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I start a slow slide down to his chest, ribs, testing the density of flesh. He’s so firm I can trace the lines between each muscle, even through a T-shirt. I try to tug up the bottom of the shirt but it’s pinned under my knees.

Impatience rips clean through me. I nearly tear his shirt off but I force my fingers to loosen. He must see this flash of violent cavewoman, because he closes his eyes and his throat hums in a groan.

“Sometimes you look at me like you’re . . .”

He forgets what he was saying when I begin to kiss his jaw. His hands lie palms-up on either side of my calves. He’s letting me control this and I like it. I feel him smile when I nibble against his bottom lip.

The couch gives softly underneath my knees, and as our clothes begin to make a warm friction, I feel his arousal, hard and blunt, pressing into the back of my thigh.

“I need it,” I tell him and watch his eyes go viciously black. I take huge handfuls of his clothes and we kiss again.

I roll my hips slowly in his wide lap and his hands slide down my body in a series of slow, squeezing pauses. Shoulders, underarms, the sides of my breasts. I shiver, and he slides his hands lower. Ribs, the curve of my waist. Hips. Butt.

His hands slide down my thighs, his long fingers dragging down the outer and inner seam of my jeans. He traces his fingers along my calves. When I drop my face to his neck, his hands tighten on my ankles, a little reminder he could take control if he wanted to.

“I like how little you are.” He sure sounds like he likes my body as he takes another slow, stroking tour.

As I slide my tongue into his mouth, I begin thinking about a board meeting we’d been in, a few weeks back. He’d been sitting by the window and I remember watching the sun slowly slide along the windowsill, across the floor, across the board table as the afternoon dragged on.

He’d been wearing a navy suit I don’t see him wear often and the pale blue shirt. I’d sat there opposite him, watching the way the sun slowly crept up his body like a rising tide. I’d breathed in the scent of the fabric warming on his body.

I remember how he’d cut his dark blue eyes to me during the meeting, and it had flustered me, made my stomach twist in half. He’d smirked and resumed his patient staring at the PowerPoint presentation, not taking a single note whereas my scribbling hand was cramping.

Those eyes, flashing to my face, made me jump out of my skin. I hadn’t known why. Now I do.

“I was remembering the board meeting a few weeks back.” My head rolls to one side as he kisses under the hinge of my jaw. I have a full-body shiver. His hand spreads across my ribs, thumb nudging the underside of my breast. My total focus narrows down to this half inch of contact.

“Yes, what about it? I’m not doing so well if you’re thinking about it now.”

He returns his mouth to mine and dials it up a little. It’s minutes before I can speak again. Possibly hours. My breath is in little gasping pants, and he bites down gently onto my bottom lip.

His thumb slides up, nudges my nipple softly and continues up to my jaw. I jolt and quiver.

I have to explain myself properly. “You looked at me and . . . And I think I wanted to kiss you. I only just realized.”

“Oh, really.”

I am rewarded by his other hand sliding up the back of my top. Skin against skin. Fingers playing languidly with my bra strap.

“I was remembering how you gave me this look.”

“Like I was thinking about something dirty? I was. You were wearing your white silk shirt with the pearl buttons. And this soft-looking cardigan for the first half of the meeting. Hair up, red lips.”

He leans back and trails his fingertips down my throat to the top of my cleavage. His fingertips dip in, I shudder out the only thing I can think of.

“It’s a cashmere cardigan.”

“You like Doctor Josh . . . I like prissy retro librarian Lucy. Silk-cashmere Lucy. That’s my kink. A pencil in your hair, grilling a department head on absentee stats for last quarter.”

He continues his slide down my torso, fingers pressing into my ribs.

“What a specific kink. I can’t believe you can remember what I was wearing. But hey, I can roll with this. I could get some nerd glasses and scold you.” I frown sternly and hold my finger to my lips. “Be quiet.”

He groans theatrically. “I couldn’t take it.”

“Can you even imagine how it would be between you and me? All day, every night?”

He knows exactly what I mean. “Oh, yeah.”

“Like you said just before: The trick is to find someone who’s strong enough to take it. That one person who can give it back as good as they get.”

“Can you?” His eyes look like he’s on drugs. Pupils inked, irises hazy.

“Yeah.”

We kiss with a new intensity, sparked by our shared boardroom fantasies. Lucy and Josh starring in graphic, sweat-slicked pornography.

He arches against me. His hard-on is pressing so hard against the back of my leg my hamstring feels bruised.

He breaks the kiss. “Slow up. I want to ask you something.”

He sits back a little and we stare into each other’s black eyes. His mouth is softened, pink and I want it all over me. Licking and biting mouthfuls of my flesh. My breathing is so loud that I almost can’t hear what he says next.

“When you called me tonight, did you nearly call Danny instead?” I start to protest but he smoothes his hand down my arm.

“I’m not being a jealous psycho. I’m just interested.”

“You already won that competition with him. He’s my friend now. We are only going to be friends.”

“You haven’t answered, though.”

“He’s the sensible option. I’m not doing many sensible things with my evenings these days. I’m glad I didn’t call him. I’d probably be sitting in a movie, instead of here.” I bounce a little on his lap.

Josh tries to smile, but it doesn’t quite work. “I’d go to a movie with you. Look, it’s getting late.”

His hands slide down my back to grip my butt. He tilts me, and drags me down the hardness of his arousal. Then he lifts me off and sets me aside.

He sits forward on the edge of the couch and puts his face in his hands. He’s breathing as heavily as I am. It does my ego no harm.

“Fuck.” He sighs it. “I am so turned on,” he says with an embarrassed half laugh, and I completely understand his desperation.

He’s surely got to be wondering why he’s subjecting himself to this. He’s an adult man, reduced to teenage make-out sessions with his weird colleague.

“Do you want to hear how turned on I am?”

“I’d better not,” he manages.

“I guess I should go home.” I pray he tells me to stay. He doesn’t.

He talks through his hands. “Give me a minute.”

I take our mugs and my bowl into the kitchen and rinse the bowl. I look at the frying pan and put it in the sink and fill it with hot water and suds. My legs are trembling and doing a poor job of holding me upright.

“I’ll do it,” Josh says behind me. “Leave it.”

My eyes badly want to drop below his waist, but because I am a lady I resist.

He feeds my arms into my coat and we both put our shoes on. We carefully stand on the opposite ends of the elevator, but we stare at each other like we’re one second away from slamming the elevator to an emergency stop to put ourselves out of our misery.

“I feel like your Easter egg.”

He catches my hand at the curb and walks across the street with me. When we reach my car, I tilt my mouth up to his. He carefully takes my face in his hands and he kisses me. A simultaneous shocked gasp rocks us. It’s like we haven’t kissed in an eternity. He presses me against the car door and I whimper. Tongues, teeth, breath.

“You taste like my Easter egg.”

“Please, please. I need you so badly.”

“I’ll see you at work tomorrow,” he replies. He turns me in his arms, and presses his mouth against the back of my neck. Even through my hair, the heat of his breath makes me inhale so hard it’s more of a snort.

“Is this an asshole control-freak thing?” I wriggle free.

“Possibly. Sounds consistent with my character.”

I have a thought. “Are you planning on sexing me comatose on the morning of the interview so you beat me?”

Josh puts his hands in his pockets. “It’s worked for every other promotion I’ve gotten in my life. Why stop now?”

“You want to make sure I’m all over you like a rash at the wedding.”

Something about the look on his face makes me step back and press my back to the cold door of my car.

“You haven’t lied and told them all about the brain surgeon you’re betrothed to?”

He smiles. “Dr. Lucy Hutton, MD. She’s brilliant, yet unorthodox.”

“I’m serious. Answer the question. I’m coming as me, aren’t I? I’m not supposed to be acting?”

“No.”

I bite my thumb and look down the street. Why do I feel like he’s lying?

“Well, I’m beginning to think you’re leaving me horny to make sure I’ll keep coming back here. I’m like a cat. You’re leaving out a saucer of cream.”

Josh laughs, a big proper laugh like I’m hilarious. Delighted, irritated electricity floods me. I’m crackling with it. In this moment, I’m more alive than I’ve ever been.

Fight with me, kiss me. Laugh at me. Tell me if you’re sad. Don’t make me go home.

“We’ll have to see if it’s true. If you’re back tomorrow night, I’ll concede it’s part of a deliberate strategy.” He looks down at me with undisguised pleasure.

The thought of returning didn’t properly occur to me. The following day now glows with promise.

“One more.”

He kisses my cheek and I groan in misery.

“Get outta here, Shortcake. And remember, I don’t want to see you freaking out tomorrow.”

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