I suck in a breath and have no idea why, but I launch myself into action, as if I must follow his command, stopping only to grab my purse when I spot it on the ground. He is still behind me, watching me, tracking my every move. Every inch of me is tingling and warm with awareness, responding to his hot gaze, responding to his words, to his touch. Why is his hand on my backside so damn erotic? How can Chris redefine everything I know of myself in a matter of days? And what the heck did he mean ‘there is no in between’?

Chapter Nineteen


Shutting myself inside the bathroom, I lean against the door and let out a breath, replaying Chris’s whispered warning. It’s never a good idea to keep a starving man waiting, Sara. Another one of his warnings lurks in the depths of the sensual promise of some kind of erotic punishment if I don’t hurry up and…well, I don’t know what, but I’m pretty sure I want to keep him waiting and find out. My lips tilt up. He really is doing a poor job of scaring me away. Mark’s big on punishment. Unbidden, and with a sharp twist in my gut, Amanda’s words come to my mind. For the first time since the wine had fed my boldness with my new boss, a cold blast of proverbial ice water douses the sizzling heat Chris has coursing through my veins. While Mark had agreed money was king and I was secure, I’m worried. Will I be punished? Have I ruined my chance at Riptide? My chance at a future when this fling with Chris ends?

Confusion twists inside me. Chris has ensured I have a nest egg I can use to create a future in the field I love, but he’s also potentially jeopardized the opportunity already before me. How do I thank him — and I need to - while I also ensure he doesn’t cross the same line again? I’m clueless, truly clueless, and it seems an impossible balancing act, while I’m in Chris’s apartment, in his robe, and wishing we were both na**d again. I have only one real option. Enjoy having breakfast cooked for me by this sexy brilliant painter, and look for the right opportunity to bring this all up. I have to find one because I have to thank him for the commission he’s ensured I will receive.

I inhale and let it out, facing the truth deep inside me that I suppress all too frequently. While I’ve accepted life with limited resources, the chance to have some money, to chase my dream, is exciting. I’m almost afraid to believe it’s true until I have the money. And Chris…Chris did this for me. I owe him more than a verbal thank you, and I can think of all kinds of ways I’d like to say thank you. If he’ll let me. For someone who comes off so friendly and warm, the true Chris is cautious and guarded.

Suddenly, I am eager to find my way back to my complicated artist - well, mine if only for a while — and I shove off of the door and look at myself in the mirror. Oh good gosh, I look like a creature from ‘Fright Night’. My hair is a wild mess, and my makeup is non-existent except for mascara smudged under my eyes. Great. I’m with the hottest man I’ve ever known and raccoons have crawled through my hair and settled under my eyes. And I’ve spent so much time thinking, Chris is going to come looking for me.

Digging through my purse, I search for my brush, and freeze at the sight of one of Rebecca’s journals. I swallow hard as I remember the exact entry inside that I’d awakened dreaming about this morning. No. More like reliving. I swallow hard at how vividly I’d conjured another woman’s words into fantasy while Chris stood nearby, perhaps overhearing my sighs, moans, and who knew what else.

With a deep breath, I snatch the journal and set it on the counter, staring at it, barely containing the urge to read the entry in question. Every time I re-read a page, the content becomes more meaningful, and pieces of the Rebecca puzzle fall into place. I ignore the idea, snatching my brush.

Quickly, I run it through my hair, and consider applying makeup before settling for rinsing my face and applying some moisturizer. Make up would look like I’m trying too hard. I think of the kiss I’d craved from Chris and been denied and the urge to brush my teeth is intense. Out of desperation, I decide to use my finger and water on my teeth. Surprise, surprise. It’s a wasted effort. I have no toothpaste. I grab some tissue and scrub my teeth before rinsing again.

Without much more ado, I give up, and exit the bathroom. Stopping by the coffee table, I drop my purse and grab the plates and the drink cups we’d left there. Loaded up, I head toward the kitchen that thus far is producing no promising scent of cooking food.

I pass the archway between the living room and the kitchen and don’t see Chris, but there is a massive rectangular island counter of grey and black marble with gorgeous grey wooden shelves above and below it. I follow the sound of movement toward a corner to the right, which appears to be a part of an ‘L’ shaped room, but not without being distracted by the hollowed oval eating nook surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and more of the breathtaking view of the city. I love this kitchen. I love this entire apartment so far.

I turn into the bottom of the “L” and find a rectangular room with a counter and a stainless-steel sink on one side. Opposite is another counter with a stove, fridge, and the sexy owner of the apartment, who is busy gathering salt, pepper, plates, and various other items he needs, depositing them in a corner by the stove.

“This kitchen is a chef’s dream,” I declare, disposing of the dishes in the sink opposite him.

“It comes with the apartment so don’t start thinking I’m a master chef.” He opens the fancy fridge with double doors and sets eggs and cheese on the counter. “There’s a reason why I know all of the local restaurant crowd.”

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