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“Baby maker?”

“Yeah.” I laughed for the first time that night. “That’d be fine with me.”

“I don’t know what that was with London earlier. I know he thinks with his dick most of the time, but he’s different with you, Emmy. You have to see that.”

I thought it over silently. I wondered if he was over London. She seemed like she was looking to get lucky tonight. “How many women did you and Ben share?”

Bray looked down. I could tell he didn’t want to betray guy code by telling me their secrets, but I also trusted he’d be honest with me. “Just Fiona and one other. A girl named Mia.”

So they hadn’t shared London. Interesting. “Was Mia a model, too?”

Braydon shook his head. “No, she was a girl in New York that Ben dated briefly.”

I winced. I didn’t know if that made it better or worse that she wasn’t a model. It might have been worse, because I liked the idea of being the first.

“For the record, I think he only shared to avoid getting too close to girls . . . he’s never been the type to want a relationship.”

The whiskey was working too well already, and suddenly I wished I was sober for this conversation. Did Ben, at one point, want a relationship with Fiona? I needed to pay attention and figure out all these little clues Braydon was dropping.

Braydon leaned forward and gave my knee a squeeze. “Hey, it’s going to be okay. He’s crazy about you. I know it.”

I sniffed. I wouldn’t cry. “Thanks, Bray. We’ll see.”

A short while—and three glasses of whiskey—later, Ben appeared in front of us. “There you are, Emmy. I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

I lifted my chin, glancing out at the city lights of Paris below. It might have been childish to ignore him, but I had nothing to say at the moment. “How’s Fiona?” My tone was bitter. I didn’t care.

“I wouldn’t know. I asked the concierge to see that she got a cab, and I’ve been looking for you.” He knelt in front of me. “I need to talk to you, please, baby.”

Dammit. The desperation in his eyes and the rough tone of his voice had all my resolve melting away.

I nodded. “Okay.”

“Braydon . . .” Ben tipped his head toward the exit.

“No, I want Braydon to stay.”

Ben’s gaze narrowed. “Fine,” he bit out.

I grabbed Braydon’s hand and gave it a squeeze. His gaze locked on Ben and he shrugged, as if apologizing. I didn’t want to kick Braydon to the curb. He’d been there for me tonight. And in our brief encounters, I’d grown to trust him. He was a good guy. The jury was currently out on Ben.

Ben sat in the chair next to me with his body fully turned toward mine. “I’m so sorry about earlier, but baby, nothing happened with London.”

“I heard you, Ben. You weren’t trying real hard to dissuade her.”

“That wasn’t it. Will you listen to me? There was nothing to dissuade, because she had no chance with me. I’m yours, Emmy.”

His words tugged at something in my chest, but I couldn’t be distracted by my pesky heart right now. “You were flirting.”

“No, I was trying to be polite.”

I rolled my eyes and emptied the contents of my glass down my throat.

Ben took the glass from my hands. “A second before that, I was telling London about you. Did you hear that part?”

“No,” I admitted. “What did you say?”

“I told her I’d fallen for a sweet southern belle.” Ben’s hands captured mine. “You’ve stolen my heart, baby. No one and nothing’s going to change that. I belong to you.” He brushed the stray tendrils of hair back from my face, looking at me adoringly. “I don’t want to spend a single day without you. I’ve never needed anyone, Emmy. But I need you. I love the way you take care of me. And I want to take care of all your needs. If letting this dickhead into our bed showed you anything, it’s that I’ll give you anything, baby.”

Braydon snorted, complaining under his breath that he wasn’t a dickhead.

“When I saw Bray’s hands on you, I wanted to punch him. I’ve never felt that way before. Sex was never an emotional event until you. I need you by my side. In my bed each night. The thought of my day without you to brighten it is the most depressing thing I could imagine. I’m falling in love with you, Emerson.”

My lips curled into a smile. My eyes met his deep, hooded gaze and for just a heartbeat’s time it was just us. No one else existed; no one else mattered. His palms cupped my cheeks, drawing me closer. His mouth stopped just millimeters from mine, his warm breath dancing over my lips. “What’s your middle name?”

“Jean.”

“Really?”

“Shut up.”

“I’m in love with you, Emerson Jean,” he murmured, his lips brushing mine.

My heart thumped wildly in my chest. I’d waited so long to hear those words, and now actually hearing them in Ben’s deep, sexy voice, with his warm lips brushing mine, it was even better than I could’ve ever imagined.

“I love you,” I whispered back just before his mouth crashed against mine.

Ben lifted me from my chair, planting me in his lap, and kissed me roughly. It was as though he was starved for me. His mouth moved over the skin of my neck, my jawline, and then settled over my mouth. His tongue battled mine, sucking and tangling until I was writhing in his lap. My dress was hitched up my thighs and I ground closer, pressing my core against the straining bulge in his pants.

His hands moved to grip my ass and tug me against him. I released a breathless moan, my body shuddering at the contact.

From somewhere beside us, Braydon cleared his throat. Ben’s mouth left mine just long enough to bark an order to Braydon. “Get them out of here.” He nodded to the last of the people who lingered on the rooftop. Apparently Ben didn’t want an audience for whatever was about to happen. I was too drunk and too turned on to stop him.

While Braydon escorted the group to the exit, Ben’s mouth captured mine again in a devastating kiss. “I love you, Emmy. I love you. I need you,” he murmured in between kisses. The possessive way he said those words sent sparks of desire shooting through my system. I wanted to be his. My hips rocked shamelessly against his lap, my center wet and ready. The way his hands roamed my writhing body made me feel sexy and seductive. I was alive with heat and sexual desire.

When I found his belt buckle and began restlessly tugging at it, Ben groaned. Finally freeing the belt buckle from hell, I slipped my hand inside his pants and boxer briefs, closing my fist around his hard length.

“Oh, fuck,” he groaned into my mouth as I began stroking him.

I stopped my motions long enough to allow Ben to lift the clingy shift-dress off over my head and deposit it on the empty chair next to us.

Grinding against him in my bra and tiny lace panties, I didn’t care that we were in the open night air or on a rooftop. Ben had just told me he loved me, and I needed him. Now.

The sound of a buckle unlatching next to us caught my attention. I looked up to see Braydon standing beside us, undoing his belt.

“Not happening,” Ben growled out. “Go guard the door.”

Braydon pouted but redid his belt and dutifully walked back toward the exit.

Not bothering to undress either of us any further, Ben fucked me hard and fast. He pushed the material of my panties aside and buried himself inside me in an excruciatingly slow thrust that stretched me so fully I cried out, the sounds echoing in the night air. He gripped my waist and lifted me up and down on him.

Whispering sweet and naughty things to me the entire time, Ben pumped into me. “You’re so fucking sexy. . . . I love the sounds you make. . . . That’s right, beautiful, I want to watch you come.”

Within minutes, his words pushed me over the edge. I came, loudly calling out his name.

Ben buried his face against my neck and groaned. “I love you, Emmy.”

I felt his warmth flooding my hot entrance as little aftershocks pulsed through my body.

Pulling some tissues from his pocket, Ben cleaned me and arranged my panties so I was covered once again. Just as I was pulling my dress back on, Braydon appeared.

With a large erection tenting his slacks. Whoa.

I couldn’t help but giggle. I guess I was still pretty tipsy, but I found that funny. Our lovemaking had gotten him hot and bothered.

“Are you guys fucking kidding me?” He adjusted his pants and winced. “Don’t do that shit in front of me if I’m not invited to play.”

I hadn’t realized that Braydon had been watching, or least listening from his guard post at the door. Oops.

“That’s never happening again, man. Emmy’s not your plaything. She’s mine.” Ben possessively pulled me to his lap again, nuzzling into my neck.

“You two are fucking mean.” Braydon sighed loudly. “I could go find Fiona, cheer her up. She hasn’t seen my piercing yet.”

My gaze snapped to Braydon’s. “No, Bray. Anyone but her.”

It was bad enough both Ben and Braydon had already been with her. Some tiny part of me liked that she hadn’t experienced his piercing like I had. If we were keeping score, that little thing afforded me extra points. Stupid, I know.

“You got it, jellybean.”

• • •

I fell asleep in Ben’s arms that night while he continued to pet and caress me softly, whispering over and over again that he loved me.

22

Emmy

Ben and I lay around relaxing much of the day until there was a knock at the door in the late afternoon. It was a bottle of champagne delivered from the concierge. The notecard read:

For Ben and Emmy. Enjoy!

Love,

Fiona

“See, I knew she’d come around,” Ben said, uncorking the champagne with a loud pop.

She was being too nice. Something was up. Ben didn’t see it—but I did. I also found it interesting she had addressed the notecard to both of us. Like she knew I stayed in his room and only went to mine to change clothes. But I smiled and accepted a glass of the bubbly.

“I love you, Emerson.”

He couldn’t seem to stop saying it. Which was just fine with me. “I love you, too.” I smiled at him and then sipped my drink. Mmm. Fizzy and sweet. “Ben?”

“Hmm?”

“I want you to come home with me, see where I’m from, meet my parents.”

His gaze softened. “I’d like that.”

We hadn’t yet spoken about what would happen once we left Paris, but I held out hope that we’d make a go at a real relationship back in New York. I knew he traveled a lot for work, but with Fiona’s approval maybe I could travel with him.

My phone chimed from my purse, and I glanced at it. It was Fiona. That was strange. She rarely called me. She usually sent a text.

“Hello?”

“Hi, darling. Did you guys get the delivery?”

Darling? That was new.

“Yes, thank you. Ben’s already poured us each a glass and it’s delicious. That was very thoughtful of you.” My voice sounded light and cheery. Good job, Emmy. I silently patted myself on the back. Way to be civil with your boyfriend’s ex. I felt proud. Very grown up.

“Wonderful. Well, you guys enjoy it, and then later I’d love for you to swing by my room. I’d like to talk about adding more responsibilities to your role. You’ve proven to be quite capable.”

What? Seriously? “Oh, okay. That sounds great. I just need to shower, and . . .”

Fiona cut me off. “Nonsense, we’re all practically family now. Just come by whenever . . .”

“Okay, I will. See you soon.”

I hung up the phone, deep lines of confusion etched across my face.

“Who was that?” Ben asked, taking a sip of his champagne.

“It was Fiona. I think she wants to promote me.”

His smile lit up his face. “See. Told you everything would work out, baby. I love you.”

“Love you, too,” I said, distractedly. I didn’t trust Fiona for a second. I just needed to figure out her angle with this move.

I was too distracted to enjoy the champagne with Ben, and after several minutes he chuckled, urging me to pay her a visit. “Just go.” He laughed. “Call me after.”

“I will. Thanks.” I pressed a quick kiss to his lips and headed out.

When I reached the penthouse suite, I paused before the ornate cream and gold enameled door. I smoothed my hands over the black dress pants I’d changed into and straightened the hem of my burgundy blouse. This would turn out okay—it had to. I knocked at the door and lifted my chin. I wouldn’t let her intimidate me. Couldn’t.

When Fiona opened the door, she looked like shit. I’d never seen her dressed so casually—in black yoga pants and an oversized sweatshirt that hung to her knees. Her hair was in a sloppy ponytail and she wasn’t wearing any makeup.

“Fiona?” My voice croaked. “Are you okay?”

She swallowed and nodded. “Fine, love. Come in.” She retreated into the large living room and I followed, closing the door behind me. She slumped down onto the sofa and curled her legs up underneath her.

I sat opposite her on the lounge chair. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

She laughed uneasily. “I look like shit, don’t I?”

I bit my cheek. Shut it, Emmy!

“I’m fine, honestly. I’ve just had a slew of doctor appointments lately, and it’s worn me out.”

“Oh, well, I’m sorry, and I didn’t mean you looked bad. I’ve just never seen you, you know,” I stammered, “not put together.”

“It’s quite all right.” She waved her hand dismissively. “I wanted to talk to you about your position at Status.”

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