She opened her eyes again and stared up at him.
But she was his fantasy. His to keep. Caught brown-handed. So he didn’t try to guess what she wanted; he just did what he wanted: he dragged his thumbs over that faint prickle of lace, pressing into the softness underneath, rubbing her nipples hard, letting his fingers flex into her ribs.
Her body rippled in his hands, her lips parting as if begging.
But she didn’t have to beg for him, his perfect fantasy. He would be glad to give her everything.
He kissed her again, delving into her, pouring himself into the moment. Not trying to calculate his next step in seduction. Just enjoying every atom of her being.
There in his arms. Yielding to him. Pulling at him. Yielding. Her mouth, her tongue, her body that flexed to him and grew softer and softer, as if all strength failed her, even as he grew stronger and stronger, too hard, hard to bursting with himself and his power over her.
He pulled the cashmere over her head and pushed it away, revealing pale skin and black lace in the shadows lit just enough by the city night that came through the windows. She shivered at the touch of the cold air against her body, and he felt an instant’s guilt that they were here and not in some bed with down comforters where he could keep her warm.
He wouldn’t mind down comforters instead of marble and leather with his fantasy.
but that could be beautiful, luxuriating in the softest white cotton on a cold November day, nothing but coziness and pleasure and smiles, and no fear of waking to second guesses driving one or the other of them out into the cold.
Beautiful, too. He would concentrate on the beautiful moment he had right here in his hands.
He ran his hands up her back, warming her, pressing her into his chest. She pushed his sweater and shirt up, insistent, until he had to pause long enough in touching her to take them off, and she buried herself against the warmth so exposed to her.
He grinned, hard and fierce, because he had that warmth to give her. He had that strength to hold her. He had that world of scents and tastes to lure her. He knew how to make her happy. Tomorrow, who knew, because women changed too much from night to day to say. But this woman—this thief here in his arms—he knew exactly how to make her happy.
That certainty filled his kiss, the way he molded her body to his. Her hands slid over and gripped his back, every tightening, releasing pressure built up over a hard day’s work, every soft stroke making him feel stronger, surer, more wanted.
He kissed her and kissed her, unable to get enough of her mouth, the miracle of her skin under his hands, her breasts. He pulled off her bra and threw it toward the sweater.
Her breasts were so peaked and urgent for him. As urgent as her hips, twisting against his, lifting and subsiding. As urgent as her mouth, returning his kiss with so much passion, it soon became impossible to call it
kiss or to tell who had begun it, only that neither wanted to end it.
But she did, gasping for breath, melting instead onto his shoulders, his biceps, her lips pressing over and over against his skin.
With each touch of her lips, he felt bigger, harder, until he could do nothing but find the zipper hidden on the hip of her pants and push that exquisitely enjoyable leather down over her hips.
But skin . . . skin bared from leather . . . oh, that was exquisite, too.
And the way her hips jumped and jerked against him when her bottom touched the cold marble. And the way he slid his hands under her
and picked her up, protecting her from the cold and sinking his fingers into her roundness all at the same time.
She slid her arms around his waist and held on to him hard, her whole body trembling.
He pulled their sweaters back, spreading them where her body would lie on the marble, and eased her backward onto them.
She resisted. She did not want to let him go.
was the master here. He took her wrists and forced her down. As soon as his hands locked around her wrists, she stopped fighting him, her eyes huge, her breasts so peaked, her body so pliant.
He forced her down on the sweaters and brought her wrists together to hold them with one hand. She shivered and shivered, her body stretched out to him pale in the dark. Her sex, when he began to play with it, was already so moist.
It took her . . . almost too soon to come. He was enjoying his power to make her body buck and melt and moan. He could have kept doing that for hours.
But when she came so helplessly, her wrists twisting in the hold of his hand, her hips jolting against the heel of his palm, her body shivering and shivering in some offering to him . . . then he couldn’t keep doing this. Then he couldn’t wait even another second.
He pulled his jeans open one-handed and pulled her onto him while he could still feel the aftershocks rippling through her body, squeezing him helplessly, in a rhythm beyond her control.
It was astonishing that even with that, he managed to rein himself in a little longer, not to come at once, but to press into her over and over, watch her eyes shut, feel her muscles again begin to clutch at him uncontrollably, as he made her helpless with his thumb, with his sex. She was so amazing, lying there across his marble, half in leather, all slim and white and his. He couldn’t bear to end that quickly.
But she was so incredible. He couldn’t make it last nearly as long as he would like, either. When she came again, he did, too, driving into her in an explosion of feeling.
It took a long time for Cade to figure out what to do next. You couldn’t really cuddle on a marble counter. Especially not with a man who despised you and had used
for the first time only a few minutes before, and that only because he was on the brink of having sex with her. For all she knew, he was going to kick her out at any second.
He was still standing, or rather sagging over her, letting his arms take his weight. His face, so hard and intent a few minutes before, looked utterly relaxed now, almost sleepy. But he didn’t close his eyes. She would almost rather he had closed his eyes, but no, his gaze kept tracking up and down her body. Those French lips of his, usually so tight and precise from all those vowels he had to say, had softened into a curve.
He looked pretty happy with his life, in fact.
Of course, you would, if you were a man and had women throwing themselves at you or stripping naked and stretching themselves out the second you touched them. What was there not to be happy about?
She closed her eyes. His hands had felt exactly as she had imagined. So strong and sure and . . . delicate, when they needed to be.
They knew her melting temperature, that was for sure.
And now she was being tempered much too fast. The cold from the marble was seeping into her bones.
He shifted his weight to one arm and brought the other hand to rest on her tummy, fingers stroking idly.
That helped, a little.
She stopped feeling quite so isolated and awkward.
But it got cold. And she didn’t know what to say. And he sure didn’t bring up any ideas.
And then, from the slow trickling at her thighs, she realized with a shock that for the first time in her life she had had unprotected sex.
Oh, good Lord.
She took the pill, but . . . he might even have a girlfriend, that Chantal. And who knew how many women he slept with, considering that supersexy mouth and hands and dark eyes and arrogance and all that chocolate.
Completely freaked out now and frozen so fast that she was a little sick to her stomach, she rolled away from him.
That slight curve to his mouth disappeared, and he stepped back from her. He rubbed his hand once hard over his face, pushing his hair back, and then just watched her.
It was unnerving to have him watch her so steadily without speaking. Couldn’t he just look away?
She dressed, half turned away from him, her head bent. She didn’t know what to say or do.
She kept trying to come up with something, but what words fit? “Thanks”?
No way was she thanking him for having sex with her. “Well, that was nice”?
“See you tomorrow?”
No, no, no!
“I could still make you some
” he said. The rough darkness was gone from his voice. It sounded—careful, not dangerous. Teasing sneaked into it, cautiously. “Probably better than yours.”
She lifted her head and looked at him. “Really?” Make her hot chocolate? As in something he might do for someone he kind of liked?
In fact, almost certainly better than yours.” He grinned at her.
She narrowed her eyes. “You haven’t tasted mine.”
“You haven’t tasted
” he retorted.
Were they only talking about hot chocolate?
“Here.” He picked her up and set her on the marble again. “Watch how it’s done. And put your sweater back on before you freeze.”
But she noticed he didn’t put his own sweater on, or even his shirt. Half-naked, seemingly indifferent to the cold, he tossed flavors into a cauldron, whisking milk and chocolate and cacao together, brewing her hot chocolate. His body was utterly beautiful in motion. Long and lean, it was the perfect masculine form of a flat stomach and broad shoulders, dark hair curling on his chest, his jaw-length hair tucked behind his ear on one side, falling to tease his cheek on the other. He mastered every motion so perfectly, so efficient and easy.
“Does your nutmeg come from Zanzibar?” she asked him, as she lifted the cup toward her mouth and felt its heat warm her hands and face.
His eyes met hers with complete understanding. “Sometimes it does.”
She sipped it slowly. It really was delicious. Thick and unctuous, an elusive hint of spices hiding in its depths, warming her right to the bottom of her chilled, newly awkward body. He had used the cinnamon and nutmeg and vanilla that she had gotten out, but she knew hers wouldn’t have tasted this good.
When she finished, she stared into the smooth brown gloss that coated the bottom of her cup, but no one had ever read the future in the dregs of a cup of hot chocolate. “Are you going to call the police on me?”
“Have you stolen files that you’re going to use at Corey Chocolate without my authorization?”
“Not yet. And particularly not if you give your authorization. That would make everything a lot simpler.”
“You mean it would make it more efficient. Trust an American to get efficiency and simplicity confused.”
“They’re completely different terms.” He leaned back against the marble countertop, holding his cup of chocolate, a white contrast to his matte skin and the dark curls of chest hair. If he had calculated every move to seduce her again, he could not have done a better job of it. “I don’t know. Calling the police seems a waste of a good opportunity to me.”
“For blackmail.” He gave her a slow smile.
The blood congealed in her veins. She had given him multiple chances for blackmail, hadn’t she? The break-in itself. How much might Corey Chocolate have to pay to hush that up? And the sex on a countertop . . .
he have a video camera recording somewhere? Again she found herself scanning the room, trying to spot one of those little items she had looked for in that high-tech shop in the Halles. “What are your blackmail demands?”
His lashes lowered, and his fingers tightened on his cup. “I don’t think I should give them to you right now, but . . . maybe tomorrow sometime. Somewhere . . . a little more comfortable. I could describe them to you in detail.”
Her frozen blood got a little confused as heat began to pool simultaneously. What were they talking about, exactly? Hush money or hush sex?
For all she knew, both. He could be capable of asking for both at once. She knew nothing about him, really. Except that even right now, she wanted nothing so much as to take the place of his cup of hot chocolate, cradled against his bare chest, touched in a leisurely savoring from time to time by his lips.
What would he think if she just stepped up to him and nestled her head right at his heart?
That she was pathetic? Worth thirty-three cents at Walmart?
She set down her empty cup with a little click that made a strange, cold, final sound in the
“Well. Thank you for the chocolate.”
At least that
gave her some kind of exit line for the night.
He made a muted, incredulous sound, as if she had punched it out of his stomach. “
Il n’y a vraiment pas de quoi
. No thanks are necessary, I promise you.”
She didn’t look at him, too much of a coward to see what expression might be on his face. She just walked toward the door, steadily. At least it didn’t feel quite so much the retreat in inglorious defeat. It wasn’t completely humiliating.