The excuse sounds hollow even to my ears and Addison’s body shakes with a husky laugh. I can’t see her face to know if it’s genuine, though. “Yes.” After a long pause, she nods. “It was probably just a misunderstanding.”

I reach for some conviction. “She knows how I feel about you, Addison.”

She wouldn’t do this. I leave the words unspoken, because I’m not sure who I’m trying to convince anymore. Suddenly I can only think of my mother introducing Preston and Addison on election night. Listing all the things they have in common, encouraging them to talk. I hear my father complaining about his donors—his friends—not being happy with the directions I’m taking. Professionally or personally. And the ground beneath my feet isn’t as solid as it was ten minutes ago, when I trusted the people standing at my back.

No. There’s only the girl in front of me and with every second that passes, I sense her disconnecting. Fuck that. I won’t allow it. I can’t allow it. If I don’t have her…I don’t have myself. If I had to choose between making her happy and making this entire damn city happy, I would pick Addison without a second thought. Words are failing me, though, and Lord, I’m still jealous. I’m seething over the photos that people will see of Addison with someone else. The need to put a claim on her is closing in on me. It’s more than that, though. I need to be close to her as possible. Even an inch of distance between us is unacceptable.

So I don’t leave an inch. Keeping her ass pressed to the curve of my lap, I turn us back toward the file cabinet, watching goosebumps rise on her neck. “Elijah…”

My hands scrub down her hips and thighs, lifting her thin, black dress on the way back up. We’re pressed together so tightly, the material being dragged up, up, higher and higher, is providing mind-blowing friction against my cock. She releases a sob and shifts against me, going up a little higher on her toes. Just as I reveal the tight globes of her bottom, separated down the middle by the strip of dark lace. “Christ, I’ve wanted you like this,” I grind out, dipping down and thrusting up against her. Leaving the dress bunched around her waist, I slip a hand around the front of her body and massage the growing wet spot between her thighs. “I’m sorry, sugar. Going to use my body to show you how much.”

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

Addison

Former Mayoral Aide, Preston Hobbs, Left out of the Fold.

Hobbs the Very Picture of Displeasure While Watching Inauguration from Police Barricade.

—Charleston Courier

Sources Close to Mayor Laugh off Rumors of a Preston Hobbs/Getaway Girl Romance.

Source asked to be named as Lydia. L-Y-D-I-A.

—Charleston Post

My head is numb, but everywhere else is alive.

So I give myself over to the rush, whimpering at the firm press of Elijah’s fingers on my clit. How they circle me with precision born of practice. Of paying attention. We’ve only been lovers such a short time, but he already knows how to make my body purr. How to make it tighten in some places and loosen in others. Throbthrobthrob.

I know the man behind me so well, too. His voice betrayed his doubts about what transpired today and why. But I won’t confirm those doubts for him. I won’t make someone he loves into a villain. Or weaken his ability to trust—it’s one of the more beautiful things about him. And God, he might be clueless over how I feel, but there are so many beautiful things about him. I’m so aware of each and every one that I can’t help but turn malleable in his hands and drop my head forward against the file cabinet.

Some might consider this giving in—and they might be right. But I’m not just giving in to Elijah. I’m giving in to myself, too. I’m taking as much of him as I can get. Greedy. Greedy. If what we have is only physical, I will exult in rocking his world. Giving him something he’ll never get anywhere else. But I heard his words. You are mine. She knows how I feel about you. I hear those words and hope keeps me afloat. There’s more here than sex and friendship. So I’m not giving in. I’m fighting in my own way.

I don’t want to lie anymore. Not even by omission.

The decision comes with lightness…and a hint of nerves. Okay, more than a hint. So I give myself permission to touch now and talk later. My body rejoices in response, clamoring for what it considers the ultimate reward. Elijah’s pleasure. Mine. Reaching that place together without a single reservation or apology.

“You’ve wanted me like this, Captain?” Drugging euphoria races through my blood, making my eyelids sag, my breath come faster. “Pinned underneath you on my belly so I can’t get away?”

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