“Obviously I was going to want you closer. But this is what you wanted. You’re accepting my ‘insanity’ as you call it, and I’m accepting your obstinacy.”

I stared at him a moment. I couldn’t quite argue with his description of me. “Some might call that progress.”

He smiled in a way that made me believe no one had come this far with him before. We hadn’t talked about it, but Blake didn’t strike me as someone who made compromises often. Frankly, neither of us did, but somehow we were figuring it out. Remodeling the office was way over the top, but accepting my decision was a step in the right direction.

I sipped the chilled bubbly. Silence settled over the room. “You need to let me struggle a little bit, you know.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Do you hear yourself?”

“Yes, I do. And I know I won’t grow if I always have you butting in before I can face a challenge or make a mistake. I want those opportunities, otherwise I’ll just bumble along in this fantasy world where you make all my problems go away and I’ll never know what it’s really like to run a business.”

He exhaled loudly. “All right, then. How involved do you want me to be?”

“How about you let me ask for your help when I need it?”

He shook his head. “You’ll never do that.”

I rolled my eyes, but he was partially right. I was stubborn as hell and rarely reached out for help.

“Hey.” He caught my chin, turning me toward him. “I’m proud of you.”

“For what? Roping you in for four million dollars?”

He laughed. “If that was all part of your master plan, then yes, I’m extremely proud, because I never saw that coming.”

I smirked despite myself. I would have done just about anything to avoid taking his money, and he knew it.

“Seriously though, this is a big step. I want you to remember to enjoy the moment.”

And I did just that. Being with Blake made every moment just a little sweeter. A lot sweeter. He gave everything a kind of wonder that made me question how I’d ever survived the tedious existence I called life before he walked in and turned everything upside down.

“I am, thanks to you.” I leaned in closer and met his lips.

He cradled my face in his palm and traced his tongue along my lips, coaxing them open, dipping into my mouth with soft lashes of his tongue.

“Aren’t you going to ask me what’s in the bag?”

I pulled back a fraction, breathless and a little dazed on his taste and scent. Clean, rough, and masculine, uniquely Blake. He turned away and unpacked the contents of the brown bag. He set out a container of strawberries, whipped cream, and a small glass jar of gourmet chocolate sauce.

“What kind of picnic did you have in mind?”

He held up the glass jar. “They drizzle this amazing chocolate sauce on the lattes and confections downstairs. I guess it’s not for sale, but when I politely explained to them that I’d be licking it off your naked body to christen the new office, they finally obliged.”

I giggled and tried to imagine that unlikely conversation between him and Simone. He twisted the lid off and offered it to me. I dipped my finger in the chocolate and then into my mouth. The chocolate coated my tongue, the taste decadent and divine, the experience only heightened by the surety that Blake would be making good on his plans shortly.

“I thought you were opposed to office nooky,” I said.

“This is your office. Different rules.”

“Which I see you’re already making.” I dipped my finger through the chocolate sauce again, but before I could make it to my mouth, Blake pulled it swiftly into his and tongued my fingertip suggestively.

“Take your shirt off and lie down.”

I grinned and rose slowly to my knees, pulling my tank top off. “You’re bossy today.”

He pulled a black silk mask out of the bag and slipped it over my eyes. “It’s not a mood, baby. It’s who I am. You'd do well to remember that.”

His breath was warm against my collarbone. I held my breath in anticipation of his mouth on me but was surprised instead to feel his hand slide up my back. His fingers deftly unhooked my bra and I heard the garment land a few feet away. Bare-chested and chilled by the cool room, I was acutely aware of my present vulnerability.

“Lie down and don't make me repeat myself again.”

I released the breath I'd been holding, suddenly weakened by the command and the edge in his voice. Arguing with his simple but forceful request was a distant thought, quickly overwhelmed by the desire to have him take control of my body for as long as he saw fit.

I obeyed and lay down on my back, resting my palms on the textured fabric of the blanket, cool against the heat that prickled beneath my flesh. He unbuttoned my jeans and tugged them down my hips, stopping just short of my pubic bone.

He trailed hot open-mouthed kisses along my belly that had me breathless for more. I arched into his touch as he caressed the juts of my hipbones with his thumbs.

“I love this part of you,” he murmured. “One of many. Your body… Erica, you’re so fucking sexy.”

“Touch me.”

“I plan to, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Stop squirming.”

“You're torturing me,” I whimpered.

He laughed quietly. “Not nearly.”

With that he left me, creating an unwelcome distance between us. The room chilled again. Where was he and what was he doing? I shivered at the first drop of liquid sliding into my navel. He drizzled a trail up my chest, circling my nipples, each beading under the sensation.

“Do you like strawberries?”

I smiled at the hint. “Yes.”

“Good. I'm going to feed you one.”

The fresh aroma of strawberries mingled with the chocolate as he rested a piece of fruit on my lower lip. I opened my mouth, but Blake kept it just out of reach. I arched to grasp it until he finally let me sink my teeth into it. I chewed and swallowed, savoring the flavor and the new experience of combining my obsession with Blake with my love of food. Strange, but I couldn't argue with having too much of a good thing, or many good things, in this case.

He pressed an unexpected kiss to my throat, nibbling my flesh. He traveled down my collarbone and passed between my breasts. His tongue slowed and circled one peak after the next. He sucked and licked slow velvety strokes all over my torso, spreading his attentions to any remote expanse of skin. I gasped at the sensation of his tongue taunting and taking its sweet time to lick my flesh clean. Once he had, he slid a hand into my jeans and cupped my sex over my now soaked panties.

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