“Becoming so involved with a client? That’s risky business.”

If you only knew, Monique thought before quickly shoving the unfortunate memory to the back of her mind. Way back. “I’ve no regrets,” she finally replied. “Unless I hear that he didn’t survive the fire.”

Again, Niko felt the almost overwhelming desire to take care of Monique, to protect her and erase the worry lines from her face. He’d spent most of his life surrounded by beautiful, strong women and wondered at this pull that she had on his heartstrings. He reasoned that maybe it was because as an attorney himself, he knew how hard it could be for a woman in this field. She couldn’t have survived without a knock or two. Or maybe it was the fact that as strong and powerful as she appeared, there was a vulnerability and sensitivity about her that shone in her eyes. When she heard about the fire or talked about Devante, for instance. And speaking of fire, she’d tried to hide it, but he’d detected the flame of desire in her eyes when she looked at him. She’d said it was only natural that two healthy adults such as themselves be attracted to each other. Would she be willing to have said it was natural for two healthy adults to act on such attraction?

He looked over to see that she’d averted her face. Is she crying? Instinctively, he walked over to where she sat and placed his arms around her. “It’s going to be all right, Monique.”

He felt her shoulders heave and thought she’d pull away. Like all the other times. But she didn’t. She leaned into him and placed her arms around his waist. He pulled her closer to him and began rubbing his hand across her back. “It’s okay, sweetheart. You can let go. We’re all very concerned. Everything is going to be all right.” He brushed his lips across her temple and kissed her there.

She stilled. Her arms around him loosened slightly. Niko silently chided himself. He hadn’t meant to kiss her. It was a reflex, pure and simple. She pulled back. He lifted his head, ready to apologize. Until he saw the look in her eyes and how they quickly shifted from looking into his eyes to looking at his lips. Just before she leaned in and joined hers to them. She did this, but moved no further. So Niko took over. He slowly moved his head, rubbing his lips across hers, creating a delicious friction that immediately increased the heat. Her mouth opened and it took all of his restraint not to plunder her sweetness like a love-starved youth. But she didn’t need that type of treatment right now. She needed gentleness and kindness and understanding. He was there to give it all.

Using his tongue, he outlined her lips, still not delving inside. Instead he kissed her closed eyelids, kissed each cheek before finding her mouth once again. This time, when she opened it, he slowly, gently, slid his tongue inside, flicking it against hers even as he repositioned his head to kiss her more fully. He continued—deeper yet tenderly—lightly massaging her back as their tongues introduced themselves and got to know each other, as one hand lowered to her hips while the other found the nape of her neck to take the kiss deeper still. As he stroked her mouth with his tongue he felt her hands tighten, felt her fingernails scrape across his shirt’s cotton fabric. The act was filled with both wanting and restraint. She shivered, and he felt her nipples harden even as his shaft followed suit. His hand moved from her hip around to that pebbled hardness, giving the nipple a light squeeze before continuing to run his finger lightly across it. Somewhere in the recesses of his mind came the thought that he should end this tantalizing kiss; that now was not the time or place for seduction.

After another moment of some of the sweetest sugar he’d ever tasted, he reluctantly pulled away. Without conscience she leaned forward, trying to reconnect with her current single source of joy.


She opened her eyes and it was as though she were awakening from a dream. He noticed the second she came to herself and realized what had just occurred. She dropped her head and straightened her blouse.

“I’m sorry,” he said, immediately putting the blame on himself. “I got carried away.”

“It’s what I wanted,” Monique replied. She took a deep breath, looked him square in the eyes. “It’s what I want now.”

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