My hands come up to her breasts, and she arches her back to bring them closer. I squeeze, and she moans again. I skim across where I know her nipples are, frustrated by her blouse and bra. I want to tug and pinch those beauties until they’re two sharp peaks. Her mouth is on my neck, kissing, and I raise my chin.
It’s never been like this. I’ve never been like this. I’ve never felt so much for any woman, no matter that it’s a mixture of anger and lust.
“Drew…Drew, I can’t do this. I love Billy,” she pants.
Her confession doesn’t affect me like you’d think it would. Mostly because she still has one hand on my cock when she says it. Her actions speak the complete opposite of her voice. Hands and hips that are pulling me closer, stroking me, pleading for more.
“That’s good, Kate. Fine. Love Billy. Marry Billy. Just please…God…please just fuck me.”
I don’t even know what I’m saying. Don’t even know if I’m making sense. One thought and one only drums in my head like a primal melody:
I bring my chin down, wanting to taste her mouth again. But instead of her lips…I make contact with her palm. I open my eyes to find her hand covering my mouth, blocking me. Her chest is heaving, rising and falling in brisk, rapid pants.
And then I see her eyes. And I feel like I just took a wrecking ball to the chest. Because her eyes are wide with panic…and confusion. I try to say her name, but it’s muffled by her hand.
I hear a sob in her voice as she says, “I can’t do this, Drew. I’m sorry. Billy…this job…this is my life. My whole life. I…I can’t.”
She’s trembling. And suddenly, my need, my lust, and my still-raging hard-on are all pushed to the backburner, behind the overwhelming desire to comfort her. To tell her it’s okay. Everything will be all right.
Anything. I’ll say anything to take that look off her face.
But she doesn’t give me the chance. The moment she takes her hand off my mouth, she runs out the door. And she’s gone before I can draw a breath. I should go after her. I should tell her it’s okay that she put the brakes on. That this hasn’t—and won’t—change anything. Though that’s one big fat lie, and we both know it, don’t we?
But I don’t follow Kate. And the reason is simple: Have you ever tried to run with a boner staring up at you?
Well, it’s damn near impossible.
I collapse onto the couch and rest my head back. Looking up at the ceiling, I pinch the bridge of my nose with my fingers. How is it that something as simple as sex just became so frigging complicated? I don’t know either.
Christ, I’m so hard. I want to cry—I’ll admit it. I’m not ashamed. I want to weep from the throbbing ache in my groin that will have no relief. The idea of going out and finding a substitute for Kate never even enters my head. Because my dick knows what my brain is just starting to admit.
There is no substitute for Kate Brooks. Not for me. Not now.
I look down at the tent in my lap. The one that shows no indication of going down any time soon.
It’s going to be a long, long night.
THE NEXT DAY, Kate doesn’t come into the office until eleven o’clock. I don’t need to tell you that this is unusual for her.
She’s avoiding me. I know this because I’ve done it myself on more than one occasion. Discreetly sneaking over to the other side of the club when I happen to vaguely recognize one of my previous hook-ups. But to actually be on the receiving end of this? It sucks.
I don’t get the privilege of speaking with her until two, when she comes striding into my office—looking drop-dead gorgeous. Her hair is pinned up in what Alexandra would call a French twist. She’s wearing a black dress that flows out slightly at the knee, with matching high heels and a black blazer.
She puts a small stack of poster board on my desk, her charts and graphs shrunk down to notebook-size like we agreed. “Okay. You’re right. You should lead with Anderson. I’ll be second chair.”
She talks like nothing ever happened. Like she wasn’t quivering in my arms and setting me on fire with her hands in this very office just a few short hours ago. She’s all business. Completely unaffected. And it pisses me off.
Indifference is not exactly a reaction I’m used to from women. Frankly, it’s a little hard to take.
I feel my jaw clench as I tell her, “Good. That’s the best way to go.”
Now, if you haven’t guessed, I’m not the touchy-feely type. I’m not one to talk my feelings to death like some New Age, meditating freak of nature. But I expected something from her. Some acknowledgement of what happened last night—of the attraction that’s still pulling at both of us. I thought she would be the one to bring it up.
She’s a woman, after all.
When all I get is silence, I can’t help but push. “Kate, about last night—”
She cuts me off. “Last night was a mistake. It will not happen again.”
Do you know anything about child psychology? No? Well here’s a lesson for you. If you tell a kid they can’t do something, guess what’s the first thing they’re going to try and do the minute you’re not looking? Exactly.
Men are the same way. It’s so going to happen again. But she doesn’t need to know that at the moment.
She whispers, “Fine.”
Fine’s a funny word, don’t you think? I don’t think there’s another like it in the English language that says so much while actually saying so little. How many wives have told their husbands, “I’m fine,” when they really mean, “I want to cut your balls off with a butcher knife”? How many men have told their girlfriends, “You look fine,” when they really mean, “You need to go back to the gym and work out—a lot.” It’s the universal way of saying we’re just peachy—when we’re really anything but.
“Fine,” I repeat, looking down at the papers on my desk.
And then she’s out the door, and I spend the next ten minutes staring after her, replaying last night over and over in my mind.
Hey, you know another word that can mean the opposite of what it’s supposed to?
Which is exactly what I’m going to be if I don’t get my head out of my ass and back in the game by seven o’clock tonight.
Our dinner meeting is well under way. Although I’ve done a lot of the talking, it’s Kate that has Saul Anderson completely charmed. If I wasn’t in such a pissy mood, I’d admit that she’s working this meeting like a pro. But I am, so I’m not telling anyone but you.
She laughs at some story Anderson just finished telling before he excuses himself to go to the john. I take a drink of my wine, wishing it was whiskey.
Kate turns to me, freshman excitement dancing in her eyes. “So this is going really well, isn’t it? I mean, I definitely think he’s interested, don’t you?”
I shrug. “Depends on what you’re trying to sell him.”
“What are you talking about? I’m selling us—our proposal, our investment firm.”
I’m being a prick—yes, I know.
“Really? ’Cause it seems like you’re offering him something else entirely.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“Come on, Kate. You went to Wharton. I think you can figure out exactly what I’m saying.”
“I have been completely professional…”
“You’d be more subtle if you ripped open your blouse and shoved your tits in his face.”
Okay, that was uncalled for. And I actually consider apologizing.
But before I can form the words, ice-cold liquid seeps through my pants and into my crotch. From the glass of water Kate just poured into my lap.
“Are you fucking crazy?” I whisper harshly, trying not to make a scene as I jump up and wipe at the stain with a napkin.
“Everything all right here?”
It’s Anderson. He’s back and looking from me to Kate. I shrug awkwardly as Kate smiles and tells him, “Everything’s fine.”
There’s that word again. See what I mean?
“Drew just had a little mishap with his water glass. You know boys—can’t take them anywhere.”
Anderson laughs and sits back down, while I weigh my chances for an acquittal. The one I’ll need after I strangle Kate Brooks.
An hour later, we’re waiting for coffee and dessert. Kate has left the table. I’m thinking her bladder must have been seconds from rupturing for her to actually leave me alone with Anderson.
He observes me for a moment and then says, “I like what I’ve seen here tonight, Drew. Very impressive.”
In business, always use first names. It’s not disrespectful. It shows that you’re an equal—in the same league. That’s huge.
“And based on what you’ve shown me, I’m ready to give Evans, Reinhart and Fisher my business.”
Yes! Break out the champagne, baby.
“I’m pleased to hear that. I think this deal is going to be very profitable for both—that is, all of us.” Can’t forget Kate, right? As if she would let me. “You can put your complete confidence in Kate and me. We won’t let you down.”
He fingers his crystal glass. “Right. About that. Before I sign, I have only one contingency.”
This kind of thing happens all the time. Not a big deal.
“Go ahead, Saul. I’m sure we can provide whatever you need.”
“I’m happy to hear that. So, why don’t you have that darling girl of yours—Kate—bring the contracts by my place tonight, around midnight.” He hands me a business card, and I feel like there’s a boulder in my stomach.
Can you feel it too?
“Here’s where I’m staying. You have her bring the papers…alone.”
You know on TV when there’s one of those awkward, shocking moments and all you hear are the crickets in the background?
Well chirp-fucking-chirp. This is one of those moments.
“I’m not sure I…”
“Oh, sure you do, Drew. You know how it is. When a man’s working late and needs a little…comfort. A distraction.”
How about my foot up your ass, Saul? How’d that be for distraction?
“And that girl of yours is one prime piece. My business will bring your firm millions in revenue. And that’s not including the additional clients you’ll get once word gets around that I’m with you. I’d say a little after-hours servicing is a small price to pay, wouldn’t you?”
He makes sense—in a sick, perverted, registered-sex-offender kind of way. But do you think that matters? Hell no. I stand up. I’m afraid of what I’ll do if I have to look at his smug, shit-eating grin another minute.
I throw a dozen bills on the table and tell him, “That’s not the kind of business we’re in. If that’s the sort of deal you’re looking for, Forty-Second Street is about ten blocks that way. I’m no pimp, and Katherine Brooks is certainly not a whore. This meeting is over.”
Aren’t you proud of me? I am. Though what I just said was in no way satisfying, it was professional—dignified. I kept it together. I didn’t even call him the ass-licking, dick-bag piece of steaming dog shit that I think he is. Go me.
I walk toward the bar area in the next room, and I’m fuming. Can you see the steam coming out of my ears? No? Well, obviously you’re not looking hard enough. That guy’s got some set of balls. To fucking suggest that Kate…Kate is more than just a pretty face. She’s brilliant. And funny. And—okay, maybe she’s not nice, but I’m sure she could be if she didn’t hate my guts. In any case, she deserves better—more respect—than what she just got. So much more.