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Of course, now just twenty-two, almost twenty-three, I already felt jaded. Being alone was just easier. I’d never had a girlfriend, never really wanted one. And it was clear Fiona wouldn’t take well to the idea. Not that it should bother me, but it did somehow.

We finished our meal and Fiona removed the dishes, setting them outside the door to be picked up later. “Shall I get your pills?” she asked.

“Sure.”

She returned a moment later with the few bottles, shaking the pills out into my hand. No matter how much trouble she was, she really was good to me. I dutifully swallowed down the handful.

“I can rub your back if you like,” Fiona said.

A massage sounded heavenly, but I had other plans tonight. “No, that’s okay.” I didn’t want to straight up ask her to leave, but I wasn’t above doing it if she didn’t take my subtle hints.

Fiona frowned and shifted a step toward the door. “Well, I guess I’ll go then.”

I nodded and walked her to the door. “Night, and thank you for dinner.”

“Of course.”

She kissed both my cheeks before heading out.

It was almost ten and I wondered if Emmy was asleep. She’d said before that I could text her if I couldn’t sleep. I wondered if that offer still stood, since she also told me we needed to keep things professional from now on. Too bad I had no plans of letting that happen.

A few minutes later, I’d brushed and flossed and crawled between the sheets with my phone. Flipping off the bedside lamp, the bluish glow from my phone illuminated the keypad enough to type.

Me: Hey sexy

I hit send and set the phone on my stomach, laying back to stare at the ceiling. I wondered if she’d be bold and return my text. Or if I’d be able to get to sleep tonight. Several long seconds later my phone chimed. The sound made me smile. She wasn’t immune to me, despite what she’d said.

Emmy: Hiiii

I grinned. Already I felt better. I could just hear her sweet southern accent drawing out the greeting. It was crazy how one simple word with several extra vowels could make me so happy.

Me: You’re still up?

Emmy: Nope. Sound asleep. ;)

Smartass. This girl made me smile. She didn’t tiptoe around me because of who I was and I liked that.

Emmy: Can’t sleep?

Me: Not tired yet

Emmy: Did you need something?;)

I smirked. Oh yeah, she wanted it. She might try to deny it and act uninterested, but I knew the truth. I could read her like a book.

Me: Yeah, send me a pic of your tits.

I knew it was crass, but something in me liked taunting her, wanted to see how she’d react. To my surprise, several seconds later a dark, grainy photo appeared. Emmy was dressed in a white tank top that was pulled low on her chest, exposing several inches of creamy smooth cleavage. I wanted to stick my face in between those beauties and smother them with kisses.

Me: Beautiful girl. Looks like you’re lying in bed. Why aren’t you sleeping?

Emmy: I was thinking about you, actually.

Me: Oh really? ;)

I needed to keep the upper hand, get her talking without giving too much away.

Emmy: Yes, and about the other night.

Me: Go on . . .

Emmy: You’re a good kisser.

Me: You’re sexy when you come.

Emmy: Ben . . .

Me: Yes darling?

Emmy: :)

Me: What’s your favorite sexual position?

Emmy: I like to be on top.

Me: Like it deep?

Emmy: Bennn . . .

I could practically hear the whimper in her tone, the way she’d moan my name. I liked it.

Emmy: Are you okay with girl on top?

Me: Yes. As long as you’re facing me so I can look into your eyes while I fuck you.

It’d be more fun to see her reactions in person, to watch her cheeks blossom in pink. To see if she’d look down shyly or be daring and watch me with those pretty gray eyes. Her eyes were so expressive, so open. I’d love to watch the desire overtake her features, to see just how much my words affected her. But for now, I’d have to settle for knowing she was a few floors below me, alone in her hotel room, her heartbeat elevated, and her panties damp.

Emmy: We shouldn’t do this.

Me: No?

Emmy: What’s your favorite?

I actually laughed out loud. One second she was telling me we couldn’t do this, and the next she was asking for my favorite sexual position. I loved how unsure she was. It was actually a turn-on to think I’d have to coax this girl out of her shell. Somehow I knew she’d be worth the effort.

Me: Probably cowgirl too. That way I can see all of the girl and control her body on me. Also it’s also easier for her to go as deep as she can take.

Emmy: Oh . . .

Me: Are you getting wet baby?

Emmy: Yes.

Fuck, that was sexy. Part of me wanted to tell her to rub herself, to get nice and wet for me, but I didn’t want to push her too hard, too fast. I couldn’t have her shutting down on me again.

While I considered what to type next my phone chimed again.

Emmy: You get me soaking wet so fast. Are you hard?

Me: I’m getting there . . .

It wasn’t a lie. She was getting me there. Just the thought of getting in her panties again, touching her soft curves.

Emmy: I wanna see . . .

:)

I trusted her, but the last thing I needed was a cock shot ending up online. That’d be a publicity nightmare I didn’t need.

Emmy

I guess he had to be cautious with photos like that. He was a public figure after all, and could probably get in trouble. He was smart. I probably shouldn’t have been so willing to send him dirty pics, but something in me liked being naughty, liked knowing that I was turning him on.

Emmy: Hmm, too bad because I was going to send you a pic . . .

Ben: Emmyyy . . . don’t tease, baby. Send me one.

Emmy: What do you want to see?

Ben: Your ass in a sexy pair of panties.

I nearly giggled to myself. He was an ass man. I had that in spades, so we were a good match there. I turned to pose in front of the full-length mirror, capturing a photo on my camera phone. It was just my lower half, my butt in a pair of black lacy panties, legs, and bare feet. It didn’t look half bad. I hit send and hopped back onto the bed to await his response.

Ben: Mmm I like that.

I felt proud, like I’d really affected him. He had no witty comeback, just raw honesty in his reaction. Satisfaction bubbled up inside me. I am woman, hear me roar!

Ben: That ass is perfect.

Emmy: You sure you can’t send me a pic?

Ben: You’re killin’ me, girl.

Like a peacock strutting around shaking its tail feathers, I paced my hotel room, suddenly too anxious to sit still.

Ben: Behave or I’ll have to spank that sexy ass.

Texting with Ben was made even hotter knowing that his room was only a few floors up, and he could ask me to come upstairs if things got too heated. What would I say then? How would I respond? I would say no, of course. I had morals. I wouldn’t be someone’s middle-of-the-night secret. Not even Ben Shaw’s. Because I knew already it wouldn’t be that simple. It wouldn’t be the no-strings physical relationship he was probably looking for. My pesky heart was already in the game, sporting a jersey with his name on the back. I was firmly on Team Ben. Shit, I could be the team captain.

His witty banter, sense of humor, dirty mouth . . . all of it was adding up to trouble. I needed to keep my head on straight. Ben was never going to be my boyfriend. We were coworkers. Well, I guess that wasn’t entirely accurate. He was a god. I was a lowly assistant.

Emmy: Maybe next time . . .

Ben: Mmm . . . next time, yes.

My heart raced and my skin was warm and flushed all over. There was no denying how turned on Ben got me. Of course, the brain was the largest sex organ, and all this mental stimulation was like foreplay. My nipples puckered and rasped against my shirt, feeling extra sensitive. The cotton panties I wore were thoroughly drenched and annoyingly bunched against my skin. I was too turned on. I needed relief. Slipping one hand inside my panties, I held the image of Ben in my mind: his chiseled jawline, his full mouth, those dark eyelashes and intense hazel eyes.

I soothed the pad of my middle finger over my swollen clit, a soft moan tumbling from my lips. Using the warm, slick fluid, I rubbed in small circles, quickly building toward orgasm, my body primed and ready. I pushed my tank top up with my free hand and palmed my breasts, rubbing my nipples as I imagined Ben would do. All too soon, waves of pleasure crashed against me, a blind sensation ricocheting through my womb, causing it to clench violently with the need for something to fill it. With a ragged breath, I moaned out Ben’s name as I came.

• • •

I squirmed under the weight of Fiona’s exasperated stare. I had tried the best I could, buying an expensive but basic black cocktail dress from a department store, thinking I could make it work for a variety of occasions. Wrong again. The blocky straps and slit in the back had already earned me generous critiques from Fiona, and we were only fifteen minutes into the welcome party being hosted in Ben’s honor at a local nightclub. He was being paid generous sums of money to make an appearance but hadn’t even shown yet.

Fiona was on her third glass of champagne and was flirting with a few of the execs from the advertisers Ben would be modeling for in the coming weeks.

I inconspicuously watched the door for Ben to arrive. Moments later, I got my wish. He came strolling in, the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome. Black Gucci suit, crisp white shirt, thin black tie. His jaw was unshaven, and his hair was pushed up in a playful swoop in the front. His eyes scanned the room as those long, sexy legs carried him in purposeful strides toward our table. He crossed the room like he owned it, like he was walking a runway. It was captivating.

He turned his body fully toward mine and treated me to direct eye contact for several long seconds. His eyes were so expressive, so intense that my blood pumped faster, my heart working harder just from his attention. It was startling.

My eyes fell to my lap, but I could still feel him watching me. My skin erupted into flames and my heart kicked up a notch remembering the way his mouth felt on mine, how his fingers pumped into me until I came. I gripped the table in front of me just to keep from falling from my seat.

Fiona stood to greet him, kissing both cheeks in her customary way, and then introduced him to the executives who were there to meet the man behind the pictures. I could already tell there would be some serious wooing tonight. They wanted him. And were practically salivating just from meeting him. I was sure Fiona would be in a happy mood, realizing they’d likely book him for several more large campaigns this season and next. I could almost see the dollar signs in her eyes as she introduced Ben around. He smiled and shook hands, but I could tell something was wrong. He bit down, his jaw clenching as he quietly slipped into the seat next to Fiona.

What was supposed to be a casual night out Fiona had turned into a promotional opportunity to sell Ben. She pulled a stack of the new comp cards and passed them across the table. Ben smiled and fielded questions, turning up the charm like Fiona expected. But I could tell he wasn’t happy. I found myself wondering if he ever got a day off, just time to himself—time to not be the model everyone clamored for.

I knew I shouldn’t, but I felt bad for him. He was gorgeous, wealthy, well traveled, multilingual—yet I did. A tiny piece of me felt bad that he probably didn’t know the simple pleasures of being utterly carefree, able to eat whatever he wanted. Hell, eating enough comfort food to ensure a breakout and an increased pants size were practically the norm after a good breakup. Ben had probably never had that luxury.

He pulled out his phone, checking his schedule as they discussed the upcoming campaigns. Had he known tonight was going to be about work, I’m guessing he would have brought along Gunnar.

Fiona leaned across and whispered in Ben’s ear. She tried to keep her features relaxed, glancing up nervously at their guests, but Ben made no apologies for his pissed-off look.

Fiona thrust her camera at me. “Take a group shot of us, will you?”

I accepted the camera and stood, heading around the front of the table. “Squeeze in a little.”

Fiona threw one arm around Ben, the other around the French executive on her left, and proudly beamed.

“We’ll get the waitress to take it. Emmy should be in the photo, too,” Ben said.

The look Fiona shot him was pure venom. He should know better than to try to stick up for me. “Not wearing that, she’s not. Pierre, if you sign us up, you may have to throw in a new dress for this one.”

She waved a dismissive hand in my direction. All their eyes found me, and the wave of laughter at Fiona’s joke hit me like a smack to the face. I swallowed hard and kept my chin up. I counted to three and snapped the photo, mentally high-fiving myself that Fiona’s eyes were half closed in the picture. She looked like a stroke victim. I inwardly giggled. Take that, bitch!

“It’s perfect.” I turned the camera off and passed it back to her. Then I excused myself.

I tried not to get emotional, not to let Fiona bother me. But I was PMSing. Bad. And I knew that wasn’t a promise I could keep. I made it to the restroom and ducked into a stall, blinking against the stupid tears filling my eyes. This was supposed to be a great adventure—working for the elite Status Models agency, living abroad, making something of myself. But it was times like this that I missed home. I missed the smell of Tennessee and fresh-cut grass, lazy Sundays watching football with my dad, and the fact that the guys at home weren’t supermodels. They drove mud-encrusted trucks and wore holey jeans. And they didn’t send me into a near panic attack with their sexiness, either.

I sucked a cleansing breath into my lungs. I wouldn’t let Fiona win. And things with Ben were . . . confusing . . . but fine. Yes, everything would be fine. I smoothed the dress that I now despised over my hips and studied myself in the mirror. My brown hair had gone flat. My eyes were tinged in red and I looked pale. Screw it. I exited the bathroom, needing this night to end. Stat.

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