* * *
Ethan Ash doesn’t walk. He saunters. He saunters like the rock ’n’ roll sex god he truly is.
I watch him from my vantage point on the other side of the foyer of the Gramercy Park Hotel, and every sauntering sexy step he takes makes my temperature heat and my blood boil, so that by the time he stops in front of me I am a hot puddle of lava on the expensive leather seat.
‘Jesus. It should be illegal to be that sexy.’
He bursts out laughing and I fear I’m crab-pink all over, colour heating my cheeks all the way to my hairline as I realise I’ve said the words out loud. I briefly question the sense in coming to him like this—straight from a run. Should I have gone home and showered first? Done my hair and make-up?
He sobers, taking pity on me. And he leans down. ‘Right back atcha.’
The kiss he presses against my cheek is chaste. My body doesn’t get the memo, though, and every single cell inside me seems to vibrate and tremble and squeal in anticipation. With his lips beside my ear he whispers, the words husky, ‘You in Lycra is something I’m never gonna forget.’
Desire pitches through me, rolling my stomach. I stand up on legs that are somewhat wobbly and almost collide with him. Almost? I want to collide with him. It’s only his quick movement that saves us from bumping together, and he puts a hand in the small of my back. It is a touch of possession and it sparks my blood.
My eyes lift to his; in his face is the same heat as fills my body.
I nod, not sure I can speak in that moment.
His grin is my further undoing. It spreads across his face and all the while his eyes hold mine and I am sinking, incapable of staying afloat.
Another couple is waiting for the lift and they obviously recognise Ethan don’t-forget-I’m-a-celebrity Ash. I step away, my smile tight, my body language instantly businesslike.
His teasing grin is all the indication I need that he has noticed.
I stare straight ahead, ignoring the obvious looks of appraisal from the other woman. When the elevator doors open they move in ahead of us. I step to the back of the lift and stay there, while Ethan leans nonchalantly against the panel of buttons, a hint of amusement obvious in every single one of his features.
‘What?’ I say, as soon as they step out and we are alone.
‘You’re embarrassed to be seen with me?’
‘No.’ I force a smile. ‘There was a photo of us in the papers this morning.’
‘The papers?’ He frowns. ‘I knew it was online.’
My heart thumps. It’s okay. It’s okay. The woman in the picture doesn’t look like me. Only it’s not okay, because I can’t bear putting my mom and dad through yet another scandal.
They’re definitely not over the whole Jeremy thing. I think they took it harder than I did. Not just that I’d been ‘the other woman’ but that I’d been a homewrecker too. He had kids, for Chrissakes.
If they find out I’m in a purely sexual fling with a superstar like Ethan Ash they’ll actually disown me.
He closes the space between us and I stay where I am, my back to the wall. My breath feels heavy somehow, weighted in such a way that it’s dragged down instead of pushed out. His body presses against mine, but he doesn’t touch me with his hands. Those he uses to brace himself against the wall of the lift, one on either side of me. He is the cage but my desire is untameable. It fills the cube we are in, surrounding us completely like a dense fog.
The doors open and he steps back from me, reaching for my hand and pulling me after him, out into the carpeted hallway. It’s deserted, thank God, because I don’t want to pull away from him again. We move quickly, the same silent force motivating our movements, making us step in haste.
He slips the key into the door and then pushes it wide. ‘After you, Miss Douglas.’
‘Thank you, Mr Ash.’
I step into the room and the table we first made love on—no, fucked on—is right in front of me. I walk towards it on autopilot, propping my hips against its edge, trailing my fingertips over the glass. Memories spike my blood. He’s watching me, and that knowledge makes me smile.