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After he texted me the details, I hopped in a cab for the hotel. The bellman pulled open the large glass doors and I entered a decadent lobby with stone floors and crystal chandeliers hanging high above. It made me miss my little apartment and cuddling on my couch with Bray. This made our arrangement feel like something else entirely. I didn’t like it. But I entered the elevator and rode up to the seventh floor, conflicted by my intense desire to see him. When I reached the room and knocked, the door was quickly pulled open.

Braydon stood before me in jeans, a white T-shirt, and bare feet. “You made it.” He smiled warmly, like this was completely normal. We both had homes in this city. Why were we at a hotel?

“I’m here,” I said, my voice devoid of all excitement. Though I was happy to see him and his smile, my head was spinning like a record. Heading inside, I realized he’d rented a suite. It seemed a little over the top for just one night, and I suddenly found myself wondering about his income. Ben certainly made a good living modeling. It appeared Braydon did, too. Not that it mattered to me. I was just curious to learn all I could about this man and his life.

Braydon had set out a bottle of wine and two glasses on the coffee table. “Would you like a glass?” he asked, coming up behind me and wrapping his arms around my waist.

“Sure,” I said, trying to sound agreeable. But something about tonight, about being here, felt off. Maybe it was just the sting of rejection that he hadn’t invited me over. Either way, I decided I would let it go for now and try to enjoy the evening. Despite the weirdness, it was clear he wanted to be with me. I didn’t want to overanalyze that aspect of the situation.

We sat together on the sofa and enjoyed a glass of wine. Braydon filled me in on the photo shoot he’d had earlier with two female models and a live boa constrictor. The women were completely comfortable with the snake and Braydon was the one terrified of the thing, which sent me into a fit of laughter.

“It was longer than the room we were in. Seriously, it’s not funny, kitten. It wound itself around my thigh and I about pissed myself.”

“Aw, poor baby. Sounds like a tough job.” I patted his knee. “Do you need me to make it all better?”

A slow smile curled up his mouth. “That sounds tempting. But not yet. You seem wound up and I need to get you relaxed first.” He grinned.

I sipped my wine and looked out at the twinkling city lights below, relishing the moment but also feeling totally confused by it. Our encounters always felt more like romance than a casual arrangement, and it was totally confusing my heart. I didn’t want to sit here, drinking wine and watching his gorgeous eyes sparkle while he told me amusing stories, making me fall deeper under his spell. I came into this agreement thinking it’d be more of a wham, bam, thank you ma’am situation. And so far it had been anything but. Real feelings were starting to develop and I had no idea if he felt the same way. His hesitation to bring me to his apartment tonight told me probably not. Some girls might think a hotel room was a special date night, but I wasn’t that delusional. First, this wasn’t a date. It was a private room with a bed where Braydon could fulfill the obligations of the arrangement I was seriously starting to question. Was I insane? Why had I agreed to this?

Then Braydon changed everything. He looked over at me, his gaze darkening with his desire, and I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world. I was addicted to that feeling. This beautiful man wanted me. Me. I would give in to my desires tonight. Even if I woke up confused again in the morning.

He moved with the stealth of a panther, slowly setting down his wineglass and turning his body to mine. My heart thumped unevenly and my hands clutched the stem of my glass, desperately needing something to hold on to. Braydon’s fingers found mine and he removed the glass from my grasp, setting it with his on the table. “Come here.” Taking my hand, he pulled me from the couch. I rose on shaky legs and stood before him. Seeing him dressed so casually, with his bare feet and playful smirk, made me weak in the knees.

I allowed Braydon to lead me into the adjoining bedroom. A large bed dressed in white linens beckoned us, but Braydon released my hand and sat down on the edge and hung his head in his hands.

“Bray?” I carefully stepped closer, wondering what had changed in the course of thirty seconds.

He lifted his head and the crease I saw in his brow was unexpected. I’d never seen him be anything but cool and easygoing. “Do you even want this?” he asked.

“What do you mean?”

“This arrangement—is it what you want? I hate thinking I’ve lured you into something against your will.”

I hadn’t done anything I didn’t want to do. That much was true. I sat down on the edge of the bed beside him and considered how to answer. The truth was I wanted more, but something told me if I pushed him right now, I’d lose him. He was giving me what he was capable of, and he wanted reassurance that I accepted him and all his limitations. He must have picked up on my contemplative mood out in the living room. “Yes, I want this. I want a real relationship someday, but I know you’re not looking for anything steady. I’m not going to let that stop us from hanging out. I like our time together.”

His eyes lifted to mine and the little crease in his forehead disappeared. “I do, too.”

“Good.” It felt strange that I was the one reassuring him about this when I myself felt anything but confident. We had an amazing connection that translated into so much more than just sex. Maybe in time he would see that. I just needed to be patient and go with the flow. Two things I wasn’t good at. I scooted a little closer and Braydon brought his hand to my cheek, lovingly stroking my jaw and tucking my hair behind my ear so he could lean down and kiss my neck. His tenderness was unexpected and calmed me instantly. It was crazy how one minute he could rile me up, and then in the next render me speechless.

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