“They seemed to be having fun.” He raised his glass and clinked it against mine. “So do you.” His lips curled into a charming smirk and he adjusted his position, brushing his arm against mine. The unwelcome surge over that entire side of my body made me realize how much I missed his physical presence.
I took a sip, then another, debating what to say to him while he eyed me suspiciously, the drama of the game below us all but forgotten. “Do I make you nervous?” he asked.
His relaxed posture and collected demeanor provided a stark contrast to my own composure. “No. Why?”
“You’re pounding that drink.”
I glanced down at my mojito which was now just ice cubes. When did that happen?
His amused eyes were on mine when I looked back up. “I can get you another if you want.”
“Are you trying to get me drunk?” I blurted, recalling our last heated conversation in which I was naked and in the middle of masturbating. “I’m not going home with you tonight if that’s what you’re planning.”
“Relax Kristen. You’re a beautiful, intelligent woman. I know you can handle yourself.” The casual way in which he deflected while complimenting me made me stiffen and when he put his hand on mine, I felt my knees go weak. Good thing we were sitting down.“What’s really bothering you?”
I placed the drink in the cup holder and pulled my arms across my chest, more to avoid the effect of his touch than to pout. “You. What are you doing here? Are you stalking me?”
“I may constantly fantasize about you but I don’t follow you around or have you followed if that’s what you’re asking.”
“So you just happened to be here when I’m here.”
“It’s the playoffs. As a major shareholder in the team, I have more reason to be at this game than you. Maybe you’re the one stalking me?”
His cleverness caused me to laugh and I gained a greater appreciation for his sense of humor. “You wish.”
“Maybe you researched my finances, realized my connection to the Knicks, and, unable to resist your intense feelings, showed up hoping to see me. Looks like we both got lucky.” He took a sip of his own drink while keeping his dark eyes trained on me.
Even though I’d been plagued with constant thoughts about him throughout the week—some of them including fantasy meetings in his office—I couldn’t imagine myself acting on them. “In your dreams, buddy,” I said, my tone more playful than serious.
He leaned toward me, his mouth close to my ear and his long velvety hair brushing my cheek. Rather than resisting, I found myself relishing the contact. His scent was different than usual but the signature spice was present and had its usual effect on me all the same.
“You want to know what I dream about? We can make that a reality,” he purred.
My body involuntarily shivered at the silky vibration. I admired his graceful tenacity but I had already come to expect that from him. “Sorry, but you’re not really my type.”
He pulled back but was still close enough for me to feel his radiating heat. I saw his seductive smile widen. “I am. But what do you think your type is?”
“Nice. Sweet. Caring. Not exactly a thrill-seeking CEO.”
His smile turned lopsided and he replied, “You’d be bored in a month. I think you want someone exciting who also makes you feel safe. I can do that.”
My thumb and forefinger pinched my chin in thought. “Hmm . . . you know that does sound appealing but as enticing as it is, I already told you, we can’t happen.”
“Professional concerns, I know.”
I raised a brow. “So you do listen.”
“When it involves your lips, you have my full attention.”
The tension in my shoulders relaxed and I felt a crack in my guard. He was both physically beautiful and demonstrating thoughtfulness. It wasn’t just the drink and remembering my roommate; he actually listened to my concerns. I decided to illustrate the situation to ensure we were on the same page. “You’re Romeo and I’m Juliet. If we get together, bad things will happen.”
“Is that it?” He carefully scanned the arena then returned his powerful gaze to me. “Because I don’t see your bosses anywhere. I thought a Waterbridge-Howser employee would be a little more creative when it comes to getting what she wants. You certainly strike me as the type.”
“A woman who gets what she wants. Harvard for economics? Working at a wealth management firm trying to get ahead when guys like your partner, Richard, are trying to screw you over or just screw you at every opportunity? You have to be both tough and smart to thrive in that environment.”
How did he know what I studied in school, or even where I went?
As if reading my mind, he said, “I looked up your background before I signed with your company. Remember, I’m trusting you with hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“I thought you made me your point-of-contact just to get into my pants.”
“I might be a risk-taker when it suits me, but I’m not a moron. You’re an impressive woman, Kristen.”
Well at least he knew how to make a girl feel good. And aroused. He shifted his legs closer to mine and in that moment, I could swear the alcohol must’ve reached my brain because all I could think about was the image of him ripping off those slacks in front of me like a male stripper. “Do you try to have sex with all the other impressive women you meet? Is this a conquest for you?”
He looked at me with surprise. “None as impressive as you.”
“Well, I’m flattered.” I really was, but my purposeful tone didn’t show it.
“I don’t see you as a conquest,” he added. “But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find your feistiness a turn-on.”
I blushed fiercely. “I have legitimate concerns.”
“Which brings us back to the topic you didn’t address. If all you have are professional concerns, it won’t be an issue keeping what we do just between us. We’ve kissed in my office and you still have your job.”
He had a point, but there were other reasons I was resisting him, and I wasn’t about to surface those skeletons. “It’s a risk I can’t take. As deliciously attractive as you are, I want my job more than I want you. I barely even know you. And you barely know me.”
“Then get to know me. Give this,” he gestured back and forth between me and himself, “a chance.”
“What are you saying?”
“A date. If it goes well, let’s have more. If not, we go back to a purely professional relationship. I promise, keeping one date a secret won’t be a problem.” He found a lock of my hair and curled it seductively between his fingers. “What we do is private. My lips are sealed.”
As exciting as the prospect of a date with Vincent was, his suggestion seemed inconsistent with his approach. Until now, he only seemed interested in having sex with me. Dating was a whole different beast and I wasn’t certain he grasped the significance. “Vincent, as thrilling as a date sounds, I’m not sure you understand what you’re proposing. A date isn’t sex. And if we went on one—not saying we would—but if we did, I’m telling you upfront we won’t be having sex. Maybe not even kissing.” The last part was added for emphasis.
I expected him to pull back but without skipping a beat he said, “I’m fine with that.”
His response gave me pause. “Did I miss something? I thought you just wanted a quick lay.”
“I spend the average week on three different continents so I don’t usually have time for a relationship. Hence, the direct approach. You’ve made it clear you aren’t the kind of girl who wants casual relations. I still want to see you. Taking it slow isn’t what I’m used to but I can adjust.”
“Is your concept of dating just a means to sex? I’m no prude but to me sex is a meaningful act between two people who share a connection. I’m not just going to add an extra hurdle for you to clear. You just raved about how smart I am and now you’re treating me like I’m an idiot.”
“Dating is whatever we make it. I want to show you I’m interested in you beyond just sex.”
His response was a relief. “Okay.”
“Is that a yes?”
Probably the result of the mojito coursing through my veins and Vincent’s pheromones swimming in my brain, I heard the words come out my mouth before I had time to process the implications. “Fine. One date.”
His stunning features lit up making him even more gorgeous.
“But,” I added, cutting off the words lingering on his tongue. “I need discretion. I don’t want to worry about my employer finding out about us.”
“I agree, it won’t be an issue. How’s eight tomorrow?”
“In the evening?”
“Isn’t that a bit early for a date? What do you have in mind?”
“It’s a surprise.”
My head was spinning. “Okay . . . where do you want me to meet you?”
“I’ll pick you up.”
I nodded. “How can I know what to wear if you won’t tell me where we’re going or what we’re doing?”
“Nothing fancy, don’t worry about it,” he said, looking me up and down. “It looks like you know how to handle that anyway.”
My face grew hot again. “Thank you.”
He leaned close to me, and I felt his breath on my neck and shuddered, bracing for an attempted kiss. “Just be ready at eight. You can do that, right?”
“You don’t think I’m going to try to kiss you here, do you? You’re underestimating me, Kristen.” He leaned back into his chair, grazing my leg with his fingers as he did. His touch sent a jolt through my body, making my breath hitch.
“I can behave,” he finished.
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