Book Two – Part Two
Read Part One Here
Oh no. That was so much more than a drink. More than watching some pseudo-anonymous couple publicly wank. That was crossing a line. “I’m not sleeping with you,” she said automatically, her voice breathy with offense and something else—like shame with a sliver of excitement—that she couldn’t quite name. She was not taking off her clothes for this man, much less her underwear. That was not part of the deal.
He sighed and looked at her wryly, the way one would look at an unruly child who was dragging her feet. “Again,” he said dryly, “I haven’t asked you to.”
Not yet, anyway, she read in the predatory gleam of his eyes as clearly as if he’d said it. Her knees quivered, then clenched tight. “Then my panties aren’t any business of yours,” she said just as wryly, stepping back as he pushed up from his perch to stand straight.
“I disagree,” he said casually as he stepped away from his desk with a lithe, languid lope. “While removing your panties isn’t necessary,” he said as he gave her a wolfish grin, “there are a great many ways I can give and gain pleasure that have nothing to do with sex—in its strictest definition—but are better accomplished without barriers in the way.”
“I’m not having sex with you,” Max repeated stubbornly, “not by any definition.” So her panties were staying on. And that was that. End of discussion.
“So you’ve said,” he said, stepping closer and closer, forcing her to step back further and further. “Many times.”
Max inhaled sharply as her eyes widened, watching him stalk toward her. She felt foolish stumbling backward like some horror-movie bimbo, but she couldn’t stop. Stopping meant he’d move close to her—much too close. She needed distance, needed a wall of space separating them. So though she knew it was irrational and useless and tritely girlish, she continued to back away.
“It occurs to me,” he said, continuing his slow but unwavering pursuit, “that we haven’t discussed the terms of our deal in detail.”
Max winced as she hit the corner of some piece of furniture with her elbow. She knew that she should turn around—should look where she was going. But, if she turned, she’d have to take her eyes off of him and she couldn’t. She just couldn’t do that.
“Let me do so now,” he said, his voice a low, rumbling sound in the tense silence of the room.
Max felt trapped in that silence, in the charged air of his office. His eyes—the intensity in the unnaturally blue depths—frightened her, even as they entranced her. Though she wanted to—though she knew that she should—she couldn’t break that hot, hungry contact, couldn’t stop that wildness within him from sinking deep inside her and stealing a bit of her will.
No! she thought as her back slammed up against a wall. She shut her eyes and wrenched her face to the side, breaking the gaze. She wouldn’t give into him, wouldn’t give him that part of herself.
She would not submit.
Even with her eyes closed, she knew the moment he stepped toward her. She could feel—in that innately animal way—the moment he was no more than a breath away. His heat, his scent, his presence surrounded her—drowned her—making the simple act of breathing a challenge.
“Look at me,” he said, his voice soft but commanding.
She opened her eyes.
Inhaling sharply, she felt his piercing gaze as it hit her, penetrating her defenses more thoroughly than a touch. “I will never exchange any part of this file for any kind of sexual touch,” he said, making it sound less like a promise and more of an accusation. “I don’t have to pay for sex, not with any currency. You’re not a prostitute and I’m not a john,” he told her in an unquestionable tone, “and that isn’t what this is about.”
“What is this about then?” she wondered aloud.
“Opening your eyes,” he said, his voice softening as he bent his head as if to kiss her. She shut her eyes, waiting. “Letting you look and see without prejudice or bias.”
But he didn’t kiss her. She blinked back up at him, feeling ruffled and ridiculous. “How selfless of you,” she snapped.
He smiled. “Don’t misunderstand me,” he replied, his breath warm and musky against her lips, the earthy scent and heat making her lightheaded. “I like to look too. And, believe me,” he said, as his gaze roamed her face and his voice gained a husky timbre, “you’re a pleasure to watch, Max.” His gaze dipped lower. “Generous curves. Great legs. Firm ass. Weighty hips.” He grinned. “Miraculous breasts.” He looked up again. “Sinful hair. Strong will.” His hand lifted, to hover over her cheek. And though he stopped just short of touching her, she could feel him. Felt the phantom stroke his fingers would make along her sensitive skin. “The fine, light lines around your eyes and mouth that speak to your determination, your devotion, and your deep sense of joy.” She felt her heart drop as he lowered his hand and stepped back. “You are a study,” he told her.
She blinked blankly at him, feeling disoriented and muddled. He found her laugh lines—her wrinkles—sexy?
“Take off your panties.”
She looked at him as he moved to lean against his desk, his long, powerful arms stretched back to lazily lounge against the strong, wood piece. She stared at his smile, smug and assured, as if he knew he had her just where he wanted her, as if he knew how primed—how hungry—she was. Because of him.
And he did have her where he wanted her. He did affect her. Arouse her. Make her wet.
And he knew it.
She knew it too.
And it pissed her the fuck off.
He had her where he wanted. He’d had her, melting and swooning, in the palm of his hand. He was playing her! Moving and manipulating her like a goddamned chess piece. Making her feel unsettled, out of control.
That ended now.
She wasn’t a woman to be toyed with. She was Max freakin’ Wells. Straightening her shoulders and setting her suit right again with a determined tug, she stepped away from the blindingly blue wall. Lifting her chin defiantly, she said, “What if I’m not wearing any?”
“You are,” he said simply.
“So sure, are you?” she said just as simply.
He chuckled and shook his head. “You’re not the type to go bare-assed into work.”
“You could,” he granted, “but you won’t.” He reconsidered. “Wouldn’t,” he amended.
But before she could so much as wonder what he’d meant by that, he crossed his arms over his chest in deliberate challenge as he said, “I’d be willing to wager the entire file—every page, digital and printed—on the fact that you’re wearing panties.” His gaze dropped and centered on her hips—or more pointedly, on their apex, making her want to squirm under such scrutiny. His eyes glazed a bit, as if he were imagining her naked beneath her skirt. Or perhaps just naked all together. “Prove it to me,” he said, his voice a gritty growl, “and you can have the whole file right now.”
She panted, her breath short and shallow, as her eyes hit hard against the dare emitting from his. Unconsciously, her right foot slipped back, squaring her stance, as her fists clenched tight.
“You can’t,” he taunted, the corners of his smug, tilted eyes crinkling, “can you?”
The smirking, mocking, egomaniacal chuckler!
He’d painted her into a corner. He was giving her the perfect way to end this ridiculous mess all in one, if not simple, than certainly quick sweep. There was only one problem.
Damn it, she was wearing panties.
She wasn’t the type of girl to go without. The whole idea of going commando had always reeked of messy, unsanitary male fantasy, another way to reduce her down to just her pussy—just another ready hole. Panties, like her business suit and shoes and makeup, were a part of her armor against the world. Without them, she wouldn’t be just naked. She’d be exposed.
And, the fact that the idea didn’t immediately disgust and horrify her around this man—the fact that, in conjunction with him, it titillated her in a small, minute, infinitesimal way—only worried and angered her more.
She shook her head. No, she would not let him get to her like this. Wouldn’t let him make more out of this than it was. It was a basic business deal. A simple transaction. Tit for tat.
So the guy got his rocks off by thinking of her panty-less. So what? It was just a scrap of cloth, relatively worthless and easily replaceable. If he wanted to attach more meaning to them than that, what did she care as long as she got what she wanted?
“Fine,” she said as nonchalantly as she could manage. Bending at the waist a bit, she reached behind her, beneath her skirt. Grabbing the back of the elastic waistband, she pulled the bit of cloth down. She shivered as she felt the plain cotton slide silkily down her behind and along the length of her thighs. She paused as the elastic got caught on her stockings’ garters. Fumbling a bit as she imagined his silent smirking, she disentangled herself, unsnapping her garters angrily. As she raised first one leg and then the other, she pulled them off completely, careful not to catch them on the pointed stilettos of her kitten heels.
“There,” she said, clearing her throat as she straightened her skirt and garters again, sure that he’d caught no more than a brief flash of her thighs. There. That was simple enough.
She balled them up in her fist before throwing them at him. “Happy now?”
She watched the cloth hurtle and fly toward him, the light, sky-colored cloth blooming and blossoming in the air, before striking him in the chest. He caught it against his dark suit with a hard hand, fingers splayed across the flimsy fabric.
She stopped, stunned as she saw his stark stare still stuck—centered—somewhere near the hem of her skirt, even as his fingers clutched the scrap of cotton across his chest.
Strangely satisfied, she straightened her shoulders, her thighs quivering with a sudden, reckless, naked feeling. “May I have my page now, please?” she asked, her voice soft with a saccharine slice. Her smirk spread. “Sir.”
Looking much like she imagined she had only a few moments before—disoriented and disconcerted—he shook his head, trying to collect himself. Shutting his eyes, that interesting shade of blue disappearing behind sensuously long lashes, he bowed his head and plucked the cloth off his suit.
Taking a long moment, he neatly folded the delicate triangle before tucking it into his suit jacket like a pocket square, the point peeking just above the tight woolen weave, bringing her attention back to the hot, slick, uncovered bareness between her legs.
Without looking up at her, he sniffed. “You lied to me,” he said stiffly. “Tried to renege on our agreed-upon deal. Why would I reward such behavior?” Tugging at the sleeves of his jacket fastidiously, he added, “If anything, I deserve some kind of recompense.” He looked up at her, the heat of his gaze scalding as an uncontrolled fire left to burn. “Lift your skirt.”
Another shudder shot through her, stiffening her spine and stealing her breath. “Nice try, counselor,” she said through a casual smile. “But I didn’t lie. I simply posed a hypothetical.” She forced her body to relax, deliberately dropping her shoulders and unclenching her hands. Twitching her hips audaciously, she said, “I don’t owe you shit. Sir.”
Her heart pounded as she saw his eyes widen—the flames burning in the blue flaring. “But you’ll lift your skirt anyway,” he said, certainty lacing that gravelly sound.
“I will?” she asked, letting a laugh lilt her tone. “Why would I do that?”
“Because I want to see you,” he said, swallowing hard as his hands gripped the edge of his desk and his gaze zeroed south, “and you want me to see you too.”
“Do I?” she asked, the coy sound coming out throaty and hoarse.
“Yes.” It was a hiss.
She studied him. His tanned face was flushed, a ruddy, ready slash of color staining his angled cheeks, making his expression dark, needy, almost angry. She watched his nostrils flare with each deep breath and she wondered what he smelled. Her gut clenched and thighs tensed as she wondered if he could scent a scene like a bloodhound. She inhaled sharply as the tip of his tongue slipped out to slide along his thin lips as if imagining a taste, honeyed and thick, sticking to his skin.
His posture—usually so straight and superior—was slumped, hunched over as his hands fisted over the desk’s rigid edge. His weight was grounded over his toes, like a sprinter’s or swimmer’s or some shifting, sinuous beast’s set to strike. She felt his hungry gaze like a touch—like a sensual stroke—against her skin.
She fancied she could almost see the shade of a societal leash, holding him back, holding him tethered to that office desk. She imagined wispy ties of proprietal control restraining his heaving body down. “Lift it,” he said, the sound a snarl. “Show me.”
It made her feel—perhaps foolishly, certainly recklessly—daring. Brave.
“You know you want to.”
He was right. She did.
She grinned, feeling so very unwise.
Knowing she was going to provoke the beast—was going to test its chains—she turned on her heels and flipped up her skirt, flashing her now bare ass at him as she swaggered out of his office, her hips swaying with sass.
It was a long, silent walk, but just as she threw open the door, letting her skirt once again fall demurely into place, she heard him laugh. “Don’t you want your pages?” he called after her.
She paused. She did, but it would ruin her exit. She bit her lip before turning to breezily toss over her shoulder, “My lunch break is almost over and I have phone calls to make back at the office.” She sniffed snootily as she stepped through the doorway. “I’ll be back for them after work.” She shot him a cocky glance, letting her gaze traverse his tense form lazily. “I know you’re good for it,” she said just before she let the door shut behind her with a definite click.
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