Authors: Kitty French
Lucien walked into his office half an hour later just as Sophie deposited a sheaf of papers on his desk.
He dropped a couple of brown paper bags on the coffee table in the corner of his office and shucked off his dark woolen reefer jacket. Sophie had to look away. He had a way of wearing business dress that rendered him centrefold-worthy. His close cut dark shirts defined the taut lines of his body, and Sophie had yet to see him in a tie. His top button may as well not have been there for the amount he used it, and his shirt-sleeves were always folded back to reveal tanned forearms. The man was a walking, talking poster boy for his own sinfully sexy empire.
Sophie hovered, uncertain. She was hungry, and whatever was in those brown bags smelt divine.
"It’s just food, Sophie. Come and eat."
Lucien settled on the sofa and reached for the bags, then looked up at her expectantly.
Sophie knew she was being churlish. If this was going to work, she had to find a way to be around Lucien without remembering how things had been between them last time around.
That was then, and this was now, and he was laying little cartons of Chinese food out on the table that she really, really wanted to taste. Her feet propelled her towards the sofa almost of their own accord, but still she perched as far away from Lucien as she possibly could without tumbling off the edge.
He watched her coolly for a second, and then reached across the void and handed her a pair of chopsticks. She eyed them doubtfully.
"I'm not great with these."
"I can't hear you Sophie. You're practically in the other room." Lucien cupped his hand to his ear, and she rolled her eyes and scooted a little closer to the food, and to him. He nudged a carton across the table.
"Try this. I think you'll like it."
The delicious scent of Singapore noodles filled her nostrils as soon as she opened the carton. Novice as she was with chopsticks, she managed well enough to discover that Lucien was right - they were divine.
He handled his chopsticks with the ease of a man who used them often, and each new carton he offered her held amazing flavours and textures. Delicate glass noodles. Fiery rare fillet beef. Tender lobster. He encouraged her to try a little of everything, and Sophie found herself relaxing a little as the good food hit her stomach. Even the chopsticks behaved themselves, right up until the point Lucien insisted she test a particularly fragrant rice dish. Try as she might, more than a few grains at a time eluded her grip, until she laughed and placed the carton down, defeated.
"Like this." Lucien demonstrated the correct way to use the sticks. "Keep the ends even, and pinch the top one between your thumb and finger." He frowned as she tried and failed to copy his example. "Wedge the bottom one here, like this." He looked at his own hand, and then at hers. He made it look so simple. Of course he did.
Lucien moved along the sofa, close enough to reach out and touch her fingers with his own
"Not like that. Like this."
His warm hand brushed hers, placing her fingers into the perfect arrangement around the chopsticks. Sophie couldn't meet his eyes. The casual touch of his fingertips against her skin was enough to dissolve any further interest she had in eating. She badly wanted not to react to him, not to remember, not to want more… but it was too hard.
She dragged her eyes upwards and found him watching her closely. He took the chopsticks from her fingers and placed them on the coffee table.
"I'm sorry..." she said, and cast her gaze upward to the ceiling as she blinked tears back in. What was happening to her? She didn't cry easily, and yet these past few weeks she'd wept enough to cause a flood hazard.
"Jesus. Come here."
When Lucien moved in close and pulled her into his arms, Sophie couldn't fight it. No one – apart from Kara, her dear, dear, friend - had held her for weeks. And Kara didn’t hold her like this. She really, really needed it. Her unchecked tears dampened his shirt, and his familiar, expensive warm spice smell assaulted her senses. The strength of his arms. The gentle rub of his hand over her back. Little by little, his comforting eased the heave of her shoulders and stole away the painful ache from her chest.
Sophie's eyelashes drifted down, and somewhere along the line, the touch of Lucien's hands went from being comforting to something else. Something way, way too intensely pleasurable to call a halt to. She became aware of the heat of his back where her arm curved around him, and the steady beat of his heart where her palm lay flat against the buttons of his shirt.
Did his lips brush against her hair when he murmured her name?
Did she turn her face into the warm, golden skin at the hollow of his neck?
His mouth was a whisper from hers when she tilted her head, close enough for his breath to warm her lips. Lucien was a long way beyond irresistible. Sophie closed the barely there space between them, letting her lips brush his jaw. The lowest of moans escaped Lucien's throat, and his gentle fingers cradled her cheek to draw her face in to his. He kissed her then, warm, slow and delicious. Pliant lips. The suggestion of his tongue against hers. His fingers in her hair. Murmured endearments in her mouth.
Lucien let himself hold her for a few moments longer. She felt so damn good in his arms. He was around five heartbeats away from pushing her down on the sofa and burying himself inside her, and he knew that right now she wouldn't stop him. But he also knew that she'd regret it as soon as it was over, and that she wouldn't come back again tomorrow.
He wanted her to come back again tomorrow
She was porcelain in his hands. His thumb skimmed her raised collarbone and he was beyond tempted to slide his hand inside her blouse to cup the fullness of her breast. He'd caught a glimpse of her black bra strap earlier, and remembering the sight of her body from the times he’d opened her blouse a few short weeks before only made it harder not to reach for her buttons.
Would she still look the same?
Every lush curve seemed a little less full than the last time he'd held her.
But it went deeper, too. It wasn't just her body that had taken the hit over the last few weeks. From the moment she'd walked into his office that morning, brittle fragility had been written all over her face. She'd come to him because she had no other choice, and whichever way he shook it down, that wasn't a good basis for sex. So he held her and tasted the sweetness of her mouth, then gently eased back and smoothed her mussed up hair behind her ear while she caught her breath.
He watched her eyes and saw lust give way to confusion, then to a dawning realisation, a re-examination of what the hell she was doing.
She covered her mouth with shaky fingers.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, wide-eyed. "I didn't mean..."
"It's okay. I know."
Sophie dropped her hands into her lap, and Lucien covered them with his own. He felt her move to pull them away but he held them steady.
"Sophie, there's nothing I'd have liked to do more then let that carry on, but even I can see that it's not what you need right now."
She nodded, her gaze fixed on his hands.
"I shouldn't have come here." The flat, deflated sound of her voice pierced him. "It's not going to work, is it?"
"Not if you can't keep you hands off me, no," Lucien said, choosing a light tone, glad when she laughed shakily and looked up.
"I think we're going to need some rules."
Lucien raised an eyebrow at her suggestion. In general, he preferred to be the one making the rules.
"Go on." He waited to see if Sophie's rules were the kind of rules he could live with.
"Well..." She glanced down at his hands still covering hers. "No touching, for starters."
He swallowed hard, then nodded grimly and moved his hands. He didn't say it, but the idea of having Sophie around him and not touching her made his balls ache.
It helped a little that she looked equally regretful at the loss of contact.
She caught her lip between her teeth and then released it. He watched the movement and wanted to kiss her some more, to feel those lips open under his again.
Those lips had slid over his cock.
He felt himself starting to harden at the memory.
"No flirting," Sophie said.
"I don't flirt."
"You flirt all of the time."
Lucien frowned. He didn't flirt. He just made it clear what he wanted. There was a difference.
"I can't promise not to do something I don't do anyway."
"Okay, let me put it another way," Sophie said with exaggerated patience. "My name's Sophie, not Ms. Black. Don't ask me to kiss your envelopes. Don't buy me lunch."
"Friends can buy each other lunch."
"Lucien, we just ended up snogging on your sofa because of lunch," Sophie pointed out.
"Snogging? Could you
any more English?" He rolled his eyes. "I don't snog. I kiss, Sophie. I've practiced kissing for a long time. I'm good at it."
It was Sophie's turn to roll her eyes. "Fine. Well, that's another thing. No kissing."
"But snogging's okay?" He knew he was winding her up, but the pleasure of seeing the fire return to her eyes was worth it.
"Lucien, please! I'm being serious. No kissing, no snogging... call it what you like. No anything that involves your mouth touching mine."
"Not even mouth to mouth if you're dying?"
She looked for a second as if she wanted to actually hit him, but the way her eyes flickered momentarily to his mouth gave her away. She could talk the talk, but walking the walk was much harder.
"Okay, okay. No kissing. No touching. No flirting." He touched his fingers to his forehead in mock salute.
She was asking a lot, and he wasn't certain he could abide by her rules twenty-four seven. The plain fact was that this thing between them wasn't just basic chemistry. It was lethal, combustible dynamite, and it was only going to be made ten times more difficult by denial.
But he'd try. For Sophie Black, he was willing to try.
Summer had well and truly given way to autumn, and Sophie was glad of the warmth of her cherry red winter coat as she made her way into work several Mondays later.
So far, so good. Lucien had kept to his word as far as their new rules were concerned, although she’d noticed that he'd been out of the office more than in it since she'd returned. She wasn't sure if it was deliberate or a coincidence, but either way it made it easier to settle back in.
That morning, he was already at his desk when she walked into his office, and he glanced up and studied her. He looked for a second as if he was going to say something more than his usual greeting, but then seemed to think better of it.
"Lucien." She smiled lightly as she unbuttoned her coat. "Good weekend?"
Sophie had no idea what conclusion to draw from that, because she had no idea what Lucien did for pleasure. Her own experience of spending leisure time with him had been far removed from any normality she’d previously experienced. Surely he didn't live his life permanently at that intensity? Her week by his side had been a whirlwind of new experiences and sexual highs that had left her exhausted in both body and spirit.
The instant message alert popped up on her screen as soon as she switched the computer on.
'Red looks good on you.'
Sophie's breath caught in her throat as she replied.
'I think that's classed as flirting.'
'Blame your coat. It reminded me of...'
Sophie closed her eyes for a second before replying.
Several moments passed before he responded.
'Thank you. I won't wear it here again.'
'Please do. I like it. Not flirting. Just honest.'
Sophie sighed and decided not to pursue the point.
'You read my mind, Ms. Black.'
'Sophie. Can you bring the diary through when you're ready please? There's something we need to discuss.'
Sophie stared at his words for a second. What did he need to discuss? And why did she get the distinct feeling that it was something that involved her? Smoothing her skirt down, she set about making coffee so she could go and find out.
"I need you to clear the diary for a trip to Paris, please Sophie."
She opened the diary, pen poised.
"End of next week. Wednesday through Friday, ideally."
She flicked the pages and made a note, nodding.
"And I need you to come with me."
Her heart stopped. "I don't think..."
The message couldn't have been clearer. He wasn't giving her a choice. He was telling her that he needed his PA at his side for this trip, and she sensed that refusal wasn't an option. And how could she argue, in reality?
Aside from his reference to her coat that morning, he hadn't overstepped the line once in almost a month. He'd given her no reason to doubt him. Was it Lucien she doubted, or was it herself?
The idea disconcerted her and she sighed heavily. Paris. Could it have been anywhere more classically romantic? It was a city she'd always wanted to visit, but Dan had never been keen. The idea of wandering those tree-lined avenues with Lucien, drinking wine in a cafe... She gave herself a mental shake and refocused her attention on Lucien in the here and now.
"Don't look so worried. Sophie. I'm opening a club over there. This is business, not a lovers’ tryst."
She felt mildly foolish, but justified in her reticence nonetheless. Lucien had offered similar assurances before he'd taken her to visit a new Gateway Club all those weeks ago. She closed her eyes for a second, engulfed by the memory. Their affair had begun that evening in his private suite at the club, and then spiralled swiftly into the most mind-blowingly erotic week of her life.