Sean’s eyes are locked with mine. He doesn’t react to my words. There’s no smile on his lips, no sense of relief or joy. Instead, he stays a breath from my lips with his fingers gently brushing my cheek. His other hand is possessively holding me against his waist. His body is so hard. My thoughts keep drifting to running my tongue over his firm stomach. It makes my toes curl and I feel shy, but I don’t look away from him.

No one has ever looked at me like this. I mean, it’s not a gaze that’s tender and sweet. Sean’s eyes are filled with desire that darkens by the second. It’s like his eyes could devour me whole. That carnal look makes my body grow warmer. My heart slams into my ribs like it’s trying to save itself, like it knows Sean’s bad for me.

I don’t know what I expect Sean to do, but he’s slow about doing it. He teases me, leaving his lips so close to mine that I tremble. By the time Sean closes the distance between us, I can barely control myself. He brushes his bottom lip against mine. The electricity that’s been building between us ignites and I suck in startled breath. My legs feel like they want to run, but I can’t. My muscles twitch like my fight or flight response is taking over, but I force the sensation back. There is no way Sean will hurt me. Miss Black made it clear that she’ll hurt him if something happens to me. My heart on the other hand, well that’s a different issue.

I stand there as Sean’s body is pressed tighter to mine. Every curve, every muscle, slips into place until there is no space between us. His body is rock hard and so warm. I feel him under the supple fabric and know how much he wants me.

Sean’s fingers gently tangle in my curls, as he brushes his lips past mine again. The floor of my stomach falls away and it feels like I’m falling. The kiss is so light, so perfect. It makes me lightheaded like I’m drunk and as soon as his mouth is gone, I want more. My eyes flutter open. I didn’t realize that I’d closed them.

Sean pulls back and watches me with that intense gaze. It burns a trail between my eyes and my lips. Sean tilts his head in and rests his forehead against mine, locking our eyes. I feel his rib cage expand as he sucks in a jagged breath. Excitement is brimming beneath the surface, barely contained.

I don’t know what I want or what I want him to do. My mind is lost in a cavern of lust and I can’t find my way out. Hell, I don’t even know if I want out. My life sucks and this little reprieve is heaven. There’s no reason to think, nothing to worry about. After this tryst, I’ll have what I need as well as plenty of memories to keep me warm on cold nights. So why am I trembling? What am I afraid of? I made peace with this decision. Yeah, keep telling yourself that, a bitter voice says at the back of my mind.

It takes me a moment, but I realize that Sean frightens me in a way that I can’t fathom. Most of the fears in my life are tangible, but this one isn’t. My emotions feel dazed, like they don’t know what’s real and what’s fake. Sean doesn’t really love me. I don’t love him, but still—there’s something there and it calls to me.

The way his eyes drink me in, the way his hands feel on my skin, and the way he teases makes me crazy—I’ve never reacted to a guy like this in my entire life. There was never any heat, not even a spark. That’s what makes things with Sean all the more insane. From day one, I felt something for him. He walked into my life and filled a hole that I didn’t even know was there. It’s too soon for that. A couple of kisses and smiles later, and I sound like I’m ready to marry the guy. What the hell is wrong with me?

Sean watches me closely as I think. Every time I take a breath in, my br**sts press harder against his chest. It feels right. I want more. As if he can read my mind, Sean lowers his lashes with his gaze fixated on my lips. When he lowers his mouth to meet mine, the thoughts rush from my mind. Like a surging river they race through, and are gone before I can blink.

Sean’s fingers drift down to my cheek and he tilts my head to the side. My heart pounds harder in my chest. His lips are full and soft. They seek mine, applying the perfect amount of pressure and the kiss deepens. I push my body against his chest and my arms wrap around his neck. I play with the hair at the base of his neck as he kisses me, feeling the silky strands slip between my fingers.

As we kiss, a thought races through my mind, a warning. Something about kissing. It flutters through my mind, unclear. Sean licks the seam of my lips once, and then twice. My heart races harder as he does it. I’m ready to open my mouth and let him kiss me deeper. I want it. I want him. My body is charged, ready for that kiss. Every inch of me is tingling. There’s a wave of desire building inside of me and his kiss will set it free.

His kiss. Kissing…

“I can’t,” I say into his mouth as the memory hits me. Gasping, I pull away and turn my face.


The kiss breaks. I can barely breathe. The rapid pace of my heart won’t slow. My hands tremble at his neck and there’s no way to hide it. I pull away from him and cold air fills the space, chilling me. “I’m sorry.”

Sean says nothing at first. He watches me. I feel his eyes slip over my body. They take in the slight tremor, the way I wrap my arms around my middle, and the way I can’t look him in the eye. Instead of demanding my services, Sean slips back into his chair like he doesn’t mind. “There’s nothing to apologize for.”

I glance at him from over my shoulder. I don’t believe him. My gaze says as much.

Sean smiles at me. “It’s part of the package, Miss Smith. Skittish virgins are appealing.” It’s the look he gave me when my car broke down. Something about the way he gazes at me makes me feel like I’m in emotional overload.

My face flushes and I glance away. What was I thinking? I can’t do this. I can’t be with him, not when he affects me like this. The whole sex thing is a pastime to him, but to me it isn’t. I took this job because I needed the money, but even more so, I took this job because I have feelings for Sean. I like the way he makes me feel. I want to know him better. I want him to be mine.

That’s not what this is.

The trembling becomes more noticeable. Sean stands and walks up behind me, rubbing his hands over my arms. He presses a kiss to my temple and holds me. “Your preferences said kissing on the lips was off limits. I shouldn’t have done it. I apologize.”

“You went straight for the only thing you couldn’t have?” I did mark that on the sheet. Kissing forms attachments. I can’t be attached to him. You already are, a voice says inside my head. Go to hell, I answer, already knowing it’s true. I feel his gaze on the side of my face.

Holding me tightly, Sean says, “It’s my nature. I’m sorry, Avery. It won’t happen again, not unless you ask me to kiss you.”

As he speaks, his warm breath breezes past my ear. I shiver in his arms and feel him smile. I nod. The knot in my throat makes it difficult to speak.

Sean holds me like that for a moment and then asks, “May I ask why that particular action is off limits?”

I feel him breathing against my back. Sean’s pressed his body against my back and holds me tight. “Only if I can ask what you originally wanted this weekend.” I glance at him.

“Ah, then it seems we are at an impasse.” Those glittering blue eyes conceal his thoughts.

I nod. Damn straight. I’m not spilling my guts if he won’t spill his.

Sean’s voice is deep and rich. “I suspect the reason, but assumptions usually don’t turn out well.”

“Are you calling me an ass?” The corners of my mouth tug up. Seriously? What’s with him?

Sean laughs like he has no idea what I’m talking about, and turns me towards him. “What?” The smile reaches his eyes.

“You know what happens when you assume, don’t you?”

Cocking an eyebrow at me, he tilts his head and tuts, “Grade school humor? Really? Is that what this night has deteriorated into?” Sean shakes his head and sits back down, slumping back into the seat.

I shrug my shoulders and step toward him. “It might be different if you told me what you wanted. I might want that, too.” I cross my ankles and gaze at him. Whatever plans he had for the night were blasted to bits when I walked through the door.

Darkness drifts across Sean’s eyes, like he’s remembering something that he wants to forget. It changes his confident stance and his shoulders slump a little bit. His chest tightens along with his throat. The muscles strain as he tries not to react. I didn’t mean to do that to him. I know it‘s from what I said. I feel horrible about it and want to take away the pain in his eyes.

I walk toward him, not having a plan, just doing whatever feels right. “Sean,” I say softly. When he doesn’t look up, I put a hand on his shoulder. Still no reaction. I lift one leg gingerly and straddle his lap. That gets his attention. His eyes flick up to mine. A warning shoots through me, but I ignore it. There’s something dangerous about him, I can sense it.

I’m standing over Sean and slowly lower myself until I’m on his lap, facing him. I rest my wrists at the back of his neck and look into his eyes.

Sean doesn’t move. He doesn’t say anything. I tangle my fingers in the curls at the base of his neck and lean in close. Heart pounding, I press my lips to his cheek. I repeat the action, and do it again and again, until I reach his neck. My stomach twists as the space between my legs grows hotter. I tilt my hips, and try to shift my weight on his lap, but Sean stops me.

Watching my face, Sean takes both of his hands and slips them under the hem of my dress. His hot palms run over the outsides of my thighs until they rest on the curve of my butt. Sean holds me tight, and pulls me higher onto his lap. That’s when I feel his hard length through his pants. I gasp and dig my fingers into his shoulders.

Sean doesn’t smile. Instead, I have the Sean from downstairs, the one who’s all dark with no light in his eyes. His fingers press into my skin and he skims the edge of my lace panties.

Neither of us speaks. Sean watches me, always keeping his gaze on my lips as he tilts our h*ps making his erection rub against my thin panties. I can’t hide how much I like it. Cupping my ass, he pulls me against him and then I push back. I’m writhing in his lap, my eyes locked with his. My body aches for his touch. I’m not satisfied with his hands on my bottom. I want them on my br**sts; I want them all over me; inside me. I lean my head back and rock against him. Arching my back makes my br**sts press against my bra. I moan out loud, and his name slips from my mouth.

That is the action that undoes him. Sean stands suddenly, taking me with him. “Wrap your legs around me,” he says as he stands and walks across the room.

The spot between my legs is pressed against him as he walks us to the bed. His gaze doesn’t change. The heat in his eyes says that he’ll devour me. I wonder what he’ll do. Sean leans me back on the bed and looks down at me. “Tell me what you want,” he says, climbing onto the bed and laying next to me. His hand strokes my cheek.

“You,” I say breathy, “I want to be with you.”