“Your banking needs,” she corrected.
“That too,” he murmured. “See you later.”
His week was looking up.
About fifteen minutes after Bennett—Ben—moseyed out of the building after opening a new checking account, Ainsley called Jenny back into her office.
“You buzzed me?” she inquired with fake sweetness.
“Yes. Do you have that number for the PR department? There are four different extensions.”
“Sure. No problem. Be right back.” Jenny’s small, perfectly pear-shaped ass didn’t bounce in the skintight pink leopard print skirt.
Ainsley sighed and swore she’d eat like a bird tonight.
Jenny handed over a slip of paper. “Here you go. I hope I didn’t interrupt anything between you and Ben.”
“No, we were just finishing up. But as long as you asked, what can you tell me about him?”
“Besides he’s as hot as fire? Mama, those blue eyes of his just like…look right into you, know what I mean?”
Yes, she’d been on the receiving end of those soul-pondering looks.
“He’s pretty quiet compared to the rest of his family. But like the rest of them, he’s involved in the McKay ranching operation. He’s not much into the bar scene around here. He probably gets sick of women hanging all over him, but he’s too polite and gentlemanly to say anything, know what I mean?”
No, that didn’t ring true. Ainsley clearly remembered Bennett telling her exactly what he wanted her to do.
“He doesn’t really date, definitely not like his cousins do. Because of that, some nasty people around here whisper he’s gay, but I don’t believe that for a second.”
That man was far, far from gay.
Evidently Jenny realized that Ainsley hadn’t responded to anything she’d said. Her baby blues widened. “You aren’t involved with him or something? Because aren’t you, like, a lot older than him?”
Ainsley let the snarky comment slide. “We were just talking about his cousin’s art. He had a couple of general questions about the bank and I convinced him to open an account.”
“It’d be a big deal if you could get all the McKays to switch their banking business here. I’ll bet you can be very persuasive.”
Not nearly as persuasive as Bennett could be
And that scared the bejeezus out of her.
Ben’s charming, rustic house looked nothing like Ainsley had pictured a big, bad Dom’s swinging bachelor pad.
Cradling the bottle of wine, she tiptoed up the flagstone walkway, cursing her high heels, wishing she’d changed clothes after work.
Soon as she neared the door, she heard barking. Snarling barks. And thumps. Like the dogs were throwing themselves at the door to get to her.
Ben’s voice boomed. “Dammit, shut up. What the hell is wrong with you guys?”
The dogs whimpered.
“Hang on a sec while I put the dogs out back.”
She adjusted the shoulder strap on her purse, watching through the screen door as Ben dragged the dogs by their collars.
He trotted back, swinging the door inward. “Sorry about that. Don’t know what got into them. They’re usually so friendly they slobber all over ya.”
She handed him the wine. “They probably smelled my cats.” And my fear.
“Can I take your coat?” He set the wine bottle on a beautifully crafted side table.
Ainsley stopped on the edge of the foyer. “Ah. Sure.” She passed him her trench. He hung it on a coat tree crafted out of some kind of animal horns.
She swiped her palms on her skirt, wishing she had pockets. Wishing she hadn’t come.
Why was this so awkward?
You’ve had kinky sex with this man. Dinner should be a breeze.
Then Ben was curling his hand over her jaw, gazing into her eyes. “You all right?”
“I don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m so…nervous.”
“Do you want to leave?”
“Good. Maybe this will help.” Ben kissed her. Sweetly at first. Softly nibbling her lips while his thumb stroked her jawline. He patiently coaxed her to kiss him back. Once she opened her mouth wider, he dove right in, blowing all her circuits with a kiss packed with desire, laced with passion. Her head went muzzy and she wrapped her arms around his neck.
After an eternity of those soul-feeding kisses, he tilted her head back to string hot kisses from her chin to her neck.
Chills danced down her arms and neck and she sighed.
Ben chuckled, smooching her mouth one last time before resting his forehead to hers. “Better?”
“What else can I do to put you more at ease?”
His concern touched her. “I’d love to kick off my shoes.”
“Feel free. How about a drink?”
“Sure.” Ainsley followed him to a built-in bar. “Wow. This is beautiful.”
“Thanks. Bombay Sapphire and tonic, right?”
Of course he remembered her drink of choice. “No, actually, I’ll take a soda. Whatever you’ve got is fine.”
“Comin’ right up.”
Ainsley checked out the rest of Ben’s house. Definitely masculine with the animal trophy heads lining the wall and the large room focused on the huge TV, pool table and other man toys. Her gaze wandered to the open kitchen outfitted with stainless steel appliances, mahogany cabinetry, a big picture window overlooking an incredible view of the rolling plains. An eat-in countertop separated the kitchen and conversation area, comprised of two leather recliners facing a wood stove with an antique trestle table centered between the chairs. Maple-colored wood flooring stretched from the front door, through the kitchen, living room and bar. The TV/game room had brown and gold-flecked Berber carpet that continued down the hallway. A hallway that likely led to Ben’s bedroom.
Did Ben have hooks and restraining devices in his bedroom? Or did he only indulge in that at the Rawhide Club?
“Here you go.”
She faced him. “You’ve got a beautiful home.”
“Took me six years to get it done. Definitely a learning experience as far as adding to my carpentry know-how, but it ended up being exactly what I wanted.”
Her mouth dropped open. “You built this place? By yourself?”
“Except for the plumbing and electrical and a few odds and ends. It’s a kit house. Kinda like Lincoln logs for grownups. I bought three kits and turned them into one house.”
“That makes it even more impressive.”
“Aw, angel, you’re gonna make me blush.”
Ainsley was pleased that he’d reworked her fake club name into a term of endearment. She watched as he poured himself a Coke. “Just because I’m not drinking doesn’t mean you can’t.” Way to tell him what to do. “Not that you can’t decide yourself whether or not you want an alcoholic drink.” Stop babbling. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
He squeezed her forearm. “You’re probably starved. How about if we eat?”
She looked up right into those stunning blue eyes. She swallowed a girlie sigh. He really was delightful to look at. “Sounds great.”
He instructed her to sit at the counter as he set everything up. “It’s nothin’ fancy. Just chicken and potato casserole. A side salad if you want it.”
After they’d taken a couple of bites, Ben spoke. “Given the way we met, seems strange to swap life stories, but I reckon we oughta get the basics out of the way. So go ahead. Ask me anything.”
That was a loaded question. “You’re part of the McKay family ranching dynasty.”
“Dynasty.” Ben snorted. “I’m just a simple rancher.”
“So your main job is…”
“Cattle. Feeding them, breeding them, moving them, selling them. I work with my older brother Quinn on our section of the ranch. But we all help each other out if need be. Certain times of the year are busier than others. It ain’t a nine to five job, like bankers’ hours.”
She bristled until she realized he was teasing. “Funny, cattleman. Have you ever been married?”
“Nope.” He shot her a sideways glance. “You?”
“I was married for almost five years. Been divorced almost two years.”
“So what happened to bust up your marriage?”
Ben’s forthright manner was refreshing. “The things that made us compatible in the beginning of our relationship started to wear on me. My ex was set in his ways and didn’t understand why I wanted things between us to change. Luckily, I got out of the marriage before I became bitter, but I didn’t get out unscathed.”
His gaze hooked hers. “To be blunt, you wanted to experiment, sexually, and he wasn’t on board?”
“He was appalled. At one point he told me I needed counseling to deal with my unhealthy attitude about sex and my desire for deviant behavior.”
“What a fuckin’ idiot. I don’t need to tell you that you’re better off without him.”
“I get that he wasn’t a sexual man. For a few years I thought I was asexual, just like him, but I realized I wasn’t. The fear that I’d find myself sixty years old and regret choosing a man with a pension plan instead of finding real passion gave me the courage to end the marriage.” She pushed her food around on her plate. “His last shot at me? I was a sex addict, control freak, ball-buster. Which led me to believe I was a Domme. So now I don’t know what the hell I am.”
Then Ben’s hands were on her face. “What you are is a beautiful, sexy woman. Smart enough to get out of a situation that didn’t fit you. The real you.”
Her eyes searched his. “You really believe I’m submissive.”
“Yes. It’s not control you want, Ainsley. It’s freedom from control. Freedom not to have to micromanage every aspect of your life. Freedom to trust that your sexual well-being will be tended to by a man you trust. Freedom to feel instead of think.”
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com