She might be on a long celibate streak, but she knew what it meant when a man said her name like that. She wanted to say yes and throw her arms around his neck, but she wouldn’t. This simmering passion just beneath the surface was dangerous, and she knew it. Did she dare give in to it? Could she trust the man who had previously been determined to call her out as a manipulative crook?
He certainly didn’t seem interested in talking about his aunt’s estate right now.
“Yes?” she replied, her voice trembling as her body ached to reach for him.
“Would you mind if we left the party a little early?” His breath was hot against her skin, sending a shiver down her spine.
“It just started,” Lucy argued half-heartedly. It was a charity event and neither of them had been very charitable so far. “What about the school?”
Oliver leaned back and pierced her with his blue-gray gaze. “How about we go back downstairs, I write a check to make everyone happy and then you and I go back to my place. To talk about art,” he added.
“A big check,” Lucy suggested. He could afford it, even if she couldn’t.
“Of course. You’ll learn that with me, it’s go big or go home,” he said with a sly grin and a wink that promised more big things to come.
“Nice place,” Lucy said as they stepped into his penthouse apartment.
Oliver just shrugged off the compliment. “It works for me. It’s not a Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking the park or anything.”
“Most people don’t have that. Just because your aunt did doesn’t make your place any less fantastic. If I hadn’t been living with her all these years, I’d be renting a place the size of your entryway.”
Lucy looked around in curiosity, taking in every detail of the place he’d paid to have professionally decorated. Oliver didn’t really care about things like that. This was just a place to sleep at night. He did what was expected of him in this case because his apartment needed furniture and things on the wall. Thanks to all the money he’d spent, he now had expensive glass bowls that appeared to serve no real purpose and tiny statues that gathered dust. Thankfully he also had a cleaning service that came in to deal with that.
Oliver slipped out of his suit coat and threw it over the arm of the leather sofa. In his pocket, he found the receipt for the painting he’d just purchased at the charity event. He folded it neatly and tucked it away before Lucy could see it. She thought he’d simply made a donation to the high school before they left, but he’d actually gone in and placed a ridiculously high bid on the student painting she’d admired earlier. It ensured he would win the auction. Once the piece was assessed by the art department for the senior’s final grade, it would be delivered anonymously to Lucy’s apartment.
He wasn’t entirely sure why he’d done it. Oliver wasn’t exactly known for making flashy donations to charities or giving extravagant gifts. Most of the people in his life didn’t need anything, so he quietly supported a few causes. In this case, however, he just knew he wanted to do something nice and unexpected for Lucy. She would appreciate it in a way few women he knew would. He hoped he’d be there when it was delivered so he could see the smile on her face when she saw it. That was enough for him.
“I see now why it’s so easy for you to show up at the apartment unannounced,” she said, pulling him from his thoughts. “You’re only a few blocks away.”
He approached her from behind as she stood in his living room and reached up to help her slip out of her coat. The night had grown chilly, but his apartment was very warm. He sighed as his eyes took in one inch after the next of her exposed back as the coat slipped down her arms and into his. The movement brought the scent of her skin to his nose, urging him to lean in closer. He longed to run his fingertip along the curve of her spine and follow the path with his mouth. Every time he looked at that outfit, he liked it more.
With the coat in his arms, Lucy turned to look at him expectantly. What had she asked about? Where he lived. “Yes,” he responded. Oliver took a deep breath to push aside the building desire for a little while longer. He had no intention of attacking Lucy the moment he got her alone, as much as he might like to. “It’s convenient to my offices and such. It’s nice to live close to my father and sister as well. Dropping in on you so easily was just a bonus.” He laid her coat across his own on the sofa. “Would you like a drink?”
“I would,” she said with a polite smile. “Do you have a patio or a balcony where we could step out and enjoy it?”