By the time we left the restaurant, the sun had gone down and I was more relaxed, thanks to the wine. The air was warm but not stifling. I stepped out onto the street, orienting myself and twisting back to Isaac to ask him which way he was headed. With the movement, I lost my balance and tumbled. Isaac grabbed me and pulled me tight to his chest.
“I had a great time with you tonight, Erica.” His voice was low and gravelly.
The sound might have melted another woman but it raked over me like nails on a chalkboard. Nothing felt right about it, even after ending the dinner on such a positive note.
“Thanks, Isaac, but I—”
He muffled my protest, pressing an unexpected kiss into my lips. I froze as he plunged his tongue into my mouth and grabbed my ass, grinding his hip into me. I shrieked into his mouth as I tried to find my footing and push him away, but he held me firmly in place.
I tried to twist away, alarms going off everywhere. Adrenaline surged through me in a potent rush. My body buzzed with the impulse to fight, to get him off me as quickly as possible. My mind shouted commands, but against every instinct, I hesitated, hoping he’d just leave me be.
“Why don’t we go back up to the hotel?” he said.
“Let me go, Isaac.” Please. I can’t do this again. Please.
He laughed, a wicked sound that sliced through me. “You think Landon gives a shit about you, don’t you?”
I seethed with anger and prepared to knee him in the balls when he froze.
The deep voice emerged from behind me. Isaac let me go, immediately creating space between us and backing away toward the stone wall of the building. In a flash Blake was on him, pinning him by the throat to the building.
Isaac sputtered out a string of apologies. “She tripped, I just caught her. It was nothing, I swear.”
“It didn’t look like nothing.”
I glanced up and down the street. Night had fallen and we were alone. I struggled to breathe as the aftermath of the panic racked through me, but I kept reminding myself we were safe. Blake was here, and by the looks of it, Isaac didn’t have a chance. In a matter of seconds, he’d been reduced to a pathetic puddle of apologies while Blake squeezed him tighter, threatening him to make one wrong move.
“She’s mine, Perry. And if you lay another hand on her, you won’t have hands. Is this clear?”
“Yes. Yes, definitely.” He loosened his grip just enough to slam him back, causing Isaac to cough, clawing at Blake’s hand around his throat.
I’d never seen him so angry, not like this.
Blake finally released him. “Leave,” he ordered.
Isaac disappeared down the street toward the Plaza. Blake turned to me, his face cold as stone.
I followed Blake down the street to where his sleek sports car was parked. How long had he been stalking me? How had he even known where we were meeting? His uncanny knowledge about my whereabouts was unsettling, but I wasn’t about to bring it up now.
He opened the door for me, a mere gesture I guessed because he didn’t say a word to me as he joined me in the car and sped the few blocks back to the apartment. We stepped out and I stopped him at the entryway.
“Are you angry with me?” I asked.
“I’m not happy about finding you in a lip lock with that fucking guy, if that’s what you mean.”
“He just—I didn’t want that.”
“I know that, but you wouldn’t have been in that situation if you’d listened to me.”
I cringed, hating that he was right. The whole situation embarrassed and ashamed me. “He caught me off guard. I could have handled it if you’d let me.”
“Would you have had Max go with you, as an investor?”
I tapped my toe on the pavement. This was a trick question. “Blake, it’s not realistic for you to be with me for every business meeting. Let’s not go there.”
I hesitated. “Maybe.”
“That’s what I thought. I’ll fund the business. I’ll call Max and let him know the deal is off.” He dug into his pocket.
“No, stop right there. This is my business. I make these decisions, not you.” I’d barely stopped shaking from Isaac’s advances. Now the threat of Blake calling Max under these extreme circumstances had ratcheted my panic to a whole different level. My mind raced, frantically trying to stay ahead of wherever Blake was going with this.
“Right. And you need two million dollars to continue running it and maintaining the lifestyle which you currently enjoy,” he said.
I stilled. “Are you threatening me with the apartment? Say the word, and I’ll pack my things right now. You’re the one who forced me into it.”
He ran his hands through his already tousled hair, his breath whistling through clenched teeth. “Just take the money and we can forget about all this.”
“Blake, we have a relationship, or at least we did twenty minutes ago, which I think you can agree is complicated enough. I’m not taking your money, so let’s just forget it.”
He paused, holding me in a penetrating stare. “You don’t trust me.”
The words cut me to the core. Not because he felt that way, but because they were true. I trusted Blake on many levels, but keeping the business on my terms was imperative.
Unable to formulate a convincing response, I pushed through the doors of the building and nearly ran into Cady and Sid walking into her apartment. Blake barreled in after me.
I offered a quick hello and goodbye before climbing the stairs up to the apartment. Blake followed me all the way to the bedroom. I didn’t argue.
“Clothes, off,” I ordered, directing him with my index finger.
My mind was an epic jumble, and I could think of no better cure than to fuck Blake straight to oblivion. As it was, I’d thought of little else for the better part of the day.
His eyebrows arched. “Shouldn’t we talk about this?”
“Did I stutter? Clothes. Off.” I cocked my head, daring him to argue.
He paused another minute, then undressed completely. As the last garment hit the floor, I stared in awe at the specimen at my mercy in front of me. Every sliver of flesh stretched tight over the sculpted muscles beneath. My fingers itched with the urge to run my fingers all over them, to feel them flex beneath me, above me, inside me. My anger slipped away, rapidly replaced with the craving I’d been staving off for hours.
The longer I looked at him, the harder he got. His expression was calm, but the longing that flashed behind his eyes reflected my own. I snapped into action, giving him a little shove onto the bed. He reached for me but I stepped back, stripping down, taking extra time to remove my white lacy bra and panties that I had chosen just for him.