I taste the fury in his kiss: blood.
And my mind screams—this is abuse. A moan gets caught in my throat, struggles vainly, and then escapes. My hands reach up to push him away, but my palms meet the stone wall of his chest, and as if with minds of their own, push aside the lapels of his jacket and grip his shirt. I know what once lived beneath the shirt and I want it. I have always wanted this man. As if my hands splayed across his chest have communicated my total submission, the kiss changes. His tongue gentles, but demands more surrender.
The fingers grasping my hair hurt my scalp. I feel the pain vaguely, but more than that I feel myself begin to drown in that vortex of sexual desire. The violent, throbbing need between my legs finds its way into my veins and flesh. Every cell in me wants him inside me. I am on fire. One year of waiting has made me hungry for him. I want him. I want him thrusting that enormous dick of his deep inside me. For a year I have dreamed of him inside me, filling me. I know how good he can make me feel. My body tries to burrow closer to him, but I cannot get closer; his grip on my hair is relentless. Desperately I push my hips towards him towards what I know will be delicious hardness.
As if that is some silent signal he puts me casually away from me. And I am thrust back in a shitty back office in Kilburn High Street. What the f**k am I doing? He casually props himself against the desk, folds his arms across his chest and looks at me calmly.
I cannot return the insult. I am a mess. I stand there frustrated beyond belief, breathing hard, the blood pounding like an African drum in my head. My knickers are wet and between my legs I ache and pulse for him. With every weak and trembling part of me I want him to finish what he started. I want him so bad it is shocking. I clench my hands at my sides and try to get myself under control. I look at him, how cool and collected he is, as he watches me struggle to regain some measure of composure.
Then he smiles. Oh! Cocky. He shouldn’t have done that. I feel maddened by the taunting smile. How dare he? He just wanted to humiliate me.
And then I see it. Not so fast, Mr. Blake Law Barrington.
I take two steps forward, reach my hand out and put a finger on that madly beating pulse in his throat. It drums into my skin. The frantic beat is carried away by my blood up into my arm, my heart and into my brain. Years later I will remember this moment when we are connected by his beating pulse. We never break eye contact. His eyes darken. Now he knows that I know—my need may be obvious and easy to exploit, but he is not as unaffected as he pretends to be. He was testing his own limits of control, but it hasn’t been as easy as he expected.
‘Is it sex when I want to see you come apart?’ he asks bitterly.
A breath dies in my chest. I take my finger away from his throat. ‘What do you want, Blake?’
‘I want you to finish your contract.’
I drop my face into my hands. ‘I can’t,’ I whisper.
‘Why not? Because you took the money and ran, while I lay in a hospital bed.’
I take a deep breath and do not look up. I cannot look up. I cannot face the condemnation in his eyes. I did not keep my word. But I had a reason, one that he can never know about.’
‘I was cut up to start with,’ he says.
I look up, shocked, mesmerized. Contrary to his words his face is detached, calm, cold, so cold.
I shiver. ‘You were cut up?’
‘Funny thing that, but yes I was.’ He shakes his head as if in disgust. Whether it is with me, himself, or both of us, I cannot tell.
‘I thought it was just a sex thing for you,’ I murmur. My world is all wobbly. He was cut up! Why?
‘If you wanted money why didn’t you ask me?’ His voice is harsh.
‘I…’ I shake my head in defeat. I cannot redeem myself.
‘You made a serious miscalculation, didn’t you, Lana, my love. The honey pot is here.’ He pats the middle of his chest. I look at the large male hand. Something inside me twists. Once that beautiful hand with its perfectly manicured nails roamed my body, swept my legs apart and entered me. Dear God!
‘But not to worry. All is not lost.’
My gaze lifts up to his mouth. It is thin and cruel and moving.
‘You did me a favor. You opened my eyes. I see you now for what you were…are. I was blinded by you. I made the classic mistake. I fell in love with an illusion of purity and loyalty.’
I raise my face up to his. Blinded? In love? With me?
‘If I had not bought you that night you would have gone with anyone, wouldn’t you? You are not admirable. You are despicable.’
‘So why do you want me to finish the contract?’ I breathe.
‘I am like the drug addict who knows his drug is poison. He despises it, but he cannot help himself. So that we are totally clear—I detest myself. I am ashamed of my need for you. ’
‘The…The…people who paid me—’
‘They can do nothing to you. My family—‘
I interrupt. ‘What about Victoria?’
A sudden flash of anger gleams in his eyes. ‘The fact that I need the feel and taste of your skin is my shame and private hell. Don’t ever bring her into our sordid arrangement. Her name on your lips makes me feel sick. She is the one pure thing I have in my life. She stood by me through…everything.’ He pauses, his lips twisting. ‘I actually told her about you and gave her the option of leaving me, but she refused. She is wiser than me. Far wiser than I gave her credit for. She said you are just a sickness and one day I will wake up and the sickness will be gone. Until then…you owe me 42 days, Lana.’
My God, he really hates me. I close my eyes unable to look into the censure or revulsion glittering in his. He cannot know how much his angry words have cut and wounded me. I had guessed he would think badly of me, but I never imagined he would so utterly loathe me. I never realized that I had hurt him so deeply. I honestly thought it was a sex thing for him. That I was just another in a line of many. In my defense he had never given me to understand otherwise.
Now he hates me with a passion. And there is not a single thing I can do about it. Victoria has shown herself to be a formidable foe. I can never tell him what really happened. I am on very shaky ground. I will have to be very careful. I have too much to lose. I hang my head. I need to think.
‘Name your price.’
My head snaps up. ‘No,’ I hear myself say. This time my voice is very strong and sure. ‘You don’t have to pay me again. I will finish the contract.’
‘Good,’ he says, but he frowns, and for one second I see not just confusion that I refused his money, but something else—relief? No, that would be too weak an emotion for the wild thing leaping into his eyes. Then it slips away seamlessly. A seal that leaps and disappears into the blue ocean.