Losing My Balance (Fenbrook Academy #1.5) (12 page)

BOOK: Losing My Balance (Fenbrook Academy #1.5)
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And what
did
we have? Every time I looked at him on the bed, a dark, pulsing energy snaked through me. I couldn’t deny how he made me feel—no one had ever made me feel that way before and it was so strong it was frightening. And there was something else, too. Something deeper that I couldn’t give a name to, the first tiny shoots of what might grow into something great.

Then the common-sense part of my brain—the one that had carried me through my entire life so far—kicked in. This whole thing was ridiculous. He clearly wasn’t right for me. He was lying there telling me that he’d never be able to give me what I wanted—besides which, we were from two different worlds, opposites in just about every way. Even if I
did
get him to offer more than just sex, what sort of future did we really have—a ballerina and a biker?

I was enjoying the sex—hell, I was
loving
the sex. But every time we did more, with the knowledge that sex was all it was ever going to be, I felt guiltier. Eventually, I knew, the guilt would overpower the lust and then it would all come crashing down. The sooner I ended this, the less it would hurt.

And then, as we sat there in silence, I heard Nat through the wall. She’d stopped pedaling and she was talking—to Darrell. Her voice was full of pain, but I could hear the hope there, too.

If the two of them could figure things out, even with all of Nat’s issues, shouldn’t I at least give this a chance? Maybe, if we stayed together, I could get him to show me the real him.

It was worth a shot.

I climbed onto the bed alongside Neil and he put his arm around me. I nestled in closer and he pulled his arm a little tighter. It felt good, like he wanted to protect me. But it couldn’t be that, right? He wanted one thing and one thing only—he’d openly admitted that.

We drifted off to sleep like that—snuggled up close, but as distant as ever.

 

***

 

The next morning, he was gone. It wasn’t the fact he didn’t leave a note that hurt me. It was that, for the sort of thing we had going, that was normal, and nothing to be upset about. He was just sticking to the rules, keeping it about sex.

Nat filled me in on her phone call with Darrell. They’d patched things up and she’d agreed to go to some garden party at his place that afternoon.

“Please?”
she asked, her eyes huge. “Just come along in case things don’t go well. I think this is make or break—you know?”

My heart melted. I did know—all too well. “Sure,” I told her. I’d probably be the lone singleton there, of course, but what the hell.

Unless….

I called Neil. He took a while to answer and, when he did, I could hear traffic rushing past. He was riding, I realized, and had pulled over to take the call. “Yeah?”

I bit my lip and told him about the party.

“Seriously?” I could hear the smile in his voice. “You think I’d fit in at one of Darrell’s parties? It’s dudes in jackets and twigs in dresses.”

“I think you’d look pretty amazing in a jacket,” I told him. I was sitting on my bed, and my free hand was playing with the edge of the comforter, nervously twisting it between my fingers. If he agreed to go, didn’t that mean something? Didn’t that mean he was willing to change, a little, for me? “I could help you find something to wear, if—”

“I
got
somethin’ to wear,” he growled. “I just don’t wear it here.”

Here?
I frowned. Where was it that Neil went, when he went out of town on business? And what was he doing, that he needed to put on smart clothes?

He went quiet, as if he’d slipped up. Then, “I don’t know. It ain’t really my thing—you know?”

“Yes. Sorry.” I heard the tightness in my voice and fought to control it. “It’s fine. No problem. Just an idea. I’ll catch you another time.” And I hung up.

Catch you another time.
That was what I had to look forward to. Booty calls and casual meets and never anything more than sex. What the hell was I doing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 13

 

Clarissa

 

A few hours later, we were standing outside our apartment, watching the cab we’d called crawl towards us through slow-moving traffic. Natasha looked amazing—I’d lent her a sundress that looked better on her, with her slightly bigger boobs, than it ever did on me. I’d gone for a light, floaty thing that showed off a little leg but was otherwise—hopefully—demure enough for a garden party.

The cab finally pulled up and we got into the back seat. “Just the two of you?” the cabbie asked.

“Yep,” I said bravely. “Let’s go.”

At that moment, there was a heavy thud on the roof. Neil kept his hand there long enough to make sure that the cabbie had seen him, and then squatted down to look in through the rear window. “Room for one more?” he asked in a rumble.

He was wearing what looked to be an expensive fawn blazer that set off his long blond hair. He’d swapped his black jeans for smart blue ones the color of a summer night sky, and his biker boots for shining black shoes. I have a good eye for clothes, and his outfit must have cost at least a thousand bucks.

In answer, I opened the door for him. As he squeezed onto the seat next to me, his eyes never left me for a second. He looked troubled…and proud. I leaned close and softly kissed his cheek.

“Thank you,” I said seriously and he nodded.

He’d stepped out onto a tightrope. Now I had to try to take the next step towards him, without sending both of us plunging to our doom.

 

***

 

The party was everything you’d expect from a millionaire. A string quartet, waiters with trays of champagne, canapés and guests with a
lot
of money. I hung around Clarissa and Neil long enough to check they were okay, then slowly moved Neil away. I wanted us to have some time alone together.

Moving through the crowd with his arm around my waist sent a little flutter through me. For the first time, it was like we were on a date—like we were actually a couple. With his size and presence, he cruised through the other guests like an icebreaker.

A woman suddenly put her hand on Neil’s arm. “Neil! How
glorious
to see you at one of these things.” Her voice dripped syrupy poison. I had an immediate aversion to her, and not just because she was touching him. It was instinctual, like shying away from a black widow.

“Carol,” said Neil. Just one word, but it was encased in a tomb of ice.

My mind was whirling. Was she an ex? She didn’t look like one of the society girls circling Darrell—too old, although she was impeccably dressed. And her accent was upper-class British. When Neil made no move to introduce me, I stepped forward. “Hi,” I said. “Clarissa.”

She air-kissed me, full of fake delight. “He’s
so
rude,” she said, glancing at Neil. “Don’t you think?”

She’d neatly trapped me. I had to side with her and poke fun at Neil, or side with Neil and annoy her. Easy choice. I pulled myself closer to Neil. “Only around people he doesn’t like.”

Carol’s smile tightened, while Neil’s arm muscles relaxed just a little under my grip. We were a team.

“And are the two of you…together?” she asked me. “Has someone finally tamed the wild man?”

I smiled up at Neil, waiting for him to say
yes.

He kept quiet. I could feel my face going red.

“Oh,” said Carol, victorious. “Like that, is it?”

“Maybe I don’t want him
tamed,
” I told her, my voice weak.

She leaned close. “You keep on kidding yourself, sweetie.” And she swept away into the crowd.

I stared after her because I didn’t trust myself to look at Neil. Then I let go of his arm and stalked off to get myself another glass of champagne. He caught up with me a few seconds later and stood behind me in silence.

“Would it have killed you?” I asked quietly.

I heard him take a deep breath. “If I’d said we were together—” He sighed. “I was just tryin’ to keep it simple.”

I nodded. I didn’t know whether to be angry at him for telling the truth or angry at myself for expecting him to lie.
I stuck up for you when she insulted you,
I thought, but that seemed childish.

He moved closer, bending down so that his mouth was at my ear. I tensed, because I thought he was going to growl something about wanting to fuck me against a wall or something.

Instead, he whispered, “I’m sorry. These people…kinda set me on edge.”

I turned around to him and saw the frustration in his eyes—his anger at himself. I realized then how uncomfortable he was. It was more my world than his—true, Darrell’s friends were far wealthier than anyone I’d known back in Boston, but the types were familiar. I recognized the too-slender-to-be-healthy, botoxed society girls circling around Darrell and staring cattily at Nat. I recognized the old, plump guys there with their trophy wives. It was all familiar, just turned up a notch.

To Neil, though it must have been like walking through a den of wolves. For all his expensive clothes, he was still a big guy with long hair and a goatee—he stood out a mile. And for all his swagger, I could see it bothered him. The rich are very, very good at making anyone who doesn’t belong feel unwelcome. I know, because, shamefully, I’d been on the other side back in Boston. He was going through all that
for me.
I squeezed his arm and we exchanged a look.

“It’s like I said,” he growled. “Dudes in suits and twigs in dresses. At least you fit in.”

“You’re saying I’m a
twig?”

He looked at me seriously for a second. “I’m sayin’ you’re hot.”


You’re
hot. You look good dressed up.”

He held my gaze and I felt it, deep inside me—that hot, dark throb that never really ceased when he was around, just slowed its rhythm.

“This place has ten bedrooms,” Neil said. “More bathrooms than anybody needs. And a hot tub, out back.”

“He’s a millionaire. He’s probably got a dungeon hidden away somewhere. Like in that book.”

Neil pulled me closer. “Want to go look?”

The pulsing energy inside me sped up. “Sure,” I said, a little breathless. “Yeah. Let’s go look for it.”

“Upstairs.”

“Yeah. Upstairs.” I nodded frantically. “Upstairs is definitely where a hidden dungeon would be.”

We made for the stairs, hand in hand. We were almost running by the time we got to the top.

 

***

 

We crashed through the door into a bedroom, not even bothering to close it behind us. My hands were fumbling with the belt of his jeans as he tugged my dress down over my shoulders, baring my breasts. His mouth was on them immediately, tongue hot on my nipples.

There was a bureau with a large mirror above it. He pushed me up against it and I caught myself on the edge, bracing my hands. He nipped and licked at my neck as he finished undoing his belt and shoved his jeans and shorts down his legs. In the mirror, I saw his hard length spring free. He gathered up my dress, hauling it above my hips, and then I felt his hand on my panties, and the loud rip of fabric giving way.

It was too fast. I shouldn’t have been ready, but the truth was I’d been getting wet since that look had passed between us downstairs. I’d known exactly what was going to happen and the thought of it had made even the short dash upstairs take an age.

He pushed lightly on my shoulder and I bent forward, legs straightening, stepping my feet apart. I watched him in the mirror as he rolled on a condom, and then he was moving towards me and—

God,
the silken rush of him as he moved into me, hands coming down to cup my breasts. I clung onto the bureau as he began to move, gentle at first but urgent with need, and as soon as I started to grind back against him he thrust faster, faster, hard fingers squeezing at my breasts. I kept my eyes open, staring into the glass, watching him. I’d never been able to see him so clearly before, focus so entirely on how he looked as he took me. He looked…
wild.
Almost out of control, driven crazy—by
me.
The thought made me groan, the pleasure he was giving me doubling, trebling. I’d been right, when I’d said to Carol I wanted him untamed. I wanted him just like this, always.

He was grunting as he pumped his hips into me, I was moaning and the whole bureau was shaking. The door was still half-open—someone was sure to hear us, if this lasted more than a few minutes. But we both knew it wouldn’t. This wasn’t a tender show of love—it was about both of our needs and, more than that, about re-establishing how damn good we were together.
Screw Carol and relationships and norms,
I thought.
This, right here—this works.

He was in me all the way, fast and almost brutal, my body tight around him. My eyes fluttered closed as I neared my peak, toes curling in my shoes, fingers grabbing at the wood of the bureau and then, just as I heard him growl, my eyes flew open. I wanted to see him. I wanted to see how he looked when he came.

BOOK: Losing My Balance (Fenbrook Academy #1.5)
8.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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