Authors: Ciara Cole
Now Chace looked plain offended, making a face that almost had Emily cracking up. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I made my name through business. At the beginning it was all about building a new startup and then selling it after a couple of years at great profit. I did that a few times and sort of built a reputation for myself. Now I’m CEO of my own consulting company. Unfortunately, the attention sometimes gets centered on my private life – particularly my relationships.”
“I wonder why,” murmured Emily, looking around at the streets they flew past. She’d never been inside a car so luxurious, and she was getting conscious of the reason why she shouldn’t even still be with him.
“Where are we headed?” she asked, ready to tell him to drop her off somewhere she could catch a bus or a cab.
“My place. It’s close and I need to make sure I’ve shaken her off your tail.”
Emily huffed. “My tail? How does any of this have to do with me?”
Chace sent her a calm glance. “I’m just being cautious. Once I’m sure there’s no chance she knows who you are or where to find you, I’ll make sure I get you home safely.”
Emily made another impatient sound and simply looked away. There was no use acting angry or frustrated. She needed to figure things out for herself. Till then she’d go along with Chace, mostly because she hated to argue. And maybe…there was a little part of her that was getting curious.
Just what was going on
“About that reporter…exactly who is she? And how did she just happen to know you’d be at that club?” Emily asked, despite her better judgment to simply stay out of it.
“I’m not sure. Her name is Amanda Weeks. She’s a freelance photographer and for some reason seems determined to follow me around,” said Chace. “It’s been the case for almost a year now. My guess is, since my close friend owns that club and it newly opened, she might have figured I’d make an appearance sooner or later.”
“So all she does is stalk you in the hope for some kind of scoop?”
“Something like that,” Chace replied. “Reporters like Amanda aren’t all about who wore what wore to which movie premiere. They’re more interested in what you do when you think no one else is looking. That one right shot at the exact right moment can earn a photographer an absolute fortune.”
“Looks like your life’s got interesting since we last saw each other,” Emily noted, glancing his way again. It was hard not to notice how different he was. More self-contained, with an almost primal edge to his good looks.
Chace turned his gaze to hers and their eyes held for a second. “How about you? What’s been happening in your life since then? I can see you’ve grown more beautiful. I’m interested to know what else took place in ten years.”
“Don’t be,” Emily said, keeping her tone light. She only had to make it through the next hour or so and then she’d never have to see Chace again. The less he found out about, her the more she could keep her pride intact. The last thing she wanted was for Chace to realize that the social divide between them only got wider as the years flew by. Couldn’t risk him laughing at her or feeling pity.
In many ways, her present life left a lot to be desired and she knew as much. While she was doing as much as she could to change that in time, for now she didn’t need anyone judging her.
Most importantly, she must never let Chace know how much he was responsible for almost destroying her world.
Emily took in the sight of Chace’s luxurious apartment with raised brows. It looked every inch as expensive as Emily had imagined based on its location. She was simply surprised by the sheer size – it could easily fit in her own place a few times over.
“Would you like me to show you around?” Chace asked. “I could get you something to drink.”
“Why don’t you tell me why I’m really here?” Emily asked, spinning round to face him. “You didn’t think I bought that story about the reporter being on my tail did you?”
Chace arched a brow. “It was the truth. Amanda is very persistent and wouldn’t miss a trick. But you’re right, it’s not the only reason I brought you back here.”
Emily stood still as Chace advanced. He stood in front of her and lifted his hand to her face, cupping her cheek. “You’re so beautiful. When I first saw you tonight, it almost felt like a mirage. Do you know how long I’ve thought about you?”
Chace kept calling her beautiful and Emily wasn’t sure how to feel about it. She took pride in her appearance and knew she turned a few heads once in a while when she really made an effort. But next to Chace? She felt as if they were like night and day – and it wasn’t simply because he was white and she black. That had never been an issue for either of them even then. There had always simply been that attraction.
But now Emily wanted to imagine she felt nothing at all. Even if Chace was to close the small gap between them and kiss her, Emily told herself it would leave her cold.
It took only a few moments for Emily to realize how foolishly wrong she was.
Chace did get up close, causing Emily to back up against the wall behind her. Her eyes flew up to his and caught the look in his light, almost transparent gray eyes. They mesmerized her as much as the scent of him that teased her nostrils: male, sexy, spicy. Emily drew in a sudden, trapped breath as Chace edged in even closer.
How had the atmosphere changed so drastically? Emily’s constant angst seemed to fade into a puff of smoke. She felt Chace’s hard heat press her against the wall and it softened her resolve to stay in control and aloof.
There’d always been something about him
. It was in the way he looked at her, looked right inside her to her very soul. He hadn’t lost that touch. Chace Hammond. How that name had rang in her heart and mind even after all this while. He’d said almost the same thing himself, about how long he’d been thinking about her. Was it possible she’d crossed his mind as much as he had hers?
Chace’s eyes were fixed on Emily’s parted mouth. She resisted the urge to bite down hard on her bottom lip and instead said, “Don’t, Chace. Just stop.”
“I want to stop. But I can’t.” His voice had a raspy thread. His hands cradled her throat, and Emily watched his face slant over hers till their lips were aligned perfectly.
“Now would be the right time to push me away, Emily,” he growled inches from her mouth. “If not, then I’m going to kiss you.”
Knowing she was weak, stupid, and possibly crazy, Emily couldn’t do it – couldn’t push Chace away. Her heart was beating too fast, endorphins on a high from the excitement of being this close to him.
It was strange how desire, smoldering and powerful, could hit you out of nowhere. It set Emily pulsing in her most secret places as her head spun from the stormy swell of it.
Chace. His hands. On her waist, then gliding dangerously higher. Emily was panting and he hadn’t even kissed her yet. His face, still tucked close to hers, had her taking cover as she squeezed her eyes shut.
This isn’t happening right now
Emily told herself those words over and over as moments stretched into breathless eons. How long ago was it she’d been grinding against some stranger’s body at the club? At least, before boredom had her excusing herself to get a drink while her friends stayed back dancing to the wild beat? It felt like it had happened in another time bubble, that moment when Chace had first stood beside her and she’d heard his unmistakably deep and husky voice.
A jolt of arousal hit her spine as Emily felt Chace slowly rub her rock-hard nipples with the pad of his thumb where they jutted through her clothes. She’d never felt them get this hard, this eager. Dear Lord. How could everything about Chace turn her on so easily, even after so long?
“Baby, you have no idea what you do to me,” rasped Chace, his sweet breath fanning her upper lip. “Nothing has changed.”
Now there he had it wrong, thought Emily. Things
changed. For one, she felt the need for him more keenly, could taste her own shameless lust on the tip of her tongue hovering at the rim of her parted lips. The woman she’d become was all too aware of the man Chace was, of his promise of masculinity and dominance. He kept her pinned against the wall with his lower length, bringing to her notice his unmistakable arousal as it throbbed against her pelvis.
“This dress…those heels. They scream sex, Emily. And I wanted to be the man to give it to you.”
Chace’s unrepentantly carnal words drilled into her pores, hitting the perfect target right at her quivering apex. In her mind’s eye, Emily could just see her wetness pooling her panties and then slowly dripping down her inner thighs.
“You…you don’t know what you’re saying,” Emily gasped, even as Chace twanged his thumbs one again against her treacherous buds.
“Yes, I do. Just like I know you and how much you loved my touch, the things I could do to you.”
Emily swore underneath her breath. Much as she loathed his confidence, she couldn’t deny he was right. Not that he could know it for sure, but he probably guessed the truth that he was the best lover she had ever had. It definitely still applied, ten years later. Damn him.
“You’re imagining things,” Emily finally let out in a voice she barely recognized, and she heard Chace chuckle softly in amusement at her bid at bravado.
“Last chance to say no, Em,” whispered Chace against her lips. “Because when I start kissing you, it’s not going to end there, but with me deep inside you again. Just like I’ve pictured it for too damned long.”
Chace was giving her fair warning it seemed – yet Emily still couldn’t get that part of her brain to function and do the right thing.
But maybe she’d been doing the right thing too long. On the outside she was all feisty and can-do about everything and had her friends thinking she had it all together.
But deep inside she was like every other woman with needs. And she
to be touched, to feel like a woman. Even for a few stolen moments. She wanted to let go of that secret side of her that wasn’t the adventurous Emily everyone got to see. That secretly repressed Emily that never truly let go – who kept her darkest, hottest desires wrapped up tight where no one else could ever find them.
This time would be different. She knew that the moment she stood stock still and let Chace seize her mouth in a ravenous kiss. Emily decided she would let go of everything. For now, she’d hold back the memories of the past, of her recent heartbreak, and of her whole frustration with the shit life had been dealing her for way longer than she liked.
In Chace’s kiss, Emily wanted to come alive.
Hot and hungry, his firm yet sensual lips took control of Emily’s hold on reasoning. Chace grabbed her wrists and brought her hands to his chest. Emily flatted her palms against broad muscle and felt the hint of his thudding heart beneath the smoothness of his shirt.
His tongue slid into her mouth and they both groaned.
Chace tasted divine. Just as she remembered. His kiss could always give her fire.
“Bedroom,” he growled barely breaking their lips apart. His arms were already around her, spinning her in direction of an archway and backing her down a passageway till they burst through a door. Emily took note of the fact she was clutching at Chace’s lapels as their lips clung and tongues dueled.
They were both gasping when Chace finally tore his mouth from hers. They seemed rugged and raw, their mutual passion beyond primal. If he took off her clothes now and spread her on that sinfully inviting bed, Emily knew she’d let him do anything he wanted with her. His kiss, his touch had triggered an onrush of endorphins and she was surfing high.
She never, ever wanted to come back down to earth.
Chace cupped her face, and she looked up at him through half-lidded eyes.
Why was he stopping
Why wasn’t he doing all the things his kisses had promised?
Emily had tasted his desire, even smelled its intoxicating aroma. All that had brought her to this point where her breasts were heavy with longing beneath her layer of clothes.
Chace rested his temple against hers for a moment. “I want you. I want you in ways you can’t even imagine. I should be thrown into jail for the things I’ve imagined doing once I get you naked in my bed.”
Then what the hell’s stopping you, Emily found herself tempted to let out but didn’t. Much as she ached with a throbbing
for this. Consequences didn’t matter, not now. There was only that emptiness inside her that was hungry to be filled.
“Chace,” she moaned and heard his answering growl. His hand in the small of her back shoved her more tightly up against him. Invaded by his body heat, his sexy manly scent, and the shadowy lust darkening those ice-gray eyes, Emily lost her breath.
“Keep saying my name like that and we won’t even make it to that bed,” said Chace throatily. Held so tightly against him, there was no way Emily could mistake his burgeoning hardness, a potent reminder that this wasn’t a dream – that she was really in Chace’s arms after so long and that if she didn’t stop it, they’d reach the point of no return. He’d claim her as irrevocably as he had all those years ago – show her what true passion was like.
But that would be all he had to offer her. Never his heart, never anything worthwhile. Just this. Would Emily be willing to settle for that after all this time?
Her senses returned with those heavy thoughts. Emily’s hands resting on Chace’s broad shoulders now pushed away firmly. Thankfully, Chace let her go almost at once as he felt her resistance.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, eyes searching her face.
Emily shook her head and waved her hands in the air. “All this. I’m sorry, but it’s not a good idea. What almost happened just now would have been a mistake.”
“Okay,” Chace said calmly. “I guess it’s too soon. We just met again after ten years. It’s alright if you feel cautious. But you weren’t the type to second-guess things. Where’s that Emily I remember, so spontaneous and always ready to take that gamble.”
Emily had to laugh out loud. “Nice try, Casanova. If jumping into bed with you right now is supposed to count for adventurous, I think I’ll pass.
Emily has a lot more sense than the one you encountered back then.”