‘You’re just about to find out,’ he replies with a nasty grin.
I hear the soft, thick click of the door behind me, and turn around to face him. He stands there, tall, dark and throbbing with sexual tension. God! How I want this man. A rough sound rumbles in his throat. I recognize it. Blind, earth-shattering desire. It has been a long time since I heard it. Makes me rock on my feet. He shoots out a hand and pulls me hard towards him. My body slams into his.
I have the impression of stone—unmoving. It will break, but it will never bend. But I can bend. I mold my hips into his. His erection is thick and hot against my stomach. The rawness of it awakens that great beast inside me. Greedy, relentless thing. It wants more, it wants it all, and it wants it right now. Intoxicated by the smoldering fire in his eyes my hands snake up his chest and twine around his neck, but his strong hands come up and untangle mine. He catches them in his and takes them behind my back. His clasp is a firm handcuff.
Very deliberately he holds me away from him and lets his half-lidded eyes rove my parted mouth, my br**sts—thrust out towards him and heaving, down my body, to my legs. His eyes lift again to meet mine. I am impossibly aroused.
‘I had half a dozen fantasies of what I wanted to do to you when I got you naked. Tame sex is not one of them,’ he says, as he plucks out the pins in my hair and flings them away. Released, my hair falls all around my face and shoulders.
‘My beautiful whore. Once I was good to you and you kicked me when I was down; now you get what you deserve.’
Without warning he grips the two sides of the high collar of my lovely dress and rips it into two. I clutch the torn ends of my ruined dress together and stare at him in shock.
He looks down at me, breathing hard. Strangely, he is as cold as ice. My mind is in unbelievable chaos. I have misjudged the extent of his fury. Underneath the façade of calm he is seething with anger at what he perceives to be my duplicity. I want to cry at the wanton destruction of something so beautiful, but in fact I am too shocked to cry.
‘Dress only in what’s in the box and meet me in the bedroom,’ he commands curtly, and walks away from me.
I stand there a little longer, too dazed to move. I glimpsed the fierce hunger, and need; now all I see is the iron control in his tense shoulders. He stops in front of the bar and pours himself a whiskey. I pick up the box by the side table and go to the bathroom.
Quickly, I take off the torn dress and stuff it into the chrome bin under the sink. As the lid closes over it a sob escapes my lips. I had never owned anything so fine before. It had suggested curves where there were jutting bones and made me feel so elegant and sophisticated. I could still see Fleur grinning with delight and Madame Rêgine rasping, ‘One of a kind. You will not find another like it.’
I press my hand to my mouth and avoid my reflection. I will not cry. I will be strong, I tell myself while, another part of me stands appalled by his violence. I know what is in the box. I pull the satin ribbons and lift the cover of the box.
It is not white lingerie and shoes.
As if in a trance, I pick up the familiar velvet box and open it. Under the yellow lights of the bathroom the diamonds in the sapphire necklace glitter like the bling on a rap singer. The next thing I find in the box is even more surprising. Billie’s shorts, the ones I borrowed to wear to the party. I must have left them behind. I had totally forgotten them. I remember that night again. What did it mean? That he himself has gone through all my stuff and kept these? That this item of clothing means something to him? I open the last item—a shoe box. A pair of snake skin orange Christian Louboutin shoes, but startlingly similar to the ones I wore the first night we met.
I try to imagine how he came upon them. Did he describe them to Laura? Did she then search the net and give him a list to choose from? I undress quickly. I consider leaving my knickers on, but I remember his eyes when he held my hands behind my back and told me everything I should be wearing is in the box.
The necklace is cold on my skin. I pull the shorts on, zip and button them. I get into the shoes and look at myself in the mirror. Oh dear. The shorts hang about my hip bones and my rib bones show. I look gawky and awkward and as sexy as a pole in shorts. I console myself that the lights in the bedroom will be muted. I stare at my br**sts. The ni**les are erect. This morning I could have covered them with my hair, but now that the front has been feathered that option is gone.
I touch the light switch and kill the light, in the hope that he will not see the silhouette of my skinny frame, or my half-naked exit from the bathroom. My steps falter and I stand uncertainly by the wall in my high heels. Half-hidden in the shadows at the edges of the room, I stand and stare at the magnificent specimen sitting shirtless, in a pool of light on the bed.
His legs are crossed at the ankles and his arms are folded across his chest. The muscles of his arms seem even more defined than I remember. He must have taken his frustrations out in the gym. He moves slightly and the action ripples the golden row of thick muscles in his stomach. My mouth dries. Suddenly I feel exposed and ashamed of my body, my arousal. My hands rise up to cover my br**sts. My ni**les are hard pebbles against the palms of my hands.
‘Come in,’ he purrs. His voice is silk, but his eyes are shadowed and his face is a blank wall. Expressionless. Impenetrable.
He begins to unbutton his trousers. I stare at the flat stomach, the beautiful body that I have longed for. The trousers slip to the floor. Black briefs. The bulge is clearly, clearly visible. Dear me, but it’s been so long. I feel my own body producing its juices, getting ready for the sweet invasion. He steps out of his briefs. Wow! Nothing has changed. He is as gorgeous as ever.
But I don’t move. I can’t. My soul refuses to allow me to go forward. Not towards that demeaning drill again. I remember it like yesterday. Go to the middle of the room, strip, turn around, spread my legs as wide as they will go, and bend down to touch the floor. Then it had been strangely exciting, but now it seems sordid. I’m not here because he paid me to be here. I’m here willingly. I am here to atone for a wrong I did him. I’m here because, even though he doesn’t believe it, I’m crazy in love with him.
‘New games, Lana?’ he mocks when I make no move towards him, but his voice is different. The silk is gone. It is sinuous and alive with the kind of unthinking lust that only a man knows how to feel.
I watch him bound off the bed, and come towards me, tall, dark, dangerous, and looking for trouble. He stops in front of me. Heat comes off his body in waves. The air thickens. I want to taste that golden skin. I blink to break the spell. Take control, Lana. The blackness of what I have made him become envelops me like a bleak shadow. His vengeful eyes bore into me.