Authors: Adrianne Byrd
good,” Isabella whispered, turning toward her husband.
Charlie had forgotten about their audience.
Derrick nodded and proceeded to pull his wife away. “Let me get you out of here before you fall under his spell and I have to fight for you all over again.”
Taariq and Hylan also didn't linger for a brick wall to fall on their heads. They quickly turned their attention to a couple of other women floating by.
Gisella looked stunned at how fast everyone disappeared and left her alone with a man with predatory eyes and a wolfish smile. Maybe she should grab one of the white napkins from the table and wave it as a flag of surrender.
“I'm glad Isabella told you to come. I like making new friends.” Charlie couldn't stop his gaze from roaming again. By his shrewd calculations, her measurements were a perfect 36-24-36. Lord, this was shaping up to be one hell of a birthday.
“Interesting party favors.”
“Huh?” Charlie followed her line of vision to the condoms draped around his neck. “Oh. Well. You want one?”
Gisella blinked and took a step back.
didn't come out right.” He laughed.
Gisella took another precautionary step back. The man looked as if he was going to devour her right there in front of everyone. “Well, like I said. I'm just trying to drum up new business,” she said, trying to swallow her nervous tremor.
“You're not going to have a problem with that once everyone tastes this wonderful creation. How long have you been baking?”
Her smile brightened again. “All my life. My
still run a shop in Paris.”
Gisella's accent enraptured Charlie.
A woman to their right emitted a low moan of orgasmic pleasure. “Oh, my God, this cake is off the chain.” The woman turned to her companion. “Here, taste this.”
Gisella's cheeks blushed a rich sienna. “I love baking and cooking. Food is life, no?”
Charlie just smiled. “Have you ever heard that the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach?”
Eyes twinkling, Gisella's lips turned up into a sly smile. “If I wanted your heart, I would just take it.”
Charlie cocked his head with a bemused grin, but when he opened his mouth for a quick retort, a pair of hands slipped over his eyes.
“Guess who.” A high-pitched feminine voice floated over the shell of Charlie's ear while a small set of breasts pressed into his back.
. He controlled his irritation while he forced a smile. “Let me see now,” he said, wondering how to get out of a potentially sticky situation. “Could this possibly be my favorite woman in the whole wide world?”
“And who would that be?” the woman asked with attitude edging her voice.
Charlie reached to uncover his eyes. “Dear ole Mom, of course,” he answered, pulling away the small hands and turning around with his ready-made smile still hugging his lips.
“Hey, you.” He still didn't know the name of the smiling beauty, with a short spiked haircut and eyes the color of maple, but he was determined not to go down in flames. “You came!”
The woman's face lit up with pleasure. “I wouldn't have missed your birthday for the world.” She inched closer and lowered her voice in a conspiratorial whisper. “Especially after that wonderful weekend last month.”
Charlie was still clueless to the woman's identity. After all, that was four weekends ago, and he was never without company on any of them.
“Well, I'm glad you made it,” he whispered. His mind scrambled for a way to get rid of her so that he could get back to Gisella.
“I hope you're saving one of those for me,” she cooed, pulling one sleeve of condoms from around his neck. “In factâ” she leaned in close “âwhy don't we slip away upstairs and I give you your birthday gift?” She grinded her hips against his to ensure he caught her meaning.
Charlie's brows jumped at the suggestion. “Why don't you meet me up there in about twenty minutes? I gotta say hi to a few more people first.”
The beauty sucked in her bottom lip and gave him a wink. “Don't leave me waiting too long.” Still holding the sleeve of condoms, she turned and switched her hips as she moved through the crowd.
Charlie sighed and then turned back to address Gisella.
She was gone.
Glancing around the perimeter of the room, Charlie's heart pounded in double-time. He moved through the crowd, searching.
“How about a dance?” a new woman asked, looping her arms around Charlie's neck.
“Not right now.” He tried to pry the woman's arms away but she locked her hands together and kept him ensnared between her arms. “I'm looking for someone,” he confessed.
“Another woman?” she asked, inching up an eyebrow.
Charlie glanced down and recognized Lexiâanother fling from last month. “Oh, hey.” He changed up his program. “How are you? I've been meaning to call.”
“I just bet you have,” she said, smiling though her tone held a lethal edge. “I should have listened to my girlfriends and stayed away from you.”
Charlie's lips curled wickedly. “Then why didn't you?”
Lexi hesitated and then allowed her eyes to roam down the front of his body. “Because I wanted to see whether you'd live up to your reputation.”
He arched an eyebrow, his ego expanding. “How did I do?”
She flashed him an incredibly white smile. “You're a cocky sonofabitch.”
is what makes me so adorable.”
“One of these daysâ¦”
From the corner of Charlie's eyes he caught sight of Gisella heading toward the door. He finally pulled Lexi's hands from around his neck and winked at her. “Hold on a second.”
“Yeah. Right. I won't hold my breath.”
Charlie plowed back into the crowd and tried to maneuver his way to the door. But every few steps another woman would grab him by the arm, the neck and even his crotch to ask why he hadn't called them in such a long time.
At the door, Gisella stopped and kissed Isabella on each cheek and then waved goodbye to her.
“No. Wait,” he called after her, but the loud music swallowed his voice and a throng of women kept pulling at him. By the time he made it to the door and then glanced down the hallway of his Buckhead high-rise, Gisella was long gone.
e's not my type,” Gisella repeated to herself. No matter how many times she made the declaration, a part of her rebelled at the notion. The thought just kept coming to the forefront of her mind how handsome-no-how
Charlie Masters was. From the moment that six-two, golden brown Adonis strolled inside his high-rise apartment, Gisella could hardly take her eyes off of him.
The man exuded confidence and possessed an undeniable sexual prowess that dampened his fair share of panty liners whenever he walked by. And those eyesâplayful hazel greenâthat sparkled if you were fortunate enough to hold his attention.
No wonder every woman in the room was practically drooling and shamelessly throwing themselves at him. It wasn't surprising that he looked as if he was reveling in his element.
From the moment she'd slipped her hand into his, there was a powerful magnetic pull toward him, which was right on course since she had an affinity for bad boys, the very habit that she'd promised herself to break.
With a determined shake of her head, Gisella erased Charlie's image just as she arrived at her car in the high-rise parking garage. “Forget about him,” she mumbled under her breath as she unlocked the car and slid in behind the wheel.
But that was easier said than done. After moving over four thousand miles to get away from the last playa extraordinaire who'd broken her heart, Robert Beauvais, she swore her next man would be the more stable kindâthe marrying kind. When his name and image floated across her head, she couldn't help but roll her eyes. Of all the men she could have fallen for, she had to fall in love with an international male model.
If there was one life lesson learned, it was to never trust a man who's prettier than you are.
Gisella laughed at herself as she pulled out onto the highway and headed toward her half sister's apartment in downtown Atlanta. The distance wasn't too far, but with so many one-way roads, it was easy for her to keep getting turned around.
By the time she made it to Anna's place, it was beyond late, and her sister had already gone to bed for the night. It was just as well because the last thing she wanted to do was play Twenty Questions.
Since Gisella's move to America, Anna had taken her role as protector a bit too seriously. Gisella suspected it had a lot to do with Anna's obsession with police shows and forensic files. For her, trouble lurked around every corner, especially if there was a man involved. Where Gisella had one ugly breakup, Anna had a string of them.
Despite being beautiful, men had lied to, stolen from, beaten up and slept around on Anna. You name it, she had been through it, and when Gisella called her crying about Robert's infidelity, Anna convinced her to leave France and start over with a new life in Atlanta.
Nine months later, Gisella wasn't exactly sorry she'd made the move, but she realized that she had underestimated just how broken and bitter her sister really was. Once a month, Anna and a handful of her college girlfriends would host the Lonely Hearts Club. It was supposed to be a book club, but its real function was for the women to get together and gripe about men.
At first Gisella welcomed the sisterhood meetings as a place to vent over the demise of her engagement, but at what point were these women going to move on?
Gisella used the meetings as the first step in healing.
Anna used the group as a monthly soapbox.
After tiptoeing to her sister's room, Gisella slowly turned the knob and opened the door, then eased her head inside. Under the soft glow of light from the nightstand table, Gisella found Anna's sleeping form curled up on her side with a thick book next to her. Smiling, Gisella eased into the room and made it over to the bed to gently remove her sister's reading glasses from her face.
Anna moaned and stirred, but she didn't wake. “Good night, big sis,” Gisella whispered, leaning down and placing a kiss against her sister's forehead before turning off the light.
Gisella crept to her bedroom and quickly kicked off her heels and slid out of her clothes before heading toward the adjoining bathroom. In the short time it took for her to make it to the shower, Charlie Masters had eased into her thoughts, and a smile had curved its way back onto her lips.
Humph. Humph. Humph. It really should be a crime for a man to be that hot, that fine, that
Without meaning to, Gisella made a few calculations and realized it had been more than a year since she had last experienced the touch of a man. Never mind the whole seduction of kissing andâ¦well, just getting laid.
Sighing as she stood underneath the spray of hot water, Gisella allowed her active imagination to take flight. Still smiling, she pretended Charlie had joined her in the bathroom's billowing steam and that it was his hands instead of the mesh sponge massaging liquid soap across her soft skin.
Gisella moaned and lolled her head back as if giving her imaginary lover full access to her slender neck.
“You taste like strawberries and chocolate,” murmured Fantasy Charlie, nibbling on her ear. His slick hands now roaming around her body and then cupped her full breasts. Instantly, her dusky brown nipples puckered and then throbbed for attention.
Charlie's rich laughter bounced off the bathroom tiles before his head dipped low and took a hardened nipple into his mouth. Despite knowing this whole thing was just a fantasy, Gisella's knees still went weak as the shower's hot droplets substituted for Charlie's mouth and talented tongue.
“Does that feel good, baby?”
She barely managed to croak out a “Yes” while an army of strawberry bubbles roamed and marched toward the springy black vee of curls between her legs. Charlie's fingers followed the sudsy front line and then penetrated her with smooth gentle strokes.
Gisella hiked up one leg onto tub's ledge and gave her fantasy lover better access to her pulsing cherry. There was also no mistaking the change in her breathing. Soon her temperature rose and it had nothing to with the hot cascading water.
Gisella's moans climbed higher and higher. In her ear, Fantasy Charlie kept urging her to,
“Come for me, baby. That's it.”
“Ooooh, yes,” she sighed, her body tingling.
“That's a good girl.”
Toes curling, Gisella's sighs and moans continued while she imagined the feel of Charlie's rock-hard erection pressed against her round bottom.
“You comin' for me?”
“What's my name, baby?”
he asked, his fingers now plunging deep into her core.
“Ch-Charlie.” The moment his name crested her lips, her inner muscles tightened while she buckled against his hand. When her orgasm hit, her imaginary world exploded behind her closed eyelids, and her face was momentarily submerged under the shower's steady stream.
It was at that moment the heat disappeared, Fantasy Charlie vanished along with the shower's rolling steam, and the water turned into stabbing icicles. She jumped back and nearly tripped over the shower mat. Equilibrium restored, Gisella laughed at herself as she rushed to shut off the water.
Once out of the tub, she wrapped a plush towel around her body and made a second one into a turban over her wet hair. Walking back into her bedroom, her teeth chattered, and her skin pimpled with fresh goose bumps when the cool breeze from the air conditioner kissed her skin.
One thing was for sure: Gisella was a hell of a lot more relaxed after her session with Fantasy Charlie.
She giggled and then fell into a heap across the bed. The clock on the nightstand read one o'clock a.m. Gisella sighed contentedly and promised to get up in a moment to slip into her nightclothes and dry her hair, but before she knew it, she unfurled a few wide yawns and curled against her pillow.
Immediately, Charlie Masters resurfaced in her mind. “I'm not supposed to think about him,” she mumbled. A man like Charlie was dangerous.
Plus, how desperate must she be to fantasize about a man she'd just met and had talked to for less than five minutes?
But what a man
Burrowing herself into the bedsheets and comforter, the devil on her left shoulder argued with the angel on her right. In the end, Gisella saw nothing wrong with carrying on with her fantasy lover. As long as she never
on her impulse or actually tried to hook up with the handsome playboy, what harm could it do?
“No harm at all,”
Fantasy Charlie whispered as he brushed a kiss against her satiny shoulder.
Gisella rolled onto her back and stared up into his hypnotic hazel green eyes.
“I have a question,”
he said, reaching beneath her pillow and then withdrawing her hidden vibrator.
“Mind if we play with this?”