Authors: Staci Hart
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Romantic, #Romance, #Romantic Suspense, #Romantic Erotica, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense
He raised an eyebrow. “I figure you would have done the full Google stalk down. Paybacks, right?”
“I’d rather hear it from you.”
Van leaned on the counter again, crossing his wide forearms in front of him. “I don’t really know when it happened. I’ve always been into art, but something about parkour gets into me. It’s art through motion. Such a rush. And you learn things about the city that you can’t find out any other way. You see it differently, like it shifts your axis.” He straightened up and picked up a carving knife to slice the meat. “One day I took a camera with me. There’d been so many times that I wanted to capture a moment, a feeling I had when I was running. Photography was a way to do that. I’m on Tumblr and Twitter, and a few weeks after my posts started going viral, I was contacted by a journalist at the New Yorker who wanted to do a piece on me. That was my break.”
“I love that, and I’m not surprised at all. Your work is brilliant,” I said with a smile and picked up my drink. “Highest fall?”
He laughed as he plated the meat. “Probably twenty feet, more or less, off a catwalk.”
“Yeah, I’m lucky I lived. I broke my leg in three places though, had to have surgery and get pins put in. You?”
“Close to the same. I underestimated a jump, but I caught a ladder that slowed me down enough not to kill me. Pulled my arm out of socket, though.”
He sucked in a breath with a hiss as he handed me the tray of meat. “Fuck, that hurts.”
I shrugged and took it, moving for the table. “Only until you pop it back in.”
He laughed and reached into the other oven for and reached behind him into the other oven for a casserole of what looked like wild rice and broccoli. We sat down at the small table. “Worst injury?”
“Hmm.” I didn’t even need a knife to cut the meat, it was so tender. I moaned the second it hit my mouth. “My god, this is amazing.”
“Thanks,” he said and popped a bite into his mouth.
I swallowed the morsel of sheer heaven and thought a second longer. “Trick gone bad. I vaulted over a short wall and flipped, but I landed wrong. Slipped on the gravel and fell twelve feet or so, landed flat on my back. I opened my eyes and couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move my arms or legs. I thought I was paralyzed.”
His fork hung in his hand with a sliver of pork on it. “Jesus.”
I kept going. “Bloodiest was a shin rip. I seriously thought it was never going to stop bleeding. It was so nasty, you could see the bone in a strip. I ripped it almost from ankle to knee.”
He squirmed, laughing. “My bloodiest was a rip in my hand.” He held it up to display a diagonal scar that ran across his entire palm. “You could see the muscles inside. I passed out.”
I laughed. “We should win some sort of award for amazing dinner conversation.”
Van took the idle bite he’d forgotten, and for a moment, we ate in content silence, though my mind was working over a single question. It was simple enough, but I couldn’t understand why someone so accomplished, someone who knew what he wanted would go so far out of his way for me when he could have just about anyone. Based on the fact that I fucked him and ran, he shouldn’t want anything to do with me, but somehow he did, and I wanted to know why.
I worked up the nerve to ask, the nerve to hear his answer, and when I was ready, I set my fork down and spilled it.
“What do you want from me?”
The question seemed to throw him, and he swallowed the food in his mouth, taking a second before responding. “I don’t really have any expectations. I just know that meeting you was a singular event in my life. Chasing you, watching you … I don’t know. Every jump you made, every step you took was powered by absolute certainty, and I wanted to know you. I couldn’t walk away.” He shook his head. “I don’t even know if this makes any sense.”
“It does,” I said softly. It was too much, but I couldn’t move, just watched him across the table.
He kept talking with a look on his face like he was trying to figure it out himself. “I really did just want to talk to you that night. I didn’t expect to hook up, but I didn’t expect you to run either. The minute I turned around and you were gone, I knew I had to find you. I couldn’t leave it alone. I laid in bed that night and stared at my ceiling, wondering who you were, why you would ask a stranger to fuck you on a rooftop.”
I pursed my lips and looked down at my plate, shocked.
“I don’t mean it like that.” He touched my hand on the table. “I just mean I wanted to understand why you would want that.”
It was an honest question, I knew. I met his eyes and gave him the truth. “You asked me what I was running from. That question has a million answers and none. I know you meant why I was running from you, but it felt like you were asking me … more.” I shifted in my seat and redirected my words, not wanting to give him any more than I had to. “On top of your accidental existential question, my adrenaline was raging, and I don’t know if you know this, but you’re what the ladies refer to as ‘eye candy.’” I made air quotes with my fingers.
He laughed, the mood instantly a little lighter, a little less intense. “Yeah, seeing you in the daylight didn’t help me get over the obsession. If you on the rooftop wasn’t one of the hottest things I’d ever seen, hearing you say my name was, knowing what I knew about your body when you didn’t even know who I was. But to answer your question, I just want this from you. A little bit of your time. To hear you say my name a few more times.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. “Van.” I leaned across the table.
“Again.” He met me half way, touched my cheek, slipped his fingers into my hair.
My chest ached as his lips hovered over mine. “Van,” I whispered.
His lips crashed into mine, fevered and fast. I didn’t know when he stood, only that he was suddenly kneeling in front of me. Our hands were all over each other as I wrapped myself around him, and he stood, taking me with him, carrying me through the living room with his hands on my ass. I pulled away, and we panted, staring at each other’s mouths.
His arms snaked around me, his hands up my back in a split second as he pulled me into his body, our lips finding each other again, and I flexed my legs around his waist. He didn’t need any more permission than that to carry me to his dark bedroom.
I didn’t let go when he laid me down, bringing him down with me. My hands flew to the hem of his shirt and underneath, up the ridges of his abs. He pulled away and reached back, grabbed his shirt, and yanked it off as I scrambled out of mine, then out of my jeans. I moved up the bed, chest heaving while I watched him drop his pants, exposing his ass, his perfect ass, not to be contained by such earthly things as underwear. He turned to me, but my eyes were on his cock. My entire body tightened at the sight.
He climbed up my body, kissing up my thigh, pausing to suck my clit through my panties. I twisted my fingers in his hair.
“Van,” I breathed, and he moaned against me. The vibration sent a tremor down my thighs.
He broke away and climbed over me with his eyes scanning my body, stopping to pull my lacy camisole bra down, exposing my breasts. He ran his hand over one reverently, stroking the curve before he grabbed it tight as he pressed his cock against me.
My neck arched, hips flexing to run my body up and down his length.
He didn’t wait to reach into his nightstand, coming back with a condom. My hips were wild. I couldn’t keep still, just writhed on the bed. The aching between my legs was too much, and my hand found its way between my legs. I watched him roll on the condom as he watched my finger circle my clit.
“Goddammit.” He bent over me, propping himself as his free hand slid my panties over.
“Oh, God. Yes.” I said when he touched my pussy, running the pad of his finger up and down my wet slit as my eyes rolled back in my head.
“Hold on to something,” he growled.
I reached for the headboard just as he slipped the tip of his cock in and flexed his hips, stretching and filling me in a single motion.
“Fuck,” we both whispered at the same time and let out a breathy, satisfied laughs.
He grabbed my hips and raised me up, putting me at an angle, and I held on with my shoulders pressed into the bed. He pulled out and slammed in, and a moan passed my lips. My walls were tight around him, my heart jackhammering as he slammed in again, grinding against my clit with each flex of his hips.
My mouth hung open, my eyes half shut as I looked up the line of my body at Van holding my thighs around his waist. My gaze locked on the seam where our bodies met, my lip between my teeth at the sight of my panties pulled to the side of his cock.
His lids were heavy as he drove into me, each thrust holding more purpose than the one before. It was so good, too soon, and I held on and closed my eyes, wanting to draw it out, make it last. My fingers tightened around the headboard, my body tight as a coil as I tried to hold back.
“Let go, Cory.”
It was the first time he’d said my name, and the second it passed his lips, a fire shot through my body, through my mind. Everything exploded, and I came with a cry. I knew he was talking about my orgasm. I knew that. But that’s not what I heard.
He was right behind me, his fingers digging into my thighs as he came, but I was barely able to comprehend what was happening, my body exhausted as I tried to make sense of a single thing in the universe and came up short.
Van lowered me onto the bed and collapsed on top of me. My heavy arms wrapped around him, and we held each other with shaking breaths and bodies.
I was so sated, so relaxed that I think I fell asleep for a second, my eyes opening slowly when he shifted on top of me. His hand found the bend in my neck, his thumb shifting slowly as he nuzzled into my hair. I turned to his face, and he tilted his chin to kiss me.
It was different from any kiss he’d given me before, soft and slow, the urgency burned away to leave only tenderness, edging on worship. Fear snaked through my chest, and I pulled away, smiling to cover it.
“Too tired to run?” I asked.
“Never.” He nipped at my lip and rolled off of me to head to the bathroom.
I peeled myself off the bed and looked around stupidly for my clothes, blushing when I realized my bra was still pulled down.
Get a grip,
I thought as I righted my tits. I ditched my panties and looked around for my jeans, finding them half under an armchair across the room. I didn’t remember throwing them
Van chuckled from behind me. “Wow.”
“I know,” I laughed and pulled them on.
He wet his lips as he watched, folding his arms across his bare chest, his gray sweats hanging low on his hips. “It’s gonna be hard to run with you knowing you’ve got nothing on under your jeans.”
“Guess you’ll be motivated to keep up with me, then.” I shoved him in the arm when I walked past, but he grabbed me and pulled me against his chest, his skin hot to the touch.
“I don’t remember having to try too hard,” he said softly, his lips inches from mine, and instantly, I wanted him again.
“You better watch it or we’ll never leave.”
His lips brushed against mine, but he didn’t kiss me. “I’m okay with that.”
I only had to shift by a degree to connect our lips, and with his hand in my hair and another in the small of my back, we kissed deep, finding an easy rhythm. After a moment, I brought my lips together and leaned back to look up at him.
“Let’s run,” I said. “We have all night, if you’ll have me.”
“I’ll take all night, and I’m going to keep you.”
I closed my eyes and kissed him again with a cold ache in my chest. He didn’t even know me, and if he knew the truth about who I was, he’d never want me.
But you can’t keep him.
I broke away and turned to look for my shirt, not wanting to meet his eyes. “Come on, Sullivan. I want to see what you’ve really got. Get ready to impress me.”
He laughed and pulled on a tight tank, then sat on the end of his bed to slip on running shoes before standing and grabbing his slouchy beanie. The level of hot he achieved was effortless.
“You gonna be good in jeans and boots?”
I pulled the denim on my thigh and let it go. It popped back into place with a snap. “High Lycra content. And I’ve run in those boots more times than I can count.”
“All right. Let’s hit it.”
I followed him through his living room, and my eyes found the painting, reminding me what had brought me there. I split off and stopped in front of it. It was nearly as tall as I was with display lights shining down on it from the ceiling.
“This looks like a Rothko.”
Van stopped and walked back to me. “That’s because it is.”
My heart sank with the realization I’d been hoping it was fake or copycat. “These are worth millions, Van.”
He stepped behind me, so close that I could feel him, even though he didn’t touch me. “My accountant called it an investment, but I just saw it as an excuse to own a Rothko. I don’t know what it is about his paintings, exactly. It’s not complicated, shows no great artistic skill, at least not to most people. But the skill is in how it makes you feel. When I look at this, I know what Rothko felt when he painted it. Like he somehow put a piece of himself into this, his pain and joy, and it’s made him immortal.”
Everything I felt washed over me like black water. I tried to tamp down my emotions before I was swept away, but there was nothing to hold on to. I took a deep breath.
He kissed my hair and grabbed my hand. “Come on.” He towed me out the front door, carefree and easy, and I was grateful to be behind him where he couldn’t see my face while I struggled to keep it together.
I followed him to the stairwell, and he glanced back at me, flashing a smile before he took off running up the stairs. I mimicked as he vaulted over the handrail at each turn, taking the steps two at a time until we broke out onto the roof. He didn’t stop, just ran for the end of the building and jumped, disappearing over the edge.