COLE (Dragon Security Book 1) (39 page)

A small moan slipped from between my lips just as the doors slid open on his floor, exposing us to whomever or whatever might wait in the hallway. Fortunately, there was nothing there, just fake plants and cheap carpeting, just a hotel corridor like millions of others all around the country.

He took my hand and led the way, opening his suite door with one quick movement. I didn’t even realize what was happening until he was tugging me inside, pressing me against the bare wall, his hands returning to my ribs where they’d been playing before.

“Brian,” I whispered against his lips, “we can’t.”

“You feel just the way I remember.”

He nibbled at my bottom lip, heat burning in his eyes, making them look like hard little pieces of jade. I remembered that look, remembered all the things it made me do. I was a good Catholic girl until I met Brian Callahan. Those months we were together…I would have done anything he asked me to do. And he knew it, too.

I wanted to do anything now.

There is nothing that can fix a broken heart faster than passion.

He lifted my shirt away, his mouth sliding over my throat. I ran my fingers through his hair and moaned as he moved lower, his fingers already tugging at the clasp between my breasts, the tiny piece of plastic that held my bra in place. I cried out as he nibbled at my nipples, capturing them even with the material still in place. But then they were free and his hands were touching, squeezing, rolling…
God
, I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t know what he was doing. I just knew it felt so, so good.

Then he was on his knees in front of me, this powerful man who ran one of the most successful conglomerates in the world. This man who had been a nobody when I knew him before, yet he’d been everything to me. This man who took my heart and crushed it between his fingers, destroying the woman I thought I was, the woman I thought I would become. He ruined me for every other man, setting a bar that the men who followed could never reach. Yet, he was on his knees in front of me, tugging at the jeans that fit me the way jeans were supposed to fit, pulling them down over my thighs, exposing me for the first time in much longer than I cared to admit.

I shouldn’t be doing this. There were too many reasons why this was a bad idea. But I couldn’t quite convince my body—my heart—of what logic was screaming in the back of my mind. All I could think about was the way his lips felt on my thighs, the way his thumbs felt against my puffy, lower lips. And then I couldn’t think at all.

He knew what he was doing; he knew exactly where to touch me. My head was spinning, and it was only gravity that kept me on my feet. My knees were weak, my bones mush. I needed to lie down, but I didn’t want him to stop. But then the touch of his tongue on my clit became too much, pushing me too far, and my muscles tightened, my thighs closed. An orgasm like nothing I’d experienced these last twenty years rushed through me, making the quiver in my thighs too much to handle. I would have fallen, but he was there to catch me, lifting me as he carried me to the couch.

I knew the instant we became one, the instant I felt the exquisite pain and pleasure of his thick cock splitting me wide open. I wasn’t this woman anymore; I wasn’t the kind who enjoyed spontaneous sex; I wasn’t the woman who slept with a man on a whim. A lot of thought went into my every choice, even my romantic ones. This girl…this was the girl I left behind in Boston so very long ago.

I wrapped my legs around him, tugging him close against me even as he moved into a slow, gentle rhythm. But his movement didn’t remain slow and I didn’t remain passive. I clutched at his ass with both hands, grinding my hips against him as he thrust almost roughly against me. He groaned with each movement, a groan that I answered with tiny, high-pitched little cries. My orgasm seemed to lengthen, riding a wave that was higher and more intense than I’d imagined. And I rode that wave with enthusiasm, aware that this was a once in a lifetime moment and I had better embrace it as tightly as I could.

He buried his face against my shoulder when he came. I ran my hands over his back, feeling the spasms running through the length of his body. I kissed his temple, even as my own quivers continued to move unpredictably through my own body.

For a moment, I allowed myself to remember how much I loved this man. For a moment, I held him close and allowed myself the beauty of what had been a love born out of innocence, out of misplaced trust. For a moment, I forgot the hurt and the panic and the darkness I plunged into the day he told me he’d chosen another woman over me.

But only for a moment.

He sat up to touch me, to brush the hair from my face. I couldn’t look at him.

I pulled away, quickly snatching up my clothing and stepping back into it.

“Cassidy,” he said softly, the sound of it breaking what was left of my heart.

I left the room and made it to the solitude of the elevator before the sobs demanded a voice.

“I did it,” I whispered when I was back in the safety of my room. “I hope you’re happy.”

Almost as though they could hear me, my phone buzzed.

It was a text message with a short video of my baby girl.

“They said they’d let me go soon, Mommy,” she said, exhaustion and fear clear in her voice, in the streaks of dirt and dried tears on her cheeks. “You just have to give them more. You have to get him to love you. They said he’s never trusted anyone as much as he trusted you. If he loves you, he’ll be vulnerable.”

I nodded. “I know, baby.” I touched her face on the small screen of my phone. “I’ll save you. I promise.”

Chapter 9

 

Brian

I woke half-naked on the couch, fur on my tongue, and Cassidy’s perfume on my skin. I rolled onto my back and immediately regretted it as my head threatened to explode.

I drank too much. I knew that.

Stacy showed up to our prearranged dinner, some tall, blond fellow on her arm, hatred radiating from her eyes. And it only got worse from there. She wouldn’t speak, talking only to the man at her side. And he…he was a snooty, rich asshole, like all the assholes I grew up watching from street corners as a kid. He didn’t even have the sense to be embarrassed over the fact that he was caught between a father and his daughter. He looked down his nose at me. At me. I was Brian Callahan, founding partner and CEO of MCorp. I wasn’t just some dirt bag still living on the nickels and dimes I could pick up doing odd jobs. I was better than that. Better than him. I didn’t deserve to be treated that way.

I remembered telling him exactly that, then heading back to the hotel. I remembered stumbling into the bar, ordering a bottle of their best Irish whiskey. But that was pretty much the last thing I remembered clearly.

I had flashes of some prick calling me an old man.

I remembered the taste of Cassidy’s lips and the feel of her skin, though I wasn’t sure if that was a recent memory or one from the past. I’d been thinking of those days so often these last few weeks—even before she walked back into my life—that the past and the present seemed to be intermingling in a way they’d never done before.

Maybe I was an old man. Maybe I was a little senile, a little confused.

I sat up, tugging at my pants, wondering what I might find when I went into the bedroom. But there was nothing there, no sign that another person had ever been in my room. But clearly there had been.

A quick shower and shave, I was sliding on my shoes when Rachel called.

“How’s New York?”

“Big and noisy.”

“Are you still coming home tonight?”

“Of course.”

I could hear the relief in her voice as she told me what she had planned for me upon my return. She never asked about my dinner with Stacy because she didn’t know. I’d told Cassidy and let her make the arrangements, but I never told the woman I was dating. Why was that?

What was wrong with me that I couldn’t enjoy the blessings in my life? Rachel was beautiful and sexy and clearly enamored with me. Yet, I couldn’t accept that there might be something solid there. It was just like the early days of marriage to Abigail. I was so sure she was above me, so convinced that she would one day wake up and realize that I wasn’t the man she deserved, that I created conflict and forced her to toss me out on my ass not once, but three times before we’d been married ten years. And I cheated on her, on our vows, on our family each of those three times.

And I was doing it again with Rachel.

What the fuck was wrong with me? Was I simply incapable of commitment? Or was there something else?

I didn’t love Rachel. I knew that. But that didn’t mean that I wasn’t capable of committing myself to her. Right?

What had I done last night?

Guilt settled hard on my shoulders, making it almost impossible to stand.

“I have to go, Rachel,” I said, cutting into her chatter. “I’m sorry, but I have this meeting and Cassidy will be knocking on my door any second.”

“Cassidy? She’s there with you?”

“I told you she was.”

“No. You said you had a meeting and you were flying in early so that you could review your notes. You never said anything about anyone being there with you.”

“Cassidy’s my assistant, Rachel. Of course she’s here.”

There was silence on the other end.

“Come on, Rachel. It was cute the first time, but this is getting ridiculous. I don’t have time for this juvenile behavior.”

“Then maybe you don’t have time for me.”

“Rachel—”

She hung up. There was no satisfying slamming of the receiver, no heavy click. Just silence. But it was just as final as anything Abigail had ever done, and it added to the guilt that rested on my shoulders.

“Fuck you,” I said quietly. But I wasn’t sure whom I was talking to: Rachel or my own reflection in the mirror over the dresser.

***

“Thank you, gentlemen,” I said, rising from my seat.

Handshakes all around and Cassidy was by my side, walking with me to the elevator. I sighed and leaned back against the wall the moment the doors closed. My eyes slid closed, offering a modicum of relief to my pounding headache.

“Ibuprofen,” Cassidy said, touching my hand. I opened my eyes and took the pills she offered, swallowing them down with a bottle of water she thoughtfully carried everywhere with her.

“Thanks.”

She turned, facing the elevator doors. She hadn’t spoken to me all day, except for that one word, polite but silent. She did her job, sending me information over the iPads all through the meeting. But she could have done that from a different room.

“You dragged me out of that bar last night, didn’t you?”

Her shoulders stiffened. “I don’t imagine you remember much about it.”

I didn’t. I had a few flashes when she first came to my room—the feel of her lips against mine, the taste of her cunt—but they were just flashes.

“I’m sorry,” I said, aware of just how lame the words sounded as they came out of my mouth. But what else was there to say?

“Do you love her?”

I shook my head even though she couldn’t see me. The tension in her shoulders seemed to grow. I reached for her, but the doors slid open and she stepped out, walking as tall and dignified as Cassidy always did. Even the night I told her I’d chosen Abigail, she walked away with her head up and her spine stiff. It was one of the many things I admired about her.

Admired. Maybe that wasn’t the right word. But I wasn’t ready to even think of a better word.

I followed her, sliding into the chauffeured car beside her. She skimmed through emails on her iPad that came in while we were in the meeting, looking for anything that might demand her, or my, quick attention.

“I don’t.”

She glanced at me, confusion bright in her blue eyes for a moment. But then it cleared, and for a second, I thought I saw relief. Maybe even a spark of hope. It only lasted a second, but it was a second long enough to ignite something in my own chest that I shouldn’t indulge.

“It’s none of my business. I shouldn’t have asked.”

“I think after what happened last night, you had every right.”

She shook her head. “You were drunk.”

“Does that really matter?”

She hesitated, her hand wrapped so tightly around her cell phone that her knuckles were white. Then she turned into me, touching the side of my face lightly.

“I never stopped thinking about you.”

I lifted her chin, needing almost desperately to see that carefree, openly innocent trust in her eyes that once radiated from those blue depths when she was young. It wasn’t there, but there was something else. Desire. Cautious affection. The beginning of something warm, something that was almost about trust…love.

Love. Could she love me again? Was that possible?

“All these years…” I brushed my finger against her jaw. “I never thought I’d see you again.”

“Neither did I.”

“You left Boston so quickly after that night.”

Her eyes dropped, a bright blush spreading over her cheeks.

I kissed the top of her head. “I had to choose Abigail. She was the mother of my children.”

She turned from me, lifting the iPad out of her lap again.

“Sean wants to see you as soon as we get back. He’s concerned about the contract you and Jack are set to sign with that streaming service next week. Something about—”

“Forget about work for a minute.”

She wouldn’t look at me.

“As long as you’re with Rachel,” she said as the car slowed, pulling to a stop in front of Sardi’s, “we can’t do this. I won’t do this.”

“Then I’ll end it with her.”

She looked up, her eyes wide with surprise. “You’d do that for me?”

I brushed my fingers over her jaw again, moving in close for a slow kiss.

“I would. I will.”

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