Authors: Helena Newbury
I gave a howl of rage, grabbed a pain au chocolat and stalked out of the room. I didn’t stop until I was in Bartholomew. It took me a long time to get my breath back—far longer than it should have. What the hell was wrong for me? The idiot drove me crazy and yet…there was something else as well. A friction. The more we clashed together, the more the tension increased.
I thought. For a second. Then,
No—Jesus, no. Definitely no. Not him. No way.
I tried to analyze what I felt, staring towards Darrell’s mansion as I waited for Natasha to come out.
attraction. I mean, sure, he had big muscles and he was good looking if you liked them big and brutish and a bit rough around the edges—which I didn’t—but he definitely wasn’t my type.
Had it been fear I felt? I’d been scared. But scared in a way I’d never been before. Scared wasn’t even quite the right word for it.
Not that, either.
It had felt dark and primal and somehow…instinctual. Like he’d been one thing—like the positive pole of a magnet—and I’d been the other—the negative end. Like we fitted together, even though all we seemed to do was yell at each other. Like the yelling was what we were meant to be doing. Like I was
to get him angrier and angrier. As if I was wanting not that, but what would come next.
I squirmed in my seat and wished Natasha would hurry up. Because even though I didn’t understand it yet, something was forming in my mind and the shape of it was unsettling.
When Natasha finally arrived, I sped us out of there in a hail of gravel and peppered her with a thousand questions about what happened down in the basement. But I couldn’t stop thinking about Neil and how he made me feel, and the worrying direction those feelings were going in before I stalked out.
What would have come next, if I’d kept baiting him? What was all that tension building to?
It was pretty simple, really, and my knuckles whitened on the steering wheel when I worked it out.
I swore I wouldn’t go back there. And yet the next day, when Natasha went to dance for Darrell again, I insisted on driving her. I told her I was coming along to protect her, and neither of us bought it. She’d told me, by then, that he’d kissed her, and I couldn’t help but feel that she was rushing headlong into this thing. I wanted to protect her, but at the same time I didn’t want to deny her a rare moment of pleasure—maybe even a shot at happiness.
I was wearing a short DKNY dress and I spent an extra half hour doing my make-up. I told myself that didn’t mean anything.
Maybe he won’t even be there.
He was. I knew as soon as I saw the Harley parked outside the mansion, but I still made a big show of exasperation when I found him waiting for me in the kitchen, along with more coffee and a bigger basket of pastries than before. He did the same, letting Darrell and Natasha think we hated each other. But it felt like neither of us could wait for the others to leave.
Even when Natasha had gone downstairs to dance—or whatever—for Mr. Moneybags, Neil and I just stayed standing in the kitchen. Neither of us drank any coffee or ate any pastries. We just studied each other.
This time it was different. He knew who I was and I knew who he was…but that wasn’t it. We were both aware of something that formed between us the day before. We could feel it, thick in the air between us, connecting us as surely as if we were handcuffed together. Not just between us, either—
us. I could feel it swirling around my brain, as if I’d just knocked back three double vodkas. Except my senses weren’t dulled—everything was dialed up to eleven.
I figured that if I looked at him—
looked—maybe I could figure out what it was that made me go all weird when I was around him. Was it just the bad boy charm? Because he did that very well, with his big black biker boots and the tattoo that seemed to cover most of one arm. The long, sandy-blond hair made him look very wild, too. If you took his clothes off…
If you took his clothes off and replaced it with fur boots and leather armor, and stuck an axe in his hand, you’d have a good approximation of a Viking. Those pale blue eyes were all big open skies and cold, stony cliffs. Harsh. Unforgiving. And yet strong and solid and somehow very permanent. You know how some guys are kind of flighty—all twitches and nervous glances? Neil was the opposite of flighty.
The size helped. I’d worn my highest heels, but I was still a good head shorter than him, and he was wide—huge shoulders and thickly-muscled legs, the black denim stretched tight over his bulging quads. His biceps stretched out the arms of his t-shirt and they had that natural, honed look to them—like he got them from fist fights and hauling on handlebars, not from pumping iron in the gym. He didn’t look like the sort of guy who went to the gym.
The t-shirt was tight enough that I could see the broad swell of his pecs—wide slabs of muscle that a girl could sleep very comfortably resting her head on. I couldn’t tell much about his abs but there was certainly no belly hiding under the fabric. The goatee…I wasn’t sure about that. It was too low to tickle, when we kissed, but wouldn’t it still feel—
Wait, what?! Kissed?!
I flushed for—as far as he was concerned—no reason whatsoever. I was most definitely
going to kiss this guy. Not even if you hosed him off, cut his hair and dressed him in Armani.
I sat down at the table, trying to ignore him. The magazines had been changed and this time the selection included a science journal, presumably for Neil. He didn’t pay it any attention. As I picked up a fashion magazine and started skimming, turning the pages too quickly to really process them, I could feel his eyes on me.
“Stop staring at me,” I told him.
“I’m not starin’. I’m lookin’.” That deep, deep voice, like something made by the earth itself. If there were giants made of solid rock, that was how they’d speak.
“Well, don’t. If we have to wait here together then so be it.” I decided to embarrass him into submission. I’d done it plenty of times before with guys in bars. “But I don’t need you standing there trying to imagine what color panties I have on.”
“If that dress was any shorter,” he told me, “I wouldn’t have to imagine.”
It hit me like a dunking in ice water. Neil wasn’t like those guys in bars, who scampered away as soon as they were caught in the act. He was a different breed, unashamed and unapologetic.
Also, those guys I stunned into silence in bars? They were creeps. Neil wasn’t a creep. Big, infuriating and possibly dangerous, but definitely not a creep.
In response I sighed and shook my head, feeling a flush rise in my cheeks. I was out of my depth. So far out of my depth I didn’t know if there even
a bottom anymore.
Neil walked closer, every step accompanied by the rattle of metal on his boots. I swore the ground shook.
“I’m not interested in you,” I said, as much to convince myself as him. “You’re wasting your time.”
He stopped, maybe a foot behind me. I could feel the heat rolling off him. The air in the room turned to treacle, everything—even our words—slow and heavy. My heart was crashing in my chest, thumping against my ribs like a caged animal. “What makes you think I’d be interested in a spoiled little rich girl?” he asked.
My whole body went rigid with anger and I had to force the words out past lips that were just a tight little ‘O’. “What makes you think I’d be interested in a loser, drop-out biker?”
He grabbed my chair and spun it around to face him; the ease with which he did it made me gasp. Suddenly, I was staring up into his eyes. I leapt to my feet but he still loomed over me, his size sending a deep shock down the length of my spine. We stood there staring at each other for a few seconds, panting, eyes gleaming with rage.
“I’m not a loser,” he said. “And someone oughta teach you a lesson.”
The treacle-like air solidified completely. Time stopped. Everything, that afternoon and the day before, had led up to that moment.
In a tight, breathy voice that didn’t sound like my own, I said, “Well, why don’t you, then?”
And then time unfroze and suddenly everything moved very, very fast.
He lunged for me and strong lips came down on mine. My eyes were half-closed before he even got there and I felt his hands close around my waist, so big they felt like they were almost going to surround it. I was lifted, and while I was still in mid air his tongue pushed between lips that I didn’t even realize I’d opened. Suddenly my whole perception shifted
I’ve never thought of myself as a really girly girl—not like Nat or Jasmine. I’m hard-headed.
even. But suddenly, that was all gone. Suddenly, my lips, my mouth, my whole body felt nothing but soft and silky and fragile and it was because
was there, throwing everything into stark relief. He was the most
man I’d ever experienced, raw and demanding and wild, like hard liquor when all you’ve ever known is wine. Jesus, I felt myself going limp in his arms as his tongue invaded me. I felt like I was going to swoon, and that wasn’t like me—that wasn’t me at all.
My ass hit the table and he pushed me back, back…. I felt hot flesh through tight denim, up against my thighs. He was between my legs, and the dress was so short it might as well not have been there—he was already pretty much grinding against my panties. The hot, urgent ache that had been developing there ever since I first saw him was screaming for relief and I actually inched forward on the table to push against him harder. My hands came up and searched for his arms, his shoulders, wanting to touch him. He was all smooth skin dusted with soft, golden hair and, beneath that, hard slabs of muscle and the raised texture of his veins. God, the feel of him was intoxicating. I wanted to go on touching him forever.
He pushed me all the way back, my hair cushioning my head against the table. We were kissing fast and hard, our mouths breaking apart every few seconds to gasp for air but never closing. It hit me that I was kissing him just as hard as he was kissing me, and as his chest rubbed mine I arched my back to thrust my breasts up against him.
I was out of control.
His mouth moved to my neck, hot and savage on the soft skin, and I thrashed on the table, knocking against something heavy. A clang of metal as something fell over and then the glug of liquid, but I paid it no attention.
My dress had a high neckline to balance out the short skirt, and his hands bunched the fabric and dragged it down, exposing the tops of my breasts. Every touch of his lips there left me burning—it was as if he was scorching holes in my skin to release the pleasure inside. I wanted him to kiss me everywhere, until I dissolved completely.
One hand slid up my body and every inch it glided over tingled in its wake. It was as if I’d been in a coma and was coming back to life. I should have been freaking out that a virtual stranger was about to touch my boob, but it was all I could do to stop myself grabbing his hand and pulling it there myself. I wanted him to touch me there. No, more than that. I wanted him to squeeze and rub and fondle and be rough with me. I wanted to be
by this guy. What the hell was wrong with me?
And then his other hand was sliding up my inner thigh, the edges of his fingers grazing my panties, and all conscious thought pretty much stopped. My arms flailed over my head and I was dimly aware of hitting something, and then a crash, but the whole time we never stopped kissing and I was getting steadily drunk on him, taking his soul down into me in big, hungry gulps.
A door slammed and I heard feet walking away on gravel. Two sets of feet. Darrell, seeing Natasha out. Shit! Did they just walk past?
I sat up, gasping for air as we finally stopped kissing. He was staring at me and his eyes were like nothing I’d ever seen. They were smoldering with lust…for me. I never did that to a man before.
I looked around.
One of the catering pots of coffee was on its side and coffee was glugging out of it and across the table—I’d missed getting burned by about three inches. A steaming waterfall was cascading off the side and adding to the lake that had already formed on the floor. The crash I’d heard was a mug hitting the tiles and splintering across them. Pastries were scattered around us. When I checked my back, my once white dress had half of the New York Times front page imprinted on it, where our body heat had released the ink as we rolled around.
And I didn’t care about any of it. I just wanted to be with him.
“Go,” he said. “I’ll clear up.”
As my breathing slowed, I grudgingly realized he was right. There were about a thousand things I wanted to say, but if Natasha got tired of waiting and came to investigate, the mess would be hard to explain. And I wasn’t ready to admit to her what had just happened. I wasn’t sure I even
what had just happened.