“Yes. That’s true.” His hands pause in the act of releasing his buttons and he seems to search for an explanation. “Would you believe I’m a vigilante? I hear a virgin is in danger of being slobbered all over by a Centrum Silver-popping grandpa and I show up to save the day.”
“No. I wouldn’t believe that.”
He winks at me. “It was worth a try.”
Don’t laugh. This is not funny.
He finishes his task of button popping, then eases the sides of his dress shirt open, slowly peeling the garment off his body. Putting on a show, I realize. Flaunting for me. Stubbornly, I try to keep my eyes above his neck, but there’s no ignoring his physique. It’s a work of art. A deep natural tan lovingly hugs his thick rolls and slabs of muscle. Big, meaty pecs and cantaloupe biceps. His abdomen is drum tight and these thick veins spear low, low into the waistband of his black pants.
My toes protest and I realize I’ve got them curled tightly enough to hurt.
Jack steps closer to me, his hips pressing to my knees and I find myself gallingly short of breath. Very…very short. “Look, I know this isn’t ideal.” He brushes a loose strand of hair off my bare shoulder and gives me a lopsided smile. “But if you had to sleep with someone for two million dollars, couldn’t you do worse, angel? I’m basically a fucking stallion.”
A laugh trips over my lips.
I can’t believe it.
He made me laugh.
When Jack hears the sound, he exhales in a rush, some of the tension leaving the corners of his eyes. “There you go, Maisy. It’s okay to relax. I’m not going to let anything happen to you, all right?”
Is it okay to believe him?
I don’t know. I don’t know.
“I think it’s about time we introduce ourselves properly, right?” He plants his fists on either side of my hips, his sharp eyes traveling over my face, my shoulders. “I’m Jack Lincoln. Thirty-one. Hedge fund owner. Tequila enthusiast. Vintage video game collector. Rock climber. Purest asshole you’ll ever meet. Your turn.”
This whole situation is ludicrous, but I can’t deny the conversation is making me feel better. Distracting me from what’s to come. “I’m…Maisy. Just Maisy. I’m eighteen. I clean offices, but I want to narrate audiobooks someday—”
“You do?” Jack asks, sounding surprised. As quickly as he interrupts, he shakes himself. “I mean, that’s interesting. Please continue.”
“I, um…I can only fall asleep at night if Friends reruns are playing in the background. I hate exercising on purpose, it has to happen spontaneously. I’ve never had tequila. I’ve actually never had a drink at all.”
“Would you like one now? It might help you relax.”
“Yes, please,” I whisper back quickly enough to make him laugh.
And that laugh. It’s hot smoke. All velvet and curling and deep.
Rusty from disuse.
Jack swallows and pushes off the bed, scanning the room. He leaves me for a few moments, returning with a short glass of something amber colored. “It’s not tequila, but it’ll do the trick.” He holds it to my lips. “Knock it back fast. No one likes the taste at first.”
His eyes remain on mine as I open my mouth, tip my head back and let him pour the liquor down my throat. It burns, but I let the slide of fire continue until the glass is empty. My eyes water when I swallow, but I manage not to cough.
“Good girl,” Jack rasps, setting the glass down on one of the tables positioned in between the armchairs. “You did that like a pro.”
The liquor tastes terrible, but I have to admit it helped. An enjoyable warmth is walking through my limbs, ridding them of the most jagged peaks of tension. Also, I’m suddenly holding myself to a less strict standard when it comes to ogling his body. I can’t seem to stop tracing those lines that create a V at his hips. What are those called? Am I staring?
“Maisy.” Jack tips my chin up. “Not that I don’t love your eyes on me, but there’s something important we need to get out of the way. Before we’re not alone anymore.”
Gulp. Had I actually forgotten about the upcoming show for a second? “What is it?”
He unhooks his belt and slides it out of the loops, dropping it to the floor. “Before they get here, I want you to get comfortable with my touch. My kiss. I don’t want us having…” His jaw ticks for a few seconds. “I don’t want you having all of your firsts in front of an audience.”
I don’t immediately discard the idea. In fact, I consider it.
Is it possible I’m…not going to mind him touching me so much?
Does that make me shameful?
Sitting on this huge bed in my slip dress with this big, beautiful man in front of me, knowing he paid ten million dollars to sleep with me…I know, I know I shouldn’t have a quickening tickle between my thighs. I know it shouldn’t turn me on to be desired so much, but I’m shocked to find…I’m getting there. In a life of toiling and labor, I’m suddenly a commodity. An object of lust. And it’s a little bit of a rush.