“While I appreciate your skill at acting in the capacity of a fake fiancée, I don’t believe our relationship should delve into the physical.”
The formality of my statement made me cringe internally.
“Then what would you like us to do about the bed?” Elizabeth asked.
“We’ll be sleeping in the same bed. With the stunt Cristoff just pulled, I wouldn’t put it past him to barge in on us in the middle of the night. Might not look very engaged of us if I’m sleeping in the tub.”
“Not likely,” she said.
“We’ll be keeping our hands to ourselves. It’s a large bed. We can be adults about it.”
I watched her cheek twitch before she bit down onto her lower lip. Was she trying to... not laugh at me?
“I’m serious. No touching.”
“Whatever you say,” she said.
“This isn’t funny.”
“I’m not laughing.”
“You’re close to laughing.”
“And you’re close to exploding in your pants, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
I looked down at my pants and groaned. Of course. The telltale wet spot. Fucking hell, this woman was insane. I shook my head as I headed for my suitcase, then grabbed it and hoisted it to the bathroom. The call girl was laughing at me. Great. Exactly what I needed. Reminded me of my high school days when gaggles of girls and brainless jocks knocked books out of my damn hands while I walked down the hallway. I heard her snicker as I walked into the bathroom, and I shut the door behind me, putting as much space between us as I could.
I changed my pants, looked myself in the mirror, and sighed.
No matter what I did, something always reminded me of the bullying. Of the name-calling. Of the incessant abuse I took all throughout my developmental years. I looked at the man in front of me. The tall, lean man, who spent time in the gym and had perfectly tailored his body to outshine any football player from his high school. The man with the dark blond hair and the green eyes that changed from emerald to seafoam depending on how upset he was. Or aroused. Or happy. A man who had built a multibillion-dollar empire and still couldn’t bring himself to go to his fucking high school reunion s.
I shook my head and picked up my things, then walked out of the bathroom.
“Enjoy yourself?” Elizabeth asked.
“Should you be biting the hand that feeds you?”
My words came out harsher than I had intended, and I watched her face fall. I tossed my things into the corner and sighed, smoothing my hand through my hair again. The pain that overcame her face made me nauseous. There I was, remembering the days when I was bullied, and I’d come out not a minute later and bullied her. I needed to get away. To get out of that room. Her eyes fell into her lap as I turned my back, making my way for the bedroom door.
“I’m headed to the library,” I said.
“When will you be back?”
Her voice was soft. Little. Not at all like the confident woman I’d chased after in the garden.
“Soon,” I said.
I ended up staying in the library for almost three hours, perusing books and running my fingers along the spines. Books had always been my comfort, from middle school through college. I lost myself in the pages of almost everything. Though nowadays, it was mostly information on how to stay competitive in my industry. I missed the days where I could devour a nice sci-fi novel or a fantasy fiction. Space wars and alien love stories and the occasional autobiography.
I walked back into the room with the scent of the library permeating my skin and was greeted by Elizabeth’s soft sleeping sounds.
I slid into bed next to her, but the second I did, she rolled toward me. She didn’t wrap herself around me, but I found myself wishing she would. Her heat alone kept me awake. Drove me nuts with desire for her. I had to slide my hands underneath my ass to keep from touching her. I tossed and turned all night, and every time I shifted, she moved as well. Never touching me but always there. Taunting me with her heat.
It was as if torturing me was ingrained into her.
When my eyes finally opened that morning, they ached. My head hurt. I hadn’t gotten nearly enough sleep. I rolled over and found the spot on the bed beside me empty. Cold. Practically made up. I pulled myself from bed and dragged myself to the bathroom, then splashed some water in my face. The bags underneath my eyes were beginning to push through. My emerald eyes had faded into something of a lackluster pale green. I cleaned myself up and got dressed, then slowly made my way down for breakfast.