Somehow, we are not touching; the two of us are just out of one another’s reach, our hot stares exploring each other’s bodies before our gazes collide. In the next moments, a million words we’ve spoken, and more we have yet to discover, pass between us. And so does the certainty that we know each other beyond those words.

I break the silence, a confession on my lips. “Like I said. You make me selfish.” And the way his eyes darken with victory tell me he understands what I am telling him. I can’t leave him.

He grabs me and pulls me to him. “The feeling is mutual, baby,” he assures me, lifting me, his hands cupping my backside.

My legs wrap around his waist and I blurt out, “Run away with me. Let’s start fresh, Liam. New names. A new life.”

“No. No running.” He turns me and lays me down on the chaise lounge, leaning over me. “No hiding. No more fear.”

“Liam, please,” I whisper. “I’m begging you.”

“If you want to beg me, Amy, make it about an orgasm. Make it about pleasure. Otherwise, you beg for nothing, from no one, including me.” He doesn’t give me time to argue, moving away, and when I reach for him, he takes me with him, dragging me to the floor in front of him. He owns me and my fears as he turns me to face the chair, his powerful body arching around me.

I try to turn, fully intending to argue, but his hand flattens on my back and he leans in close, his breath warm on my neck. “I’m going to fuck that nightmare out of both our heads, then take you to bed and make love to you until we fall asleep.”

He presses inside me, driving deep, the pleasure shooting through me, my fingers curling on the chair. “And when we wake up,” he continues, his voice a low, guttural sound, “we’re going to decorate the tree and enjoy every second.” He pulls back and thrusts into me, harder this time, deeper. Then does it again and again. I moan with the heat radiating through me, trying to hold onto the edges of the cushion, but my grip slips and I can’t.

I BLINK AWAKE and my eyes are blasted with winter sunshine. Slowly, memories of all the sexy things Liam did to me both before and after we returned to bed come back to me. Sighing, I roll over to find him gone again. I sit up, and my hand brushes a piece of paper. Liam’s script is precise, controlled: I ran to the bank. I’ll be back by ten to start on the tree.

I drop the note on the bed. He’s at the bank, fearlessly walking around as if everything is perfectly normal. But is he as fearless for me as he seems to be for himself? If Tellar is here, this is a chance to get a read on his comfort level with us being back in the city.

Climbing out of bed, I head to the massive closet at the back end of the bathroom and find my clothes already hanging neatly, and I quickly dress in a black sweat suit and matching Keds. Passing the sink and mirror, I grimace at the wild mess of my hair and stop long enough to brush my teeth and dig for the hairbrush I can’t find. Time is not my friend right now, and I give up, dragging fingers through my hair as I head to the door and down the hallway.

The living room is empty so I head into the kitchen, blown away again by the unique round island in two-toned pale and dark blues, with fancy pots and pans hanging from black-finished cabinets above it. Walking past it, I find three men sitting at the long black table. Liam is at one end, Tellar at the other. A blond Adonis of a man I don’t know is in the center seat, dressed to kill in a gray custom suit and matching shirt and tie.

Feeling self-conscious, I drag my hand through my messy hair, praying it looks like I’ve been standing out in the wind, not having wicked sex with Liam. I glance at Liam, his aqua eyes wide with amusement that says it’s the latter.

“I was just about to come warn you that we have company,” he says, shrugging out of a sleek black leather Polo Ralph Lauren jacket to display a matching collared shirt. “Meet Josh Chase.”

“Josh Chase,” I repeat flatly, stunned to see the man Liam had recommended for inclusion in the Circle in our house. “The CEO of Chase Electronics.”

“That would be me,” he confirms in a friendly tone as if no one here thinks it’s dangerous to have a man on Liam’s recommendation list for the Circle in our house, especially when we’ve only just returned to the city.

“Josh designed the Sky Phone when he was sixteen,” Tellar informs me.

“Sixteen,” I say, six years of living lie after lie and thinking on my feet allowing me to fake a cool, composed reply. “Really? How many people can say they’ve known two prodigy billionaires, both in their thirties?”

Josh laughs and holds up his hands, an expensive watch on his wrist. “Oh, no, I’m no Stone Man. I only have millions.” He winks. “And I’m much better looking than him.”

Liam laughs, pushing to his feet. “Whatever makes you feel better when you get up in the morning, Josh.”

“Back at ya, man,” Josh shoots off before he stands as well and offers me his hand. “Nice to meet you, Amy.”

I don’t hesitate, knowing better than to bring attention to myself. I press my hand to his. “Nice to meet you.”

He holds on to me long enough to study my expression, a splash of seconds at the most, before releasing me with a laugh. “That wasn’t even slightly convincing. I’ll have to work on my first impressions.”

My cheeks flush. “It’s not you,” I say quickly. I gesture at my outfit and wild hair. “I was thinking it’s me who needs to make a better first impression.”

Tags: Lisa Renee Jones The Secret Life of Amy Bensen Romance