He lets go of me and settles back in his seat, staring straight ahead, his body as stiff and unyielding as his declaration. I stare at him a moment, a million things I want to shout at him racing through my mind while I wish away Tellar. Somehow, I force myself to fall back on the seat and stare forward. The next few seconds of silence ripple with tension and electricity, until I’m about to boil over with emotion.

“You are making me crazy, Liam,” I say, twisting in my seat, pressing my hand to his chest. “If we were alone, I would--”

“You would what?” he challenges, tangling his fingers in my hair and dragging my mouth a breath from his. “Because I can think of a lot of things I would do if we were alone right now.” And before I can catch my breath, his mouth slants over mine and he is kissing me, a deep, passionate, emotional kiss, that is anguish and pain, and everything I haven’t said but I feel. “And alone,” he adds softly when his lips gently lift from mine, “can’t be soon enough for me.”

Nor me, I think, my breath coming out in a pant. My body is on fire, ni**les aching, a low throb between my thighs. I want him to kiss me again as much as I fear he will and I’ll forget Tellar is here this time.

Somehow I force myself to lower my head to Liam’s chest, to discover the wild thrum of his heartbeat, the proof he is on the edge of the proverbial cliff with me. With me. I like how that feels. I am not alone when I am with Liam.

His hand comes down on my head, a gentle but somehow seductive touch, and my lashes lower. My body relaxes into his, and for the first time in months I’m not thinking about Godzilla. I’m not thinking about lies and trust. There is just Liam.

***

Considering Liam is a brilliant architect who inherited a fortune from a brilliant architect, it’s no surprise that his home is in New York’s ritzy Greenwich Village and resembles a stone castle on the edge of the Hudson River with a tower next to it. But what does surprise me is that in a city where parking is non-existent, we enter through a double metal gate that allows us entry to private parking under the ‘castle’.

“You designed the building didn’t you?” I ask, glancing at Liam as automatic lights flicker to life in what appears to be a four car garage.

“It was Alex’s brilliance I inherited when he passed,” he replies, Alex being his father figure and mentor. “There’s the main house where I live and a fifteen-floor building next door that houses twenty-five luxury apartments.”

“Is this where he mentored you?”

“Yes. It is.” And there is a wistful sadness to his voice that tells me he still misses the man who’d come to mean so much to him.

I wonder what it must have been like to be only thirteen, living in poverty with a single mom and an absent father, and being suddenly pulled into this world of wealth and power. “He changed your life.”

“In more ways than you can possibly imagine.” He takes my hand. “But I want you to.”

Tellar opens my door, and for an instant Liam and I just stare at each other, a warm understanding spreading between us. Me being here isn’t about Liam holding me captive. It’s about what he’d once said to me about giving what you get in return. This trip to his home is about him trusting me by inviting me into his life, where few are welcomed.

“Let’s go inside,” Liam urges softly.

That warm feeling seeds deeper inside me and becomes heat and fire. And hope. I feel more hope than I have felt in months. “Yes. Let’s.” I slide out of the car, and the nerves I’ve juggled for hours are now blessedly mixed with anticipation rather than fear.

Straightening, I take in my surroundings to find a garage that also holds a sleek convertible Jaguar and no other cars, and I’m somehow certain it’s Liam’s only one, when he could afford a fleet. It hits me that he’d flown commercial the night I’d met him though he can obviously afford a private jet. I wonder what makes a man as powerful and wealthy as him pull back just beyond truly extravagant one moment and throw money at everything the next.

My gaze lifts as a buzzer goes off and Tellar disappears through one of two doors. Liam steps to my side and leads me to the other, keying a code into a panel and opening the door. “Welcome to my home,” he says with an extravagant wave of his hand.

I smile at the gesture and head up a small set of stucco steps to reach the grand foyer of the home where I blink in awe. Everything, from the intricately painted tiles beneath my feet of varied designs to the high triangle-shaped ceiling, is spectacular.

Dashing fingers through his dark hair, Liam joins me in the center of the room, towering over me like the dangling teardrop chandelier above me that glistens with tiny lights. I tilt my chin up to study it. “It’s magnificent.”

“Alex was big on small details which made him exceptional at design work.”

“Like you are,” I comment, shifting my gaze from the fixture to him again.

“I can only hope to one day be as brilliant as he was.”

I think of the many hours of research on Liam Stone I’d done in my time away from him and all the praise he’s been given by experts. “Many believe you already are.”

“And I’d humbly submit that they are mistaken.” He laces his fingers through mine and motions to the left. “Come,” he says, and then leads me under a magnificent stone archway.

Stopping just inside the new room, the tiles have given way to some sort of shiny, amazing dark wood and I am immediately in love with the cozy setting of warm brown leather couches and chairs, a fireplace, and several huge wide round pillars set in front of the amazing ceiling-to-floor windows.

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