“To be honest, not much, at least lately.”
“So you’re a workaholic?”
“You could say that.”
“Well, we have that in common.” He leaned back into his chair and gazed out into the horizon.
“Oh? It seems like you do well enough these days to take a more relaxed approach to life.”
“My life is hardly a vacation, if that’s what you’re implying.”
“I see no reason why it shouldn’t be.”
“Then I suppose you don’t know me very well.”
“Enlighten me,” I said. “A little bird told me you used to be a hacker.”
Over the rim of my nearly empty champagne flute, a grimace flashed across his face, then disappeared.
“You shouldn’t believe everything you read online.”
The server brought our meals, two perfectly cooked rib eye steaks atop a bed of asparagus and sautéed mushrooms. My heart sang for a moment and I thanked the server, who disappeared as quickly as he’d arrived, leaving us alone once more.
Famished from the intense day, I ate, enjoying each divine bite. “You aren’t interested in sharing your life story, I take it?”
He paused before answering, intently focused on his meal and avoiding eye contact. “You’ve read the cliff notes already. What more is there to tell?”
“How else will I know how to become insanely successful unless you tell me all your secrets?” I searched his eyes, wishing he would tell me more, something I couldn’t find online.
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I developed banking software, sold it, and now I invest in other, mostly successful, ventures to kill time. Satisfied?”
“Not really,” I said truthfully.
“So how involved is Alli in your business?”
I wanted to know more about Blake’s infamous history, but I decided to circle back to it later since it seemed to be a touchy subject, and he hadn’t really started grinding my gears yet.
“She was my inspiration for the site actually. After three years I think I’ve finally completed my fashion education with her, even though she still insists on dressing me half the time. Anyway, now she does our marketing. She’s responsible for making the connections that have resulted in most of our paid accounts.”
“You said her involvement was dependent on financing though.”
“Alli’s parents are expecting her to get a job that pays more than we do, so she doesn’t have much choice until we get financing or grow more quickly. She’s been interviewing in New York, so I imagine that’s where she’ll end up eventually if things don’t work out here.”
“How are you financing the site right now?”
“You’re not pitching me. I’m just curious.”
“We supplement the site income with my inheritance, which, thanks to all this wonderful education, is finally dwindling.”
“I’m sure you’re not the first one to leverage your personal finances to follow a dream.”
The champagne warmed me, a welcome relaxation in the presence of someone who had a habit of winding me up. He was being surprisingly sweet, though. At least when we weren’t talking about him.
When we finished, Blake tossed his napkin on the table and topped off our glasses, emptying the pricey bottle of pink bubbly. He grabbed his glass, stood, and reached for my hand. Tentatively, I accepted it, and he led us to the bright white leather couches on the other end of the expansive main area. I sat, and he took a seat next to me, sliding his knee alongside my leg to face me.
“So you’ve graduated and now you’re talking to Max. What’s next?”
“That’s the million dollar question.”
“Or the two million dollar question, in this case,” he said.
“Right. I don’t exactly know. I have to move out of the dorms next week, so I suppose I have to figure out my next move pretty quick.”
“You strike me as someone who will make it work, one way or the other.” He tucked a strand of hair behind my ear, fingering my dangle earring before dropping his hand onto the back of the couch.
My breathing quickened, and I felt certain he noticed.
“What do you want to do tonight?” he asked quietly, his gaze traveling over me.
As if the gauge of his stare had direct control over my body temperature, I flushed, my skin becoming unbearably heated. I wasn’t so naïve to believe that the night wouldn’t end in Blake’s bed, but I was losing the battle a little faster than I’d planned to. I’d wanted other men before and had them. Detached and focused on the physical, I could almost always keep things on my own terms. But nothing about being with Blake felt detached now.
“How about another drink?”
He hesitated. “Sure, but if you can’t walk by the end of the night, I’d rather that be because of me.”
Oh God. The visions that his words invoked overtook my better judgment.
“How about a tour?” I said, barely able to utter the words.
“Of Las Vegas?” He raised his eyebrows.
I laughed. “How about we start with the suite.”
“Is that what you want?”
Something shifted in the air between us. My smile slipped when I saw the hunger burning in his eyes. My need to have his hands and mouth on me had become singular and overpowering, and I cared less about the repercussions of acting on that need with each passing moment.
I nodded silently and stood with him. Without delay he threaded my hand with his and guided us one by one through the massage rooms, butler pantries, and guest bathrooms as obscene as the price he must be paying for this place.
We wandered up a gold-railed staircase to the second floor and into the master bedroom, another corner room with floor-to-ceiling windows. He stopped at the doorway and I left him, walking to the edge of the room.
“I could get used to this view.”
“Me too,” he murmured.
He was close enough to touch me now, but he didn’t, playing this gentleman promise out to a maddening degree. In this tense middle ground, I waited for him, wanting him to set things in motion, but with each passing second the tension and the sexual energy between us became increasingly palpable.
I let out the breath I had been holding in. Fuck it.
Emboldened by the champagne, I found the sheer hem of my dress, collected the layers in a bunch. I pulled it over my head, leaving me bare-chested, clad only in my panties, heels, and liquid confidence. The glass cast back my reflection, and Blake came into view behind me. The heat of his body radiated onto mine, my skin already aflame, as much from my own self-consciousness as my growing desire.