“One of the artists showing in Monday’s mini-auction tried to pull out. It’s handled.”

“And the other problem?”


“My Beatles guy wants this done this weekend. I made reservations to fly out in the morning. I need you to sign the check and paperwork. Your father says he’s not authorized, but you are.”

I’m not even going to comment on why my father doesn’t have access to the money. A piece of dirty laundry I didn’t ever want revealed but she’s managed to tread over. This woman keeps getting all up in my business. She keeps getting in my head. “You sure this has to happen now?”

“He’s adamant.”

My gaze finds its way to her mouth, and my blood runs hot. I want this woman. I want her, and I have her alone in my hotel room. “And you thought it was a good idea to come to my room to solve this?”

“Actually,” she says, her voice hoarse, “I thought it was a very bad idea.”

“And yet you still did it.” It’s not a question.

“I leave at six in the morning. I had no choice.”

If I stay this close to her, I’m going to strip her naked and f**k her. I push off the wall and stare at her. “Show me the paperwork.”

“I’ll get it ready for you.” She doesn’t wait for my approval—she never does—but walks past me toward the desk. Her scent stays with me, lingering in my nostrils and thickening my cock. Her hips sway with feminine grace and I picture her on top of me, riding me.

I have two choices here. They are simple. I f**k her, or I don’t. It doesn’t get any more black-and-white than that. Everything changes in the morning, though. That’s when everything gets complicated.

She pulls a folder from her purse and opens it. I walk over to her and stop beside her, just shy of our shoulders touching. She hands me a pen, and I take it without looking at her—and I damn sure don’t touch her. Touching her would be bad. I sign the purchase order and then look at the hundred-thousand-dollar check.

Now I look at her, and her mouth is mere inches away—an easy lean in to meet her lips with mine. The burn to kiss her is intense. I don’t kiss women. I f**k them. I please them. I like to please them. To drive them to the edge and make them want and want, until release is sweet bliss. But I don’t kiss them.

I tap the pen on the check. “This is what I call trust.” I sign the check and drop the pen, turning to face her. “Make sure you deserve it.”

She lifts her chin. “You’re insured if I don’t, but you wouldn’t have signed it if you didn’t believe I was worth the risk.”

There’s a subtle challenge in her voice. There’s a less subtle challenge in her eyes, a message. I grab her and turn her backside to the desk, my hips framing hers, my fingers wrapping her slender waist. “What did you think would happen between us if you came here tonight?”

Her hands settle on my arms. “I thought we’d end up naked.”

I wonder if her directness will ever fail to surprise me, as much as I wonder what it is about her that gets to me. “And you don’t see the problem in that?”

“I see a million problems with that. Do I care? At his very moment, with you half naked already, I can’t seem to, no.”

And neither can I. Therein lies the problem, but I can’t stop myself from touching her, caressing a path up her sides and skimming the lush curves of her br**sts. That I can’t stop myself is a red flag, a sign I am not myself, and that I have no business doing this. But I watch Crystal’s lashes flutter and her lips, those damn lips I want to taste, part. To possess this woman is like a drug I have to have. And I do have to have her.

Desire overcomes me, and it’s a welcome replacement for what I’ve felt these past few days. Without conscious thought, I lace my fingers into the silky strands of her hair, and my mouth closes down on hers. The taste of her explodes on my tongue—addictive, sweet, with a hint of coffee. Her hands are all over me, her touch feeding the hunger in me, and I don’t know why I don’t stop her. Or maybe I do. Control means thinking, and thinking is more dangerous than this woman. Thinking is making me crazy, it’s making me doubt, it’s making me question all that I am or ever have been.

My hands hug her backside and I pull her hard against my thick erection. She moans, a seductive, wanton sound, and I am instantly harder, hotter. I am lost in her, in kissing her, in touching her, and I can feel how lost she is, too. I want her like I’ve never wanted anyone. She answers an invisible something inside me, and I don’t know why or how.

She shrugs out of her jacket and I keep kissing her, hungering for more of her and ready to have her naked, to feel her soft skin next to mine. To bury myself in her and have her wet heat wrapped about my cock, taking me away to some oblivion that will never last long enough. My hands work her shirt up from her sides, my fingers finding her bra and shoving down the lace to tug at her ni**les. She makes a tormented sound, tears her mouth from mine, and our eyes collide.

And holy hell—I don’t know why, but the impact punches me in the chest again. For a moment we’re frozen, looking at each other, and I’m not sure what I feel. It’s unfamiliar, like everything this woman does to me. And the very fact that I crave more of it tells me I’m in trouble. I don’t have control. She has it.

Crystal moves first, tugging her shirt over her head, and the broken connection of our stare is just enough to shake some clarity back into my mind. I step back and sit on the bed to watch her undress. I study every inch of her with a penetrating boldness that would make most women nervous. Not Crystal. She watches me watch her—desire, even challenge, in the depths of her stare as she unhooks her bra, as if she’s telling me she knows what I’m trying to do. She knows I’m trying to rattle her, and it won’t work.

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