“What I have to say next is going to make things harder,” Eric finished heavily.

“Oh.” Kady was genuinely surprised this time. “There’s more?”

“It’s sort of last-minute…” Eric was once again back to speaking to her carefully, like she was a five year old that could only grasp two-syllable words. “But my application to work as a teacher’s assistant was recently accepted, and I’ll be working directly under a professor I’ve greatly admired—”

“Julian Alexeyev,” she guessed, having no problem recalling the Russian professor that Eric had practically worshipped.

A sullen expression flitted over his face, and Kady couldn’t help comparing it to Slade, whom she couldn’t even imagine contemplating being sullen for any reason.

“No, it’s not him,” Eric said rather shortly.

“Oh.”

“But it’s just as someone as good.” His tone had turned slightly defensive.

“Of course,” Kady agreed quickly, never mind if she distinctly recalled him telling her that no one could ever be as good as Julian Alexeyev in his field. “And, um, again congratulations—”

“I hope you mean that, too,” he interrupted.

Kady nearly had to bite her tongue. Why did he keep saying that?

“Since Professor Whitman is actually a professor here.”

“Here?” And when he nodded, she just had to clarify, asking, “Do you mean my university?”

Eric nodded. “I know it might hurt, seeing me often—” The sudden ringing of Kady’s phone cut him off, and he frowned disapprovingly when Kady didn’t even look at him and simply murmured an excuse as she started rummaging through her bag.

Why was her phone ringing, Kady wondered. From the moment she had entered the diner, she actually had Slade listening from the other end. It had been his non-negotiable condition, with Slade telling her coolly that it was the only way he would restrain himself from tagging along.

“You should put that in silent.” Like I used to tell you, and you used to do.

Kady heard Eric’s implied words loud and clear, and resentment started to simmer inside of her. How could she have fallen in love—

RING!

She finally found her phone and quickly answered the call. “Hello?”

“Say baby, little chick.”

“What?” Kady could feel her cheeks immediately burning at the command.

“Just say it,” Slade purred.

And somehow, she actually did end up saying it, albeit weakly. “Baby.”

“Good girl.”

In the corner of her eye, she saw Eric scowling, but she didn’t really have a thought to spare for him, not with Slade dropping another bombshell in the next second.

“As a reward—” Her boss’ tone turned dangerously silky. “I’m coming to pick you up.”

Slade…picking her up…and meeting Eric?

“Absolutely not,” she blurted out.

A low, sexy chuckle played down the line, and despite everything, she couldn’t help trembling at the sound. “Just stay put, and I’ll be there in a bit.”

“But—”

“Before I put the phone down, I need you to say it again.”

Kady made a face. “I don’t think so.”

“It would also be better if you say it like I had told you something…exciting.” And the way his voice dropped an octave, it was pretty much clear to Kady exactly what kind of exciting Slade was suggesting.

“I can’t—”

“Maybe you can’t, but you’ll do it anyway, won’t you, little chick?”

“I—”

“Because if you don’t, I might be tempted to kiss you right in front—”

She didn’t bother letting him finish, and she didn’t even have to pretend being embarrassed, with her cheeks turning a deeper, hotter shade of red as she said pleadingly, “Baby.”

Another chuckle, and then Slade murmured wickedly, “I was kidding, though.”

What?

“I’d kiss you either way.”

And then the line went dead, and for one long moment Kady could only gape at her phone. That…that…that…

“That was painfully awkward to hear.”

Eric’s surprisingly insightful words were a relief, and Kady found herself nodding vehemently. “I know, right? That was my—”

“Kady?”

The rudeness in his tone had her blinking. “Yes?”

“Don’t you think it’s a little too childish to fake having a boyfriend?”

OH. MY. GOD.

She quickly started shaking her head. “I’m not—”

“You were practically choking on the word when you said ‘baby’,” Eric derided.

“But that’s because—”

“There you are, sweetheart.”

Chapter Nine

I’m Too Sexy

* * *

“In order to know virtue, we must first acquaint ourselves with vice.” ~ Marquis de Sade

* * *

Eric could feel his jaw slacken as a man who was too much of everything pulled his dazed-looking ex-girlfriend off her seat…just so he could take her place and have Kady sit on his lap instead. To top it all off, Right Sexy Fred’s I’m Too Sexy had also started playing in the background, and Eric had a crazy urge to yell for management. Are you for real? Do you think I don’t fucking remember you played You’re So Vain when I walked in, and fuck it, now I know I was right, that song WAS about me!

Kady’s body, already feverishly aware of Slade’s masculine hardness – and oh my God, she could feel him everywhere: against her back, under her ass, on her knee – burst into flames the moment his breath caressed her ear, and he murmured, “Your ex looks like he’s about to have an aneurysm rupture.”


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