Sitting on his lap created a new set of problems. Mainly him, standing at attention against my thighs. I sat sideways on his lap and spread my knees slightly, my hand stealing in between my legs to grab him.

He relented, shifting slightly so I would have better access and turned my face to his. His eyes were troubled, turbulent storms of concern. For her. I tried to squash the irritation that rose within me at that realization. “Julia, you’ve lived a very different life from Alexis. Her relationship with me gives her some financial security.”

Whoa. I released his c**k and spoke quickly, anger vibrating through my voice. “Your relationship?”

“Don’t get bent out of shape at my choice of words. There are things you need to understand, and if you are going to get worked up, I’m not going to be able to explain it to you.”

I bit back a retort and waited.

“Despite your emotionally-distant mother and your tiny college budget, you’ve lived a charmed life compared to Alexis. She’s been on her own since she was seventeen. When I first met her, she was working as a prostitute.” He tucked a lock of hair behind my ear, his hand stealing behind my neck. “She earns a salary here, one that gives her some semblance of security. She will see our marriage, my departure from her, as an end to that security. She won’t understand that my commitment to you doesn’t mean an abandonment of her. It will take time, will take her seeing the financial stability continuing, with your name on the paychecks, for her to understand and be okay with it.”

I thought for a moment, trying to organize my thoughts. “I don’t want her to think, if her salary continues, that it is because you have emotional feelings for her.” An unavoidable thought wormed into my mind. “Do you have emotional feelings for her?”

He hesitated, a reaction that lit a fire in my psyche. He saw the heat in my eyes and raised a hand. “Wait, let me try to communicate this properly.”

I waited, my mouth set.

“You know the story my father told you ... about the dog.”

I nodded silently.

“I didn’t love that dog. I had played with it one day, and if I had never seen it again, I wouldn’t have had a second thought about it. But I admired its strength, I felt compassion for its struggle. Sex, for Alexis, is nothing. She has no emotional ties to it. We have f**ked, throughout the last five years, out of joint enjoyment. What Alexis yearns for, and needs, is security. I feel compassion for Alexis. I care for her in the sense that I want what is best for her. I felt that I couldn’t ignore or stand by when she needed help. I know that she cannot strip forever. I have encouraged her to go to college, had hoped that the small amount she receives in salary will help her to explore other options. You will be my wife; you are my future. I will never jeopardize our relationship in an attempt to comfort Alexis. But please don’t ask me to hurt her. Saffire is yours now. If you want to fire her, or cut off her salary, or sell the club altogether, that is your prerogative. But I don’t believe that you are the type of woman to treat her in that manner. I will speak to her, and make sure she understands that I am forever and exclusively committed to you. But I’d also like to assure her that I still value her as an individual, and that you will support her job at Saffire as long as she wants to work here.”

I leaned back against his chest, my tension releasing slightly as I processed his words. His hand ran lightly up my thigh, gently, slowly moving toward the silk wisp of fabric that comprised my panties. “Are you trying to distract me, Mr. De Luca?” I breathed, my body tightening in anticipation as his second hand joined in, stealing up my stomach until it hit the exposed skin that was my br**sts.

“Never,” he said, his fingers caressing the silk of my panties, sliding over and over the triangle of fabric, my clit awaking underneath his touch, under the slow, perfect swipes of his fingers. I shifted, tilting my pelvis upward and pushed his hand down, letting out a soft moan when his fingers hit the place where my panties became practically non-existent. He stroked that spot, leaving the thong in place, his thumb strumming a steady rhythm over my clit as his fingers stroked my wetness. I moaned again, pushing on his hand, waiting, needing more. My eyes found his cock, heavy and thick against my leg, and I panted at the sight of glistening moisture at its hard tip.

“You’re not going to get this subject to go away with sex,” I mumbled, as my mind threw out all reasonable thought processes and prepared to fully enter De Luca worship mode.

“I believe,” he whispered in my ear, “that you were the one who brought sex into this conversation.”

Then his finger moved, a strong motion that pushed aside my thong and thrust into my sex. I gasped, throwing back my head and pushed greedily down on his hand. A second finger joined the first, and they moved in perfect succession, fully inside and crooking inside of me, delicious swipes that had my eyes rolling back in ecstatic delirium. I reached out my hands, gripping his legs and squeezing, needing some type of grounding solidity to bring me back to reason.

His arms held me still, one wrapped around my pelvis and ending at the wet burial between my legs, the other holding my back tightly against his chest, the forearm hard against my stomach, the hand traveling from breast to breast, squeezing, teasing, and worshipping my tender skin.

I was coming, my core contracting around his fingers, my body arching against him. “Brad,” I gasped, “I need ...”

He knew what I needed, and tightened his arms, holding me still, his upper hand turning whisper soft on my ni**les as he increased the magic of his lower hand, his fingers taking me over the this-can’t-be-fucking-happening mountain, and I fell, in a beautiful, free cascade, a full-body explosion of perfection that had me screaming his name, my words disappearing in the loud club music, my screams turning to moans, until I finally settled on a bed of Brad, my body spent and drunk against his, his fingers maintaining movement inside of me, taking me to a perfect, delirious ending until I collapsed.

Chapter 25

We stayed in that moment, his fingers inside of me, my body heavy on his for a minute. Then, his hands and arms moved, my body curling as they brought me into a fetal position sideways in his lap. I leaned my head back against his arm, my eyes closed and mouth curving into a smile, loving the strength and security in his grip.

I didn’t, couldn’t, begrudge any woman who wanted Brad. I wanted him for everything—his strength, his weakness, his sexuality, his humor, his ego, his temper, and his security. Maybe she didn’t want him. Maybe she gave two shits what Brad De Luca did with his life, maybe she just wanted the salary she got from Saffire, Inc. But I couldn’t imagine any woman having, enjoying, and spending any amount of time with Brad and not being head over heels. It was impossible.