Denied, p.26
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       Denied, p.26

         Part #2 of One Night series by Jodi Ellen Malpas
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  ‘You need to eat.’

  ‘I’m not hungry.’

  ‘Olivia,’ he warns, ‘please. I’d like to feed you and I’d like you to accept.’

  ‘Strawberries?’ I try. ‘British for the sweetness and dipped in yummy dark chocolate.’

  ‘I don’t think we’ll get away with that in public.’

  ‘Then let’s go back to your place.’

  ‘You’re insatiable.’

  ‘It’s you.’

  ‘Agreed. I’ve awakened this unquenchable desire in you and I’m the only man who’ll ever get to sate it.’

  ‘Agreed.’

  ‘I’m glad we’ve cleared that up, not—’

  ‘That I have a choice, I know.’ I bite his lip and drag it through my teeth. ‘I don’t want a choice.’

  ‘Good job.’ He places me on my feet and looks up at me with soft eyes, a hint of a smile gracing his lovely lips.

  ‘What?’ I ask, mirroring his mild beam.

  Smooth hands slide around to my bum and pull me between his spread thighs. Then he plants a light kiss on my tummy. ‘I was just thinking how lovely you look standing naked before me.’ His chin rests on my navel and he gazes up at me, his divine blues bursting with contentment. ‘What would you like to do today?’

  ‘Oh . . .’ My brain kicks into gear, running over all of the fun stuff we could do together. I bet Miller’s never partaken in fun stuff. ‘Roam, meander, wander.’ I’d love to ramble the streets of London with Miller, point out my favourite buildings and give him a rundown on their histories. Mind you, he’s hardly dressed for wandering. My eyes flick over his perfectly precise three-piece suit on a frown.

  ‘You mean walk?’ he asks, a little taken aback, pulling my eyes back to his. He doesn’t seem impressed.

  ‘Nice walking.’

  ‘Where?’

  I shrug, a little saddened that Miller doesn’t appear to find my idea of fun very appealing. ‘What do you suggest, then?’

  He ponders my question for a few moments before he speaks. ‘I have lots to do at Ice. You could come and tidy my office.’

  I recoil in disgust. His office is clinical. It doesn’t need tidying, and no amount of enthusiasm injected into his tone will convince me that going to work with Miller will be fun. ‘You said quality time.’

  ‘You can sit on my lap while I work.’

  ‘Don’t be daft.’

  ‘I’m not.’

  I feared he was serious. ‘I’m not taking a day off work just to go to work with you.’ I stand back and fold my arms across my chest, hoping he comprehends just how adamant I am. The smile that graces his yummy lips makes my resolve waver. He’s dishing out smiles left, right and centre, and it’s delightful and maddening all at once. ‘What?’ I ask, thinking I should stop questioning his reasons for his obvious joy and simply accept it without a word. But this exasperating man piques my curiosity constantly.

  ‘I was just thinking how lovely you look with your arms pushing your breasts up.’ His eyes gleam relentlessly, and I look down, sizing up my lack of chest.

  ‘There’s nothing there.’ I push into my boobs a little more, not being able to fathom what he can see that I can’t.

  ‘They’re perfect.’ He snatches me up quickly, and I squeal as I’m tossed onto the bed and covered in his suit-clad body. ‘I request that they remain exactly how they are.’

  ‘Okay,’ I agree, just before his mouth swamps me, smothering my lips delicately but purposely. I’m blindsided, totally swallowed up, loving Miller’s relaxed condition. All uptight behaviour is lost.

  Well, almost.

  ‘My suit,’ he murmurs, pecking a path to my ear. ‘My appearance has never been so questionable since you invaded my life, sweet girl.’

  ‘You look perfect.’

  Snorting his disagreement, he lifts from my desire-drenched nakedness and stands to rearrange his suit, finishing by fiddling with the knot of his tie as I watch him. ‘Get dressed.’

  I sigh and shift to the edge of the bed as he meanders over to my mirror so he can see what he’s doing. Even though I’m now used to Miller and his fussy ways, my fascination remains strong. Everything about him, everything that he does is always undertaken with the utmost care and attention, and it has fast become endearing . . . except when his temper is unleashed. Kicking that thought away, I leave Miller playing with his tie and get myself ready, throwing on a floral tea dress and some flip-flops before blasting my hair dry and messing with it for a good few minutes, cursing myself for not allowing the conditioner to work its magic before I rinsed. I tie it up, pull it back down, ruffle it a few times, and finally exhale my exasperation at my untamed locks, pulling it into a loose ponytail over my shoulder.

  ‘Cute,’ Miller concludes when I turn to present myself to him, his eyes taking a leisurely jaunt up and down my frame, still messing with his tie. ‘No Converse today?’

  I look down at my pink toenails and wriggle my feet. ‘Don’t you like them?’ I bet Miller’s feet have never seen a pair of flip-flops in their life. In fact, I bet Miller’s feet have been nothing but spoiled with handmade, top-quality fancy leather shoes. He doesn’t even wear trainers at the gym, going barefoot instead.

  ‘Olivia, you could wear a rag and look like a princess.’

  I smile and collect my satchel, throwing it across my body, allowing myself a few riveting moments to regard Miller’s preciseness. ‘People must think we’re a strange match.’

  His face contorts with a frown as he approaches and takes my nape, leading me out of the bedroom. ‘Why?’

  ‘Well, you all suited and booted and me’ – I look down, searching for the right word – ‘cutesy.’ I can’t think of a better one.

  ‘Enough of that,’ he scolds me quietly as we take the stairs. ‘Say goodbye to your grandmother.’

  ‘Bye, Nan!’ I call, not being given the opportunity to find her. I’m led straight to the door.

  ‘Have fun!’ she calls from the kitchen.

  ‘I’ll deliver Olivia home later,’ Miller says, back to formal, just as the front door shuts behind us. I glance up at him with resigned eyes and ignore his questioning look when he catches it. ‘Get in.’ He opens the door of his Mercedes for me, and I slip into the soft leather of the passenger seat.

  The door is shut gently and he’s beside me, starting the car and pulling off before I have a chance to put my seat belt on. ‘So what are we doing?’ I enquire again as I pull my belt across my body.

  ‘You tell me.’

  I look across at him, surprised, but don’t delay my answer. ‘Park up near Mayfair.’

  ‘Mayfair?’

  ‘Yes, we’ll wander.’ I return my stare forward, noticing the dual temperature display glowing the digits ‘16’, just as they were last time, except now it’s far warmer. I suddenly feel stifled, but not wanting to upset Miller’s perfect world, I open the window a touch instead.

  ‘Wander,’ he muses thoughtfully, like it worries him. It probably does, but I ignore the concern in his tone and remain quiet in my seat. ‘Wander,’ he says to himself again, starting to tap the steering wheel. I can feel the uncertainty rolling off him in waves. ‘She wants to wander.’

  I smile on an undetectable shake of my head, then settle further into my seat when Miller kills the stretching silence by turning the media system on. Kid Mac’s ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ fills the car, and my face scrunches up in utter wonder at Miller’s continued surprising choices in music. I know for sure he’s flicking occasional glances in my direction, but I don’t humour him with my curious mind. Instead, I remain silent for the rest of the journey, musing over so many elements of my curious Miller Hart and the curious world that I’ve come willingly into.

  Chapter Nineteen

  When Miller slips into a parking space and cuts the engine, I know better than to let myself out of the car. He rounds the front, fastening his jacket, and opens the door for me. ‘Thank you, sir.’

  ‘Most welcome,
he replies, with no hint of acknowledging my sarcasm. ‘Now what?’ He glances around at our surroundings briefly, then pulls the sleeve of his jacket up to check the time.

  ‘Are you in a rush?’ I ask, immediately irritated by his rude gesture.

  His eyes flick to mine and his arm drops. ‘Not in the least bit.’ He straightens his suit again, anything to avoid my bitter tone. ‘What now?’ he repeats.

  ‘We wander.’

  ‘Where?’

  My shoulders droop. This is going to be hard work. ‘This is supposed to be relaxing. Something leisurely and enjoyable.’

  ‘I can think of far more gratifying ways to pass my time, Olivia, and it doesn’t involve keeping you in public.’ He’s wholly serious, and my thighs clench as he takes another fill of his surroundings.

  ‘Have you ever wandered?’ I ask.

  Curious eyes return to mine quickly. ‘I go from A to B.’

  ‘You’ve never basked in the opulence London has to offer?’ I ask, astounded that anyone could live in this beautifully grand city and not immerse themselves in its history. It’s a travesty.

  ‘You’re one of London’s finest opulences, and I’d love to bask in you right now.’ He studies me thoughtfully, and I know what’s coming. The increased beat between my legs is a good sign, and so is the desire pooling in his eyes after executing one of those lazy blinks. ‘But I can’t very well worship you here, can I?’

  ‘No,’ I answer quickly and decidedly staunchly before I’m hauled deeper into those riveting blue eyes. He doesn’t want to wander, but I do. I’m bubbling everywhere, my desire tangible in the open air around us, but I want to take pleasure from Miller in another way. ‘What about your paintings?’

  ‘What about them?’

  ‘You must appreciate the beauty of the things you paint or you wouldn’t bother painting them.’ I disregard the fact that they could be even more beautiful if they were clearer.

  He shrugs nonchalantly, again looking around us. It’s really irritating me now. ‘I see something I admire, I take a picture and I paint it.’

  ‘Just like that?’

  ‘Yes.’ He doesn’t give me his eyes.

  ‘Don’t you think it would be far more rewarding if you painted it in the flesh?’

  ‘I don’t see why.’

  On a tired exhale of breath, I toss my bag over my shoulder. I still don’t fully get him, despite constantly telling myself that I do. I’m kidding myself. ‘Ready?’

  He answers by taking my nape and pushing onward, but I halt and wriggle free of his hold. Then I hit him with a contemptuous look as he stares down at me, puzzlement obvious on his lovely face. ‘What’s the matter?’

  ‘You’re not guiding me around London by my neck.’

  ‘Why ever not?’ He’s truly flummoxed. ‘I like having you that close. I assumed you like it.’

  ‘I do,’ I admit. The warmth of his palm spread across my nape is always an appreciated comfort. But not while wandering around London. ‘Hold my hand.’ I can’t imagine that Miller has ever held a woman’s hand casually, and I also can’t picture it. He’s led me by my hand on a few occasions, but it’s always been purposeful – to put me somewhere he wants me to be, never relaxed and lovingly.

  He spends way too long thinking about my request before he eventually takes my offering with a little pucker of his brow.

  ‘Boo!’ I yell with a smirk, making him wince and give a little startled jump before he quickly composes himself and slowly lifts unamused blue eyes to mine. I smile. ‘I don’t bite.’

  He’s full to the brim with aggravation, I can tell, but he’s giving me nothing but his cool impassiveness. It doesn’t affect my smiling face, though. I’m properly grinning. ‘Sass,’ he says simply, firming up his grip, refusing to humour me as he takes the lead.

  I follow, changing the hold of our joined hands as we wander down the street so our fingers are entwined. I keep the direction of my stare forward, only allowing myself a brief glimpse of Miller. I don’t need to look, but I do, seeing him gazing down at our hands and feeling the flex of his grip as he gets used to his hold. He really hasn’t held a woman’s hand like this before, and while the thought delights me, it also tarnishes the immense comforting feeling that I relish in when he holds me by my nape. Is that how he holds all women? Do they get the rush of warmth bolting through their body when he does that? Do their eyes slowly close and their neck flex a little in absorption and satisfaction? These questions have my hand tightening around his and my head turning to gaze up at him, just to get a good fill of the look on his face, just to see how uncomfortable our connection is making him. He’s stiff as a board, his hand constantly flexing in my grasp, and his expression is almost mystified.

  ‘You okay?’ I ask quietly as we turn onto Bury Street.

  The even beats of his expensive shoes hitting the pavement falter very slightly, but he doesn’t look down at me. ‘Fine and dandy,’ he says, and I laugh, letting my head fall onto his upper arm.

  He’s far from fine and dandy. He looks awkward and inconvenienced. Miller, despite being dressed in exquisite finery that blends into London-by-day just fine, is exuding an air of unease. I look around as we continue towards Piccadilly, seeing businessmen everywhere, all suited, some on mobile phones, some carrying briefcases, and all look perfectly comfortable. They look full of purpose, probably because they are. They’re on their way to brunch or a meeting or maybe to the office. And as I return my eyes to Miller, I realise that he’s lacking that purpose right now. He goes from A to B. He doesn’t wander, yet he’s trying his hardest for me. And failing terribly. My mind dips momentarily into the possibility that Miller looks so out of place because I’m attached to his arm, but I toss that thought out just as quickly. I’m here and I’m staying, and not just because Miller says so. The notion of attempting to continue my life without him in it is unthinkable, and my train of thought alone sends a chilliness coursing through my current contentment, making me shiver into his lean body. My spare arm lifts without instruction and my palm wraps around his upper arm, just below my chin.

  ‘Olivia?’ I leave my head and palm exactly where they are, lifting only my eyes to find him looking down at me with mild concern etched on his face. I force a tiny smile through the anxiety that my wayward thoughts have spiked.

  ‘I know and love my sweet girl’s look of bliss, and she’s trying to fool me now.’ He stops and turns into me, making releasing him unavoidable and tremendously painful, but I allow myself to be detached. Masses of blond ponytail are collected from my shoulder and released to cascade down my back before his palms encase my cheeks. He bends a little, making sure his face is level with mine; then he reinstates a little of my contentment by blinking so incredibly lazily, I think he might not ever open his eyes again. But he does, and I’m blasted back by the unreserved comfort that’s pouring relentlessly from every fibre of his beautiful being. He knows. ‘Share with me your burden.’

  I smile on the inside and try to mentally pull it together. ‘I’m fine,’ I assure him, taking one of his hands from my cheek and kissing his palm gently.

  ‘Overthinking, Olivia. How many times do we need to go over this?’ He seems cross, although continuing to be super gentle.

  ‘I’m okay,’ I insist, diverting my eyes from the intensity of his questioning stare, letting them fall down the length of his body to his posh brogues. My mind captures every fine thread of his attire and the outstanding quality of his shoes. And then I think of something and look across the street. ‘Come with me,’ I say, taking his hand and tugging him into the road.

  He follows obediently, with not a murmur of protest, to the end of Bury Street and a little way down Jermyn Street until we’re standing outside a men’s clothes store – a boutique-style one, all stuffy and proper, but I see something I like the look of.

  ‘What are you doing?’ he questions, looking nervously at the shop window.

  ‘Window-shopping,’ I answer nonchalantly
as I drop his hand and turn to face the window, taking in the solid wooden mannequins dressed in top-quality men’s wear. I can see mainly suits, but they’re not what have my attention.

  Miller joins me, slipping his hands into his trouser pockets, and we both just stand there for an age, me pretending to browse, when all I’m thinking is how I’ll get him in there, and Miller twitching nervously beside me.

  He clears his throat. ‘I think that’s enough window-shopping for now,’ he declares, taking my neck to lead me away.

  I don’t budge, not even when his strong fingers increase their pressure a bit. It’s hard, but I root myself to the spot, making moving me of the utmost difficulty ‘Let’s go in and take a look,’ I suggest.

  He stills, halting his attempts to get me shifting. ‘I’m particular about where I shop.’

  ‘You’re particular about everything, Miller.’

  ‘Yes, and I’d like to keep it that way.’ He tries to move me again, but I dip from his hold and head hastily for the entrance.

  ‘Come on,’ I urge.

 
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