was
mad. If only he hadnt given things away, he could have made some money
with that one.
Turning back to Linc, I asked him what I should look for when I started at
Scuttles. As the bartender, I would have my choice of hot tourist pussy.
Man, are you really going to try my way?
Hell yeah, your way works. It would be even better if you would come as
my wingman, set them up for me.
He shook his head. I could see the fear churning in his mind. No, Sky
would kill me.
I laughed at him. Sky was tiny. Well, she was tiny with a huge set of tits, but
she wasnt going to be able to hurt a fly.
Whats she going to do to you, cut you off?
He chuckled and claimed that he could hardly keep up with her. I would
actually like a break every now and then, but Skys a total nympho. Sometimes
I think she has a higher sex drive than I do.
That was hard to believe considering that Id seen him take two or three
different women into the motel on a good night. The man had stamina, and it
made me think of quiet little Sky a little differently. I must have been thinking
about her a little too hard, because he suddenly bitch-slapped me like Id done
something wrong.
What the hell?!?
Dont even think about her like that, Rico. Ill kill you my damn self.
Shit, man, ever since you got married, youre no damn fun.
There was a round of amens that showed I wasnt the only one whod
noticed how much he was wrapped around the womans finger. But our ribbing
didnt bother him. I guessed if I had an old lady as hot as Sky, with a libido
higher than mine, I might not give a shit either. In a way, I was jealous of his
happiness, not that I or anyone else there would ever say it out loud.
That may be, Rico, but Im having a hell of a lot more fun now that Im
married.
The glint in his dark eyes made me look away. Maybe I needed a distraction,
and a bunch of hot cooze seemed like just the cure for what ailed me. It had
helped Linc get over Lisa, after all.
***
The poker game ran late, and I was late for work the next day. The motel
was busy, and I was checking people in and out all day. When my shift ended I
set one of the keys aside, one of the few rooms that were still vacant, and then I
made my way to the bar. I was dragging ass, but Id done bar work before, so
making a few drinks didnt seem all that daunting. And even though I could use
some extra cash now that I wasnt getting any from Linc, I wasnt here for tips
and a check, not really. I was here for the endless stream of hot ass that went
through here.
It was the right move. I knew that right off the bat. There were so many
pretty girls, and I wanted a piece of all them. Id gotten some tips and tricks
from Linc, and I was ready to try them out and see if they worked for me as
well as they had for him.
The bar was hopping, and almost everyone in there seemed to be a tourist
from somewhere else. It was perfect, and soon I was honing in on a couple of
girls. I didnt know which one I was going to have for the night, but I knew that
it was going to be one of them. The whole point of this job was to get girls
back to the motel. While Linc could play the businessman in town for a couple
of days, I worked there, so I just had to be a player and go with pure
confidence.
So what are you doing at closing time?
The young blonde kind of giggled, and I knew that it wasnt the drinks
doing it to her. It was only the second one shed had in a couple of hours, and
Id watered them down as instructed by the owner. That was something that had
always pissed me off when Id come here as a customer: how weak their drinks
were and how much money Id have to spend trying to get drunk. Now, though,
I had other things on my mind.
I dont know. Im only here for one more night.
Is that so?
She had all the classic signs of the perfect catch, and I decided that Marla
was the one that I was going to take with me. She was hotter than a two-dollar
pistol, and her body was curved in all the right places.
Yeah, I have to get back to school and work. The break was too short.
I nodded my head like I gave a damn and asked her if she wanted something
to remember Denver by.
The giggle she gave in response was my green light. She was young, but Id
seen what a young woman could do for an old man like Linc. I was ready to be
lost in some young blood that would let me leave in the morning. Even better,
maybe she would leave before morning. I didnt want to get caught in the
room, after all.
Oh well. I would figure it all out later. Right now, all I was interested in was
getting Marla back to the motel and seeing what this new life was all about.

Chapter 2

I had started doing what Linc had done, and I cant say that I was hating it. It
was becoming as easy as hed made it seem. It was choosing the right woman,
a woman who wanted to have a night of fun, that really made the difference. I
wouldnt have thought that there were such clear signs, but there were. There
were many things that I could see once Linc pointed them out to me. Now it
was impossible not to see them, and I was getting laid almost every night. I
wasnt exactly sick of it all yet, but after a couple of months of it, I had to say
that it was getting routine.
Who would have thought that Linc was actually right about that? I would
never have believed it, but now I knew that it wasnt all it was cracked up to be.
I was going home alone every night and waking up every morning alone and
exhausted. Thats what Id thought I wanted, but now I wasnt so sure.
It was almost closing time, magic hour. Without looking hard, I could tell
that there were several women in there that were looking to partner up if I was
interested. I could fuck the shit out of them and never see them again. It had
been a dream come true in the beginning, but now I wasnt so sure. I was
drying off some wine glasses when I noticed a shadow in front of me, but my
sense of ennui was so overpowering that I didnt even look up.
Whatll it be?
Rico, right?
The sultry voice had me raising my eyes from the glasses. The woman was
beautiful, and everything Id just been thinking was wrong. Maybe this life
wasnt so bad if it involved women who looked like her. I started over again.
What can I do for you, pretty lady?
She smirked at me and leaned in over the counter, crooking her finger. It
was clear that she wanted me to come closer, and I was happy to do just that.
You saw a friend of mine a couple of months ago. I dont know if you
remember her?
Youre going to have to be more specific.
Marla?
She was going to have to be more specific than that as well, but I didnt see
any point in prolonging things.
What about her?
Well, you fucked her brains out, and she came back to work and wouldnt
stop talking about it.
If Id had anything in my mouth, I would have spit it out. Had she really just
said that out loud?
Okay, Im not following.
Arent you?
I shook my head and watched her blue eyes look around at the few
stragglers who hadnt slunk out yet.
No, I dont think I am. What can I do for you, miss
Brenda. My name is Brenda, and I want you to do for me what you did for
Marla.
It had been a long day, and I wasnt processing things all that well. Well,
Brenda, Im not sure what you want, but Ill be more than happy to give it to
you if want to tell me what it is.
She giggled and leaned in again. I want you to fuck me like you fucked
Marla.
Where?
Right here.
I got hard instantly. Damn if that didnt sound like the perfect plan to me. I
raised my voice.
Last call was twenty minutes ago, everyone. Get the hell out!
There were a few diehards who didnt want to go anywhere, but I wasnt
having it tonight. I usually gave them another chance for one last drink, but
Brenda obviously didnt want to wait, and neither did I. Who was this woman
and why the hell did she want me like this? I had to remember who her friend
was. Marla? The name sounded familiar, but there had been a lot of girls that
Id gone through since starting at the bar.
The last person walked out and I shut the door and locked it. When I turned
around, she was sitting on the edge of the bar motioning for me to come to her.
I wouldnt have said no if I could have. She was opening and closing her legs
and from where I stood, I could tell that she didnt have any panties on
underneath that skirt.
I bit my lip and cursed to myself. Come here, Rico. I hear youre good with
your mouth.
It wasnt the first time that Id heard that, but how had Brenda heard it? This
woman acted like she knew me, and I had no idea why. Who the hell was
Marla?
Where are your panties?
I didnt think I would need them.
What are you here in Denver for?
To fuck you.
I stopped in my tracks. Why?
Because all Ive heard about for two months is how good you were. Shes
going to leave her husband because of you. So I figured I had to see what all
the fuss was about.
I was slightly offended, turned on and flattered, all at the same time.
Thats a long way to come for some dick.
I know. Thats why I want your mouth too. Are you going to stand there, or
are you going to give me what I need?
There was no more need to talk. I could see that she was ready, her fingers
rubbing her snatch as she put one of her heels on the bar, spreading herself
wide for me. Brenda was shaved and had a hot little pussy that I couldnt wait to
bury myself into.
Ill give you all the dick you want, Brenda.
She giggled and told me to let her see what shed come all this way for.
I didnt ask her where she was from or how far shed had to travel, because
I was supposed to remember who her friend was. I didnt know who she was
talking about, but there was no way that I was going to forget Brenda. That
much I knew for sure. This little piece was hot as fuck.
Take your top off. I wanna see those titties.
Marla certainly didnt pick you for your smooth talk.
I pulled my pants down and shook my head. No, she probably picked me
for this.
Her eyes widened, and instead of letting me lick her, Brenda slid off the bar
and went to her knees in front of me. Her small mouth opened and started to
stuff me inside. I was fucking dreaming, because there was no way that this shit
was true. There was just no way.
Mmm, its so nice and thick.
Her words were muffled by my cock, but their vibrations were enough to
drive me crazy. It wasnt going to take long if this little bitch kept doing what
she was doing.
My fingers wrapped themselves in her hair and pulled her closer, urging
her to take all of me into her mouth. I was so hot for her, and I wanted more of
that sweet little mouth. It was like a tiny slice of heaven, and I couldnt stop
sliding in and out. Brenda had come from nowhere and I was already glad to
have met her. It was more than I could take, though, and I finally pulled away. I
didnt want to lose it so soon. Like her friend and all the other ones, Brenda
would be gone in the morning and I would never see her again. It was the first
time that the idea bothered me.
Why did you stop me?
Because I want to fuck you now. I want to see if that pussy is as hot and wet
as your mouth.
She giggled and stood up in one fluid motion, and she was almost graceful
as she wiped the mixture of saliva and pre-come off her chin. Fuck she was hot,
and I was dying to slam into her. Brenda was like a gift from above, and I
wasnt going to waste one damn minute of it.
She bent over the bar and shook her ass in my face, smiling and laughing at
my expression. I was ready to explode, and I had to slow myself down. Shed
come a long way for this dick. I had to make sure that it was worth it for her.
Who knew, she might have more friends she could send my way.
That idea left my mind as soon as I slid in. I breathed in deep, but I couldnt
control myself any longer. She was so damn tight. All I could think about was
getting deeper inside her impossible wetness and pounding her until she
begged for mercy.
Moving my hand around front, I found her clit and started playing with it. I
regretted that I hadnt gotten to taste her beforehand. As wet as she was, I was
sure that she would have tasted heavenly, and I felt deprived.
Brenda started to come before I realized that she was going to. Id been so
worried about getting her off, but she hadnt taken long at all. Wetness splashed
around my thrusting cock and I gritted my teeth to the pleasure of it all. I was
lost in the moment and drenched by her pleasure. Id never been soaked like
this in my life. It was everywhere, clear and not slippery at all.
Shed squirted on me, and it was the most satisfying feeling, seeing that Id
pleasured her so thoroughly. It was one thing to know that a woman had come,
but it was another thing altogether to actually see it all over the place. It was on
the bar, on the floor and running down our legs.
Brenda was so much wetter now, and it just made it easier to slam into her,
over and over again. She squealed, and I saw her fingers gripping the edge of
the bar. It was a moment that I would never forget. I looked down to watch my
cock disappearing inside of her. Every stroke pushed me all the way in, and I
could feel her clamping around my shaft.
Fuck, Brenda, your pussy feels so fucking good.
Then fuck me harder.
I told her to hold on, and then I grabbed her hips for better leverage. She
was pushing her ass back to meet my strokes and I was buried all the way in. I
bent her over further and pinned her there with my hands on her lower back. I
didnt want her to get away. It had never felt so good before, and now I was
ready to lose it. I just wanted to make her come like that, one more time, and
then I would be satisfied.
It didnt take long before I was slipping deeper and shooting seed as deep as
I could get it to go. I grunted and said her name in a whisper. Fuck, I was never
going to forget Brenda. It was the first time in a long time that I wanted to see
the girl after I came. They were all nice and all, but there was something
special about this chick. I didnt want to move, and only when she pushed
against my stomach did I slide out slowly. The woman whimpered, and the
sound turned me on to no end.
That was so worth the flight.
Flight from where?
A place where men dont fuck like that.
I didnt quite know what she meant, and I wanted to know where she was
from, but Brenda didnt give me anything more to go on.
Dont worry, Rico, I know the deal.
And then she was gone. She unlocked the door and walked out of the bar and
out of my life. Why did that bother me so much?

Chapter 3

The woman was on my mind from the moment she left. Brenda was all I
could think about, and I was starting to wonder if this is what Linc had felt. He
hadnt met Sky at a bar, but hed told me that he knew as soon as he met her that
she was the one.
I didnt believe in all that, but I did believe that Brenda had done something
to me. The problem was, I didnt know anything about her besides her first
name. She could have come from anywhere, and since I still didnt remember
who Marla was, there was no way for me to track her down.
I spent another week halfheartedly fucking around, but the girls at the bar
couldnt even come close to what I needed. I needed Brenda and the way she
made me feel. It wasnt fair that I got to feel that way one time, have the best
sex of my life, and then never be able to see her again. I decided that I was
going to find her. I just wasnt sure how.
It finally hit me the next day. While I didnt know much about Brenda, I
remembered that she had paid for a couple of drinks with a credit card. I just
had to find the receipt and then I could find her. As soon as I thought of it, I
knew that was the way to go.
The owner wasnt too excited about letting me go through the credit card
receipts from a week ago, but when I offered to work the night for free, he
found it in his heart to let me. Bruce didnt believe in love, and he told me
more than once that I was making a huge mistake. Maybe that was true, but I
knew that I would regret it if I didnt try. I would always wonder what could
have happened with Brenda, and I didnt want to feel that way. If she turned me
down, then I could at least move on somehow.
There you are. Brenda Warren.
Now I just had to find out where she lived. I called the credit card company
and told them that shed left her phone in the bar and I needed her address so I
could mail it to her. It turned out that she was from way the hell over in
Rochester, New York. It was a long trip, but what else did I have to do? I knew
that Brenda was the one for me. All I had to do was find her. I had it all mapped
out in my head. I wasnt sure if it would go according to plan, but I was
hopeful.
***
I talked to Linc before I left, and even he told me I was crazy. I tried to say
that it was his idea, but he wasnt buying it.
Dont say that Im the reason youre going to New York to find some
woman. I didnt tell you to do that.
No, but you found Sky, and now I want a woman like that for me. Brenda is
my Sky. I think I love her.
You lust her, Rico. This is a long trip for a girl that you met in a bar.
I ignored his comments, because I was still going to go. It was all I could
think about, and I knew that as soon as I got to Rochester, Brenda would see
how right we were for each other. She would be happy Id found her. I didnt
like to think about the fact that she actually knew where I was if she wanted to
get in touch. Was I the only one who thought our night of passion was the best
ever? I didnt know for sure, but I knew that it was up to me to find out. I had to
find out one way or the other. I was never going to sleep again until I did.
***
The plane ride was one of the longest of my life. I didnt like to fly as a rule,
but knowing that I was going to see Brenda made it worthwhile. Having no idea
what was going to happen next made it terrifying. I wanted to see her, but there
was a fear, a real fear, that she was going to think I was crazy for being here.
I pushed all the doubts from my mind and thought about what Linc had said.
When you see her, youll know, Rico. Hed wished me luck, and now I
needed it. All I had to go on was her name and address and the memory of the
best fuck Id ever had.
The doubts continued as I got into the taxi and gave the driver the address
Id written down on a piece of paper. It seemed weird that the next few minutes
were going to determine the course of my life. It was even stranger that I felt
this way. I hadnt felt this way ever before. Before Id worried about how many
women I could get. Now I finally believed the quality over quantity thing. It had
nothing to do with looks; they were all beautiful. It had to do with the feelings
and the draw that couldnt be seen.
The taxi stopped in front of a row of townhouses and I asked the driver if
this was the place. When he told me it was, I paid him and resisted the urge to
have him wait. I didnt want there to be a witness to this, because I had no idea
what the outcome would be as I walked up to the door that had my future
behind it.
My hand went up, but I couldnt push it to knock. I heard the taxi leaving
behind me and knew that I was finally on my own. I couldnt breathe, but I was
going to make this work somehow. I just had to keep it together for a little
while longer.
The door opened before I could muster up the courage to knock on it. My
hand jerked back when a man opened the door. It was all for nothing. Right
then I knew that this was her man, her husband, and Id come all this way to
make a fool of myself.
Can I help you?
The tall blond man didnt seem to be upset, but I was.
Im looking for Katie Marie?
He got a confused look on his face and shrugged his shoulders, telling me
that hed never heard of her. I thanked him and started to walk away. The last
thing I wanted to do was have Brenda see me here, like this. She was going to
think I was some pathetic chump.
Rico?
It was her voice, my Brenda, and I couldnt keep walking. I had to see her
one last time. Thats what I told myself. Just one more time.
What are you doing here?
The man was standing there looking puzzled. She pushed him back. Go,
Aaron, this is important.
Aaron gave me a dirty look, but he backed off. I didnt know who he was,
but I was happy shed told him to piss off. It was exactly what I wanted to tell
him too.
Im here to see you, but I think it was a mistake. I had a little time off and
figured Rochester was as good a place as any to visit.
It sounded lame to my own ears, and she smiled at me.
Why are you really here?
Who is Aaron?
My brother, why? He was just over to fix my sink. So, why are you really
here?
I was feeling more relaxed by the minute. That unseen pull that we had
before was still there. For some reason Id been afraid that it would be gone.
Turns out no one in Denver fucks like you.
Her smile got bigger and her bright blue eyes sparkled. Is that so?
I nodded and moved to kiss her. It was all Id thought about for weeks, and it
was better than I remembered. The need for her was so immediate and swift
that it took my breath away. I had to have her, right now.
She seemed to feel the same way, because she grabbed my hand and pulled
me into the house. Aaron, why dont you go get us some lunch at Charleys?
He had a question on his lips, but he bit it off. Sure, Sis. Does your friend
want anything?
I answered for her. No, Ive got everything I need right here.

~The End~
BONUSES

BILLIONAIRE ROMANCE COLLECTION

Billionaire Desireth
Billionaires Domination
Designer For The Billionaire
Served


Billionaire Desireth Book 1: Billionaire Wanteth

An Alpha Billionaire Romance


By: Ashlee Price


Prologue
Desiree is ready for a new job. Shes been looking for several months and
has finally scored an interview for a promising internship with the citys most
prestigious hedge fund. She knows that securing the internship would put her
one step closer to the job of her dreams. After spending so many years in
college, Desiree is looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.
She is ready for her life to begin.
When she goes to the interview and finds that shes just one of hundreds of
applicants, Desiree is sure that she has no chance. But her interviewer turns out
to be the CEO of the company, and when he tells her that she has the job,
Desiree is on top of the world.
Its only when he starts to ask her out alone, without the rest of the interns
that she realizes he wants her. The problem is, Desiree wants him too. But she
doesnt want to jeopardize her new job, and an office affair is the last thing she
needs. Desiree has to get her mind off of Greg Jefferson before she loses
herself and puts her new life at risk.

Chapter 1 Desiree

Its going to be okay. You worry too much.


I hope youre right. I dont know what Im going to do if I dont get this
internship. There is nowhere that will even hire me without some type of work
experience.
I told you last semester to do that work program for Calleys.
I nodded in agreement. While Fran had tried to convince me that it would be
great on my resume, I hadnt been thinking about that. All Id been thinking
about was getting the summer off. It was the one time that I didnt want to
worry about classes or financial aid or any of the stress of the rest of the year.
Now I was kind of kicking myself for it. I should have listened.
You were right.
She looked at me a little shocked. If she had known how many people I had
talked to about a job and how many of them told me they would hire me when I
got some experience, she wouldnt have been. Fran had been right, and I now
wished I would have listened.
I cant believe you just agreed with me.
Dont get used to it, but I can admit when Im wrong. I was definitely
wrong about that. I dont know what I was thinking.
I really didnt. It had been almost three months since I had graduated, and I
was starting to get the feeling that I had missed out on some sort of advice that
everyone else knew.
You will find something.
I smiled back at her. Frans gloating was over, and I was thankful that she
was not that kind of person. She had been right more than once in the years I
had known her since we started middle school together.
Youre just worried I wont be able to pay rent.
Its due.
Sighing to myself, I looked back at my reflection and tried to convince
myself that today was the day that everything was going to change. I might
have talked brave, and I would never admit the fear I had inside, but it didnt
stop me from feeling like this was the last chance. If I didnt get into the
accounting internship program at Jefferson & Marshal, I had a feeling that I
was going to have to take a bookkeeping job that paid less than the bar job I
had now.
So how do I look?
I would hire you, especially if I didnt have to pay you any money.
Its only for six weeks, unpaid.
Thats if you get the job.
I gave her a look. I didnt want to be reminded of the chances of getting a
job from the internship. It wasnt guaranteed, but I had to believe my luck
would change if I could just get my foot in the door.
I have some faith. If not, I got a couple of shifts this weekend that will take
care of the rent.
Pulling my blonde hair back, I put in a few bobby pins to hold it back. You
dont think this outfit looks slutty, do you?
The jacket was a little tight on the chest and the skirt was a little tight on my
rear. I pulled the undershirt up a little so there wasnt so much cleavage, but I
knew that I wasnt going to be able to cover it all. I was feeling unsure, and her
telling me that it might help me out didnt help me then when I was questioning
everything.
You look fine, Desiree. Just go in there and be yourself. You know your
stuff and you just need them to give you a chance.
I hugged her a little and tried to take her confidence with me out the door. I
knew that even if I was selected for one of the ten positions, there was still only
one full-time job at the end of the internship. There was a lot riding on this, a
lot of hopes and dreams, but there was nothing else to cling to, so I had no
choice.
***
When I got there, I was expecting to see quite a few applicants, but it was
nothing like the long line that led outside. I almost turned around and left as
soon as I got out of my car. There was no way that I was going to be picked out
of all these people. My heart was breaking, and I knew then that getting the
internship was most likely not going to happen.
Several more people got in behind me where I was standing in the line. I
almost got out, but something kept me in my place and in the line. I had put so
much time and effort into going there, that it seemed stupid to leave just
because there was more competition than I had anticipated. I was going to go
through with it. Even if it was a last-ditch effort, I still had to try.
The only good thing about all of it was that the line moved rather quickly. It
started as something that was never going to end, but in no time at all I was
through the doors. I knew that there had to be something, some kind of criteria
that was making it easy for them to get through so many people so quickly. I
was nervous and hoped that whatever it was would be something that I had and
they wanted. I needed the job, and since I was now in the door, I knew it wasnt
going to be long until I was up. By the way they were moving through people,
there would only be a few moments to make myself stand out from all of the
rest.
I looked down at the top of my shirt, and I almost undid another button. I
stopped myself, thinking that with my luck it would be a female interviewer. I
was out of confidence by the time that I got to the receptionist who asked for
my name and my resume.
I gave them to her and waited. I tried to avoid the small talk that was pulling
at my lips. I knew that I shouldnt be standing there jabbering like an idiot, so I
refrained from saying anything at all. She looked my resume over rather
quickly and then asked me to go stand in a line that was winding down the hall.
I didnt know what that meant, but the tall blonde handed me a card with a
number on it and was done talking to me. I felt a little miffed as I stood in the
other line, but as I watched the four people behind me move out of the other
door and exit, I felt like maybe that meant I would have some kind of a chance.
I kept telling myself that all I needed was a chance to turn it all around.
As I got closer to the large office in front, the people in front of me filed in
one by one. They were never in there very long, and soon I was up next. I was
hoping that it would be as painless as it had been with the last step, but I was not
ready for who was on the other side of the door.

Chapter 2 Desiree

I walked into the room. The man in front of me hadnt looked too happy
when he got out, and I was dying to know what I would find. I didnt know I
would find Greg Jefferson standing in front of me. He was the face of the
company and one of the two partners that owned it. He was famous, maybe
even infamous, and I didnt dream in a million years that I would be meeting
him.
He seemed nonchalant as he asked me my number. I gave him the one
written on the card and tried to remain calm as I sat down. He hadnt even
looked up yet, which gave me time to study the man I had seen gracing the
covers of every business magazine Id read. His story of making it from
nothing to one of the top CEOs in the country was a story that the press didnt
get sick of writing about.
What hadnt occurred to me when I had seen his pictures was just how large
he was. Even sitting down in a desk that was twice normal size, Greg looked
larger than life. When his green eyes finally met mine, I was taken in by him
and I knew I had been caught staring. His chiseled face was handsome, yet he
had a tight look. His brown hair was short and seemed to complete the picture
perfectly.
His face was haughty, but then he looked at me and there was a moment
between us. It was clear that he was evaluating me in the same way that I had
him, and I hoped that I wasnt found lacking. I suddenly didnt care about the
internship that I had waited months for. In that moment, I just wanted him to
really see me.
Gregs face clouded but then cleared, and he asked me why I wanted the
internship with his company. I had thought of answers to all kinds of questions,
and of course that was one of the ones I had rolled around in my head. But as
soon as he asked it, I knew that I didnt have an answer. Not an answer that he
was going to want to hear.
Your company is well-known, and I figured an internship here would help
jumpstart my career. I know that I likely wont get picked, but when an
opportunity like this came up, I knew I had to try.
His eyebrows went up and he finally sat up and really looked at me. There
was something unfathomable in his eyes, and I knew that there was another part
of him in that moment. It made me pause, but he seemed to be making a
decision as quickly as the receptionist had.
I think you came to the right place, Desire.
Its Desiree. I said it clearly so that he understood me better.
Are you sure?
I felt my face going red, and I wished that I wasnt so fair skinned. I knew
that he could see that he had embarrassed me, but hopefully he didnt know
why. Suddenly I was afraid that Greg would know what I was thinking and what
I was wondering. How could I not wonder what it would be like to have his
large hands on my body? It was impossible not to think about it when he had
such a stormy look in his eyes.
Pulling myself together, I worked hard to actually hear him. I think you
would be a great addition to our team, Desiree.
I was sure that I was hearing him wrong or that I was hearing what I wanted
to hear.
How would you like that?
Im sorry? Oh, my mind went to a bad place rather quickly with such an
innocent question. I knew that he didnt mean it the way I had taken it, so I was
making sure of what he meant. If I didnt start acting right, I was sure that he
was going to rescind the offer. I didnt want that, I wanted the job, but the
interviewer was not what I had been prepared for. The extra button on my shirt
didnt seem to be needed at all.
How would you like to start with us as an intern on Monday? I think you
have what it takes to make it here, and I would love to see you around the
office.
The last bit sounded a little suspect, but I was over the moon about the rest.
In a moment I was able to shake the feelings he had brought up so immediately
and process that I had just gotten the internship that I had really wanted.
Yes, sir. That sounds perfect.
He handed me a small packet of paperwork and our hands touched for a
moment. Welcome to my company.
I dont know why I was shaking when I left the room. Maybe it was because
of the electric touch on my hand or the look in his eyes, but something had
bothered me enough that my hands were now trembling. It wasnt just getting
the job. It was Greg who had made me feel so different.
Looking back one last time before I stepped out, I couldnt believe what had
just happened. I had the internship, and I was that much closer to having the job
that I wanted so badly. I needed to tell Fran, and more than that, I felt like it was
time for a celebration. If only to make me forget about the way I had acted in
the office with Greg. I knew that I had been close to embarrassing myself to the
point of no return.
***
Fran was happy for me, and of course she agreed to go out for a drink.
After hearing me worry about it for months, I was sure she was as relieved as I
was about it all. We had a drink and then a couple more before I told her about
meeting Greg Jefferson and how affected I was by him. It was hard not to be
embarrassed by saying it out loud, but Fran knew me and she knew that it
wasnt like me at all. Rarely had I been so entranced by a man before.
So what are you going to do?
I wasnt following what she was talking about. There was nothing to do.
What do you mean?
Well, I mean, youre going to be working with him, arent you?
I shrugged. I hadnt really thought about it, but I was sure that I was just
going to work with the accountants. There was no need for us to really work
together, so I didnt foresee us working closely again. That time with him in
the office would most likely be the last time I was that close to Greg Jefferson.
I wouldnt have to do anything or worry about another encounter.
I dont think so, Fran. As much as I would like to work with him, Im sure
he has much more important things to do with his time than help accountant
interns.
She gave me a look like she wasnt so sure, and for a moment I hoped that
she was right. Maybe I would get to see Greg again. I wasnt sure how I felt
about it, but part of me hoped for more time with the handsome man who was
now my boss. Part of me played out the possible scenarios in my head, but then
I realized I was just fantasizing and it was never going to happen. Greg
Jefferson was way out of my league.

Chapter 3 Greg

Did you get the list that I sent over an hour ago?
Tommy shook his head and handed me what it was that Id asked for. I liked
to know who it was I was going into business with, and that meant getting all of
the information on the interns that I could. It helped me to get to know them and
whittle down who it was that I was going to hire for an actual job. It didnt take
long once I got the ten working for me, so now that they were chosen, the next
step was to check into their backgrounds and see who it was that I was working
with.
The name that I went to first was the last one that I had hired. I didnt really
even know what was on her resume or what it was I wanted to find out, but
information seemed to be pertinent and she was the first one I wanted to check
out. I knew that there was something about her, more than just the sweet look
on her face and the way she looked at me in the interview.
Id had a lot of reactions from women, but never one that seemed to take
over a person so quickly. Shed turned red with just a touch of my hand, and I
couldnt help but wonder what I could do to her with a real touch or kiss. I
knew that I wasnt supposed to be thinking that way, but it was hard not to.
Desiree sounded and looked a little too much like desire for me to ignore.
Looking through the paperwork in front of me, I was pleasantly surprised to
see that she had gone to a good school and graduated at the top of her class. I
hadnt even looked at her qualifications when I had hired her, and I knew that
there were more than likely many who were better fitted for the job, but I had
wanted her near me and I had just said yes. I was feeling a little better about the
decision when I saw that she was in fact qualified. She hadnt been out of
college long yet, but she was definitely prepared for the internship program.
Sifting through the background information was just as quick and
rewarding. It appeared that she was a good girl. It wasnt that I necessarily liked
good girls, but it meant that the innocence on her face that I had seen might
actually be real. She was twenty-one, and for some reason, I knew then that
Desiree was going to become one of my favorite employees. I usually wasnt
very active with the program, leaving it to the accounting manager, but I was
starting to think that all of that was about to change. It was my company, after
all.
When I told Tommy about my plans, he raised an eyebrow, but knew better
than to say anything. I was not somebody who liked to be questioned, and it
would have been hard to figure out an answer anyway.
I didnt know that you wanted to get involved in the program, sir. You
never have before, and now that youre so busy because of the end-of-year
reports, I figured that you would want to sit this one out.
No, I think its important to make sure that the team members, and even the
interns, know that Im responsible for how they work here. I dont want them to
think that we are just going to hire them and then throw them to the wolves.
Tommy held his tongue. That was part of the reason I kept him around. He
wasnt nice to look at like my last assistant, but he knew when to shut his mouth
and stop asking questions. This was one of those times that I didnt want to
have to explain myself to anyone. I didnt have an explanation as to why the
blonde-haired vixen was still on my mind, but so help me, she was.
***
The next day was even worse. I spent most of my morning in meetings, but
what I was waiting for was the meet-and-greet that I had set up with Tommy. I
told him that I wanted to get to know all of the new staff, a new initiative to help
with loyalty. It was all HR crap, but it meant that I got to spend some time with
Desiree and that made it worth sitting in a few boring meetings. I didnt really
want to know much about what their job was or would be; I had my mind on
only one thing.
After the last meeting before lunch, I went down to the fifth floor and
looked for the platinum-blonde hair that had caught my eye the day before. My
eyes zeroed in on her, and it wasnt long before I had urged her gaze up to
mine. There was no way that it was just me. She stopped where she was,
something in her hand, and stared at me like she was a deer caught in my
headlights.
I grinned at her and she looked down. That innocent look was back, and it
made my body rear up in response. I looked away before my eyes gave up too
much information. I knew that I wasnt supposed to be looking at any of my
employees like that, but Desiree was different. I wasnt sure how or why, but I
knew that there was something about her that made her stand out.
Sir?
I turned to see Tommy standing next to me. I wondered how long he had
been standing there. He was giving me a knowing look, so I figured he knew
enough. Was I that obvious? Looking back at Tommy, I knew I was. There was
just something about Desiree that made me wish I had met her somewhere
other than at a job interview.
What, Tommy?
Youre snippy today.
I usually found his flamboyance fun; now I was just finding it irritating. I
dont know why, but his knowing smile bothered me. I didnt want anyone to
know what it was I was feeling for her. I didnt even know what it was, but I was
going to have to be more careful when I admired her from afar. If Tommy had
seen it, that meant that others could have as well.
What, Tommy? I have to get to lunch.
I know. Thats why I wanted to see if you would go ahead and take your
one oclock now. Gary called, and he doesnt know if he is going to be able to
make it.
Fine, tell him I will meet him at Bernards. I dont know why he doesnt
just tell you lunch meeting in the first place. That tightwad is just trying to
make it so that he can write it off as an expense.
Tommy didnt comment, and that pissed me off worse. He would say
something about Desiree, but not about my enemy.
Anything else, sir?
Yeah, stop grinning at me like that, Tommy, or I will find another
assistant.
He flipped his head like he had long hair and told me that I wouldnt find
one as good. He was probably right, but I didnt answer him. Tommy had been
with me for years. He had come in as a temp, and it was only when he was
hired on under me that I started to see what a hard worker he was. He may not
have dressed how I would have liked him to, and sometimes I was reminded of
our differences, but he was the best assistant that I had ever had. All of his
personality made him aware of everyone else, and hed become invaluable. I
just didnt want to have him giving me hell about her.
I made my way down to the parking garage and to the old Italian place that
Gary always preferred. It was standard procedure to go there whenever we met
for business. I wasnt joking about his affinity for writing everything off. I had
to admire him for his diligence. My accounting team was on me all of the time
to get all of my expense receipts in, but I was constantly forgetting.
Gary was waiting for me with a bottle of wine when I got there. I never saw
him at the office, and I sometimes wondered if his staff did.
How have you been, Gary?
He just kind of mumbled a little under his breath and slid the bottle across
the table. It was going to be one of those meetings that I looked forward to. It
would be a whole lot more drinking than talking, and that was the kind of lunch
that I needed, something to get my mind off of the blue-eyed girl.

Chapter 4 Desiree

As I watched him leave for lunch, I had the feeling that he was staring at me
again. Gregs eyes had found me in the accountant room and I couldnt help but
stop and stare back. He had a way about him. It was impossible to look away,
and only when a tall, younger man spoke to him did our eye contact break. It
was hard not to look at him, and it was hard not to feel a little shiver run
through me when I did.
He was gone, though, and I was able to think again. It wasnt for long,
because the day had been a whirlwind and lunch was more of the same. I didnt
get to go out by myself. I ended up having to go out with the rest of the interns
so that more information could be downloaded into us.
By the time we got back to the office, I was feeling overwhelmed and I
didnt have much gusto for the rest of the day. It was just too much information
to take in. It was nothing like class. Everything was moving faster, and I was
finding it hard to keep up. It was almost impossible.
Three oclock rolled around and there was another meeting to go to. It was
the third one in the last six hours and I was about over them all. I was slouching
in my chair when the upper management started to come in. I was not as
impressed as I probably would have been a day ago. Maybe this wasnt for me.
All of that changed when I saw Greg strolling in with that easy smile on his
face that I remembered from our first meeting. Our eyes met like they had
before lunch, and there was nothing that I wanted to do more than be as close
as we were during the interview. I wanted it to just be us, but I was quickly
disillusioned of that. The rest of the room came into focus, and I just looked
down at the packets of papers that I had received throughout the day.
It took a couple of minutes for everyone to stop talking and find a place to
sit. I was already seated, which gave me the chance to see him interacting with
everyone. All of the people in the room wanted some attention from Greg. It
was more than just his position; he was obviously popular personally. I tried to
keep my mind on topic instead of looking at the easy grin and broad shoulders.
I focused on the sheet that we had been given before we got there. This meeting
had not been named with a title, but it didnt seem to need one. Greg was there
to talk, and when he did, I could see why everyone liked him. He was
inspirational, and all of the second guessing Id been doing before fell away. I
knew that it was going to be okay.
His speech was rather short and it was obvious that he hadnt written
anything down. He just winged it, and I know that I wasnt the only one who felt
a little uplifted. After the drudgery of the day, it was what all of the interns
needed. I had thought there would be a lot of requests for coffee, but it was
nothing like that. We were going to learn their business and all of their
accounting practices long before we would ever do anything of value. Even
though all of us had been to school, it was like we were getting a crash course
just in case we had forgotten.
The caseload had made me wonder if Id made the right choice leaving a
steady income tending bar, but now I was feeling a little better and the mood in
the room was back to relaxing. Greg had said what hed come there to say and
it looked like that was it. I was looking down at the packets of papers when he
came towards me, and I only looked up when I saw his legs in front of me. He
was standing right in front of me, and it was clear that he was not going to
move until I talked to him.
How did you like your first day?
Its a lot.
He chuckled a little, a deep sound that made me smile. It will get easier. The
first few days are always the worst. I took the same course when I started it up. I
remember there was a lot to remember.
I just shook my head and waited for him to go talk to someone else. I
couldnt take his scrutiny, even though I wanted to be around him. When he had
all of his attention on me, it was just too much. As he sat down beside me, I
groaned inwardly and prayed I wouldnt say something stupid and ruin it.
If you ever need any help, Desiree, just let me know and I will make sure
that you have everything that you need.
His words sounded innocent and sincere, but oh, his eyes said something
else altogether. His emerald depths told me that there was a service available if
I wanted it. I had to break the contact to breathe and thank him for the offer. I
wasnt ready for what he had in mind. That much I knew.
Would you like to sit in on an actual meeting today?
I was feeling a lot of things, but when he threw that life preserver out, there
was nothing I could do but grab it. If it meant me not having to sit through
another moment of orientation, I was all for it.
I would like that very much. I grimaced when I heard the sound and tone
of my voice. Why did I sound so demure all of a sudden?
Smiling, Greg put his hand out like I needed help up. The room was still full
and I didnt want to take it, but several people had already seen us and I had to.
It was only a quick touch of the hand, but I was already feeling the shiver run
through me.
***
I was on cloud nine until the next day. I felt special that I had been chosen to
go to the meeting. I knew it was because the boss had the hots for me, but I was
okay with that as long as it got me out of having to do more orientation. The
next day I realized my error. Nobody else seemed too happy that I had gotten
the golden ticket, and I caught several looks that were not very pleasant.
By noon I was sure that misery was going to overshadow the rest of the
internship. I had broken a rule on the first day and it was a doozy. Greg was
happy and liked to show it, but his attention came with consequences that I was
just then starting to grasp.
I went to lunch a little down and sought out my roommate. She always had a
spin to put on everything, and I really needed one of them then. I needed a pick-
me-up, and I knew that Fran was where to get it. She was always there to pick
me up when my pessimism got the best of me. I didnt want to admit that we
had flirted a bit, but there was no one else that I could tell.
She took it like I thought she would, with a little shock and a lot of advice.
You just have to keep a little more distance from Greg.
That was not what I wanted to hear. I was hoping for advice to bring
brownies and hope that everyone forgot. I didnt want to keep my distance
from the boss, especially when I was trying to make sure that I stood out to get
the job.
I have to work with him if thats what the internship calls for. Im still
trying to get a job out of this in the end, you know, one thats going to pay
some rent.
I dont like the sound of it, Desiree. You need to be careful of guys like
Greg Jefferson. They arent even on our level.
That stuck out with me the most, and when I left, I felt a little better. I was
acting like he was a guy that I could have and date. It had nothing to with
reality; the reality was that he was so out of my league there was no sense in
even thinking about it.

Chapter 5 Greg

Desiree, would you like to join me for the shareholder meeting with the
accountants?
I could see that she was stalling on answering and I wondered why. If she
wanted to work here, getting exposed to the top people in the company was key
to her success. Something was different about her. Her tiny nose wriggled for a
moment, and it fascinated me.
I think that you should give one of the other interns a chance.
I dont want to have anyone else with me but you. I thought you wanted to
get the job and be more than an intern?
I know that I wasnt being fair, but I had to see her, and I knew that it was a
good angle to try. Well, I had thought that was the case, anyways.
Yes, sir, and I thank you for the offer, but since I already went with you
once before, I dont want it to seem like Im the teacher s pet or something.
Youre having problems?
No, of course not.
She was not telling the truth, and I felt a little guilt that she was being
harassed because I couldnt stop myself from asking her to go. Now I was
going to be doing it again, and I shouldnt. I should have said that I understood,
done the right thing, but I pressed her to go with me instead.
We can meet out front and no one has to know but Paul. Paul doesnt care
like the interns do. They are jealous because youre competing against each
other.
She just kind of nodded and then started walking towards the elevator. I
waited for a few minutes and then took the next one down. I felt a little sneaky
doing it that way, but it only added to the anticipation. She hadnt even asked
where we were going or why we were going there. She just came with me, and
I really liked that.
I passed her and tried not to respond like I wanted to. It was getting a little
easier to hide my true thoughts. It was not something that I usually struggled
with, but with Desiree my control had seemed a little off. I wasnt able to stop
myself from singling her out and pulling her away from the group. I hadnt
been able to help myself. Now I knew I was under control, and all I had to do
was get her to understand how good it could be.
Where are we going?
The meeting is downtown. It would be better if we just drove in together.
I didnt know that it was going to be out of the building.
Are you that ready to get back to it?
Anyone could tell that she wasnt ready to go back and do what the rest of
the interns were doing. I knew that she was being given a hard time, but it was
not enough to keep her from wanting to escape completely.
Instead of answering she got in the car. I was finally about to get next to her
properly. Our legs touched slightly and she fidgeted next to me. It was hard to
forget that she was next to me, and there was no denying the stiffening in my
body with her nearness. I felt like that would be my only shot, but I didnt take
advantage of it. I didnt pull her to me and press my lips against her. When the
car stopped and I still hadnt done what I had set out to do, there was a slight
feeling of failure and self-loathing. What was Desiree doing to me?
I kicked myself as I tried to keep the smile on my face. She didnt seem to
notice my inner turmoil, and I didnt want her to. I was still coming to grips
with feeling it in the first place. When I looked over, though, nothing else
mattered but the smile on her face. I knew then that I never wanted her smile to
fade.
We got out at the meeting and I was a complete gentleman. It didnt stop
some of the other people from flirting with our newest intern. I seethed inside
when I saw her laughing and smiling with some of them. I was quickly
becoming aware that I was the odd man out, and it was a strange feeling to
have.
After the meeting, I decided that I wasnt going to take her back to the office
just yet. I wanted to talk to her and spend time with her. Desiree didnt seem to
mind that we were not on our way back. She was talking about one of the
shareholders and a joke he had made. I was trying to pay attention to the words
in her mouth, but it was easier to focus on her red lips.
When the car finally stopped, it took her a while to realize that we werent
moving. She looked out the window and wondered what we were doing there.
When she asked, I told her that we were there for an early dinner. I could tell
she was put off by it for a minute, but then she seemed to change her mind.
You dont think that the other interns might be mad if we go out together?
I shrugged and told her that I felt like she was already catching their ire.
I know. I think they hate me, to be honest. I shouldnt have come with you
today.
But Im the boss and you cant say no.
I watched the expression on her face change a little, and I wished that I
hadnt said anything. Would she take my words the wrong way? Did I mean it
the way it suddenly sounded to my ears?
A boss can only request things, Greg, not demand.
She walked past me and my eyes went to her backside. I dont know why her
words stuck with me for so long. Maybe it was because it was the first time I
had gotten an answer that was anything but yes. How was I supposed to keep
control with Desiree when it was becoming harder with every passing minute?

Chapter 6 Desiree

I sat down at the small table that the host brought us to. The man seemed to
know Greg, and as we went through the restaurant, it was clear that most
everyone else did as well. He was a dynamic man and just as popular here as at
his company. It was hard not to have some kind of feeling for Greg. He was
just impossible to deny, whatever it was that he wanted. I was starting to see that
he wanted me, and the knowledge made me feel even more nervous about
everything.
The dark green eyes met mine, and it was impossible to get away from
them.
So is this what you do for all of the new interns?
He shook his head, and I saw a grin dance across his face. Youre not like
any intern that I have had before.
I told him that I found that hard to believe. He was a well-known playboy,
and I could see anyone who worked for him was up for grabs. That meant me
as well, and the idea made me swallow hard. I didnt think I would be able to
tell him no. There was no way.
Looking down at the plate in front of me, I was finding it harder to avoid his
gaze. Did he know what he was doing to me? From the answering pleasure in
his eyes, I had a feeling that he did. I have a feeling youre going to go far in
this company, Desiree. We have a need for people like you.
I didnt like where he was going with it. Was he going to try something in
front of all of these people? And if he did, would I stop him? Would I even
want to?
Thank you, sir. I have liked my time there so far.
Is it what you thought it would be?
I shook my head that it wasnt. There was nothing about the job so far that
was what I had believed it would be. He was nothing like I had imagined, and I
wasnt quite in the middle of office politics like I had hoped.
It has been a very unique experience, sir.
Please call me Greg.
I repeated his name and that seemed to make him happy. I liked the way it
sounded on my tongue and across my lips.
Are you always so careful with your words?
When Im in front of my boss I am.
He sat back with the reminder of who we were to each other. You shouldnt
see me as your boss.
Then what am I supposed to see you as?
His eyes darkened and I looked away. The waiter came with more drinks,
and I was thankful for the distraction. Gregs eyes on me were hard to deny,
and I knew that I was going to have to be more careful around him. He was my
boss, and I needed to remember that as well.
The rest of the meal was spent on safe subjects like the meeting we had just
gone to. I knew that he was thinking bad thoughts, but he didnt say them out
loud, and I was grateful for that. The afternoon was turning into evening, and I
mentioned that it was getting late. Greg didnt seem too happy about leaving,
but he got the check and helped me to the car. The driver moved back towards
the company and I looked anxiously out of the window, trying to keep my mind
away from the man next to me. His thigh was pressing into mine, but I refused
to acknowledge it.
Do I make you nervous, Desiree?
I didnt answer. I knew that he wanted it to be so, and it was clear to anyone
around that I was. The neighborhood was getting familiar and I knew we were
close. I just had to make it there and I would be safe.
You dont make me nervous, sir.
Then why is your voice wavering?
I closed my mouth and looked back to the window to see the large building
coming up beside us. I let out a long breath and was thankful that I could see it.
It meant that I wasnt going to have to lose myself there with him.
When the car stopped, I was out of it as soon as I could be. I didnt look
back at the laughing green eyes that I knew would be looking after me. There
was no way that I was going to fall for it. I was almost out before I heard him
call my name. I didnt have a choice but to look back at him, and the look I saw
made me shiver.
I will see you at work tomorrow.
I nodded my head, but no words came out. Greg looked like hed just eaten
the canary, and it became clearer than ever that I was the bird. I was next on his
menu. My heart pounded in my chest before the door was shut and the car took
off. I was left holding my purse tight in my arms and standing there alone in
front of the building.
I had made it through another day with Greg and had survived it. I didnt
know why he made me feel the way he did, but I had a strange urge to call him
back. I knew that he wanted me, and the idea of Greg Jefferson wanting
someone like me was hard to process. Why had I left the car so quickly? Why
had I run away from him, when every fiber of my being told me that he was the
one?

To be continued

Billionaire Desireth Book 2: Billionaire Taketh

An Alpha Billionaire Romance


By: Ashlee Price


Prologue
Desiree is finding her new internship more challenging than she had
anticipated. While she was ready for hard work and fierce competition for the
one paying position that was open to her, she had not expected a boss like Greg
Jefferson.
Greg is hard to handle, and every time shes around him, Desiree is sure
that shes going to lose herself in his green eyes and large arms. Hes
everything that she wanted and everything she wasnt supposed to have. Even
worse, everyone in the office is starting to realize that shes fast becoming one
of his favorites, and jealousy is becoming a problem in the company.
With a blow-up and a slap to the face of a forward partner, Desiree quits and
swears that she is never going to go back. Nothing is going to convince her
otherwise. Not even Greg, no matter how much he asks.

Chapter 1 Desiree

I dont know who she thinks she is coming in here dressed like that. Its
obvious that she is sleeping with the boss. Why else would she get to go to all
of those meetings with him? It certainly isnt her intelligence.
I know. It just disgusts me that someone like her is going to get the
position. Just because she gets on her knees, none of us will have a chance.
I heard a few more words and I felt my heart sink in my chest. I had known
that they were talking about me behind my back, but I never would have
guessed they would be so harsh. I didnt have to hear my name to know that the
two interns in the copy room were talking about me. Looking down at my
outfit, I didnt see much wrong with it, but it was clear that they did. It seemed
like even my trying to stay away from Greg was going unnoticed.
The only one who did seem to notice was Greg. Last week I had turned
down several invitations to go places and this week was going the same way.
He finally asked me why I kept refusing him, and I told him it was because of
the way everyone was talking. He didnt take it too well and hadnt asked me in
the last couple of days. I actually hadnt even seen him at all, but none of that
seemed to matter to the two interns gossiping about me. It felt like there was
nothing good that was going to come from all of this.
While I wanted to go into the room and say something to them, I just walked
in nonchalantly like I hadnt heard what they said. I wasnt going to let them get
to me, even though they had. I wasnt going to let them see it.
I felt their eyes on me and I swallowed hard. Smiling back at their sour
faces, I wished them a good day as they were leaving. Their unhappiness at me
being there was clear, but I wasnt going to back down. I hadnt done anything
wrong, even though I had surely thought about it. The truth of the matter was
that I had turned him down and hadnt done anything questionable. As much as
I wished that everyone else knew the truth, at least I did.
Copying the reports that were to be sent in later that day, I tried to pull my
mind off of what was said and then off of the boss himself. Greg was hard to
pull from my mind, and I swore that I was driving myself crazy thinking about
it.
Going back to the small desk that I had been assigned, I realized that
someone was standing over me. It was Paul, the account manager for the
company, and I sat up straighter. What can I do for you, Paul?
Do you have those reports that I asked for?
I told him that I did and handed him the still-warm sheets of paper. He
thanked me and then paused as he was walking away.
You know that it will die down, right?
I nodded my head, instantly knowing what he was talking about. It was
embarrassing to think that he knew, but then again, it was a relief to hear that I
wasnt the only one who had been through it. But was I not the only one who
had been with Greg, or was I not the only one who had been accused? Either
way it was nice to think that I had someone on my side, and even better that he
wasnt someone who wanted to sleep with me.
Just as I was getting back to work after Paul left, a shorter, round man came
up to the desk and cleared his throat to get my attention. He certainly had it
when I finally looked up. He was wearing black skinny jeans and a metallic top
that shimmered when he moved. It was the kind of top that I would wear at a
club, but he seemed quite natural in the get-up.
Can I help you?
Tommy smiled at me and shook his head. Im Tommy, Gregs assistant.
I took the offered hand and felt the soft shake of his clammy palm. Nice to
meet you, Tommy. What can I do for you?
Greg would like to see you in his office.
I wasnt expecting a summons by another person. With everything that was
going on with the rumor mill, I figured it would be better to keep my distance,
but it was hard to tell him no. I didnt have a choice then. I knew that I was
going to have to go see him, and I was afraid of how he was going to make me
feel. It was fine to think of him as long as he wasnt around, but knowing that I
had to go see him, I knew that it wasnt going to end well.
Standing up, I followed Tommy to the elevator and went up to the top with
him. When it opened, he didnt move to get out and after a minute I realized
that I was going to have to go alone. I didnt want to, but I knew that there was
nothing that I could do but go. When the boss asks to see you, its not a request,
but a command.
Stepping out, I looked around the large room and saw no partitions for
another office. It was all one office, and save for a smaller desk in the corner
of the room, it appeared to be all for one person. It seemed that Gregs office
was rather large. I heard some noise on the far side of the room where there
was a door leading to somewhere. A man came out of it and he stopped when
he saw me.
It wasnt Greg, but a man who looked to be much different.
Hi, I was supposed to come up here and meet with Greg?
Yes, I was hoping to speak to you first. Do you know who I am?
I shook my head that I didnt know. The tall man was short on words, but his
eyes seemed to follow me everywhere I went. As he walked closer, the dark
brown eyes held me where I stood.
Im the other owner of this company. Im not here much I usually leave
Greg to run it but we started this place together.
I started to understand, but there was something in his eyes that I didnt quite
get. Why was he looking at me like that?
I see, sir. Nice to meet you.
Donald.
I repeated his name since he kept looking at me. I didnt know what he
wanted to talk about, and by the way he eyed me, I wasnt sure if I wanted to
hear what he had to say. I wanted Greg to pop up and take away the tension
between us. Where was he?
So you are the intern that Im hearing so much about?
My stomach knotted, and I wasnt sure that I liked the way he said it. My
mind went to the conversation that I had heard not too long before. Surely he
didnt mean that, did he?
I couldnt meet his gaze for a while, but when I finally did, I knew that he
knew as well. It didnt matter that I hadnt done anything with the man. What
mattered was what everyone thought I did.
Im not sure what that means, sir, but Im one of the interns that started last
week.
What are your qualifications?
He said it as if I didnt have any. I could feel the temperature rising in my
face, and I was feeling even more humiliated by him than I had been by those
catty girls in the copy room. They kind of had a right to be mad, but the man in
front of me was just toying with me. It felt worse, somehow, and I straightened
my back up further to steel myself from his harsh gaze.
I recited my GPA and school to him, as well as my major. I saw a little
surprise in his eyes. I dont know why it spurred me to say more. It wasnt like
me, but I didnt like the look on his face and the smug grin on his lips.
I would have thought that a woman like you was brought in just to look at,
more than for real work.
I could feel my face getting red. I dont know why he was being this way to
me, but I didnt like it. It made me mad and reminded me of the womens words
in the copy room. I had had enough, and I realized then and there that this
company was not the one for me.
Donald moved closer to me and I got a vibe from him that I didnt like. He
had a predatory glare in his brown depths, and I took a step back before he
reached out to take my arm in his hand. I dont know why, but I felt
endangered, and instead of shrinking back like I had before, I hit him hard
across the face.
The man was shocked and released me right away. Dont touch me!
He touched his face at the place where it was starting to get red. The shock
subsided quickly, and then it was filled with anger. I knew that it was time for
me to go and I turned to move towards the elevator. I didnt see that it was
already open or that Greg was standing there until I was in it and I had pushed
the button.
Turning to Greg, who had a slacked-jaw look on his face, I told him that I
quit. You people dont even pay us to put up with this shit.
The elevator door closed and I could see myself in the reflection of the
silver doors. I was so mad, but I bit my bottom lip. I shouldnt have cursed at
Greg, but I couldnt believe what had just happened. I couldnt believe the
scuzzy partner that he had, or that even after I had done nothing at all, I was
still deemed to be the office slut. I was too mad to think. Getting off at the
fourth floor to collect my things, I told Paul bye, but didnt say a word about
anything else. Greg knew I had quit, so there wasnt anything else that I could
do.
Looking back, I was sad to see the place go, but I knew that I wasnt cut out
for that kind of environment. I knew I was going to have to get up the next day
and find another job. Maybe this time I would find one that actually paid and
had a woman for a boss. I definitely needed a woman for a boss this time
around.

Chapter 2 Greg

What the hell was that about, Don?


Donald was still holding the side of his cheek where Desiree had hit him. I
had never seen her upset. She was such a gentle soul, and I couldnt imagine
what he had done to her to make her do that to him.
She is crazy. Did you see what she just did?
What did you do?
Donald started to say something. Maybe he was going to protest and tell me
that it was all her, but I knew better and he knew me better than anyone else.
I didnt really do anything. I asked her a couple of questions and she started
to walk out. I went to stop her and she slapped the crap out of me. Look at my
face! I cant see it, but I know that Im going to have a mark.
You tried to stop her?
I could feel rage boiling up inside of me. I didnt want anyone to touch her,
not even Don, and I knew then why she had left in such a way. Desiree had been
practically shaking around me, but I had to like that she wasnt the same with
Don. Would she have slapped me if I had touched her that night in the car?
It wasnt like that. You need to calm down. I can see it in your eye. What is
it with this girl?
I was pissed, but I wasnt going to hit him. Not for touching her arm.
Did you try anything with her?
No, but I hear that you have had a taste or two.
Who did you hear that from?
Everyone. I got back earlier and heard several people talking about it. I had
to meet the little slut myself.
His words made me want to hit him. I told him if he didnt stop talking that
was exactly what I was going to do. Dont ever touch her again. She is not a
slut, and I havent done anything with her. Its all of those damn gossiping
interns that started it. I took her to a meeting, thats it.
Don was getting nervous, and I was trying to lower my voice, which was
louder than I had wanted it to be. I shouldnt have been so mad, but I was, and I
knew that if my old friend said the wrong thing, I was liable to do to him what
Desiree had done moments before.
Well, she is crazy. I dont want her working for us.
She just quit, and now youd better worry about a lawsuit if you were in the
wrong. This is going to be like Lisa all over again.
He shut up then, and I was torn between dealing with him and dealing with
Desiree. I decided on the latter when I started to get mad again while I was
looking at Don. He wanted me to feel bad for him, but I didnt. I felt bad that he
was still doing those types of things.
We are not done yet, Don. Dont go flying off before I get back.
He had done so in the past, but this time I was going to chase him. I was
done going around with him, and Desiree was the final straw. Something had to
change in the arrangement, and I thought of the paperwork that I had written up
and gotten ready for his signature. It was time that the name on the sign was
just Jefferson.
***
When I got downstairs, I could tell that there was a ruckus. She had left in a
huff and her car was gone when I got down to the parking garage. I called
Tommy and had him tell me her number and address. I was not prepared to
lose her. I hadnt even gotten her yet, but I knew that Desiree had come into my
life for a reason.
I gave the driver the address when I got to my car. I was trying to figure out
what I was going to say. There was a problem with everything going on in the
office, but I didnt think that getting rid of Desiree was the way to do it. To me
the course of action was clear. I just needed to get rid of the other interns and
hire Desiree for good. I didnt know if she was going to be happy with that, but
I didnt know what else to do.
When I got to her place, it was a small shotgun house as was common in
this part of the city. It was not far from the place that I grew up, and I felt a
wave of nostalgia when I got out. The driver stayed put and I walked to the
door. There were a couple of cars out front, and one of them was Desirees. I
paused for a moment and wondered if the other one belonged to a boyfriend
that I didnt know about. Maybe that was why she had blown me off when I had
tried to start something with her.
A tall brunette opened the door and I stopped. The woman was pretty, but she
was not who I was there to see. She looked up at me through her glasses.
Is Desiree here?
Are you that jerk from her work that made her so upset?
I was a little surprised by the ferocity of the woman, and then she took a step
forward. I didnt know if she was going to hit me, but I was starting to see that
there was a pattern. The women in Desirees circle were fierce.
Taking a step back, I tried to explain that it was the other partner. My name
is Greg. I just found out what happened and am trying to make sure that she is
okay.
I wasnt sure if I had convinced her.
Stay here and I will see if she wants to see you.
I nodded my head. I didnt really have a plan, but I hoped that she would at
least see me. When a few minutes stretched by, I started to think that maybe she
didnt want to see me after all, and the feeling of loss settled again in the pit of
my stomach.

Chapter 3 Desiree

You cant stay in here all day. Come on. I think you should go out there and
at least see what he has to say. Why are you giving up so easily? I thought you
wanted this job.
I did want it, but not the way it really was. I didnt want to be known as the
one who slept her way up to the top. Just tell him that Im not here.
Your car is out front and I told him you were here.
I glared at Fran and I knew that she wasnt going to let me languish. I hadnt
even been home fifteen minutes. I thought I deserved a little more time than
that.
Get up or Im going to let him in and take him here.
I looked around the room and then at my reflection in the mirror of the
vanity. You wouldnt.
She shrugged. You should know better than that.
Getting up, I watched her shut the door and knew that I didnt have a choice.
I could hear her opening the front door and I quickly cleaned the smeared
mascara under my eyes. I didnt want to see him, but I especially didnt want
him to see me like this. My eyes were a little puffy, and again I wished that my
complexion would hide my feelings a bit more.
Going out to the living room where he was waiting, I steeled myself for
him. Gregs green eyes met mine and I knew that he knew instantly that I was
upset. He rushed to me and I paused before letting my hands go into his. Im
sorry for what happened earlier, Desiree.
I pulled my hands from his as I felt the familiar shock from the touch. I
didnt want him touching me because then I wouldnt be able to think. Fran was
in the kitchen and I knew she was trying to eavesdrop. I gave her a look, and
after a bit of silent negotiation, she finally left us alone and went to the back of
the house.
Is that your sister?
I looked back at Frans retreating form. She looked nothing like me.
No, shes my roommate. Why do you ask?
He chuckled. Because I think she was ready to clock me when I came to the
door. She thought I was Don.
I smiled for a moment. It sounded like something Fran would do. I knew that
she was protective of me, and she was already railing against Don about the
incident. Sorry about that. Fran can be a little intense sometimes, but her heart
is in the right place.
No trouble. I think its sweet that she cares about you like that.
I went to the kitchen and poured a glass of wine. I almost didnt ask him if
he wanted any, but my southern hospitality won out. Did you want a drink?
He seemed relieved and nodded his head quickly. Yes I do. Its been one of
those days.
I couldnt have agreed more and topped off my own before corking the
bottle. So what can I do for you, sir?
I want you to come back.
There was no way that it was going to happen. I was not about to deal with
those girls and men like Don anymore. Maybe I wasnt supposed to be there.
Maybe I was supposed to be back with my own kind of people. At least them I
understood.
No, thank you.
He frowned at me and I tried not to smile in response. I really liked the way
he looked at me then. I felt like I should give more of an explanation, but I
didnt want to.
You have the job. Not the internship, but as the newest junior member of
the accounting team. I wanted to come over here and tell you in person.
The six weeks isnt even up yet.
I dont care. The rest will be told the program is over for the year and they
are no longer needed. I meant it when I said that you would be valuable to the
company. I dont want to lose you.
I paused with his choice of words. I knew it was going to be hard to deny
him, but it was harder than I could have ever imagined.
It would just be too weird. Besides, I dont want to work for a man like
Donald.
Donald is not going to be with the company much longer. You will work
for me.
I bit my bottom lip. I knew I was doing it, but the urge was just too strong to
stop it. Had he really gotten rid of the other partner? Was he going to do it
because of me? I needed the job and I wanted it, but could I really come back
from all of that? Could I really work at a place where everyone thought I was a
slut? I didnt really think that I could.
I cant, sir. I just cant. You dont know what people are saying about me.
About us.
I leaned in to tell him so that it wasnt broadcast out loud, not considering
what it meant to be so close to him. I was on my third glass of wine already,
and I dont know why I didnt move back when I was finished talking. I just
stood there looking up into his emerald eyes, unable to move. I wanted him to
kiss me so badly. I thought he was going to, and I readied myself for the touch,
but it never came.
By the time I realized it wouldnt, he was standing farther away from me. I
looked away. I felt like such an idiot. Why did I always feel this way around
him? He made me feel so crazy.
Taking another drink, I willed my hands to stop trembling. I finally just put
the empty glass down on the table and tried to get myself together. I forgot
what wed been talking about and when I looked over, I swore that the shade of
his eyes was darker than before.
What do I have to do to get you to stay, Desiree?
I put my hand on the table to steady myself a little and tried my best to get a
grip. I wasnt drunk, but the feelings were similar as he devoured me with his
eyes. The look bothered me in several ways, one of them being that he seemed
to want me so badly but wasnt making a move. It was frustrating, and after the
day Id had, I just wanted a kiss. In another way I felt like if I was going to get
blamed for it, I might as well do it.
I just dont think it will work, Greg. Thank you for the opportunity and
everything, but I think its better for me to find something else.
He shook his head like he wasnt going to take no for an answer. I need
you, Desiree.
I heard the words and thought I had heard wrong, but he was coming
towards me and I knew I had heard him right. His eyes lingered on my lips
before going to my eyes, and I felt the same spark that I had from across the
room. He was blinding to me in a way, and when he finally grabbed me and
pulled me to him, I was able to feel everything that he had to offer.
Gregs lips were soft but insistent, and his grip was so tight I couldnt have
moved away if I had wanted to. I heard a low moan and wasnt sure if it came
from me or him. I didnt care as his tongue flicked in my mouth. Another
sound was added to the air and I wrapped my arms around his neck as he
deepened the kiss. My mind had shut down long before, and I wasnt even
thinking about what I was actually doing. I knew that I should stop, but I just
didnt want to.
Only when I felt his hands moving lower, cupping my ass, did I push away
from his chest. I wasnt ready for that kind of encounter, even though I wanted
him badly. He growled at me and pulled away, his arms still on my shoulders
as I tried to disentangle myself from his neck. My body was humming and it
was hard to even look at him or talk. I wanted him too badly.
You have to come back, Desiree.
I knew that if I went back, everything that had been said about me would
become true. I wasnt going to be able to keep him at bay for long, and I
honestly didnt want to. The more I looked at him staring at me in such a way,
the more I wanted to tell him to never stop. It was not something I was proud
of, the need that I felt, but it was unstoppable.
I just dont know, Greg. I dont think we should work together. Not the
way he had just kissed me. Maybe it was better if he was not my boss.
Im not leaving here until you tell me that you are going to come back. I
have seen your work the last couple of weeks, and I know that Im making the
right decision. I know that you are supposed to be here with me.
I wasnt sure what he was really asking for, but it was not hard to see that he
was sure that he wasnt going to leave. The man was used to getting his way,
and I wanted the job. I wanted him. Why didnt he just take me?
Finally I nodded in agreement. We both knew that he was going to win
anyways.

Chapter 4 Greg

I left her house hard and in need, but I held myself together. It wasnt only
that I didnt want to get slapped by her; I didnt want to upset her so much that
she didnt come back to work. It was the closest I had come to begging in a
long time, but I wasnt as bothered as I should have been. I would have done
anything to have had her, and there was no shame in that. There would have
been before, but everything with Desiree was different.
So I went home and thought about her. It was something that I did basically
every day now, and it was becoming part of my routine. It had gone so far that I
didnt even respond to late-night texts from old flings and current ones that I
had taken out from time to time. Nothing sounded good. It was only Desiree
that I wanted. Only Desiree who could take away the ache that I felt constantly
in her presence.
The next day I went to work earlier. Tommy was there already and had a cup
of coffee waiting for me. So how did they take it?
His look told me not well. I should have done it myself, but I had been too
worried about talking to Desiree to take care of what I was supposed to.
They were not too happy. I think there was talk about complaining to HR.
And?
And one of them brought Desiree up. She wasnt very loud about it, but she
was one of the ones whod been talking about it pretty openly.
I nodded and sat down. It was not ideal that there might be some complaints
going in, but I didnt really mind much. I just wanted them out of the building,
and all of their venom with them. The last couple of weeks the atmosphere had
changed, and I sure didnt like it.
Well, they needed to go. None of them were really going to fit in.
Are we starting another program, or did we find the candidate for hire?
He was asking me if I had gotten her to agree to stay. The fact that she had
hit the other partner across the face was surely out in the rumor mill, and I just
nodded my head that we had. She should be here in a little while. Make sure
she gets a nice office on the fourth with Paul.
Tommy didnt need to know who she was. I had never made so much of a
priority of another employee, but there really was just something about
Desiree. Now, I just had to wait to make sure she came in and my plans would
be right back on track.
It wasnt but half an hour later that I saw her come through the doors
downstairs. I wasnt likely to admit how much I kept checking to see if she was
there. I knew her car, and when she drove into the parking garage, I felt a little
more at ease. I didnt go to her then like I wanted to. I knew that it would make
more people talk and make it harder on her. Instead, I waited until she was
leaving for lunch and hurried out to catch her. It was underhanded, and more
than likely it didnt fool anybody, but that didnt matter. I didnt care too much
about how I looked or how wanting her looked.
When I caught up to her, she was about to get into her car. Going anywhere
good for lunch?
I watched her start and grab her chest a little, showing me that I had
frightened her. Her surprise made me smile, and she smiled back before she
even seemed to realize who it was she was talking to. When she did, Desiree
went back to her business smile, and I was a little saddened by the change.
I dont know, sir. I think I was going to just grab a sandwich at the deli
down the road. Did you want one?
I was the one surprised by the offer. She told me to get in, and I looked
longingly over to the car waiting for me. Her car was a tiny two-door
subcompact, and when I got into it I felt like a giant. She laughed at me a little
and I knew it was because my head was only a couple of inches from the roof.
During the ride, I felt myself looking for somewhere to grab a few times.
Id never pictured her driving like she was in NASCAR, but it was clear that
Desiree liked a little speed. It was just another part of her that I liked.
Everything I learned just seemed to reinforce the initial feeling that had come
over me when we met.
She giggled at me as she pulled into her parking spot and I braced myself
for impact. I take it you dont like my driving.
I wasnt sure if she always drove like that, but it was clear that it wasnt the
first time she had. I was feeling a little woozy and seasick, but I would never
admit such a thing. Instead, I just laughed along with her and tried to keep my
cool. Desiree was full of surprises.
The sandwiches at the deli tasted better than my lunch did most days and I
wondered why Id never tried the food there. It wasnt fancy and certainly
didnt cost much, but I found the lunch very enjoyable. I didnt know if it was
the food or the company, but when she was ready to leave, I was not.
Come on, weve got to get back or we are going to be late.
When I protested, she laughed at the absurdity or it, but then shook her head
and told me that she needed to go. I know that youre the boss and no one
cares, but I dont need anyone else thinking that Im getting special treatment.
I agreed, but wondered if she realized that just being out with me was new. I
had gone out with a few of my assistants, and even Paul a couple of times, but
nothing like this. She was going to get special treatment whether she wanted to
or realized that I was doing it.
Getting up, she insisted on paying for her meal, another new one for me,
and I just went with it. After the kiss the night before, she had changed a little
towards me. Before, she found it hard to meet my gaze, but now she was
meeting it more often and there was something hidden in the looks she
returned my way. If I didnt know any better, I would have thought that Desiree
was coming around. I couldnt be sure, but once I was sure that she was ready
for me, I knew that I was going to pounce on her the first chance that I got.
The drive back was as fast as the drive there. She seemed relaxed behind the
wheel, her blonde hair down and flowing back with the wind. Desiree made me
realize how much I missed driving. At first the driver had been a luxury, a way
of showing that I had arrived, but I had forgotten how much I had enjoyed it.
When we got back to the building, I told her that I had a meeting to get to,
but really I went for a drive. I needed the peace and quiet that came from it.
Before long my mind was clearing and I was feeling better than I had in a long
time. I dont know if it was Desiree or the kiss or just the thought of all of the
possibilities, but something was going on with me, and I liked the changes that
were happening.

Chapter 5 Desiree

I still felt nervous going into work, but it wasnt as bad as I thought it would
be. Fran had told me that I should just ignore it all, and I was working on doing
that. I didnt know if anyone was still whispering behind my back, but I wasnt
listening for it in the first place. They were going to say what they were going
to say, and the best I could do was try to make sure that I didnt let it bother me.
I was exactly where I wanted to be, and all I needed was to just ride it out.
After a week, the nervousness was completely gone and I was starting to
really like working there. I had seen Donald only once in the hallway. The look
he had given me had stopped me in my tracks. He still hadnt forgotten about
me smacking him, and I was sure that he wasnt going to forget any time soon.
I didnt ask Greg if he was still thinking about getting rid of him. I just let it go,
and as long as he wasnt around me or messing with me, I could usually ignore
it all.
Greg was a little harder to ignore. He started meeting me out in the parking
garage for lunch. I had gone with him every day that week. Now that it was
Friday, I was thinking about Greg and how much I was going to miss the
relaxed talks that we had over deli sandwiches. I dont know why, but waiting a
couple of days to see him again seemed like a long time.
When I was leaving that evening, I thought of stopping off to see him. I
hadnt done it yet, but when I got in the elevator, there was an urge to hit the top
button and find a reason to say that I wanted to see him. But I didnt succumb to
it. I went down to the parking garage instead. A couple of days werent that
long, after all.
His voice stopped me before I got to my car, though, and I smiled to myself
when he said my name. Why did I want to see him so badly? We had just seen
each other for lunch a few hours ago.
Are you done for the week?
I nodded that I was, turning around to look up at him. I dont know how he
did it, but he had some of the best timing.
Would you like to go out with me tonight?
Im not really dressed to go out.
I can pick you up around eight if you want. However long you think you
need to get ready would be fine with me.
Well, arent you accommodating today?
He chuckled, and I thought for a moment he was going to kiss me again.
There were times when we were together that I was sure that he was going to
kiss me. He would get close, so close that I could feel his breath on me, and
then I would wait in anticipation. It wasnt long before I would realize, like I
was now, that he wasnt going to make a move. So, trying not to sigh too hard,
I agreed to go with him. I didnt know where we were going, but I knew that it
didnt matter. I just wanted to be with him.
I will see you then.
Okay, see you then, Greg.
Getting into my car, there was a buzz in the air and I was sure that everyone
else could hear it because it was so loud in my ears. I knew then that I wanted
more from Greg than just being my boss. I wanted him in ways that I wasnt
supposed to want him.
***
I cant believe you are going out with him. I cant even believe you are
working there again, but this is different. If you go, Desiree, he is going to
think that you want something more than just a friendship.
I do want more than a friendship. I want him, Fran. I dont know why I do,
but God I want him so bad. He is like Jimmy from tenth grade all over again. I
cant think when he is around. I can barely talk a lot of the time. I think maybe
if we are together once, then I could move on. I dont know. He is driving me a
little crazy.
She just shook her head at me. She had already given me a hard time about a
lot of things, and now I knew what she was going to say.
I just think that you are playing with fire, Desiree. Men like Greg Jefferson
are not known to be faithful and loyal. Do you really want to get involved with
a man like that? I mean, think about it. He is trying to get with you and hes
your boss. That goes against all kinds of ethics.
I knew that she was probably right. What wed been doing so far wasnt
wrong, but what I wanted to happen was certainly frowned upon. But I felt like I
was supposed to be with him. If nothing else, I just had to get him out of my
system before he drove me insane.
I know, Fran, but you have seen him. He is gorgeous.
Mmmhmm. I think it has to do with that kiss you guys had in the kitchen.
I thought you were in your room?
I thought you were smarter than that, Desiree.
I sighed to myself. I wasnt sure what I was supposed to say. There was a lot
of truth in what she was telling me, and I knew that Fran had my best interests at
heart, she always did, but I didnt want to hear it. I was going to have him one
way or another, and I had a feeling that tonight was going to be the night that
we got close. I felt like I had been waiting forever, and I was ready to find out
if it was worth all of the hassle.
Look, Fran. I know you are not going to get it, but I kind of fell for him. I
just want him once, and then he will move on and I will be able to stop thinking
about him.
You act like you are not going to fall harder.
I didnt answer her. I knew that it was definitely a possibility. Im not in
high school anymore. I dont fall.
She looked skeptical, and I wished that I had more power and surety in my
voice, but it wasnt sure at all.
I just dont want you to get hurt, Desiree.
Fran had that tone in her voice and I finally looked at her. Im not going to
get hurt, Fran. I know what this is.
And you are still willing to do it?
Nodding my head, I knew that I was. I knew there was a chance Id get hurt,
but more than anything I just wanted Greg. It didnt matter what the
consequences would be. If I thought of them, I wouldnt have answered the
door and moved to the car that was waiting for us. When he opened the
passenger side for me in the front, I was a little shocked that he was actually
driving.
No driver?
He shook his head no. Not tonight.

Chapter 6 Desiree

So where are we going?


He was driving more slowly than I was used to, but he looked good behind
the wheel. I wanted to say more to him, something clever hopefully, but like
always, my wit was gone when I was around him.
I was thinking that we could have a bite to eat closer to home. I dont live
far from here and I had Marie make us a picnic.
Marie?
She is my cook.
Of course, I thought to myself. Of course he has a cook.
There is a great place on the property that you would like. The sun will be
setting soon and it has a wonderful view of the sunset.
I smiled at him then looked back out the window to avoid his eyes. I had told
him about my love of nature only once, but he had taken it to heart. I tried to
imagine him sitting on the grass in his suit, but I was sure that Marie had
packed something in the picnic to prevent that very thing from happening.
Looking down at my own dress, I was glad I hadnt gone overboard. The skirt
was a little short, and I worried what would happen when I sat on the ground.
All of those things were running through my head as Greg pulled off the
main road and started to travel down a bumpy lane that didnt have much
gravel at all. It looked like it wasnt used very much. If Id been with anyone
else, I would have been bothered by the changing scenery.
Sorry about the road. I dont come down here a lot, and I didnt know that
it was getting so bad.
I just nodded, not sure what to say. We finally pulled off into the grass and
stopped. I looked around at the small clearing. In the far-off distance I could
already see the ridge that was going to give us the light show that he was
talking about. It was a perfect spot, and I liked the dark look in his eyes.
Greg spread a blanket out to keep the grass and dirt off of us. The meal was
light, but the wine was good, and as promised, the sunset was spectacular. I
found myself leaning against his hard chest, and his arm moved around my
waist. I was content in the moment, and when he leaned down further to kiss me
it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to look up and meet his lips
with mine. I felt an electric jolt between us, and when his grip tightened, I didnt
feel the slightest inclination to pull away.
He had me on the ground quickly, and all I could see were his green eyes
staring down at me. When I finally shut my own, his lips were moving off of
my mouth and down my neck. Each second brought him to a new area that
delighted in the moist lips and occasional flick of his tongue tasting my flesh.
Greg was driving me crazy, and only when his mouth reached one of the
hardened tips through my blouse did I try to collect myself. His teeth made me
cry out and then relax as he pulled away to open the grey silk top. His
expression changed as he viewed me in my bra, and I could feel my face
getting red with the attention.
I knew you would be perfect, Desiree. Your name really should be Desire.
His words didnt help, but they were quickly forgotten when he unclasped
my bra and pulled it off slowly. I tried to watch his face and expressions, but I
was unable to. It was too hard to look at him when he was so ready to devour
me. For the first time, I questioned if I was going to be able to handle his full
attention.
Gregs lips and tongue latched on to one of the bare tips and I couldnt hold
in the gasp of pleasure. His teeth were not gentle, but just when I thought to say
something like stop he would slacken off and lap at a reddened nipple. It left
me going from a high, tense peak to a blissful valley that made me sink deeper
into the blanket.
I started to squirm as his mouth moved lower. My eyes were looking up at
the stars and I felt the brush of air on my legs as my skirt rose from his actions.
I knew what came next, and if his mouth was anything like it had been on my
nipples, I knew that I wasnt going to be able to take it.
His hair tickled my inner thigh and I could feel heat on my core. Before he
could even touch me, I was moving underneath him, urging him to me and
inside of me. I was as ready as I was ever going to be, and the very idea of him
down there sent my body into overtime.
Please, Greg. Now.
I could hear the desperation in my voice. I was caught unawares by how
much I suddenly needed him. It wasnt just that I was throbbing and ready to
lose myself for the chance of an orgasm, but that I didnt care about what
happened on Monday. All I could think about was him inside of me, and I
needed him right then.
Greg seemed to hear me and was quick to fumble with his pants. Sitting up, I
opened his jacket and started to pull it off of his shoulders. Greg helped me
until it became hard for him to focus on what he was doing. My fingers worked
on his shirt and then touched the hard chest underneath sprinkled with short,
springy brown hairs. I flicked my nail over his hard nipple and he gasped in
front of me.
I made my own sound of shock and surprise when I saw how ready he was
for me. Forgetting about the shirt that hung open on his broad shoulders, I
reached out to take him into my palm. The skin was smooth and the rod so
hard. Squeezing gently, I stroked him slowly, watching the pleasure pull on his
lips as he shut his eyes. Greg wasnt very loud, but his noises were like an
aphrodisiac nonetheless.
He didnt let me do more than stroke him for a few moments before
pushing me back down and wedging his body between my legs. I felt the
heaviness on my panties and then the heat as he moved them to the side. My
hands gripped his shoulders and I cried out into his ear. He was too hard and
too big for me. I was ready, but I hadnt been as ready for him as I had thought.
My insides clenched down on the intrusion while my mind shattered. The
culmination of the wait and finally having him was nothing to the feel of him
inside of me. It was perfect. He felt perfect and I was lost. My arms moved
around his neck and I pulled him down for a kiss while his hips started to rock
back and forth into me. It didnt take much to send me over the edge, and all I
could do was hold on for dear life.
***
I was lying with my head on his chest, our bodies slick with sweat. My heart
was just finally slowing down when his phone started to ring in his pants. The
tone was off a little, and he finally roused me up to check it.
I got to take this. Its Tommy, and he wouldnt be calling if it wasnt
important.
Nodding, I fumbled for my shirt to cover myself up. The glow of sex was
still upon me, but the idea of the real world coming back was enough to get me
ready to get dressed. Our moment was gone and our bubble had burst.
Watching the look on his face, it was clear that it wasnt good news. I was
ready to leave when he got off the phone. Thanks, Desiree. I hate to do this,
but I really need to drop you off and take care of some things.
Is something wrong?
His eyes, paired with the tightness in his jaw, told me that there was
something wrong, but I didnt press further. It was something that he didnt
want to tell me about, and I had to remember that he was just my boss, not my
boyfriend.

To be continued

Billionaire Desireth Book 3: Billionaire Giveth

An Alpha Billionaire Romance


By: Ashlee Price


Prologue
One night with Greg was enough to get Desiree thinking about him all of
the time. She waited for his call, and when it didnt come, her hopes were
dashed. After losing her job at the firm because of a takeover and then not
hearing from Greg for a few months, Desiree is finally moving on with her
life. Shes put the dream job and the dream man to the back of her mind.
Greg hasnt forgotten the moments they shared under the dying sun, but just
then she was a distraction that he didnt need. He had a business to save and he
knew that if he got her back in his arms, nothing else would matter. There were
a lot of people depending on him and he just wanted to do the right thing.
When he finally calls her, she wont talk. When he goes to find her, Desiree
resists his advances. But Greg is determined to have her and willing to concede
everything for one more night. He will give her anything to have her in his
arms once more.

Chapter 1 Greg

Do you have any idea what I was doing when you called? This better be
damn important, Tommy. I am not playing.
I was trying to hold my anger in, but I was doing a horrible job of it. All I
could think about was seconds with Desiree. Once would never be enough, and
only Tommys statement that there was an emergency had gotten me here. If it
was anything less, I was liable to lose it before I even got started.
I wouldnt have called if I didnt have to, sir.
He was sounding wounded. I didnt have to look at him to know that he was
upset. Tommy was a little too emotional for my liking, but I knew that he
wouldnt have called unless it was important. It was the whole reason that I had
left Desiree at her house instead of taking her over and over again in the
meadow. I didnt have to like it, though.
Of course not, Tommy, I sighed. Whats going on?
Its Don.
Did he finally leave?
Tommy shook his head. I was starting to get a little worried about what my
idiot partner had done now. It wasnt like Tommy to keep me in suspense, but
he didnt work well under pressure, so I tried to be patient and wait for him to
collect himself.
I couldnt.
Just tell me, dammit, Tommy! I dont want to sit here wondering. You
pulled me out here, so whats going on? Well, so much for no pressure.
They voted you out.
I asked him what he meant. He said it again, a little softer. I think Tommy
was really afraid that I was going to freak out. If Id had the time to let it all
sink in, I most likely would have done just that.
What do you mean?
He called an emergency session and invited only a select few, just enough
to gain a majority. I dont know what all happened in there. I wasnt allowed in
the conference room.
Why are you even still here at this hour?
I never leave early. How do you think I have time to get everything done
for you?
I wasnt sure. I hadnt ever really thought about it. I just thought of him as a
little magical. He could get so much done. Pretty much everything I needed,
Tommy had already thought about.
So Don is now the CEO?
Tommy shook his head, again looking at me like I was ready to spring on
him.
What does he even know about the business? Hes never even here these
days, and everything is so different from when he was. What were the grounds
for getting rid of me?
Your decision-making came into question.
I knew where this was going, and I just kind of shook my head in disgust. It
was because of what Desiree had done. Her turning him down had caused all
this. We had fought over girls before, but hed never been so underhanded. It
was a shock that he would actually do something like that to me.
I cant believe this.
Neither can I. Thats why I called you. Theyre still upstairs.
I smiled. I knew then why I kept Tommy around. He might be a lot of things,
but he was always good at giving me what I really needed. Right now, I needed
to see my old friend and partner. I knew that it wasnt going to be good, but it
had to be done. Here I was thinking about buying him out and hed gone and
voted me out. It didnt take any money from me, but it certainly was going to
make it hard to run my own company.
The whole way to the elevator, all I could think about was what I was going
to say to him. What do you say to a friend whos betrayed you? I started to
wonder if the push to go public the year before was somehow related to what
he was doing now. I had argued against the decision; we were making enough
money that we didnt really need to. Now I wondered if there had been an
ulterior motive. Had he been planning this the whole time?
I was livid by the time I got to the top floor. Changes were already being
made, and I could feel the temperature rising in my face. Who the hell did he
think he was?
Greg, good to see you. I wasnt expecting you until morning, but no
bother, its as good of a time as any to tell you.
He was gloating. God was he gloating. His eyes were alight with pleasure,
and I knew that he was enjoying himself. I almost wanted to ask why he was
being this way, but I knew it wasnt something I was going to get a straight
answer on.
I already know. Do you really think it will work?
Donald did think it would work. His dark brown eyes were sure of it, and so
was the set of his mouth. I wanted to hit him. The urge was strong, and I think
he saw the change in my eyes, because he stepped back rather cautiously, like I
was a rattlesnake. And indeed, I felt like I could strike at any moment. I also
knew it wasnt a good idea.
It has already gone through. I took the liberty of putting all of your things
in boxes, and I will have them sent over to your house in the morning. Nothing
is really open around here at this time of night.
How did you get them to agree?
He shrugged and smiled, not moving from the other side of the desk. My
desk. I watched him sitting in my chair and I really wanted to wipe that smile
right off his face. You think that everyone likes you, but people like money
better, old friend. A lot of the shareholders think we could have done better in
the merger with Gary. You let him get it too easy because he was your friend,
and that cost us all a lot of money.
My teeth were gritting. There were a couple of people over by my library
taking the books and packing them into boxes as we spoke. I could tell we were
getting most of their attention. I couldnt believe this was happening. I had
given Gary a discount and a better deal because he was a friend and because he
had done business with me for years. Me, not Don.
Youre going to regret this, Don. I was going to buy you out, but now well
just have to see.
I didnt take much out of the boxes that I could get to. I didnt need most of
it, and if he was willing to take care of it, I was going to let him. I did take the
Rolodex, though. Then I walked away. Violence wasnt going to solve
anything. I knew that I was going to have to be smart about this. It wouldnt
help if I lost my cool. I wasnt going to be able to take care of this situation
tonight, anyway. I had to get my company back, and I knew that the only way to
do it was to do it smart and patient.

Chapter 2 Desiree

I woke up alone and missed the hard body against me from the night before.
Being with Greg had been everything I had thought it would be and more. I had
told Fran that I was going to be able to forget about him after I was with him
once. I knew then as I lay there in my bed that it wasnt true. I was never going
to be able to forget our sunset picnic and my few moments in his arms.
Wondering what his phone call had been about, I got ready for work. I tried
to pull my mind from the soreness in my body. Every part of me was
screaming from the night before, and it was hard to ignore it. Getting in the
shower gave me time to think about his hands on me, and by the end of it, I was
ready to go to work and see him again. I knew that I would finally have the
courage to go see him in his office.
When I was dressed, I realized that it was the weekend and sat back down on
my bed. I had never been as impatient as I was then. The fact that I was going to
have two whole days before I saw him did not sit well with me, and it was
becoming clear that I had already fallen.
Getting up, I changed into some shorts and a tank top for a run. If I wasnt
going to see Greg, I was going to need something to keep my mind busy and
get rid of all of the pent-up energy that I had at the moment. I wanted Greg, but
that wasnt possible, so Id have to settle for the open road instead.
When I got back from my run, Fran was up. She watched me check my
phone again. I kept hoping that I would get a call from Greg, but there were no
missed calls.
Who are you expecting a call from?
I shrugged and wiped the sweat from my face. I didnt want to see the
disapproval in her eyes when I told her about what happened the night before. I
was bursting at the seams, so happy with it all, but I knew that she was not
going to see it the same way. She would talk about how he had taken advantage
of me, and it just wasnt so. I had wanted him bad enough to take the chance,
and it had been worth it.
Just checking it. Youre up early. What are your plans for the day?
I have to go to work later. You want to go get some lunch at the caf?
I told her maybe. I wasnt going to say that I was waiting on a call from
Greg and would ditch her in a heartbeat if there was a choice. Of course I
wasnt going to say that, even though it was the gospel truth.
Maybe. I dont know if Ill have to do something for work today.
You work weekends now? Her eyebrows were scrunching and I knew that
she was wondering what I was talking about. I was starting to get nervous that
she knew. How did Fran always know everything?
Sometimes. If they ask me to. I really like the job, so I will work this
weekend if they need me.
If Greg needs you, you mean.
I wasnt going to argue. Instead of trying to hold it close to my chest, I burst
out with what had happened the night before. I avoided her eyes so I wouldnt
see the judgment in them. I knew that what I had done wasnt exactly right, but
how could it feel so good if it wasnt what was supposed to happen?
I cant believe you slept with him, Desiree. After everything that happened
there with the rumors and you quitting. How could you do that?
She didnt get it, and I wondered for a moment if Fran had ever been in
love. I felt like if she had, she would see the sweetness in the midst of the
madness, but she sure didnt seem to. I knew I shouldnt have told her, and I
silently admonished myself.
He is single, I am single, and I really like him.
So now that you did it, are you over him?
Fran knew the answer, but she was going to make me say it out loud. How
could I be over him after last night? I was falling hard and fast, and there was
no turning back for me anymore. I had to have Greg. I just had to.
***
The weekend was long, made longer by the fact that Greg never called. At
the end of Saturday I was starting to get nervous, but when I hadnt heard from
him all day Sunday, I wondered if I was feeling something that he hadnt. I
couldnt wait to have my hands on him again, but I knew that I wasnt supposed
to. If he didnt want me, I was going to be crushed.
I dressed carefully on Monday, with Greg in mind. I was determined to have
him again. Maybe even in his own office, I thought to myself. There was only
one thought on my mind, and it was the handsome man with the fathomless
green eyes.
As I arrived at work, there was a sinking feeling in my stomach. All I could
think about was Friday night and the fact that Greg had rushed off and I hadnt
seen him since. The building looked benign as I walked up to it, but the feeling
was not something that I could shake.
As I walked in, I saw that there was definitely something going on. There
were several people standing around and even more were packing up their
things in small white boxes. The feeling of dread followed me into the
elevator. I felt a few eyes on me, but I didnt know anyone well enough to ask
anything. That meant I had to make my way up to the fourth floor still
wondering what was going on. Surely all of those people hadnt been fired?
Right?
The upset followed me to the accounting floor. I felt more looks and I didnt
say much of anything. Looking for Paul, I was not relieved to see that he
seemed to be one of the ones that were going out the door.
Paul, what is going on?
Paul had a look of anger and sadness on his face. I dont think even he knew
which feeling was the dominant one.
Half of the staff is getting sacked. New cost-saving initiative.
What? I was afraid to ask if I was one of them. I figured if Paul was
getting let go, as well as most of the senior staff, there was no way that I was
going to make the cut to stay.
Donald took over on Friday. He convinced a majority of the stockholders
that Greg was taking the place down. So now Donald runs the company and
hes getting rid of anyone loyal to Greg and anyone whos been here so long
they make more than hes willing to pay.
I didnt know what to say. I was sad to lose my job. The realization that it
was gone was immediate. There was no way that Don was going to keep me
around. Of course, there was no way that I wanted to work for him, either. I felt
worse for the people like Paul whod been working there for years. I had only
been there a few weeks, and although I was going to miss it, I knew deep down
that I was going to have to make peace with it all.
I am so sorry, Paul. I guess I better take after you and get my things
together.
Paul nodded his head. We both knew that I was going to be on the chopping
block, but because it was Donald, I knew that it wasnt going to be that hard for
me to leave. I never wanted to work for a man like that.
Have you seen Greg?
He shook his head as he put another framed photo into the box. No one has
seen him. We were told this morning by email to be out by lunch and that Greg
was no longer in charge. I dont know where he is, but even Tommy has been
absent. He has been here the longest, and Im sure he was the first to go.
I didnt know how to react. I got my few things together and felt sadness
come over me. This was the first real job Id had, and I had certainly not
thought that it was going to end like this.
Seeing Don walk in from the elevator, I made sure to avoid eye contact with
him, but he came over to me anyway. I see youve heard the news.
I didnt look up. Yes, sir. Im getting my things together like the email
said.
You didnt get an email.
His words surprised me and I finally looked up at him. Why wouldnt I get
an email?
Because I want you to stay. Greg thought he saw promise in you, and
everyone agrees that your work is impeccable. Besides, you make far less than
Paul does and then we would be able to work closely together, like you did
with Greg.
The last part was not hard to figure out. I shrank from his touch on my
shoulder. When I did, he gave me a surprised look.
I have no desire to work for a man like you.
He chuckled and told me that I would be back.
Im sure youll take the company down with you. Greg said that you were
always the fuck-up between the two of you guys.
His eyes darkened almost to black, and again I felt aggression pouring off
of him. It was yet another moment where all I could think about was getting
away from him. There was no way that I would work for such a man. I would
rather go back to serving drinks at the bar.

Chapter 3 Greg

I was meeting with Gary in a different spot than I had so many times before.
It felt a little strange meeting him anywhere but at Bertrands, but it was nice to
see that he had an actual office and staff.
So what are we going to do about this, Greg?
I set down the small tumbler of whiskey. It was too early for hard liquor, but
somehow I knew that wine wasnt going to cut it.
Theres nothing to do, Gary. Donald did it by the book. Ive had my
lawyers looking at the paperwork, and from what they can tell hes been
planning this for some time. I always thought he was laying up in Mexico or
somewhere, but the whole time he was in New York undercutting our deal and
waiting for the right time.
Gary was still confused. But how did he convince the board?
That question made me a little uncomfortable. I didnt want to say why. I
knew that it was my actions with Desiree that had clinched the deal. While some
of the greedier board members had already been on board with Don, I knew
that my lack of control with her was what had done me in with the rest of them.
He waited for my answer, and I was happy that one of his assistants came in
and stopped the conversation. She was bringing in paperwork that Gary had
asked for. Watching him watch her leave, I figured that he might understand
after all.
I fell for one of the interns. The rest of them got jealous, so I fired the
other nine and hired Desiree. Donald and Desiree got into it, and I think that is
what started the ball rolling.
You dont fall for the help. That is rule number one.
Given his own crude ways, Gary wasnt really one to talk, and I found that I
didnt like thinking of Desiree in that way. I had fallen for before I put my
hands on her, and now it was even stronger. There was no getting around it. I
wanted her so badly.
She is smart and beautiful, not the help. Desiree was perfect for the post.
She even slapped Don. How could I fire her?
Gary sat back and whistled through his teeth. Well, we have quite a mess
now, so I hope she was worth it.
I didnt tell him that she was, hands down, a million times over. It wouldnt
have been very considerate, because I knew that my actions had caused
problem for him, too. I had really messed everything up.
I havent seen her in a couple of days, but it was worth it to see her hit Don.
Lord knows Ive been wanting to since about a year into the business. There
was a lot I didnt know about him when we started working together, and it has
just gone downhill over the last fifteen years.
Business and money change people.
I had to agree. I took another drink of the liquid fire. It burned down my
throat as I tried to get a grip on the situation. I needed a plan to get my
company back and a plan to keep Desiree. The latter seemed far easier to
accomplish, and she started to take over my mind. I hadnt talked to her in a
couple of days because of everything that was going on, but now it seemed like
far too long to not speak to her.
It seems like love does as well, Greg, Gary continued. I dont think I
have ever seen you like this. Youve always been cool and confident, but this is
the time to be freaking out. There is a lot at stake here, for both of us.
Nodding, I sat up and tried to push her to the back of my mind. Its going to
be okay. You have a contract with him, and Donald may be stupid, but hes not
going to break it. Hed never do that. Im not saying he wont try to find a way
out of it, but Ill have the company back before he can.
I hope youre sure about that. If youre just talking out of your ass, I need
to know now so I can take care of damage control.
I wasnt sure how I was going to do it, but I knew that I wasnt going to let
Donald take over. If he did it wouldnt be long till the company went under.
That was part of the reason that I had taken over and he had bailed out in the
first place.
Dont worry. Gary. Ill be back at the helm in no time.
***
The idea came to me after I had sobered up from my meeting with Gary. It
seemed so simple. Donald had the votes, so he thought he could count me out.
Well, maybe he could, from the company that I shared with him. But now I
realized that instead of entering into a long struggle to take back control of
Jefferson & Marshal, I could just start another fund. Several of my largest
backers were already on my side, and with the help of Tommy and other loyal
staff members, it wasnt long before I had almost all of the major clients ready
to jump ship. I didnt need Donald anymore. I was ready to move on to bigger
and better things.
I sold most of my stock, losing a lot of money in the selling frenzy that
followed, but it was all going as planned. I could have been sore about the
amount of money I lost, but I wasnt. It was actually less than I had been willing
to pay Don to leave, so in the end, it seemed like a small price for peace.
I spent a lot of my energy on building up the new fund and negotiating my
way to a good deal. I thought about Desiree sometimes, but she was a
distraction that I couldnt afford. It wasnt that I didnt want to see her or hear
her voice, but either one would make me addle-brained again.
It was almost two months before I had the new company up and running, and
it was another few weeks before I was ready to find Desiree again. I had heard
about her and the rest of my staff getting laid off. When I was in a position to
take them all back on while Donald ruined my old company, I knew it was time
to find my accountant.
At first I had wanted to see her right away, but as time passed, I was nervous
about how she would respond. The longer that went by, the less inclined I was
to call her. She was surely going to be mad at me for ignoring her. I had her
number, but she didnt have mine, and even if she had, I honestly dont know if
I would have answered. Now that I was finally ready to talk to her, I was scared.
What if she had moved on?
The idea of that made me angry, and that was a feeling that I could process
better. It was the emotion that carried me through the time that it took to dial
her number. It was on my contacts list and I had been letting it go to waste for
too long. I knew that I needed to see her, and when I heard her voice, I forgot
all about the reasons I hadnt called before. How could I have denied myself
such pleasure?

Chapter 4 Desiree

Baby, it is so good to hear your voice.


I knew the voice instantly, but I didnt understand the low timbre. It sounded
sexy, but I wasnt thinking about sex. I was wondering why he was calling me
after so long.
Greg?
Of course this is Greg.
What do you want?
I could hear the harshness in my voice. It didnt sound pleasant, but there
was really no way I could keep it out. I wanted to pretend like it didnt matter,
like I hadnt pined for the man who was talking to me so nonchalantly now. But
I couldnt act like that. I had waited for far too long for a call from Greg. After
a month, maybe two, I had tried my best to accept that I was never going to
hear from him again. Now that I had, after all of that time, I didnt have much
good to say.
There was a pause while the thoughts and emotions rolled through me. I
didnt know what he as thinking, but I supposed he would most likely hang up.
My heart was pounding so hard that the sound in my ears drowned out
everything else.
Hello? Are you still there? I wasnt sure if I wanted him to be or not. But I
repeated it one more time and then he answered me.
Yes. I need to talk to you.
I dont think we have much to say to each other, Greg, do you?
We have a lot to say to each other. I havent seen you since our picnic.
The mention of the picnic made me mad. It had been the night that I had
fallen for him. I had waited for him to call or come over, but he never had. I
didnt even know where he lived, and it was impossible to get a phone number
for a man like Greg Jefferson. No one was going to give it away, and since he
had cut ties with the company, there was nothing I could do to find him. Greg
popping up again now was very unsettling, and I was instantly on guard.
I think you should have called a little sooner, Greg. In most circles, three
days is pretty customary, not ninety.
Has it been that long?
I sighed out loud into the receiver and then just put the phone down. There
was nothing that he could say to make it better, and I didnt have anything to
say beyond a few curse words.
The phone rang again. After a few minutes of it going through the four-ring
cycle and then repeating, I turned it off. Fran came in and asked me if I was
okay.
Yeah.
You dont look okay. Who was that?
A ghost.
She looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe I was. I certainly hadnt been
feeling myself for a while. Now that I had just about convinced myself to move
on, it was disconcerting to have him surface again. Just the sound of his voice
made me realize how much I had missed him, and I damned my body for
falling for it.
So are you ready to go?
Fran eyed me warily and said that she was. I knew that my eyes were most
likely red-rimmed, but I was going to pretend that I didnt care and that his
voice on the phone hadnt been like a punch in the stomach.
***
The news seemed to be about my luck. I hadnt been feeling well, and Fran
had pushed and prodded until I finally agreed to go the doctor to see what was
going on. She took me there herself one night, and I quickly found out what it
was that was making me feel so sick to my stomach in the mornings and then
so tired throughout the day. I had thought it was the flu or some other virus that
was just taking its course. I had never suspected that it would be what it was.
The answer was so obvious in retrospect, yet I refused to say anything about it
to anyone, not even Fran.
There were choices to be made, but the last thing I wanted to do was make a
decision too quickly. I had the urge to call Greg and tell him everything, but
then I remembered all of the days and nights I had waited for his call. I didnt
want to be that way again, but I knew that eventually I was going to have to talk
to him. I told myself that I would be ready for him when he called again.
I wasnt planning to see him, though. I waited the rest of the day for him to
call back. I had a lot on my mind, and I decided that I was going to tell him the
truth.
I just didnt expect him to pop up at my house. It never even crossed my
mind, so when I heard the doorbell, I let Fran get it. If I had thought for a
moment that it was Greg, I would have rushed to the door.
Instead I got Fran coming into my room and announcing that Greg was
there. Is he in the house?
Fran shook her head. I am not letting him in.
I gave her a look and she looked back with sympathy. Just let him in, Fran,
and send him back here. We need to talk.
Fran was skeptical about that, but she was a good friend and sent Greg to
me. I took a look in the mirror and then put a hand to my stomach. Would he
know? Would he believe me when I told him it was his?
The second question made me nervous. Greg and I had only been together
once and we hadnt even thought of using protection. But he was rich, and he
might think that I had tried to trap him on purpose. The more I thought about it,
the less I actually wanted to tell him. I wouldnt be able to handle him looking
at me like I had tried to put one over on him.
When I heard him at the door, I opened it slowly. I had no doubt that it
wasnt as nice as his place, but I didnt want him around Fran in the common
area. Fran had a lot to say about him just taking off, and I didnt want her to say
it to him. Fran was not known for keeping her mouth shut.
Hi, Greg. What are you doing here?
His eyes took me in, and the look he gave me made me a little nervous. I
took a step back and offered him the chair. I sat on the edge of my bed and tried
not to think about the last time we were together.
Ive missed you, Desiree.
His words were sweet, and I wanted to believe him. I had missed him so
much, but in the end, there was nothing I could do. He had vanished and now,
like a ghost, he was back. Why did I want nothing more than for him to touch
me, kiss me like he did before? Couldnt he see that I was dying for it?
I looked away so that he couldnt see my need and my confusion. I didnt
know what to say. When I looked back he was staring at me from his chair.
God, he looked predatory.
I was sorry to hear about the business, I offered.
He waved me off like getting forced from his own company wasnt a big
deal. Ive taken care of Donald, and now Im here to offer you a job. The pay
is better, and the hours are too. All you have to do is say yes. I need you there
with me, Desiree.
It wasnt what I wanted to hear, but it was a start. I will think about it. I have
a few offers Im looking at right now.
He didnt like my answer. I saw the flare in his eyes.
What other offers?
Schwartz and that place down on 3rd.
He frowned at me. For some reason I liked that it bothered him. I wanted to
bother him, because Lord knows that he had bothered me for the last few
months.
You need to come back to me.
His words were soft, and I couldnt help but smile at him. I wanted to go
back to him more than anything. I wanted more than to work for him, though.
My dreams were filled with us together forever, even though I knew something
like that would never happen.
I dont know if I can, Greg.

Chapter 5 Greg

Desiree was sitting on the side of the bed, facing me, her arms underneath
her thighs. I could tell that she was nervous about something. I hadnt seen her
in so long that for a while I just wanted to fill my thoughts and eyes with her.
Her hair was a bit longer and her eyes were shiftier, but she was still so damn
beautiful.
Im sorry that I took so long to call and come by, Desiree, but you know I
had some things to take care of. I had to deal with Donald, and it took longer
than I thought it would.
I was practically begging her, and I wasnt too proud of that, but I didnt
understand why she was so mad. I was back now, and that should be enough.
It wouldnt have taken any time to call, Greg. After that night and the
picnic, you just took off.
Desirees eyes were getting red, and I realized then that I had hurt her more
than I had imagined. Id thought that I was the one in love, but now I knew that
she was too. The idea made me happy. I got out of the chair and moved next to
her. The space was only a few feet, but just then it felt like miles, miles by
which I couldnt stand to be separated from her.
Her body shifted imperceptibly away from me. I didnt like it. Desiree was
supposed to be in my arms already, not moving away from me. I just wasnt
ready to talk to you. When Im around you, Desiree, my brain doesnt really
work. All I can think about is being with you. I knew that as soon as you were
back in my arms, I wasnt going to be getting anything done. I had to take care
of business first.
She didnt like my answer, and I knew then that I should have put her first.
Id had my reasons for staying away, but as I gently touched the side of her
face, I knew that it had been a mistake to wait. Her look set my body on fire
even though I knew she wasnt doing it on purpose. She didnt have to do
anything to make me want her. All she had to do was look at me with those blue
eyes of hers and I was lost. She was mine.
Leaning in, I waited for her to make the last bit of distance between us
disappear. I wanted her to want me. After a few seconds poised to take her lips,
she made a small sound and leaned in for a kiss. The whimper made me growl
and what little control I had left was gone in a flash.
Pushing her down onto the bed, I covered her body quickly with my own.
She seemed so tiny underneath me, her curves rubbing against my whole body.
She was driving me to hysteria, and before I knew what I was doing, my hands
were pressing between her legs to feel the wetness that I knew I would find
there. She was already ready and I couldnt stop the momentum. I didnt want
to.
Desiree hissed and her hips rose up to meet my hand. I silenced her with my
mouth as my fingers strummed on her need. She would squirm underneath me
to get away and then the next minute her hips would rise to get more. Her body
signals were as confusing as the woman herself. One would say stop while the
other was a green light to go all out. I ignored the red signs and moved to push
her over the edge on which I knew she was teetering.
It didnt take long for her to cry out against me. The sound was almost as
good as the wetness that covered my fingers. Licking the sweetness off of my
digits, I started to pull her dress up her thighs. Id gotten to her waist when she
finally stopped me.
Not this time, Greg. I dont want to wait.
Her taste in my mouth, I was torn between what I wanted and what she
wanted. In the end she won out and pulled my pants down to my knees and then
off. Her hands were like before, pulling on my shirt buttons, and this time I
heard one pop off before I stilled her.
Do you feel what my heart does for you?
It was beating underneath her palm. Desiree went to her knees and kissed
me. She didnt answer my question, but her lips told me everything that I
needed to know. As soon as I was bared to her, Desiree was urging me onto the
bed. She was acting frenzied. Apparently it had been a long wait for her as well.
I couldnt imagine her wanting it as much as I did, but she seemed to have the
same urge.
Pulling her onto my lap, I let her weave her legs around my waist and settle
down before I positioned her above me. I watched her eyes darken and then
close as my length fought to push through her hot canal. She was so wet, and
so tight, and I was in heaven before she was all the way down on top of me. Her
arms moved around my neck and I kissed her as I let the last bit of her
suffocate the last few inches of me.
She cried out in my ear, my name on her lips as she clenched and squeezed
me all the way around. I heard my own groan of pleasure and then her gasp as I
started to move up inside of her. Her arms tightened around my neck and my
hands went to her waist to drive her down. I had learned a lot about Desiree in
the short time shed been in my arms before, and one thing that I had learned
for certain was that she wanted it hard and fast. Her insides welcomed the speed
and her body was tensing up as she got ready to come.
Come for me, Desiree.
Her head shook a little, her eyes cinched shut. She was trying to fight it, but
she was losing her battle with her own bodys will. I felt the sharp sting of her
nails boring into my shoulders and then the gush of fluid as she came around
me.
Say my name, Desiree.
She whimpered as my hips slowed down. Her eyes opened and she looked at
me and begged me to give her more. Her eyes were haunting and I couldnt
stop from giving her what she wanted. All I wanted to do was make her happy.
Grabbing her and then pushing her back to the mattress, I covered her body
with mine and was back inside of her in moments. There was no going slow.
My only desire was to hear her scream and feel more wetness. Desiree had had
multiple orgasms before, and only when she pushed against my chest and
begged me to stop did I even think about my own cum boiling up. My release
was perfect and I never wanted to leave her.
Eventually her insides started to push me out, but then I felt my throbbing
rod hardening again inside of her. Desiree gasped and I reveled at the sound.
Once was not going to be enough. Before I slipped all the way out of her, I was
pushing in deeper and rocking back into her. The rhythm started slow, but I got
faster as her whimpers got higher and louder. She didnt have to tell me a
thing. I already knew what she needed.
It was an hour before I could get out of her. She was panting on her back
and her eyes were still closed. I watched her chest rise and fall as she sucked in
air quickly. The look was hard to pull my gaze from. I wondered if she knew
what she meant to me.
I saw my need sliding out of her, and I thought of how careless I had been. I
never went without a condom, or at least some assurance that the woman was
on birth control. But with Desiree I had never even thought to ask her about it.
Im sorry I didnt think to use protection. We cant be having any babies
running around. Youre on something, right?
She nodded her head and started to get up. Desiree was wide awake now, and
she unexpectedly started to get dressed. You dont have to worry about that,
Greg.

Chapter 6 Desiree

I couldnt believe that Id had sex with him again. Not only had I agreed to
it, but Id practically begged him for it. Id certainly urged him on when he was
inside of me. I wasnt a victim, surely, but there was no doubt in my mind that I
had made a mistake.
He stopped me and kissed me softly on the lips. Why are you putting your
clothes on, Desiree?
I could barely look at him, but I dragged my eyes up to his and tried not to
look hurt. He was just being safe, and I knew that I had been partly to blame
before. But I knew then that I was not going to give him my news. It was news
that he wouldnt want to hear.
Whats wrong, Desiree?
I told him that nothing was wrong, but inside I was dying. No amount of
orgasms and shared moments of bliss were going to make everything all better
again. Reality was back, and I was finding it hard to be around him when all I
could think to tell him was the news that had made me question everything that
I was doing. My whole life was in question, but now I had an answer on one
thing. I knew now that I was going to have to raise our child alone. Greg
Jefferson had no desire to have a baby with me, and I wasnt going to be the
type of woman who trapped a man who didnt want me or our child.
Looking away, I pushed the wetness from my eyes. When he pressed, I told
him that I was fine. I felt his hand on my arm, and though I wanted to jerk it
away and call him a liar, I let him pull me back to his hard chest. When he did I
melted in his arms. Saying goodbye to Greg was going to be one of the hardest
things Id ever done. He whispered into my ear how beautiful I was, and the
words made me shiver.
Ive got to go, Greg. Its almost time for my shift.
Your shift?
He pulled away so I could turn around. I was lucky enough that I really did
have to work that evening. If Id been able to, I would have stayed in his arms
even longer, but that would only have made leaving him even harder. It was bad
enough that I had to push him from my life, but the way he looked at me then
made me wish that everything was different and he wanted our child.
Yeah, I work at the bar down the road.
I saw his frown set in and I shook my head. Its really not that bad. At least
I wasnt fired and rehired and then fired again by another jerk. The bar was not
my dream, and it was a waste of my college degree, but it was steady money
and I worked with people that I understood, not underhanded rich men like
Greg and his kind.
I want you to come to work for me, Desiree. Youre not supposed to be a
bartender, not with all of the education you have.
When I finally turned around, he was still only in his pants. His smooth
chest was distracting. Well, it wasnt like my last job was going to give me a
good reference. I had to find something to pay the bills.
He shook his head. Im sorry, Desiree. I didnt even think about that.
No, you didnt. You just left me high and dry, and now you come back
months later and everything is supposed to be okay? Well it isnt okay!
I could feel myself getting madder the more I thought about it. I had waited
for him for what felt like forever, and now he was just toying with me, playing
with my emotions. He wouldnt want me if he knew the truth, and I knew that it
wouldnt be long before he guessed it. That was why I had to make sure that he
never found out.
He tried to touch me but I sidestepped his hand. I didnt want to feel his
hands on me, because every time that happened, the next thing I knew, I would
be underneath him and I wouldnt care about anything but the feel of him inside
of me. If he touched me again, I was going to be lost.
I really need to go, Greg. Thanks for coming over. It was good to see
you.
I caught a look of surprise on his face. I figured it was just because he never
got told no. It seemed like a good lesson for him, so I didnt feel bad about it. I
couldnt let it be known that we would never see each other again. I didnt
know where I was going, but I couldnt be around him again and he knew
where I lived. I was going to have to change everything. So how could I worry
about his feelings? I was the one who was going to have to raise our child
alone.
I dont know what I did. Ten minutes ago you were moaning and coming
all over me.
A lot can happen in ten minutes, Greg. Or three months. I have to go.
I held the door open and he looked at me a little shocked. I tried to smile at
him and let him know that I wasnt bothered, even though I was sure I was
literally dying inside. I didnt want him to go, but I knew that I couldnt let him
stay, either. Any way that I went about it, I knew I was going to be hurt in the
end. This way I didnt have to see the look in his eyes when he found out I was
carrying his child, something hed just explicitly said that he didnt want. It was
easier this way.
For a moment I thought Greg wasnt going to go. He was looking at me
with his mouth open. I couldnt meet his eyes anymore. I thanked him again for
coming over and bypassed another attempt to kiss me.
Ill call you tomorrow morning, okay?
I shrugged like I wasnt sure if I was going to be busy or not. Im sure
well see each other again.
I miss you, Desiree. I miss our lunches together, and I miss you under me.
The last part made my face turn red. I couldnt believe that he would say
such a thing, and it was certainly the last thing that I wanted to hear at that
moment.
When I closed the door, the part of me that had been strong enough to hold
me up was gone. I knew that I had made a huge mistake. As much as I wanted to
tell myself that I didnt have a choice, I wondered if I did. Had I really just
pushed away the only man that I had loved, the man whose child I carried in my
stomach?
You didnt have a choice, Desiree. I repeated the words under my breath a
few times until I finally started to believe it. Only then could I leave to go to the
job that I hated. The sinking feeling in my stomach told me that I was never
going to see him again.

To be continued

Billionaire Desireth Book 4: Billionaire Committeth

An Alpha Billionaire Romance


By: Ashlee Price


Prologue
Afraid of losing herself in Gregs arms again, Desiree is determined to stay
away. Shes moved to a new apartment so that Greg cant find her, and she
hasnt had any contact with him since. Her pregnancy is almost over when she
runs into an old colleague from work: Gregs assistant, Tommy.
As soon as Desiree sees Tommy from afar, she knows that shes busted.
Greg is going to learn that shes still in the city, and more importantly, that
shes carrying his child. While she tries to tell herself that he isnt going to
care, Desiree knows deep down that everything is about to change. She has
fantasized about him coming to see her, and even in her dreams, theres still no
way she can tell him no.
If Greg finds her, Desiree will be lost again and she isnt sure if her heart
can take it.

Chapter 1 Desiree

Whats wrong?
I didnt want to answer. I was a little watery-eyed. It was a state I was in a lot
of the time nowadays. My stomach was growing, and it had become a good
resting spot for my nervous hands as I looked out the window. The view was
different, but the things that ran through my head were the same. All I could
think about was the next couple of weeks and what was going to happen. I knew
that everything was going to change, and I still wasnt sure if I was ready for it.
Nothing, Fran. Im just thinking.
You sit at this window all of the time.
I knew that I worried her, both because of the baby and my newfound need
to sit at the window. It made me feel a little less cramped in the new three-
bedroom apartment we had just moved into. Id had to get away from the old
place, even though it was rent controlled and closer to town. But at least here I
didnt have to worry about Greg popping up, as he had done several times
before the move.
I know I do. Im just thinking. I cant do a lot because I get tired so easily.
So I sit here and think.
Well, you need to get out of this apartment and get some fresh air. You
have done enough thinking for the day.
I hadnt told her why I was so resistant to leaving the house. I was so afraid
that fate would push me into Greg, and I knew that I wouldnt be able to handle
a meeting. I knew that if he saw me big and pregnant, I would see the truth in
his eyes. He didnt want me like that. He wanted me as his assistant to play with
at work. I knew what I was to him. It didnt matter that I loved him and wanted
him so badly.
I dont know. It looks kind of chilly.
She just shook her head and pulled me up. I didnt have a choice. I never did
with her. Fine, but just for a little while.
Fran agreed, but I knew that once we were out, she was going to make sure I
stayed out. And she did; she dragged me out for some shopping and then to a
diner to have a meal. After a while I was starting to feel better about being out.
I only ducked once when I saw a man who looked a lot like Greg from the
back. Everywhere I went I was afraid I would see him.
Youve got to stop looking over your shoulder. Youre starting to make me
paranoid.
I smiled back at her and tried to relax. The small diner was close to another
store that Fran wanted to go to, and by then I was feeling a little less nervous
about the whole excursion. It had been too long since I had been out in the
middle of the day with no doctor s appointment or destination in mind.
Everything had changed since my last time with Greg. It was like seeing the
world out of fresh eyes.
Im glad you brought me out today, Fran. I was sitting in the house too
much. Its just strange. Everything is different. We had that house on Elm for so
long that I cant get used to the new neighborhood.
She didnt call me out on the real reason that wed left Elm Street and I was
staying inside so much now. She had gotten her way, and she was never one to
gloat. I was enjoying the sunshine, and I started to think that things were going
to turn around.
We were almost back to the apartment when I was caught off guard by a
familiar face. It wasnt Greg, the man I was worried about seeing, but it was
almost as bad: Tommy, his old assistant. I didnt know if they still worked
together, but I was sure that they still kept in touch. Tommys eyes zeroed in on
my burgeoning stomach and I groaned inwardly. He had seen me and there was
no way I was going to get away without saying hi.
Well, I havent seen you for a long time, Desiree. How have you been?
His eyes couldnt look past my stomach. I waited for him to realize that he
was staring. Ive been good, Tommy. How have you been?
Good. Everything got a little crazy there for a while, but Greg fixed
everything. Now its even better than before.
I heard about the new company. I hadnt wanted to ask him about Greg,
but at the same time Id been kind of hoping that he would come up. Now that
his name was in the air, I couldnt help but try to get more information about
the man I was still in love with.
Yes, its working out quite well. Its nice to have Don out of the picture.
So are you still working with Greg?
His eyes focused on me for a moment, and all I wanted to do was shrink
away so he couldnt look at me with those eyes.
Yeah, I never stopped.
The rotund man looked like he was going to say more, but then he thought
better of it. I felt the same way. I wanted to ask more questions, but the stronger
feeling was that I just needed to get out of there. Tommy had seen enough, and
if Greg hadnt known what was going on with me, he would now. The thing
was, though, I didnt know if he should know, or if he would even really care.
His words still played in my head every time I got the urge to come clean about
everything. Now it didnt look like I was going to have a choice in the matter. I
was definitely pregnant, and Tommy was definitely going to tell Greg about it.
Well, it was good to see you, Tommy, but I have to get going.
Okay, Desiree. Take care of yourself.
I smiled, but I knew that it didnt reach the rest of my face. It was not a happy
meeting. He was going to mess up my life; he just didnt know it yet. But what I
did know about Tommy was that he loved gossip and he was very close to
Greg.
Who was that?
Gregs assistant.
Frans face said the same thing that mine did. Im sorry, Desiree. I really
didnt think that wed run into anyone that knew him around here. Do you think
hes going to tell Greg?
I nodded my head, not giving a vocal answer. I didnt need to. Tommy was
going to run right to his boss. As I watched him get into a cab, I saw him get on
his phone. I had a sinking feeling that Greg was going to know even sooner
than Id thought. Maybe I was just being paranoid, but I couldnt shake the
feeling that we needed to leave. I didnt want to be there if Greg did show up all
of a sudden.
Come on, Fran. Im getting tired and Im ready to go home.
Again she just let me go with it. We both knew that it had nothing to with
how tired I was.

Chapter 2 Greg

Are you at the office?


Yeah, I was about to leave, why?
I need you to stay there for a few minutes. Ill be right there.
He didnt say anything more, but I figured that it was going to be important.
Tommy was acting strange, and that always made me pause because he was
usually pretty even-keeled. The last time hed been like this, my company was
being taken over. That couldnt happen again, but if Tommy was being all
short and secretive, he must have a very good reason for it.
The next few minutes felt like an hour, but when he finally got there I was
able to relax a little. The look on his face was not one of dread. It was one that I
didnt understand. Tommy looked a little smug, but also a little unsure of how
to tell me his news. I could tell that he was trying to get the words right in his
head before he spoke. That made me nervous all over again.
Just spit it out already.
Well, I dont know how to say this, but I saw Desiree.
The name made my head snap back. I could honestly say that I had not
thought our conversation was going to go like this. I had thought of many
scenarios in my head while we were waiting, but none of them had had to do
with Desiree.
Where did you see her?
Down on Hunter Street with her roommate. I guess they still live together.
I sat down in my chair and kind of looked off into the middle distance for a
moment. She was still in the city. Something I hadnt thought was likely. I had
looked for her for months, but the girl had just disappeared into thin air.
Are you sure it was her?
Tommy nodded and sat down across from me. He must have gotten the
feeling that the talk was going to take a bit longer than first anticipated. I had
thought about Desiree a lot, but by this point I hadnt thought I would find her
again. I had come to the conclusion that she was gone for good, and I was
trying to move on. So to hear that she was still in the city and so close felt like
a punch in the gut.
I talked to her for a minute, but she looked like she wanted to get away
from me. Like a little bird, she was.
The last comment threw me off, but I realized that it made sense. Desiree
didnt want to have anything to do with me. That was why she had left. While
Id tried to tell myself that something had happened to make her move a good
job offer in another city, maybe in my heart, I had known all along that she
just wanted to be away from me.
So how did she look? I wanted to know that she was okay, and I knew that
the empathetic Tommy was good at picking up on things like that. His eyes
were as direct as they had been a moment before, and it made me worry that
something was wrong.
Well, she looks different, Greg.
How so?
I was trying to imagine what could be different than when I had met her. No
change came to mind.
Okay, look, Im just going to say it.
Please do. Just spit it out. I was getting exasperated, and I knew it was
because of who we were talking about. I was never able to control myself and
my emotions when it came to Desiree. Thats why I was getting bent out of
shape so quickly.
Shes pregnant. Really pregnant, Greg. She looks like shes about to pop
any minute.
His eyes wouldnt meet mine. I didnt know how I was supposed to feel
about this. My Desiree was pregnant?
Did she have a ring on her finger?
Tommy looked at me a little strangely and just shook his head. Hed
obviously been doing the math, and he was much better at it than I was. It hadnt
occurred to me yet that it could possibly be mine. All I was thinking about was
that someone else had been with her and now she was no longer mine.
I dont think shes married, Greg. I think youre not really thinking this
through.
I still didnt understand what he was saying, but Tommy gave me time. The
smug look was back on his face, and it was that look that made me think
outside of my current realm of possibilities. I tried to calculate how long it had
been since Id seen her. It must have been around five or six months. That still
didnt seem to add up to about to pop, as Tommy had so eloquently phrased
it, so I thought farther back, to my very first time with her in the meadow. It
was that night that had started it all, and it hit me like a ton of bricks what that
could mean.
You think its mine?
He nodded his head that he did. I was sure that he was enjoying the
expression on my face. Enjoying it a little too much, if you asked me. I felt like
Id been sucker punched in the stomach. I couldnt breathe, and for a second I
thought I might pass out.
How do you know its mine, Tommy?
Well, she wasnt the type to sleep around, the timing is about right, and
when she saw me, I could tell that she was more than a little nervous. Desiree
knew that I was going to tell you about it, and she didnt like that idea at all.
His words should have made me happy. The woman I loved was still in the
city and she was carrying my baby. But that still didnt tell me why shed left,
why shed kept her pregnancy from me, and why she was so worried that
Tommy was going to rat her out. Why didnt she want me to know?
The questions and the answers I came up with didnt sit well with me, but I
had to keep my composure. Tommy already knew how I felt about her, but I
didnt want him to know how badly I missed her and wanted her back in my
arms.
Do you know where she went?
No, she watched me leave. I think she was making sure I wouldnt know.
So she doesnt want me to know shes still here?
He agreed, but I could tell he didnt want to. I dont know what happened
between the two of you, but its obvious that something happened. She was
nervous about talking to me, and I know that it was because I work for you. She
even asked if I still did.
Did she ask about me?
I think she wanted to, but once she found out that I was still working for
you, the conversation was completely over.
I sat back and closed my eyes. I still wasnt sure what it was that I had done
wrong. There had to be a reason she was acting this way. Was it because she
had gotten pregnant and didnt want to tell me? But in that case I assumed she
would have gotten rid of it. If she was heavily pregnant, that meant she was
keeping the baby. She was going to keep my baby and never even tell me about
it?
The idea made me a little sick to my stomach, and the knotting in my chest
was back. How could she do this to me? If Tommy hadnt run into her, I would
have never known. I didnt like that feeling at all. I was filled with something
akin to rage. How could she do this to me?
I dont know, Greg, but now is not the time to get mad. She really looked
like she was going to have the baby at any time. Now is not the time to go
chasing her down. Whatever her reason, it will still be around once the baby is
born.
I wasnt feeling as calm about it as he was. So you think that I should just
leave her alone and let her have the baby? Without me?
Even saying the words hurt me a little, and when he agreed, I got that
sinking feeling back. I didnt want to let her go, let it go. Tommy had told me
everything he knew, but it wasnt nearly enough. I was going to have to wait
for Desiree to come around to find out the rest.
I need to find her, Tommy. That is what I want you to do right now. That is
your assignment. Find me Desiree and that week off is yours.
He smiled at me, no doubt already imagining a sybaritic trip to Vegas with
his friends. Hed been giving me not so subtle hints about it for a couple of
weeks now. I knew how much he wanted to go, and I was perfectly willing to
live without him for a week if it meant that I would get Desiree back. She was
all that I ever thought about anyway, and now that I knew she was carrying my
baby I just had to find her again.
Fine, Greg, Ill find her, but you have to give her some space. I liked
Desiree, and I dont want her being stressed out when she is pregnant. Its not
good for the baby.
I still wasnt used to thinking about myself as a father, or her as a mother,
but I got what he was saying. I was in new territory, and I was going to have to
figure out a way to deal with it.

Chapter 3 Desiree

I was getting close, so close that I had already packed a bag to take with me
to the hospital. I wasnt nervous anymore; I was just ready for it all to be done
and over with. As I made my way to the doctor s office, I was eager for him to
tell me that it was almost time and the baby would be out soon.
A few weeks before, I had finally learned that I was carrying Gregs son. I
dont know why, but that seemed harder. I could imagine how our son would
look just like him. A daughter might have been a little easier to deal with in that
regard. I was convinced that Gregs son would have his same green eyes and
the same half-grin that Greg would give me when he was pleased. It was just
going to be a reminder of what we had had for a brief time and what I had
lost forever.
Shaking off the melancholy mood that seemed to come with the last few
weeks of pregnancy, I tried not to think about Greg. He came to mind more
often than I was comfortable admitting, but I knew he was someone I could
never forget. I was meant to be with him, and I would have thought about him
for the rest of my days even if I wasnt raising his child. Fran said I was just
thinking crazy. I dont know, maybe she was right, maybe it was all of the
hormones.
Parking by the door at the front of the doctor s office, I noticed a sports car
that reminded me of Greg. Well, just about everything reminded me of Greg,
but he really liked fast cars and had been photographed recently in one just like
it. It didnt occur to me that it would actually be his; that would be just too
incredible. So when I walked into the office and found him talking to my
doctor, it was rather surreal.
Ah, there you are, Desiree. Your husband was just asking some questions
and I didnt think you would mind. Im glad that hes finally back from all of
that travelling. I told you before that a father needs to be there for the birth, so
Im glad that you convinced him to come back in time.
I have to admit that Id lied to the elderly doctor when he asked if I was
married to the man whose child I was carrying. At least Greg didnt look too
mad about it. It was almost like he was amused. My husband?
Yes, Im glad to see that he was able to get back as well.
I didnt know what else to do but go along with it. Dr. Rosa didnt seem to
notice the tension that now filled the room. Was he just clueless, or was I the
only one feeling hot all of a sudden? I wanted nothing more than to ask Greg
what in Gods name he was doing there, but Dr. Rosa was already urging us
back to one of the examination rooms. The waiting room was a thing of the
past, and now Greg was going to be the one asking questions as we looked at
our baby on the ultrasound.
My mind went to Tommy while we walked down the short corridor. I knew
he was the reason that Greg had suddenly showed up, and I wanted to wring his
neck. As we walked, Greg pulled my hand and then my arm to him. I wasnt
sure why he was doing it. Maybe he was trying to put on a show for the doctor,
or maybe he actually wanted to, but it felt good to be back in his arms, even if
it was under a false pretense.
When we got to the small examination room, I was hoping that Greg would
stop the little game he was playing. You can wait out front, sweetie. Ill be
back out in a few minutes.
He just shook his head, his eyes determined and his jaw set, and I knew that
it wasnt going to happen. He wasnt going to budge without making a big
scene, and I was just not in the mood for that. I had never wanted to argue with
him; that had been the whole point of avoiding him all these months. So I just
went with it and ignored the look from Dr. Rosa.
The older man patted the bed and told me to get up there. I was nervous
about everything already, and having Greg there was not calming me down.
Just his presence had me tense.
It was only when I saw the look on his face when he heard the beat of the
babys heart that I knew that everything that I had thought was wrong. While
hed said he didnt want a baby, there was a new light in his eyes as he looked
at me and then to the screen where the baby was.
I cant believe youre pregnant.
I knew what he meant, but the doctor was a little puzzled by the comment.
Dr. Rosa had enough tact not to say too much, but he was obviously curious
about the man whod just popped up. I could tell that the doctor had questions
of his own, and I was sure he would ask them next time he had me alone. I
wasnt looking forward to that conversation.
But I had to focus on the now and the look on Gregs face. It just made me
love him even more. I still didnt know whether everything would be okay
between us, but from the way he looked at the screen and then back at me, it
was impossible not to feel a little hope for our future and our sons future.
The doctor took a couple of pictures and gave them to Greg. I could see
how moved he was, and just looking at him was bringing tears to my eyes. Had
I really messed up by not telling him what was going on? I was starting to feel
like a horrible person who had jumped to conclusions too quickly. Maybe he
had just made the comment about not wanting babies off-handedly. It wasnt
like hed known what was going on.
It wasnt too long before the doctor was done and I was wiping the clear gel
off of my stomach. It felt strange to be so exposed in front of Greg, but he was
still looking at the sonogram pictures in his hand. He was transfixed. If I had
wanted him any way, it was the way he was acting right then.
Well, I think its safe to say that the baby will be here soon. I know that you
dont want to induce, so just listen to your body, Desiree, and when its time,
Ill be here to help you have your baby.
I thanked him and watched him walk out of the small room. I was trying to
get off of the bed and hating that I wasnt as limber as I had once been. It was
only when Greg offered me a hand that I realized just how much trouble I was
having. I didnt want him to see me like this, but at the same time, I really
needed some help getting down.
When I fell into his arms, he held me for longer than he needed to and only
let go when I pulled away slightly. There was no denying the way he looked at
me, and there was no denying the way he made me feel with just one look.
Why dont we get out of here? I think we have a lot to talk about, Desiree.
I nodded my head. What more could I say? His hands were still on me, and
that was always one of my weaknesses. Greg had been one of my weaknesses
since I had met him, and the last thing that I wanted to do was tell him no. That
was why I had moved: so that I would never have to see him, because I knew
that once he was in my eyes and I was in his arms, I would be lost forever. The
thing that I had been so worried about him knowing, he now knew, so it didnt
seem to make much sense to worry any longer. It was finally time to put the
truth out there and just see what happened.
Following him out to the car, I waited for him to unlock it and open the
door for me. Again I was reminded how much of a gentleman he was, and
strangely, that made me even more nervous. Greg was always more than I
could handle, and with the powerful engine and the fine man next to me, I was
feeling more like my old self. I had to look down to remember that everything
was different than it had been before. He was no longer my boss and this was
no longer just some fun fling that we were having.

Chapter 4 Greg

You know, when Tommy told me that you were pregnant, I didnt believe
it.
Yeah, I figured he was going to run to you and tell you.
I was trying to keep my temper. I actually had believed Tommy when he said
she was pregnant, but somehow it hadnt felt real until now. To actually see her
pregnant and to hear and see the baby was something I wasnt prepared for. I
wasnt prepared for the way she made me feel or the way I felt as I thought of
being a father. It was not something that I had yearned for, but now it was
something that I couldnt imagine living without.
You should have told me. I shouldnt have had to find out from my
assistant, Desiree.
I heard her sigh and I looked over. She looked upset, and I scolded myself
silently. Trying to keep my tone softer, I asked her why she hadnt told me. I
wasnt trying to upset her, but I needed to know.
Because you said that you didnt want a bunch of babies running around.
That was just a joke. I had just realized that we hadnt used protection, and I
wanted to know if you were on anything. You said that it was not a problem,
Desiree, remember?
I was pregnant already. I had just found out, so it wasnt like you could get
me double pregnant. The damage was already done.
The way she said it, with her eyes staring into nothing out the window, told
me that she was not happy to be pregnant. I started to think about what it would
be like for her. I didnt like the idea of her going through it alone for all this
time. She had been dealing with everything by herself. I took her hand and
laced it into my own. I wanted her to know that I was there for her. I hadnt been
before because I didnt know, but now that I knew, I wasnt going anywhere.
You should have told me, Desiree. You shouldnt have had to go through
this alone. I would have been to all of your appointments, anything you
needed.
We didnt have a destination in mind. I still didnt know where she lived, and
Desiree didnt seem to care where we were going. When I looked down at the
time, my mind went back to a place we had been before. I didnt have any of the
trappings that I had at our last picnic, but I wanted her to remember, and the sun
was going to be down in a little while. It seemed like the place to go while she
decided what she was going to do. I knew what my plans were. If I had it my
way, I would just take her home and be done with it, but I knew that I couldnt
do that with Desiree. With Desiree I was going to have to be careful what I did
next.
I just didnt think you would care or even want to know. If you would have
gotten mad and been mean about it, I dont think I would have been able to take
that. If you would have asked me to get rid of the baby I dont know, Greg. I
just couldnt take that chance. I would rather have remembered our few
moments together, than that.
I looked over at her, her hair down and covering the side of her face and her
eyes. I wanted her to look at me, to see in my eyes that I was in love with her,
but it wasnt happening right then. My foot went down on the gas and I saw her
hand reach up to grab the dashboard before I slowed back down and turned
down the dirt road, where the bumps made me slow down even further.
I dont know why you think that of me, Desiree. I would never do that to
you. I would have never asked you to kill our baby. You should have told me.
I was stuck on it. I know I was. I was too hurt to forget that she had just taken
off, and I couldnt help the feeling of betrayal because she hadnt trusted me
enough to tell me. How could she think such things of me?
Why are we going here?
I shrugged and parked almost in the same place I had so many months
before when wed gone on our first date and I had had my first taste of true
desire. Then I had made the mistake of prioritizing my business over her,
leaving her stewing the whole time. Our meeting months later was dynamite,
but then she had left. At the time I had thought it was because of what I had
done, but now I realized that it was way more complicated than that. Id done a
bad job of showing her who I truly was, and it was wrong of me to think that
she would see me how I wanted to be seen. The reality of it was that I hadnt
showed her what I truly felt.
I thought it would be a good place to go. I dont have a picnic, but the sun
is starting to set, and I remember how much you liked it last time.
Well, just dont think that it is going to end like it did last time, Greg.
I nodded my head and told her I wouldnt dream of it. I was trying to ignore
the way her chest had grown since I had seen her last, and the glow that seemed
to emanate from her skin now. She was a beautiful woman, and the fact that she
was carrying our child made me love her even more.
Going around the car, I opened the door and helped her out of the low seat. I
cursed myself for not thinking about this when I decided to take this car. I was
so worried about impressing her that I hadnt thought about what vehicle would
be most comfortable for someone in her condition. Should I get a minivan
now?
I tried to calm myself down, but this was not going how Id thought it would
go. Id honestly expected that she would be in my arms by now. She would have
seen the error of her ways and be begging me for forgiveness. I was not
getting any of those feelings from her, and I wasnt sure why. What had I done
that was so bad that she would not tell me?
The thoughts were driving me crazy, and trying to quiet my mind didnt
help. I just had to know, or I was sure that I was going to lose it.
I helped her down and we sat in the grass in the same spot as before. She
was beautiful, and I liked the way the wind was pushing her blonde hair back
from her face. All I could think about was what our baby was going to look
like. As much as I wanted him to look like me, there was a part of me that
wanted him to have her light-colored hair and eyes. I could go on with life
knowing that I would always have a part of Desiree. For someone that I would
undoubtedly remember for my whole life, that didnt seem like too bad of a
deal.
Why did you leave me, Desiree?
Because you didnt want the baby and I didnt want to see your reaction.
I didnt think there was actually a chance you were pregnant. I didnt know
what I was saying. You should have given me another chance.
Why? You were gone for months after we were here last time. You just
disappeared. I figured that it wouldnt matter to you much either way.
I couldnt believe that she thought that. Had I really been that remiss in
showing her how I felt? I had thought it was obvious in my kiss, in the way I
made love to her. I knew that I was bad at words, but I had hoped that she would
feel the love I had for her in the way that I held her.
How could you not think you matter to me, Desiree? You are all I have
thought about since I met you. Dont you know how long I have been looking
for you?
I stopped, realizing that I was losing myself a little. I didnt like the sound of
my voice, and I didnt like the way the desperation that I was feeling injected
itself into the conversation. I just wanted her. Why couldnt she see that?
Desiree wouldnt look at me. Her eyes were on the painting-worthy sunset
in front of us. I knew that she didnt want to talk. I didnt want to either, so I
pulled her back against me slowly and reveled in the feel of her against my
chest. It had been too long, and as a man who had convinced himself that all he
needed was to get her by his side, I was content once more. As long as she was
with me, I was sure that everything would work out.
It had started to get late before we spoke another word. She told me that she
needed to get home, and I waited for the address. If she still didnt want me to
know where she lived, she wouldnt tell me, and then I would know that she
was not ready to forgive me yet. What I had done, I was not sure of, but I was
more worried about what was going to happen next.
Would you like me to take you home?
She still hadnt said where she lived or anything else. Desiree seemed to be
making a decision in her mind, and I hoped that it was going to be for us.
I live down near where Tommy found me, in one of the townhouses. They
arent that great, but it was all I could find on such short notice.
I ground my teeth a little. I hated to think of her leaving like she had, but I
knew that was a conversation for another time. She was pregnant, emotional
and I was not stupid enough to rock the boat that I had just found and gotten
back on. If she wanted to take it slow, I was willing. As long as she let me be
part of her life and our sons life, that was all that mattered.

Chapter 5 Desiree

I was afraid he was just talking, that he was just saying what he thought I
wanted to hear. It was what I wanted, for him to love me and care for me, but it
was hard to reconcile that with what I had been thinking for so long. How was I
supposed to believe that he really felt that way? That he really loved me? I
wasnt sure, and the longer the silence hung between us in the car, the more I
knew that I needed to find out.
How did you look for me?
Well, I went to your house and then tried to track down your friend. I called
the emergency numbers in your file from when you were an intern. I hired
someone to look for you while I was working, but no one found anything. You
werent registered anywhere. It was like you just vanished.
It sounded like he had devoted a lot of resources to finding me. I wasnt sure
how I felt about that. I liked the idea that he had tried so hard, but I had made
sure that I wouldnt be found. I had done everything with cash; even my job had
been paid under the table. I dont know what I had really been hiding from,
other than all of the feelings that he brought out in me. It was hard to think
about it, but now that he was there, I knew that I had to figure it all out. I didnt
have a choice anymore. There was nowhere left to run.
Sounds like that took a lot of money and time. We only saw each other a
couple of times, Greg. Its not like we were dating or anything.
He pulled up in front of my apartment. I knew that I should just go in. I
should just leave and hope that he didnt follow. But the idea of him not
following made me ask him to stay and have a drink.
Well, you know, you can drink. Ill have tea.
Of course, Desiree.
I liked the way he said my name, and even though I was ready to pop, I liked
the way he was looking at me. I could feel heat rising up inside of me. When
his eyes devoured me like that, it was hard to think, especially with the
memories of our past coming up and overwhelming all of my senses.
Fran was at work, and that left us alone. I worried about what was going to
happen next. What was going to happen when all I could think about was his
hands on me? I knew that I was different, though. I didnt look the same, but
that didnt stop my body from readying itself like it always had. All I could
think about was him inside of me. I blushed at the idea, hoping he wouldnt see
through me.
Going to the cupboard, I got out the whiskey that hed drank before and
offered him a half-filled glass. I cant describe how badly I wanted to take a
slug of it, but I knew that I couldnt. I wished for the settling of nerves that
came with a sip, but instead poured myself a glass of sweet tea. I was just going
to have to pretend for a little while longer.
So how have you been, Greg? I was trying more than anything to get the
topic back to something that wasnt going to change my life forever.
Ive been miserable, Desiree. He drank the glassful quickly and then
looked back up at me like I was next to be consumed. It wasnt hard to feel what
it was that he wanted, and the more he looked at me, the more my body called
to him. I didnt know if he could feel it, but there was no denying the way he
was making me feel.
Im sorry.
If you were really sorry, you would make it better.
I bit my bottom lip and then wet my lips. There was no illusion about what it
was that he wanted, and if he could feel how ready I was, he would know that I
wanted it just as badly. My heart was saying yes, my head was saying no and
my body didnt care about anything but being touched by his magical hands
once again. This time I wouldnt try to stop him when he touched me. I wasnt
going to be impatient, either; this time I was going to make sure that he had all
of the time he wanted.
***
Do we really have to do this? I dont really care about a piece of paper,
Greg.
He smiled at me, and I couldnt help but melt a little. I wasnt feeling well
and I had to waddle down the aisle. I was going to give birth at any moment,
but Greg had singlehandedly made the wedding happen.
I told you that I dont want our son to be born until we are wed.
Greg kept telling me that, and even though I wanted it too, the contractions
were getting worse and I was past ready to leave. The piece of paper was
becoming less of a priority as the pain increased.
But I planted a smile on my face and we started the ceremony and the
preacher started to talk over us. He was saying all the right words, but if he
didnt hurry up, I was going to have the baby right there. When our hands came
together, Greg looked at me rather strangely when I tightened my grip with a
sharp contraction.
Are you okay?
Im having the baby. This has to hurry up.
My words spurred on the preacher, and before long I was married. Greg
was beaming, and for a moment, the kiss that he gave me was enough to make
me forget but only for a moment, and then I was rushing him down the aisle
to get to the hospital. Nothing had been normal since I had met him, and it
seemed that even the birth of our son was going to be different.
Just hurry, Greg.
He looked at me and then pushed the gas pedal down. Id always liked his
lead foot, but I was especially happy with it just then.
He got me there before the baby came. I thought that alone was a miracle.

Chapter 6 Desiree

Today is the day.


I looked over at Greg and had to smile. He had been counting down days
like it was Christmastime.
I know, baby, you circled today in red on all of the calendars. I couldnt
help but laugh a little. It was nice to know that he was ready for the marriage to
finally be consummated, but I had to get Dano to bed.
Well.
I looked down and then back to him. Baby, I have to put him to bed and then
take a shower. I touched my hair and I could feel it sticking out from the bun
that topped my head. I look a mess!
You are beautiful, baby. Let me have him and Ill put him to bed.
Really? He still surprised me with how hands-on he was. It was not at all
what I had expected, but he had been a godsend the last few weeks. Greg was so
understanding, and even though I wasnt gyrating like he was, I was ready to
feel him inside of me again. It had been far too long, and there was nothing but
need in both of us.
The water was hot, and just having a moment in the heat to rinse off was
enough to push me into the mood for my husband. I was so nervous I was
shaking, and I knew it was because I needed him so badly. I was as tired of the
wait as he was.
The bathroom door opened and I could see Greg coming in. My mind had
been so wrapped up in my thoughts that I started involuntarily, but the startled
feeling was gone quickly. He wasnt supposed to be here, but Greg never did
seem to care about what was going on around him. All he cared about was
getting what was his.
Moving back, I watched him drop the rest of his clothes. His hard body kept
my eyes on him, and I followed his last few steps to the shower door. I could
see him, but not as clearly as I would have liked. The door was frosted, but not
enough to keep the hard lines of his body from my hungry eyes. Gregs body
had been burned into my memory from the first time we were together. It
seemed like so long ago, but my body responded like it was the first time.
The cold tile bit on my back and ass as I moved back and his large body
filled the small space. The door wasnt shut before his hand was pulling me to
his hot lips. They were searching and tasting, pulling me into a grasp that I
couldnt get out of. I could never tell him no, but when Gregs mouth was on
me, nothing else mattered.
Every time we were together, he controlled me. Every flick of his tongue
enticed me and made me forget everything but him. I wanted something more,
and before I was completely wrapped up and lost in his web, I pulled away and
watched his dark green eyes open slowly to meet mine. I wanted to watch his
face as I moved down to take him into my mouth.
I had never tasted him before, never taken the time to wrap my lips around
his long length, but I couldnt wait any longer. I could already feel my need
rising and wetness creeping between my legs that had nothing to do with the
water streaming down from above. My knees shook as I moved in front of
him, his hardness inches from my lips.
Looking up at him, I saw that Gregs face was predatory. I knew that he
wanted to be inside of my mouth badly. His tip was twitching in my face.
Opening my mouth slowly, I moved to take him in, stopping when my lips
were just past the head. I stopped his hips from moving forward and finally
closed my lips around the silken rod. The growl in the back of his throat
spurred me on.
Pulling my mouth away, I wrapped my hands around the base, twisting
slightly as I stroked up. My lips and tongue licked and tasted down the
underside of his thickness, my fingers rubbing the top in synch. Moving back
up to the top, I slide my lips around the twitching head and suckled on the tip as
my hand moved slowly on the slippery skin.
Glancing up, I saw that his eyes were closed. I could feel a stray hand on the
back of my head, weaving into my wet strands. I needed more and moved him
deeper against my throat. I tried to take him all in at once and was confronted
with the tip in the back of my throat. Pushing my throat muscles back, I pulled
him out and took a breath before doing it again. The only thing I could hear
over my beating heart was the short groans coming from his lips.
As my pace quickened, the noise above me got louder. I could feel the hard
end hitting the back of my throat, and his hips were moving forward to meet
my mouth. I had given up on using my hand, taking both to brace myself
against his rutting hips. His salty taste started to fill the back of my mouth,
overpowering my senses and making me add suction to his length.
The grip on my hair tightened and the taste became a flood of need. There
was so much that I had to swallow before my mouth filled with his seed and I
wasted a drop. As more came out, I looked up into his emerald eyes. The look
alone made my insides throb for him.
As he pulled back, I moved forward, not allowing the hardness to escape my
lips. I wanted more. I wanted him hard again, and I quickly moved down the
length with my mouth. Greg groaned, and the sound was pitched high
compared to the previous ones. I knew that his tip was sensitive, but I only
relented when he was finally full and ready for me again.
Standing up, I turned around and looked behind me. He needed no
invitation, his hands gripping my waist and pulling me back to his waiting
cock. I cried out when he pushed deep suddenly, filling me with his thickness as
he stretched my insides to accommodate his girth. It had been so long that it felt
like the first time, and I gritted my teeth to the challenge. It had been far too
long since I had him inside of me, and I was sure that this was the closest thing
to heaven on earth.
Greg was gentle with me at first. He had been since we got back together,
but I didnt want a soft touch, I wanted the man that I had first fallen for. More
than that, I needed that man.
Please, Greg, more.
Knowing what it was that I needed, he growled into my ear, giving me
exactly what I asked for. Everything that I needed was in Gregs power to give
me, and he gave it willingly. I had never been so content as at the end of that
night.
How did I get so lucky, Greg?
He chuckled and told me that it was my name. It just stuck with me. You
were a parasite, worming your way in.
I just sighed, and though it was the worst metaphor ever, it was still really
sweet. Whatever it was, I was glad he was there with me now.

~The End~

Billionaires Domination Book 1: Insist

By: Ashlee Price


Prologue

Nicola King is close to graduating from culinary school and is looking for
her first real job. She has big expectations, but theyre dashed when all she can
find is a position making deliveries for a local catering service. Nicola tries to
tell herself that its the first step up the ladder, but just days into her new job she
is already starting to question that assumption.
A chance meeting leads to a daily delivery to a rich and handsome
investment group CEO. Jerold instantly takes to Nicola and offers to give her a
real opportunity. This could be the break she needs to start her career. All she
has to do is say yes.
But there are many things that Jerold wants to ask of her, and if she isnt
ready to say yes, Jerold knows that hes going to have to insist.

Chapter 1- Nicola

I waited in line like everyone else, but I wasnt sure why I was there. The
temp service had called and asked me to come in. I thought that I was there for
a job, but it seemed I wasnt the only one whod been called in that day. I started
to worry that I was going to have more hoops to jump through. I really didnt
like the idea of having to compete with all of the people lined up in the office.
Nicola King?
I raised my hand like I was in school and weaved my way through the
standing people to the voice in the front. She smiled at me and ushered me into
her office. I remembered Nadia from when I had come to Algon Temp Service
months ago looking to get a jumpstart on my job hunting. She was very
helpful, and after I took all of her tests, Nadia told me that she would do her
best to find me something. I was really hoping that today was that something
she was talking about, because I was ready to get started.
Its good to see you back here. Sorry about the lines in the front. We just
got a new client and I think the news of it has made things a little chaotic, but
dont you worry, Nicola, I have found you something that I think will be
perfect for you.
Really? I cant tell you how happy I am to hear that. I graduate in a couple
of weeks and I have been worried about finding something.
You got a head start, and I think thats going to help you down the road.
You would not want to be behind all of those other applicants.
I looked back towards the small glass window in the door and I knew that
what she said was true. If I had to wait behind all of those other people, my
chances of getting a job were going to be even smaller than Id imagined. In a
town like Brewer, there were always more college students graduating than
there were jobs to support them. I didnt want to move away from Brewer,
though; it was my home, and going down to the temp service had been a way of
trying to ensure I could stay.
Im happy to hear that. I tried starting early because I figured with over a
hundred students about to graduate, there was going to be a lot of competition.
The older blonde just kind of nodded her head and looked through some
documents in front of her. She was reading something to herself and I could
see her lips moving slightly as she read. I tried not to look too bored. I was
feeling restless, and if Nadia had something for me, I would be more than
happy to take it. It didnt really matter what it was, as long as it was in my field
of study.
So, this is what I was able to find.
She told me about a local catering service that needed some help. They
worked with many of the larger businesses in town to supply their employees
with lunches and dinners, even breakfast sometimes as needed. I was getting
excited because it sounded like a good fit, but I wasnt prepared for the actual
job.
So will I be cooking?
Nadia looked up at me from behind her thick-framed glasses and shook her
head. Since you have no real experience, they want to start you out doing
some delivering. I know that it is not exactly what you were wanting, Nicola,
but I think this is a good opportunity. It will give you some experience and you
will get to meet a lot of people that are in the business. Thats how you can
build up your connections and get into something more attuned to your skills.
I was graduating from culinary school in a couple of weeks, and I hoped
that she was right. I didnt know how I was going to tell my family that I was
going to be a glorified delivery driver. It was not going to be easy to convince
them that I had been right to go to the school in the first place. Now I didnt
know what to say, but I was nodding my head and agreeing to the job before I
really thought about anything else. One way or another, it was still a job, and
that was something that I needed at the moment.
I thank you for finding me something so quickly, Nadia. I look forward to
starting the next chapter of my life.
She smiled at me, and before long I was signing a contract for temporary
employment at Jesses. Nadia gave me a sheet of paper with details on the
where and when, and we said our goodbyes. I felt a little better as I passed the
many people who were still waiting in almost the same spots as when I had
seen them before. It may not have been what I wanted not by any stretch of the
imagination but at the end of the day, I was grateful not to be in their shoes.
At least I had a job, even if it was just driving good food around.
I kept reminding myself of that as I made my way home. I also had to find a
way to word it so that it didnt seem like I had settled for less. I had to convince
my parents of that, and maybe myself a little bit too.
When I parked out front of the rundown three-story house that Id grown up
in, there was a steady tension in my body. I tried to shake the feeling. It was
Friday afternoon and it was time for a family dinner. A smile painted on my
face, I moved towards the familiar door and wondered if I was ever going to
get my parents to be happy with my career choice. The job that I had just gotten
wasnt going to do that, but at least they couldnt say I wouldnt be able to do
anything with my degree.
Walking through the front door, I was bombarded by my two little nephews.
Theyd seen me coming up the cobbled walkway and insisted on wrestling
before I got in the door. I played along, anything to take my mind from what
was going on, but we were stopped by the sharp voice of their mother, my
sister.
Boys, leave your aunt alone.
They heard the tone and scurried away before I could get up from the
position I had fallen on the floor. Really, Nicola, do you have to wind them up
so much?
I grinned at her and kissed her cheek. If I dont get to wrestle and spoil
them, what is the point of being an aunt?
You are a person that they look up to.
I knew where that was going. A conversation was about to break out that I
didnt want to have. Im going to go see if mom needs any help in the kitchen,
Karen. Your hair looks good.
She smiled and put her hand up to the fresh do and I just kind of laughed a
little. A compliment was the only way to get my sister to stop her steady efforts
to get me married and pregnant like she was around my age. She reminded me
of my singleness all the time, but I tried to ignore all of that. I was not ready to
settle down. Not when my dreams of cooking for the rich and famous were still
not a reality.
***
I moved towards the white swinging doors that led into the kitchen. My
mom, Angela, had her apron on, and somehow she knew that I was the one
whod come in. Nicola, go ahead and put an apron on and help me.
I was surprised that she knew it was me. She hadnt even looked up. How
did you know it was me, mom?
She looked up and smiled. Honey, you are the only one who would even
come into the kitchen to help in the first place. Lord knows that your sister
could do with some time in here.
She doesnt need to learn. She has Alfred.
She kind of gave me a look and I had to laugh. My mother was more
conservative, always spouting obedience and the more traditional gender roles.
I wasnt sure if she actually lived up to it; her mouth was always telling
everyone how she felt. But she did believe in it, and she had hammered it into
me and my sister for quite some time. It just hadnt really stuck with Karen.
Well, maybe I just need to find me an Alfred too.
She scowled at me and gave me some vegetables to chop. That is really not
the way to use your education, Nicola. I dont know why you went to begin
with. I taught you everything I know.
I know, mom, I just dont think that marriage and kids are for me right
now.
She looked at me as if I had broken her heart and I looked away. She already
had grandchildren and I refused to feel the obligation. I was twenty-two and
just out of college. There was no way that I wanted to hear it right now, so to
change the subject I decided to bring up my good news. It would be easier to
tell her first and get her reaction before the rest of the family knew.
So I wanted to tell you about the good news I got today.
Did Jamie come back to town?
The sound of his name made me frown. No, he didnt. God, mom. She had
thrown me off talking about my ex and it took me a minute to remember what
Id wanted to say. No, I was going to tell you that I got a job today. I start next
Monday.
What about school?
I shrugged and handed her the bowl of cut veggies for the broth. Its only a
couple of classes that Ill miss, and I graduate in a couple of weeks anyways. It
was just an opportunity to slide into a job, so I took it.
She smiled and for a moment I thought it was going to be okay.
So what kind of job is it?
Working with a catering service.
Thats good, Nicola. Now help me get the chicken de-boned or we are
never going to eat.
It was less than I had anticipated, and I hated to admit that I was a little
disappointed that she wasnt happier for me. But it was better than hearing a
lecture about how I needed to be more like Karen, so I was going to take it for
what it was.

Chapter 2 - Jerold

I was trying to pay attention, but it was hard. All I could think about was the
weekend and the end of meetings like the one I was in right now. I knew it was
necessary, but there were other things that I could be doing. My plan was to
leave and go to the city for a time. I needed to indulge some of my other needs.
Business was not doing it for me.
Jerold? What do you think of the proposal?
Shaking my head, I didnt know how I was supposed to respond. I didnt
even know why I was in the meeting. When I turned around, I tried my best to
not look as perturbed as I felt.
I think that there was a lot of time and energy put into this presentation, but
I dont think there was much thought put in. The idea that a small town like
Brewer would be able to support such a project is beyond me. I like it here for
the small-town feel and you want to put in condominiums in the middle of
Main Street.
I watched a few reactions and steeled myself for the blowback. Maybe it was
part of the reason that I was so against it, the idea of changing my town. I didnt
like to even think about it, and the replica in the middle of the table made my
stomach turn when I looked at it.
So what I think of the proposal is that Carrington Investments will not be
participating in it and as soon as I leave here, I will make sure that whoever
was agreeing to sell will sell to me instead and this project will never happen.
A slight knock on the door stopped me from going on. I looked towards the
door. The clock told me that it was time for lunch. I was expecting Massir to
bring in the food, so I was a little surprised by the dark-haired young woman
who came in instead. It was certainly not their usual delivery girl and I was
intrigued by her.
I didnt notice the others reaction, but I knew that my heart started to beat a
little harder in my chest when she looked up and our eyes met. She was
stunning, with dark brown hair that was almost black and eyes of the same deep
hue. She smiled at me and said something, but the pounding in my ears made it
impossible to hear her. I just nodded instead and stared at her. Her clothes were
a little tight and showed every curve that she had to offer. I was happy for the
view. The woman was absolutely lovely.
The people around me noticed, and one of my colleagues said something to
me, pulling me from the spell. I had forgotten all about the silly project and
why I was so adamant about everything.
Sir, do you want to say anything else?
Maureen looked at me a little worried, and I realized then that I must be
acting like an idiot. No, I think I have said all that I care to say. Excuse me for
a moment.
Walking over to the girl, I could tell when she noticed me because her
whole body kind of tightened up with tension. She looked nervous, and I knew
that my being next to her was going to make it worse, but I couldnt help
myself.
It looks good today.
Yes sir, just as you ordered. The substitutions were done as requested. Is
there anything else that I can do for you before I go?
I could think of so many things, but I refused to answer her until she looked
at me. She didnt want to, I could tell, but finally she pulled her brown eyes to
mine and I was lost in the midst of them. No, I dont think I need anything
else. She was what I needed.
Okay, sir. I hope you enjoy your lunch.
She was gone before I could stop her, before I even knew that I wanted to. I
hadnt gotten her name. What had the woman done in seconds to make me feel
an excitement that usually only the big city gave me? I didnt know anything
about her, but I needed to find out more. I set my assistant to the task. Connie
knew how to really ask questions, so she did.
When I got back to the meeting, the project planners were looking sour and
I thought that I would throw them a bone. There was a project in town that I
wanted done and they would be perfect for it. After I told them some of the
details of the side offer, there were more smiles and for some reason, I found
myself being as merry as they were. My scowl was gone, and the smile was so
foreign to my face that it almost hurt a little.
***
I got that information you wanted, Jerold.
I took the small folder and learned a little bit about the new delivery girl at
Jesses. There was something so perfect about her, and although she was far
younger than I was used to dating, there was no way that I was going to let a
small thing like that stop me.
I was surprised to learn that she lived here and went to school here, and it
occurred to me then that I knew her family. More specifically, I knew her father
because he was a civil servant, one of the men I dealt with at City Hall. I had
seen her mother a few times, too. A nice woman. Angela was beautiful, but her
daughter was absolutely stunning.
The fact that I knew her family and was almost the same age as her parents
made me pause, but only for a moment. I called up Jesses and talked to the
owner. I wanted to know if Nicola was cooking there or what her job was. Jesse
had known me for years and asked what my interest in her was. I didnt really
give her an answer other than to say that I knew her parents. That was my
angle, and I used the tenuous tie to get as much information as I could.
My philosophy was that I could always get my way, as long as I found the
right angle. Nicola was freshly out of college, and I knew that she would have
bigger ambitions than to be a delivery person for a catering company. I just
needed to find an opportunity for her, one that she couldnt refuse.

Chapter 3 - Nicola

The first day of delivering for Jesses was almost over and I was beat. The
final delivery was back downtown for one last place. I hadnt been so tired in
my life and I was already sick of the smell of food. I didnt want to be the one
bringing it in and setting it up; I wanted to be the one creating the food. I hadnt
spent any time at all in the kitchen, so it was hard in that way. I tried to tell
myself that it was only temporary, but I wondered when it was going to be my
time.
I went back to my apartment and was thankful that I didnt have to face my
family. The dinner yesterday had been a disaster. Once mom had brought up
my new job, Karen had asked exactly the right questions to make me feel
crummy about it. I wasnt too happy with it either, but shed found ways to
make it seem even worse. It was not something that I wanted to think about.
So when I got home I just sat down, my feet throbbing and my head a little
achy. The day hadnt been all bad, but I was ready to relax and not have to make
any more last-minute runs to companies that had more stairs than Id thought
existed in this town. I only moved when the wine called to me from the fridge
and I was finally motivated to get up.
As I was tucking in for a quiet night at home, a few friends came round to
brighten the evening. Before long I was mad drunk and feeling a whole lot
better. The nightmare day was nothing but a faint memory when I finally went
to bed that night. The next morning, I wished I could say the same for the wine.
By the time the alarm clock woke me up, my head was pounding and I wasnt
sure if I could even get out of bed, let alone down to the catering service. It was
my second day on the job and I was already thinking about quitting. Dream job,
indeed.
I did manage to get up, rush to work and make it on time, but I was not as
ready as I would have liked to be. My hair was loose down my back instead of
up in a do, and I was still putting on mascara as I pulled up at Jesses. It ended
with a finished product that I avoided having to see in the mirror, but I told
myself that it was going to be okay. It wasnt like I was there to impress
anyone.
When I got the order to take some food to Carrington Investments, though, I
wished I had taken more time to get ready. I still remembered the pale grey
eyes of the man I had met there the day before. He had come up to talk and had
seemed nice enough, but the eyes had told me everything that he wanted and it
had nothing to do with the delivery. I had felt attraction from men before, but
with the businessman there had been difference. It had been more than an
attraction. It had felt like a physical pull to him, and it had made me retreat as
quickly as possible. He was dangerous. My radar went off when I was around
him.
So driving up I was nervous, and I didnt get out of my car until I had made
sure that my hair was smoothed down. The natural waves had taken over and it
was full. I put a little lipstick on and got the thermos bags out to take up to the
top floor. At least the place had an elevator, I thought to myself as I pushed the
button for the sixth floor.
My hands were trembling as I made my way down to the same conference
room. Most of the people in it were different from the day before, but the
handsome man with the slate eyes was there. Even knowing that I shouldnt
look, I did, and again I felt the beckoning that his body was calling to me. Did
he know what he was doing?
Its good to see you again, Nicola.
I was a little surprised to hear my name, but then I remembered that I was
wearing a name tag. Good to see you too, sir. I hope that everything is to your
liking.
Again, I felt like I just had to get out of there. He was giving me too much
attention, and it was hard to ignore the look. His hand came out and stopped
me. You look like youre having a tough day. Why dont you sit down for a
minute and try the food that you brought to me?
I shook my head, even though I could have used a moment of rest. The
funny thing about delivering lunches to everyone else all day was that I didnt
have time to eat until I got off. I was starving and the food did look good, but I
was sure that eating it was against a rule of some sort and I didnt want to ruin
the job.
I really should be going, sir. There are lots of people that are hungry.
It sounded better in my head, but I got an eye flare and a release of my arm.
He was not the type of man who was used to being told no, and I could see that
he didnt quite like it.
My name is Jerold.
Have a good day, Jerold.
He nodded at me, and I grabbed up the empty containers and left while I
could. Being around him was like being around a lion. He was pure predator,
and I didnt know what he was going to do. What I did know was that I wasnt
ready to be consumed.
Getting back in the car, I was breathing a little heavier. It almost felt like I
had run a mile or something. It wasnt easy to come to grips with how turned
on I was or what in the world was going on in my mind. Jerold was too old for
me, and too rich. I wasnt even on the same level as him, so there was no point
in fantasizing about something that I would surely never have.
The thought put me in a sour mood, and then a phone call from my sister
put me in a worse mood. There was a meeting over at the house, and I knew
that a meeting with my family was never good. Someone had some news. I had
to wonder what it would be.
I stopped off at the apartment, stripped out of my greasy clothes and then
jumped in the shower to rinse off before going down to my parents house for
the announcement. I was a little nervous about it. I hoped that it wasnt
something that I wasnt going to like. Karen had sounded a little strange on the
phone, so I was worried about what she was going to say.
When I got there, the house was full and it took me several minutes to say hi
to everyone. Mom was sitting at the table with Karen. It was the first time I had
seen so many people in the house and she wasnt in the kitchen cooking.
Everything felt off, and I was getting more leery by the moment.
Sit down, Nicola. Why dont we have a chat?
I sat down slowly. There was something in the air, and then I realized that
most of the people in the room were looking at me. I didnt know why this was,
but I knew then that I wasnt going to like it. The bad feeling in my stomach had
taken over my body and I swallowed hard.
So whats going on? Whats the big news?
Mom couldnt keep the smile off her face. She was practically beaming.
Why was her happiness making me so uneasy? It shouldnt, right?
We have a surprise for you, Nicola, and I know that you are going to like
it.
When she put it like that, I knew I wasnt going to like it at all. I waited for
her to tell me what it was, or give it to me, but it was not something that could
fit in a box. It was a person that I hadnt seen in almost a year and hadnt
wanted to see. It was Jamie, and it made me wonder why he was there. Why
were they all there? Was this why mom had brought him up the night before?
Jamie came towards me and pulled me into his embrace. I was stiff in his
arms, and I was still confused on what was going on around me. Why was he
here? Why was he holding me like this, and why did he have that look on his
face like he did when we were together? I waited for someone to say
something, for someone to put me out of my misery.
Nicola, Ive missed you so much. Your mother called me the other day to
see how I was, and I knew that I had to see you again. All of the old memories
came back, and I knew then that it was you that I had been missing. Im no good
without you, Nicola. So I flew here to see you and see if you would come back
with me. You are about to graduate, and now that you have that little thing out
of the way, we can get married like we talked about before. Now we can start
our lives, Nicola, together, as it should have been in the first place.
He stopped and I waited. Was this his idea of a proposal? Was that why
everyone was there, to see the moment? If that was the case, I doubted that I was
the only one who was feeling a little disappointed. I was feeling shell-shocked,
trying to figure out what the heck was happening. I looked to my mom and then
to my sister. They both looked at me encouragingly from their place at the
table.
I had never been on the spot like this before. It was not something I had been
expecting. What was I supposed to say? Was that supposed to be him popping
the question? Was this really happening?
Um, I dont know what to say to you, Jamie. I havent seen you in a long
time, we havent been together in a long time, and I dont know what this is all
about.
Mom piped up with her plan. This is your engagement party, dear.
I dont know what my face looked like, but I knew what I felt like in that
moment, and it was nothing close to the merriment that I saw on the faces
surrounding me.
My engagement party? Did they really expect me to say yes?

Chapter 4-Nicola

I was still trying to get the night before out of my mind. It was hard to not
think of all of the family and friends around me when I had told Jamie that I
couldnt marry him. It was not something that should have been done in that
way. I had tried to pull him off to the side, but they wouldnt let that happen. By
the end of it, I was sure he wished that he had gone with me. I was just so upset
with my mother for meddling and at Jamie for going along with the crazy
scheme. We had broken up for a reason, and I knew that the reason had not
changed.
So when I went back to delivering for Jesse the next morning, my mind was
more occupied with the night before than the job that I had to do. The only
good thing about today was that the seemingly never ending deliveries were a
little bit of a distraction from last nights debacle.
I was becoming familiar with the building I was pulling up to now. It was
becoming a tradition. I had assumed that Jerold was always a regular customer,
but Jesse told me that it was usually only once a week or so. Now he was
ordering every day. I liked to think that it had something to do with me, but I
knew it was most likely coincidence.
Either way, I just wanted to see him again. I looked at my reflection in the
rearview mirror and was happy that I had taken the time to put a little makeup
on and do something with my hair. I was looking forward to seeing Jerold.
Even with the green polo shirt on, I felt beautiful when he looked at me.
When I got out of the elevator, the assistant told me to go to the same
conference room that I had been in before. I was a little disappointed when I
didnt see Jerold in the meeting room, but I knew that I still had a job to do,
even if I did want to leave when I didnt see him there. He was supposed to be
there. He certainly was in my dreams, but that didnt seem to matter now.
I was about to go when I caught Jerolds eyes through the glass wall of the
room. I smiled at him, because I couldnt help myself, and I really liked the
relaxed smile that I got in return. He was looking very well today. His suit
seemed to fit him just perfectly. His bald head was shiny under the lights, and I
wondered for a minute how it would feel to rub it. I had to pull my hand closer
to my body to fight the urge to touch him. I knew that it wasnt professional,
but it was what I wanted to do more than anything else in the world. What was
wrong with me?
How are you today, Nicola?
I kind of shrugged, not really sure if my voice would work anyways. I have
been okay, I said, even though I knew I looked tired.
So how do you like your new job?
I smiled and tried to think of the words to make it sound better than it was.
It has been an interesting few days.
Why are you a delivery driver when you should be cooking?
Cooking? How does he know that about me? Who told him?
Well, that is of course what I want to be doing, but sometimes you just have
to make do with what you get. I pulled down the hat that I had finally
remembered to wear and tried not to look so unhappy. I kept telling myself to
be grateful that at least I had a job in my field, but at moments like this the lie
was harder to tell myself.
If that is what you want, you should have it. I have a good feeling about
you.
I wasnt sure what he meant by that, but I discovered that it was easy to talk
to him. Before I had been scared of being around him, but now I was at least
able to breathe. There was no surprise to that. Jerold made me feel things that
were hard to handle, and after the upset with Jamie the night before, I was
ready to get out of there quickly. My luck with men lately had not been the best.
Well, I dont mind working my way up from the bottom.
He frowned at me, not liking my answer. You should never settle, Nicola.
My company was just about to transition into having an in-house chef for
meetings and some breakfasts. Would you be interested in applying for that
kind of a position?
Had I just heard him right? I didnt think I had. I actually knew that I hadnt
heard him right, but at the same time, I wasnt brave enough to ask him to
repeat himself.
Who would I send my resume to? I felt a little bad about doing a
negotiation while I was working for another company. It felt strangely like I
was betraying the people at Jesses, but I couldnt not jump at the chance to get
right into cooking. I mean, how hard could it be?
Theres no need for a resume, Nicola. Ive already seen all of that
information, and I can tell that youre exactly what I need around here.
I caught the way he said it, but I didnt think much of it. I liked the idea of
him needing me, though I knew it was more than likely just a slip of the tongue.
My eyes centered on his full lips for a moment, and I only looked away when I
realized that I was staring. I wasnt supposed to be looking at him in such a
way. He had asked me about a job, and I was thinking naughty thoughts before I
even said yes.
I would love to fill the position. When would you like me to start?
He seemed to contemplate it for a moment, but the answer was not far away.
Why dont you come in around nine and you will be off around two or three,
unless there is a late meeting that will need to be catered.
I nodded my head. I loved the way it sounded, but I had to wonder what was
going to become of me. And where was all this cooking going to take place?
So would I be cooking off-site and bringing it in as needed? I felt like I
was starting to babble up into the grey eyes that wouldnt let go of me.
No, I have had one of our office kitchens changed up a little bit for you. I
think it will be perfect.
I was urged to follow him. He was going to show me right then. I was
nervous and just followed behind blindly. We went back to the elevator and
went down a level. The place was very similar on this floor, but I could tell
quickly that the atmosphere was different. A few people stopped to talk to
Jerold, something that he took in stride; it seemed to be a normal occurrence.
Soon he was introducing me to the many other people who worked there,
and I was trying my best to remember the whirlwind of people that I was
meeting. Then he walked me down one of the hallways. I was getting anxious
as we reached the door.
I have a good feeling that you are going to like this, Nicola.
I wasnt sure if I was going to like it or not, but I knew that the idea of a new
job was lending an unaccustomed lightness to my step. I didnt want to have to
deliver anymore, and if Jerold was going to give me an out, it would be crazy
to turn him down.
The kitchen was not something I would have expected in an office building.
It was stocked full and the equipment looked brand new.
How long has this been here? I was confused why they were ordering
food from Jesses if thered been a whole kitchen here all the time.
I just finished it yesterday. Do you like it?
I looked over at him and hoped that my mouth wasnt agape. I couldnt
speak, so I just nodded my head that I did love it. It was perfect.

Chapter 5 - Jerold

I smiled when I thought of Nicolas face as she saw the kitchen. It was worth
the cost to stock it and it was well worth the questioning looks that I was getting
from some of my staff. It was clear that no one else could see why I was doing
it. I wasnt sure either, but Nicola had agreed to come and work for me and that
was enough.
She couldnt start right away, which left me having to wait the weekend out.
Id planned to go to Vegas and play. At the beginning of the week I had been
feeling restless to go, to fulfill my needs, but now I knew that if I didnt have
Nicola, there would be no satisfaction. She was the one, and I was more than
willing to roll with that.
Connie was questioning my idea that we could save money for the company
if we just paid a chef and didnt order out anymore. She brought me the figures
from accounting and then smirked at me when they showed clearly that the
salary I had agreed to pay Nicola was going eat up every penny of the savings.
I tried to sell her on the convenience, but she still looked skeptical. Then I
remembered that I was the boss, and told her that. She just kind of chuckled at
me.
So she wasnt happy, but the idea of having Nicola under my roof was
enough for me to not care. Connie had been with me for years and she had
learned to give her opinion but not push it too much. So my assistant let the
subject go, even though the look on her face told me plainly that she still didnt
agree.
When Sunday rolled around, I was becoming apprehensive about what was
going to come next. I wasnt worried about what would happen, just how
Nicola would respond to me. I liked to think about it while I lay in bed at night,
but there really was no telling. She might not be into the things that I was into,
but that didnt matter. Nicola had an endearing innocence to her, and a slight
underlying submissive trait that I hoped I could help flourish. She was made
for me and she didnt even know it yet. Nicola didnt even know what she was
made for.
Good morning.
I looked up and was surprised to see Nicola at the door. I had spent so much
time thinking about her that Id failed to notice her arrival. Standing up, I told
her good morning, my eyes taking in the curves that were visible under her
clothes. She was dressed up more for an office than a kitchen, and I had to
admit I loved the change. The pencil skirt was tight on her derriere and I
wanted nothing more than to touch her. But I knew I couldnt yet. I had to get
myself together before I did something that I would regret later.
It is good to see you, Nicola.
I dont know what I am supposed to be doing.
You could make me some breakfast if you want.
She nodded and then moved away from the door. Her quick smile made me
give her one back. I wanted her to stay, but I knew that I was going to have to
let her go. We both had work to do. When she came back some time later, there
were several plates in her hands. She set them down on a side table next to my
desk. I should have asked first, so I just brought you a sampling. Is there
anything else that I can do for you, sir?
Just call me Jerold. Were not so formal around here.
She repeated my name and I watched her leave again. I was going to have to
figure out a way to keep her around, as well as get what I wanted. I had a
feeling that she would be receptive to my advances, but I wanted to make sure
before I did anything. Because if not, there was a chance that she would get
upset and leave. I couldnt let that happen: She was meant to be mine.
***
The week went by quickly and I was finding it hard to make my move. It was
not something that I was used to, indecision. It was why I was the way I was. I
had the confidence, but this time, there was the small shred of doubt in the back
of my mind that told me that I was wrong. If I was wrong, I was going to be
really wrong.
I heard the knock. It was always the same, soft and three short raps. I looked
up and smiled at her. Since she started working here, I had instituted an open-
door policy in my office. Some other people took advantage of it, but it was
those special moments with Nicola that I looked forward to most. She was
always quick to leave, and she was skittish sometimes, like I was a wolf and her
a lamb, but there was always something new to be learned, and so far I had
liked everything. It was part of the reason that I was so slow to move. I had
built it up in my head so much that it was hard to live up to, and I knew I would
be crushed like I was fourteen if she didnt respond well.
How are you doing, Jerold?
Good now. Ive been eating so well since you started working here that I
may have to add an extra gym day to my schedule.
She smiled at the compliment and told me that it was unnecessary. I caught
her eyes looking me over several times, and in that moment I knew that I was
going to have to move forward. As far as I was concerned, she was begging
for it. It was enough for me to make a decision. I was going to have her now. I
would just have to move slowly.
Nicola was setting down what I had ordered and she was moving to leave
me. I stopped her with a hand on her forearm from my spot in the chair. Why
dont you stay and well get to know each other? I have it on good authority
that your boss wont mind.
I could tell she was not sure. I saw her eyes move to the hand on her arm.
She didnt move away and I didnt loosen my grip. I insist, Nicola.
She finally agreed. The submission in her eyes that I was looking for was
finally visible. She thought she was giving in to a little lunch with me, but
Nicola was agreeing to so much more. She just didnt know it yet.
Will you shut the door for me, please?
Another second of hesitation and her lips pursed for a moment like she was
going to say something else. She didnt, though, shutting her pretty lips and
moving towards the door. The room was so quiet that the click echoed in my
ears.
When she came back she was looking around for somewhere to sit. The
couch was available, but instead I sat back and patted my lap. Why dont you
come and sit over here, Nicola?
Her brown eyes were shocked, and I was worried for a second. I had told
myself to go slow, and that was obviously not what I had done. Had I just gone
too far?
I couldnt tell by her face which way it was going to go. Her teeth nibbled
on her bottom lip for a moment, and I was suddenly jealous that I couldnt do
the same. I could feel myself starting to tighten. All of my dark desires hinged
on her accepting her new role.
I dont think that would be a good idea, Jerold.
My name was breathy on her lips, and the sound was my undoing. I insist.

To be continued

Billionaires Domination Book 2: Demand

By: Ashlee Price


Prologue

Nicolas job as the in-house chef for Jerold Carringtons investment firm
was perfect. She was grateful for the opportunity, and while she knew he
wanted more from her, it was only his dark eyes that betrayed his true feelings.
That all changes one day when her boss slips her a note requesting her to do
something that she knows isnt right. Its not a professional way for a boss to
behave, and shes afraid that doing what Jerod wants of her will be crossing a
line.
She crosses the line and then finds that theres another one immediately
after. Jerold has decided that she is to be his new plaything. Nicola should be
outraged. She should be mad at his presumption, but somehow she wants to do
everything that he asks, everything that he demands of her.
Nicola finds it impossible to tell Jerold no and finds herself wanting to
less and less.

Chapter 1 Nicola

I felt the same way I had when I was offered the job a couple of days before.
But this time, I was not going to assume that I had misheard him. In fact, I knew
for certain that I had heard him correctly, and that was making me nervous.
The dark look in his grey eyes was hard to ignore. I knew then what he wanted.
It was what he had always wanted since I had met him. Could I really do such a
thing?
His hand patted his thick thigh and I groaned inwardly. I knew that I should
walk away. The man was obviously crazy, and if I didnt get out of there right
now, there was no telling where it was all going to lead. I was nervous, but the
part of me that felt drawn to him was not doing much more than screaming out
for him. I wanted to sit on his lap. More than that, I wanted Jerolds hands on
me. I wanted him to fulfill the promise that his eyes were making me.
Walking towards him slowly, I almost stopped at the look of satisfaction on
his face. It was clear to me that he was pleased with my obedience. The thought
made my heart pound in my chest, and I wondered if this was what my mother
meant when she had talked about being submissive to a man. But Jerold wasnt
just a man, he was my boss. I knew that he had started something that was going
to change everything.
As soon as I was within his reach, Jerold pulled me the rest of the way down
to his lap. I could feel a hardness underneath me. I was off center and felt like I
was going to lose it right there. As I tried to situate myself, Jerolds hands
stopped me. I looked back at him and swallowed hard at the stern look in his
eyes. My movement seemed to have caused him some distress, but there was
nothing I wanted to do more than keep wriggling. Something told me not to,
though, something in the way that he held me with such a tight grip, and
something in the need that I could feel throbbing underneath me.
I settled down and he asked me to try some of the food on the plate. I didnt
want to my mind was on anything else but food right then but he finally got
a couple of forkfuls into my mouth. It was erotic in some way, even if I hadnt
been sitting on his lap. I was feeling more comfortable like that, which was
strange to even think about. How could I feel at home on my bosss lap? I
shouldnt, of course, but I did anyways.
Leaning forward to retrieve the fork, I did the same for him, my eyes
meeting his. I wished then that they hadnt. Shivering at the look on his face, I
could feel my face burning and I wondered if it was as red and hot as it felt.
Do I make you uncomfortable, Nicola?
I shook my head before I could think, and he gave a surprised chuckle I
could feel vibrating off of me. The timbre in his voice made me tremble and
moved the hardness underneath me. I closed my eyes at the feel of it. I hated
that he was affecting me in such a way, yet Jerold didnt seem to be bothered at
all. He was far too comfortable with an employee on his lap for my taste.
I would have preferred a real chair, sir, but Im learning to make do.
His face changed. The smile was gone almost as quickly and easily as it had
come.
Then why are you on my lap, Nicola?
Because you insisted, Jerold.
The hands that had held me around my waist moved off of me quickly. I felt
an immediate loss; I would have given anything to get them back. Jerold picked
me up a little and set me down next to his chair. I turned around to see if he was
mad, but he seemed to be more confused than angry.
Is there anything else, sir?
His jaw clenched, and now there was a flash of anger in his eyes. Run
away, Nicola, but you will be back. And then we can finish what we started.
I nodded my head and got out of there as quickly as I could manage. There
was no question what he meant by the last part of his comment. He was not
talking about the lunch that was still on his plate. He was talking about
something else altogether.
Before I was tempted to stay, I left the room, forgetting to clear the rest of
the dishes out of the way. There was no way that I was going back to him,
though; they would just have to sit there until I regained control of myself.
Returning to the floor below and entering the kitchen, I was starting to think
that I understood it all. The kitchen had been finished just a few days before and
it still smelled new in there. It seemed like too much of a coincidence. I thought
back to the first time he had called me by my name. He had known what it was,
and I hadnt had my name tag on. I had looked down and realized that I didnt
have it on. I couldnt seem to remember it, and the rest of my uniform had been
just as incomplete.
I cleaned up and tried to keep my mind on other things. A few people came
down and had me make them something, but all in all, the afternoon was rather
slow. My contract stated that I was supposed to be there until five, but by four
oclock I was getting bored. I figured it was time that I went back upstairs to
clean up after Jerolds lunch. I had put it off long enough and I knew I had to
go back and face him before I lost my nerve and left him up there with the dirty
dishes.
Boarding the elevator, my hands were shaky as I pushed the button to go up.
Part of me wanted to keep going from where we had left off, but another part
of me hoped that I wouldnt have to see him again. It was hard to be around
him, and I was pretty sure that I would just make an idiot of myself.
When I got up there, I was more than a little happy that I didnt see Jerold
anywhere. The dishes had been stacked back on the table and there was a note
that had my name on it. I was too afraid to read it right then, so I folded it into
my hand and grabbed the dishes. I needed to get out of there before he got back
and I was stuck with him in the office. It was a huge room, but with Jerold
looking at me, it had felt like the walls were closing in on me.
I was almost surprised when I got out of there without seeing him. I felt like
I had escaped without being stopped, and that was as good as it was going to
get. Scurrying back downstairs, I wasnt really breathing right until I was back
in the kitchen and I could see it was the end of the day. The weekend was
calling to me and I was looking forward to some time off. But more than
anything, I was ready to face another family dinner, now that I had a real job
that they could be proud of.

Chapter 2 - Jerold

Hello?
Sorry to bother you, Nicola, this is Jerold.
Yes, sir, what can I do for you?
I looked at the clock and grimaced to myself. I dont know what I had been
thinking, but it was starting to look like I had missed her for the week. I should
have just accepted it, but there was a part of me that just couldnt. How could I
accept that I wouldnt get to see her for another couple of days? To me, the
thought was unacceptable.
Have you already gone for the day?
Yes, sir.
I didnt like her calling me sir after I had told her over and over again to
call me by my name.
Its Jerold.
Well, Jerold, I already left for the day. Was there something else that you
needed done? I could hear the hope that there wasnt in her voice. I just kind
of shook my head. I knew that I needed more than just one thing. I needed her,
but I couldnt say that kind of thing out loud.
Would you like to go out for the night? We could celebrate your first week
on the job.
Um, I have to go to my parents for dinner. Its like a family tradition. You
wouldnt want to come, would you? I mean, my family is a little crazy, after
all.
The invitation was not what it seemed. I knew very well that she was trying
to get rid of me, but there was going to be none of that. Yes, I would love to
come with you. Where and what time?
She hesitated, and I tried to keep the grin off my face. I was acting like she
was right there, and true to form, when she said yes, I actually did a little dance
that made me feel like an idiot when I was done.
Um, I can just give you the address and you can stop by whenever you are
ready. I will be there in about half an hour, sir.
Please call me Jerold.
Sorry. I will work on that.
I hung up the phone. I was smiling from ear to ear. Just the idea of going out
with her had me thinking that I could do anything. I knew that with her, there
would be nothing that could stand in my way. Nicola was the type of woman
who made a man feel like he could do anything. I knew that I was worried
about lots of things, but in the end, I was fairly certain I had picked the right
girl. If she wasnt the right one, why in the world did I feel this way?
***
I had to really think about whether I was going to go to her parents house. I
knew the address that she gave me, and it made me pause. I was almost their
age, and I had no illusions about how little I was going to be welcomed. I
thought long and hard, but there was still this desire to go. I wanted to see her,
and if I had to go around Angela and Martin, I was okay with that.
So I got ready quickly and I was waiting outside her parents house a few
minutes earlier than shed said. I wasnt the only one who seemed to be taking a
moment before going up to knock on the door. For whatever reason, several
more cars pulled up while I was sitting outside, but nobody got out. I was
waiting for Nicola to get there, and when I saw her small red car I got out and
started to walk towards her.
There was a man in a blue car whod been waiting almost as long as I had. It
was only when he got out and started to walk towards her car that I started to
wonder who he was. I didnt like the way he was looking at her. The blond man
seemed nervous, and I wondered then if I looked the same. He looked the way I
felt at the moment.
Nicola saw him first. I know that I would have been very angry if she had
welcomed him and looked at him the same way he was looking at her. But it
wasnt a happy expression on her face, and I went from hatred to curiosity.
Why was she looking at him in such a way? It wasnt really fear, but Nicola
was definitely not happy to see him, whoever he was.
I waited for her to see me. When she did I was rewarded with her slight
smile, as I had hoped. There was no denying the innocence in her eyes and
the need that I hadnt thought to see before. It was just a flash and then it was
gone, but it was there.
Jamie, sorry about this. I am glad you came. Mom and dad will be happy to
see you.
The blond man gave me a dirty look, which made me smile, and then took
off towards the house in a little bit of a huff.
One of the family?
Nicola looked at his back and shook her head. No, hes just a person that
used to hang around a lot and knows everyone.
He seemed to know you very well.
I heard her sharp intake of breath and I had to take her arm before she
would budge. I cant believe you would say that, sir.
Isnt it true?
Nicola nodded and told me that it was his ex-fianc. It was not at all what I
wanted to hear, but I told myself it didnt matter. She was there with me, on my
arm, and I wasnt going to let anyone change that. Jamie was just going to have
to be mad. He had lost his chance, and I was not going to be as stupid as to lose
her.
I felt possessiveness overtake me when I noticed Jamie staring at Nicola as
we came through the door. I wanted to pull her into me, claim her right then
and there, but I was her boss, after all, and I knew it wouldnt go down well.
Not that I cared how her family reacted; it was the small chance that Nicola
would pull away from me that I couldnt take.
So Nicola introduced me to everyone as her boss. I wasnt sure that I liked
the title. We were more. I was more to her than just that. Even though I knew
that I was her boss, I didnt want them to see me in that way. When it came out
that we were together, everyone would know how things started out.
The thought made me pause. I could feel myself getting quieter. Why was I
thinking so far in the future? It wasnt like me, and there was part of me that
felt strange to feel that way. I wasnt used to being so out of my element, but
everything with her had seemed to put me on a different path than I would have
expected.
I was invited into the dining room, where I met more of Nicolas family.
There was a mess of them, and I knew that I was never going to remember all
of their names. When I looked around after a few minutes, I couldnt see
Nicola anywhere. She had left me in the midst of them.

Chapter 3 - Nicola

I didnt know you were bringing a guest, Nicola.


I knew when I had been pulled into the kitchen it was going to have nothing
to do with cooking. I was there because Karen and my mom wanted answers.
Naturally they wanted to know who the handsome man that I had brought along
was and more importantly, why was he there.
I didnt know that you were going to invite Jamie. After the train wreck
scene that happened a few days ago, why would you ask him to come here?
I felt a more than a little betrayed. It was somehow worse than when she had
tried to get him to propose. This was our family dinner, and he was no longer
part of our family. I didnt want him there, and I knew I would never have
invited Jerold if Id known he would be. The awkwardness was clear when
Jerold had asked about Jamie. Id almost lied to him, but something made me
just tell the truth. Now I wondered again if the truth was what was needed at this
moment.
I thought that you and Jamie needed another chance. I know that it probably
wasnt the best idea to spring it on you like that, but I also know that the two of
you are supposed to be together, Nicola.
There were many things about him that I hadnt told my family. They had
liked him more than me on occasion, and the two women looking at me now
were the worst. So many times, his sins had been on the tip of my tongue, but I
hadnt ever been able to say anything out loud. To say out loud what hed done
to me when we were together.
I do not want to get back with Jamie. There was a lot more going on than
you two know. I wouldnt be behind him if I were you, mom. He is not what he
seems, and I will never get back with him. I would rather be single forever.
I knew that mom didnt like what I was saying. I think a part of her worried
that I might actually mean what I said. I could see her worry going up a notch at
the very idea of me being an old maid one day. I didnt see it that way. I refused
to.
Now, honey, every couple has fights. I have been talking to Jamie off and
on since you broke up. He misses you, and every time I talk to him, he always
asks how you are doing first.
Thats just his guilt talking. It has nothing to do with him feeling one way
or another. He makes you think that he is such a good man, but hes not.
She didnt want to hear it, but the words were on my lips again, and this time
I couldnt stop them from coming out. Maybe I was just sick of hearing about
how great of a boyfriend Jamie was.
I think youre being a bit dramatic. Your sister Karen had to go through
her own trials with her husband. It is just the way of things sometimes.
I looked to Karen and smiled. She didnt like to be brought into the middle
of it, but since she was already there, I figured I would elicit her help.
So if Alfred had sex with your best friend, how long do you think it would
be before you forgave him, sis? Would you just say that it was okay and take
him back with open arms?
She was shocked. I knew it was all making sense now. My best friend for
most of my life had been Alicia. I hadnt seen Alicia since I caught her and my
fianc in bed together. It had been one of those moments that changed
everything. As I watched the emotions dance over my sister s face, I knew that
she was imagining her husband in the same way. When more details were
asked, they were given, and the new set of her jaw told me that she was no
longer on Team Jamie.
My mom remained in denial a little longer, but it wasnt long before the talk
of Jamie was done. Do you want me to ask him to leave?
I told her that I didnt. In a way, I wanted him to know that I wasnt going to
be bothered by him anymore. He had broken my heart, that much was clear, but
there was a part of me that wanted him to see that he hadnt broken me.
When she gave me a hug and apologized for it all, I felt a little better. It was
the first time that we had been like that in a long time. But dinner had to get on
the table. As I went back out the swinging doors, I hoped that my eyes werent
still red. For a second, I had forgotten that my boss was there. Now he was
talking to my older brother, and I wondered what they were talking about.
Jamie came up and took one of the dishes out of my hand. I didnt say
anything to him, but when I set a dish down by Jerold, it was clear that he
wasnt happy. His mood and face had changed in a matter of moments. My face
flushed and again I had to get away from him. When I came back out with the
rest of the food, Jerold touched my arm and urged me to sit next to him. The
gesture made me think of when he had had me get on his lap. I blanched a little
at the thought and sat down before I embarrassed myself.
The dinner was loud and the family was in true form. I wasnt embarrassed
by them, but I could see them as an outsider and I knew they were a lot to take
in. My family was big and loud, just like any other Italian family. To me this
was normal, but I knew that it was most likely a lot to handle for Jerold. The
fact that my family was nosy on top of everything was hard enough. Then my
uncle mentioned the failed proposal of the week before and I literally wanted to
sink into the chair.
Jerold was quick to pull me aside after dinner, asking me if I wanted to sit
out on the porch with him. I knew that he wasnt happy about Jamie being there,
and his eyes had flared when he heard about the proposal. Neither reaction
seemed to line up with what he was to me. He looked downright angry, and
when I finally did agree to go out with him, I was nervous about what he was
going to say.
His hand didnt leave off gripping my arm. I didnt pull away until we were
outside and I had shut the screen door. Moving away from him, I asked him
what his problem was.
You were engaged to him?
I knew that he was talking about Jamie, but I didnt quite get why he was mad
about it. Yes.
And he asked you to marry him a couple of days ago?
I shook my head. For some reason I didnt want to tell the truth, but there
was no way that I could say that he hadnt. There had been an embarrassing
five-minute conversation about it at dinner. Yes.
Why didnt you tell me?
Youre just my boss, sir.
His jaw tightened and he moved closer. I am more than your boss, Nicola.
You got my note?
I remembered the folded piece of paper in my pocket and nodded. I hadnt
read it, but I had gotten it.
Good, then I will see you Monday. Thank you for the invitation.
He was gone just like that, with a tight jaw and unhappiness in his slate eyes.
I wasnt sure what had happened, and only when his anger dissipated in the air
could I really think again. I watched him get into his car and the driver took
off. What had just happened?

Chapter 4 -Nicola

No panties or bra, Nicola. I will be checking.


When I had gotten home after the dinner at my parents house, I had
immediately read the note that he had left me. I dont know why I had forgotten
about it before, but I certainly couldnt when it was the last thing that he had
mentioned. Jerold had told me that he was more than just my boss. What more
did he mean?
The note helpfully cleared up any misunderstanding that I may have had. I
wasnt really sure what to think. I kept reading it, over and over again, but I
still couldnt believe it. Did he really think that I would just show up to work on
Monday with no undergarments on? And what did he mean by checking?
I went to bed that night thinking and then dreaming about what it would
entail. I had convinced myself all weekend that there was no way that I was
going to do what he asked. He must be mad to think that I would do something
like that. I realized Monday morning, though, that I was the one who was mad. I
was the one who was going to do exactly what he said. I dont know why, but I
didnt like the idea of going against his wishes. I didnt want to disobey him.
It was hard to really concentrate on the drive into work. I had picked a shirt
that was thick enough not to show the fact that I didnt have a bra on, and my
skirt was a little longer than before. I had skipped pantyhose as well, and the
result was a breeze up my skirt that was driving me crazy. By the time I got to
work, I was breathing a little harder. More than anything I was trying to get
him out of my head.
When I got out of the elevator, it was clear that I wasnt going to have much
luck with that. He was waiting for me when the steel doors opened. I looked
down for a moment. His eyes were all over me and I wondered if he could tell
whether I had obeyed or not. I tried to walk slower so that my chest didnt
bounce as much and give me away.
Good morning, sir. I didnt think I would see you here this early.
I was starving, Nicola. I need your assistance.
I nodded my head and moved past him to the kitchen. It was going to be a
long day. When he followed me, shutting the door behind him, my nerves got
the best of me for a moment and I jumped at the sound.
You seem a little nervous this morning, Nicola. Is something wrong?
I turned back to him and saw that he was far closer than before. No, Jerold.
Nothing is wrong.
Did you do as you were told?
The last word got me and I finally met his gaze. I didnt like the word and I
was sure that he could have used another term. But he used that one for a
reason and I was anxious to know the reason. Did he really think that he had a
right to tell me anything?
I was surprised by my indignation, but the reality of it was that I had done
exactly what he had told me to do. I wasnt wearing a bra or panties, and I
wanted him to check more than anything. I knew that if he did, he would find
me wet and hot. But then what? I was confused how it was supposed to work,
and I knew instinctively that Jerold was not like any other man I had ever met
before.
I nodded slightly when his brow cocked up with a question. I wasnt sure
what he wanted, but when he told me to show him, I was paralyzed with fear.
Did he really mean to show him right here and now?
You cant be serious.
He was serious, though, and the closer he got to me, the more serious I
knew he was. His eyes were like burning embers that had ignited me. You can
show me or I can find out for myself.
It wasnt meant to be taken like a challenge, but that was how I saw it. I didnt
want him thinking that he had some kind of power over me. In a small way, I
thought I would merely call his bluff and get him off of the idea that I would do
anything he said.
So I didnt make a move to do as he asked. But I hissed through my teeth
when his hand came out and cupped one of my breasts. There was only a small,
thin layer of material between me and him. I couldnt believe he was touching
me there. My eyes closed when his deft fingers pulled at my nipple and made
me gasp as it turned to a hard pebble.
Very nice. It seems you did exactly what you were told. Is the rest the
same?
He was asking about my panties. I dont know what came over me. I wanted
him to find out for himself. I wanted to feel the same fingers in between my
legs. I wasnt going to show him, so he was supposed to find out himself.
I kind of shrugged my shoulders and his lips grinned at me. So you want
me to find out for myself?
I didnt answer him and I looked away before he could get the answer from
my eyes. I felt his hand move up my inner thigh and my legs opened to let him
in. I was already too hot to care where we were or who he was. I needed him. I
looked back into his face to see the change in his eyes when he finally reached
the wet heat that was waiting for him.
He growled at me and quickly pushed a finger inside. My hand went to his
shoulder to steady myself and my eyes closed at the pleasure. I couldnt believe
that I was letting him do that, but there was no way that I was going to be able
to stop him. There was no way in the world that I wanted to. I wanted more, and
when he added a second finger and a thumb to my clit, I jerked against him and
grasped his shoulders a little harder.
A cry ripped through my lips as I suddenly felt a flood of pleasure. It had
been a long time since I had been able to come and I was no match for him. I
was shaking when he released me and I could tell that he wasnt as nonplussed
as before. At least I wasnt the only one who was affected. I became even more
so when I saw him licking his fingers as he moved away from me.
Are you leaving? My voice dripped with disappointment, and I knew it
was because I wanted him to stay. I wanted more. I thought you were hungry?
I really hoped he was, because I felt like I was starving all of a sudden.
His grey eyes turned black and he moved away from the door and back
towards me. His hand went to the side of my face and he pulled me in for a
kiss. His lips were hard and his tongue insistent. I was lost in the moment, and
only when he pulled away to leave did I realize what had just happened.
I dont have time to fully appreciate it, but I will for lunch. Make sure you
are upstairs around noon so that I can finally get a real taste.
I shook my head and watched him go. I couldnt wait for lunch. I had a
feeling the menu was going to be a little different than what I was used to.

Chapter 5 - Jerold

Her taste was still in my mouth as I went down to City Hall to talk to the
zoning department. I was hoping to get special permission for a project, but I
knew that there were already people who were against the idea of a youth
group in downtown. It was an upscale neighborhood and it was zoned for
residential only. I was going to have to convince them to bend the rules a bit.
It didnt matter, though. I wasnt nervous about these kinds of meetings, but I
did feel a little more pushed to get it done sooner. I wanted Nicola more than I
could even describe, and I knew that I had to get back to her before I went
insane.
That meant that the meeting had to go well and it had to go quick. There
were only another couple of hours until lunchtime, and what was on my menu
made me feel even more rushed. I was starting to think that if I got back early,
Id be happy to go for brunch instead.
Davy told me to talk to you, Aaron. I was hoping that we could come to
some kind of agreement and get it worked out. It is for a good cause, and the
amount of money I am willing to pay for you to look the other way is a lot.
The redheaded man who Id bargained with before started to look nervous
when I started to talk about money. My radar went up a little and I had to
wonder what I was going to have to do this time to get my way.
Its not that easy this time, Jerold. Its not like the last project that was on
the outskirts of town. The location that you have given me is right downtown.
There are gated communities within walking distance, and the last thing that
they are going to want is a lot of rough and tumble kids getting bused into their
neighborhood.
Aaron was not seeing my point. I didnt know if he was trying to squeeze
more money out of me or what, but I was getting increasingly aggravated with
the whole situation.
There are several projects that the city needs money for. If I dont get my
zoning for this, I will not be helping out with other things that the board wants.
You need to make this work.
His eyes got a little big. I knew I was being a bit more aggressive than what
a man like him was used to. I was usually so calm, but I knew it was the woman
at my office that was making me feel more and more on edge. I licked my lips
again, hoping that I would get another taste of her sweetness.
Aaron came around pretty quickly. I didnt need to do anything but wait him
out. I had promised a lot of money to the city, and I think he was well aware
what would happen to the earmarked money if I didnt get my way. I hadnt
gotten where I was by being a pushover. After a time, I got the zoning
committee to do exactly what I wanted them to do.
Driving back to the office, my spirits were high. I was hoping to catch
Nicola in the kitchen. I went to see her before I went up to my own floor, but
she was nowhere in sight. I was worried that maybe I had scared her off. What
if I was moving too fast? I was trying not to, but Id had to literally drag myself
away from her before. What if she didnt want me and I had ruined it all? I
hadnt expected her to make me check her, and I certainly hadnt been
expecting her to be so damn wet. Now all I could think about was her. I looked
for Connie to see if she knew where our new in-house chef was. I was starving
and I knew that she was the only thing that I needed.
It was almost an hour until I gave up looking and went back to my office.
My stomach was grumbling and I was in a horrible mood. When I heard the
familiar knock at the door and looked up at the clock, it was noon on the dot.
All of that time I had spent searching for her, and all Id needed to do was just
wait. She was starting to become very obedient, and it made me realize that I
had been right: she was perfect.
Sir, I was bringing you your lunch. Where would you like me to put it?
I moved the paperwork to the side and motioned to the place on my desk
right in front of me. I saw her questioning look, but I waited for her. It was time
to play, and the food she put there was not what I had in mind.
That is not what I want for lunch, Nicola.
She blanched a little and moved it away. What would you like, Jerold? Ill
go whip it up for you if you just tell me.
Standing up, I told her to put the dishes down on the table. She was slow to
do so, hiding behind the glass as if it would keep her safe from me. I want
another taste.
Her eyes moved down and I reminded her to put the dishes down. They were
some kind of shield to her, and I didnt want anything else in my way. When
she finally did as I told her, I could tell she was not sure what would come next.
I patted the edge of the desk like I had done to my lap earlier. Once again, there
were a few moments where I wasnt sure if she was going to go along with me.
When she finally slid her backside onto the desk, I knew that she was mine.
Are you still nice and wet for me?
She didnt answer, but her thighs moved together to let me pull her skirt up.
Her panties were still gone, and I could tell just from the sight that she was
dripping wet. Her legs shook as I opened her back up and was then able to see
every last bit of her. The smooth skin under my palm was tan. I started kissing
her thighs, moving the chair closer to her. I had no intention of being rushed,
and when she realized what I was aiming for, the tension underneath my
fingertips was palpable.
Taking my first lick of her center, I watched her face. The expression got
darker and her eyes were closing, her head falling back in pleasure. The taste
was overwhelming to my senses, and before I knew it I had pulled her to me
and was feasting on her flesh like it was the last thing in the world. Her noises
grew louder and louder, but I only stopped when I finally tasted the first flood
of fluid from inside of her. Nicola was writhing underneath me, and watching
her was my undoing. Gripping her hips, I pulled her closer and sucked hard on
the engorged clit.
Nicola cried out, and it was my name on her lips. The sound made my own
need become blinding. I had to pull away from her, gasping for breath and
trying to get control over myself. Didnt she know how sweet she was?
It took her some time to recover. My own need throbbed hard in my pants
and I could think of nothing that I wanted more than to slam the rest of me into
her. I was so hard it hurt, but I knew that I had to keep part of myself away from
her. I was moving too fast, and not just for her. I was moving too fast for me,
and I had a feeling that getting lost in her was a real possibility.

Chapter 6 - Nicola

I walked out of there with a little bit of a limp. I had not hurt myself, but my
core was so sensitive that each movement rubbed my lips together and caused a
jerk of pleasure through my system. The elevator was a welcome sight until I
saw a small blonde woman slide in between the doors at the last minute. I had a
feeling that I knew who she was. She was Jerolds assistant. There was nothing
I wanted to say to her, and the one floor down seemed to take forever.
Gathering the extra dishes in order to get off, I saw Connie stop the elevator
with the red button. I couldnt believe it actually worked. I had never seen one
pushed before and was more than a little surprised that just anyone could push
it and cause such a frightening moment. The elevator stopped and I was face to
face with the small woman.
She was older than me and her blue eyes flashed at me. Connie looked at me
like she hated me for a moment, and I was left to wonder what it was that she
found so offensive about me.
I know what is going on with the two of you. You need to keep your eyes
off of him. Jerold is not going to get wrapped up in something with a little
piece of trash like you. I see you guys together again, I will make sure that
your career here is very short.
I was beyond shocked. Was she talking to me? I didnt know what to say as I
watched her pull up the same red button she had pressed down. The door
opened after a few seconds.
I was still looking at her as if she was the Antichrist. It was only when she
urged me out with a sarcastic remark that I was able to finally move. I felt like I
was in the Twilight Zone. There was no rhyme or reason to what had just
happened. Did I really just hear that? Looking back to the cold eyes of the
woman still standing in the elevator as the doors closed, I knew that I had. She
hated me more than Id thought anyone could hate a person, and I was lost as to
what to do.
My step was not so light. I felt like other peoples eyes were on me. Did
everyone know? My face went red with the idea, and I stuck to the small kitchen
for the rest of the day. I didnt want to run into Connie again. She had made me
so nervous I actually took the stairs instead of risking another moment alone
with the woman. Did the two of them have something that I was intruding
upon?
Going out was the only thing that helped me forget the trouble at work and
the issues with my family. I was sure that Jamie had made his way back to
California, but then he popped up in the bar. I wondered if it was just bad luck
or he was following me. Everywhere I turned he was there. I didnt need the
drama, and I told him so.
I am not trying to stress you out, Nicola. I just want to see you. It has been a
long time, and when I got the call from your mom, it was like everything
started to make sense. Can you really say that you feel nothing for me?
I couldnt say that, and I was even less apt to lie, so I just kind of shook my
head in agreement. He had been everything to me at one time, and I had liked
the way he looked and the way I had felt in his arms. But now it was hard to
forget what hed done to me. It was hard to pretend that he hadnt broke my
heart a year ago and then ran off to the West Coast to leave me alone after two
years together.
You know that I felt a lot for you, Jamie, but this is too much. You cant just
pop up out of nowhere.
It wouldnt bother you if there was nothing still between us.
I finally looked over at him and sighed. It wasnt like that anymore. The man
was still just as attractive as ever, but I would never be able to trust him again.
If he would do it once, I knew he would do it again. He was that type of man. I
didnt want my heart to be crushed again.
There is nothing else between us, Jamie, just a lot of memories that cant
be forgotten and an outcome that cant be changed. Anything beyond that is just
your imagination. I am sorry my mom called you, but she misread
everything.
I dont think she did, and I find it hard to believe that you dont want
anything to do with me.
I couldnt believe it, either. As I took a drink of the wine in front of me, I
hoped that the liquid would settle my nerves. It didnt seem to help much, but at
least it was something to do other than look at my ex sitting on the leather stool
next to me at the bar. There really was no getting away from my past. It was the
first time that I had actually thought about leaving Brewer and being done with
it.
We can be friends, Jamie. We were always good friends.
He didnt like the answer, but I was not bothered either way. I finished the
wine before he said anything else. I dont want to be just friends. I will stay
here as long as it takes to get you back, Nicola. Since seeing you again, I know
that Im never going to find what I need in California, because what I need is
you.
That seemed to be my cue to leave. I said my goodbyes and when he stood
up to walk me out, I asked him not to. I didnt want to talk to him anymore, and
I certainly didnt want to be in the dark parking lot with him. If it wasnt for my
friend Jamene coming up when I got to the door, I dont know what would have
happened next.
I dropped her off a few blocks from my apartment and made my way home.
It had been a long day and I was still trying to process half of it. Between
Connie threatening me and Jamie not going away, I was rattled. If I added in
what Id served up the boss for lunch, there was no way that I couldnt respond
with reddened cheeks.
Happy to be home, I was fishing the keys out of my purse when I saw a
package on my steps. My neighborhood was not the type of place that the
postman would leave anything outside, and I wondered why it was out there. It
made me nervous, and only when I saw the writing on the small attached note
did I realize that it was from the same man who had dined on me earlier in the
day. The thought made me shiver and I shook the box like it was
Christmastime. There was no denying my apprehension about the present, but I
was determined not to let him bother me.
***
The next morning I opened the small package before I left for work. I had
ignored it the night before, hoping that it wouldnt drive me crazy. It had,
though, so the first thing I did before turning on the coffee was go look at it.
The wrapping paper was pretty, and the scrawled words were very much
Jerold.
Opening it, I couldnt imagine what it would be. I was surprised to see that it
was another small box, but I was sure that my face turned bright red when I saw
the sketch on the side of the box. Yesterday hed wanted me to opt out of
undergarments altogether, but now it seemed that he had bought me a pair to
wear.
The box had already been opened, and there was something missing. I
pulled out the panties, not really impressed. They were cute, of course, but
there was nothing that spectacular about them at all. I had seen nicer pairs of
panties before. There was something different about them, though. They felt
heavier in some places than in others.
When I started to read the back of the box, the flame in my cheeks
intensified. The piece that was missing was a remote control for the vibrating
panties that I was holding in my hand. I sat down at the table and tried to get
over the shock of it all. I knew that he was a man who liked to push the
envelope, but I was starting to think that he was just too much for me.
I didnt put the panties on. Instead I didnt put any on, though I did put a bra
on to hide the sway of my large breasts. I didnt know if he was going to be
upset or not, but I had to draw the line somewhere. When I got into work, I was
not met by a crazy woman in the elevator or by Jerold. I was starting to relax
until I got into the kitchen and Jerold was waiting for me. He had something in
his hand, and I saw then that it was the remote.
He flicked it on and waited for a reaction from me. He wasnt going to get
one, though, because I hadnt worn the panties. Jerold frowned and I could tell
he was disappointed. Didnt you get my package?
I nodded my head that I had gotten it, and he moved towards me. Show
me.
His voice was harsh. I was finally questioning my decision not to wear the
panties that he had given me. It was clear that he was not happy with me, and it
made me upset at myself. But there was no hesitation this time, and I pulled the
skirt up quickly so that he could see that I had not listened to him. When I
released the fabric and let it fall back down, his grey eyes were still on where
my bare mound had been. He may have still been mad at me, but I was rather
confident that he wouldnt be mad at me for too long.
Here I was thinking you were learning, but now I see that you need a
punishment to keep you motivated.
I swallowed hard and took a step back as he advanced. All of a sudden I was
doing more than regretting my decision. I was regretting even coming into
work that day at all.

To be continued

Billionaires Domination Book 3: Taken

By: Ashlee Price


Prologue

Nicolas time with Jerold is getting more intimate. Shes falling for her
billionaire boss, and the more control he takes, the more she freely gives. Hes
hard to say no to, and with her matchmaking mother now on his side, Nicola is
spending more and more time with him. He makes her want to beg, and Nicola
feels no shame when she finally does. She would have done anything to be in
his arms, even though it isnt quite how she thought it would be. Nothing ever
is with Jerold.
Then, after a night that she will never forget, Nicola comes back to work
Monday morning only to be humiliated and fired by Jerolds assistant. Nicola
is crushed, and shes sure its related to them being together. Everything that
she was so sure of is slipping away from her, and Nicola finds herself
wondering if she was wrong about everything. How could Jerold send her
away after such a night together? Did it really mean nothing to him?

Chapter 1 Jerold

Her eyes were nervous and her hand shook a little bit when I mentioned
punishment. Seeing her bare and naked had been my undoing, and now there
was nothing I could do but swallow hard and shake my head at her question.
She wanted to know what I meant by punishment.
Give me your hands.
She was not quick to respond. I urged her over to the counter of the kitchen.
I opened the small refrigerator, looked through the shelves on the door, and
found some Dijon mustard. She was shocked when I put a little dot on each of
her palms. I put the jar back and turned around to meet the questioning look in
her eyes.
Now bend over, Nicola, and make sure that you dont mess up the dots.
None of it should get on the counter, do you understand?
Nicola nodded and turned around like Id told her to. I waited to see what
she did with her hands. I could see the care that she used to make sure that she
abided by the rules. I liked that fact more than the roundness of her backside as
she leaned down. I was going to have fun with the punishment. I almost hoped
that she would break the rules so that I could punish her some more. To see
Nicola in such a submissive position was working on my brain, and I couldnt
help the naughty thoughts that were going through my head.
My hand moved to the curve of her ass and I felt her jerk at the touch. She
wasnt sure what I was going to do, and more than that, she didnt know how
far it was going to go. While I wanted all of her, I knew that wasnt right for
right now. I was supposed to be punishing her for her disobedience, so losing
what little control I had left didnt seem like a wise choice.
She trembled as my hand made its way to cup her fully in my palm. I heard
her moan and her hips moved upwards to give me a better grip. She wanted it
as much as I did, and it made me change my mind on the method of punishment
that I would give her. It wasnt a spanking that she needed, but to get what she
wanted and then to have it taken away.
My other hand moved to her waist and I pulled her against me hard. Nicola
scrambled to find a grip and then her hips just pushed back against me. It was
hard to deny how badly she wanted it. I wanted it just as badly, and I had to
move away and stop grinding on her because I wasnt going to be able to stop
once I really got started.
Moving down to cup her ass and to give us a little space in between our
bodies, I started to pull the bottom of her skirt up the back of her thighs. I could
feel the goose bumps shooting across her skin, and I couldnt help but move a
little faster. When I could clearly see all of her I dragged my short nails across
the skin and down her backside. She jerked underneath me, and I checked her
palms to see that they were still high above the counter. If she broke the rules, I
could take her. I wanted her to fail so badly.
I smacked her cheek a couple of times, very lightly. I wasnt trying to spank
her; I was just interested in the way her ass jiggled every time I slapped it. It
was mesmerizing, and I was finding it hard to stop myself. When I finally did
stop, she was panting slightly. The sound was driving me mad.
Are you wet, Nicola?
I knew she was; I could see a small line of fluid dripping down her inner
thigh. Before I could stop myself, I was opening her legs more and moving
down to my knees behind her. From that angle I could see all of her. Just a
slight breath made her quiver. My tongue moved forward and tasted her before
I could do anything else. I could still taste her on my tongue and the new taste
was just as sweet.
Nicola started to moan, and it was enough to remind me that she was
supposed to be getting punished. She wasnt there to be pleasured. Standing up,
I rubbed her some more and watched her body tense as I listened to her
whimpers of pleasure. She was getting close, I could tell by the renewed flow
of need down her leg. She was practically gyrating where she was bent over,
and I was lost in the moment.
Watching her hands and fingers curl, I stopped suddenly and watched her
body slump down from the lack of touch. It was several moments before she
looked back at me with those dark eyes. I could see the need in them. She was
on edge, and I was surprised that she hadnt already begged me for more. Her
whimper was hard to deal with, though. I closed my eyes to the sound.
Rock-hard in my pants, I had to adjust myself before I left the kitchen with
instructions for her not to touch herself. If you would like me to finish you
off, I want you to go home at lunch and wear what I bought for you. I dont
take kindly to your disobedience, Nicola. But you did well with your hands
not a mark smeared. The last bit didnt really make me very happy at all.
She didnt say much of anything. I could see her trying to come to grips
with the fact that I was not going to touch her anymore. I heard the same whine
as before, but it was a little louder. She wanted me to know that she was
disappointed, and I couldnt deny how much I liked the pouty look on her
mouth. Not once did she argue, and by the time I left, there was nothing that I
wanted to do more than go back in there and give her what her dark eyes
begged me for. How could I say no to such a face?
My will was stronger than my desire, though, and I moved into the hallway
and then to the elevator. There was no one in it when I got there, but Connie
seemed to appear out of nowhere. She had a look on her face that was hard to
fathom, but I had a feeling I was going to get a tongue lashing from her. I had
apparently done something that she didnt approve of. I thought of the wet chef
down the corridor and I had to smile to myself. I was sure that if she knew
about that, I would never hear the end of it.
Good morning, Connie.
Good morning, sir. Did you go get your breakfast already?
There was something in the way that she said it that made me take a second
look at her. Did she know? If she did she wasnt letting on, but there was
obviously something that was bothering her.
Yeah, I just got something made real quick.
Its strange to see you so interested in breakfast, Jerold. I dont think
youve eaten it but three times in all of the years that Ive worked for you.
She was probably right, but there was more to it than that. The reason was
clear to me, and I was sure it wasnt lost on her either. I didnt know how to
respond to her skeptical tone. I was saved by the elevator beeping to let us
know that we had arrived.
Well, my doctor told me that I need to start taking better care of myself.
You know what they say about it being the most important meal of the day.
I walked towards my office, but it was apparent that I wasnt going to get
away from her that easily.
I just think you should be more careful how youre projecting yourself.
The rest of the employees can see it, and its going to create all kinds of
problems.
Opening the door to the office, I looked back at her once I was seated.
Connie was standing there gripping some documents in her hand. She was the
very definition of uptight. Her blonde hair was severely cut at the chin and the
look on her face made it hard to see her as a woman. The clothes that she wore
could have easily been for a child. She was short and so waif-thin. Even though
she was so tiny, she was kind of scary, and I wanted to put her mind at ease
about breakfast and the insinuations she was making about Nicola. They were
right, but I didnt want her even getting a hint of that. The last thing I needed
was an argument with Connie about Nicola.
Its not like that, Connie. Really. When have you known me to go over the
line with any of my employees? You know thats one of my rules.
She didnt seem all that convinced.

Chapter 2 Nicola

Lunch time rolled around, and though I tried to tell myself that I didnt need
him, I did. Every minute and every step that I took reminded me of what I
couldnt have. I was never one to want to touch myself while I was at work, but
now I couldnt stop thinking about it. I wondered to myself if he would even
know if I did. I could go into the bathroom and be done in minutes.
The idea made me blush, but there was something stopping me. Maybe it
was the thought that he would somehow know and I would be even worse off
than I was right then that made me not do what I desperately wanted to do. It
was hard to concentrate with the throbbing at my core that was taking away all
other thoughts.
I snuck back to my apartment and put on the panties that he had sent me. I
touched myself a little while I was putting them on. I couldnt believe how
badly I wanted him. I dont think I had ever been so needy in all of my life. I
just wanted more of Jerolds touch.
When I got back, I didnt go up to the fifth floor, but to the sixth instead. I
was expecting to find Jerold in another meeting, or hopefully alone in his
office. I figured it was the latter when I saw him sitting at his desk through the
slightly open door. It was only when I pushed the door open and saw the other
two men sitting there that I realized he wasnt alone.
My whole demeanor changed, and I tried to stand up a little straighter.
Sorry to bother you, sir. I was just up here to get your lunch order. I
looked from the two men who were now eying me to Jerold, who had a smile
on his face. I was suddenly very conscious of the fact that I was not wearing a
bra. I wished then that I was. I was nervous that the other men would know the
games that the boss and I were playing.
Gentleman, would you like something for lunch? I had something
yesterday that was perfect. There is no way to describe the taste.
I blanched when he talked about what hed had for lunch. I knew what he was
talking about, and for a moment I wondered if he would really do such a thing.
He had a smile on his lips, but I didnt find it all that funny. I didnt want to
think about that.
The two men agreed, and I shot him a look. Just bring us what you made
yesterday.
I had brought something for him, but I didnt even remember what it was. It
was hard to think about anything else but me on the desk with him between my
legs.
Of course, sir.
As I turned around to leave, the panties started to come to life. I grabbed the
door frame to steady myself. It was too much, too soon and I had to literally
bite my lip to stop the moan. The vibration got faster, and I was so close from
his punishment this morning.
As quickly as it had started, it was over and I was left breathing hard. My
eyes were dazed, but I looked back once to see his grey eyes watching me with
a little humor. I could tell he was pleased, and I had to admit that I was pleased
that he was finally happy. I walked away more slowly, worried that the panties
would come back to life. I kind of hoped that they would, because I was dying
for release, but they never did.
When I got back to the kitchen, I tried to remember what Id made the day
before. I opened the refrigerator to see if I could refresh my mind and the
panties went off again. I had to brace myself on the counter and squeeze my
legs together. I wanted to come, I was so close, but before I could complete my
desires, the panties stopped. I was panting slightly and starting to get a little
sweaty.
It kept happening, and I even looked behind me a couple of times to see if he
was outside the door, but he was still upstairs. I couldnt imagine how he knew
what I needed and was able to stop delivery just short of that. It was driving me
crazy. I had to stop twice on the way back up to his office. The men were still
there, and I was scared he would push the button while I was in front of them.
As I was bending over, he did. I closed my eyes to the instant, overwhelming
pleasure that came over me. Did he know what he was doing? That I was so
close?
The vibration stopped as I was standing up. I was thankful for the reprieve. I
moved to leave as fast as I could, but his voice stopped me. Nicola?
I turned around. Sir?
Thank you.
I nodded back to him, not sure what he was talking about. I didnt say
anything else, making my way to the stairs to walk down to the next floor. I was
still staying away from the elevator because of that evil little woman Connie.
When the panties turned on, I was happy that I was away from anyone. I
gripped the bannister and stopped where I stood.
The panties went faster and I was on the edge, inching over. I was afraid that
he was going to turn them off and leave me hanging, but instead, the vibration
became even more intense and I exploded into the panties. The orgasm was
hard enough to take my breath away. It was all I could do to hold it together. It
was several moments before it stopped and I was able to breathe again.
I was soaked as I made my way to the kitchen, and I was also worried that it
was going to start again. When it didnt, I started to relax, but then I heard his
voice behind me and I started. It had only been about an hour since I had
dropped the dishes off, and I wasnt expecting Jerold to be down there. I turned
around.
Do you feel better?
I knew what he was referencing, and to be honest I felt better than I had all
day. Wanting him was hard on my system, and I was thankful that he had given
me something to think about. I wasnt going to tell him that I was so wet it was
dripping down my leg. He didnt need to know all of that as far as I was
concerned.
Yes, sir.
The smile didnt reach his eyes and I could tell that he wanted to say
something else. I grabbed the dishes out of his hand, telling him that he didnt
have to bring them down. I would have come and gotten them for you.
Well, you like to come when I am away, so this way I figured I would get to
see you as well.
It made sense, but didnt help my senses. He was moving closer, and the
counter against my back reminded me that I had nowhere to go.
Did you come, Nicola?
I nodded quickly, and his eyes darkened a little. He stopped just an inch from
touching me with his body. I want to see.
I looked at him questioningly. I wasnt sure what he wanted to see, but then it
dawned on me. Do you want the panties back?
He wasnt expecting that, but he told me that he did. I couldnt believe that I
had blurted such a thing out, and I was even more embarrassed when it
developed that I was expected to take them off right then and there. I hesitated
for only a few seconds. It wasnt like I hadnt done more in front of him. He
had already seen most of me, so I just hiked the skirt up to my waist and started
to lower the panties that he had bought me.
I wasnt as nervous as I had been before. Before I would have been worried
about what he would think, but after coming so hard, and with the way he had
egged me on all morning, I was in the mood to mess with him. His eyes
followed my hands and then the descent of the panties before I put them
directly in his hand. He wasnt expecting that, and I liked that I could still
surprise him. It seemed like he was always the one for surprises, so when I
handed him the wet, wadded fabric I grinned back. There you go, sir.

Chapter 3 Jerold

The panties in my hand were soaking wet. I hadnt expected such a display,
even though I had tasted how much she could come. I could feel myself getting
hard as my pants tightened. I dont know why, but all I could think about was
putting them to my face and inhaling. I did just that and had to close my eyes at
the smell. She smelled so good that I was ready to take her right then and there.
Her smell was intoxicating, and it reminded me of the flavor of her in my
mouth.
Thank you, Nicola. Hopefully that will remind you to listen the first time I
tell you to do something.
She nodded her head. I could tell that it had affected her. It affected me just
to see her chest rising and falling so quickly, but I didnt mention it. I didnt
have to. She knew that she was mine and the submission was finally complete.
There was no more doubt in my mind, and I was thankful for that because I
didnt want to think about anyone else but her.
Is there anything else that you need, sir?
Her question was paired with her dark, sultry eyes and it was enough to
make me throb in my slacks. Damn, she was beautiful. The list of things that I
needed from her had no end, and I was ready for more.
I can make you feel good too, Jerold, if you just let me.
Her words were enough to stop me in my tracks. It wasnt the words
themselves, but the breathy way that she said them and the tone of her voice.
She made me want her so badly that when she came closer, there was no way
that I could tell her no. Her destination became clear, and I was lost in the
thought of what she was doing. There was no telling her no.
Nicola was quickly on her knees. She looked up at me with those brown
eyes, making my heart lurch in my chest.
Is this what would make you feel good, sir?
I nodded my head that it would feel good. I knew it was going to be
amazing, and I couldnt wait for her to do it. I could feel the breeze on my
heated flesh as she opened up my pants. Her hand fished me out, and before I
could prepare myself, she was pushing my thick head between her soft lips and
there was nothing else that I could do.
Why did it feel like it had been forever since I had been in someones
mouth? It felt like my cock had been hard since I had first seen Nicola. Now I
was ready to relieve some of the pressure that her constantly being around me
had caused. I wasnt used to feeling this way, but now all of the anticipation was
melting away as she moved up and down my shaft.
Id never felt such suction before. I could tell that she was getting into it. Her
soft moans vibrated against the shaft. My hand went to the silken brown strands
that fell down her shoulders, and I pulled her in harder, pushing myself deeper.
I wanted to fill her completely and only when she pushed back against me did I
finally pull out.
Nicola took a deep breath and then moved back down. My hand coaxed her
down a little further to see if she could take all of me into her mouth. I was
almost there when she gagged a little and I released her. I didnt want to hurt
her, but I knew that I was so excited that I might by accident.
I let her take over and she grabbed my waist, using her grip to pull me to
her over and over again. I couldnt help the thrusting of my hips. I was well
beyond the point of any return to sanity. I was so close to coming that I warned
her. I thought she might pull away and let me take care of coming, but instead
she kept me in her mouth.
Swallow it for me, Nicola. I want you to swallow all of it.
She nodded her head, her eyes looking up to me with little red rims around
them. I was trying not to push deeper, but I wanted all of me inside of her. It
wasnt enough to come. I wanted to come down her throat, as deep as I could.
When I finally felt the first shot come out, it hit the back of her throat. Once
again her throat muscles closed around the head of my cock and I was in pure
bliss. I pushed my hips forward to take as much of her as I could. She finally
pressed back against me and I heard her whimper as I pulled out completely.
Nicola was breathing hard, a little bit of my seed dripping from the corner of
her mouth.
I wiped it off of her as I helped her up to her feet. I had not expected that. I
had expected to have to tell her what I wanted and how to please me, but Nicola
had offered and I didnt even have to ask. It somehow made it better that she
had offered and not had to be asked. Shed done it because she wanted to, and
that made it that much better. I had to ask myself, where had she been my whole
life?
Nicola watched me put my softening cock back in my pants. I liked the way
her eyes followed it and her teeth nibbled on her bottom lip. It was hard not to
want more, but we both were in the middle of a work day. I could hear people
coming down the hallway.
Looks like it is time for you to get back to work, Nicola.
She nodded her head and didnt say a word back. I passed Connie on the way
out. She was with a couple of the women from the sixth floor. She gave me
another one of her looks, and I tried to look as innocent as possible. I was
starting to realize that maybe Connie was not as happy about the new in-house
chef as I was. Hell, I couldnt even walk the same after seeing her. There was a
lightness to my step and there was nothing I wanted more than to go back in
there and take her properly. The timeline had definitely changed, and I was
starting to think that she needed less warmup than I was used to. Nicola was not
like any of the submissive women that Id had in the past. She was a whole new
experience, one that I was ready to try more of.
When I got back to the office, I sat back in my chair and closed my eyes.
The sights and sounds of the day were enough to keep a smile on my face, and
it wasnt long before I was dozing off in the middle of the day. It was
something that never happened, and I knew it was because of Nicolas perfect
lips around me. She had done well, and it was time that I gave her a reward for
all of her hard work the past week.
***
Sir?
I felt someone shaking my shoulder and I woke up to see Connie looking
down at me. I wasnt sure how long she had been there, but she didnt look to
happy to find me asleep.
Now youre sleeping in the middle of the day? Jerold, Im starting to
worry about you.
Her face didnt seem to hold any worry, so I didnt really trust the words.
Connie had been acting differently lately. I wasnt sure why, but I was sure that I
didnt like it. She was always rather severe in her actions, but lately she had
become a real ball-buster.
I sat up in the chair and tried to focus my eyes away from the tiny woman in
pink. The clock told me that over two hours had passed since my last meeting
had ended and I had made my way to the kitchen. I was sure that it was Nicolas
mouth that had made me so tired. It was like a shot of Nyquil to my system.
No need to worry, just too much partying last night.
She looked like she didnt believe me, and I finally asked her what she
wanted so she would stop looking at me like that. I knew that she had to be
there for something, so the sooner she got it out, the sooner I could wake up
and stop looking at her sour face.
I need some approvals on the downtown project. City Hall sent these over a
while ago and then called when you hadnt returned them. I figured that your
fax was out, and I find you up here sleeping like a college student in the middle
of the day.
Her words made me grit my teeth. I didnt know why I was so bothered by
her. I will take care of it, Connie, thank you.
I was dismissing her, but it took her a minute to realize it. She wasnt happy
when she finally did leave, and there was a bad feeling hanging in the room
after she was gone. I didnt understand women, that I knew, but Connie was
ever harder to understand than the rest of them.

Chapter 4 Nicola

It was another Friday night. I was relieved to see that Jamie wasnt there. I
asked mom about him, and she told me that she would not be inviting him back
to the house. I knew that she was still thinking about what I had told her about
him, and I was trying hard not to say any more. I should have kept my mouth
shut, but it was just too much to have him there.
The evening was more like usual. I was helping mom in the kitchen when I
heard someone coming in the front door and getting greeted by Karen. I
looked over to my mother and she kind of shrugged. There was a sinking
feeling in my stomach as I poked my head through the swinging doors. I was
shocked to see who was standing there.
Hey, Nicola. Tell your mom that I brought the wine.
I nodded my head and then moved back into the kitchen. Mom?!?
What?
I knew what she was doing. She was never very good at being sneaky. What
is he doing here?
Jerold?
I gave her an exasperated look. She was trying to pretend like she didnt
know what I was talking about. So why is he here, mom? Why did you invite
my boss here?
Well, he isnt really your boss, dear. You are subcontracted out.
There was a look in her eyes and a tone in her voice. Mom, you cant be
serious!
She was, though, I could tell. She was shameless in her pursuit of finding
me a boyfriend, and I didnt think that she was ever going to stop until I finally
gave up and married one of them. He is a nice man. Your father and your
brothers all think so. He is rich, handsome and he looks at you like you are the
only woman in the world. You need to see what is right in front of you,
Nicola.
All of what she said was true, but there was another side of him that no one
else knew about. I was the one whod had to bend over and be spanked,
pleasured and punished. Jerold was all of those things, but he was so much
more too.
He is my boss. I know that you are thinking technicalities, but he is still my
boss, so please dont start messing with him. I cant take another crazy guy
right now. Jamie is following me, I think. He showed up at Clintons and told
me that he wasnt leaving until I went back with him.
Mom looked like she felt bad, but I still kind of thought it was her fault. She
was the one who was still talking to him, and if she hadnt called him and given
him updates on me, maybe he never would have come. Maybe he would have
forgotten what it was like when we were us and stayed away.
Do you want me to talk to him?
No, mom, I want you to stop talking to him. And stop calling my boss and
trying to make a love match! I could feel my heart racing and my temperature
was going up. I couldnt really yell like I wanted to, knowing that he was in the
next room with all of my family. I mean it. Just leave it be.
I didnt stop to see how she responded. I knew that she most likely had a hurt
look on her face that was going to make me feel guilty, and I didnt want to feel
that way. I wanted to be mad at her. It was not the first time shed spent too
much time and energy on my love life. I just wanted to make my own
decisions, even if they were the wrong ones. I was sure that Jerold was a bad
decision, but it didnt matter. When I was with him something took over me.
When we were together it didnt matter that it was wrong. But having him here
with my family, and them knowing who he was to me, was not something that
was so easy to see past.
Taking a deep breath, I went out to the dining room and started to put a few
plates on the table. Jerold met my eyes from his spot in the living room. I sent
him a look of wonder and he just kind of grinned at me in the way that he did.
His smile was disarming and I couldnt help but smile back. It didnt help that
my mother was coming out of the kitchen just then and saw the look. She didnt
say a word, but I could tell that she wanted to say something.
The dinner was one of the longer ones that wed had recently. There was a
lot to talk about, and I was happy to listen to everyone else and keep my
business out of it. I didnt have much good to say. I graduated the next week,
but I wasnt really worried about that anymore. I was too wrapped up in Jerold
and the games we played to actually care too much about a piece of paper. It
didnt seem to matter much at all now. Before it had been a dream, but dreams
and priorities change.
When everyone started to leave, Jerold asked me if I wanted to go for a
walk. I was surprised, but I did like the idea of being with him just a little bit
longer. Last time hed been mad at me, but this time was different. Jerold was
open and laughing, something that Id never really seen at work. It was a whole
other side of him, and I wanted to see more. It was one thing to be around him
with the family. It was another to get away from everyones prying eyes.
I think this is the first time that we have really been alone.
His eyebrow went up. I was unconsciously steering him down to a small
swimming hole that I had been going to since I was young. It had a nice dock
and was rather private. That was what I think I wanted it for. I wanted a place to
be alone with him, and more than anything I wanted to play some more games.
We hadnt played any in a long time, days that seemed to feel like full weeks of
no touch.
Where are we?
This is called Smittys Pier.
He didnt seem too impressed, and when I looked back I could see why.
There really wasnt anything wonderful or spectacular about it. The best part
of Smittys had been how close it was to my house. It had been close enough to
walk to every morning and I had done just that many times in my youth.
Ive never heard of this place.
Well, Im sure that has something to do with the fact that there would be no
place to park your yacht.
He gave me a strange look. I wondered what it was about. I guessed I
shouldnt have said anything about the fact that he was filthy rich, but I was
certain that he hadnt been to many places like the pier. It was a small and kind
of out-of-the-way place for locals. I imagined that he stayed in his gated
community on the other side of town. He wasnt from my area.
You dont like that I have money, do you?
I shrugged. It didnt matter to me either way, it never had. But I liked that he
got so defensive about it. I dont know why, but I did. Its not that. Im just not
used to people that have money. Both of my parents work for the city, so you
know that they arent making a bunch of money. So all of that fancy stuff that
you keep ordering I usually have to find a recipe for. Just different in a lot of
ways, is all.
It occurred to me that that was the most I had ever said to him in one go.
Usually I was so quick to get away from him, but now all I wanted to do was be
near him. He was walking closer, and as we made it to the pier, he took my
hand and tucked it into his arm. I felt safe with him and leaned in against his
strong shoulders.
You can make me anything you want, Nicola.
Well, arent you easy today.
Not easy, very hard. It is the state I am in with you all of the time.
I didnt know what to say to that. It wasnt something that I could really
comment on, but I hoped that his saying that meant that he was ready to do
something about it. I couldnt believe how much I wanted him, to be with him
in all ways, but ever since I had taken him into my mouth, he had changed a
little. I wondered if I had gone too far. I hadnt really thought much of it then; it
was just a way to pay him back for what he had done for me. It had been perfect
and a little maddening, but if I would have known that he would act like this, I
wouldnt have done it at all.
Well, you havent asked for any more special lunches, sir. I thought maybe
youd had your fill.
He stopped me when we were almost to the end of the pier. I was looking
down into the water and I had a moment where I wanted to ask him to swim
with me. It was not something I thought he would do, but the water called to
me, and when I asked him, I think he surprised us both with his yes.
I hadnt really thought it through, though. It wasnt like I had a bathing suit
on. But all thoughts left my mind when he started to take his shirt off. I hadnt
seen much more of him than his manhood, and the hard lines of his chest made
me pause. I couldnt take my eyes off of him, and quite frankly, I didnt want to.
He was gorgeous. I was still standing there fully clothed. I needed the man
badly, and I felt like once again he was teasing me. He had to know what he did
to me, he had to.

Chapter 5 Nicola

Are you going to go swimming in that?


I looked down at my clothes, which were the same clothes Id worn to work
that day. I didnt have anything on underneath, thanks to my bosss demand that
I be bare. Now I was a little worried about what that was going to mean. He was
standing there in his boxers, the fabric molding to his very form, and I was left
with a dry mouth. That didnt seem to be something that I was going to be able
to change.
Um, I dont really have anything on underneath this, Jerold.
He didnt seem to mind. In truth, he seemed rather pleased with that
information. I wasnt sure how I felt about it. Good, then that means that
youve been listening.
Well, you havent checked.
I can smell how wet you are when you come into my office, and those
breasts never stop moving. I think I can see them swaying in my mind.
My cheeks were getting red, and as he moved closer, I was trembling for his
touch. His hands moved quickly, pulling the buttons on my blouse to open it up
to his greedy eyes. I saw the darkness fill them again, and then he kind of
jerked on my skirt, apparently wanting me naked right then. I heard it rip and
reminded him that we had to go back to my parents house. Do you really
want me to have to explain what happened?
He didnt answer, but his hands took my hands and pulled me closer. Now
our bodies were against each other, skin to skin, and I cant say how good that
felt. It was what I had wanted for some time, and I was glad that I had talked
him into it.
We went into the water and found a place that was away from the pier and up
by the storm wall that lined the beach. I was looking for the soft kisses that he
had given me before on the dock, but there was another part of him that was
coming out. His hands were rougher as he pushed me against the wall, my back
hitting it and stopping me from moving forwards. I was pinned in between the
concrete and his body. He was hard and he made me want him more than
anything else in the world.
Before long I was turned around and Jerold had pulled my arms back
behind me, holding them around my elbows so that I couldnt move. I wouldnt
have wanted to if I could have, but Jerold seemed to like me not being able to
move. I wasnt scared, just apprehensive that he was going to play with me
instead of giving me what I really wanted.
Please, Jerold. I need you inside of me. Nothing else will do.
He stopped and asked me what I really wanted.
I need you.
What do you need, Nicola?
I need you inside of me.
It wasnt enough, and he made me beg him over and over again.
Tell me what you really want, Nicola.
I want you to fuck me!
I couldnt believe I had said those words, but it seemed to be enough for
him. There was hardness at my opening and then a moment of pressure as he
pushed his way into my tightness. It had been almost a year since I had had
anyone inside of me, and Jerold was rather large. He had barely fit in my
mouth, and now I wondered whether he was going to rip me in two. I heard
him growl behind me, and I knew that he was having as much trouble coping
with the feelings as I was.
You are so tight, Nicola. You feel like you were made for me.
I liked that he thought that. I squeezed him hard with my inner muscles to
make him groan. Hed made it so that I couldnt really move around, but he
couldnt stop me from crushing his length. Jerold yanked out quickly and
drove back in hard. The action made my eyes close, and I knew that it wasnt
going to take long for me to come at that rate.
Jerold started to slam into me like a machine, and he didnt seem to be
letting up. My body tensed and I whimpered and moaned. I was so close, but it
was only when he stopped and asked me if I was going to come that I realized I
was going over the edge. I was so ready to come. I nodded my head quickly.
Tell me what you want, Nicola.
He was barely moving inside of me and I was backing up on him as much as
I could. He was still holding me by the elbows, making it difficult to move like
I wanted. Please, Jerold. I need to come.
Jerold rocked forward hard and quick, making me see stars behind my
eyelids as the whole world around me started to crumble. I wanted to be let go:
my arms were burning and each press against me rubbed my tits against the
rough surface of the wall. When I pulled away, he let my elbows go and they
screamed as I moved to brace myself against the rock.
The hard grip moved to my hips but he didnt stop moving inside of me.
There was no time to get used to it, or to take a breath after my first orgasm
before I was rolled into my next. A hand reached around and started to rub my
clit. I jerked and I could feel wetness coming out of me as he pulled out
quickly. Hot seed shot onto my backside, but was quickly washed away with a
wave of water.
I started to move away, then cried out when he re-entered me and rubbed
faster, harder than before. His length didnt move, just drove deep and stayed
buried as he pulled me to another orgasm. He never got soft, and I thought he
was going to take me again, but instead he pulled away to leave me cold and
empty from the lack of him inside of me.
I heard the whimper but didnt want to think that it was from me. It sounded
desperate, and I didnt like to hear it. There was just something about him that
made me go a little crazy. I was starting to think that I wasnt complete unless
he was deep inside me. Jerold was quickly becoming my drug of choice.

Chapter 6 Jerold

I spent the weekend thinking about Nicola, but I didnt call her. She made me
nervous, and the feelings that came over me made me nervous as well. I wasnt
sure what made me afraid of such a small woman, but there was power in her.
She wasnt just a submissive; she had shown me that she could ask for what she
wanted and try her best to take it if she had a mind to.
It was a dangerous combination, and paired with the racing heart that she
gave me, it was clear that she was trouble. I started to think that maybe I wasnt
supposed to have her. Nicola gave me feelings that I had never had for another
woman, and I didnt know how to handle it. I was in a new territory that I had
never seen.
I was trying not to dwell on it, so I jumped at the chance to get away for a
couple of days. Connie called me late Sunday and told me about a deal that I
wanted to sit in on. I had to leave that night for the airport, but it was a way to
give me more time to think about what I was going to do with Nicola. I had to
get the power of my own mind back if I was ever going to have any power and
control over her.
The meetings kept my mind occupied, and I didnt get back to the city until
Tuesday afternoon. A lot had happened in my mind, and the time away from
Nicola had been the deciding factor. I wanted to see her, so instead of heading
up to my office to check on the business, I was instead heading to the kitchen
on floor five. I had spent enough time away from her. I had had enough space
apart.
When I got to the kitchen, I didnt smell anything. There was usually some
kind of aroma coming from the place, but now it was empty and there was
nothing. It looked like it hadnt even been used that day. Since it was late in the
afternoon, I didnt know why that would be. Maybe Nicola had called in sick. I
wouldnt have been notified I hardly kept up with every employee but now I
made my way up to the top floor to see if I could find Connie. She knew
everything that was going on, so I knew that she would know where Nicola
was.
I couldnt find her there, but she was in my office when I finally came in.
I heard that you were back. How was your trip?
Going into business mode, I told her about the deal and what I needed to do
to make sure that it all went smoothly. She took notes, efficient as ever, and for
a time I forgot what I was going to ask her about. Connie was about to leave
when I stopped her with a question.
Have you seen Nicola around, Connie?
She turned around slowly. There was something in the way that she looked
at me that put my guard up.
She was let go Monday morning, sir. I must have forgotten to send you an
email about it, but she was just a low-tier employee, so I didnt think to bother
you with it.
I was shocked and more than a little pissed off. Yes, Nicola was not high up
on the totem pole, and Connie had the right to fire her, but I was pretty sure that
she knew how much I wanted her. She knew that Nicola was more than just a
cook. She was something else, and even though I wasnt sure what exactly
Nicola was to me, I certainly wasnt going to let her get fired. This was my
company, after all.
On what grounds would she have been fired?
Her attire was appropriate and she had broken several of the dress code
rules. We couldnt have her walking around like that. I had warned her twice
before, but Nicola didnt seem to care and kept violating the rules. I had to let
her go, sir.
I tightened my jaw, knowing immediately what she was referring to. There
was no way that she was talking about her clothes. She was talking about her
lack of clothes. It was the clothes that I had told Nicola to forget. I pressed my
lips together. I couldnt really say anything, but I was going to have to figure
out a way to make it up to her. I didnt care about anything but how Nicola was
feeling. She must think I was a real jerk, making love to her one minute and
then firing her the next workday.
I did not authorize that, Connie.
And you didnt need to. She was a problem, and I figured that you would
want me to take care of it for you. I dont even want to think about the lawsuit
that could have come out of it. It had to be taken care of. People were starting
to talk.
I told her to leave. For once her mouth snapped shut without another word
being uttered. I was fuming, and for a moment I even thought of firing Connie.
It was what I wanted to do. I didnt care that shed been with me for years and
had saved my ass more than once. If I lost Nicola because of this, there was no
way that she would keep her job. I knew that Connie had something against
Nicola, but she had crossed a line.
Dialing Nicolas number, I waited a few moments before she picked up.
Nicola.
She heard my voice and hung up a moment later. I stared at the phone for
several moments and then set it down. I was feeling a mix of confusion and a
little anger. I didnt know if I should give her a spanking or go beg for her
forgiveness. What kind of man wanted to do either?

To be continued

Billionaires Domination Book 4: Possessed

By: Ashlee Price


Prologue

Nicola has been fired. Everything that she thought was right in her world
wasnt. Her first job out of college was a disaster, and she knows she needs to
find something else to do. It isnt long before the idea of getting another job is
overtaken by the idea of starting her own restaurant. She isnt sure how shes
going to manage it, but at least it will give her something to think about other
than Jerold.
Jerold is giving Nicola her space, but he doesnt like it. Shes taking too
long to miss him, and far too long to come back to him. He no longer has
control of the situation, and he wants it back. When Nicola finally agrees to go
out with him, Jerold cant just prepare for the night. He has to figure out how
to convince her of forever.
And if that doesnt work, hell just have to remind her whos the boss.

Chapter 1 Jerold

She wouldnt talk to me. After a couple of days, her silence was deafening. I
knew I had made her mad, but there was something in me that told me to keep
my distance. Nicola could get really angry, really fast, and like most women, I
figured she just needed some time to cool off. I gave Connie a vacation. I
didnt want to see her around the office after what shed done. More than that, I
didnt want her as my assistant anymore. She had been a good employee at one
time, but she had gotten way too wrapped up in my personal life.
I felt alone on the ocean, and Nicola did not seem to have any intention of
saving me. I was not going to get any help from her. As the days went by, it was
becoming clear that she was not even going to answer her phone.
By Friday, I knew that the only way I was going to see her was if her mother
gave me another invitation. When it was almost five and I hadnt gotten a call, I
figured that the best way to get invited would be to just call and ask. I knew that
Angela was too nice to say no.
She was cordial on the phone and offered me a spot at her table without me
having to say much of anything. I thanked her and asked if she needed me to
bring anything.
Well, youd better bring an apology. Nicola is not happy with you, and she
is very stubborn, like her father. She likes roses. Red ones.
I kind of chuckled. I wasnt sure how I felt about Angela knowing that I was
in the dog house. Nicola was mad at me, I knew that, but she was also very
private, so it was surprising she had told someone what had happened. Going
to the dinner seemed a little more worrying when I thought about what she
might do or what the other people knew about what happened. Did they know
that I had messed everything up and let her be fired?
Getting dressed, I made sure that I was wearing a suit like the one I had
worn the week before. Nicola hadnt been able to keep her hands off of me
then, and I wanted nothing more than to have a repeat at the pier like the time
before. It had been perfect and had become my own personal porn that played
in my mind. I could remember every curve of her body and I could still taste
her lips on my own. I had to have her, and I was going to take her moms
advice and come with my A game. Anything was worth it if she said that she
would have me back in the end. I knew that I hadnt done anything wrong, but I
knew that she was upset and I did understand why.
I was back to being nervous. It was too late in our games for me to feel this
way. She was supposed to be mine by now, submitting in every way, but that
was just not Nicola. I could tame her for a little while with sex, but she was too
strong-willed to give into me completely. Before, that would have been a
problem for me, but now I liked that she wasnt just a mindless sub. She had
fire, and her submission was far sweeter because of it. I had to work for
Nicola, and I found myself liking that far more than I had thought possible. She
had always been like no other woman I had ever known.
Going over to her parents house, I drove slowly and tried to figure out
what I was going to say to her. I had gotten a large bouquet of flowers that I
hoped her mother was right about. I tried to shake the words that were going
through my mind. What if she wouldnt see me? I knew that she wasnt too
polite to tell me to leave if that was what she really wanted. So I was in her
hands, and I hoped that she was gentle with me, because I didnt think I could
take that rejection. Not from her.
When I knocked on the door, her older brother Rich answered and greeted
me like we were old friends. Her whole family welcomed me with open arms,
but it was Nicola I was worried about. She had made me want her more than
anything else ever before. I wasnt used to wanting things. I was used to taking
things.
When Rich offered to take the wine into the kitchen, I told him that I would
do it. I knew I would find Nicola there. She could never stay out of a kitchen,
and I knew that she was in there cooking with her mother. I liked to see her
doing what she enjoyed, and I found myself watching her for a minute before
she saw me. The flowers and wine were in my hand, and I caught Angela
smiling at me before she turned her back to the scene to give us a little privacy.
She wasnt leaving, though, so I was going to have to do it with her in there as
well. No pressure.
Nicola was not so happy to see me. She had that dark look in her eyes, and I
could tell she was upset. What are you doing here, Jerold?
I kind of shrugged and grinned, handing her the flowers that her mother had
suggested. While Nicola would act like she didnt care, I knew that she did. Her
eyes softened a little, and I smiled to myself. I guess Angela did have a few
tricks up her sleeve, and I was more than happy to give them a try.
I wanted to see you. Ive been trying to call you.
She looked over at her mother s back and pulled me out of the kitchen.
There were a few comments as she pulled me out onto the porch, and I tried to
pretend like she wanted me, not wanted to yell at me. We got outside and she
shut the door behind her. I didnt want to hear her. I only wanted to kiss her, and
I moved in to pull her to me before she could start in on me. Didnt she know
how much I wanted her? How could she not?
Her lips softened and her body sagged against me. She was pinned between
my hard body and the door, and so help me, I wanted to take her right there. I
knew that I couldnt her family was just inside but I also knew that she
would do what I wanted. She was mine after all, even if I did have to chase her
down. She was worth it, and more than anything I wanted to prove that to both
of us.
Why didnt you answer my calls?
I had pulled away and was looking into her dark eyes. I wanted answers, and
I wanted her to know that she was not supposed to do that to me. She couldnt
do that to me again. I couldnt live without her, and I certainly didnt want to. I
wanted her to know that she was mine forever and leaving me was not an
option. We were going to get through things, not just give up on it all.
What did you want me to say? Thanks for getting me fired? You could
have done it in person without sending that evil little troll of yours. I really
dont like her. You know that, right?
I had known that Connie had fired her, but the venom coming from Nicola
told me that there was more to it than that. I started to wonder how long Connie
had been undermining me with Nicola.
I didnt know that you had a problem with her. Connie was not supposed to
fire you. She did that on her own because of something minor.
Minor? She basically called me a slut in front of the entire fifth floor and
some of her cronies from the sixth floor. She had warned me to stay away
from you, but I couldnt listen to both of you. Then Im fired without even a
word from you. I didnt want to answer the phone. I didnt know what to say to
you, and I still dont.
Im sorry she did that, Nicola. It was not my wish. I will get rid of her
today if that is what you want. I have already sent her on vacation. It would take
nothing to put together a severance package that would satisfy her.
She was right. I shouldnt have been boffing the boss while I worked
there.
You are mine, though, Nicola.
She pulled away from me. I was yours, and I did everything you wanted. I
cannot be what you want me to be anymore. I need to figure out what Im doing
next.
So you are not going to come back to work for me?
Nicola shook her head and looked up at me with those big eyes. No, I will
never work for you again.
I didnt know where that left us.
What about us?
I dont know yet. I need time, and Im sure you are not willing to wait.
I will wait as long as I have to.

Chapter 2 Nicola

I did what I told Jerold I was going to do. I didnt go back to work as his
personal chef and pleasurer. I didnt give him anything he wanted, even when
he called nightly to ask me out. I would tell him no, but I knew that I would
miss the day that he stopped asking. As annoyed as I was, it would be worse
when he stopped caring enough to ask.
He called yet again one evening a couple of months after I was fired. I was
missing him. Even though he came to the family dinner every Friday with
some kind of gift for me, I had turned down all his invitations. But when he
asked me again, I finally said yes. I knew that it was because I was thinking
about what would happen when he stopped calling me altogether. I wanted to
see him, and since it was Wednesday, it was still several days to the weekly
dinner.
Sorry, I wasnt expecting you to say yes this time, and I dont have a plan.
I kind of giggled and told him that he could let me pick the date.
He agreed, and I wondered how he was going to deal with not being in
control. It was clear that it was an issue with him, and I wondered how far I
could push him before he lost all of the control that he had. It had been too
long since his hands were on me and I had already decided what I truly wanted.
I was going to play some games with him, but there was no way that I was
going to go another night without his hands on me.
Hanging up, I had about an hour to get ready. I spent more time than I
should have in the shower. I started thinking about our time at the lake, and then
it was hard not to touch myself. I had to, and before long I was pushing myself
to orgasm. It was almost more than I could handle, and my knees were weak as
I got out of the shower. Just thinking about him was enough to drive my mind
crazy.
Wiping off the condensation on the mirror, I looked at the glowing eyes
staring back at me. He was going to know I had come. I knew it. He knew far
too much, and I realized that was what made him so good at being in control.
He noticed everything, and when he saw me he was going to know what I had
done. I dont know why I felt so paranoid about it, but I did. Even though he
hadnt really touched me in a long time, I felt just as much his as I had been
before. The only difference was that I had a little bit of the upper hand and I
was going to use it to my advantage. I was just worried that he would quickly
take over again and there would be nothing I could do about it.
I got dressed in a way that I knew would drive him crazy. The dress was
low-cut, thin, and only came to about mid-thigh. I would have to worry about a
stiff wind, but I hoped that the clear night stayed the way it was. I wanted Jerold
to swallow his tongue and never be able to tell me no again. I wanted him to
pay a little. He had to pay for what hed made me go through and what I was
still going through missing him.
My emotions were all over the place. In some ways I wanted him to kiss me,
and in another way I didnt want him to dare. I knew that it made no sense, but it
was the way I felt. I wanted him, but didnt, because he was dangerous.
Nothing prepared me to see him, though, and to see the reaction on his face
to what I was wearing. He liked it, a lot, and I was barely able to meet his gaze.
I had fantasized about getting him all hot and bothered like he had done me,
leaving him to feel like he was coming out of his skin at the very moment.
You look Nicola. He said my name like a promise, a question. I felt
myself getting a little hot in the face and I looked away before he had me again.
Thanks, Jerold. You look good yourself, as always.
I smiled at him, glad that at least my voice was working. I hadnt been sure it
was going to work at all, or merely come out as a croak. I liked that he was
more bothered than I was, and I was equally happy that I had picked that dress.
The soft orange color made everything pop. His eyes were steady on me. I
knew that he was going to want to be more than just friends, and since I was
ready to give it all to him, I was glad to see that he was prepared to take it. It
was his, and I hoped that he knew that by the end the evening.
He was still trying to get himself together, and I was unable to stop enjoying
it. Jerolds eyes had gone almost black. I slightly missed the soft grey theyd
been the first time Id met him. Now they were so filled with lust and need that
it was hard to ignore the way he looked at me. I knew what he wanted, and after
the moments at the lake, I knew what he was capable of doing. It scared me. He
scared me, merely for the power that I knew he possessed. The fact that he
knew it as well was still hard to deal with. But at the moment, I knew he wasnt
the one in charge. At the moment, I was the one who was holding the power.
So are we going to go in, or?
Jerold smiled and I almost melted. It was hard not to feel something when he
looked at me that way. He had a little dimple that came out when he was being
extra naughty, and I wished that I knew what was going on in his head. It was no
doubt something good, and undoubtedly something that I wouldnt mind
happening. God, I had missed him.
Yes, lets go. Its just been a while since Ive seen you like this.
Well, I cant very well dress like this at my parents house. I would never
hear the end of it. My mother would most likely call the priest over to do an
exorcism.
I like to see you like this, even if there is a little demon in you.
His words made me shiver a little, and I knew that the rest of my body was
responding in the same way. There was a reason that I had picked one of the
most private restaurants in the city. It had nothing to do with the cost, but
everything to do with my plans to mess with him. I just hoped that the plan
didnt backfire in my face.

Chapter 3 Jerold

So when are you going to forgive me, Nicola? Its been such a long time
since weve been together like this, and I cant think when you are looking this
way. You are beautiful.
She smiled at me. She seemed to be acting a little coy. I had a feeling that she
knew exactly what she was doing to me, and she didnt seem to be too bothered.
I was rock hard, as hard as her nipples, but there wasnt the same need in her. I
wanted her to be wet. I wished I could ask her no, tell her that I wanted them.
I didnt have that kind of control right now, but she did.
I already forgave you, Jerold. I just learned that I had to be more careful.
You hurt me, and I dont want to be hurt again.
I didnt know what to say. I had never wanted to hurt her. That had been the
very last thing on my mind. She was a woman whom I wanted to protect and
make sure that nothing ever happened to again. It was still a new feeling to
have, but I had learned to embrace it as best as I could.
I never meant to hurt you. I didnt know what happened till I got back.
Connie sent me to New York to take care of a couple of things, and I thought of
you the whole time. When I got back, you were gone and you wouldnt even
talk to me. What was I supposed to do? I had to talk to you mom to get an
invitation. And even then you still only talked to me cordially. I want my Nicola
back, the one that I made love to at the pier not far from your parents house. It
seems like so long ago, but it is still the very thing I remember when I close
my eyes at night.
I stopped and told myself that I had to get it together. She didnt want to hear
that. I wasnt sure what she wanted to hear, but Nicola didnt want to hear how I
was falling for her from only a few weeks together. I had to shut my mouth.
I know you didnt mean to, but it still hurt. I didnt want to talk to you
because Connie went all out and I didnt want to show my face. I wasnt on my
best behavior with her, and I know that I shouldnt have acted the way I did, but
she is truly hateful.
She wasnt getting off of Connie, and it made me wonder what all had
happened. I had been getting bits and pieces of it, but the subject matter kept
most people from commenting. I didnt know what was going on with them,
but I was going to get to the bottom of it.
I will get rid of her. I cant have her in the office. She has been my assistant
for a long time, but I know I cant keep someone like that around. I still want
you to come back to work. I hate having to order out, and Im no good in the
kitchen.
Nicola finally smiled, and I knew that she was thinking about coming back.
When she told me that she wouldnt, I could feel the smile sliding off of my
face. I didnt want to think about her being gone forever.
Im not coming back, Jerold. I dont want you as my boss anymore.
I dont understand. It was all wrong, a misunderstanding. Why would you
not come back? I will give you more money.
She shook her head and told me that it had nothing to do with the money.
Im working on getting my own place. I know that it wont be very elegant in
the beginning, but I dont want another boss. I want to be my own boss.
I had not seen that coming. I was a little surprised that she was going to start
a business. It was not that I didnt believe in her, but I didnt know how she was
going to manage fresh out of college. Her parents werent going to be able to
help her out. I was hesitant to ask about it, though.
Running a business is a lot of work, but Im sure you will do great. Have
you decided on a location yet?
Nicola bit her lip and kind of shrugged. Apparently it was not such easy
sailing as she had thought it would be. I could have told her why. There was a
reason that over half the businesses started failed in the first couple of years.
Without capital, I doubt she was even going to be able to secure a lease for
more than six months. There was a lot of upfront cost, if the small kitchen in
the office was any indication.
Not really, but Im working with the bank right now.
Do you have any investors?
She shook her head. That would be too close to a boss.
Ouch.
Well, if we are going to play, than we are not going to be able to work
together. I will figure something out on my end. Im not that worried about it.
She was putting down the rules. So help me, the tide had turned. I would not
push it on that one thing. But I knew that I was going to want to take control of
everything else. I wasnt going to argue, but I would still get involved.
Are we going to play?
It was the first time that night that she got that submissive look on her face. I
loved that look, and it made me want her right then. Could I push her, or was it
too soon?
I almost didnt care if she was ready for it or not. It had been far too long,
and all I could think about was losing the one opportunity that I had to be with
her again. I needed to get my hands on her, rein her back in.
I was hoping that we would, Jerold. I have missed you.
It was all I needed to hear. Standing up, I took her hand, almost pulling her
out of the chair because she wasnt moving fast enough.
Where are we going? The meal hasnt even come yet.
Im not hungry for food.

Chapter 4 Nicola

He started to take me towards the bathrooms. I told him no. Jerold had a
look on his face like he was going to do it anyways, but then he changed
directions and we were heading out the front door. Really, Jerold, what are
you doing?
Not answering me, he gave the ticket to the valet and told him to hurry up. I
was kind of giggling at him, until I saw the look in his eyes and my throat
constricted. I didnt know what to say or what to do. I was lost in the moment,
and then he moved in for a kiss. It matched his mood, impatient and a little out
of control. I had seen the bit of madness in his eyes, and while I had seen it
before, tonight it was as if something wild had been unleashed inside of him.
His mouth was hard, his tongue persistent until I let him in. Letting him back
in came with risks, but I knew that I had to give it a shot. I had missed him so
much, and my body remembered him well. It wasnt hard to forget that we
were in the front of a restaurant. Only when the valet was somehow beside us
did I realize that we were no longer alone.
It took Jerold longer to figure it out, and I had to push back on his chest.
The car.
He grinned, a grin that was full of mischief and transformed his face. This
was the man I remembered, and it made my heart clench a little. I had really
been lost without him. I had quickly learned that he was the part of life that I
had been missing. There were no more thoughts of Jamie or any of the other
guys before him. Jerold was exciting, and I could hear my heart beating a mile
a minute when I got in the car.
I thought I would be safe for a while, but before he had pulled away from
the curb, his hand had slid between my legs and he was checking for panties.
When he found that I wasnt wearing any, his finger pushed inside of me so
quickly that I cried out from the sudden pleasure of it all. I couldnt believe
how ready I was. My eyes closed and I didnt care that he was driving
distracted. As long as he didnt stop, I didnt think I was going to care about
any of it.
My hand covered his and I pressed down with his fingers. I just needed a
little more. He slapped my hand and then my wetness, hard enough to make a
sound that echoed in the car. It jolted me a little and made it hard to concentrate.
I just need something more. I wanted another slap. His fingers were already wet
and felt rather amazing.
You have been bad, Nicola.
Another slap and I opened my legs wider. I didnt care where we were, what
we were doing, all I cared about was his hand on me once more. The thought
consumed me. I was going to lose it. My hips rose up from the seat, and when
his hand came down again, I bit my lip in anticipation. Just a few more times
and I was going to lose it. My own hand moved to my breast and I started to
play with the nipple through my dress. It was getting hard and I could see its
outline.
Can you not control yourself?
I shook my head that I couldnt. If Id thought he would let me, I would have
touched myself right then. The slaps were too slow. It was like he knew that I
was on the verge. Sweat had broken out on my brow and I was feeling
desperate. Did he know that he was going to drive me insane?
Please, Jerold. Its been so long.
His hand moved closer and he started to tap a little faster. You did this to
yourself, Nicola. You denied me many times. Im going to make sure this time
that you cant get away from me.
That sounded a little ominous to my ears, but I was sure that he didnt mean
it the way I thought he did. I imagined things that made me finally come. It
washed over me so quickly that it took my breath away and I cried out. Jerold
didnt stop the steady movement of his hand when I tried to push him away. It
was starting to become too much, just like he himself.
Please, Jerold.
Only when I thought I was actually going to go insane did he stop. I couldnt
control myself, and before I knew what I was doing, I was promising to do
anything he wanted. He pushed the issue by making me promise that I would
never leave him again. In truth, it was so hard to think that I would have agreed
to almost anything. Every muscle in my body was tight, and I needed relief
more than anything else.
His hand finally stopped and I started to mellow down. I was breathing hard
and I couldnt think, but at least I was given a moment. It took several more
before I was able to open my eyes and look around. We were in a driveway that
I imagined was his, and the car was stopped. How had I not known that we were
stopped? How long had we been there? I wasnt sure.
When I felt his hand on my thigh, I could feel the wetness. I moaned at the
direction he was going.
You ready to go in?
Why did that feel like a loaded question?
Shaking my head, I got out and stared up at the large house. It was a
mansion, really, and I couldnt imagine living there. My practical side kicked
in and I wondered how long it would take to clean it every day. The thought
brought me a little more clarity, but not much. Jerold wrapped his arms around
my waist and pulled me into his hard body. His lips and teeth were nibbling
their way down my neck, biting me where it connected with my shoulder. The
act almost brought me to my knees and I had to settle myself. It was just too
much.
The door opened and I pushed away from him when someone answered.
The tall man didnt really look at me, but past us, and I just walked in. It was
strange and I wanted to look back, but Jerold was pushing me forward and I
was left to go where he directed me. It was just like old times. I was under his
spell once more.
We stopped at a door and he put a code into the panel next to it. The whole
house was modern and high tech, but it was only then that I really started to
notice it. When Jerolds hands were on me, it was hard to think about anything
else.
Where are we going?
Youll see.
Again he was being kind of ambiguous about his answers, leaving it open. I
wondered if he wanted me to imagine where it was we were going. We were
going down, and as the elevator started to move my stomach lurched a little
with it. I kept asking myself what I had gotten myself into.

Chapter 5 Nicola

There were no more keypads or doors. The elevator opened to a fairly


benign-looking room. I wasnt sure what Id been expecting; certainly not the
library-style room that I was in at the moment. Hed been a bit mysterious, and
now I wasnt sure if I was disappointed or relieved that it was so ordinary. The
ideas that had gone through my head were hard to take my mind off of, though,
and I was leaning more towards the former emotion.
Jerold moved to my side, and I could tell that he was reading my expression.
He kind of smiled and asked me what was wrong.
Nothing. I just wasnt sure what was down here.
I thought you would like a drink.
I agreed that I did and followed him towards a small bar. It blended in with
the rest of the dcor and I didnt notice it until he mentioned it. It was hard to
focus with wetness rubbing together on my thighs. I knew he was going to
pounce on me soon. He was just toying with me, like he was a cat, and in that
scenario I was the mouse to be consumed. Shivering, I looked away and tried
to control my thoughts. My face was getting red and I felt cornered when he
came back towards me. He handed me my drink, our hands brushing against
each other.
Do you have this down here so that you can get some peace?
Jerold shook his head and urged me to have a little to drink. I stared down at
the amber liquid in the glass. I didnt even ask what it was, I didnt care
anything that would give me a little fire down my throat to forget about the
dark gray eyes on me.
No, I do not want peace when Im down here.
Oh. My conversational skills were severely lacking at the moment, so I
finally took a drink, closing my eyes for a time at the taste. It was rather strong,
but it did exactly what I thought it would do. Finishing the glass that hed
handed me, I felt a little better and somehow a bit more prepared for him.
Would you like to see the rest of the downstairs?
I sort of nodded my head, still not sure if that was the right answer. Part of
me was asking myself what I was doing there. I knew him, well, but there was a
whole other element to the place that I couldnt shake. I knew that there was
more there than a small reading room. There had to be. His offer of a tour
made me nervous.
What else is down here?
Do you really not trust me, Nicola?
Jerold looked hurt, and I wanted him to know that I did trust him. I knew that
he wouldnt hurt me or anything like that, but I was still apprehensive.
Sometimes he thought of ways to pleasure me and drive me crazy that I totally
didnt expect. It wasnt that what he did was mean or aggressive. He was just
too creative, and he already seemed to know my body better than I did. A
couple of months had passed since hed had his hands on me, and again he was
playing me like a fiddle.
I do, Jerold. I do. I needed to convince myself a little bit as well. I did trust
him, but I didnt trust my body to handle what he could do to me. I already
knew what he could do in a short amount of time.
He held out his hand and told me to go with him. I did as he asked and hoped
that I had made the right decision. It was more than just a little fun. He had
doggedly pursued me since I stopped talking to him. His persistence gave me
an idea of the lengths he was willing to go to. That worried me, because I knew
that he was going to unusually great lengths with me. When I looked up to him
before we went into a darkened room, I knew that it was already too late. I
loved him and I knew that anything he asked, I would say yes to. That scared
me more than the room.
The overhead lights went on, and I squinted. It was too bright for my eyes
and it took a couple of minutes to adjust to the brightness of the room. The
room came into focus after I had blinked several times, my eyes almost
watering from the sudden change. There was a bed in the middle of the room
with four tall posters on each corner. My body started to shake instantly. I knew
that now he was going to pounce.
Do you still trust me?
His question threw me off a little bit, and my eyes were dragged from the
bed to him. Jerold was getting undressed as he walked towards me. His jacket
was first to go off, and I watched it fall to the floor. When he stopped feet from
me, I could feel the heat emanating off of him.
Do you?
There were no words. I could only move my head slightly. He was so close.
His thumb rubbed my chin. How could I not trust him?
The gestured seemed to be enough for a kiss. Then he started to move me
towards the bed. I could tell that he was holding on to control, his hands
shaking ever so slightly as he started to pull the dress off of my shoulders. I
liked the way his eyes darkened. It let me know how badly he wanted me, and it
made me want him even more. His face changed to lust when the dress fell
around me. I had nothing on underneath, no panties, bra or stockings. It was
how I wanted him to see me, as I was. He liked what he saw, and when his hand
came up to brush over my hard nipple, I shivered.
Do you know how beautiful you are?
I didnt answer. There was nothing to say. I had never felt as beautiful as
when he looked at me in that way. It was like I knew then how much I was
wanted and I couldnt help but see myself through his eyes. I liked to think of
what was next, not knowing what kind of game he would play. All I knew was
that if he didnt touch me soon, I was surely going to lose it.
He directed me onto the bed and told me to put my hands up. I did as he
asked, not really caring what was in his mind. I just wanted to be touched, and
as long as his hands were on me, I really wasnt going to care.
I should have known that he would be ready for me. The bed already had
straps on each corner, and the way he was so assured with his actions made me
nervous. He had done this before. By the proficiency of his actions, he had
done it many times in the past. I tested the binding and I knew that I was not
getting out until he let me go.
Now you cannot go anywhere. I may just leave you like this for a long
time, Nicola. Until you realize how much we need each other. You are mine,
and I will not let you leave me again.
I couldnt really answer him. The whole time he was talking, his hands were
moving down my body. He had gotten onto the bed with me, but he pulled my
legs apart. I didnt want to fight him anymore, didnt want to fight the feelings
and the urges that were going through me. When I knew where he was going, I
closed my eyes and waited for the hot breath at my core. This time I wasnt
held down and made to sit in place, so I was able to backtrack a little before the
bindings got the best of me. Instead of worrying about it though, I just tried to
cope with the feelings rushing through me.
Yes, Jerold, Im going to come!
He stopped abruptly. So abruptly that I wasnt able to do what I said I was
going to. I whimpered and whined a little. I even begged. Anything for him to
finish me off. Jerold just looked at me, his face a little wet from my juices and
his eyes on my writhing body.
Please, Jerold. I need you.
You didnt need me for two months. Why now?
I closed my eyes. I was starting to regret the whole trust thing. How long
was he going to keep me like this? Now I couldnt touch myself, and that was
going to drive me even crazier. Because I need you and I feel like Im going
to explode if I dont have you inside of me again.
I could tell that my words got to him. His eyes narrowed and the grey was
hard to see. He didnt answer me. His lips were poised to, but nothing came out.
Instead he moved in between my legs and rubbed his hard head against my clit
a few times, tapping it and then moving to where I needed him most. I did feel
like I was going to explode one way or another.
There was no time to care. The choice was made for me as he drove in. My
thighs gripped his sides as he pushed in one time, quickly and hard enough to
move my whole body. It was too much, and I couldnt stop myself from
screaming out his name. It had been too long, and he was all that I had needed.
Jerold stayed like that for some time, letting me shake and tremble,
clenching him hard enough that his own jaw was rock solid.
God, I love to hear your little moans.
I couldnt think. His penetration began moving back and surging forward
again. When I opened my eyes, he was watching my face. Our eyes met and he
pushed in slowly, as far as he could go, until he hit bottom, pushing deep,
forcing my eyes shut. It was just too intense. I could feel the next orgasm
pushing through me, and I was ready. He kissed me at my first moan. It was
surprising because it took me off guard. I had never felt so good in all of my
life. I wanted to touch him, cling to him, but I was left to just take what he gave
me. As he moved faster, it became harder to deal with his hard thrusting.
Please, Jerold. I want to feel all of you.
I didnt really know what I needed, but I wanted his hot seed inside of me. I
couldnt come anymore. My insides collapsed around his length, urging him to
give me what I wanted. I knew that he was close, and the tighter I clenched, the
more erratic the pushing was. Finally he was as lost as I was, and I heard my
name as a broken whisper. I love you, Nicola. God, I love you.

Chapter 6 Jerold

I watched her sleep. I had taken away the bindings and I had held her for a
long time before I went to sleep. Nicola was still sleeping, and I was tempted to
wake her up and take her again, but I didnt know if she had something to do
that would pull her away from me. I didnt know what her day was like. I didnt
like that fact. I should know. I should know everything about her. I had meant
what I had said yesterday. All I had thought about was how I was going to make
her mine. It was not a question of when or why, but mainly how. How was I to
convince her to submit to me for life?
Her brown eyes opened, and I felt a smile spread across my face. She was
perfect and I wanted her to be mine forever. Once or twice wasnt enough. I
wondered sometimes if it would ever be enough. I really wasnt sure that it
would be.
Good morning, Nicola. Im glad to see that youre finally up.
She smiled back at me and I was lost in the moment. I couldnt speak, and all
of the wonderful things that I was going to tell her slipped away. Before I knew
it, I was on top of her, sliding into the hot, wet center that always seemed ready
for me. It took me some time to satisfy myself with her enough to even get out
of bed. I had never stayed down there overnight and I found it strange in a way.
Do you have anything that you want to do today?
Nicola shrugged and told me that she had a couple of meetings with
bankers. She was still trying to get funding. I knew that she didnt really want to
talk about it. I was probably the last person that she could talk to about money. I
knew that she was independent, and I imagined that the independence went to all
aspects of her life. But she was mine now, so she was going to have to get used
to the way things were going to be. I was going to be there for her in all ways,
and her business was going to be no different.
I didnt suggest that I go with her. I knew that it would not be what she
wanted, but I planned to talk to the bank as soon as she left. I wanted her to have
everything that she needed, and I was willing to sign for her. Not that she would
ever know. It would just be a guarantee that I would cover her if anything
happened. Nicola was trustworthy and she was going to great. I just didnt want
her to know I was helping.
Well, let me take you back home so you dont miss your appointments.
Thanks, Jerold. I would appreciate that. I dont want to miss the chance.
So Ill pick you up about eight oclock tonight.
It wasnt a question, and she just kind of nodded her head. She was back
under my spell, and I was going to use a firm hand to keep her in line. I was so
worried about everything else that I had forgotten who I was and who she was.
Pulling her to me, I kissed her hard on the mouth to remind both of us. I
wanted to be reminded that she was in fact mine and I wasnt going to lose her
again. And I wanted to remind her of what I could do to her body and to her
mind.
***
I cant believe that you went behind my back and talked to the banks! I was
going in to sign the final contract and Marshall let it slip. How could you do
that?
I have no say in your business. That is yours. I have no stake in anything. I
just wanted to make sure that you were given the chance. You deserve it.
I could tell that she wasnt at all pleased about it. I had gone down to the
bank weeks ago, and this was the first time that shed raised her voice to me
since wed gotten back together. Everything was going perfectly, and I wasnt
going to let a misunderstanding ruin what we had now.
I dont care how much money you have, Jerold, you cant buy me.
I dont want to buy you. You are already mine, Nicola. I just want you to be
happy. I will never interfere. I have no rights. Its really just a guarantee to the
bank. Why couldnt she see that it wasnt a bad thing? It was me putting my
reputation and everything else on the line because I needed her so badly.
I dont like the idea of you going behind my back. You knew that I
wouldnt have agreed to it if Id known.
I acknowledged that fact. It was of course the reason that I had done it the
way I had. If I could have told her, I would have. Its too late now. The
restaurant is getting its first stock shipped in tomorrow, and I know that you
are going to do great.
I cant let you do this.
She was stubborn. I kissed her, watching her eyes close and feeling her body
melt against me. I would have to do this often if I was going to have her as
mine, but I was okay with that. I was okay with using my lips to change her
mind. She would learn one way or another that I was going to be there for her
always.
You dont have a choice, Nicola. I have already done it.
I told you that I didnt want you as my boss.
You are mine, Nicola. I dont care what you call it, but you are mine. I want
you to call me your husband. You are carrying my child, and I love you more
than I could ever admit. That is what I want from you Nicola. Not anything else.
I dont want your business, I just want you happy. Why cant you see that?
I hated the way my voice sounded. It sounded like I was desperate. Then I
realized that I most likely was. She kind of made me feel a little crazy and it
was coming out. I had just let it slip that I loved her again. Now I had to wait
and see what she said. It was the longest moment of my life. It was like I
couldnt breathe at all.
You love me?
Her voice was tiny. It made me look down at her, finally meeting her eyes
and no longer afraid of what I was going to find.
Of course I love you.
What do you mean that Im carrying your child?
I kind of chuckled and watched her mind try to do the math.
I can tell, baby. Your breasts are getting larger and more sensitive. You
moan louder when I suck on them, and there is a slight rounding to your
stomach. When you are ready you can go to the doctor, but I will tell you now
that you are with child, my child. So will you marry me, Nicola?
I had been expecting to ask her for a while. Ever since I had gotten her back,
I knew that I was going to have to ask her the right way. I pulled out the ring
that had been in my jacket pocket next to the bed. Her eyes started to water and I
knew then that she was mine. She was not going to leave me. She was going to
be mine forever.
She nodded her head yes. I pulled her in for a kiss. It was the first time that I
knew that she was finally mine for good. Her body molded against mine, and I
wished we could stay in that moment forever. It was perfect. It was more than I
could have asked for.
I knew you would be mine the first time I met you, Nicola.
Now that Im yours, what are you going to do to me?
I gave her a devilish look. So many things ran through my head, but for
now, I just wanted to take my prize.

~The End~

Designer For The Billionaire

A Billionaire Romance Novel

(Contemporary Romance Novels)



Book 1


PROPOSITIONED
By
Ashlee Price

Description

When Grazia Fabiola comes to the attention of billionaire Marshall Levitt,


she doesnt realize her life is about to change.
Marshall is used to getting what he wants, and if he has to fight for it, then
all the better. A self-made man, he appreciates that not everything in this life
comes easilyand Grazia is the epitome of unapproachable.
But the fight makes it so much sweeter, and when Marshall wants something,
or someone, failure isnt an option.
Grazias life is complicated, and where there are complications, Marshall
knows theres an in.
Hell do whatever he has to do get Grazia into his bed; and with billions of
dollars at his fingertips, he can do anything to get what he wants.
Being at the center of a silken web, Grazia has to come to terms with this
whole new world, because when a billionaire wants you and will do anything
to have you, suddenly nothing makes sense, and a trip down the rabbit hole
seems like a vacation

Chapter One Grazia

Hes watching you again.


I cant help but roll my eyes at my assistant. I cant tell whether shes
jealous, encouraging, or out-and-out disgusted by the attention Im getting
from one of the charity balls most lauded and wealthiest attendees.
Its not that I dont appreciate the attention, because I do. I am a woman, after
all. But after a while, running around in these circles, you start to realize the
attention isnt all that flattering. The guys roaming around these events think
the staff are good for one thing and one thing only The day I become a
mans toy is the day pigs fly over a frozen hellsimply put, it aint gonna
happen.
My voice is dismissive. Well, theres not much for him to see. Its nearly
pitch black around here.
She snorts. Then he has great night vision, because I swear to God, his
head moves when you bend down.
Hard pressed not to snicker, I have to bite my bottom lip to contain my
amusement. Jessie needs no encouragement as it is. Shes five years younger
than me, granted, but her immaturity still astounds me. If her skills at
organizing werent as impressive as they are, I doubt Id have kept her on.
Sometimes that immaturity has consequences, and with her, that manifests itself
in an inability to hold her tongue. I usually keep her on a leash when were at
events, have her trailing behind me where I can keep an eye on her, but there
always seems to be that one time when my back is turned and I somehow hear
her managing to insult someone. Its inadvertent, but tell that to the many pissed
off New York denizens left in Jessies wake.
To be fair, if she insults them, they usually deserve it. And I figure if those
insults make me laugh, then hell, how can I fire her?
Whether hes studying my ass or wondering where I bought my shoes
from, theres nothing either of us can do about it, so lets just get on with it. We
have too much shit to do and not enough time to do it in, I tell her, peering
down at my clipboard and trying to see where we are in the schedule. I would
love to switch on the flashlight on my cell phone instead of straining my eyes,
but that would only draw attention to myself, and apparently Im already on
Marshall Levitts radar.
My team and I are supposed to be ghosts at events like these. If the main
benefactor knows where were at, then were not doing our jobs properly.
Although if his eyes are on my butt, like I told Jessie, my hands are tied. Not
like I can do much to hide it. Goddammit, whats the next lot? I snap under
my breath when squinting gets me nowhere.
The helicopter ride over the city. Apparently Jessie has outstanding night
vision too, because how she can see the list in the dark is beyond me. When I
stare up at her in astonishment, she grunts and waves her tablet in front of me.
In the dim back light, I can see the list of lots for the charity auction. I swear to
God, Grazia, you need to start using technology. She draws out the syllables
in the last word, obviously trying to make a point.
Though the point hits home, I just sniff. Were incompatible. And its the
truth.
How can you be incompatible? My eighty-nine-year-old great-
grandmother has a newer cell phone than you do, and my four-year-old cousin
knows how to switch on her tablet without asking someone to do it for her.
Youre talking yourself out of a job, Jessie. If I wanted to use technology, I
wouldnt hire you. I cock a brow at her, amused when she just shakes her head
at me, totally bypassing my pointed warning.
I prefer to hire her to keep my diary in order rather than use a cell phone.
Shuddering at the notion of storing all my day-to-day info on a
motherboard, or whatever the hell they call it, I reach for my walkie-talkie
when the auctioneer starts to call out for final bids and whisper, Dave, I need
you to start the projector in five, four As I let the countdown reach its
pinnacle, the projection hits the back wall at the perfect moment: the banging
down of the gavel.
A sharp gasp rises from the crowd as the thirty-foot video footage
overtakes the back wall. The flight over Manhattan, around the Hudson, and
over the city skyline looks even more impressive than usual on such a large
scale. And the picture quality is close to HD. Considering its the star lot, the
grandeur is definitely necessary.
Looks good, doesnt it? Jessie asks, envy in her tone. Imagine being able
to use that as a taxi for the day.
Sniggering, I tell her, I wouldnt phrase it like that. I doubt you can use it to
go and do your grocery shopping.
No? Youre telling me that any of the bidders arent going to take
advantage of having wings at their disposal? It was her turn to chuckle.
Youre so naive sometimes, Grazia.
Amused at her lofty tone, I nudge her with my elbow and watch as the
auctioneer starts to list the key features of the lot. Scanning the crowd to
ascertain the interest, I cant help but notice Marshall Levitts seat is currently
empty.
Considering its his donation, I suppose hes not exactly interested.
However, despite my words to Jessie, I have been keeping an eye on him.
The last event I organized where he attended, a small dinner party for the
new CEO of a tech startup that had just gone global, he cornered me in the
dining room before the meal started.
I say cornered, but I didnt feel threatened. But he definitely singled me out
with the notion of asking me something. I wouldnt be curious as to his
location now if hed managed to disclose just what he wanted to ask, but
Deirdre, the CEOs wife, popped in desperate to ask me a question about the
party.
I havent seen Marshall since. Which means a talk is long overdue, whether I
want it or not.
Looking a little deeper into the crowd, and still seeing nothing, I carry on
with my tasks. Jessie bustles along beside me, throwing in sarcastic comments
here and there about some of the patrons, but Im used to the background
noise, and though most of her remarks are amusing, Im too busy to take much
notice.
By the end of the evening, Ive still failed to see Marshall in the crowd after
that last time. The auction, though, can be considered a great success, and as an
events organizer, there is no better music to my ear than praise from the rich
and wealthy patrons of high society. Theyre my bread and butter, after all. One
good event leads to a handful of smaller ones and usually another of a similar
size. Though this isnt my calling, I have bills to pay, so more accounts is
exactly what I need to stay out of the red.
Packing up seems to take as long as setting out has, and when Jessie starts
yawning, I cant blame her. Late start tomorrow, I tell her when, with another
yawn, she picks up a box loaded with paraphernalia that were taking back to
the minivan.
How late? she asks eagerly, dumping the box in the back of the trunk to
stare up at me with hopeful eyes.
Its like looking at a puppy, dammit. Sometimes, saying no to her is
incredibly hard.
I wrinkle my nose as I concentrate on tomorrows diary. Theres that party
at nine. We dont need to be there until five. Get to the office for three.
She gawks at me. Seriously?
Christ, Jessie, anyone would think Im a slave driver.
Its her turn to wrinkle her nose at me. I never said that.
No, but youre not denying it, either.
A chuckle escapes her. Were just very busy, thats all. When theres work,
theres work, which is all for the good. She shrugs. But I certainly wont
complain about an afternoon start.
Whats this about an afternoon start? Dave asks, joining us with two
overlarge and stuffed-full bags in his enormous paws.
Jessie gigglesshe has a huge crush on Dave. Grazias decided to play
nice and let us sleep in.
I roll my eyes at her antics. Not only does her voice sound so sugary sweet
its a wonder Dave doesnt catch diabetes by osmosis, but the way shes
pushing into him, swaying her body into his, well, either Dave is very, very
dumb or completely uninterested.
Though the man is a lighting and technical genius, I think its the former
rather than the latter. Daves one of those salt-of-the-earth guys who have no
idea when it comes to women.
One of these days Ill end up matchmaking, I know it. Because, hell, if I
leave it up to these two, Ill still be watching them giggle and guffaw at each
other when Im drawing my 401K.
Shaking my head at my own ridiculousness, I open the minivan and climb
behind the wheel. Lauren, Amanda, and Williamthe rest of my staffall pop
up, various containers in their hands. They stack them in the trunk while I
check my email and wait for them to do their thing. Theyve all worked for me
long enough to know the score, so I know I can take a breather while they
organize the trunk.
The content of my inbox is both a blessing and a curse. I started organizing
events as a favor to an old sorority sister, who had more connections than
brain synapses and couldnt organize a party to save her life. Word slowly but
surely spread after what can only be classed as an epic soiree one night until
Id accrued a reputation of my own. One that rivals some of the bigwig firms
in the city.
But it isnt my passion. It pays the bills because my other love, fashion
design, doesnt.
Every event I organize robs me of the time I need to hone my craft, which is
in desperate need of honing, truth be told. Its been a good six weeks since I
actually sat down behind the sewing machine, and at least two weeks since I
designed anything other than a seating plan for a party on my lists.
Any hope that I can get some serious time behind the sewing machine
tomorrow morning disappears at the sight of my inbox. My email boasts three
more events: two definites from regular clients and then a third from no other
than Marshall Levitt. Not that the email was written by him. God forbid. It was
his PA, writing on his behalf. Somehow, I know the job is mine even though
hes requested an interview with me. Hell, I wouldnt be surprised if Marshall
has conjured up the whole thing simply as an excuse to work with me one-on-
one.
As big-headed as that sounds, you have to understand just who Marshall
Levitt is. He gets what he wants. Tenacious as a bulldog with a string of
sausages being wafted before his nose. In this case, I get the feeling Im the
knockwurst.
Though the thought makes me grin, I shrug it off. Im nobodys sausage.
Even if Marshall is attractive and one of New Yorks most eligible bachelors,
theres a reason hes earned that titlehes perennially single. Undoubtedly, he
wants it to stay that way, which means Id only ever be a notch on his bedpost.
Something that would never happen.
With that reasoning, I can calm any qualms I might have about being at the
focus of a billionaire tycoons attention.
Yeah, right. If thats true, why have butterflies suddenly taken residence in
my belly?
Shit, I hate lying to myself. Its so damn pointless.
More events? Jessie asks when theres a lull in her flirting with Dave. She
peers over my shoulder and nudges me from thoughts of tech entrepreneurs
with more money than sense.
I dont bother to cover my PDA because usually shes the one who wields it,
and she does a far better job than me. Yeah. I pass her the phone and,
realizing all my crew are in the van, stop idling and set off.
Though its the early hours of the morning, the traffic is still bona fide nuts
and requires far more concentration than it should. As I drive, the rest of the
crew chats and discusses the eventfor discuss, read bitch about the
partygoers, and Christ, theres so much to bitch aboutand Jessie talks to me
about the bookings weve just received. Its a testament to how good we both
are at our jobs that within a handful of minutes of reading the clients emails
were discussing some of the finer details of the proposed parties.
I know when she finally reaches Marshall Levitts email because she blows
out a wolf whistle. Considering her mouth is pretty close to my ear, the sound
has me jolting and almost swerving the car into the next lane in surprise. What
the fuck, Jessie! I holler, getting the car back under control.
Oops.
Amanda whacks her on the arm. Watch what youre doing, Jess. Christ, are
you trying to get us killed?
Im just surprised, thats all! she bursts out defensively. I told you Levitt
was looking at you like you were a piece of prime rib and hed been vegan for
too long.
Despite my irritation with her, I snicker. Then groan. Dont make me laugh.
Im too tired to laugh. And I am. The weariness has settled into my bones until
I know the only way forward is for me to climb into bed the instant I get home
to sleep it off. Therell be no sewing tonight. Nothing that nurtures my soul
rather than my wallet.
Before I can grumble anymore, Jessie pokes me in the arm. Watch out for
him, Grazia. Im telling you, the way he looks at you isnt right.
Like the way you look at a certain guy is right? I scoff.
I only make the comment because I know the others are back in full-on
bitch-fest mode. When she pokes me again, I chuckle. Dont bring that up,
she warns. Especially not to keep me silent. You need to know this, Zia. He
wants you.
There are worse things in life than to be wanted by a man like Marshall
Levitt.
Even though Ive never been one to appreciate money and power over
character and sensibilities, I have to admit that, while Im not interested in
anything close to a one-night-stand, theres a rush in knowing such a powerful
man is pulling strings to get me alone with him.
I guess that rush tells me more than Ive already figuredI must be attracted
to the guy too, because I already know Im not going to turn down his offer of
employment. If anything, Ill be there simply out of curiosity now.
That conversation he wanted to have with me was obviously pretty
important, and now, its almost imperative I find out just what it is he wants.
As Jessie falls silent, concern obviously making her pensive, I let my mind
wander onto exactly what a man like Marshall could want from me, and more
importantly, what Im willing to let a man like him take

Chapter Two Grazia

Miss Fabiola, may I speak with you?


The low tone sends shivers down my spine. For the first time in my life, I
can understand the simile: like silk over gravel. Its soft, sensuous, yet with a
rumble that is utterly masculine.
Gulping at how attracted I am to the voice, I turn around and see a man I
noticed watching me earlier. Hes tall and rangy, but with a strength that I know
was forged on a school athletic field. In fact, with his dark wavy hair, sun-
bronzed face complete with strong jaw, and nose that was probably been
broken during some game, hes the epitome of the football players Ive always
crushed over but who have never, ever noticed me.
I was a late bloomerat least, that was what my Nonna used to say when I
came home in tears at not having a boyfriend or angry that not a single one of
my crushes liked me back. Seeing a man who appeals to both the young and
older versions of me brings me back to the days when Nonna was still alive,
and for that reason alone, I smile at him rather than casting a stern frown his
way.
Clients and guests sometimes think Im free game. Like because Im there
organizing their party, I should reorganize them between the sheets.
The guy holds out a hand. Im Levitt. Marshall Levitt.
Id have to be a moron not to recognize the citys latest hot commodity. And
Im not an idiot. Hes been in a couple of business magazines I subscribe to,
and Ive read the articles about his past. My supposition that he has the look of
a football player is reinforced by a tidbit remember reading in one of those
editorials. Not that much was mentioned about his past. I noticed that. When a
question was geared towards his history, about the times that made him the man
he is today, he managed to twist it around so that the only information his
answer revealed was about current affairs and events.
All told, I cant deny that I admired his sneakiness.
As well as him in a suit.
Business journals dont exactly have pinups on their covers all that often;
they struck it rich the day they managed to get Levitt on their books, thats for
damn sure. I wouldnt be surprised if women all over the planet, even those
who didnt give a damn about the business worlds movers and shakers, picked
up copies just to drool over this guy.
Holding out my hand in return, Im jerked out of my reverie when he
doesnt shake it, but cups my fingers, turns my wrist and then raises it to his
mouth. The instant his lips brush against the tender skin of my knuckles, a
shiver runs down my spine. Its the tickle of his soft mouth combined with the
unexpectedness of the chivalrous and definitely outr move.
I stare down at the top of his dark head and gulp. Its a pleasure to meet
you, Marshall. I prefer not to stand on ceremony if I can help it, and in this
case, I figure hes definitely taken us down the rabbit hole with a greeting that
belongs in a Cary Grant movie.
If those are his moves, then that doubles his attraction.
Ive always been the sort of girl who prefers gentlemen to bad boys.
The pleasures all mine.
You can call me Grazia. If youd like, I add on quickly. As far as Im
aware, theres no reason for a man of Levitts caliber to need to speak to me
unless its about business. And even then, I cant imagine how I can be of help
to him.
Im small fry. My business is good, solid, and I work with some of the citys
elite, but hes corporate. From the tips of his hand-tooled leather shoes to the
top of his three-hundred-dollar haircut.
Id like, he replies simply, and his smile about robs me of all air. His left
front tooth is curved in just a tad, saving his mouth from the perfection that
could describe the rest of him.
I can feel myself gawking at him, staring at him in a shameful cloud of awe,
as Im left wondering what it would be like to feel those soft lips not just
against my knuckles but against my mouth. To feel the pressure there, to taste
him
The thought jerks me back to life and I tug my hand from his and try to
shove on a professional smile. Whether I succeed or not is anyones guess.
This man has thrown me for a loop, and that rarely happens.
I could be pissed off about starting off in a position of weakness, but screw
it. Its been so long since Ive been attracted to anyone that Im almost relieved
to feel my ovaries kick-starting into action.
All work and no play has made Grazia a very dull girl.
More than that, its made her a very horny one.
How can I help? I ask, polite as can be as I try to get the situation back
under control. Somehow that feels like an impossibilitycontrolled is not the
way Id describe myself at the moment. Flustered, definitely. In charge, nope.
He shoves his hands into his pockets and does this odd shrug that has his
hips jerking forward a little; maybe my minds in the gutter, or maybe its true,
but Im sure the move was made to make me look at his crotch.
And damn, it worked.
But even though I have my suspicions, when I look up at him, he appears
neither interested or disinterested, amused or arrogantly aware that my gaze
was most definitely fastened on that most masculine of his very luscious parts.
Hell, I know my imagination is wild when a man shrugs and I immediately
think hes posturing to impress me.
Help He almost breathes the word, and his tone has me thinking of
starlit nights and the moons rays pooling in a circle where the pair of us stand
and I help divest him of his clothes. Im close to shuddering when he continues,
Ive seen you at several events now, and
You have? I butt in, surprised that a man of his stature has bypassed my
attention. Im the one, after all, who handles the majority of the invitations, and
its my job to know whos who at any party Im organizing.
He waves a hand at my surprise. The perks of my position. An invitation
isnt always a requirement to open doors.
On anyone else, the arrogant assertion would have pissed me right off.
Instead, I know it to be the truth. Hes top dog in a city of top dogs theres no
avoiding that reality. It is how it is, and ignoring it would be idiotic.
I just wish Id known. It would do my reputation good to have it known Ive
handled events for the most elite of the citys elite.
Are you interested in my services?
The instant the words pop out, I wish I could recall them. His grin is wicked,
and it sends thrills of excitement shooting through me. Why? Because theres
something honest about his attraction to me. And I like it.
I dont like games. I never have. Ill run if theres a whiff of having to play
hard to get with any man. But here, I can tell that whatever he wants from me,
hell be up front about it. Well, when hes not teasing me.
Oh, Im definitely interested in your services. His eyes flare wide. Im
just not wholly certain what the full range of those services is.
Its my turn to grin. I purse my lips before it gets too wide though. Hes
essentially doing what I just complained aboutthinking that because Im on
the staff, I do anything, but I can tell theres nothing sly going on here. His
approach is open; were standing in the dining room where a dozen other
people are talking and socializing, for Gods sake. Theres nothing underhand
about this.
I have a website, I mock. GraziaFabiola.com. Everything I do is itemized
on there. You can also find my contact details on the site. If my services
appeal to you, then youll know where to get in touch with me.
But I do prefer the personal touch, dont you? He moves closer, and
rather than back off as I ought to, I angle into him, inadvertently making our
positioning all that more intimate.
Is it wrong that being more intimate with this man is the only thing on my
mind?
Everything is very impersonal nowadays, isnt it? I concur, even though I
know this is totally unprofessional and I should back off.
Wondering what hell say by way of response, Im consumed with
disappointment when Deirdre, the hostess and my client, bustles up behind me
and hisses, Zia, wheres Charles?
Jerked from the intimacy of our conversation, I turn to her with a
professional smile. Probably where he always is, Deirdre.
She glowers at me, but the malice isnt aimed my way but at her
unsuspecting husband. Why do we have these parties if hes going to spend
half his time in the den? she grumbles mostly to herself.
I can understand why shes pissed. Ive handled over half a dozen events for
her, and each and every time, Charles has slunk off to desk, leaving Deidre to
work the room.
Id be pissed too, if I were her.
Ill go and get him, I tell her easily, then turn back to Levitt and feel
disappointment flood me when I realize hes no longer there
In fact, even two weeks on, I can still feel disappointment that our
conversation was so rudely interrupted. The way he approached me could have
meant one of two things; he was coming on to me, or he really needed my help
with an event.
If my female intuition isnt totally rusty, then Id say he was coming onto
me. At least, I hope he was.
Its been a while since my bed saw any action, and with a man like Levitt
between the sheets, I have no doubt action would be an understatement.
Shuddering at the thought, I take my shearing scissors and cut through the
bolt of fabric in even strides. The sound of the cloth giving way is like music
to my ears. When the piece is separate from the bolt, I lay it out on my work
surface in front of me.
My loft is split into three sections. The tiniest part is where I live. Even
though the space is huge, Ive made that part a studio. I sleep and eat, chill out
and wash in one fifth of the available space. The other four-fifths belong to my
events officewhere Jessie also has a deskand then my design studio.
The latter part is my favorite. Its here where I come up with my creations
and do what I do best: fashion design.
On the back wall, there are huge bolts of fabric in all different shades of
brown and bluetheyre the colors Im working with at the moment. Then
theres a work desk with a sewing machine, and another where I cut out the
different patterns requisite to each design. I have another surface laden with
different pots and boxes of buttons and decorationseverything from
rhinestones to sequins. The rest of the room is dedicated to closets, each
drowning with threads in hundreds of different colors as well as other bits and
pieces that I sometimes need at a moments notice.
Everything I do in here, I do alone. Not only is that how I prefer it, its also
the only way to keep this affordable.
As it stands, I have two regular clients, both small clothing stores that stock
my designs on a piece-by-piece basis. Because theyre high-end and my
designs have proven popular, I dont make a total loss on what I create. One of
the best money earners, though, is when the stores send clients my way and I
get to create bespoke outfits for everyone that walks through my door.
About 45% of my business involves bespoke designs, and thats what Im
working on at the moment. A dress for a client whose birthday party is coming
up. Ive been running behind on this piece, which is why Im cutting out the
pattern now rather than sleeping.
The auction tonight was tiring, and I wont deny that Im exhausted. On the
way home, bed was calling me, but after the crew cleared out the minivan and
stocked it with some of what well be needing for tomorrows event, I woke up.
By getting this pattern cut out now, I can get started on some of the detailing in
the morning, and I wont feel as useless as I usually do if Ive been too busy to
spend any time in my design studio.
This, here, is where Im at home. Where Im at peace.
If I could give up the organizing, I totally would. But though Im busy, its
all relative. I have less time to dedicate to my craft, and therefore Im always
on the go. If this was my full-time job, Id have a lot of time on my hands.
Although I guess Id be able to supply my two indie shops with more
items
Wrinkling my nose at the thought, because its more tempting than Id like, I
smooth my hand over the silk cutouts. Its a beautiful bolt of Dupioni silk in a
color thats close to lapis lazuli. The design includes tiny detailed beading with
the same stone, and I know that part is going to be a bitch. Fiddly work always
eats up time, and time is a commodity I dont have much of.
I should be more careful with my designs, but they talk to me and theres no
way Im going to undercut them and make them lesser simply because I dont
have enough hours in a day. It would shame me to finish a piece that fell short
of its potential.
As I line up the pieces for tomorrow, the phone rings. Reaching for it, I spot
Jessies number. What do you want, brat? I thought youd be snoring away by
now.
Truth is, Jessies more of a friend than simply an employee, so I tend to talk
to her like the former rather than the latter. Ive gotten used to her ways, and
doing without her would suck. In both my personal life and my work.
He has mistresses.
I blink at that greeting. Huh? Who does?
That Levitt guy.
What? I blurt out, stunned by both the information as well as the fact shes
been cyber-stalking our potential new client. What are you doing looking him
up?
Jessies snort is far more adult than her usual immature self would allow.
Guess. I can almost see her rolling her eyes at me. I wanted to know more
about him, duh. The guy undressed you so many times tonight its a wonder he
didnt have you stripping and dancing around a pole.
Now its my turn to roll my eyes. Shut up.
No, I wont! You shouldnt mess with this guy, Zia. Honestly, hes like a
man-eater. Or in this case, a woman-eater.
He wants to meet on business, I try to soothe, touched despite myself at
her concern. I cant turn his kind of work down, Jessie. You know that. I
could, actually. Were busy enough, but Im curious. I want to know what he
wants, and if that includes me, then I might surprise myself by not turning him
down
Well, at least let me come with you.
I cant. I checked the schedule. I need you to go to the bakery with the
Morrises.
She groans. They still havent decided on their wedding cake?
No. And times ticking away. I sigh. Im a big girl, Jessie. Ill be fine. But
thank you for caring.
You need to be careful, Zia. I just looked up his name and girlfriend and
all this stuff hit me. I mean, some of the articles used the word partner , but a
lot of the columns just came right out with mistress! Its like the Dark Ages
or something.
Amused at her disgust, I tut in sympathy. Youre right. Its terrible.
It really is, she continues, her tone so earnest my heart melts. I dont want
you ending up as one of them.
Hell, if it meant ending up in the mans bed, Im not too certain Id back
away from the idea. Then, chuckling because Im hardly mistress material, I
tell Jessie, Hes got the whole city at his fingertips. Why would he come after
me?
Duh, because youre beautiful. She grunts. I swear to God, I need to buy
you a new mirror. Plus, you have that whole unapproachable thing going on.
Men dig that shit.
They do? I blink at that, because its the first Ive heard of it. All that being
unapproachable has gotten me is never being approached by a guy. Hardly
useful when my right hand and my BOB are both close to worn out from all
the workouts theyve been getting of late.
Im sure youre wrong. A man of his status wouldnt ask me to meet him in
his office, Jessie, not if he wanted to ask me out on a date. Shit; thats the truth.
Christ, there go my hopes.
Silence falls on the other end of the line as Jessie realizes the unfortunate
truth behind my words. Youre right. He wouldnt, would he?
No. Not unless he wanted to open himself up to a lawsuit. Dammit.
A relieved sigh gusts into my ear. I was so worried. You didnt see how he
was looking at you, Zia.
I made sure I didnt. The last thing I needed was to be distracted all night.
It was hard enough not primping and fussing over my appearance when I
had work to do, but actively avoiding looking his way was close to impossible.
Thankfully, I was very busy, and the work kept me on the straight and narrow.
The last thing I needed was to be looking at him with calf eyes. Somehow I
doubt Id have been as appealing if I was staring after him like a love-struck
teenager.
Thank you for caring, sweetheart, I tell her warmly, meaning every word
of it. I know were friends, but I didnt realize shed do something like this for
me.
Theres a shrug in her voice. Youd do the same for me.
Youre right, I would. And on that note, I pounce. When are you going to
stop beating around the bush with Dave? At least with him, we dont need to
Google him.
She pshaws. Were talking about your love life. Not mine.
What love life, I feel like asking, but instead I huff, Yours is as dire as
mine. Dave has no idea you have a crush on him.
Theres silence, and then a wail hits me. I know!
Want me to drop some hints? I ask around a chuckle.
No. I know shes pouting. Maybe.
Ill see what I can do.
Thanks, Zia, she replies, then sighs. You sure youre going to be okay at
that meeting?
I have two choices.
Well, Im here if you need me. And if that guy even mentions any word
associated with the bedroom, get ready to sue his ass.
Snorting, I just say, Night, Jessie.
She grumbles off a farewell of her own and then cuts the call. Shaking my
head at her, I tidy up in the studio, then wander over to the other side where the
door is. Turning off the light, I yawn on my way to the bedroom.
That room has seen decidedly little action over the past year, and I know the
thought has only cropped up because I would very much like Marshall Levitt to
be the one who changes all that.
I know its stupid. I know hes way out of my league. Even if hes the one
who instigated the flirting, men do all kinds of weird shit for even weirder
reasonsmaybe, despite his wealth, hes a tight bastard and thinks flirting with
me will make me cut my rate Stranger shit has happened.
But even though I caution myself as I climb into bed, its too late for that.
Though Jessie would be disgusted, if Levitt decides hed like to do more
with me than just eat me up with his eyes, I highly doubt Ill say no. Christ, Im
looking forward to being made a meal of.

Chapter Three Marshall

Miss Grazia Fabiola has just arrived in reception, sir. Shall I escort her
up?
When Mirandas voice pierces the intercom speaker, I smile. Not at her
voice, but at her words.
Shes here.
Please do, Miranda. Also, upon your return, bring tea.
Certainly, sir.
Miranda, Im certain, is part robot and part humanoid. Though shes
beautiful, she makes blocks of ice seem warm and cozy. Nearly all my friends
have hit on her at some point, and each and every one has ultimately failed.
Something that only makes me respect her more. Not that I wouldnt respect
her if she started to date any of the bastards I call pals, but still, her taste tells
me a lot about her. All of it good.
Rubbing my hands together, I realign the papers on my desk, quickly
brushing the crumbs from the protein bar I ate a few minutes ago into the trash
can. I take a quick sip of water, then reach into my drawer for a breath mint. I
highly doubt shell let me kiss her during this interview, but hell, theres no
harm in a man preparing. Christ, preparation was how I made my fortune, and
Im not ashamed to admit that.
I sit back in my seat, letting it rock as I decide how to greet her. These things
matter, Ive come to realize. First impressions count. And though this isnt our
very first meeting, its our first meeting as potential client and contractor
and I dont just mean to make her my events organizer.
I have three in-house events organizers; I dont need to outsource, not
really. Not that she needs to know that. This meeting is an excuse. Nothing
more, nothing less.
Ive tried to approach her at the various soirees Ive attended where shes
been working behind the scenes, but to no avail.
Last night, seeing her at the auction, I knew I had to make my move.
Especially when I saw Chris Evans staring at her too. No way in hell am I
going to let that piece of shit anywhere near her. I saw her first, after all.
Grimacing, because that makes me sound like a five-year-old, I try to figure
out why Im going to these lengths to speak with Grazia.
There is something about her, something Hell, I dont know what it is.
And for a man who knows himself as well as I do, whos as honest with
himself as I am, thats a large admission to make.
Im a billionaire. Those billions were made with hard work, determination,
and verve. Im not accustomed to pussyfooting my way through life. If I want
something, I get it. I chase after it until I can call it mine.
In this instance, I want Grazia. I want her badly enough to work at getting
her. Because, though I will chase, its been a long time since Ive had to.
The advantage of money and fortune is its incredibly easy to go through
life making friends. Of course, those acquaintances will leave you the instant
you cease to be of value to them. Ive learned, along the way, to do unto others
as theyve done unto me. I toss them out when they cease to be useful to me,
and I feel no shame in admitting that.
However, now isnt the time to think about tossing people away not when
Im trying to get Grazia Fabiola into my bed.
Just the prospect has my cock twitching in the expensive cage of my Savile
Row tailored suit trousers. She has that bizarre effect on me, and though I dont
appreciate being made to feel like a teenaged kid with more hormones than
sense, that very unusualness is why Im willing to break with habit.
Theres a slight ping from down the hall which tells me the private elevator
has been used to reach this floor.
Shes here.
God, I wish I did have the right to kiss her. To grab her to me, to steal her
breath and drown her in passion.
She was made for passion, was Grazia. Every time I see her, I know it. Its in
the way she moves, in the way she breathes. Every ounce of her is filled with
energy. A vibrancy that Id love to capture, and that for as long as I have her in
my bed, I intend on hoarding.
Deciding on my next course of action, I head to the front of my desk and
perch on the edge of it. Crossing my feet at the ankle, I settle my hands ata
either side of my thighs and wait for Miranda to knock. When she does, I wait a
handful of moments and say, Come in.
Mirandas smile is its usual icicle-forming self, and I immediately bypass
her frozen sensibilities for the heady warmth of the woman behind her.
Today, even though shes coming to a business meeting, Grazia is wearing a
floaty black-and-beige patterned skirt that swirls about her ankles. Beneath the
long hem, I can see some demure black pumps peeping out. A tight-fitting
camisole covers her top half, but the bottom of the camisole is hidden under
the high waist of the skirt.
Theres something modest about the outfit, yet at the same time, immodest.
The long length of the skirt swirls about her shapely thighs and calves,
revealing more than it should. Her breasts are lovingly cupped by the black
silk camisole, meaning I can see every inch of her while every inch of her is
hidden.
On her arm is a large shoulder bag, black leather, and a smile is pinned to
her face when she enters the office.
As she walks toward me, everything that is ice in Miranda is fire in Grazia.
Its a wonder there isnt some kind of storm brewing between them as the cold
and hot fronts meet. Her hips sway, the sinuousness making me wish I could
grab ahold of her butt and hug her to me. Lift that skirt and find out what shes
wearing underneath it.
Withholding a groan is a lot harder than it should be. Only the fact that it
would make me seem like an untried youth compels me to keep quiet.
She reaches out for me with her hand, ready to shake mine, and the instant
our fingers brush, its comforting to see her firm her lips, gulp a little in
reaction. I noticed that before at Charles and Deirdres dinner when I tried to
talk to her then.
Desire and passion both swirl through Grazia like a tornado ready to take
form, and I know that that single, simple touch of palm and palm has made the
prospect of a twister much more likely.
In the periphery of my vision, I see Miranda with a tray of coffee. She
places it on the desk, silently slinking out once her duty is done. The quiet
snicking of the door is all the encouragement I need; I intended to talk business
first, but now, with that explosive if silent reaction still at the forefront of my
mind, and the need to strip her bare and stake a claim, I murmur, I have a
proposition for you.

To be continued

DESIGNER FOR THE BILLIONAIRE

A Billionaire Romance Novel

(Contemporary Romance Novels)



Book 2

A FASHIONABLE ARRANGEMENT

By: Ashlee Price

Description

When Marshall Levitt propositions Grazia Fabiola, shes anything but


flattered. Insulted and hurt, she determines to hide from her attraction to the
gorgeous billionaire but Marshall wont let her. Hes equally determined to
have her, to make her his. The minute he set eyes on her, Marshall knew he had
to have Grazia in his bed, and when a man like him makes such a decision, no
one can stand in his path.
But Grazia has a past, and experience with being a mans mistress. Will she
allow Marshall into her bed and her body at the expense of promises she made
to herself a long time ago?
When the attraction is bone deep, Grazia has to question if she even has a
choice

Chapter One Grazia

Well, that sounds ominous. And doesnt it just?


Im standing in the office of a tech billionaire, a new mogul on Wall Street,
and he, Marshall Levitt, has a proposition for little old me.
Considering I figured I was here to organize some kind of event for him,
because duh, thats what I do, I hadnt really expected him to come to me with a
proposition. Especially not in that low tone of voice that makes molasses look
runny and golden. Instead, hed rumbled the words at me, with a dark and
sinful undertone that turned my knees to jelly.
Im a grown woman. I live in one of the biggest cities in the world and have
since I was a childyou cant not be street smart in New York City. However,
this man has me flustered, and to be honest, I dont like it. I dont like it one bit.
Thats the problem with rich people. They all think they can do whatever the
hell they want, and we plebs have no choice but to concur with their wishes.
The bitch of it is, theyre not exactly wrong. Who in their right mind could turn
their back on a billionaires offer of business?
No damn one, thats who.
And yet, though his voice sounds like sex, though I find him utterly
attractive, and though I have no idea what hes about to suggest, Im naturally
predisposed to tell him to stick his proposition where the sun doesnt shine.
But that wouldnt be politic, would it? Hes one of the citys newest scions,
and I havent made this business what it is today by insulting potential clients.
So I bite back my irritation and plaster an ingratiating smile on my chops.
Its either that or ask him what the hell hes deliberating over. Its been at least a
minute since I spoke, and all hes doing is staring at me like a cat that has just
caught sight of a canary. Either that or a toddler with a plate of cookies close to
hand.
I can feel his eyes tracing over every part of me, and I wont lie parts of
me are tingling. Parts that Id prefer to stay tingle-free. Rather than let him
look me over again like a choice piece of meat, I take a seat without waiting
for his invitation and cross my legs. I cant deny his arrogant assertion has
irritated me, but as I look back at him, it doesnt take away from the fact hes a
glorious specimen of manhood.
Hardly ominous, he tells me, pursing his lips as he crosses his arms over
his chest, then his feet at the ankle. Its a pose straight from Gordon Gekko, but
still hot as hell. The bulge in his pants is more prominent than ever when hes
standing in that position, as is the fact hes as lean as they come.
Considering hes a desk jockey, that does come as a surprise.
No? Well, what is it then? I ask him, taking the bait.
When our eyes meet, Im hard pressed to contain a little shiver of
excitement. Its been a long time since Ive reacted to the animal magnetism of
any man, and I have to wonder why it had to be this one who did the
reawakening.
It couldnt be the nice guy from the deli with the cute dreads, or the man
who designed my website for me last month who had looked delicious when he
rolled his shirtsleeves high up on his forearms oh no, those two hotties did
nothing to entice me, but this one, this power hungry shark, apparently knows
how to get my juices flowing.
Damn my body to hell.
Rather than answer me, he reaches back and picks up a folder. Two years
ago, you requested planning permission to divert some pipes in a part of your
apartment so you could open up the space.
Blinking, because whatever Id expected him to say, it hadnt been that, I
shake my head. Huh? Hardly poetic, but Im confused.
How the hell does he know that? And why would he seek that kind of
information about me?
Narrowing my eyes in suspicion, I find my voice when it looks like hes
waiting for a reply more detailed than huh and say, Why do you know that?
Youd be surprised what I know about you, Grazia. Ive made it my
business to know who you are.
That has me gulping. What do you mean? Again with the ominous
statements.
Goddammit, the man is making me very nervous.
I mean, I know youre an events organizer with a very interesting and very
well-to-do client list. But I also know that your organizational skills are what
pays the bills what nourishes your heart and soul is your fashion design
business.
I stare at him, wondering where the hell hes coming from. How does he
know? Why would he even be interested in what nourishes my heart and soul
as he so poetically phrased it?
This is starting to feel like some bizarre kind of ambush, and ambushes do
nothing more than piss me off.
Why have you gone to all this effort of trying to discern my tastes, Mr.
Levitt? I demand, my voice like cut glass.
Marshall, please.
Staring at him, I merely state, Mr. Levitt. Then I pause a second to let him
process the fact Im refusing to call him by his first name. Please explain
whats going on here. In fact, I demand to know what right you think you have
to investigate me or my past.
He shakes his head at me, slowly, and somehow manages to imbue it with a
reprimand. Why have I been digging around in your past? Looking for ins
and outs to your life, of course.
Now youre digging your own grave, because you have no right to
investigate me.
I have every right. If Im to be your employer, I need to know what makes
you tick.
Id be organizing your events, not privy to personal or private details.
Thats where youre wrong. He steps forward and takes the seat next to
mine. What if I told you that you could dedicate all your working hours to
your craft?
I frown at him. Then Id know you were trying to bullshit me, because
unfortunately, thats not possible.
It would be if you came and worked for me.
As what? Even if I came onto your staff in events, Id hardly have the time
to work on my designs.
I wouldnt want you on my corporate team.
The way hes looking at me has me clenching my jaw. Theres a banked heat
at the back of his eyes, and when he lets his glance trace my shape, Id have to
be stupid to fail to recognize his attraction to me. Look, if this is going where
I think its going, then youre out of order, Marshall. I use his name this time
because I twist the two syllables with a sneer. Im only interested in affairs of
a corporate nature.
He purses his lips. Then youre a fool. You could have everything you
want, all at your fingertips.
Shaking my head, I tell him, No. Youre the fool, because if youd have
behaved like a normal man and just asked me out on a fucking date, Id have
said yes. No salary-for-sex required.
Youve a sharp tongue. And damned if there wasnt admiration in his
voice.
I get to my feet. I think I should leave.
When he reaches over to grab my hand, I dont pull away; I simply stare at
him like hes grown two heads. Theres no need to leave. I meant no offense.
Well, I certainly took offense. Who the hell do you think you are? I mean,
for Gods sake, is this what you do? Proposition innocent women from your
lofty ivory skyscraper? This isnt the Dark Ages. This is very much the twenty-
first century. You cant go around making these kinds of I clench my teeth.
Deals.
Its a far safer way of working, actually. He eyes me. When women see
me in my lofty ivory skyscraper , what do you think their initial reaction is?
I frown at him. What do you mean?
What do they see? The man? A guy who loves Chopin and the New
England Patriots? Or do you think they see the bank balance? The car and the
suit?
Like you didnt size me up the same way. Dont try to twist this. I looked at
you and saw an attractive man. I dont care about the bank balance, and the suit
is a nice finishing touch, but I dont care if its Kohls or Savile Row.
Then youre far more idealistic than I realized. He squeezes my fingers,
then tries to pull my arm, tugging me back down to the seat I just vacated.
Come to dinner with me.
Now whos being idealistic? Youre obviously incapable of a normal
relationship, Mr. Levitt, if you think the ideal way to begin any kind of I
sputter, searching for the right word and failing, anything is by asking
someone if theyll work for you on their back!
Technically I never made such an offer. His voice was cool, calm. I could
tell he was analyzing the situation, trying to figure out a way to get this
conversation back on track. A track where he was in control again, not me.
Somehow, the fact I knew that, that I was aware of what he was up to, sent
shivers down my spine.
But we both know it was going to go down that route. I narrow my eyes at
him. If you do this frequently, its a wonder you dont have sexual harassment
suits thrown at you every day.
He jerks a shoulder, looking supremely confident and supremely self-
assured. His arrogance makes me want to hit him. Im not unaccustomed to
dealing with men like Levitt; I dont know why I figured hed be different.
Stupid, stupid me.
More than anything, thats what gets on my nerves. The fact that I was such
an idiot. It doesnt happen often, to be fair, but when it does, its a doozy.
I feel like Im being hanged here with very little justification.
My eyes widen at that, agitation spinning through meas well as the
unusual desire to laugh! His audacity makes me gawk at him, speechless for
countless seconds until I come to my senses and finally tug at his hold on my
wrist. He lets me go, but Id expected more of a fight so I barely brace myself
as he releases his clasp on me. The motion has me wobbling on my too-high
high heels, heels Id worn out of a stupid need to pretty myself up for this
asshat. Momentum has me falling backward, but he reaches up a split second
later and changes my course. Instead of falling over, I tumble into his lap.
Stunned, because I sure as hell hadnt expected to end up on his knee with
his erection bumping my hip, it takes me a second to figure out what the heck
happened. Once thats processed, I try to scamper off his lap, but when I put my
hand down, unfortunately for the king of propositions, it settles somewhere
hard and solid but infinitely sensitive.
As I lever myself up, he lets out a loud and startled yell. The noise, so close
to my ear, as well his own surprise, has me rocking back deeper into him.
Despite my discomfort at my precarious position, Im embarrassed as hell that
my attempt to escape involved an unintentional effort to emasculate the man.
Im so sorry, I whisper, my cheeks burning. In the cold office, with its
white walls, steel furnishings, and dark gray rugs, my face is undoubtedly the
sole splash of color.
I look up, see his stony expression and wince. Beneath his anger, I can see I
really hurt him.
He doesnt reply to my apology, just lets out a long, slow breath. It brushes
my mouth with the scent of mint and evergreen fir. I look down at his lips, see
the white skin around them that comes from his firming them, but slowly, as I
watch, that color fluctuates back to normal.
Its okay, he tells me, his voice a little hoarse.
Despite myself, and as inappropriate as it is, I laugh. Then immediately clap
a hand to my lips to withhold the rest of the giggles that long to tumble out of
me.
Expecting to be railed by his anger, Im surprised as hell when a chuckle
escapes him too. My gaze flashes up to his, and in the depths of his eyes, I can
see genuine humor. In fact, it lights up his whole face. Making the stony jaw,
the strong Roman nose with its kink from an earlier break, and the broad,
scowling brow relax, enough to let me see what he must have been like before
he was the formidable man who has the worlds business markets quaking at
their knees.
Why couldnt you just have asked me out on a date? I ask, my voice
utterly wistful. I cant help but lift my hand and trace it along the hard line of
his jaw. My thumb sweeps across his smooth cheek, where not even the rasp of
a five oclock shadow blocks my path.
Men like me dont date, Miss Fabiola.
I blink at him, then whisper, Grazia.
Ive surprised him, I can tell. But then, Ive surprised myself. When he
murmurs my name, his mouth somehow caressing the Italian sounds, I gulp.
His eyes flicker down the length of my face, from my own gaze that is
captured by his, to my lips which I can feel tremble.
Im not the sort of woman who trembles in the face of a strong man.
Usually, arrogance pisses me off and has me flouncing away, unable to tolerate
such an annoying and useless character trait. But Marshall is an anomaly.
And I dont know why, but then, isnt that what makes him unusual?
Of all the men whove watched me over the years, whove come on to me,
whove made me aware of their positions of power I cant imagine
accidentally falling onto their laps, nearly castrating them with a hand, and then
sharing a laugh together at the absurdity of it all.
None of that takes away the farcical proposition he handed me earlier, but
somehow, it fades to dust, enabled by his whisper of men like me dont date.
Theres no self-pity there, only a varnished truth that gleams under the
spotlight.
Men like him really dont have a choice. Not that I pity him, or the rest of
the worlds male elite who have to suffer the vagaries of gold diggers and the
like, but still, I have to wonder what kind of universe puts me and him on the
same sphere.
Its a funny old world.
What are you thinking? he asks me in a low voice, one that I can tell is
hesitant; he doesnt want to spoil the odd mood that has settled between us.
Mostly because Ive stopped trying to run off and he has me exactly where he
wants me.
I could lie. I could tell him Im thinking of a way to get off his knee without
hurting him, but instead, I tell the truth. Im thinking I wish youd kiss me.

Chapter Two Marshall

Whatever Id expected her to say, it certainly wasnt that.


In fact, none of this meeting has gone how Id expected, which, in itself, is
unusual. But then, the reason she came to my attention is because of that spark
in her nature, that fireball that makes her illuminate whatever space shes
inhabiting.
Maybe its the Italian in her. Maybe thats the source of the inferno within
her. Wherever it comes from, I feel burned by it, and its the nicest burn Ive
ever experienced.
My glance drops down to her lips, plump morsels that are sheened with a
gloss that has my mouth watering. Her eyes are like molten chocolate. A man
could drown in them, and I know Id love to give survival a shot. Her blue-
black curls tumble into an artful cascade atop her head, the locks curling about
her throat and making her tanned skin seem golden rather than just brown. I
reach up and, mimicking her position, trail a finger along the sharp jut of her
cheekbone. Staring at my digit, I trace it over the soft slope of her nose, the
high, shaped brows, and the widows peak that also speaks of her Roman
ancestry.
Her bottom lip pouts out at my touch, a soft gasp escaping her as I trail my
finger down, along the sharp line of her neck, across her throat before sloping
it down the quivering line of her cleavage. I tap there, once, and reach forward.
As our mouths connect, another breathy sigh pops free, letting me taste the
scent of a fruity breath freshener. I rub my mouth over hers, slowly at first,
gently. The move has her throat arching, head falling back onto my shoulder as
I move in deeper, letting my tongue slide over the soft, pouting curve of her
bottom lip before slipping inside.
Theres a mesmerized quality to this interlude.
Id never expected her to kiss me today. Whatever Id expected to happen,
certainly hadnt. I kind of knew shed reject my proposition. Any woman who
starts a company as a means of supporting another venture doesnt have it in
her to let a man pay her way, let alone have that payment come at the expense
of her body.
I had to ask, though. I had to. I wasnt lying when I said earlier that men of
my stature dont date. We cant. Gold diggers, fortune hunters, call them what
you please, theyre all there, waiting in the wings. Looking for an opportunity
to strike.
After I made my first couple of million and hit the press thanks to one of my
first inventions, a girl Id gone to college with, who Id shared a computer
science class withnothing more, nothing lesshad sold an expose into my
life. Into her relationship with me.
All of it had been made up, a grand lie sold to a rapacious reporter who
didnt care whether it was fact or fiction, who just wanted to fill up the paper
with something about Wall Streets new golden guy. I could have handled an
entirely fictional story, but thered been little snippets of truth hidden among
the lies. Thats what had pissed me off. Because, though the majority of it had
been mythical, those snippets had revealed a lot about me. To discerning eyes,
some of which belonged to my competitors in the field, they were telling.
Like my need for white, empty living spaces. Or my pathological need to
use the staircase over the elevator unless I was alone in there. Small,
informative tidbits about my behavior in class, as well as rumors that had
spread about my hacking into the college server. It was the truth; I had
successfully hacked into the server and had managed to sneak around in the
database for a little while, but I sure as hell didnt want the rest of the world
knowing that.
Humans, be they female or male, have the nasty, irritating habit of turning
the world upside down in the search for profit, and unfortunately, ever since
my earliest inventions took flight, Ive been a target.
As I let my tongue unfurl along the length of hers, teasingly taunting her
with it, urging her into a breathless kiss that has her panting and reaching up to
cup my face to hold me to her, I cant help but wonder how this woman will
betray me.
Its only a matter of time. It always is. Someone will come along, because
they always do. Be it the press or a competitor theyll slip sly words into her
ear, make her offers shed be a fool to turn down. Loyalty, in my world, has to
be bought, because if it isnt, it cant be trusted. Its a myth, more precious and
more rare than a lost treasure. But I dont want to think about that now. Not
when shes on my knee, compliant, and enjoying my touch.
I pull away from her lips, ignoring her moan of complaint, and dot kisses
along the taut length of her jaw. Tracing the line with my tongue, I smile a little
as she shivers at the sensation and withhold a sigh of my own when she
wriggles in my lap.
My dick is still pounding out an angry messageit really didnt appreciate
being squashed beneath her palm, but with each throb of need, it seems to be
easing some, and with each wiggle, Im left wishing I could spread her out on
the thick rug beneath us and take everything shes offering.
Nibbling down her throat, enough to leave a faint mark, but not a semi-
permanent one, I murmur, Come to dinner with me. I let the invitation be
more of a statement than a request. I know from her file that Grazia is an
independent little thing. I know shes had to fight hard for the successes shes
earned, but the way she submitted to my kiss then also tells me a lot about her.
Those weaknesses I can use to my advantage, because though she might not
be aware of it, she will be my mistress. Loyalty bought and paid for.
I let the thought flutter away and smile wider when she breathily tells me,
Yes, yes, thank you.
I cup her left breast, weighing the heaviness in my palm as I squeeze it
gently. She writhes on my lap at the barest caress and I know its been a while
since someone touched her like that. Satisfaction floods me, making my cock
pound urgently against the weight of her butt.
When? I ask, lifting my hips a little so she can feel exactly what it is she
does to me. Theres power here between us, a power that I sensed the moment
we first met. Shed be crazy to back away from it, to ignore it or to let it go to
waste. I, for one, refuse to let that happen. Which is why were here. Which is
why I wont relent until I get exactly what I want.
Her.
In my bed.
For as long as we mutually need one another.
When what? she replies, asking a question with a question.
Amused that she doesnt remember what were talking about, I murmur,
Your coming to dinner with me. When?
She blinks up at me, those big chocolate-brown eyes of hers hitting me
square in the gut with their power. Shes Italian. Every bit of her screams of her
ancestry. And when she stares at me, with that languid look, Im reminded of
Naples. The scorching heat of summer, the clearest blue skies, the warm
winds shes elemental in her beauty. Everything about her makes me think of
us entwined on a bed. And I know Ill have to take her to my house there,
simply so I can make love on the four poster that had spawned a dynasty
before I bought the entire mansion from the poverty-stricken prince whose
family had owned it for hundreds of years.
Just the idea of seeing her on that expanse of white linen, as the wind rushes
into the room through the French doors, as the gauzy curtains around the bed
flap in the breeze, makes me wish I was there with her now.
Today? Tomorrow? She shrugs a shoulder, then reaches up to brush her
lips over mine. I dont care when.
Her words empower me, and urge me down a path I shouldnt necessarily
take Be my mistress, Grazia. Come together with me.
When she stiffens, I hold her on my lap, refusing to let go.
Let me up, she demands, her voice still husky, but this time, I can hear the
hurt there, and I regret it.
I cant be with you without protecting myself, Grazia. You have to
understand that.
Then be alone, she retorts, eyes flashing with ire. I dont need you.
No, you might not yet, but you want me, and when was the last time youve
wanted someone?
I know the dig will hit home, mostly because my investigation into her
background showed very little in the way of personal or intimate relationships
with anyoneman or woman.
She has family in Brooklyn, family she rarely seesodd enough for an
Italian girl. She has a few friends, ones she barely visits or goes out with.
Indeed, the only person she seems to be with on a regular basis is an assistant
of hers. My investigator saw her go out for a meal with the younger woman,
and it wasnt on business.
She freezes on my lap, and I know shes processing my words. I know it
because I can almost see the cogs turning as she thinks back to the last time she
allowed herself to be intimate with someone. To the last time she allowed
herself to care.
Its interesting watching her process the details. She blanches, then flushes,
then, with eyes that spit fire at me, states, Dont ever call me your mistress.
I frown at her. Its just a title.
A title I dont appreciate. Ill sign whatever clauses you need to protect
yourself, even fill in a contract if I have to, but dont have it state anywhere that
Im your mistress. Or that Im a companion! Partner that is all Ill allow you
to call me.
For the first time, shes surprised me. Her vehemence is unexpected. I know
most women dont necessarily appreciate the term mistress, but her anger is
far more than just a feminist disapproval.
It burns her.
It scalds her.
Shes ashamed that Ive asked this of her and that shes conceding because
she wants to be with me.
Slowly, I nod. Dont worry, theres no real mention of anything in the
contract. Its simply a nondisclosure agreement.
Her jaw works for a second, then she turns away. Where is it? Ill sign it
now. Well get this damned thing over with.
She hauls herself off my knee, and I let her, but the instant I let go, I miss her
warmth, her heat. My fingers ache with the need to reach for her, to ask her to
come back to me. And I dont just mean physically.
I can tell shes placed distance between us. A distance I have to span or it will
drive me insane.
You understand why I have to do this?
Those beautiful eyes of hers are cold. Enough to make me shiver. Yes.
It doesnt sound like you do, I counter, crossing over to my desk. In the
drawer, theres the standard contract I had one of my lawyers write up. It
protects me, my name, and this companys name, and ensures that if any of my
companions do decide to go to the press, theyll be diving headfirst into legal
battles the likes of which would make even an attorney wince.
I get it, she grits out. What do you want? Blood?
No, but I dont want you to be bitter.
She narrows her eyes at me. Are you being serious? Youve just used my
desire for you against me. Youve just twisted something honest and beautiful
around, made it ugly and cheap.
Trust is costly, Grazia. I cant afford to trust, not right at the beginning of a
relationship. Surely you can understand that?
I can understand, but I dont have to appreciate it. In fact, you can expect a
similar contract from me. Ill speak with my lawyer and have it sent over to
you to handle. When I just blink at her in, I admit, astonishment, she curls her
top lip. I have a reputation to protect too. The last thing I need is some spoiled
billionaire wrecking my good name because things have ended poorly between
us. This way, if Im the one to dump you, you cant get back at me by trying to
ruin my business.
I understand your need for protection, I snap, even though Im pissed off.
As if Id ever try to discredit her, dammit. But the tit-for-tat nature of her
comment makes me understand her own agitation with the NDA. Dont bother
having it sent over. Ill have one of my lawyers draft it for you and Ill sign it
and send it to your lawyer so you know its a solid contract and that youre
protected. When her mouth pops open, I can sense her desire to argue.
Shaking my head and holding up a hand, I tell her, Look, Im rich, youre not.
I can afford to get one of my lawyers to waste their time on petty things like
NDAs. You cant. I dont mind handling this. If you simply get your legal
representative to make sure youre protected, then it wont cost you as much.
At my first remark about her relative poverty in comparison to me, she
stiffened, but after I finish, she starts to loosen up. Thank you, she unbends
enough to say.
Youre welcome. Now, this is the agreement. Its short. Check it through,
and sign it, then well discuss where were going for dinner.

Chapter Three Grazia

I dont want to talk about dinner. My words are cold as I sign my name at
the bottom of the sheet of paper.
No? He frowns at me, and I know Ive surprised him.
No. If I want dinner, I can go out and get some.
His eyes are like narrow slits. What do you want, then?
Taking the bull by the balls, and only capable of doing that because hes
pissed me off, I reach for the hem of my blouse, cross my arms and tug it off,
over my head. Flinging it on the floor, I stare at him in silent challenge,
awaiting his reaction.
Those narrow slits of his widen, and I can see his arousal turn his pupils
into saucers. He swallows, then, in a low voice, bites off, Dont stop there.
I didnt intend on stopping, I tell him silkily. I was waiting for you to join
in.
Again, his eyes widen and his nostrils flare. Everything about him has
hardened. Hes standing taller, his muscles are tensed, and the bulge at the front
of his pants makes me want to pant with the need coursing through me, a need
to have him inside me, deep, deep, inside.
His hands come up and I watch as he shrugs out of his suit jacket then works
at the buttons on his shirt. As he reveals his torso to me, Im close to surprised
by the muscles hes packing. I knew he worked out, could tell by his posture,
but his stomach ripples with strength, and in a way that makes me want to lick
in between each individual nodule of his six pack.
The lines between his pecs have a crimped edge. A fuzzy line that speaks of
true strength, of a true passion for working out. It tells me that hes no gym
bunny. I have no idea how he maintains his form, but he doesnt do it by
worshiping the dumbbell rack.
Curious despite myself, I ask, You work out?
He just nods, and his jaw flexes and firms as he starts to work at his belt.
When the leather whips out, I gulp.
How?
A mixture of martial arts. Swimming. Yoga. He blinks at me. Does it
really matter?
Youre a yogi? Of everything hes said, that has me holding back a
chuckle.
Yes. He tilts his head at me, almost like he can sense my amusement. You
find that humorous?
I shake my head, because I can sense Im coming close to offending him.
You dont seem the restful type.
Im not. Which is why I practice yoga. It helps me cope with the stresses of
running this place. He eyes me a second and bites off, Take off your pants.
He preempts my own demand for him to do the same by unbuttoning his fly
and letting the tailored slacks fall to the ground. He toes out of them, shucking
his shoes off at the same time, then bends down to remove his socks.
When he stands up, a whimper curdles in my throat. Youre huge. And you
go commando. I hate that my voice is a squeak, but goddammit, any woman
would squeak in the face of that anaconda.
Good God above, where the hell am I supposed to fit it?
He waves a hand. It will fit.
It fucking wont, I deny immediately, cupping my poor, innocent, never-
done-anyone-any-harm pussy in self-defense.
His chuckle is low, gravelly. Dont worry, I wont hurt you.
You say that now, I snap, my tone churlish, but in the name of fairness, I
unfasten my own pants and send them flying down my legs to the ground. He
stares at me in my bra and panties and lets out a low growl.
Fuck, youre beautiful.
Despite myself, despite my anger at his putting a contract on any
relationship we might have together, I flush. His comment was readily and
earnestly spoken, but somehow it makes me want to cover myself up.
This isnt his first rodeo. Im not the first woman, nor will I be the last, he
approaches with an NDA in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other. I try
not to contemplate why the notion hurts, because who wouldnt be offended by
the idea youre very easily replaceable? But its that very replaceability that
makes me feel lesser, somehow.
The women before me were undoubtedly beautifully toned, gorgeously
tanned. They probably worked out for more hours than they slept, and ate
lettuce leaves with vinegar to maintain their perfection.
I eat funnel cake and cannoli on a regular basis. Pasta is my staple, and carbs
and saturated fats are no enemies of mine.
Perhaps he senses my hesitation, my discomfort, because he strides
forward, and before I can do more than squeak, he lifts me up and perches me
on the edge of his desk.
I didnt want to do this here, he grits out as he traces a finger over my
collarbone. The delicate touch makes the hairs at the back of my neck stand on
edge. I wanted to take you on a soft bed, in a beautiful bedroom, when youre
warm and comfortable, replete from a lovely dinner. He scowls at me. Why
wouldnt you let me do that?
I blink at him. I wanted you now.
You were making a statement, he counters. You wanted to bring this
down to the stark reality of that contract, but thats not how its going to work,
Grazia. This isnt black and white, so dont make it so.
He bends down, gently lapping at the sensitive spot where my throat meets
my shoulder.
Why shouldnt I? Youre the one who brought the topic of a contract up!
Not me.
Now thats signed, forget about it, he commands. I have to protect
myself, just as you do, and Ill sign your NDA without a word of complaint,
but I want us to be more than that. Dont you? he breathes, and the hot air
washes over my skin, making me feel flushed with need and want.
Yes, yes, I do, I whisper, my voice horrendously close to a whimper.
He nods in approval, and as a reward, his hands come up to cup my breasts.
He squeezes them gently, then sends his fingers to the front clasp which
releases the support. He shucks off the bra straps, baring me to his hungry
gaze. He studies my tits for a handful of seconds, then drops down, his mouth
immediately curling about a pouting nipple.
A cry of need escapes me and my hands come up to rake through his soft
hair. I grip his skull between ferocious fingertips, urging him against me,
needing him closer. He laughs and the soft vibration does things to me, things
that drive me insane. My head falls back and his lips suddenly move on, higher
up to my throat where he suckles at the side of my neck before darting down
once more to my other breast. His hands move to my hips, and he picks at the
sides of my panties before urging them down, gathering the material together
so he can maneuver them down my legs.
The instant Im bare, he drops to his knees so his mouth is on the same level
as my pussy. Before I can do more than moan, he attacks, his lips curling about
my clit, his tongue fucking me, tasting me, collecting my juices and generally
driving me insane.
I cant help it; I fall back against the desk, uncaring that there are papers
underneath me, pens sticking into my butt, and what feels like a stapler chilling
my right shoulder with its cold metallic touch. Overhead, the cool light burns
my eyes and I close them, shielding my gaze from the light, but also in a
desperate attempt to properly process what Marshall is doing to me.
Dear God, hes tasting me like hes never eaten before, dammit.
His tongue fucks into me, slurping up my juices like I was a juicy orange
and he was a man stuck in the Sahara with an empty water bottle. That flexible
muscle flickers around, touching parts of me no other man has tasted,
caressing tender flesh that wants to cringe at his careful probing because its so
sensitive. My clit doesnt go unrewarded either, if this delicious torture could
be considered a reward. He slurps at the nub, tickling it with his tongue, but
kissing it, sucking it between his lips and dragging it between them in a way
that frots the button. My nails claw at his scalp, scraping over the delicate flesh.
His moan reverberates over the tender skin hes tending to and insanity seems
to be approaching with every lap of his tongue, with every slurpeach
empowered by that faint buzz when he moans his own pleasure.
I spread my legs wider, then curve them about his shoulders. Digging my
heels into them, I let my head rock forward as pleasure beyond anything Ive
ever known floods me. Its almost painful. My body is so tense from the need
to reject such delicious ecstasy that when it comes, the muscles in my face ache
from scowling so hard with the need to process my climax.
I roar. Theres no pretty way of phrasing it. It escapes me, unbidden, not
giving me a chance to withhold it, to stop it from echoing around the
minimalistically-decorated office space. Everything I am, everything I was and
will be seems to freeze at that moment, as questions reverberate around my
head as loudly as my hoarse cries of pleasure flicker around the room.
Had I ever come before?
If that was an orgasm, the pathetic bubbles of pleasure given by cocksure
men who looked at me afterward as though theyd given me the stars and the
moon, well, surely they werent climaxes. They cant have been. Because that
that was beyond anything Ive ever experienced, beyond anything Ive ever
known anyone discuss.
That was what romance novels are written about.
And it was with a man whose initial intention was to make me his mistress.
Im not sure whether that detracts from it or adds to it; all I know is that my
brain is scrambled. How do I know that? Because suddenly that anaconda of his
is nestling between my pussy lips, trying to hit home, and Im not running
screaming from the room.
The only thing that spoiled that earthquake of an orgasm was the emptiness
of my clutching sex. And boy, theres no way I can feel empty with that
mammoth dick trying to burrow into my tight channel.
Its okay, its okay, he croons, his cock head nudging over my clit and
back down to my gate. I can hear the slippery slide of his path and know Im so
wet I should be embarrassed. He presses me down to the desk and sets himself
atop me. He nuzzles his nose against my cheek, his forehead against my temple
as he keeps on crooning. Ill fit, baby, Ill fit. I promise. Youll love it.
Those soft whispers are so filled with tenderness that my shocked heart
embraces each word. Even as he tries to forge a path inside me, I press my
stomach muscles down, clenching them tightly so as not to tense up down
below.
Each inch is hard won, and it doesnt help that the last time I had sex was at
least eighteen months ago. Im small anyway, but lack of use isnt aiding my
case here.
Whimpers escape me, small sounds that I dont realize Im uttering. Theyre
involuntary, scared mewls as he tries to fill me with that huge dick of his.
When the first few inches are in, both of us are panting. His forehead has sweat
beading on it, and I know mine does too. It surprises me that those small
touches of his, the nuzzles and caresses of his lips against my cheek and jaw,
his nose rubbing against mine, each of them help me relax a little, help him
forge his way deeper inside me.
When he hits a particularly tight spot, a cry of pain escapes me, and I arch
my hips, rocking them up in an attempt to relieve my discomfort. The move,
however, shuffles something around, and suddenly, he slides in deeper and
with an ease that has my eyes crossing because tender tissues, heretofore
untouched, are now being caressed. Each gentle thrust has my nerves tingling,
and behind my closed eyelids, theres a firework display going on as those
same nerves seem to sizzle and snap with the intensity of whats happening in
my body.
Look at us, Grazia, he whispers. Look down.
Blearily, I do as bid, realizing hes pulled away from me a little so I can
look between our bodies. When I see the fat root of his shaft burrowed between
my legs, a cry escapes. He did it. I did it. That huge thing is inside me. I have no
idea why Im proud, I just know that I am. And God, looking at us, connected in
that way, makes me want to scream.
I need you, I tell him in return. Move, take me, I carry on, finally letting
my head fall back, unable to look at us together anymore.
This shouldnt feel as intimate as it is. He wanted this to be a business
transaction, for Gods sake! But I changed the status quo of this particular deal,
and he wasnt wrong when he said its been a long time since Ive wanted
anyone.
And I want Marshall. God, do I.
I tighten the muscles in my sex around his dick in silent entreaty, then groan
when he reacts by carefully retreating from my pussy and then slowly
returning. Each thrust is gentle, careful, and though I appreciate his care, I wish
he could fuck me, claim every inch of mebut thats for another day, another
time, when Im used to the anaconda and can easily take everything he has to
give.
My heels rise up again, almost of their own accord, but this time, they dig
into his butt. I dont let him retreat too far from my cunt, wanting him inside
me more than I want him out. Because of this, his thrusts are shallow and those
untouched parts of me, the ones deep inside my pussy, get all the attention.
Within minutes, I can feel myself juddering. Orgasm is near, and I know that it
will be epic, more epic than the last one he gave me.
His pace quickens as his own climax approaches, and the rough panting
breaths that gust over my cheek, dusting my face with his need, fill me with an
urgency that has me clawing at his back, begging him to go faster. When he
obeys, it takes two thrusts to make me explode. And as pleasure rains down on
me, as it swells nerve endings, flooding them and drowning me in the ecstasy
of the moment, I feel him come.
Even though every part of me feels like its soaring overhead, a single
sliver of me is cognizant of something I should have noticed when I looked
down at our joined sexeshe didnt wear a condom. And he has just come
inside me.
While I process that and the wondrous sensations overflowing every part of
me, I hear him whisper in my ear, Mine.
The arrogance of the man knows no bounds.
What else could be expected of a self-made man who has billions in his
bank account and all before the age of thirty-five? Still His. The nerve.
I want to scream at myself, rail at my stupidity. Why did I sign the damn
agreement? Why didnt I stalk out? Storm off? Why did I let him come in me?
Goddammit!
All Ill say is that he had me unbalanced from the beginning. Its no excuse,
no excuse at all, but its the only thing that makes any sense to me.
Im not used to being unbalanced, and the instant he put me on edge, I was a
goner.
The crazy thing is, I have no real regrets. He was right when he asked me to
think about the last time I wanted someone. When I craved another s touch,
another s kiss
It seems like a lifetime ago. Maybe it is.
Trust has always been an issue for me, so on that level, I can understand
Marshalls need to guard himself, to protect his name and his brand for the
future. Still, every feminine part of me chafes at the need to sign something that
states I wont utter a peep about the man Im dating. And thats what well be
doing.
Ill be no mans mistress.
I know I made that very clear to him.
My mother was a mistress. Im the result of that adulterous affair, and my
shame knows no bounds about that sordid secret.
To her, it was a way of life. Accepted among her community, respected
even.
To this day, she sees no wrong in it. She was Gianni DeVecchios
girlfriend something that to her, is an honor.
Can you imagine? The woman thinks it was an honor to be the go-to slut of
a mobster s son. And Im the granddaughter of that mobster. A heavy hitter, or
so Im told, in the Mafioso world.
Ill never forgive her for bringing me into the world the way she did, and I
wish to hell I was my half-brother or half-sister. They were born in wedlock,
were the rightful children of my stepfather. Ted always treated me like I was
one of his own, but I knew the difference. How could I not when all the kids at
school would never let me forget I was DeVecchios spawn? When the priest
looked at me with scorn, no matter how good I was, no matter how often I went
to confession, or how much I helped out around the church
I discarded my past the instant I left for college. I made a name for myself, a
reputation that was tainted by no other. I made friends, sisters from my sorority
house. And after, those same sisters helped me create a new life. My events
business isnt my vocation, it isnt what feeds my soul, but it sure is what pays
the bills and enables me to keep hands-on with my sewing and design business.
My reputation is sterling. My brand is untouchable. Ive been hired by the
citys most prominent names. I did that, and thats why I agreed to a
relationship with Marshall. I agreed to sign away my rights, as long as he
signed away his.
This will never be unequal. Whatever he asks of me, Ill ask of him;
otherwise, Ill back the hell away.
To taste the forbidden fruit that is him, to know him, to touch and taste, Ill
sell my soul to the devil. But on my terms, and only as long as Marshall is
along for the ride too. And when his head settles heavily on my breast, his
sweat drying on my skin, I know were both damned

To be continued

DESIGNER FOR THE BILLIONAIRE

A Billionaire Romance Novel

(Contemporary Romance Novels)



Book 3


A CUT ABOVE

By: Ashlee Price

Description

Grazia Fabiolas affair with Marshall Levitt was always going to be an


unusual one, but their clashes over everyday life are nothing in comparison to
their clashes in the bedroom.
Fire meets fire when the two come together, but its nothing to the inferno
that overtakes Grazias life and destroys her world. When Marshall steps up to
the plate, its up to Grazia to decide if she can let him help her.
Such a concession is hard for a woman as independent as Grazia, but trust is
another matter entirely.
Does she trust Marshall enough to let him help?
And if she cant, is that the end of yet another chapter in her life?

Chapter One Marshall

Not hungry?
The question prods me from my thoughts, and as I stare down at the large
plate of gnocchi alla sorrentinamy most favorite dish at Mama Leones in
Brighton BeachI have to grimace. Not really, I reply, looking up at my PA,
Miranda.
Any reason? she asks, cocking an eyebrow at the full dish in front of me.
Its very unusual for you to leave your food when you come to this she
sought the appropriate word, place.
It might sound difficult to construe that as a criticism, but it was.
Brighton Beach was where Id been born and raised. In project housing,
amid tens of dozens of poverty-stricken families, Id come to realize I wanted
more than my parents had.
I was one of the lucky ones. Both of my parents were together, which made
my family a rarity. I, however, would have loved it if theyd split up. Dad had
spent half his nights getting drunk and beating on Mom whenever the mood
struck, and Mom hadnt been much better with booze.
Most nights had been spent with my head under the pillow, trying to drown
out the yells. Escape had come in the form of my grandmother buying me a
laptop with some money shed won in the lottery, of all things.
Boys Marshalls age need a computer, shed told my father, whod bitched
at the waste of money.
The bitching had grown rather vitriolic when Gran had subsequently
refused to pay the rent for us that month.
Id lived in fear of my father taking the laptop from me one day, pawning it
to pay for one of his many vices. He might even have done that once, because
all of a sudden, Id had to go to Grans to use it, and Gran had told me never to
take it home.
By that point, I was hooked, and so I spent nearly all my free time there. By
the time I was fourteen, I could hack with the best of them and I was practically
living with her.
College had come a-calling at a younger than average age for me. At
sixteen, Id been on my way to NYIT with a scholarship funding my degree
all thanks to that one investment on my grandmother s part. Without her,
without that laptop, I wouldnt be where I am today: choosing to return to
Brighton Beach out of nostalgia, rather than having to live here out of
necessity.
The thought makes me shudder. There are good people here, as there
always are among the bad, but still, this is no longer my world.
Miranda reaches over and taps my hand. Marshall? Why do you keep
wandering off?
I blink at her. Do I?
Thats the third time Ive asked you a question, youve started to reply, and
then youve faded into silence. She spears a piece of ravioli with her fork, and
I get the feeling she wishes she could do the same to me. Whats going on?
You only go this quiet when theres trouble.
My lips twitch because, ordinarily, shed be right. But things have been
complicated since Grazia Fabiola signed the mistress agreement I put before
her a week ago. Ever since, life has been a little odder than usual.
Theres no trouble. When she cocks an eyebrow at me again, I shake my
head. For once.
Then whats going on?
I shrug. Nothing. Im just thinking. No harm in that, is there?
Why invite me for lunch if you were just going to stare off into the
distance?
Its my turn to be surprised. We always eat together.
Maybe I had other plans.
Seriously?
She purses her lips. No, but I might have.
Theres a strange cast to her irritation with me. Its almost like shes But
no, she couldn't be. Miranda is like an ice queen. Shes so cold, I practically get
chilblains being near her, and shes never made me feel like she is attracted to
me.
Mirandas a beautiful woman. Id be a blind fool if I thought anything else,
but her icy blonde beauty does nothing for me. In the four years shes worked
for me, it never has, and I doubt it ever will.
I shake off the strange supposition, because Id prefer to think its an
impossibility rather than deal with it.
Miranda has been with me since I floated the company. She knows her job
inside and out, and the last thing I want to do is have to replace her.
My gnocchi seems less and less appetizing, so I catch the waiter s eye and
say, Can you pack this up for me, please?
Is everything all right, sir? He eyes the untouched plate.
I just lost my appetite, thats all. The waiter makes to answer but my phone
buzzes, saving me from having to explain why I havent touched a bite of my
usually delicious meal. When I look at the caller ID and see Grazias name,
everything in me tightens with anticipation. Excuse me a moment, I tell
Miranda, and seeing her lips tighten, I know shes aware of who the caller is.
Lets face it, she wouldnt have to be a mind reader to figure it out.
Stepping out from behind the red-gingham-tablecloth-covered table, I wend
my way between the narrow lanes separating the rest, and head to the entrance,
where theres a small reception area. By the time I reach it, the phone has
stopped ringing, but I immediately call her back.
You rang?
Theres a small pause, then a snicker. Since when did Lurch have a cell
phone?
I grin, inordinately satisfied that she recognized my impression. I was
addicted to the Addams Family as a kid; hell, what brat my age wasnt?
Since I dont know when, I tell her, chuckling. Everything okay?
Yeah. It is. She huffs out a breath. I called with the intention of raking you
over the coals, and now you made me laugh. Damn your hide.
My eyebrows rise at that admission, and I make a mental note to remember
that in the future. Make the woman laugh and she forgives you your sins
interesting.
Well, Im relieved you liked my impression so much.
She snorts. You know why Im calling, right?
I do. How could I not? It doesnt do much for my macho image to admit that
Ive been waiting for this call ever since the insurance company called me this
morning to say theyd delivered the package at Grazias apartment.
I can guess, I hedge. But you are a rather touchy female, Grazia. There
are numerous things I could have done to piss you off.
You mean like calling me a rather touchy female?
Yeah, like that. My lips twitch again.
A sigh gusts down the line. What have you sent this to me for?
Its a party I need you to attend with me.
Id gathered as much. Glitter & Gowns, she reads, undoubtedly from the
invitation I had delivered with the necklace. Whats it all about?
A charity, of course.
She grunts. Theres no of course about it. One thing you learn when
youre in event management: it doesnt take much for something to call itself a
charity.
Amused by her cynicism, I chide, How uncharitable of you.
Like you dont know exactly what Im talking about. Laptops for kids in
countries that dont even have reliable electricity that kind of thing, when
really what they need is food and medical care... Doesnt make much sense,
does it?
Considering I was visited by a New York operator from that particular
charity just this month, I have to laugh. Okay, I know exactly what youre
talking about.
Satisfaction riddles her words. Im glad to know youre not completely
crazy.
I dont think Id be where I am today if that were the case.
I guess not. And anyway, dont think Ive forgotten that you just sent me a
necklace that has to be worth a million dollars.
Yeah, its on loan. Fear not. Im not trying to buy you.
Silence fills the line. Oh, well, thats okay then.
I have better ways to buy a woman like you, Grazia, I tell her, my tone as
silky as can be.
Whats that supposed to mean?
You think I dont know youre not interested in diamonds and rubies?
Theres a reason Im a rich man, Grazia. I know how to read a person, and you
are not someone who could be bought with jewelry.
I guess I should be grateful you know that. But I cant be bought. Period.
Everyone has a price.
Yes, and youre not trying to find mine, are you? Thats why were dating
and Im not your mistress.
Ah, yes, Id forgotten about that. Im out of the habit of dating. But anyway,
youd hardly be prepared for a Glitter & Gowns evening with no glitter,
would you? I figured you could handle the gown part yourself.
You figured right. I can sense her stewing about something, but rather
than draw her out, I let her percolate. Eventually, she grumbles, This event
its next week. Is that the next time Im going to see you?
I was planning to visit you tonight.
Visit? She makes a groaning sound. Were dating, Marshall. I wonder if
theres a dictionary I could buy you The Rich Mans Guide To Not Treating
All People With Ovaries Like Well-Heeled Prostitutes.
I cant help but chuckle at her caustic retort. Dont worry. Im rusty, not
completely covered in spider webs. Ill figure it out.
Youd better. Im not your mistress, Marshall. Remember that.
Despite myself, I like the fire in her voice. Truth is, the women Ive chosen
as mistresses have been, essentially, employees. Grazia is the first one Ive
ever had to treat as an individual. That makes me sound like such a bastard, and
maybe I am, but I wasnt born that way. The coldness in my nature that stems
from a desire to protect myself, my past, and my future, didnt pop up out of
nowhere. Things happened, women happened, and they changed me.
Im a product of my environment.
Grazia might want to change that, and to a certain extent Ill allow her some
leeway, but Ill only let her go so far

Chapter Two Grazia

I cant believe the size of that diamond.


Jessies awe adds to my nerves. Sighing, I tell my assistant, No, I cant
either. Its huge. In fact, scrap that. Its fucking huge. Its the size of a duck egg
and Marshall expects me to wear it like I go around wearing jewels this size all
the time. Whats the event for?
At my question, she peers down at the invitation that came with the jewelry
box and three security guards who made the Rock look underweight. Christ,
two of them are still outside waiting to take it back to whatever vault it came
from.
The letter alongside the invitation told me that Marshall sent the necklace
and earring set along so I could judge which outfit would match it
appropriately.
The fact he had it sent along, with all the pomp of security, tells me hes
trying to impress me.
Damn him, he has.
Sort of.
It also reminds me of the time my father, a mob boss, sent my mother, his
mistress, a rather expensive brooch. She oohed and aahed over it for so long
that even my four-year-old self felt nauseated over her reaction.
A part of me is stopping myself from acting like a loon over a bit of
pressurized ancient carbon, mostly because I refuse to be like her. But the
woman in me has no choice but to appreciate the beauty of the stone, the
clarity, and the sheer gorgeousness of the necklace.
Its gaudy, sure. It cant not be, as large as it is, but its still a stunning piece
regardless. The large duck egg diamond is bracketed by two emerald cut
sapphires, and a train of smaller emerald cut diamonds makes up the rest of the
piece.
I know exactly what Ill wear with it, too; a gown Ive been intending to take
down to one of the boutiques I design dresses for in my spare time. It will be
perfect. The sweetheart neckline combined with the high empire waist that will
gather the silk at my breast before spreading out into a skirt that drapes over
my hips and curls about my legs. Fortuitously, its a dark navy blue that will
match the sapphires to perfection.
Jessie makes an A-ha! sound and says, Its a fundraiser.
I gathered as much, Jessie, I chide, clucking my tongue at her obvious
reply.
She glowers up at me. Give me a chance.
Sorry. I pat her shoulder. Im on edge.
Well, its not every day you sign a non-disclosure agreement to start dating
someone, is it?
Her practical response has me tensing. Shh, I hiss, clapping a hand to her
mouth. Youre not supposed to know that, are you, dammit?
She pulls a face. Oops.
Yes! Oops. You cant tell anyone, Jessie, not unless you want to get me into
trouble.
I wont tell anyone. I promised, didnt I?
You did, but you just mentioned it.
That has her snorting. I mentioned it to an empty room, Grazia. No one
was in danger of overhearing what I said.
I bite my lip. I guess not. This whole situation has me on edge. I have no
idea why I even signed the damned thing.
Because you wanted to screw his brains out?
The twinkle in her eye has me holding back a smile. Clearing my throat, I
tell her, deadpan, That might have had something to do with it.
She immediately snickers and returns to the laptop. Jessie is both my PA and
my friend. In fact, shes probably my best friend. Shes the only person I really
talk to about anything important, anyway.
I guess that could be construed as sad, but hell, Jessie is pretty awesome. It
would be hard not to like her, and even harder not to become close to her.
Its for a foundation started by the Levitt Corporation, she tells me after a
few minutes.
Its Marshalls own gala? I ask, surprised.
Yeah, looks like it.
I wonder why he didnt tell me.
I dont know. Maybe because he has this big macho, alpha billionaire
image to play up to?
Is that even a thing? I ask, doubtfully.
She nods like she knows what shes talking about, and hell, the way she
devours the gossip columns, maybe Jessie is my go-to gal for information
about Marshall. Because Christ, I sure as hell dont know the man, and all of a
sudden Im dating him.
After a handful of meetings, most of them with little conversation while I
was working at events I was managing, he invited me to his offices and
propositioned me.
Id gone there with the expectation of being offered more work, or at a
pinch, dinner. Instead, he threw an NDA at me and told me to sign or thered be
nothing between us.
For some reason, I didnt tell him to shove it where the sun doesnt shine. I
signed it, and then we fucked on his desk.
It was like a blot on my character.
I am not the sort of person who screws on top of a desk in a skyscraper with
a billionaire tech mogul.
Im the kind of gal who spends all day and night working, trying to make
ends meet, while dreaming of the day shell be able to give up her day job so
she can work full time at her passionfashion design.
And yet, all of a sudden, Im with a man who moves and shakes the very city
I live in. Its overwhelming andthough I hate to admit itfrightening.
I guess theres more to him than meets the eye, I tell her, studying the
galas website.
Either that or its a tax break.
I grin at her. Well, thats just a handy bonus.
She rolls her eyes and returns to the spreadsheet we were working on
earlier. When the jewelry arrived, Jessie was here with me so we could arrange
the next couple of events on our agenda. After we gawked at it for a little while,
she carried on working while I was left steaming over the implication of the
gift hed sent me. I had to call him just to make sure he remembered exactly
what I was to him.
Hed wanted me to be his mistress. Hed wanted me to be his employed slut.
The only way I agreed to sign the NDA was after making sure he knew that I
would never be any mans mistress, and that his only chance at getting close to
me was to date me.
When he agreed, I was stunned. But mostly, relieved. Especially when he
kissed me.
Theres a leashed tension about him. Something Ive noticed from our very
first meeting. Hes attractive, theres no denying that, but in my job I meet
attractive men all the time. A guy being handsome isnt enough for me to throw
all my principles away and leapfrog onto him as quickly as I can.
No, there is something about Marshall thats different. And Ive yet to figure
out what it is, exactly.
Youve disappeared on me again, Jessie grumbles. I guess thats what
happens when you fall in love; its like the song, why do birds suddenly
appear?
Chuckling, I whack her on the arm. Get on with your work.
Yes, maam. She winks at me, with an eye roll, I get back to my own epic
to-do list.
****
I hate that Im nervous.
I really hate it.
Ive smoothed down my dress God knows how many times, and Ive wasted
countless minutes gawking at my hair wondering if I should just wear it up to
get it away from my neck. Ive questioned the wisdom of wearing this dress,
while also wondering if I should call Marshall and ask him what the hell were
doing tonight so at least Ill know if Im wearing something inappropriate
Nerves. Dammit.
Biting my lip, I stare at myself in the mirror again. Admittedly, I look good.
I could be overdressed if were not doing anything fancy, but hell, I can always
get changed.
Its a simple thought, but its one that immediately calms me down. Its not
like he wont wait for me to change into something else if what Im wearing is
too fancy or whatever.
Sucking in a deep and calming breath, I refuse to fiddle with my hair
anymore and I back away from the mirror. Turning on my heel, I head to the
kitchen, intent on grabbing myself a glass of water, when the doorbell sounds.
When butterflies settle in my gut once more, I shrug them off, stride over to
the door, and open it. Seeing him there in casual clothes makes my heart sink.
But then it starts to soar, because damn, he looks good.
His mouth gapes a little, and before I can even think of blushing, he says in
a hoarse whisper, You look absolutely beautiful. Wow.
Somehow I know it takes a lot to impress this man, and unbidden, I twirl in a
circle so he can be hit with the full bang of the red A-line dress thats half pin-
up material and half sweetheart innocence.
When he clears his throat, I tell him, Beautiful, but entirely too much. Ill
go and get changed.
His eyes widen and he shakes his head. No! I want you to wear that. You
look A growl rumbles in his throat. You look divine.
Im glad, but Im not wearing this while youre wearing that. Everything
he wears is expensive, designer, but essentially he has on a pair of jeans, a shirt
and a really nice sweater over it.
I wont lie, it comes as a surprise to see him flush with discomfort. I should
have told you what we were doing.
Yeah, you probably should have, but hell, I could have called to ask. I
shrug. Its no big deal. Just give me two minutes and I can change.
Shit, he grumbles, following me in when I wave him inside my apartment.
I want you to wear that.
I can wear it another day, I say in a teasing tone. Make yourself
comfortable. Theres water and juice in the fridge if youre thirsty.
When he smiles his thanks, I retreat to the bedroom and quickly change into
a pair of black linen pants, some ballet flats and a red camisole. Simple, but the
colors suit me as much as the dress does.
It barely takes me the two minutes Id told him. I return to the living room to
see him staring at one of the paintings on the wall. He hears my shoes tapping
against the hardwood floor and asks, without turning around, This is your
work?
Yeah, its something I did in college.
At that, he half-turns to look at me. Youre talented.
My lips twitch. Gee, a compliment. Thanks.
Another flush. And yet more surprise from me. Sorry. I didnt mean that to
come out the way it did. Im just hell, I didnt expect you to be this good.
He returns his attention to the painting while I look at him. Hes enamored
by the deceptively clean lines of the nude portrait I have hanging on my back
wall, but Im more interested in him. If he posed for me, Id snap his fingers
off at the opportunity.
Thank you, I think.
This time, he shoots a quick grin at me before asking, Was that dress one
of your designs?
I nod. Yep.
Again, Im impressed.
Im pretty decent at what I do. Unfortunately, the fashion world needs more
than pretty decent if you want to make a name for yourself there. I shrug,
accustomed to the notion that Ill never make waves in that particular sphere.
Even though Id give my left leg to do just that.
Then the fashion world is damn crazy. That dress was He blows out a
breath. Ive never seen something so simple do something so crazy. You
looked like sex and sin all mixed together.
Just the look I aimed for when I designed the dress, I tease. Right, where
are we going?
He runs a hand through his hair. Would you mind if we go back to my
place?
Though Im surprised, Im not disappointed. Hes seen my living space,
now Id like to see his. Sure. Thats fine with me.
His smile is a little more strained than it was moments before. Its been a
very long day.
Together, we head to the door. Ill bet. In fact, Id guess its probably rare
for you to have a short day.
He waits for me to lock up, and then presses a hand to the small of my back
as we walk to the elevator. The doors are still open, meaning no one else has
called it since his arrivalnot altogether surprising, as my building isnt the
busiest.
Its a very old one, and is used by designers such as myself because its
cheap and enables us to live where we work thanks to the larger living spaces
that come with an older building.
As we travel down to the first floor, he tells me, Youre right about that.
My days tend to be fifteen hours on a regular basis.
Mine arent much better. Eight on days without an event, like today, and
then upwards of twelve when there is one.
As we head out onto the street, I see a car waiting for him. A traffic cop
probably wouldnt dare move the expensive vehicle along just because the
engine isnt idling. Oh no, this car s double parked and couldnt care less!
Marshalls chauffeur jumps out and opens the door for us. Ladies first.
Within seconds of sitting down, the driver s back behind the wheel and were
being whisked through the city.
When I think of the buses I slog on, the taxis I take in a pinch when my
budget allows it, I have to admit the luxury of owning not only a car, but one
that comes with a driver to ferry you around, is a lavish treat.
What are you thinking?
I turn to him with a smile. Not a lot, really. Just how lovely it must be to
travel around the city like this.
He grimaces. God, yes. I went to college in the city, but I lived in Brighton
Beach with my grandmother. I had to trek in and out twice a day on the subway.
Id have traveled further at the time, and for longer. It was only an hour each
way, after all. But now, Ill admit, Im used to this.
And why shouldnt you be? You work damn hard for it.
Ah, but theres the rub. So do you, and Ill bet you have to take taxis. He
wrinkles his nose. Life isnt always fair.
Not necessarily fair, but I mean, we cant all be rich and powerful. Some of
us have to serve people like you, I mock, grinning up at him so he knows Im
only joking and not being serious.
He reaches over to tap my nose. Youre bad for a mans ego.
I never said I was good for it.
No, thats true. Dont worry, I wont sue for false advertising.
Very reassuring, I retort, then close my eyes when he traces the finger that
tapped my nose up over the curve of my cheek and down my jaw. When a
shudder chases down my spine, I let myself look at him and whisper, How
long until we reach your place?
That question makes his eyes flare wide before they shutter at half-mast.
Not long. He turns to look out the window. Ten minutes.
My jaw clenches as the need he inspires in me flushes through me with a
flash. I dont understand what it is about him that does it, but maybe Im not
supposed to understand.
Doesnt everyone have that one attraction in their life? That one odd
peculiarity that makes no sense, that burns hotter than anything else, but that is
impossible to give up?
Maybe Marshall is mine. My mistake to make. My flash fire to enjoy and
indulge in, safe in the knowledge that it will eventually burn out.
Ten minutes isnt long, I whisper.
No? It feels like a lifetime at the moment.
My lips twitch at that, and when his hand hovers near my mouth, I press a
kiss to his fingertip. The tender move is unlike me, but it was an instinctive
touch, and I dont regret it, because a low rumbling sound echoes from him.
I like how vocal he is.
The one and only time we had sex, the groans and moans he made were
reassuring in a way. The other men Ive slept with were mostly silent, only
grunting at the end when they came. But not Marshall. He was loud, passionate.
It inspired me to let go, to be free.
I enjoyed that as much as the orgasm I had with him.
Crazy, but true.
Is there a privacy window? I ask the question under my breath.
His answer is to press a button overhead. When the window shoots up, I
immediately clamber over to his side of the car and straddle his lap.
The instant Im there, I move closer until my breath brushes his lips. When
hes breathing me in, I let our mouths touch, gently at first, mostly because Im
waiting. Waiting for him to take me, to claim me. To make me his.
The possessive thoughts are outside of my comfort zone, but I dont care. At
that moment, Im beyond caring. From the minute he arrived at my door, Ive
been wanting to be here, in his arms, riding the passion he inspires in me at full
gallop. Now Im here, he has all my focus, all my attention.
When he strikes, its everything I knew it would be. His tongue penetrates
my lips, and as it rakes against my own, I feel like hes fucking my mouth.
Fucking it like hed fuck me.
The notion makes me shudder, and I grab a hold of his shoulders and dig
my nails into them. I know he wont feel it through the thick wool of his
sweater and shirt, but it doesnt matter. Not yet. Hell feel them later, when
were in bed together. Thats for damned sure.
I let him take control of the kiss, content for him to be in charge as I begin
to rock my hips, riding him until I can feel the hard ridge of his shaft swell
between my legs. I press down, reveling in that extra pressure as I ride him. His
mouth is still driving mine insane. He robs me of my breath, steals it like the
kindest thief as I take us both to a precipice neither of us can fall over.
Almost as though we needed the reminder, the car brakes to a gentle halt.
Although my mind is most definitely elsewhere, its the prompt we need to stop
ourselves from taking this too far.
Were here, he mumbles against my lips.
I know.
My breathy words should sound shameful; instead theyre loaded with all
the desire and lust pounding their way through me.
Its crazy what he makes me feel. I dont understand it, and the more I
experience it, the less I want to make sense of it.
This is my grand passion, and I intend to take advantage of it as much as I
can.
Lets go upstairs, he whispers as he nibbles the corner of my mouth.
Rather than reply, I nod and let him help me off his lap. He opens the door
himself, climbs out a little stifflywho could blame him with the wood hes
packing?and bends down to help me out of the car.
Yet again, he presses a hand to the bottom of my back, and I can feel his
gentle support as he guides me from the street to the entrance of his building.
Its as impressive as Id figured it would be. A huge swathing red canopy to
shield the buildings eminent inhabitants from stormy weather, a smart
doorman wearing an expensive overcoat and top hat like something from
another era, and a huge, gleaming golden door that opens onto a grand
reception lobby.
Its not what I imagined. I thought hed be into minimalist chicafter all,
Ive seen his office. But this building is most definitely old, and its most
definitely art deco, and most definitely not modern.
Surprised, I let him lead me to one of those modernized elevators that
replicate the kind belonging in another era, and together, we travel to the top.
He inserts a card that takes us right to the penthouse, where the elevator
opens up into the apartment. My first glimpse of his home is astonishing.
It has the same edge as his office. Lots of clean lines, empty spaces, but this
is a little warmer, cozier. There are lots of seating nooks. Plush chairs, selected
for comfort not style, congregate together in various areas of the loft, set amid
low tables with delicate and/or stylish ornaments that add to the atmosphere
without cluttering the place up.
We walk past two such seating areas before reaching a room that could only
be considered a library. This is the only place with proper walls, and these ones
are loaded down with books. Endless amounts of them. Not new ones, either.
Theyre leather-bound, with cracked spines, so theyre old and have been used.
Whether theyre for show or not is another matter entirely.
Like to read, huh? I ask dumbly, curious enough to wonder if the books
are for real.
Yeah. This is my favorite room. I dont read as much as Id like; I dont
have the time. He shrugs it off, but I can still sense how badly he wishes he did
have the time.
Its another facet to his nature that interests me. Hes no cookie-cutter
tycoon. He has quirks, and theyre my most favorite part of every person.
Theyre what make a person unique, and I get the feeling Marshall is more
unique than most.
Hell, for him to have accomplished what he has at his age is astonishing.
Those facets make me want to explore, and I fully intend on doing so.

Chapter Three Marshall

Eying the library with faint regret, I lead Grazia away toward my favorite
part of my apartment.
I had a hand in decorating this place, more so than most of my properties,
which is why I live in this particular one. I dont often bring women to this
apartment, though, as its my private space, but tonight, after visiting Brighton
Beach, I didnt want to be anywhere else but home.
As comfortable as her place was, I had no desire to stay there. If I hadnt
wanted her to see this, my personal space, I could have stayed there with her.
But the desire to be among my own things was imperative.
I hate going back to Brooklyn. I avoid it as much as I can, but I force myself
to go back four times a year. Minimum. My grandmother s birthday, the day
she and my grandfather died, and finally, on my own birthday.
Each anniversary is a difficult one for me anyway, so going back doesn't
make it that much harder. You cant make a sucky day that much suckier, after
all. Shit is shit, and those days are the shittiest for me to handle.
Youve gone quiet, she tells me, jerking me from my thoughts as I take
her to the sitting room off the kitchen.
Just thinking, I reply, a little dismissively. Too many thoughts arent
good for me, I continue, trying to make up for the tone.
Too many thoughts arent good for most people.
How very wise of you, I tease. Then, as I lead her into the kitchen, I ask,
Want something to drink?
She shakes her head. No. Im alright, thanks.
You sure? I cock an eyebrow at her.
Im thirsty for something else.
Her words have my stomach wrenching as desire slaloms through me. God,
what is it about this woman? What is it that drives me from despair and
sorrow-ridden thoughts to lustful ones in less than a handful of moments?
Her eyes are heavy, the lids half-mast. Wheres the bedroom?
Surprised at the fact shes instigating this, I hold out a hand. When she
accepts it, I tangle my fingers with her own and lead her to the bedroom.
Its an intense room. Red walls, red sheets on the bed. Golden lights,
decorated with Moroccan patterns in gilt. A canopy over the bed that reminds
me of a Bedouin tent billowing in the wind.
Wow, she breathes the instant she crosses the threshold. This is I never
imagined you in something like this.
That has my lips twitching. No. It is rather fanciful, isnt it?
Fanciful isnt the word. Id say fantastical fits far better.
I laugh. I wouldn't go that far.
It looks like a sheikhs bedroom! she immediately reprimands.
It kind of is. I read something once I pull at the collar of my shirt. It
inspired all this.
She smiles at me as she turns away from the room and faces me, focusing
all her attention my way. I like that you have an imagination. I never figured
youd go for something like this.
What do you mean?
She waves a hand. That office of yours? She makes a gagging sound.
You cant breathe in that place.
That makes me blink. I assure you, Ive yet to choke in there.
A chuckle escapes her. Thats not what I meant I meant, you know,
creatively.
Not much creative work goes on in there.
Im not surprised. She arches an eyebrow at me. Especially now I know
youre capable of this! Coming closer to me, she rests her hands on my chest.
Im impressed, Mr. Levitt.
I cock an eyebrow at her in return. Doesnt take much to impress you, does
it?
She snickers. Now youre just being bashful. She comes up on tiptoes and
dots a single kiss on my cheek. She anoints the other cheek with another kiss.
Your facets are intriguing.
Before I can tell her other parts of me are far more intriguing than my
facets, she presses her lips to mine and robs me of all other thoughts.
I know she wants to take charge, but I reach down and grab a hold of her
legs, hoisting her up so shes in my arms. She immediately parts her thighs and
clasps my hips. The move drags her sex against mine and both of us groan into
the other s mouth as the delicious pressure ricochets through us.
She arches her back, pressing her mound harder against my cock, and I cup
her ass, loving the muscular softness of her butt against my palms.
Her tongue thrusts into my mouth, and with each thrust, I take a step
forward, closer to the bed. In no time at all, Ive lowered her to the mattress
and the pair of us are panting with the desperate need to take this further, to be
as one for however long we can.
I rear up, jerking my sweater overhead and pulling my shirt off at the same
time. As my hands go to my buckle and fly, I watch as she removes her own
blouse, revealing a pretty bra, and manages to wriggle out of her pants without
leaving the bed, revealing long thighs and a damp spot at the crotch of her
panties.
I want to groan at the sight of her.
God, shes beautiful. I tell her as much, smiling a little as she flushes. The
extra pink adds to her beauty and the instant my cock is free, peeking through
the fly, I lower myself to the bed so I can feel her against me.
She cries out when I settle my weight between her thighs, and she lifts her
legs high, cupping my ass with them while digging her heels into my glutes.
Youre still wearing too many clothes, I complain as I nip at her throat,
laving the spot with my tongue until the flesh is pink and flushed with blood. I
continue moving down, smirking as her fingers fumble with the front clasp of
her bra, revealing turgid nipples that beg me to taste them.
When I do as they so pleasingly ask, she lets out a low groan, and that sound
robs me of all control. I dont know why it does, it just does, and I reach
between us to grab a hold of her panties. Pulling them to the side, I let my c