Promised, p.27
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       Promised, p.27

         Part #1 of One Night series by Jodi Ellen Malpas
 

  and I’m wondering how Gregory will handle it. Breaking away from him, I move back, ensuring I keep my smile and Gregory’s attention.

  As Ben nears, I watch him studying Gregory’s body discreetly, still greeting people, still smiling. There’s no mistaking the intended body contact as he passes my friend, his arm sliding around his waist in a subtle gesture made to look like he’s trying to pass without bumping into him, but the look on Ben’s face is screaming desire and the sudden shift in Gregory from easy, fluid movements to stiff awkwardness is obvious. Will he push him away or give him a dirty look?

  No. He loosens up immediately when he sees Ben and falls right back into his previous ease as the tracks slows momentarily before dramatically cranking up ten gears and blasting the clubbers into complete elation. We’re in a triangle, both Ben and Gregory smiling and dancing, but the sexual sparks flying off each man is tangible. They’re not touching, nor are they looking at each other all lusty, but it’s there and it’s obvious. Ben is playing it risky.

  Gregory moves towards me, smiling. ‘There’s a man about to take hold of you.’

  ‘Is there?’ I go to turn, but I’m stopped when Gregory grabs my shoulders.

  ‘Trust me on this. Let him.’ He fans his face and releases me, and I tense from top to toe, bracing myself. Gregory has great taste in men, but shouldn’t I at least get a say in who takes hold of me? Or should I just let this happen – stay in control, but let it happen?

  It’s his hips I feel first, pushing into my lower back. Then there’s his hand sliding around my stomach. My moves fall straight into his set pace without thought, and my hand rests over his on my navel. Gregory is smiling brightly, but I have no compulsion to turn and get a glimpse of my dance partner because – probably due to the alcohol – he feels good . . . comfortable . . . right.

  My eyes close when I feel hot breath at my ear. ‘Sweet girl, you’ve floored me.’

  Chapter 17

  I’m very suddenly aware of internal sparks firing off wildly. I gasp, my eyes flying open, and I try to turn, getting absolutely nowhere. His groin pushes into my lower back, his grip of my waist firming up, as is what’s beneath his trousers. I’ve been thrown into panic, all the feelings that he provokes attacking me relentlessly.

  ‘Don’t try to escape me,’ he whispers. ‘I won’t let it happen this time.’

  ‘Miller, let me go.’

  ‘Over my dead body.’ He sweeps my hair to one side and wastes no time getting his lips on my neck, injecting fire through my flesh, straight into my bloodstream. ‘Your dress is very short.’

  ‘And?’ I breathe, digging my fingernails into his arm.

  ‘And I like it.’ His hand slides over my hip, onto my bum and down to the hem of my dress. ‘Because it means I can do this.’ He kisses my neck, skating his hand under my dress and pushing his finger past the seam of my knickers. My bottom flies back on a small cry, colliding with his groin. He bites my neck. ‘You’re drenched.’

  ‘Stop it,’ I beg, feeling all rationality running away from me under his touch.

  ‘No.’

  ‘Please, stop it, stop it, stop, it.’

  ‘No . . . he breathes. ‘No . . . He circles his groin confidently. ‘No, Livy.’

  His finger enters me and my face distorts with a mixture of pleasure and desperation, my internal muscles grabbing onto him. My head is drifting to one side, letting him at me, and the fingers of my hand resting over his are squeezing hard, prompting his palm to shift and his fingers to lace through mine, constricting firmly. I know I’m falling, and through my desperate desire I look for Gregory for help. But he’s gone.

  And so is Ben.

  Fury flames, Gregory’s promise to not let anything happen only stoking it further. He’s let something happen, and he’s let it happen with the worst man. I struggle in Miller’s hold until he’s left little option but to release me or manhandle me to the floor, and I swing around, my hair whipping my face. I glare at him, ignoring his impossible beauty. He’s in his usual finery, minus the jacket, and the sleeves of his shirt are rolled up in the most casual, unlike-Miller fashion. His waistcoat is still buttoned, though, and his hair is a stunning mop of waves. His piercing blue eyes are stabbing at my flesh accusingly.

  ‘I said no,’ I say through gritted teeth. ‘Not now, not for four hours, not ever.’

  ‘We’ll see,’ he retorts confidently, stepping forward. ‘You might be repeatedly saying the word no, Olivia Taylor. But this . . .’ he runs his fingertip over my breast and onto my stomach, forcing me to gulp down air to control my shakes, ‘this is always telling me yes.’

  My legs are in motion before my brain sends any instruction, which quickly makes me conclude that this is natural instinct. Escape. Get away before I lose my mind and my integrity and let him cast me aside again. I find myself at the bar before I’ve even registered what direction I’m headed in. I order a drink, quickly taking it from the barman’s hand and turning as I take a swig.

  Miller is standing right in front of me. His jaw is tense as he nods over my shoulder to the barman. Then, as if by magic, a tumbler is passed over my shoulder into Miller’s waiting hand. My gaze falls to his lips as he takes a slow sip while he watches me, as if he knows what that mouth does to me. I’m mesmerised by it. Totally rapt. Then he licks his lips and not knowing what else to do, but knowing that I’m likely to kiss him if I remain here, I run again, this time up the stairs and around the galleried walkway, looking through the glass for any sign of Gregory. I need to find him, the stupid pain in the arse that he is.

  I’m so busy looking for my friend in the space below I don’t notice where I’m going and walk straight into a body. The sharp angles of the chest under the shirt and waistcoat are too familiar. ‘Livy, what are you doing?’ he asks, almost tiredly, like I’m fighting a losing battle. I fear I might be.

  ‘Trying to get away from you,’ I say calmly, making his jaw tense in annoyance. ‘Please move.’

  ‘No, Livy.’ He mouths the words extra slowly, making it impossible to rip my eyes away from his lips. ‘How much have you had to drink?’

  ‘That’s none of your business.’

  ‘It’s my business when you’re drinking in my club.’

  My mouth falls open, but he maintains his straight, unhappy expression. ‘This is your bar?’

  ‘Yes, and it’s part of my responsibility to ensure my clients are . . . behaving.’ He moves in again. ‘You’re not behaving, Livy.’

  ‘Throw me out, then.’ I challenge him. ‘Have me escorted from the premises. I don’t fucking care.’

  His eyes narrow fiercely. ‘The only place you’re being thrown is in my fucking bed.’

  It’s me who moves in now, getting my face up close to his, like I’m going to kiss him. It takes every effort not to connect our mouths, like I’m fighting a powerful magnet hauling me in. He’s thinking that, too. His lips have parted, and he’s looking down at me, his eyes full of desire. ‘Go to hell,’ I say evenly and calmly, almost on a murmur.

  I’m surprised by my own coolness, not that I let it be known. I meet his shocked eyes with confidence, not backing down, and take another slow, long glug of my drink. But it’s quickly snatched from my hand. ‘I think you’ve had enough.’

  ‘Yes, you’re right. I have had enough. Of you!’ I turn on my stilettos and walk away, on a mission to find Gregory, rescue him from a stupid situation, and leave to escape my own diabolical position.

  ‘Livy!’ he calls after me.

  I blank him, walking on, venturing down some stairs, around a few corners, into the toilets, and the whole time he’s tailing me, just following me as I pace calmly around his club.

  ‘What are you doing?’ he shouts over the music. ‘Livy?’

  I ignore him, thinking of where else I can possibly look. I’ve been everywhere, except . . .

  I don’t even think about what I’m doing when I viciously yank the door of the disabled toilet open. Not until I h
ear the sound of the metal lock hitting the tiled floor and I’m standing staring at Gregory bent over the sink with his jeans around his ankles. Ben, who has a firm hold of my friend’s hips, is pounding forward on constant barks. Neither one seems to have noticed me, nor the rise in noise level, both men utterly consumed in each other. My hand flies to my mouth in shock and I walk back, meeting Miller’s chest, but he pushes me in and slams the door behind us, snapping Ben and Gregory from their private euphoria. It’s not private now, and both men seem to pull themselves together, fear, embarrassment, shame, discomfiture all taking hold, with each of them rushing to make themselves decent.

  I turn to Miller. ‘We should go,’ I prompt, pushing my hands into his chest. ‘Miller.’

  He’s just staring at Gregory and Ben, brows heavy, lips straight. ‘I have a cheque for your work on the roof terrace in my office, Greg.’

  ‘Mr Hart.’ Gregory nods, his face flushing.

  ‘And I have one for you, too.’ Miller looks to Ben, who’s clearly mortified. I feel for them both, and I hate Miller for making them feel so small. ‘I would kindly ask you not to use the washrooms of my club as a knocking shop. This is a private, exclusive establishment. Your respect would be greatly appreciated.’

  I nearly choke. Respect? He’s just had his hand up my dress in the middle of the dance floor. I need to leave before I gun for one of these three men. I have a grievance with them all. I let myself out, shocked by so many things in such a short space of time. My head is swimming with alcohol, the feeling of losing control beginning to worry me.

  As I stagger down the corridor, I see a man approaching, his roving eye trailing lustfully up and down my body. I know that look. And I don’t like it. It’s smarmy. He brushes past me and smirks. ‘I’ve been watching you,’ he purrs, eyes burning with want.

  I should continue walking, but flashbacks have halted my movements, my brain not prepared to home in on any instructions to make me walk away and is instead making me see things stored at the back of my mind that I’ve hidden for many years.

  He growls and pushes me into the wall. I freeze. Nothing will work. Then he smashes his lips to mine and the bad memories multiply, but before I have a chance to find the mental and physical strength to fight him off, he’s absent and I’m left heaving, propped up against the wall, watching Miller physically restrain the struggling man.

  ‘What the fuck?’ the guy yells. ‘Get the fuck off me!’

  Miller calmly removes his iPhone from his pocket and presses just one button. ‘Outer on floor one. Toilets.’

  The guy continues to struggle, but he’s held firmly in place with little effort from Miller, who’s staring at me, his face completely impassive. But he’s mad. I can see it in the steely gloss of his blue eyes. There’s rage – hot rage, and I’m not at all comfortable seeing it. I start an unsteady walk away, moving to the side of the corridor when two huge doormen come barrelling towards me. I glance over my shoulder to weigh up my situation and see them take over Miller’s hold of the guy, leaving Miller to straighten his shirt and waistcoat before his eyes lift and find mine. He’s fuming, a telling sweat shimmering on his brow. He starts to shake his head slowly as he strides forward, his hair now falling onto his forehead from his exertion. I know I won’t get far, but I’ll make it to the bar. I need another drink, so I hurry, quickly reaching my intended destination and ordering a champagne, necking it before the empty is snatched from my grasp and his hand is locked on my nape, leading me away, my feet moving fast to keep up with his long strides behind me.

  ‘You’re not getting your four hours!’ I shout desperately.

  ‘I don’t fucking want them,’ he growls, roughly pushing me on. The declaration pricks at my chest repeatedly.

  Many people nod, smile, and speak to Miller as he pushes me through the bar, but he doesn’t stop for anyone, not even acknowledging them. I can’t see his face to confirm it, but the wary looks on all of the faces we pass tell me all I need to know. His grip of my neck is tight over my hair, and he makes no attempt to ease up, even though he must be aware of the pressure of it. We’re heading for the entrance of the bar, the glow of big glass doors coming into view with people still lining up to gain entry.

  Something catches my eye and I do a double-take, spotting Miller’s business associate. She’s staring open-mouthed at Miller manhandling me, her drink at her lips ready to sip, clearly shocked by what she’s witnessing. Even through my tipsiness, I manage for the first time to wonder what Miller is telling her about me.

  ‘Livy!’ I hear Gregory from behind and try to turn, to no avail.

  ‘Keep walking,’ he orders.

  ‘Livy!’

  Miller halts and swings around, taking me with him. ‘She’s coming with me.’

  ‘No.’ Gregory shakes his head, moving forward, looking at me. ‘Coffee-hater?’ he asks and I nod, making Gregory’s face flame with guilt. He fed me to the lion, and then skulked off to have his later with Ben.

  ‘Miller,’ I answer, confirming he is exactly who Gregory thinks, but wondering how he didn’t know that already if he’s been working for him.

  ‘You can stay and have a drink,’ Miller says calmly, ‘or I can have you removed from my club – your choice.’ Miller’s words, although calm, are threatening, but I have no doubt that he’ll follow through on his threat.

  ‘If I’m leaving, then Livy’s coming with me.’

  ‘Wrong.’ Miller fires back simply and confidently. ‘Your lover will probably ask you to do the sensible thing and let me take her.’ He’s playing dirty.

  Ben appears from behind Gregory, his face washed out and full of apprehension. ‘What are you going to do?’ he asks Miller.

  ‘That depends on whether you make a big deal of this. I’m going to my office with Olivia, and you two are going back to the bar to enjoy a drink on me.’

  Gregory and Ben both flick cautious eyes to me and Miller, both clearly in turmoil. It makes me speak up.

  ‘I’m okay,’ I say quietly. ‘Go have a drink.’

  ‘No.’ Gregory steps forward. ‘Not after what you’ve told me, Livy.’

  ‘I’m okay,’ I repeat slowly, before looking up at Miller in a silent indication to lead on. His grip eases instantly, his anger receding, and his fingers start kneading my flesh, working some life back into the stiffness.

  ‘Miller?’

  I cast my eyes to the left and see the woman. She’s followed us and her cherry-red, pursed lips tell me she recognises me despite the makeover. Then I look up to Miller. He looks totally detached as he stares at her. This is awkward, the tension ricocheting between all five of us tangible, and for very different reasons. I feel like an interloper, but it doesn’t stop me from letting Miller guide me away from the awful scene.

  He’s silent as he leads me down some stairs and through a maze of corridors until we’re at a door, where he curses while bashing in a code on the metal keypad before pushing his way through. I expect to be released after he’s kicked it shut, but he doesn’t let up, instead directing me to a big white desk and spinning me around. He pushes me onto my back, pulls my thighs apart and lays himself all over me, grabbing my cheeks in his hands and forcing his lips to mine, his tongue pushing past and starting an impossibly smooth rotation in my mouth. I want to ask him what the hell he’s doing, but I know I’m going to savour this. I won’t, however, savour the heated words that I know will be exchanged following this kiss, so I accept it. I accept him. With this kiss, I’m accepting everything that he has done tonight and before that, when he’s played with my heart – filled it, and then quickly drained it again, leaving it a mass of aching muscle in my chest.

  He moans, and my hands skate their way up his back until they’re resting on the back of his head, pushing him in closer to me. ‘I’m not letting you do this to me again,’ I mumble weakly around his lips.

  His mouth working mine doesn’t let up, and I don’t try to stop him, despite my words. ‘I don’t think it’s
a matter of letting me, Livy.’ He pushes his groin into my core, putting more friction on my pulsing flesh. I whimper, searching for the willpower to stop this. ‘This is happening.’ He bites my lip and sucks it, pulling back and looking down at me. He moves my hair from my face. ‘We’ve already accepted this. It can’t be stopped.’

  ‘I can stop it, just like you have plenty of times,’ I breathe on a whisper. ‘I should stop it.’

  ‘No, you shouldn’t. I won’t let you, and I should never have stopped it either.’ His eyes run over my face and he dips, kissing me tenderly. ‘What has happened to you, my sweet girl?’

  ‘You,’ I accuse. ‘You’ve happened to me.’ He’s made me reckless and irrational. He may make me feel alive, but he makes me feel lifeless just as quickly. I’m playing the devil’s advocate with this man disguised as a gentleman, and I hate myself for not being stronger, for not stopping it. How many times can I do this to myself, and how many times will he do this to me?

  ‘I don’t like this.’ He pulls my hand from his back and looks down at my red nail polish. ‘And I don’t like this.’ He drags his thumb over my red lips as he watches me. ‘I want my Livy back.’

  ‘Your Livy?’ My brain engages fast, my heartbeat quickening. He wants the old Livy back so he can walk all over her again. Is that it? ‘I’m not yours.’

  ‘Wrong. You are very much mine.’ He pushes himself up and clasps my hand, pulling me up to a sitting position. ‘I’m leaving this office to tell your friend that you’re coming home with me. He’s going to want to speak to you, so you’ll answer your phone when he calls.’

  ‘I’m coming?’ I slip off the desk, and he immediately places me back on it.

  ‘No.’ He points over my shoulder. ‘You’re going into that bathroom, and you’re going to remove that shit from your face.’

  I recoil, but he’s not perturbed. ‘Are you going to go out
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