The doorman opens the door to the 911, and the last remnant of my anger flees into the chill of the night. I need Chris. I need to be in his arms. I need to feel him close. I need and need and need with this man and it’s impossible to escape.

I step outside the car, and my hungry gaze seeks Chris, finding him dismounting the Harley, and holy hell, he is sex on a Harley. If Mark is power, Chris is absolute dominance, and he knows it. I see it in his casual grace, which manages to be alpha roughness at the same time. He doesn’t need people to call him by a certain name, nor intimidate them into drinking cold coffee like Mark once did to me. When he needs power, he has it. When he wants it, he claims it. When he wants me, he claims me, and my stomach clenches with dread at the idea that one day he won’t.


He hands his helmet and keys to a second doorman before his attention shifts fully to me. Pure, white hot lust pours off Chris and over me, and I can’t move from the impact. He saunters toward me, all loose-legged swagger, and when Rich hands me my briefcase, Chris takes it instead and slides the strap over my shoulder. His fingers caress my arm and my jacket is no defense for the electricity his touch ignites inside me.

“Let’s go inside and . . . talk,” he murmurs and I swallow hard.

“Yes. Let’s go talk.”

We’ve made it all of two steps when I hear the doorman call out, “Don’t forget this.” He appears in front of me and hands me the journal.

My breath lodges in my throat as my eyes go to Chris, and his gaze lands on the red leather I now hold. Eternal seconds tick by in which I know I should explain, but some part of me must secretly want to be punished, because I wait for his reaction. Finally, his gaze lifts to mine, and there are accusations and doubt in his eyes that shred my heart. I confessed my slip about the journal entry and instead of my honesty winning me his trust, it’s earned me the opposite. It is all I can do not to explode right here in this moment, with eyes on us, and I draw a deep breath and clamp down on my reaction. Making a scene isn’t my style and it won’t give me more than momentary satisfaction.

I call out to Rich and turn to catch him. “I need my car,” I tell him.

“No,” Chris says, his voice low and lethal, his hand shackling my upper arm. “She doesn’t.”

I blast him with a look meant to flatten him but find myself captured by his sharp, commanding stare. “I promise you, Sara,” he says, his voice low and intense, “I’ll carry you upstairs over my shoulder if I have to.”

Momentarily, I’m disarmed by the thrill that shoots through me at the threat. I am wet and hot and aching to be over his shoulder and in his apartment, na**d and at his mercy. His distrust cuts me deeply, yet I’m thrilled at the barbaric statement that proves I am without defenses where he is concerned.

I hold his stare, and I don’t doubt he means his words. “I’ll go up, but I’m not staying.”

He doesn’t blink or respond immediately; he’s studying me, sizing me up, and I wonder if he can see my reaction to his threat in my face, if I am as transparent as the window he’d once f**ked me against.

Without a word, he releases me and I start for the door. He falls into step with me. My fingers curl around the journal and I remind myself of his distrust and my stomach knots at the idea that, even if not about this, I deserve what he feels. I’m getting a tiny taste of what it will feel like if and when he knows the real lie I’ve told, and I don’t like it. I feel an eruption building inside me, emotions boiling in a wild mixture, hot and dangerous, that I can barely contain.

We enter the building and Jacob is at the front desk. I manage a nod and a small greeting. Chris and I step into the elevator side by side, and face forward, only inches separating us. The air is thick with unspoken words, the tension certain to snap any second.

Without making a conscious decision to act, that second comes for me when the doors slide closed. I whirl on Chris and shove the journal at his chest. “Mark gave this to me today. It’s Rebecca’s business notes. I told you I locked up the damn journals, and I did.”

He shackles my wrist and pulls me close. The journal lodges between us. “Do you know how much I don’t want to hear Mark’s name right now? He shouldn’t have let you go to Alvarez’s alone.”

His words are tight, laced with the anger he’d confessed back at Alvarez’s house, and I now realize he’s been carefully controlling his fury. I feel it in the tightness of his body against mine, see it in the hard glint in his eyes. Everything about Chris is wrapped around control and I forget too easily.

“He’s my boss.” My bottom lip trembles with the words. “He’s not my keeper, and for that matter neither are you.”

His green eyes glint with amber blades of pure steel. “I told you, Sara. I will keep you safe.”

There is a possessive absoluteness to his words that both arouses and infuriates me. I am once again struck by how little I seem to know about myself and why I respond to this side of Chris. “The line between protecting me and controlling me, Chris, is my job.”

“Ask me if I care about the lines right now, Sara. Ask me if I have any intention of ever living the hell I lived tonight when you wouldn’t answer the phone.”

I am taken aback by the deep, vehement reply that is laced with a threat I do not understand. “What does that mean?”

His fingers twine into my hair and he pulls my mouth just beyond his, so close I can almost taste the control he holds so easily. “It means,” he rasps, “that tonight, Sara, I’m not pink paddles and fluff, and neither are you.”

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