I look up at him, startled, the change of subject unexpected. “That’s sweet, but unnecessary. I can stay at Jorie and Walsh’s.”

Benjamin looks slightly abashed as he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a key card. “Well, I sort of already got the room.”

“Oh,” I say, flushing deeply at the realization there is a room and a bed within close proximity to us. “What about The Wicked Horse?”

“I thought perhaps we’d just stay here. For convenience.”

While The Wicked Horse provides all kinds of temptation and takes debauchery to the next level, the thought of perhaps spending an entire night with Benjamin is intriguing.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I ask.

His eyes flash. “What exactly are you thinking?”

“We go to the room right now. Unless, of course, you’d rather stay here and socialize.”

Benjamin’s lips curve in a sexy grin full of promise. “Let’s go.”

For someone who uses a cane to walk, Benjamin moves with surprising grace and efficiency as he leads me from the ballroom. A few people nod in greeting as he passes by, but he’s moving with such purpose there’s no doubt he doesn’t intend to stop and engage.

I let him lead all the way to the seventeenth floor.

CHAPTER 9

Benjamin

I knew I’d hate coming here tonight, but I had to do it for Brandon. I hate the pitying looks I get from half and the glares of reproach I get from the others who think I’ve been too much of a dick the last year.

It used to be only pitying looks after the accident, but I wiped a lot of that away with my actions. I won’t apologize, though. A single car crash with a drunk driver killed my wife and daughter. I’m beyond caring about apology.

I spent over a month in the hospital with a crush injury to my left leg, a collapsed lung, a ruptured spleen, and a hairline fracture to my left wrist. Another two weeks in a rehab facility for my leg. And yet another two weeks of outpatient therapy before I could return to work.

Miraculously, the fracture to my left wrist was clean and easily healed. I came out of the accident with my brain unscrambled and my hands still able to perform complex microsurgery. I should have been grateful for that, but I wasn’t.

I was pissed at the world. At the drunk who ruined my life, at God for letting it happen, and at my friends and family who still had the gall to make me care about them, thus putting me at risk for bigger pain.

And venturing into this place tonight—with a beautiful woman on my arm and money to burn on a charity auction—trying to pretend like my life is normal and these things should bring me joy… well, it’s all bullshit. It’s not me anymore.

It’s not like Elena was going to mind the hasty escape I just pulled. She’d told me she was all about the sex anyway. It’s not like she wanted to hang out with me, Brandon, and Colleen, making cute small talk and nibbling on overpriced hors d’oeuvres.

Yeah… made sense to leave, and even better planning I’d thought to get a room for Elena. It truly was so she didn’t have to make the drive back to Henderson tonight, but it will come in super handy right now.

Because the one thing I have just realized with utter clarity is Elena provides me an escape from the pain of my regular life. That was never more evident than just a few moments ago when I got annoyed by Metzer’s smug smile and Colleen’s hopeless romanticism I will find love again, and all I wanted to do was pull Elena out of there and lose myself in her. Probably would have fucked her right there in the elevator had we been alone.

As it is, the hallway leading us to our room isn’t so short I can’t enjoy the bit of anticipation. I hold onto her hand tightly, lest she think to bolt for some reason, and punch my cane down deeper into the plush carpeting with every step I take.

When I reach our room, I can’t contain my need any longer. Whirling her around, I push her back into the door. Rather than open it, I press into her and slam my mouth onto hers.

Elena gasps, and I pull back briefly. Her eyes are wide with surprise, but there’s also something deep within those chocolate depths that speaks to me.

Absolute fucking delight in my assault just now.

I groan, palming her face, and kiss her again. Elena’s hands grip into the lapels of my tux, and she holds me tight. Her mouth is so fucking soft, lips full, and her tongue demanding.

Without thought, I put my hand on the neckline of her dress and pull it down on one side, exposing a plump breast with an eager nipple. I lift her tit, pushing it up as my head dips.

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