Page 23

“You think me relentless?” He’s amused.

As I search my brain, frantic for an answer, I find him peering down at me with a sober expression.

“I’m much worse than that,” he murmurs.

The elevator halts.

Saint glances at the top. “We’re here.” We head outside. Marble, windows, everything new and recently cleaned. To one side are paint cans, the scent of drying paint mingled with plaster and plastic. The ceilings have cables poking out. It’s a masterpiece in progress, a visionary building for visionary people.

“Hey, come here, I want to show you something,” Saint tells me, watching me walk over to where he’s standing.

He leads me into a huge conference room.

I look at everything. “It’s beautiful.”

I realize he’s looking only at me. He looks at me like he wants something from me, like he wants something very much, and like he’s wanted it for a long time.

Aware that I’m blushing hard, I tear free of his stare and distract myself with the huge artwork on the wall to his left. The wall is so huge, I don’t recognize the splotches of color as I take them all in, but when I focus on each and every one, I do.

Here, covering one of his walls from end to end, is the huge canvas mural Gina and I made at the park, along with nearly a hundred other people.

Dazed, I walk forward, scanning all the hands. There is Gina’s. And, yes, there’s mine.

“What do you think of it?”

I look at him, not believing what I’m seeing. On impulse, I turn back to the mural and lift my hand and match it to my red handprint, finger to finger.

How did he know? When I went to his office, I was streaked with red paint, and I told him where I’d been. Oh wow. I look at our hands, still disbelieving as I step back.

I remember riding in one of his cars once while he bid in an auction.

I remember all the things he handled in the space of mere minutes.

And I can’t believe that one of those things, one of the times he was on the phone, one of these days, was regarding this one thing that means worlds to me.

“You see, I’m correcting an injustice,” he says behind me. “Interface has contributed to the cause you believe in so much . . . and you can’t give this one back.”

I laugh and face him, my knees feeling weaker and weaker. “I really hurt your pride returning your shirt, didn’t I?”

“I’m mortally wounded.”

He’s not grinning.

His pull is stronger than ever.

His stare greener than ever.

“The donations made by the institutions who acquire these go to the families of the victims. These donations really helped my mother when my dad died,” I hear myself admit, with a ball of emotion in my gut. “It’s such a great gesture. Thank you for helping.”

His eyes go liquid, as if all he wanted was this meager thank-you I just gave him.

He smiles and nods his dark head, and suddenly, it’s not enough. Not enough at all. I can’t believe it—this gesture out of a hundred gestures. On impulse, I walk up to him, my Uggs silent on the marble. Then I push up on tiptoes and kiss his hard jaw. He moves his head, so I end up kissing the corner of his mouth.

Startled, I ease back, gaping.

His eyes are dark . . . but glimmering in delight. As if he wanted the thank-you but will take anything else that he can.

I realize several things. He’s grabbed my waist to keep me from stepping back. His hands are on my hips. I shiver at his touch. I also notice the unmistakable, determined look of a hunter on his face, as if he doesn’t plan to let go, and I’m dizzy with his scent. Fast. I didn’t imagine the human body could want so fast and so much from one instant to the next.

“Put your arms around me,” he says, his voice a gruff whisper in my ear.

My stomach grips tightly in surprise, small butterflies exploding from its pit to the tips of my fingers. His warm, long-fingered hand curves around my hip, holding me close.

“Put your arms around me,” he repeats, slowly watching my reaction as he takes my wrists, lifts my arms, and links my hands together at his nape. He watches me as he ducks his head and, oh, the anticipation, the exquisite torture, of wanting this and not wanting to want this.

“I can’t breathe,” I whisper, somehow easing my head back as he edges forward.

His eyes start fluttering closed, the shadow of his eyelashes dark on his cheekbones as his lips come within a breath of mine. “I don’t want you to breathe.”

He kisses the corner of my mouth; my body tightens at the contact. He eases back—not a lot, as if he doesn’t want to let go or leave me for more than an inch—and looks at me like I’m absolutely new and precious and he wants to play with me so much, he actually isn’t certain if he wants to play with me completely or maybe save a little bit of me to play with later. And I . . . ?

I’m burning to my bones.

Beyond thought right this second.

I want him so deep I’ll end up broken. I want to forget there are multiple reasons why this isn’t a good idea—because it doesn’t matter if it’s good or even right, only that I give my body what it wants. And all I want right now is looking down at me as if he wants to give it to me too.

I’m scared, but that doesn’t stop me from tipping my head up in offering, my lips parted in complete recklessness. “Do that again,” I whisper. His eyes gleam as he watches me, his gaze somehow male and savoring as I lick my lips and squirm a little beneath him. “Saint . . . do it again . . .” I try again.

He ducks his head, and the second corner kiss is so close to the center of my mouth, I can taste him. Oh god, I want to taste him. He’s teasing me now. Teasing me with kisses and desire, the kind I’ve never felt, and it’s working; I’m aching, throbbing, wanting, dying.

“You like that?”

I nod fast, breathing heavily. “Again . . . please.” I tip my head farther back. He takes in my reaction with dark, hooded eyes, and I remain dazed, struggling to keep my lungs working. He tips my head back at the angle that he wants it.

The air between our bodies feels like fire, the places his thigh touches mine singe me, the tips of my breasts are crushed and hot against his flat chest.

He bends his head and takes my lips—front and center now. If I had just been burned at the stake, the impact would have been less than the hot feel of his tongue pushing my lips apart. I burst up in flames, and he pulls me closer with a rumbling noise as his tongue delves in and strokes mine, dominating, tasting, kissing.

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