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Authors: Victoria H. Smith

Found by You (10 page)

BOOK: Found by You
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Very slowly, she slid her elbow out of my hand and stepped back, putting distance between us. “Fine. Just fine. You?”

Her tone was quite dry, and I noticed the shortness in it. I figured she was trying to keep things casual. I decided to do the same to make her more comfortable. “I’m good. Just got out of a conference meeting.” Shoving my hands into my pockets, I looked down at my feet, seeing hers when I did. I gestured to them. “Interesting accessory for your toes.”

She dipped her chin, giving a short laugh. “Yeah. They weren’t dry yet, but I was ready to go.”

Her gaze flicked to the side of me and I turned. Who I saw didn’t surprise me. Tanya was in a conversation with a group, but she was still glancing my way. Mine and Roxie’s way.

“I’ll see you later,” Roxie said.

I turned, touching her arm so she wouldn’t leave. Fortunately, she didn’t, and I approached her, leaning in.

“Promise me a dance tonight,” I whispered, feeling her skin once again prickle in goose bumps under my fingers.

She lowered her head, chewing on her lip. “Griffin, I—”

“Roxie, it’s just one dance. Just one.”

She looked up at me, studying my eyes. “Okay.”

“Promise?” I added. She could just as easily break it but some insurance wouldn’t hurt.

To my surprise, she smiled and nodded. “I promise.”

I let her go and she moved away from me. To give her space, I decided to take the opposite direction out of the hall. I, unfortunately, had to pass Tanya.


I turned to look at her. “Remember our agreement, Tanya. I’ll see you tonight.”

I’d never been looked at so coldly, but her opinion of me didn’t matter anymore. It hadn’t for a long time.

I was grateful for that.

Chapter Eleven


Like all those nights in the laundry room, I knew the moment he was in the grand ballroom with me. It didn’t matter that I was in full conversation with Clare or that my date for the evening and his friends and their dates were chatting around me. My skin did that familiar prickle, jolting my body in awareness.

Making me lose my breath.

My attention moved from the conversation held at the high top table, and I gazed around the room adorned in candlelight and crushed velvet tablecloths. He was by the door. He had just gotten here.

Griffin could have worn anything, absolutely anything, and looked amazing. However, in the suit he wore tonight, another word came to the forefront of my mind.


The suit was fitted to his body, tailored from his broad chest down to his narrow waist. The tie he fashioned tonight was skinny and black to match the simple mask on his handsome face. He always caused my pulse to spike, my heart to thump. But that mask… I had no words to describe all the raw emotions running rogue inside me.

A man could be described in many different ways. Strong. Impressive. Debonair. But Griffin Chandler… he was simply beautiful.

He made me want to forget, to ignore everything bad and negative flourishing in both our pasts and present. But seeing Tanya on his arm kept me in check. She looked stunning. The red dress and white mask covered in pearls she wore made her look elegant.

was elegant. I couldn’t forget who I was. Who
was. Tanya was the type of girl who understood Griffin’s life. She fit snuggly into it and accepted it completely.

After hearing what I heard at the salon today, I knew if I was with Griffin I’d have to dismiss things, to take them for what they were to have him. He’d also have to do the same thing with me, and I was unsure if we were both ready for that. If
was ready for that.

The couple moved into the first dance of the night, all eyes on them. The whole scene really was something to watch, like a romantic scene from Phantom of the Opera, and I couldn’t help being envious. However illogical that emotion might be.

The song played for a little while, then other people in the room joined the single couple in the middle, surrounding them.


I turned at the sound of Ryan’s voice.

He laughed behind his own black mask. “I asked if you wanted to dance.”

I was being rude. Ryan and I may have been attending tonight as friends, but I was still his date. I smiled, taking his arm. “Of course. Lead the way.”

Fortunately, Ryan didn’t choose a space on the floor near the captain and his date, and I settled into the dance. Clare, Destiny, and their dates joined us out there, though they were all chatting with each other like a group of four instead of two pairs. I was very happy she was enjoying herself; at least one of us was having a good time.

My gaze moved from them, not in any specific direction, and it immediately stopped on Griffin. Mostly because he was looking at me and not in a casual glance or even a linger, but rather a stare intense enough to make me grip my date. I had to or I would have fallen.

He swayed with Tanya, but his focus remained on me. Almost as if he was dancing with me instead of her. I was in his arms, holding him. Hearing his heart beat as I pressed my cheek against his chest, feeling his warmth on my body through his suit.

He didn’t let up throughout the entire song, and by the end, I was extremely breathy.

I looked up at Ryan to excuse myself the same time some of his friends came over. He greeted them like they just arrived. That was even better. I could escape for a moment. I touched his arm. “I’m going to get some punch.”

“I can get it for you,” he offered.

“Um, that’s okay. I can get it. Stay and chat with your friends.” Grabbing my skirt, I headed for the punch table. I needed to walk off what just happened on the dance floor.

And quite frankly I needed to catch my breath.

When I made it to the refreshment table, I dropped my dress from my hand and picked up one of the pre-ladled cups of punch. I took a long sip, enjoying the cool current, the sweetness of the liquid. My heartbeat was finally starting to regulate, my breathing returning to normal. But then my elbow was touched; long fingers moving down my forearm that simmered waves of warmth through my skin with every new inch caressed. A strong body of heat surrounded me from behind, raising my body’s temperature, and a voice tickled deep words into my ear.

“I was promised a dance,” Griffin said.


Maybe it was her dress. Gold, long, and sparkling in black beading. Or her hair, styled up, giving her grace and complementing the warm tone of her skin. But then again it could have just as well been her black mask, embellished with dark feathers and dusted with some kind of sparkle. Whatever it was drew me to her and I couldn’t wait a moment longer for the dance she promised me.

I guided Roxie off to the side by her elbow, enjoying the feeling of her skin.

“Where are we going, Griffin?” she asked.

She asked because I wasn’t leading her to the dance floor, but away from the crowd. I didn’t know where I was going. I was making this up as I went along. But one thing I did know was I needed to find a place. Someplace where it was just her and me.

I bent to her. “I’m taking you away. I want to be alone with you while we dance.”

Thankfully, she didn’t protest, moving with me as we traveled farther and farther away from the dance floor. There was a door along the wall near the coat rack.

Hoping it led somewhere free of people, I turned the knob. The room was completely dark and the only thing I could make out were the chairs stacked up near the door we stood by due to the ballroom’s subtle lighting.

I turned to Roxie. “You’re not scared of the dark, are you?”

“Um,” she said, chewing on her lip as she gazed into the darkness. She looked up at me and shook her head.

Smiling, I grabbed one of the votive candles on a decorated table near the door. And with that, I led us inside and closed the door behind us. The light we had from the ballroom was gone and the music from the ballroom became a muffled soft sound.

I placed the candle I had on one of the stacked chairs so I could see where the exit was. After that, I took Roxie’s hands, backing up further into the darkness.

“How can we dance if we can’t see?” came Roxie’s voice seemingly from the air. I couldn’t see her anymore than I could see my own hands guiding her.

I stopped her, sliding her hands to my waist. “Use me. You don’t need to see.”

I held my breath as her hands moved, explored. She started where I placed her hands on my waist. Feeling her way, she pushed them slowly up my chest. She stopped at my heart for a moment, and I wondered if it was because of how fast it was beating.

She continued on, making it to my neck and up, splaying her warm fingers on my cheeks. Her thumb brushed my lip, and I fought so hard not to kiss her finger, taste it with my tongue.

Moving gently over my mask, she made it to my hair and every follicle felt the touch, deep down to the root. She only touched delicately, and eventually retreated back down. She brought her hands around the back of my neck and stopped. I knew this wasn’t the traditional way to dance, but this way allowed me to be as close to her as possible. I had no argument dancing this way.

I brought my hands to her body now. Bracing her hips, I brought her body up against mine. She gasped, and I slid my arms around her, drawing her to me completely. Her chest pressed against me, our body warmth combining.

She was so small, and I leaned down to her level. By fate my cheek found hers and I stayed there, the two of us resting against each other during our dance. I didn’t know if I could call what we were really doing dancing, though. The music softly played from the other room, but our feet barely moved. Eventually, we were only swaying in place until finally we weren’t moving at all. We were in each other’s arms, holding each other. Nothing else.

The closeness of her, the feel of her full body against mine, made me ignore everything else. Our dates outside this door. Clare’s statement about how I should wait for Roxie. Roxie’s own statement that I should hold back. I had to touch her. Feel her. Have her.

I raised my hands, going slowly until I touched her cheeks. This forced her to drop her hands from my neck, and she stood there, allowing me to touch her.

I moved in. Again by fate, my lips found her forehead, her hairline. I smelled her warmth, her succulent scent. Her breath heated my chin below, and I knew her breathing was hiking, accelerating like mine. And all the while she wasn’t denying me, she was letting me be near her. For once, she wasn’t running away. This allowed me to continue on. I brushed small almost-kisses on her bow, studying her face with my lips and hands. I couldn’t see a thing, not a damn thing, but still I knew what I had before me. The beauty she possessed radiated off her. Every part of her.

My lips traveled down her cheek, staying for a while. When I made it to her ear, I couldn’t hold back from her and decided I had to tell her how I felt.

“Do you know how damn beautiful you are?” I rasped, placing a kiss on her ear. “How much you tie me up in knots?”

She lifted her hands to mine on her cheeks. Feeling, she made her way to my wrists and squeezed, as if responding silently to my words.

I nuzzled my brow against her temple. “I know you told me to wait, Roxie. I know that, but it’s damn hard. So hard. I want you.”

“Griffin…” she whispered. I couldn’t see her, but I could feel her attempting to move away from my hands. “Griffin, we’ve been in here too long. We have dates.”

I closed my eyes, my nostrils flaring. I wasn’t going to let her do this. Not this time. I had her. I finally had her and she wasn’t running away.

I braced her shoulders, bringing her close to me. “No. No, we don’t have dates. We never did. It’s been you and me since we were out in that ballroom—on that dance floor. You have to know that. You have to have felt that.”

I was so tired of her making excuses. They didn’t hold up. They fell flat, and I was over them. Over them completely. I didn’t know what I expected to hear her say, but when the air went silent between us, only the music playing behind us, I didn’t think she’d say anything.

Suddenly, she removed her hands from my wrists, and feeling her way, she wrapped her arms around me. She laid her head against my chest, and I swear to God I felt her everywhere. Absolutely everywhere.

“I did feel it,” she said.

I didn’t know how I did it, but I managed to bring her closer, fit her body to me, and feel her even more. I brought my lips to her ear again, making sure to whisper since I was so close. “Meet me tonight. Somewhere. Anywhere. I don’t care if we just talk. Fuck, I couldn’t care less if we only stare at each other, but I have to see you. Be alone with you without people nearby.”

“How about…” Her voice seemly came from nowhere, and as I waited for her to finish, I listened to her breathing. It was suddenly unsteady, husky, and short.

“How about my room?” she continued, her voice timid and raspy. “I can ask Clare to stay with Destiny tonight.”

I didn’t know what she was proposing or if she was insinuating anything other than simply talking. Frankly, I didn’t care. She wasn’t running this time, and I’d take that for what it was. I’d fucking take it.

I leaned in, whispering in her ear, “Midnight.”

Chapter Twelve


I didn’t know if I was too quiet or if D was just too… distracted. Whatever the reason, he didn’t stop, and what I ended up seeing him do when I came into the hotel room we shared would haunt my nightmares.

He was on his bed, his laptop to the side, as he jerked off to the moving image on the screen.

“Dude!” I said, turning away.

Shit, I did
want to see that.

He scrambled¸ getting his pants up and adjusted. He zipped himself up so quick it was by the grace of God he didn’t catch himself in his fly.

He pushed his laptop down, but didn’t close it all the way. “Sorry, man. I didn’t know when you were coming up from the ballroom.”

I actually let a laugh escape now that my shock was receding. Shaking my head, I went to my bag. Thank God the bag was on my own bed in the room. “It’s cool, but fuck. What happened to your date? I thought you’d be with her tonight.”

BOOK: Found by You
11.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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