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But I can have this—I can have her, her body, her wild, hot pleasure.

I can have this.

Oh, yes, I’m having this tonight.

I lean over, ready to take a long, juicy bite out of the lip that’s been driving me crazy, when she stands. “You’re an ass**le,” she whispers, panting. “Take me somewhere. Just for the night. Take me somewhere.”

I peel a hundred-dollar bill from the stack in my pocket and set it on the table, slip my jacket over her shoulders, and usher her out.

FOURTEEN

WEEKEND

Melanie

We drive to an apartment in a high-end neighborhood so pricey and coveted that everyone where I work would whore themselves out for a decorating gig in this zip code. It’s got a gated entry and high-level security on every entrance and exit. The apartment itself is covered in wall-to-wall windows, with limestone floors and stone fireplaces.

I take in the spacious, mostly empty space with one wide-eyed sweep, jaw hanging. “Did you just get a place in the city?” I hand him his coat, his gaze a delicious, palpable thing on me as I walk inside.

“You like it?” His voice holds no inflection, but something in his eyes tells me he wants me to like it.

I notice that the only furniture is one massive king mattress in the middle of the room, and the sight of those paperwhite sheets and plump pillows gives me tingles. Both of us. In that bed. Touching, kissing, groping.

The windows closest to the bed face toward my building and for a moment I wonder if he’s noticed that, even if somewhat distant, my apartment faces this way.

“It’s such a stunning space but so very empty!” I spread out my arms. “I can already visualize exactly what could go where. Dare I say you came to the right woman?”

“Dare I admit I’m not hiring your design services? I don’t like clutter.” And yet he looks amused by my offer—that almost grin I’ve come to really, really dig hovering on that full, dirty-talking mouth of his.

Oh god, I’m still so turned on by what a sexy ass**le he is. He makes me want to slap him and f**k him; no man has ever pushed my buttons like this!

“How’d you know I was a designer?”

Arms crossed, plus that almost grin equals to me almost panting. “You’re not the only one who can work Google.”

“Pandora Googled you, not me.”

“Right,” he agrees.

I laugh because he’s clearly on to me, then admit, “There was nothing on you. Nothing.”

“And there’s quite a bit on you.”

“Well, I can make this place come to life with a flick of my fingers! I’m like a Mary Poppins of decorating!”

“Princess, it’s already alive with you in it.”

Surprised by the compliment, I slide my eyes back to him, and the very way he stands there screams at me that he’s someone, someone strong, someone you don’t mess with, someone you want on your side. His dark clothes can’t hide the muscles beneath, or the grace and virility with which he moves.

I can hardly stand looking at him without launching myself at him like a rocket—a haywire rocket on a permanent, pretty worrisome detour. I restlessly walk around the place, wondering if he’s watching my ass as I move.

I let my h*ps sway even harder on purpose and head down the hall; he whistles to call me back.

“That room is off-limits.”

“What? What do you mean?” He comes over and sets a hand on the small of my back, the very rough touch filling me with a sense of safety. “Do you realize that telling me that was an invitation to just try to pick this lock and find out?” I ask him.

“You won’t be able to open it. I’ve got a mess of stuff there, nothing for a girl.”

My interest piqued by this, I steer away from his hand and turn back to jiggle the doorknob. The door is steel, almost like a bank vault.

“Melanie,” Greyson warns.

I laugh and back off. “Okay. That’s your man cave, I won’t go in. Don’t look so worried.”

“I’m not worried. You couldn’t open that door with a chainsaw. What concerns me is your determination to do exactly what I told you not to.”

“I’m curious!” I say, laughing again. My laugh, I can’t explain it, but it seems to get to him. He looks hungry to quiet me with his mouth. When he licks his lips and scowls down at my mouth, the sudden memory of his mouth on mine zips through me, of my ni**les against his tongue, and a shiver of anticipation bolts down my spine.

“Do you mind if I freshen up?” I blurt out.

“Babe, you’re spring incarnate, but go ahead.”

I shut the bathroom door behind me and lean against the sink. I can hardly breathe, the flutters are everywhere in me, from my head to my toes. He’s a f**king ass**le who openly admitted to probably just wanting to use me and I should’ve slapped him but instead, I’m going to f**k him because he makes me mad. Because he’s responsible for an awful, insistent throbbing between my legs. All these weeks wondering what he wants from me, if he was coming tonight.

No matter what he says, he still looks at me the way he does—and the way he looks at me says other things. That he wants me. That he desperately wants, craves, maybe even needs me, like he said in my apartment that day.

I have never worn anything a man has given me. Now my throat is adorned with a line of sparkly white diamonds and I’d never imagined a gesture like this could stimulate my mind, my heart, and my body so much.

He wants to use me for sex tonight? Then I will use him back because it’s killing me. The way he looks at me kills me. The way he smells, walks, the sound of his voice.

Tonight I’m not sleeping home alone no matter what happens.

Quickly, I wash my hands, under my armpits, and then I lift my dress and glance sadly at the bruises on my thighs. I pull out my makeup kit from my clutch bag and start covering the purple stains with my concealer, one by one.

When I’m done, I notice a towel with streaks of red and wonder if he cut himself. Shaving perhaps? A wave of protectiveness takes me over. Is he all right? Of course he is, Melanie. That man is about as penetrable as his steel door.

As I grip the doorknob, the steady pulse between my legs continues to throb. By the time I pull the door open and quietly cross the room toward the bed, my heart races at full speed.

I’ve never been to such a luxurious or empty apartment. He’s like some Spartan, with no belongings. I glimpsed his closet and he has the same three shirts, the same three jackets, same three style of shoes. Like some sort of methodical superhero—and as if he doesn’t plan to stay long?

A pang hits me at the thought, but it’s quickly replaced with the bolt of lust I feel at the sight of him. He’s leaning back in bed, one lean arm folded behind his head as he stares out the window.

Oh god, why do I like that so much? Because he’s staring at your building.

The fact that he can see me from here might make me feel protected even when he never calls. Even if he will never look me up again. I need that little feeling of safety and I cling to it.

“Can you see my apartment from here?” I ask. I start pulling down the side zipper of my dress. He turns to me, and a twinkle of moonlight catches in his eyes as he watches me approach. My heart thuds. He has a massive, self-confident presence, and an air of authority that makes my knees wobbly. He’s strong. Magnetizing. Vital. And he fills my whole being with crazy, wild wanting.

“Yeah, that’s why I got this place.”

I know he’s joking, but the words are sober—he’s looking straight into my eyes. “You’d think a player like you would have something better to do than stare out the window trying to get a glimpse of me,” I tease.

“I do more than stare out the window, princess. It involves me taking off my gloves.”

Bastard.

Fucking delicious bastard.

He’s like riding a motorcycle at full speed. He feels like the engine, the ride . . . the wind . . .

I stop by the foot of the bed and I feel a ripple of excitement when I notice the way he watches me, his eyes shimmering like lightning.

“Strip me, or strip for me. Lady’s pick.” He speaks calmly and succinctly, making no move to yank me down on him.

Really now? So confident of this magnetic, electric pull, tugging me to him?

My gaze greedily runs up and down his thick legs, the bulge I’m mad over, up to his chest, which stretches the material of his snowy white shirt in the best possible way. Feeling heavy and warm, my pulse thundering in my veins, I crawl over him, his gaze boring into me with silent expectation.

“I think you’re a bastard. But you’re so sexy in this suit . . .” I whisper as I start working his belt off his slacks, straddling him so that if I wanted to, I could drop my h*ps and rub the most painful spot in my body against that big, delicious bulge on his lap. “And I want to f**k you hard because you made me think you were better, you made me think you wanted me for more than this,” I add. “Asshole.”

He grabs his belt when I pull it free, tosses it aside with a clatter, and then moves like lightning, rolling me to my back, and whipping out my arms to pin them over my head. I gasp, and he smiles. “Caught you,” he rasps, sliding a hand down the inside of my arm. Starting to pant from the delicious weight of his body pressing down on mine, I wiggle my hand free, pull his shirt out of the waistband of his slacks, and start unbuttoning his shirt from the very bottom, hurrying to the top.

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