“I want to make you tremble like that, want to make you shake so hard all you can do is cling to me and beg.”
“Then what would you do?” she whispered.
“Then I’d give you whatever you were begging me for. I wouldn’t make you wait. I couldn’t. Because I’d give you anything you asked me for right now, just to kiss you, I think.”
It felt like a fever dream, too bright, too intense. Please don’t ask me to save the factory. Please don’t be playing me to get what you want from Hadley Corp, I thought, wondering how long it had been since I wished so hard for something.
“Then kiss me,” she said.
All that was left of her bright lipstick had to smear all over our faces then, because I had to have her mouth. Partly in relief that she hadn’t been winding me up into horny desperation just to try and manipulate me into saving the plant, and partly because I was in fact in a state of urgent, aroused desperation. The lush kiss of her soft lips on mine stole my breath. I was in control of the kiss, mastering her, stroking my tongue into her mouth just the way I wanted to. I reminded myself of that so I wasn’t completely swept away on a tide of sensation. Passion welled up in me, my whole body rigid with need. I kissed her, devoured her without holding back.
For a few minutes there I would’ve sworn I was insane, driven by nothing but the crackling sexual tension between us, the firestorm of passion. Then I got control of myself and backed away. I even took a drink of wine, as if that would help. A bucket of ice water over my head wouldn’t help. I got up and paced around the small, opulent room that seemed designed for romance, for lushness and kisses in the shadows. I stalked back and forth a few times to put distance between us. She was trying bravely to eat the soup we’d let go cold. She patted her lips with a napkin, those sensuous, rosy lips that were flushed from being kissed. I nearly groaned from watching her use a damn napkin.
I loaded the bowls back on the tray and shoved it into the dumbwaiter irritably. This had been a mistake. I liked her too well, and we were way too attracted to each other. We couldn’t afford to be alone this way if we meant to avoid full-on sex. I rubbed a hand over my eyes and tried to focus on other things. The six thousand dollars I won on the Super Bowl last winter. The Hermes tie I found in a vintage shop in Charlotte for seventeen dollars. The pool I had put in behind my mom’s house so she could relax and swim whenever she wanted. Those were good things to think about, nice, wholesome, nonsexual things that might get us through the fish course if her leg didn’t brush up against mine.
She made me feel the way the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue made me feel when I was fifteen. Like the entire world was a thirst trap and my constant arousal was obvious. Like the only thought my brain was able to produce was a completely X-rated request. I sat down and drained my water glass.
“You okay there, Company Man?” she said archly, a self-satisfied grin on her face.
“Now who’s arrogant?”
“Me? What do I have to be arrogant about? Except you offering me everything up to half your kingdom or whatever just to kiss me.”
“I was carried away.”
“I was there for that kiss. It was in no way an overreaction. I thought briefly of buying new sheets for your hotel room, because we were going to mess those up. They’d be filthy.”
“God, don’t say filthy. Or anything else. Everything sounds so wrong right now.”
“Dirty,” I corrected grimly.
“Is that a bad thing? A wrong thing?’
“Only if you’re serious about not sleeping together.”
“I’m serious. I’m not trying to be a tease.”
“You’re not. You’ve been very honest with me from the beginning. That doesn’t stop me from getting ideas,” I said.
“I think dinner’s ready. The light’s flashing again. I’ll go get it this time.”
“A gentleman doesn’t make a lady fetch her own dinner. And we’re pretending I’m a gentleman, right?” I said and slid out of the booth to retrieve the tray.
“Does a gentleman reserve a private room and forbid the staff to enter?” she said wickedly.
“Probably not. I also don’t drive a pair of horses hitched to a buggy or have a valet lay out my clothes,” I said. “So we’ve agreed I’m just impersonating a gentleman. Your dinner, my lady.”
I lifted the lid to reveal a sumptuous looking fish course with a light sauce. We both dug in and ate for a few minutes, as if by mutual agreement to have dinner instead of just making out and then talking about how we wanted to sleep together but we wouldn’t. The fish was excellent, the wine was better, and she never failed to make me laugh and like her better every time she spoke.