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• • •

After last night, I was eager to get to the hotel to see Ben. It felt like we were moving in the right direction. He’d opened up to me and I could see us spending passionate nights together in his bed becoming a regular thing. Something that would be just fine with me.

Once inside my room, I shucked off my shoes and tossed my purse on the chair then retrieved my phone to call Ben. Glancing at the clock, I realized he should be back from his shoot.

He answered on the third ring, sounding breathless. “Hello?”

“Hi sexy. It’s me.”

“Uh . . . hi.” His tone was short and slightly frustrated.

“Is now a bad time?”

“One sec.” I heard him say something to someone in the background and a female voice answered. The voice had a British accent.

My stomach knotted. “Where are you?”

“My room. Can I call you back in a few?”

“Sure.” I put the phone down with shaky hands. He said he’d call me back later, but he was in his room with Fiona and something about that didn’t sit right with me. I didn’t trust Fiona, didn’t know if I trusted the two of them alone together.

I made my way to his room, some unknown force propelling me forward. I knocked on the door, my heart pounding, and my expression determined.

A few moments later, Ben answered, his face flushed, his pulse thrumming in his neck.

“Emmy . . .”

He was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt but his hair was damp, like he’d just come from the shower. Had he showered with Fiona? My stomach cramped violently at the thought.

Ben’s hand moved to the doorframe, blocking me from entering. “I’m discussing something with Fiona. Now’s not a good time.” His voice was low and his posture tense. I’d definitely interrupted something.

Glancing behind him, I spotted Fiona sitting on his bed, her heels kicked off and her purse spilled open beside her.

I’d always figured Fiona was emotionally indestructible, yet here she was, eyes red and swollen with tears freely streaming down her cheeks. She hastily wiped her face with the back of her hand. Ben cleared his throat and my eyes swung back to him. The mood was tense and it was clear I was intruding.

“I’ll call you in a bit,” he said, speaking in hushed tones as he watched me with sorrowful eyes.

I nodded and swallowed the lump in my throat. Ben closed the door, leaving me standing alone in the hall.

Holy. Shit.

Ben

Fiona had thrown me for a fucking loop. Showing up to my door, crying like I’d never seen her do. I’d listened and held her while she cried and told me all about her failed attempts to have a baby. I’d never taken Fiona for the motherly type. But at thirty-eight, she was apparently desperate to have a baby, with or without a man in her life. It was admirable of her—her desire to be a parent. Of course there was little I could do to help other than hold her and try to quiet her sobs. But then when she’d dumped the contents of her purse out onto my bed, revealing the syringe filled with fertility drugs she wanted me to inject her with, I quickly learned why she’d come to me.

She said she didn’t want anyone to know in case it didn’t work. And she was too scared to give herself the shot.

Just as she was walking me through the instructions, a knock at the door had startled us both.

I couldn’t tell Emmy about this. I respected Fiona’s desires to keep it private. Hopefully she would get pregnant with her next scheduled artificial insemination, and no one would ever need to know about her struggles.

Fiona’s puckered mouth told me she wasn’t naïve—she was all too aware of Emmy’s evening visit to my room.

“You’re getting too close to my assistant,” she said after a full minute of silence.

“Emmy?” I played dumb.

“Yes, Emerson. And don’t act surprised. I can see there’s something between you two.” I stayed quiet, unpacking the syringe and alcohol wipes on the bed beside us.

“Ben, I’m serious. I don’t like it. When I told you not to shag my assistant, I meant it.”

“Relax, Fiona. You can’t be tensed up for what I’m about to do.”

She pulled in a deep breath, trying to calm herself. “Okay, but you realize if there’s something going on, I could fire her and send her home.” My jaw tensed, but I didn’t tell her that if she fired Emmy, I’d just move her into my room and have her remain here with me.

“You wouldn’t do that. You want me to continue helping you, don’t you?” I uncapped the syringe and Fiona nodded meekly. We both knew I had the upper hand here.

She walked me through the instructions the nurse had given her, how to swab a spot near her belly button with an alcohol wipe then pinch the skin before swiftly jabbing in the needle.

After I administered Fiona’s shot and sent her on her way, I made myself a stiff drink.

Now with one vodka tonic under my belt, I sent Emmy a text message and waited for her response. I was considering pouring another drink when my phone vibrated against the nightstand.

Emmy: Are you still with her?

I could tell she was pissed. She didn’t even want to say Fiona’s name. I guess I couldn’t blame her. I sensed they had some strange female jealousy thing happening and it wasn’t something I wanted to encourage.

Me: No, she’s gone. Have you eaten?

Emmy: Not hungry

Me: Come back up. Let me make you a drink

It took her several minutes to reply.

Emmy: Okay

Her response was less than enthusiastic but she was coming. A few minutes later, just as I’d returned from filling the ice bucket, she knocked softly at my door. I pulled it open and tugged her inside, kissing her gently on the mouth.

Emmy was tense at first, but as my hands curled around her waist and slid down to cup her ass, I felt her relax against me. God, her ass felt amazing in my hands. I knew I owed her some type of explanation, but damn if my body didn’t jump to attention when she was near. There’d be time for talking later. I wanted her. I deepened the kiss, hauling her even closer, until her chest was pressed flat against me, and her tongue softly flickered against mine. She was perfect. “I need to be inside you, baby.”

Emmy let out a whimper and my dick jumped. I loved her soft, feminine sounds. Backing her across the room while my tongue flirted with hers, I gave Emmy a playful shove onto the bed. She laid back, a little grin tugging up her lips.

Her eyes danced on mine while her smile grew even wider. I loved seeing her honest reactions to me. The flush of her skin, the way she bit into her bottom lip. She was beautiful, natural. And something inside me loved that. Maybe it was this overly critical, overly judgmental business I was in, but I admired her simplicity. Maybe it was her country upbringing—hell, maybe it was just her. But whatever it was, Emmy Clarke was quickly becoming a habit.

As I stood in front of her, her eyes wandered from mine, down my chest, and rested on the erection tenting my slacks. She bit her lip again.

“Come here.” I extended a hand toward her, and she accepted, placed her small palm against mine, and crawled across the bed toward me.

Emmy knelt in front of me, those large blue-gray eyes watching my movements as I freed my belt buckle.

She licked her lips as I unbuttoned my pants and then slowly tugged down my zipper. Leaning up on her knees, Emmy’s hands reached forward to help. I clasped her hands in mine, placing them firmly by her sides. “Behave.”

Her eyes widened at my warning, but she obeyed. She was naturally feisty yet so submissive in the bedroom. It was a big fucking turn-on. I pushed my jeans and boxers down my legs and then gripped my length. Her pulse fluttered erratically in her neck and her eyes zeroed in on my cock. I lazily stroked my length, slowly drawing my hand from base to tip. The desire in her eyes made me rock fucking hard.

I cupped Emmy’s cheek. “Come here, pretty girl.”

Looking up at me with complete lust, Emmy leaned forward and opened her mouth.

Fuckkk.

The warm caress of her tongue was fucking bliss. Emmy opened wider, her eyes still locked on mine as I pushed forward, filling her. When the head of my cock hit the back of her throat, she gagged slightly and I retreated, reluctantly dragging myself out. Still covered in her saliva, Emmy stroked me, her little hands massaging and caressing me. It felt amazing. It didn’t want to stop her but she still had far too many clothes on. I wanted to see her beautiful tits, to kiss her all over, to make her come, to fuck her senseless.

Grabbing the hem of her shirt, I lifted and she obediently raised her arms above her head, allowing me to remove it. She wore a lavender lace bra I hadn’t seen before. I liked that there were so many things to discover still. It was a pretty, frilly thing, but I wanted it the fuck off her body. Reaching behind her to free the clasp, the bra dropped down her arms and I removed it slowly while leaning down to kiss her full mouth. I didn’t think I could ever get tired of kissing her mouth. The little breathy sounds she made, the way her hands restlessly tugged me, trying to get closer. She was so sexual and sweet at the same time. It was heaven.

Emmy

Several weeks passed and Ben and I continued seeing each other regularly. I knew I was being delusional, I knew we weren’t dating. You didn’t date a man like Ben Shaw. He couldn’t be tamed. He was like Clooney. But we’d been having regular sex, enjoying meals together, and talking; he shared things with me, as I did with him. I had no idea what all that added up to. The question was, did it matter? A man like Ben had the potential to destroy me. I knew from that first time he’d been inside me, moving above me, his stubble scraping against my neck, his warm breath on my shoulder. We were closer than I’d been with anyone. My body was addicted, my heart was engaged, but my head knew this would probably end badly.

I had a weakness where he was concerned. I couldn’t stay away. His relationship with Fiona still worried me. We’d never spoken about that teary moment in his hotel room. Ben didn’t offer up the information about what Fiona was doing there that night, and I never asked.

Whatever their history, I wasn’t sure, but he was her golden boy and I was her country-bumpkin assistant. She freaked if he overlooked taking his vitamins. She’d no doubt think me touching him tainted him in some way.

Ben had casting calls and fittings during the day, which was fine, because Fiona kept me running. He sent me unexpected sweet texts while I was at work to let me know he was thinking of me. In one he grumbled about an outfit a designer had put him in. After some prodding, he’d sent me a funny picture. The outfit looked like a lampshade. But he still looked hot. My lampshade hottie.

Paris Fashion Week was coming up and I knew Ben was going to walk in several designers’ shows. I was excited to see him on the catwalk, with all eyes glued to him and knowing he was mine. I felt like Cinderella who’d somehow captured Prince Charming’s attention.

I glanced down at my watch; I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and see him. It was ridiculous how attached I had become to him.

• • •

Ben waved an airline ticket at me. “Milan tomorrow. Wanna come?”

Fiona hadn’t mentioned anything about Milan, which I took to mean I wasn’t invited. “I can’t just go to Milan with you. I have to work.”

He crossed the hotel room, his warm hand coming around me to cup my backside. “Oh, I’ll put you to work.” His hand caressed my bottom, pulling me closer so he could plant a soft kiss on my lips.

Pulling back before I got lost in his kisses, I placed a hand on his chest. “Fiona won’t just let me go with you guys for the fun of it.”

“She’s not coming. It’s just me. And you, if you’ll join me. It’s only one night.”

I looked at him skeptically. She wasn’t coming?

“She has doctor appointments. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of Fiona,” he said.

The fact that he was willing to discuss me with Fiona was a big deal. He planted a soft kiss against my forehead before stepping away and pulling his phone from his pocket. He dialed and resumed packing a small brown leather bag that sat open on his bed.

“Hey. It’s me,” he said into the phone. “Fine, and you?” He continued shoving items into the bag while I paced the room. Fiona was going to freak. “I’d like Emmy to join me in Milan. Can you do without her for a night?”

He paused, listening, while I held my breath.

“Thank you, that’d be great.”

He ended the call and tossed the phone on the bed. “Go pack, babe.”

I stood there, dumbfounded. “She said yes?”

He flashed me a gorgeous smile. “She’s calling the airline now to get you a ticket.”

Fiona was calling to arrange my ticket? Had I entered an alternate universe? Clearly Ben had powers of persuasion with her. Something about the blind way she obeyed him didn’t sit well with me, but I nodded and ventured to my room.

When we arrived at the airline ticket counter Ben’s cheerful mood disappeared. The agent told him my ticket had been booked in coach, back of the plane, middle seat. With him sitting in first class, we wouldn’t be sitting together. It looked like Fiona had exacted her revenge.

Ben began conversing with the woman in French while I stood uselessly beside him. His jaw tensed while she clicked away at her keyboard.

I tugged on his arm. “It’s okay if we’re not together. It’s a quick flight.”

“I’m seeing if I can get you a seat in first class with me, and if not, I’m getting moved to coach.”

“Ben, no, that’s silly. I’m fine in coach.” It was Fiona’s way of pointing out my place.

He and the agent exchanged a few more tense words and then he pulled out his wallet and handed her his credit card.

“You don’t have to do this; first class is expensive.”

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