Thump, thump, thump. The pace picks up.

“I think you’d enjoy it and my temperament hasn’t been… appropriate. I’d appreciate a good fuck.”

“I can say no,” I remind him, feeling the warring need to give in, to have it all, and to keep my head on straight.

“You could.” His dismissive nature would piss me off if it weren’t for the way he looks at me. Like he can see right through me, but he doesn’t want to. He wants to see me.

“I don’t fuck every man I find attractive. Even if I’m willing to admit,” I pause a moment, wondering if I should say it out loud. It brings the truth to life when you speak it, but he already knows. This cocky bastard is well aware of what’s between us. “Even if I’m willing to admit there’s chemistry between us and I like what you do to me. If it weren’t for the fact that I have questions and a debt you’re holding over my head… I wouldn’t give you the time of day.”

The heat sizzles between us, although the nerves rack through my body. He intimidates me. Maybe it’s something I hadn’t admitted to myself before, but in this moment, as he stares down at me, making me wait for a response, I’m so sincerely aware of how much he intimidates me.

“Business then?” Jase asks with an arched brow; his expression doesn’t hold a hint of emotion, or amusement. He’s a man in control and nothing more.

Standing toe to toe with him, I swallow as I nod. “It’s business.”

“I have the first question, you have the next.” He speaks as he turns his back to me and strides to the dresser, laying my coat over the top of it. He stands there a second too long. The silence is only broken by the pop of the fire to the left of him. The bright light sends shadows down the side of him, and when he turns around those shadows make his jawline seem sharper, his eyes darker and every inch of his exposed skin looks taut and powerful.

He exudes raw masculinity.

“Strip.” He gives the command and whatever hint of defiance had come over me flees in an instant.

I have to lean down to unzip my leather boots, then slip them off. I’m ashamed to say I put more effort into this outfit than a woman with self-respect would. The dark denim skinny jeans take a little more effort to shimmy out of, and all the while Jase stands there with his muscular arms crossed in front of him as he leans against the dresser, watching in silence.

I can’t even look at him as I second-guess everything in this moment.

I’m not a whore, but that’s exactly what I feel like. I can’t pretend it’s anything else.

When I’m left in nothing but my silk undershirt and lace bra, both covered by an oversized, cream cashmere sweater, Jase’s steps destroy the distance between us. It only takes three steps until he’s in front of me, his hands at the hem of my sweater. I’m quicker than he is, my hands wrapping around his powerful wrists. My arms are locked and my nails nearly dig into his flesh as I glare into his prying gaze.

“I can do it myself,” I say, pushing the words through clenched teeth.

“I’m paying very well for this time with you. I intend to enjoy every minute. If you’d like for it to stop, you know how to tell me just that.”

There’s no reason I should feel a sudden stab of emotions up my throat, drying it and tightening it. Or the hollowness that grows in my chest.

“It’s just business, isn’t it?” he questions and with another thump of my treacherous heart, I release his wrists, waiting for him to undress me like he wishes.

Whore. Whore is the first word that comes to mind, and how I made it this long without feeling like one is beyond me.

“May I ask a question then? I know you have yours first, but I’d like to ask one, if you’ll … allow it.” I keep my tone professional as I can, holding back the desire to smack my hand across his arrogant, handsome face.

Jase doesn’t touch my sweater. Instead he walks around me to stand behind me, leaving only the fire for me to look at. His voice hums a “mm-hmm” behind me. His chest is so close to my back, I can feel the vibrations of it, even if he’s not touching me.

“Are you looking in to who did that to my sister? If she owed anyone anything?” My words waver in the air and I wish I could hold them steady. I wish I could sound as strong as I feel on my best of days. Not in this moment, not when I’m acutely aware that I’m whoring myself out to this arrogant bastard who could be using me, lying to me and toying with me just for his own sick pleasure. All so I can chase the ghost of whoever hurt my sister. Whoever took her from me.

W. Winters Books | Romance Books | Irresistible Attraction Series Books